Re: Annise Parker

1

Oh hey can I play the role of Lightly Indignant Southerner in Exile here*? Because the thing about Texans, vis-a-vis point 4, is that there are rather a lot of them and they're a lot of different ways. Insert here list of attributes meant to demonstrate diversity. Truly, though. I was once a little gay Texan Jew, and even in that laughably rarefied category, I wasn't alone.

Like anywhere else, the cities have more progressive people and the further out you go, the worse things get. But I use "worse" advisedly here--the whole thing is that the us/them mentality you find in the northeast about the south (as a proxy, really, for anywhere else in the country that doesn't vote blue) isn't working and should be reconsidered. And yes, it's true of the way people think about us, the physical or political northeast, too, but this is an area where there's little danger in unilateral disarmament.

This is a soapbox I stand on with some frequency, because I really, truly get the satisfaction, the feeling of solidarity with one's own that comes from thinking of conservative America as a monolithic menace. But more and more, I'm convinced it's one of progressives' biggest problems.

*Heretofore LISE. What? No, not like the bugs.


Posted by: MauryD | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:00 AM
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I am not that far from Houston. Your point is well-taken: a conservative area has a huge amount of variation. It's not a homogeneous group. But the median person is pretty conservative and homophobic, I'd bet.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:06 AM
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Houston isn't Austin in levels of liberalism, but it's not a conservative hotbed by any stretch. They've never had a Republican mayor, despite a race several years ago with a Hispanic Republican and a pretty unpopular and incompetent Democratic mayor. The county has generally veered to the right, though even that changed in 2006 and 2008.


Posted by: R. Alex | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:14 AM
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Friday's first episode of Dollhouse totally used the "Southern accent as a symbol of the racist bad guy" cliche. It was really annoying. How did Echo get from L.A. to the deep south anyway?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:17 AM
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I think the answer is some version of 3, with the proviso that--rather than it being something that requires "mental gymnastics"--people's natural state is to have a variety of conflicted and inconsistent attitudes.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:17 AM
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Isn't Houston's political culture more hardcore libertarian than anything else? I know a lot gets made about the lack of zoning laws. That was the angle of the NYTimes piece "City of Money" IIRC,


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:19 AM
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Sure, but it's more conservative than Chicago, New York, or LA, and none of them have yet had a gay mayor. In a time when anti-gay groups are working really hard to strike down Teh Gay Agenda all over the country, it's a little counter-intuitive for Parker to get elected in Houston.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:20 AM
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I don't know Houston (I've only been there to see the used rockets), but before Obama, everybody (or at least a lot of people) said the first black president would be conservative.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:20 AM
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7 to 3.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:21 AM
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6 sort of dovetails with point 2 in the OP.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:22 AM
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@7 It is indeed counterintuitive, and I don't at all mean to make my point at your expense. I just think now might be a good time to regard this as a Good Thing That Happened--to the tune of "wow, Houston sure has some complex political stuff going on right now, and it swung our way"--rather than a paradigm-upsetting anomaly to be reconciled with the reality of homophobic Texas. If that distinction makes sense.


Posted by: MauryD | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:27 AM
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Man, it's almost like you don't consider Providence a major city. Even though we have the second-best water in the country!


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:36 AM
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Providence is one of the ten most important cities in Massachusetts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:38 AM
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8:And they were proven correct.

Apparently I am not the only one who needs to work on the interaction of class and identity politics, and the costs or benefits of each. Maybe as a nostalgic modernist, I am just asserting my male white privilege in not being thrilled to death by the election of a lesbian conservative plutocrat.

IIRC, DFW has/had two elected gay law enforcement officials.

Identity politics, which may be the only politics, is complicated. People have multiple identities, and maybe "conservative" and "plutocrat" trumped "Lesbian" in Houston. Or vice versa.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:39 AM
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This CSM article mentions both Providence, RI, and Portland, OR, as other cities that have elected gay mayors but goes on to point out that Houston is the most populous US city to have done so.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:48 AM
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8:And they were proven correct.

That would be super fascinating if this thread morphs into an evaluation of whether Obama is suprisingly conservative or unsurprisingly conservative.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:51 AM
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heebie mcmanus can tell if you're against him, you know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:53 AM
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Because it'd be super funny if that subthread came back, too!

Tee hee!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:53 AM
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16:Is that irony?

Look, I won't troll this thread much, because I have ywo books open on my desktop about modern vs postmodern politics I need to read.

But for the record, I use Newberry classification:

Republicans = reactionary
Democrats = conservative, for example wanting to preserve welfare capitalism
There is no progressive party.

The identity politics, in the sense of providing access to power for new factions or groups is not so different than allowing access for Italians or Irish or whatever. It is still 18th century liberalism, essentially conservative and preservative. Maintaining the status quo as affiliations shift.

Obama = "system still works ok fine, see?"

His program is to make America open for black investment bankers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 10:02 AM
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16:Is that irony?

I'm afraid it was.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 10:06 AM
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books open on my desktop about modern vs postmodern politics

Which titles, bob?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 10:12 AM
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Hi, Houstonian here to repudiate the various calumnies and innuendos directed against my city. Annise Parker is not some fringe radical. She won SIX city-wide elections in the last 12 years. She's been the effective number two to Bill White, the most popular mayor in 20+ years, for the last sx years as city controller. People know her as an effective technocrat. Why assume that people would suddenly put a premium on her sexuality? They had a chance to support a rich straight white male in the primary and he came in 3rd to a black man and a gay woman. Maybe identity politics isn't the end all and be all for the electorate in this city. Maybe people are more concerned with development and property taxes and crime.

