Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Journalism is ambulance chasing, it's an important part of democracy, but it's not an art. Serial is "true crime" theater, trying to make art out of the living whether those depicted like it or not. It's the moral equivalent of photojournalism, war or trauma photography: poeticizingvoyeuristic "artistic" illustration. Serial was cheap before it was offensive—illustration before it was soft-core porn—but it became popular for the same reasons critics saw problems. Its popularity was based in prurience, and in getting away with prurience under the guise of seriousness. Without pretension, cheap is just cheap, and harmless, or even in the case of journalism important as a trade. It's possible for journalism or photojournalism to become art -as I've said before it was an old standard among journalists that the best writers were sportswriters- but that that has nothing to do with seriousness of purpose; it's the ability to recognized when it might be needed.

The affirmative form of the assumptions of the makers of Serial are in their own self-images, and it's safe to say that many critics of the show are equally as optimistic about themselves

It won a Pulitzer.
In retrospect especially, this post by Eric Rauchway, who's bemoaned "our anti-elitist day and age" [I've quoted it enough] is pretty funny.
Leiter: "The boycott statement from September contained falsehoods (plus the actual lawyer letter to Jenkins and Ichikawa)"
more... "The Daily Nous"

see... previous

Leiter's snide, mocking, speech was directed privately at an individual of lower rank. Salaita's moralizing indignant speech was broadcast on the web, but there were concerns over possible effect on those of lower rank. The "September Statement" resulted in Leiter stepping down from the PGR.

Leiter is on record questioning the value of free speech, offering qualified support for "hate speech" laws. His adversaries would agree.

The rule of law requires that laws treat all people as equals; it presumes that all people are equal. If people are unequal, who protects the weak from the strong if not the strong themselves. Power relations are reinforced, and round and round we go.

Links from Leiter.
Q:" Zionism is racism"
A: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful"
"She uses prostitution, she said, to illustrate that status stratification occurs in various groups considered deviant by society. She seeks volunteers from among assistant teaching assistants (who are undergraduates) to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes -- she named as categories "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services." They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes. 
...She said that Leigh told her that there was "too much risk" in having such a lecture in the "post-Penn State environment,"
Leiter finally has his own tag

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lower middle class ethic of loyalty, and contradiction, and hypocrisy.

see the tag: "Dead Finks Don't Talk". A couple of the posts might not belong there, or were included for obscure reasons I've forgotten, or maybe black humor. I'll leave them.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Guardian "Amazonian tribe take initiative to protect their lands from dam project"
In September, a group of Munduruku made one last attempt to put pressure on the authorities. Making another long journey to Brasilia, they met Maria Augusta Assirati, then president of Funai. In an exchange filmed by one of the Indians on his mobile phone, Assirati conceded: “You are right. It is essential that your land is guaranteed because the land is under pressure from loggers, miners and a series of other elements.” 
However, in a tacit admission that she was being sidelined, Assirati added: “But I can’t dictate the priority interests of the government.” Nine days later, she left office. A few weeks after that, the Munduruku started the long process of digging posts in the ground to mark out their land.
Terry Turner, Chicago and Cornell, on the history of tribes with cameras.

"I realized that this is a way a very material way in which you can study the process of the formation of representations. It's a material… it's an objective correlative as TS Eliot might put it of that process and it it's a it was profoundly interesting. I thought it's an interesting …it's a field method. You know, my one contribution to I think the literature on methodology or field methods: become an assistant film editor of an indigenous cameraman as he edits footage. If you’ve done a shot record you have a total inventory of what the raw material, of the representation is, and then you cans see how he plays over this raw material and shapes it into a finished construction."
When he refers to people giving cameras to the Kayapo before he got there, I assume he's referring to visits in the 80's. He's been working with the Kayapo since 1962.

"You know, my one contribution to I think the literature on methodology or field methods: become an assistant film editor of an indigenous cameraman..." He's not laughing when he says that. He's smiling; I cracked up.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

repeats: M.J. Rosenberg
We are living in a time of exploding nationalisms. The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation 
Today’s young American Jew is a good bit slower. He desperately wants assimilation: Jewishness embarrasses him. He finds the idea of Jewish nationalism, Israel not­ withstanding, laughable. The leftist Jewish student is today’s Uncle Tom. He scrapes along, demons­trating for a John Hatchett, asham­ed of his identity, and obsessed with it. He cannot accept the fact that he is seen as a Jew, that his destiny is that of the Jews, and that his only effectiveness is as a Jew. But he wants to be an “American,” a left­ist American, talking liberation and aspiring WASP. He is a ludicrous figure. 
new: his son.

