An Unenviable Situation

Monday, October 02, 2023

I think I've said before; someday someone will do a book and an exhibit of these things, motion gifs included; the two here are far from the best, but they reminded me.  I hate the word "memes". If you want to be determinist then Dennett's arguments and their popularity are as determined as the Taylor Swift's songwriting. In the past I've said Lady Gaga. I'm offended mostly by the sense of superiority of Dennett and Dawkins, Remove that and you get Skinner, who offends more people because he seems so innocent.

NFTs are the perverse inverse of the most important static visual art of the past 30 years: the meaningless but a one-of-a-kind as a market substitute for things rich with meaning and/because infinitely reproducible. Paul Pfeiffer began with something similar—working off it, not inventing it; the art world imperative derailed it. Banksy is better. 

But "memes" are the equivalent of children's games, or slang. We only see them as a thing passed around. They exist now less as things made than things chosen for survival, which is why the name, of course. MoMA should do the show, but they won't. Paris would be good,

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

"You quite literally wrote a book on ethnic cleansing... Are you ready to say that's what this is?"
No.
 

"First question goes to Politico" That was funny
---
sort of amazing

pic if/when twitter dies

Monday, September 25, 2023

WaPo: Judge blocks California law meant to increase online safety for kids

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman granted a request Monday by the tech trade group NetChoice for a preliminary injunction against the measure, writing that the law probably violates the First Amendment and does “not pass constitutional muster.”

The initial ruling deals a massive blow to state lawmakers, who passed the law with broad bipartisan support last year, and to children’s safety advocates, who touted the measure as one of the strongest children’s online safety laws in the United States. Lawmakers in several other states have since pushed to replicate the standards, modeled after regulations in the United Kingdom.

NetChoice, which counts Amazon, Meta and Google as members, sued to block the law in December, arguing that tech companies have a right under the Constitution to make “editorial decisions” about what content they host or take down and that the law would turn platforms into “roving censors of speech on the Internet.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim Post chief executive Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.) 

“We look forward to seeing the law permanently struck down and online speech and privacy fully protected,” Chris Marchese, who leads NetChoice’s litigation efforts, said in a statement.

Monday’s ruling is the latest in a string of recent defeats for children’s safety advocates in the courts. Last month, two federal judges temporarily blocked laws in Arkansas and Texas that would require some online service providers to verify users’ ages and to get parent consent to access social media platforms or adult content.

1—arguing that tech companies have a right under the Constitution to make “editorial decisions” 

Publishers face liability

2—the law would turn platforms into “roving censors of speech on the Internet.” 

They already are 

"the First Amendment should adjust to the new challenges of the platform era."

 "tech platforms are perhaps the most important speech regulators in the world." 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Bibi has made it official: Jews in Iran are now safer and have more rights than Palestinians in Israel.

Maybe Modi is right about Canada: Golinkin in The Forward again.

"Zelenskyy joins Canadian Parliament’s ovation to 98-year-old veteran who fought with Nazis"

In posts to the blog dated 2011 and 2010, Hunka describes 1941 to 1943 as the happiest years of his life and compares the veterans of his unit, who were scattered across the world, to Jews.

Golinkin, previously. Vladislav Davidzon is a character out of central casting.

Nagorno-Karabakh is not Ukraine, or Kosovo, never mind Libya, Iraq, Syria...

This is almost fun.
---

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Jäger really is a model high-brow leftist dandy faggot; so attracted to abstract ideas and abstract violence as a kind of pleasure: the violence and melodrama of the avant-garde. 
His conflicted relationship to America and American vulgarity; the slumming of a European in LA. the man who fell to earth.

Jäger on Baudrillard
Anti-Americanism might be a moral imperative for Europeans. It certainly is satisfying. But a disinterest in the US is hard to justify politically, let alone strategically expedient. As Nick Burns noted in a reflection on America, Baudrillard’s real message is that “we have to perform American experiments on ourselves”
The first image below reminded me of D2. "I, in fact, don’t think that there are “tragic dilemmas”"
I hadn't thought about that for a while.

