R U Sure Tho?

by Belle Waring on September 11, 2017

This seems to violate the Belle Waring unitary theory of American politics. Kevin Drum proposes that “racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” I grant that they want to cut taxes on the super-rich, but this is specifically with reference to Trump’s birtherism as well as Republicans’ refusal to accept Obama as a legitimate president (remember how he only got to serve 3/5 of a term when it came to nominating SC judges?). Ummm. Let’s just say I side with Marcotte in this dispute.

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Sunday Photoblogging: Mouille Point Beach, Cape Town

by Ingrid Robeyns on September 10, 2017


I was in Cape Town this week, for the annual conference of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA). Since earlier this year I was elected President-elect of the HDCA, and have also been an associate editor for its journal for a few years, I was occupied with the conference and organisation matters from the moment I arrived till the closing session which I chaired. It is frustrating to be in a building several days non-stop, and not seeing anything of the city, so I was very glad that Ina Conradie, my former PhD Student and a longtime resident of Cape Town took me to Mouille Point Beach, to inhale the smell of the ocean and get some clamshells for my sons. Friends had warned me that Cape Town beaches are white-sanded and may be without shells, but not this one! I’ve never seen so many shells on a single beach, including some very beautiful ones.

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Irma

by John Holbo on September 10, 2017

Stay safe, CT readers! And anyone else in Florida. The aftermath in the Caribbean is already unbelievably awful.

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H. P. Lovecraft – Precocious Provincial

by John Holbo on September 9, 2017

A second Lovecraft post, since the first is getting some love. He doesn’t love the Irish. (They seem to be the half of the Hiberno-Prussian herd he likes least.) From “Americanism“:

The greatest foe to rational Americanism is that dislike for our parent nation which holds sway amongst the ignorant and bigoted, and which is kept alive largely by certain elements of the population who seem to consider the sentiments of Southern and Western Ireland more important than those of the United States. In spite of the plain fact that a separate Ireland would weaken civilisation and menace the world’s peace by introducing a hostile and undependable wedge betwixt the two major parts of Saxondom, these irresponsible elements continue to encourage rebellion in the Green Isle; and in so doing tend to place this nation in a distressingly anomalous position as an abettor of crime and sedition against the Mother Land. Disgusting beyond words are the public honours paid to political criminals like Edward, alias Eamonn, de Valera, whose very presence at large among us is an affront to our dignity and heritage. Never may we appreciate or even fully comprehend our own place and mission in the world, till we can banish those clouds of misunderstanding which float between us and the source of our culture.

But the features of Americanism peculiar to this continent must not be belittled. In the abolition of fixed and rigid class lines a distinct sociological advance is made, permitting a steady and progressive recruiting of the upper levels from the fresh and vigorous body of the people beneath. Thus opportunities of the choicest sort await every citizen alike, whilst the biological quality of the cultivated classes is improved by the cessation of that narrow inbreeding which characterises European aristocracy.

Total separation of civil and religious affairs, the greatest political and intellectual advance since the Renaissance, is also a local American—and more particularly a Rhode Island—triumph …


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H.P. Lovecraft, the opening paragraphs of “Old England and the Hyphen” (1916):

Of the various intentional fallacies exhaled like miasmic vapours from the rotting cosmopolitanism of vitiated American politics, and doubly rife during these days of European conflict, none is more disgusting than that contemptible subterfuge of certain foreign elements whereby the legitimate zeal of the genuine native stock for England’s cause is denounced and compared to the unpatriotic disaffection of those working in behalf of England’s enemies. The Prussian propagandists and Irish irresponsibles, failing in their clumsy efforts to use the United States as a tool of vengeance upon the Mistress of the Seas, have seized with ingenious and unexpected eagerness on a current slogan coined to counteract their own traitorous machinations, and have begun to fling the trite demand “America first” in the face of every American who is unable to share their puerile hatred of the British Empire. In demanding that American citizens impartially withhold love and allegiance from any government save their own, thereby binding themselves to a policy of rigid coldness in considering the fortunes of their Mother Country, the Prusso-Hibernian herd have the sole apparent advantage of outward technical justification. If the United States were truly the radical, aloof, mongrelised nation into which they idealise it, their plea might possibly be more appropriate. But in comparing the lingering loyalty of a German-American for Germany, or of an Irish-American for Ireland, with that of a native American for England, these politicians make their fundamental psychological error.

