Saturday, January 06, 2018

Monday, January 01, 2018

Making the rounds again, if not among people born in this country, though they may live here:
"An oldie but goodie", "Ages like fine wine".

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I'm not going to do much more of this. it's not worth it.

The women of Vice Media.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Margot met Robert on a Wednesday night toward the end of her fall semester. She was working behind the concession stand at the artsy movie theatre downtown when he came in and bought a large popcorn and a box of Red Vines.
That option, of blunt refusal, doesn’t even consciously occur to her—she assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy. It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.
A Viral Short Story for the #MeToo Moment
The depiction of uncomfortable romance in "Cat Person" seems to resonate with countless women.
BBC Trending: Cat Person: The short story people are talking about

I've said it all before.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

See: Tushnet

The distinctions between speech and non-speech, art and non-art, are absurd.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
JUSTICE GINSBURG: --- the question that I started out with, I --- I wanted to clarify that what you're talking about is a custom--made cake. You are not challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares, his, as you put it, already--made wares?

MS. WAGGONER: Not at all. And, in fact, Mr. Phillips offered the couple anything in his store, as well as offered to sell additional cakes, custom cakes, that would express other messages.


JUSTICE KAGAN: Ms. Waggoner -­-

JUSTICE GINSBURG: -- you mentioned -­- you brought up Hurley, but in Hurley, the parade was the event. It was the speech, a parade. At a wedding ceremony, I take it, the speech is of the people who are marrying and perhaps the officiant, but who -- who else speaks at a wedding?

MS. WAGGONER: The artist speaks, Justice Ginsburg. It's as much Mr. Phillips's speech as it would be the couples'. And in Hurley [Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc.], the Court found a violation of the compelled speech doctrine.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Who else then? Who else as an artist? Say the --- the person who does floral arranging, owns a floral shop. Would that person also be speaking at the wedding?

MS. WAGGONER: If the --- if they are custom--designed arrangements and they are being forced to create artistic expression which this Court determines is a message --­

JUSTICE KAGAN: So could -­-

JUSTICE GINSBURG: How about the person who designs the invitation?


JUSTICE GINSBURG: Invitation to the wedding or the menu for the wedding dinner?

MS. WAGGONER: Certainly, words and symbols would be protected speech, and the question would be whether the objection is to
the message provided or if it's to the person.

JUSTICE KAGAN: So the jeweler?

MS. WAGGONER: It would depend on the context as all free--speech cases depend on. What is the jeweler asked to do?

JUSTICE KAGAN: Hair stylist?

MS. WAGGONER: Absolutely not. There's no expression or protected speech in that kind of context, but what if --­

JUSTICE KAGAN: Why is there no speech in --- in creating a wonderful hairdo?

MS. WAGGONER: Well, it may be artistic, it may be creative, but what the Court asks when they're -­-

JUSTICE KAGAN: The makeup artist?

MS. WAGGONER: No. What the Court would ask --­

JUSTICE KAGAN: It's called an artist. It's the makeup artist.

MS. WAGGONER: The makeup artist may, again, be using creativity and artistry, but when this Court is looking at whether speech is involved, it asks the question of is it communicating something, and is it analogous to
other protected -­-


MS. WAGGONER: -- forms of speech.

JUSTICE KAGAN: -- I'm quite serious, actually, about this, because, you know, a makeup artist, I think, might feel exactly as your client does, that they're doing something that's of-- of great aesthetic importance to the -- to the wedding and to -- and that there's a lot of skill and artistic vision that goes into making a -- somebody look beautiful. And why -- why wouldn't that person or the hairstylist -- why wouldn't that also count?

MS. WAGGONER: Because it's not speech. And that's the first trigger point -­

JUSTICE KAGAN: Some people may say that about cakes, you know?


JUSTICE KAGAN: But you have a -- you have a view that a cake can be speech because it involves great skill and artistry.
And I guess I'm wondering, if that's the case, you know, how do you draw a line?? How do you decide, oh, of course, the chef and the baker are on one side, and you said, I
think, the florist is on that side, the chef, the baker, the florist, versus the hairstylist or the makeup artist??
I mean, where would you put a tailor, a tailor who makes a wonderful suit of clothes?? Where does that come in?

MS. WAGGONER: Your Honor, the tailor is not engaged in speech, nor is the chef engaged in speech but, again, this Court -­

JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, why -- well -­ woah. The baker is engaged in speech, but the chef is not engaged in speech?