The scab could be an immigrant, legal or illegal. His wife or one of his children could be sick, or hungry; they could all be homeless.  Solidarity is a double-edged sword, or it's pointless. Dead finks don't talk.

Also Jeff Wall

Modernity and avant-garde, to you, are two separate things? 
JW: We can’t confuse them anymore.

I use modernity and modern-ism, but the references are the same. Jäger is still a modernist; everything he writes—everything he prefers—documents his emotional attachment to a fantasy.
Art and politics are inseparable because language and politics are inseparable: sensibilities are made manifest in form. 
Jäger now has a tag.





repeats: Twinks for Trump 
and "Don't worry. You're still chicken", And that's only a few months ago. I'd forgotten. All I do is repeats.
 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

old: What Exactly is Neoliberalism?

and new: It's all so obvious. Academia circling the wagons. I wonder what her girlfriend says.

Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber is a revised and expanded version of the Tanner Lectures on Human Values that Wendy Brown gave at Yale in 2019. As she acknowledges, Weber is, on the face of it, a surprising choice of ally for a radical political thinker who has done so much to scrutinise and oppose political orthodoxies. Weber is typically dismissed on the left as a conservative defender of bourgeois liberalism and a critic of socialism. In recent years, Brown has been best known for her critical analysis of neoliberal rationality and the way it has weakened resources for political action; recent scholarship, meanwhile, has highlighted significant continuities between Weber’s thought and that of early neoliberals such as Ludwig von Mises. Brown isn’t a sociologist, but her work is unquestionably animated by what C. Wright Mills called the ‘sociological imagination’, which connects ‘private troubles’ to ‘public issues’. Although Weber was one of the founding fathers of sociology, he has become unfashionable among sociologists because of his insistence on a rigid distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘values’, and his refusal to let politics or ethical reasoning intrude into scholarship.

So why Weber? The texts Brown focuses on are the two famous lectures given in Munich in 1917 and 1919, ‘Science as a Vocation’ and ‘Politics as a Vocation’, which Nihilistic Times reads in reverse order. Here Brown finds Weber responding to ‘crises of political and academic life bearing certain parallels to our own, including a crisis of liberalism’. In a time of war, demagoguery and bureaucratisation, and when the ‘death of God’ had become a given, Weber sought to reorient politics and scholarship through a dogged commitment to what distinguished each of them. As Brown admits, some of this made for dry and disappointing reading (‘Science as a Vocation’ is ‘one long depressive sigh about what scholarship is and requires, even apart from its miserable contemporary conditions’). But what she finds most valuable in Weber’s ethos, not least in its implications both for the left and for the academy, is the willingness to face uncomfortable truths without lapsing into wishful thinking or despair.

Weber insists that everything remain in its rightful place. Politicians should stick to politics, and scientists to science. Religion should vacate public life, except as an inner psychological ‘vocation’ through which individuals commit to their life course. The tragedy of modernity, as recognised most acutely by Nietzsche, is that modern knowledge can tell us a great deal about how the world works (facts), but nothing whatever about what we should do about it (values). This, Weber argued, is just the way it is, and to deny the split between facts and values (in the form of mysticism, say, or Marxism) only makes things worse. Modern society is therefore suffused by nihilism, in the sense that values no longer have any stable or consensual foundation, while scholars have nothing helpful to say about them, other than to study them sociologically.

In these circumstances, both science and politics carry a heavy burden. Once values come to be regarded as non-objective cultural artefacts, politics becomes a never-ending battle to assert one set of values over others. In spite of this, or because of it, values must be defended to keep nihilism at bay, and the responsibility for doing this falls especially to politicians, and political leaders in particular. Weber’s central injunction to scholars, meanwhile, is to stay in their lane and avoid the temptation to issue edicts on morality or politics. Both scientists and politicians must take ‘responsibility’ for their own sphere of activity, and ensure that there remains, as Brown puts it, a ‘moat between academic and political life’.

recently on Weber, and the political origins of value free science. 
Weber now has a tag.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Haaretz live commentary: "Israel's Supreme Court Hears Petitions Against First Netanyahu Law Attacking Judiciary"

The chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Simcha Rothman slammed the Supreme Court saying that the very existence of the hearing is a failure of the court. "Why is a judicial process or ruling which will harm the core values of democracy needed? What is the justification for taking away from the State of Israel its basic characteristic as a democratic state?" Rothman asked.

