Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Jäger deserves a tag for retweeting this.
Bogost:  "Writer & game designer. Director of Film & Media Studies and Professor of Computer Sci & Eng @WUSTL " 
A problem the humanities—and universities in general—haven’t solved: They are playgrounds of the aristocracy that paid a historically temporary visit to populism, which was mistakenly  construed as permanent residency.
2 "historian of social knowledge, modern Europe and US. would rather be outdoors." 
More accurate: the university has long been both playground of the aristocracy (or haute bourgeois) and means for the upwardly mobile to enter the civil service. In Germany the Humboldts represent the former, Fichte the latter. The late-20th Century inflation of fees is novel...

"Who believes in this? –aside from a few big children in university chairs or editorial offices." Max Weber.

The US isn't Germany.  As always: from Brooklyn College students moving to Manhattan, to Harvard grads gentrifying Brooklyn. 

There's no way in hell I should be able to do this. But history is bunk.

Whatever Greenwich Village may once have been or may now be supposed to have been, anyone who has recently strayed down MacDougal Street on a Saturday night knows that now it is a playground. What Coney Island was once to the honest workingman, Greenwich Village is now to the unmarried or ex-married young professional. The Village streets, pads, coffee houses, and bars are jammed with people who look a million times more sensitive, artistic, and "interesting" than William Faulkner or Igor Stravinsky, but who live by teaching economics, analyzing public opinion, writing advertising copy, practicing psychoanalysis, or "doing research" for political candidates. They are not intellectuals, but occasionally dream that they will be. 

And again.

Perhaps the most exciting component of the curriculum was the series of guest lecturers the institute brought to campus. “One hundred and sixty of America’s leading intellectuals,” according to Baltzell, spoke to the Bell students that year. They included the poets W. H. Auden and Delmore Schwartz, the Princeton literary critic R. P. Blackmur, the architectural historian Lewis Mumford, the composer Virgil Thomson. It was a thrilling intellectual carnival. 
...What’s more, the graduates were no longer content to let the machinery of business determine the course of their lives. One man told Baltzell that before the program he had been “like a straw floating with the current down the stream” and added: “The stream was the Bell Telephone Company. I don’t think I will ever be that straw again.” 
...But Bell gradually withdrew its support after yet another positive assessment found that while executives came out of the program more confident and more intellectually engaged, they were also less interested in putting the company’s bottom line ahead of their commitments to their families and communities. By 1960, the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives was finished.
 The author of the New Yorker piece, Nathan Heller, in 2016.

April 2023, NYRB: 
At the English department I chair, our major has grown by more than 40 percent in the last two years. We are being driven to the edge of extinction anyway.

...In their interviews with Heller, English faculty and administrators discuss an array of real issues with an alarming lack of coherence. They try to place blame both for what is happening at their own institutions and for what they consider broader national concerns: Middlemarch is too long for the TikTok generation; K-12 education is the problem; humanists haven’t made a strong enough case for how our areas of study prepare debt-ridden students for jobs; funding has dried up; a fusty curriculum drives students away; television exists.

Much more to the point are Heller’s interviews with students, who explain the fundamental problem quite clearly: universities do not value the humanities. This disregard is demonstrated in most universities’ built environments, real estate investments, hiring practices, staffing ratios, and unwillingness to direct resources toward the humanities even in appropriate balance with the often substantial revenue they bring in. I heard in these young people’s comments a real awareness of the funding priorities of the colleges they attend.

Students are quick to associate those priorities with their job prospects: when it comes to deciding on a major, they sense that their own personal, intellectual, and creative interests don’t really matter at all. As Ben Schmidt, a data analyst and former history professor, put it in a 2018 article on the declining number of humanities majors, “In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, students seem to have shifted their view of what they should be studying—in a largely misguided effort to enhance their chances on the job market.” What faculty and administrators have mistaken for a problem (declining enrollments) with an identifiable cause (take your pick), students correctly see as a story being spun by the universities themselves: this area of study lacks value, is in some sense wrong. That story has become powerful enough to shape their world, restricting the number of paths presented to them as real options. 

And I should have added this

"The sociology of modern knowledge production empowers the scholar over the humanist, and the collective/communal enterprise of scholarship over the inspiration of the individual thinker."

You have that precisely backwards. The humanist is embedded in culture by calling, the mathematician only by default, while embedded by choice in a private world of universals. What would you call the communal enterprise of neoclassical formal economics? Would you call it worldly or unworldly? Formal philosophy is formal economics with no need to ignore evidence.


June 16th, he rt's a link to a statement by the UK Royal Historical Society. I suppose the monarchist trappings could be taken as confirmation of something.

None of these problems can be explained by a decline in student numbers or interest in History, which remain strong. Instead we must look to political decisions to explain this troubling situation. UK universities now operate in a market economy. Institutions are placed in direct competition, with income generation via intake the principal measure of success. The lifting of the student cap in 2015 has established an environment of ‘feast and famine’ across the sector.

Cuts and closures are the starkest manifestation of this environment. But marketisation also brings turbulence and uncertainty to historians in ‘winning’ institutions, required at short notice to deal with sharp, and unpredictable, spikes in student numbers. Across the sector, uncertainty is exhausting, all-consuming, and impedes long-term thinking, planning and the delivery of high-quality teaching.

In the coming months, the Royal Historical Society is undertaking a project to assess the full extent of the losses, risks and concerns that now characterise History in UK Higher Education. We also seek to better understand the personal, institutional and disciplinary impact of change on academic staff, researchers, students and community partners. As is clear, the aftershocks of upheaval are long-lasting and have negative effects on the life of a department well after a programme of change has officially ended.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Milheiser, Jan 11, 2023, responding to a question to anyone on twitter:
 "What's 100% a total scam but we still accept it in society?" 

Milheiser Dec 4 2022 [my highlighting]

The deranged Supreme Court case that threatens US democracy, explained
Moore v. Harper is a test of whether this Supreme Court can ever be trusted with power. 

