Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer.
This is law. Law is process, not result. It is not "truth". This is legal formalism.
A new tag: Lawyers.  The tag for Law includes judges and philosophers.
"Lawyers are the rule of law."

Philosophers:  Leiter
What "philosophy" looks like when it ceases to be a Wissenschaft... 
...and becomes a set of sophomoric slogans and confusions. Quite amazing, as we've had occasion to note before.
Wissenschaft: the systematic pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship (especially as contrasted with its application). Orig: German, literally ‘knowledge, science.’

Is there "progress in philosophy"?  Do physicists debate whether or not there is progress in physics?
The power claimed of philosophy is the power of prescription. As description it’s just another form of literature, and no philosopher will accept what by their own definition would be a drop in status. Philosophers want all the clarity of engineering and the license of poetry. What they end up with is the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and the metaphysics of hippies. 
"Leiter’s authoritarianism is founded in insecurity, and their defense of civility is founded in fluff."
Did Ghomeshi's trial result in progress? No. And that's not an argument against trials and trial lawyers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Atrios as troll, a creature of the internet.

March 29
Everybody on the Internet is Wrong 
What I've found frustrating about the internet discourse surrounding the Dem primary is that so little of it has been about anyone actually trying to persuade someone. It's all "I am right, you are wrong." Yes it's the internet. No this should not surprise me. This is how internet discourse usually works. But I've found the level of "my internet-fu has not convinced you because you are stupid" to be weird. Some people like Clinton. Some people like Sanders. Donate money, make calls, knock on doors if you really want to make a difference. Arguing on the internet isn't going to make any difference. As I've said, I'm a Sanders sympathizer. I'm not trying to hide that. But there are good reasons to support Clinton. If I went all in on one side or another I'm sure I'd convince precisely zero people to vote for candidate X. Activism should be productive, not just narcissism.
"Some people like Clinton. Some people like Sanders".  Some people liked Gore and some people liked Bush. Some people liked Palin.
"America's Worst Humans" The World's Worst Humans" "Wanker of the Day"

March 27
Nobody Could Have Predicted
Everybody wins!
Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter 5-year-old civil war. 
The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.
March 24
All The World's A Stage 
Sometimes I think people fail to realize that we all have our roles to play. I don't advocate dishonesty, but it's my role to complain from The Left in hopes that things get pulled a little bit more to the left (recognizing that my superpowers are limited). Other people have their roles. It's how this game is played.
March 20th
My Obsessions 
One thing about having a blog which requires regular posts is that you have to have obsessions. I get that not all readers are interested in my obsessions of the week, but it's really the only way to keep this truck stop running. I gotta pick something and run with it. Otherwise I run out of things to say. I'm basically an introvert, in case that wasn't obvious.
"I like Hillary Clinton. I worried a bit about some of the idiots she has surrounded herself with. But happy for her to run."

logic is not philosophy. Psychology is not philosophy.

Ruth Marcus would have been livid......if she had lived to see this. Ruth told me years ago that Butler had great difficulty passing the logic requirement in the Yale PhD program in philosophy, and finally, Ruth took pity, and gave her a pass. I had the sense she later regretted that. On Butler, Martha Nussbaum got it right many years ago Critical Theory has been in a downward spiral for a long time now, but that an obscurantist posturing faker like Butler should be deemed its heir...oy veh.
repeats: Nussbaum and Butler
Butler defends principles in action that Nussbaum defends only in theory.
Modernism was the fantasy of writing with the assumption that from then on there would be only reading with and no reading against. To read tale against teller or to read against the grain would be gross error. Rebellion against this has always taken the form of the rebellion of youth against their parents, with the more sympathetic elders caught in the middle, trying to justify the revolt while trying to make it fit with what they know and what they are. So we get the obscurantist poeticizing of Derrida -the philosopher magistrate as wise old fool- and the blandness of Rorty and Nussbaum, struggling to find a way beyond technocracy while being mocked for the attempt by professional technocrats and lionized by amateur enthusiasts. The model of the Continental philosopher was as Pope and Antipope combined, a philosophical self that could contain an other, in a sense obviating the need for actual democracy. And now that Continental and Anglo-American philosophy are joining, out of necessity and the need for survival, we see parallels in Bruno Latour's Collective and David Chalmers' Extended Mind.
Palestinians are the next wave of civil right movement: shopkeepers, housewives and husbands. They’re leading themselves just as, in the past, American blacks, women and homosexuals led themselves. When forced to face real engagement Judith Butler became an articulate and plain spoken defender of Palestinians’ claims to basic civil equality. She defended liberalism when liberals who’ve attacked her refused to. That’s the important fact, not the theoretical gobbledygook that came before. Could it be that gobbledygook was emotionally necessary as a way to defend humanism in an anti-humanist age? Maybe “theory” as poetry kept humanism alive: the poetry of technocracy, fighting against itself. 
I don't know if Marcus was a Zionist, but there are plenty of mathematicians and physicists who are, while at the same time referring to themselves as "liberal". Would Marcus fail them?

