March 14, 2018

White guilt is not angst

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America's old bigotries--racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having "no name in the street" as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt's central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d'être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the '60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America's moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today's markers of white guilt--political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

Shelby Steele, author of "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country"

November 10, 2017

Amy Cuddy explained too well

the breadth of the accusations -- how diffuse they are -- could easily be mistaken for the depth of her scientific missteps, which at the outset were no different from those of so many of her peers.

"We were all being trained to simplify, to get our message out there -- there were conferences and panels on how to do it. One of the ironies is that Amy Cuddy just did it more successfully."

-- Richard Petty, a social psychologist at Ohio State.

June 26, 2017

idler: modern stoicism misses the point

Without a transcendent perspective on life's harshness, without trust in an unfolding higher than human vision, all we have is our desire, our frightened calls for control, our empty cries for freedom echoing about in the indifferent void. If you can feel the force of that thought, you can feel the depth of what Epictetus was driving at.

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May 10, 2016

Cordray's Peeple

"It doesn't matter how far apart we are in likes or dislikes," she tells some bro at a bar in episode 10. "All that matters is what people say about us."

-- Julia Cordray.

January 11, 2016

Show them what you have achieved through your tidy room, your freer soul

Marie Kondo:

"With willpower, I think about the balancing point between having the determination to start something and having the wisdom to stop. When I was younger I would reach a point in my tidying where I would throw out almost anything. My brother's stuff, my sister's--even my parents' and my teachers' things weren't safe.

What for many people is so difficult to start [WSJ] --tidying--was sometimes difficult for me to stop. One of the most common questions I hear is 'Your book helped me, but what can I do about the messiness of my husband, wife, co-worker, etc.?' I always answer the same way: 'Nothing. You can't change them, and you shouldn't try.'

Show them what you have achieved through your tidy room, your freer soul, and let them find their own way forward. Willpower is not only the drive to change yourself, it's also the sense of understanding that this power has limits."


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

October 5, 2015

Philosopher says

One definition of a philosopher is someone who thinks that what goes without saying goes even better with saying.

December 6, 2014

Obsessed life facilitated by technology

Tech is fun now, deliriously so, but this fun comes with a built-in anxiety that it must lead to more. As an engineer, coding should be your calling, not just a job, so you are expected to also do it in your time off. Interviewers will ask about side projects -- a Firefox browser add-on maybe, or an Android version of your favorite iPhone app -- which are supposed to indicate your overflowing enthusiasm for building software.

Tech colloquialisms have permeated every aspect of life -- hack your diet, your fitness, your dates -- yet in reality, very little emphasis is placed on these activities. In a place with one of the best gender-ratios in the country for single women, female friends I talk to complain that most of the men are, in fact, not available; they are all busy working on their start-ups, or data-crunching themselves. They have prioritized self-improvement and careers over relationships.

-- Yiren Lu

July 3, 2013

Truth is not jelly but it can be nailed to a wall

"Truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut, it is on the doughnut somewhere," a veteran reporter whom I worked with at an alternative weekly in Minneapolis once told me. What he meant was that articles that strive only to be in the middle -- moving from one hand to the other in an effort to be nicely balanced -- end up going nowhere. I was just out of journalism school, brimming with freshly taught tenets of fairness and objectivity, and already those values were in question.

-- David Carr

May 1, 2013

We'll shout "fat, crippled banker!", perhaps in the future,

Perhaps one day, far in the future, when we hit a finger with a hammer, we'll shout "fat, crippled banker!"

-- MELISSA MOHR, author of "Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing."

December 23, 2012

Cézanne and Poussin put reason in the grass and tears in the sky.

Five months before he died, Paul Cézanne attended the unveiling of a bust of Émile Zola, his old soulmate, at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix. Numa Coste, friend to both, addressed the gathering. He reminded the attendees of Zola's autumnal insistence that "one thinks one has revolutionized the world, and then one finds out, at the end of the road, that one has not revolutionized anything at all." The elderly painter cried at the words.

John Rewald, preeminent authority on late-19th-century French painting, extended Zola's regrets to Cézanne himself. Concern with revolution was irrelevant, Rewald wrote in his 1986 biography of the painter. What mattered was that Cézanne had succeeded in adding "a new link in the chain to the past." Implicit in Rewald's tribute was recognition that artists build upon antecedents. Great art is as much the harvest of what came before--angles off precedents, bends in common practice--as individual endowment.

