Monday, April 29, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — After Officer Pedro Serrano decided to testify in federal court about what he sees as wrongdoing within the New York Police Department, a rat sticker appeared on his locker.
That was the least of his problems.
Serrano claims he’s been harassed, micromanaged and eventually transferred to a different precinct and put on the overnight shift.
“It hasn’t been a picnic,” he said in an interview this week. “They have their methods of dealing with someone like me.”

..."Nothing's changed," the 76-year-old Serpico said in a recent phone interview when asked about the current crop of whistle-blowers. "It's the same old crap — kill the messenger."
Just for fun
But something odd happens when you quit policing. In the following hears you assume nothing has changed.
I really agree with you about Serpico living in the police world of the past.
Nothing's changed.
With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"kicking the poors" site: eschatonblog.com
"gentrification" site: etc. ...
"67% white"

American conservatives think of themselves as hardened realists; American liberals think of themselves as nice people.
"I hate explaining this shit"

Friday, April 26, 2013

I've used these two a few times, separately and together.

A couple of years ago I had a drink with a junior architect in the office of Robert A.M. Stern. He said Stern was loading the Bush Library with architectural in-jokes and secret commentary, to be read by future generations. Stern thinks of himself as an intellectual.  His employee thinks he's a pretentious cynic and a hack.
Academic intellectuals and the social model of policing.

NewApps

Religious education, child abuse and responsible parental stewardship

[this is cross-posted at Prosblogion] Richard Dawkins has argued several times (e.g., here) that bringing up your child religiously is a form of child abuse. I think his argument that religious upbringing in general is child abuse has little merit (after all, Dawkins himself is the product of a traditional Anglican upbringing and calls himself - rather proudly - a cultural Anglican, hardly the victim of child abuse). However, his claim in the linked article is that parents who attempt to instill things like Young Earth Creationism (henceforth YEC) in their children are doing something wrong, or are somehow overstepping their role as parents. This question, I believe, is worthy of further attention. 
...But where can we draw the line? Under what circumstances does the transmission of religious beliefs count as a form of child mistreatment, to put it strongly? For clarity of discussion, I do not mean those aspects of religious education that involve, say, denying your child a vaccine or blood transfusion, but I want to focus on the transmission of beliefs alone. An interesting model to consider the moral dimension of parenting is the stewardship model.

Kevin McdonoughHelen (if I may), these issues are discussed fairly extensively in the philosophy of education -- the work of folks like Eamonn Callan, Harry Brighouse, Meira Levinson (and others), is exemplary in this respect.
You might find of interest Bryan Warnick's discussion of the parental right to 'invite' their children to participate in a particular (religious or other) way of life- see his new book "Understanding Student Rights in Schools". I think Warnick's arguments are interesting and also sympatico with what you are proposing above.

Rebecca KuklaI've never actually understood why people don't think it is morally problematic to lie to their kids about things like Santa. First of all it's lying, and we typically think that's wrong ceteris paribus, and second of all it sets them out at the start with a super confused and scientifically impossible ontology (not to mention a deeply creepy ethics in the Santa case but never mind that for now), which might well make it harder to reason well later, who knows?  

