Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Work/Life Balance and the Right to Laziness

In France, where the unemployment rate is chronically fixed at around 10%, the Socialist government has found a new way to interfere in the marketplace. It has just decreed “a right to disconnect.” All workers now have the right to ignore company emails when they are not on the job.

It will give them more time to connect with their friends on Facebook and to frequent Pornhub. Leave it to the French.

Do you think that the right to disconnect will make the economy run more efficiently? Will it help businesses to coordinate their activities? What happens when something goes wrong while everyone is off enjoying their leisure?

As it happens, this “right” is really an obligation. You do not have the right to do otherwise than to obey the diktat. You didn't think that this was about freedom, did you?  NPR describes it:

Companies with more than 50 employees will be obligated to set up hours — normally during the evening and weekend — when staff are not to send or respond to emails.

Call it the incommunicado rule; no one is allowed to communicate about any business matter outside of business hours. We await information about whether or not employees are allowed to use the telephone to call each other. Also, how can anyone enforce this law? What happens if people use private email accounts? Will this law function like a French tax system that has made evading taxes into a national sport?

I do not need to tell you that the well-intentioned French are basing the law on the fact that all of those extra emails cause stress. And we cannot have that. No one seems to care whether a company will be running more efficiently and effectively and whether it will be more competitive in the world market when everyone is tuned out for most of the week. What if your international competitors are not as dumb as you? What if they work more hours and are always available when something goes wrong? How will this law contribute to competitiveness?

Obviously, it’s a dumb idea. It comes to us from a nation that prides itself on its ideas. Like the compulsory 35 hour work week. According to that law you do not have the right to work more than 35 hours a week. The reasoning was  simple: if you work fewer hours your company will have to hire more people to do the job. Thus employment will increase.

Unfortunately, the policy has done nothing to move the unemployment rate… largely because it is simply too expensive to hire people and France. And once you do hire them it’s nearly impossible to fire them. French workers have been marching in the streets against changes—proposed by Socialist government—that would make it easier to fire workers.

The net effect of all this well-intentioned meddling in the marketplace is that the best and the brightest of France’s young people have moved to London. Where they do not have a 35 hour work week, where they do not have rules for using email after hours, and where the bureaucracy and the tax code are vastly more congenial. Literally hundreds of thousands of the most capable French young people are now living in London.

The other consequence is that the man who is most likely to become the next president of France, Francois Fillon, is running as a Thatcherite conservative… what the French, with customary Gallic contempt… call a neoliberal.

Now, Grant Cardone writes on CNBC that the French government has turned its citizens into a nation of slackers. It has bought the concept of work/life balance, and has used it to undermine business and to compromise everyone’s prospect for career advancement.

After all, work/life balance is sucker bait. It will be the epitaph on the tombstone of no small number of dead careers.

Besides, Cardone points out, if you have a middle class income you do not need work/life balance. You need more money. You do not need comfort. You need financial freedom. Leave it to the business press to speak a truth that everyone can understand.

One must note that the concept of work/life balance was designed to get men out of the marketplace and into the home, where they can help with housework. It’s another scheme to equalize the tasks performed by men and women. The right to disconnect will not only undermine a man’s career prospects and cause his company to run less efficiently. It will make him a better homemaker. No one ever says this, but we are among friends… right?

As for the burnout that the French fear, Cardone suggests that people burn out because they have found no purpose in their work. One might add that they might feel burned out because they have been deprived of their freedom to choose when to work and not to work. All of that government interference, all of those great vacations, it demoralizes you. I need not mention that France offers the most generous vacation package of any nation. It prides itself on its ability to enjoy leisure, not on its ability to be productive. If that does not depress you, nothing will.

You do better to stop thinking about how many hours you can take off from work, Cardone adds. You should think of what you can contribute and, I would add, how you can gain pride from being part of a good business.

In the old days they used to call it “sloth.” Today we are less theologically inclined and call it: laziness. To Cardone, that is the bottom line. The French are lazy.

Laziness is an entitlement concept accepted by the middle class that crushes any chance you have of greatness.

The French have just legislated laziness as a right. Apparently the 35 hours employees there suffer through is too much and they can't be bothered with any work-related business emails over their long weekends.

