Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sex, Sport, and Why Track and Field’s New Rules on Intersex Athletes Are Essential
Last week, track and field’s world governing body limited entry into women’s events to athletes who have testosterone levels that are capable of being produced solely by ovaries.

These rules apply across the board to athletes however they presented at birth. Advocates for intersex and transgender athletes have vigorously attacked the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, but they are an extraordinary compromise for women’s sports, including for traditional feminist proponents of equal access to sports for girls and women, guaranteed in the civil rights legislation known as Title IX.

Understanding the rules and why they make sense is hard. They are based in biology people don’t know or don’t like to talk about and, let’s be honest, at least in some circles, they’re politically incorrect. They force us to talk about women’s bodies when it is increasingly taboo to do so, and they run counter to the movement that seeks to include transgender and intersex people in social institutions based on their gender identity rather than their biology.
via Leiter, who calls it "interesting and sensible", rather than simply "right".

Transhumanism and Transgender

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bertram again.
I know you’ve all been waiting expectantly …. My book Do States Have the Right to Exclude Immigrants? is published in the UK today by Polity Press (those of you in North America will have to wait until Wiley publish it in July). The book challenges the assumption that lies behind most debates on immigration, namely that states have a discretion to do pretty much as they like and may set their policy according to the interests of their own citizens.

The book has three chapters....
The first commenter nails it. “This sounds like a job for InnatelySolomonicBourgeoisMan.”

one repeat among others: Bertram on Wolfgang Streeck.

Compare, now, Varoufakis on Italy.
Had President Mattarella refused Mr Salvini the post of Interior Minister, on the basis that he rejects such a monstrous project, I would be compelled to support him. But, no, Mr Mattarella had no such qualms. Not even for a moment did he consider vetoing the formation of a 5S-Lega government on the basis that there is no place in a European country for scenes involving security forces rounding up hundreds of thousands of people, caging them, and forcing them into trains, buses and ferries before expelling them goodness knows where.

No, Mr Mattarella vetoed the formation of a government backed by an absolute majority of lawmakers for another reason: His disapproval of the Finance Minister designate. And what was this disapproval based on? The fact that the said gentleman, while fully qualified for the job, and despite his declaration that he would abide by the EU’s eurozone rules, has in the past expressed doubts about the eurozone’s architecture and has favoured a plan of euro exit just in case it is needed. It was as if President Mattarella were to declare that reasonableness in a prospective Finance Minister constitutes grounds for his or her exclusion from the post! 
Barrons: Italy Without the Euro Would Not Be Argentina or Turkey—It Would Be the U.K.
Take out Greater London—the prosperity of which depends to an uncomfortable degree on servicing oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union—and the U.K. is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.
Venezuelan refugees are a bigger and bigger issue in Colombia and elsewhere. Migrants from Zimbabwe are threatened in South Africa. I've heard nothing, ever, from Bertram and his ilk about the rights of Palestinian refugees, long term residents in Lebanon and Jordan, or about Syrian refugees in those states now. Bangladesh is struggling with the Rohingya. Oxbridge, or European, technocratic universalism is a form of exceptionalism.

Linked in the repeat above, Adam Tooze reviews Streeck's How Will Capitalism End? in the LRB
The weird geometry of Streeck’s Staatsvolk-Marktvolk juxtaposition points to an inconsistency at the heart of his agenda. When Streeck says he wants to put society in control he can expect general agreement. This, indeed, is pure Habermas, reasserting the lifeworld against the system. It is the boilerplate of social democracy. But the question it dodges is the all-important one: who or what is ‘the social’? The disagreement between Habermas and Streeck, put in Habermas’s terms, is whether to move up and forwards to a future cosmopolitan order, or down and backwards to the nation. But as Streeck himself asks when he has his critical sociology hat on, what about class divisions within the social, whether at the local, national or European level? In some of the best passages in How Will Capitalism End? Streeck explains that the distinction between ‘society’ and ‘economy’ that has structured the discipline of sociology, the dyad that made it possible to speak so confidently of putting ‘society’ in charge of the ‘economy’, was in fact an artefact of the peculiar class balance of the 1950s and 1960s. Streeck’s entire narrative rests on the claim that this class balance was ruptured in the 1970s. Thatcher let the cat out of the bag with her declaration that ‘there is no such thing’ as society, just ‘individual men and women and … families’. To which the response of critical theory should not be a pantomimic ‘Oh yes there is and it should be in charge,’ but to ask what configuration of social forces made it possible for Thatcher to make that claim and how might it be reversed.
Sebald. The inability to mourn, to be fully human. Streeck is trying to describe, hoping for, a normal Germany, to match Greece, Italy et al.  Tooze promotes a crap universalism.

