Friday, July 31, 2020

"It is no secret that contemporary philosophy is..." etc.
The discovery of experience continues apace.
Wherein Henry gets gets credit for describing what I tried for years to teach him.
His sister's still way ahead. And he's just as much a boy as ever.

Cooper admitted recently that he read Ayn Rand when he was young. And Cowen's still in the mix as someone worth responding to. Preadolescence is a hell of a drug.

Sunday, July 26, 2020


Thomas Crow, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris
From the introduction.
The success of the Salon as a central Parisian institution, however, had been many decades in the making. Its actual origins lay in the later seventeenth century, but these had not been particularly auspicious. The Academy’s initial efforts at public exhibition had been limited to a few cramped and irregular displays of pictures, first in its own meeting rooms and later in the open arcades of the adjoining Palais Royal. The disadvantage of the latter practice, according to an early account, was that the artists “had the constant worry of damage to the paintings by the weather, which pressed them often to withdraw the pictures before the curiosity of the public had been satisfied.” By 1699 the Salon was more comfortably installed inside the Louvre, and Parisians were spared the sight of academicians hustling their canvases out of the rain. By all accounts, that exhibition was a popular success, but it was almost forty years before the Salon became a permanent fixture of French cultural life. 
After 1737, however, its status was never in question, and its effects on the artistic life of Paris were immediate and dramatic. Painters found themselves being exhorted in the press and in art-critical tracts to address the needs and desires of the exhibition “public”; the journalists and critics who voiced this demand claimed to speak with the backing of this public; state officials responsible for the arts hastened to assert that their decisions had been taken in the public's interest; and collectors began to ask, rather ominously for the artists, which pictures had received the stamp of the public’s approval. All those with a vested interest in the Salon exhibitions were thus faced with the task of defining what sort of public it had brought into being.   
This proved to be no easy matter, for any of those involved. The Salon exhibition presented them with a collective space that was markedly different from those in which painting and sculpture had served a public function in the past. Visual art had of course always figured in the public life of the community that produced it: civic processions up the Athenian Acropolis, the massing of Easter penitents before the portal of Chartres cathedral, the assembly of Florentine patriots around Michelangelo’s David— these would just begin the list of occasions in which art of the highest quality entered the life of the ordinary European citizen and did so in a vivid and compelling way. But prior to the eighteenth century, the popular experience of high art, however important and moving it may have been to the mass of people viewing it, was openly determined and administered from above. Artists operating at the highest levels of aesthetic ambition did not address their wider audience directly; they had first to satisfy, or at least resoh e, the more immediate demands of elite individuals and groups. Whatever factors we might name which bear on the character of the art object, these were always refracted through the direct relationship between artists and patrons, that is, between artists and a circum- scribed, privileged minority.   
The broad public for painting and sculpture would thus have been defined in terms other than those of interest in the arts for their own sake. In the pre-eighteenth-century examples cited above, it was more or less identical with the ritualized assembly of the political and/or religious community as a whole—and it could be identified as such. The eighteenth-century Salon, however, marked a removal of art from the ritual hierarchies of earlier communal life. There the ordinary man or woman was encouraged to rehearse before works of art the kinds of pleasure and discrimination that once had been the exclusive prerogative of the patron and his intimates. There had been precedents for this kind of exhibition, of cou rsc, in France and elsewhere in Europe: displays of paintings often accompanied the festival of Corpus Christi, for example, and there were moves underway in many places to make royal and noble collections available to a wider audience.‘ But the Salon was the first regularly repeated, open, and free display of con- temporary art in Europe to be offered in a completely secular setting and for the purpose of encouraging a primarily aesthetic response in large numbers of people. 
There was in this arrangement, however, an inherent tension between the part and the whole: the institution was collective in character, yet the experience it was meant to foster was an intimate and private one. In the modern public exhibition, starting with the Salon, the audience is assumed to share in some community of interest, but what significant commonality may actually exist has been a far more elusive question. What was an aesthetic response when divorced from the small community of erudition, connois- seurship, and aristocratic culture that had heretofore given it meaning? To call the Salon audience a “public” implies some meaningful degree of coherence in attitudes and expec- tations: could the crowd in the Louvre be described as anything more than a temporary collection of hopelessly heterogeneous individuals? This was the question facing the members of the art world of eighteenth-century Paris. Many thought so, but the actual attempt caused them endless difficulty.
Gabriel-Jacques de Saint-Aubin, Staircase of the Salon. 1753. Etching
Here is one representative eflort, written in 1777 by a veteran social commentator and art critic, Pidansat dc Mairobert. He begins with his physical entry into the space of the exhibition (fig 2) [above]:
You emerge through a stairwell like a trapdoor, which is always choked despite its considerable width. Having escaped that painful gauntlet, you cannot catch your breath before being plunged into an abyss of heat and a whirlpool of dust. Air so pestilential and impregnated with the exhalations of so many unhealthy persons should in the end produce either lightning or plague. Finally you are deafened by a continuous noise like that of the crashing waves in an angry sea. But here nevertheless is a thing to delight the eye of an Englishman: the mixing, men and women together, of all the orders and all the ranks of the state. . . . This is perhaps the only public place in France where he could find that precious liberty visible everywhere in London. This enchanting spectacle pleases me even more than the works displayed in this temple of the arts. Here the Savoyard odd-job man rubs shoulders with the great noble in his cordon bleu; the fishwife trades her perfumes with those of a lady of quality, making the latter resort to holding her nose to combat the strong odor of cheap brandy drifting her way; the rough artisan, guided only by natural feeling, comes out with a just observation, at which an inept wit nearby bursts out laughing only because of the comical accent in which it was expressed; while an artist hiding in the crowd unravels the meaning of it all and turns it to his profit.
The source of this passage is Mairobert’s clandestine news-sheet, the “English Spy,” hence the conspicuous English references. It appears as part of a lengthy and sober history of official art in France and of the public exhibitions of the Academy (as good as airy the eighteenth century produced). His half-comic observations of the Salon crowd are meant to carry serious meaning and can serve to introduce the principal themes of this book.
I should have read it years ago. But so far at least, he's not connecting art and culture and the economic modes that underlie them. I've read well beyond this point but this sticks with me.
Visual art had of course always figured in the public life of the community that produced it: civic processions up the Athenian Acropolis, the massing of Easter penitents before the portal of Chartres cathedral, the assembly of Florentine patriots around Michelangelo’s David— these would just begin the list of occasions in which art of the highest quality entered the life of the ordinary European citizen and did so in a vivid and compelling way. 
"Art of the highest quality..." Athenian theater was made for a broad audience.