And French entitlement has gotten a foothold in the U.S. Many people here believe the government should take care of them.

Take a moment and think about why you must have five days to work and take the weekend off regardless of your personal finances. If I were making $60,000 a year, I would not be content working eight hours at a job that I leave at 5:00 pm.

You have to get your hustle on to get your financial freedom. Of course it's not just about the hustle, you need , too. But the biggest obstacle of many is the entitlement mentality. 

Rather than seeking comfort and leisure, you should be trying to achieve greatness. Other management gurus, like Peter Drucker, have suggested as much. Aristotle certainly agreed. Achievement brings a state of happiness that is quite different from the one gained by indulging in decadent pursuits. 

In America, people are getting duped into thinking that they ought to be seeking work/life balance. They get duped into thinking that happiness means flourishing. They get duped into thinking that they should not be seeking greatness, but should get on the road to meaning… thus to telling cute stories about themselves.

Cardone is correct to warn people against the right to laziness. It points the way toward mediocrity. However meaningful your life, however much you think you are flourishing, you do better to work harder and to achieve greatness.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Notes on Palestinian Statehood

Bret Stephens asks a salient question. Are the Palestinians entitled to a state?

He answers:

Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans—all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?

If so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media. Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.

Why have so many people in Western Europe flocked to the Palestinian cause? Perhaps they simply have no sense of history. Perhaps they do not know which side they are supporting. Or, perhaps they do.

Stephens concludes:

Meanwhile, anyone genuinely concerned with the future of the Palestinians might urge them to elect better leaders, improve their institutions, and stop giving out sweets to celebrate the murder of their neighbors.

The Weekly Standard Gets Suckered

Since Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis is one of the intellectual pillars of the radical left, that world’s denizens are hard at work reviving his tattered reputation. And if you want to fight the good culture war against Anglo-American and Western hegemony you should teach people to think like Freudians. Or better, to worship at the altar of his greatness. True believers do not worry about facts, that is, about empirical verification.

Cue, French psychoanalyst Elisabeth Roudinesco. A fine biographer, Roudinesco is an intrepid warrior in the culture war. Her work ranges from hagiography to propaganda. She does not worry that Freudian psychoanalysis has been widely discredited as a therapy. She understands that, Freud’s own proclamations notwithstanding, psychoanalysis is not a treatment, but is a front in the culture wars.

As I explained in detail in my book The Last Psychoanalyst, Freud was creating a pseudo-religion, a cult that would work to undermine Western civilization, that is, free enterprise and liberal democracy. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand Freud. If you don't believe me, ask any member of the Frankfurt School. Its Marxist fairy tales are perfectly consonant with Freudian thinking. Check out Herbert Marcuse, for example.

So, let’s say that your magazine wants to review Roudinesco’s latest piece of Freudian propaganda. If you do not want to pretend to be objective you choose someone who is going to gush over the book and who will advance the cause of radical leftism, to say nothing of radical feminism.

You will choose a psychology professor who has studied psychoanalysis and who doubles as a woman’s studies professor. That is, you choose a feminist. Brilliant choice. After all, most feminists know that Freud is not their friend and that he treated women miserably. It doesn’t matter. 

But, make sure that you ignore the fact that Freudian theory owes much to the European mania about witchcraft. As I argued in my book, Freud treated his hysterics like witches. He certainly did not cure any of them, but he lied a lot about doing so. He made up great stories that had nothing to do with the truth. See the work of Mikkel Borch–Jakobsen on this score.

If you don’t believe me, keep in mind that,today's sophisticated French psychoanalysts, with Roudinesco’s full support,  will tell you with a straight face that children become autistic because their mothers are frigid. The old refrigerator mother meme, don’t you know?

While British universities are teaching mothers how to help to treat their autistic children French authorities are trying to remove autistic children from their homes, and from their bad mothers. If these mothers are not being treated like witches the term has no meaning. Why a feminist would find this appealing is beyond me.

And let’s say that the same women’s studies professor is also associated with a national movement to defend psychiatric patients who hear voices, that is, who suffer from auditory hallucinations. It is advanced crack pottery… something that can certainly cause damage by persuading schizophrenics to avoid treatment.