MS. WAGGONER: The test that this Court has used in the past to determine whether speech is engaged in is to ask if it is communicating something, and if whatever is being communicated, the medium used is similar to other mediums that this Court has protected. Not -­-

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Does it depend on -­-

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: So that begs the question, when have we ever given protection to a food? The primary purpose of a food of any kind is to be eaten.
Now, some people might love the
aesthetic appeal of a special desert, and look at it for a very long time, but in the end its only purpose is to be eaten.
And the same with many of the things that you've mentioned. A hairdo is to show off the person, not the artist. When people at a wedding look at a wedding cake and they see words, as one of the amici here, the pastry chef said, there was a gentleman who had upset his wife and written some words that said "II'm sorry for what I did,"" something comparable, and the chef was asked, the cake maker was asked, was that affiliated with you?
And she said no. It's affiliated with the person who shows the cake at their wedding. It's what they wish to show.
So how is this your client's expression, and how can we find something whose predominant purpose is virtually always to be eaten? Call it a medium for expressive expression. Mind you, I can see if they've -­ create a cake and put it in a museum as an example of some work of art, that might be different because the circumstances would show
that they want this to be affiliated with themselves.
But explain how that becomes expressive speech, that medium becomes expressive speech.

MS. WAGGONER: Certainly not all cakes would be considered speech, but in the wedding context, Mr. Phillips is painting on a blank canvas. He is creating a painting on that canvas that expresses messages, and including words and symbols in those messages.
-"Certainly not all cakes would be considered speech"

-"You are not challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares, his, as you put it, already--made wares?

MS. WAGGONER: Not at all. And, in fact, Mr. Phillips offered the couple anything in his store, as well as offered to sell additional cakes, custom cakes, that would express other messages."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

This has been getting a lot of play.
The first four of more than 40 click and follow the thread

Monday, November 06, 2017

Gustav Grundgens in Fritz Lang's M, (1931)
Arendt contra Brecht, Baudelaire, and Dark Zero 30

The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3, Ch. 1, Sec. 2: The Temporary Alliance Between the Elite and the Mob
If we compare this generation with the nineteenth-century ideologists, with whose theories they sometimes seem to have so much in common, their chief distinction is their greater authenticity and passion. They had been more deeply touched by misery, they were more concerned with the perplexities and more deadly hurt by hypocrisy than all the apostles of good will and brotherhood had been. And they could no longer escape into exotic lands, could no longer afford to be dragon-slayers among strange and exciting people. There was no escape from the daily routine of misery, meekness, frustration, and resentment embellished by a fake culture of educated talk; no conformity to the customs of fairy-tale lands could possibly save them from the rising nausea that this combination continuously inspired.

This inability to escape into the wide world, this feeling of being caught again and again in the trappings of society—so different from the conditions which had formed the imperialist character—added a constant strain and the yearning for violence to the older passion for anonymity and losing oneself. Without the possibility of a radical change of role and character, such as the identification with the Arab national movement or the rites of an Indian village, the self-willed immersion in the suprahuman forces of destruction seemed to be a salvation from the automatic identification with pre-established functions in society and their utter banality, and at the same time to help destroy the functioning itself. These people felt attracted to the pronounced activism of totalitarian movements, to their curious and only seemingly contradictory insistence on both the primacy of sheer action and the overwhelming force of sheer necessity. This mixture corresponded precisely to the war experience of the "front generation," to the experience of constant activity within the framework of overwhelming fatality.

Activism, moreover, seemed to provide new answers to the old and troublesome question, "Who am I?" which always appears with redoubled persistence in times of crisis. If society insisted, "You are what you appear to be," postwar activism replied: "You are what you have done"—for instance, the man who for the first time had crossed the Atlantic in an air-plane (as in Brecht's Der Flug der Lindberghs)—an answer which after the second World War was repeated and slightly varied by Sartre's "You are your life" (in Huis Clos). The pertinence of these answers lies less in their validity as redefinitions of personal identity than in their usefulness for an eventual escape from social identification, from the multiplicity of inter-changeable roles and functions which society had imposed. The point was to do something, heroic or criminal, which was unpredictable and undetermined by anybody else.

