An Unenviable Situation

Friday, August 07, 2020

"I wasn’t hostile to May ’68, but whereas the people who participated in it saw it as a beginning, I saw it rather as an end. May ’68 was the first stone thrown into the pond of Marxism. The ideological collapse of Marxism began in ’68. Because I believe that May ’68, paradoxically, cured many people, including perhaps me, of communism and anticommunism. I think that the kind of Marxist fever that took place after May ’68 carried within it its condemnation and its end, it was a last flare-up. That’s how I saw May ’68, and that is why, personally, I remained absolutely indifferent, serene, with regard to what might happen. I continued with my work."
"Perhaps more than an ambiguity, it was an irony of history. The real legacy of May ’68, as we see in France today, is individualism, the rejection of civic sense and ideology, the rehabilitation of the idea that personal and financial success is a worthy pursuit — in short, a revival of capitalism. To borrow an expression of Lenin’s, we were useful idiots. Indeed, the uprising was more a counterrevolution than a revolution." 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Farrell hasn't changed, nearly enough.
The conservative dilemma is straightforward: conservatism is not likely to be a politically popular cause in a democracy. Conservatism is the political movement that represents the interests of those who have against those who have not.
Political science is always behind the curve, but claims to lead.  Scholasticism is "path dependent"

repeats, or start here and work back.
Al-Ghazali, as quoted by Ernest Gellner, puts Mannheim’s point more pithily – "the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one."
Maria Farrell is married to a career military officer, and prays every day for the health of the Pope. She's a traditionalist.
Corey Robin: "I think people have lots of different interests, and I think an elitist project like conservatism actually offers non-elites certain opportunities for power (though power that is always allied/hitched to subjection), which is one of the reasons non-elites support it."

“ defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality.”
Nice to see Henry's new post has been pretty much shut down by commenters.

Monday, August 03, 2020

more of the same
Polygon, the gaming website from Vox.

Games need to return to black-and-white morality: Tales of good vs. evil are more relevant than ever
Gray morality presents a worldview that states these two poles aren’t that different: a perspective that actually widens the disparity in our fractured world. Our lives are already gray, and these shades seem to keep getting muddier. 
The distrust of black-and-white tales may stem from their prominence in many child-friendly franchises: Mario saves the princess, while Bowser kidnaps her. Guybrush Threepwood of Monkey Island fame rescues his lover as the earnest, wannabe outlaw, the antithesis to LeChuck’s scheming, undead pirate captain. Samus Aran blasts aliens to smithereens, versus the ghastly Mother Brain, who’s the ... brains behind the machinations of Metroid, I guess. 
Tales of black-and-white morality feature enemies that have always been bad, and will always be bad. While the heroes are good, and always find a way to succeed despite the odds, even if they have to strain against their own moral codes.
The author, a "non-binary"[?] corporate gamer geek from Singapore, an authoritarian corporate utopia.
Reminds me of Cyrus Eosphoros, "Kayla" Schierbecker,  and Justine Tunney.

Schrader, again
I recently watched a demonstration by the guys from Rockstar Games who did the Western video game Red Dead Redemption. They said that all new technology is essentially run by techies. And then at some point, somebody comes in from another field and makes it universal. And they were hoping that we were getting to that point with video games. We’re not there yet. It’s still in the realm of the techies. 
Farrell, again
John Gray on the disappearance of utopian dreams of social reform in science fiction here. His taste in SF is excellent and he has several good lines.
The role of science has been to gauge the limits of the species, with new technologies and extra-planetary environments being used as virtual laboratories for an ongoing thought experiment. If the mainstream novel employs the lens of the commonplace career – birth and education, marriage and divorce, ambition and failure – SF has pursued the inquiry by abducting the human animal and placing it in alien environments.
is particularly nice. It captures real (if not universal) differences without fetishizing the one as better than the other.
India was an alien environment for the British; Indochina was an alien environment for the French; Africa was an alien environment for the entirety of Europe. Henry Farrell can't deal with Palestine but he can justify "thought experiments" on Mars. Fantasy is escape. It's evasion.

Science Fiction was created by men trying to get away from the alien environment populated by their wives.
Engineers of shit.
Cowen's still got it 
So rather than buying shrimp from Southeast Asia, that retailer might place an order for more salmon from Norway, where it is quite sure there is no slavery going on. 
In essence, this becomes a form of trade protectionism against lower-wage countries. The losers will be U.S. consumers, who will face higher prices and less choice.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Art Market Monitor
Christie’s Taps Young Curator For Virtual Exhibition Devoted to Black Emerging Talent
On Thursday, Christie’s announced it will lend its online platform for a new exhibition devoted exclusively to Black artists. Lead by 24-year-old New York-based curator and art adviser, Destinee Ross-Sutton (@desti.knee) the private selling show titled SAY IT LOUD (I’m Black and I’m Proud) will run from July 31–August 17. Bringing more than 40 works works by 22 emerging and mid-career Black artists to buyers at fixed prices with a total value of $400,000.