All reputable psychiatrists, including French Freudians, know that hearing voices is a very bad sign, often of schizophrenia. For decades they have preferred Halperidol to storytelling.

The radical anti-psychiatry movement, founded decades ago and largely relegated to the dustbin of history, persists in the form of a few deluded souls, who believe that hearing voices can be a meaningful experience.

Anyway, if The New Republic or The Nation had chosen a radical leftist feminist anti-psychiatric thinker to review a book about the radically leftist founder of psychoanalysis you would not blink. You would expect nothing less.

And yet, reading this propaganda in the pages of the Weekly Standard shocks and dismays. How could an otherwise fine conservative publication allow itself to be duped and suckered by the radical left into becoming a carrier for its pernicious ideas? Conservative thinkers should spend more time studying the higher reaches of the marketplace of ideas. It would make them less likely to invite Gail Hornstein to review Elisabeth Roudinesco. And to advance leftist propaganda.

In any case Hornstein gushes:

Precisely for the reason that Roudinesco wrote this brilliant new book: because Sigmund Freud, declared dead more times than anyone can count, is nevertheless very much alive. And despite the vast profusion of materials by and about him, or perhaps as a consequence of them, "we have great difficulty knowing who Freud really was, so thoroughly have the commentaries, fantasies, legends, and rumors masked the reality of this thinker, in his time and in ours."

She is utterly uncritical:

Scrupulous and exhaustive in her use of every imaginable source, Roudinesco performs a huge public service by debunking dozens of errors, myths, caricatures, and rumors that have long circulated about Freud. 

It’s not as though this has never done before. It’s been done to death. Roudinesco is trying to keep Freud alive and especially to keep the leftist dream that he is sustaining viable. After all, Communism failed, so what else does the left have left.

Roudinesco wants to keep psychoanalysis as a pseudo-religion because everyone knows that as a clinical practice, it’s a bust. One wonders if Roudinesco quoted Freud’s claim that psychoanalysis was a medical practice designed to treat neurosis—a bogus and scientistic claim that only dupes still believe.

Why exactly do we need to know who Freud really was? We do not. The only plausible reason for the exercise is to create a cult figure that people can worship. It's a good way to overcome rational thinking and free will. In the context of a real religion it’s called hagiography. Surely, that’s what Roudinesco has in mind. It’s what Hornstein has in mind. How then did the Weekly Standard get suckered into such an enterprise?

In truth, if you examine the words of Roudinesco’s guru and master, Jacques Lacan, psychoanalysis was a scam. Unless you want to be a cult follower you should try to know Freud by his works, and his works have properly been discarded by all but the most inveterate culture warriors.

Roudinesco is nothing if not a serious propagandist. She still claims that Freud gave hysterics an access to speech. Oh, really. She does not seem to recognize that the world of French psychoanalysis, the one from which she issues, does not promote anything that resembles free speech. It is an indoctrination mill that punishes anyone who deviates from the party line. If you disagree with Freud good psychoanalysts will denounce you for being anti-Semitic. Doesn't that sound familiar?

Once upon a time I was invited to Argentina—another nation that has become infested with Freudian theory; how is that working out?—to give some lectures. I asked the woman who offered the invitation: Can I say what I want? She replied: Absolutely not. So much for free speech.

As for Freud’s claims to have cured his hysterics, the research says otherwise. Freud lied about curing his patients but his technique never really produced positive clinical results. The works of Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen document the point extensively. I have written about some of Freud’s other cases in my book. To gain the full measure of Freud’s clinical incompetence check out the case of Horace Frink.

Among the more absurd points in Hornstein’s review is the claim that Freud always looked strangers in the eye. She says this about a man who forced his patients to lie down on the couch, so that they could not look him in the eye. Freud notably declared that he used the couch because he could not stand being looked at. When you are doing propaganda you do not worry about facts.

And note this piece of nonsense from Hornstein:

Later, when yet another world war threatened to destroy everything he had done, Freud stubbornly persisted in thinking that psychoanalysis could "remain 'neutral' in the face of all social change, and thus 'apolitical.'"