The pronounced activism of the totalitarian movements, their preference for terrorism over all other forms of political activity, attracted the intellectual elite and the mob alike, precisely because this terrorism was so utterly different from that of the earlier revolutionary societies. It was no longer a matter of calculated policy which saw in terrorist acts the only means to eliminate certain outstanding personalities who, because of their policies or position, had become the symbol of oppression. What proved so attractive was that terrorism had become a kind of philosophy through which to express frustration, resentment, and blind hatred, a kind of political expressionism which used bombs to express oneself, which watched delightedly the publicity given to resounding deeds and was absolutely willing to pay the price of life for having succeeded in forcing the recognition of one's existence on the normal strata of society. It was still the same spirit and the same game which made Goebbels, long before the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany, announce with obvious delight that the Nazis, in case of defeat, would know how to slam the door behind them and not to be forgotten for centuries.

Yet it is here if anywhere that a valid criterion may be found for distinguishing the elite from the mob in the pretotalitarian atmosphere. What the mob wanted, and what Goebbels expressed with great precision, was access to history even at the price of destruction. Goebbels' sincere conviction that "the greatest happiness that a contemporary can experience today" is either to be a genius or to serve one,[57] was typical of the mob but neither of the masses nor the sympathizing elite. The latter, on the contrary, took anonymity seriously to the point of seriously denying the existence of genius; all the art theories of the twenties tried desperately to prove that the excellent is the product of skill, craftsmanship, logic, and the realization of the potentialities of the material.[58] The mob, and not the elite, was charmed by the "radiant power of fame" (Stefan Zweig) and accepted enthusiastically the genius idolatry of the late bourgeois world. In this the mob of the twentieth century followed faithfully the pattern of earlier parvenus who also had discovered the fact that bourgeois society would rather open its doors to the fascinating "abnormal," the genius, the homosexual, or the Jew, than to simple merit. The elite's contempt for the genius and its yearning for anonymity was still witness of a spirit which neither the masses nor the mob were in a position to understand, and which, in the words of Robespierre, strove to assert the grandeur of man against the pettiness of the great.

This difference between the elite and the mob notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the elite was pleased whenever the underworld frightened respectable society into accepting it on an equal footing. The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it. They were not particularly outraged at the monstrous forgeries in historiography of which all totalitarian regimes are guilty and which announce themselves clearly enough in totalitarian propaganda. They had convinced themselves that traditional historiography was a forgery in any case, since it had excluded the underprivileged and oppressed from the memory of mankind. Those who were rejected by their own time were usually forgotten by history, and insult added to injury had troubled all sensitive consciences ever since faith in a hereafter where the last would be the first had disappeared. Injustices in the past as well as the present became intolerable when there was no longer any hope that the scales of justice eventually would be set right. Marx's great attempt to rewrite world history in terms of class struggles fascinated even those who did not believe in the correctness of his thesis, because of his original intention to find a device by which to force the destinies of those excluded from official history into the memory of posterity.

The temporary alliance between the elite and the mob rested largely on this genuine delight with which the former watched the latter destroy respectability. This could be achieved when the German steel barons were forced to deal with and to receive socially Hitler the housepainter and self-admitted former derelict, as it could be with the crude and vulgar forgeries perpetrated by the totalitarian movements in all fields of intellectual life, insofar as they gathered all the subterranean, nonrespectable elements of European history into one consistent picture. From this viewpoint it was rather gratifying to see that Bolshevism and Nazism began even to eliminate those sources of their own ideologies which had already won some recognition in academic or other official quarters. Not Marx's dialectical materialism, but the conspiracy of 300 families; not the pompous scientificality of Gobineau and Chamberlain, but the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"; not the traceable influence of the Catholic Church and the role played by anti-clericalism in Latin countries, but the backstairs literature about the Jesuits and the Freemasons became the inspiration for the rewriters of history. The object of the most varied and variable constructions was always to reveal official history as a joke, to demonstrate a sphere of secret influences of which the visible, traceable, and known historical reality was only the out-ward facade erected explicitly to fool the people.

To this aversion of the intellectual elite for official historiography, to its conviction that history, which was a forgery anyway, might as well be the playground of crackpots, must be added the terrible, demoralizing fascination in the possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and clever-ness, of pressure and infinite repetition. Not Stalin's and Hitler's skill in the art of lying but the fact that they were able to organize the masses into a collective unit to back up their lies with impressive magnificence, exerted the fascination. Simple forgeries from the viewpoint of scholarship appeared to receive the sanction of history itself when the whole marching reality of the movements stood behind them and pretended to draw from them the necessary inspiration for action.

