An Unenviable Situation

Friday, June 21, 2024

addendum at the top
Smartphones are a global phenomenon. But apparently the rise in youth anxiety is not. In some of the largest and most trusted surveys, it appears to be largely occurring in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “If you’re looking for something that’s special about the countries where youth unhappiness is rising, they’re mostly Western developed countries,” says John Helliwell, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia and a co-author of the World Happiness Report. “And for the most part, they are countries that speak English.”
Even the Happiness Report is an Americanism. 
repeats. Haidt is a promoter of "Positive Psychology". He teaches at a business school. 

repeats. Click on the quote from Cobb at the link.

repeats and repeats and repeats. Individualism, alienation, anomie. 

all explaining the first comment below. Ilaria Mazzocco's anxious forced expressions of happiness are like fingernails on a chalkboard.

How China’s EV Industry Got So Big Shift Key with Robinson Meyer and Jesse Jenkins

as a side note, the voices of of people on the podcast are unbearable.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus.

The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.

Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former U.S. military officials familiar with the Philippines operation. Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centered on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for China is the virus.

“COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!” one typical tweet from July 2020 read in Tagalog. The words were next to a photo of a syringe beside a Chinese flag and a soaring chart of infections. Another post read: “From China – PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE. But the Coronavirus is real.”

After Reuters asked X about the accounts, the social media company removed the profiles, determining they were part of a coordinated bot campaign based on activity patterns and internal data.

The U.S. military’s anti-vax effort began in the spring of 2020 and expanded beyond Southeast Asia before it was terminated in mid-2021, Reuters determined. Tailoring the propaganda campaign to local audiences across Central Asia and the Middle East, the Pentagon used a combination of fake social media accounts on multiple platforms to spread fear of China’s vaccines among Muslims at a time when the virus was killing tens of thousands of people each day. A key part of the strategy: amplify the disputed contention that, because vaccines sometimes contain pork gelatin, China’s shots could be considered forbidden under Islamic law.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

repeats and new.

Monday, May 20, 2024

You will remember that Plato said that only his body still inhabited the City and, in the Phaedo, also explained how right ordinary people are when they say that a philosopher's life is like dying.46 Death, being the separation of body and soul, is welcome to him; he is somehow in love with death, because the body, with all its demands, constantly interrupts the soul's pursuits. 47 In other words, the true philosopher does not accept the conditions under which life has been given to man. 

Aaron Swartz, Scott Aaronson, Milo Yiannopoulos, et al.

I think here's something to be said for returning money to the old category of "shit". 


Science is optimistic, so anti-material, anti-physical idealism becomes not the monastic self-abnegation of adults who refuse desire, but the preadolescent imagination that's never felt it. I've said this all before, and I'll say it again. Altman is brilliant maybe, and an idiot. His "discovery" of human interaction, as a marketable thing, after a lifetime at the keyboard is almost funny. And his need to see himself as in control, as an agent, to the point of fantasizing panpsychism, which he's apparently never heard of. But panpsychism is as much a product as he is: it exists as an idea for the same reason he exists as a mind.

maybe I'll write more.

ChatGPT has a tag.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

record keeping

The Office of the Prosecutor is aware that there is significant public interest in its investigations, and it welcomes comments, communication of concerns, and engagement In its activities from State and elected officials, non-governmental organisations, scholars,  and activists.  

The Office seeks to engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever such dialogue is consistent with its mandate under the Rome Statute to act independently and impartially. 

That independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the Court or against Court personnel should the Office, in fulfillment of  its mandate, make decisions about investigations or cases falling within its jurisdiction.  Such threats, even when not acted upon, may also constitute an offence against the administration of justice under Art. 70 of the Rome Statute.  

That provision explicitly prohibits both "[r]etaliating against an official of the Court on account of duties performed by that or another official" and ”[i]mpeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the Court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the  official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties."  The Office insists that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials  cease immediately.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

May 5,  "Al Jazeera condemns Israeli government decision to shut down local offices" 
Israeli cabinet votes unanimously to close the network’s operations in Israel with immediate effect.

The statement comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted unanimously to close Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, weeks after Israel’s parliament passed a law allowing the temporary closure of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security during the months-long war in Gaza.

Netanyahu announced the decision on X, formerly Twitter. “The government headed by me unanimously decided: the incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel,” he posted in Hebrew.

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi wrote on X that he had signed the orders against Al Jazeera, which would be effective immediately.

Karhi said he ordered the seizure of Al Jazeera’s broadcasting equipment “used to deliver the channel’s content”, including editing and routing equipment, cameras, microphones, servers and laptops, as well as wireless transmission equipment and some mobile phones.