Two comments of mine, and no response: 
"But where can we draw the line? Under what circumstances does the transmission of… beliefs count as a form of child mistreatment...? " 
"Belief": that all men/women/people are created equal; that theirs is "the necessary country"; in the American dream; in vegetarianism; in dualism; in materialism; in marxism; in democracy; in capitalism; in pacifism; in unaided reason; in empiricism; in "love". The logical ordering of a desire begins with the desire. Dawkins is as Anglican as Colin McGinn is Catholic.
Lewontin : Billions and Billions of Demons 
Dawkins' arguments are best defined as moralizing anti-politics; they're based on an a notion of textual inerrancy that begins in religion and noted (publicly) in the US most often in arguments over the meaning of the Constitution. Once you allow for interpretation you allow for subjectivity, and subjectivity is assumption and assumption is faith. 
I know plenty of people who would never, ever, raise a child in the United States. 
Rumsfeld and Rove are both atheists, and Dawkins is somewhere between Nino Scalia and Carrie Nation.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
There's no master, only politics, in the best sense or the worst depending on the people involved.
--- 
With all the discussion of autonomy I wish I could say I was amazed by the constant sense of coercion in the language above. It's everything Foucault et al spent their lives describing in their attacks on liberalism: the inner and outer coercion of Protestant moralism. Brighouse is on record worrying about the anti-egalitarian forces at work in the love of one's own children. He's deeply concerned. He wrote an entire paper on "legitimate parental partiality". [I'd written "permissible"]
He's also on record wishing there were "mechanisms" to keep our trouble-making desires in check. Read him on G.A. Cohen. 
[The image on the left appears twice on this page. Both apply]
Since I linked to Lewontin I'll quote him, from a different piece. [PDF] It's a quote I'm fond of. [repeat, recent]
"Bill Wimsatt's "Lewontin's Evidence (that There Isn't Any)" made me think about a lot of questions in my paper. I would like to point out that the rhetoric of this conference has undergone a sudden change. Up until Bill's presentation and mine, everyone read his or her paper. In the tradition to which I belong that would be considered very bad form. That rhetorical difference is a mirror of the differences that I want to talk about. The words that all of the rest of you use are conceived of as being the matter, and so you must choose them carefully, and, therefore, you have to compose your papers and read them. I, on the other hand and perhaps Bill as well, but especialy I, as a natural scientist, am nothing but the oracle of Delphi, sitting here on my stool with eyeballs rolled upwards, and through me Nature speaks. That explains, in my view, the difference in rhetorical tradition between a meeting like this and the ones at which I spend my time. No one in my tradition believes that the words are very important. After all, if I misspeak someone else will say the right thing because we are both talking about the same things and ultimately the gods will speak through us. So words are not the matter. It is extremely important to understand the origin of that difference in rhetorical tradition because it represents a very great difference in what scientists believe to be the nature of evidence in natural science. A conference on the questions of evidence is really a conference on the questions of theory and metatheory. We cannot begin to talk about the evidence until we talk about what it is we are trying to produce evidence of. And the very method which we use is itself a form of evidence."
"The words that all of the rest of you use are conceived of as being the matter" Words or ideas as opposed to events and actions. 
My parents were atheists, as I am. But they were modernists. They held to ideas of morality and the world, but first and foremost, of themselves. After my mother died, my sister told me the story of how our mother came into her room one christmas morning when my sister was 5, at 3 AM, in tears, begging her daughter to forgive her for lying: the truth is there is no Santa Claus.  My sister was more disturbed by her mother's behavior.  She remembers it now with bemusement, but my mother's actions were less driven by a sense of responsibility for others than by her own narcissism, which manifest in any number of ways. The same held for my father. By their own logic there could be no subtexts to their words or actions. Their consciousness and conscientiousness was a given, the sine qua non of mature intellectual adulthood. This was made clear to us in no uncertain terms. In fact they were wrong, disastrously.
I'm happy to assume most of you are better parents than mine were. That's not the point. Outside of home and social life I'm proud of the record of their actions. In the world at large they understood that words are not the matter.
repeats of repeats of repeats
Modernism was the fantasy of writing with the assumption that from then on there would be only reading with and no reading against. To read tale against teller or to read against the grain would be gross error. Rebellion against this has always taken the form of the rebellion of youth against their parents, with the more sympathetic elders caught in the middle, trying to justify the revolt while trying to make it fit with what they know and what they are. So we get the obscurantist poeticizing of Derrida-the philosopher magistrate as wise old fool- and the blandness of Rorty and Nussbaum, struggling to find a way beyond technocracy, while being mocked for the attempt by professional technocrats and lionized by amateur enthusiasts. The model of the Continental philosopher was as Pope and Anti-Pope combined, a philosophical self that could contain an other, in a sense obviating the need for actual democracy. And now that Continental and Anglo-American philosophy are joining out of necessity and the need for survival, we see parallels in Bruno Latour's Collective and David Chalmers' Extended Mind. 
The tension in the older tradition of classical humanism, now mostly forgotten, between the worldliness of antiquity and the otherworldliness of Christianity and its relation to modern science, or what science is taken to be. Why I paired the Lewontin quote above with Arendt, who like Panofsky, and Manfred Stanley, is from that older tradition.
The true heirs of the classical tradition are jobbing lawyers.

Brighouse needs there to be objective moral truths because he needs a foundation to authority, but whose authority will that become?