...Any state constitutional provisions that protect the right to vote, that limit gerrymandering, or that otherwise constrain lawmakers’ ability to skew elections would cease to function. State governors would lose their ability to veto laws impacting federal elections. And state courts would lose their authority to strike down these laws.

He's deleted any reference to judicial review on his tl.
Liberals love benign authoritarianism. The argument is circular: it's benign when they love it.

Leiter would call it "Millian", modeled on the British empire as the British imagined it. Acknowledgment of "perspectivism" or "standpoint epistemology", is just "condescension from below". Taibbi's a putz, but that's another issue. 

Leiter: Mill and Marcuse: "Justifying Academic Freedom", and the rest of us including Palestinians should just shut up.
I just remembered this. It's perfect: Leiter, Mill and Marcuse, Glenn Loury and John McWhorter. 

I've used it before.
This belongs here too. 
Leiter links to Beinart. His response a model of defensive rationalization.

The reason is that the movement against Mr. Netanyahu is not like the pro-democracy opposition movements in Turkey, India or Brazil — or the movement against Trumpism in the United States. It’s not a movement for equal rights. It’s a movement to preserve the political system that existed before Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition took power, which was not, for Palestinians, a genuine liberal democracy in the first place. It’s a movement to save liberal democracy for Jews.

This is mostly true, but also a non-sequitur: even in an apartheid state, the loss of judicial independence can make the place worse, and especially when the courts are the only branch of government which sometimes defend the rights of the victims of apartheid-like policies....

Sunday, February 26, 2023

It was a good idea. 
The show is getting bigger. The installation's a little off but it's ok for now.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Where I was in the 90s.

Continuing, after a fashion.

The photographs come in a bright, nearly fluorescent hue. Their connecting theme is “love.” In a portrait called Love (hands in hair), a woman with reddish hair and shuttered eyes is clutched by a pair of male hands reaching from outside the frame. In another picture a man in a jean jacket dances alone, almost reaching for a nearby hand. In Love (hands praying), a woman with closed eyes folds her hands amidst a crowd of partygoers. As if in a secular ritual, she meditates in the anonymity of the nightclub. The people in the photographs dance to music modeled on noises emitted by the industrial machinery of Detroit and Manchester, the twin birth cities of techno.

In 1989, however—the year in which these photos were taken—the machines are no longer operative. Most of them have downsized or relocated to China, whereas the twin cities of techno have deindustrialized. Traveling through a Chinese megacity some years before, the German photographer Hilla Becher noticed a reassembled copy of a steel mill she once shot in Europe. Now, the youngsters in Wolfgang Tillmans’s nightlife photographs seek to dance away industry, politics and history itself.

Hilla Becher's first visit to China was in 2012, and Vincent Chin wasn't killed because he was Chinese. The American move to China didn't heat up until the 90s. 


Last year I even went to China, to  Beijing, with my son Max, who is now a photographer himself, working alongside his wife. I wanted  to see what the Chinese blast furnaces are like  and discovered that they are just like the ones  here - this is no accident, they were all copied  from the industries in the Ruhr. 

On rave and techno and the collective, and the hive, start here

Jäger is just another kid with nostalgia for a world he doesn't remember, because he wasn't there.

In 1993 I helped David Zwirner move the art in the gallery to a temporary storage while he expanded his space. The two of us, in August, pushing dollies from Greene street to Broome. Brooke Alexander had closed for the month and he gave Zwirner the key. Josh Baer had just closed his gallery on another floor for good, and the new renter was a fashion boutique. Zwirner shrugged. "There's no difference between art and fashion anymore."  I've used that quote before. I'm not sure Jäger knows what it means.

In 1989, when the wall fell, my first response was to say it would be the time to join the CP. The September Group called it quits. I had a sense of humor, and they didn't. On election night 1992 I asked Pierre Trudeau what he thought of Clinton. "He's a Republican".  He shrugged, as Zwirner would a year later. Do I need to add that I wasn't surprised? That I shrugged too? I repeat myself because no one gets the joke.

Jäger. A sentence near the beginning of the piece, cut into the final one, throwing the rest out:

The resultant order, which I’ve referred to as 'hyperpolitics,' presents a challenge.... a world unkind to nostalgics and futurists alike." 

It would be nice to think so.  

The piece is made for the computer voice "listen to this article" option. The same is true for everything at The Point; airport business lounge intellectualism. 

Tillmans' raves. 

The mood could certainly feel liberatory. The release from the ideological churches of the twentieth century was met with a sense of elation, especially by those who sought to remove the strictures of gender and race that had drawn the contours of “organized capitalism” since the Second World War.

Young Israelis in Europe. And every time I hear 'The end of history" I remember "the end of art" and laugh. 

I experienced the modern version of The Floating World for the first time in the late 90's, at a small private party in a rented room on the lower east side. I said to someone it felt like Limbo as an airport lounge in 1974. The soundtrack was Air, and I amused myself a bit more by deciding that Prada was Halston in brown.

The effect is akin to a narcosis that not only slows but regulates motion. It's Chaplin's Modern Times at 5 frames per second, with the gears wrapped in fine silk: aestheticized anesthetic motion. The rhythms, bass and snare and little clicks invite improvisatory response, touches of free will in a rigidly deterministic world. At 1:20 when the strings come in and at 1:29 when they modulate and the plane begins to glide across the screen I get a shiver of aphasia. 
And the the scream at 0:26 is Hitchcock.

I've read bits of Annie Ernaux. Deeply sexual, passive and observant of her own passivity, and of the world; like a call girl; a principled moral conservative. Jäger quotes but doesn't link to Christopher Caldwell in Commentary, and Sam Kriss in First Things, but it would be too much to counter their arguments.
As the American critic Christopher Caldwell pointed out in 2020, the age of post-politics required “dismantling hierarchies, institutions and cultures.” Although presented as an economic imperative, this generated a problem for fiction writers, since “the same hierarchies, institutions, and culture are what novels have always been about,” and post-politics “does not nurture these the way it did in an age of large and loyal families, intertangled commercial enterprises and long-settled communities."
I'm having a flashback
… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse.


