"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, April 29, 2022

Be All You Can Be, But Photoshop Yourself Before Release–The Art Of Making Fake News Real

Betty Landers had been a very unattractive little girl, frizzy hair, sallow complexion, and a singularly unsymmetrical face.  She had been called all sorts of names – Picasso was the one that stuck, for she did look a bit like his discombobulated, disorienting, deconstructed women.  Not that the girls in her class were so artistically savvy that they could have come up with this sobriquet on their own, but their parents were, and living in a community where the tensile sensitivity of the day had never taken hold, any comparison, no matter how specious or unjust, stuck.

Image result for images picasso women deconstructed

“I hate the name Picasso”, Betty had said to her mother who every day lamented the fact that her genes had gone awry and had produced this rather untoward looking child.  Mrs. Landers had been a model for Harpers in her heyday, had had many calls from Hollywood, but like thousands of beautiful women before her, she never quite made the grade.  There was something off about her screen tests, and while producers could never quite put their fingers on it, their common intuition ruled the day, and Rebecca Prentice as she was then known, remained in New England.

Although Betty did not inherit her mother’s looks, she did come out with her father’s brains.  Franchot Landers had been singled out by a Harvard mathematician for sponsorship to The School of Advanced Theoretical Mathematics in Los Alamos, had interned there under the tutelage of Professor Shmuel Leibowitz, renowned thinker and cellist.  However, despite his obvious talent, Landers could never see himself constantly scribbling equations on a blackboard, and so took his genius to Boston’s Silicon Valley East.

It would have been marvelous, said the Landers parents, if their daughter had inherited both her mother’s beauty and her father’s brains; but never mind since she used her intellectual legacy to fool everyone into thinking she was beautiful.  The art of the fake came naturally to her.

She of course had heard of Diana Vreeland and read her autobiography, and immediately recognized herself.  Vreeland by her own admission had been born ugly and remained ugly for her entire life.  Not only was she unattractive, but given the capriciousness of genetic legacy, she was the younger sister of a stunning beauty, a belle of the ball, her father’s favorite, and the most popular girl in town.  

Diana had had a tough road to hoe, but somehow saw how she could not only compensate for her lack of physical appeal but convince people that they were looking at a beauty.  She began what is now recognized as perhaps the most successful career in fashion ever.  As Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, she was America’s arbiter of fashion, influenced both American and European fashion designers, and was recognized as one of America’s best-dressed women.  When readers saw this perfectly-tailored, chic, sophisticated, classically-dressed woman, they thought she was beautiful. 

Image result for Images Diana Vreeland. Size: 150 x 222. Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Anyone who looked closely or who had no interest in female fashion saw the equine, misaligned face she never disowned, but most observers’ eyes were diverted to look at hems, dress lines, millinery, jewelry, and scrim.  No one would ever have said, “Oh, that ugly Vreeland woman”.

Betty had also seen the Al Pacino movie, Simone, the story of a fading Hollywood producer looking for a comeback and who creates a virtual beauty, Simone.  With canny PR, great technical dexterity, and a sense of the dramatic, he introduces Simone – all pixels and electronics – to Hollywood as the next Marilyn Monroe.  

Despite increasing calls to see her in person, the Pacino character manages to keep her under wraps and expose her to the public only via live video.  He is her voice, her temperament, and her allure.  He is Simone, and the more he displays her, the more real she becomes.  Of course a willing suspension of disbelief is central to the movie, but no one watching Pacino and the increasingly duped press and fans cares.  The story is one of our times – all media, image, and illusion.

Image result for Images Simone In Pacino Movie. Size: 137 x 206. Source: www.dubman.eu

Betty was fortunate enough to have come of age in the era of Donald Trump.  An apolitical person, Betty was unconcerned about his policies or the accusations leveled at him.   She was only fascinated by his oversized, bigger-than-life persona.  He was a performer, a vaudevillian, a big top impresario, a lion tamer, an absolutely fascinating, riveting character unlike any American president before him.  He was a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mean streets of New York, skilled not only in the art of the deal, but the art of deception.  He knew that the truth was simply a relative commodity, that everything was subject to interpretation, and that a canny performer can fool most of the people most of the time.

Trump was simply upfront and honest about what other politicians had tried to keep hidden – showmanship, stage virtuosity, ego, and performance will always win the day.  His supporters caught on quickly.  It was not what he said – they loved his hyperbole, outrageous claims, ridicule, and ad hominem attacks – but what he meant.  Despite his public persona, his programs and policies hewed quite closely to classic social, economic, and fiscal conservatism.