"You might find of interest Bryan Warnick's discussion of the parental right to 'invite' their children to participate…"  
Pretensions of equality/equivalence between parents and children, self and other (the extended mind), man and nature (Latour); willing power relations away.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quoting myself in comments elsewhere.
Hard determinism: Conservative societies desperate to modernize produce techno-fantasists, utopians and engineers of terror, fed by the dreck-poetry of modernism. Rational action is a myth. People aren't rational; they're predictable.
"But both Paul Krugman and Newt Gingrich grew up dreaming of being Hari Seldon, the intellectual hero of Isaac Asimov's 1950's intellectual trash fiction Foundation novels. Celebrations of academic rationalism, dreams of technocratic utopia…"

A fixation on reason leads to a perverse fascination with its opposite.
And as always, there's Shalizi.

Farrell continues his too slow drift away from political fantasy.  If you want to understand his interest in libertarianism all you have to know where he was born, and that his sister still prays daily for the health of the Pope. He wants to think he's free of the past. He isn't.


The Guardian:
Bill for compulsory science fiction in West Virginia schools 
"Republican state delegate Ray Canterbury says move would inspire pupils to use practical knowledge and imagination in the real world"
"I'm not interested in fantasy novels about dragons," Canterbury told Blastr in a recent interview. "I'm primarily interested in things where advanced technology is a key component of the storyline, both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers."

A fan of Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne, Canterbury believes that "one of the things about science fiction is that it gives you this perspective that as long as you have an imagination and it's grounded in some sort of practical knowledge, you can do anything you wanted to".

"In Southern West Virginia, there's a bit of a Calvinistic attitude toward life – this is how things are and they'll never be any different," he said. "[Science fiction] serves as a kind of antidote to that fatalistic kind of thinking."

Scientist and award-winning science fiction author David Brin, who has long fought for the educational value of the genre to be recognised, said it was "wonderful to live in a country where politicians can raise this possibility".

James Gunn, author, critic and a "grand master" of science fiction, agreed that "classrooms should expose more students to science fiction", and said that Canterbury's plan "sounds like an enlightened idea".

"As long ago as Future Shock, Alvin Toffler was calling for exposing young people to science fiction as 'a sovereign prophylactic' against 'the premature arrival of the future'. Today in an even more rapidly changing world, it is even more important for Toffler's purpose but also for making the kinds of informed decisions about present issues that will lead to better futures," said Gunn, who is founder of the Centre for the Study of Science Fiction at Kansas University.

"Because science fiction incorporates the one thing that is undeniably true in today's fiction – that the world is changing – it has the capability of shaping that change as well as adjusting to it. As I say in my signature motto, 'Let's save the world through science fiction.'

"Science fiction has the capability, at its best, of exercising the rational portions of the brain. You have to think to read it. And what the world needs now is people who can think better and more clearly and make good choices."
People aren't rational; they're predictable.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Theory vs Practice. Arendt and Lewontin vs. ...

Arendt, from The Human Condition
The chief difference between the Aristotelian and the later medieval use of the term is that the bios politikos denoted explicitly only the realm of human affairs, stressing the action, praxis, needed to establish and sustain it. Neither labor nor work was considered to possess sufficient dignity to constitute a bios at all, an autonomous and authentically human way of life; since they served and produced what was necessary and useful, they could not be free, in- dependent of human needs and wants. That the political way of life escaped this verdict is due to the Greek understanding of polis life, which to them denoted a very special and freely chosen form of political organization and by no means just any form of action necessary to keep men together in an orderly fashion. Not that the Greeks or Aristotle were ignorant of the fact that human life always demands some form of political organization and that rul ing over subjects might constitute a distinct way of life; but the despot's way of life, because it was "merely" a necessity, could not be considered free and had no relationship with the bios politikos

With the disappearance of the ancient city-state—Augustine seems to have been the last to know at least what it once meant to be a citizen—the term vita activa lost its specifically political meaning and denoted all kinds of active engagement in the things of this world. To be sure, it does not follow that work and labor had risen in the hierarchy of human activities and were now equal in dignity with a life devoted to politics.8 It was, rather, the other way round: action was now also reckoned among the necessities of earthly life, so that contemplation (the bios theoutikos, translated into the vita contemplativa) was left as the only truly free way of life.

However, the enormous superiority of contemplation over activity of any kind, action not excluded, is not Christian in origin. We find it in Plato's political philosophy, where the whole Utopian reorganization of polis life is not only directed by the superior insight of the philosopher but has no aim other than to make possible the philosopher's way of life. Aristotle's very articulation of the different ways of life, in whose order the life of pleasure plays a minor role, is clearly guided by the ideal of contemplation (theoria). To the ancient freedom from the necessities of life and from compulsion by others, the philosophers added freedom and surcease from political activity (skhole),10 so that the later Christian claim to be free from entanglement in worldly affairs, from all the business of this world, was preceded by and originated in the philosophic apolitia of late antiquity. What had been demanded only by the few was now considered to be a right of all.

