Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Add this to the long list of failures at Crooked Timber on questions of race. You see why Holbo married his wife.

Commenter CP Norris links to Jamelle Bouie
It’s a story, in other words, that treats race as an intellectual exercise—a low-stakes cocktail party argument between white liberals and white conservatives over their respective racial innocence.
Similar comments from others on past threads, both repeated here

QS responds to Bertram
You’ve turned sexual harassment into an intellectual game, that is where the “creepiness” originates. How do you moderate that? You don’t. You realize that your ability to treat the issue so dispassionately, playing the game of Find the Universal, probably has something to do with your maleness and position outside this particular terrain.

Sexual harassment was banned not because we found the Universal Principle Against Harassment but because women and men who believed it to be wrong fought successfully for prohibition. These people were likely motivated by a variety of ideas and experiences. The way we keep the libertarians marginalized is not by abstract philosophical games but by appealing to this concrete history.

Chris Bertram 06.03.12 at 10:06 am
QS: your latest tells me that you see political philosophy as it is usually practised as involving a profound mistake. You are entitled to that opinion. It is not one that I share.
"Marfrks" responds to Henry Farrell
I have been a lawyer for many years, and then got a chance to teach at a non-lawyerly academic institution. I loved it; I loved playing in the garden of the mind. Eventually, however, it became clear to me that academics and non-academics have very different approaches to ideas. Academics, though it sounds odd to say it, don’t take ideas seriously. For academics, ideas are games.
You could switch out a couple of words in the Jamelle Bouie quote and make it refer to Jews, whites and Palestinians, but no one above would think of that.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

repeat and update. obvious.

The woman in the top image is Bettie Page.

"War photographers are voyeurs of trauma, paparazzi of death, the intimacy in their images the illusory intimacy of porn." I wrote that and then realized what I'd missed before.

In 2001 at a show of Letizia Battaglia photographs at Aperture, an eye fundamentally perverse.  In the last room there was one photograph taken by a colleague of her dancing at a street festival, her head spinning, her hair away from her face like cables of a carnival ride, her expression a mixture of panic and ecstasy, in love with death.

Weegee wasn't a photojournalist, he was a photographer.  Photojournalists like the members of "camera clubs" want to be "artists", so in there own imaginations somehow doing something moral. The dishonesty means their work is passive, and passivity is the death of art. If art were moral in itself then killers wouldn't know how the dance or play the violin. Art is moral because honesty is moral.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"beautiful, good and true"

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail) circa 1500 
Harald Falckenberg in the FT
Unlike the traditional art of representation, which sought to manifest the power and influence of the Church, the aristocracy and the haute bourgeoisie as beautiful, good and true, today’s art world stands for the complex referential system of contemporary art that is only explicable in its economic, sociopolitical, academic and philosophical contexts. Art’s transgressive orientation found its programmatic expression in Joseph Beuys’ notion of an “expanded concept of art”.
The FT describes Falckenberg as
...a Doctor in Law and Professor of Art Theory at the Hamburg Academy of Art. His collection of contemporary art, which comprises more than 2,000 works, is shown in co-operation with Deichtorhallen/Hamburg
WSJ:  "Harald Falckenberg's Radical Art Gesture. The German Manufacturer, Known for His Artistic Acumen, Opens Up His Eccentric Private Collection"
Most people probably haven't thought much about the nozzles on gasoline pumps, but if you happen to be interested in nozzles, then you know all about Elaflex, a Hamburg-based world leader in nozzle production. And most people probably don't have the eye, or the stomach, for radical works of contemporary art, which do their best to shock, repel or otherwise displease.

As it turns out, there is one man in the world who has a passion for both—Harald Falckenberg, Elaflex's co-owner and managing director, and one of the world's most admired, and most critical, contemporary-art collectors.
Sammlung Falckenberg


Goya, Fight with Cudgels, 1820-23
Duncan Black almost literally has no imagination.

I usually don't pay much attention to Sully, but this came across the desk. Neither "Heartland America" nor "Limbaugh" have any reason to care if someone is a practicing Catholic. The supposed Heartland isn't exactly the center of Catholicism in this country, and Limbaugh is a professed, if hardly (by accounts) practicing, Methodist.

If the point is any US conservative should be thrilled simply because somebody is a professed Christian...well, ok, but, uh….
“CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values [and] conservatives. Now, it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy,” – Rush Limbaugh, losing his shit over a practicing Catholic and Sunday school teacher taking over from David Letterman.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert and Judicial Review

In the 30s the court lagged behind the popular will; in the 50s and 60s it was ahead of it.

