Monday, April 30, 2012

Zainab al-Khawaja

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy
This volume will convince readers that the swift ascent of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons to worldwide popularity in the 1970s and 1980s is “the most exciting event in popular culture since the invention of the motion picture.
Tolkien is Tolstoy; Derrida is Proust; Deleuze tops The Rolling Stones, and The Journal of Philosophy will be remembered after HBO is forgotten.

More than anything it reminds me of bin Laden's predictions of a Caliphate. Sept 11, 2001 marked the beginning of the end of political Islam.

Conceptualism is the intellectualism of preadolescence: imagination before experience, before the influence of sex, and the knowledge of death. The philosophy of D&D is post-war rationalism seen through the eyes of the readers of L. Frank Baum. It's T.S. Eliot without despair and Borges without Nihilism. It's the pathology of cute, and the optimism of the designers of World of Warcraft

Tell me about it, assholes

If the videos die: Gears of War (Mad World)
Nas, The Message. "I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Amos Vogel

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

John Holbo, of the National University of Singapore, mocking Jonah Goldberg again for his claims in re: "Liberal Fascism".

All repeats. Use Google.
Harry Brighouse
(I’m in favour, for various reasons, of allowing people to buy private care, but agree with engels that there are reasons to prohibit it; John is wrong to imply that there is nothing wrong with rich people buying care for themselves—indeed, one thing that is wrong is that they could be buying it, instead, for people who are less well off).
Chris Bertram
The right frame, in my view, is to think of the state as “we, the people” and to ask what conditions need to be in place for the people, and for each citizen, to play their role in effective self-government. Once you look at things like that then various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves.
Niamh Hardiman
‘We have faith in our citizens’ – why?
Mark Tushnet
Is the loss of meaning from paraphrase or restatement or statement (in the case of nonrepresentational art) small enough to make nonrepresentational art sufficiently similar to expository writing that it should be covered in the same way that such writing is?
G.A. Cohen (quoted by Brighouse)
It does seem to me that all people of goodwill would welcome the news that it had become possible to proceed otherwise [i.e. in ways that tapped into our nobler, rather than our more selfish, motives] perhaps, for example, because some economists had invented clever ways of harnessing and organizing our capacity for generosity toward others.
Pierre Bourdieu
…What I find it difficult to justify is the fact that the extension of the audience [made possible by television] is used to legitimate the lowering of the standards of entry into the field. People may object to this as elitism, a simple defense of the citadel of big science and high culture, or even an attempts to close out ordinary people (by trying to close off television to those who with their honoraria and their and showy lifestyles, claim to be representative of ordinary men and women, on the pretext that they can be understood by these people and will get high audience ratings). In fact, I am defending the conditions necessary for the production and diffusion of the highest human creations. To escape the twin traps of elitism and demagoguery we must work to maintain or even to raise the requirements for the right of entry –the entry fee- into the fields of production.
The authoritarianism of schoolmasters.
The list goes on.

Jenny Holzer
Protect me from what I want.
Isn't this what post-structuralism was supposed to be about?

updated and ongoing, here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Christie's, over-egging the pudding.
Partnership of bigotry
Was it justified for Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. to contact top CBS officials in a quest to influence a '60 Minutes' report on Israel's Christian community?

Today, Cantor, the only Jewish House Republican, nearly affirmed that this was the reason he fought against Manzullo’s re-election, insinuating that anti-Semitism — and racism — are lingering problems among the House GOP generally. 
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) released a statement this afternoon commending House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for “admit[ting] to anti-Semitism within the House Republican caucus” during an interview with Mike Allen today. The problem? Cantor never did that. In fact, when Allen asked him whether he’s detected anti-Semitism from members of Congress, Cantor replied with an unequivocal “no.”

Additionally, the source advised Burton that the Saudis “are playing both sides of the fence – with the jihadists and the Israelis – for fear that the US does not have a handle on either.”