The attraction which the totalitarian movements exert on the elite, so long as and wherever they have not seized power, has been perplexing because the patently vulgar and arbitrary, positive doctrines of totalitarianism are more conspicuous to the outsider and mere observer than the general mood which pervades the pretotalitarian atmosphere. These doctrines were so much at variance with generally accepted intellectual, cultural, and moral standards that one could conclude that only an inherent fundamental short-coming of character in the intellectual, "la trahison des clercs" (J. Benda), or a perverse self-hatred of the spirit, accounted for the delight with which the elite accepted the "ideas" of the mob. What the spokesmen of humanism and liberalism usually overlook, in their bitter disappointment and their unfamiliarity with the more general experiences of the time, is that an at-mosphere in which all traditional values and propositions had evaporated (after the nineteenth-century ideologies had refuted each other and exhausted their vital appeal) in a sense made it easier to accept patently absurd propo-sitions than the old truths which had become pious banalities, precisely because nobody could be expected to take the absurdities seriously. Vulgarity with its cynical dismissal of respected standards and accepted theories carried with it a frank admission of the worst and a disregard for all pretenses which were easily mistaken for courage and a new style of life. In the growing prevalence of mob attitudes and convictions—which were actually the attitudes and convictions of the bourgeoisie cleansed of hypocrisy—those who traditionally hated the bourgeoisie and had voluntarily left respectable society saw only the lack of hypocrisy and respectability, not the content itself. [59]

Since the bourgeoisie claimed to be the guardian of Western traditions and confounded all moral issues by parading publicly virtues which it not only did not possess in private and business life, but actually held in con-tempt, it seemed revolutionary to admit cruelty, disregard of human values, and general amorality, because this at least destroyed the duplicity upon which the existing society seemed to rest. What a temptation to flaunt ex-treme attitudes in the hypocritical twilight of double moral standards, to wear publicly the mask of cruelty if everybody was patently inconsiderate and pretended to be gentle, to parade wickedness in a world, not of wickedness, but of meanness! The intellectual elite of the twenties who knew little of the earlier connections between mob and bourgeoisie was certain that the old game of epater le bourgeois could be played to perfection if one started to shock society with an ironically exaggerated picture of its own behavior.

At that time, nobody anticipated that the true victims of this irony would be the elite rather than the bourgeoisie. The avant-garde did not know they were running their heads not against walls but against open doors, that a unanimous success would belie their claim to being a revolutionary minority, and would prove that they were about to express a new mass spirit or the spirit of the time. Particularly significant in this respect was the reception given Brecht's Dreigroschenoper in pre-Hitler Germany. The play presented gangsters as respectable businessmen and respectable businessmen as gangsters. The irony was somewhat lost when respectable businessmen in the audience considered this a deep insight into the ways of the world and when the mob welcomed it as an artistic sanction of gangsterism. The theme song in the play, "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral," was greeted with frantic applause by exactly everybody, though for different reasons. The mob applauded because it took the statement literally; the bourgeoisie applauded because it had been fooled by its own hypocrisy for so long that it had grown tired of the tension and found deep wisdom in the expression of the banality by which it lived; the elite applauded because the unveiling of hypocrisy was such superior and wonderful fun. The effect of the work was exactly the opposite of what Brecht had sought by it. The bourgeoisie could no longer be shocked; it welcomed the exposure of its hidden philosophy, whose popularity proved they had been right all along, so that the only political result of Brecht's "revolution" was to encourage everyone to discard the uncomfortable mask of hypocrisy and to accept openly the standards of the mob. A reaction similar in its ambiguity was aroused some ten years later in France by Celine's Bagatelles pour un Massacre, in which he proposed to massacre all the Jews. Andre Gide was publicly delighted in the pages of the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, not of course because he wanted to kill the Jews of France, but because he rejoiced in the blunt admission of such a desire and in the fascinating contradiction between Celine's bluntness and the hypocritical politeness which surrounded the Jewish question in all respectable quarters. How irresistible the desire for the unmasking of hypocrisy was among the elite can be gauged by the fact that such delight could not even be spoiled by Hitler's very real persecution of the Jews, which at the time of Celine's writing was already in full swing. Yet aversion against the philosemitism of the liberals had much more to do with this reaction than hatred of Jews. A similar frame of mind explains the remarkable fact that Hitler's and Stalin's widely publicized opinions about art and their persecution of modern artists have never been able to destroy the attraction which the totalitarian movements had for avant-garde artists; this shows the elite's lack of a sense of reality, together with its perverted selflessness, both of which resemble only too closely the fictitious world and the absence of self-interest among the masses. It was the great opportunity of the totalitarian movements, and the reason why a temporary alliance between the intellectual elite and the mob could come about, that in an elementary and undifferentiated way their problems had become the same and foreshadowed the problems and mentality of the masses.
[57]Goebbels, op. sit, p 139.