I began the megillah in the mid 80s in the middle of the lit-crit wars. This is a good book. Footnoted in an earlier version.

Worlds Apart: The Market and the Theater in Anglo-American Thought, 1550–1750, Cambridge, 1986
Drawing on a variety of disciplines and documents, Professor Agnew illuminates one of the most fascinating chapters in the formations of Anglo-American market culture. Worlds Apart traces the history of our concepts of the marketplace and the theatre and the ways in which these concepts are bound together. Focusing on Britain and America in the years 1550 to 1750, the book discusses the forms and conventions that structured both commerce and theatre. As marketing practice broke free of its traditional boundaries and restraints, it challenged longstanding popular assumptions about the constituents of value, the nature of identity, the signs of authenticity, and the limits of liability. New exchange relations bred new legal and commercial fictions to authorise them, but they also bred new doubts about the precise grounds upon which the self and its 'interests' were to be represented. Those same doubts, Professor Agnew shows, animated the theatre as well. As actors and playwrights shifted from ecclesiastical and civic drama to professional entertainments, they too devised authenticating fictions, fictions that effectively replicated the bewildering representational confusions of the new 'placeless market'.
The passage below was once part of my discussion of the 19th century Salon, conflating high art with serious literature. But by the logic of high art, serious literature –as serious fiction– is an oxymoron.
Pornography and Art
How were the conventions of Pornography -a genre usually defined by content (the explicit depiction of sexual activity) and intention (to arouse the male reader)- related to the production and interpretation of art?" (Robin Sheets "Pornography and Art", Critical Inquiry, winter, 1988)
In response to Steven Markus' assumptions. in The Other Victorians that pornography is "[Hostile] to language" and "antithetical to the great Victorian Novels" Robin Sheets dissects a poem by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, to expose the influence of a pornographic structure the larger scale of literature. She quotes Susan Keppeler:
In terms of representation and with respect to the objectification of the female gender, the pornographer only reproduces, on a less elevated level and within exclusive circulation, what the artist does in the esoteric levels of high culture. (The Pornography of Representation, Minneapolis, 1986)
Sheets then goes on at great length to argue that this relation exists, and I am not going to argue since I think she's right. But that being said, I'll add a caveat: if pornographic influence is apparent in "High" art, so what? I'm perfectly willing to accept that Markus and others who want art to exist above the world have something to lose by allowing such influences the acknowledgement they deserve. But outside of this well deserved criticism of the "Defenders of High Art" what's the point? Is it that there is no difference between pornography and the high art of a society dominated by white men? If this is her argument, as it is that of Andrea Dworkin, whose work she uses an "an interpretive model" I'll withhold my assent. In 1987 I witnessed a debate along similar lines at a conference on Romanticism at Indiana University. It struck me as so odd that for a year or so afterwards I tried to write an article on that incident alone, but I gave up. It fits perfectly here, however. The argument was about Wordsworth, and happened during a question and answer session after a reading by David Simpson, a professor at Colorado, and Robert Woof, a Wordsworth scholar. Both men were British, but Simpson prefers being an expatriate. In a bit of nasty and unwarranted condescension during their exchange, Simpson responded to Woof's criticism by saying that people like Woof were what made him leave England. Simpson had argued that Wordsworth's politics were at all times extremely confused, and were based on very bourgeois suppositions. He had no understanding of politics, and English Romanticism did not prepare him for the rough and tumble, the inherent sloppiness, of revolution. This he thought was the reason for Wordsworth's later conservatism. These were all good points, but Simpson went further, arguing that this jeopardized Wordsworth's entire literary endeavor. Woof came to Wordsworth's defense, arguing for the respect due the author's literary achievement, in effect for a transcendent ahistorical valuation of his work.

