Friday, October 30, 2015

Old and new: the sad absurdity of demanding the world live your fantasy.
Hustling to grab my carry-on and shoes, two TSA agents escorted me to a private room with fogged glass walls and a small table. Once inside the room, the agents started speaking quietly to themselves. I stood awkwardly, adjusted my shirt, opened and closed my fists.
“Sir, we need to know what’s in your pants,” said the male agent, not at all hiding his lingering gaze at my crotch.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” I said, trying (and failing) to hold back my rage.
“Actually, it is our business, because we know it’s not a penis,” said the female agent, smugly, like she’d just discovered an important secret.
Before I could think about what to say or how to say it, I reached into my jeans and pulled out my packer (a small prosthesis) and threw it on the table. “There! Is that what you’re worried about?”
Both agents turned red and started giggling. I was livid. Frantically, I started unbuttoning my dress shirt and lifted up my white undershirt to show them my chest binder. “And this, this is the other thing you’re worried about?” I shouted at them, hoping my newly deepened voice was audible to other travelers beyond the fogged glass walls.
“Now, sir, er, ma’am, uh ... there’s no need to get upset,” said the female agent. “We are following protocol.”
“Protocol my ass.” I retorted. “You can’t treat me like this just because I’m transgender. And stop calling me ma’am. I’m a dude.”
“OK, Mister Charles,” the female agent said, mockingly. “No need to get hysterical.”
At hearing that word, I felt the blood rush to my face, and I blinked hard to keep from screaming at both of them, who just eyed me, still suspicious. “Are we fucking done here?” I demanded.
“Yes, sir,” The male agent replied quietly, vaguely aware of the embarrassment and rage I was feeling. “We’ll step out to give you a minute to collect your things.” The female agent glared at me as she left.
I buttoned my shirt back up, stuffed the packer into my bag instead of my pants, and stepped quickly out of the room and towards the throng of people heading to their gates, eager to blend in. It wasn’t until I had reached the relative safety of a stall in the men’s bathroom that I set down my bags and wept into my hands.
The whole thing would be tragic if it weren't for the fact that the author is unable to face it.

It's the same narcissism that Leiter decries as the new infantilism. Unfortunately it's also the same infantilism he represents: a fragmentation into micro-cultures with borders so strictly maintained that the borders themselves become the reason for the cultures' existence, and the life within them becomes hollowed out: Israel.
Jumping forward 
As I’m sitting there, already clearly embarrassed, I leaned over to the screener and explained to her what I think the anomaly is,” which she could clearly see was in her groin area. Despite the explanation, the supervisor still had to address the situation. Richards was escorted to a closed-off room, and two female officers explained that she had to endure a full body search. When she was asked if she had any prosthetics or implants, she explained, “I’m transgender. I have a penis.” The officers then “freaked out” and claimed they needed to go get male screeners, but Richards insisted, “No, I am legally female. I do not want to be screened by a man. You can screen me; I’m just telling you what it is. They were just unprepared for the situation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

updated. with additions, and to be clearer.

Leiter: "Can someone explain what Greer's view is about what makes someone a woman (or a man)?"
Judging by the comments, his readers should agree that Rachel Dolezal is black.

Biology is physical experience. Transexuals who choose to identify strictly either as female or male base their understanding not on experience but fantasy. The politics of fantasy is delusion, always in the strictest sense reactionary: the Bauhaus as symptom. In desperation it's the root of fascism.

Gender reassignment surgery is the most extreme of extreme makeovers.

Leiter and "reaction formation": he can't use the term in relation to sexuality for the same reason others can't see the reactionary nature of Zionism: caste/tribal/familial loyalty and taboo. It would have been interesting watching the confusion if Dolezal had been a white man identifying as a black woman.

I doubt Greer would say anything against honest hermaphrodites. After all, who would?
Ambiguity is not the problem.  The inability to accept ambiguity is the problem.
[Greer on Caster Semenya, in 2009. It was determined later that Semenya was born intersex.]