Addressing what the judicial overhaul supporters consider a gradual encroachment on the Knesset's authority, Rothman said: "For many years, through a gradual process of legally sound arguments, the Israeli Supreme Court has taken upon itself powers unparalleled anywhere in the world." He further claimed that "the public's trust in the court has eroded due to the court's extensive involvement in social, economic and political matters." 

Rothman stated that the Knesset is authorized to legislate on any Basic Law, subject to the will of the people.

Justice Anat Baron responded, 'What if there were a law that denied Arabs the right to vote or postpones elections by ten years, then what?' Rothman replied, 'If the elected parliament fails in its role, a remedy won't be found in the hands of a group of individuals authorized to annul the elected representatives without being accountable to the public through elections.'

tagged: Judicial Review, for Americans who don't get the joke.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Helena Cobban (via Helena Cobban)

From last year, updated

NYT: Maitland Jones Jr., a respected professor, defended his standards. But students started a petition, and the university dismissed him. 

Dr. Jones, 84, is known for changing the way the subject is taught. In addition to writing the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” now in its fifth edition, he pioneered a new method of instruction that relied less on rote memorization and more on problem solving.

After retiring from Princeton in 2007, he taught organic chemistry at N.Y.U. on a series of yearly contracts. About a decade ago, he said in an interview, he noticed a loss of focus among the students, even as more of them enrolled in his class, hoping to pursue medical careers.

“Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,” he wrote in a grievance to the university, protesting his termination. Grades fell even as he reduced the difficulty of his exams.

The problem was exacerbated by the pandemic, he said. “In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,” he wrote. “We now see single digit scores and even zeros.”

After several years of Covid learning loss, the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study, Dr. Jones said.

repeats 

We head back to the dorm. Double-parking, we step out of the car, and Johnny hugs and kisses his dad, then embraces me in a strong, strapping-young-man hug, burying his head in my neck; this is the exact position we found ourselves in while I walked the floors with him in my arms during his colicky phase, and as he did then, he is crying into my neck.

This shocks me. I haven’t seen him cry like this since I told him that his father and I were separating. I had imagined I might say, “Ta ta for now,” Tigger’s optimistic sign-off, but I can manage only, “I love you, sweet baby.” Reeling back to the car after he walks into his new life, I turn to my ex and say, “That was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” I plant my forehead on the steering wheel. I sob.  

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them. 

It took years of indifference and stupidity to make us as ignorant as we are today. Anyone who has taught college over the last forty years, as I have, can tell you how much less students coming out of high school know every year. At first it was shocking, but it no longer surprises any college instructor that the nice and eager young people enrolled in your classes have no ability to grasp most of the material being taught. Teaching American literature, as I have been doing, has become harder and harder in recent years, since the students read little literature before coming to college and often lack the most basic historical information about the period in which the novel or the poem was written, including what important ideas and issues occupied thinking people at the time.

"I'm not sure why people are surprised and even upset that some teenagers don't know who the hell bin Laden is."

The father in the car is Paul Westerberg. 

Monday, September 04, 2023

updated
---
This one's for the archives. Thee text stays even if he deletes it.
Why not add more

Euronews: "Finland's former PM Sanna Marin leaves parliament for Blair foundation"