If we place Markus and Woof sided by side, and do the same for Sheets and Simpson, we see the correlation. Both Markus and Woof want to protect literature from something they see as outside it, and Sheets and Simpson want to storm the barricades. For both groups the argument is over ideas of agency, though for the more conservative scholars the issue of agency itself is distasteful: they would prefer to be above the fray. But "radical" academics like Simpson are on the same ground. How is it possible for Wordsworth were something he wasn't? He was a bourgeois romantic, and if his politics weren't particularly useful, his mind was subtle, and he has given us a window into the imagination of an articulate and observant 19th century man. There is no irresolvable paradox between enjoyment and criticism.

Why do "leftist" professors of literature, in arguing for a history and literature of agency conveniently forget the Marxist dictum that economics precedes culture? Why the unjustifiable obsession with art as cause? If it weren't for such forced ahistoricism nothing would stand in the way of a critical but sympathetic exegesis of the work of Wordsworth, Rosetti, or anyone else whose work were interesting enough to warrant it. There seems to be de-facto conspiracy of ideological concerns, however, that treats all art as illustration.
Later I figured out that of course all philosophy is illustration, and I dropped the references to the now forgotten arguments about literature.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

10 hour days. 6 days a week. No time for this shit.
MADISON, Wis. — Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.

It might seem like a small gesture, but it’s overwhelming to the staff at Ian’s on State Street — a campus staple mere blocks from the Capitol — where in the last few days, they’ve fielded calls from concerned citizens of 14 countries, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia looking to donate money to provide free pizza to the Wisconsinites who have congregated here.

On Saturday alone, Ian’s gave away 1,057 free slices in their store and delivered more than 300 pizzas to the Capitol itself.

By 2 p.m. local time Sunday, they’d given away 351 slices and sent countless other full pies to the rotunda, where protesters have been gathering since well before noon. As a few locals stood waiting for their slices, an Ian’s staffer went to the chalkboard hanging behind the register and wrote, “Turkey” in big block letters and co-workers expressed a sense of disbelief.

“I don’t think we started it,” said Ryan O’Connor, a sophomore at a local technical school who works the register at Ian’s. “We made a post to our Facebook page because of the volume of calls we already had been getting unprompted.”

O’Connor said Ian’s got its first call Thursday when a mother of a University of Wisconsin student called and offered to donate $200 to help feed the people her daughter told her had flooded the Capitol. Since then, the outpouring of money from all over the world has put the pizza-makers into overdrive.

The blackboard behind the counter lists the “countries donating” as “Korea, Finland, New Zealand, Egypt, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Germany, China, England, Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy” and has the abbreviations for all 50 states listed below, with donating states circled.
Woke/Pander 1947

Saturday, July 18, 2020

I was banned at Crooked Timber bit by bit. First by Bertram in late 2007 and then Farrell in early 2008. At some point after that  they had an email exchange (according to Daniel Davies) and voted to ban me entirely.  Some comments were deleted, others "disemvoweled".  My older comments were left up. I kept commenting for few years under various pseudonyms. When they caught me some comments were removed, others made illegible.

Bertram didn't remove my comments from the post above. He just said that was the end. Farrell disemvoweled them. At some point in the last few years they changed their minds, and all of those are now back. I The bracketed "aeiou" is is a remnant of the code that restored them.

I'm not happy with my tone in a lot of them. I try too hard and enjoy myself too much. The anger was justified and my opinions haven't changed. Theirs have been shifting for as long as I've followed them.

But they've restored a lot of comments so I can't say any of it is about me.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Jilani is on a first name basis with Bari Weiss, and with Ungar-Sargon. Rationalists rationalize
"universal norms", in polite society. Rationalists vs empiricists, philosophers vs lawyers, anti-politics vs politics: math is clean; language is dirty. Jilani thinks Chomsky won. He didn't. But Foucault couldn't see beyond the romance of irrationalism and individualism. He's still a philosopher, a neoliberal an ironic inquisitor fantasizing an extended mind.

Adversarialism is partial consciousness, divided-consciousness. Du Bois' double-consciousness isn't a problem; it's a necessity. Lawyers are paid not to care if their client is guilty. Their job is to represent their interests.  Frederick Douglass was a supporter of John Brown. I'll take Iran over Israel and Soliemani over Henry Kissinger. And the US almost certainly signed off on the UAE deal. Jilani is the loyal opposition. I'm betting his father was a cop, ex-US military or both.

,  ,  

But I would merely like to reply to your first sentence, in which you said that if you didn’t consider the war you make against the police to be just, you wouldn’t make it.