"Nicki Minaj ends year-long beef with Peter Rosenberg despite calling him ‘annoying’ 
"Chuck D's comments blasting the current state of urban radio, and Hot 97 in particular, got a response from Peter Rosenberg, one of the station's on-air personalities."
NYT: Two police officers sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn were shot at point-blank range and killed on Saturday afternoon by a man who, officials said, had traveled to the city from Baltimore vowing to kill officers. The suspect then committed suicide with the same gun, the authorities said.The officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were in the patrol car near Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the shadow of a tall housing project when the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, walked up to the passenger-side window and assumed a firing stance, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. He shot several rounds into the officers’ heads and upper bodies, the authorities said. They never drew their weapons.

...Mr. Brinsley, who had a long rap sheet of crimes including robbery and carrying a concealed gun, is believed to have shot his former girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling to Brooklyn, the authorities said. He made statements on social media suggesting that he planned to kill police officers, the authorities said.
His last post of FB. The caps are in the original.
I Always Wanted To Be Known For Doing Something Right....... But My Past Is Stalking Me And My Present Is Haunting Me.
Famous liberal blogger, linking to the NY Daily News:  "NYC tabloid code: 'cold blooded cop hater' = 'a black guy did it.' "

Eric Linsker, who's accused of throwing a garbage can over a railing at a couple of cops is white, a "Harvard-educated English professor" and a poet "from Brooklyn".

Skowski @decentralized "Two NYPD pigs shot. Here’s hoping they don’t make it."
"We’ll see. It’s about what I’d expect in this political climate. Wouldn’t write off the “lumpen”

Rafael Ramos and Wen Jian Liu

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Kurt Gödel, meet David Addington"
Gödel and the mathematicians' fear of language. repeats, with the original telling of the story.
On September 13, 1971, Oskar Morgenstern recorded the following memory of Kurt Gödel’s 1948 Trenton interview with an official of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

“[Gödel] rather excitedly told me that in looking at the Constitution, to his distress, he had found some inner contradictions and that he could show how in a perfectly legal manner it would be possible for somebody to become a dictator and set up a Fascist regime never intended by those who drew up the Constitution. I told him that it was most unlikely that such events would ever occur, even assuming that he was right, which of course I doubted. But he was persistent and so we had many talks about this particular point. I tried to persuade him that he should avoid bringing up such matters at the examination before the court in Trenton, and I also told Einstein about it: he was horrified that such an idea had occurred to Gödel, and he also told him he should not worry about these things nor discuss that matter.

Many months went by and finally the date for the examination in Trenton came. On that particular day, I picked up Gödel in my car. He sat in the back and then we went to pick up Einstein at his house on Mercer Street, and from there we drove to Trenton. While we were driving, Einstein turned around a little and said, “Now Gödel, are you really well prepared for this examination?” Of course, this remark upset Gödel tremendously, which was exactly what Einstein intended and he was greatly amused when he saw the worry on Gödel’s face.

After this remark, Gödel wanted to discuss all sorts of questions relating to the Constitution of the United States and his forthcoming examination. Einstein, how- ever, rather deliberately, turned the conversation around. He told Gödel and me at great length that he had just read a rather voluminous account as to how it came that the Russians adopted the Greek Orthodox religion of Catholicism instead of the Roman Catholic faith.... Gödel did not want to hear any of this but Einstein in his sardonic way insisted on going into incredible details of this entire history, while I was trying to drive through the increasingly dense traffic at Trenton.

When we came to Trenton, we were ushered into a big room, and while normal- ly the witnesses are questioned separately from the candidate, because of Einstein’s appearance, an exception was made and all three of us were invited to sit down together, Gödel, in the center. The examiner first asked Einstein and then me whether we thought Gödel would make a good citizen. We assured him that this would certainly be the case, that he was a distinguished man, etc. And then he turned to Gödel and said, Now, Mr. Gödel, where do you come from?
Gödel: Where I come from? Austria.
The examiner: What kind of government did you have in Austria?
Gödel: It was a republic, but the constitution was such that it finally was changed into a dictatorship.
The examiner: Oh! This is very bad. This could not happen in this country.
Gödel: Oh, yes, I can prove it.
So of all the possible questions, just that critical one was asked by the examiner.
Einstein and I were horrified during this exchange; the examiner was intelligent enough to quickly quieten Gödel and broke off the examination at this point, greatly to our relief.”
I googled my reference above to find the first time I used it, and found Balkin and Levinson [pdf], which only makes sense. If you don't get the joke, and want to, start here, and end here [pdf p.44]
And again: it has it's own tag