Image result for images donald trump on campaign trail

Part of Trump’s image was the idea of ‘fake news’ – news invented or distorted by his enemies to promote their own agendas and to tear down his much more reputable ones.  The term, however, as it went viral morphed into something much more fundamental; and more to Betty’s idea of reality.  In the virtual, socially mediated universe, there could be no actuality; no verifiable reality; no absolute truth.

Image result for images fake news

Philosophers and behavioral psychologists have always been aware of the impossibility of pinning down reality.  Browning, Durrell, and Kurosawa all wrote about or produced works which displayed the subjectivity of the observer – different stories told by different people who had presumably experienced the same event.  Behaviorists who studied the phenomenon of the ‘eye witness’ concluded the same thing – people witnessing an alleged crime will report seeing it differently.  

Despite the religious fundamentalist’s belief that the Bible is the very word of God, most others read it as a witnessed account which, ipso facto, must be subjective.  In fact Biblical studies at Protestant seminaries focus on exegesis – how can one arrive at some semblance of truth by parsing every line of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and comparing them? 

Bishop Berkeley questioned the nature of reality when he asked, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound”; or even more fantastically, do we exist only in the mind of God or some other superhuman intelligence?

Image result for images The Ring and The Book. Size: 150 x 239. Source: www.abebooks.co.uk

So armed with all this historical, philosophical, social, and above all cinematic evidence of the reality of fake news, Betty remade herself. She created a social media persona that was of her own design, conducted job interviews virtually as expected and required of employers in the age of COVID and manipulated every visual cue to her advantage.  

The technology of which she had become a master became her tool, and she became a Simone.  All her meetings were held on Zoom or Google Meet, and thanks to her assiduity, there was never any inconsistency; and then, a la Diana Vreeland, when she did make forays in public, people saw her as she had presented herself online, not as she actually was.  Of course she went out of her way to disguise as far as possible any Picasso remnants of visage, but it was people’s expectations which ruled their vision.

As she became more well known and political in her own right, she began to sound like Senator Palantine, the fictitious politician running for president in the Scorsese movie,  Taxi Driver.   “We are the people”, he says, repeating the tag line of his campaign over and over again and goes on to say that we the people will finally govern.  We the people will take the right and true road.  We the people are on a path of righteousness; and by the end of the movie he is saying absolutely nothing.  Yet his fans are delirious with support for him, the candidate they had always hoped for.

Betty had learned how understanding the fathomless gullibility and idealistic reach of people was in her favor.  She had only to weave a tapestry of good feelings, appropriate sentiments, and heartfelt nostrums.  The more she appealed to people in these simple ways, the more she was admired.  Her Picasso face was entirely forgotten.  In the magic of subjective gullibility, images are fungible.  Her silver tongue, sweet blandishments, and happy talk became one with her now beautifully perceived face.

Her career was stellar and she was appointed to many Boards of Directors, prominent positions in foundations and advocacy groups, and was persistently approached for a political career.  Let it be said, of course, that Betty Landers was a supremely intelligent person, so her supporters and admirers were not getting an empty suit; but for all intents and purposes she was an intellectual cipher, carried on the winds of popular opinion and all the happier for it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Old Chestnuts Rather Than Ripe Berries–Divorced And Searching For Old Girlfriends

Brent Chapin had a messy divorce with enough piss and bile to leave a very bad taste in his mouth.  Getting over his marriage to a woman he probably never should have married in the first place, but because of inertia, children, and a congenital dislike for change all of which led him to stick with it and to her, it was not easy. He was a professor at a middling Mid Atlantic school before the divorce, liked but not admired, productive but only in middling journals, and happy enough to be near the Bay, not far from the ocean, and close enough to Richmond for a quick flight north, and remained so afterwards.  Genes, upbringing, experience, and happenstance assured that his trajectory would never change.

His wife, Emma, never a bad sort was also a product of a patrician New England family, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Davenport expedition, Nantucket shipowners, Boston financiers.  She was flinty, practical, and a high-toned Wellesley and Harvard academic with a pedigree much more respectable than her husband, but not so much so that professional jealousy would get in the way of marriage.  In fact, she and Brent made it a point never to talk shop – a bit strange since his interest in literature and hers in history certainly overlapped although Beowulf and Aleppo would take some doing to coincide – but whether plumbing or pentameter, it is always best to keep work and intimacy far apart.

