Frederik Pohl, RIP. A nice write-up from Annalee Newitz, at i09. [UPDATE: Henry’s memorial post went up while I was writing this one!]
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In a study by Harvard graduate Chia-Jung Tsay … nearly all participants — including highly trained musicians — were better able to identify the winners of classical music competitions by watching silent video clips than by listening to audio recordings. “In this case,” says Tsay, “it suggests that the visual trumps the audio, even in a setting where audio information should matter much more.
I thought Eddie Izzard already proved that.
Maybe, though, the term can be rescued [from the negative connotations]. It has certainly proved a survivor. Cosmopolitanism dates at least to the Cynics of the fourth century BC, who first coined the expression cosmopolitan, “citizen of the cosmos.” The formulation was meant to be paradoxical, and reflected the general Cynic skepticism toward custom and tradition. A citizen—a polite–s—belonged to a particular polis, a city to which he or she owed loyalty. The cosmos referred to the world, not in the sense of the earth, but in the sense of the universe. Talk of cosmopolitanism originally signaled, then, a rejection of the conventional view that every civilized person belonged to a community among communities.
I posted about this a couple years back. Short version: ‘kosmos’ is a matter of order – military order, cosmetics, ‘getting it together’ – more than vastness, sublimity (‘to boldly go!’) So maybe Diogenes was saying, in effect: I’m a citizen of wherever they’ve actually got good government. Or even: I’m a Utopian. Or: I’m a citizen of nature. Or: I’m a citizen of the natural order, the true order of things.
I got mild pushback in comments. (You don’t want to rehash old comments threads? Fine! Go read something else.) [click to continue…]
I don’t suppose US action hinges on my say-so, but no harm in trying. Also, maybe there’s a connection to my previous post. Dropping bombs because someone ‘crossed a red line’, i.e. for the sake of our ‘credibility’ – for our honor, not the welfare of Syrians – is wrong. Maybe it makes sense to kill a 1000 people to probably save 2000 people, but if you don’t even have any calculation like that, forget it. [click to continue…]
In a recent post I remarked that MLK is a figure well worth stealing. And NR obliges me with the first sentence of their anniversary editorial. “The civil-rights revolution, like the American revolution, was in a crucial sense conservative.” They do admit a few paragraphs on that, “Too many conservatives and libertarians, including the editors of this magazine, missed all of this at the time.” And then manage to wreck it all again with the next sentence: “They worried about the effects of the civil-rights movement on federalism and limited government. Those principles weren’t wrong, exactly; they were tragically misapplied, given the moral and historical context.” No look into the question of how such a misapplication transpired, since that would not produce gratifying results. After all, if we are talking about what actually worried people, then plainly federalism and limited government were more pretext than motive. The tragedy is that so many people wanted to do the wrong thing, for bad reasons. But they couldn’t say ‘Boo justice!’ So they said stuff about … federalism. There is obviously no point to conservative’s revisiting how they got things wrong without bothering to consider how they got things wrong. But let’s be positive about it. “It is a mark of the success of King’s movement that almost all Americans can now see its necessity.” Yay justice!
If you are only going to read one book on Hamlet this week … well, I guess it could be Stay, Illusion, by Critchley and Webster. (If you’d like to read about it, go here.) But it could also be To Be Or Not To Be, a Chooseable Path Adventure, by Ryan North, Shakespeare, and You! (If you would like to read an interview with Ryan North, click here.)
The girls and I explored a few paths yesterday. I thought maybe it would be a bit too old for the younger one. It is the story of Hamlet, ‘a teenager in his late thirties’, after all. But she really liked it. Later she asked for the iPad. ‘I was the ghost and I had a chance to explore the bottom of the ocean some more, but I didn’t take it. I wanna do that.’ Fair words! “The ocean, overpeering of his list/ Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste!” than a young lady, playing as Hamlet, Sr., in a chooseable path adventure. “Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-choice, via author’s snarky voice.”