True enough, Freud himself remained apolitical. And yet, making World War II about the whether or not your life work is going to be destroyed is absurdly grandiose.

As I have said, Freudian psychoanalysis is overpriced storytelling. People who are thrilled by narratives believe that narratives allow us to understand ourselves. Hornstein happily embraces the notion. The more time you are spinning our stories that pretend to help you to understand yourself the less time you are in the game.

Whatever false sense of understanding Freud’s tragic stories provoked, the truth is that the more you get lost in your mind and the more you spend your time in proposing potential stories for medical conditions—whether auditory hallucinations or autism—the more you are going to prevent people from receiving the best available treatment.

It isn’t an accident that France has been denounced over and over again by the Council of Europe for substandard treatment of autism. As for the auditory hallucinations that Hornstein thinks are so meaningful, no one in the Freudian world of France is dumb enough to believe such a thing.

And now, for those who prefer a more sober and less leftist view of psychoanalysis, this, from Oxford biologist and Nobel laureate Peter Medawar, from 1975:

… psychoanalysts will continue to perpetrate the most ghastly blunders just so long as they persevere in their impudent and intellectually disabling belief that they enjoy “a privileged access to the truth.” The opinion is gaining ground that doctrinaire psychoanalytic theory is the most stupendous confidence trick of the twentieth century; and, to borrow an image I have used elsewhere, a terminal practice as well—something akin to a dinosaur or a zeppelin in the history of ideas: a vast structure with radically unsound design and with no posterity.

Or, as Jacques Lacan put it, Freud blew it. Lacan added that soon no one will give a damn about psychoanalysis. He was right. I am confident that Roudinesco will tell you that he did not mean it, did not say it, and if he did, so what.

Someone explain this to the editors of the Weekly Standard.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A New Cold War with Russia?

Barack Obama is riding off on a wave of glory. The media is pushing the narrative that Obama really was the Messiah—and thus that the media was right, the American people notwithstanding.

And the same media have been peddling the story that Donald Trump is the Antichrist. Thus must mean that they are looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ… after they destroy the Antichrist.

As always, all good things are to the credit of Barack Obama. All bad things are the fault of Republicans, whether Trump or G. W. Bush.

It is such a flagrant lie that it rates with the notion that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified presidential candidate in American history. Anyone who believed that suffers from a thought disorder.

Today, the national hue and cry is directed against Russia. Obama spent eight years ceding authority and power to Russia (and to China, if you wish).  The picture of an all-powerful Russia—one that was pulling the strings in the American election by manipulating a weakened American mind--  makes clear that Obama yielded to Russia, just as he yielded to Iran and just as he let the Chinese do what they wanted. Attacks on Russia show that Obama made Russia powerful.

Incidentally, how did it happen that, according to this scenario, the American mind is so easily manipulated?

And now Obama’s supporters are insisting that Donald Trump get into a fight with Russia. They have been attacking Rex Tillerson for being soft on Russia. Mostly, this is coming from the left, the same left that cheered Barack Obama’s retreat from world leadership. Though naturally, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have hopped on the bandwagon.

Where Trump seems to be reviving the policy of détente, even Republicans like Marco Rubio are beating the drums for toughness against Russia. For the record, Rubio’s mindless insistence that prospective Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declare Vladimir Putin a war criminal tells us that many people seriously overestimated the political savvy of Marco Rubio. Can you imagine an American Secretary of State making his opening gambit in a negotiation with Putin the statement that Putin is a war criminal?

Anyway, the long knives are out for Donald Trump. Leftist forces have been in overdrive trying to discredit his election and to undermine his administration… even before it starts. It tells us that however much Barack Obama was courtly and eloquent and reasonable in his own comportment, he was ultimately a divisive president.

Anyway, the other night on Tucker Carlson’s show, many of us saw a conversation between Tucker and Stephen Cohen.  See this link also. Cohen is a retired academic, an expert on Russia, who often writes for The Nation—which is not a publication of the alt-right. As it happens, Cohen is married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, the publisher of The Nation.