Image result for imagtes massachusetts bay colony

The details of their longish marriage and nasty divorce are not particularly relevant to this story.  Their reasons for separating, given the many awful ones making the rounds in their neighborhood, were rather desultory.   She was the culprit, and he the non unwilling, complaisant partner.  She wanted more out of life than her now increasingly sedentary husband could provide, the children were grown, and she had just inherited a fortune after the death of her father.  Sowing her wild oats  \and feeling as frisky as a young colt, she said, “It’s now or never”.

The reason the divorce was so particularly bloody was not because of discovered adulteries or abuse, but because of money. Brent was rightfully angry at divorce proceedings occurring right after millions in stocks, bonds, and overseas investments were deposited in her personal account.  Not only did she quickly shelter the money, but went out of her way to limit if not prohibit her husband’s access to it.  She felt she had done nothing wrong – after all this was really no more than a post-nup, and there was no reason for her husband to be so outraged.

And of course there was that little matter of Anders Plummer, a colleague at her university with whom she shared her bed on occasion.  They were both married, very adult in their choices and makeup, and never considered the affair anything more than ships passing in the night; but Brent saw it differently, especially because he had always been a man of strict marital propriety and sexual rectitude.  He had been faithful to Emma during their marriage, and was angered, offended, and absolutely livid that he had been snookered, taken in by her easy ways, and kept in the dark about her feelings.

Image result for Images Comic Book Romance Man And Woman. Size: 150 x 150. Source: depositphotos.com

So the divorce proceedings went on for months, both spouses living in separate quarters, their house rented; but finally it was settled; and again, the details are of no particular interest. What happened after the divorce is.

Divorce, no matter what the circumstances, is never an indifferent affair, and it took Brent a while to get over it, to adjust to living alone, and to square the fact that he had been blindsided with what he thought was an accommodating marriage to an acceptable woman.  Time is a great healer and rouser of sexual interest, so it wasn’t long before Brent began looking for company.  He was uncomfortable with sexual overtures at museums, galleries, and conferences and had a distaste for anything more random.  There was an active singles bar scene for older, divorced men and women, but he simply couldn’t bring himself to it. 

So, like most divorced men after a long marriage, Brent went to his old personal diary and address book and began to look for old girlfriends.  There was Marsha from Winnetka and Smith , smart, talented and sweet; a bit conservative at first but wholehearted soon on, worth a gamble.

Sue from Great Neck, strong Long Island accent, modest upbringing, father a pharmacist, mother a bit of a yenta, but passionate? How I wish she had not dropped out of Vassar.  Billie Mae from Alabama, no known higher education, hot ticket, insatiable, cute accent….

And so it went.  The archives were very forthcoming, especially, since, with some strange premonitory insight, he added codes annotations – ***** for the very best, ‘I’ for innovative in a sexual way, ‘HTP’, hard-to-please, a tough nut to crack, worth the effort; and ‘L’, luscious, Brent’s special category (SM) for what he called a sexy morsel.

He knew of course that if this code were deciphered, he would be immediately branded as misogynist, what with all the cute, infantilizing references; but his college experiences were of a different era, women judged no differently than today but more honestly.

So, where should he start?  Alphabetically would be the most logical, although Marcie Abramson was a one-star affair with no ‘I’, ‘HTP’, or ‘L’ by her name; so personal preference should come first; and so it did – Nancy Boothby, a girl who had tempted him when they were eight, wrote him love letters in the fifth grade, and undressed for him in the piney woods behind his house at ten, and was his lover at twenty.  

Where would Nancy be now, he wondered.  Through Google magic, he found a number of Nancy Boothbys, but only two which corresponded to the right age.  He dismissed the one in Nome, Alaska, an Iraq war military tank gunner and inventory control officer for the Artic East garrison; so it must be the Nancy Boothby of Palm Beach, wealthy, retired comfortably, divorced, seaside.

Very possibly, he thought.  The Nancy Boothby he knew, despite her pre-teen sexual adventurism was born into privilege, rank and wealth, a childhood of rectitude and propriety.  But then again the Catherine Deneuve character in Belle de Nuit was just as well brought up, patrician, and born to ease and comfort.  Perhaps in Nancy as well as Belle, propriety was just a convenient cover for a profoundly, uninhibited and adventurous sexual nature.

Image result for images deneuve belle de nuit

He located her address and started to write her a simple, mailed note.

Dear Nancy,

I hope this note finds you well and prospering.  I hope you remember me and our wonderful friendship back in New Brighton.  So many years have passed since our last meeting, that I wouldn’t know where to start telling you about my life, my….