I would like to reply to you in terms of Spinoza and say that the proletariat doesn’t wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proletariat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power. And because it will overthrow the power of the ruling class it considers such a war to be just.

Yeah, I don’t agree.

One makes war to win, not because it is just.

I don’t, personally, agree with that.

For example, if I could convince myself that attainment of power by the proletariat would lead to a terrorist police state, in which freedom and dignity and decent human relations would be destroyed, then I wouldn’t want the proletariat to take power. In fact the only reason for wanting any such thing, I believe, is because one thinks, rightly or wrongly, that some fundamental human values will be achieved by that transfer of power.
In the past seven years, S.S.C. has become perhaps the premier public-facing venue of the “rationalist” community, a group of loosely affiliated writers and respondents who first coalesced, in the mid-two-thousands, on sites dedicated to the prospect that, with training and effort, our natural cognitive biases can be overcome. Many of these people work in or around Silicon Valley—as mathematicians, programmers, or computer scientists—and their common interests tend to include artificial intelligence, transhumanism, an appreciation for the subtleties of statistical thinking, and the effective-altruism movement.

Alexander’s role in the community is difficult to encapsulate—an e-book of his collected S.S.C. posts runs to about nine thousand pages—but one might credit him with two crowning contributions. First, he has been instrumental in the evolution of the community’s self-image, helping to shape its members’ understanding of themselves not as merely a collection of individuals with shared interests and beliefs but as a mature subculture, one with its own jargon, inside jokes, and pantheon of heroes. Second, he more than anyone has defined and attempted to enforce the social norms of the subculture, insisting that they distinguish themselves not only on the basis of data-driven argument and logical clarity but through an almost fastidious commitment to civil discourse. (As he puts it, “liberalism conquers by communities of people who agree to play by the rules.”) If one of the bedrock beliefs in Silicon Valley is that the future ought to be determined by a truly free market in ideas, one emancipated from the influence of institutional incumbents and untainted by the existing ideological polarities, Slate Star Codex is often held up as an example of what the well-behaved Internet can look like—a secret orchard of fruitful inquiry.

Alexander’s appeal elicited an instant reaction from members of the local intelligentsia in Silicon Valley and its satellite principalities. Within a few days, a petition collected more than six thousand signatories, including the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, the economist Tyler Cowen, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the cryptocurrency oracle Vitalik Buterin, the quantum physicist David Deutsch, the philosopher Peter Singer, and the OpenAI C.E.O. Sam Altman. Much of the support Alexander received was motivated simply by a love for his writing. The blogger Scott Aaronson, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote, “In my view, for SSC to be permanently deleted would be an intellectual loss on the scale of, let’s say, John Stuart Mill or Mark Twain burning their collected works.”

...Alexander has described himself as an “asexual heteroromantic,” and has also practiced polyamory, which is mentioned on the blog, and lives in some form of intentional community. He takes an annual survey of his readership and frequently reports on the patterns he discovers, especially when they diverge from expectations. “The average IQ is in the 130s,” he wrote, in 2016. “White men are overrepresented, but so are LGBT and especially transgender people.”

On the blog, Alexander strives to set an example as a sensitive, respectful, and humane interlocutor, and even in its prolixity his work is never boring; the fiction is delightfully weird and the arguments are often counterintuitive and brilliant. He has frequently allowed that a previous position he’s taken is wrong—his views of trans people are a major example—and has contributed to the understanding, among people who like to be right about everything, that the gracious acceptance of one’s own error (or “failure mode”) ought to be regarded as a high-status move rather than something to be stigmatized. Alexander’s terminal commitment, he has said repeatedly, is to the “principle of charity,” a technical term he has borrowed, from the analytic philosophers W. V. O. Quine and Donald Davidson, and slightly repurposed to mean, as Alexander once put it, “if you don’t understand how someone could possibly believe something as stupid as they do, that this is more likely a failure of understanding on your part than a failure of reason on theirs.”

Many rationalist exchanges involve lively if donnish arguments about abstruse thought experiments; the most famous, and funniest, example, from LessWrong, led inexorably to the conclusion that anyone who read the post and did not immediately set to work to create a superintelligent A.I. would one day be subject to its torture. Others reflect a near-pathological commitment to the reinvention of the wheel, using the language of game theory to explain, with mathematical rigor, some fact of social life that anyone trained in the humanities would likely accept as a given. A minority address issues that are contentious and at times offensive. These conversations, about race and genetic or biological differences between the sexes, have rightfully drawn criticism from outsiders. Rationalists usually point out that these debates represent a tiny fraction of the community’s total activity, and that they are overrepresented in the comments section of S.S.C. by a small but loud and persistent cohort—one that includes, for example, Steve Sailer, a peddler of “scientific racism.”