Friday, September 01, 2023

I've always said Maria Farrell was more interesting than her brother: she describes the world—her world—of experience, but it's not enough.
I was recently in Stansted Airport, queueing in a low-ceilinged, quasi-temporary structure to enter the departure area for a Ryanair flight. There were two queues; the ‘priority queue’ which passengers had paid extra to join, and the ordinary one, but just one airport employee covering both, toggling stressfully between two irritated groups. Each time she switched, she left a line of people to wait. As I neared the front of the ordinary queue, she told a man with a wheelie case that he’d have to pay extra as his bag was too big. He objected and put it into the measuring frame. It fit easily, but the check-in woman refused to accept this, and demanded an extra £40. The man objected again and asked why the rules weren’t being followed, but ultimately paid up as he had no choice. He was clearly upset, but never raised his voice, used insulting or abusive language or made threatening gestures. He simply didn’t supply the meekness the very stressed out airport employee desired. As he moved into the boarding area, she called after him that she could have him taken off the plane, but it was very full and noisy, and he either ignored this or didn’t hear it and took a seat near the door. Both lines were now even longer, and she was dealing with the 200-odd passengers alone.

While dealing with the next passenger, and then me and the two women behind me, she began to cry. She carried on working but must have pressed a button for help, because a few minutes later, several security guards arrived. Within minutes, five or six security men arrived. The woman pointed to the passenger who had upset her, but there were too many people in between for her to directly identify him. Later still, another employee arrived to relieve her and check the rest of the passengers through. The two women and I who had witnessed the incident all sat on a window sill near the check-through desk the security guards were now clustered at, as we were worried the man would be wrongly denied boarding. When we heard the guards say they would go and find the man, we approached them to say we had seen the incident from the front of the queue and that it may have been different from what they’d been told.

We were all white and middle-aged, and while we’d been quite voluble amongst ourselves, we were each careful to speak in soft, unthreatening and really quite feminised ways to the young rent-a-cops who now outnumbered the passport and ticket-checker by a ratio of five or six to one. The main guard thanked us but didn’t ask any follow-up questions, and we stayed nearby, implicitly ready to intervene. In the noisy disarray of the boarding area, the passenger managed to be one of the first onto the plane. As we boarded, a couple more security guards had joined the initial cluster and moved onto the tarmac, so there were now seven or eight. Walking past, we heard them say the man was already on the plane. They seemed to have decided it wasn’t worth the effort to have him taken off. As I climbed the steps of the plane, it was striking just how many security guards were now milling aimlessly around, compared to the lone and stressed out employee who’d summoned them in the first place.

Schiesser's response, playing her brother's role this time, relating description of experience to a  speculative fiction. The world of ideas is utopian by definition.

[I] He was clearly upset, but never raised his voice, used insulting or abusive language or made threatening gestures. He simply didn’t supply the meekness the very stressed out airport employee desired….

[II] We were all white and middle-aged, and while we’d been quite voluble amongst ourselves, we were each careful to speak in soft, unthreatening and really quite feminised ways to the young rent-a-cops

In both passages, Farrell shows us how much emotional self-regulation we do in public, and also how gendered these norms are. In our contemporary culture we learn to suppress the expression of emotions especially in contexts of escalation of conflict. (Ecotopia is the polar opposite.) I doubt Farrell was afraid herself of the rent-a-cops (but I am happy to be corrected otherwise), but she clearly knows that being emotionally expressive will reduce her credibility and status in the potentially stressful interaction with them.

As I noted, Callenbach’s Ecotopia is full of vignettes that explore the impact of the absence of such extreme emotional self-regulation of the sort our society requires from its members routinely. That’s compatible with there being very different gendered and racial sanctions for violation of such norms in different local and national contexts (with the use alcohol or drugs  being supplementary mechanisms regulating this).

He should read Goffman. He'd find it revelatory . "I doubt Farrell was afraid herself of the rent-a-cops" She was intimidated. But that intimidation is also a function of desire, especially for the conservative model of femininity in which she's been socialized (see above). Farrell is married to a career soldier. Her description of him and their courtship makes him out to fit the model of the perfect gentleman—who knows how he behaved in Afghanistan. She prays every day for the health of the Pope. She's to the manor born, and lived a sheltered life, even as a technocrat.
Her brother is engaged with NATO in the defense of the west.