The elite doesn't lead any more than the first drops of rain lead a rainstorm.

Catholics: Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Sotomayor, Colbert.
Jews: Ginsburg, Breyer, Stewart [Leibowitz].

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Is all which is just, pious, or is that which is pious all just? etc.

repeat, update and new tag: Dead Finks Don't Talk

(and updated again)

An outraged Davis, who has fought for justice in his sister's murder for years, had trouble calming himself and had to step out of the courtroom. He later told the Boston Globe he owed Judge Casper an apology for his behavior, yet was livid at the suggestion he was an informant: "I’d take a bullet before I’d ever incriminate anyone.”

Apparently, accusations of being a tattle-tale are worse than accusations of murder.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Hersh, again
The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"Evidence Based Practice" Dumb and Dumber

The Journal of Strategic Studies
The 1983 Nuclear Crisis – Lessons for Deterrence Theory and Practice
ABSTRACT This article distills insights for the scholarship of deterrence by examining the 1983 nuclear crisis – the moment of maximum danger of the late Cold War. Important contributions notwithstanding, our understanding of this episode still has caveats, and a significant pool of theoretical lessons for strategic studies remain to be learned. Utilizing newly available sources, this article suggests an alternative interpretation of Soviet and US conduct. It argues that the then US deterrence strategy almost produced Soviet nuclear overreaction by nearly turning a NATO exercise into a prelude to a preventive Soviet attack. Building on historical findings, this article offers insights about a mechanism for deterrence effectiveness evaluation, recommends establishing a structure responsible for this endeavor, and introduces a new theoretical term to the strategic studies lexicon – a ‘culminating point of deterrence’.
A new set of rules that eliminate the risk of human error.

The academic terminology, the passive voice, the "new theoretical term", a new label for the filing system, the ethics and aesthetics of bureaucracy.

Where Jerome Groopman meets Evgeny Morosov.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Philosophy Commons/Flickers of Freedom
Dennett Willing to Abandon the term "Free Will"?
...it sounds like Dennett is willing cede the concept of "fee will" to the libertarian/incompatibilist and instead focus on the question of whether or not "moral competence" is compatible with naturalism/determinism. This, I believe, is telling. Dennett's willingness to consider such a move (regardless of whether he's actually advocating it or just floating it as an idea he is open to), reveals an acknowledgement on his part that the concept of FW may be too loaded with anti-naturalist connotations that it may not be worth preserving for those naturalistically inclined philosophers and scientists. This is especially telling coming from Dennett, since no one has done more to try to naturalize the concept of FW than him!
From the first comment: "Dennett makes the same claim, more explicitly in his recent Harvey Preisler Memorial lecture". The video is below. He begins to speak. He begins to speak at 21 mins in.  The relevant discussion at 27 mins

most of my comment.
Dennett's description in the youtube video of the 'nefarious neurosurgeon' is just silly, at least as he uses it. Pointing out the primacy of self-interest, "everyone's greedy", reinforces greedy behavior, because measuring to the mean puts downward pressure on the mean. So teaching your kids to be something other than greedy raises it. It's simple reinforcement. That's the argument for economic theory only with explicit moral priors, since 'objectivity' dumbs us down. But Dennett goes for anti-behaviorism: "The environment is not an agent". And neither is an asteroid that hits a moon. Cause and effect and agency don't mix. Calculators are machines and conditioned response is a mechanical reflex. 'Anti-philosophical' scientists will always win this fight.
Of course if there's no free will even the choice to argue one way or the other is predetermined. Philosophers in the Anglo-American tradition need someone to have free will, even if it's only them arguing against it. And of course that need is determined, etc.

"What is consciousness?" again

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Of course
3:AM: The final essays in Analytic Philosophy in America advance an originalist theory of interpretation applied to U.S. constitutional rules about due process. Can you say something about your approach here?

SS: Yes, I outline a theory of legal interpretation I call “Deferentialism”, which can be taken to be a version of originalism, though I hope it is an improved version. Its main features are:
(i) The legal content of a written statute or a specific provision of a written constitution cannot be identified with either the semantic content of the relevant text or the legal or political rationale that provided the purpose of its passage, but it can be identified with what was asserted or stipulated by the relevant lawmakers or ratifiers in passing or approving it. ...
If it's not one thing it's another.

repeats. Jack Balkin
I have posted my latest essay, Why are Americans Originalist?, on SSRN. It is an attempt to explain to non-Americans why originalism has such influence in American federal constitutional argument but lacks a similar degree of influence in the interpretation of the constitutions of other democracies, or even in the interpretation of the fifty American state constitutions. The answer is that originalism is a feature of American national culture, deeply connected to narratives of American national identity.
Serendipity, I guess.
Since Soames refers to Michael McConnell and I linked to Balkin it only makes sense to add this.