Back then, it was not normal for young people to define themselves politically. My friends were fond of making grand statements like “I’m bigger than feminism” or “Politics is for little minds.”

The facebook post is still up.

I had hoped I would never have to write this account. But watching a man who repeatedly groped me, twisted my neck to forcibly kiss me, ignored any attempt I made to stop him,... 

The last paragraph of Kriss's piece.

There will still be a few political weirdos in the new decade we’re entering, and there will still be plenty of outrages and injustices to galvanize them. Against my better judgment, I will be one of those weirdos. If you’re reading this, odds are that you will too. You might be my enemy, but we have this awful thing in common. We will talk about politics at parties long after everyone else has given up. We will write our little articles. We will continue hoping for the next crisis, the next rupture, the next sudden break that puts everything back into question, the next dawn of a different world. And maybe it will happen, some day. But not today.

All the men above are assholes and idiots, and the ladylike passivity of the woman who wrote about Kriss is sad, but still in the line connecting Ernaux and Mary Gaitskill to the author of Cat Person.

"Lying Flat is Justice"  If Jäger were smarter and less serious, more observant, he'd see he has the material for a sharper piece.

This is a good match. I should stack them and blow it up. [I did]

A student of politics reads the "Maastricht treaty" on a beach in Marseille on August 19, 1992, before making her choice for the
upcoming referendum on September 20. Eric Cabanis/AFP via Getty Images

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The experts have spoken

The critic of the PMC defends designers, even if she doesn't "love" them. The critic of expertise defends experts. Rt'd by Jäger, who also rt's an Israeli sociologist hawking a symposium in Jerusalem. East or West? Fucking genius. New tags for Mirowski and Agnotology, because I've said it all before.

The last modernist utopias: Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Noēma from The Berggruen Institute, and Neom: Salafist Star Trek. Star Trek was never a democracy, but they're the good guys. 

Noēma's art. I should add it to my collection of illustration, political fantasies and architectural kitsch. I'll add Daston and Galison, and Eric Heller.

Some fun I delayed having. "The Designer Economy" by Nils Gilman and Yakov Feygin, both previously here: making the case against small business (Feygin), and citizenship (Gilman).

Gilman and Feygin

In a design framework, economic policy focuses on constructing and reaching a specifically envisioned future. This is different from traditional industrial strategy: It doesn’t “pick winners,” but rather pushes government agencies to have a broad awareness of technological and economic trends in order to promote specific potentialities. In contrast to planned economies or developmental states, a Designer Economy’s primary focus is on a dynamically changing future, and it aims to produce tools to enable various actors in the economy to adapt to these changes in a matter that preserves the public’s preferences through iterative experimentation.

From the first link: to a planning paper put of by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Seriously.

The Joint Staff J7 supports the CICS and the Joint Warfighter through joint force development to advance the operational effectiveness of the current and future joint force.

This paper, written by the Deployable Training Division (DTD), helps inform both the joint warfighters and key functions within theJ7, notably lessons learned, doctrine, education, and future joint force development. In addition to this paper, the DTD has also developed an overarching Joint Operations Insights and Best Practices Paper and numerous other focus papers that share insights and best practices for various challenges observed at joint headquarters. All of these papers are unclassified for broad accessibility. I commend these papers for your reading. 

From the second link:  Charles F. Sabel, "Beyond Principal-Agent Governance: Experimentalist Organizations, Learning and Accountability" 


The success of LPF, like the success of similar populist movements that preceded it in Austria, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, raises grave questions about the legitimacy of democratic inputs to public decision making and the efficacy of public action however decided. At the very least these successes signal an impaired responsiveness of the democratic state to its electorate: a democratic deficit. Coming at a time of economic well being, shifts in party allegiance of a magnitude not seen since the 1920s are thus widely and rightly seen as extending beyond democratic criticism of this or that incumbent government into a protest against the way contemporary representative democracy works....

My central claim is that current debate over bottom-up and top- down governance reform—in disregard of the lessons of contemporary, practical success in collective problem solving—ignores important organizational innovations, without which the reallocation of control rights to civil society actors is unlikely to result in the social learning about the effective pursuit of the broad, imprecise goals—‘effective’ or ‘adequate’ education— implied by the turn to service-oriented solidarity. I argue further that these innovative, problem solving institutions, though not intrinsically democratic, can be configured in ways that address familiar problems in representative, deliberative, direct and associational democracy; and that, so configured, they are compatible with the Dutch tradition of sharing democratic sovereignty between parliament and extra parliamentary bodies. The core of the paper discusses the principles informing these new organizations; illustrates their operation as regulatory rule makes and providers of a new kind of public service; and speculatively defends their democratic aptitude in general and in the setting of consensual democracy characteristic of the Netherlands.

The third link is to John Dewey, The Public and its Problems

Gilman and Feygin, further in

Rejecting anti-government rhetoric and instead celebrating competent operators is thus a crucial first step. Managing a successful Designer Economy requires a cadre of experienced, entrepreneurial and independent government officials. Today, however, government service is difficult to enter due to a labyrinth of byzantine rules and processes. Moreover, public servants lack social prestige and are often underpaid relative to what they can earn in the private sector; a McKinsey partner earns much more than a congressional staffer or a Commerce Department GS-15. Many staffers are overworked, underpaid and can’t make ends meet in long-term government service. 

As a recent report by New America found, congressional staffers with specialist knowledge had virtually disappeared; most saw their posts as stepping stones to consulting and lobbying work. This prevents the government from benefiting from institutional knowledge, experimentation and “learning by doing,” which marks out the most successful industrial policy experiences. Increasing government pay in order to recruit and retain talent, therefore, must be central to the project of enabling the Designer Economy.

