Biomedicine facing a worse replication crisis than the one plaguing psychology.
That may be so, but I’m still convinced that psychology has a huge advantage over cancer research, when it comes to self-diagnosis. You can see it in the way each field has responded to its replication crisis. Some psychology labs are now working to validate and replicate their own research before it’s published. Some psychology journals are requiring researchers to announce their research plans and hypotheses ahead of time, to help prevent bias. And though its findings have been criticized, the Reproducibility Project for Psychology has already been completed. (This openness to dealing with the problem may explain why the crisis in psychology has gotten somewhat more attention in the press.)

The biologists, in comparison, have been reluctant or unable to pursue even very simple measures of reform. Leonard Freedman, the lead author of the paper on the economics of irreproducibility, has been pushing very hard for scientists to pay attention to the cell lines that they use in research. These common laboratory tools are often contaminated with hard-to-see bacteria, or else with other, unrelated lines of cells. One survey found such problems may affect as many as 36 percent of the cell lines used in published papers. Freedman notes that while there is a simple way to test a cell line for contamination—a genetic test that costs about a hundred bucks—it’s almost never used. Some journals recommend the test, but almost none require it. “Deep down, I think they’re afraid to make the bar too high,” he said.
medicine  health  science  HTT 
2 days ago
Impact of Social Sciences – Big data problems we face today can be traced to the social ordering practices of the 19th century.
Information is not new and nor is data – of whatever order of magnitude. We are in a period that can reasonably be seen as the second ‘big data’ revolution and it is revolutionary because it challenges our accepted understanding of the world and not simply because of the volumes and velocity of data generation in our new digital information technologies. Many social categories were designed to control, coerce and even oppress their targets. The poor, the unmarried mother, the illegitimate child, the black, the unemployed, the disabled, the dependent elderly – none of these social categories of person is a neutral framing of individual or collective circumstances. They are instead a judgement on their place in modernity and material grounds for research, analysis and policy interventions of various kinds. Two centuries after the first big data revolution many of these categories remain with us almost unchanged and, given what we know of their consequences, we have to ask what will be their situation when this second data revolution draws to a close?

Like that first data revolution, this present one also has ambitions for people and their interactions with the new media emerging in its wake. These discussions are useful and necessary because discussion and negotiation are essential in the face of revolution. The responses to revolution in the late 18th and 19th centuries were often violent but we now have better methods available for the maintenance of social order as Foucault’s technologies of the self and Bourdieu’s habitus. Where we see this becoming highly problematic is in the continuity of ideologically informed notions of ourselves and others and the reproduction of such ideologies in and through our new digital environments. Following Floridi, this is a significant epistemic and ethical problem in our current big data era.
data  research  information 
2 days ago
Zuckerberg’s world | ROUGH TYPE
Toward the end of his message, Zuckerberg writes, “In recent campaigns around the world — from India and Indonesia across Europe to the United States — we’ve seen the candidate with the largest and most engaged following on Facebook usually wins.” One might think that this observation would lead to some soul-searching on Zuckerberg’s part. But he offers it as a boast. Facebook is never the problem; it is always the solution.

One does not want to break a butterfly on a wheel, even if the butterfly is a billionaire. And only a fool would look to an official communiqué from the CEO of a big company for honest, subtle thinking about complicated social issues. And yet, in Zuckerberg’s long message, there is one moment of clarity, when he states the plain truth: “Social media is a short-form medium where resonant messages get amplified many times. This rewards simplicity and discourages nuance.” The medium, he continues, often “oversimplifies important topics and pushes us toward extremes.” This insight might have led Zuckerberg to a forthright accounting of the limitations of Facebook as a communications system. He might have pointed out that while Facebook is well designed for some things — banter among friends, the sharing of photos and videos, the coordination of group actions (for better or worse), the circulation of information in emergencies — it is ill designed for other things. It’s lousy as a news medium. It’s terrible as a forum for political discourse. It’s not the place to go to get a deep, well-rounded view of society. And, he might have concluded, if you expect Facebook to solve the problems of the world, you’ve taken me far too seriously.
3 days ago
Are we done with the ’79 prayer book?
Stephen Sykes may have been overstating the case a bit in The Integrity of Anglicanism when he remarked “the decision-making process whereby liturgies are changed … is the basic seat of authority in the Anglican church.” But the power currently held by scholars who have fought for many decades for a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is real. Some among them may feel the temptation to use that power as decisively as possible over the next decade. But a truly wise exercise of that power may call instead for patience and charity, with a kind glance towards those of us who have been called to serve as leaders in this Church for many decades to come. So many centuries of common prayer must surely have taught us this much.
BCP  Anglican  from instapaper
3 days ago
Parallel lives: how the Brexit vote revealed Britain's divided culture | Books | The Guardian
Think of Donald Trump, the tweeting president. Because those who work in the media and politics use Twitter relentlessly to communicate with each other, they assume that everyone else uses Twitter, and therefore fail to appreciate that reporting someone’s tweets is not necessarily “news”. Twitter is a gossip exchange that has somehow, glibly, by unwitting collusion, been turned into a treacherous diplomatic tool. This is an abuse of literacy on an industrial scale: a would-be demagogue given greater power by a media that professes to be horrified by his every utterance, simply because he has chosen a medium that they themselves use and erroneously believe is universal and democratic. It is not: Twitter is an elite platform that happens to be “free” to use. Except, of course, you pay for its use in innumerable other ways.
politics  socialmedia 
3 days ago
A Greener Prayer Book - The Living Church
Meyers urged continuing use of “expansive language” for God, including a return to “more concrete images of the Bible and the liturgy” in place of the arcane philosophical language of the fourth-century creeds. The texts of the 1979 book, while using a more inclusive language for humanity, are “overwhelmingly masculine in language and imagery.”

She described the Nicene Creed as “a stumbling block for many,” and wondered if a creed is necessary during the Eucharist, given the Great Thanksgiving’s robust affirmation of God’s work in Christ. The use of modern creedal texts alongside the Nicene Creed might be a creative opportunity for engaging worshipers.
Anglican  BCP 
4 days ago
‘Arrival City’ by Doug Saunders - Review - The New York Times
Mr. Saunders makes, to my mind, two crucial mistakes. The first is to include, with almost every analysis of a discrete slum or shantytown, a genial profile of one of its residents. This seems like a good idea, until you commence to read these profiles — they’re too pat, and lack edges that can’t be tidied up with a few clichés about seeking a better life. Worse, he quotes his subjects at length, and every quotation sounds the same, shorn of idiomatic expression. I’m not suggesting the author made these long quotations up. But perception, in these matters, matters as much as reality. It sounds as if he made them up.

A second mistake was to avoid the vibrant body of world literature that has emerged around, and about, these great migrations. If Mr. Saunders has read Zadie Smith or Monica Ali or Gary Shteyngart, to name just the first three novelists who come to mind, he’s not letting us in on that fact. He needn’t engage in literary criticism. But you can open to almost any page of Ms. Smith’s novel “White Teeth” (2000) and find lines that touch, savagely and perceptively, on the material at hand.
London  city  immigration 
4 days ago
This Is London by Ben Judah, review: 'astonishing and valuable'
This is a city – a mega-city – of countless cultures. But Judah’s London is not multicultural in the conventional, patronising sense. Rather, it is made up of countless shards and splinters: Poles in one house, Romanians in another, Somalis in a third. Most of the conflict and violence – both physical and economic – comes not from the English, but from competing immigrant groups. The Poles had a good thing going in the building trade, until cheaper, less-experienced Romanians and Bulgarians arrived to undercut them. The Maltese used to run Soho’s brothels – then the Albanians moved in. [...]

A little while ago, I stood in Wembley Stadium as tens of thousands of British Indians roared their approval for their visiting prime minister. Those present were living, breathing proof that there is a pathway from immigration to assimilation, from poverty to prosperity. It is the same mechanism described in Doug Saunders’s book Arrival City, which shows how places like Tower Hamlets – for all their occasional squalor – can assimilate and enrich their immigrant inhabitants.

Ultimately, people come to London because they want to build better lives, and because it will, by and large, help them do that. Judah’s account strips London of Surbiton and Shoreditch, Clapham and Clerkenwell, leaving just the skyscrapers and the slums. This Is London is an important and impressive book – one that should open our eyes to the price that others often pay for our comfort. But it tells only part of the capital’s kaleidoscopic story.
4 days ago
Mies’s Mansion House Square: the best building London never had?
Mansion House itself is claustrophobically hemmed in on all sides, appropriately overshadowed by the Rothschild tower. This is why one of the most important elements of Mies’ vision was the creation of a large public space to the east of the site. In some respects, this was the greatest genius of the scheme – Mies took a scrambled, dangerous street pattern and made one intervention to rationalise it into a nearly perfect geometric square. He carved out a serene ceremonial court directly in front of one of London’s most important seats of power. The reinstatement of the underlying Roman grid would have undone hundreds of years of urban chaos.

The immense level of detail produced by Mies makes it clear he had every hope the building would be realised as his last work. Years were spent developing specific bronze door handles, mullions tests and an ashtray, as well as the full set of construction drawings specifying the most minute of elements (including a full list of all the tree species for the square and a novel heating system to keep travertine steps dry).

Mies completed work on Mansion House Square just a few weeks before his death in 1969. One of his last acts as an architect was to carefully choose a place for the flagpole in the square. The attention he paid was commensurate to his belief that this new space would reinforce the “heart” of the City, not only expanding the performative possibilities of mayoral events, but also creating a peaceful focus for the financial district.
architecture  London  from instapaper
5 days ago
Astonishing geomagnetic spike hit the ancient kingdom of Judah
The researchers note that this geomagnetic spike is similar to another that occurred in the 10th century BCE. Data from the 10th century spike and this 8th century one indicate that such events were probably localized, not global. That said, they write that "the exact geographic expanse of this phenomenon has yet to be investigated, and the fact that these are very short-lived features that can be easily missed suggests that there is much more to discover." They compare the scope of these spikes to the South Atlantic Anomaly, a region where the planet's Van Allen radiation belt dips down near the surface of the planet, trapping radioactive particles and causing problems for satellites cruising nearby. Ancient peoples like those in Judah would not have been troubled by a localized geomagnetic field spike, but people in the same region today would call it a disaster. A fluctuation of such intensity would overload electrical grids, destroying transformers and causing widespread blackouts. We often think of the post-industrial age as one where humans control nature. But in some ways, advanced technology has made humanity more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of our planet than our ancestors were.
science  history 
5 days ago
The Problem of Populism and the Promise of a Christian Politics – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Increasingly, European Christians seem to have gone back to defining their politics as neither right nor left but personalist - which is to say, based on an anthropology which regards the soul, relationality and human dignity as irreducible, in contrast either to a cult of pure individual rights or an outright denial of human dignity altogether.