see also Jon Elster
Leiter: The Case Against Free Speech
What's the "epistemic value" of Jabberwocky? Google the page for Tushnet.

Leiter again, and Knobe again
The fact that people are held responsible for thoughtlessness that results in a bad outcome while not given credit for thoughtlessness that results in a good one -an "asymmetry in responses"- is common knowledge. Here it's somehow a new and surprising thing, named for its "discoverer". Knobe may want to make a distinction between intention and responsibility but the author of the passage doesn't give it much thought, slipping from one to the other just as I assume the "folk" Knobe interviewed did. It's as if Knobe were surprised to see a woman on the street wearing a bikini while he doesn't notice that the road is running by a beach. Taking a break from his life in the library stacks -and not the stacks in the law library where he'd find discussion of why "ignorance of the law is no excuse"- he thinks he's discovered something new.
And Greene, again. From Leiter's link
For example, Greene conducted experiments showing that people react more negatively to the idea of pushing someone to their death in order to save five lives (a variant of the Trolley problem) than hitting a switch to drop someone through a trapdoor. 
“You can’t know this by introspection, you have to do an experiment."
Question: Why is an executioner called an executioner if he's only following orders?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

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.
The TSA workers “freaked out” and wanted to call for male scanners, but Petosky freaked out at the thought of male screeners.  [The same scenario, reversed, from six months earlier]

A hypothetical: A high school football player decides he identifies as a transgender male identified lesbian. He, now she, changes nothing about her dress or behavior, and sues under title IX because there are no urinals in the girls bathroom.

New tag: Transhumanism and Transgender. It overlaps with others, as varieties of narcissism.

The issue isn't gender it's the subjectivism as law.

Poor Little Sisters
The simplest way to understand Zubik v Burwell is that the plaintiffs are arguing they would be traumatized, or triggered, by the act of filling out a form. It's an argument against participation in society because society doesn't give you everything you want, and then the demand that society recognize that fact because you are a member of society.  It's the argument of spoiled children.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

He came from the middle of Etobicoke, a wildly diverse part of Toronto, far from downtown, where well-to-do neighborhoods like his family’s meet with towering developments, home to booming communities of newcomers. Drugs were always a presence, including in the house where he grew up: His older brothers were reported to have been involved in the drug trade. Over a decade as a city councillor, he pursued a narrow, simple vision of his job, returning every call, tooling around in a beat-up minivan, talking to homeowners and apartment dwellers about their neighborhood concerns. His chief concern was not spending taxpayer money (especially not on things such as bike lanes, AIDS research, and watering plants at city hall that should probably be plastic, though exceptions could be made for things like police helicopters). His legislative record was obstruction and outbursts, but that suited people fine. Shy and awkward in person, he was comfortable on the phone and became a fixture on AM radio. The legend of Rob Ford, champion of the little guy — and, as some have argued, it really was a legend — grew.

...The private life that emerged from recordings and reports was full of an almost puerile racism and misogyny. He seemed to have enjoyed listing off racial epithets to his friends. In public, he had a penchant for backhanded racism, the kind that sounds like a compliment but in practice was corrosively condescending. He poured his time (and some of the city’s, too) into coaching students from a high school football team, many of whom were black. He persisted in describing them as fatherless kids who would have fallen into drugs and gangs were it not for him. He seemed, above all else, childlike, a teenager from the early ’80s transported into the mayoralty as if by body-swap. His friends were petty criminals. His home was a place of verbal and emotional abuse, at a minimum. He called his aides in the middle of the night, crying, from his father’s grave.

