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Tragedy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.08.11

Probably someone has put this in a thread, but holy shit: Representative Gabrielle Giffords was gunned down with five other people in Arizona. The gunman was taken down by bystanders and is in custody.

She had been listed on Sarah Palin's hit list, incidentally.

Via Oudemia and Emerson


 

horizontal rule

 

FaceTime

Posted by Stanley
on 01.08.11

I recently learned that face touching is a major fault line in the relationship world. Some people simply won't countenance the practice. Who knew?


 

horizontal rule

 

Remember Haidt?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.08.11

The moral psychologist who came up with the five-axis system of morality: fairness, harm reduction, purity, in-group loyalty, and authority, and argues that a consistent difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals only place a high moral value on fairness and harm-reduction, and that conservatives weight all five axes more equally.

Rob Helpy-chalk has a blog post arguing that the authority/hierarchy axis shouldn't just be ignored as a source of moral value, but actively rejected:

The problem [with inequality] isn't just that you are rich and I am poor, but that as a result of this, you can fuck with me. I do more than resent your success, I fear for my safety.

...The problem is with the authority/hierarchy instincts. These are instincts that conservatives think of as moral, but liberals are indifferent to. Conservatives believe that obedience and dereference to your betters are good, while liberals think that all urges toward obedience are irrational and should be expelled.

So here's my big revelation: the authority/hierarchy instincts are not just amoral. They are immoral. They aren't just irrelevant for moral thinking. They systematically lead us astray.

If this is right, it is big. The typical liberal critique of the conservative moral emotions is that they are prejudices.

But I want to go farther than simply rejecting the moral importance of the authority/hierarchy instinct. It is not just mistaken. It is systematically the opposite of true.

While I find this appealing -- I'm all for equality and minimizing subordination and so on -- I think it's fundamentally wrong. If there's one human quality that makes us what we are (is there really just one? Short answer, no, but bear with me) it's our ability to cooperate. Culture, technology, community are all the result of dozens or hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of people working together toward a common goal. And I don't believe you can get more than five or so people cooperating effectively without some respected authority keeping them pointed in the same direction.

I like the idea of minimizing the social harms caused by some people being subordinate to others, and I think that, as a moral value, respect for authority comes in well below fairness and harm reduction. But if I try to envision a world with literally no respect for authority, I can't imagine any functional society that's recognizably human.


 

horizontal rule

 

MLALA

Posted by Ben
on 01.07.11

A party timed and placed to coincide with the MLA has been proposed and ratified in comments, but it is possible, even likely, that some who would be interested in attending have not seen the discussion, spread out over multiple threads, none of which had such an event as its topic, as it has been. This post, then, is for the official announcement of the soon-to-drop Unfogged x MLA collabo, hosted by Rob Halford and k-sky, who say:

We (K-Sky and Robert Halford) are hosting a big honking Unfogged party/sh-bam in LA on Friday, January 7, 2011, when we understand that some folks from out of town will be showing up. From 8pm until whenever. The party is at Halford's house, which is about a 5 minute drive from the downtown hotel where some website says the MLA is being held. Absolutely everyone is welcome—lurkers, random grad students, street hustlers, etc.—and everyone who wants to should totally come.

To find out the address, just email K-sky at k-sky@skykstudios.org—this will also help to give us a running count to know how much liquor and food to buy.

Finally, we need to decide on a signature cocktail—something in a big pitcher that people can have when they come in—and are soliciting the Mineshaft for ideas.

One assumes the last-mentioned item is there just to make sure dsquared doesn't drop by.

Moved to front for a bit.

Again, by request of Minivet (I think that's what he wanted, anyway).


 

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Question

Posted by Ben
on 01.07.11

Does the recent act of collective Congressional memory-refreshing mean that Republican Senators and Representatives are going to stop claiming we're at war?

(Niggling about the War Powers Resolution predacted.)


 

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Cut the pages

Posted by Ben
on 01.06.11

I love this:

"But the people I work for don't want books just as backdrop or theater, which they did 20 years ago. Now they want books they actually might read."

Not books that they want to read, mind, just books that, theoretically, they could read. This is so notable that it comes up twice in the article (the above quotation is the second occurrence; the first is "For this client was after more than pretty bindings: he wanted the option of being able to read his books."), and that it's presented as a mark of, what, increased sophistication of the clients as against their bygone counterparts? Increased literariness? (Well, why not; I guess the potentially literary are more literary, in a useless sense, than the illiterate.)

It seems to me that the clients who didn't care what the books were as long as they presented a good front were more sophisticated; of them one might believe that they knew what they were about and didn't bother with trying to fool themselves into the bargain.