Leiter again, (also fitting in with the previous post)
A good piece in The Guardian on the Greer controversy  
Here. The idea that anything Greer said is "hate speech" is preposterous, but also shows how dangerous that category can be in the hands of zealots.
"in the hands of zealots." That argument against hate speech regulations is that law applies equally to all. Who defines who is and is not a zealot?

repeats againandagainandagain: Leiter reviews Waldron seems to me a virtue of Waldron's book [The Harm of Hate Speech] is that by making an often vivid case for the harm that the content of speech can inflict on the vulnerable, Waldron forces us to take seriously Herbert Marcuse's old worry: namely, that while the toleration of harmful speech "in conversation, in academic the scientific enterprise, in private religion" is justified, perhaps "society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake." Waldron does not explore that implication of his argument, but it is one that warrants renewed consideration if one shares Waldron's core intuition that harm to the vulnerable, even harm inflicted by speech, deserves legal notice.
Leiter: The Case Against Free Speech
I also argue for viewing "freedom of speech" like "freedom of action": speech, like everything else human beings do, can be for good or ill, benign or harmful, constructive or pernicious, and thus the central question in free speech jurisprudence should really be how to regulate speech effectively — to minimize its very real harms, without undue cost to its positive values — rather than rationalizing (often fancifully) the supposed special value of speech. In particular, I argue against autonomy-based defenses of a robust free speech principle. I conclude that the central issue in free speech jurisprudence is not about speech but about institutional competence; I offer some reasons — from the Marxist "left" and the public choice "right"— for being skeptical that capitalist democracies have the requisite competence; and make some suggestive but inconclusive remarks about how these defects might be remedied.
Organizing for BDS in France is now a crime
The rulings passed on Tuesday by the Paris-based Court of Cassation confirmed the convictions of 12 individuals by the Colmar Court of Appeals in connection with their 2009 and 2010 actions in supermarkets near the eastern city of Mulhouse.

The individuals arrived at the supermarket wearing shirts emblazoned with the words: “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel.” They also handed out flyers that said that “buying Israeli products means legitimizing crimes in Gaza.”

The court in Colmar imposed fines to the collective tune of $14,500 and court expenses on Laila Assakali, Yahya Assakali, Assya Ben Lakbir, Habiba Assakali, Sylviane Mure, Farida Sarr, Aline Parmentier, Mohammad Akbar, Jean-Michel Baldassi, Maxime Roll, Jacques Ballouey and Henry Eichholtzer.

They appealed the ruling citing their freedom to express their opinion.

In confirming the sentences, the Court of Cassation cited the French republic’s law on Freedom of the Press, which prescribes imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for parties that “provoke discrimination, hatred or violence toward a person or group of people on grounds of their origin, their belonging or their not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a certain religion.” 

Monday, October 26, 2015

"cultural democracy"

Jack Balkin reinvents the wheel
I've posted a draft of my latest article, Cultural Democracy and the First Amendment, on SSRN. This essay is part of a symposium on the First Amendment that will appear in the Northwestern Law Review. It further develops the theory of cultural democracy that I introduced in my 2004 essay Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A Theory of Freedom of Expression for the Information Society
Here is the abstract: 
The First Amendment is designed to secure cultural democracy as well as political democracy. A central purpose of freedom of expression is to guarantee the right of individuals and groups to participate in culture and influence each other. Just as it is important to make state power accountable to citizens, it is also important to give people a say over the development of forms of cultural power that transcend the state. In a free society, people should have the right to participate in the forms of meaning-making that shape who they are and that help constitute them as individuals.
The abstract for "Digital Speech and Democratic Culture"
This essay argues that digital technologies alter the social conditions of speech and therefore should change the focus of free speech theory from a Meiklejohnian or republican concern with protecting democratic process and democratic deliberation to a larger concern with protecting and promoting a democratic culture. A democratic culture is a culture in which individuals have a fair opportunity to participate in the forms of meaning - making that constitute them as individuals. Democratic culture is about individual liberty as well as collective self-governance; it concerns each individual's ability to participate in the production and distribution of culture. The essay argues that Meiklejohn and his followers were influenced by the social conditions of speech produced by the rise of mass media in the twentieth century, in which only a relative few could broadcast to large numbers of people. Republican or progressivist theories of free speech also tend to downplay the importance of nonpolitical expression, popular culture, and individual liberty. The limitations of this approach have become increasingly apparent in the age of the Internet.
From the paper
...A serious difficulty with the progressivist/republican model has always been that a wide variety of activities, of which art and social commentary are only the most salient examples, have always fit poorly into a democratic theory of free expression. Lots of speech is not overtly political. Nevertheless, it gets protected under the progressivist/republican model because it is useful for political discussion, because it may become enmeshed in political controversies (and thus threatened or suppressed for political reasons), or because it is very hard to draw lines separating what is political from what is not.[61] In like fashion, lots of activities cannot easily be classified as deliberation—like singing, shouting, protesting, gossiping, making fun of people, or just annoying them or getting them angry. Nevertheless, these activities are protected because we can think of them as raw materials for further democratic deliberation or because we cannot easily draw lines separating them from the social practice of deliberation.[62] In both cases, then, we have kinds of speech that are at the periphery rather than the core; we protect them in aid of something more central and precious. In short, the progressivist vision sees democratic deliberation about public issues at the core of constitutional concern and other subjects and other forms of expression as peripheral or supplementary. ...
61. Meiklejohn himself argued that works of art were protected speech because they promoted knowledge, sharpened intelligence, and developed sensitivity to human values, thus helping people to make political decisions. Meiklejohn, First Amendment, supra note 48, at 255–57. Other scholars have recognized that not all artistic expression equally promotes democratic self-government. See, e.g., SUNSTEIN, supra note 49, at 153–59 (1993) (suggesting that nonpolitical art should be relegated to lower tier of First Amendment protection). And of course Robert Bork, who also had a democracy-based theory of the First Amendment, famously argued that art should receive no First Amendment protection if it was not political speech. Robert H. Bork, Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems, 47 IND. L.J. 1, 26–28 (1971).  
62. Cf. Owen M. Fiss, The Unruly Character of Politics, 29 MCGEORGE L. REV. 1, 2–7 (1997) (noting limitations of Meiklejohnian metaphor of town meeting as applied to confrontational politics).
My parents were doing PhDs in American lit at Berkeley when they met and became friends with Meiklejohn and Ann Fagan Ginger, and all of them marched with Harry Bridges.  My parents met doing their MAs in Minnesota where they studied with John Berryman and became friends with Jerome Liebling, though my father may have known him from Brooklyn College, where my father went and where his friends studied with Mark Rothko and they all hung out at the Cedar Tavern. I think my father fucked Grace Hartigan. And Ann Ginger's sister died with Maxwell Bodenheim.