...The mind-set of logical serenity, for all of the rationalists’ talk of “skin in the game” and their inclination to heighten every argument with a proposition bet, only obtains as long as their discussions feel safely confined to the realm of what they regard, consciously or otherwise, as sport. The sheer volume of Alexander’s output can make it hard to say anything overly categorical (epistemic status: treading carefully), but there is some evidence to support the idea that he, like anyone, is wont to sacrifice rigor in moments of passion. (The rationalists might describe the relationship as inversely proportional.) One of Alexander’s most notorious essays was a thirteen-thousand-word screed called “Untitled,” a defense of Scott Aaronson, the Austin computer scientist and rationalist fellow-traveller. Aaronson had written that the charge of “male privilege” obscures and demeans the suffering of nerds in the sexual marketplace, and had been subject to online scorn by some Internet feminists. Alexander, moved to anger by Aaronson’s plight, rebukes the feminists. 
What's not mentioned in the piece: Aaronson writes that guilt made him once consider medical castration as a cure. The link also includes Aaron Swartz.

Senior investment bankers don't care what others think of them and don't see their work as part of their identities, according to a study from Queen Mary University of London.

While many of us search for meaning in our professional lives, none of the bankers interviewed for the study attached any personal value to their work. Instead, the ambition to make money allowed the interviewees to effectively bypass any concerns about incompatibility between their work activities and sense of self.

So extreme was this disassociation that the researchers invented a new term: teflonic identity manoeuvring, a process to avoid any difficult encounters or experiences 'sticking'.

Each of the six investment bankers were interviewed between 10 and 12 times, over an 18 month period.

Co-author Professor Maxine Robertson, based at QMUL's School of Business and Management, comments: "Investment bankers work in difficult, demanding and often sexist environments. We'd expect to find at least some evidence of anxiety, concern about being 'out of sync' with one's values, and discomfort among women with displays of overt sexism.

In fact, we found none of these things. The group was entirely immune from any association between their personal identity and their work. We found that making money, and the motivation of making more, relegated other issues to the point of insignificance."
Rationalism against empiricism.
"Eosphoros elsewhere identifies her/himself as a "Trans Mexican" and as a "White Mexican."
On Storify: "I Literally Do Not Understand Non-Utilitarian Morality" 
at the link: the videographer at Mizzou who screamed about free speech is autistic, racist, and later came out as trans.

Trannies and incels are rationalists. Fascism is utopian. Utopians are fascist.
In the end it all dovetails. It always will.

2021-Siskind's history of support for scientific racism, "human bio-diversity", and the far right. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

in re: any discussion of the "Overton Window".
The top image is from 1986. The second is my improvement. Neither the original nor Overton's reflect back on the designers, separating "us" from "them".

When I read this I wasn't writing here much. It seems timely.
Brulin at Mondoweiss
Over the following 3 years, hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were killed, and many more wounded, by explosive devices hidden in baskets, on bicycles or mules, in cars or trucks. After each attack, calls to the media were placed claiming responsibility in the name of the FLLF. Palestinian and Lebanese officials repeatedly insisted that the FLLF was merely a fiction intended to hide the hand of Israel and its Christian rightist allies. Israeli officials rejected such accusations, insisting rather that the bombings were part of an internecine war amongst rival Arab factions. Several of these bombings are included in the  RAND and START  “terrorism databases.”

...In February 2018 Ronen Bergman, at the time the senior correspondent for military and intelligence affairs for Yedioth Ahronoth, published Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassination.

...As Rise and Kill First documents in detail, the FLLF bombings were an integral part of this Israeli strategy of provocation. Indeed, the new Defense Minister immediately decided to “activate” the FLLF operation and sent Eitan as his personal emissary to “keep an eye” on the clandestine operation. Remarkably, at the time Eitan was serving as Begin’s “counterterrorism” adviser.

Sharon “hoped that these operations would provoke Arafat into attacking Israel,” Bergman writes, “which could then respond by invading Lebanon, or at least make the PLO retaliate against the Phalange, whereupon Israel would be able to leap in great force to the defense of the Christians.” 
“By mid-September 1981,” he explains, “car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities.”

Several of these bombings were covered in the US press at the time.

On September 17, 1981, a car bomb exploded outside of the command center shared by the PLO and its Lebanese leftist allies in the port city of Sidon, killing over 20, most of them women and children who lived in nearby apartment buildings, John Kifner reported in the New York Times. 
Two days later, another “terrorist bomb” killed four in a crowded movie theater in West Beirut, Kifner reported. The FLLF claimed responsibility, but Palestinian officials immediately insisted that the group is “fictitious,” a ploy used by Israel to hide its hand in these attacks.

On October 1, a car exploded near PLO offices in a crowded street in Moslem west Beirut, killing 90, as Kifner and the UPI reported. Several other vehicles loaded with explosives were found and defused in Beirut and Sidon “in what was intended as a devastating blitz against Palestinians and leftist Lebanese militiamen by rightist terrorists.”