Celine Cunha, Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist serves as Co-Chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives and led the company’s first collaboration with Ross-Sutton, which also includes a panel series with the Harlem Arts Alliance. The programming, according to a press release, provides “a necessary platform for the Black Art community’s voices to be amplified and empowered.”
Balkin and the idiot Tushnet.
There is considerable agreement between Tushnet's arguments and the arguments I make in my own book on the cycles of constitutional time, which is out next month. That is not surprising. First, both Tushnet and I are working with the ideas of Yale political scientist Steven Skowronek about the cycle of political regimes in the United States. Tushnet has long been interested in regime theories-- his Harvard Foreword in 1999 offered a variation on these themes.

Second, both Tushnet and I think that the Reagan regime that has dominated American politics since the 1980s is on its last legs, and that the country is about to embark on something new. What that new thing is, however, is yet to be determined. That is why the book alternates between describing the constitutional commitments of an extended, Trumpist regime, and the possibility of a new progressive regime.

Third, both Tushnet and I also argue that how people feel about judicial review depends on where they are in the rise and fall of regimes.
NFS means No Fucking Shit.
Take me back to 2003:
Judicial Review, and the overlapping term, "pendulum"

The idiot Tushnet
And Balkin now has a tag. He should have been one of the first.
He's really turned into a putz; negotiating with the right from the passenger's seat, from originalism, to "information fiduciaries." Corporations are people. Monopoly is a fact. Assume a Gilded Age.

Information Fiduciaries and the First Amendment
Collection, analysis, and use of personal data increasingly affect everything we do in the information age, from our personal privacy to our opportunities for jobs, housing, travel, and health care. As algorithms for making decisions based on this data become more powerful, so too will the people and organizations who collect and use the data. Reformers will press for government regulation in the name of protecting personal privacy and preventing abuse and discrimination. In response, businesses that collect, analyze, use, distribute, and sell personal data will likely raise First Amendment defenses. It will only be natural for them to try to prevent what they regard as meddlesome and invasive government regulation by invoking the First Amendment - one of the most central of our constitutional liberties.
The First Amendment in the Second Gilded Age

Free Speech is a Triangle.  No, it's not.

David Posen. A Skeptical View. The post comes with politesse puffery and a cute cartoon, but at least it lays out the obvious.
Balkin’s theory has been enormously influential. Scholars, advocates, and journalists have hailed it as a solution that can “make Facebook and Google behave” without crushing the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg has sounded supportive notes. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed increasing interest; the Data Care Act would inscribe Balkin’s scholarship in the U.S. Code. The conventional wisdom, as Frank Pasquale expressed it in a recent essay, [updated link] is that the information-fiduciary proposal is not just a much-needed breakthrough but “hard to challenge.”

This Balkinization contributor dissents. Uneasy about the fiduciary turn that Balkin has inspired, Lina Khan and I have written an essay arguing that the information-fiduciary proposal is flawed—likely beyond repair—on conceptual, legal, and normative grounds. A first draft of our essay is available here.
Zuckerberg is supportive, as if that's a good sign.

Pasquale's essay is titled "Toward a Fourth Law of Robotics: Preserving Attribution, Responsibility, and Explainability in an Algorithmic Society"
Algorithms for management and profit. Technocracy is not democracy. And if democracy itself is a myth, then I don't want the ruling class made of of acolytes of Weber and Bentham, optimists and fantasists.

Dig the Asimov reference. Geeks.
Pasquale has a tag now too.

Friday, July 31, 2020

"It is no secret that contemporary philosophy is..." etc.
The discovery of experience continues apace.
Wherein Henry gets gets credit for describing what I tried for years to teach him.
His sister's still way ahead. And he's just as much a boy as ever.