Schlesser has a tag

Sunday, August 27, 2023

From 2004, an update

Posner and Verlmeule's op-ed was pulled so quickly that Balkin had to link to a cache file that died within a year. Now the piece has been republished. There's no telling if it's been cut but I'm betting it hasn't. That's how far we've come.
I found out it'd been republished because I had to search for it again after ridiculing a member of the extended PRC apparat who was defending the honor of China against a Foggy Bottom intellectual. The link in his header and the pinned tweet is to an interview with Vermeule.
"A lesson of virtue" in The Beijing Review. Vermeule must follow him because he blocked me, again.

Whining about the Cold War is like asking McDonalds or KFC to stop competing with each other; the difference is the armies and the nukes. The only option is to reject US and Chinese foreign policy goals as such, and look to the small states forced to negotiate a path between them.

I think the reason all these academic intellectuals follow edgelords and fascists, is that their minds are too dead to think for themselves.



Conservative men should read T.S. Eliot. His poems describe the true misery of the conservative male, and reading him will help them escape it.

This list has gone to three

"My students were all obsessed with sex. Not the idea of sex, or the meaning of sex, but sex!"

"I find this reduction of sexual orientation to genitalia – what’s more, genitalia from birth – puzzling."

Eliot may well have become more liberal when he was older but it wasn't because of the poetry; it was the sex.

Philip Roth. "Céline is my Proust!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Working all day makes it easier just to troll than think, but mindless repetition being what it is, sometimes ideas pop into your head.

"Woke" is the knee-jerk response of guilty liberals—if post-war Germans can be defined as liberal—goaded by justified anger of marginalized groups—make your own list—who craft technical fixes to avoid the burden of coming to terms with a given problem. From reconstruction to Brown v Board, the conquests of Liberia and Palestine, to the sterilization of teenagers.

The anti-woke left are all Zionists and aligned with reactionaries: anti-idpol with white identity.[includes Jäger on Charles Maier. see below]  It's not even interesting watching Leusder and Jäger anymore; too often one click away from certified race science and fascism. I could write a long list of readers of Razib Khan and Richard Hanania. The last link is to Buppie Bourgeoisie in the NY Times, who does movie reviews with Ganz, the "leftist". 

Adam Tooze follows Khan. And Khan follows Emil Kirkegaard; the link is his memorial for Richard Lynn.
Jilani and Scott Alexander again
Leiter used to be a fan of Lemoine, now a partner in Hanania's absurd little substack  "The Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology", but that changed at some point.
He still links Freddie deBoer, a man on "the actual left".  deBoer interviewed by Razib Khan as a member of the "hereditarian left" 

Two repeats, now as a pair.


In the end there's not much thought in any of the above. The thinking was over mostly years ago. It's just plug and play.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

I'd forgotten, Jäger on Charles Maier, previously. Also linked above

-- 

 “We thought we knew the story of the twentieth century,” Charles Maier notes in an announcement for his new book The Project State and Its Rivals. Both haunting and tantalizing, the sentence’s past tense speaks to a profoundly contemporary mood. As the twenty-first century progresses, confident visions about the previous century conceived from the vantage point of the 1990s—the “age of extremes” resolved by a set of liberal settlements—no longer seem safe and secure. In 2023, the European extreme Right is establishing itself as a force of government, populism is going global, and inter-imperial tensions have ushered in a new arms race. In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland is currently polling above 20 percent, while Modi is set to win another term in India with an approval rating near 80 percent. To the desperation of liberals nostalgic for the 1990s, the “end of the end of history” has arrived.

The project state begins with the Jacobins and continues through to the Zionists. I'm not going to repeat myself, again.


Watching gay anti-trans arguments attacking queer theory, the libertine underground.
On that, start here or here etc. Or here.
People writing about Andrea Dworkin threatening Allen Ginsberg because he was a member of NAMBLA. And Liberals have no idea what the fuck is going on.

Though I knew it before, the anti-woke left is fully pro-Israel. And the ties to anti-black racism, at best race science curious are clear. Overlapping ecosystems, in and out of academia, with or without advanced degrees.

On twitter following lesbian feminists, detrans teenagers, Ukrainian leftists, Russian and Arab dissidents, Iranians, Palestinians, academics in/from other countries, journalists mostly but not all from other countries. And I'm still bored.