(Just so you know: it’s not written in mock-Shakespeare-ese. Ryan North is a writer for “Adventure Time” comics, and he goes more for that tone.) [click to continue…]
Greetings from the road. I’ve been chivvying little girls around the globe for a few weeks, which interferes with keeping up one’s CT duties. So our text today is taken from one of the few literary works I’ve had a chance to read with real discernment, at leisure. The August issue of the Delta inflight magazine!
The article in question is a celebration of the 50th anniversery of King’s “I Have A Dream Speech”. A number of prominent Atlantans reflect on its significance, generally and personally. (Hey, you can read it online. Who knew? Who ever links to articles in inflight magazines?)
It’s the sort of feel-good, unlikely-to-offend fare you expect from an inflight magazine. But the fact that MLK, his legacy and most famous speech, are fodder for such fare is noteworthy. In 1963, who would have expected that, a mere 50 years on, MLK would be not just a moral hero to many, but a non-polarizing, nominal hero to nearly all. Democrats love him, of course. And Republicans – although they may vote against MLK day and try to chip away at his pedestal every couple of years – are really more interested in making out, rhetorically, how they, not Democrats, are the true heirs to his legacy and philosophy (which has been so cruelly betrayed by the Democrats). As Orwell said about Dickens: MLK is a figure well worth stealing. [click to continue…]
After my posts on Shelby, a few weeks ago, I decided to see what the Volokh folks have had to say about that particular decision. Not a lot, it turns out. But here’s Jonathan Adler, explaining how he thinks left and right tend to view the issue differently. Seen from the right, the decision makes sense (although Adler does not endorse it explicitly): [click to continue…]
Took the girls to see Despicable Me 2. It’s good but we agreed the first was better ‘when Gru was bad’. Also, the minions are so funny they risk being the equivalent of a resource curse for the franchise. You just have to have them do any random, yet minion-y thing and they’ll carry the film along, the lovable scamps.
In classic animation news, early cutout animation master Vladislav Feltov – be ashamed you haven’t heard of him! – is finally getting the attention he deserves, thanks to 2013 BAFTA-winning animator Will Anderson and his brilliant restoration/reimagining, “The Making of Longbird”. I remember at the University of Chicago, in 1986 (was it?), I was a volunteer at Doc Films, helping organize stuff, and someone wanted to include some Feltov in an animation festival. Of course it was quite impossible.
Before “Longbird” Will Anderson was perhaps best known for his music and his documentary approach to the Scottish labor market and its relationship to issues of law enforcement and public order.
If you – your children, your whole family – are inspired by all this greatness to drop everything and take up cutout animation, probably the most sensible thing to do is start with the McClaren’s Workshop app for your iPad. It’s free and fun.
“I don’t think that the word marriage can properly apply to a relationship between two persons of the same sex, just as I don’t think that a circle should be called a round square.”
Alas, the culture rolls on.
“Families can come in all shapes and sizes. Even rectangles.”
(No, really. Watch the trailer. No major studio would have put out a trailer like that 10 years ago, or five – or three.)
I’m a big fan of Laika studios. Coraline was good. ParaNorman had the most stunning stop-motion ever, plus a good story (even though my daughters refused to watch it – too scary. So I had to watch it by myself.) The Boxtrolls looks … I’ll wait and see. It could be good.
Just in case Corey is too modest to link to it himself. Because he’s still talking about all that Hayek stuff – now with Mike Konczal. (Maybe he thinks you – the CT reader – have had enough of that.)
I hadn’t had enough. I enjoyed it. As I’ve told Corey: I agree with what he’s getting at – all the Hayek stuff is very much of a piece with his other stuff, and I endorse that big picture. But I felt the “Nation” article, in particular, didn’t give him enough room. The big picture ended up weirdly cropped. The argument can look unsound, even though it’s basically sound. The follow-ups have improved things considerably, but maybe some of you feel you have lost the plot in all the multi-post critical back-and-forth? A 53 minute bloggingheads might seem like it just adds to the pile. But I think Corey does a good job of just taking it from the top and making his points pretty clearly.