...Traditionally, therefore, the term vita activa receives its meaning from the vita contemplativa; its very restricted dignity is bestowed upon it because it serves the needs and wants of contemplation in a living body. Christianity, with its belief in a hereafter whose joys announce themselves in the delights of contemplation, conferred a religious sanction upon the abasement of the vita activa to its derivative, secondary position; but the determination of the order itself coincided with the very discovery of contemplation (theorid) as a human faculty, distinctly different from thought and reasoning, which occurred in the Socratic school and from then on has ruled metaphysical and political thought throughout our tradition. ...

Eternity versus Immortality

...The task and potential greatness of mortals lie in their ability to produce things—works and deeds and words— which would deserve to be and, at least to a degree, are at home in everlastingness, so that through them mortals could find their place in a cosmos where everything is immortal except themselves. By their capacity for the immortal deed, by their ability to leave non-perishable traces behind, men, their individual mortality notwithstanding, attain an immortality of their own and prove themselves to be of a "divine" nature. The distinction between man and animal runs right through the human species itself: only the best (aristoi), who constantly prove themselves to be the best (aristeuein, a verb for which there is no equivalent in any other language) and who "prefer immortal fame to mortal things," are really human; the others, content with whatever pleasures nature will yield them, live and die like animals. This was still the opinion of Heraclitus, an opinion whose equivalent one will find in hardly any philosopher after Socrates.

In our context it is of no great importance whether Socrates himself or Plato discovered the eternal as the true center of strictly metaphysical thought. It weighs heavily in favor of Socrates that he alone among the great thinkers—unique in this as in many other respects—never cared to write down his thoughts; for it is obvious that, no matter how concerned a thinker may be with eternity, the moment he sits down to write his thoughts he ceases to be concerned primarily with eternity and shifts his attention to leaving some trace of them. He has entered the vita activa and chosen its way of permanence and potential immortality. One thing is certain: it is only in Plato that concern with the eternal and the life of the philosopher are seen as inherently contradictory and in conflict with the striving for immortality, the way of life of the citizen, the bios politikos.

The philosopher's experience of the eternal, which to Plato was arrheton ("unspeakable"), and to Aristotle aneu logon ("without word"), and which later was conceptualized in the paradoxical nunc stans ("the standing now"), can occur only outside the realm of human affairs and outside the plurality of men, as we know from the Cave parable in Plato's Republic, where the philosopher, having liberated himself from the fetters that bound him to his fellow men, leaves the cave in perfect "singularity," as it were, neither accompanied nor followed by others. Politically speaking, if to die is the same as "to cease to be among men," experience of the eternal is a kind of death, and the only thing that separates it from real death is that it is not final because no living creature can endure it for any length of time. And this is precisely what sepa- rates the vita contemplativa from the vita activa in medieval thought.21 Yet it is decisive that the experience of the eternal, in contradistinction to that of the immortal, has no correspondence with and cannot be transformed into any activity whatsoever, since even the activity of thought, which goes on within one's self by means of words, is obviously not only inadequate to render it but would interrupt and ruin the experience itself.

Theoria, or "contemplation," is the word given to the experience of the eternal, as distinguished from all other attitudes, which at most may pertain to immortality. It may be that the philosophers' discovery of the eternal was helped by their very justified doubt of the chances of the polis for immortality or even permanence, and it may be that the shock of this discovery was so overwhelming that they could not but look down upon all striving for immortality as vanity and vainglory, certainly placing themselves thereby into open opposition to the ancient city-state and the religion which inspired it. However, the eventual victory of the concern with eternity over all kinds of aspirations toward immortality is not due to philosophic thought. The fall of the Roman Empire plainly demonstrated that no work of mortal hands can be immortal, and it was accompanied by the rise of the Christian gospel of an ever- lasting individual life to its position as the exclusive religion of Western mankind. Both together made any striving for an earthly immortality futile and unnecessary. And they succeeded so well in making the vita activa and the bios politikos the handmaidens of contemplation that not even the rise of the secular in the modern age and the concomitant reversal of the traditional hierarchy be- tween action and contemplation sufficed to save from oblivion the striving for immortality which originally had been the spring and center of the vita activa.