The FLLF claimed responsibility, but a PLO official blamed Israeli agents for planting the bomb in “sort of a secret war” against Palestinians. Lebanese Prime Minister Chafik Wazzan agreed. Because the cease-fire was preventing Israel from “persisting in its acts of destruction and killing in Lebanon through its air force or other attacks,” he argued, it was “looking for other tactics, the cowardly ones to which it is currently resorting either directly or through agents.’ Israeli officials rejected such claims, insisting instead that the bombings were part of a ‘war among gangs which make up the PLO.”
Confirmed. Jewish identity politics (at the expense of non-whites)  is the only identity politics that's acceptable.

NYT’s Bari Weiss Falsely Denies Her Years of Attacks on the Academic Freedom of Arab Scholars Who Criticize Israel

‘NYT’ free speech advocate Bari Weiss reportedly helped bring down a Columbia dean over ‘intellectual heresy’

Chloe Valdary: Christian, black and a rising star of pro-Israel campus activism

Christians United for Israel Leader John Hagee confirms Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic
Lowry and McWhorter against free speech
With all the people mocking Williams, no one has posted any rebuttals on his timeline.  Arguments are reduced to mocking people behind their backs. It's so easy to humiliate these idiots, but no makes the minimal effort.

I'm banned from twitter. That's my excuse.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

So who's reading me and looking for Mizoguchi?
He has a tag now.

You're welcome.
Johanna Olson-Kennedy
It's one minute long. The last sentence is the kicker.

Double Mastectomy at 15, Detrans 16-Year-Old Now Seeks Reversal
Penny was just 11 years old when she decided that people online were right — that she was “transgender.” At 13, she was prescribed hormone blockers, and by 15, she’d had a double mastectomy. Now, at 16, she’s raising money on gofundme for a breast reconstruction.
Diane Ehrensaft [dead link. now here]

Sources and more from Kathleen Stock.

I'm surprised she didn't sign the Harper's letter, but she supports it. Like Williams and every other signer who claims minority status, she forgets that none of them were allowed in "reasoned discourse" until recently, and Betty Friedan opposed the "lavender menace" as a threat to feminism. Now they all support the integrity of the institutions from which they were excluded. The link just above: "An angry thread directed towards North American "progressive" academic philosophers."
Ad infinitum: academic philosophy is one the problems.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Moralists are conservative. Not all conservatives are moralists.  I didn't think Taibbi was quite this stupid.
Nothing remotely offensive in Rowling's letter.
Months later, I compounded my accidental ‘like’ crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn’t believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.

I mention all this only to explain that I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called cunt and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them.

What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well.
Magdalen Berns

I've covered all this before,  but the angry liberal crowd is annoying. Kathleen Stock has her own problems.

Beinart 2010.
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.
Cooper will listen to a Jew who's come to terms with the obvious before he'll listen to a Palestinian.
Carlstrom is American but he got the fuck out. He writes for The Economist, which as AbuKhalil never tires of pointing out is honest compared with the American press. Capitalism is internationalist.
And what is the connection between an abusive cop killing George Floyd Leo Frank in Minneapolis Atlanta and alleged racism anti-Semitism at Princeton Harvard? There isn't any, of course.
Leiter of course.

Academic freedom means a tenured professor can join the KKK or the American Nazi party without fear of losing his job.
A Federal judge has ruled that City College of New York may not punish a professor for writing that "on average, blacks are significantly less intelligent than whites."
Joining either in grad school would make it hard to get that job. Racism is no longer normative behavior. And I'm waiting for the lawsuit arguing that a black student cannot expect fair grading from an openly racist professor. The answer would be to remove the professor from all required courses.

Kendi is a neoliberal authoritarian.
“It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.”
He's hardly alone.

Always remember that Leiter is against free speech.

"The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures."

etc. etc.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

From my sister on FB. Her father in The Hill
I watched the process long ago and close up. During the Vietnam war, I worked for Hubert Humphrey, then Vice President of the United States. Even when President Johnson was angry with him, Humphrey was regularly briefed by a CIA agent assigned to our office and, for a while, by a military aide who later became a three-star Marine general. Humphrey also had a foreign policy expert, a Harvard Ph.D., on staff who read classified documents daily. What they all read was not an algebra book with balanced equations the end of a chapter — it was the best that could be gleaned from both open and covert agents around the world, from their transmissions and in-depth research. Agents often worked at great danger to provide the president with information so that he could take informed action. They did not supply bathroom reading.
Goldwater's finance chair pops up occasionally on my tl. Other connections.
McWhorter is opposed to "recreational" discussion of race and IQ. It has no place in Time Magazine or The Atlantic and should be left to academia. Recreational discussion of the differences between men and women are fine.

He's an idiot.


He doesn't understand freedom of speech. Or maybe, as an academic, he agrees with Rauchway.
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.
McWhorter's piece in National Review
Intelligence researchers, writing in dense, obscure academic journals, will continue to quietly present data that show that race influences the heritability of IQ to certain degrees; others will present data in disagreement. I hope they ultimately settle on a verdict that environment really does entirely trump the heritable portion of the IQ difference; possibly they will not. However, in the wider world, I see no reason that this research should be “faced” and subject to ongoing “debate.”...

