Archive | December, 2015

Hate speech – it’s academic

31 Dec
I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. since 1980, when the city was close to 70% African American, until the present, when it is teetering around 49%.  During those many years I have from time to time been the victim of racist, misogyniat, and homophobic hate speech, mainly from African Americans directed against me as a white male (one with tinctures of Cherokee and who knows what else, but I don’t think my hate speech interlocutors were aware of or concerned with that).  Some samples:

While showing condos to two (white) women, a propaective buyer and her friend, all of us bundled up in down jackets and hats and scarves, five tall black male teens, on holiday from school (Martin Luther King Day) begin to follow us down Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, a hipsterish DC neighborhood, shouting questions at us:  Do we like to party?  Can they come into the building with us?  Do we like black cock?  I am hunched over a lockbox attempting to retrieve keys to a condo so we can get off the street.  My client, a woman built like a line backer, is shouting ar the boys asking if their mothers know how they behave.  When I stand up the teens realize I am male, and are momentarily thrown.  But after a few seconds start up again with the same questions.
While showing houses in Petworth, a gentrifying DC neighborhood, once a slum but now full of $300,000 one bedrooms, to an interracial lesbian couple (white and Asian) and one gal’s parents, several African American high school age boys and girls shout at us and tell us one day we will be their slaves.  (Someone taught them this.)
While walking to school in the 1990s, unable to afford a bus, a large black man who asked for change every day, takes offense that I ignore his daily request, and screams at me “You must not like black people!”
While walking on M Strret in Georgetown, a small, very bundled up  and androgynous black pan handler, of unidentifiable gender, becomes hostile when I give no response to a request for change.  She (?) screams at me something about killing faggots.
Now all of these events transpired on streets and sidewalks, which are unfortunately public property that anyone can wander around on, and where one is free to say anything.  I suppose if I wanted to follow the example. Of college students today, I could pour and demand the resignation of the mayor or school Boardof city council, who produced these people or educated them, and who forbid me to have a fun in D.C. In case any of them move beyond words to action.

Charter Pools

31 Dec
Washington, D.C. maintains 19 outdoor and 11 indoor public pools, somewhat unevenly distributed around the city.

Of the 30 facilities, 12 are located in D.C.’s two poorest Wards, 7 and 8, together referred to as Anacostia because they are east of the Anacostia River.  These are persistently DC’s poorest neighborhoods, with double digit youth unemployment among the mainly African American population who often have at best a D.C. public high school education that has left them unprepared for any employment opportunity that might arise.  So perhaps they need free public swimming pools, since the city really has little else to offer residents to occupy their time.
The other 18 facilities east of the Anacostia — in the wealthy or gentrifying neighborhoods where unemployment is almost nonexistent among the mainly imported, increasingly non-black lawyers and grad school credentialed bureaucrats who have moved to D.C. at the rate of over 1,000 a month for two decades – are not very evenly distributed.  In far upper NW, Ward 3, near wealthy Montgomery County, Maryland, there are NO outdoor pools and only one indoor one.  Adjacent Wards 1 and 4, the former gentrifying and multicultural and the latter long the home to the city’s black upper middle class, each have only one indoor and one outdoor facility.  Wards 2 (downtown, Georgetown and Dupont Circle), 5 (Brookland-Catholic University), and 6 (Capitol Hill) each have 3-5.  But what’s most interesting about the pools is not their unequal distribution – probably a matter of historical happenstance – but their operation.
Most of these public outdoor pools shut down when the school year begins.
It’s a curious schedule, and its not the only aspect that is curious.  Even when open most of these pools are closed one day a week.  And many don’t open until noon or 1 pm in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, all around them, expensive gyms and health clubs have (mainly indoor) pools that open every weekday at 5 am and every weekend at 7 am, usually not closing until 11 pm.
In the West End neighborhood for example, a tiny urban slice between the better known Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Foggy Bottom, there sits an Olympic size public pool at 25th and M Streets, perched along and looking into a woods along Rock Creek Park, adjacent to a public soccer field and less than a block from public tennis courts.  If you have any kind of D,C, ID the pool is free, otherwise it’s $7 per visit.  The many nearby hotels and the transient (often foreign) residents (West End has many embassies, including that of the European Union) are happy to pay it.  I made it to this, my neighborhood, pool three times this summer (having lived two blocks away for 15 years).
It closed in early September, along with all outdoor public pools; and while open for a few months this summer, it was never open in the morning.  Nearby, upscale gyms like Vida or Equinox and health clubs in upscale hotels like the Fairmont or the Ritz Carlton charge $80-$170 a month, and while they do also have other equipment, as well as classes, trainers, saunas and steam rooms, they are not outdoors, and often have much smaller pools including one person size resistance pools where swimmers swim in place against a mechanically generated current, the aquatic version of a treadmill.
It’s difficult to see why the D.C. government isn’t selling memberships to many of its public pools at $40 or $60 a month, for example to yuppies who want to swim laps in the morning, before the pools even open to their normal “clientele.”  There is definitely a demand.  If you go to the Equinox gym’s pool in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, or the Balance gym pool in the Fairmont, or even spy through the window at the downtown YMCA pool nearby the lanes are all full most of the morning.
It seems D.C. isn’t aiming for maximizing profits.  Or maximizing the number of people who can use and enjoy its pool.  The schedule seems to be structured around the fact that D.C. hires its own high school students to be front desk attendants and lifeguards, as a summer jobs program.  So the pool schedule coincides with the school schedule.  And capital goods – plant, property and equipment – sit idle for much of the year as well as for much of the day even in the part of the year when pools are open.
This is totally unnecessary and is an example of the failure of socialism to produce what consumers want.  Outdoor pools may be seasonal work.  Private pools at condominiums like Georgetown’s Papermill Court, or Arlington, Virginia’s River Place Co-op, seem to hire mainly twenty-something Eastern Europeans (as do many businesses at the nearby Delaware beaches) as lifeguards, who are here on temporary work Visas.  D.C.’s public pools could hire Eastern Europeans to handle the morning 5 am to 1 pm shift for paying customers — or it could hire the tens of thousands of unemployed D.C. residents in Anacostia, many of whom could no doubt learn to swim if they don’t know how, and could get certified as lifeguards and in CPR.  It really doesn’t matter that these jobs might only exist from April or May to September or October – they’d still be jobs in a city with a huge unemployment rate among those with no college degree.
What this indicates is that we need to return the operation of the pools and other pieces of public property to market forces.  We need charter pools just like we need charter schools, and for all the same reasons.  The pools need to be turned over to neighborhood groups and nonprofits for their management, since the Department of Parks and Recreation is happy to spend money keeping them locked up behind fences where we can see but not touch them.