So at no time in the recent past has it more looked as if a distinctly Christian politics were once more emerging, in an echo of the Christendom politics of the 1930s, even though this can also be a politics that appeals to the adherents of other faiths or to spiritually sensitive secular people.

It would seem clear that Christians cannot be content with a now challenged liberalism, whether economic or cultural. On the other hand, they have to regard with horror any atavistic or even neo-fascist alternative. The issue here is: how do we both respect people's right to their own identity and yet the need for universal human community?
Europe  Brexit  Christianity  from instapaper
5 days ago
Ineffable facts, deep ignorance, and the sub-algebra hypothesis: Part 2
The sub-algebra hypothesis would, in outline, make sense of that, on the one hand, we are limited in what we can represent about the world, while, on the other hand, ineffable facts seem to be completely hidden and irrelevant for inquiry and other activities. Our sub-algebra might be closed under causal and explanatory relationships, which is to say that if we can represent an event then we can also represent its cause, and if we can represent a fact then we can also represent its explanation. In ordinary inquiry, where we ask for causes and explanations, we will thus never have to go beyond our sub-algebra. But when we try to understand the world as a whole, then our representational limitation might well mislead us into thinking that the part of reality we can represent is all there is to reality. Just as the integers might think that all there is to reality are the integers, so we might think that all of reality is just the part we can represent. Reality might be much richer than what we can represent about it, but the rest of it would be completely hidden from us, and irrelevant for our ordinary and even regular scientific concerns. Except, of course, for the question what reality as a whole is like. For that question and its consequences our deep ignorance will matter.
philosophy  HTT 
9 days ago
The history of American conspiracy theories holds some lessons for fake news debunkers, says Jessie Walker
For a lot of people, the real assumption that they bring to the news, even beyond their partisan affiliations, is an expectation of a smooth narrative. They expect news stories to look like the movies or TV shows that they’re familiar with. Even if they’re regular journalism consumers, the stories they remember best are these well done stories that tell a compelling narrative and make them feel like they’re watching a movie or TV show.
media  HTT  from instapaper
10 days ago
How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. - The Atlantic
Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.
12 days ago
Vetting the Executive Order | Robert P. George and Angela Wu Howard
When I was chairing USCIRF, I called for an increase in the refugee quota. I continue to favor that. Many of my conservative friends disagree, but I believe that justice as well as compassion requires it. The U.S. is not without responsibility for creating the refugee crisis (or the conditions for it)—though we can debate just which presidents and others bear just what portion of that responsibility. I also favor maintaining the stringency of the vetting system, even if that means we do not reach the quota. That's because I do believe that national security is preeminently important, and I want to make sure that what has happened in some places in Europe does not happen here. The other thing I advocated, and continue to advocate, is prioritization of refugee acceptance based on vulnerability to the worst forms of abuse: murder, rape, torture, enslavement. This is not because I want to bias the system in favor of Christians, as some of my more ridiculous critics on the Left have claimed. It is because decency requires it. Yes, Christians will benefit, but so will Yazidis, Shabak, Turkmen, minority Muslims, and even majority Muslims who are targeted by terrorists (such as ISIS) for helping U.S. forces or opposing terrorist entities. These are the people targeted by ISIS and other evildoers for the worst forms of abuse.
politics  law  immigration  from instapaper
15 days ago
Decoding Stephen Miller’s Nationalist Mind
The ideologues in the White House assume that Americans care—and should care—most about fellow Americans. They want people who are already here to have a stronger say in what goes on than those who aren’t yet here. And implicit in their beliefs—and here is where even many conservatives get off the bus—is that people who have the strongest ancestral ties to the United States have the greatest claim on what happens to it. It’s a mindset not unlike that of ancient Athens, which restricted full citizenship to the third generation. But, of course, this isn't Athens.

Many will disagree with these values, but nothing about them is obviously inimical to the Bill of Rights. Where they get most dangerous, however, is in their potential, like most ideas, for misuse. You can sell them by stressing how they’ll ultimately bring Americans together, or you can sell them by stoking people’s basest fears. When Trump proposed a poisonous and cynical blanket ban on Muslim entry back in late 2015, his team revealed its willingness to engage in, or at least accept, the latter. It continues to be toward Muslim Americans that the Trump White House has shown itself to be most unsympathetic and hostile.
politics  law  immigration  from instapaper
15 days ago
Living without money: what I learned | Environment | The Guardian
Yet our activism today has become as tame and timid as our neatly-trimmed gardens. The worlds of political, social and ecological campaigning can no longer continue with activism-as-usual. It is simply not working. None of this is a criticism of the determined people who participate in these movements for change, and I am not suggesting that there are no success stories. But if you step back and honestly look at the state of our ecological and social landscapes, all the indicators of health are on a steep decline. To have some chance of returning these landscapes to vitality, our political landscape needs rewilding.

It is a terrifying, yet exciting, time to be alive. We can turn the biggest crises of our age into something that gives our lives a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. But to do so, I believe we have to upgrade the three r’s of the climate change generation from “reduce, reuse, recycle” to something more befitting of the crises unfolding before us: “resist, revolt, rewild”.

Now is the time to be bold. We need to stop the onslaught of the machine into the natural world using every means that is effective, or before we know it we will have witnessed the devastation and loss of all the beauty that still remains. If we allow that to happen, we shall deserve our fate. Instead, if we fight back then we may earn ourselves a future that, at this dark hour before the dawn, we cannot even imagine yet.
tech  ecology  economics  money 
15 days ago
Technology destroys people and places. I’m rejecting it | Mark Boyle | Opinion | The Guardian
Living without complex technology has its own difficulties, especially for people like me who were never initiated into those ways. But already I much prefer it. Instead of making a living to pay bills, I make living my life. Contrary to expectation, my biggest issue is not being bored, but how to do all the things I’d love to do. Of course hand-washing your clothes can be a pain sometimes, but that minor inconvenience is hardly worth destroying the natural world over.

Well-intentioned friends often try to convince me to go off-grid, but in using batteries, electrical cables and photovoltaic panels (as I once did), I would still be connected, by a peculiar sort of invisible cable, to the global network of quarries, factories, courtrooms, mines, financial institutions, bureaucracies, armies, transport networks and workers needed to produce such things. They also ask me to stay on social media to speak out about the technology issue, but I say I’m denouncing complex technology simply by renouncing it. My culture made a Faustian pact, on my behalf, with those devilish tyrants Speed, Numbers, Homogeneity, Efficiency and Schedules, and now I’m telling the devil I want my soul back.

My life has its fair share of irony, and it can look hypocritical. Despite originally writing these words (a technology) with a pencil (a technology) in a hand-crafted cabin (a technology), the irony of this being an online blog is not lost on me. That is my compromise for now, for if you want to contribute to a healthier society, compromise can be a healthy thing if you know your boundaries. Being a hypocrite is always my highest ideal, as it means I’ve set higher standards for myself to strive for than I’m achieving at any one moment.
tech  textpatterns 
15 days ago
iPad and Mac—the early years - All this
"The biggest problem for the iPad is Apple’s unwillingness to let it become its own thing. Development of iOS is driven by the iPhone, which probably shouldn’t have the tools of a regular computer. But the iPad needs at least some of those tools if it’s to fulfill Apple’s promise to be a laptop replacement. Being yoked to the iPhone is holding it back.

I have no interest in Apple’s financial condition per se. I care about it only to the extent that it influences Apple to provide me with good computing devices. I’d love to have my iPad oust my MacBook Air as my primary home computer. But it won’t until Apple gives it (and me) the tools to allow it take over."
from instapaper
16 days ago
Your Body Is a Battleax: Against the Weaponization of Gay Christian Witness, Plus More From Canada
What I try to talk about most is neglected forms of love. These forms are open to everyone, though they are especially desperately needed by gay people who accept the historical Christian sexual ethic. Many of them are specifically forms of same-sex love, and therefore places where gay people can illuminate what the majority of the church has forgotten and allowed to decay. Our longings for same-sex intimacy, care, and devotion can be lamps guiding the whole church back to Her neglected treasures. This is much less likely to happen if straight Christians view us as problems to be solved, or view our longings as dangerous forms of deviance.

If you’ll indulge me–perhaps gay people in the Church have preserved a forgotten language of love, a kind of Christian palare. We mostly use it nowadays to say the wrong things. But once we spoke the words of Scripture. We can teach you to speak those words again.
christian  sexuality  love  friendship 
16 days ago
Opinion | Calling basic civics ‘resistance’ will only make it harder to stand up to Trump
There’s no question that civic engagement is a way to stand firm against the degradation of a representative system of government. At the same time, recasting the fundamental building blocks of civic engagement not as essential tools of public engagement available to all citizens in all times, but as acts of resistance we deploy only against extraordinary threats to our system, is a quick way to get those acts tagged as radical rather than normal.

We should be wary of adopting a renamed version of civic engagement that seems mostly intended to make ourselves feel good and brave about doing things we should have been doing in the first place. Meeting our basic obligations as citizens is not the same thing as revolutionary action.