Here Brent stopped.  How confessional should he be?  How re-creative of a past, especially a sexual past which, given her certainly diverse experience, might mean nothing all.  Perhaps he should be more recondite:

Dear Nancy,

Perhaps you remember me.  We were classmates at Vance and Mooreland, and then met again when you were at Sweetbriar.  I remember you fondly, and thought I would drop you a line….

This too was unsatisfactory when all wanted to know was whether or not she was married, and if not might she like to rekindle an old flame.  The problem was that decades are tricky things.  So many unforeseen, unexpected circumstances intervene to change a person, to transform and even deform the most charming of personalities.  Perhaps a chain of misfortune trailed her.  Perhaps she was on Zoloft and desperately unhappy; and that a lonely hearts letter from an old lover was the last thing she wanted to see.

Brent’s wife left him because he was too cautious, too predictable, too within his shell; so perhaps now was the time to become his own, assertive man and write honestly and confidently to Nancy.  Yet after many drafts of the letter, even so far as almost dropping one into a mailbox in Grand Central Station, he did not. 

It had to do with romance, he decided.  Why not leave Nancy Boothby alone, intact, as she was – a soft, blonde, flaxen-haired, blue- eyed sensual girl.  Why replace that icon with the real, lined and withering, dry, and punctilious older woman?  What was the point?  He was writing to the Nancy that was, not the one who is.  The mature Nancy might be an interesting woman, full of life’s experiences; or one of perceptive intellect and insight; or even one of sharpened ironic humor; but that would be like meeting a new woman for the first time, not the old Nancy.  The attempt was pointless.

Dylan Thomas said it best: “Why do men think you can pick love up and re-light it like a candle? Women know when love is over.” 

Image result for images dylan thomas

Brent eventually found his way, and the woman he is now living with is not surprisingly more like his former wife than any of the women he knew as a young man – women who like Nancy Boothby were lithe, seductive, impossibly irresistible girls, but who would have to lovely centerpieces of memory and nothing more.

In the end, he settled for Elizabeth, herself a recovering divorcee in need of comfort, solace, and companionship.  Sex was annealing, a rite of passage, a necessary and not unpleasant mating ritual, but it was irrelevant to this or any relationship of a certain age. 

Brent thought of Nancy Boothby every day, and was glad he had never sent her the letter he intended.  This way nothing was disturbed. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Elon Musk And The Fraidy Cat Left – The Horror Of Free Speech

Elon Musk has done everyone a favor by buying Twitter, and one only wishes that he had had an inkling to buy Facebook as well.  These two social media platforms are the worst examples of America’s hypersensitive, victim culture; and they in defense of so-called ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’ have trampled on the foundational American principle of free speech.

Progressives assert that the problems of the country are simply too important to let counterproductive, insidious, and treacherous ideas spread through the media; but the insidious subtext of the claim is that Americans are too ignorant to make up their own minds.  ‘We',  Big Brother, must protect them from themselves.

Where did all this febrile, hysterical nonsense come from?  How did American toughness soften so much and so quickly?  How did we become so afraid of our own shadows?

The answer that progressives give quickly but disingenuously is that the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized need all the help they can get, and by shielding them from any and all criticism will help them regain their self-esteem, gain in authority and importance, and rise to their proper and legitimate place in American society. Nonsense.

American culture has never been about coddling, but about strength and independence.  No Italian immigrant, happy finally to be in the land of opportunity, freedom, and prosperity, ever complained about the hard row to hoe in what was a harshly competitive new home. Martin Scorsese’s film, The Gangs of New York gave a visceral look at the city’s mean streets where the ‘natives’ and the newly-arrived Irish fought brutal battles.  Immigration was never a picnic, but the struggle was worth it.

Image result for images movie the gangs of new york

The same principles of strength, independence, community, and desire are just as applicable to America’s new wave of immigrants, and the growing population of minorities.  Rather than prize these foundational, core values of the American ethos, the Left has turned them away in favor of entitlement. 

No longer do minorities have to prove their worth through enterprise and will.  They are too weak and vulnerable, their supporters say, and need a helping hand.  Of course in cities like Washington, Baltimore, Detroit, and St. Louis, the sluice gates have been simply opened, flooding inner cities with monies for which there is no accountability.  Liberals have instead touted the culture of the street as legitimate black expression, further condemning young people to a life so far from the mainstream that joining it is virtually impossible.