...This is what I believe about Rob Ford: He believed in public service. He only knew how to do it one way: returning calls, knocking on doors, haranguing low-level bureaucrats for quick fixes. He was never cut out to be a mayor. It is not enough to simply make some of your constituents feel better. He did not actually ameliorate these lives with the power a mayor has. But the impulse to do well by the little guy is genuinely what drove him, and was one of the things that put purpose into a terribly difficult life.

This is worth considering, in a season where Rob Ford is being widely compared to Donald Trump. For all the similarities between the movements both men inspired, Trump’s presidential campaign is driven by a deep cynicism and a willingness to strategically deploy hatred in any way that will benefit him, without bounds of shame or conscience. That was not Rob Ford. If Rob Ford had no shame, then he would not have lied. He was shameless about his lies, but his lies sprang from shame. It is hard to look in the mirror and say I don’t understand that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An interview with CUNY's Jesse Prinz
Here, and it's very interesting along a number of dimensions. One excerpt
Almost everything that I do involves the idea that experience can transform human minds. We are, by nature, unnatural....
Experience: The word's becoming almost common.

Prinz' first sentence deals in facts. The second is fantasy.

The topic is disability. To focus on experience as he claims to means you understand that an articulate blind person can tell you more about blindness than a sighted philosopher. But after referring to himself as a depressive, he externalizes his depression as an object to be analyzed by any and all, rather than describing himself through it. It's the logic that says by understanding the roots of feminism we can all become women.

Henry says it's time for the Hugos again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"we were hoping the poor would be forced out"

Updated: more comedy

WaPo: Crying Tintin becomes symbol of grief after Brussels attacks
more at Mashable

"Brussels attacks: How Saudi Arabia's influence and a deal to get oil contracts sowed seeds of radicalism in Belgium"
There are many reasons why Belgium has become a hotbed of radical Islamism. Some of the answers may lie in the implanting of Saudi Salafist preachers in the country from the 1960s. 
Keen to secure oil contracts, Belgium’s King Baudouin made an offer to Saudi King Faisal, who had visited Brussels in 1967: Belgium would set up a mosque in the capital, and hire Gulf-trained clerics.

At the time, Belgium was encouraging Moroccan and Turkish workers to come into the country as cheap labour. The deal between the two Kings would make the mosque their main place of worship.

Nov/2015 Molenbeek broke my heart
I was part of a new wave of young urban professionals, mostly white and college-educated — what the Belgians called bobo, (“bourgeois bohémiens”) — who settled in the area out of pragmatism. We had good intentions. Our contractor’s name was Hassan. He was Moroccan, and we thought that was very cool. We imagined that our kids would one day play happily with his on the street. We hoped for less garbage on the streets, less petty crime. We were confident our block would slowly improve, and that our lofts would increase in value. (We even dared to hope for a hip art gallery or a trendy bar.) We felt like pioneers of the Far West, like we were living in the trenches of the fight for a multicultural society.
Code as commentary. The word gentrification doesn't appear in the article itself.
"We had good intentions." And the idiot's an anthropologist.

Wapo: Why is Brussels under attack?
The area, just across the Canal not far from some of Brussels's more fashionable areas, first began to fill up with Turkish and Moroccan immigrants around 50 years ago. But while the area has undergone some levels of gentrification in recent years, it remains a sharp contrast with more affluent areas of the city nearby: Unemployment has been estimated at as much as 40 percent, and there are many seedy and rundown shops in the area.

Often those from immigrant backgrounds find themselves at a competitive disadvantage on the job market, as they speak only French and Arabic when many jobs in the city require a knowledge of French, Flemish or Dutch, and sometimes English. A growing right-wing political movement in Belgium has led to feelings of division in the country: Some Muslims say that a 2012 ban on Islamic veils such as burqas and niqabs in public spaces is a sign of their community's alienation from the Catholic mainstream.
If westerners want to stop extremism they should stop supporting extremists, and stop lying about it, to themselves.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Because this absurdity got me buzzing: Best Anglophone philosophers of art post-1945: the results
Miss Piggy, as the staff at the Journal used to call him, came in first.