And we ought to be doubly wary about that re-branding if it opens the door for the basic functions of our political system to be recast as partisan and radical, rather than as fundamental and routine. If picking up phone calls from constituents makes our senators and representatives complicit in “resistance” against Trump, I would place a rather large bet that some lawmakers will use this as an excuse to stop taking calls.
politics  from instapaper
19 days ago
the thing is that we’re losing terribly
The left needs to win, for the world to be moral. I am more certain of my convictions than I ever have been in my life, and I was not exactly unsure of them before. People like to challenge that conviction, but they never last long. All I have to do is wait, and in person, the loudest and proudest have a tendency to stare at the floor. I dunno. Perhaps someday there will be a left that’s willing to win. I have faith that will happen, but first the left has to fall out of love with jokes. They’re a loser’s tool; they’re a lie you tell to yourself. Someday, the left can win, but first it must tell the truth about itself, and that means looking around and realizing that all your swagger was built on nothing. You have to be willing to confront the world as it really is, first. You have to have the courage to give up hope. Then you can get down to the real work.
19 days ago
Lifting the Mouse - Matt Gemmell
No way to pull the screen part off the keyboard part, and carry it around on its own. No way to turn it into a book or a magazine, with the screen rotating around according to gravity. No way to just point at things, instead of having to use this wacky bit of glass below the keys, and a tiny arrow. Everything smaller, and crammed onto the display. Fifty things to click at all times, and many of them not even belonging to the app I’m dealing with. And a file system that hovers visually behind everything else, for… some reason. The whole thing is so bizarre, and I can’t unsee it.

It was necessary at its time. It was great, even. Innovative and expedient. It worked really well, and as long as you’re willing to keep living with it — and keep fiddling and accommodating and mousing — it still does.

But there’s also another way. And don’t pretend that you can’t see the writing on the wall. The Mac, and the traditional desktop computing paradigm, is dying. I think Apple wants it to die, rightly so. And most normal people don’t even care. In a generation, they’ll barely remember. That’s a sobering thought.
mac  computing  from instapaper
19 days ago
Microaggressions - Jan 11, 2017
The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.
19 days ago
The End of Identity Liberalism
But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.) [...]

The media’s newfound, almost anthropological, interest in the angry white male reveals as much about the state of our liberalism as it does about this much maligned, and previously ignored, figure. A convenient liberal interpretation of the recent presidential election would have it that Mr. Trump won in large part because he managed to transform economic disadvantage into racial rage — the “whitelash” thesis. This is convenient because it sanctions a conviction of moral superiority and allows liberals to ignore what those voters said were their overriding concerns. It also encourages the fantasy that the Republican right is doomed to demographic extinction in the long run — which means liberals have only to wait for the country to fall into their laps. The surprisingly high percentage of the Latino vote that went to Mr. Trump should remind us that the longer ethnic groups are here in this country, the more politically diverse they become.
politics  identity  from instapaper
21 days ago
Embarrassing bodies: what did the Victorians have to hide? | Books | The Guardian
To the brute proximity of other people’s bodies you would have to add the tyranny of living in your own. In an age without antibiotics or much effective doctoring, discomforts that we moderns can magic away in less than a week – constipation, an aching tooth or swollen toe – became chronic conditions to be endured over decades. In the process a body might become permanently marked with the tokens of its earthly passage – an osteoporotic hump, a dense splatter of smallpox scars, a missing finger – that it carried with it to the grave.

So if the Victorians have a reputation for denying or concealing their bodies, it is only because they were obliged to live with them so intensely. And that reticence slipped naturally into the way that they wrote, or rather didn’t, about their physical selves. Most biographers in the 19th century behaved as if their subjects had taken leave of the body, or had never possessed such a thing in the first place. If flesh and blood registered in Victorian life-writing at all, it was in the broadest, airiest generalities – a manly stride here, the sweetest smile there. Mostly, though, there was a hole in the biographical text where arms, legs, breasts and bellies should have been.
history  body 
21 days ago
Quick Thoughts On Sally Yates’ Unpersuasive Statement - Lawfare
Yates states at the end of her letter that she is “not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”  This statement summarizes the two major points above.  First, she believes the standard for defending the EO is “best view of the law,” not reasonable legality, and she is not convinced the EO is consistent with the best view of the law.  But as noted above, the typical standard for the Attorney General to defend an EO of the President is not whether she is convinced of its legality.  Rather, the standard is something closer to the idea that she should defend the EO unless she is convinced of its illegality--i.e. she defends if there is a reasonable argument for its legality. Second, Yates believes that defending the EO is inconsistent with her responsibilities to interject a policy analysis analysis about the wisdom and justness of the EO independent of the President. For reasons stated above, I do not believe that either of these arguments are persuasive given her role. Nor are they consistent with what I understand the duties and responsibilities of the Attorney General to be.  

Yates is obviously in an extraordinarily difficult position as Acting Attorney General for a President whose policy goals she does not share.  She is clearly repulsed by the EO, and wants no part in its enforcement. (One of the many elements of poor governance by the Trump administration was to issue the controversial and poorly thought-through EO when Barack Obama’s Deputy Attorney General is serving as Acting Attorney General.) But if Yates feels this way, she should have resigned (though if Yates goes, there may be no statutory officer in DOJ who can approve FISA orders.) Instead, she wrote a letter that appears to depart sharply from the usual criteria that an Attorney General would apply in deciding whether to defend an EO in court.  As such, the letter seems like an act of insubordination that invites the President to fire her.  Which he did.
21 days ago
The Immigration Order Reveals White House Disorder - Yuval Levin | National Review
Reactions to this weekend’s implementation of President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration has tended to confound the ends and the means of the order—the substantive policy goals and the process involved in developing the policy. Critics have tended to see the shambolic process of crafting and announcing the order as part and parcel of a disordered morality embodied by the policy it sets. Defenders have argued that bold ends call for brash means. Even Trump himself has suggested that the purpose of the policy required that it be a surprise—apparently even to the highest levels of his administration and to the people charged with carrying it out. 

These elements have to be untangled. Whatever you think of what this order set out to do (and I think that, as it was formulated, it elevates dubious political symbolism over governing substance and seems likely to undermine the national interest), you have to acknowledge that the order was produced in a way that set up the new president for failure. This should be only more troubling if you are more friendly to the policy involved. 

Predictably, some observers have been arguing that this was all done intentionally, to create turmoil and set the Left on fire and render the media ridiculous, and all that. Passing off reckless ineptitude as strategic genius seems to be a coping mechanism for some people on all sides of our politics these days. I hope it’s helping them cope. But what we saw this weekend was rank incompetence creating dangerous chaos. We saw it here on a very small scale, and ultimately a manageable one. But the scale of the challenges confronting the American president isn’t always so manageable. Many of those problems aren’t self-created, like this one was, but instead rush at our government unpredictably and need to be swiftly and ably detected, assessed, and confronted. The last few days need to serve as a bright, blaring warning to the new administration that it is not yet prepared to do its job on this front.
politics  immigration 
22 days ago
Sultan Donald Trump? How the President Places Himself Above the Law
It was over a century ago that the famous political sociologist Max Weber developed the concept of sultanism, which, he wrote, “operates primarily on the basis of discretion.”

“Sultans,” or kings, of the Ottoman empire were absolute rulers, their power made legitimate by theology. They used arbitrary and despotic powers. Their lifestyles were lavish and decadent. And over time they lost their power. While rival European empires such as the Hapsburgs’ Austro-Hungary and Weber’s native Germany were rising in the 19th century as they developed impressive civil and military bureaucracies and procedures, the Ottoman Empire was declining. [...]

The U.S. presidency has always been prone to sultantistic tendencies, but under a Trump presidency what were once isolated incidents could become a way of governing. When the closest advisers, both institutional (in the case of son-in-law Jared Kushner) and informal (in the case of his three children), are dominated by family members, the decision-making process will not only be influenced by private family interests but also tend to ignore legal procedures. Instead of a “team of rivals”under the rule of law, the Trump presidency may be akin to medieval monarchy, with decisions made by court politics, not legal procedures.
23 days ago
Donald Trump's Anti-American Contempt for the Law - VICE
What contempt for the law means is you don't care about the set of legal norms that binds the country together. It means you reject the idea that the court system's decisions are valid, at least not when they don't conform to your own biases. It means—more on this in a second—that you hate America. That's a bad quality to have when you want to run America, and a bitterly ironic joke when you've made "law and order" one of your catchphrases. [...]

Trump has made it clear over and over again that he doesn't care about the system of laws that hold the country together. He's publicly embraced war crimes against terrorism, said a judge was biased against him because the judge had Mexican heritage, proposed a ban on Muslim immigration many experts said was unconstitutional, mused about "opening up" libel laws to make it easier for him to sue people who say nasty things about him, and rambled about how Hillary Clinton should be in prison, even though she wasn't charged with a crime.
23 days ago
a few thoughts on Chris Ware – Snakes and Ladders
The chief interest of Ware’s art lies in the contrast between the obsessively neat, relentlessly balanced character of his drawing — it’s noteworthy that so many people assume that his work is drawn on computers, when in fact it’s done by hand (meticulously, and with frequent use of rulers and protractors) — and the chaotic, painful lives of his characters. Taken on their own, the words and thoughts of his characters would be monotonous, tedious — unreadable, I think; certainly of limited interest at best. Yet the placement of these stunted emotional lives into such an orderly, rational visual world creates an eerie, almost jarring dissonance that itself, perceived as a whole, is a kind of spiritual environment. That many of Ware’s characters are children, or appear to be children, and that so many of his artistic models are commercial art for children, adds to this eeriness.
23 days ago
President Trump may hire “only the best people” but he did not rely upon them to draft and implement his latest Executive Order - The Washington Post
An EO that is ostensibly issued for the purpose of protecting national security was not properly vetted, nor did anyone make any meaningful effort to ensure that those government officials tasked with executing the Administration’s policy understood what it was they were doing. Indeed, as drafted, the EO didn’t even cite the right provisions in federal law.  In the words of Charles L. Black Jr., in these actions “the curves of callousness and stupidity intersect at their respective maxima.” (Hat tip: Walter Dellinger)

Under normal circumstances, I believe that the policy embodied in the Trump EO is lawful under existing precedent and would survive judicial review. That is, I believe the executive branch may decide to identify specific countries from which immigrants and others seeking entry into the country must receive “extreme vetting” and that the President may order a suspension of refugees from particular places (as Obama did with Iraq in 2011). Despite some of the President’s comments during the campaign about wanting a “Muslim ban,” this EO does not come anywhere close to effectuating such a ban, as it largely focuses on countries that were previously identified as sources of potential terror threats.