Back to hunches and predilections. I surmise that in a future America, if ever fewer black people are poor — and when, as part of its eternal transformation, black culture moves ever farther from its roots in the oral mindset forged in a rural, preliterate context — inequities between black people and others will decrease to the point that if it turns out that there really is an inherited IQ deficit, it will qualify as a peculiar fact ultimately of little interest, seeming unconnected to anything about black people in the moment. The IQ difference will be about as interesting as African-descended people’s genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance or lesser amounts of bodily hair.

That’s hypothetical, of course — but what isn’t hypothetical is that, in our times, there is no apparent benefit to dwelling on the IQ gap. The burden is on those who claim otherwise to make their case.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

How Netflix Beat Hollywood to a Generation of Black Content
In the summer of 2015, Black employees at Netflix produced a memo and PowerPoint presentation to make the case that the company was missing an opportunity with Black audiences. They argued in the documents, which I obtained, that Netflix risked missing a boom defined by “Empire” at Fox and “Black-ish” and “How to Get Away With Murder” on ABC. At the time, the memo estimated, only about two million Black households were subscribing to Netflix — 5 percent of its total subscribers. It said that Black households were a $1.4 billion revenue opportunity and that few of Netflix’s top 100 shows, popular across other groups, were resonating with Black audiences. The memo cited “the (lack of) depth in our Black content catalog,” and said Netflix was spending more money on programming for British people and anime fans than for Black Americans.

They made their arguments to Mr. Sarandos and his team in a conference room full of executives in the second half of 2015, two people who were there said. Crucially, they showed statistics suggesting that licensed Black content was, in the company’s terminology, “efficient,” meaning that it was driving above-average viewership for every dollar spent.
see below, etc.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Corey Robin
Why would a liberal opposed to the Hobbesian vision of absolute power resort to such a Hobbesian style of argument? Because Montesquieu, like Hobbes, lacked a positive conception of human ends, true for all people, in which to ground his political vision. Montesquieu’s liberalism was not the egalitarian liberalism of the century to come, nor was it the conscience-stricken protoliberalism of the century it had left behind. Unlike Locke, whose argument for toleration was powered by a vision of religious truth, and unlike later figures such as Rousseau or Mill, whose arguments for freedom were driven by secular visions of human flourishing, Montesquieu pursued no beckoning light.
Osita Nwanevu quotes David Brooks
The American dream of equal opportunity, social mobility and ever more perfect democracy cherishes the future more than the past. It abandons old wrongs and transcends old sins for the sake of a better tomorrow. This dream is a secular faith that has unified people across every known divide. It has unleashed ennobling energies and mobilized heroic social reform movements. By dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism, you trap generations in the past and destroy the guiding star that points to a better future.
“Excessive realism”—a remarkable phrase in the service of a remarkable argument.
Count me in favor of excessive realism. Nwanevu is still more interested in "Truth".

Nwanevu restates Brooks' title blankly –“Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White”– all of them blind to the irony of a self-identified white man claims a right to return to the Middle East.

Watching high-achieving children of dark skinned immigrants, Nwanevu and Jilani, debating and celebrating the American Dream
The word “liberalism” has grown many bizarre and contradictory appendages and meanings over the years, particularly in the United States, but the original ideas central to it are fairly clear. Liberalism is an ideology of the individual⁠. Its first principle is that each and every person in society is possessed of a fundamental dignity and can claim certain ineradicable rights and freedoms. Liberals believe, too, in government by consent and the rule of law: The state cannot exercise wholly arbitrary power, and its statutes bind all equally.

Overall, the liberal ideal is a diverse, pluralistic society of autonomous people guided by reason and tolerance. The dream is harmonious coexistence. But liberalism also happens to excel at generating dissensus, and some of the major sociopolitical controversies of the past few years should be understood as conflicts not between liberalism and something else but between parties placing emphasis on different liberal freedoms⁠—chiefly freedom of speech, a popular favorite which needs no introduction, and freedom of association, the under-heralded right of individuals to unite for a common purpose or in alignment with a particular set of values. Like free speech, freedom of association has been enshrined in liberal democratic jurisprudence here and across the world; liberal theorists from John Stuart Mill to John Rawls have declared it one of the essential human liberties. Yet associative freedom is often entirely absent from popular discourse about liberalism and our political debates, perhaps because liberals have come to take it entirely for granted.
No mention of freedom of wealth and property, and libertarianism, the thread that links most of the people he's talking about.
The word “liberalism” has grown many bizarre and contradictory appendages and meanings over the years, particularly in the United States, but the original ideas central to it are fairly clear. 
They were never clear, or non-contradictory.
Within the present economy, more and more companies are beginning to make strategic and superficial concessions on race and other issues. How important can a movement be, it’s often been asked, if the most heinous corporations and institutions in the world can glom onto it and earn praise for meaningless statements and gestures?
They're not meaningless as all. Racism was once good for business, and now it's not.

