2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America first ride review

Harley-Davidson has introduced an adventure motorcycle that will redefine the approachability of large adventure bikes.

I’ll spend the next 4,000 words or so dissecting that statement, but if you read nothing else, you can walk away with my general thesis.

Let’s take a second to appreciate the significance of this model. This is Harley-Davidson’s first time venturing outside of the cruiser and touring segments since before I was born (at least with a gasoline-burning model). So for them to branch out into the wildly popular and hugely competitive ADV segment is a big deal. For them to introduce such an innovative and impressive machine is even more important.

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On Flannery O’Connor’s portrayals of “poor whites”

Below is a very good comment on an essay about Flannery O’Connor. Everything below is the comment, which can also be found here.

To be fair to Flannery O’Conner, it’s easier to be tolerant of the vices of others than it is of those of your own people. It may merely have been a matter of Ms. O’Conner expecting more from her own people than she did from blacks.

But that’s the whole point. Poor whites, working class whites, whites educated more by experience than books, etc. are not O’Connor’s people at all.

The USA in general and whites in particular (the two used to be practically synonymous) could never bring themselves to talk seriously about the family and social class.

These things just hit too close to home for too many people. So, they don’t just avoid them, they reject them. Instead, they talk about race.

They reject the obvious and the concrete for something abstract. That’s why O’Connor, like so many today, not only side with blacks, but would rather be them than a poor white person. Exactly because she doesn’t have a relationship with blacks. But poor whites, though not her people, are her race. And that just hits too close to home.

But, since the 19th century the white aristocracy has been replaced by the white middle class. And the aristocracy had one very good quality, noblese oblige, a sense of responsibility to their social subordinates. But the middle class, for hundreds and hundreds of years have always hated both the aristocracy and the poor.

In fact, the middle class has always been the insecure social class. And that insecurity comes out in the need of the middle class to relentlessly and cruelly scapegoat poor whites.

But it looks like history has a joker up its sleeve and those of the white middle class are about to get what’s coming to them, a taste of their own medicine.

Triggered by Beethoven: the Cultural Politics of Racial Resentment

2020 was meant to be a year of celebration for Beethoven who was baptized 250 years ago (his exact date of birth is unknown) in Bonn on December 17, 1770. COVID-19 prompted the cancelation of commemorative concerts of Beethoven’s music, but the pandemic didn’t quell efforts by anti-White activists to attack the composer’s reputation and dominant place in the cultural pantheon of the West. Rather than a year full of performances of the great composer’s sonatas, string quartets, concertos and symphonies, 2020 saw repeated attacks on Beethoven for the crime of being a White male genius and for embodying the European musical tradition.

Beethoven is the most-performed composer in the repertoire, and his anniversary year was planned to be no exception. Before the widespread cancellation of concerts, 15 to 20 per cent of the repertoire programmed by leading orchestras was music by Beethoven. Widely regarded as the greatest composer of all time, Beethoven is inescapable because he remade almost every genre of concert music that matters. The concerto and symphony in his hands became driving musical narratives of heroic struggle. His late string quartets open a profound window on to the soul. Unlike his predecessors who were craftsmen who supplied a commodity to a paymaster, Beethoven ushered in the age of Romanticism by insisting on his creative independence and the absolute importance of self-expression: “What is in my heart must come out so I write it down.” This was manifested in his refusal to take a secure, salaried position like his one-time tutor Joseph Haydn who was the master of music for a feudal landowner in what is now Hungary.

Beethoven’s heroism in overcoming the worst thing that can happen to a composer — worsening deafness from young adulthood — to compose some of the greatest music ever has awed generations and become emblematic of triumph over adversity. All the stories of Beethoven’s misanthropy, his eccentricity and wildness, date from the decline in his hearing, which often caused him acute physical pain. Only his art prevented him from taking his own life: “It seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” While Beethoven’s confidence as a pianist and conductor gradually diminished with his creeping deafness, his imaginative powers as a composer grew stronger and stronger, and he cast a daunting shadow over his successors: Brahms did not feel confident tackling a symphony until he was in his forties.

Beethoven excelled at his trade because he was born with a gift and worked at it as hard as it is possible to work. Swafford notes how his sketches and manuscripts reveal that:

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The worst thing about the humanities

The worst thing about the humanities is so many of our insights and discoveries are used to harm people, manipulate them, propagandize them.

Another bad thing is the open, confessional, and exploratory styles of artists too often are used against them by gaslighters, scammers, back-biters.

If we cannot even allow artists and social scientists to speak openly, all of us suffer from the reduced culture that results.

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first posted on AUGUST 22, 2017