Lewontin
Bill Wimsatt's "Lewontin's Evidence (that There Isn't Any)" made me think about a lot of questions in my paper. I would like to point out that the rhetoric of this conference has undergone a sudden change. Up until Bill's presentation and mine, everyone read his or her paper. In the tradition to which I belong that would be considered very bad form. That rhetorical difference is a mirror of the differences that I want to talk about. The words that all of the rest of you use are conceived of as being the matter, and so you must choose them carefully, and, therefore, you have to compose your papers and read them. I, on the other hand and perhaps Bill as well, but especialy I, as a natural scientist, am nothing but the oracle of Delphi, sitting here on my stool with eyeballs rolled upwards, and through me Nature speaks. That explains, in my view, the difference in rhetorical tradition between a meeting like this and the ones at which I spend my time. No one in my tradition believes that the words are very important. After all, if I misspeak someone else will say the right thing because we are both talking about the same things and ultimately the gods will speak through us. So words are not the matter. It is extremely important to understand the origin of that difference in rhetorical tradition because it represents a very great difference in what scientists believe to be the nature of evidence in natural science. A conference on the questions of evidence is really a conference on the questions of theory and metatheory. We cannot begin to talk about the evidence until we talk about what it is we are trying to produce evidence of. And the very method which we use is itself a form of evidence.
more later 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Outsourcing to AA
As usual, a few of them are overblown or silly; the rest are obvious or should be.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A repeat from 2008
Venus and the Lute Player c. 1565-70
Venus with an Organist and a Little Dog  c. 1550
They're both in the same building, for a little while, but not in the same room. Titian's Lute Player is in the collection and the Organist is on loan from the Prado for Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. I called to see if the curators had thought of putting them together even for a week in public view, knowing that they'd done that for themselves. The last comment drew a laugh and a quick if slightly abashed confirmation of the obvious. I assume a few well-connected scholars and patrons flew into town just for that -it won't happen again in my lifetime- and expressed some gently-worded frustration that the rest of us won't be able to share it. In truth there really is no excuse for not placing the two works together. The show is moving to the Kimball after NY and if there were no thematic relation then given budgetary and time constraints I could see why I'd have no claims beyond simple jealousy of the access of experts. But they're a lovely pair of pairs. And if the Lute Player is all adolescent desire and youthful vanity (his Venus is manipulative and coy) the Organist and his partner are engaged in the erotic and touching conversation of adults.

One could argue that the pairing might have thrown the exhibition off balance, but that could have been resolved by moving them off to the side; they would have been the highlight of the show not its doom.

As it is they're only a two minute walk from one another, until February 16th.
NYT
The spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that the C.I.A. was responsible for calling in an airstrike on April 7 that left 17 Afghan civilians dead, 12 of them children, and that the secret Afghan militias that the agency controls behaved as if they were “responsible to no one.”

“It was a C.I.A. operation using a security structure that was in full service of the C.I.A. and run by the C.I.A.,” said the spokesman, Aimal Faizi, who said his remarks reflected the views of the Afghan president. Mr. Faizi also criticized the agency and American Special Operations troops for running numerous similar militias elsewhere in Afghanistan, with similar problems.

The criticism from Mr. Faizi and other Afghan officials pulled aside a curtain on a clandestine operation that went badly awry in the rugged mountains of eastern Kunar Province, killing an American C.I.A. employee and seriously wounding three other Americans working for the agency. The American who died had been in charge of a group of undercover paramilitaries known as the 0-4 Unit, a so-called Counterterrorist Pursuit Team, according to Afghan investigators.

Afghan reaction to the episode challenges the core assumptions in negotiations with the Afghan government about the nature of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan after 2014. The military wants a mission with two main goals: training Afghan forces and conducting counterterrorism raids against groups like Al Qaeda. Special Operations forces and irregular forces like the militias run by the C.I.A. are a crucial part of the effort, American officials say.

But Mr. Karzai has been deeply suspicious about the activity of irregular forces in his country, and in March he banned American Special Operations forces from operating in Wardak Province. Now, the C.I.A. is the focus of his ire.

A spokesman for the C.I.A. would not comment about the case.
Allan Nairn "The Genocide Trial of General Efrain Rios Montt Has Just Been Suspended: A firsthand behind-the-scenes account of how Guatemala's current President and threats of violence killed the case."
For a while it looked like Guatemala was about to deliver justice.

But the genocide case against General Efrain Rios Montt has just been suspended, hours before a criminal court was poised to deliver a verdict.

The last-second decision to kill the case was technically taken by an appeals court.

But behind the decision stands secret intervention by Guatemala's current president and death threats delivered to judges and prosecutors by associates of Guatemala's army.