I am a born and bred Austinite and I love that town, but as much as it likes to celebrate its reputation as the liberal oasis of Texas, it cannot hold a candle to breadth of diversity and cosmopolitanism of Houston, especially given Austin's own ugly history of racism. Something like 70% of the population of the Houston metro under the age of 30 is non-white, and we have a bigger gay population than Austin just by dint of numbers. I find it amazing that you'd believe that mass self-hypnotism is a better explanation for the outcome of this election than rational choice of a diverse city.

Finally, yes Obama is temperamentally quite conservative, in the sense that he is not prone to radical changes. Not sure why this would surprise anyone who paid attention to his campaign.


Posted by: Amitav | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 10:49 AM
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I think #2, and if you have preferences but don't act on them it won't cost you.

Also, autoplay audio link


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 11:29 AM
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21:

Legacies of Modernism:Art & Politics in Northern Europe, 1890-1950>/i> ed. Patrizia McBride, et al Palgrave McMillan 2005

And still slogging thru Roncaglia Wealth of Nations a History of Economic Thought. Roncaglia is a hardcore Sraffan/Neo-Ricardian/sumpin and it is a slog because I am trying to see the ontologies/epistemologies that ground economic ideologies. The triangle of Keynes/Hayek/Sraffa during the 30s, their philosophical umm, tutors (?) Bradley Moore/Austrians/etc. Sraffa may have been the best friend of both Gramsci and Wittgenstein. Certainly an influence on Wittgenstein. I consider Keynes a modernist, and probably Hayek. Trying to learn Sraffa.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 11:30 AM
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that is Wealth of Ideas

sorry.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 11:38 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:04 PM
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I find it amazing that you'd believe that mass self-hypnotism is a better explanation for the outcome of this election than rational choice of a diverse city.

Jesus fucking Christ. Where did I suggest self-hypnotism? Was it 1, where I pointed out that very few Houstons actually voted? or 2, where I suggested they were motivated to vote for her because she's a long-time business insider who fits Houston politics really, really well? or 3, about how they may have rationalized her sexuality so that it didn't pose a threat?

Houstonian here to repudiate the various calumnies and innuendos directed against my city.

or 4, you don't think Houstononions are homophobic? I think I have a fair amount of interaction with a decently representative sample of the 18-22 year old set, from Houston. I have not noticed them to have any warm fuzzies towards gay kids. Even the gay kids are extremely conflicted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:30 PM
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or 4, you don't think Houstononions are homophobic?

I heard that when Houston got its football team back, it was decided that "Oilers" had been way too gay a name.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:38 PM
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I heard that they thought that "Oilers" was too diverse, and they wanted to emphasize what a uniform and homogeneous monolith Houston is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:41 PM
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Houstononions

I prefer Vidalias.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:50 PM
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What's the normal demonym for residents of Houston? Houstoners? Houstonites? Houstonoids?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 12:57 PM
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Houstonians.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:00 PM
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What's the normal demonym for residents of Houston?

I can't believe you would try to refer to such a vast, diverse group by a single label. Houstist.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:03 PM
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Huh, so shorter 22: it's Heebie's option (2), or some variant thereon.

Also, Heebie: "syncophants"? That was intentional, wasn't it, you devil?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:08 PM
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Syncophants toady on the off-beat.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:11 PM
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It only sounds like they're transgressing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:30 PM
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I've got another 2 hours to go in Orlando and then it's wheels up. I do not wish to return.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:43 PM
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Do not wish to return to Orlando? If so, I don't think anyone blames you. I hope this hasn't been your only experience of the US.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:49 PM
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[Edited Much Later to Add: Oh, you're in Texas too. I feel sort of dumb now. I have this conditioned response after ten years living in the Midwest and Northeast and usually hearing statements about Texas made by people who aren't there and, as often as not, never have been.]


Posted by: MauryD | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 1:54 PM
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Texas is made of poop. I know, because I'm from Boston.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:05 PM
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What is Boston made of?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:10 PM
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Texist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:10 PM
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I spoke to a friend in Houston this morning; he hadn't been paying attention to local politics, but was exercised about the remote possibility of a VAT in the United States, which says something about Houstonians, I suppose.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:10 PM
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42 to 40


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:10 PM
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It is hard to feel responsible for a country this large. Damn. Orlando's not my fault, really! Neither is Kansas! (I hear there's nothing the matter there, actually, but some people get het up over the question.) Texas doesn't take shit from no one, and keeps muttering about seceding, but that's because they're silly that way. As for New York and California, well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:18 PM
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I am quite fond of 35 and 36.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:19 PM
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It is hard to feel responsible for a country this large.

Luckily, there's no need to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:32 PM
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47: Yeah, technically true, but I have trouble getting away from it. Citizenship and all that; you get the country you deserve, all the usual cliches, if not us, then who?

I was really just ruminating on how freakin' big this country is, and how various. I know we've discussed this before.

Alex is leaving the US with a bad taste in his mouth. Boo.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 2:46 PM
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Not even the mallards can redeem Orlando.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:06 PM
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Bob: I think there's a case for picking up the line that Seth Edenbaum's been running against modernism for a long while now, at his blog, and arguing that Wittgenstein, Gramsci and maybe Sraffa -- assuming he's in the same territory, which I can't judge -- is some kind of a radical social empiricist. Except I don't know what the proper term would be: the idea is all smeared over with stupid stuff about "postmodernism", which makes the issues very hard to see. Thomas Kuhn's probably in this territory too. And "empiricist" is of course a word with mud all over it...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:16 PM
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is s/b are all


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:16 PM
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50: Wittgenstein? I'll have to go look, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:23 PM
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Citizenship and all that; you get the country you deserve, all the usual cliches, if not us, then who?