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leiter links to IHE
...After the class, another student approached Abbate to tell her that he was “very disappointed” and “personally offended” that she hadn’t considered his classmate's example about gay marriage more thoroughly, according to the student’s recording of the conversation, which was obtained by Inside Higher Ed. The student said he had seen data suggesting that children of gay parents “do a lot worse in life,” and that the topic merited more conversation. 
Abbate told the student that gay marriage and parenting were separate topics, since single people can have and adopt children. She also said she would “really question” data showing poor outcomes for children of gay parents, since peer-reviewed studies show the opposite (indeed, the major study showing negative outcomes for children of gay parents, by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has been widely discredited). 
Regardless, the student said, “it’s still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person’s opinion when they may have different opinions.” Abbate responded: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions, and quite honestly, do you know if someone in the class is homosexual? And do you not think it would be offensive to them, if you were to raise your hand and challenge this?”
my comment
The only appropriate response to the student's question would be to say loaded topics would derail the discussion of Rawls, and that while those issues are the most important issues that face us, in fact because they are so important, they should be discussed elsewhere outside the classroom. 
Academics now take the academy as arbiter of everything. Call it the authoritarian liberalism of good intentions. The purpose of the humanist academy to give us the tools to govern ourselves. The purpose of the neoliberal academy is to give us a new set of enlightened rulers. The conservatives in this case are right, just as liberals would have been right to make the same argument 30 years ago when the roles would have been reversed, about gay rights, or a few years ago, about Zionism. 
Q:" Zionism is racism"
A: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful" 
And of course the right answer to the student's question wouldn't have caused a backlash.
How many times: Academic freedom does not exist. Academic independence is granted through a political process.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Badiou reaffirms his commitment to Maoism..." in a "Lecture-Performance", sponsored by a bohemian luxury boutique in Manhattan.
The boutique owner sees the irony even if the audience doesn't.

repeats The seriousness of art and the seriousness of the academy.

Chris Rock is an intelligent and sophisticated observer of the world; it's fitting he wrote his remake of Love in the Afternoon with Louis C.K. Anglo-American culture doesn't have a great tradition of high art, and cultures that do don't have a great tradition of democracy. Our good artists learn from high culture by discovering it, precisely because our academy, whatever pretensions it may have to defending it, considers all art unserious. Rock is in the tradition is this sense of Eastwood and Tarantino, the opposite of von Trier, though they meet in the middle as makers of serious popular art, or popular serious art.

Interesting to watch Spiral, (Engrenages) for its observations/criticism/defense of the French inquisitorial system of justice, as opposed to the Anglo-American adversarial system. Characters' arguments for high moral purpose, described by the camera to show both its strengths and limits, have the air of the Church, and the innocence not of the young but specifically of young priests, younger sons from good families. Badiou is a representative of that tradition in decay.

The Anglo-American model of philosophy is less religious but also incapable of irony, which is why the answer to French philosophs is not Oxbridge pedants but playwrights and comedians. The makers of Engrenages are more honest than Badiou, just as the makers of The Wire and Breaking Bad are more honest than partisans of Rawls.

The above is all repeats, old wine in new bottles. Philosophers are rationalists; comedians are empiricists. Better late than never, comedians get their own tag.

Rock with Frank Rich. A theater critic and a comedian, a couple of intelligent, bourgeois, non-leftists.

This post above contradicts the ending of the previous one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The most annoying thing about yesterday was watching Americans howling and tearing their hair out over the "new" "revelations". Irony was left mostly to others, if only because for most of the CIA's history torture was as well: SOAWatch

Most but not all.

All confirming the obvious.
Stanley Milgram’s 1963 experiments showed that proximity, of authority to subject and of subject to “learner”, was the main factor in affecting the level of obedience to the command to cause harm. An anthropologist will know why a guillotine is not like an ax and why a governor is not called an executioner even if the man who bears that title is only following orders. Again, such data are treated as irrelevant to philosophy, because once the point of view is chosen it can’t be changed. Rather than seeing the inevitability of competing perspectives of the actor and his victim, the moral issue to be faced is defined only through the experience of one of them and not the other. Philosophy searches for truth and perspectivism just doesn’t fit the bill. [p.13]
endless repeats
Proud liberals are unaware of their own foibles. Philosophers bemoan the fact that we feel our friends' pain and not the pain of strangers, but are loathe to admit the same behavior in themselves. Liberals empathize with those they know; the most they offer strangers is pity pressed up as policy. And in fact they have no desire to change their own behavior, since for the intellectuals that would require them to love their own children less, and for the rest it would require sacrifice, if less extreme. The result in both cases is confused, conflicted, sometimes demonstrative but affectless, passivity.