Survival in a harshly competitive environment has never been easy as the early Italian immigrants knew well; but those who learned the lessons of survival and learned them well, went on to prosper.   It was not out of faux compassion and self-serving recognition of immigrants suffering that they survived, but through adversity.

At all levels of American society through the generations, this principle always applied.  From the Wild West to the playground, Americans fought for and defended their property, their independence, and their rights.  Bullying? No one looked to others for rescue.  Harsh words, epithets, and catty remarks were dealt with – either ignored, challenged, or fought against.  Shame, now so dismissed in the woke culture as racist, has always had a place in the modification of behavior.  The gravitational pull of the norm was a good thing – fat kids slimmed down, dorky kids learned how to behave, wallflowers learned how to dress and attract.  The story of Marley Brixton is illustrative and admonitory.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, was the old saw that Marley had from her mother time and again. “You are too thin-skinned”, her mother went on. “Too sensitive for your own good. Live and let live for a change.”

Sticks and Stones

Of course that bit of advice went in one ear and out the other, because Marley’s mother had no idea what the girls said to her during recess or on the walk home, how insulting the whispered asides were, or how offended she was at their….indignities.

Marley unfortunately was one of kind, the worst hand any pre-teen could possibly be dealt.  With frizzy hair, wide-set eyes, and a mouth far too big for her face, she was an easy target for the straight-haired, blue-eyed, perfect teeth in-crowd. The Celestial Dealer hadn’t stopped there either.  Marley was pigeon-toed, tall for her age, and a redhead.

Adolescent claques being what they are, the abuse dealt by the Barbies, as Marley called them, was no worse than in any other school. “Girls are bitches”, said her mother, “and that is as permanent a feature as anything on God’s green earth”.

Image result for images line of barbie dolls

That, of course, didn’t help Marley; and each day she had to run the gantlet.  The Barbies’ taunts were orchestrated.  The girls nearest to the curb ragged her about her hair.  In the next rank were the prancing monkeys who crabbed along after her, scraping their knuckles, and waddling with exaggerated knock-knees.  Then came the Ubangi, pumping their lips and puckering kisses at her.

Every day it was the same.  There was no let up, and she had no recourse.  There was no protector in the wings, no chivalrous knight to defend her honor, no righteous girlfriend to stand up to her tormentors.  She was on her own.

“Bullies”, said her mother when Marley told her of the gantlet, the asides, and the catty comments in the halls; but she had no intention of fighting her daughter’s battles, going to the principal to demand justice under the new Inclusivity Rule.  Lord knows, she had to fight her way through her own girl gantlets and far worse.  She had been suspended for fighting with Becky Lieberman who had called her a cunt.  There was no way that Margot Brixton was going to let that little bitch get away with sexist slurs; and before it was over, she had clawed Becky’s face, pulled our clumps of her thin, unsubstantial hair, and clubbed her tits with her knapsack.

Becky went blubbering to the principal who, seeing her raw, bleeding cheeks, disheveled hair, and unkempt uniform, yelled at Margot, pointed to the door, and told her to leave the school premises. Margot was denied Harvard because of the stain on her high school record.  Despite the efforts of her lawyer mother and father to expunge all reference to ‘the delinquency’, it remained indelible and very visible to the Admissions Office. Yet Margot had won.

Harvard logo

If she had found a way to best the Barbies of Jefferson High, beat them at their own game, and bring down the leaders of the girlie cabal, so could her daughter.

Bullies, despite the constant criticism of them, are necessary – indispensable in fact. Their abuse may be hard to take; but it is nothing compared to the humiliating practices of real-life adult bullies. Bullies toughen the hide.

It doesn’t take long for a young employee in a new job to encounter a supervisor who is in over her head, who lacks confidence, who is intimidated by the smart young things under her; and who takes out her frustration and feelings of inferiority on them.  These thugs are rarely called out for what they are let alone punished; so timid underlings quit, and the more forthcoming are consigned to back offices and ignored. Better to suffer bullying early on, learn from the experience, and be equipped to counter contemptuous abuse later on in life.

Image result for images the devil wears prada

Bullies are important for another reason – they show what one is  made of. There are those who suck up to bullies and join their ranks.  Better to bully than to be bullied, they say.  Others simply avoid them and take the back stairs, walk home a different way, neither antagonize or ingratiate, and remain in the shadows. Finally there are the Margots who stand up and fight.  Bloodied and uncowed, they show the bully and the rest of the school the importance of character, moral principle, and fortitude.