My parents spent 30 years in the thick of politics, from the desegregation of the Berkeley public schools my brother and sister attended, to teach-ins in Philadelphia (through friends in Ann Arbor, who like my father had gone from Brooklyn to Berkeley), to housing draft dodgers and aiding and abetting the theft of the COINTELPRO files, my mother's 20 years on staff at the ACLU of Philadelphia, and my father's on the state board.  I've quoted my mother before and I'll I'm sure I'll do it again: "Rawls isn't interested in people; he's interested in ideas!" Her contempt was absolute. My parents' library was called the best private library in the city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia lawyers who volunteered their time at the ACLU said my mother could pass the bar easily.  She read Hume and Jane Austen; my father read Henry James and Thomas Pynchon. My sister is named for Anne Halley. Her widowed husband phoned our mother on her deathbed. "Old lovers come to call" she said, before adding hurriedly: "it was not adultery!"

Balkin who has spent his life in the law library, thinks he's created a new "concept". Deleuze says that's what philosophers do.  He's wrong.  The bureaucratic, technocratic, academy is not a model of democratic culture, the culture of self-government, and it's done more to weaken it than support it. Balkin is better than most. Sunstein has always been an ass.

And again: on Koppelman and Graber and Tushnet [update: and Leiter, above, since he'd slipped my mind. I can't remember eveything]

"Democracies have freedom of speech not because governments grant it but because the government is not granted the power to take it away."

The Gettysburg address does not refer to government "of the elite, by the elite" and then tack on, "for the people". Leadership is an ambiguous thing, and Lincoln was a politician not a college professor, least of all a professor of political theory.

Philosophers are comfortable dividing speech into the "propositional" and the merely "expressive"; readers of what's called literary fiction are not nearly so sanguine. And literature like politics is craft.

Dance is abstract art. One image below depicts religious activity, the other secular. Both images and activities are protected by the US fucking constitution. Anyone who says otherwise, no matter what their title, is a fucking idiot.

Corey Robin is not always a putz. The law is the law, even if it's made by fools. But laws made by fools should not make you into one yourself. The relations of conscience and democracy are such that one can have both an obligation to the law, and to the need to change it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Picasso Sculpture, at MoMA

From haptic to optic.

Picasso's greatest works were tactile. Most of the greatest modern paintings, paintings in the beginning of the age of photography, had moved to the haptic, one thing photography could not do. Impressionism is physical, but so is Courbet.
Picasso's sculptures don't go downhill as quickly as his paintings do. Optical painting in the modern period is in a mode of deep irony: surrealism to pop. And what is Ingres?