Government agencies also need explicit, legislated authority to do economic design work. The role of government in the era of the Design Economy is to coordinate between agencies, business and labor to find a consensus on specific futures and agreements on how to get to these goals. In an insightful interview with Ezra Klein, the Roosevelt Institute’s Felica Wong called these “coordination” problems. The federal government must be empowered to override blocking factions, particularly at the state and local levels. For example, the Department of Energy needs more authority to designate new, interstate transmission corridors and, if necessary, build and operate high-voltage inter-regional transmission lines. 

Government analysts need to be trained and empowered to collect and systematize new, granular micro-data on real production processes. Not only has the U.S. government become worse at monitoring and understanding what the real economy looks like and does at the detailed level required for effective design work to take place, it has also lost the ability to flexibly and rapidly make decisions. Streamlining decision-making will allow the government to do more than build or enable the private sector. Instead, it can become a bottleneck detective, finding ways to solve potential problems before they derail efforts to achieve desired goals. This means gathering and sharing information with interested parties — another coordination problem.

Twice they link to Ezra Klein.

A problem of our era is there’s too little utopian thinking, but one worthy exception is Aaron Bastani’s “Fully Automated Luxury Communism,” a leftist tract that puts the technologies in development right now — artificial intelligence, renewable energy, asteroid mining, plant-and cell-based meats, and genetic editing — at the center of a postwork, postscarcity vision.

“What if everything could change?” he asks. “What if, more than simply meeting the great challenges of our time — from climate change to inequality and aging — we went far beyond them, putting today’s problems behind us like we did before with large predators and, for the most part, illness? What if, rather than having no sense of a different future, we decided history hadn’t actually begun?”

Happy talk ordoliberalism? Mr Blandings build his dream state, and his dream body. Even Hollywood has a better understanding of dystopia. And the whole thing is described as a nationalist project, competing with foreign adversaries. Without citizenship? Make up your fucking minds.

Sabel and Joshua Cohen, the political philosopher from "Apple University"

"Global Democracy"


In this Article, we describe an emerging arena of global administration. We claim that this arena, not bounded by a state, raises accountability problems of a kind different from those addressed by conventional administrative law. And we argue that measures designed to address these problems will have potentially large implications for democratic theory and practice.

Our argument starts from the premise – stated here without nuance – that something new is happening politically beyond the borders of individual states and irreducible to their voluntary interactions. To distinguish these developments from what is commonly called "international law and politics," we use the term "global politics." The emergence of global politics is marked by a proliferation of political settings beyond domestic boundaries. This proliferation expands the range of relevant political actors, while shifting our understanding of political units and of relations among them: the emergence of human rights as limits on Westphalian sovereignty was a first step in this shift, but not the last.

"the emergence of human rights as limits on Westphalian sovereignty".  Human rights against democracy. And liberals complain about judicial review. 

Gilman was once a regular reader of this blog, and he followed me on twitter. Until he blocked me.

"How Iran’s religious classes are turning increasingly secular" 

Mohsen, who spoke to Amwaj.media on the condition that his surname be withheld, has led Shiite mourning rituals in the city for two decades. In his assessment, “Around 90% of Shiite ceremonies in Mashhad have turned secular.” In a stark example of the shifting sentiments, he elaborated, “At the ceremonies, we usually invite a cleric to speak about the ordeals and martyrdoms of the [Shiite] Imams, but any cleric who speaks politically and in favor of the Islamic Republic will be kicked out. And this is happening in most of the Shiite ceremonies in the city.”

Mohsen insisted that he and other religious Iranians “are fed up with our religion [being] damaged by the establishment, and we do not want our Shiite ceremonies to be seen as a propaganda tool and representative of the establishment.”

Clashes over the politicization of mourning ceremonies date back to the monarchy. Prior to 1979, supporters of Khomeini held Shiite rituals in which they mostly addressed political issues. In contrast, several groups close to quietist grand ayatollahs who avoided criticizing the Shah’s regime kept their rituals strictly apolitical.

The disagreements reached a peak in July 1978, when Khomeini called for a boycott of religious ceremonies to mark the birthday of the “Hidden Imam.” Against his wishes, groups like the Hojjatieh Society went ahead and commemorated the occasion.

The current Islamist ruling class is aware of the danger that such rituals can pose to their grip on power. For instance, in 2017, Nasser Rafiei—a hardline cleric and supporter of the establishment—emphasized the need for religious ceremonies to be political. In his view, it was “the enemy,” in reference to the west, that wants to keep politics away from Shiite religious ceremonies.

More recently, Ayatollah Rahim Tavakol, a member of the Assembly of Experts—a top council tasked with electing the next supreme leader—last year stated that apolitical ceremonies had negative impacts. These impacts, in the view of Tavakol, include “[supporting] the oppressor, remaining silent in the face of oppression, and being on the false path.”  He further claimed, “Young people go to these ceremonies and are deceived, and after some time, they become indifferent towards the daily issues of society and politics,” whereas non-secular rituals “strengthen the revolutionary spirit of the people." 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

repeat, with images.
Bergman, Rise and Kill First

By mid-September 1981, car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities. One went off in the Fakhani quarter of Beirut on October 1, [NYT 10/2]  killing eighty-three people and wounding three hundred, including many women who were trapped in a fire in a clothing factory owned by the PLO. Another one exploded next to the PLO headquarters in Sidon, killing twenty-three. In December 1981 alone, eighteen bombs in cars or on motorcycles, bicycles, or donkeys blew up near PLO offices or Palestinian concentrations, causing many scores of deaths....

Nabil Ismail/AFP/Getty Images
Nabil Ismail/AFP/Getty Images

A new and unknown organization calling itself the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners took responsibility for all of these incidents. The explosives were now packed in Ariel laundry powder bags so that if the cars were stopped at roadblocks, the cargo would look like innocent goods. The Israelis in some cases enlisted women to drive, to reduce the likelihood of the cars being caught on the way to the target zone.