Cohen believes that Trump wants to pursue a policy of détente toward Russia, a policy that was first practiced by Richard Nixon,that was denounced but eventually revived by Ronald Reagan. But, he says that certain forces do not want this to happen and are trying to delegitimize the Trump administration in order to produce a new Cold War. Moreover, Cohen suggests, those who are blaming Putin are trying to find someone to blame for the failure of the Obama administration foreign policy.

In a previous article Cohen claimed that we should direct our efforts against Radical Islamist terrorism  and not at Russia. He might have also singled out the dimwits who want to fight climate change and who submit to Islam. The Obama administration has gotten itself far more lathered up over Islamophobia than it has over Islamist terrorism.

Anyway, it is worth our while to examine Cohen’s take on the current dustup about Russia, beginning with the leaked Buzzfeed allegations. Cohen sees a campaign to undermine the Trump presidency and to produce a new Cold War:

Two conflicting interpretations are suggested, says Cohen. Either Trump is about to become a potentially seditious American president. Or powerful US forces are trying to destroy his presidency before it begins, perhaps even prevent him from taking office. Even if the allegations are eventually regarded as untrue, they may permanently slur and thus cripple Trump as a foreign-policy president, especially in trying to diminish the exceedingly dangerous new Cold War with Russia, which would constitute a grave threat to US national security—particularly in an existential nuclear confrontation like the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. If anti-Trump American forces are behind untrue allegations of this magnitude, those forces are the primary enemies of US national security and should be investigated fully and publicly.

If we believe the vilification campaign, Vladimir Putin put Donald Trump in the White House because he considered Hillary Clinton the greater threat. If you really believe that Putin was manipulating it all from behind the scenes you have to believe that he was most threatened by Hillary Clinton. As you know the Russians have consistently treated Hillary and John Kerry and Barack Obama with nothing but contempt.

Cohen offers this analysis:

Two conflicting interpretations are suggested, says Cohen. Either Trump is about to become a potentially seditious American president. Or powerful US forces are trying to destroy his presidency before it begins, perhaps even prevent him from taking office. Even if the allegations are eventually regarded as untrue, they may permanently slur and thus cripple Trump as a foreign-policy president, especially in trying to diminish the exceedingly dangerous new Cold War with Russia, which would constitute a grave threat to US national security—particularly in an existential nuclear confrontation like the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

The American left is playing the only card it has left: the politics of defamation. We should evaluate the consequences:

Cohen points out that even before the latest “revelation” there has been an unprecedented media campaign to defame Trump as a would-be traitor in his relations with Russia. On the night of January 4, a CNN paid contributor characterized the next president as a Russian “fifth columnist”—no one on the panel dissented or demurred. 

Subsequently, Washington Post columnists warned that Trump might have committed “treason” as president or replicate with Putin the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Another set out the articles of his impeachment even before his inauguration. Here, too, nothing so poisonous, or potentially detrimental to national security, or to the presidency itself, has occurred in modern American history.

Everyone has been saying that Trump needs to accept the conclusions offered by the intelligence community uncritically. Cohen disagrees, suggesting that Trump is right to remain skeptical:

US national security requires a president who is able to evaluate critically intelligence reports or have people around him who can do so. Whether Trump and his appointees are such people is a separate question.

Cohen considers Tillerson to be well qualified to be Secretary of State:

Cohen counters that the United States does not need a friend in the Kremlin but a national-security partner whose national interests are sufficiently mutual for sustained cooperation—détente instead of Cold War. In this regard, Tillerson, whose success was based on reconciling national interests, would appear to be well qualified, though he too is defamed for suggesting any kind of cooperation with Moscow, no matter the benefits to US national security.

One notes that Andrew Young, an icon in the civil rights movement, also supports Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State:

So, for me, an "Oil Man" as Secretary of State is a "Stone of Hope."

Statecraft has a tendency to be moralistic. Business is more pragmatic, seeking mutual self-interest rather than arguing absolutes of right or wrong.

I offer these views because they do not come from Trump supporters. In the current cacophony of threats and posturing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people who can see beyond moral absolutes.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Rise and Fall of Marissa Mayer

When Yahoo! hired Marissa Mayer as the new CEO, it was throwing what is known in another context as a "Hail Mary" pass. Here we’ll call it a "Hail Marissa" pass.

