The Third Annual Meeting of the HL Mencken Club – Oct. 22-23, 2010 – Baltimore, Maryland

The Third Annual Meeting of the HL Mencken Club

Oct. 22-23, 2010

Baltimore, Maryland

Friday, October 22:

7: 30 – 10 PM — Dinner

Paul Gottfried: “How the Left Won the Cold War”

John Derbyshire : “The PC Religion”

Saturday, October 23:

9 – 10 AM — PC Around the World

Grant Havers: “Canada: The Death of the West Up North”

TBA: “Eastern Europe: The Last Stand Against PC”

Ilana Mercer: “South Africa: A Warning”

10: 30 – 11: 30 AM — “Rights” Culture

Paul Gottfried: “The Civil Rights Act: PC’s Holy Shrine”

James Kalb: “PC: The Cultural Antichrist”

Richard Spencer: “‘When Will They Wake Up?”

12 – 2 PM — Lunch

12:45 Speaker: TBA

2:20 – 3 PM — Land of Illusions

Robert Weissberg: “Bad Students / Not Bad Schools”

Steve Sailer: “Can HBD Trump PC?”

Henry Harpending: “The Evolutionary Left”

3:30 – 4:30 PM — Traditionalism, Subversion, and Counterrevolution

Christopher Kopff: “Back to the Future or Why the Past is More Important Than the Present”

James Russell: “The Churches’ Betrayal of European Christianity”

Tom Piatak: “Christophobia and its Discontents”

5:30 – 6:30 PM Plenary Session — Q&A

7:30 – 8:30 — Dinner

John Derbyshire: Reading from the Mencken Chrestomathy

Peter Brimelow: “Neo-Socialism, or How the Government Can Elect a New People”

10:00 — Hospitality Suite

10:30 — Late-night “Cigar & Bourbon” Session — “What Needs to Be Done?”

HL Mencken on the first great evolution trial…

I’ve spent a LOT of time putting together a series of 13 podcast episodes of HL Mencken’s Baltimore Evening Sun reports on the Scopes trial from Dayton, Tenn. I’m releasing them in somewhat “real time”, according to the dates they were published 85 years ago. I’d like my visitors to this blog to hear them, and if you enjoy it, please pass a link along to others.

First, a list of the episodes and dates they’ll be released, I’ll link them up as they come out:

June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* – Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.

The full text of the report at the end of the blog!

As frequent readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of Mencken’s writing. He’s got a viewpoint that is hardly expressed anymore – a no-bullshit commentator on the follies of his day. Moreso, much of what he criticised then has only gone downhill, and his mockery and scathing verbiage is a balm for the mind appalled by the utter stupidity of the modern scene. The only man I’ve read that was able to mix his best elements together with style was Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey introduced me to Mencken, as well as any number of authors, philosophers, artists and ideas. LaVey is indeed the proverbial gateway drug. It is the opposite of the religions of “the book”, his was a religion “of the world”. When Adversary Recordings rereleased his “Satan Takes a Holiday” CD, and I was tasked with writing promotional copy, this is the tail end:

“…as with most of the work that Anton LaVey has done, it’s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of “occult” to these songs is probably most appropriate, as they are hidden wonders.”

A few of the folks who didn’t get turned onto LaVey get real tripped up on the S-word. I’m not going to go into apologetics here, but I think I will be doing an episode on the topic. Let me assure you that you are nowhere near the first person, if you’re like many, to ask “But why not just call yourself ______?”

***

I’m not a writer. There are a few things that I’ve pecked out on the keyboard that I’m proud of, but I hold no illusion that they could even serve as an introduction to Mencken’s own words. Though mecken has penned a few pithy quotable lines, there has been one that I’ve found most reflects my own lifelong work, and I’ve used it many times. It is, in fact, the very first quote on my quotes page:

“I hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterday… This borrowing and refurbishing of shop-worn goods, as a matter of fact, is the invariable habit of traders in ideas, at all times and everywhere. It is not, however, that all the conceivable human notions have been thought out; it is simply, to be quite honest, that the sort of men who volunteer to think out new ones seldom, if ever, have wind enough for a full day’s work.”

