The Local Chornobaivka

My mother called me on the phone yesterday.

“A tornado is coming,” I told her. “We are sheltering in the basement. It’s moving towards the Amazon warehouse.”

“That Amazon warehouse is your local Chornobaivka,” my mother quipped calmly.

Chornobaivka is a place in Ukraine where Russians have gotten their military equipment routinely destroyed as they mass it in the exact same spot. It’s happened almost two dozen times so far.


Another problem I have with Douglas Murray’s book is the writing. Maybe this doesn’t bother other people much but please understand that I grade a lot of essays. And one of the things that drives me nuts is the use of fragments. Here is an example:

As though the non-Western world is always made up of Edenic innocents.

This is not a complete sentence. This is a weird, chopped-off fragment. Once or twice, it wouldn’t be that bad but Murray does this all the time. Here are some examples:

A tendency to lump a disparate group of people under one umbrella.


Leading to claims that were ahistorical and just plain wrong.

Yes, that’s exactly how it appears in the text. So annoying. And it’s worse when the fragment is longish because you set yourself up for a meeting with a conjugated verb verb which never takes place:

In an effort to pretend that one of the richest traditions on earth is in fact deserving of nothing but destruction.

You expect to be told what happens in this “effort to pretend” but then the sentence simply ends. Or, look at this one:

Coming as it does not just from a purer and simpler place but also from a place unmolested by the system of cancellation that has afflicted absolutely everything else to date.

This quote starts on one page and ends on the next, and I had to go back to figure out what was wrong with the sentence.

When has it become normal to do this in serious non-fiction books and can somebody please make this stop?

#MeToo and the Cool Girl

Gone Girl is a novel by Gillian Flynn, a mommy-lit book that became a mega bestseller and was turned into a Hollywood movie. The main character, Amy, is extremely unappealing by any measure but she conquered the hearts of an extraordinary number of female readers with her famous “cool girl” monologue. In the monologue, Amy describes the women who, in order to snag a boyfriend and turn him into a husband, pretend to be what they aren’t. They pretend to be dudebro types trapped in female bodies. Apparently, there are many men who find that appealing.

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl: A Novel (p. 222). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

The most important thing about the Cool Girl, says Amy, is that she never thinks about anything beyond the first step. Have fun today, think about the consequences. . . never!

Thinking about the #MeToo cancellation I posted about yesterday – and so many other #MeToo stories – this is what lies at their root. A 50-year-old scientist somehow managed to convince himself that a 29-year-old woman was having sex with him because. . . she wanted one more sex partner. To ask why she couldn’t have found a hot 25-year-old for that purpose apparently never crossed his mind.

I don’t believe that the scientist should have been cancelled. What happened to him was wrong. However, if he’s looking for an opportunity for personal growth, then I hope he has started to figure out that he got punished for believing in the Cool Girl myth. The woman who punished him for it is a bad person. But he is a bloody idiot. He refused to see reality, which is that a sad, desperate woman was pretending to be who she wasn’t in order to land a famous, successful husband. And any scientist should know that ignoring reality comes at a huge cost.

In Gone Girl, Amy punishes her husband Nick terribly for assuming that her Cool Girl act was real. She does even worse things to other men. She is a murdering psychopath. There was, however, always a moment (or, actually, a very long period of time) when each of the men she destroys could have said, “wait, this is weird. What’s really happening here?” They chose not to do it and ended up paying for their delusion. Just like the scientist paid for the delusion of believing the pleasing but utterly ludicrous story that it is possible for a 29-year-old woman to want to have no-strings-attached sex with a 50-year-old man. The dead giveaway in these stories is that the 50-year-old man is never a janitor or an unemployed guy from a trailer. But pride comes before a fall, and the scientist found it pleasing to assume that it was his hot 50-year-old body and his gigantic middle-aged libido that was doing the trick.

Everything is a tradeoff. Want tons of casual sex with women 20 years younger? Prepare to be #MeTooed at any moment. Don’t want to be #MeTooed? Retire the Cool Girl myth and accept the reality that the dudebro fantasy woman does not exist.

Book Notes: Douglas Murray’s The War on the West

Imagine going to a doctor with a serious complaint. The doctor looks you over and eloquently describes your symptoms in minute detail.

“Yes, doctor,” you say. This is exactly how I feel. What is it? What caused it? And most importantly, what treatment do I need?”

“Well, I already told you what’s wrong with you,” says the doctor. “Do you want me to describe it again? As for what caused it, I guess it’s simply that you got tired of being healthy and decided to be sick.”

“But what should I do, doctor?” you beg. “It hurts real bad.”

“I’ll tell you exactly what to do,” the doctor responds, beaming. “It’s easy, really. Just stop being sick. You’ll feel better immediately. Do you need me to describe how good it will feel not to be sick?”

Murray’s book is very much like this. Murray narrates the self-destructive recent lunacies of the Left eloquently and in great detail. The BLM riots, the statue-toppling, the decolonization of the curricula, the cancellation of scientists and artists for imaginary offenses, the 2+2 controversy. It’s all recent enough for all of us but those suffering from short-term amnesia to remember vividly. You keep waiting for an explanation of why this is happening or a suggestion as to what to do. But none ever comes.

It’s wrong to cancel a 19th-century philosopher for a politically incorrect footnote. It’s wrong to police harpsichords for signs of white supremacy in their color scheme. It’s wrong to discuss the Western Civilization with endless venom and seething contempt. It’s wrong to use the word ‘white’ as a synonym for ‘despicable.’ A point comes, though, when this litany of well-known offenses against intelligence, decency and the West becomes frustrating. Yes, it’s bad but is our only response to serve as a mirror to the reality we don’t like? Other than that and some pouting about the double standard (“why aren’t Marx and Foucault held to the same standard as Kant and Hume?”), the books offers nothing of note.

Analysis and description are two different things. You do need to record the symptoms to come up with a diagnosis but at some point repeating the same symptoms stops making sense. In the end, Murray comes to imitate the very thing he denounces. He accuses but doesn’t propose any remedy that could solve the problem. I expected a lot more from this book and ended up disappointed.