The company was in trouble and the Board of Directors must have thought that the risk of hiring a woman with no real managerial experience and who was about to give birth to her first child was worth taking.

As it turned out, the Mayer tenure at Yahoo! has not been a success. Mayer now has three children but the company, as it was, will soon cease to exist.

For the record, this blogger has generally been supportive of Mayer. When she banned telecommuting as a way to overcome the dismal state of the Yahoo! office environment I wrote that she had every right to make an executive decision. The market, not bloggers and columnists, would be the judge.

The same applied to Mayer’s policy of giving special preference to female hires. True enough, most of Silicon Valley is anything but diverse. Most of it is run by white and Asian males. If Mayer wanted to hire more women, regardless of merit, she had every right to do so. Again, the market was the final judge.

For the record, Mayer has been sued for discriminating against men. Wikipedia reports:

Scott Ard, a prominent editorial director, fired from Yahoo! in 2015, has filed a lawsuit accusing Mayer of leading a sexist campaign to purge male employees. Ard, a male employee, stated “Mayer encouraged and fostered the use of (an employee performance-rating system) to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo!’s male employees”. 

Mayer may n0t have been willing to proclaim herself to be a feminist, but she certainly acted like one.

Now, Erin Gloria Ryan is ranting about how Mayer owed everything to feminism and yet failed in her primary task—or better, what Ryan defines as Mayer’s primary task—to be a vocal and outspoken feminist.

That’s right, Mayer did not have to answer to Yahoo! shareholders. She had to answer to her true employer: Feminism, Inc. She should have been out there on the front lines fighting for free IUDs for all women. Would that have made her a better CEO? Ryan does not ask the question.

Obviously, any woman who announces that her primary loyalty is to Feminism, Inc. and not to her company will normally not be hired at all. And she is certainly not going to be promoted. The same applies to any man or woman who makes social justice or some other ideological cause the object of his full commitment.

Ryan—not the brightest bulb on the tree—has offered a good reason for women not to be hired and promoted. She has told women what they need to do in order not to be hired, or better, in order not to be elected president of the United States. After all, a presidential candidate must, above all else, show him or herself to be devoted primarily to the nation, not to a cause. America was tricked by Barack Obama. It was not tricked by Hillary Clinton.

As Ryan describes her, Mayer failed as CEO:

Mayer’s tenure at Yahoo has been singular for several reasons. On a practical level, it was a gutsy hire when she was brought on in 2012, as a product-oriented person who, at 37, was young and relatively inexperienced with running an entire company. Her management style occasionally raised eyebrows. Although she was six months pregnant when she accepted the job, shortly after coming aboard she banned telecommuting for employees. After her son was born, she had a nursery built in her office. Other Yahoo employees who were working caretakers didn’t have the same luxury. She spent lavishly on high-profile hires like Katie Couric, who cost Yahoo $10 million a year and exposed it to controversy at a time the company’s reputation couldn’t exactly afford the ding. Ultimately, a combination of overzealous acquisition, questionable decisions that led to poor employee morale, and plain old bad luck grounded Yahoo’s aspirations for a turnaround.

A rational individual might have concluded that the Yahoo! Board had made a mistake in hiring Marissa Mayer. A rational individual might have seen that a pregnant woman, a woman who was about to give birth, a woman who would naturally undergo the transformations that accompany her condition, was not in the best position to run a major corporation. Not Ryan.

In an especially mindless fashion she inveighs against Mayer for refusing to return the favor granted her by feminism. She attacks Mayer for not embracing the ideology.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take a gander at this:

Then there was the woman thing. Mayer’s womanhood, her glamorous public image, her status as a mother, her outspoken stances on feminism and women at work made her rise and ultimate thwarting uniquely of-this-era. She is a woman who has achieved impressively, who has benefited from feminism immensely. And yet, she is a woman who didn’t feel compelled to identify with the ideology of feminism. In fact, in an interview early in her tenure as CEO of Yahoo, she distanced herself from the activism that gave women the right to vote and obtain birth control and the right to apply for credit cards without a husband’s permission, saying she found the whole thing too “negative.”