I spent an hour drinking with an NYPD detective: gang-squad, moving into homicide; Latino, a Marine vet with two tours in Afghanistan. He was convinced I had a history. He didn't believe me what I said my record was clean. Something about anger and code switching, I still do both without thinking. We talked about Garner.

The contempt of educated white liberals towards uneducated whites in relation to blacks: for white trash who have no advantage in life them but their whiteness. No real respect for working class, black or white, or for any group other than themselves, including equally educated foreigners.

Individualism is so engrained in American culture middle class and up that collective socialization of any sort seems odd, whether of the American working class or the bourgeoisie in other countries. It's mocked as inferior, celebrated as exotic, or responded to with blank indifference, even face to face. The last is simple rudeness.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Judith Levine in the Boston Review: Feminism Can Handle the Truth

2007. A letter to Emily Yoffe, "Dear Prudence", in Slate
Dear Prudence,
My husband is kind, supportive, funny, generous, smart, and loving. However, I feel like I must divorce him. Six years ago, when we were in our early 20s and had just fallen in love, after a night of partying and drinking, he woke me up in the middle of the night and started to have sex with me. I was dozing and still drunk and, yes, I took my panties off myself. But when I realized that it was not OK for him to make advances on me in my state, I pushed him away and ran out. He later felt so bad he wanted to turn himself in for rape. I was very confused and thought at times that I was overreacting and at others that I was raped. We painfully worked through this, but the incident made my husband very reluctant about having sex. This led to an agreement that he shouldn't be afraid of coming close to me in similar situations as long as he asked my consent. This made us feel better and I felt secure again. However, we just found ourselves in a very similar situation. After coming back from a friend’s wine tasting we went to bed and he started to kiss me. I liked it and went along, only to wake up in the morning and remember only half of it. Now I am in the same painful spot I was before and I can’t fathom how he could have ignored our agreement. Should I just drop it or am I right about feeling abused?
Yoffee's response
...Stop acting like a parody of a gender-studies course catalog and start acting like a loving wife. If you can’t, then give the poor sap a divorce.
Lindsey Beyerstein's response.
Six years ago, Confused's husband did something to her that they both agree was wrong. It felt like rape to her and to him. Depending on the law in their state, it may well have been rape. Regardless, she was traumatized by the experience, and so was he. (I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he honestly thought she was capable of consent and consenting the first time.)
Read Judith Levine.

Also see the previous post. Follow the links at the bottom of the post back to Beyerstein from the same period. I had no idea she was quite this bad.

The neoliberal logic of social life as contract, at Crooked Timber. Read all the comments.
all repeats.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Josh Marshall has kept this on the front of TPM for two days. It amazes me.

"A TPM Reader takes stock of the week and what it means ..."
As someone who defended "Jackie" and the story all week, I felt let down, and then realized with some disgust I was disappointed that she had not been raped. In thinking further about my reaction, it seems what this really is about - and Ferguson and the countless other deaths of young Black teens - is balance of power. And the reason I, and others, are quick to defend the victims in these cases is because it confirms a version of the world we already believe: that young women and African-Americans are often disenfranchised in our culture, specifically with regard to large and traditional bastions of power where the loudest, richest, highest-status voices tend to drown out minority perspectives.

I went to Harvard in the early aughts and spent many late, dark nights in final clubs - their version of frats, as I'm sure you know - and can't say any of these details surprised me or rung false. And while the specifics and veracity of this particular story (and RS' reporting in general) are relevant, I'm worried we're missing the macro point that women are perpetual guests in these establishments and what that does to the overall culture and mentality of otherwise self-respecting men.

I'm sure you remember Lord of the Flies. I don't know how it is with frats but at least at Harvard there was ZERO oversight from the school, (presumably to avoid lawsuits about underage drinking and sexual assault), which only reinforced a feeling that these boys were above the law.