He was a fucking idiot
We live at a moment when it is clear that art can be made of anything, and where there is no mark through which works of art can be perceptually different from the most ordinary of objects.
If a character in a novel lights a cigarette, the cigarette is part of a work of art. In a play the cigarette is a prop. In the older definition of art objects the craft supplied a formal logic internal to the piece. The iconography supplied an formal logic external to it. For relics as opposed to artworks the logic was external only: absent its place in a narrative, a thighbone is a thighbone, a cigarette is just a cigarette, a madeleine... etc.
still scribbling

repeats, from 20 years ago, but posted here at the start, others more recent, and some new, all written out of the process of trying to articulate what I've always taken for granted. There are a few conflicts.
The only difference between a well reasoned argument about a metaphysical subject and a badly reasoned one is the complexity of the portrait of the author and of his ideas. There is no difference in their value outside of that. Complex sophistry remains sophistry.
All art is sophistry.
Something can be judged a work of it art if its arguments are rendered with an idiosyncratic subtlety beyond what is necessary to communicate its ideas, and which may even oppose them, but which so colors our perceptions that we can not separate the sensibility from the idea without feeling a loss.
Subtlety beyond necessity but not without purpose.
A few years ago, at a gallery opening I got into a conversation with an astrophysicist from Caltech; we were mutual friends of the curator. He felt slightly dragged along. He was game but said he didn’t understand art. The conversation drifted, and he mentioned a book he was reading, a biography of Sandy Koufax, the great pitcher for the Dodgers, in Brooklyn and LA. He said what he liked most was the way the author wrote not only as an observer, a professional sportswriter, and fan, but as a woman, an outsider in the world of male athletics, and as a Jew writing about Koufax, another Jew and outsider in the gentile world of professional sports. He said her description of those relations was really interesting. I asked him if he could have described any of it as she had. He said no. I told him he understood art.
Something is "beautiful" if it is seen to manifest a unifying order beyond that which is commonly acknowledged in everyday experience. It has no necessary relation, as extension, to being "pretty". A desolate wasteland is beautiful. "It’s a truism that the mushroom clouds at the end of Dr. Strangelove are beautiful."

Beauty in the products of human activity is seen at it's highest level as manifesting an order that is taken to model a moral (integral) order of the world as a whole, but which at the same time is seen as inseparable from its immediate form (words, sound, substance) so that the mind experiences a conflict, a moment of aphasia.

Even if, as is often the case, the audience admits to wanting to ascribe a "truth" to the work in its relation to the world, they will admit that the "truth" is nonexistent outside of the material arrangements that make up the work. For language to be "beautiful" in this sense, rhythm and tone are no less important than syntax. The total structure of a poem is seen as beautiful, not simply the "meaning" of the sentences. Art is a lie that compels you to believe while reminding you again and again of its artificiality, of the craft that brought that illusion into being. A Stendhal moment is a moment of crisis, when the perceiving subject is caught between desire for a thing to be fully real, combined with an equally powerful awareness that it's not.

Art is material arrangement.
Art makes/describes the world as more interesting than it is.

Film was until recently our most easily immersive art, but the best films have always been those where the arrangements, shots, cuts, and staging, remain foregrounded, not merely telegraphed as "style" but inseparable from the other elements of the film. The best films remind us of their artifice as much as sculptures never let us to forget they're carved in stone. We always see the craft in Hitchcock and John Ford. And it's the craft that we remember as much as we remember the worlds made out of it. We sit watching worlds we want to be real, while equally enraptured by the crafting of the lie.

Art makes/describes a world more interesting than ours, a world where every object and event is suffused with meaning. Rocks and trees as things in the world are meaningless: religion ascribes meanings to them. But a drawing of a rock or a tree is the product of our "intelligent design"; meanings are a given, and the humanities are no more or less than varieties of comparative religion.

All of us recreate the world through our preferences; there is no value free perception. Artists regulate and ironize the illusions that most of us live without thinking.  Philosophy, compared to art, is pedantry, predicated on the assumption that irony need only be directed outward, at best referring to self directed irony as an idea, or concept, whereas in the arts it's the foundation of a practice. Philosophy is predicated on the ideal of a total, global, or universal, view. The arts are built from the fact that we all imagine such views for ourselves, that they're shared by no one else, and that the one thing we can share is the awareness of that fact.