Meh. You don't choose where you're born.

I was really just ruminating on how freakin' big this country is, and how various. I know we've discussed this before.

Yeah, I find it really interesting. It's actually one of the things I like most about America.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:24 PM
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52: Sorry parsimon, I wrote that really confusingly, I am a bit tiercewise, plus tired: I don't recall whether SE's been writing specifically about Wittgenstein et al, what I mean is, his general critique of modernism would -- I believe -- encourage you to array those guys as part of his "radical empiricist" (or whatever the term should be) counterforce. Except I know very little about Sraffa.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:29 PM
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54: I know nothing about Sraffa. I'll go look a bit later.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:35 PM
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Re: 27

Maybe I read this the wrong way, but when you say:

4. Perhaps Texans aren't homophobic. I doubt this.

I take it that the counterfactual is implied for #1-3: Texans, specifically Houstonians, are homophobic and therefore there must be some other explanation to the recent mysterious behavior in this election.

Re #1, turnout is low in any off-year (and runoff) election; that doesn't asterisk the election of Bill White or Lee Brown or Bob Lanier or Kathy Whitmire, so I dismiss this as a rationale-- especially since low turnout elections are usually the ones most susceptible to polarizing campaigns.

Re #2, it's completely wrong to say she is "totally conservative" unless you think center-left Democrats backed by a progressive coalition are basically the same as, e.g., Tom DeLay; it further betrays a basic lack of understanding about the electorate to assume that the city would back a "totally conservative" candidate, given the people we've elected for the last 25 years.

I said "self-hypnotism" in reaction to your #3, the mental gymnastics of "quite homophobic" Houstonians; it may not have been the best choice of words but I was typing quickly on my phone. I felt that your #3 was reductionist thinking that ignores the characteristics of Houston, one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the nation. I think it's a bit silly to characterize the 4th largest city in the country with such a broad brush. Of course there are homophobes in Houston. Are Americans not racist since we elected Obama? Some people are racist and some are not, and some people may have racist thoughts but still voted Obama; the shit is complicated because people are complicated and you never know what's in their heart, and the same is true in Houston.

All that said, this:

I think I have a fair amount of interaction with a decently representative sample of the 18-22 year old set, from Houston. I have not noticed them to have any warm fuzzies towards gay kids. Even the gay kids are extremely conflicted.

seems pretty dubious as a data source. Even if your anecdotal observations were of a representative set, 18-22 yo college students are by definition not reflective of the general electorate. But even setting aside age, I'm skeptical that your students are a representative set of 18-22 yo Houstonians in terms of ethnic or income background. Are they 51% non-white? Do they have median family income of $36k in 1999 dollars? If they come from HISD, the largest school district in the metro area by far (200,000 students) do they reflect the 88% black and Hispanic make-up, with 78% low-income and 27% limited-English proficiency, with over 90 different native languages? Maybe I'm making some massive assumptions about the type of students you interact with while teaching college math in Central Texas, but I doubt they reflect these demographics.


Posted by: Amitav | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:47 PM
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56: So, in conclusion, Heebie, there is absolutely nothing surprising or comment-worthy or interesting at all about the fact that the mayor of a big city in Texas is gay, all Texans are special snowflakes, you don't know what you're talking about, and I am a little insulted that you even brought it up. HOW DARE YOU.

You're in time out. Go sit in the corner and think about what you've done.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 3:52 PM
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Brava, Cecily.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 4:15 PM
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54:Seth Edenbaum

I have been there;he doesn't provide an RSS feed so I keep forgetting him. I like him.

I can't seem to shake my modernism anymore than I can shake my pessimism (although I do try); the catastrophe has happened, is happening, is about to happen. I lack the optimism or disengagement required for post-modernism, or liberalism, I think. 25 years from now we can have 60 women Senators? 25 years from now will look like a Cormac McCarthy novel.

55:I ain't recommending it. My project is crazy, like interpreting the Philosophical Investigations as the expression of an ideology or Zeitgeist.

Keynes is a pretty easy Modernist:he lived through the catastrophes* and developed an economics of radical uncertainty. Since we cannot, absolutely cannot, assess the probability of a comet wiping out life on earth next week, how should we treat each other, what should our policies be? Communism or Capitalism are both optimistic;but we can try to be kinder to all classes.

*Not merely wars and depressions (2) but social and intellectual collapses Treatise on Probability


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 4:42 PM
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Sraffa and Pasinetti were (sorta for Sraffa) Neo-Ricardians. It is very wrong to reduce intellectual ideas to biography, but still, David Ricardo (1772-1823) also lived thru the end of the world.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 4:48 PM
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Googling casually, Seth E has apparently only written about Wittgenstein in regard to autism, and would probably not approve my gather-together of these names under his argument. I knew you'd like him: I do too. He's a humanist not a managerialist, albeit a ferociously grumpy humanist.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 4:54 PM
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57 is wrong. A gay Mayor of Houston may not surprising or interesting or comment-worthy in the exact ways heebie thinks it is, but I also think it is interesting and comment-worthy.

Co-optation.

"recall how we were rendered helpless by the expropriation of the progressive politics of identity in order to further dismantle the social welfare state." ...Ricard Estes


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 4:55 PM
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57 is wrong.

Ow, my feelings!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 5:06 PM
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Cecily is on fire today.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 5:33 PM
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57: the election of this particular mayor is about as noteworthy as if it had happened in LA or NY or Chicago, perhaps less noteworthy than the election of Houston's first black mayor, and nowhere near as noteworthy as the election of Obama. This was probably more of a story when she won her first at large (city-wide) city council bid-- in 1997.