[58] The art theories of the Bauhaus were characteristic in this respect. See also Bertolt Brecht's remarks on the theater, Gesammelte Werke, London. 1938.

[59] The following passage by Rohm is typical of the feeling of almost the whole younger generation and not only of an elite "Hypocrisy and Pharisaism rule They are the most conspicuous characteristics of society today.... Nothing could be more lying than the so-called morals of society" These boys "don't find their way in the philistine world of bourgeois double morals and don't know any longer how to distinguish between truth and error" (Die Gewhichte einei Hochverratels, pp. 267 and 269) The homosexuality of these circles was also at- least partially an expression of their protest against society.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rose McGowan in 1998, one year after signing the nondisclosure agreement, and now.

File under Trolley Problems. A soldier explains what Oxbridge philosophers can't. It's a sign of how far we've fallen that it has to be explained at all.
A thousand years ago when I was about to begin my military career, a wise old retired Marine colonel, a veteran of the carnage at Tarawa, gave me some advice. Paraphrased here, he said
So you want to be a career soldier? Good for you. But remember that the longer you stay in uniform, the less you will really understand about the country you protect. Democracy is the antithesis of the military life; it’s chaotic, dishonest, disorganized, and at the same time glorious, exhilarating and free — which you are not.

After a while, if you stay in, you’ll be tempted to say, “Look, you civilians, we’ve got a better way. We’re better organized. We’re patriotic, and we know what it is to sacrifice. Be like us.” And you’ll be dead wrong, son. If you’re a career soldier, you may defend democracy, but you won’t understand it or be part of it. What’s more, you’ll always be a stranger to your own society. That’s the sacrifice you’ll be making.
"A military in service to a democracy is an authoritarian order in service to a free one: every soldier is simultaneously both a soldier and a citizen." A living breathing contradiction in terms. Before we negotiate with others we negotiate with ourselves.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

“They’re gonna look at me and they’re gonna know."

Feminism in 2017. "It's complicated"

It was never an “open secret” among me and my then-colleagues that Leon Wieseltier, the longtime literary czar of the New Republic, behaved inappropriately with women in the workplace. It was simply out in the open.
When I was in high school, I let my guy friends shoot crumpled paper balls into my cleavage at lunch. I thought this made me cooler than the other girls, and that my ability to assimilate and remain sexualized was special.  
The author's wedding photographs, on their own webpage,

by Aaron and Whitney Photography

Rose McGowan: "I have been silenced for 20 years."
She chose silence.

'There are powerful forces at work'
Vanity, insecurity, Freudianism and careerism.

"Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein: Annabella Sciorra, Daryl Hannah, and other women explain their struggles with going public."
All told, more than fifty women have now levelled accusations against Weinstein, in accounts published by the New York Times, The New Yorker, and other outlets. But many other victims have continued to be reluctant to talk to me about their experiences, declining interview requests or initially agreeing to talk and then wavering. As more women have come forward, the costs of doing so have certainly shifted. But many still say that they face overwhelming pressures to stay silent, ranging from the spectre of career damage to fears about the life-altering consequences of being marked as sexual-assault victims. “Now when I go to a restaurant or to an event, people are going to know that this happened to me,” Sciorra said. “They’re gonna look at me and they’re gonna know. I’m an intensely private person, and this is the most unprivate thing you can do.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

A repeat from 2012

If some of the foreign fighters in Aleppo were callow, others such as Abu Salam al Faluji boasted extraordinary experience. Abu Salam, a rugged Iraqi with a black keffiyeh wrapped around his head, said he had fought the Americans in Falluja when he was a young man. Later he joined al-Qaida in Iraq and spent many years fighting in different cities before moving to Syria to evade arrest. These days he was a commander of the one of the muhajiroun units.