Nwanevu has the most detailed LinkedIn page I've ever seen, and it's up to date. He got 710 on his English SAT and was a "Peer Trainer" with the ADL.
Jilani likes to point out the Nigerians are the most successful immigrant community in the US.

Jilani, and Williams quoting Julian Benda
Yes, you can work with people for years without drinking with them on the weekends. Black people work with racists.  Jews work with anti-Semites.

All told, liberal society in the U.S. is, at best, just over half a century old: If it were a person, it would be too young to qualify for Medicare.
According to his LinkedIn page, Nwanevu maxed out every AP test but World History.  And in 2012 he was an intern for Tim Kaine.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

From Star Wars to Star Trek
I wrote about the enduring radicalism of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and what it seeds in its premise--the idea that without greed and scarcity, there are inner and outer worlds to explore in freedom...

i fucking loved TNG and how gentle and kind everyone was and how enthusiastic about my nascent Trekkie journey... it reminded me of the post-scarcity world of the enterprise-D
Eoin Higgins defends the looting of shops, but not presumably Hollywood sound-stages, or maybe Hollywood homes. Talia Lavin wants to defund the police but fantasizes a benign universalist military, Trump's "Star Force" by Gene Roddenberry.

The only interesting things about the remodeled shows was the transition in Jewish characterization from Vulcan to Ferengi and the insinuating Jesuitical sleaze of the Vorta.

Angry bourgeois left-liberals celebrate that adolescent antics of "autonomous zones". Like Occupy Wall St, the same old hippie utopian shit. The maturity of Wisconsin is forgotten. And the critical response is lead by the same boosterish defenders of America and Americanism.

By coincidence I just rewrote a bit near the end of the manuscript, adding the reference to Paul Romer.

The theory of The Extended Mind says that since we orient ourselves in the world by means of objects in the world, our minds themselves extend outward. In the words of Andy Clark of the University of Edinburgh, the human mind has never been “bound and restricted by the biological skin-bag.”[i]  Hatred of the physical self is one of the founding precepts of futurism in the computer age, but in this new fantasy of  hypertrophied individualism, not only do we find “the other” in ourselves, we find the world.  I’ve parodied it a few times, in the characters a of jaded professor answering an enthusiastic student, and the same student with his girlfriend who’s lost patience.

"Put your cell phone on my desk. [crushes the cell phone with a hammer] Now put your hand on the desk."
"No baby... please... I understand you... you're a part of me! I have an extended mind!"

This fantasy relates directly to Actor Network Theory and Bruno Latour’s “Collective”, a self expanded not only to the world around it but to the world as a whole. Latour’s fantasy is of an extended, universal, benign self. It’s rhetoric, not logic, but it’s the rhetoric of expansion when humility is if anything the rhetoric of reticence.  His collective includes non-voting members, obliterating distinctions central to self-government, a fitting parallel to Paul Romer’s idea of Charter Cities.[ii] If we’re all equal, some are more equal than others.  Why not imagine ourselves as humanists once did, as small, with burdens of both responsibility and tolerance? But all humility being false –Derridian ostentation– the problem remains. In the end there can be no humanism without irony. Saying “I love you” means nothing absent the agreement of another human being.  The other is the chimera in the mind of an adolescent boy who talks endlessly about himself while claiming to be talking about the girl of his dreams. All of these philosophies, in the name of the primacy of ideas and theory and the self-regarding optimism of their authors, ignore the practice of adversarialism in daily life, from the schoolyard to the theater of politics and law, all built in the tacit admission that all that is fully common in the human world is form.

Technocracy demands that the majority replace the world of experience, of conflicting obligations judged by each of us as individuals, with an inflexible model of rules: all of us limited to an identical internally consistent ideology of self.  The model is authoritarian.  

[i] Andy Clark, Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence, OUP 2003
quoted in John Sutton, "Exograms and Interdisciplinarity: History, the Extended Mind, and the Civilizing Process", in The Extended Mind, MIT Press, 2010
[ii] Sabastian Mallaby, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty”, The Atlantic, August 2010

Saturday, July 04, 2020 has been hounding me to start paying. If I were an academic or if my name were something more common I wouldn't bother but I put the thing up there hoping people would read it, and they were offering half price to find out who my readers were.

I was sort of shocked. I don't care about Peter Ludlow; he probably searches for his name. But there are people I was happy to see, and readership has picked up over the last few months. The site records if someone read 5 pages or 150, came by once or three times, or downloaded it.  I'd asked Joseph Koerner to look at it if he had time. Thomas Crow read it last week. How did he find it?  Some other major players. A historian responsible for the US Pavilion at the Biennale. A Professor of European Thought at UCL. Someone with a long history at the BFI. An old friend of an old friend, mentioned and quoted in the piece. New readers almost every day. That's hope I guess.

I've sent a few polite notes out asking for comments from people who I know read the whole thing.  I'm not expecting much.