The car bombs were developed in the IDF’s Special Operations Executive (Maarach Ha-Mivtsaim Ha-Meyuchadim), and they involved the use of one of the earliest generations of drones. These drones would relay the beam that would set off the detonation mechanism of the device. One of Dagan’s local agents would drive the car to the target, under aerial or land observation, park it there, and then leave. When the observers identified the moment they were waiting for, they’d push a button and the car would explode.

Sharon hoped that these operations would provoke Arafat into attacking Israel, 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.

State of Terror: Rayyan Al-Shawaf interviews Rémi Brulin

Rayyan Al-Shawaf: Ronen Bergman focuses on the Israeli politicomilitary establishment’s decisionmaking. However, as you have pointed out, Bergman writes—albeit in an endnote—that the FLLF was “a terrorist organization that Israel ran in Lebanon in the years 1980–1983, and which on its own attacked many PLO members and Palestinian civilians.” Is this acknowledgment significant?

Rémi Brulin: You are correct. Bergman does use the term “terrorist” to refer to the FLLF. The quote that you mention appears in an endnote to the book’s prologue. In another endnote, Bergman writes that, according to a senior Mossad official, “[T]he Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners, a terrorist movement established by Meir Dagan in Lebanon, was responsible for” the bombing of the home of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah in Beirut in March 1985. In his book Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987, Bob Woodward wrote that William Casey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the years in question, had later told him that the CIA and Saudi Arabia were involved in the attack. A total of 83 people, mostly civilians, were killed. A banner stating “Made in USA” was later draped over part of the gutted building. In his book, Bergman suggests that Israel, via the FLLF, was involved.

What is rather striking, and also significant, is that Bergman devotes twelve pages of his book (pp. 234–247) to FLLF operations, yet neither in these pages nor in their endnotes does he use the term “terrorism” or “terrorist” to describe the group’s bombing campaign. Bergman reveals that very senior Israeli army officers—Meir Dagan, Rafael Eitan, and Avigdor Ben-Gal—secretly created the FLLF, a mysterious group that claimed responsibility for dozens of car bombings between 1979 and 1983, in order to “sow chaos” in Lebanon. He describes how then-defense minister Ariel Sharon used the FLLF bombs to provoke the PLO into resorting to terrorism, which would then give Israel an excuse to invade Lebanon in the name of fighting … “terrorism.” In just two weeks in the fall of 1981, Sharon’s car bombs killed at least 100 civilians in what were clearly indiscriminate attacks. Yet, despite the focus and subtitle of his book, Bergman avoids the crucial question of whether this secret FLLF campaign was an example of Israeli “targeted assassinations” or of something else entirely. 

Nabil Ismail/AFP/Getty Images

Bari Weiss defends her interests as a woman and a lesbian, and she defends her interests as a Jew. Ta-Nehisi Coates defends his interests as a black man. You need to click the links to get the joke.

Most people aren't smart enough to see beyond their own assumptions, but sometimes their assumptions are right. That's the only good argument for free speech.

Getty Images

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The video's updated.

One of the men in the videos is on the board of the local chapter of NOW.
It's depressing, but it continues the delusions of bourgeois self-regarding "progressivism". "The lowest of the low" is the new normal; "failure" is the new success; "anti-social" is the new social. That they're all pathetic isn't the issue; the issue is their need to impose their fantasies on others, and the response of their enablers.

Liberal individualism is stupid. But I'm wondering if "communitarianism" was just a way to reconstruct community after individualism won out over republicanism: a Hobbesian tribalism on the frontier, a community of individualists who are stuck with each other. It's Puritan. References to the "revival of communitarianism" are absurd. It's a modern invention. Republicanism doesn't destroy the private realm; back to Arendt again.  All of this shit—not just the last video—is masturbation in public.  
in re: masturbation in public. I said it all before.
The experience of the sex act is social, formal, communicative, and if the world is seen as the social realm, world-creating. The moment of orgasm as reflex is aformal, asocial (isolate), ecstatic and if the world is seen as social, world destructive. Sex as performance is a form of communication; orgasm is artless. The pretense of an ‘art’ of orgasm is vulgar. The popular understanding of Pollock’s work is as an ‘act’ of ‘expression,’ as orgasm not structure. Mondrian saw structure. Duchamp thought nothing about cutting off a few inches of Mural (1943) because it was too big for Peggy Guggenheim’s wall. And Pollock didn’t complain. The what and how of communication for Pollock’s work are complex; as complex in their way as the question of orgasm in Beethoven.

What Rosen is debating with Brendel then is the increasing presence of instrumentalism in form: the growing tendency to craft to reflex that reaches its apogee in the illustration and the false community of the fetish: of pure instrument. Wagner is preaching to the choir (and Pollock is in there somewhere); Gerome is a soft-care pornographer playing to an audience, Newton and his audience are almost interchangeable, his form of communication identification with the masturbator which is to say barely communication at all, one step away from the final shift, the final descent from interpersonal communication to masturbation in public.

If communication is a circuit, reflex is a short. The fantasy of the premature ejaculator is a state of eternal orgasm. The mania for progress becomes no more than simply the desire to go faster. If knowledge is measured in conclusions not in processes then the shortest distance between two points, the short circuit, is the obvious choice. This is the crux of the struggle over the human imagination that begins in the 18th century.

Someone should publish it. I've given up trying.

Monday, February 20, 2023

"Children as young as three, already living as the opposite gender with a changed name, appearance and pronouns, were referred to the service."

Sunday Times Feb 12 [links to archive.ph, Archive Today]

Former clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London, have detailed how some “incredibly complex” children were placed on medication after one face-to-face assessment, despite many having a variety of mental health or family background problems.

