Dear George, What have you changed your mind about?

by John Holbo on August 4, 2009

I’m enjoying our George Scialabba event, and I enjoyed George’s book. My contribution will be up tomorrow, or thereabouts. But I want to ask a separate question of our author: what has he changed his mind about? Which of these pieces look, to him, dated or short-sighted? I assume he declined to reprint anything he now thinks is just not worth reading anymore, but I suspect some of this stuff looks critically mixed in retrospect. [click to continue…]

Avoiding the Lasch of Modernity

by Rich Yeselson on August 4, 2009

George Scialabba wishes he could be as calmly appalled about our historical moment as Richard Rorty, but Christopher Lasch keeps haranguing him, shouting from an artisan commune on the Other Side that it is worse—much worse—than Bin Laden, Bush, and Jon and Kate plus Eight all rolled into one. Scialabba has been writing wittily and vexingly about modernity and its discontents for decades. And in _What Are Intellectuals Good For?_, a collection of his review essays, he demonstrates his astonishing erudition in considering and citing many thinkers besides Lasch and Rorty.
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Toward a Larger Left

by Aaron Swartz on August 4, 2009

Stanford, like many universities, maintains full employment for humanities professors by requiring new students to take their seminars. My heart burning with the pain of societal injustice, I chose the one on “Freedom, Equality, Difference.”

Most of the other students had no particular interest in the topic — they were just meeting the requirement. But a significant minority did: like me, they cared passionately about it. They were the conservatives, armed with endless citations on how affirmative action was undermining American meritocracy. The only other political attitude I noticed was a moderate centrism, the view espoused by the teacher, whose day job was studying Just War Theory.

It quickly became clear that I was the only person even remotely on the left. And it wasn’t simply that the others disagreed with me; they couldn’t even _understand_ me. I remember us discussing a scene in _Invisible Man_ where a factory worker brags he’s so indispensable that when he was out sick the boss drove to his house and begged him to come back, agreeing to put him in charge. When I suggested Ellison might be implying that labor, not management, ought to run workplaces, the other students (and the teacher) didn’t just disagree — they found the idea incomprehensible. How could you run a factory without managers? [click to continue…]

Bookblogging: After the EMH, what next?

by John Quiggin on August 4, 2009

Writing a critique of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis in terms rigorous enough to stand up to scrutiny, but comprehensible to the average reader hasn’t been easy, and I still have a lot more work to do. But thanks to the help I’ve had from commenters here and at my blog, and from other readers, I hope to make a go of it. Now comes the hard bit: suggesting some alternatives, both in theory and policy. I’m not by any means satisfied with this draft. In particular, I need to go back and get a better linkage to the question “if the market price for assets is not the “right” price, what is?”. But, I thought I’d do better getting some help and criticisms now, rather than trying for some more polish first.

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