May 4th, Barrons, (AFP) 

A top Israeli official said Saturday that Hamas's continued demand for a lasting ceasefire in the war in Gaza was stymying prospects of reaching a truce. "So far, Hamas has not given up its demand to end the war, thus thwarting the possibility of reaching an agreement," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The official rejected reports that Israel had agreed to end the war as part of a deal to free the hostages held by Gaza militants.

The official said suggestions Israel was prepared to allow mediators to provide Hamas with guarantees of an end to the war were also "not accurate".

The official's comments came after Hamas negotiators returned to Egypt on Saturday to give their response to a proposed pause in the nearly seven-month war.

May 5th, Haaretz

Netanyahu Hoped Hamas Would Reject the Cease-fire Offer. When It Didn't, He Turned to Sabotage

General context for this: 

"For those of you who have been with us so far, you'll know that we've been thinking and talking a lot about how the First Amendment should adjust to the new challenges of the platform era." 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Yes, it is genocide. It is so difficult and painful to admit it, but despite all that, and despite all our efforts to think otherwise, after six months of brutal war we can no longer avoid this conclusion. Jewish history will henceforth be stained with the mark of Cain for the “most horrible of crimes,” which cannot be erased from its forehead. As such, this is the way it will be viewed in history’s judgment for generations to come.

From a legal point of view, there is still no telling what the International Court of Justice in The Hague will decide, although in light of its temporary rulings so far and in light of increasing prevalence of reports by jurists, international organisations, and investigative journalists, the trajectory of the prospective judgement seems quite clear.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The man talking above is a liar, a hack, abetting a crime. The kid below thinks he's saying what he sincerely believes, riffing with no idea beyond enthusiasm of what his words might actually mean, a spoiled moralizing brat, one of a group that now includes "African Americans".
"The cloying theatricality of American protests" etc.
'It's like pop culture, concentrated teen angst,' she said of the rally. 'The rhetoric is too heavy handed. That's the problem with American activists. They need to simplify.' Someone on the stage railed against police brutality, and she rolled her eyes."
Nicholas Christakis in 2024—

"Universities remain strikingly incurious about where all the anti-semitism (as distinct from opposition to Israeli policy) has come from? How and why have students come to think and act this way? Might the pedagogy of faculty and policies of administrators have anything to do with it?"

—and 2015: "...other people have rights too." Responding to protests about Halloween costumes, but not this one:

2015 NYT,  "Walmart Withdraws Hooked ‘Sheik Fagin’ Nose From Halloween Store"

The link (Christakis ) from 2015 includes a link to this. 

"To be perfectly clear, student journalists do have the right to take photos and protesters do not have a right to push away journalists. Students engaged in public protest, the very purpose of which is visibility, cannot credibly argue that they have any reasonable expectation of privacy."
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education changed their name in 2022. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression hasn't commented on the behavior of the students at Columbia.

The protestors are or have friends who are Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim. Any sense of principle beyond loyalty is minimal. "The fact that Bella Hadid exists is more important than anything Edward Said ever wrote." 
"This was the most astonishing thing about teaching freshmen at Cornell this fall: students who had never read anything longer than a reading comprehension excerpt for the SAT."
Some can read, or at least want to, but it's a battle.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Never mind the tits.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

old and new "Behind the chiliasm..." etc.
It is from this ambivalent conception of humanitas that humanism was born. It is not so much a movement as an attitude which can be defined as the conviction of the dignity of man, based on both the insistence on human values (rationality and freedom) and the acceptance of human limitations (fallibility and frailty); from this two postulates result responsibility and tolerance.

Small wonder that this attitude has been attacked frorn two opposite camps whose common aversion to the ideas of responsibility and tolerance has recently aligned them in a united front. Entrenched in one of these camps are those who deny human values: the determinists, whether they believe in divine, physical or social predestination, the authoritarians, and those "insectolatrists" who profess the all-importance of the hive, whether the hive be called group, class, nation or race. In the other camp are those who deny human limitations in favor of some sort of intellectual or political libertinism, such as aestheticists, vitalists, intuitionists and hero-worshipers. From the point of view of determinism, the humanist is either a lost soul or an ideologist. From the point of view of authoritarianism, he is either a heretic or a revolutionary (or a counterrevolutionary). From the point of view of "insectolatry," he is a useless individualist. And from the point of view of libertinism he is a timid bourgeois.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Monday, April 08, 2024

cell phone

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Richard Serra from 201320112007, and 2003

Richard Serra, Untitled, 1972, Charcoal on paper, 29 3/4 x 41 1/2 in.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John Coplans, 1975

There's something very interesting about this drawing. When it was made, and why.