I found him watching a heated debate between the Syrian commanders about how to defend the buckling frontline.

The government attack had begun as predicted and mortars were exploding in the streets nearby, the sound of machine-gun fire ricocheting between the buildings. The mortars were hammering hard against the walls, sending a small shower of shrapnel and cascading glass, but Abu Salam stood unflinching.One Syrian, breathing hard, said that he had fired three times at the tank and the RPG didn't go off.

"Don't say it didn't go off," Abu Salam admonished him. "Say you don't know how to fire it. We used to shoot these same RPGs at the Americans and destroy Abrams tanks. What's a T72 to an Abrams?

"Our work has to focus on IEDs and snipers," he told the gathering. "All these roofs need fighters on top and IEDs on the ground. You hunt them in the alleyways and then use machine-guns and RPGs around corners.

"The problem is not ammunition, it's experience," he told me out of earshot of the rebels. "If we were fighting Americans we would all have been killed by now. They would have killed us with their drone without even needing to send a tank.

"The rebels are brave but they don't even know the difference between a Kalashnikov bullet and a sniper bullet. That weakens the morale of the men.

"They have no leadership and no experience," he said. "Brave people attack, but the men in the lines behind them withdraw, leaving them exposed. It is chaos. This morning the Turkish brothers fought all night and at dawn they went to sleep leaving a line of Syrians behind to protect them. When they woke up the Syrians had left and the army snipers had moved in. Now it's too late. The army has entered the streets and will overrun us."

He seemed nonchalant about the prospect of defeat.

"It is obvious the Syrian army is winning this battle, but we don't tell [the rebels] this. We don't want to destroy their morale. We say we should hold here for as long as Allah will give us strength and maybe he will make one of these foreign powers come to help Syrians."

The irony was not lost on Abu Salam how the jihadis and the Americans – bitter enemies of the past decade – had found themselves fighting on the same side again.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

fantasies and fantasists

"Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy", again and again and again.

Farah Mendlesohn, a long time friend of Crooked Timber, writes:
I had to withdraw my book on Heinlein from the original publisher due to length. As I explored other options it became clear that no academic publisher could take it without substantial cuts, and no one who read it, could suggest any. In addition, the length would have pushed up the price for an academic publisher beyond what people could afford. Unbound, a crowdsourcing press, have agreed to take the book and have been able to price it at £12 for the ebook and £35 for the hard back.
The crowd-funding site is here. I’ve read and loved two of Farah’s previous books on f/sf (and have been contemplating a reply to her analysis of Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Wall for several years) – I’ve no doubt this is going to be great.
"The foundation to technocratic liberalism: the ambiguities of life lived mean nothing next to the light of pure and puritan reason. But the word "puritan" gives it a subtext that reason itself does not allow. And the only art acceptable to reason is children's fantasy, because fantasy doesn't undermine the law of non-contradiction, and "literary" fiction breaks it constantly, as we do in our own lives."
I’ve a new piece up at Jacobin...
Revolutionary Possibility: China Miéville’s October depicts the transformative hope of revolution.
...The hope that revolution promises can never be realized by us as we are now. More profoundly, the hope that it actually embodies is unimaginable, since to be able to imagine it is to have undergone it. From this side, we cannot see what the other side looks like. The promise of revolution is inevitably a lie, right up to the moment when the revolutionary transformation occurs, because the person making the promise cannot possibly understand that to which she is committing.

Understanding this is the key to understanding Miéville’s October. Like the thought of Walter Benjamin, Miéville’s Marxism is shot through with what can only be described as faith. Benjamin notoriously never finished reading Capital, and was attracted by the socialist utopians whom Marx reviled and disparaged, because he saw in them an unrealized hope for a world that would be radically transformed. Thus, the promise of the October Revolution remains with us, like Miéville’s imagined, frozen train, not as an inevitability but as a possibility, which has never properly arrived but may break through at any moment. As Benjamin described it, every second of time is the gate through which the Messiah may enter. The world that the Messiah brings is in principle unknowable to us, yet if we do not hope and work for this now-unimaginable redemption, we will never find it.