Following up my Shelby post: Dave Weigel has a post, “Do Republicans Really Need Hispanic Votes? Nope!” He links to part two of a three-part analysis by Sean Trende (part 1, part 3). Trende proposes that even if Dems get 90% black, Hispanic and Asian, this is likely to depress the Dem share of the white vote to the point where Reps remain competitive for decades. He suggests that, electorally, the ‘Arizona model’ – i.e. apparently go out of your way to piss off Hispanics (he doesn’t put it that way) – is about as likely to work as the ‘Full Rubio’.
I have no opinion about Sean Trende and I don’t usually rely on “Real Clear Politics” for my wonky analysis, to say the least. But, whatever the merits or demerits of his specific deployments of data, this does strike me as noteworthy. It’s the first time I’ve seen a ‘wonky’ Republican suggest maybe extreme racial polarization should be on the table as a strategic option. It’s so obvious it would be a bad thing for the whole country that I find it dismaying.
I’m not a big believer in ‘heighten the contradictions’. Too Lenin-meets-slatepitch. But I wonder to what extent the Shelby decision will prove disadvantageous for Republicans because the party will now pursue measures that are inconsistent with making any credible attempt to not be a regional, ethnocentric party. Because they have to at least try this new stuff, as a solution to the problem that demographics are shifting. But surely everyone is going to notice them doing that.
Maybe it will backfire, as voter discouragement measures seem to have backfired in 2012. Or maybe it will work, at least in the near term. Minorities will vote in smaller numbers. That will help Republicans. But it seems like doom for Republican moderates, hence death for tender green shoots of Republican moderation (were one to believe such a delicate blossom could ever compete with that hardiest of conservative perennials – the extremist spasm.) No Republican is allowed to call a fellow Republican a racist, obviously. That’s beyond the pale (no pun intended!) But that means no moderate Republican will be able to talk, critically, about what their fellow Republicans are going to be up to, thanks to Shelby. Because anything the least bit negative they say about anything Shelby has made possible will be construed as a charge of ‘racism!’ by other Republians. So the most ethnocentric elements of the party will loudly drag the rest quietly along for the rightward ride. But no one along for that ride is going to look moderate in the least. The overall optics are going to be terrible.
Read this column by Matt Lewis. It’s about immigration, not Shelby. But the dynamics are the same. Just apply Lewis’ discovery that dog-bites-man – yep, it happens – to the Shelby case. The Supreme Court has made it legal to do stuff you couldn’t do before. Hence there is a practical point to Republicans talking about doing that stuff. But the talk is going to get ugly. But no one on the right is allowed to notice it getting ugly. No one who aspires to office, anyway – even though this is precisely the same lot who most appreciate that you need to keep the ugly talk to a minimum. Lewis is a Rubio fan, and I can see him worrying: in 12 years, is it going to be possible to have a figure like Rubio in the party? Or will he have died the death of a thousand cuts from both sides. He will look to minority voters like a profile in putting up with increasing amounts of crap. (At best, it will be largely symbolic stuff, intended to signal to whites that Republicans think they’re still tops. At worst, it may be much worse than that. We’ll see.) Rubio-types will look to white Republicans like a liability waiting to happen. When is he finally going to call us racists, which will have the Times all over us in a New York minute, costing us more than all the good he ever did for us, in terms of minority outreach.
You might say this only affects Republicans in the regions affected by Shelby. But other Republicans will have to comment on it, and ‘it’s not my district’ isn’t going to sound very moderate to ticked off minority voters.
Going back to my first point: it’s too clever by half to argue that vote suppression measures will surely backfire, having the opposite of the intended effect. So let’s just ask: to what extent will Shelby discourage the Republican Party from mending its ways (by liberal lights, of course)?
My Things To Come post got a modest response. Let’s try for more, considering ‘How Things Have Changed Dramatically’.
So here’s your nickel summary. If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that’s OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that’s prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress’s approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window. Welcome to the 21st century.[click to continue…]