The source also claimed that “several enterprising Mossad officers, both past and present, are making a bundle selling the Saudis everything from security equipment, intelligence and consultation,” a statement that implies an established security and business relationship between the Jewish state and the Saudi monarchy.

The message by Burton was additionally shared with another list that included Stratfor’s president and Chief Financial Officer Don Kuykendall.

Burton inquired, “Have we got the Saudi Foreign Ministry or intel[ligence] services as sub clients? If not, [I] suggest we send Mike Parks [Stratfor employee with a history of getting clients for Stratfor], who is good friends with Prince Bandar, to sign them up. $100,000 deal is nothing to these folks. I think Les Janka also has contacts with these sleezy arsehole ragheads (sic).”

"Jesse Helms may hate the Jews, but he loves Israel."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"I wonder what he would have been doing now, if he was alive today?"...
"He would have been eating here with us."

Serendipity [with repeats]
The Economist
Iran’s theocracy produced this year’s Oscar-winner for best foreign-language film (“A Separation”). Some find it ironic that, at the same time, Iranian-American actors and actresses whose parents slipped the clutches of the mullahs and fled to democracy have delivered such gems as “Shahs of Sunset, Episode 2: It’s my Birthday Bitches.”
Repeats, recent and not
-Holzer's most famous aphorism reads, "Protect me from what I want." My father, in a pique, once defended the Berlin Wall as protecting East Germans from the banality of capitalism. Holzer's words are the best rejoinder, a rueful and mocking condemnation of Modernist political puritanism.

-Holbo/Zizek. At large and at home
Holbo lives in Singapore and can't write about the situation there without endangering his career. Calling him out drew a response from Henry Farrell, who wrote that political philosophers are under no obligation to involve themselves in politics. Nor apparently can they allow themselves the one thing shared by Slavoj Zizek and the editors of The Economist: a sense of irony.

Another one:
John Quiggin offers us the pedant's justification for human concern.
Much of the debate on the question of whether a pure rate of time preference can be justified is concerned with determining the appropriate way to balance the interests of “current” and “future” generations. The central question, in this framing of the problem, is whether, and to what extent, members of the current generation have the right to allocate resources in their own favour, at the expense of unborn future generations.

The central point of this note is to observe that this way of posing the problem is invalid, because members of different generations are alive at the same time. Any policy that discounts future utility must discriminate not merely against generations yet unborn but against the current younger generation.

...Furthermore, by the nature of overlapping generations, there is no point at which a coherent distinction between current and future generations can be drawn. In the absence of some general catastrophe, many children alive today will still be alive in 2100, at which time people already alive will reasonably be able to anticipate the possibility of survival well into the 22nd century.
The categories "Us" and "Them" relate to proximity. Quiggin will worry about his own children before he worries about others', and worry about acquaintances before strangers. But there's not much need logically to separate spacial and temporal proximity. The odds of an extinction-level event occurring in the next few centuries are greater than the odds that one occurred in 1820, but the main difference between our relation to the past and future is the volume of objects and records. We see the remnants of the past in the present; we see the foreign, as foreign, but we can only imagine the future. People with an emotional attachment to the future have an emotional attachment to ideas (and those who like ideas like to think about the future) but both prefer ideas to objects and to people, which is is why most arguments over terms within utilitarianism are between readers of pulp or children's fiction: Isaac Asimov, Ayn Rand, or Tolkien. The literature of ideas begins in the literature of preadolescence.

Quiggin has found a way to associate the idea of the future with the people of the present, but his role is similar, as an inversion, to that of a man arguing with the devout communist locked in the Czar's dungeon who worries that he's getting more than his fair share of sunlight. [see: Brighouse]
Our great, great, great, great grandchildren are an abstraction. Our ancestors are an abstraction. Iranians and Palestinians are abstractions, as blacks and Jews once were. Proximity or distance is a matter of experience and language not simple logic, something else understood by the editors of the Economist. Quiggin et al. justify people in their relation to ideas as priests justify people in relation to their gods. Better maybe to justify ideas in relation to people.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter
You must look through the surface of American art, and see the inner diabolism of the symbolic meaning. Otherwise it is all mere childishness.