Adam Tooze "holds the Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University and serves as Director of the European Institute...."
Travel Partnership
New York is home, but once you are bitten the Wanderlust never dies, and Adam is a regular guide on historical and culinary tours in Europe organized by the exclusive tour operator Conley & Silvers. Our featured tour in 2017 is Wine Roads and War Stories – a luxurious trip through Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy. Plans for the future include Switzerland and the Italian lakes and historic Spain.
"The Hamptons is not a defensible position... Very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you."

Blyth

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A new tag for Deleuze. I should've done it long ago.
For all I've written, about the Baroque, narrative, Modernism, Mannerism and the fading of the ideal, I've never read The Fold.
The decadence of mannerism presents as the self-narrativizing of a concrete idealism, attempting to inoculate itself against increasingly dominant narrative (relativist) culture. Mannerism is the model of aristocratic art in an age of incipient democracy. The baroque is the same model of conservatism in the age of a fully ascendant democracy: the age of theater.
I referred to it in passing, but it belongs here and I've never bothered to do it.  Now that I'm reading it, it's everything I assumed and more. All I have to do is put in a few references.  He imagines he's creating concepts but he's following a path.

Philosophers are so predictable.  That they insist on seeing themselves as apart from other writers of fiction is more absurd as time goes on. As always, for philosophers and theologians, history is bunk.

Historians win. Vesely Chapter 4, p. 176
The most significant change in the representation of reality took place in the period traditionally associated with the formation and development of modern science and with the beginning of its dominant role in modern culture. Though a connection between the two is plausible, it could be misleading if by "science" we understand the context-free, mathematically structured knowledge that was developed later within new disciplines generally called "natural science." The science of the transitional period between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth is instead closely linked with philosophy, metaphysics, theology, and, in a less obvious sense, with the culture as a whole.1

The transitional period overlaps significantly with the period generally termed "Baroque," and the science of this era unquestionably shares many of the characteristics of Baroque culture. We don't usually think of prominent figures such as Sir Isaac Newton or Christiaan Huygens as Baroque scientists, yet we would probably agree that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. the great philosopher and mathematician who was involved in a serious metaphysical and theological argument with Newton, is a Baroque thinker par excellence. Architecture was similarly involved in these issues. The works of Christopher Wren, Claude Perrault, and Guarino Guarini represent not only different tendencies in Baroque architecture but also different trends in Baroque science. The affinity between science and Baroque culture hints at deeper dimensions of representation, not yet fully acknowledged.

Because we usually see Baroque science as an independent domain of knowledge, we tend to overlook the fact that science was then an integral part of the general intelligibility of culture and that it becomes autonomous or independent only under particular and more precisely defined conditions. Indeed, such conditions had never existed before, and their emergence was one of the main characteristics of the transitional period. They were created in unique historical circumstances, by attempts to over-come a deep cultural crisis. I shall say more about that process later. In the meantime, it is important to describe the tendencies that shaped the transitional period as a whole. If we look at the politics, philosophy, literature, visual arts, and everyday life of that time, we find a common search for order and certainty in an environment dominated by fragmentation, relativism of values, skepticism, and pessimism. The radicality of the response, which was based on a dogmatic faith in the mathematical nature of the world order, created for the first time in human history a mode of representation that could claim both that it was fully independent and. at the same time, that it could be universally applied. Because any representation, despite its claims to universality, is inevitably partial, there is always a residuum of reality left out, which has to define its own mode of representation. The result is a duplication that may best be described as "divided representation." A classic example of divided representation is the double standard of truth that has plagued the history of modern science and theology. In architecture, divided representation finds its first clear manifestation in Claude Perrault's distinction between positive and arbitrary beauty, a division that foreshadowed later tensions and conflicts between experience, based on the continuity of tradition, and artificially constructed systems. More recently, divided representation reveals itself as a painful conflict between primary cultural values and technology, which is governed by economic imperatives.
continuing 

