Friday, February 07, 2014

can hiphop help the cathedral's bronies get their testicles to descend?

foreignpolicy | But instead of sulking, whining, or grabbing the mic from Taylor Swift, Kendrick used his scheduled Grammy performance to make Imagine Dragons, one of the year's top-selling rock bands, into his backup band and, well, let Kendrick tell it: "I need you to recognize that Plan B is to win your hearts right here while we're at the Grammys." And he did, with a triumphant, uncompromising performance that brought down the house and momentarily made the Grammys matter again. Instead of brooding over the ignorance of the gatekeepers, Kendrick just seized the moment and went out and relegated them to irrelevance.

That's what academic bloggers have been doing for the last decade: ignoring hierarchies and traditional venues and instead hustling on our own terms. Instead of lamenting over the absence of an outlet for academics to publish high-quality work, we wrote blogs on the things we cared about and created venues like the Middle East Channel and the Monkey Cage. Academic blogs and new primarily online publications rapidly evolved into a dense, noisy, and highly competitive ecosystem where established scholars, rising young stars, and diverse voices battled and collaborated. 

These new forms of public engagement, whether on personal blogs or the Duck of Minerva or Political Violence or the Monkey Cage or Foreign Policy or EzraStan or the countless other outlets now available for online publication, are exactly where academics need to be if they want to fulfil their own educational, policy, or research missions. Online publishing actually reaches people and informs public debates that matter. The marketplace of ideas is intensely competitive, and if scholars want their ideas to compete, then they need to get out there and compete. 

This seems so obvious that it's sometimes hard to know what thearguments are all about. Some of it is no doubt nostalgic anxiety for an older, more regulated, hierarchical world, and some of it is driven by the admittedly noxious nature of a lot of online commentary. The ISA's president, Harvey Starr, defended the proposed policy as necessary to preserve a "professional environment" in light of the kinds of discourse often found online. Many of the profession's gatekeepers recoil from the public nature of the intellectual combat, as well as from the invective, personal abuse, and intense stupidity that populate most comment sections and the occasional Twitter feed. 

But Kendrick Lamar, along with everything that produced him, shows exactly why the ISA would be insane to try to block its membership from blogging or engaging at all levels with the public sphere. It might as well try to outlaw gravity or place restraints on the moon's orbit. If scholars want to have impact on public policy debates -- and many don't, and that's fine -- then there's really no option. You have to play the game to change the game.

Blogs and other online publications should be seen as the equivalent of the mixtapes in the hip-hop world. Mixtapes emerged in hip-hop, far more than in most other musical genres, as a way for rising artists to gain attention, build a fan base, display their talents, and battle their rivals. Sometimes they would be sold at shows or on websites, but more often they would be given away for free on the Internet. Mixtapes would often feature tracks that weren't quite ready for prime time or were recorded over somebody else's beat, but demonstrated the quality and originality of the artist's vision. 

Where the earlier generation of rappers found fame through signing a deal and a major label release (the equivalent of getting a tenure-track job straight out of grad school), mid-2000s monsters like 50 Cent and Lil Wayne broke through with their mixtapes. The current generation of stars followed in their paths: Drake, Wale, J. Cole, B.o.B, and company were defined by, and arguably did their best work, not on their formulaic, label-shaped albums but on their earlier creator-shaped mixtapes. But -- and it's an important but -- they couldn't actually consolidate their careers without the major-label deal. Academics need to understand the implications of both dimensions of this new structure of the field: The road to a major-label deal (tenure-track job) lies through the mixtapes (blogs), but career success (tenure) still requires successful albums (books and journal articles).

the faux coalitions and artificial negativity of the cathedral are fragile as hell...,

thenation | In the summer of 2012, twenty-one feminist bloggers and online activists gathered at Barnard College for a meeting that would soon become infamous. Convened by activists Courtney Martin and Vanessa Valenti, the women came together to talk about ways to leverage institutional and philanthropic support for online feminism. Afterward, Martin and Valenti used the discussion as the basis for a report, “#Femfuture: Online Revolution,” which called on funders to support the largely unpaid work that feminists do on the Internet. “An unfunded online feminist movement isn’t merely a threat to the livelihood of these hard-working activists, but a threat to the larger feminist movement itself,” they wrote.

#Femfuture was earnest and studiously politically correct. An important reason to put resources into online feminism, Martin and Valenti wrote, was to bolster the voices of writers from marginalized communities. “Women of color and other groups are already overlooked for adequate media attention and already struggle disproportionately in this culture of scarcity,” they noted. The pair discussed the way online activism has highlighted the particular injustices suffered by transgender women of color and celebrated the ability of the Internet to hold white feminists accountable for their unwitting displays of racial privilege. “A lot of feminist dialogue online has focused on recognizing the complex ways that privilege shapes our approach to work and community,” they wrote.

The women involved with #Femfuture knew that many would contest at least some of their conclusions. They weren’t prepared, though, for the wave of coruscating anger and contempt that greeted their work. Online, the Barnard group—nine of whom were women of color—was savaged as a cabal of white opportunists. People were upset that the meeting had excluded those who don’t live in New York (Martin and Valenti had no travel budget). There was fury expressed on behalf of everyone—indigenous women, feminist mothers, veterans—whose concerns were not explicitly addressed. Some were outraged that tweets were quoted without the explicit permission of the tweeters. Others were incensed that a report about online feminism left out women who aren’t online. “Where is the space in all of these #femfuture movements for people who don’t have internet access?” tweeted Mikki Kendall, a feminist writer who, months later, would come up with the influential hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen.

Martin was floored. She’s long believed that it’s incumbent on feminists to be open to critique—but the response was so vitriolic, so full of bad faith and stubborn misinformation, that it felt like some sort of Maoist hazing. Kendall, for example, compared #Femfuture to Rebecca Latimer Felton, a viciously racist Southern suffragist who supported lynching because she said it protected white women from rape. “It was really hard to engage in processing real critique because so much of it was couched in an absolute disavowal of my intentions and my person,” Martin says.