More work to do.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Forgotten history, 1947: the UN proposal that Zionists refused.
Composition and terms of reference of Sub-Committee
1. Sub-Committee 2 on Palestine was set up on 23 October 1947 following the decision of the Ad Hoc Committee of Palestine to establish two Sub-Committees. By virtue of the authority conferred on him by the Ad Hoc Committee, the Chairman nominated the following countries as members of Sub-Committee 2: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. ...
The link to the full report is at the bottom of the page.
85. While the task of framing a constitution must naturally be left to the Constituent Assembly, the Sub-Committee feels that it should indicate in general terms the main principles on which the future constitution be based. These are summarized below:
(a) Palestine shall be a unitary and sovereign State.
(b) It shall have a democratic constitution, with en elected legislature and an Executive responsible to the legislature.
(c) The constitution shall provide guarantees for the sanctity of the Holy Places covering inviolability, maintenance, freedom of access and freedom of worship in accordance with the status quo.
(d) The constitution shall guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and freedom of religious belief and practice in accordance with the status quo (including the maintenance of separate religious courts with matters of personal status).
(e) The constitution shall guarantee the right of religious bodies or other societies and individuals to maintain, in addition to educational establishments administered by public authority, educational institutions of their own, subject to normal government supervision and inspection.
(f) The constitution shall recognize the right of Jews to employ Hebrew as a second official language in areas in which they are in a a majority.
(g) The Law of Naturalization and Citizenship shall provide, amongst other conditions, that the applicant should be a legal resident of Palestine for a continuous period to be determined by the Constituent Assembly.
(h) The constitution shell ensure adequate representation in the Legislature for all important sections of the citizenry in proportion to their numerical strength.
(i) The constitution shall also provide for adequate reflection in the Executive and the Administration of the distribution of representation in the Legislature.
(j) The constitution shall authorize the Legislature to invest local authorities with wide discretion in matters, connected with education, health, and other social services.
(k) The constitution shell provide for the setting up of a Supreme Court, the jurisdiction of which include inter alia, the power to pronounce upon the constitutional validity of all legislation, and it shell be open to any aggrieved party to have recourse to that tribunal.
(i) The guarantees contained in the constitution concerning the rights and safeguards of the minorities shall not be subject to amendment or modification without the consent of the minority concerned expressed through a majority, of its representatives in the Legislature. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leiter links to a discussion of "the singularity" because philosophy professors are given the benefit of the doubt. I can't think of another reason.

 He would refer to my response as "condescension from below".

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It's still no secret that contemporary philosophy is under the spell of the Other

updated: Peter Ludlow, Colin McGinn, Richard Posner and the People's Republic of China.

I haven't added anything to the Colin McGinn tag in awhile.
I have a rather modest unassuming leg--nothing flashy, but quite agreeable. Not like your spectacular look-at-me legs! We should have a foot race one day--I expect to be left in the dust. Also, what about wearing shorts or a skirt one day so I can actually see them--so far I've only strictly seen their shape. Not that I'm obsessed or anything. Your mind should model itself on your legs--powerful, muscular, beautiful, agile. Oh reader!
"She did not respond."

A specific variety of asshole. Rationalists rationalize.

Found by accident, from years ago:
The rule of "reason" leads to the rule of truthiness. That's why we choose the rule of lawRichard Posner:
the duty of judges is "always [to] try to do the best they can do for the present and the future, unchecked by any felt duty to secure consistency in principle with what other officials have done in the past"
The point of using precedent or intention or any other interpretive device is to test one's arguments against others. Posner's argument is that of the man who tests his ideas only against himself: of the chess player who plays alone, spinning the board between moves, or the man who thinks he's good in bed because he always comes when he masturbates.
That's a good way to weaken your game.
It's more than that. According to Posner's logic the exclusionary rule and the doctrine of the "fruit of the poisonous tree" just gets in the way of utilitarian justice, as per the mind of the beholding judge.

Daniel A. Bell, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, Princeton Univ. Press.

Westerners tend to divide the political world into "good" democracies and "bad" authoritarian regimes. But the Chinese political model does not fit neatly in either category. Over the past three decades, China has evolved a political system that can best be described as "political meritocracy." The China Model seeks to understand the ideals and the reality of this unique political system. How do the ideals of political meritocracy set the standard for evaluating political progress (and regress) in China? How can China avoid the disadvantages of political meritocracy? And how can political meritocracy best be combined with democracy? Daniel Bell answers these questions and more.
The PRC is only a meritocracy following Posner's logic, and Leiter's, and Jason Brennan's (Princeton again). It bequeaths us mandarin bureaucrats who think like Posner, and apparatchiks who behave like Ludlow and McGinn, and the general corruption of the academy.
The University of Chicago has suspended negotiations to renew its agreement to host a Confucius Institute after objecting to an unflattering article that appeared in the Chinese press. The decision follows a petition, signed by more than 100 faculty members this spring, calling for the closure of the institute. The petition raised concerns that in hosting the Chinese government-funded center for research and language teaching, Chicago was ceding control over faculty hiring, course content, and programming to Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing, which is also known as Hanban.
See also, Sahlins. I said in a note to him that the Confucius Institute made perfect sense in the context of an academy based on Posner's principles.

see also, Apple University.
Varieties of pathological self-loathing. Hal Foster. (updating) more for the book.
Some of these speculations can be tested against Life Style by Bruce Mau, a compendium of projects by the Canadian designer who came to prominence with Zone Magazine and Books in the late 1980s. With a distinguished series of publications in classical and vanguard philosophy and history, this imprint is also known for "Bruce Mau Design," whose luscious covers with sumptuous images in saturated colors and layered pages with inventive fonts in cinematic sequencing have greatly influenced North American publish- ing. Sometimes Mau seems to design the publications to be scanned, and despite his frequent denials in Life Style he tends to treat the book as a design contract more than an intellectual medium.