"Philosophy opposes fiction, and theories of modern art opposed the 'fiction' of pictorialism. The implications of that preference are unexamined."
Look at the shape. How it appears flat and then seems to recede. The beginnings of a return to pictorial art: affirmed/denied/affirmed
Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Watching Israel and Zionism fall apart. The last colonial state and the last modernist utopia but one.
The people who should look themselves in the mirror, won't. 
I'm watching Israel and Zionism fall apart in real time, and all I can think about is the liberal consensus that defended them. That's not a defense of radicalism—Israel and North Korea are the last utopian projects—but the role of adversarialism, pessimism, negativity, denial.

Saturday, March 23, 2024


Thoughts have become concepts.
Concepts are called objects.
Writers of financial contracts are called financial engineers.
Contracts are called instruments.
Banking has become an industry.
Politics and economics are called science.
Rationalism has become empiricism.
Metaphysics has become physics.

All that is solid melts into air, and all that is ephemeral becomes material. 

1— Coming Soon Marion Fourcade and Kieran Healy, The Ordinal Society

The shift from the sale of physical computer hardware, frst to packaged software and then to web services as the basis for success in Silicon Valley, fostered a frm belief that “code” could and should solve most problems facing society. For the region’s “technological solutionists,” disregard for legal rules, hierarchies of knowledge, and existing organizational forms was the price of progress. There were echoes of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who also acknowledged capitalism’s astonishing power to rip up the world and replace it with something new and almost incomprehensibly dynamic. “All that is solid melts into air”: capital discards obsolete technologies and flls up junkyards; it sheds the chrysalides of antiquated social structures, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake; it mocks ideas whose time has passed and incites the laity to pray to new idols. The metamorphosis is painful for everyone, even capitalists. To survive, they too must undermine their own production base. Joseph Schumpeter, himself a fne reader of Marx, termed the process “creative destruction”: the opening of new markets, the creation of new capacities, and product innovations, which “incessantly revolutionize the economic structure from within, forever destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”27 While the new revolution was made of code rather than coal, scripts rather than steam, its language and im- agery was curiously and inescapably industrial. Code was made, it seemed, in forges, with engines, through pipelines, by foundries—an entire metaphorical world of intensely physical production was conjured up to represent the activities of people who spent their days in front of screens, typing. They were not writing; they were building. Soon they would be mining also.

2—Something almost as annoying: Alberto Tuscano, "Undoing Oslo", NLR

Eid teaches English literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University and is a founding member of the BDS movement. He is the author of ‘Worlding’ Postmodernism (2014), a plea for an anti-authoritarian critical theory of totality anchored in readings of Joyce and DeLillo, as well as the editor of Countering the Palestinian Nakba (2017), a collection of writings by American, Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals which makes the case for one secular democratic state. As part of the systematic scholasticide visited upon the Strip – an intensification of Israel’s decades-long war on Palestinian intellectual life – Eid’s university has now been obliterated along with all other higher education institutions in Gaza. Scores of its academics and students have been murdered; all have been displaced and are now facing famine.

Decolonising the Palestinian Mind was completed amid Israel’s current onslaught, which Eid and his family were eventually able to escape because of his South African citizenship. A prologue, dated 26 October, captures the scale and ubiquity of the destruction: ‘I am standing over the ruins of a house in Gaza City, peering at the horizon. Most probably, the body of a martyr lies under the rubble. The body of someone who could not respond to an Israeli “warning.”’ In a poetic ‘out of body’ meditation, Eid surveys the pulverized landscape as if from the standpoint of a ghost. A further prologue, composed in Rafah five days later, describes his efforts to evade Israeli bombs with his wife and young children, fleeing from the razed Gaza City neighbourhood of Rimal to the north of the Strip and then down to the border with Egypt. It concludes by reiterating the demands for a ceasefire and ‘immediate reparations and compensation’, as well as one democratic state.

"'Worlding’ Postmodernism (2014), a plea for an anti-authoritarian critical theory of totality anchored in readings of Joyce and DeLillo...
Decolonising the Palestinian Mind was completed amid Israel’s current onslaught"

As I said elsewhere, if a rebel has a gun and uses it while also writing poetry I might want to read the poems. If a man with a pen and a foundation grant writes poems and calls them bullets, odds are I won't.

Mashal on Charlie Rose in 2014. Politics is a practical business.