Beyond bruised feelings, the reaction made it harder to use the paper to garner support for online feminist efforts. The controversy was all most people knew of the project, and it left a lasting taint. “Almost anyone who asks us about it wants to know what happened, including editors that I’ve worked with,” says Samhita Mukhopadhyay, an activist and freelance writer who was then the editor of “It’s like you’ve been backed into a corner.”

a message to california about what's around that signpost up ahead..,

truthwins |  When a real terrorist attack happens, sometimes we don’t hear about it until months afterward (if we ever hear about it at all).  For example, did you know that a team of snipers shot up a power station in California?  The terrorists destroyed 17 transformers and did so much damage that the power station was shut down for a month.  And it only took them 19 minutes of shooting to do it.  Of course most Americans have absolutely no idea that this ever happened, because they get their news from the mainstream media.  The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at that time says that this was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred”, and yet you won’t hear about it on the big news networks.  They are too busy covering the latest breaking news on the Justin Bieber scandal.

And maybe it is good thing that most people don’t know about this.  The truth is that we are a nation that is absolutely teeming with “soft targets”, and if people realized how vulnerable we truly are they might start freaking out.

If you have not heard about the attack on the Silicon Valley substation yet, you should look into it.  The following is an excerpt from a Business Insider article about the sniper assault…
The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
Evidence found at the scene included “more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings“, and little piles of rocks “that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”

So much damage was done to the substation that it was closed down for a month.

And what happens if they decide to attack a nuclear power facility next time and use even bigger weapons?

Could we have another Fukushima on our hands?

messages from creationists to people who believe in evolution, jes dayyum....,

buzzfeed |  I asked 22 self-identifying creationists at the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate to write a message/question/note to the other side. Here’s what they wrote.

messages from former bronies and current weedheads about parasitizing the least of these to get that paper up!!!

pitch | Mitchem has led an interesting life. He moved to Kansas City in the early 1980s to pursue graduate studies at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He then worked as a traveling evangelist for two years before settling in locally as a full-time minister at the Church of the Nazarene. In 1990, Mitchem went secular, at least professionally. He retired as a minister and joined Tivol, the luxury jewelry company, as an associate at its retail space on the Country Club Plaza. He rose through the ranks and was named president of Tivol in 2005.

Here in Kansas City, that's a powerful, and surely quite lucrative, gig. Yet Mitchem left Tivol two years after being appointed to the post. A story at the time in JCK, a trade publication covering the jewelry industry, reported that he was resigning to "join his son in his loan business."

About that loan business: Technically it is dozens of separate companies, with many different names, but it adds up to one of the largest online payday-lending operations based in Kansas City, according to several individuals with ties to the industry.

"Steve was working down at Tivol on the Plaza, and these payday guys kept coming in every other month and buying Rolexes," a source tells The Pitch. "He figured out that they were basically printing money doing their online-lending businesses, and he wanted in on it. So first, he set his son up in the business. Then he quit Tivol and joined him."

Filings with the secretary of state's offices in Missouri and Kansas, plus a couple of lawsuits, help back up that account. In December 2006, Mitchem's son, Josh Mitchem, filed articles of incorporation in Missouri for a company called Platinum B Services. In 2012, Dustin McDaniel, the attorney general of Arkansas, brought a lawsuit against that company and PDL Support LLC, another company controlled by Josh Mitchem.

In the suit, McDaniel alleged that Josh Mitchem and his companies controlled a variety of LLCs, purportedly based in the West Indies federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, that were engaged in lending over the Internet to Arkansas citizens at interest rates as high as 644 percent. Arkansas law caps rates on consumer loans at 17 percent.

"The purpose of these LLCs is to make it appear as if the Defendants are not the actual payday lenders and to otherwise shield Defendants from liability from lawsuits such as the one brought by the Attorney General in this case," the lawsuit states. "The Defendants make the decisions concerning all lending operations from their offices in the Kansas City, MO area."

The Arkansas attorney general's office also produced evidence that Josh Mitchem responded to consumer complaints mailed to his company by requesting that correspondence be sent to an address in Charlestown, Nevis — despite the fact that his return letters were postmarked in Kansas City.
In the settlement that was reached, Josh Mitchem denied any wrongdoing but agreed to stop lending in Arkansas and pay $80,000 to the state.

More recently, Josh Mitchem was named in a class-action RICO complaint brought in California against about two dozen players in the payday industry (including MoneyMutual LLC and its spokesman, talk-show host Montel Williams). In it, Mitchem's company Rare Moon Media is accused in that state of unlicensed lending and of negotiating and signing marketing contracts on behalf of unlicensed lenders.

Rare Moon Media was incorporated in Kansas in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, its filings with the secretary of state list Josh Mitchem, Steve Mitchem and Jeremy Shaffer, among others, as the primary stakeholders. Shaffer replaced Steve Mitchem as general manager at Tivol when Mitchem was promoted to president.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

"regressive - grandparentish" - more cathedralish whining about the global system of strict-father supremacy

newyorker | Many reviewers have accused Chua and Rubenfeld of racism. In my experience of the book, that’s not fair: the idea isn’t that Asian-Americans, for example, are genetically predisposed to succeed, but that Asian immigrant culture encourages it. (In fact, Chua and Rubenfeld warn, drive fades with time, as immigrant cultures assimilate.) Still, the book is profoundly regressive—grandparentish, as it were—in the way in which it generalizes so freely about the inner lives of millions of people, always in a stereotypical way, while reducing the twists and turns of history to pop-psychological fate. My family, in proposing its wacky theory about the Chinese and the Jews, at least did so with a wink. But Chua and Rubenfeld are comically enamored of their idea and, like Mario with his hammer in Donkey Kong, they run around swinging their Triple Package at everything. Why do so many Nigerians earn doctorates? The Triple Package. Why did Bernie Madoff steal all that money? The Triple Package. (“At the extreme, the longing to rise can become desperate or monomaniacal.”) Why did the United States prosper so much during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? “America was for a long time the quintessential Triple Package nation.” 