That blue-eyed darling Nathaniel knew disagreeable things in his inner soul. He was careful to send them out in disguise.

Always the same. The deliberate consciousness of Americans so fair and smooth-spoken, and the under-consciousness so devilish. Destroy! destroy! destroy! hums the under-consciousness. Love and produce! Love and produce! cackles the upper consciousness. And the world hears only the Love-and-produce cackle. Refuses to hear the hum of destruction underneath. Until such time as it will have to hear.

The American has got to destroy. It is his destiny. It is his destiny to destroy the whole corpus of the white psyche, the white consciousness. And he's got to do it secretly. As the growing of a dragon-fly inside a chrysalis or cocoon destroys the larva grub, secretly.

Though many a dragon-fly never gets out of the chrysalis case: dies inside. As America might.
Continued from the previous post.
D.H. Lawrence was good on America and Americans. He reminds me of Santayana
Benjamin Franklin
The Perfectibility of Man! Ah heaven, what a dreary theme! The perfectibility of the Ford car! The perfectibility of which man ? I am many men. Which of them are you going to perfect? I am not a mechanical contrivance.
Education! Which of the various me's do you propose to educate, and which do you propose to suppress?
Anyhow, I defy you. I defy you, oh society, to educate me or to suppress me, according to your dummy standards.
The ideal man! And which is he, if you please? Benjamin Franklin or Abraham Lincoln? The ideal man! Roosevelt or Porfirio Diaz?
There are other men in me, besides this patient ass who sits here in a tweed jacket. What am I doing, playing the patient ass in a tweed jacket? Who am I talking to? Who are you, at the other end of this patience?
Who are you? How many selves have you? And which of these selves do you want to be?
Is Yale College going to educate the self that is in the dark of you, or Harvard College?
The ideal self! Oh, but I have a strange and fugitive self shut out and howling like a wolf or a coyote under the ideal windows. See his red eyes in the dark? This is the self who is coming into his own.
The perfectibility of man, dear God! When every man as long as he remains alive is in himself a multitude of conflicting men. Which of these do you choose to perfect, at the expense of every other?
Old Daddy Franklin will tell you. He'll rig him up for you, the pattern American. Oh, Franklin was the first downright American. He knew what he was about, the sharp little man. He set up the first dummy American.
Hawthorne's "Blithedale Romance" [continuing from his essay on The Scarlet Letter]
Sin is a queer thing. It isn't the breaking of divine commandments. It is the breaking of one's own integrity.
For instance, the sin in Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale's case was a sin because they did what they thought it wrong to do. If they had really wanted to be lovers, and if they had had the honest courage of their own passion, there would have been no sin, even had the desire been only momentary.
But if there had been no sin, they would have lost half the fun, or more, of the game.
It was this very doing of the thing that they themselves believed to be wrong, that constituted the chief harm of the act. Man invents sin, in order to enjoy the feeling of being naughty. Also, in order to shift the responsibility for his own acts. A Divine Father tells him what to do. And man is naughty and doesn't obey. And then shiveringly, ignoble man lets down his pants for a flogging.
continued above

Friday, April 20, 2012

Al Akhbar "Thousands protest as Bahrain hunger striker nears death"

USA Today [dead. Still up at Politico and elsewhere]
A USA Today reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.

Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names.

The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY's reporting on the military's "information operations" program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored.
I link to this every once and a while. Most of the links are dead but the report is still up [PDF]

July 2013, Foreign Policy: U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?

Until this month, a vast ocean of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed or listened to at broadcast quality in foreign countries. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It's viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran, self-immolation in Tibet, human trafficking across Asia, and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.

The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act,... 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rough edit. More on Tushnet.
He takes the Supremes far too seriously as intellectuals. How many justices would be remembered by history if not for their appointment to such a powerful position?