Cooper admitted recently that he read Ayn Rand when he was young. And Cowen's still in the mix as someone worth responding to. Preadolescence is a hell of a drug.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Thomas Crow, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris
From the introduction.
The success of the Salon as a central Parisian institution, however, had been many decades in the making. Its actual origins lay in the later seventeenth century, but these had not been particularly auspicious. The Academy’s initial efforts at public exhibition had been limited to a few cramped and irregular displays of pictures, first in its own meeting rooms and later in the open arcades of the adjoining Palais Royal. The disadvantage of the latter practice, according to an early account, was that the artists “had the constant worry of damage to the paintings by the weather, which pressed them often to withdraw the pictures before the curiosity of the public had been satisfied.” By 1699 the Salon was more comfortably installed inside the Louvre, and Parisians were spared the sight of academicians hustling their canvases out of the rain. By all accounts, that exhibition was a popular success, but it was almost forty years before the Salon became a permanent fixture of French cultural life. 
After 1737, however, its status was never in question, and its effects on the artistic life of Paris were immediate and dramatic. Painters found themselves being exhorted in the press and in art-critical tracts to address the needs and desires of the exhibition “public”; the journalists and critics who voiced this demand claimed to speak with the backing of this public; state officials responsible for the arts hastened to assert that their decisions had been taken in the public's interest; and collectors began to ask, rather ominously for the artists, which pictures had received the stamp of the public’s approval. All those with a vested interest in the Salon exhibitions were thus faced with the task of defining what sort of public it had brought into being.   
This proved to be no easy matter, for any of those involved. The Salon exhibition presented them with a collective space that was markedly different from those in which painting and sculpture had served a public function in the past. Visual art had of course always figured in the public life of the community that produced it: civic processions up the Athenian Acropolis, the massing of Easter penitents before the portal of Chartres cathedral, the assembly of Florentine patriots around Michelangelo’s David— these would just begin the list of occasions in which art of the highest quality entered the life of the ordinary European citizen and did so in a vivid and compelling way. But prior to the eighteenth century, the popular experience of high art, however important and moving it may have been to the mass of people viewing it, was openly determined and administered from above. Artists operating at the highest levels of aesthetic ambition did not address their wider audience directly; they had first to satisfy, or at least resoh e, the more immediate demands of elite individuals and groups. Whatever factors we might name which bear on the character of the art object, these were always refracted through the direct relationship between artists and patrons, that is, between artists and a circum- scribed, privileged minority.   
The broad public for painting and sculpture would thus have been defined in terms other than those of interest in the arts for their own sake. In the pre-eighteenth-century examples cited above, it was more or less identical with the ritualized assembly of the political and/or religious community as a whole—and it could be identified as such. The eighteenth-century Salon, however, marked a removal of art from the ritual hierarchies of earlier communal life. There the ordinary man or woman was encouraged to rehearse before works of art the kinds of pleasure and discrimination that once had been the exclusive prerogative of the patron and his intimates. There had been precedents for this kind of exhibition, of cou rsc, in France and elsewhere in Europe: displays of paintings often accompanied the festival of Corpus Christi, for example, and there were moves underway in many places to make royal and noble collections available to a wider audience.‘ But the Salon was the first regularly repeated, open, and free display of con- temporary art in Europe to be offered in a completely secular setting and for the purpose of encouraging a primarily aesthetic response in large numbers of people. 
There was in this arrangement, however, an inherent tension between the part and the whole: the institution was collective in character, yet the experience it was meant to foster was an intimate and private one. In the modern public exhibition, starting with the Salon, the audience is assumed to share in some community of interest, but what significant commonality may actually exist has been a far more elusive question. What was an aesthetic response when divorced from the small community of erudition, connois- seurship, and aristocratic culture that had heretofore given it meaning? To call the Salon audience a “public” implies some meaningful degree of coherence in attitudes and expec- tations: could the crowd in the Louvre be described as anything more than a temporary collection of hopelessly heterogeneous individuals? This was the question facing the members of the art world of eighteenth-century Paris. Many thought so, but the actual attempt caused them endless difficulty.
Gabriel-Jacques de Saint-Aubin, Staircase of the Salon. 1753. Etching
Here is one representative eflort, written in 1777 by a veteran social commentator and art critic, Pidansat dc Mairobert. He begins with his physical entry into the space of the exhibition (fig 2) [above]:
You emerge through a stairwell like a trapdoor, which is always choked despite its considerable width. Having escaped that painful gauntlet, you cannot catch your breath before being plunged into an abyss of heat and a whirlpool of dust. Air so pestilential and impregnated with the exhalations of so many unhealthy persons should in the end produce either lightning or plague. Finally you are deafened by a continuous noise like that of the crashing waves in an angry sea. But here nevertheless is a thing to delight the eye of an Englishman: the mixing, men and women together, of all the orders and all the ranks of the state. . . . This is perhaps the only public place in France where he could find that precious liberty visible everywhere in London. This enchanting spectacle pleases me even more than the works displayed in this temple of the arts. Here the Savoyard odd-job man rubs shoulders with the great noble in his cordon bleu; the fishwife trades her perfumes with those of a lady of quality, making the latter resort to holding her nose to combat the strong odor of cheap brandy drifting her way; the rough artisan, guided only by natural feeling, comes out with a just observation, at which an inept wit nearby bursts out laughing only because of the comical accent in which it was expressed; while an artist hiding in the crowd unravels the meaning of it all and turns it to his profit.
The source of this passage is Mairobert’s clandestine news-sheet, the “English Spy,” hence the conspicuous English references. It appears as part of a lengthy and sober history of official art in France and of the public exhibitions of the Academy (as good as airy the eighteenth century produced). His half-comic observations of the Salon crowd are meant to carry serious meaning and can serve to introduce the principal themes of this book.
I should have read it years ago. But so far at least, he's not connecting art and culture and the economic modes that underlie them. I've read well beyond this point but this stick with me.
Visual art had of course always figured in the public life of the community that produced it: civic processions up the Athenian Acropolis, the massing of Easter penitents before the portal of Chartres cathedral, the assembly of Florentine patriots around Michelangelo’s David— these would just begin the list of occasions in which art of the highest quality entered the life of the ordinary European citizen and did so in a vivid and compelling way. 
"Art of the highest quality..." Athenian theater was made for a broad audience.