And it is somewhat insulting that the vast majority of non-white, non-evangelical, non-Republican Houstonians are somehow dismissed as of no account when people think about our city. Or else why is it so shocking that a gay mayor is elected here before Chicago or LA?


Posted by: Amitav | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 5:47 PM
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65.1: Is there some base threshold of noteworthiness required to warrant a blog post? I think "as noteworthy as the first African-American president" is a pretty high bar to clear.

65.2: I'm guessing that the non-white, non-evangelical, non-Republican Houstonians have the same cross to bear as white, evangelical, Republican New Yorkers, for example. Dude, it's Texas.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 5:56 PM
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56 -- Is that who votes in Houston? If so, good for y'all.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 5:59 PM
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59: The link to that Edenbaum blog doesn't seem to be helpful at this time. That's okay. Bob, I don't actually know what you're talking about with respect to the modernism you describe, though that's likely because you speak in terms of economists, and that's not my territory. No worries. It's something for another day. It's a narrative I should become familiar with.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:00 PM
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I suspect Amitav is reacting to Things People Elsewhere Say About Texas. My own impression of Houston (having, yes, actually been there) is that it's (1) incredibly diverse, (2) full of interesting people and things, (3) fucking huge, and (4) planned like an unexpected bout of diarrhea.

It certainly wouldn't be my first guess for top-ten cities (by population) to elect a gay mayor, and good on 'em for doing so. That said, Amitav: being rather jerky in tone.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:06 PM
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http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-10-2009/beck---not-so-mellow-gold

Nothing to do with Texas, but funny nonetheless.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:22 PM
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I suspect Amitav is reacting to Things People Elsewhere Say About Texas.

Well, y'all remember Miriam Ferguson
of course, the second woman Governor in the United States...second by two weeks.

As a DFW Metroplexian, I really have very little understanding of a thing called "Texas." WTF do I have to do with El Paso? I barely understand my suburb and its politics. I like my neighborhood a lot, and wouldn't move with a million dollars.

The family across the street is in near constant joy over their first house, backyard with dog, the chance to have a quinceanera, their first Christmas decorations. I bet their politics are just awful.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:27 PM
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I bet their politics are just awful.

Awful how?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:30 PM
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We did them a huge favor during a bad power outage, running an extension cord across the street for three days.

He first introduced himself as "George" and then immediately changed it to "Jorge." I don't know what that was about.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:33 PM
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72:I shouldn't have said that. They seem like very nice people.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 6:34 PM
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72: probably procedural liberals.


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 7:17 PM
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[Edited Much Later to Add: Oh, you're in Texas too. ...

Actually, I found your comment completely reasonable, and this is definitely not the best written post ever. I got irritated at 22 for having such a smarmy tone.

Fortunately, 57 is totally awesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 7:35 PM
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"Co-optation" is probably wrong. I don't know Parkers' politics, but in the case of an hypothetical evangelical birther Randian fire-breathing Republican troglodyte LGBT or woman, it would be absurd to say that the military plutocratic elite "co-opted" her in an any way. She'd be acting according to her nature.

And I really can't claim false consciousness on the part of voters. If we were to add twenty more Kay Bailey Hutchinsons or Snowes or DiFis or Harmans to Congress, there is no doubt in my mind that there would soon be massive increased opportunities for LGBT/women of a certain class and educational background to become investment bankers and rip off the working class to get billion dollar bonuses or become University Chancellors who earn million dollar salaries by jacking up tuition til it prices the middleclass out of the opportunity for education. Or even Generals running Torture Prisons or bombing villages. It is to dream. I mean, fair is fair, and liberalism is about inclusion.

So yea, end of of white male hetero privilege. Plutocracy and power available to all, I say. Well ok, not all, but those kind don't hang on this blog.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 7:46 PM
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I'm not a Houstonian, but I've spent a LOT of time there and feel like I know the city pretty well; my daughter, through her Mom, is related to folks who have been there since just after the city was founded. I think it's overstating the case -- or, at a minimum, making the case a lot less interesting -- to say this is no stranger than any other huge US city electing a gay mayor.

Compared to other big US cities, Houston has far fewer of the knowledge-professionals that one thinks of as the core of urban support for gay rights. There just isn't as much need for creative professional types in the oil industry or in Houston's major industries. And, IME, the young people who are there are far more traditionalistic in orientation than you'd find in LA or SF or NY, which are the other US cities I know well -- e.g., you're much more likely to find young professionals married with kids at 28 in Houston than elsewhere. Evangelical christianity isn't at all dominant in H, but it's a presence in a way that it's not in the big coastal cities that I know.

With that said, I wasn't really surprised. Partly because it's totally unsurprising that the successor to Bill White would win -- he's a competent mayor who the business community and progressives liked a lot. But also because Houston is a big, open place that is all about the money -- I've always felt that it is more ruthlessly capitalist than the other cities I know. The ethos of "if you've got money, we don't give a fuck" is palpable. That's not libertarian, exactly, but it's a kind of deep ethos of business-above-all that makes it totally plausible to me that they could elect a gay woman with the right pedigree without worrying too much about it.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 8:38 PM
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I like 78. It's like a meaty, informed version of (parts of) what I was thinking.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:08 PM
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||OT: ThisAll men watch porn scientists find seems rather stupid. It says researchers who were interested in studying differences between those who consume porn and those who don't were stymied because they couldn't find any guys who'd never seen visual porn. Well, come to think of it I haven't met a single guy who has never, once, seen a porn image or video, whether online or off. But having seen it a couple times out of curiosity or back in a different period in life is still pretty different from someone who uses the stuff regularly. Every woman I've known has seen the stuff at least once, but very few consume porn on a regular basis, or at least the visual stuff, written porn is a different story (think 'erotica', 'urban fiction', a fair chunk of 'romance' and 'urban fantasy' that feature plenty of very explicit sex)|>


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-13-09 9:20 PM
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Actually, MCO isn't bad as airports go. I was able to transit security real fast and there's presentable beer and (flaky, google, sponsored but XMPP-killing) WLAN. (I'm in one of the gate lounges. Well, I was when I wrote this but there was a browser crash and then they called my flight and now I'm in London.)