...Yet for all the Situationist lingo of contemporary designers like Mau, they don't "detourn" much; more than critics of spectacle, they are its surfers (which is indeed a favorite figure in their discourse), with "the status of the artist [and] the pay- check of the businessman." "So where does my work fit in?" Mau asks. "What is my relationship to this happy, smiling monster? Where is the freedom in this regime? Do I follow Timothy Leary and 'tune in, turn on, drop out?' What actions can I commit that not be absorbed? Can I outperform the system? Can I win?" Is he kidding?
The discussion of Bruce Mau takes up the last five pages of the essay, with no mention of Foster as the founding editor at Zone and still on the masthead, as one of four.

Found via an interview with Douglas Crimp.
The Buren piece turned out to be my take on the current animus toward design, for example in Hal Foster’s book Design and Crime (2002). I juxtaposed the stories of my two first jobs in New York. One was working at the Guggenheim, the other is something people in the art world would not know about: I worked very briefly for the fashion designer Charles James. He was the greatest American couturier in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. I was hired to help him organize his papers to write his memoirs, which he never did. If you were in the fashion world and I told you I worked for Charles James, your eyes would pop out of your head. It would be like saying I was working for Balenciaga or Christian Dior. Charles James was the American equivalent of a Balenciaga or a Dior, and in fact both of those designers revered James. He was also revered by people in the art world. My discussion of James focuses ultimately on his decor for a house that Phillip Johnson designed in 1949-50 for Jean and Dominique de Menil, the Houston art patrons (the Menil Collection is one of the great museums of modern art in America). Johnson designed a Miesian-style modernist house, but James created an over-the-top, queeny decor for the interior. It was so extreme that Johnson actually disavowed the house. So this chapter of my memoir is largely about decor and modernism, about what I call “the decorative unconscious” of modernism. 
So what I’m attempting to do is to use these stories about myself as a way of thinking about issues in contemporary art – with a particular emphasis on the queering of art discourse, in this case, unmasking the fear of the feminine, the fear of the effeminate, in high modernist discourse, which is now represented by the journal October.
Crimp and Foster are equally perverse. Crimp was one of the founding editors of October. He argues as a man in a black leather jacket, for "the feminine", citing Daniel Buren and his friendship with Yvonne Rainer, the puritan moralist of postmodern dance.

I saw Longo give the fascist salute playing with Rhys Chatham at one of Longo's openings at Metro Pictures in the mid 80s. Someone threw a beer at him and a few others booed. I remember a teacher and critic walking into a group show at Metro a couple of years before and rasping, "This is fascism!" and storming out.  It cleared my head. I knew he was right but I wasn't sure how.

Foster quotes Adolf Loos attacking Art Nouveau
Each room formed a symphony of colors, complete in itself. Walls, wall coverings, furniture, and materials were made to harmonize in the most artful ways. Each household item had its own specific place and was integrated with the others in the most wonderful combinations. The architect has forgotten nothing, absolutely nothing. Cigar ashtrays, cutlery, light switches - everything, everything was made by him.
This Gesamtkunstwerk does more than combine architecture, art, and craft; it commingles subject and object: "the individuality of the owner was expressed in every ornament, every form, every nail." For the Art Nouveau designer this is perfection: "You are complete!" he exults to the owner. But the owner is not so sure: this completion "taxed [his] brain." Rather than a sanctuary from modern stress, his Art Nouveau interior is another expression of it: "The happy man suddenly felt deeply, deeply unhappy ... He was precluded from all future living and striving, developing and desiring. He thought, this is what it means to learn to go about life with one's own corpse. Yes indeed. He is finished. He is complete!"
No mention of A Rebours, or why Viennese kitsch is death while Catalan Modernism is not.

