Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sandy Levinson
When I demurred, suggesting that his election would simply be catastrophic and that there was no reason at all to accept it graciously, the reasonable question was asked of me: what did I envision as the alternative? Taking up arms? A military coup? Or, as I have written several times, a secessionist movement led by Pacifica and New England (plus New York) that would reasonably state that they had no desire any longer to be part of a country that would place a sociopath in its highest office. All, to be sure, sound either fanciful or out-and-out dangerous (or, to some, lunatic). But exactly why is it less dangerous or lunatic to accept without question the legitimacy of a Trump presidency?
America, the Dunning-Kruger nation
Yes indeed. And for thirteen years, I've been covering it under the heading "the less they know, the less they know it."
Quiggin: Recognizing racism
While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”) need not, in principle, imply support for racism (I plan more on this soon), the distinction is a fine one, and has broken down completely in practice. There are at least two reasons for this:
  • Political tribalism throws up demagogic leaders like Trump, Farage, and (in Australia) Pauline Hanson, whose appeal relies, in large measure on their rejection of political correctness, that is, on their willingness to appeal openly to racism. 
  • The centrality of migration to current political debate, inevitably bringing race issues to the forefront. 
For the same reasons, it seems clear that overt racism is going to be a significant part of politics for the foreseeable future. Individual demagogues like Trump may (or may not) flame out, but the existence of a large base of support for overtly racist policies and politicians is now evident to all, and the agreement that kept this base from having its views expressed in mainstream politics has now broken down.

In response to this it’s necessary to recognise racism as a substantial, if deplorable, political tendency. First, and most obviously, that means abandoning euphemisms, explicitly naming racism and, even more, naming people like Trump and Hanson as racists.
"the long list of failures at Crooked Timber on questions of race" One more for for extra comedy

Three posts from the last week by Brighouse, and one linked.

1-Making a classroom discussion an actual discussion
In this post I mentioned a time that I had my small (21 person) discussion based class recorded, and then watched the video with several colleagues (and 3 students I invited who were actually in the class). Someone observed, pretty quickly, that the discussion had a kind of ping-pong feel. The students were all willing to talk (event the student who told me in the previous class that she was ok with being recorded as long as she didn’t have to speak in the discussion), but they were all just talking to me.
2-(linked above): How could a research university systematically improve undergraduate instruction?
Regular readers know that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about improving the quality of teaching and learning in universities like mine. I believe that instruction in research institutions is suboptimal. What I mean by suboptimal is something like “quite a bit less good than it could be without large investments of time energy and attention”.
3- 50 years and one day later…
since the premiere of The Monkees. He posts a video of the credit sequence.

4- An observation and a conjecture about HRC’s health
1. Walking pneumonia is really not a big deal any more. I’ve had it maybe 10 times; it is very annoying indeed, but, normally, like HRC, I have not bothered telling anyone about it. Indeed, whereas she apparently told close friends and family, I sometimes don’t bother (its not as though anyone is going to have any sympathy—“Go get antibiotics and steroids, now, you idiot”). [1] Her failure to tell the world she has a minor ailment is not part of a pattern of secrecy. 
2. Or maybe she doesn’t even have the ailment. Could it be that there is nothing wrong with her, and this is just a rumour spread by her campaign i) to make her seem a bit more like a normal person and ii) to panic people (like the Bushes, for example[2]) who think they can sit this out without having to take responsibility for the deranged performance artist becoming President, and move them into positive action?
Levinson refers to Richard Hofstadter. repeats

repeats  Blyth's irony is the irony of self-awareness.

"If all humility is false humility then Socratic humility, as Socratic irony, is the irony of contempt. Euripidean irony is the irony of our shared burdens, and failures."

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