He uses three cases which he calls "blocks" that together form the basis the Court's logic and somehow therefore our own.

Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, a 1995 decision which considered the question of whether or not a parade is speech, and not whether the state should be obliged to promote bigoted speech at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay. Nationalist pageantry is a political statement. Where is the argument?

Cohen v. California, a 1971 decision, that in Tushnet's words "identifies the meanings that the First Amendment covers."
The case’s facts are well known, as is its central rationale. Cohen carried a jacket with the words “Fuck the Draft” written on the back. He was arrested for engaging in offensive conduct. As Justice John Marshall Harlan carefully explained, the case turned on whether the state “can excise... one particular scurrilous epithet from the public discourse.” The state argued that doing so did no damage to anyone’s ability to assert any proposition. On the state’s view, Cohen could continue to assert, and write on his jacket, “Down with the Draft,” or “Abolish the Draft.” But, Justice Harlan replied, those words meant something different from “Fuck the Draft”: “much linguistic expression serves a dual communicative function: it conveys not only ideas capable of relatively precise, detached explication, but otherwise inexpressible emotions as well. In fact, words are often chosen as much for their emotive as their cognitive force.” Prior to Hurley, perhaps this building block might have been limited to cases in which the noncognitive component was attached to some distinctive cognitive one. But, Hurley’s endorsement of multivocality means that every form of expression has some cognitive content for some viewers or listeners. Cohen is thus available as a general building block.
Tushnet is quick to admit that King's Letter from Birmingham Jail works better than a paraphrase, but still somehow the difference is noncognitive. I don't understand the use of the english language. Cognition—The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. If a sobbing wretch and a lothario both speak the 3 syllables "I love you" the words will not have the same meaning; Gielgud's Hamlet is not Olivier's, and there is nothing "noncognitive" about it.
This phenomenon applies similarly, but perhaps to a greater extent, with poems, representational art and nonrepresentational art. Absent Cohen, doctrine might need to be structured to deal with the question that we can put as, “Is the loss of meaning from paraphrase or restatement or statement (in the case of nonrepresentational art) small enough to make nonrepresentational art sufficiently similar to expository writing that it should be covered in the same way that such writing is?”
"...nonrepresentational art sufficiently similar to expository writing"  The state in no position to judge what is expository and not.  The state is enjoined explicitly from judging the stories of the Bible as fiction or fact.  Why should religious speech be granted a freedom that secular speech lacks?
Yet, perhaps that is the wrong way to think about the problem of art’s coverage. Cohen might be taken to reject the idea limned by MacLeish that artworks do not mean at all, but rather simply are. For MacLeish, to state what artworks mean is to commit a category-mistake, to apply to artworks concepts suitable for something else but unsuitable for them. If so, saying that artworks are covered by the First Amendment would be something like saying that dish detergent is covered by the First Amendment. Despite the force of MacLeish’s insight, Cohen appears to reject it.