More than a third of young people referred to the service had moderate to severe autistic traits, compared with fewer than 2 per cent of children in the general population. Some identified not just as a different gender, but a different ethnic background, such as Japanese or Korean. One young person had “three different alter egos, two of whom spoke in an Australian accent”.

In the book, former clinicians at the Gids service speak for the first time in detail of their “regret” about the practice of routinely referring under-16s for puberty-blocking and cross-hormone treatment with no concrete data on the long-term effects. They compare it to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal of the 2000s and the doping of East German athletes in the 1960s and 1970s.

The claims come in Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes, which will be released this month.

Barnes, a BBC Newsnight journalist, spoke to dozens of clinicians who worked at Gids, governors at the trust and children and their parents who used the service.

She details how:

• Children as young as three, already living as the opposite gender with a changed name, appearance and pronouns, were referred to the service.

• The clinic accounted for almost 30 per cent of the Tavistock NHS Trust’s income by 2021 and staff said it resembled a “tech start-up” with regular trips to international conferences.

• In 2016, Susie Green, former head of the pro-trans charity Mermaids, emailed Dr Polly Carmichael, who was then the head of Gids, asking to cut the time children had to spend on puberty blockers before irreversible cross-sex hormones could be introduced.

• Staff raised concerns when, on behalf of families, Green requested children’s clinicians to be changed to someone believed to be more likely to prescribe hormones.

• In her first interview since winning an employment tribunal case after she raised concerns about the safety of children, the trust’s head of safeguarding, Sonia Appleby, said anyone who spoke out was “demonised”.

• Former therapists involved in prescribing puberty blockers now admit they do not know “how many children [have since] changed their mind” on transitioning....

This video is from 2018. It's now 2023.  Again: children who receive cross-sex hormones before they produce their own will be sterile. The long term-effect of blockers is unknown.

Diane Ehrensaft.

From the link above: Hadley Freeman with Hannah Barnes
Clinicians were seeing increasingly mentally unwell kids, including those who didn’t just identify as a different gender but as a different nationality and race: “Usually east Asian, Japanese, Korean, that sort of thing,” Dr Matt Bristow, a former Gids clinician, tells Barnes. But this was seen by Gids as irrelevant to their gender identity issues. Past histories of sexual abuse were also ignored: “[A natal girl] who’s being abused by a male, I think a question to ask is whether there’s some relationship between identifying as male and feeling safe,” Bristow says. But, clinicians point out, any concerns raised with their superiors always got the same response: that the kids should be put on the blockers unless they specifically said they didn’t want them. And few kids said that. As one clinician told Barnes: “If a young person is distressed and the only thing that’s offered to them is puberty blockers, they’ll take it, because who would go away with nothing?”

Then there was the number of autistic and same-sex-attracted kids attending the clinic, saying that they were transgender. Less than 2 per cent of children in the UK are thought to have an autism spectrum disorder; at Gids, however, more than a third of their referrals had moderate to severe autistic traits. “Some staff feared they could be unnecessarily medicating autistic children,” Barnes writes.

There were similar fears about gay children. Clinicians recall multiple instances of young people who had suffered homophobic bullying at school or at home, and then identified as trans. According to the clinician Anastassis Spiliadis, “so many times” a family would say, “Thank God my child is trans and not gay or lesbian.” Girls said, “When I hear the word ‘lesbian’ I cringe,” and boys talked to doctors about their disgust at being attracted to other boys. When Gids asked adolescents referred to the service in 2012 about their sexuality, more than 90 per cent of females and 80 per cent of males said they were same-sex attracted or bisexual. Bristow came to believe that Gids was performing “conversion therapy for gay kids” and there was a bleak joke on the team that there would be “no gay people left at the rate Gids was going”. When gay clinicians such as Bristow voiced their concerns to those in charge, they say it was implied that they were not objective because they were gay and therefore “too close” to the work. (Gids does not accept this claim.)

What if becoming trans is — for some people — a way of converting out of being gay? If a boy is attracted to other boys but feels shame about it, then a potential way around that is for him to identify as a girl and therefore insist he’s heterosexual. This possibility complicates the government’s plan — which has cross-party support — for including gender alongside sexuality in the bill to ban conversion therapy, if enabling a young person to change gender is, in itself, sometimes a form of conversion therapy.

I ask Barnes what she thinks and she answers with characteristic caution: “It’s a bit surprising that the NHS has commissioned one of the most experienced paediatricians in the country to undertake what appears to be an incredibly thorough review of this whole area of care, and not wait until she makes those final recommendations before legislating,” she says, weighing every word. (Dr Hilary Cass’s final review is due later this year.)...

Saturday, February 18, 2023

A detransitioned woman explains why she wanted to be trans. She was raised to think only men are masculine, and only men are sexuality attracted to women.

I jumped it forward a bit. Just push play and watch a few minutes.

Carol, @SourPatches2077 on Twitter.

Friday, February 17, 2023

He really is dim. It's not like the US didn't threaten to "bring an end to it". 
"It's like arguing with Zionists."

A Stanford endocrinologist advocating for the castration of 10 year olds. 

Cooper's spent the last few days focusing on the fantasies of a subset of a subset, while downplaying the disaster in Ohio. Contempt for the trash is the corollary of the intellectual liberal imperative—Moyn and Balkin—for civility among the elite. The intellectuals play footsie with fascists while the middling pundits piss on their followers.
[I misread the @USDOT tweet. That was stupid. It happens] 

Sirota's new rag has been good. Jeet Heer is a putz, but he's smart enough to keep his priorities straight.
"Buttigieg’s Paralysis After the East Palestine Disaster Is a Gift to the Hard Right" 

The Big Short hasn't aged well; moralizing stockbrokers doesn't work in the long run. Someone needs to make a feature length mashup of The Big Short and Margin Call. That would be an interesting project.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

reworked. Lee Fang's "even-handed" podcaster is a fascist.