I began the megillah in the mid 80s in the middle of the lit-crit wars. This is a good book. Footnoted in an earlier version.

Worlds Apart: The Market and the Theater in Anglo-American Thought, 1550–1750, Cambridge, 1986
Drawing on a variety of disciplines and documents, Professor Agnew illuminates one of the most fascinating chapters in the formations of Anglo-American market culture. Worlds Apart traces the history of our concepts of the marketplace and the theatre and the ways in which these concepts are bound together. Focusing on Britain and America in the years 1550 to 1750, the book discusses the forms and conventions that structured both commerce and theatre. As marketing practice broke free of its traditional boundaries and restraints, it challenged longstanding popular assumptions about the constituents of value, the nature of identity, the signs of authenticity, and the limits of liability. New exchange relations bred new legal and commercial fictions to authorise them, but they also bred new doubts about the precise grounds upon which the self and its 'interests' were to be represented. Those same doubts, Professor Agnew shows, animated the theatre as well. As actors and playwrights shifted from ecclesiastical and civic drama to professional entertainments, they too devised authenticating fictions, fictions that effectively replicated the bewildering representational confusions of the new 'placeless market'.
The passage below was once part of my discussion of the 19th century Salon, conflating high art with serious literature. But by the logic of high art, serious literature –as serious fiction– is an oxymoron.
Pornography and Art
How were the conventions of Pornography -a genre usually defined by content (the explicit depiction of sexual activity) and intention (to arouse the male reader)- related to the production and interpretation of art?" (Robin Sheets "Pornography and Art", Critical Inquiry, winter, 1988)
In response to Steven Markus' assumptions. in The Other Victorians that pornography is "[Hostile] to language" and "antithetical to the great Victorian Novels" Robin Sheets dissects a poem by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, to expose the influence of a pornographic structure the larger scale of literature. She quotes Susan Keppeler:
In terms of representation and with respect to the objectification of the female gender, the pornographer only reproduces, on a less elevated level and within exclusive circulation, what the artist does in the esoteric levels of high culture. (The Pornography of Representation, Minneapolis, 1986)
Sheets then goes on at great length to argue that this relation exists, and I am not going to argue since I think she's right. But that being said, I'll add a caveat: if pornographic influence is apparent in "High" art, so what? I'm perfectly willing to accept that Markus and others who want art to exist above the world have something to lose by allowing such influences the acknowledgement they deserve. But outside of this well deserved criticism of the "Defenders of High Art" what's the point? Is it that there is no difference between pornography and the high art of a society dominated by white men? If this is her argument, as it is that of Andrea Dworkin, whose work she uses an "an interpretive model" I'll withhold my assent. In 1987 I witnessed a debate along similar lines at a conference on Romanticism at Indiana University. It struck me as so odd that for a year or so afterwards I tried to write an article on that incident alone, but I gave up. It fits perfectly here, however. The argument was about Wordsworth, and happened during a question and answer session after a reading by David Simpson, a professor at Colorado, and Robert Woof, a Wordsworth scholar. Both men were British, but Simpson prefers being an expatriate. In a bit of nasty and unwarranted condescension during their exchange, Simpson responded to Woof's criticism by saying that people like Woof were what made him leave England. Simpson had argued that Wordsworth's politics were at all times extremely confused, and were based on very bourgeois suppositions. He had no understanding of politics, and English Romanticism did not prepare him for the rough and tumble, the inherent sloppiness, of revolution. This he thought was the reason for Wordsworth's later conservatism. These were all good points, but Simpson went further, arguing that this jeopardized Wordsworth's entire literary endeavor. Woof came to Wordsworth's defense, arguing for the respect due the author's literary achievement, in effect for a transcendent ahistorical valuation of his work.

If we place Markus and Woof sided by side, and do the same for Sheets and Simpson, we see the correlation. Both Markus and Woof want to protect literature from something they see as outside it, and Sheets and Simpson want to storm the barricades. For both groups the argument is over ideas of agency, though for the more conservative scholars the issue of agency itself is distasteful: they would prefer to be above the fray. But "radical" academics like Simpson are on the same ground. How is it possible for Wordsworth were something he wasn't? He was a bourgeois romantic, and if his politics weren't particularly useful, his mind was subtle, and he has given us a window into the imagination of an articulate and observant 19th century man. There is no irresolvable paradox between enjoyment and criticism.