It’s superficially easy for more prosaic socialists to sneer at these ideas when they are presented so baldly. We do not live in an age that seems to lend itself to radical transformation. Moreover, such efforts at radical transformation as we have seen in the last century have largely failed, and often failed in terrible ways. Yet it is also true that we have seen enormous transformation in the past, and have no good warrant to believe that we’ve arrived at the end of transformative history.
Looping back from a post-communist romance with libertarianism, to begin again.

3 Scholasticism continues to wither.
The growing mismatch between jobs for philosophers and what the leading PhD programs emphasize, or, the so-called "core" is dying.
PhilJobs is starting to fill up with ads, though not as many ads as one would like to see (at least not yet). But what is striking is the pattern in areas of interest: lots of value theory and history of philosophy (esp. early modern, but also a fair bit of 19th-century), some currently "trendy" areas like philosophy of race and gender, but very little "core analytic" (as the Stanford ad puts it), i.e., very little philosophy of language and mind, metaphyscis & epistemology, the latter being the historical "prestige" trackers in the profession for the last half-century. But as I've remarked before, what is prestigious and central at the top PhD programs may no longer bear much relationship to most of the jobs that exist. ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A repeat from 2013, updated

flickr and Reuters/NSA
Gursky's nihilism, and Alex Rosenberg's determinism; anti-humanism and E.O. Wilson's ants.

Ahmed Mater. I saw the work awhile ago and didn't get around to it. Today I found someone using an image of one of his pieces, in an article on magnetism, without a reference to the piece itself. The pieces aren't on Mater's website and a lot of references on other sites have been removed. He may have gotten into trouble.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Philosophers are idiots
A university must tolerate, and even welcome, those who follow evidence and argument to conclusions that are false or unpalatable; but it may reject those who seek a platform for hatred or deception. That is why it counts counts against Middlebury College when its shouts down Charles Murray but it counts in favour of Berkeley when it excludes Milos Yannopoulos [sic].
Universities would deserve criticism for rejecting a presentation by the authors of the Nuremberg Laws, but would be right in rejecting a speech by a rabble-rousing journalist who promotes them.

Similar from Farrell
The way that the Kennedy School used to think about fellowships, as Elmendorf describes it – which I think is the only sustainable way for it to think about them – is as no more and no less than a way to facilitate debate and conversation. This is one of the things that universities are supposed to do – bring a diverse group of people into debate, reflecting a broad set of constituencies. That Chelsea Manning is anathema to other fellows like Morell should be neither here or there – the job of the university is to provide opportunities for both people like Manning and people like Morell to participate in public debate, without necessarily feeling the need to pronounce on the merits of either.
The only reason Manning was invited was that he/she has a large constituency among the educated elite. The diversity celebrated only exists with those limits.

The academy is conservative by definition. That's not a bad thing, unlike hypocrisy.

again, and again, and again...
2007 Commentary Magazine,
An exchange between Charles Murray and readers on his April 2007 piece, "Jewish Genius."
To the Editor:

Charles Murray is on safe ground in testing the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending hypothesis of high Jewish IQ by seeking evidence beyond the Ashkenazim in Europe and going back past the Middle Ages to antiquity. In a review of nearly 100 studies of South Asian/ North African IQ, Richard Lynn has shown that although IQ scores of Sephardi Jews are lower on average than those of Ashkenazim, they are higher than those of the populations that surrounded them historically. Clearly we are dealing with something deeply rooted in the Jewish past.
J. Philippe Rushton
University of Western Ontario
London, Canada

Charles Murray replies 
Richard Lynn’s review of studies of Sephardi IQ as cited by J. Philippe Rushton offers a potential strategy for exploring the vexed question of non-Ashkenazi Jews: compare their scores with non-Jews who have surrounded them historically. That work could be extended by calculating not raw IQ means, but ratios of Jewish to non-Jewish IQ’s within culturally meaningful geographic areas. Doing that calculation accurately presents many methodological difficulties, and good data may be too sparse, but the intriguing hypothesis to be explored is that the ratios will be roughly the same everywhere. The estimated Ashkenazi mean of 110 translates to a ratio of 11:10 in Europe and the United States. If non-Ashkenazi Jews with a mean of 100 were historically surrounded by a people with a mean of 91, the ratio would be identical. Since the IQ means of the non-Jewish populations of North African and Middle Eastern countries are estimated to be well below 100, the hypothesis is not implausible on its face.
1995 FAIR Racism Resurgent
Nearly all the research that Murray and Herrnstein relied on for their central claims about race and IQ was funded by the Pioneer Fund, described by the London Sunday Telegraph (3/12/89) as a “neo-Nazi organization closely integrated with the far right in American politics.” The fund’s mission is to promote eugenics, a philosophy that maintains that “genetically unfit” individuals or races are a threat to society. 
The Pioneer Fund was set up in 1937 by Wickliffe Draper, a millionaire who advocated sending blacks back to Africa. The foundation’s charter set forth the group’s missions as “racial betterment” and aid for people “deemed to be descended primarily from white persons who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.” (In 1985, after Pioneer Fund grant recipients began receiving political heat, the charter was slightly amended to play down the race angle—GQ, 11/94.)