The fact that Chua and Rubenfeld can use the Triple Package to explain so much is a warning sign. It’s an idea so general that it can’t be contained. They want to declare the I-feel-special-but-also-inadequate part of the Triple Package the property of only a few select cultures. But, as Freud could have told you, pretty much everybody feels simultaneously special and inadequate. Lots of people, from all sorts of places, are pressured and judged by their parents, and end up slightly weird as a result. Chua and Rubenfeld point to America’s discourse of self-esteem and self-help, which, they write, encourages “embracing yourself as you are” and “feeling secure about yourself,” as evidence that non-immigrant Americans are relatively free of parent-induced neuroses. But that’s exactly the wrong conclusion to draw: if self-help is so pervasive, it’s because there are few feelings more common than insecurity. Fighting to realize or resist parental expectation is just part of the family experience.

Chua and Rubenfeld are drawn to psychological explanations because they can’t accept the idea that the third part of their Triple Package—”impulse control,” by which they basically mean working hard in school—could really be doing all the heavy lifting. Stuyvesant, one of New York’s most selective public high schools, uses a standardized admissions exam; last year, they write, the school admitted “nine black students, twenty-four Hispanics, a hundred seventy-seven whites and six hundred twenty Asians.” What, they ask, could possibly account for that outcome? Why didn’t all sorts of families, and not just Asian ones, send their kids to cram school to study for the Stuyvesant entrance exam? They regard the usual explanation, that Asian-Americans have an “education culture,” as circular. (Where does that “education culture” come from?) “The challenge is to delve deeper and discover the cultural roots of this behavior—to identify the fundamental cultural forces that underlie it,” they write. The Triple Package seems like a plausible candidate for such a force.

The thing is, though, that, often, cultures really are circular. All the time, communities judge their members by standards that are, on some level, arbitrary. In some families, what matters is military service. In others, it’s religious adherence. There are communities in which the family drama of aspiration and achievement is played out on the athletic field, with families spending evenings and weekends driving from game to game. To understand why a dad yells at his kid at Little League, you don’t have to point to a “fundamental cultural force” that makes him care so much about baseball. You just have to know that parents are very invested in their children, and that a community is a group of people who happen to care about the same things—sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes for no reason. Ask the Little League dad why sports are so important, and you’re likely to hear some hocus-pocus about the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship. The most accurate answer, probably, is “just because.”

black parents now succumbing to the lure of medicating rather than parenting their sons...,

theroot |  A black Brooklyn couple sit in their car waiting to hear what New York City’s elite Dalton School has to say about their son now. The dad wonders: “The question is, what is it about Idris that makes him disruptive?”

They take turns reading the school’s latest communiqué: “Talks out of turn continuously ... impulse control. Has trouble respecting other students’ physical boundaries. [Needs to] focus on not distracting others."

The boy’s mother, Michèle Stephenson, an Ivy League-trained attorney, rolls her eyes. Her husband, Dr. Joe Brewster, an Ivy League-trained psychiatrist, sighs. “They have decided our son is a problem,” Brewster says. “He’s not a problem at home. He’s not a problem in the community. He’s a problem at Dalton.”

As we learn in the couple’s documentary film American Promise, which aired Monday on PBS and is available for streaming online starting today, the school suggested that the boy might have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. When Idris was 4, the couple had him independently evaluated. They accepted the diagnosis but resisted prescription-drug treatment—at first. Later in the film, which follows their son and his best friend from kindergarten though high school graduation, Idris pleads with his parents to reconsider. His grades were mediocre. It might help, he reasoned.

When I saw this scene, my heart dropped—nearly as much as it did when young Idris said that he would be better off at his school if he were white.

I will admit to being one of those slightly paranoid black people who suspect that big pharma is trying to put us back in chains. But researchers have similar fears for a generation of kids of all races. In the recent New York Times investigation “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder,” prominent researchers called the marketing-driven explosion in diagnoses (600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million today) a “national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

Black children are still diagnosed and medicated less frequently than white children, but they are catching up fast. Between 2001 and 2010, there was a 70 percent increase in diagnoses among black boys and girls ages 5 to 11, according to a Kaiser Permanente study released last year.

The increase in the number of diagnoses is positive in the sense that the stigma around having this and other neurological and mental disorders is melting away, and children are getting the help they need. But I fear that slick marketing (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine is the face of one ADHD campaign) and the academic pressure cooker is turning ADHD meds into performance-enhancing drugs for the classroom.

Some doctors admit to prescribing Adderall and other ADHD drugs to low-income kids, not because they have a disorder but just to help them do better in school. “We might not know the long-term effects, but we do know the short-term costs of school failure, which are real,” a pediatrician told the New York Times.

In some ways the disorder is becoming another way to keep up with the Joneses. In upper-middle-class communities, parents trade intelligence on compliant psychiatrists right along with good tutors. A white friend once advised me to get the diagnosis before my son reached seventh grade.

brony's lip poked out about not being paid after racking up a mortgage to study and teach my little pony

pbs | But there was no evidence of my incompetence or lack of excellence in teaching. I had rave reviews from all my students and had wonderful relationships with all my colleagues, several of whom supported my candidacy for a full-time, tenure-track position. In fact, as evidence of my demonstrated prowess, after a short while they brought me back as a part-timer, and I have been employed there every semester since as an adjunct lecturer. I’m good enough to teach their students every semester for many years, but I’m not good enough to hire permanently?