Why do "leftist" professors of literature, in arguing for a history and literature of agency conveniently forget the Marxist dictum that economics precedes culture? Why the unjustifiable obsession with art as cause? If it weren't for such forced ahistoricism nothing would stand in the way of a critical but sympathetic exegesis of the work of Wordsworth, Rosetti, or anyone else whose work were interesting enough to warrant it. There seems to be de-facto conspiracy of ideological concerns, however, that treats all art as illustration.
Later I figured out that of course all philosophy is illustration, and I dropped the references to the now forgotten arguments about literature.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

10 hour days. 6 days a week. No time for this shit.
MADISON, Wis. — Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.

It might seem like a small gesture, but it’s overwhelming to the staff at Ian’s on State Street — a campus staple mere blocks from the Capitol — where in the last few days, they’ve fielded calls from concerned citizens of 14 countries, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia looking to donate money to provide free pizza to the Wisconsinites who have congregated here.

On Saturday alone, Ian’s gave away 1,057 free slices in their store and delivered more than 300 pizzas to the Capitol itself.

By 2 p.m. local time Sunday, they’d given away 351 slices and sent countless other full pies to the rotunda, where protesters have been gathering since well before noon. As a few locals stood waiting for their slices, an Ian’s staffer went to the chalkboard hanging behind the register and wrote, “Turkey” in big block letters and co-workers expressed a sense of disbelief.

“I don’t think we started it,” said Ryan O’Connor, a sophomore at a local technical school who works the register at Ian’s. “We made a post to our Facebook page because of the volume of calls we already had been getting unprompted.”

O’Connor said Ian’s got its first call Thursday when a mother of a University of Wisconsin student called and offered to donate $200 to help feed the people her daughter told her had flooded the Capitol. Since then, the outpouring of money from all over the world has put the pizza-makers into overdrive.

The blackboard behind the counter lists the “countries donating” as “Korea, Finland, New Zealand, Egypt, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Germany, China, England, Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy” and has the abbreviations for all 50 states listed below, with donating states circled.
Woke/Pander 1947

Saturday, July 18, 2020

I was banned at Crooked Timber bit by bit. First by Bertram in late 2007 and then Farrell in early 2008. At some point after that  they had an email exchange (according to Daniel Davies) and voted to ban me entirely.  Some comments were deleted, others "disemvoweled".  My older comments were left up. I kept commenting for few years under various pseudonyms. When they caught me some comments were removed, others made illegible.

Bertram didn't remove my comments from the post above. He just said that was the end. Farrell disemvoweled them. At some point in the last few years they changed their minds, and all of those are now back. I The bracketed "aeiou" is is a remnant of the code that restored them.

I'm not happy with my tone in a lot of them. I try too hard and enjoy myself too much. The anger was justified and my opinions haven't changed. Theirs have been shifting for as long as I've followed them.

But they've restored a lot of comments so I can't say any of it is about me.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Jilani is on a first name basis with Bari Weiss, and with Ungar-Sargon. Rationalists rationalize
"universal norms", in polite society.  Rationalists vs empiricists, philosophers vs lawyers, anti-politics vs politics: math is clean; language is dirty. Jilani thinks Chomsky won. He didn't. But Foucault couldn't see beyond the romance of irrationalism and individualism. He's still a philosopher, a neoliberal an ironic inquisitor fantasizing an extended mind.

Adversarialism is partial consciousness, divided-consciousness. Du Bois' double-consciousness isn't a problem; it's a necessity. Lawyers are paid not to care if their client is guilty. Their job is to represent their interests.  Frederick Douglass was a supporter of John Brown. I'll take Iran over Israel and Soliemani over Henry Kissinger. And the US almost certainly signed off on the UAE deal. Jilani is the loyal opposition. I'm betting his father was a cop, ex-US military or both.

,  ,  

But I would merely like to reply to your first sentence, in which you said that if you didn’t consider the war you make against the police to be just, you wouldn’t make it.

I would like to reply to you in terms of Spinoza and say that the proletariat doesn’t wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proletariat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power. And because it will overthrow the power of the ruling class it considers such
a war to be just.

Yeah, I don’t agree.

One makes war to win, not because it is just.

I don’t, personally, agree with that.

For example, if I could convince myself that attainment of power by the proletariat would lead to a terrorist police state, in which freedom and dignity and decent human relations would be destroyed, then I wouldn’t want the proletariat to take power. In fact the only reason for wanting any such thing, I believe, is because one thinks, rightly or wrongly, that some fundamental human values will be achieved by that transfer of power.
In the past seven years, S.S.C. has become perhaps the premier public-facing venue of the “rationalist” community, a group of loosely affiliated writers and respondents who first coalesced, in the mid-two-thousands, on sites dedicated to the prospect that, with training and effort, our natural cognitive biases can be overcome. Many of these people work in or around Silicon Valley—as mathematicians, programmers, or computer scientists—and their common interests tend to include artificial intelligence, transhumanism, an appreciation for the subtleties of statistical thinking, and the effective-altruism movement.