It looks like my schedule for next year will include Boston, San Francisco, and LA. Despite the well-known hotel duck shortage, I'm confident those will be more fun. The hotel has been occupied by something called "West Coast Dance Explosion" for the last three days. Hordes of 12 year old girls and their hyper-competitive mothers. (I think they may have meant the west coast of Florida.) And the entire drag racing competition parts industry was there as well.

I feel I should try to be generous, but it is very much as if you got a committee of French intellectuals to design a city to illustrate all their prejudices (and most of mine) about the United States.

Lesson in life, btw: if an AT&T executive recommends a bar, don't go there. This should perhaps have been obvious. And the World's Most Dangerous Rock'n'Roll Duelling Pianos Event may well be dangerous, but not in that way. `


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 2:47 AM
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what do you think about the whole US$ 1/3 trillion in drug money thing over at Stross's?

I mean, is the claim sensible, or basically a policeman talking up the local hoods?

Obvs. the conclusion these guys are investing in anything is pretty iffy, given that as far as I can tell if you're a drug lord the goal is to have highly liquid assets that you /know/ will be there when you need them. (I keep wanting to compare to Big Tobacco and the breweries and of course there's (a) the difference between criminals and capitalists, esp. the fact that Big Cocaine has pretty limited reinvestment opportunities I should think and (b) the patterns of holdings will be different, so the idea that this money will act like anything but just generally profit seeking money is very dodgy.)

But the figure itself seems pretty out there.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 3:29 AM
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You do wonder how truthy that number is, don't you?

Also, illegality has interesting consequences. Brewing and tobacco are some of the most reliable cashflow businesses about; overall, people usually don't stop buying beer. So if your money comes from selling beer, you're in a good position to do risky investments (early stage VC, etc).

But when you're outside the law, even though the cash flow from a cocaine firm is probably even more robust, you need to be able to hide your money and flee at any time, so your liquidity-preference schedule must be very steep (i.e. you want incredibly high returns if you're going to decrease your liquidity at all).

Perhaps they're buying...government bonds. Rock solid and very liquid indeed, and perhaps offering - ahem - certain political advantages. Duncan Weldon pointed out on his blog last week that RBS Global Markets (its i-banking operation) made £6bn in 2008, but used so much capital to do so that the bank could have doubled its profits by just putting it all in UK gilts. Wouldn't surprise me if that's what the mafia did.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 4:14 AM
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69-- basically this. I may have been a little salty yesterday b/c I felt like the blogosphere was pooping on my lawn (not just here).

78-- It's a function of size. The Med Center is the largest in the world. There are two research universities, and NASA, and major industrial research centers. We have the largest central museum district, many art and music venues, large gay community, etc. etc. There is a thriving "creative class," but due to sprawl it is easy for people to isolate themselves and never see it. We are also increasingly black and brown and foreign-born. That said I think your last paragraph is broadly right.

66-- I never disputed the blogworthiness of the story-- just the suggestion of my city as totally conservative, homophobic, etc.

Houston's image is a sore spot. I've lived and voted in Austin, Palo Alto, and Boston/Cambridge, and also lived overseas-- and I've never been in a place that was so friendly and appealing yet so casually and constantly misperceived by outsiders. Apologies all around if my hackles were raised in an unseemly manner yesterday, or if I misunderstood the post.


Posted by: Amitav | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 6:46 AM
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You can just see it: some Colombian cocaine runner sitting up in the jungle somewhere near the Venezuala border, listens to the call on the satellite phone coming through from the Miami office --- yes, the merchandise has made it through, and the hand-off's been made. The sub was a great success, and if he could just offer his felicitations on the quality of the idea ---.

The man in the jungle cuts him off, and says, that's all very well, but how are Treasuries?

I'd also imagine it's the kind of business where large cash reserves are pretty important to keep everything moving*. So even if you have 50 thou profit from last time, you need it on hand just in case anything comes up this time, which would limit your ability to invest. Of course, this wouldn't matter for the assets you were trying to move out of the black economy long term, but i'd imagine that those make up a reasonable slim part of the money. (you'd also have to factor in the irrationality of your average drug dealer; I suspect quite shoddy investment strategies...)

* tho', obviously, I don't know.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 7:30 AM
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It does seem odd that someone who has lived in Texas for several years would write "Perhaps Texans aren't homophobic. I doubt this."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 7:31 AM
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Yes, obviously they're going to hold lots of cash - their liquidity preference is very high, due both to their transactions and precautionary demand for money. But we're not in the simple Keynesian derivation with only two investments here; there are many possibilities. So, logically, if you have a strong preference for cash, you also have a preference for things that are closer to cash when you make your decision about what to do with the chunk of money you don't just keep as cash.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 7:48 AM
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The hotel has been occupied by something called "West Coast Dance Explosion" for the last three days.

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion, Alex.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 7:48 AM
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Alex--let us know when you're in Boston so that we can have a meetup.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 8:48 AM
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and I've never been in a place that was so friendly and appealing yet so casually and constantly misperceived by outsiders.