The students of Jefferson High all fell into one of these three categories, and showed their true colors by such association.  Herman Banks was always a toady, eager to curry favor and skate around the edges of moral and ethical behavior. Betsy Barton never lost her timidity and willingness to trade recognition, popularity, and acclaim for invisibility; and Don Chalmers never backed down from a fight.  Their early encounters with Bobby Parker, the bully, were the first episodes of character.  It might have taken years for them to realize, let alone accept who they were; but they all returned to their encounters with Bobby.

Herman found ways to insinuate and ingratiate himself with prospective investors and clients. There was no need for principle or rectitude if one was canny enough to sense weakness and be willing to compromise if needs be. Betsy Barton grew up unnoticed and unremarkable.  The deal she had struck with Bobby Parker was an all-inclusive and permanent one.  She made her way slowly and carefully, a ‘nice girl’ and faithful wife, but always looking over her shoulder.  She was risk-averse as an adult, over-protective and sheltering as a parent, and a complaisant lover as a wife.

Don Chalmers joined the military as an officer, won two Bronze Stars for bravery and heroism in combat, and was the revered mayor of his small prairie town in Minnesota for four terms.

All three children ineluctably acted the way they did.  They were born either timid , evasive, or courageous. Their early years simply consolidated their character. Run-ins with Bobby Parker were the first proofs or examples of those inbuilt, hardwired traits of personality and character.  .

Catty, bitchy girls, are different.  They bully in concert.  They swarm and surround. They travel in packs.  Their goal is the cull, not the victory. Surviving them requires less fortitude and more indifference.  “Pay no attention to them”, said Marley’s mother. “They will soon lose interest”.

Image result for images bitchy girls taunting

Their interest did indeed fade; but other hungry girl-packs formed to take their place.  The original center always held, and although some girls graduated and others left the neighborhood, supply always exceeded demand. There were always more than enough bitches to go around.

Like bullies, these girls were good for the school and the students. Because of their particular type of cliquish assembly, they demonstrated gender differences.  Girls have always been more socially adept, more attuned to subtlety, and far more sensitive to personality, looks, and behavior than boys; and when combined with adolescent angst, a compelling need to belong, and the mentality of the pack, they could be brutal to The Other. Girls learned about themselves and boys wised up quickly.

Boys’ braggadocio, simplemindedness (“Cunt, faggot, pussy”), and concern for their own swagger and posturing, never coalesced into disassembling packs like girls. Two or three boys were enough to rough someone up, but male ego was at stake rather than the hunt, the cull, and the kill.  Boys were easy to understand and easy to avoid.

School administrators, principals, and teachers have been trained to practice zero tolerance for bullying and intimidation.  Rules on language, behavior, and the impropriety of innuendo, slight, and even indifference are posted everywhere.  Inclusivity is the new status quo.  The weak must be protected, the strong tethered, and the abusive removed.

Image result for signs in schools No Bullying

None of this does any good, of course. Children are simply too smart, too inventive, too socially aware, and too cruel for artificial, engineered rules to take hold. Who said that childhood was a bed of roses?  On the contrary, it is the earliest battleground in the war for social superiority, dominance, and authority.  A smooth ride that ends abruptly in the violent, brutal, and no-holds-barred world of adult society profits no one.

Political idealists insist that we are all good people, and policies of diversity and inclusivity according to which there are no weak or strong but only difference are the best in the long run.  They do indeed prepare students for the real world by sending them out with high self-esteem and a sense of respect and compassion for others.

This is nonsense. Every knackered idealist returning home at the end of the day, has to admit that he was ill-prepared for battle. The rule of tooth-and-claw was never posted, and it is the only one that matters.

Marley Brixton was an Ugly Duckling.  As she matured, all the ungainly features of adolescence developed into distinctly attractive if not beautiful ones. More importantly, thanks in large part to her mother, she learned how to deal with other women.  Once bitchiness was correlated with sexual competition, it became less threatening; and as she developed into an alluring young women, the cattiness and defensive aggressiveness of girl-packs made less and less difference.

Other girls were not so lucky. Their deck could never be reshuffled, and the hand they were dealt was it for life. Depending on personality and character, they emerged from the school experience either hardened at bitter or newly savvy and cynical about life in the raw.  In all cases, however, the bullying/girl-pack experience was beneficial and necessary. Laissez-faire was always the better policy.

And this is why the cancel culture is wrong, why censorship in the guise of compassion is misguided, and why competition has always enabled the best and the brightest to rise and given those with lesser abilities a fighting chance.