Alexander’s role in the community is difficult to encapsulate—an e-book of his collected S.S.C. posts runs to about nine thousand pages—but one might credit him with two crowning contributions. First, he has been instrumental in the evolution of the community’s self-image, helping to shape its members’ understanding of themselves not as merely a collection of individuals with shared interests and beliefs but as a mature subculture, one with its own jargon, inside jokes, and pantheon of heroes. Second, he more than anyone has defined and attempted to enforce the social norms of the subculture, insisting that they distinguish themselves not only on the basis of data-driven argument and logical clarity but through an almost fastidious commitment to civil discourse. (As he puts it, “liberalism conquers by communities of people who agree to play by the rules.”) If one of the bedrock beliefs in Silicon Valley is that the future ought to be determined by a truly free market in ideas, one emancipated from the influence of institutional incumbents and untainted by the existing ideological polarities, Slate Star Codex is often held up as an example of what the well-behaved Internet can look like—a secret orchard of fruitful inquiry.

Alexander’s appeal elicited an instant reaction from members of the local intelligentsia in Silicon Valley and its satellite principalities. Within a few days, a petition collected more than six thousand signatories, including the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, the economist Tyler Cowen, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the cryptocurrency oracle Vitalik Buterin, the quantum physicist David Deutsch, the philosopher Peter Singer, and the OpenAI C.E.O. Sam Altman. Much of the support Alexander received was motivated simply by a love for his writing. The blogger Scott Aaronson, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote, “In my view, for SSC to be permanently deleted would be an intellectual loss on the scale of, let’s say, John Stuart Mill or Mark Twain burning their collected works.”

...Alexander has described himself as an “asexual heteroromantic,” and has also practiced polyamory, which is mentioned on the blog, and lives in some form of intentional community. He takes an annual survey of his readership and frequently reports on the patterns he discovers, especially when they diverge from expectations. “The average IQ is in the 130s,” he wrote, in 2016. “White men are overrepresented, but so are LGBT and especially transgender people.”

On the blog, Alexander strives to set an example as a sensitive, respectful, and humane interlocutor, and even in its prolixity his work is never boring; the fiction is delightfully weird and the arguments are often counterintuitive and brilliant. He has frequently allowed that a previous position he’s taken is wrong—his views of trans people are a major example—and has contributed to the understanding, among people who like to be right about everything, that the gracious acceptance of one’s own error (or “failure mode”) ought to be regarded as a high-status move rather than something to be stigmatized. Alexander’s terminal commitment, he has said repeatedly, is to the “principle of charity,” a technical term he has borrowed, from the analytic philosophers W. V. O. Quine and Donald Davidson, and slightly repurposed to mean, as Alexander once put it, “if you don’t understand how someone could possibly believe something as stupid as they do, that this is more likely a failure of understanding on your part than a failure of reason on theirs.”

Many rationalist exchanges involve lively if donnish arguments about abstruse thought experiments; the most famous, and funniest, example, from LessWrong, led inexorably to the conclusion that anyone who read the post and did not immediately set to work to create a superintelligent A.I. would one day be subject to its torture. Others reflect a near-pathological commitment to the reinvention of the wheel, using the language of game theory to explain, with mathematical rigor, some fact of social life that anyone trained in the humanities would likely accept as a given. A minority address issues that are contentious and at times offensive. These conversations, about race and genetic or biological differences between the sexes, have rightfully drawn criticism from outsiders. Rationalists usually point out that these debates represent a tiny fraction of the community’s total activity, and that they are overrepresented in the comments section of S.S.C. by a small but loud and persistent cohort—one that includes, for example, Steve Sailer, a peddler of “scientific racism.”

...The mind-set of logical serenity, for all of the rationalists’ talk of “skin in the game” and their inclination to heighten every argument with a proposition bet, only obtains as long as their discussions feel safely confined to the realm of what they regard, consciously or otherwise, as sport. The sheer volume of Alexander’s output can make it hard to say anything overly categorical (epistemic status: treading carefully), but there is some evidence to support the idea that he, like anyone, is wont to sacrifice rigor in moments of passion. (The rationalists might describe the relationship as inversely proportional.) One of Alexander’s most notorious essays was a thirteen-thousand-word screed called “Untitled,” a defense of Scott Aaronson, the Austin computer scientist and rationalist fellow-traveller. Aaronson had written that the charge of “male privilege” obscures and demeans the suffering of nerds in the sexual marketplace, and had been subject to online scorn by some Internet feminists. Alexander, moved to anger by Aaronson’s plight, rebukes the feminists. 
What's not mentioned in the piece: Aaronson writes that guilt made him once consider medical castration as a cure. The link also includes Aaron Swartz.

Senior investment bankers don't care what others think of them and don't see their work as part of their identities, according to a study from Queen Mary University of London.

While many of us search for meaning in our professional lives, none of the bankers interviewed for the study attached any personal value to their work. Instead, the ambition to make money allowed the interviewees to effectively bypass any concerns about incompatibility between their work activities and sense of self.