I stress  “under normal circumstances” because these are not normal circumstances. The cavalier and reckless manner in which this specific EO was developed and implemented will likely give judges pause — and with good reason. Courts typically give a degree of deference to executive branch actions under the assumption that polices are implemented after serious consideration of relevant legal and policy questions. Indeed, the more serious the government interest allegedly being served, the more serious one expects the government’s internal review to be (unless, of course, there are exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action, but that was not the case here).
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
A Triumph of the Comic-Book Novel | by Gabriel Winslow-Yost | The New York Review of Books
The first is a particular vision of how comics function. For Ware, they are not, contrary to what one might think, a form of visual art or drawing. Cartooning, as he put it in a later essay (in the “Instructions” this argument is part of a large wordless diagram, a flurry of arrows, equations, and subpanels around a single image of a mouse hitting a disembodied cat head with a hammer), is “a language of abbreviated ‘visual words’ having its own grammar, syntax, and punctuation.” The simplified, geometric forms of Ware’s comics are not his natural drawing style. His sketchbooks, two volumes of which have been published, are filled with detailed drawings of people and the natural world, done with a scratchy, organic line clearly indebted to the work of R. Crumb, and utterly dissimilar to what is found in his comics work. The smooth, geometric forms in his comics are icons and symbols as much as pictures, “a sort of symbolic typography” meant to be read and understood, “not scrutinized individually as one might carefully peruse a painting or a drawing.”
23 days ago
To Walk in Beauty | by Chris Ware | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, a metaphor for democracy, a “surrealistic” poem, unfolding over years and years. It is all of these, but so much more: it is a portrait of America, a self-portrait of Herriman, and, I believe, the first attempt to paint the full range  of human consciousness in the language of the comic strip. Like the America it portrays, Herriman’s identity has been poised for a revision for many decades now. Michael Tisserand’s new biography Krazy does just that, clearing the shifting sands and shadows of Herriman’s ancestry, the discovery in the early 1970s of a birth certificate which described Herriman as “colored” sending up a flag among comics researchers and aficionados. Tisserand confirms what for years was hiding in plain sight in the tangled brush of Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat is supposedly set: Herriman, of mixed African-American ancestry, spent his entire adult life passing as white. He had been born in the African-American neighborhood of racially mixed, culturally polyglot 1880s New Orleans, but within a decade Herriman’s parents moved George and his three siblings to the small but growing town of Los Angeles to escape the increasing bigotry and racial animosity of postbellum Louisiana. The Herrimans melted into California life, and it was there that George, with brief professional spates in New York, would remain for the rest of his life. [...]

To the modern reader, the banjo in Krazy Kat might seem a lighthearted accessory, but when Krazy picks it up to sing “There is a Heppy Land Fur, Fur Away,” the meaning, to thoughtful readers of the 1920s to the 1940s, would have been clear. Even more astonishingly, Krazy never plays a “proper” banjo, but plays the gourd or coconut banjo, the origins of which by the time of the strip’s appearance would indeed have been obscure. Herriman knew what he was doing, and it’s not insignificant that the very last strip he left unfinished on his drawing table showed Krazy playing a gourd banjo. The earliest representation known of such an instrument appears in the watercolor The Old Plantation, painted by South Carolina slaveholder John Rose in the late eighteenth century.
comics  race 
23 days ago
Four federal judges issue orders blocking parts of Trump’s executive order on immigration - The Washington Post
The important thing to watch going forward, in my view, is the Trump Administration’s response to the judges’ actions. In normal times, an Administration spokesperson would express respectful but firm disagreement with these preliminary rulings and say that the Administration is considering its options for further review while of course complying with the orders in the interim. I certainly hope the Trump Administration follows that safe path. At the same time, I sense a decent chance that Trump’s response will be different.

For example, will Trump single out the judges, criticizing them personally as he did Judge Curiel? Will Trump take on the federal judiciary as a whole, or at least its Democratic appointees, making them another part of his “opposition party”? And in the worst-case scenario, will he echo Andrew Jackson, or at least the possibly apocryphal version of him, and order executive branch employees to ignore parts or all of the court orders?

I hope Trump does none of those things. If he does, however, it will be important to see how others in the federal government — in all three branches — respond.
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
Donald Trump – Muslim Alien Ban Legal | National Review
While Bier ignores the president’s constitutional foreign-affairs authority (although Trump expressly relies on it in the first line of his executive order), he concedes that Trump is relying on a statute. He theorizes, nevertheless, that because Section 1182(f) was enacted in 1952, whereas the non-discrimination provision (Section 1152(a)) was enacted years afterward, the latter must be deemed to have amended the former – thus removing the president’s authority to impose class restrictions based on the aliens’ country of origin.

Put aside that Trump is principally relying on his inherent constitutional authority, and that the class restriction he has directed is based on national-security, not racial or ethnic considerations. Trump’s executive order also expressly relies on an Obama-era provision of the immigration law, Section 1187(a)(12), which governs the Visa Waiver Program. This statute empowers the executive branch to waive the documentation requirements for certain aliens. In it, Congress itself expressly discriminates based on country of origin.

Under this provision, Congress provides that an alien is eligible for the waiver only if he or she has not been present (a) in Iraq or Syria any time after March 1, 2011; (b) in any country whose government is designated by the State Department as “repeatedly provid[ing] support for acts of international terrorism”; or (c) in any country that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a country “of concern.”

So, not only has Congress never repealed the president’s sweeping statutory power to exclude classes of aliens from entry on national-security grounds; decades after the 1965 anti-discrimination provision touted by Bier, Congress expressly authorized discrimination on the basis of national origin when concerns over international terrorism are involved. Consequently, by Bier’s own logic, the 1965 statute must be deemed amended by the much more recent statute.
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
8 U.S. Code § 1182 - Inadmissible aliens | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
Donald Trump & Refugees – Critics Wrong | National Review
Trump’s order is, in characteristic Trump fashion, both ham-handed and underinclusive, and particularly unfair to allies who risked life and limb to help the American war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it is also not the dangerous and radical departure from U.S. policy that his liberal critics make it out to be. His policy may be terrible public relations for the United States, but it is fairly narrow and well within the recent tradition of immigration actions taken by the Obama administration.

First, let’s put in context what Trump is actually doing. The executive order, on its face, does not discriminate between Muslim and Christian (or Jewish) immigrants, and it is far from being a complete ban on Muslim immigrants or even Muslim refugees. [...]

Obama-administration policy effectively discriminated against persecuted religious-minority Christians from Syria (even while explicitly admitting that ISIS was pursuing a policy of genocide against Syrian Christians), and the response from most of Trump’s liberal critics has been silence. [...] Liberals are normally the first people to argue that American policy should give preferential treatment to groups that are oppressed and discriminated against, but because Christians are the dominant religious group here — and the bêtes noires of domestic liberals — there is little liberal interest in accommodating U.S. refugee policy to the reality on the ground in Syria. So long as Obama could outsource religious discrimination against Christian refugees to Jordan and the U.N., his supporters preferred the status quo to admitting that Trump might have a point.
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas - Lawfare
When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.

To be sure, the executive order does not say anything as crass as: “Sec. 14. Burdening Muslim Lives to Make Political Point.” It doesn’t need to. There’s simply no reason in reading it to ignore everything Trump said during the campaign, during which he repeatedly called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Even while he was preparing to sign the order itself, he declared, "This is the ‘Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’ We all know what that means." Indeed, we do. This document is the implementation of a campaign promise to keep out Muslims moderated only by the fact that certain allied Muslim countries are left out because the diplomatic repercussions of including them would be too detrimental.
trumplaw  immigration  politics 
23 days ago
Top Knot Dallas -
Top Knot is a modern American restaurant with Asian roots that features flavors from Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Japan.
texas  food 
24 days ago
A Radical Politics of Solidarity in the Age of Abortion
But I wish to make another point: abortion is incompatible with true solidarity. And, for this reason, abortion is always and everywhere inimical to the common good. However, in the current stage of capitalism, the only hope for a just settlement of the state, to say nothing of productive property, is a radical politics of solidarity. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, it will be seen that solidarity and the common good are inextricably linked. Second, true solidarity, especially solidarity understood in Christian terms, is the antidote to the individualistic mindset at the core of capitalist exploitation, including the reduction of persons to mere instrumentality. It will be seen that abortion is incompatible with solidarity and, therefore, the common good. The question, then, is how a radical politics of solidarity may be forged in a society that embraces abortion and rejects the common good.
abortion  theology  ethics 
28 days ago
Will France Sound the Death Knell for Social Democracy? - The New York Times
Far-right parties are not the only ones offering revolution. Far-left parties remain on ballots across Europe, and in France, the Left Front, an electoral coalition that includes the French Communist Party, has sought to take advantage of the Socialists’ troubles. The Left Front was popular among many of the trade unionists I met, yet as of now, its support has remained limited. With notable exceptions like Greece and Spain, where far-left parties have surged in the face of economic misery, voters in Europe often perceive these parties to be discredited by history, even irrelevant. And now, in countries like France, the far left faces growing competition from the far right.

Many believe that the consequences of this political scrambling will be profound. Dominique Reynié, a political-science professor at Sciences Po in Paris, described “the end of the story of the democratic-socialist model” as “very bad news,” even though he does not identify as a socialist himself. “If we consider the invention of pluralistic democracy in Europe at the end of the 19th century, it was founded on the possibility of making a choice between the right and the left,” he told me. “If we have lost this duality, we have probably lost the mechanical principle of democracy.” [...]

“They say we are an extreme-right party,” Dassonville said. “But when you look closely at the words of Marine Le Pen and at the program we are now building, there’s a big part of the left in it. The left forgot its tradition. It’s up to us to appropriate it.”

I asked Dassonville if he would call the National Front an extreme-right party or an extreme-left party. Like many in the National Front, he objected to the designation “extreme.” “It’s a normal political party,” he said. “Why would you say extreme? What does the word ‘extreme’ even mean?”