I shouldn't be surprised this is still up
A good fit.
Fang praises a podcaster: "I was blown away by his humanistic and even-handed series on the founding of Israel."  The podcaster replies, "Thanks Lee".

Podcaster Darryl Cooper, "Martyr Made". 
Pedro’s tribute to General Francisco Franco, who, with a little help from a few friends, saved Spain from communists (for a while, at least). Ordered a hard copy, I’m not waiting for the online version.
Spain 1936. The left has launched a crusade against Christians, burning churches and murdering clergy. They attempt to overthrow the government more than once before eventually winning a rigged election. The campaign of violence against its enemies escalates, sometimes with help from the police. Liberals do nothing to stop the left. Faced with no alternative, nationalist forces stage a desperate uprising to save Spain and are eventually led by a reluctant general: Francisco Franco. My tribute to Franco in  @EuroConOfficial.

A small leap: Cooper's a racist and an anti-Semite; his "even-handed" discussion of the founding of Israel is founded on the belief that Jews aren't European, even though Zionism was explicitly an ideology of conquest by the battered children of Europe. "The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies. We want to emigrate as a respected people

cf. Liberia

Cooper cohosts a podcast, The Unravellingwith Jocko Willink. "Jocko teams up with Darryl Cooper, creator of The MartyrMade Podcast, to pull on threads connecting the contemporary world to our shared past."  Willink, ex-Navy Seal and professional alpha male, is a co-founder of Echelon Front. Fang has a history defending Mike Cernovich, so it makes sense.

With Fang, at best, it's just the desperate need to be in the middle: the autistic corollary to black and white is a pathological grey. But like Jilani he's less concerned by anti-black racism. Asian anti-black racism gets less attention, but it's a given. Jews and Asians get respect from white nationalists. Muslims not so much. Half the history of the Reconquista is forgotten. It goes on from there to Holocaust revisionism.
For Jäger and Leusder, and scholastic intellectuals, the process is aestheticized: political theology is more important than mere politics.

In the beginning was the word.

"The history of events merely provides a series of pegs to hang  the history of ideas on, and it is the letter that is of real interest. So, the time has come to turn to that history of ideas."  

Materialism for thee; Idealism for me. It's all so offensive. 

Follow the bouncing ball from Jager and "Franz Pokorny", to Lomez, Steve Sailer and Amy Wax, to First Things.

Steve Sailer ties all of the above, from Fang's fascists to Jäger's.

   Amy Wax
The AFA letter,  however, neglects the fact that some of the allegations concern not extramural speech, but speech and actions in the classroom; and some concern extramural speech on matters that impact the functioning of the school.  In the former category is the fact that Professor Wax invited an infamous (and unabashed) racist, Jared Taylor, to speak in her class and have lunch with her students.  It is dubious that the decision to host Mr. Taylor in her classroom can be defended on academic freedom grounds, as a professionally sound choice given academic standards in law teaching. 
Jonah Gelbach, via Leiter  and again, on Jon Haidt and Amy Wax.

I've rewritten everything above, so this has become secondary. But it's annoying. 

Jager rt's a friend, quoting Charles Maier's Among Empires
—“How not to die”: In I. M. Coetzee's dark Vision from Waiting for the  Barbarians.- “One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of  Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day  it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of  Cities, the rape of populations. pyramids of bones. acres of desolation.—

The obvious association in 2022 is Israel, but not for a white European. It's too close to home. Necessity is the mother of elision.

According to a famous anecdote, Sraffa responded to Wittgenstein’s claim by brushing his chin with his fingertips, which is apparently readily understood as a Neapolitan gesture of skepticism, and then asked, “What is the logical form of this?”

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship. 

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.  

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.” 

Yesterday, Herald reporter Laurel J. Sweet agreed with Smith’s account, but said she did not hear Scalia utter the obscenity. 

In his letter, Scalia denied his gesture was obscene and claimed he explained its meaning to Sweet, a point both she and Smith dispute. 

Scalia went on to cite Luigi Barzini’s book, “The Italians,” which describes a seemingly different gesture - “the extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin” - and its meaning -  “ ‘I couldn’t care less. It’s no business of mine. Count me out.’ ” 


A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday. 

Was Sraffa thrilled by the impact that his ideas had on, arguably, the leading philosopher of our times (“the God” whom Keynes met on the 5:15 train)? Also, how did Sraffa arrive at those momentous ideas in the first place? I asked Sraffa those questions more than once in the regular afternoon walks I had the opportunity to share with him between 1958 and 1963. I got somewhat puzzling answers. No, he was not particu- larly thrilled, since the point he was making was “rather obvious.” No, he did not know precisely how he arrived at those argu- ments, since—again—the point he was making was “rather obvious.”
Sraffa was very fond of Wittgenstein and admired him greatly.8 But it was clear that he was not convinced of the fruitfulness of conversing ceaselessly with the genius philosopher. When I arrived in Trinity in the early fifties as a student, shortly after Wittgenstein’s death, I was aware that there had been something of a rift between the two. In response to my questions, Sraffa was most reluctant to go into what actually hap- pened. “I had to stop our regular conversa- tions—I was somewhat bored,” was the closest to an account I ever obtained. The events were described, however, by Ray Monk (1991), in rather greater detail, in his biography of Wittgenstein (p. 487):
In May 1946 Piero Sraffa decided he no longer wished to have conversations with Wittgenstein, saying that he could no longer give his time and attention to the matters Wittgenstein wished to discuss. This came as a great blow to Wittgenstein. He pleaded with Sraffa to continue their weekly conversations, even if it meant staying away from philosophical subjects. “I will talk about anything,” he told him. “Yes,” Sraffa replied, “but in your way.”
There are many puzzling things in the Sraffa-Wittgenstein relations. How could Sraffa, who loved dialogues and arguments, become so reluctant to talk with one of the finest minds of the twentieth century? Even initially, how could the conversations that were clearly so consequential for Wittgenstein, which made him feel “like a tree from which all branches have been cut,” seem “rather obvious” to this economist from Tuscany? I doubt that we shall ever be sure of knowing the answers to these questions.