So extreme was this disassociation that the researchers invented a new term: teflonic identity manoeuvring, a process to avoid any difficult encounters or experiences 'sticking'.

Each of the six investment bankers were interviewed between 10 and 12 times, over an 18 month period.

Co-author Professor Maxine Robertson, based at QMUL's School of Business and Management, comments: "Investment bankers work in difficult, demanding and often sexist environments. We'd expect to find at least some evidence of anxiety, concern about being 'out of sync' with one's values, and discomfort among women with displays of overt sexism.

In fact, we found none of these things. The group was entirely immune from any association between their personal identity and their work. We found that making money, and the motivation of making more, relegated other issues to the point of insignificance."
Rationalism against empiricism.
"Eosphoros elsewhere identifies her/himself as a "Trans Mexican" and as a "White Mexican."
On Storify: "I Literally Do Not Understand Non-Utilitarian Morality" 
at the link: the videographer at Mizzou who screamed about free speech is autistic, racist, and later came out as trans.

Trannies and incels are rationalists. Fascism is utopian. Utopias are fascist.
In the end it all dovetails. It always will.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

in re: any discussion of the "Overton Window".
The top image is from 1986. The second is my improvement. Neither the original nor Overton's reflect back on the designers, separating "us" from "them".

When I read this I wasn't writing here much. It seems timely.
Brulin at Mondoweiss
Over the following 3 years, hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were killed, and many more wounded, by explosive devices hidden in baskets, on bicycles or mules, in cars or trucks. After each attack, calls to the media were placed claiming responsibility in the name of the FLLF. Palestinian and Lebanese officials repeatedly insisted that the FLLF was merely a fiction intended to hide the hand of Israel and its Christian rightist allies. Israeli officials rejected such accusations, insisting rather that the bombings were part of an internecine war amongst rival Arab factions. Several of these bombings are included in the  RAND and START  “terrorism databases.”

...In February 2018 Ronen Bergman, at the time the senior correspondent for military and intelligence affairs for Yedioth Ahronoth, published Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassination.

...As Rise and Kill First documents in detail, the FLLF bombings were an integral part of this Israeli strategy of provocation. Indeed, the new Defense Minister immediately decided to “activate” the FLLF operation and sent Eitan as his personal emissary to “keep an eye” on the clandestine operation. Remarkably, at the time Eitan was serving as Begin’s “counterterrorism” adviser.

Sharon “hoped that these operations would provoke Arafat into attacking Israel,” Bergman writes, “which could then respond by invading Lebanon, or at least make the PLO retaliate against the Phalange, whereupon Israel would be able to leap in great force to the defense of the Christians.” 
“By mid-September 1981,” he explains, “car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities.”

Several of these bombings were covered in the US press at the time.

On September 17, 1981, a car bomb exploded outside of the command center shared by the PLO and its Lebanese leftist allies in the port city of Sidon, killing over 20, most of them women and children who lived in nearby apartment buildings, John Kifner reported in the New York Times. 
Two days later, another “terrorist bomb” killed four in a crowded movie theater in West Beirut, Kifner reported. The FLLF claimed responsibility, but Palestinian officials immediately insisted that the group is “fictitious,” a ploy used by Israel to hide its hand in these attacks.

On October 1, a car exploded near PLO offices in a crowded street in Moslem west Beirut, killing 90, as Kifner and the UPI reported. Several other vehicles loaded with explosives were found and defused in Beirut and Sidon “in what was intended as a devastating blitz against Palestinians and leftist Lebanese militiamen by rightist terrorists.”

The FLLF claimed responsibility, but a PLO official blamed Israeli agents for planting the bomb in “sort of a secret war” against Palestinians. Lebanese Prime Minister Chafik Wazzan agreed. Because the cease-fire was preventing Israel from “persisting in its acts of destruction and killing in Lebanon through its air force or other attacks,” he argued, it was “looking for other tactics, the cowardly ones to which it is currently resorting either directly or through agents.’ Israeli officials rejected such claims, insisting instead that the bombings were part of a ‘war among gangs which make up the PLO.”
Confirmed. Jewish identity politics (at the expense of non-whites)  is the only identity politics that's acceptable.

NYT’s Bari Weiss Falsely Denies Her Years of Attacks on the Academic Freedom of Arab Scholars Who Criticize Israel

‘NYT’ free speech advocate Bari Weiss reportedly helped bring down a Columbia dean over ‘intellectual heresy’

Chloe Valdary: Christian, black and a rising star of pro-Israel campus activism

Christians United for Israel Leader John Hagee confirms Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic
Lowry and McWhorter against free speech
With all the people mocking Williams, no one has posted any rebuttals on his timeline.  Arguments are reduced to mocking people behind their backs. It's so easy to humiliate these idiots, but no makes the minimal effort.

I'm banned from twitter. That's my excuse.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

So who's reading me and looking for Mizoguchi?
He has a tag now.