After taking out nearly $140,000 in student loans to pay for grad school, and after years of financial hardship deferments, accrued interest has brought these loans to over $190,000. And on an adjunct lecturer’s salary, even augmented with other side jobs, I can neither support my family nor pay my student loans. My wife and I cannot afford to raise a child on our combined income, so we have waited to raise a family. Now at the age of 43, it may be too late.

And when my parents became ill, I couldn’t afford to move them in with me, arrange proper medical care or take enough family leave to be at my father’s side when he died. With the massive debts that my parents have left me, I risk losing the family home that I grew up in — that my grandfather built for us with his own hands — all because I am living on part-time wages.

Now that my parents are gone, I want to honor them by helping to change academia for the better. University administrations have failed to safeguard their hallowed halls against greed and the service of short-term savings, going the way of big business. And the accrediting bodies have failed to guide and censure them as well. If this situation continues unchecked, it will signal the destruction and disintegration of higher education as we know it, though many tenured faculty still do not recognize the inevitable, morbid outcome if this current trend is not immediately reversed.

I have no intention of letting that happen. My father was a grade school teacher. And he used to say that if not for the unions, teachers would have starved. Now, as an adjunct, I am experiencing what it would have been like for grade school teachers to be unsupported by the unions.

There is a growing movement of adjuncts who are willing to stand together to stem the tide of the avalanche. So when the union came to our campus in the fall of 2013, I took out my lucky pen and asked, “Where do I sign?” Our grassroots movement will prove to be the best thing that happened to higher education since the advent of the erstwhile tenure model, despite the common public opinion about unions fostering greed and mediocrity.

I’m fully educated; I stayed in school. Two masters and a Ph.D. I’ve published a book. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve followed the rules to realize the American dream, but I am now living the American nightmare. And I am not alone in this. I’m ready to work. All I want to do is contribute to the scholarship in my field and to teach my students effectively and passionately. But I need to earn a decent wage in order to do so.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

the end of american exceptionalism

theatlantic | When conservatives acknowledge these trends, they often chalk them up to Obama's policies, which have supposedly drained Americans of their rugged individualism and habituated them to government handouts. "Once the public is hooked on government health care," Lowry and Ponnuru note, "its political attitudes shift leftward." But Obama is less the driver of this shift in economic attitudes than the beneficiary. It's certainly true that Obama won the votes of Americans skeptical that they can rise via the unfettered market. Among the majority of 2012 voters who believe America's economic system favors the wealthy, Obama beat Romney by 45 points. But Obama is not the reason so many Americans believe that. For more than a century, commentators have chalked up Americans' support for capitalism and lack of economic resentment to America's exceptional upward mobility. It's unclear when exactly American upward mobility began to decline. But it's not surprising that, eventually, that decline would cause class attitudes to harden.

The question exceptionalists should be asking is why America, once vaunted for its economic mobility, now trails much of the advanced world. Single-parent families clearly play a role, since poor children born into two-parent homes are far more upwardly mobile than those who are not. Housing patterns that segregate the poor from the middle class also seem to limit poor kids' chances of getting ahead. But economic inequality is also a big part of the story. Across the world, the University of Ottawa's Miles Corak has demonstrated, countries with higher inequality suffer lower mobility. The same is true inside the United States: The flatter a city is economically, the more likely its poor will rise.

Part of the reason is "opportunity hoarding." In recent decades, the wealth gap between the richest Americans and everyone else has dramatically widened. Rich Americans have used this influx of cash to give their children special advantages that keep them from losing their spots atop the income ladder to children born with lesser means. Think about test preparation, which became a national industry only in the 1970s. Or the way wealthy parents subsidize unpaid internships or buy expensive houses to gain access to the best public schools. In the early 1970s, rich families spent four times as much on their children's education as poor ones. Today, they spend almost seven times as much. Culture plays a large role in this. If the rich didn't value education, they wouldn't spend their cash on it. But until recently, they didn't have so much cash to spend. As a paper by Stanford sociologists Pablo Mitnik, Erin Cumberworth, and David Grusky notes, "Inequality provides privileged families with more resources that can then be lavished on their children, resources that raise their chances of securing desirable class positions for themselves." Whether this lavishing has contributed to an absolute decline in upward mobility in the United States in recent decades, it has certainly contributed to America's decline relative to other advanced countries.

All of which raises another question that conservative exceptionalists should be asking: What's behind skyrocketing inequality? Why do the top 1 percent of Americans, who took in roughly 11 percent of national income in the mid-1970s, account for more than double that today? Globalization and technology are clearly part of the story. If you're an American who works with your hands, you're competing with low-paid workers across the globe, not to mention machines, to an extent scarcely imaginable a few decades ago. That competition pushes down wages for Americans without a college degree, and widens the gap between rich and poor.

What globalization and technology can't explain is why inequality is so much higher in America than in Europe, where the same tectonic forces are at play. Indeed, if you eliminate government policies on taxing and spending, America is about as unequal as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and a bit more equal than Finland, Germany, and Britain. America claims its place as the most unequal major Western country only when you add in government policy. Which is to say that while globalization and technology may be increasing inequality everywhere, they are increasing it more in the United States because, compared with Europe, the United States redistributes less money from rich to poor.

Which brings us back to conservatives, because it is their champions—Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, George W. Bush in the 2000s—who pushed many of the policies that have boosted inequality. In the mid-1970s, the federal government's top tax rate for regular income was 70 percent and its top rate for long-term capital gains was almost 40 percent. When Bush left office, the rate on regular income had fallen to 35 percent and the rate on long-term capital gains was down to 15 percent. (That has crept up under Obama to almost 40 percent on regular income and 20 percent on capital gains for individuals making over $400,000.) These huge shifts in tax policy have been partially offset by antipoverty spending, which has grown significantly since the 1970s, largely because skyrocketing health care costs have made Medicaid far more expensive. But even if you take that increase into account, America is still doing far less to combat inequality than other advanced democracies.