Does Ryan imagine that an activist feminist would have been a better CEO? Was Hillary Clinton, everyone’s feminist role model, a competent Secretary of State?

We will ignore the fact that no one really identifies with an ideology—to repeat Ryan’s clumsy phrasing—but that one adheres to it or embraces it. Ryan is saying that Mayer and every other woman who has enjoyed any recent success owes it to feminism and is obligated to return the favor.

As a counterpoint, we mention that Mayer herself deserves credit for her considerable accomplishments as well as blame for her failures. We should also notice that feminists, being card-carrying ideologues, only take credit for what they perceive to be the good that feminist has achieved. You do not see too many feminists crying out to with pride over all the divorces and broken homes that feminism provoked. You do not see too many feminists taking credit for the infertility problems of women who follow the feminist life plan.

Any time anything does not work out for a woman, feminists blame the sexist, misogynist patriarchy. Any time a woman succeeds feminsim gives the credit to feminism. It’s the definition of an ideology. In the end you cannot even think straight.

We reported recently that brain science has demonstrated definitively that a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy, the better to activate the instincts that will make her a better mother. These changes are unlikely to make her a better CEO. The point is so obvious that only a feminist would miss it.

In truth, Mayer was having her first child at age 37. She was doing so because she was following the feminist life play, postponing childbearing until her career was firmly established. Feminists failed to notice, as Penelope Trunk brought to their attention, that if a woman has children in her late 30s she will be running after toddlers at the same time when she is eligible for a senior management role. If feminists really want women to enter the executive suite the better course would be to have children young. And yet, the thought is anathema to feminists.

When push comes to shove, however, we have to admit that Ryan does have a point. She has a point about the influence of feminism. In truth, were it not for the ideological climate created by feminism, an ideological climate that believes human biology to be a social construct, no one would have chosen a pregnant woman with no management experience as the CEO of a major corporation.

The Yahoo! Board was influenced, overtly or covertly, by feminist ideology. It wanted to make a politically correct point—by ignoring pregnancy and inexperience--and tanked the company. Or better, sent the company further into the tank.

As for Mayer, if she had not been influenced by the ideology she would never have taken the job. Mayer might not have been a feminist. She might have refused to embrace the ideology, but she was a product of the culture, especially of the culture of Silicon Valley, and to that culture she owes the fact that she made a bad decision. Certainly, the decision was bad for Yahoo! We do not know whether it was good or bad for her as a mother.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Abandon All Hope....

If you thought that America’s young people were in trouble, look at what is happening across the pond. That is, in Great Britain.

Perhaps the psychological distress felt by large numbers of British children has nothing to do with America. Or perhaps, Great Britain is merely a mini-America, reflecting similar but not identical trends on our side of the pond.

According to a recent survey large numbers of British young people have serious mental health issues. They are in so much despair about their future and about their ability to shape it that they can barely focus at school.

One can be forgiven for imagining that the new sign welcoming people to Great Britain should read: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Or as Dante saw on the portal leading into the Inferno: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.

The London Telegraph reports the bleak news:

Half of young people have so many emotional problems they cannot focus at school, a study has found.

Some 48 per cent of youngsters said that they experienced problems during their school years that prevented them from concentrating on their academic work.

Of these, 46 per cent did not talk to anyone about their problems, mainly because they did not want other people to know that they were struggling.

More than half (58 per cent) did not think that asking for help would solve the problem.

Children who believe that they are being robbed of their future, perhaps by the actions of their elders and their government, are unlikely to believe that they can solve the problem by taking a pill or by going to therapy.

One does not wish to draw conclusions about a situation one cannot completely grasp, but surely, the reasons for this despair must derive from a loss of national pride. Or is it caused by the apocalyptic visions and general hysteria of those who did not want Britain to leave the European Union?

Serious politicians and thought leaders should understand that when they fill the airways with their emotion-laden rants, when they dispense with cold reason in favor of the hot mess of their feelings, they will damage the minds of young people who have not been immunized against the cultural toxins.