-H.L. Menken, from “In Defense of Women”

***

July 6th was my 35th birthday and the 2nd anniversary of Underworld Amusements (I made a public announcement in October of ’08, but July was the time I started working on it seriously… well, as seriously as I’ve had spare time for). I’ve done quite a bit in the last two years under the banner of UA, but I’m reevaluating it as one should do everything. The podcast started in

The past month and a half I’ve been running ads on Facebook. It’s as cheap or expensive as you want to make it, so I made it cheap and tried to target the people I think would be most interested. It’s brought traffic to the site, but the idea of paying .15 to .50 cents for someone to merely visit the site is hard for me to do. UA is a no-budget operation, more or less. The meager profits from books just go to spending money on website hosting and whatever expenses come along.

This isn’t a wind-up to hitting you up for donations, though it probably sounds like it. No, this is a wind-up to ask anyone who has enjoyed a podcast or book released under the Underworld Amusements banner to occasionally, or at least once, post a link on facebook, write a review on itunes, or do some simple free task to promote what I’m doing. After 14 podcasts, including a number of interviews (from Oscar winner HR Giger, to one-time “worlds worst person” John Derbyshire, to Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, among others), I’ve received exactly one review on iTunes, and that I hounded a friend for.

A few folks have been very supportive, and I’ve done my best to reciprocate. That’s how I roll. I’ve done my best to avoid SPAMMY behavior. I haven’t trolled social network sites begging for folks to “friend” me. I rarely do it on my personal profile and just as rarely do it on my “business” pages. I promote other projects and publishers directly on the UA site and moreso on my personal site. This respectable method isn’t working. Paying for clicks is, but it’s also spending the little money I make that could be spent on new projects or making ongoing projects better.

***

I’ve tried thinking of ways to organize some sort of project that would assist others who are working on projects or have blogs or books to promote to do so easily. Something either a little more targeted than “facebook”, but not a whole separate system that competes with the established sites. I don’t want to build a social network for misfits, but I would like something like an Instapundit for misanthropes. Something that’s compelling enough to bring returning visitors, but not so involved that people have to set up identities, and something that can push that same info out to folks.

I’m not sure what form it’ll take, but it has a name and a url, though I’m not letting that on right now, as it could radically change or not happen. It’d be like telling you my sons name while still a virgin (well, technically, after I had the first two kids aborted, and was planing on making another kid).

When skepticism isn’t allowed…

I’m really bothered with the term “denialist”. It seems akin to racist or communist, intended to shut down discussion on all levels. We’re right, you’re an ideological brute who cannot see the truth that we, the elect, have. It pushes what could be sincere and scientific inquiry into the realm of conspiracy theories, and it’s done with calculating and malicious intent.

The first denialists, the lowest socially, are the “Holocaust Deniers”. The new denialists on the blocks are the “Global Warming Deniers”. Richard Dawkins, in his new “The Greatest Show On Earth” is floating “History Deniers” for people who don’t believe in evolution. This is in the first few pages of the book, and honestly, when I got through this, I ended up putting the book down and not picking it back up again. I accept that evolution is real, I have no problem in name calling in a manifesto, but that’s not what I was wanting in “The Greatest Show”, a book that is more of a work of Apologetics more than Polemics. Even the Vatican endorses evolution.

It seems obvious this is creating a dichotomy and a gross reduction of viewpoints. This, from scientists and historians who should know how difficult the subjects are, and how both historians and scientists have been very wrong about theories they’ve held to be quite unassailable at one point in time.

This said, I was quite pleased to see this more nuanced taxonomy…

http://edge.org/3rd_culture/brand09.1/brand09.1_index.html

FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY

[STEWART BRAND:] Climate talks have been going on in Copenhagen for a week now, and it appears to be a two-sided debate between alarmists and skeptics. But there are actually four different views of global warming. A taxonomy of the four:

DENIALISTS They are loud, sure and political. Their view is that climatologists and their fellow travelers are engaged in a vast conspiracy to panic the public into following an agenda that is political and pernicious. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and the columnist George Will wave the banner for the hoax-callers.