Crimp is the one of the curators of MoMA PS1's Greater New York for 2015.  I'd thought he was the only curator but the other curators seem to be following his lead: it's an exercise in nostalgia for Crimp's heyday. The younger artists, born in the 80s, seem chosen for cribbing from his past, and the older ones are secondary figures if that, though a few are good to see. Recently I saw Robert Kushner interviewed, informally, as an old friend, by the man who walked out of the Metro show in disgust.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"A blistering attack on everything central to its own existence"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

updated with more comedy

Angus Deaton has won the non-Nobel Prize in economics.
Chris Blattman describing why he deserves it.
Sudden falls in coffee and oil prices destroyed poor countries in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in Africa. Deaton had done some of the best work, both on the behavior of commodity prices their effects on growth and also on the reasons they caused macroeconomic chaos. He also peeked into what the effect was on coups and political instability. In later years, hundreds upon hundreds of scholars would start using data from many countries to analyze why wars and coups happen. Deaton was one of the very first.
Deaton and Miller: "International Commodity Prices, Macroeconomic Performance, and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa."
The exports of many Sub-Saharan African countries are concentrated in a relatively small number of primary commodities, commodities for which world prices are volatile and values of which have dropped to histor-ically low levels in recent years. Fluctuations in commodity prices in-duce fluctuations in real national incomes and pose problems for macroeconomic management. These problems are often badly handled, and several observers implicate the commodity-price booms of the 1970s in the debt crises of the 1980s (Krueger, 1987; Greene, 1989; Sachs, 1988). Sachs, for example, notes that when commodity prices are rising more rapidly than the rate of interest on international loans, countries can service debt through fresh borrowing while simultaneously reducing the ratio of debt to exports. In the 1970s, this opportunity was seized by several developing countries that had previously had little or no access to private international capital markets. When the boom in commodity prices came to an end, some of these borrowers found themselves unable to service their accumulated debt. 
Krugman from his free-trader years on comparative advantage. Follow the links. See also Dani Rodrik making the same absurd argument.

Any engineer knows that efficient systems are fragile and that stable systems have high levels of redundancy.
The exports of many Sub-Saharan African countries are concentrated in a relatively small number of primary commodities, commodities for which world prices are volatile and values of which have dropped to historically low levels in recent years.
Awards for discovering the obvious and re-inventing the wheel. Maybe that's too glib. I might be missing something.

More on economics: Quiggin.
Similarly, advertisements work because watching an ad increases the desirability of buying the associated product. This may be because the ad attaches desirable qualities (such as sophistication or sex appeal) to the product or because it engenders dissatisfaction with the alternatives we are currently consuming.

In terms of opportunity cost, it does not matter whether an ad works positively or negatively. Either way, the opportunity cost of alternative products is increased relative to the value of the product being advertised. In the standard terminology of economics, a successful ad is complementary (in consumption) with the product being advertised.

In terms of our happiness, though, there’s a big difference. The net effect of advertising is almost certainly to reduce our satisfaction with the things we buy, because most of the ads we see are designed to make us switch to something else. And of course, the things that are not advertised, such as quiet leisure time with family and friends, where no goods and services are required and no money is spent, are downgraded even further.
The dentist who fired his assistant because she was too sexy might at least have a point.
Coming to the same conclusion as it did in December, the all-male court found that bosses can fire employees they see as threats to their marriages, even if the subordinates have not engaged in flirtatious or other inappropriate behavior. The court said such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.
For obvious reasons, Quiggin's arguments here are the same as his arguments against art.

Bloviating moralists to the rescue.
Corey Robin defends art.
The problem with our public intellectuals today—and here I’m going to address the work of two exemplary though quite different public intellectuals: Cass Sunstein and Ta-Nehisi Coates—has little to do with their style. It has little to do with their professional location, whether they write from academia or for the little magazines. It has little to do with the suburbs, bohemia, or tenure. The problem with our public intellectuals today is that they are writing for readers who already exist, as they exist.
He's wrong that it has nothing to do with style. And it's a bit pathetic that he doesn't see how much he's placing himself as a superior alternative. And is he saying that Sunstein and Coates "pursue no beckoning light"?

The problem isn't the bubble of the present. The future can only be a fantasy. It's not a question of location as such. The problem for all of them is an inability to the intuit the minds and imaginations of other people. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's frustrating also reading articles about Akerman. Her friends are too protective and fans are worshipful. Her mother's last words in Akerman's last film, recorded by the camera when Akerman was out of the room, were that her daughter talks to her all the time but never tells her anything important about what's going on in her life. Akerman over the years had said the same thing about her mother; she described the holocaust as an unspoken presence in her childhood. The moments of banter in No Home Movie are a sham. The film records missed connections, none more extreme than in the penultimate scene, when Akerman is set to leave. By including the footage and using it to imply it's the last time she saw her mother alive, Akerman is damning herself for her callousness.