Dassonville thought the whole left-right spectrum was finished anyway. “For me,” he said, “it has no value.”
28 days ago
Archbishop Cranmer
Note the juxtaposition of Brexit with emotion and irrationality, which are, she avers, attributes of religion. In her impeccable, rational, legal, enlightened and sophisticated secular mind, Brexit is the pursuit of the brainless; the delirium of simpletons; the burning passion of zealots, bigots and extremists against the rule of law and the world of rights. Anyone who believes that the people are sovereign is living in la la land.

It is actually people’s dogmatic adherence to the immutable doctrine of ‘ever closer union’ which is more cultic, and Europhilia which is more akin to blind faith. Charles Moore observed back in 2007 that the inexorable drive to ever closer union, by which the rejected Constitution for Europe morphed into the Lisbon Treaty, was so secretive and anti-democratic that it was antithetical to the very system of law which Gina Miller is so eager to uphold. He wrote:
A process that involves the very basis of law – the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the treaty would enable the European Court of Justice to force Parliament to comply absolutely with its rulings – is being conducted like a papal conclave. The body elected to make our laws knows almost nothing about it.

With this observation he echoed Labour’s Peter Shore, the late Lord Shore of Stepney, who observed in his book Separate Ways that the EU Commission behaves “like a priestly caste – similar to what it must have been in pre-Reformation days, when the Bible was in Latin, not English; the Pope, his cardinals and bishops decided the content of canon law and the message came down to the laymen, only when the Latin text was translated into the vernacular by the dutiful parish priest”.
Brexit  Europe 
29 days ago
The Declining Market for PhDs | Minding The Campus
If you have a graduate program, your department can lay claim to research prestige.  That was one effect of the great expansion of the late-Sixties and early-70s.  Unless you were at one of the very few super-selective colleges such as Dartmouth and Amherst, you needed to be in a research university if you wanted to have full respect by the profession. Having graduate students meant that you were on the cutting edge of theory and scholarship. If you were just at a college teaching undergraduates, you were stuck in the more or less humdrum routine of introducing youths to Shakespeare and Homer.

That’s the real draw of having graduate students. They enhance the professor’s standing. And that’s why the production of more PhDs than there are jobs continues. It serves those who already have jobs. And those fortunate few are entirely unaccountable for their decision to keep those graduate programs well-populated with students. If they have cultivated graduate students for six years, but those students fail to get jobs, it has no effect on the professors. They can keep doing what they are doing until the end of their career.

The slight turn downward in the production of history PhDs is a good sign (so long as the downturn in jobs continues). The rest of the humanities, English included, should pay attention.
29 days ago
The Invisibility Cloak Illusion: People (Incorrectly) Believe They Observe Others More Than Others Observe Them. - PubMed - NCBI
Whether at a coffee shop, in a waiting room, or riding the bus, people frequently observe the other people around them. Yet they often fail to realize how much other people engage in the same behavior, and that they, therefore, also are being observed. Because it is logically impossible that people, on average, are the subjects of observation more than they are objects of it, the belief that one watches others more than one is watched is an illusion. Several studies show that people incorrectly believe that they observe others more than other people observe them. We call this mistaken belief the "invisibility cloak illusion." People believe that they observe others more than do other people and that they are generally observed less than are others (Studies 1-3, 5, 6). The illusion persists both among strangers in the same vicinity (Study 2) and among friends interacting with one another (Study 3), and it cannot be explained away as yet another general better-than-average bias nor is it the result of believing one has more thoughts, in general, than do other people (Studies 2-3). The illusion is supported by a failure to catch others watching oneself (Studies 1b, 4) and it is manifest in the specific contents of people's thoughts about one another (Studies 5 and 6). Finally, rendering a feature of one's appearance salient to oneself fails to interrupt the illusion despite increasing one's belief that others are paying more attention specifically to that salient feature (Study 6). (PsycINFO Database Record
29 days ago
Infernal Machine Collective Manifesto: On the Occasion of the Inauguration | The Infernal Machine
During the age of high technology the academic study of media developed its own high towers and professional enclaves: communications; radio, film, and television; cinema.  It also included courses from journalism, speech communication, economics, business, and literature. Each operated on its own frequency. Technology studies, meanwhile, built an edifice (rather plain and drab at first, until a Gothic renovation by a Frenchman, Bruno Latour, with a penchant for networks, actants, and jokes). If the age of high technology yielded a change in the categories, such that agency was distributed and binaries upended (a “general cyborg condition,” as Donna Haraway put it), then what does the fast-advancing Digital Era call for? What philosophy will grasp this history?

A chorus on the Left decries the “fading of fact,” as though we had not attached media and rhetoric to the disappearance of fact for half a century—or since Plato. How can our self-proclaimed sophisticates have failed to see this continent of intellectual energy emerging outside their media, yet on the platforms those media share? How can those trained to think of Enlightenment as having the darkest of sides, a necessary backlash in its very heart, be so naively surprised by this predictable development?
textpatterns  tech  media 
29 days ago
Anxiety and surveillance: pillars of the new economy | ROUGH TYPE
Compulsions can be so severe as to be debilitating. But they also, and much more routinely, take milder forms. They alter our thoughts and behavior, sometimes in deep ways, without making us dysfunctional in society. In fact, by tempering our anxiety, they may serve as a kind of therapy that protects our social functionality. Since ours is, as Auden suggested, an age of anxiety, it’s no surprise that it is also an age of compulsion.

The near-universal compulsion of the present day is, as we all know and as behavioral studies prove, the incessant checking of the smartphone. As Begley notes, with a little poetic hyperbole, we all “feel compelled to check our phones before we get out of bed in the morning and constantly throughout the day, because FOMO — the fear of missing out — fills us with so much anxiety that it feels like fire ants swarming every neuron in our brain.” With its perpetually updating, tightly personalized messaging, networking, searching, and shopping apps, the smartphone creates the anxiety that it salves. It’s a machine almost perfectly designed to turn its owner into a compulsive.

Needless to say, a portable, pocket-sized product that spurs and sustains compulsive use can be a very lucrative product for any company able to tap into its hypnotic power. The smartphone is the perfect consumer good for the age of anxiety. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that, from a commercial standpoint, the smartphone is to compulsion what the cigarette pack was to addiction.
addiction  compulsion  smartphones  surveillance  textpatterns 
29 days ago
Reading, Privacy, and Scholarly Networks – Planned Obsolescence
Sarah Bond published a column on Forbes.com this morning on the importance of not for profit scholarly networks. I’m thrilled that she mentioned not only my blog post but also the work we’re doing at Humanities Commons. But if she hasn’t convinced you that it’s time to #DeleteAcademiaEdu yet, maybe this will: Friday, the network launched a new “prime” feature that allows members to pay to see the identities of users who are reading the work they share. That is to say: if you are reading things on Academia.edu, the network may sell your user info.

That they’re offering to sell this info to the author of the work involved does not make it okay. This is a frightening violation of the privacy standards that — a key point of comparison — libraries have long maintained with respect to reader activity. And selling your data to authors may only be the beginning.

I don’t want to read too much into the fact that they launched this “feature” on inauguration day. But the coincidence really begs scholars to become even more vigilant about where they’re sharing their work, and what networks they’re supporting as they access the work of others.
academe  privacy  textpatterns 
29 days ago
TLSOn Volume Four: The final correspondence of Samuel Beckett
To Lawrence Shainberg in 1979, Beckett confesses the “preposterous conviction” that “here in the end is the last & by far best chance for the writer”. “I work on, with failing mind, in other words improved possibilities”, he tells Herbert Myron in 1980, relishing his receding prospects. “I try to think”, he writes in Watt-like cadences to Franz Wurm, also in 1980, “with what mind remains, that now is the time at last, the chance at last, in these remains, with those remains, though think is not the word, at last not the word.”

Beckett’s final text, “what is the word”, was composed at the Tiers Temps nursing home and was also his first to be word-processed, on Barbara Bray’s computer. This incomparable edition cannot but provoke thoughts on the twilight of the paper correspondence, and the uncertainty of how the digital missives of today might be recorded for future readers. Remarkable and epic achievement that it has been, it may thus function as a memorial twice over. The final letter, to Michael Kuball, is dated November 19, 1989: “I am ill & cannot help. Forgive. So go ahead without me”. The leave-taking is painful to behold, but what an addition to company these letters have been.
lit  modernism 
4 weeks ago
What liberal intellectuals get wrong about transgenderism – CatholicHerald.co.uk
Liberalism, then, drives the attempt to displace the heterosexual norm – which leads to the (shockingly illiberal) criminalisation of those who do not endorse either gay practice or gay marriage. But liberalism includes capitalism: in the end, liberalism defines people as simply property-owners, narcissistic self-owners, choosers and consumers. Aquinas thought that our natural orientation to something outside ourselves was fundamental to our being. Liberalism, by contrast, denies the importance of relationships. Thereby it encourages the undoing of community, locality and beauty – and also marriage and the family.

And there is, naturally, money to be made out of all this. Husbands, wives, children and adolescents (this last an invention of the market) are more effective and exploitable consumers when they are isolated. Fluctuating identities and fluid preferences, including as to sexual orientation, consume still more, more often and more variously in terms of products and services. The fact that the market also continues to promote the nuclear family as the norm is not here to the point – of course it will make money from both the “normal” and the “deviant” and still more from their dispute. Ultimately, profits will accrue from reducing the heterosexual norm to the status of just another “lifestyle choice”.
sexuality  politics  culture  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
The Critique – Religion By Another Name - John Haldane
Such has been the rate of ‘Calvinisation’ of American liberalism, however, that in the six years since that case was brought there has been an intensification of efforts to constrain the expression of views deemed unacceptable. One means of this is the extension of the concept of a ‘safe space’. Originally, as the term suggests, this was conceived of in terms of physical place(s) but it has been extended to a variety of discussion fora, and interpreted as a requirement on educational and other institutions to make value and policy statements in line with certain moral and political ideas. One rhetorical implication of such designations is that places of similar function that are not so defined and constrained are thereby ‘unsafe places’. Apart from stigmatization this contributes to the exclusion and sanctioning of dissenters.