“The claim that global warming is caused by manmade emissions is simply untrue and not based on sound science,” Mr. Inhofe declared in a 2003 speech to the Senate about the Kyoto accord that remains emblematic of his position. “CO2 does not cause catastrophic disasters — actually it would be beneficial to our environment and our economy …. The motives for Kyoto are economic, not environmental — that is, proponents favor handicapping the American economy through carbon taxes and more regulations.”

SKEPTICS This group is most interested in the limitations of climate science so far: they like to examine in detail the contradictions and shortcomings in climate data and models, and they are wary about any “consensus” in science. To the skeptics’ discomfort, their arguments are frequently quoted by the denialists.

In this mode, Roger Pielke, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado, argues that the scenarios presented by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are overstated and underpredictive. Another prominent skeptic is the physicist Freeman Dyson, who wrote in 2007: “I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models …. I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests.”

WARNERS These are the climatologists who see the trends in climate headed toward planetary disaster, and they blame human production of greenhouse gases as the primary culprit. Leaders in this category are the scientists James Hansen, Stephen Schneider and James Lovelock. (This is the group that most persuades me and whose views I promote.)

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted,” Mr. Hansen wrote as the lead author of an influential 2008 paper, then the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would have to be reduced from 395 parts per million to “at most 350 p.p.m.”

CALAMATISTS There are many environmentalists who believe that industrial civilization has committed crimes against nature, and retribution is coming. They quote the warners in apocalyptic terms, and they view denialists as deeply evil. The technology critic Jeremy Rifkin speaks in this manner, and the writer-turned-activist Bill McKibben is a (fairly gentle) leader in this category.

In his 2006 introduction for “The End of Nature,” his famed 1989 book, Mr. McKibben wrote of climate change in religious terms: “We are no longer able to think of ourselves as a species tossed about by larger forces — now we are those larger forces. Hurricanes and thunderstorms and tornadoes become not acts of God but acts of man. That was what I meant by the ‘end of nature.'”

The calamatists and denialists are primarily political figures, with firm ideological loyalties, whereas the warners and skeptics are primarily scientists, guided by ever-changing evidence. That distinction between ideology and science not only helps clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the four stances, it can also be used to predict how they might respond to future climate developments.

If climate change were to suddenly reverse itself (because of some yet undiscovered mechanism of balance in our climate system), my guess is that the denialists would be triumphant, the skeptics would be skeptical this time of the apparent good news, the warners would be relieved, and the calamatists would seek out some other doom to proclaim.

If climate change keeps getting worse then I would expect denialists to grasp at stranger straws, many skeptics to become warners, the warners to start pushing geoengineering schemes like sulfur dust in the stratosphere, and the calamatists to push liberal political agendas — just as the denialists said they would.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: First published as an OpEd article in The New York Times on December 15, 2009]

YouTube :: John Derbyshire on Islamophobia, Mass Immigration

John Derbyshire, journalist, math aficionado, and author of the new book “We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism”, sat down with host Kevin I. Slaughter for a discussion on atheism and conservatism, math cranks and more. This excerpt touches on Islamophobia, mass immigration, and a scientific study that reveals depression may be an evolutionary way to think more clearly.

This YouTube video may not show up properly in some feeds, please view the original post, or see it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_-YIM7K4Io

Please note: I misspoke, well, a few times as usual, but specifically in the discussion of Islamophobia where I say that Derbyshire believes “Christianity isslightly crazier than Islam”, but that should be “slightly less crazy than Islam”. A small, but important difference.

Book Nerd :: Late Sept. ’09 – (update)

Ukazoo Books in Towson – The Burden of Bad Ideas by Heather MacDonald (used)

Germ Books in Philly – On Being A Pagan by Alain deBenoist and Carnival Culture by James B. Twitchell

UPDATE!

Costco (cheaper than Amazon.com, like $16 and some change) – Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth!