Christ, it's depressing how smart one can be in one area while believing the most transparently idiotic things in others (especially when moral culpability is involved).
Read THIS COLUMN ("MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used") for yet more evidence concerning the correctness of John Calvin on innate depravity.
Even from a self-interested perspective it's risible. Just how short-termed can one's thinking be? If this continues much longer not enough of their own students are going to be able to get enough good jobs to keep the scam going.
Nice discussion HERE including a cool shout out to friend-of-the-blog L.A. Paul. Most horrifying part:
What percentage of graduate students end up with tenure? (About one in four.) How much more unhappy are graduate students than other people? (About fifty-four per cent of graduate studentsreport feeling so depressed they have “a hard time functioning,” as opposed to ten per cent of the general population.)
George Gale pointed me to this news-story, which recounts how a PhD student, Thomas Herndon, "first started looking into Reinhart and Rogoff's work as part of
an assignment for an econometrics course that involved replicating the
data work behind a well-known study." Beyond the significance that politics may be guided by flawed science, here is a part of the story that transcends partisan politics; economics (like many other sciences) has terrible practices in sharing and replicating data (here's a link to recent scholarship on this.) My economist friend, David Levy, has been publishing about these issues for at least two decades (here's a link to a paper in Social Epistemology), so I am not optimistic that we will see a change in ethos in the field any time soon.
I bet the academic anthropology job-market is no better than the one in academic philosophy. So, what can one conclude about the politics of that field in light of the fact that after a stint at Yale, a scholar applies to "the City
University of New York Graduate Center, the New School, Cornell
University, and the University of Chicago (all of these twice)...Hunter
College, Emory, Duke, Columbia, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins—as well as
the University of Toronto," and then fails to land a job?
One can conclude that it is not easy to land a job in academic anthropology, especially if you apply (ahum) rather narrowly (not to say, snobbishly)...but such a sober assessment would undermine, of course, the mythic narrative of "exile" attached to being..."From 2008 through this spring, Mr. Graeber was a lecturer and then a
reader at Goldsmiths College and, just last month, he accepted a
professorship at the London School of Economics and Political Science."
Ah, yes, London...that academic wasteland...must be very tough being David Graeber.
James argues that what is characteristic of assholes is that they systematically "act out of a deep-rooted sense of entitlement, a habitual and persistent belief that they deserve special treatment." He develops a typology of different kinds of assholes, and also theorizes about the rise of "asshole capitalism," which is where:
This NYT article on Occupy Sandy (h/t to Mark on FB) is noteworthy for highlighting a pressing problem for more-or-less anarchist strains of thought as they cross political affect.
"Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster."
The question is how to institutionalize for efficiency without losing the face-to-face that helps drive empathy and altruism. I tend to take a modest evolutionary psychology angle here -- there really is something about faces for human beings and that something is plausibly an evolved predisposition for emotional resonance. Of course, the big question here is the ontological status of "predisposition."
"In Part One ("Demoralizing Marriage"), Brake focuses on the ethical significance of marriage for the individuals involved. Chapter 1 discusses whether marriage involves a promise. First, she argues that the typical marriage vows -- "to love, honour, and cherish, until death us do part" -- cannot literally be taken as promises. It is not clear that we can promise love at all. If we could, it would follow, counter-intuitively, that divorce counts as promise-breaking. Then she considers what strikes me as a more plausible suggestion"--Ralph Wedgwood.
That's the whole argument. Now from the way Wedgwood phrases the matter, it's not clear to me (really) if he believes that "If we could, it would follow, counter-intuitively, that divorce counts as promise-breaking" or if he is just summarizing the book's view. (I first inclined to the former, but now hedging my bets.) It doesn't matter, because the appeal to intuition goes unremarked here. We philosophers are so used to doing this that we can't help ourselves saying "it is not clear that," etc. Now I am willing to believe that Wedgewood never formed an intuition on the matter--he clearly just means to convey that either he (or the reviewed book) finds a view silly/dumb (whatever--pick your favorite). But it is basically an argument from authority that hides behind bogus intuitions or the language of intuitons..
I am no party to the first order debate, by the way (except, ahum, that I got married this year).
The pepper-spraying of seated, nonviolent protesters at my university, the University of California, Davis, made international headlines in November 2011, complete with pictures and videos. Now that some of the major consequences have shaken out, I thought people might be interested in hearing how things currently stand.
First, though, I think it's important to remember what the protests were about. In part, they were (ironically) about the right to protest. Just a few days earlier, a protest at our sister school, UC Berkeley, degenerated when campus police jabbed nonviolent protesters with nightsticks. So, the UC Davis protest was meant to be a show of solidarity with the Berkeley protest. The UC Davis protests were also meant to highlight the problems with repeated tuition hikes at the university. Not only have these tuition hikes made getting an education difficult for many students, but also, they represent the steady erosion of a public university into a private one and an abandonment of California's promise to educate all qualified applicants (the so-called "Master Plan"). Finally, the UC Davis protests were held during the height of the nationwide Occupy protests, and thus to some extent echoed many of those more general concerns, not to mention the tactic of occupying a common area overnight with tents.
There must be a natural language containing a word denoting bad people engineering reality so as to get otherwise sensible people to celebrate their own immiseration.
Tonight it occurs to me that if one were writing a dictionary for that langauage, then a picture of Teresa A. Sullivan would show up next to that word:
To the contrary, Sullivan embraced the principles of change demanded by the board that hired her. She oversaw years of no raises and a 2-percent raise pool distributed unevenly. She stonewalled hunger-striking students who wanted economic justice for the numerous on-campus employees of its vendors of outsourced services. She moved immediately upon arrival to implement a version of the responsibility-centered management championed over a decade earlier by her University of Michigan mentor James Duderstadt.
Often described as “every tub on its own bottom,” RCM financial models encourage resource-maximizing, perma-temping, and outsourcing, and strongly tend to over-reward and subsidize already-wealthy units and programs with access to external revenue in the form of grants, while under-acknowledging and poaching the revenue generated by undergraduate teaching.
In short, Sullivan has been a great president–for the Visitors. She is a largely conventional executive with a mostly conventional administrative vision. She was winning the battle that her board wanted waged on campus–and making the faculty like it too.
For the cool-headed among the Visitors, the smart play is easy: rehire Sullivan and calculate that the hoi polloi will retreat from the carnival celebration declaring victory–while continuing in their thralldom.
Full story from Marc Bousquet HERE. All I have to say is feh.
Horrifying story about Wells Fargo HERE. Just a sample:
The Rousseaus hired a lawyer. From the lawyer the Rousseaus learned that the loan they received was not the loan they were promised, including, “the 7.2% interest rate for the … loan was actually higher than the 2006 loan and greater than the 6.8% quoted,” had enormous fees, and the bank had increased the income the Rousseau had stated, from $76,000 to $136,800.
In other words, the lender had scammed them to get those fees, which was a widespread practice at the time.
This continues, with the bank scamming, lying, obfuscating, ignoring, contradicting, even producing signatures it claimed were the Rousseau’s but were not, every step of the way. And, of course, adding late fees to the amount it claimed was due.
In addition to all of this, Wells Fargo messed up their own paperwork and falsely determined that the Rousseau's had missed a payment, and through this mistake were able to successfully charge horrendous fees on the Rousseaus and foreclose on the house.
The first most horrifying thing is that this lead to Mr. Rousseau's suicide, and the third most horrifying thing is how widespread these practices were under the Bush economy. The second most horrifying thing is that there seems to be no chance that the rent-seeking companies who do these kinds of things will be held accountable in any way.
I don't know; I'm still hoping that the good guys will win. . . maybe that's naive.
If apropos anything, someone asks you what side you are on, it is always felicitous to respond, "truth and beauty."
In this respect, I highly recommend Tim Kreider's NY Times tribute to Ray Bradbury HERE (if you are blocked by the pay-wall, just reset your cookies or "Clear Recent History" in Firefox).
When I read Bradbury's books as a young child I had no idea that the stuff of his nightmares were actually coming to pass. Nor could I have realized the extent to which I would later organize my life around fleeing those very things.
Kreider's conclusion is perfect:
I think of Ray Bradbury’s work often these days. I remember “The Murderer” whenever I ask for directions or make a joke to someone who can’t hear me because of her ear buds, when I see two friends standing back-to-back in a crowd yelling “Where are you?” into their phones, or I’m forced to eavesdrop on somebody prattling on Bluetooth in that sanctum sanctorum, the library. I think of “Fahrenheit 451” every time I see a TV screen in an elevator or a taxi or a gas pump or over a urinal. When the entire hellish engine of the media seemed geared toward the concerted goal of forcing me to know, against my will, about a product called “Lady Gaga,” I thought: Denham’s Dentifrice.
It is thanks to Ray Bradbury that I understand this world I grew into for what it is: a dystopian future. And it is thanks to him that we know how to conduct ourselves in such a world: arm yourself with books. Assassinate your television. Go for walks, and talk with your neighbors. Cherish beauty; defend it with your life. Become a Martian.
Also check out the song at right. Bowie understood Ray Bradbury. For all the suffering it entails, it is still infinitely better to be Martian than caveman.
As Montreal police are beginning to increase the use of kettling in their crackdown on protest, it's a good time to remind ourselves of the dual use of that tactic: 1) the production of crowd "violence" providing pretext for further crackdowns, and 2) as a form of extra-judicial punishment (I am choosing that term carefully; I do not mean "extra-legal" but simply "outside the courts" [as opposed to the legislature]).
The best new crowd psychology shows that the police can produce violent reactions from their adversaries, just by treating them as adversaries (thereby producing a group identity of the crowd as "enclosed" and "threatened"), cutting off their path ("kettling"), hell, just showing up in riot gear. This effect is not unknown in the policing community (paywall protected article, unfortunately). You can of course investigate the self-constition of police group identity as the "thin blue line protecting society from violent mobs," etc. along these same lines.
Furthermore, as Laurie Penny points out here, kettling itself is a form of extra-judicial punishment: humiliating, anxiety-producing, etc. Just keeping you from urinating for hours has all sorts of subtle or not so subtle physiologico-psychological anxiety effects. It also puts the relief of your anxiety in the hands of the agents of the State.
One other extra-judicial punishment, beyond kettling -- or maybe a prolongation of kettling is better -- is to make the arrest procedure as long and degrading and difficult as possible. And then to decline to press charges. But the 24-36-48-even sometimes 72 hours in custody is in fact worse punishment than a judge is likely to pass down. So even if the police don't break your ribs with a billy club or pepper-spray you, they can still punish you, for just keeping you handcuffed, humiliated, for hours and hours on end is already punishment.
A perfect example here of the media's insatiable desire to annoint a leader of a mass movement. The linked BBC article not only looks to present GND (see, I'm falling into it myself, using the initials) as a "leader," it also uses "he said, she said" reporting to make sure the most reactionary creeps get air time to repeat the usual canards about the students as spoiled brats (and quite implicitly, but nonetheless there, unless I'm being hyper-sensitive, the Quebec Francophones as emotional and unruly compared to the sober and rational Anglos). Now I'm quite sure GND knows all this and has made a careful study of Camila Vallego's manipulation of and by the media. (Cf. as well David Graeber and OWS.)
What I'd like to ask for comments on is not so much that tactical level, as the philosophical question of what lies behind the mediatic creation of "leaders." What desire is at work here, what fear of the multitude is being assuaged? "Fascism" is terribly overused as an analytical category, but can that be remedied by making a distinction between micro- and macro-fascism? Is this an instance of micro-fascism, the desire to find a leader, so that all human relations are that of leader and led, crowding out the immanent self-organization of the multitude? I'm moving very fast here, from a combination of caffeine and time pressure from other tasks, but I hope some of this makes sense and is enought to elicit comments.
Someone thanked me the other day for posting on the Quebec situation. I said "there's no need for thanks, as we are all in this together, for Louisiana is set to decimate its universities via another round of budget cuts. Year after year, it's the same: http://theadvocate.com/news/2893882-123/college-leaders-blast-cuts. And of course it's completely artificial as in 2007 the Republicans pushed through huge tax cuts on the wealthy, which creates the revenue shortfall which is the pretext then for the expense cuts. The media let them off the hook by pretending there's a "budget crisis" when it's only a self-inflicted revenue shortfall. AFAICT, it's the same in Quebec, right?"
Now insofar as this is an Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science blog, here's a philosophical question: what's going on with the constitution of what I'm going to call here "serial identity," as in the title of the post? It's not quite "just" a relay of support, as in this great photo, but something more, or at least different.
It's not the assertion of collective identity either, as in this wonderful clip "We are Wisconsin":
My friend Barbara said the other day, “There are so many books I would like to have on my shelf. But no one has written them yet!” One of the books I would like to have on my shelf is about Frantz Fanon, activist models of decentralized political organization, and 4E cognitive science models of the brain as a distributed network. If you want to write this book, here are a few quotes from The Wretched of the Earth to get you started. If it’s already been written and I just haven’t found it yet, please post the title, and I will fill that spot on my shelf.
“The meeting of the local cell or the committee meeting is a liturgical act. It is a privileged opportunity for the individual to listen and speak. At every meeting the brain multiplies the association of ideas and the eye discovers a wider human panorama” (136).
“Let us reexamine the question of cerebral reality, the brain mass of humanity in its entirety whose affinities must be increased, whose connections must be diversified and whose communications must be humanized again” (237-8).
“No, it is not a question of back to nature. It is the very basic question of not dragging man in directions which mutilate him, of not imposing on his brain tempos that rapidly obliterate and unhinge it. The notion of catching up must not be used as a pretext to brutalize man, to tear him from himself and his inner consciousness, to break him, to kill him” (238).
Thoroughly depressing story at the Chronicle HERE. Some stats:
. . .the percentage of graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.
During that three-year period, the number of people with master's degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.'s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
Leaders of organizations that represent adjunct faculty members think that the number of people counted by the government does not represent the full picture of academics on welfare because many do not report their reliance on federal aid.
The story also notes that the number of non-tenure track faculty is now 70%.
Nice Slate story HERE on how excessive copyright enforcement killed a whole genre of art.
The rich sonic landscape of Paul's Boutique is produced by layering and repeating of over 300 unique samples. But in 1991 the outcome of Grand Upright Music v. Warner Bros. Records was that it became prohibitively expensive to do this, killing the artform. The Slate article concludes:
Even as hip-hop is more mainstream than ever, one of the key musical innovations has been pushed to the margins. That should serve as a reminder that the battles over intellectual property don’t merely pit the economic interests of creators against would-be freeloading consumers. The existing stock of recorded music is, potentially, a powerful tool in the hands of musicians looking to create new works. But it’s been largely cut off from them—for no good reason. Congress could enact a mandatory licensing scheme in which you pay a modest fixed fee to sample an existing recording for commercial purposes. Or it could create a legislative safe harbor, stipulating that samples under some set length automatically qualify as a fair use. But it won’t, because in the music and movie industries, the only kind of copyright laws Congress is willing to pass are ones that give more power to copyright holders, not less.
Per 36 USC § 115 (dating from 1958), today, May 1, is Loyalty Day in the United States of America, "a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom." The text also reads:
The President is requested to issue a proclamation—
(1) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Loyalty Day; and
(2) inviting the people of the United States to observe Loyalty Day with appropriate ceremonies in schools and other suitable places.
President Obama's Loyalty Day 2012 proclamation is here. (By the way, it's also Law Day, if Loyalty Day isn't enough for you.)
Having been non-tenure track for two years after getting my Ph.D, I actually began to perspire about half way through reading THIS ARTICLE. The author presents ten ways to get yourself fired if you are contingent faculty. Of course some of them contradict each other, but these contradictions just accurately represent the messed up situation.
In addition, ther whole exercise vaguely reeks of Kremlinology. Just as the CIA really had no idea what the various cliques surrounding Andropov were up to, there's something essentially mysterious about people with arbitrary power over you.
Spent all evening with some people from my church who have done an incredible amount of (often overwhelmingly frustrating) work trying to fundamentally change the social contract with respect to public transportation in Baton Rouge.
Please consider this. One of the most conservative parts of the United States actually voted to increase its own taxes for something that will massively help the least among us. As Andrew Sullivan says, know hope!
It was an exceedingly rough evening. When one third of the precincts were in we were losing by over two to one. From various statistical standpoints, it seemed clear that the measure would not pass. But by the time two-thirds were in we were losing only by ten percent. We all realized that if the improbable trend continued, the tax would pass. But at the point when the counted votes were 55.6% against the tax, a local political guru and radio host officially called it as lost and one of the local T.V. stations ran with that.
At the end of the get-together we just made a toast and prayed. There was nothing else to do at that point, and we just hoped beyond hope that the T.V. stations had it wrong. Now, two hours later, we see that they did.
Basically, because of Occupy it is now the case that Republican governors can no longer further cut taxes for the rich, so ALEC gives them a whole panoply of other ways further to increase wealth inequality. For example, a significant part of Jindal's bills involve making labor conditions for public school teachers so insufferable that they work for even less money for all of the new private schools. Also, wealthy people will be able to get tax refunds for establishing "scholarships" at the private schools where their kids go, private schools that can discriminate based on a whole panoply of things.
The most distressing link on the whole site though is to the companies funding all of this (including our own tax money with government agencies, the most Orwellian perhaps being the U.S. Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program paying money to disenfranchise the families of their own soldiers).
Given Alec's role in writing and passing "stand your ground laws," and the Trayvon Martin tragedy, Intuit, Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have recently withdrawn their support. But the amount of sheer awfulness is sublimely nauseating, as is the thought that so many of our own purchases trickle up through these companies to make us so much poorer.
The full story is actually even more depressing, the obscenely wealthy using purported education reform to gin up the power of the huge vacuum cleaner that sucks up money from the poor and middle class.
We've known how this story ends since the 1980s, but as far as I can tell no one seems to be able to turn the damned thing off.
Tens of thousands of students are on the streets protesting moves by the Québec Liberal government to inflate post-secondary tuition fees by $1,625 in the next five years. A serious grassroots battle is underway as students hold major street protests, sit-ins, and direct actions.
Currently, over 65,000 students in Québec are on an unlimited general strike under the banner Ensemble, bloquons la hausse/Stop the Hike. Over a dozen additional student associations and unions are voting in the coming days whether to join the quickly expanding protest movement, now at the centre of political debate across the province.
Montreal is alive with dramatic protests. Tens of thousands took to the streets in a major demonstration last week, the largest strike action to date, emptying the schools of students. "Qui sème la misère, récolte la colère!" echoed off buildings on St. Catherine street in downtown Montreal, a popular rhyming French language slogan roughly translating to "Whoever sows misery harvests anger!"
Links to other discussions of the events, from multiple political perspectives, are welcome in comments below. As are links to meta-level analyses of the reporting on the events.
Jason Read has posted a draft of the talk he'll deliver at the Michigan State Graduate Student Conference (Feb 10-11), whose theme this year is "Occupy Philosophy." Among Read's topics are the location of Occupy between politics and economics, the transindividual status of individuals (referencing Balibar's development of Simondon), and the importance of the issue of debt, which operates both objectively, by enabling consumption even in the face of declining wages, and subjectively as constraint of life choices: "Debt is the future acting on the present. The idea of future debt, of the cost of student loans, acts on the present, determining choices and limiting possibilities."
New APPS readers are invited to discuss in comments how they might include any of the social movements of 2011, from the "Arab Spring," through the indignados to the Occupy movement, as a topic in their courses. As well as the instigating processes for those movements: the Global Financial Crisis; the Shock Doctrine austerity policies adopted on the basis of not letting a good crisis go to waste; the debt crises of students, workers, and indeed nations; and so on.
It will be open access for three months.* Edited by Jodi Dean, James Martel, and Davide Panagia. Articles by Franco Berardi, Wendy Brown, John Buell, William Connolly, Jodi Dean, Richard Grusin, McKenzie Wark, Slavoj Zizek, and myself.
* There's a lot to say just about that sentence, involving the commodification of academic labor and open-source publishing, but that's for another time.
UCD is one of several contested fronts in a much wider campaign against the marketization of higher education. As participants in this campaign, we pledge to suspend all professional association with UCD until Chancellor Katehi quits her post.
Since we have been reporting on so many scandals and political failures in academia, it seemed to me a nice change of pace to pass on a report of inspiring and brave work by academics. The article speaks for itself.