The politics of "design"

Vox: Inside Jacobin: how a socialist magazine is winning the left's war of ideas
repeats: What exactly is neoliberalism?, and Daston and Galison.
repeats: again, and again.
Some friends of Remeike J.B. Forbes ’11 joke that he is the most patriotic guy they know. He is a talented banjo player who is committed to learning the national folk songs of the American Left—and when he plays them at home in the Dudley Co-op, of which he is a co-president, the whole community gathers around to join in. 
But Forbes has found his politics to be far more controversial than his music. Born in Jamaica and raised in New York City, he earned himself a place at Phillips Exeter Academy. During his senior year there, after serving as president of the Exeter Socialist Club, he founded an anarchist magazine that substituted antiwar slogans for advertisements.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Met Breuer. I walked onto the floor and there it was. I had no idea. The last time I saw it, the last time it was in the US, was 1986. And I'm sure what happened the last time a great Titian was in NY, happened again. Fuckers.

Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas, c. 1575 
It's a ridiculous show, but it doesn't bother me. It's sloppy as shit, but not decadent; it's healthy.
And they brought over one of the greatest paintings in the world. It's such an absurd indulgence I want to laugh.

For the rest, it felt like the Tate. That's not an insult. Give it time.
It's a ridiculous show, and that's a problem. But it's ridiculous in a way I didn't expect, and in a way I'm not used to seeing in NY.

NY isn't as sophisticated as it pretends to be. Foreigners know that.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A quicker way to make the same points I made below: Trump is about race like ISIS is about religion. I'd quibble only about the 9-11 hijackers, and their one bit of indulgence before death.
Corey Robin: The Definitive Take on Donald Trump
Jamelle Bouie: How Trump Happened
For Americans opposed to Trump, it’s tempting to believe that his base is a shrinking part of America; that these are the death throes of racial reaction. Eventually, goes the thinking, they’ll fade from view too.

That is wishful thinking. America is a diverse country. But it’s still a predominantly white one, where a Trumpist movement can still encompass millions of voters. And “eventually” might be a while. In the space between now and then, Trumpism—the potent mix of open prejudice, nationalist aggression, and heterodox economic policy—could thrive. In fact, it likely will, since the trends that produced Trump—a brittle economy, an ailing white working-class, an insecure white middle-class, a rising nonwhite population, political gridlock, and growing minority political power—are ongoing.
Corey Robin is still a broken record, and still an idiot. The civil rights movement was a Burkean movement of ministers and their congregants. Bouie is one of the new generation of buppie commentators, black neoliberals. Coates and Bouie replay the reactionary cynicism of Clarence Thomas to an audience of white liberals as opposed to white conservatives.
repeats and repeats and repeats

NYT: Donald Trump’s Tampa Office Is an Unlikely Melting Pot
William Grieder in the Nation: Trump can win against Clinton by running to the right and left of her.
Also, Thomas Frank, below.

Few outright condemnations of the protestors invading the pitch at Trump's event in Chicago.
He's being blamed.  People who whine about whiners demanding "safe spaces" aren't whining.

Leiter: "Chicago protesters chase the fascist narcissist from the city. Good for them."

Free speech means there are no government restrictions on fascist speech. It means also that people don't have "the right" to shut down an assembly of fascists, that people in Harlem don't have "the right" to chase a man walking down the street in a KKK robe, and that Jews in Skokie don't have "the right" to threaten a man in a Nazi uniform. The same rules apply to black men who wander into the "white part of town" at three in the morning and women who jog alone at night in Central Park.  All of the people above are "within their rights" in wanting to be left alone.

The calculations of real politics, as function and not ideal, practice and not theory (and of participants not philosophers), includes accounting for prudence.

People are cruel, but Trump's not the fool who's stumbled onto the wrong street, he's the asshole who's gone too far. A GOP official said the leadership see his rallies as "absolutely toxic". He's destroying the Republican party and replacing it with himself. In this country, that leads nowhere.
Four years later, the last sentences surprised me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Thomas Frank in The Guardian.
Let us now address the greatest American mystery at the moment: what motivates the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump?