If you believe, as academics increasingly do, that economic inequality goes hand in hand with calcified class relations, then decades of conservative policy have contributed to America's relative lack of economic mobility.

This, in turn, has soured young Americans on the belief that through the free market they can rise above the circumstances of their birth. Which means that, when it comes to declining faith in the American Dream of upward mobility, as with declining faith in organized religion and declining faith in America's special mission in the world, conservatives have helped foment the very backlash against American exceptionalism that they decry.

Chua say "bad culture" - Murray and dirtbags like him - say "bad genes"..,

NYTimes | The subtitle alone is enough to set some readers on high alert. Writing about success in terms of cultural values and traits has always been a contentious proposition in the United States, where it’s typically associated with conservatives like Charles Murray (“The Bell Curve” and “Losing Ground”), who argue that poor people are poor because of bad habits rather than bad situations. The Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, who is cited in “The Triple Package,” hadn’t yet read the book, but said he hoped that Chua and Rubenfeld were aware that they’re flirting with a Typhoid Mary. “I’m all for culture,” Patterson said, but “culture is a tricky concept. It has tripped up a lot of anthropologists and sociologists.”

It may now trip up a couple of legal scholars too. When The New York Post got wind of the book in early January, it ran an article about how Chua was “doubling down” with “a series of shock-arguments wrapped in self-help tropes” that could be distilled into one incendiary message: “Some groups are just superior to others, and everyone else is contributing to the downfall of America.” Never mind that the book doesn’t actually say this — the suggestion was out there. On Twitter, Chua was deemed a “racist” and a “troll” (sights were trained on the Tiger Mother; Rubenfeld was mostly spared). Within a week, the authors had been accused of everything from scaring readers to boring them, with New York magazine yawning that the book was “dull” and “conventional.”

“I guess we are fearing the worst,” Chua told me in November. Nonetheless, she was holding out hope that this time would be different. She pointed out all the ways in which they qualified their thesis. They ran numbers and collected data sets. They hired research assistants from “every possible conceivable background.” They acknowledged structural impediments to success, like racism. A chapter was devoted to “the underside of the triple package” and how pathological striving can lead to chauvinism and depression. The text itself is 225 pages, but to that they added nearly 80 pages in endnotes.

“The Triple Package” is full of qualifications, earnest settings-of-the-terms, explicit attempts to head off misinterpretations at the pass. “This point is so important we’re going to repeat it,” they write in a section about Appalachian poverty, which they argue was caused by geography and industrial decline, rather than by any lack of triple-package values. This last month of criticism showed that such lawyerly efforts to walk the line between blandness and notoriety are unlikely to satisfy their most vociferous critics. Yet Chua remained optimistic.

“I feel like it should be a book that if you approach it with an open mind, it actually shouldn’t be controversial. It should be thought-provoking.”

Rubenfeld, who was listening intently to his wife, smiled. “We’re just going to get raked over the coals — that’s what’s going to happen.”

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

the massive liberal failure on race...,

slate | When I started the book, after eight miserable years of George W. Bush and the euphoria of the Yes We Can crusade, I’d been driven pretty far left on the political spectrum. Taking on the issue of race, you’d think I’d have kept heading in that direction. But the more I read and researched, the more I went out and talked to people, I found that a funny thing was happening: I was becoming more conservative.

Which is not to say I was becoming a Republican. Because how could I? At this point, the GOP’s rap sheet of racial offenses is almost too long to recount. Pushing undemocratic voter ID laws, trotting out candidates like Herman Cain, calling Barack Obama the “food stamp president” … if it has to do with race, you can count on Republicans being wrong early and often.

The pernicious effects of Republican attitude on race are plain to see. But one of the more subtle consequences of the right’s willful incompetence is that there is rarely any thoughtful critique of the left when it comes to race. Affirmative action is unfair to white people and the Democratic Party is a plantation—that’s about as incisive as the rhetoric usually gets. Even when Republicans have a legitimate point to make about the shortcomings of some government program, it’s almost as if they can’t help blowing their own argument. They’ll start off talking sensibly enough about educational outcome disparities and within seconds they’re rambling incoherently about how black men don’t take care of their babies. It’s really astonishing to watch.

But the fact is that a lot of liberals hold on to some really bad ideas about race too. Some of the arguments they keep trotting out amount to little more than unexamined platitudes, riddled with holes. Fifty years after the March on Washington, America’s high school cafeterias are as racially divided as ever, income inequality is growing, and mass incarceration has hobbled an entire generation of young black men. Do we really think this is entirely due to Republican obstruction? Or is it also possible that the party charged with taking black Americans to the Promised Land has been running around in circles?

The left has been ceded a monopoly on caring about black people, and monopolies are dangerous. They create ossified institutions, paralyzed by groupthink and incapable of self-reflection. To the extent that liberals are willing to be self-critical, it’s generally to flagellate themselves for not being liberal enough, for failing to stand fast with the old, accepted orthodoxies. Monopolies also lead to arrogance and entitlement, and the left is nothing if not arrogant when it comes to constantly and loudly asserting its place as the One True Friend of Black America. And yet, as good as liberal policies on race sound in speeches, many of them don’t hold up in the real world.

There is no shortage of people ready to pounce on every instance of Republican racial insanity, but there is also no expectation that those Republicans will reform any time soon. It is therefore imperative that at least some Democrats begin to shift the discussion to what is wrong with themselves. With the right being derelict, the left assumes stewardship of our new multiracial America by default. So there is an added responsibility to get it right, to purge outdated orthodoxies, admit past mistakes, and find real solutions that work.

liberals do everything wrong: the strict-father will always smash the cathedral

guardian |  the left, he argues, is losing the political argument – every year, it cedes more ground to the right, under the mistaken impression that this will bring everything closer to the center. In fact, there is no center: the more progressives capitulate, the more boldly the conservatives express their vision, and the further to the right the mainstream moves. The reason is that conservatives speak from an authentic moral position, and appeal to voters’ values. Liberals try to argue against them using evidence; they are embarrassed by emotionality. They think that if you can just demonstrate to voters how their self-interest is served by a socially egalitarian position, that will work, and everyone will vote for them and the debate will be over. In fact, Lakoff asserts, voters don’t vote for bald self-interest; self-interest fails to ignite, it inspires nothing – progressives, of all people, ought to understand this.

When he talks about the collapse of the left, he clearly doesn’t mean that those parties have disintegrated: they could be in government, as the Democrats are in the US. But their vision of progressive politics is compromised and weak. So in the UK there have been racist “Go home” vans and there is an immigration bill going through parliament, unopposed, that mandates doctors, the DVLA, banks and landlords to interrogate the immigration status of us all; Hungary has vigilante groups attacking Roma, and its government recently tried to criminalize homelessness; the leaders of the Golden Dawn in Greece have only just been arrested, having been flirting with fascism since the collapse of the eurozone. We see, time and again, people in need being dehumanized, in a way that seems like a throwback to 60 or 70 years ago. Nobody could say the left was winning.

Lakoff predicted all this in Moral Politics, first published in 1996. In it, he warned that “if liberals do not concern themselves very seriously and very quickly with the unity of their own philosophy and with morality and the family, they will not merely continue to lose elections but will as well bear responsibility for the success of conservatives in turning back the clock of progress in America.” 

Since then, the left has cleaved moderately well to established principles around the politics of the individual – women are equal, racism is wrong, homophobia is wrong. But everything else: a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, the essential dignity of all humans, even if they’re foreign people or young people, education as a public good, the natural world as a treasure rather than an instrument of our convenience, the existence of motives besides profit, the pointlessness and poison of privatization, the profundity, worth and purpose of pooling resources … this stuff is an embarrassment to center-left parties, even when they’re in government, let alone when they’re in opposition. When unions reference these ideas, they are dismissed as dinosaurs.

Yet equivalent right wing positions – that efficiency is all, that big government is inefficient and therefore inherently bad, that nothing must come between a business and its pursuit of profit, that poverty is a lifestyle choice of the weak, that social breakdown can be ascribed to single mothers and immigrants – have been subject to no abatement, no modification, no ”modernizing”.

If we accept Lakoff’s conclusion, what would it mean to accept his prescription? This is what he believes it would take to refashion the progressive mindset: the abandonment of argument by evidence in favor of argument by moral cause; the unswerving and unembarrassed articulation of what those morals are; the acceptance that there is no “middle” or third way, no such thing as a moderate (people can hold divergent views, conservative on some things, progressive on others – but they are not moderates, they are “biconceptual”); and the understanding that conservatives are not evil, unintelligent, cynical or grasping. Rather, they act according to the moral case as they see it. If they happen to get rich, and make their friends rich in the process, that is just the unbidden consequence of wealth being the natural reward of the righteous, in their moral universe. To accept, let alone undertake, any of this, one would first need to accept the veracity of frames.

Much of cognitive linguistics concerns itself with how we build the mental apparatus to understand everyday situations: a hospital, or a date, or a cash machine. Erving Goffman, commonly cited as the most influential sociologist of the 20th century, wrote Frame Analysis in 1974, defining and exploring exactly how this happens. Having built the frames to understand life, we no longer deliberately plug back into it. It is unconscious; what we think of as “common sense” is merely an act or notion that resonates with one of our deep frames.

Lakoff’s work on the conceptual systems around morals and politics (and how they show up in language) has yielded two-dozen metaphors for morality, most of them universal across cultures. Of those, the two key frames informing political judgment involve the idea of government as a family: the strict-father model (conservative) versus the nurturant-parent model (progressive).

I talk to Lakoff when he is invited over to London by Counterpoint, a think tank with an interest in how ideas can be used to quell the xenophobia and repression that has, of late, swept Europe. In the strict-father worldview, he explains, “The father is the ultimate authority, he knows right from wrong, his job is to protect the family and so he’s the strongest person, and because he knows right from wrong, his authority is deserved. His children are born bad, because they just do what feels good, they don’t do what’s right. They have to be trained out of feelgood liberalism into doing what’s right. 

You have to punish the kids painfully enough that they’ll start doing what’s right and they’ll get discipline. If they’re disciplined, they go out into the world, and they earn a living. If they’re not earning a living, they’re not disciplined, therefore they can’t be moral and they deserve their poverty.”

To liberals, a lot of conservative thinking seems like a failure of logic: why would a conservative be against equal rights for women and yet despise the poor, when to liberate women into the world of work would create more wealth, meaning less poverty? And yet we instinctively understand those as features of the conservative worldview, and rightly so.

The nurturant-family model is the progressive view: in it, the ideals are empathy, interdependence, co-operation, communication, authority that is legitimate and proves its legitimacy with its openness to interrogation. “The world that the nurturant parent seeks to create has exactly the opposite properties,” Lakoff writes in Moral Politics. As progressives identify failures of logic in the conservative position, so it works the other way round (one of Lakoff’s examples: “How can liberals support federal funding for Aids research and treatment, while promoting the spread of Aids by sanctioning sexual behavior that leads to Aids?”).

these humans....,

IBT | What separates man from monkey? (Aside from some stricter etiquette around poop-flinging, that is.) Some researchers think they’ve found one key feature that’s unique to Homo sapiens: an area of the brain that seems to have no equivalent in other primates.

“We tend to think that being able to plan into the future, be flexible in our approach and learn from others are things that are particularly impressive about humans,” Oxford experimental psychologist Matthew Rushworth said in a statement. “We've identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human and is likely to have something to do with these cognitive powers.”

Rushworth and colleagues compared brain scans of 25 adult humans to the brain scans of 25 macaque monkeys.