So, Cohen suggests, nonrepresentational art has the noncognitive force associated with words. Indeed, nonrepresentational art’s multivocality might rest on its noncognitive force: representational art, we might think, says something particular; nonrepresentational art “says” many things. “No ideas but in things" [William Carlos Williams] takes on another meaning: Only things convey ideas fully fleshed out, because ideas expressed in words can be polluted by the noncognitive features of their precise mode of expression. Things, in contrast, allow viewers to impute all possible noncognitive meanings to the ideas the things embody—and to choose for themselves which of those meanings makes the most sense for them.
I am more than my ideas, and as a craftsman I'd like the products of my labor to be seen as sharing at least some of the integrity the community affords me as a person. Acknowledging that it may not always be enforceable; I should be able to assume that most people understand the courtesy.
Tushnet reminds me of Bourdieu: he reads the fantasies of poets like a rube.
[I]f Hurley’s emphasis on defining the First Amendment’s coverage with reference to the meanings viewers impute to covered material and Cohen’s emphasis on the noncognitive aspects of covered material explain why the Amendment covers nonrepresentational art, the two cases threaten to undermine the distinction between covered and uncovered material. At the least, if enough people come to understand ticket scalping as a performance of opposition to the regulatory state, ticket scalpers might have a First Amendment defense to the prohibition of their activity. Perhaps more serious, Hurley and Cohen create what might be thought of as a paradox in copyright law. One standard defense of copyright against a First Amendment challenge is that copyright’s built-in limitations narrow its scope to the point where the incentive effects of copyright provide a strong enough reason to justify barring people from speaking (by infringing on others’ copyrights)183. One of those built-in limitations is that copyright protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves.184 But, given Hurley and Cohen, it might seem that either nothing is copyrightable or everything is. On the one hand, nothing, because ideas and expression—the cognitive and noncognitive aspects of expression—are inseparable: You cannot copyright an expression without copyrighting precisely the idea that it expresses. But, tweak the expression a bit—place an emphasis here rather than there—and you have another idea. Further, Hurley suggests that if enough viewers see complete copying as an expression around which the “infringer” has placed visible or invisible quotation marks, the quoted material expresses a different idea from the original. On the other hand, everything, because “no ideas but in things” implies that every discrete object is simultaneously an idea and an expression of that idea. 
The possibility that explaining why the First Amendment covers nonrepresentational art could create chaos in our understandings of the Amendment is compounded by the Supreme Court’s third and most recent building block.
Gielgud can now safely shout soliloquies in strangers' ears without fear of harassment from the cops. He can also claim authorship, even if he's reciting from a dog-eared copy of Macbeth.

The third case Tushnet refers to is Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. The government again, as in Cohen tried to separate speech from conduct, but Roberts in his decision, reminds them why they lost that case.
Both plaintiffs and the Government take extreme positions on this question. Plaintiffs claim that Congress has banned their pure political speech. That claim is unfounded because, under the material-support statute, they may say anything they wish on any topic. Section 2339B does not prohibit independent advocacy or membership in the PKK and LTTE. Rather, Congress has prohibited “material support,” which most often does not take the form of speech. And when it does, the statute is carefully drawn to cover only a narrow category of speech to, under the direction of, or in coordination with foreign groups that the speaker knows to be terrorist organizations. On the other hand, the Government errs in arguing that the only thing actually at issue here is conduct, not speech, and that the correct standard of review is intermediate scrutiny, as set out in United States v. O’Brien, 391 U. S. 367, 377. That standard is not used to review a content-based regulation of speech, and §2339B regulates plaintiffs’ speech to the PKK and the LTTE on the basis of its content. Even if the material-support statute generally functions as a regulation of conduct, as applied to plaintiffs the conduct triggering coverage under the statute consists of communicating a message.

...This context is different from that in decisions like Cohen. In that case, the application of the statute turned on the offensiveness of the speech at issue. Observing that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,” we invalidated Cohen’s conviction in part because we concluded that “governmental officials cannot make principled distinc­tions in this area.” 403 U. S., at 25. In this litigation, by contrast, Congress and the Executive are uniquely posi­tioned to make principled distinctions between activities that will further terrorist conduct and undermine United States foreign policy, and those that will not.
Taken seriously, that standard would convert many regulations heretofore understood to be content-neutral—general regulations of land use, for example—into content-based regulations when the regulated activity “communicates a message.” Taken together with Hurley and Cohen, Humanitarian Law Project implies that any activity that enough people regard as having some meaning, noncognitive as well as cognitive, must survive the highest level of scrutiny, because Hurley and Cohen tell us that those are the conditions for determining when something communicates a message.
Again and again Tushnet regards stupid or badly reasoned court decisions from the vantage point of a lawyer who has to deal with them, but not as someone cognizant of the broader issues themselves. His professionalism is an argument for amateurism. But amateurism should be knowledgable, or at least observant. The paper, again, is titled Art and the First Amendment
Jenny Holzer’s installations are made up of words in illuminated neon “signs.” Yet, one errs in paying too much attention to the words that flow through the installations. The art lies in the words’ visual impact and, perhaps, in the cognitive disjuncture between the visual appearance and the meaning observers find themselves almost compelled to impute to the words they are seeing.
Holzer's most famous aphorism reads, "Protect me from what I want." My father, in a pique, once defended the Berlin Wall as protecting East Germans from the banality of capitalism. Holzer's words are the best rejoinder, a rueful and mocking condemnation of Modernist political puritanism.