Many dozens of Mayan massacre survivors risked their lives to testify. But now the court record they bravely created has been erased from above.

The following account of some of my personal knowledge of the case was written several days ago. I was asked to keep it private until a trial verdict had been reached...
Bahrain "Crackdown Intensifies Before F1 in Bahrain". Also here
India  "U.S. aims to expand India arms trade by 'billions of dollars'"

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Greenwald is good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

continuing from recently, and earlier.
see also comedians, academics, and "intellectuals", below

Krugman 2013, The Antisocial Network
The philosophical misconception, however, seems to me to be even bigger. Goldbugs and bitbugs alike seem to long for a pristine monetary standard, untouched by human frailty. But that’s an impossible dream. Money is, as Paul Samuelson once declared, a “social contrivance,” not something that stands outside society. Even when people relied on gold and silver coins, what made those coins useful wasn’t the precious metals they contained, it was the expectation that other people would accept them as payment. 
Actually, you’d expect the Winklevosses, of all people, to get this, because in a way money is like a social network, which is useful only to the extent that other people use it. But I guess some people are just bothered by the notion that money is a human thing, and want the benefits of the monetary network without the social part. Sorry, it can’t be done.
Krugman in 1996 Ricardo's Difficult Idea
In this essay, I will try to offer answers to these questions. The first thing I need to do is to make clear how few people really do understand Ricardo's difficult idea -- since the response of many intellectuals, challenged on this point, is to insist that of course they understand the concept, but they regard it as oversimplified or invalid in the modern world. Once this point has been established, I will try to defend the following hypothesis: 
(i) At the shallowest level, some intellectuals reject comparative advantage simply out of a desire to be intellectually fashionable. Free trade, they are aware, has some sort of iconic status among economists; so, in a culture that always prizes the avant-garde, attacking that icon is seen as a way to seem daring and unconventional. 
(ii) At a deeper level, comparative advantage is a harder concept than it seems, because like any scientific concept it is actually part of a dense web of linked ideas. A trained economist looks at the simple Ricardian model and sees a story that can be told in a few minutes; but in fact to tell that story so quickly one must presume that one's audience understands a number of other stories involving how competitive markets work, what determines wages, how the balance of payments adds up, and so on. 
(iii) At the deepest level, opposition to comparative advantage -- like opposition to the theory of evolution -- reflects the aversion of many intellectuals to an essentially mathematical way of understanding the world. Both comparative advantage and natural selection are ideas grounded, at base, in mathematical models -- simple models that can be stated without actually writing down any equations, but mathematical models all the same. The hostility that both evolutionary theorists and economists encounter from humanists arises from the fact that both fields lie on the front line of the war between C.P. Snow's two cultures: territory that humanists feel is rightfully theirs, but which has been invaded by aliens armed with equations and computers.
Riverbend, after 6 years
April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion. Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time. ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013


4/8  AP
Opponents of the late Margaret Thatcher are taking a kind of musical revenge on the former prime minister, pushing the song "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" up the British charts in a posthumous protest over her polarizing policies. 
By Friday the online campaign had propelled the "Wizard of Oz" song to No. 1 on British iTunes and into the top five of the music chart used by the BBC to compile its weekly radio countdown. 
David Karpf, who studies online campaigns, said the chart battle was an example of a new kind of protest enabled by social media — "A way for people to signal protest en masse without shouting from the rooftops." 
"It's a form of symbolic protest," he said. 
The unusual campaign has caused a headache for the BBC. With the ditty near the top of the charts, the broadcaster faced the prospect of airing the words "The Wicked Witch is Dead!" on its Sunday countdown show, just days before Thatcher's funeral, scheduled for Wednesday.
4/12 BBC
Nobody at Radio 1 wishes to cause offence but nor do I believe that we can ignore the song in the chart show, which is traditionally a formal record of the biggest selling singles of the week. That in turn means that all songs in the chart become an historic fact.

I’ve therefore decided exceptionally that we should treat the rise of the song, based as it is on a political campaign to denigrate Lady Thatcher’s memory, as a news story. So we will play a brief excerpt of it in a short news report during the show which explains to our audience why a 70-year-old song is at the top of the charts. Most of them are too young to remember Lady Thatcher and many will be baffled by the sound of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz.

To ban the record from our airwaves completely would risk giving the campaign the oxygen of further publicity and might inflame an already delicate situation.