I call it a “mystery” because the working-class white people who make up the bulk of Trump’s fan base show up in amazing numbers for the candidate, filling stadiums and airport hangars, but their views, by and large, do not appear in our prestige newspapers. On their opinion pages, these publications take care to represent demographic categories of nearly every kind, but “blue-collar” is one they persistently overlook. The views of working-class people are so foreign to that universe that when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wanted to “engage” a Trump supporter last week, he made one up, along with this imaginary person’s responses to his questions.

...Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself. I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years. But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.

Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about ... trade.

It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.

Trump embellished this vision with another favorite left-wing idea: under his leadership, the government would “start competitive bidding in the drug industry.” (“We don’t competitively bid!” he marveled – another true fact, a legendary boondoggle brought to you by the George W Bush administration.) Trump extended the critique to the military-industrial complex, describing how the government is forced to buy lousy but expensive airplanes thanks to the power of industry lobbyists.

From Leiter, who calls it "An interesting take... (though it can't be the whole story)"

"working class, "middle class"
middle class, working class, workers, upper class, managers, management
Fox tried to arrange a Trump Sanders debate. Sanders agreed, but Trump pulled out.

Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

"That explains it."

Leiter: "...but given that she's an assistant professor in a field with no discernible wissenschaftlich standards..."

Rauchway, repeats of repeats, originally here
[A] traditional defense of academic freedom... goes something like this: Academic freedom predates free speech. Although Prussia gave constitutional protection to Lehrfreiheit in 1850 (“science and its teaching shall be free”), academic freedom generally does not enjoy legal protection outside of contractual guarantees; rather, it rests on the authority and ability of a community of competent scholars to police their own discourse and on the willingness of universities to affirm this authority and ability.
Kant and de Maistre (start here)
Kant, What is Enlightenment?
Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. 
de Maistre
Everything that constrains a man, strengthens him.
Joshua Yoder: The Case Of Human Plurality: Hannah Arendt's Critique Of Individualism In Enlightenment And Romantic Thinking [pdf]
According to Leonard Krieger, the concept of individual freedom, or "individual secular liberty," characterized political thought in Western Europe as early as the seventeenth century. The freedom of the individual depended on maintaining some kind of distance from political authority. In Germany, however, "individualized freedom", or Freiheit, had to contend with another notion of freedom already present: Libertaet, which referred to the rights of German princes within the Holy Roman Empire. After 1650, as German princes began to exercise more political control, they interpreted Libertaet as the freedom to rule without Imperial interference. The idea of Libertaet, along with centralized administration and growing bureaucracies, changed the German principalities into sovereign territorial states. Yet, within these states the individual, and individual rights, still occupied an ambiguous role. Krieger argues
The German princes never ceased to feel themselves aristocrats as well as monarchs, not only personally because of their family origins and connections, not only socially because of their special dependence on the nobility worked by the peculiarities of the German economic and social structure, but even institutionally, because the social and constitutional structures were so integrally intertwined that the very development of the German princes toward absolute sovereignty in their own territory was at the same time a development of their aristocratic rights within the [Holy Roman] German Empire. It was this institutional connection between sovereign power and aristocratic liberties... that made this kind of Libertaet the representative expression of German political liberty in the old regime.
From 1650-1750, as the more individualistic ideas of Freiheit spread into Germany from enlightened thinkers in Western Europe, they were transformed to fit the prevalent ideas of Libertaet, resulting in the notion of enlightened absolutism. German thinkers "adopted western assumptions which made individuals the primary units of society and individual rights the basis and the limitation of the state, but they interpreted these assumptions in a way compatible with the preservation of the peculiar German corporate rights and made the prince arbiter over all." Using natural law, German thinkers were able to combine inalienable rights and political obligation in the form of an absolutist state. After 1750, political ideas in Western Europe continued to further reflect notions of "material individualism,"but in Germany "natural law absolutism" held sway in both theory and practice until the French Revolution.