I kind of know what you mean, but I have been feeling serious low-level irritation with the underlying conservativeness of my neck of the woods. But the people are really pleasant and friendly on a daily basis. I like them, and then wham they say something off-hand about poor people being lazy and I bite back anger.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 8:55 AM
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bob mcmanus:
"He first introduced himself as "George" and then immediately changed it to "Jorge." I don't know what that was about."

I'm hesitant to do this since I'm responding to someone who tossed me a compliment but you've just exemplified the problem.
"Sraffa and Pasinetti" "Neo-Ricardians" "Wittgenstein"

You can name-drop and discuss ideas and manipulate concepts and maybe even conceptualize, but you either do not have or are afraid to use the sense of imaginative inquiry that would begin to answer the question you less ask than you shrug off.
"I don't know what that was about."

Immigrants have always tended to anglicize their names, Janusz becomes John and Jorge becomes George. They've even gone to school, beyond learning english, to eliminate their accents. But more and more they don't. Your neighbor's awkward indecision marks the new relation of immigrants to their in-between-ness.

And none of this is "radical" empiricism, it's absolutely basic. That it's now seen as radical is an aftereffect of modern rationalism. and a tragedy.


Posted by: seth edenbaum | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 10:03 AM
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91:"I don't know what that was about."

Immigrants have always tended to anglicize their names, Janusz becomes John and Jorge becomes George. They've even gone to school, beyond learning english, to eliminate their accents. But more and more they don't. Your neighbor's awkward indecision marks the new relation of immigrants to their in-between-ness.

Well, this was all understood.

Original:He first introduced himself as "George" and then immediately changed it to "Jorge." I don't know what that was about.

What is at question is what is was about me that led George/Jorge to immediately give me the option of how I was to address him. This could have been my fault, after he introduced himself as "George" maybe I had a slight look of surprise. As I remember, the "Jorge" was at a quieter level, though not quite sotto voce. Perhaps I showed a little prejudice here, perhaps a little openness. If I was showing prejudice, wouldn't he have stuck with "George?" Or not. It was a very quick interaction, and one I found interesting.

The most uncomfortable moment was, when in return for the use of the extension cord, he offered me money (refused) and then some beer. As a non-drinker I had to refuse the beer, and I think this embarrassed him. I should have asked for some food, perhaps.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:06 PM
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I'll ask the commentariat

Given the interaction as described in 92, should I have addressed him as "George" or "Jorge?"

To be honest "Jorge" gave me a little trouble, but that is what I tried. Between hor-gay and yor-gay, I think.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:16 PM
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"Georgie".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:18 PM
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I was just told it is "hor-hay" In any case, I know I was close to enough to be able to follow his lead at the time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:25 PM
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OT: Ethical question. If one receives an e-mail asking one to grant permission for reprinting of one's letter to the editor in a textbook, should one grant permission for free, or charge them?

(Note: E-mail includes all relevant details, such as the fact that the textbook will be sold for $52.)

It's not really a question, because my belief in the principles at stake far outweighs my visceral dislike of textbook companies. But it took a good 60 seconds to get myself past the initial reaction.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:28 PM
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Why wouldn't you ask the textbook company to pay you something? Unless you signed a written agreement signing away the rights to the letter (not usually the case), you own it. I mean, if you set too high a price I'm sure they'll balk, but why not try and see if you can get something? Any other rights holder surely would.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:41 PM
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What happens when Witt's letter to the editor is set to music and becomes the next hit? By sending it to the paper, has she lost rights to it?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 1:54 PM
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By sending it to the paper, has she lost rights to it?

Under Copyright law, the answer to this question is very clear, and the answer is "no." (Unless Witt works for the paper, or signed some kind of written agreement assigning the rights in the letter to the paper).


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 2:01 PM
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Since I have been a bad boy today...

27: I have not noticed them to have any warm fuzzies towards gay kids. Even the gay kids are extremely conflicted.

I have to agree with you, Heebie. I was at a party once and this young twenty-something kid was there (and he was very swishy) decided the way for him to break the tension was tell the worst fag jokes in the history of the world. After about 30 jokes in 20 minutes, I looked over and said, 'Kid, I got that your gay. I don't care. It's fine. Please stop with the horrible jokes now. Someone else will no doubt be happy to put you down, preempting them doesn't help.' Nice kid though.

77: there is no doubt in my mind that there would soon be massive increased opportunities for LGBT/women of a certain class and educational background to become investment bankers and rip off the working class to get billion dollar bonuses or become University Chancellors who earn million dollar salaries by jacking up tuition til it prices the middleclass out of the opportunity for education.

And then I will agree with Bob here as well. And for teh trifecta of agreeableness:
78: But also because Houston is a big, open place that is all about the money -- I've always felt that it is more ruthlessly capitalist than the other cities I know. The ethos of "if you've got money, we don't give a fuck" is palpable. That's not libertarian, exactly, but it's a kind of deep ethos of business-above-all that makes it totally plausible to me that they could elect a gay woman with the right pedigree without worrying too much about it.

Amen. Man, they got some real fascist libertarians down there. Rand uber alles, baby.

90: But the people are really pleasant and friendly on a daily basis. I like them, and then wham they say something off-hand about poor people being lazy and I bite back anger.

Tell me about: Loud, pushy, obnoxious, crude as hell, insane in a fight, and more or less awful except for us being disgustingly helpful and friendly. {shrugs}

max
['Oh, well.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 2:51 PM
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Why wouldn't you ask the textbook company to pay you something?

Because I'm more committed to the free flow of information than I am to gouging an admittedly corrupt system.

Unless you signed a written agreement signing away the rights to the letter (not usually the case), you own it.