Senior year, I was dating someone in one of the oldest final clubs, where non-members are not allowed past the foyer. One late night, a friend of mine found herself alone in the entryroom with two guys, one of whom was a member, both of whom were in the closet. They somehow made it upstairs, as a threesome, where, according to my friend, the two guys proceeded to hook up. (She felt as though she were only there to legitimize their behavior in their own eyes.) When she shared this story with my boyfriend, he freaked out and called a meeting with the other members in his class. They proceeded to alert the graduate board, who also met and eventually made my friend and the other non-member sign some kind of nondisclosure agreement. And no one was even concerned about rape accusations; this was all because they were worried about being outed.

I had my own murky sexual encounter in one of these clubs - the first time I ever drank and smoked weed on the same night - and the University stopped at recommending a counselor, whom I spoke to on the phone a few times. (To be clear, I have no idea what their response would have been had I been more inclined to pursue the issue.)

Of course, it may turn out that none of these details are true and the story is completely fabricated. But my point is, in our rush to "solve" this rape like journalistic detectives, we're avoiding a larger conversation about the male/female balance of power at these large universities and how the universities themselves address it.
Read the fourth paragraph; you shouldn't have to read it carefully. It's anti-feminism, straight up: women need to be protected not only from assault but from embarrassment, insult and vulgarity on the part "of otherwise self-respecting men". It's the sexual politics of John Mayer, Josh Marshall, Maria Farrell, Belle Waring, et al. See Feminism, etc.

Equality is predicated on agency: on justice, not on mercy (since someone recently pointed to Isaiah Berlin), and not on gallantry or chivalry, or any other form of gentlemanly condescension. Lady Feminist is as oxymoronic as Liberal Zionist.
see also the following post. It's all beyond parody

Determinism is what it is. Arguments from exceptionalism are absurd. Henry Farrell argues for sociology over economics, but not for anthropology over both. He chooses Weber over Proust, first order over second-order curiosity, technocracy over humanism, self-blindness over irony.
So fucking boring.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A commenter at CT hopes that the choice if image isn't "entirely ironic". Rockwell had a better sense of irony than Brighouse. Look at the bottom right corner of the image.
Challenging some of our most commonly held beliefs about the family, Brighouse and Swift explain why a child’s interest in autonomy severely limits parents’ right to shape their children’s values, and why parents have no fundamental right to confer wealth or advantage on their children.
A confused mix of idealist individualism and statist moral authoritarianism, bound by the imperatives of non-contradictory logic and the need for "truth." So much for instilling a sense of republican virtue in the young.

repeat. Peter Thiel is right.
I remain committed to the faith of my teenage years: to authentic human freedom as a precondition for the highest good. I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual. For all these reasons, I still call myself “libertarian.” 
But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.
The Thiel quote originally through Corey Robin (I don't remember where) who (repeats of repeats) doesn't understand the the implications of his own arguments. You can't be for revolution and against disruption. Permanent revolution is Modernist fantasy and capitalism's fantasy of itself.

Democracy is an ideology; virtues are inculcated or they're not. In order for the people to remain free, persons need to be raised into the role of citizens.
Brighouse’s philosophy, like Cohen’s, like all the liberalism of ideas, is deeply anti-social, laced with the melancholy superiority of a schoolmaster of a school for wayward youth. [p.30]
Again and again:
"If her interests have the same value as his, then my interests must have the same value as yours." 
The opposite of virtue. And a license for the state to impose virtue on those without it.

Brighouse and "Legitimate Parental Partiality"
Rockwell, as artist.
Brighouse and Quiggin, (and again) prefer kitsch.

The Golden Age of Ozzie and Harriet, Ken and Barbie.
update, and repeats, for comedy's sake
comment 79 by engels
My favourite kid’s comment on a book was GA Cohen’s kids on Jonathan Glover’s ‘What Sort of People Should There Be’ (according to Cohen): “That’s easy, they should be like us!”
Cohen, also in the quoted reference above: "I'm not a morally exemplary person, that's all.”
I wrote a book called If you're an Egalitarian How Come You're so Rich? And the final chapter discusses fourteen reasons people give for not giving away their money when they're rich but they profess belief in equality, twelve of which are, well, rubbish. I think there are two reasonable answers that a person who doesn't give too much of it away can give and one of them has to do with the burden of depressing yourself below the level of your peer group with whom you're shared a certain way of life, and in particular, depriving your children of things that the children around them favor. And also, and slightly separately, the transition from being wealthy to being not wealthy at all can be extremely burdensome and the person who has tasted wealth will suffer more typically from lack of it than someone who's had quote unquote the good fortune never to be wealthy and therefore has built up the character and the orientation that can cope well with it.
What an asshole. And what fucking idiots.