and a new tag: Pedants and Children.
varieties of earnest political engagement

I wish this didn’t need to be said, but apparently it does: this is not OK. It is not OK to attack protesters. It is not OK to try to silence people whose views you don’t like. It’s immoral, and it cuts directly against the very human rights that are the foundation of feminism, the campaign against racism, and the campaign for gay rights. That this could be possibly in question among self-defined members of the left demonstrates how unhealthy the left has become.
On Feb. 11th, too, at least two people were wounded Sunday in a gunfight between Jumblatt supporters and opponents in Aley, east of Beirut, and shots were reportedly fired Sunday in an altercation between Hariri supporters and members of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s security services.
(When I got to the bottom of my incoming mail pile on Sunday, I found a charming, Christmas card from Walid– featuring a photo he had taken of the snow-covered steps of his family’s feudal home in Moukhtara. Maybe I should have a conversation with him about Jesus’s teachings on nonviolence sometime?)
Back in November, Walid notoriously threatened to unleash car-bombs against the Syrian capital, Damascus. Yesterday, just such a bomb did explode there. It killed Imad Mughniyeh, long wanted by the US government as being the accused architect of the very lethal attacks against US military and diplomatic facilities in Lebanon in 1983-84, and by Israel for his alleged role in organizing very lethal attacks against Israeli and Jewish facilities in Buenos Aires. Hizbullah’s Manar website today described him as “a great resistance leader who joined the procession of Islamic Resistance martyrs.”
No indication, yet, of whether Walid’s threat of last November was related in any way to Mughniyeh’s killing. But did the belligerent words Walid pronounced last Sunday about “We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles” have anything to do with yesterday’s visit by US Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman to Beirut?
Freddie deBoer is taken very seriously but a lot of people who don't read Helena Cobban.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

pedants and children

repeat from 2003. I'd forgotten the Posner quote.

From a related post from the same time.
What is 'The Law?' Is it the concept or only the concept in action? Is it a set of rules, or is it the process of arguing about those rules - in a room, in summer, without air conditioning, and with a bad hangover? 
Is it the relation between the two?
The above, in relation to Corey Robin, here, and to what he describes as "a sharp take on the left".
My comment was to repost relevant bits of this. It's not simply the number of people, academics, opposed to freedom of speech, but that they're opposed to it without understanding how their arguments originate in their idealist sense of their own authority. Trudeau by comparison was principled but pragmatic. And society survived.

Again. Shouting down Michael Oren is one thing; claiming that its justified as an example of free speech is another. Along with discussions of "triggers", the first is asking the state's permission to disrupt the state's activity, the second is asking the state or some authority to protect you from knowledge, even knowledge only of someone's beliefs. In both cases the relation of the individual to the state is of child to authority. And technocrats are always willing parents.

The ACLU defense of the Nazis in the Skokie case was not about the right to march but the right to march in a town full of Holocaust survivors.

repeats: the lousy politics of willed innocence

Trudeau was always hoping people would grow up.

the comedy continues here
Why did Quine become a logician and not a lawyer?/The Pot Kettle Problem
Mohan Matthen
The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?"
The last sentence from my comment, with a minor repair
An[y] aesthetic is the material or formal manifestation of an ethic. To ask why one is to ask why the other.
A biologist might ask why we philosophize and not simply function, but a philosopher asking why we make art is like a theologian asking why we read fiction.

The level of assumption, the arrogance and stupidity (there's nothing else to call it at this point)  are mind-bending.

Beauty is the manifestation of desired or desirable order, and the means of coming to terms with the existence of orders beyond our control. It's the form in material or language of an idea, not as illustration but by manifestation and therefore through experience. That's why art -or anything read in terms of art- is not reducible or translatable, and why Anglo-American philosophy has such a hard time with it, since philosophy is defined as fully translatable language related to mathematics. If you can't translate Mallarmé or replicate perfectly Matthen's Oxbridge Anglo-Indian mannerisms, or Olivier's or Gielgud's performances of Hamlet then universalism becomes no more than generalization.

Technocracy in the imaginations of technocrats is founded on the association of universalism with idealism. As a functional model it's founded on the principle of mediocrity.


NYTRome Priests heard confessions Friday in the Circus Maximus in Rome where people had gathered to watch the funeral of Pope John Paul II, broadcast on a giant videoscreen.