Monday, May 14, 2018

As usual for me it's less about the the things themselves then the changes they mark, changes in the meanings of words, of liberalism, in America and in NYC.  My arguments about language, and Israel/Palestine, have been consistent for decades. The pedants who claim always to be standing on solid ground have never noticed the ground shifting, and them drifting with it.

Still a bit shocking.


NYT Opinion I Helped Start the Gaza Protests. I Don’t Regret It.
RAFAH, Gaza — The seed that grew into Gaza’s Great Return March was planted Dec. 9, just a few days after President Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinians long have held onto the dream of Jerusalem as our own capital, or at least as a shared capital in a country that offers equal rights to everyone. The feeling of betrayal and distress in Gaza was palpable. To clear my head, my friend Hasan and I took a walk along the border, which we do every now and again.

“There lies our land,” I said to Hasan, as I looked at the trees on the other side of the barbed-wire fence that confines us. “It’s just a few kilometers away from here.” And yet, because of that fence and the soldiers who guard it, it is so far away. Most people my age have never been permitted to leave Gaza, since Egypt controls the southern land exit and Israel restricts access to the north — as well as forbids use of our sea and airport (or at least what’s left of it after three wars).

That thought led to a wish expressed on Facebook. And it struck such a chord with people in Gaza that it set off a movement that culminated in the historic protests that have taken place over the last month. Tragically, Israel reacted even more brutally than I expected — and I’ve lived through three of its wars. The latest estimate of the number of protesters killed is 104; more than 50 died just on Monday. Thousands more have been injured. But our voices needed to be heard, and they have been.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

updating
College-educated Americans speak about the economic problems of the working class in terms of trends that can be seen in tables and graphs. Those on the left criticize the federal minimum wage as being too low, while those on the right bemoan the erosion of work incentives. But the people who are experiencing these adverse economic trends express themselves differently, using a moral language that is often rooted in attitudes about work and race.

This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont in her book “The Dignity of Working Men.” She found that white working-class men often define their self-worth through their ability to lead disciplined, responsible lives...
This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont...

Obviously, it wasn't. And the premise, the first paragraph, is obscene.

history, and some fun.

I made a few glib comments recently about sociology, talking to a historian of 19th century Germany, and he agreed without caveat.  I've blamed Weber for modern journalism and gotten smiles, a better response now than a few years ago.

The blank naiveté at the core of modern social science has always annoyed me. I've documented it at it's worst but haven't picked it apart.
...the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things.
The passage that sentence appears in makes the point but it's not strong enough.

Arendt hated social science. She's the heir to the humanist tradition in an anti-humanist age, but fighting for it rather than merely acknowledging its fading. And her work has some of the weakness of writing for function.

Scientific American: Who Speaks Up in the Face of Uncivil Behavior?
On the one hand, you might hypothesize that people who are more aggressive or hostile by nature are more likely to openly challenge a stranger. On the other hand, speaking out against injustice could be seen in a more positive light, as an act of maturity. Emerging research supports the latter idea—that people who stand up to incivility have a strong sense of altruism, combined with self-confidence. Understanding what motivates these heroic individuals could lead to more effective ways of curbing everyday immoral behavior.
"Emerging research" confirms what is, or was common knowledge. Social science research is full of this crap, the product of a refusing to engage fully with a given situation. The passive observer is simply a note-taker, as if note-taking means objectivity. The result in fact is lazy, flabby, passive subjectivity, and a weakened flabby science.

Persuasion persuades
In a peer-reviewed study we published this month, we find op-eds do change minds. After reading opinion pieces, we found people were far more likely to agree with the author’s point of view.