Yeah, I didn't sign a thing -- it's just a typical letter to the editor. The newspaper makes you give oral consent to being published, but that just means they get to reprint it in perpetuity and make money off of their archives. AFAIU I still "own" my own words.

why not try and see if you can get something? Any other rights holder surely would.

Spoken like a lawyer! Sorry, Halford, I don't really mean you specifically. But yes, of course -- in one sense it's entirely natural to want to get something back from a company that's poised to make money off of your efforts.

But in another sense, if I actually believe in the principles I espouse, then it'd be pretty lousy of me to turn around and violate them. I've put a fair amount of time and thought into my opinions on copyright and so-called "intellectual property" issues, and I'd be the worst kind of hypocrite if I tossed those principles away because I had the chance to make some money by doing so.

I couldn't live comfortably with myself, anyway. And in the end my self-image and my personal comfort are pretty important to me. Never mind how momentarily satisfying as it would be to tell a price-gouging textbook publisher that they owe me a few hundred bucks for five minutes' effort.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-14-09 7:48 PM
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I'd never say you should do something that violates a deeply-held ethical principle just for cash -- or at least as small amount of cash as what would be on offer here -- but I've got to say I find your ethical position (as I understand it) bizarre.

You wrote the thing, you own the rights, and the textbook publisher is attempting to profit from your work without paying you. The textbook publisher isn't an eelemonsary institution -- it's out there making cash on your (and other people's) ideas. The "free flow of ideas," in this case, means you're giving away a writing for free that someone else will be charging (something, a portion of the textbook cost) for.

Maybe you don't believe in copyright at all and are refusing to participate in the machinery of death providing compensation to creative people for their work, but that's an odd position. I assume you've been influenced by the Larry Lessigs/EFF types. But I don't think that even old Larry himself would argue that it's ethically appropriate just to give away creative works to commercial publishers for free -- their issues are really about compulsory licensing and limiting the length of copyright terms, not just abolishing copyright altogether.

Anyhow, we're probably talking about a few hundred bucks here, tops, so probably not worth getting into. But still, weird.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 12:25 PM
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...annnnd, I mispelled one of my favorite words, eelemosynary.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 12:32 PM
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Oh goddamnit.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 12:33 PM
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Just remember this handy mnemonic: eleemosynary institutions, being supported by charity, are the dregs of society—the lees, in other words.

(But mightn't you reason that they're bottom-feeders—eels, in other words?)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 12:53 PM
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Eh, it's probably not worth getting into in any great detail, and I'm sufficiently tired that I'm probably not able to express myself clearly. But here's one more crack.

You wrote the thing, you own the rights, and the textbook publisher is attempting to profit from your work without paying you.The textbook publisher isn't an eleemosynary institution -- it's out there making cash on your (and other people's) ideas. The "free flow of ideas," in this case, means you're giving away a writing for free that someone else will be charging (something, a portion of the textbook cost) for.

Agreed. Although I had to look up "eleemosynary."

Maybe you don't believe in copyright at all....

That's an oversimplification. I like copyright just fine, if it's within a reasonable set of boundaries.

It's deeply peculiar to me that my five minutes of dashing off a letter to the editor (something I have done literally thousands of times) constitutes creative work that should be protected. Seriously? You know, I'm not on board with monetizing (horrible word) every little snippet of our lives.

I'm not a songwriter trying to make a living; I'm not even an ad copywriter (who probably wouldn't own her work anyway). I'm a private citizen who had an opinion and expressed it. It was published, publicly. Back in the day, a professor could have clipped it from the newspaper and used it in his or her class. Maybe he or she would even have included it (properly cited and credited) in his or her upcoming textbook. Then -- o horror! -- I would have given away writing for free that someone else would be charging money for.

Do you really want to live in a world in which fair use has been so reduced and bastardized as a concept that a 150-word snippet of opinion, published publicly and probably available in dozens of caches near you, is considered My Intellectual Property for which I must be compensated? I don't want to live in that world, and yet I do. The best I can do is avoid playing along with its rules.

Hope that makes sense. I realize this is a minority opinion and that copyright law is not going to revert to sanity any time soon. But the basic concept that one is owed compensation for every little whistle and snicket that emits from one's brain keyboard is, to put it bluntly, bizarre.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:13 PM
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No, wait. I decided I'm not done.

Part of the price of living in a free society and expressing yourself is that people you don't like are going to do annoying and sometimes infuriating things with your words.

They're going to quote them, misquote them, misunderstand them, deliberately or accidentally repeat and confuse them, use them for their own political and romantic and adversarial and whatever purposes...it's just a fact of life, albeit sometimes an enraging one. Ask Marian Wright Edelman how she feels about "Leave No Child Behind" getting subverted by the Bush Administration.

You can respond to this reality by:
1. Not speaking [publishing].
2. Practicing a "don't ask, don't tell" policy until explicitly approached for copyright permission, after which you charge people to use your words.
3. Practicing a pro-active stance in which you investigate and prosecute unauthorized use of your words.*

Strategy #3 looks to me like a recipe for madness, and #2 feels, AIS, hypocritical. So I resort to #4, aka: Err on the side of free.

*The MLK Jr. estate is the gray-ist area of this issue for me. I understand the family's impulse to prevent carpetbaggers from making money off of him, but then again...he's been dead 40 years. Do they want perpetual rights?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:23 PM
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Back when my blog still got updated, my cob-logger updated this map with more current and accurate data that has now has been published in a college poli sci textbook. He just asked for a mention in the acknowledgments.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:34 PM
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The best I can do is avoid playing along with its rules.