England, despite the contentions of trifling theorists, is not and never will be a really foreign country; nor is a true love of America possible without a corresponding love for the British race and ideals that created America. The difficulties which caused the severance of the American Colonies from the rest of the Empire were essentially internal ones, and have no moral bearing on this country’s attitude toward the parent land in its relations with alien civilisations. Just as Robert Edward Lee chose to follow the government of Virginia rather than that of the Federal Union in 1861, so did the Anglo-American Revolutionary leaders choose local to central allegiance in 1775. Their rebellion was in itself a characteristically English act, and could in no manner annul the purely English origin and nature of the new republic. American history before the conflict of 1775-1783 is English history, and we are lawful heirs of the unnumbered glories of the Saxon line. Shakespeare and Milton, Dryden and Pope, Young and Thomson, Johnson and Goldsmith, are our own poets; William the Conqueror, Edward the Black Prince, Elizabeth, and William of Nassau’ are our own royalty; Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt are our own victories; Lord Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Hobbes, Locke, Sir Robert Boyle, and Sir William Herschel are our own philosophers and scientists; what true American lives, who would wish, by rejecting an Englishman’s heritage, to despoil his country of such racial laurels? Let those men be silent, who would, in envy, deny to the citizens of the United States the right to cherish and revere the ancestral honours that are theirs, and to remain faithful to the Anglo-Saxon ideals of their English forefathers!


(I’m reading the book, but if you google you can probably find it.)

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The generation game, yet again

by John Quiggin on September 5, 2017

At Inside Story, I’ve had yet another go at the silliness of generational analysis, reworking some material I’ve posted previously, but improving the analysis in some ways, I think. In particular, I think the intro helps to explain the persistent appeal of generational cliches in the face of repeated refutation.

Every generation thinks it invented sex, and every generation is wrong.” As that quotation from the American writer Robert Heinlein suggests, we all experience as unique and revelatory the transformations we undergo through the course of our lives, from childhood to puberty, adulthood, parenthood and old age. As a matter of logic and observation, though, these processes are experienced at all times and in all places, and differ more in detail than essentials.

This is the paradox at the heart of the otherwise inexplicable durability of claims that people’s characteristics can be explained by their membership of a “generation” (baby boomers, generation X, and so on).

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Sunday photoblogging: clouds

by Eszter Hargittai on September 3, 2017

Clouds over LA As of this past week, I’ve posted over 500 photos in my “a sky photo a day” project. I love taking a moment each day to look up and see what patterns, or lack thereof, surround my area.

This was the January 22, 2017 shot. I was at the Getty in Los Angeles when this curious cloud formation appeared. I have more photos of the neighboring sky on Flickr if you’d like to explore. Does anyone have any idea what would result in this? I was so intrigued.

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I’ve just given a couple of talks focusing on inequality, one for the Global Change Institute at UQ, following a presentation by Wayne Swan and the second at a conference organized by the TJ Ryan Foundation (including great talks by Peter Saunders, Sally McManus, and others), where I was responding to a paper by Jim Stanford from the Centre for Future Work. Because I was speaking second in both cases, I didn’t prepare a paper or slides, but tailored my talk to complement the one before. That can be a high risk strategy, but in this case, I think it worked very well.

It led me to a new, and I hope improved, statement of the case against ‘trickle down’ theory. As always, the most important part of a refutation is a clear statement of the theory you propose to refute, so that it can be shown where it falls down. After the talks I wrote this up, and it’s over the fold. Comments and constructive criticism much appreciated.

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Happy Hari Raya Haji

by Belle Waring on September 1, 2017

Happy Hari Raya Haji/Eid al-Adha to all our Muslim readers! I live very near a huge mosque, and all the parking in the opposite lot is taken up, and all the street signs are full of locked bicycles, and the sidewalk is bordered with scores of scooters and motorcycles, and you can hear the call to prayer for a change. Normally Singapore more or less mutes it in the name of religious harmony—that is to say they forbid loudspeakers so the muezzin is singing alone, and so desperately quiet over the traffic noise and the inevitable jackhammering going on in Singapore at all times. The Indian ceremonies in which someone is blowing on a conch is frankly louder, and don’t get me started on drumming in Chinese temples or lion dances at CNY. I feel as if the men with the white caps that indicate they have been on the hajj have a little swagger today. Today on my hike I noticed the other men have generally worn embroidered and beaded black caps to keep up appearances. For those of you who don’t know, the feast celebrates both the ending of the hajj and the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim and Ismail are said to have made the Kaaba later at the source of the miraculous spring which appeared when the earth was struck by the angel Jibra’il (or alternately much earlier where Hagar collapsed in prayer after wandering, in the hopes of saving her child from death from lack of water). It’s called the Zamzam Well, which is literally the coolest name ever. The day includes the sacrifice of a big valuable animal which is divided for a ritual feast, in commemoration of the ram substituted for Ismail. Lots of the many Singaporean Muslims with family in Malaysia travel there for the feast, where the cows or sheep or goats are more easily available (though of course they are shipped into mosques here.) People raise funds for charity also. Anyway, happy day!

