The American Clockservative: when science fucking loves you back

A few months ago, after that toolbox of a schoolboy in Texas briefly ended up in handcuffs at the principal’s office for making a point of showing everyone at school his time bomb-looking science fair project, allegedly a clock, High Arka offered this beautiful summary of the political context:

I know, I know. The I Fucking Love Science guy had the dad who hated the Mayor for not wanting Sharia law, and so he put some ticking electronic stuff in a briefcase and brought it to school, was snarky with the cops, and got suspended because of racism, and then Google and Baraq invited him to celebrate diversity, which proves that Baraq is a Muslim in disguise and that up is down and right is left, etc. And then Baraq made the white children’s cancer demonstration move so that he could visit the Congressional Black Caucus to talk about problems of racial exclusion, which inverts reality so hard it leaves nipple burns.

All very well and good, and the writing seems to be in the sky that Baraq is in fact a hypocritical lying insider Muslim mole, at least, if you look at the facts such as they are. But then, the facts such as they are continue to include Barack’s weekly signing of kill orders for lots of Muslim people. So he’s not so much extolling Muslim virtues as he is murdering Muslim babies, as well as Muslim teenagers, including Muslim teenagers who presumably actually know how to build IEDs and do “scientific” stuff, as opposed to taking apart clocks.

#IStandWithAhmed FTW. High Arka goes on to write that this apparent contradiction between the lionization of this doofus with the clock and the drone assassination program of other Muslims is part of a sinister campaign to reward submission to the Western Deep State (a form of islam, one might say) and punish independence. This argument is consistent with the manner in which regimes with bad but not singularly bad human rights records, such as Iran under its current beards and Libya under Muammar History Resistance Liberty Glory Revolution Qaddafi (the same number of names as Kiefer…Sutherland, for what it’s worth), find themselves on the Allied shit list while regimes with equivalent or worse human rights records, notably including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are cherished as allies. It’s kind of like that time we were buddies with Uncle Joe on account of the Austrian pest, but worse, because in these cases our alleged enemies have quite modest regional ambitions: a border war for oil here, some proxy militia there, a Lockerbie now and then a wee bit to the north, and meanwhile the Royal Saudi Air Force is pulverizing Yemen. It’s very much by design that most Westerners do not keep these things in perspective. This way, we get to keep wondering why the towelheads hate us for our freedoms.

The clock donnybrook ended up being about a lot more than just geopolitics or domestic tolerance for minorities, however. It was exploited skillfully to help mold Americans into obedient workplace drones, although the signaling to this end was hidden in plain sight, as a peripheral, secondary concern. This probably made it all the more pernicious. As an aside to the complaints about how wrongful it was to detain Ahmed Mohamed for being an Arab Muslim in possession of a possible bomb timer, we were told that his enterprising scientific curiosity is exactly what the American economy needs to survive in the twenty-first century. The kid took a Popular Mechanics-level home tinkering project to school, and suddenly he was the Patek Philippe of the digital age. He spent a couple of hours in police custody on suspicion of making a hoax bomb, and suddenly he was a modern Galileo, persecuted by bigoted officials for daring to advance science.

The subliminal signaling here was enhanced because the poster boy in question was the child of immigrants, and one who could easily be mistaken for an Indian at that. Immigrants are our salvation. That’s the message we’re to take to heart. We probably need a higher H-1B visa quota as an element of our much delayed, never sufficient immigration reform. Who are these bigots in Texas to tell us that we don’t? Irving is near Dallas. These paranoid, backwards creeps are the same ones who killed JFK, and then JR. We mustn’t let hate win. We mustn’t scare away the foreign scientific talent we so desperately need to compete in the Flat World. It would be a tragic waste to alienate the visionary Wernher von Braun by arresting his fellow German-American Dennis Lynn Rader merely because we suspect him of serial murder. We must not allow Detective Landwehr to be so prejudiced towards the Germans. They’re our friends now.