Speech can be regulated. Fraud is punishable, but lying is not. Screaming in the ears of strangers will get you arrested. The argument over when speech is only that will go on, case by case. Situations and assumptions will change and change back; all that is constant is argument.

The argument if there is one between actors and writers, or better between musicians and fans since it's been well documented, is over terms. As I wrote years ago, the fight over the morality of downloading is stupid. Downloading is theft, but if the opportunity is ubiquitous then theft will be too, and you will need to change your model. Musicians now—again—make their money touring. It's amusing that academics can be enthusiastic supporters of "remix culture" while being sticklers about plagiarism.

"Fuck the Draft" was an accusation of obscenity: the war was obscene. Leaders were hypocrites. Compared to the war, the words were civil.  Free speech includes the right to be angry, the right to mock, the right to offend as one has been offended, and (again) the right to blaspheme.

The government cannot require citizens to wear uniforms; high heels will not be outlawed as a danger to health or morality—now even for men—but walking naked down 5th Ave will get you arrested, and zoning regulations will be enforced. The line exists where it's drawn. The more people state their opinions plainly and openly the better.

Law is a blunt instrument. Legal categories are oversimplifications, vulgar by definition. Technocrats [see-1] equate the government of their envisioned just state with the people, but our government and society are distinct. Managers celebrate the moral economy of management and of their own power. Laws are "necessary but not sufficient".  Power corrupts, even by laziness.  Reasoning only with the logic of the political appointees who make up the Supreme Court, the forces of free inquiry begin to atrophy, weakening the defense of free speech.

One more. Tushnet's discussion of City of Dallas v. Stanglin is as annoying as the decision itself. From the decision
We think the activity of these dance-hall patrons—coming together to engage in recreational dancing—is not protected by the First Amendment.
The city authorized and licensed dance halls for teenagers where those older than 18 were not allowed. It did not deny teenagers the right to go elsewhere. The decision was reasonable, the justification above absurd.

Of the two images, one is religious; the other is secular. Are we prepared to fight over this in 2012?


The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on "noncognitive skills"
Autism is described as a cognitive "deficiency" or a cognitive "style". Do Aspies have a cognitive deficit in noncognitive abilities?

Also, I didn't realize at the time that the above tied in to my letter to Searle, as much as my defense of Euripides. Plato's Euthyphro restates the problems described in Alcestis. Why should pedantry have precedence over indirection? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I was wrong. He chose Tom Friedman, and quotes Belen Fernandez.

He's done that before.
Next thing, he's going to forget he ever was a Zionist.

The second one the light follows the cursor. Nice.
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S.

Mark Tushnet, Art and the First Amendment

It's a lawyer's job to make lemonade from lemons, but a scholar is not a jobbing lawyer and he or she should be willing to argue not just from case law but from principles and values, to the point of saying that a Supreme Court decision was wrong. The Supreme Court decides what the state considers to be permissible as a matter of law. A scholar should be willing to disagree. Tushnet understands this, but here he argues from precedent, recent scholarship and laziness.

Barney Rosset died very recently. It's bad enough that he had to fight the law. Worse still that we have to do it again.

The "objective" study of what is in language, the model of scholarship as science, leads to passivity. Words change their meanings, and passivity now leaves us standing on the port side of a boat that's drifting to starboard.

I've used that line too often but I can't think of a better one.
I've updated the links.