It was the concession of a scholar of the old school, for whom the discipline of history preceded the poetics of art appreciation. By contrast, Alex Danchev, self-described "unorthodox Professor of International Relations," is a jack-of-all-disciplines writing under the dispensations of the cultural studies movement. Traditional history, from Danchev's perspective, is a gray, unsmiling thing with the smell of the stacks about it; cultural studies, conversely, is blithe and nimble. In a 2009 essay on the presumed intersection of art and politics, Danchev illustrated the difference:

Cézanne is supposed to have said of Poussin that he put reason in the grass and tears in the sky. Reason and tears may be as good an encapsulation of International Relations as any.

Even metaphors obey some kind of logic. This one signals wide interpretive latitude: "Reason and tears" is a gnostic generality for rent; it can be leased to any purpose.

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March 13, 2012


To this day I rely on my Twitter followers for arcane information, most recently some updates on the vernacular speech of the young. Who knew that "sick" is the new "awesome," and that "epic" is the rightful substitute for "amazing?" Twitter knew.

-- Margaret Atwood

February 26, 2011

Speak in newspaper headline

Chinese do "speak in newspaper headlines", as the saying goes, and can seem very abrupt, even rude, to Westerners. There's the joke Chinese-Western phrasebook, which translates "I'm so sorry, but I do believe our meeting is not today, but next week" as "Why you here?"

-- via Greenspun

October 11, 2010

This envelope won't be pushed !

Theme of the conforming Oscars.

August 5, 2010

Our crystal ball is better than their crystal ball

Despite clear views of the High Line, not one unit at +aRt, a condominium in Chelsea at 540 West 28th Street referred to as "Plus Art," sold in the fall of 2008, said Stephen Kliegerman, the director of development marketing for Halstead Property. By November of that year, 90 unsold condos ranging from $850,000 to $1.4 million were taken off the market.

After marketing resumed in May, brokers at a grand reopening gala suggested that prices remained too high. Mr. Kliegerman and others involved with the project agreed to keep some units at 2008 levels while reducing prices by 10 percent for a second group of units. Mr. Kliegerman said several units had since gone into contract. "We really wanted the market to speak to us," he said. "In retrospect, if we had a crystal ball and we were able to jump back in time, we probably wouldn't have done anything differently because you never know until you get to the marketplace where those prices are going to be."

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February 21, 2010

Susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation

Anybody who says you can't have it both ways clearly hasn't been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but opinion polls over the last year reflect something altogether more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, climate change, and a whole host of other major problems. Sixty percent of Americans want stricter regulations of financial institutions. But nearly the same proportion says we're suffering from too much regulation on business. That kind of illogic--or, if you prefer, susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation--is what locks the status quo in place.

-- Jacob Weisberg

December 28, 2009

Class Warfare a Threat to US Recovery -- Art Cashin

If Only We Could Just Get Back To Work

"Jobless claims were actually even better than some down here [on Wall Street] thought," cashin said. But he cautioned that political conflict such as the ongoing health-care debate is constituting a form of class warfare -- which could hinder America's return to economic health.

"It's bubbling up again, all this 'Wall Street versis Main Street' stuff...If we could get back to work again instead of pointing fingers, things in this country would go a lot better."

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November 27, 2009

Punctuating Orthography

For some strange Reason, certain People think that academic Prose must follow the Rechtschreibreform. Such is the Case no matter how many Times i say: "Students, Your Essays should adhere to the Rules of american Orthography." What their Problem is, i offer not even a Guess.

May 2, 2009

Ecological awareness in America today

When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say 'global warming,' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.

-- ecoAmerica's president and founder, Robert M. Perkowitz

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August 8, 2008

Hipster as consumer or as producer ?

I'd always understood "hipster" as someone who tried to claim creativity by proxy, by acquiring someone else's creative output, and trying to defend that acquisition as unique by deriding anyone and everyone else who acquired it as wannabes.

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April 12, 2008

Another way of seeing

There is another way of seeing, but it never
occurs to us to remove our glasses.

-- Ben Wolfson.

April 22, 2007

The best American understands America

The best American is not the American who has been here
the longest or the one who just arrived, it is the one who
understands the principles of America the best because
we are a country held together by ideas.

Rudolph W. Giuliani

November 12, 2006

Palpable innocence of Anna Faris

Palpable innocence, an effect created in part by her pearly skin
and flaxen hair and most especially by her tremulous blue eyes,
which she cranks open wide when the moment calls for it.

She is not given to making jokes or regaling people with merry,
self-absorbed tales. Rather, her charisma is carried primarily
in her face: her natural expression seems to be one of
incredulousness, which as a response to the world at large
— however mundane or absurd it may be in a given moment
— can seem pretty funny.

NYT review of Anna Faris.

January 18, 2005

Front 242 - Funkahdafi (live)

Could this be the inaugural musical ?
As compelling today as it was twenty years ago.

Maybe next time !

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