Why Jean-Paul Sartre Should Have Been a Libertarian!

31 Dec

Star Wars Trigger Warning

30 Dec

The Islamic State by Any Other Name

28 Dec

Star Wars – Spoiler Alerts!

27 Dec
This is only for people who have already seen the movie.

The new movie, The Force Awakens, attempts to recover from the disastrously lame prequels by basically copying the first movie (A New Hope), complete with a hard scrabble ingenue on a desert planet who turns out to be strong with the Force, and an empire that builds a death star that must be taken out by a small group of insurgents, and an interplanetary multi-species bar prominently featured.  While it is better than the prequels, and might even excite someone who’d never seen the first trilogy, it disappoints since it is a knock off of the original film.

Is it Hamill or Foster?

Somewhat boring and offensive is the bow to inclusivity.  The hard scrabble ingenue in the original was Mark Hamill, who before the actor’s car crash and facial reconstruction was the eidos of blond twink (basically what Jodie Foster would have looked like if she were a real boy).  Now the ingenue is female, played competently but not memorably by Daisy Riddle, as a kind of syfy Katherine Hepburn character (spunky, but not as witty, as Kate’s characters) , a sporty girl named Rey.  The Hans Solo character, who only joins the resistance initially to impress a girl, is now black, played by John Boyega.  (Gay people, and sexuality generally, are overlooked.  It’s Disney.  Those princesses may be many colors now but none of them are ever going to be male.)

Hepburnish Riddle

The old cast is brought in to give the film some zest, both Hans, Luke, and Leia (could the Jews behind this have picked more Aryan names?) and the droids R2D2 and CP3PO.  The film is probably best summed up by the fact that Hans Solo is killed by his son, played by the poor boy who is Lena Dunham’s chew toy on the show Girls.  That is how low the culture has fallen. Hans Solo killed by the vibrator of a little Obama piglet.

Here’s another review by a libertarian on Fandago:

    

THE FORCE DOZES!!

BY ODELLHUFF

 WRITTEN DECEMBER 26, 2015

I’m probably going to lose my last remaining friends behind this review, but I hated the new Star Wars–a phrase I thought I would never utter in a lifetime bookended by the defining space opera of our times. No spoilers here! And I feel bad, because I of course love Disney and I love J.J. Abrams (and George Lucas!), but this latest installment of the greatest franchise of all time was just a PC rehash of A New Hope, with familiar tropes thrown in to convince us this that is a Star Wars movie, with new characters but no back stories or opportunity to care about them. There was no story at all! In previous episodes, we got a New Hope, we got Revenge, we got Struck Back, we got Attack, and a Return of the Jedi. But at what point was the Force supposed to Awaken? I guess unless you count the moment when Daisy Ridley, whoever she is, gets a fierce glint in her eye. And for all misguided who think Empire was the best installment simply because Lucas didn’t direct it, I for one say give Lucas his $4 billion dollars back and let him direct the remaining movies (although with a better dialogue writer). A mystifying rehash isn’t a reboot, and it’s definitely not an Awakening.

Are Pro-Palestinian Students the Biggest Losers in the Campus Free Speec…

26 Dec