Monday, April 16, 2012

10 buck says Atrios will pick himself.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Duncan Black on community and class. The passage he quotes is underlined.
No way I could let this one pass.
Outside, on steep, narrow Conarroe Street, there were more tears, some anger and shrugs of resignation.

"I don't know where I'm going" next, said Carl Hood, who recalled with bitterness the words of a nun who tried to reassure him a few weeks ago that the church was "only a building."

"It's not a building, it's a family," said Hood, a member of St. Mary's for 40 years. He said he expected to be treated as a "stepchild" at the next parish he and his wife join.

Several parishioners were emphatic they would not join St. John's, whose brownstone steeple towers above the hillside community, because its parishioners had "looked down" on Catholics from the other Manayunk parishes when they were young.

"We'll be second class," said an usher who did not give his name. "And besides, they've got no parking."

In the late 1990s Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua initiated a review process known as "cluster planning," in which all the parishes of the archdiocese were asked to study their own viability and that of neighboring parishes and make recommendations about which should be closed.

Bevilacqua closed or merged about a dozen parishes, but in many cases abided by the wishes of anguished parishioners to keep their small churches open.
Based only on the above you might say that Atrios is oblivious, but he's done it before.

I'm not religious; there have been no Catholics in my family for 300 years; I haven't owned a car in 25.
Like Eliot on Henry James, or what he wasn't. Leo Stein in 1913
Both [Picasso] & Gertrude are using their intellects, which they ain't got, to do what would need the finest critical tact, which they ain't got neither, and they are in my belief turning out the most go'almighty rubbish that is to be found.
He was right, except that in Picasso's case "Analytical" Cubism is still brilliant fakery. It's bullshit made physically compelling, full of sound and fury.
The Steins Collect At the Met.

It becomes clear how much the breakthrough work from 1906 was a response to Matisse, and to a competitor. Picasso didn't originate the blocky roughness that became Cubism; he appropriated it.

They've borrowed a Rubens and pulled another out of storage.
Gallery 629 - Rubens and Van Dyck. A great room. The best of Hollywood.
Delacroix to Manet: "Look at Rubens, draw inspiration from Rubens, copy Rubens. Rubens was God!"
I laugh in that room.

They have a loaner del Sarto next to the two in their collection.
Gallery 608

And I forgot to mention the Rembrandt, on loan from Kenwood House, London. "It's nice too." Allan Sherman

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Troy Jollimore, an academic philosopher, whose "areas of research interest include normative ethics, meta-ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of literature and film", and who studied under Harry Frankfurt (author of "On Bullshit" and "On Truth"), reviews the autobiography of Claude Lanzmann in Salon. [update: the link is dead, but it was cross posted here.]   Adam Shatz reviews the same book in the LRB. It's a great piece. Read both to see in their relation all the failures of contemporary scholasticism. I sent the links to Leiter, hoping for a defense of expertise. I don't expect a reply this time.

Colin McGinn keeps at it with all the desperation of a Stalinist: "But it is really quite clear that academic philosophy is a science." There is no science of history, no science of philosophy, and no science of politics.

At Crooked Timber white people are discussing racism and trying to help Duncan Black pick his "wanker of the decade".


1-Duncan Black/Atrios, cracks a joke
David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom, a D.C.-based human rights group, said "Since last year, we have gotten well over 200 complaints of human rights abuses. It's time our lawmakers recognize these injustices."
2- Duncan Black's neighborhood was majority black before the redevelopment that brought him in. It's now 67% White and 12% black. That link leads to another, to a piece by Zadie Smith. Read it after reading Adam Shatz.

3- "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."

Peter Beinart admits that Israel is founded on bigotry, why won't Henry Farrell?

4- Back to my most popular post: "We're voting for the nigger"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Bahrain activists call on BBC and Sky to boycott Formula One race
Bahrain Grand Prix's future in doubt amid mounting pressure over continued violence and fears for health of hunger striker"


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Nothing new.