The fund’s first president, Harry Laughlin, was an influential advocate of sterilization for those he considered genetically unfit. In successfully advocating laws that would restrict immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, Laughlin testified before Congress that 83 percent of Jewish immigrants were innately feeble-minded (Rolling Stone, 10/20/94). Another founder, Frederick Osborn, described Nazi Germany’s sterilization law as “a most exciting experiment” (Discovery Journal, 7/9/94). 
...Lynn has received at least $325,000 from the Pioneer Fund (Rolling Stone, 10/20/94). He frequently publishes in eugenicist journals like Mankind Quarterly—published by Roger Pearson and co-edited by Lynn himself—and Personality and Individual Differences, edited by Pioneer grantee Hans Eysenck. Among Lynn’s writings cited in The Bell Curve are “The Intelligence of the Mongoloids” and “Positive Correlations Between Head Size and IQ.”

...Murray and Herrnstein describe Lynn as “a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences.” Here’s a sample of Lynn’s thinking on such differences (cited in Newsday, 11/9/94): “What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the ‘phasing out’ of such peoples…. Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality.”

Elsewhere Lynn (cited in New Republic, 10/31/94) makes clear which “incompetent cultures” need “phasing out”: “Who can doubt that the Caucasoids and the Mongoloids are the only two races that have made any significant contributions to civilization?”

...Rushton was reprimanded by his school, the University of Western Ontario, for accosting people in a local shopping mall and asking them how big their penises were and how far they could ejaculate. “A zoologist doesn’t need permission to study squirrels in his backyard,” he groused (Rolling Stone, 10/20/94).

Rushton’s creepy obsessions intersect with the ugliest sides of politics: A 1986 article by Rushton suggested that the Nazi war machine owed its prowess to racial purity, and worried that demographic shifts were endangering our “Northern European” civilization. Rushton co-authored a paper that argued that blacks have a genetic propensity to contract AIDS because of their “reproductive strategy” of promiscuous sex (cited in Newsday, 11/9/94). The other author was Bouchard, the author of those amazing twin studies celebrated in mainstream news outlets.

It’s not surprising that Murray and Herrnstein would defend Rushton, writing that his “work is not that of a crackpot or a bigot, as many of his critics are given to charging.” But it’s startling that a science writer for the New York Times, Malcolm Browne, would actually endorse Rushton’s book (10/16/94). Echoing The Bell Curve, Browne respectfully concludes his summary of Rushton’s bizarre theories with: “Mr. Rushton is nevertheless regarded by many of his colleagues as a scholar and not a bigot.” (“Browne doesn’t identify these ‘colleagues,’ but I expect he means Professor Beavis and Professor Butthead,” the Toronto Star‘s Joey Slinger wrote—10/20/94.)

Saturday, September 02, 2017

The strategic reasons the ACLU embraced "free speech" for Nazis in the 1930s

Interesting bit of forgotten history courtesy of my colleague Laura Weinrib. Given the pathologies of American political culture, however, I'm not confident a different approach would end happily.
Weinrib: "The ACLU's free speech stance should be about social justice, not 'timeless' principles"

Weinrib, HUP 2016: The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise

Using google books I searched the text for references to the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee and found nothing. I found a review by Samuel Moyn in the WSJ. He'd linked to it on twitter, and almost a year later I replied.

"Seems no mention of the NECLC. If so it begs the question of 'principle' and destroys the book's argument."

"The book ends before WW II; NECLC from after"

"But that makes my point. NECLC stood for principle during the cold war. It had a big effect on ACLU. Seen as a dark period in ACLU history"

My final reply has one like: Samuel Moyn.