You're playing along with its rules, technically, just by responding to the request for permission. The rules don't require payments if the holder doesn't ask for them, they just require the asker to ask.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:50 PM
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I actually suspect most people don't ask for compensation in these sorts of cases. Historians probably wouldn't be able to write academic books quoting from archival letters if permissions cost a lot of money.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:52 PM
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You're playing along with its rules, technically, just by responding to the request for permission.

Yeah, sorry, sloppy phrasing on my part. I meant that to include not just the actual law but also the social rules, e.g. as cited by Halford upthread: Any other rights holder surely would [ask for money].


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 4:56 PM
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109 and 110 are surely right -- and one (likely) option of the textbook company is to refuse to pay you, which leaves you with the option of either refusing to let them have permission to reprint the letter, or letting them do it for free. Just because you have a property right doesn't mean it's worth anything, and permissions are usually pretty cheap.

I get Witt's idealism -- and I also get that the sums involved are too small to be worth making a big fuss about. I'm just puzzled by the notion that there would be an ethical problem with asking for payment vs. intentionally giving the letter away. To be clear, it's not like you have an ethical obligation to ask for money -- nothing wrong with generosity -- I just don't see that there's any moral problem with asking for some cash and seeing how you do.

I find the whole thing interesting because I think it's a sign of a kind of radical opposition to intellectual property that you see sometimes on the internet, and that's IMO a weird conflation of the very idea of copyright with some very real abuses in the current system. For instance, 107 is talking about a range of different things, like fair use quotation and trademark and use of non-copyrightable ideas that have nothing to do with what is going on here. What the publisher wants to do here is just an old-fashioned attempt to commercialize your writing by republishing it.

I imagine that there would certainly be some cases in which even Witt would find the property protection of the copyright valuable -- what if someone made millions on the "2009's Greatest Letters to the Editor" anthology without paying you a dime, or what if the excerpt was published in the field manual for the American Nazi Party? Sure, reprinting in a textbook isn't the same thing, but it's hard for me to see that there's so much of an ethical difference that it would be wrong to ask for a little cash for the publisher's use of your work.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 5:23 PM
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(I've had 12 straight 16-hour days and I'm taking my crankiness out on this argument. You have been forewarned.)

I just don't see that there's any moral problem with asking for some cash and seeing how you do.

Dude, seriously, you understand that I'm not saying there's a always and ever a moral problem with a person asking for payment, right? I'm saying that there's a moral problem for me in espousing views on the one hand, and then turning around and taking money in violation of those views.

I am not making some sweeping "Everyone should act like meeeeeee" argument here; I'm saying that if I want to be internally consistent with *my* values, I don't get to pick and choose the times I follow them. (Assembling my own handouts: Eh, who cares about permissions! Other people using my words: Must obtain signed permission and pay me!!)

And it's got nothing to do with the size of the sum; the principle is the same whether we're talking about $5 or lifetime annual royalties of $500,000.

a kind of radical opposition to intellectual property that you see sometimes on the internet

Oddly enough my views and I exist in real life, too.

What the publisher wants to do here is just an old-fashioned attempt to commercialize your writing by republishing it.

Except that the snippets that require licensing just keep getting smaller. Let's say I wanted to publish a 19th-century-style commonplace book. Would I really have had to track down every person who uttered every aphorism or bon mot that I wanted to include?

For instance, 107 is talking about a range of different things, like fair use quotation and trademark and use of non-copyrightable ideas that have nothing to do with what is going on here.

Where did I say anything about trademarks? You mean the Edelman thing? I wasn't aware that it was a trademark, and I wasn't meaning to make an argument; I don't know enough to have an informed opinion about trademarks specifically.

And from my perspective, the layman's notion of fair use has quite a lot to do with what's going on. A 150-word letter is not the same as a 5,000-word article, or even a 600-word op-ed. If we're claiming that it's not obviously fair use to reprint a brief letter that has already been published*....okay, now we're getting into the critique of modern construction of IP law.

*Which we must be, otherwise the textbook publisher's legal department wouldn't make them hire this researcher to track me down at my work e-mail address.

what if someone made millions on the "2009's Greatest Letters to the Editor" anthology without paying you a dime, or what if the excerpt was published in the field manual for the American Nazi Party?

Er, that's what my whole rant in 107 was about. Once you write [speak], you more or less lose control of your words. You can exert tremendous time and energy trying to wrest back that control, or you can accept it.

I've been writing for a long time. Unpleasant people have already used my words to their own unpleasant ends and profits. I expect there are more I don't know about, and don't particularly want to go searching for. I am sure that there are extreme cases where if it was brought to my attention I would want to use all the moral suasion and legal intimidation factors in my power to make it stop, but not even your examples are at that level.

Of course, in the weeds of this argument we are losing track of the real issue, which is that bored college students are going to be forced to read my deathless prose. Profit? Victory!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:13 PM
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bored college students are going to be forced to read my deathless prose

Oh, you *think* the students read the textbook, do you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:20 PM
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It's controversial! Students like reading about sex.*

*My letter is not actually about sex.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:25 PM
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You should ask for money, Witt, and then send it to Sifu, on the condition that he use it to build a robot to take down Big Textbook once and for all.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:30 PM
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But it appears to be about sex? Or something?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:30 PM
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I think I'm going to die. Between lack of sleep and allergies I may have given myself a sinus infection. Stupid, stupid sinuses. What are they good for?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:35 PM
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Oh, I forgot the pause/play symbols. D'oh.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:35 PM
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It's all become clear: Witt's letter is to be included in an applied ethics textbook. She will be arguing for sex education, or condom distribution, something like that, over against abstinence-only positions. Sexy stuff indeed!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 6:41 PM
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118: Neti pot, Paren. Rinse those suckers out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-15-09 7:26 PM
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