My thesis is that just as religion and politics were intermingled in the earliest Colonial period of North America, and notwithstanding the trend towards secularization intensified in the last forty years which created the impression that the remnant of this lay exclusively with the avowedly religious, who tended also to be socially conservative, the fact of the matter is that the general concepts of orthodoxy, true belief, and moral character, and the practices of censorship, sanction and exclusion are again features of American politics and culture, now exercised in relation to a broad conception of human nature and of ultimate value. Ironically perhaps the principal advocates of this in doctrinal form, propounded authoritatively and requiring acceptance, are self-styled ‘secular progressives liberals’.
politics  election2016  rhetoric  civilreligion 
4 weeks ago
Theology of Hope
All proofs of God are at bottom anticipations of that eschatological reality in which God is revealed in all things to all. They assume this reality as already present and as immediately perceptible to every man. The hermeneutic principles developed from them take the presence of God which can be demonstrated, experienced or perceived from the world, from existence or from the proclaimed name of God -- were it even only because of the necessity of asking about him -- and make it the point of reference for the exposition and appropriation of the historic witness of the Bible.

A ‘natural theology’ of this kind, however, in which God is manifest and demonstrable to every man, is not the presupposition of Christian faith, but the future goal of Christian hope. This universal and immediate presence of God is not the source from which faith comes, but the end to which it is on the way. It is not the ground on which faith stands, but it is the object at which it aims. It is only on the ground of the revelation of God in the event of promise constituted by the raising of the crucified Christ that faith must seek and search for the universal and immediate revelation of God in all things and for all. The world which proves God’s divinity, and the existence which is necessarily exercised by the question of God, are here sketches for the future on the part of Christian hope. They are anticipations of the as yet unattained future land in which God is all in all. They are anthropological and cosmological sketches on the part of Christian faith, in which the God of Jesus Christ is ‘imputed’ or given over to all men and all reality as the God of all men and of the whole of reality. This is possible, as long as reality and the people in it are on the move in history. It is necessary, in order to outline the universal future horizon of Christian mission. Without such sketches, which involve the whole of reality and shed a meaningful light on the existence and determination of all men, Christianity would become a sect and faith would become a private religion. Such interpretations of the whole of reality and of authentic human nature, however, remain ‘sketches’, whose goal is the universe and the human nature that are promised and will be. They are historic and subject to change, and always depend upon the movement of the Christian mission. Theologia naturals is at bottom theologia viatorum, and theologia viatorum will always concern itself with the future theologia gloriae in the form of fragmentary sketches.
4 weeks ago
Public Theology: Jurgen Moltmann: The Theology of Hope
What became of the Christian Church in its social significance as a result of this development in society? The result of this development was, that it lost the character of cultus publicus to which it had been accustomed for more than a thousand years. It became something which in its religious form it never was and which, moreover, from the theological standpoint of the New Testament it can never seek to be - namely, a cultus privatus. The cult of the Absolute is no longer necessary for the integration of this society. The Absolute is now sought and experienced only in our liberated, socially disburdened subjectivity. 'Religion' ceases to be a public, social duty and becomes a voluntary, private activity. 'Religion' in the course of the nineteenth century becomes the religiosity of the individual, private, inward, edifying. By giving free rein to religion and leaving it to the free unfolding of the personality in complete freedom of religious choice, modern society as a modern 'society of needs' emancipates itself from religious needs. This process was furthered by many revivalist and pietist movements within Christianity. There prevailed within it a pious individualism, which for its own part was romanticist in form and withdrew itself from the material entanglements of society. The Church thus slipped over into the modern cultus privatus and produced in theology and pastoral care a corresponding self-consciousness as a haven of intimacy and guardian of personality for a race that had developed a materialist society and felt itself not at home there. This certainly means that the Christian religion is dismissed from the integrating centre of modern society and relieved of its duty of having to represent the highest goal of society, but that is not by any means the end of it. On the contrary, society can assign to it other roles in which it is expected to be effective. While it is true that in these roles it has nothing more to do with the finis principalis of modern society, yet it can exercise dialectical functions of disburdening for the men who have to live in this society. This allows it infinite possibilities of variation, but they are the possibilities of self-propulsion and self-development within the bounds of the general social stagnation imposed on the Christian faith as being a matter of religion.
4 weeks ago
LRB · Adam Phillips · Against Self-Criticism
"You can only understand anything that matters – dreams, neurotic symptoms, people, literature – by over-interpreting it; by seeing it, from different aspects, as the product of multiple impulses. Over-interpretation, here, means not settling for a single interpretation, however apparently compelling. The implication – which hints at Freud’s ongoing suspicion, i.e. ambivalence, about psychoanalysis – is that the more persuasive, the more authoritative the interpretation the less credible it is, or should be. If one interpretation explained Hamlet we wouldn’t need Hamlet anymore: Hamlet as a play would have been murdered. Over-interpretation means not being stopped in your tracks by what you are most persuaded by; to believe in a single interpretation is radically to misunderstand the object one is interpreting, and interpretation itself."
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
William Onyeabor: one of music’s most insoluble puzzles to the end | Music | The Guardian
The uncertainty surrounding Onyeabor’s precise methods and motivations makes his music all the more fascinating. His audacious use of synthesizers, which verged on proto-techno, was without precedent in Nigeria, where such equipment was as hard to find as it was to afford. He shunned attention yet presented himself, in lyrics and on record sleeves, as a star. His records were confident, expansive and frequently political, as if he were addressing fans across the world rather than a few people in Enugu. Defying their time and place, they have no context that makes sense, except that of Onyeabor’s own peculiar imagination. At the time of his death he was more popular and influential than he had ever been but he remained to the end one of music’s most insoluble puzzles.
4 weeks ago
After God: how to fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life
The mature practitioner (not me) will discover a steady clarity in the vision of self and world, and, in “advanced” states, an awareness of unbroken inner light, with the strong sense of an action going on within that is quite independent of your individual will – the prayer “praying itself”, not just human words but a connection between God transcendent and God present and within. Ritual anchors, ritual aligns, harmonises, relates. And what happens in the “Jesus Prayer” is just the way an individual can make real what is constantly going on in the larger-scale worship of the sacraments. The pity is that a lot of western Christianity these days finds all this increasingly alien. But I don’t think any one of us can begin to discover again what religion might mean unless we are prepared to expose ourselves to new ways of being in our bodies. But that’s a long story. 
5 weeks ago
To be relevant, economists need to take politics into account | The Economist
Many economists shy away from such questions, happy to treat politics, like physics, as something that is economically important but fundamentally the business of other fields. But when ignoring those fields makes economic-policy recommendations irrelevant, broadening the scope of inquiry within the profession becomes essential. Some justifiably worry that taking more account of politics could destroy what credibility economists have left as impartial, apolitical experts. Yet politics-free models are no insulation from political pressures—just ask a climate scientist—and nothing would boost economists’ reputations more than results which match, and even predict, critical outcomes.

Political and social institutions are much harder to model and quantify than commodity or labour markets. But a qualitative approach might actually be far more scientific than equations offering little guide to how the future will unfold. Donald Trump campaigned (and may well govern) by castigating the uselessness of experts. To prepare for a time when expertise comes back into fashion, economists should renew their commitment to generating knowledge that matters.
5 weeks ago
What Is This Thing Called Law?
Jewish jurisprudence retained its common-law nature from the close of the biblical period and into the beginnings of rabbinic history. Through varied systems of interpretation (midrash) the rabbis continually engaged anew with Scripture and tradition in a fashion that allowed law to develop over time in response to the needs of the day. Codification of the halakhah was expressly discouraged. Several talmudic sages actually prohibit the commitment of halakhic decisions to writing. In the words of one, “Those who write down halakhot are like those who set fire to the Torah.”8

How then did Judaism come to embrace the legal codes of Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) and Joseph Karo (1488-1575)? When and why did Jewish jurisprudence turn toward statutory law?

As in Greece in the 7th century B.C.E. or in 19th-century Europe, the impetus within Judaism was the same. Whether we look at the redaction of the Mishnah by Rabbi Judah the Prince (circa 220 C.E.), Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, or Joseph Karo’s Shulhan Arukh, the underlying goal was to achieve an elusive unity. At the same time, since each jurist confronted a distinct social and religious landscape, each employed codification as a means toward a distinct end.

The Mishnah itself, properly speaking, is not a code. It is at most a skeletal outline of Jewish law. Entire areas—the laws of t’filin (phylacteries), Hanukkah, and conversion—are omitted, and only in some instances are prescriptive conclusions reached. Some scholars maintain that the Mishnah was not even written down until well into the talmudic period. Nor do we have a first-hand account from Rabbi Judah of his reasons for formulating this text. It would appear that, rather than compiling a definitive code, he sought to preserve and disseminate a record of protocols and deliberations—a need occasioned by the upheaval and displacement wrought by the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the aftermath of the failed Bar-Kokhba revolt in 135 C.E.

The Babylonian Talmud is likewise a record of discussions and cannot be considered a code of any kind. Indeed, throughout the talmudic period, Jewish law retained its common-law character. During much of this time, the competing needs of continuity and change were mediated by the Sanhedrin, the universally recognized legal authority. Following the Sanhedrin’s dissolution in 358 and the close of the talmudic era, the Geonim of Babylonia (7th-11th centuries) penned digests of specific areas of law.
law  Judaism  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
The Chasm That Separates Modern Readers from the World of the Biblical Text
To repeat: what was true for Jews in the biblical and talmudic periods was true for inhabitants of the ancient Near East generally. Their thought systems were part of the warp and woof of daily existence, lived and modeled by family members, neighbors, and fellow citizens. By contrast, it was the Greeks in their city-states who would construct abstract, universally valid thought systems independent of a web of lived experience and relationships and bring those thought systems to a high level of sophistication.

As Levenson notes, a handful of notable Jewish figures have attempted over the ages to incorporate into Judaism this Greek approach to the expression and clarification of ideas. By and large, though, the Jewish approach has been different—not because Jewish thinkers and commentators have valued action over thought, or because they have been too “primitive” to engage in the philosophical enterprise. Rather, they have implicitly understood the essence of the biblical truth: that ideas, and ideals, achieve their highest and most clarified expression within the context of family and community and the myriad actions of the committed life.
reading  bible  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Is the Torah a Work of Philosophy?
For Seeskin, the wisdom of the text seems to lie primarily in the philosophical discussions it has energized and in its capacity to inspire universally recognizable and available ethical behavior, “valid,” as he puts it, “for all time.” He has exemplified these preferences in his humane, learned, and elegant book.

The problem is that a very large part of the Bible does not deal with such things, at least in the first instance. It mostly deals, instead, with the relationship of the people Israel (less commonly, humankind in general) to God over time—with a God who acts in history, doing far more than revealing perennial, universal truths. The biblical focus, that is, lies on such matters as the reliability of God to fulfill His promises; on His responsiveness to cries of pain and to accusations of neglect in times of affliction; and on the people Israel’s willingness to carry out His commands wholeheartedly, to return to Him and His will when they have strayed, and to remain faithful even when He and His promises seem to have been discredited and provoke only contempt from outsiders and many insiders as well.
reading  bible  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It) – Bad Words – Medium
We have created an abusive society. We have normalized, regularized, and routinized abuse. We are abused at work, by the very rules, norms, and expectations of our jobs, at which we are merely “human resources”, to be utilized, allocated, depleted. We are abused at play, by industries that seek to prey on our innocence and literally “target” our human weaknessses. And now we are abused at arm’s length, through the lightwaves, by people we will never meet, for things we have barely even said. We live in a society where school shootings are the rule, not the exception, where more people will have taken antidepressants than not…and now one where nearly everyone will have been abused on the web…for a random, off-hand, throwaway comment, an idle thought, something trivial, unremarkable, meaningless.
5 weeks ago
Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change | The Economist
WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.
Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.
Unfortunately, as our special report in this issue sets out, the lifelong learning that exists today mainly benefits high achievers—and is therefore more likely to exacerbate inequality than diminish it. If 21st-century economies are not to create a massive underclass, policymakers urgently need to work out how to help all their citizens learn while they earn. So far, their ambition has fallen pitifully short.
economics  tech 
5 weeks ago
Language Log » The perils of literacy
In life, acquaintance with writing is the beginning of calamity and grief.
Once one knows how to roughly record one’s name, one can stop.
Of what use is cursive script, boasting of one’s inspired swiftness,
When on opening a scroll it stupefies men, makes them suffer?
I always laugh at myself that I used to enjoy it.
You have this disease: how can we cure it?
You say that in [calligraphy] is the greatest joy,
That in according with your thoughts, it is no different from “carefree wandering.”
Recently you built a hall called “Drunk Ink.”
Like drinking fine wine, [calligraphy] can dispel a hundred sorrows.
Thus I know that Master Liu’s words were not amiss:
Sick, one eats dirt and charcoal as though they were delicacies.
It can be said that you are at the acme of this art:
Heaps of spent brushes are [high] as hills.
When the inspiration comes, in one sweep you exhaust a hundred sheets of paper:
A spirited horse in an instant treads the Nine Divisions.
My calligraphy I make up as I go, at bottom without any rules.
My dots and strokes follow howsoever my hand moves, and working at it bothers me.
Why in your discussion are you uniquely lenient with me?
Every solitary character and scrap of paper you collect and store away.
Not inferior to Zhong Yao and Zhang Zhi, you are worthy in your own right.
Below, compared to Luo and Zhao, I too am superior.
You need not again earnestly practice by the poolside.
And you can take all the silk for [its proper] use in coverlets and sheets.
poetry  literacy  Chinese 
5 weeks ago
Trump Didn’t Kill Conservatism - WSJ
Mr. Deneen argues that the aristocratic inheritance that made the liberal democratic project possible—a respect for law and a common-law tradition, the maintenance of a vibrant civil society and dedication to free association, all secured by a foundation of religion—has been almost entirely consumed in the process of America’s rise to pre-eminence. The cultural legacy that early America inherited from an aristocratic Europe “encouraged the sense that a present generation owed debts to past generations, and as a result, generated obligations to future generations,” he writes. Today, “in contrast to ancient theory, liberty is the greatest possible pursuit and satisfaction of the appetites, while government is a conventional and unnatural limitation upon our natural liberty.”

In our republic, argues Mr. Deneen, a conception of men “not as parts of wholes, but as wholes apart” has dissolved the ties and relationships that are the traditional essence of society. What began in the Constitution as a mandate for government to protect rights and individual freedoms has evolved—reflecting our desire for ever-increasing autonomy and self-definition—into a mission to sever us from our natural contexts of place and family. Alienation and an increasingly expanding state are our destiny, Mr. Deneen fears, “unless we recover a different, older, and better definition and language of liberty.” We must, argues Mr. Deneen, cultivate the virtues needed to find freedom within the limits of human nature and the natural world.
5 weeks ago
Automated book-culling software drives librarians to create fake patrons to "check out" endangered titles
This is datification at its worst: as Cennydd Bowles writes, the pretense that the data can tell you what to optimize as well as how to optimize it makes systems incoherent -- it's the big data version of "teaching to the test." The library wants to be efficient at stocking books its patrons will enjoy, so it deploys software to measure popularity, and raises the outcomes of those measurements over the judgment of the skilled professionals who acquire and recommend books, who work with patrons every day. Instead of being a tool, the data becomes a straightjacket: in order to get the system to admit the professional judgment of librarians, the librarians have to manufacture data to put their thumbs on its scales. The point of the library becomes moving books by volume (which is only one of the several purposes of a library), and "the internal framing of users shifts. Employees start to see their users not as raison d’être but as subjects, as means to hit targets. People become masses, and in the vacuum of values and vision, unethical design is the natural result. Anything that moves the needle is fair game: no one is willing to argue with data."
data  library  automation  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Harvey Cox’s Radicalism
Cox explored many of these arguments in his earlier works, including The Secular City, in which he argued that the rise of capitalism bred its own form of viral secularism. For Cox, it is capitalism itself that has parted Christians from some of their oldest convictions, with its culture, its economic and political norms, displacing religion as an organizing principle in the societies it governs. Whereas Weber saw capitalism as born out of the same worldly and disciplined tendencies of Protestant thought, Cox believed that capitalism ultimately marks a break from the communitarian and egalitarian impulses of Christianity.

In The Market as God, there is less of the optimism that gave Cox’s early work its buoyant expectations for the future. Perhaps what contemporary Christians need, Cox concludes, is less retrofitting and more recovery of early Christian values. “God is the original creator of all,” he argues, and “God’s purpose in putting people in charge of his wealth…is to meet the needs of all human beings.” This simple, ancient Christian notion has all the makings of the kind of liberation theology that could overcome the Vatican’s critique: It is both thoroughly orthodox and yet also entirely radical, and it brings the liberatory possibilities of the Gospel into our own communities. “We as human beings constructed [the market],” Cox writes, “and we can renovate, dismantle, or transform it if we want to.”
capitalism  Christianity  religion  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
The Cybernetic Humanities - Los Angeles Review of Books
By looking at the world through the prism of behavioral pattern rather than function, Wiener was able to describe both animals and machines in terms borrowed from physics: both were pools of negative entropy, relatively stable patterns of resistance to the slow degeneration of all organization in the universe. This idea would prove crucial in the next years, when Wiener and Claude Shannon simultaneously developed a new theory: the theory of information, or what Shannon called “the mathematical theory of communication.” Kline’s account of this simultaneous discovery is one of the high points of his book. Both men made the analogy to thermodynamics, arguing that messages, too, were pools of negative entropy. Shannon provided a general formula for channel capacity, a way to ensure that messages could be encoded and decoded without degrading into mere noise. For Shannon, as Kline points out, “information” was an entropic background from which specific messages had to be selected (with shades of the way we use “data” today). For Wiener, it was the other way around: information was the message, entropy the noise. Wiener’s metaphor ultimately won. We now mostly imagine information as message, or, in Bateson’s famous phrase, as “a difference that makes a difference.”
cybernetics  information  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Psychology’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the Job
Unfortunately, none of that is true. A pile of scholarly work, some of it published in top psychology journals and most of it ignored by the media, suggests that the IAT falls far short of the quality-control standards normally expected of psychological instruments. The IAT, this research suggests, is a noisy, unreliable measure that correlates far too weakly with any real-world outcomes to be used to predict individuals’ behavior — even the test’s creators have now admitted as such. The history of the test suggests it was released to the public and excitedly publicized long before it had been fully validated in the rigorous, careful way normally demanded by the field of psychology. In fact, there’s a case to be made that Harvard shouldn’t be administering the test in its current form, in light of its shortcomings and its potential to mislead people about their own biases. There’s also a case to be made that the IAT went viral not for solid scientific reasons, but simply because it tells us such a simple, pat story about how racism works and can be fixed: that deep down, we’re all a little — or a lot — racist, and that if we measure and study this individual-level racism enough, progress toward equality will ensue.
psychology  sociology  race  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer
The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.
politics  election2016 
5 weeks ago
The College Sex Bureaucracy - The Chronicle of Higher Education
In essence, the federal government has created a sex bureaucracy that has in turn conscripted officials at colleges as bureaucrats of desire, responsible for defining healthy, permissible sex and disciplining deviations from those supposed norms. The results are not only cringeworthy but also unfair, potentially racially discriminatory, and detrimental to the crucial fight against sexual violence.
With a new administration set to take office, a host of open questions arises about what President-elect Donald J. Trump and his appointees will do with the sex bureaucracy’s reins. Will they stay the course? Will they abandon the current trajectory, lessening the role of the federal government in establishing norms of sexual conduct? Or, as seems more likely, will they use the extensive administrative apparatus at their command to advance a different, retrograde vision of sexual morality?
sexuality  academentia 
5 weeks ago
Adam Tooze reviews ‘How Will Capitalism End?’ by Wolfgang Streeck · LRB 5 January 2017
The weird geometry of Streeck’s Staatsvolk-Marktvolk juxtaposition points to an inconsistency at the heart of his agenda. When Streeck says he wants to put society in control he can expect general agreement. This, indeed, is pure Habermas, reasserting the lifeworld against the system. It is the boilerplate of social democracy. But the question it dodges is the all-important one: who or what is ‘the social’? The disagreement between Habermas and Streeck, put in Habermas’s terms, is whether to move up and forwards to a future cosmopolitan order, or down and backwards to the nation. But as Streeck himself asks when he has his critical sociology hat on, what about class divisions within the social, whether at the local, national or European level? In some of the best passages in How Will Capitalism End? Streeck explains that the distinction between ‘society’ and ‘economy’ that has structured the discipline of sociology, the dyad that made it possible to speak so confidently of putting ‘society’ in charge of the ‘economy’, was in fact an artefact of the peculiar class balance of the 1950s and 1960s. Streeck’s entire narrative rests on the claim that this class balance was ruptured in the 1970s. Thatcher let the cat out of the bag with her declaration that ‘there is no such thing’ as society, just ‘individual men and women and … families’. To which the response of critical theory should not be a pantomimic ‘Oh yes there is and it should be in charge,’ but to ask what configuration of social forces made it possible for Thatcher to make that claim and how might it be reversed.
[Notice that one does not question *whether* Thatcher's claim should be reversed; that everyone knows already]
politics  Europe 
6 weeks ago
Modern Age Journal: Peter Augustine Lawler, New Editor | National Review
I’ve already gotten dozens of e-mails and call this morning from fine people wanting to discuss with me the meaning of conservatism. Well, “What is conservatism?” is not a conservative question. We conservatives are suspicious of all “isms.”

Being a conservative means privileging a sustainable way of life worthy of particular free and relational persons capable of “living in the truth” over any theory or ideology. So it’s easy to point to many examples of culturally conservative thought, moral and political practice, and artistic accomplishment without defining conservatism as a doctrine.
6 weeks ago
Fifteen Years of the Salto Mortale
He escorts me to my car, and notices that it is fitted with a citizens-band radio. “I had one of those damned things, but I ripped it out after a couple of weeks,” he says. “I just couldn’t bear it—all those sick anonymous maniacs shooting off their mouths.”

I understand what he means. Most of what you hear on CB radio is either tedious (truck drivers warning one another about speed traps) or banal (schoolgirls exchanging notes on homework), but at its occasional—and illegal—worst it sinks a pipeline to the depths of the American unconscious. Your ears are assaulted by the sound of racism at its most rampant, and by masturbation fantasies that are the aural equivalent of rape. The sleep of reason, to quote Goya’s phrase, brings forth monsters, and the anonymity of CB encourages the monsters to emerge. Not often, of course; but when they do, CB radio becomes the dark underside of a TV talk show. No wonder Carson loathes it.
[Twitter avant le lettre]
socialmedia  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
Everyday Authoritarianism is Boring and Tolerable | Tom Pepinsky
Life under authoritarian rule in such situations looks a lot like life in a democracy. As Malaysia’s longtime Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad used to say, “if you don’t like me, defeat me in my district.”

This observation has two particular consequences. One, for asking if “the people” will tolerate authoritarian rule. The premise upon which this question is based is that authoritarianism is intolerable generally. It turns out that most people express democratic values, but living in a complicated world in which people care more about more things than just their form of government, it is easy to see that given an orderly society and a functioning economy, democratic politics may become a low priority.** The answer to the question “will ‘the people’ tolerate authoritarian rule?” is yes, absolutely.

Second, for knowing if you are living in an authoritarian regime versus a democratic one. Most Americans conceptualize a hypothetical end of American democracy in Apocalyptic terms. But actually, you usually learn that you are no longer living in a democracy not because The Government Is Taking Away Your Rights, or passing laws that you oppose, or because there is a coup or a quisling. You know that you are no longer living in a democracy because the elections in which you are participating no longer can yield political change.
politics  democracy 
6 weeks ago
Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs - Once Upon a Chef
By Jennifer Segal
Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes, plus 8 hours to marinate


1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if you don't like heat)
Zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
2-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts), trimmed of any excess fat and cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill


In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic.

Thread the chicken onto metal skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin, alternating occasionally with the red onions. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You'll need between 6-8 skewers.) Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spoon or brush the marinade all over the meat, coating well. Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. To grease the grill, lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the chicken kebabs until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve.
6 weeks ago
A. R. Wallace on progress and its discontents | OUPblog
In 1898, Wallace published the ironically titled The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures. Here, he provided a sophisticated deconstruction of many of the icons of late nineteenth-century materialism. Wallace singled out nineteenth-century militarism as a first main target, especially as it has been augmented “by the application to war purposes of those mechanical inventions and scientific discoveries which, properly used, should bring peace and plenty to all, but which, when seized upon by the spirit of militarism, directly tend to enmity among nations and to the misery of the people”. But it is ‘the demon of greed’ that poses in Wallace’s mind a more immediate threat: the enormous and continuous growth of wealth in the Victorian era, without any corresponding increase in the well-being of the general population. For Wallace, it was not science itself but rather capitalism’s myopic deployment of scientific discovery and technology that distorted the industrializing world of the nineteenth century and gave the enormous increase of material productive power almost entirely to the “capitalists, leaving the actual producers of it—the industrial workers and inventors—little, if any, better off than before”. When to this cauldron of inequity is added “the enormous injury to health and shortening of life due to unhealthy and dangerous trades, almost all of which could be made healthy and safe if human life were estimated as of equal value with the acquisition of wealth by individuals,” it becomes clear why Wallace’s critique was so unpalatable to many late Victorian leaders and would be similarly disparaged by many in power today. One need think only of such climate change skeptics as President-elect Donald Trump and many corporate leaders to see the modern parallels.

In the final chapter of Wonderful Century, starkly entitled “The Plunder of the Earth”, Wallace ties environmental concerns directly to the bulk of social, political, and moral deficits of the nineteenth century. His arguments here are reflective of those other thinkers and activists who articulated a set of environmental concerns—including the decrease in natural resources, the fate of “sublime” wilderness, and increasing pollution—in Britain and the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century. But most such arguments proved feeble against the onslaught of the powerful forces of Victorian industrialism. Hopefully, Wallace’s critique of progress will find a larger, more receptive audience in our own day when the baleful cultural and environmental consequences of Victorian progress that Wallace perceived—especially the frenzied global attempt to adapt industry and agriculture to the demands of quick and ever-increasing profitability—are magnified enormously.
history  progress 
6 weeks ago
Democracy is in crisis, but blaming fake news is not the answer | Evgeny Morozov
The big threat facing western societies today is not so much the emergence of illiberal democracy abroad as the persistence of immature democracy at home. This immaturity, exhibited almost daily by the elites, manifests itself in two types of denial: the denial of the economic origins of most of today’s problems; and the denial of the profound corruption of professional expertise.

The first type manifests itself whenever phenomena like Brexit or Donald Trump’s electoral success are ascribed primarily to cultural factors such as racism or voter ignorance. The second type denies that the immense frustration many people feel towards existing institutions stems not from their not knowing the whole truth about how they operate but, rather, from knowing it all too well. [...]

The problem is not fake news but the speed and ease of its dissemination, and it exists primarily because today’s digital capitalism makes it extremely profitable – look at Google and Facebook – to produce and circulate false but click-worthy narratives.

To recast the fake news crisis this way, however, would require the establishment to transcend one of their denials and dabble in the political economy of communications. And who wants to acknowledge that, for the past 30 years, it has been the political parties of the centre-left and centre-right that touted the genius of Silicon Valley, privatised telecommunications and adopted a rather lax attitude to antitrust enforcement?
democracy  tech  socialmedia  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
I was one of the only economists who predicted the financial crash of 2008
It is ideology, not science, that leads economists to wrongly assert that the market in money is like the market in widgets, and must not be regulated or tampered with by governments. That financial flows across borders must be “free”, regardless of whether they cause instability. That bankers are simply intermediaries between savers and borrowers – and do not create credit out of thin air. That monetary and fiscal policies that serve the finance sector with bailouts are tolerable, while those that serve the poor must be resisted. That the reasoning that informs the micro-economy can be extrapolated to reach conclusions about the macro-economy. In other words, the fallacy that the budgets of households (the micro-economy) can be aggregated and compared to the budgets of governments (the macro-economy).
economics  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
National Geographic’s "Gender Revolution": Bad Argument and Biased Ideology
Intersexuality and transgenderism are apples and oranges, but you would not know that from reading Henig’s article. Those who are pushing the gender revolution have an interest in confusing the categories. They feel that if it can be shown that biological sex is a spectrum rather than a binary, then they can undermine gender essentialism. But intersex conditions do not disprove the sexual binary. They are deviations from the binary norm, not the establishment of a new norm. Thus, the physiological experience of intersexuality is in a different category from the psychological constructs of gender dysphoria and transgenderism. Henig problematically links these categories so as to blur gender identity and medical abnormality into one umbrella category.
sexuality  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
New Year’s Multiverse | Not Even Wrong
Gleiser sees successful physics as “an expression of intellectual humility”, with our current problem that of Icarus, trying to fly too close to the sun. I strongly disagree with him about this, seeing some of the best of physics as an expression of intellectual arrogance, not humility. It is intellectual arrogance that has gotten our understanding of nature as far as it has gone, and it will require intellectual arrogance to go farther. The current problem of theoretical physics is due not the sin of arrogance, but to a somewhat different one, that of refusing to admit error. Multiverse mania is largely about the refusal to admit that string theory unification is a failed idea. Yes, arrogance is one reason for this refusal, and admitting failure takes some humility. But then moving on to find different, more successful ideas will require a lot of both mathematics and intellectual arrogance.
6 weeks ago
Our Country Split Apart > Publications > National Affairs
Donald Trump himself, a rich Manhattan businessman, has no interest in revisiting the emergence of the right to same-sex marriage, and he waved the gay flag to thunderous applause at a rally. He is also serious enough, I think, about keeping his campaign promise to protect the right of evangelicals and other observant believers to be who they are. He might even find himself well-situated to announce the historic compromise we need: Same-sex marriage is here to stay, but Americans also have the right to determine what marriage is within the context of their religious communities without being cut off or ostracized by government agencies — without being marginalized as citizens. Trump could trim his populism with the humane intention of preserving the true moral and religious diversity that is one saving grace of our country. He could tutor Americans angrily stuck on both sides of our national divide.
politics  election2016  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
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