“The brain is a mosaic of interlinked areas,” Rushworth says. “We wanted to look at this very important region of the frontal part of the brain and see how many tiles there are and where they are placed. We also looked at the connections of each tile -- how they are wired up to the rest of the brain -- as it is these connections that determine the information that can reach that component part and the influence that part can have on other brain regions.”

As the team reported on Tuesday in the journal Neuron [PDF], it found that one of those “tiles” on the brain scan seems wholly human: A certain area in the frontal cortex, called the lateral frontal pole prefrontal cortex, seems to have no equivalent in the macaque. This is particularly interesting because the surrounding brain region is thought to be involved in a wide range of cognitive functions. Damage to the ventrolateral frontal cortex affects a person's language abilities, and the brain region is also implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders.

Monday, February 03, 2014

where is the proof in pseudo-science?

physorg |  The word "pseudoscience" is used to describe something that is portrayed as scientific but fails to meet scientific criteria.

This misrepresentation occurs because actual science has creditability (which is to say it works), and pseudoscience attempts to ride on the back of this credibility without subjecting itself to the hard intellectual scrutiny that real science demands.

A good example of pseudoscience is homoeopathy, which presents the façade of a science-based medical practice but fails to adhere to scientific methodology.

Other things typically branded pseudoscience include astrology, young-Earth creationism, iridology, neuro-linguistic programming and water divining, to name but a few.

What's the difference?
Key distinctions between science and pseudoscience are often lost in discussion, and sometimes this makes the public acceptance of scientific findings harder than it should be.

For example, those who think the plural of anecdote is data may not appreciate why this is not scientific (indeed, it can have a proper role to play as a signpost for research).

Other misconceptions about science include what the definition of a theory is, what it means to prove something, how statistics should be used and the nature of evidence and falsification.

Because of these misconceptions, and the confusion they cause, it is sometimes useful to discuss science and pseudoscience in a way that focuses less on operational details and more on the broader functions of science.

What is knowledge?
The first and highest level at which science can be distinguished from pseudoscience involves how an area of study grows in knowledge and utility.

The philosopher John Dewey in his Theory of Inquiry said that we understand knowledge as that which is "so settled that it is available as a resource in further inquiry".

This is an excellent description of how we come to "know" something in science. It shows how existing knowledge can be used to form new hypotheses, develop new theories and hence create new knowledge.

echo of past world war from davos...,

ex-skf |  In comparing the current Sino-Japan relationship to the British-German relationship right before the World War I.

Disconcerting remarks that seem to have freaked out many who attended the events (two separate events at Davos - confab of the rich and the powerful in the world), but there is hardly a peep about them in Japan. I don't think either remarks were reported by the Japanese media.

First, about the incredible Chinese professional, from Business Insider's Henry Blodget, who was at a dinner at Davos where he heard the following (1/22/2014; emphasis is mine):

I went to one of those fancy private dinners last night in Davos, Switzerland.

Like most of the events here at the 2014 World Economic Forum, the dinner was conducted under what are known as "Chatham House Rules," which means that I can't tell you who was there.

I can tell you what was said, though. And one thing that was said rattled a lot of people at the table.

During the dinner, the hosts passed a microphone around the table and asked guests to speak briefly about something that they thought would interest the group.

One of the guests, an influential Chinese professional, talked about the simmering conflict between China and Japan over a group of tiny islands in the Pacific.

China and Japan, you may recall, each claim ownership of these islands, which are little more than a handful of uninhabited rocks between Japan and Taiwan. Recently, the Japan-China tension around the islands has increased, and has led many analysts, including Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, to worry aloud about the potential for a military conflict.

The Chinese professional at dinner last night did not seem so much worried about a military conflict as convinced that one was inevitable. And not because of any strategic value of the islands themselves (they're basically worthless), but because China and Japan increasingly hate each other.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Synarchism: The Root of Fascism and Fascist Root of __________________?

Synarchism - the fascist roots of the Wolfowitz cabal

wikipedia |  The most substantial early use of the word "synarchy" comes from the writings of Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842–1909), who used the term in his book La France vraie to describe what he believed was the ideal form of government.[3] In reaction to the emergence of anarchist ideologies and movements, Saint-Yves elaborated a political formula which he believed would lead to a harmonious society. He defended social differentiation and hierarchy with collaboration between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups: synarchy, as opposed to anarchy. Specifically, Saint-Yves envisioned a Federal Europe (as well as all the states it has integrated) with a corporatist government composed of three councils, one for academia, one for the judiciary, and one for commerce.

Rule by a secret elite Some conspiracy theorists use the word "synarchy" to describe a shadow government, a form of government where political power effectively rests with a secret elite, in contrast to an "oligarchy" where the elite is or could be known by the public.[5]

Occultism Some authors[who?] have claimed that Saint-Yves was a "theocratic occultist" who used "synarchy" to describe a form of government where political power effectively rests with secret societies or, more precisely, esoteric societies, which are composed of oracles. Furthermore he is supposed to have associated "synarchy" with the rule of "ascended masters" who lived in the subterranean caverns of Agartha and supposedly communicated with him telepathically.[6] However, other authors[who?] have described these claims about Saint-Yves as false and originating in occult conspiracy theories.[citation needed]

In Vichy France According to former OSS officer William Langer (Our Vichy Gamble, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1947), there were French industrial and banking interests who "even before the war, had turned to Nazi Germany and had looked to Hitler as the savior of Europe from Communism. These people were as good fascists as any in Europe. Many of them had extensive and intimate business relations with German interests and were still dreaming of a new system of 'synarchy', which meant government of Europe on fascist principles by an international brotherhood of financiers and industrialists."