The clock thing was really fishy. Ahmed almost certainly would have been arrested for causing one of his teachers exactly the same alarm in exactly the same fashion in any Muslim country. In most Muslim countries, he would have been handled much more roughly by the police than he was by that apologetic-looking cop in Irving. Really, any country with a functioning police force would have detained him if he had been reported for making terroristic threats using a fake bomb. Another teacher had already cautioned him not to keep showing off his clock because it could be mistaken for a bomb.

For rather crass personal reasons, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg both claimed to believe that this foolish kid had gotten a raw deal. One of Obama’s angles was to stick it to the red states in flyover country. Zuckerberg’s interest in celebrating this dipshit was obvious: he’s a major beneficiary of H-1B scab labor for his programming and engineering workforce at Facebook. Both Zuckerberg and Obama want to increase the pool of foreign scab labor in STEM. It’s plausible that they helped orchestrate the clock thing as agitprop, as the conspiracy theorists insist, but it’s more likely that this controversy just fell into their laps. Enterprising immigrant kid with an interest in science gets persecuted by the local cops because they don’t like his religion and ethnicity at a time when the tech industry is importing some of India’s worst spergs to do its grunt work. This sure worked out well for management, did it not?

Of course, saying that Ahmed is the flower of American youth in science is like saying that I’m qualified to be an automotive engineer for GM because I “competed” in the Pinewood Derby as a Boy Scout. I also built and launched CoreValujet, a paper airplane that I folded from a internal mailing about my environmental consulting firm’s “Core Values,” with a Core Values business card as a vertical destabilizer. Funny thing, Core Values never include not backdating half-false performance reviews to justify terminations. Anyone at Boeing want to hire me, though?

Ahmed Mohamed doesn’t know much about a science book, and neither does Barack Obama. It’s hard even to say how much Zuckerberg knows, since he’s mainly a crook and an influence-peddler. The bigger problem is that these people won’t admit to knowing what they don’t know. I know more about history than Sam Cooke ever admitted knowing, and I have a bachelor’s degree in geology, too, for what little it’s been worth, but what’s much more useful, in a general civic sense, is my ability to distinguish legit scientists from bullshitters. All this really requires is a modestly strong layman’s familiarity with the hard sciences and intact critical thinking. It helps to have had professional and social exposure to people with scientific training and qualifications, as I have had, but this is far from sufficient on its own. MBA’s can easily spend hours on end around the most competent professional geologists or civil engineers and have jack shit to show for their exposure. It takes a certain minimal independence of mind to hear something daft from Neil deGrasse Tyson and think, hey, that sounds kind of daft, not wow, he’s a bigshot astrophysicist on the internet, so of course I believe him.

Ahmed dicked around with the insides of a clock in an effort to brownnose his teachers, and our children are supposed to emulate him. The obvious problems here are that what he did to that clock was not science and that it’s overbearing to pressure teenagers into proving themselves as scientist material. Most science fair submissions are bullshit anyway. So is much of public education, but in regular classes, there’s at least some expectation that the students will learn before they try to teach. American science fairs and other high school extracurricular activities have been perverted into college admissions arms races. It’s completely out of line. Ahmed served exquisitely to reinforce the expectation that American high school students compete with immigrants in bids to get noticed by power brokers. He got noticed by the President and Palo Alto’s latest ur-techie for his troubles, and meanwhile your kid is over in the barrio, smoking weed with his girlfriend. He won’t get into a good college with an attitude like that. Count your blessings, though; that gives him less time for the Pinewood Derby.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. And ask what you can do for the peckers of your country’s leaders; JFK was never shy about that. In an earlier time it was the civic duty of certain young women to get Jack off; in our time, it is the civic duty of all young people to help ease the STEM shortage or at least stand out of the way of the foreigners trying to fill these staffing shortfalls, which do not exist. It is our lot to Timmeh Jimmeh, Jimmeh Timmeh, STEMMEH.

We’re all livin’ a lie. Bribing shop stewards for union jobs is more honorable than this.

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