If you fill the media with anger and outrage, people will conclude that rational deliberation and consequential action can never produce any positive results.

Or perhaps the current despair has been produced by a loss of national identity and national purpose, loss that Brexit was designed to heal. Or, has it been caused by the sense of feeling alone and abandoned, cut off from Europe? Or, has it been caused by too much free enterprise or by too much bureaucratic socialism?

For their part British children see the problem in economic terms:

Half of young people said they feel the pressures of getting a job are greater than they were a year ago and more than a third said they did not feel in control of their job prospects.

The eighth Index, based on a survey of 2,215 young people aged 16 to 25, revealed many feel their circumstances are trapping them.

Dame Martina Milburn, chief executive at the Prince’s Trust said: “This report paints a deeply concerning picture of a generation who feel their ability to shape their own future is slipping away from them.

"It’s shocking how many feel so desperate about their situation and it is vital that we support them to develop the confidence and coping skills they need to succeed in life.”

These young people do not believe that they can succeed in the marketplace. They do not believe that they can compete. They believe that their prospects are limited and that opportunities barely exist. It does not take a leap of imagination to see that more than a few of our fellow Americans hold the same pessimistic outlook.

Have both nations lost the will to compete, the will to fight and to excel? If so, that would explain some of what is happening to British youth. Perhaps the culture war against the Anglosphere and Western Civilization has contributed to this mindset.

The Telegraph reports:

Of those surveyed, 42 per cent said traditional goals such as buying a house or getting a steady job were unrealistic and 34 per cent said they thought they will have a worse standard of living than their parents did.

Almost a fifth said they "don’t believe they can change their circumstances if they want to" and 16 per cent said they "think their life will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try".

Of course, the Prince’s Trust, run by Charles, Prince of Wales is trying to solve the problem. But, ask yourself this, is Prince Charles the solution or the problem? To those of us on this side of the Atlantic, he comes across as an insufferable flake, someone who embraces every trendy cause, even to the point of using his Christmas address this year to ask his subjects to think about the Prophet Mohammed.

All things considered, when you watch the Prince of Wales you understand why Great Britain goes into a panic every time his mother catches cold. Let’s not forget that Great Britain has Charles to thank for that self-indulgent fame whore, Lady Diana, who made it her mission in life to discredit the monarchy—thus, national unity and purpose—because her husband did not love her enough. One does not know how to calculate the negative influence of such a role model, but it must be considerable.

How many of these children’s problems derive from the nation’s drift toward multiculturalism, its loss of the pride in being British?

The psychological aspects look like this:

Of those who do not feel they are in control of their lives, 61 per cent said they felt this was because they lack self-confidence, and that this holds them back.

A range of factors that may contribute  to young people not feeling in control of their lives have been highlighted by the Index.

One in 10 young people said they did not know anyone who "really cares" about them, 45 per cent felt stressed about body image and 37 per cent said they felt stressed about coping with work or school, the report found.

The Youth Index showed that many feel confused, and 44 per cent of those surveyed claimed they don’t know what to believe because they read conflicting things in the media about the economy.

Dazed and confused by what appears in the media, children are pessimistic about their future. The more political and thought leaders become unhinged, the more they believe that their role is to disseminate propaganda and to become public drama queens, the more the children will suffer.

Don't Multitask!

Long time readers of this blog know that multitasking is bad for you. When you try to do multiple tasks at the same time you lose focus and become less efficient. Apparently it even damages your brain.

Multitasking is as bad for you as multiculturalism.

For links to my previous posts, see here and here and here. One notes that they begin nearly eight years ago. For once I do not feel like I am late to the party.

Anyway, Travis Bradbury makes the case against multitasking:

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren't just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that's critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Yet, we all know people who say that they are great at multitasking. Happily enough, the research has evaluated their claims:

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Why is this so? Because, Bradbury explains, the brain can only focus on one thing at once. Try to make to focus of two or more things at the same time and it will malfunction.

Not only that, but if you multitask too much you will lose a few IQ points. Say what?

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they'd expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

So the next time you're writing your boss an email during a meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let an 8-year-old write it for you.

That ought to be the definitive, last word on multitasking. It probably won't be.