This theory allegedly originated with the discovery of a document called Pacte Synarchique following the death of Jean Coutrot, former member of Groupe X-Crise, on May 15, 1941. According to this document, a Mouvement Synarchique d'Empire had been founded in 1922, with the aim of abolishing parliamentarianism and replacing it with synarchy. This led to the belief that La Cagoule, a far-right organisation, was the armed branch of French synarchism, and that some important members of the Vichy Regime were synarchists. An investigation was in fact ordered by the Vichy government, leading to the Rapport Chavin[7] but no evidence for the existence of the Mouvement Synarchiste d'Empire was found. Most of the presumed synarchists were either associated with the Banque Worms or with Groupe X-Crise and were close to Admiral François Darlan, and this has led to the belief that synarchists had engineered the military defeat of France for the profit of Banque Worms.[8]

This belief system has been dismissed as a "work of a paranoid imagination which wove together the histories of three disparate groups of activists, creating a conspiracy among them where none existed".[9] In fact, some historians suspect that the Pacte Synarchique was a hoax created by some members of La Cagoule to weaken Darlan and his technocrats.[10]

Propaganda Due The Propaganda Due lodge (P2) was a "textbook example" of an attempt to establish a synarchy, as it united politicians, the Catholic Church, and the Mafia-controlled drug economy.[11]

LaRouche Lyndon LaRouche, leader of a controversial movement on the political fringe,[12][13] describes a wide-ranging historical phenomenon, starting with Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre and the Martinist Order followed by important individuals, organizations, movements and regimes that are alleged to have been synarchist, including the government of Nazi Germany.[14] He claims that during the Great Depression an international coalition of financial institutions, raw materials cartels, and intelligence operatives, installed fascist regimes throughout Europe (and tried to do so in Mexico) to maintain world order and prevent the repudiation of international debts.[15] LaRouche identifies the former U.S. Vice President and former PNAC member Dick Cheney as a modern "synarchist", and claims that "synarchists" have "a scheme for replacing regular military forces of nations, by private armies in the footsteps of a privately financed international Waffen-SS-like scheme, a force deployed by leading financier institutions, such as the multi-billions funding by the U.S. Treasury, of Cheney's Halliburton gang."[16]

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Meaning Of Dieudonné

gilad |  Since the 1968 Student Revolution, the European and American Left, together with a herd of Jewish progressive intellectuals, have invested enormous effort in attempting to break society down into multiple segments of identities. 

The Left adopted this peculiar approach because it could never cope with its own failure to bond with working people. 

The Jewish intellectuals, who led the campaign, realized that fragmented and divided nations are far less dangerous for Jews. As we know, Jews are threatened by cohesive, patriotic nationalism, and for a good reason. After all, they were amongst the prime victims of such an ideology. 

Bizarrely enough, dazzled by the emerging false prophecy of post-68 ‘identity politics,’ the Left was quick to drop its universal ethos. While in the past it aimed to cross the divide and unite the working people, the post-68 Left actually split and ghettoized the Western subjects by means of identification.

Instead of being and celebrating who and what we are, we’ve learned to identify with ready-made soundbites. Rather than simply being Jill, Joseph, Abe or Youssef, we are now identified ‘as a woman’, ‘as a gay’, ‘as a Jew’, ‘as a Muslim’, and so on. In practice, the New Left has been erecting walls around us in an attempt to separate us into infinitesimally small, marginal identity groups. 

Peculiarly, it is the post-68 Left, rather than the capitalists, that drove us into segregation, isolation and political paralysis. 

But then, pretty much out of the blue, Dieudonné, a black French comedian, has managed to re-unite the working people: the migrant communities, the Black, the Muslim, the North African as well as the White proletarian and at the same time, to deliver a universal message.

Dieudonné has reminded us what the Left stood for in the first place, before it was conquered by Marcuse and his Frankfurt Yeshiva’s pals.  It is the French entertainer who brings to light the most instinctive Left insight -- we are actually united and identified in opposition to our oppressors, namely, the establishment.  

Alexandre Saint-Yves Alveydre

wikipedia | Alexandre Saint-Yves, Marquess of Alveydre (26 March 1842, Paris – 5 February 1909, Pau) was a French occultist who adapted the works of Fabre d'Olivet (1767–1825) and, in turn, had his ideas adapted by Papus. He developed the term Synarchy—the association of everyone with everyone else—into a political philosophy, and his ideas about this type of government proved influential in politics and the occult.

Saint-Yves used the term Synarchy in his book La France vraie to describe what he believed was the ideal form of government.[1] In reaction to the emergence of anarchist ideologies and movements, Saint-Yves had elaborated a more conservative political-theological formula over a series of 4 books from 1882 onwards which he believed would result in a harmonious society by considering it as an organic unity. This ideal was based partially on his idealised view of life in medieval Europe and also on his ideas about successful government in India, Atlantis and Ancient Egypt. He defended social differentiation and hierarchy with co-operation between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups: Synarchy, as opposed to anarchy. Specifically, Saint-Yves envisioned a European society with a government composed of three councils, representing economic power, judicial power, and scientific community, of which the metaphysical chamber bound the whole structure together.[2] These ideas were also influenced by works such as Plato's The Republic and by Martinism.

As part of this concept of government Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, gave an important role to secret societies or, more precisely, esoteric societies, which are composed of oracles and who safeguarded the government from behind the scenes. He saw the Rosicrucians as having fulfilled this role in medieval Europe and was involved with a number of Freemason and other groups who claimed descent from the Knights Templars.

Saint-Yves's main disciple was the prominent occultist Papus who established a number of societies based on Synarchist ideas. Other notable followers included Victor Blanchard (1878–1953), Nizier Anthelme Philippe, René A. Schwaller de Lubicz and Emile Dantinne. Saint-Yves' works were also utilised in the development of Theosophy and Rudolf Steiner used Synarchy as a major influence in developing his political thought.

Saint-Yves's ideas influenced the turbulent French politics of the early twentieth century where they served as a model for a number of right-wing groups and also in Mexico where synarchist groups have had a major political role. Theories concerning Synarchcist groups also have become a key element in a number of conspiracy theories.