The overdetermined formalism of what was called "structural" filmmaking, when it wasn't simply the product of pedantry, was connected with trauma. Discussions of Paul Sharits as an artist of some sort of Greenbergian abstraction are absurd.

The connection is to Warhol and Robert Wilson

N+1 publishes a mash note to "Chantal" written by an expert in "brand semiotics" at Truthco. []  Scott Hamrah, who "has worked in almost every brand category there is, from automotive and beauty to liquor and finance, from hotel chains and media to candy and pharmaceuticals," says Akerman "ended up a Simone Weil of the cinema..." He'd probably say the same thing about Aaron Swartz and tech.

The tragedy of Akerman is the tragedy of self-absorption and self-punishing narcissism. That was the material she worked with; others just wallow in it. It's the difference between wanting to yell at the screen and wanting to walk out of the theater. It's disgusting how much this country is still founded on optimism

Akerman's long takes are not the product of intellectual, cerebral, distance; they originate in the passive observation by children of the world of adults. Seyrig and Mangolte added an aggression both behind and in front of the camera that Akerman was incapable of. But having seen only Je, Tu, il, Elle my first experience of what I sensed as looking through the female gaze was I Can't Sleep, by Claire Denis, Agnes Godard, and Nelly Quettier.

I'm not done with any of this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The audience was composed mainly of young people, of the age of college students or recent graduates, and, after the screening, they were eager to engage Akerman in discussion about the film. A young woman sitting behind me raised her hand; Akerman called on her, and the viewer asked a fairly complex question filled with academic language. Akerman responded sharply, “Is that how you talk to your friends?” The woman stayed silent; Akerman persisted, asking whether the question represented the way that the young woman talks in real life and wondering why that’s the way she chose to talk to Akerman.
Thinking about Akerman over the years I paid too much attention to idiots like the one above. The only film by Akerman I'd seen, years ago, was Je, Tu, Il, Elle, which I didn't like much. It was too much about ideas rather than experience. I don't like conceptualism and I hated Hollis Frampton. Michael Snow was something else. He had an eye; he placed the camera and framed a view that was both well designed (it did its job) and idiosyncratic. His films described the personal rather than talking about it (La Région Centrale is high concept romantic landscape). But last week I watched a few interviews with Akerman, and they were all painful to watch. My sympathy was immediate and agreement with her almost absolute.

And somehow it had slipped my mind that I'd spent four months sitting in on a small class of about 10 people with Babette Mangolte. Mangolte has a brilliant eye, and was the best artist as teacher I've ever had.
Chantal was very clear about the character and the character had nothing to do with who Delphine Seyrig was, who plays Jeanne Dielman. Really the opposite of  Bresson who cast somebody who looked the part in order to shape that person as if they were clay so he could do with them what he wished. In a film you need to have the stylization of a certain distance, Chantal knew that. Film is not realism. It's not neorealism. Delphine was perfect for the role: first she was a great actress and she had the intelligence of knowing how you communicated the drama, the unfolding and break down of a woman. It's not melodrama, it's a woman who is unsettled and falling apart.

Really, without her [Seyrig], the film does not exist. You see, she's key to the imagination of the film and why the stylisation of the character works. Delphine was an actress able to make an interpretation and not be the real thing. The key to the film Jeanne Dielman, is making Jeanne Dielman a character embodying a certain archetype, which at the time had not been expressed in film.
The film would have fallen apart without the performance, and Mangolte's eye.

Saute ma ville ends in suicide. No Home Movie ends in despair. But the first is about the idea and her last makes you feel it, even if five minutes earlier you wanted to yell at the screen in frustration at the same onscreen character, Akerman, whose sadness breaks your heart as the screen goes black.

It became the first of two.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A suicide, a victim of the Holocaust, and of its survivors.

Monday, October 05, 2015

varieties of anti-politics

Four years ago, I put forward a comprehensive plan for US policy on the Middle East (reproduced in full over the fold). Looking back from 2015, I think it’s clear that it would have yielded better outcomes all round than the actual policy of the Obama Administration, or any alternative put forward in the US policy debate. Not only that, but it needs no updating in the light of events, and will (almost certainly) be just as appropriate in ten years’ time as it is now. 
Feel free to agree or disagree.
[click to continue…]

Comprehensive plan for US policy on the Middle East
The rest of the post is blank.
Scialabba: Ah the inscrutably complex, tragic, intractable Middle East …
But is it really as complicated as all that? 
Quiggin: @geo Probably not, to the people who live there. To spell it out, my suggestion is that the US government should leave them to sort it out – I’m sure the great majority would be happy to return the favor.
To spell it out, my suggestion is that the US government should leave them to sort it out – I’m sure the great majority would be happy to return the favor.
Quiggin doesn't name Israel specifically either because he defends it himself or he knows too many people who do. And this gives him an excuse to throw up his hands. Duncan Black does the same thing. It's the engineers' model of response to ambiguity, shared by geeks and technocrats: denying it when possible and running away from it when it's unavoidable. If he wanted to pay attention he'd know it's not a question of "them" but "us".