Look at the expressions on the faces of the woman and the priest in the foreground: at the informality of their relationship; at his clothing and unshaven face; at the seating arrangement, in the open air; at the figures in the background repeating the action but on the ground, and talking even more as equals. It's so well done I have a hard time thinking it wasn't staged entirely with actors. It's the most beautiful -meaning complex- modern use of Catholic iconography I've seen in a long time, though I haven't seen anything by Almodovar recently. In Hail Mary Godard described the Annunciation as a jet plane flying over a basketball court and managed to have the film condemned by the Pope and win the best Catholic film of the year in Germany.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"I don’t read much philosophy, it upsets me when I read the nonsense written by my contemporaries, the theory of extended mind makes me want to throw up…."

Searle ends up spouting his own absurdities but they're the absurdities of an intelligent mind.

From Leiter, who posted the quote.

"No baby... please... I understand you... you're a part of me! I have an extended mind!"

"Put your cell phone on the table." [swings hammer: "SMASH!!"] "Now put your hand on the table."

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Al Jazeera once again removes Joseph Massad article on Palestine"

Dahlan, again
From twitter. story here

Comments on twitter were mostly wry acknowledgement the composure of the 'oppressed' woman. The only people who noted right off the possibility of kink were an Arab American women and a gay Arab European man.  I laughed at first and the woman is impressive but in the end her cold contempt is off-putting; her conservatism has a nasty edge.

Also on twitter I'm seeing some defense of muslim women in Germany, from German sexworkers. It makes sense if you ignore assumed simple definitions of the categories of liberal and conservative. Whores and nuns are conservative gender roles, but the woman on the left is holding her baby, and Femen is the liberalism of Hugh Hefner. Someone pointed out that the most important difference between Playboy and Hustler was that Flynt brought back shame to sex.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

repeat, from 2008.
The scientific work of our countrymen has probably evoked less scepticism on the part of foreign judges than their achievements in other departments of cultural activity. There is one obvious reason for this difference. When our letters, our art, our music are criticized with disdainfully faint commendation, it is because they have failed to attain the higher reaches of creative effort. Supreme accomplishment in art certainly presupposes a graduated series of lesser strivings, yet from what might be called the consumer's angle, mediocrity is worthless and incapable of giving inspiration to genius. But in science it is otherwise. Here every bit of sound work… counts.
From Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

George Santayana responds in his review, published as Marginal Notes on Civilization
It counts in art also, when art is alive. In a thoroughly humanized society everything -clothes speech manners, government- is a work of art, being so done as to be a pleasure and a stimulus in itself. There seems to be an impression in America that art is fed on the history of art, and is what is found in museums. But museums are mausoleums, only dead art is there, and only ghosts of artists flit about them. The priggish notion that an artist is a person undertaking to produce immortal works suffices to show that art has become a foreign thing, an hors-d'oeuvre and that it is probably doomed to affectation and sterility.
Among other things the above counts as my review of the Biennial
The reference to the Biennial still applies.


I thought I'd done this too, but I guess not here.
Clement Greenberg
The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.
I have described and analyzed (in my book The Rules of Art in particular) the long process of autonomization at the end of which, in a number of Western countries, were constituted those social microcosms that I call “fields”: the literary field, the scientific field, and the artistic field. I have shown that these universes obey laws that are proper to them (the etymological meaning of the word autonomy) and at variance with the laws of the surrounding social world, particularly at the economic level. The literary and artistic worlds are very largely emancipated, at least in the most autonomous sectors, from the rule of money and interest. I have always stressed the fact that this process is not in any sense a linear and teleological development in the Hegelian type and that progress toward autonomy could be immediately interrupted, as we’ve seen whenever dictatorial regimes, capable of divesting the artistic worlds from their past achievements, have been established. But what is currently happening to the universes of cultural production and circulation throughout the developed world is entirely novel and truly without precedent: the hard won independence of cultural production and circulation from the necessities of the economy is being threatened, in its very principle, by the intrusion of commercial logic at every stage of the production and circulation of cultural goods.
So stupid, and so fucking obvious.
"The Emptiness of Data Journalism"
"Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight and the dangers of being ideologically neutral"

references to Wieseltier are all in relation to Leiter

Jay Rosen

In 10 years no one's going to admit they ever defended journalistic 'objectivity'.
Every generation reinvents the wheel, or discovers for the first time, all on their own, what their great grandparents took for granted. All drifting from one imagined state of nature to another.

Makes me want to put a bullet through my fucking head.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New tag: Jan van Eyck.

Five posts, with this one, all referring to the same painting and four of them making the same argument: that earnest liberals including or especially those who call themselves leftists can't distinguish conservatives from fascists and fascists from barbarians, and don't know a goddamn thing about what art is, and why.