I think they're "rather obvious". But I feel a little sorry for Wittgenstein: the abandoned lover.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower:  Beating the shit out of your wife takes a lot out of a man.
I never had a source assaulted in front of me until today when an Israeli soldier who stopped my interview did this with a Palestinian peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron. I can't stop thinking how dehumanizing the occupation is on the young soldiers charged with enforcing it.

The idiot rt'd by Cooper

I am fucking begging all of you to take three seconds to look at the profiles of the people who you are retweeting about the East Palestine derailment

Will Bunch in The Inquirer. It's full of links, but I've stripped them all except one.

If I were in charge of CNN or MSNBC or even Fox News (since they program for Donald Trump’s “forgotten Americans” of the Rust Belt), I’d devote a lot less hot air to the balloon invasion and cover the heck out of the Feb. 3 derailing and fiery crash of the chemicals-laden Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, the massive “controlled detonation” that the railroad claimed would burn off the chemicals and let them reopen the money-producing line, and the fate of thousands of residents forced to evacuate, now terrified the homes they’re returning to are unsafe.

“We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” a former battalion chief in Ohio’s nearby Youngstown Fire Department with expertise on hazardous materials named Sil Caggiano told a local news station, WKBN.

He was giving voice to the anger and fear felt by residents of the town of roughly 4,700 about 20 miles south of Youngstown (near where the Pennsylvania Turnpike crosses into Ohio) who’ve been told by state and federal officials and Norfolk Southern that their homes are not polluted. This is hard for residents to believe when they see fish and frogs dying in a nearby stream and say the air smells like “a mixture of nail polish remover and burning tires.” 

"DC Draino", is a rabid Trumper, a Christian fascist, a racist and anti-Semite, etc. And for the moment I don't fucking care. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

More than once I've said that arguing with liberals about trans issues is like arguing with liberals about Zionism. They don't like Bari Weiss, but they agree with her about the founding of Israel and expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians. I don't.

This is on Bari Weiss's page. She didn't write it.

I am a 42-year-old St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders. My worldview has deeply shaped my career. I have spent my professional life providing counseling to vulnerable populations: children in foster care, sexual minorities, the poor. 

For almost four years, I worked at The Washington University School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases with teens and young adults who were HIV positive. Many of them were trans or otherwise gender nonconforming, and I could relate: Through childhood and adolescence, I did a lot of gender questioning myself. I’m now married to a transman, and together we are raising my two biological children from a previous marriage and three foster children we hope to adopt. 

All that led me to a job in 2018 as a case manager at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital, which had been established a year earlier. 

The center’s working assumption was that the earlier you treat kids with gender dysphoria, the more anguish you can prevent later on. This premise was shared by the center’s doctors and therapists. Given their expertise, I assumed that abundant evidence backed this consensus. 

During the four years I worked at the clinic as a case manager—I was responsible for patient intake and oversight—around a thousand distressed young people came through our doors. The majority of them received hormone prescriptions that can have life-altering consequences—including sterility. 

I left the clinic in November of last year because I could no longer participate in what was happening there. By the time I departed, I was certain that the way the American medical system is treating these patients is the opposite of the promise we make to “do no harm.” Instead, we are permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.

Today I am speaking out. I am doing so knowing how toxic the public conversation is around this highly contentious issue—and the ways that my testimony might be misused. I am doing so knowing that I am putting myself at serious personal and professional risk.

Almost everyone in my life advised me to keep my head down. But I cannot in good conscience do so. Because what is happening to scores of children is far more important than my comfort. And what is happening to them is morally and medically appalling.

The Floodgates Open

Soon after my arrival at the Transgender Center, I was struck by the lack of formal protocols for treatment. The center’s physician co-directors were essentially the sole authority.

At first, the patient population was tipped toward what used to be the “traditional” instance of a child with gender dysphoria: a boy, often quite young, who wanted to present as—who wanted to be—a girl. 

Until 2015 or so, a very small number of these boys comprised the population of pediatric gender dysphoria cases. Then, across the Western world, there began to be a dramatic increase in a new population: Teenage girls, many with no previous history of gender distress, suddenly declared they were transgender and demanded immediate treatment with testosterone. 

I certainly saw this at the center. One of my jobs was to do intake for new patients and their families. When I started there were probably 10 such calls a month. When I left there were 50, and about 70 percent of the new patients were girls. Sometimes clusters of girls arrived from the same high school. 

This concerned me, but didn’t feel I was in the position to sound some kind of alarm back then. There was a team of about eight of us, and only one other person brought up the kinds of questions I had. Anyone who raised doubts ran the risk of being called a transphobe. 

The girls who came to us had many comorbidities: depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, obesity. Many were diagnosed with autism, or had autism-like symptoms. A report last year on a British pediatric transgender center found that about one-third of the patients referred there were on the autism spectrum.

Frequently, our patients declared they had disorders that no one believed they had. We had patients who said they had Tourette syndrome (but they didn’t); that they had tic disorders (but they didn’t); that they had multiple personalities (but they didn’t). 

The doctors privately recognized these false self-diagnoses as a manifestation of social contagion. They even acknowledged that suicide has an element of social contagion. But when I said the clusters of girls streaming into our service looked as if their gender issues might be a manifestation of social contagion, the doctors said gender identity reflected something innate.

To begin transitioning, the girls needed a letter of support from a therapist—usually one we recommended—who they had to see only once or twice for the green light. To make it more efficient for the therapists, we offered them a template for how to write a letter in support of transition. The next stop was a single visit to the endocrinologist for a testosterone prescription. 

That’s all it took.

Read the whole thing. It gets a lot worse.