Duncan Black in 2012
I basically hate all of the people who rule us.
The link is to the Times
Perhaps no law in the past generation has drawn more praise than the drive to “end welfare as we know it,” which joined the late-’90s economic boom to send caseloads plunging, employment rates rising and officials of both parties hailing the virtues of tough love.

But the distress of the last four years has added a cautionary postscript: much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.
Bill Clinton, "Big Dog", set out to "end welfare as we know it", but now Atrios wants to play Jonathan Kozol.

There's a difference between moving and being moved. Atrios is more left than he used to be, on some issues, but he may end up on the right again without ever noticing a change. He has no interest in his own history. He lives in the present. Moralizing arrogance is the one constant.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

But why have I kept silent till now? 
Because I thought my own origins,
Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,
meant I could not expect Israel, a land
to which I am, and always will be, attached, 
to accept this open declaration of the truth.
Why only now, grown old,
and with what ink remains, do I say:
Israel's atomic power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what must be said
may be too late tomorrow;
and because – burdened enough as Germans – 
we may be providing material for a crime
that is foreseeable, so that our complicity
will not be expunged by any
of the usual excuses. And granted: I've broken my silence
because I'm sick of the West's hypocrisy;
and I hope too that many may be freed
from their silence, may demand
that those responsible for the open danger we face renounce the use of force,
may insist that the governments of
both Iran and Israel allow an international authority
free and open inspection of
the nuclear potential and capability of both. 

    Gunter Grass 

It works. 
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass 
And out their fucking ears.

It works. 
We blew the shit out of them.

They suffocated in their own shit!

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it. 

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust. 

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

    Harold Pinter 

I don't want to hurt.
See, my position was here.
I mean, as it was, I was...

So, this led to the downfall of man.
I can make seconds feel hours.

I make certain that my head is connected to my body.
No hope? See, that's what gives me guts.
Big fucking shit!
Right now, man. 

    D. Boon/The Minutemen

Monday, April 02, 2012

David Hammons
In the Hood

A repeat, but seems appropriate.
Without getting to caught up in the arguments at Crooked Timber over old roomie's book, I'll say that Farrell's behavior here reminds me of his performance in Greenwald vs. Kerr. For that, begin here. Gabriel Rossman, judging from past experience, is an idiot. I'll repost his two comments from the earlier thread.
I follow politics pretty closely but I’ve never heard or understood it to be a slur or dog whistle to omit the last syllable of “Democratic.” Rather it seems like just a clumsy malapropism and when I hear it I think “the speaker is tongue-tied” not “the Democrats are un-American.” Honestly, this semantic distinction as the dramaturgical reveal seems like grasping at straws.

[responding to Rich Yeselson]
I’m genuinely surprised that this rather petty semantic distinction is so well-established among the talk radio types. I’m going to fall back on saying that it’s a not terribly effective rhetorical trope and that many people who hear it probably interpret it as I did, which is as a malapropism rather than a deliberate slur (albeit a mild one as political insults go). However that doesn’t matter for your thesis which is that it is revealing that Romney adopts this shibboleth to affirm allegiance to movement conservatives. We can agree on this issue and its relevance to your dramaturgical take, even if we bracket the question of whether the rhetorical device registers with and/or affects swing voters.
My response at the time was pretty simple.
“Well Johnny, I just don’t agree with you on that one.”
“My name is John, not Johnny”
“Whatever you say Johnny.”
The bizarre fixation on formless content, as if yelling "100!!" meant the same as whispering it, since numbers are just numbers, carriers of mathematical data, and words likewise carriers only of specific semantic value, regardless of context. But "I love you" can be spat out with contempt, and "I hate you" can be said with affection. There's no studying language without studying performance. Performance demands interpretation and interpretation demands a sophisticated knowledge of behavior, a knowledge that can be acquired only through experience. Rossman is an "idiot" adult because he demonstrates the intelligence and arrogance of an exceptionally intelligent preadolescent.

The world needs fewer Rossmans, Farrells, or Graebers, and more people who aspire to adulthood.