Katy Perry's ex.
When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring – I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was 15. I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning? 
I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad. I don't know if they ever voted for her, I don't know if they liked her. My dad, I suspect, did. He had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility – but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant.
Brighouse in 2009.
Toward the end of the Miner’s Strike in 1985 I was accompanying some student march to County Hall, shaking a collecting tin, when I was confronted by a balding middle aged man in, I kid you not, a bowler hat and pin stripe suit:
(Angrily) “What are you complaining about now? I’m not going to give money to bloody students, the state already pays for you”
(Cheerfully) “Oh no, I’m not complaining about anything.” (I didn’t go into what I suspected was our agreement on the immorality of the state subsidizing the passage of the most privileged children in society into its elite, but I conveyed that complex message with a grin). “I’m collecting for the striking miners”.
(Surprised) “Oh”. He looked me straight in the eye, with genuine sympathy. “They can’t win you know. But..” he produced a 20 quid note and placed it in my tin “at least they might give this bloody shower in charge a run for their money”. (One of the lessons of collecting for the miners was never to judge a person by the way they dressed.)
The best thing on at CT now is a comment by Ajay
Rich and poor existed alike inside a great framework of British institutions. It was the lower-middle-class who went from their schools to keep shops or manage small businesses; who did not participate, for the most part, in the institutions you’re describing; who therefore saw the state not as the guarantor of the framework in which they lived, but as a constant demander of taxes and producer of paperwork; and whose resentment ultimately produced Margaret Thatcher.
The discussion at CT has devolved to a discussion of popular music, so that makes the following even more appropriate

"This is the Modern World"
Punk wasn't a rebellion against capitalism. It was capitalism, rebelling against both liberalism and the hereditary aristocracy.
Also, comedians

Behind comedians but ahead of academics, unable to distinguish between thoughtful arrogance and arrogant thoughtfulness, the earnest thinkers of the middle American class.
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Glenda Jackson


Her son responds
...In truth, there was something wonderful about the Twittersphere’s reaction. “Your mother has let you down,” someone informed me. How does that work, then? “Good day at work, Mum?” “Yeah. Had a bit of a go at the recently deceased Baroness Thatcher.” “You what? What are you trying to do to me? In front of all my friends! Do you know how that makes me look? How could you?” [Slams door, storms up to room.] 
“How humiliating for Dan Hodges,” someone else posted. Humiliating? Try walking into school the day after Women in Love has just been repeated on BBC Two. In my part of south London there was scant regard for the watershed. 
“Bet Dan Hodges will have strong words for his mother when he sees her,” a third tweeter offered. Are you mad? Didn’t you see her facing down the massed and enraged ranks of the parliamentary Tory party? Plus, I need her to do some babysitting.
"Plus, I need her to do some babysitting."
Compare as always to "Scatterplot" and Brighouse the theoretician, (not the kid with the tin).
The asocial life of individualists.
Hodges "lost his left eye when a broken beer glass was shoved in his face after he stood up for two black men who were being taunted by whites in a south London pub."
4/12 Guardian
Mohamed Morsi backs Egyptian military after malpractice allegations
Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi, has promoted several generals in a show of untrammelled support for the embattled military, who have been strongly condemned after this week's leak of a top-level investigation that made damning allegations of malpractice.
4/11 The Guardian
Senior Egyptian army doctors were ordered to operate without anaesthetic on wounded protesters at a military hospital in Cairo during protests against military rule, according to an investigation commissioned by president Mohamed Morsi. The report into military and police malpractice since 2011 also alleges that doctors, soldiers and medics assaulted protesters inside the hospital. 
The findings, which relate to the army's behaviour during the Abbassiya clashes in May 2012, are the latest leak to the Guardian of a suppressed report investigating human rights abuses in Egypt since the start of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Earlier leaks alleged that the military were involved in torture, killings and forced disappearances during the uprising
..."I can't overestimate the importance of this report," said Heba Morayef, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt. "It's incredibly important. Until today, there has been no official state acknowledgement of excessive force on the part of the police or military. The army always said they took the side of protesters and never fired a bullet against them. This report is the first time that there has been any official condemnation of the military's responsibility for torture, killing, or disappearances."
repeats of repeats of repeats
American military aid and personal relationships between American and Egyptian commanders give the United States great influence, and the two sides are in daily communication formally and informally, Mr. Sullivan said. But American military officials keep their messages private, as they should, he said.

“We should not make it look like we’re deeply involved in trying to solve this,” he said. “Most Egyptians would not appreciate that.”

