Curious Regional Accent

Which regional accent is it when a person says “Mon-dee” and “Tues-dee” for days of week?

I’m talking about a native speaker of English. An ultra-educated person.

Easy Tomato Pasta Recipe

Bon Appetit magazine has a section on tomatoes in its August issue, and I’m plowing through the recipes. Today’s was this very easy pasta with cherry tomato sauce.

You simply stew the tomatoes in olive oil, some crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes. Squash some but not all of the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. When the sauce begins to form, add al dente pasta, basil leaves, and some grated Parmesan.

It’s ridiculously easy but it tastes really good. The recipe says you can add some sugar to the sauce to reduce the acidity from the tomatoes but my Arkansas tomatoes were very sweet already.

I’m making myself hungry right now which isn’t extremely smart.

Book Notes: Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never

What a great book, people. Shellenberger’s environmental humanism, as he terms it, provides a calm, intelligent, well-informed, and supremely rational response to the apocalyptic environmentalism that’s so fashionable today.

Shellenberger is an epitome of a tree-hugger in the best sense of the word. The guy has dedicated his life to championing every environmental cause and advancing every conservationist agenda in existence. He created the original Green New Deal back when AOC was practically still in diapers.

He’s rare, though, in that he’s capable of changing his mind if data warrants it. He’s also a genuinely calm and rational person, which makes the book a pleasure to read.

Shellenberger is disturbed by how much of what passes for environmentalism is motivated by psychological problems and misplaced religiosity:

Having first experienced and then studied the phenomenon for fifteen years, I believe that secular people are attracted to apocalyptic environmentalism because it meets some of the same psychological and spiritual needs as Judeo-Christianity and other religions. Apocalyptic environmentalism gives people a purpose: to save the world from climate change, or some other environmental disaster. It provides people with a story that casts them as heroes, which … we need in order to find meaning in our lives. At the same time, apocalyptic environmentalism does all of this while retaining the illusion among its adherents that they are people of science and reason, not superstition and fantasy.

One of my favorite parts of the book is Shellenberger’s discussion of neocolonialism that informs many of the efforts to deny people in poor countries the same comforts we enjoy as a result of industrialization. Shellenberger believes that the environment will be helped by lifting people out of poverty instead of keeping them artificially deprived of cheap, accessible energy to please a troop of dumb, overwrought Thunberg types.

Shellenberger also talks about how Malthusianism became a Leftist thing after its long and inglorious history as a right-wing fad. He takes apart many of the climate hoaxes that have gotten a lot of coverage. He talks about the renewable energy sources and why they aren’t working out. He discusses the anti-meat agenda of fake environmentalists.

There’s so much good stuff in the book I can’t even list all of it. But if there’s one book you read on the environment all year (or two, or three), let it be Apocalypse Never because it’s so good. And I don’t even agree with the central premise of the book but I still think it’s a wonderful read.

Book Notes: Leary’s Keywords: the New Language of Capitalism

The idea behind this book by John Patrick Leary is brilliant. Take the buzzwords of today’s life – accountability, empowerment, disruption, sustainability, wellness – and show the economic realities that they mask. It could have been such a good book. Leary starts Keywords in a very promising way by offering the smartest definition of neoliberalism I’ve seen in a while. Neoliberalism, he says, is used as shorthand “to name everything bad about the contemporary world.” This is funny and true. Yet Leary makes it very clear that the neoliberal economic transformation of the planet definitely needs to be discussed and the language that normalises many of its negatives should be studied.

Unfortunately, Leary is still a very typical Leftist academic who can’t bring himself to notice that the neoliberal revolution has found its biggest champion in the Left. He studiously avoids some of the favorite lefty buzzwords that point to the merging of Leftism and neoliberalism.

For instance, Leary pays a lot of attention to the ways words like “flexible” and “nimble” are used in the world of business to facilitate neoliberal goals. But he never mentions their much more popular synonym “fluid.” The centrality of fluidity to neoliberalism equals only the term’s importance to Leftism. So of course, Leary has to pretend he never heard of the word.

Things get more complicated when he gets to the word “choice.” It would be impossible not to mention it at all because there’s no single word that means more to the neoliberal worldview. But how to account for the same concept being at the center of the “pro-choice” movement? Leary does what seems to come naturally to him and refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Lefty use of the term altogether.

Similarly, Leary can allow himself to notice how concepts such as creativity and imagination are commodified but pretends that things like “activism” and “anti-racism” haven’t become marketing tools.

There’s a conventional nod toward the “freedom of speech is evil” slogan, too. And an equally conventional effort to insert class markers about the chi-chi fru-fru shopping tastes of the very Marxist Leary that set him apart from the despicable right-wing plebs that is so stupid it believes that speech is really free.

It’s not all bad, of course. Some chapters are good and useful. But any discussion of neoliberalism that doesn’t take into account how completely the Left has been coopted by it is useless. You have to be either completely oblivious or deeply dishonest not to see how the Left is doing the work of, for instance, intimidating the workers and facilitating their exploitation.

As I mentioned before, a small group of our most Leftist colleagues yesterday forced the administration to shut down the discussion board that we have used for years to debate and oppose many of the administration’s mandates. We are currently living in an environment where union work, for instance, is severely compromised because of the intolerable environment created by these extremely left-wing people.

The new favorite cause of the Left is “anti-racism.” The way this cause is being imposed leads to fracturing the working class along the lines of skin tone. It doesn’t allow for any solidarity because it positions some workers’ very existence as an egregious wrong to other workers. This movement legitimizes continued exploitation of workers as long as employers spout the correct slogans and pay for a bunch of reeducation classes. Moreover, the Left is advancing the cause of austerity by forcing the government to deny welfare to the people.

Leary’s book was published in 2018, before the current insanity. But this trend was already obvious to anybody who could lift their eyes up from their “basket of seltzer water and soy-based meat substitutes… in a co-op grocery store” for wealthy brats and pay attention. Leary chose not to notice because co-ops are expensive and you gotta make a living. It’s going to bite him on the ass because there is about a hundred ways his book can be accused of “not centering the BIPOC voices” (it’s the new favorite word soup slogan, in case anybody wonders). He won’t get it, of course, until the mob comes for him. I hope it never happens but well-meaning yet oblivious people like Leary make the triumph of the neoliberal Lefty mobs all but inevitable.