The New York Times September 4th 2015
Israeli Terrorists, Born in the U.S.A.
The shocking 1994 massacre was, at the time, the bloodiest outbreak of settler terrorism Israelis and Palestinians had ever seen. Less than two years later, Mr. Rabin himself would be dead, felled by an ultranationalist assassin’s bullet. 
Suddenly, a group of American Jewish immigrants that had existed on the fringes of society became a national pariah. A former president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, labeled the United States “a breeding ground” for Jewish terror; the daily newspaper Maariv castigated American Jews who “send their lunatic children to Israel.” One Israeli journalist even demanded “operative steps against the Goldsteins of tomorrow” by banning the immigration of militant American Jews. 
But tomorrow has arrived.

After years of impunity for settlers who commit violent crimes, Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, has now supposedly cracked down by rounding up a grand total of four youths believed to be connected to recent acts of settler terrorism — three of whom trace their origins to the United States.

The agency’s “most wanted” Jewish extremist is 24-year-old Meir Ettinger, who has an august pedigree in racist and violent circles. He is a grandson of Meir Kahane, a radical American rabbi who in 1971 immigrated to Israel, established the Kach party and served as its lone Knesset member until it was banned in 1988. (Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990, but his career laid the groundwork for ultranationalist and antidemocratic parties in Israel.)

Another is Mordechai Meyer, 18, from the settlement of Maale Adumim outside Jerusalem. ...
I'll post this again because it's necessary.
Peter Beinart is American
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. What I am asking is that Israel not do things that foreclose the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, because if it is does that it will become--and I'm quoting Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak here--an "apartheid state."
Haaretz "Let the people of Israel enter the gates and kill Arabs"
It started as a kind of protest of rage, with the familiar calls of "death to terrorists," "revenge" and "the people demand security." However, it quickly switched to the no-less familiar calls of "death to Arabs," "an Arab is a bastard, a Jew is a good soul" and other songs from the fairly limited racist repertoire of the far right in Jerusalem. Some of the organizers sought to lead the mob through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter in the Old City to the site of the terror attack. The police was not about to let that happen and blocked their way between Zion Square and Jaffa Road.

From there, gangs of youths ran amok looking for Arab victims. But Arab workers in central Jerusalem are used to such events, and the vast majority of them fled home before the rioting. Even on the light rail cars, that often serve the Arab population, there were no Arabs. The Jewish youths blocked the rail in the square and "interviewed" passengers to determine their identity.

"Are you an Arab? Are you an Arab?" they called out to a passenger who was probably wise enough to smile without answering.

"Leave him alone. He's a Jew," said one of the attackers, and they moved on to look for the next victim. The rest of the passengers responded apathetically and tried to look the other way. There were many drivers who honked in solidarity and vocally supported them. The cafes and restaurants along Jaffa Road were full of people watching the march of hatred passing back and forth.
The popular rise of Zionist extremism began decades ago, in the hypocrisy of "liberal Zionists" and their friends who stayed silent. None of them were as honest as Beinart is now.

PCHR. People on their own land, under attack by immigrants and the children of immigrants
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (17 - 30 Sep. 2015)

3 Palestinian civilians, including a girl and a deaf young man, were killed in the West Bank

Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
24 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, were wounded.
4 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in various shooting incidents.

Israeli warplanes carried out 5 airstrikes against the north of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces conducted 67 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 3 limited ones in the Gaza Strip.
135 Palestinians, including 46 children and women, were arrested.
109 of these Palestinians, including 44 children and 4 women, were arrested in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces arrested 9 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, who attempted to cross into Israel via the border fence.

Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
Many checkpoints were established in the West Bank.
7 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip sea.
Israeli navy forces drowned a fishing boat off Khan Yunis shore, south of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces continued efforts to create a Jewish demographic majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
An under-construction house was demolished in Silwan and a farmland was levelled in al-Eisawiya village.
Israeli forces and settlers continued to storm al-Aqsa mosque and impose restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into it.

Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
Israeli settlers established a checkpoint, east of Nablus, and opened fire at a Palestinian civilian car, but no casualties were reported.

Her name was Hadeel-al-Hashlamoun. She was shot at point blank range, first in the legs
and then, after falling, in the chest. She was 18

October 4 2015, yesterday