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Corey Robin
One of the reasons the subordinate’s exercise of agency so agitates the conservative imagination is that it takes place in an intimate setting. 
Gary Indiana
I don’t recall the exact wording of the note. It was tacked on a corkboard, obscured by notices and fliers, in a basement corridor of Otis Art School, when Otis was in the Wilshire District. Sheree Rose and Bob Flanagan, who took performance art to a place where it really hurt, had just given a seminar, in the course of which Sheree nailed Bob’s penis to a block of wood. 
Harry Brighouse (repeat)
Human suffering is bad 
"Pain Journal"
Born a Catholic with cystic fibrosis, Bob Flanagan was raised confined and tortured — nuns hit him with rulers, nurses tied him to hospital beds so he wouldn't dislodge the tubes going in and out of his body. He pretty much had to find what was pleasurable and humorous in suffering. At age seven, he'd roll himself up in blankets, wanting to feel mummified. He'd seal himself up in a giant garbage bag until all the air was gone, and claw his way out, gasping. As he grew up, his masochism matured with him.
"One of the reasons the subordinate’s exercise of agency so agitates the conservative imagination is that it takes place in an intimate setting." True enough.

I think I've linked to the obit before.
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Read on FB:

"I really, really, really want someone to take my free art project idea and Photoshop Femen slogans onto Girls Gone Wild pictures. For freedom, of course"


I always thought Shulamith Firestone would have agreed with Althouse.  I was surprised when Katha Pollitt, only 5 years younger, defended Valenti, but at the same time she she was writing about stalking an ex-boyfriend. The article links to reviews by Ana Marie Cox and Toni Bentley: "You open your ass and you open your mind and you open your heart." 

Thinking without observing: calling it "counterproductive" would be an understatement.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Greider  on Krugman
As threatening losses and dislocations accumulated for the US, the celebrated economist was like Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, assuring everyone not to worry. Pay no attention to those critics dwelling on the dark side of globalization, he said. Economic theory confirms that free trade is the best of all possible policies in this best of all possible worlds. 
A good many Americans did not believe him, mainly working people who saw their jobs and middle-class wages decimated by the processes of globalizing production. Krugman said they didn’t see the big picture. Educated professionals whose own livelihoods were not threatened by globalization were more likely to embrace Krugman’s perspective. While he never won the debate with the broad public, his argument prevailed where it counts – among the political elites who influence government policy-making. Both political parties, every president from Reagan to Obama, embraced the same free-trade strategy: support US multinational corporations in global competition, as their success is bound to lift the rest of the country.
Sandy Levinson:  Scalia v. John Marshall
Marshall, from McCulloch vs Maryland
A constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the subdivisions of which its great powers will admit, and of all the means by which they may be carried into execution, would partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would, probably, never be understood by the public. Its nature, therefore, requires, that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredients which compose those objects, be deduced from the nature of the objects themselves. That this idea was entertained by the framers of the American constitution, is not only to be inferred from the nature of the instrument, but from the language. Why else were some of the limitations, found in the 9th section of the 1st article, introduced? It is also, in some degree, warranted, by their having omitted to use any restrictive term which might prevent its receiving a fair and just interpretation. In considering this question, then, we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.
Balkin on Verdi, working too hard to prove what should be an obvious point.
Bourgeois fucking revolution

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Brighouse on "Objective Moral Truths"

Interesting to watch the posts on utopia sputter out. In this one at least Brighouse tries to defend the foundations of utopian thought rather than begin with the assumption. Objective moral truths/Utopia/God
Still stupid

Farrell continues his drift towards a realist/culturalist understanding of social order...
referring to Moskos.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Lurching Towards War: A Post-Mortem on Strategic Patience
Christine Hong and Hyun Lee
With all eyes on North Korea since its third nuclear test, remarkably little has been said about how we arrived at this crisis point. Inadequately contextualized as North Korea’s response to fortified UN sanctions, the latest nuclear test bespeaks the failure of U.S. diplomacy toward its historic enemy. 
The commonplace U.S. media framing of North Korea as the region’s foremost security threat obscures the disingenuous nature of U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy in the region, specifically the identity between what his advisers dub “strategic patience,” on the one hand, and his forward-deployed military posture and alliance with regional hawks on the other. Examining Obama’s aggressive North Korea policy and its consequences is crucial to understanding why demonstrations of military might—of politics by other means, to borrow from Carl von Clausewitz—are the only avenues of communication North Korea appears to have with the United States at this juncture.