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The Origins of Glibertarianism

by Henry on August 31, 2017

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been involved in an on-and-off floating argument over Nancy MacLean’s book on James Buchanan and public choice, Democracy in Chains. This essay, with Steve Teles, lays out the problems we see with the book. The book makes very big claims e.g. that Buchanan provided the political strategies that made Pinochet’s Chile what it was, and galvanized an American right that had been in disarray before his decisive intervention. But the evidence that MacLean provides for these claims is problematic – key documents simply don’t say what MacLean thinks they do. MacLean describes Buchanan as an inventive creator of dastardly political ploys, using terms such as ‘evil genius’ and ‘wicked genius,’ but economists, no more than political scientists, make for good competent political strategists – the median is closer to Professor Pippy P. Poopypants than Svengali. [click to continue…]

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Review of Betts and Collier on refugees

by Chris Bertram on August 30, 2017

I have a review of Andrew Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (Allen Lane) in The New Humanist. It is a curious book, with some interesting and serious parts, but the whole is marred by an arrogant rhetoric and it risks serving as an alibi for some very bad policies indeed.

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Brad White, a friend of Crooked Timber, was home in Salt Lake City recently. His mother, Jackie White had suddenly died. It was a good death, as they go; Jackie went just as she raised a rather large G&T to her many friends.

As Brad tidied and settled Jackie’s affairs, he found stuffed at the back of a drawer an article she’d written. Going by the other documents it was with, he reckons it was written in the late 1960s or early 1970s. As far as we can tell, it was never published.

Here is some clear-eyed advice advice written for American women in the workplace, not long after the Mad Men era. Almost fifty years on, the gist of it is still relevant to many women in many more places. [click to continue…]

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Jack Kirby was born on August 28, 1917.

I celebrated his birthday by rereading a bunch of old Jack Kirby comics. [click to continue…]

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What Music Are You listening to This Week

by Belle Waring on August 29, 2017

The recurring series that’s actually pretty popular, dammit. Also I get sweet music recs every time. Otpup pointed out that the new LCD Soundsystem is great, and although they have only released three of the songs off the new album, I have been listening to them on repeat as I do my morning 1-hour hike that I do before the sun comes up because I am a person of unusual virtue and my life has changed and now I am up from the front end instead of from the other end if you see what I mean. Also it’s really hot when the sun comes up in Singapore. Of course, it’s so muggy before the sun comes up that I come home in a lather of sweat anyway, but hey. I see lots of old people doing tai chi in the park, and occasionally monkeys. Not doing tai chi, as far as I can tell. Otpup posted “Call The Police”, so here’s “Tonite.”

I’m not 1000% sold on The War on Drugs, but I’m warming up to it. And this song is great. Damn this dude must do a good Dylan cover though.

This is one of my favorite songs from The Clash’s Sandinista:

It’s strange in a way how like this the towers of Singapores HDB blocks look, in huge clusters, but neatly painted with graded hues on the brick ends, some blues, some reds, some yellows, all planted around with tidy gardens, all surrounded with new cars.
My Neighbors
Sorry, there were much better photos but they maxed out the side of the blog. Anyway, this is in my neighborhood, so there’s that.

I have the Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox that appears in the video at 4:17 and carried it as a purse for a number of years, a choice I now regard as dubious.

Is there a name for the songwriting device of setting up an obvious rhyme and then not using it? Pavement is particularly inclined to this but there’s an example in LCD Soundsystem’s “Tonite” also:

Sure enemies haunt you with spit and derision
But friends are the ones who can put you in exile

You are expecting “prison” at that point, oder?

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I Hope If You’re In Houston You’re OK

by John Holbo on August 28, 2017

That’s all I have to say. Stay safe and stay as dry as you can.

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