(Let me incorporate by reference Flann O'Brien's idea for a book-handling service, and why not? Once you start caring (abstractly) about the matter of the books, and not just that they look nice, you open the gate to caring (abstractly) more about the matter—and then it'll be important that the books have the form of books owned by someone who cares about the matter, namely, read, thumbed through, etc.)

This is pretty rich too:

As it happens, the-book-as-relic was forecasted by marketers. Ann Mack, director of trend-spotting for JWT New York, the marketing and advertising agency, noted in her trend report for the coming year that "objectifying objects," she said, "would be a trend to watch."

I remember, in the days of my youth—I was youthful only fifteen years ago—there would regularly be ads in the NYT Book Review for the same antiquarian bookseller. A full-page ad a week, practically, something I assume didn't come cheap, with notable or new acquisitions listed, with their descriptions and prices—though sometimes the price was only available on request. (The occasion of my learning the dictum: if you have to ask, you can't afford it.)

I understand that trade in rare books for sometimes astounding prices predates even my youth. I guess the books in question in the article aren't the typical stuff for antiquarian booksellers, but that this sort of transition should take place is hardly surprising. (Hardly surprising but not for that reason uninteresting, which means it would have been nice to have an article about, I don't know, the ways certain kinds of objects are treated given digital replacements for them that wasn't one fatuous description of services for the idle rich after another. But that wouldn't have been published in the Times, I guess.)


 

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Overheard Wisdom

Posted by Stanley
on 01.06.11

"Let's fuck on equal terms."


 

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Two idiotic things

Posted by Ben
on 01.05.11

A cell phone is just another personal effect like your clothing.

Boycott!

Can ->YOU<- discern the hidden link between these items?


 

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School Vouchers Are Stupid

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.05.11

I recently abandoned The Two Income Trap, by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi, (who is Warren's daughter) because I got so annoyed with it. It starts out fine - they crunch the numbers and show that the median family in 1970 - a one-income family of four - spent more on clothes, groceries, appliances, and so on, compared to the median family in 2001, a two-income family of four. And yet the two-income family has less disposable income. The two-income family has two cars, although each costs less over it's lifespan than the one car owned by the 1970 family. But the bulk of the money is getting eaten up by housing costs. (Now, this book was written in 2001, so it's pre-runaway home values and pre-bubble busting.)

They discredit the notion that this rise is due to bigger McMansion style houses, and show that it can be attributed to two things: fear of living somewhere perceived to be unsafe, and desire to live in a good school district. Out of these two, they mostly run with the latter - documenting that school district lines have an impressively disproportionate effect on housing prices. Ok, fine.

So their solution? School vouchers. That way you create a path from any neighborhood to any school, and so housing prices will not be tied to school district lines, hooray!

This is where I got aggravated, because that is an idiotic solution. If you have too few good schools to service your population of kids, then that's the problem to address. Not replacing a mechanism that creates intense competition with a different mechanism.

I can see an argument for school vouchers when all schools are high quality, but excel in different areas. Sure, go to the Math and Science school over Fame For Theater Nerds if that's your shtick. But essentially, no kid should be going to a shitty school, and that shouldn't be contingent on how well your parents can finesse the system.

(Hey: This was written without having the book in front of me, because I decided to post it rather than wait until I've got Hokey Pokey down and can grab the book. So this is all correct modulo my memory.)


 

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We (Some of) the People

Posted by Stanley
on 01.03.11

It's easy to dismiss as political theatre the plan by Congressional Republicans to open the 112th session with a reading of the U.S. Constitution. Which is why, if they really want to demonstrate their commitment to the sacredness of that founding document, they ought to go whole hog and insist on reading the original text, word-for-word, exactly as the ink dried in 1787—you know, before people started fussing with it. Now, that would be something.


 

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The Green Dragon

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.11

I'd love to see the money trail leading up to this video:


 

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Titles, Hooray!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.11

A ex-student just contacted me to get my address for a wedding invitation. Wonderful! This is probably the moment when I should say "You don't need to call me Dr. Geebie anymore." But I feel oddly shy about doing so. In some ways I very much like the distance created by having students call me Doctor. I am not the type of person who creates a space where strangers unload their life story; I like boundaries.

Also the elder HP is back at daycare today. I love her dearly but I missed the internet.


 

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Toe Up(date)!

Posted by Stanley
on 01.02.11

Because you care, a medical professional agrees: I did not break my toe, based on range of motion. Which is mildly sad, only in the sense that it would have been a good first broken bone, what with the horse stomp. (First broken bone aside from nose, which I don't think counted; twas cartilage).


 

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