[Leonard Krieger, The German Idea of Freedom: History of a Political Tradition]
What is Enlightenment?
I have emphasized the main point of the enlightenment--man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage-- primarily in religious matters, because our rulers have no interest in playing the guardian to their subjects in the arts and sciences. Above all, nonage in religion is not only the most harmful but the most dishonorable. But the disposition of a sovereign ruler who favors freedom in the arts and sciences goes even further: he knows that there is no danger in permitting his subjects to make public use of their reason and to publish their ideas concerning a better constitution, as well as candid criticism of existing basic laws. We already have a striking example [of such freedom], and no monarch can match the one whom we venerate.

But only the man who is himself enlightened, who is not afraid of shadows, and who commands at the same time a well disciplined and numerous army as guarantor of public peace--only he can say what [the sovereign of] a free state cannot dare to say: "Argue as much as you like, and about what you like, but obey!" Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. Nature, then, has carefully cultivated the seed within the hard core--namely the urge for and the vocation of free thought. And this free thought gradually reacts back on the modes of thought of the people, and men become more and more capable of acting in freedom. At last free thought acts even on the fundamentals of government and the state finds it agreeable to treat man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.
When I first read it the contradictions annoyed me; they were obvious and stupid. I didn't have the patience to read for context. Later it made sense, but I'm just disgusted that the contradictions are simply ignored.
Although he took a keen interest in the great British philosophers - he later discovered and edited some new letters by Hume - he shared Cassirer's dismay at the blinkered approach of the analytical philosophers who dominated the Oxford scene: ignoring the historical context of thinkers such as Leibniz, the only thing they wanted to know was whether his statements were true according to their own criteria.
Formalism and anti-humanist pseudoscience in the age of Weber: the age of plumbers.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Lawrence Solan, at Balkinization
Confronting the Interpreter
An interesting question concerning forensic linguistics is making its way through the appellate courts: When the police use an interpreter during an interview (or interrogation) of a suspect who later becomes a defendant in a prosecution, and the defendant’s words in her original language are not recorded, does the defendant have a constitutional right to confront the interpreter? As a cost-saving measure, more and more law enforcement agencies, and some courts, have been retaining services that interpret the interview over the telephone. One of them, Language Line Solutions., has found itself in the middle of this constitutional question.

...In United States v. Aifang Ye (No. 12-10576 (9th Cir. 2015)), the Ninth Circuit ruled that there is no right to confront the interpreter under the Sixth Amendment standards set out in Crawford, since the interpreter’s statements are not testimonial – rather, they are merely a conduit from one language to another. Ye was convicted of aiding and abetting in providing false information for a passport application. Some of the evidence against her came from what she said in an interview conducted by an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. Questions were asked in English, answered in Mandarin Chinese, and interpreted over the phone by Language Line, an agent of the U.S. immigration service. The interpreter then reduced the interview to a written statement. Ye claimed that there was a mistranslation because she never would have said that there had been a forgery, a word used by the interpreter.

However Ms. Ye’s case is resolved, courts should be more realistic in their understanding of what interpreters and translators can do. First, courts should stop relying on the “conduit” theory of translation. Compare two reputable translations of any work of literature. They will be similar in some ways, different in others. To the extent that word choice matters in the context of a criminal prosecution, nuanced differences may affect a case’s outcome. Second, interpreters make errors. The legal system should recognize this. Third, courts should not accept as accurate representations that the entire professional staff of a private firm retained by the government is dispassionate and of high professional character. Surely the defendant need not accept such representations.

Leiter: Reality is relative to language?
Kieran Healy: Fuck Nuance

Fucking idiots.
Varieties of anti-politics
Nobody Gives A Shit Who You're Voting For
2000 wasn't pre-internet, but it was proto-internet, and one genre it gave birth to was the long essay about WHY I AM VOTING FOR X (usually Nader). These weren't persuasion pieces, these were ME pieces. I question the effectiveness of most persuasion pieces at this point, but they're still a different genre. The ME pieces are just navel-gazers. Nobody cares. They're boring. Vote for who you want.

I suppose it's weird to be a political blogger and not have all that much to say about the Democratic primary. I just don't have any deep analysis that people who read this blog can't figure out by themselves. I don't like discussions of "momentum" or how candidate X needs to be up 5 points (or whatever) in Colorado (or wherever) in order to "remain viable." It all starts to sound like sports commentary (they really need to get some points on the board! he's got a hot hand!).

