30 November 2011
Maybe you already know about Fred Reed. Me, I’d never heard of the dude till recently. I tend to be a little slow that way.
He’s been blogging for over a decade, so I have some catching up to do. But I couldn’t wait to get fully up to speed on all things Fred before sharing my new enthusiasm. I’m a convert. I have to spread the word.
So—in case you don’t know already—who is Fred Reed?
He is what you would get if you crossed Hunter S. Thompson with David Stove.
The guy was there when it was happening in Austin, Texas, back in 1973, at the Armadillo World Headquarters. Somehow, he survived the mescal and the mescaline, and came out writing like Dr. Gonzo channeling the great Aussie philosopher-curmudgeon from beyond the grave.
Not familiar with Thompson or Stove? Then, think: David Berlinski, if his life trajectory had been West Virginia, Saigon, Austin, and Guadalajara (instead of New York, Princeton, Vienna, and Paris).
A native West Viriginian, Reed did a stint with the Marines in Vietnam, covered the Yom Kippur War for his hometown newspaper, and returned to Southeast Asia as a correspondent just in time for the fall of Saigon. After that, he wrote for Soldier of Fortune magazine and prowled the nation’s capital from inside squad cars as a police reporter for The Washington Times.
He now lives the good life an hour south of Guadalajara in Mexico, where he shares his ”scurrilous commentary” with the world via a blog called Fred on Everything.
For sure, Reed is not to everyone’s taste—and I know he wouldn’t have it any other way. But his writing is hilarious, his observations are dead-on, and he locks his cross hairs on many of the same absurdities of the modern world that we do here.
Reading his essays, I sometimes can’t decide whether I should laugh or cry. But I am never in any doubt that I’ve just learned a thing or two.
As an appetizer, here are excerpts from two of his more than 500 posts:
#267–Fredwin on Evolution (also reproduced elsewhere on the Web under the staid title, ”The Metaphysics of Evolution”)
. . . Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way. Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility. . . .
Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening imprecision. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Nothing is ever firmly established. Crucial assertions do not tie to observable reality. Invariably the Marxist (or evolutionist) assumes that a detailed knowledge of economic conditions under the reign of Nicholas II or whatever substitutes for being able to answer simple questions, such as why Marxism has never worked. This is the Fallacy of Irrelevant Knowledge. And of course almost anything can be made believable by considering only favorable evidence and interpreting hard.
Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.
I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use)—of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.
This tactical demonization is not unique to evolution. “Creationist” is to evolution what “racist” is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science. . . . [emphasis added]
The Look Like America bill, originally H.R. 1533, seemed a perfectly ordinary piece of feel-good legislation when proposed by Barack Osama Obama. “Our diversity is our strength,” he said. “We must increase the representation of minorites in our institutions to reflect our diverse population and ensure the fairness for which America stands.” Congress passed the bill without reading it. It was the sort of thing one passed. Besides, there was no money involved, and the bill was not obviously anti-Semitic.
Not obviously. But then one of the obscure policy shops that abound in Washington, the Committee for Ethnic Piety, filed suit against Harvard for noncompiance. The proximate cause was an article in the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, about a course called Math 55, the hardest math course at the univrsity and thus, Harvard liked to think, in America. The students in Math 55, reported the Crimson, were 45 percent Jewish, 18 percent Asian, and 100 prcent male. The class didn’t, said the Committee for Ethnic Piety, look like America.
It certainly didn’t.
Harvard, ever sensitive to questions of justice, which it conflated with federal funding, agreed to make the class Look Like America. The administration asserted that only through inadvertence had it failed to notice the clear racism, sexism, and continent-ism occurring under its nose. It established a committee of reform, which set to work.
The first and most ticklish hurdle was The Jewish Question. Jews were two percent of the American population. At 45 percent in Math 55, they were over-represented by a factor of over twenty. The injustice was undeniable. Two percent of a class of twenty-five meant that Math 55 should contain half a Jew. It would then look like America. The Jewish students would have to go.
As news of the proposed ethnographic hecatomb spread across the country, alarm erupted among the prejudiced. Over seven hundred departments of engineering across the country protested. They could see where Looking Like America was going. Math departments, Silicon Valley, the National Institutes of Health—all reeked of injustice, meaning Koreans, Jews, Indians, and Chinese, and were conscious of sin. They didn’t Look Like America. They Looked Like Math 55. In the Bay area, the proportion of geniuses from India in computing was alarmingly high. Some laboratories Looked Like the Punjab. These malefactors knew well that the coming of justice would gut their enterprises.
Desperate to maintain their positions of racial and patriarchal privilege, they pointed out that the Jewish kids, like all the students in Math 55, had 800 math Boards and had done things like independently develop tensor calculus by the age of three. The view from the Gulch was expressed off-the-record by Dr. Gud Soma Darjeeling, president of Santa Clara Neurocomputing, which employed seventy PhDs in solid-state physics, including three Anglos. “Look, the US is in intellectual collapse. The average American university wouldn’t qualify as a high-school in Japan. It’s crazy. The whole world know it’s crazy. But take out the Kims, Khans, Nguyens, Wangs, and Cohens, and what’s left is Albania in 1750.”
The lead attorney for CEP, Patricia Mikoyan-Gurevich, wasn’t having it.
“Ability doesn’t exist, and occurs equally in all groups, and anyway justice is more important than patriarchal-racist abstractions. Sexism is clear at Harvard. When an entire class is male, it isn’t by accident.”
With this, no one was in disagreement. . . .
Up above, I compared Fred Reed to Hunter S. Thompson, David Stove, and David Berlinski. But as you can see, he has developed a form of demotic/erudite riffing that is all his own.
Just as Thompson turned “gonzo” into his personal trademark, so too Reed deserves his own brand. And I know just what it should be.
On his web site, Reed mentions one of his favorite activities, which is also the perfect name for his style of writing—
“Jitterbugging to the Brandenburgs.”