You're welcome.
Johanna Olson-Kennedy
It's one minute long. The last sentence is the kicker.

Double Mastectomy at 15, Detrans 16-Year-Old Now Seeks Reversal
Penny was just 11 years old when she decided that people online were right — that she was “transgender.” At 13, she was prescribed hormone blockers, and by 15, she’d had a double mastectomy. Now, at 16, she’s raising money on gofundme for a breast reconstruction.
Diane Ehrensaft

Sources and more from Kathleen Stock.

I'm surprised she didn't sign the Harper's letter, but she supports it. Like Williams and every other signer who claims minority status, she forgets that none of them were allowed in "reasoned discourse" until recently, and Betty Friedan opposed the "lavender menace" as a threat to feminism. Now they all support the integrity of the institutions from which they were excluded. The link just above: "An angry thread directed towards North American "progressive" academic philosophers."
Ad infinitum: academic philosophy is one the problems.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Moralists are conservative. Not all conservatives are moralists.  I didn't think Taibbi was quite this stupid.
Nothing remotely offensive in Rowling's letter.
Months later, I compounded my accidental ‘like’ crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn’t believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.

I mention all this only to explain that I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called cunt and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them.

What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well.
Magdalen Berns

I've covered all this before,  but the angry liberal crowd is annoying. Kathleen Stock has her own problems.

Beinart 2010.
I'm not asking Israel to be Utopian. I'm not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I'm not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I'm actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel's security and for its status as a Jewish state.
Cooper will listen to a Jew who's come to terms with the obvious before he'll listen to a Palestinian.
Carlstrom is American but he got the fuck out. He writes for The Economist, which as AbuKhalil never tires of pointing out is honest compared with the American press. Capitalism is internationalist.
And what is the connection between an abusive cop killing George Floyd Leo Frank in Minneapolis Atlanta and alleged racism anti-Semitism at Princeton Harvard? There isn't any, of course.
Leiter of course.

Academic freedom means a tenured professor can join the KKK or the American Nazi party without fear of losing his job.
A Federal judge has ruled that City College of New York may not punish a professor for writing that "on average, blacks are significantly less intelligent than whites."
Joining either in grad school would make it hard to get that job. Racism is no longer normative behavior. And I'm waiting for the lawsuit arguing that a black student cannot expect fair grading from an openly racist professor. The answer would be to remove the professor from all required courses.

Kendi is a neoliberal authoritarian.
“It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.”
He's hardly alone.

Always remember that Leiter is against free speech.

"The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures."

etc. etc.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

From my sister on FB. Her father in The Hill
I watched the process long ago and close up. During the Vietnam war, I worked for Hubert Humphrey, then Vice President of the United States. Even when President Johnson was angry with him, Humphrey was regularly briefed by a CIA agent assigned to our office and, for a while, by a military aide who later became a three-star Marine general. Humphrey also had a foreign policy expert, a Harvard Ph.D., on staff who read classified documents daily. What they all read was not an algebra book with balanced equations the end of a chapter — it was the best that could be gleaned from both open and covert agents around the world, from their transmissions and in-depth research. Agents often worked at great danger to provide the president with information so that he could take informed action. They did not supply bathroom reading.
Goldwater's finance chair pops up occasionally on my tl. Other connections.
McWhorter is opposed to "recreational" discussion of race and IQ. It has no place in Time Magazine or The Atlantic and should be left to academia. Recreational discussion of the differences between men and women are fine.

He's an idiot.


He doesn't understand freedom of speech. Or maybe, as an academic, he agrees with Rauchway.
Academic freedom predates free speech. Although Prussia gave constitutional protection to Lehrfreiheit in 1850 (“science and its teaching shall be free”), academic freedom generally does not enjoy legal protection outside of contractual guarantees; rather, it rests on the authority and ability of a community of competent scholars to police their own discourse and on the willingness of universities to affirm this authority and ability.
McWhorter's piece in National Review
Intelligence researchers, writing in dense, obscure academic journals, will continue to quietly present data that show that race influences the heritability of IQ to certain degrees; others will present data in disagreement. I hope they ultimately settle on a verdict that environment really does entirely trump the heritable portion of the IQ difference; possibly they will not. However, in the wider world, I see no reason that this research should be “faced” and subject to ongoing “debate.”...

Back to hunches and predilections. I surmise that in a future America, if ever fewer black people are poor — and when, as part of its eternal transformation, black culture moves ever farther from its roots in the oral mindset forged in a rural, preliterate context — inequities between black people and others will decrease to the point that if it turns out that there really is an inherited IQ deficit, it will qualify as a peculiar fact ultimately of little interest, seeming unconnected to anything about black people in the moment. The IQ difference will be about as interesting as African-descended people’s genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance or lesser amounts of bodily hair.

That’s hypothetical, of course — but what isn’t hypothetical is that, in our times, there is no apparent benefit to dwelling on the IQ gap. The burden is on those who claim otherwise to make their case.