I don't really find any electability arguments to be particularly persuasive. That doesn't mean they're wrong, and you might find them persuasive, but I don't have much interest in engaging them. Clinton will likely win, Sanders will likely lose, and while anything is still possible, that's always been the case, though that is not an argument to stop working for either candidate if you are doing that.

God this blog sucks.
"pathologically opposed to ambiguity" "throw/s up his hands" "pathologically anti-intellectual" "know-nothing" Do a site search if you want.
I like Hillary Clinton. I worried a bit about some of the idiots she has surrounded herself with. But happy for her to run.
If he imagines it as cut and dried, he's happy to show contempt; if he imagines it isn't, he'll hedge. And then if he likes someone it all goes out the window.

DeLong on Jeane Kirkpatrick
her counsel--even at its most boneheaded--was always devoted to advancing the security of the United States and the cause of liberty and prosperity around the world.
The powerful negative effect of the variable 'proportion of workers' on the number of demonstrators indicates, on the other hand, that the lower classes have now completely escaped from the ideological control of the culturally dominant classes. The geographical organization of society largely explains this negative liberty. With great realism, Christophe Guilluy has centred his depiction of French society on the way the lower classes have been relegated to the periphery. Forced out into the geographical margins of urban areas, the workers no longer turn out to demonstrate in the hearts of town and cities. They can no longer be mobilized on an ad hoc basis, just as they can no longer be controlled ideologically: witness the way large numbers of them vote for the National Front. It is true that Francois Hollande and the Socialist Party had, by refusing the National Front any place in the 'great republican demonstrations', implicitly designated NF voters as non-desirables in the heart of our cities. At a time when the neo-republican pact is being sealed, the perfectly real category of `workers' is no more welcome than the imaginary category of 'Muslims'.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Twilight of the Elites (see here and earlier)
Hard to say how annoying that is, not that he throws all the philosophical claptrap he studied at Brown, Rawls et al, out the window, but that he does it so casually. He doesn't understand the history he's a part of: BA in philosophy, his hobby was theater.

Hayes the reformer, from the third link above.
In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society — whether it's General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media — has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Quiggin, "The Three Party System"
There are three major political forces in contemporary politics in developed countries: tribalism, neoliberalism and leftism.
There are two: desire and convention. Radical hopes and greed are desire; Trotskyites and Chicago economists dream of permanent revolution. Tribalism and republicanism are conventional: form or process take precedence. Philosophers have gone from defending the absolutism of the king to the absolutism of the individual, from the universal church to universal man, searching for truth justice whatever else he wants.

Lawyers and actors are pack animals,  guildsmen looking to their peers for respect. They're conventionalists.
Al-Ghazali, as quoted by Ernest Gellner, puts Mannheim’s point more pithily – "the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one."
Shakespearean actors are traditionalists. God, I hate fucking geeks.

All a repeat.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Drift. Neoliberalism is now conservatism; capitalism has no patience with idiots."Liberalism" is as far to the left as its been in a long time. The sixties, after the civil rights movement, were romance not politics.

Like the end of Zionism. Crisis makes people honest.
Crisis and good con men.
February 14, 2000, interview with NBC on a rumored presidential run with the Reform Party...

TRUMP: Well, you’ve got David Duke just joined – a bigot, a racist, a problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party. Buchanan’s a disaster, as we’ve, you know, covered.
Jimmy Carter was right.
John Oliver is weekly on HBO; Jimmy Kimmel is nightly on ABC. Both videos were posted on youtube on the 28th. As of now the Oliver video has 6 million views; the Kimmel video has 260 thousand.
[Midnight 4/3, after the Republican debate, the Oliver video has 16,886,114 views]

A celebrity chat show on a major network ridicules the de facto candidate of one of the two major political parties.

NYT "CNN Poll Points to a Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton Matchup in November"

The CNN poll [PDF]

If Donald Trump won the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency, would you definitely support him in the general election in November, probably support him, probably NOT support him, or definitely NOT support him in the general election in November?

Feb. 24-27 2016

Definitely support him    25%
Probably support him    27%
Probably not support him    13%
Definitely not support him    35%
No opinion 1%