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June 2014

Elsewhere (127)

Franklin Einspruch on the new censors: 

For a long while I’ve been trying to interest my friends in the art world to get behind freedom of speech in a bigger way, to recognise that the very health of the marketplace of ideas depends on its openness to entry and its freedom of transaction... This usually doesn’t persuade anyone who isn’t already liberty-minded to begin with. So next I resort to self-interest. We creative types rely on that openness to function. If we don’t stand in defence of hate speech — not the content, just the right to express it — any mechanisms for cutting it off will eventually be used against us. If injured feelings take on the seriousness of injured bodies, we will become a society that pulls art off of walls, cancels performances, and strikes essays from public view. Sadly, this usually doesn’t work either, because the targets of accusations of hate speech typically lean right, and the art community leans left. 

Franklin also links to this Pew survey of social media use, which suggests that self-described progressives are statistically much more likely to ban or block people with whom they disagree. A finding that may not be entirely shocking to regular readers. 

And somewhat related, Greg Collins on the unremarked privileges of the self-appointed privilege police: 

The paramount privilege at universities is not race, class, or gender, but intellectual soft despotism… A student whose worldview clings to that of university administrators and professors has the advantage of accessing university resources, money, and time to drive his cause. These instruments are far more powerful in granting benefits to politically preferred groups in higher education than subconscious biases in favour of particular races or classes. It is a privilege when your views conform with those of more than 90 percent of your professors. It is a privilege when your worldviews are blessed by a proliferation of like-minded commencement speakers and guest lecturers. And it is a privilege when you have university resources, money, and time within fingertips’ reach to wield to advance your political cause. 

As an illustration of this leverage, Collins mentions one of many sabotaged speaking events - a talk by the conservative writer Don Feder at the University of Massachusetts in March 2009, the subject of which was, or would have been, free speech. Within 20 seconds of opening his mouth, Feder had been interrupted, shouted down and called a racist, before being screamed at repeatedly and assailed with epithets about his daughter. Despite his pleas for civility, Feder was unable to speak for more than three minutes without further, often deafening interruption by members of the International Socialist Organisation and Radical Student Union. Footage of the disruption can be seen here. Despite the students’ prolonged attempts to intimidate Feder and prevent the intended discussion taking place – a goal they accomplished - campus officials later claimed that Feder “chose to discontinue his speech.” An interesting, and revealing, choice of words.

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Friday Ephemera

Know your double. From teleporter malfunctions and busty avatars to future selves and vestigial twins. // For those who like to look down. // Probe the uncanny with Dimension X radio dramas. // Incoming fog. // Forests, woods and creeks. // “Orchestral movements from the ‘hood.” // Cylon and Garfunkel. // Laser dentistry. // Dishwasher interior. // An unusual dog. // “The mild cigar from Benson & Hedges.” I remember the one with the toupée. // The magnetic cello is neat but somewhat lacking in nuance. // Wedding photos of note. // “No maintenance” plants in sealed jars. // BatDad. // Belleville rendezvous. // I want one and so do you. // Boosted big-eyed butterflies. // I think there’s a little something on your hand.

Elsewhere (126)

Christina Hoff Sommers on feminist scholarship: 

The problem with a lot of research on women is not so much that the authors make mistakes — we all make mistakes — the problem is that the mistakes are impervious to criticism.

For a flavour of that imperviousness and some feminist reactions to being corrected, see also this

Glenn Reynolds on unsustainable ideologies: 

I’m reminded of what Robert Heinlein said about hippies: “Hippydom is not itself a culture (as the hippies seem to think) as it has no economic foundation; it can exist only as a parasitic excrescence to the ‘square’ culture.” So too with the academic humanities, which have largely squandered the moral and intellectual capital they once possessed by adopting the roles of adversaries to, rather than preservers of, the larger culture. This, too, turns out not to be sustainable.

That adversarial role-play has been discussed here many times, along with its descent into psychodrama

And Ed Driscoll discovers there are no socialists in divorce court: 

Michael Moore, who has spent his entire career attacking capitalism, wealth, and Wall Street, is suddenly very protective concerning the capital, wealth and investments he has amassed over the years. As Christian Toto writes at Big Hollywood, “Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore is divorcing his wife, and the looming court battle looks ugly already.” Christian links to this Smoking Gun report, which notes that “the couple’s combined assets are likely worth tens of millions of dollars,” including “multiple substantial residences and multiple companies.”

But America’s most outspoken socialist, being an outspoken socialist, deserves nine properties, including an agreeable Upper West Side apartment valued at $1.27 million and, naturally, a mansion. This, remember, is a self-described multimillionaire who told the world, quite boldly, “Capitalism did nothing for me.” 

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 

Leave My Molecules Alone

It turns out Gwyneth Paltrow is not Pepper Potts: 

I am fascinated by the growing science behind the energy of consciousness and its effects on matter. I have long had Dr Emoto’s coffee table book on how negativity changes the structure of water, how the molecules behave differently depending on the words or music being expressed around it. 

Regarding these misbehaving molecules, Ms Paltrow’s Goop website informs us,

Emoto poured pure water into vials labelled with negative phrases like ‘I hate you’ or ‘fear’. After 24 hours the water was frozen and no longer crystallised under the microscope: it yielded grey, misshapen clumps instead of beautiful lace-like crystals. In contrast, Emoto placed labels that said things like ‘I love you’ or ‘peace’ on vials of polluted water, and after 24 hours they produced gleaming, perfectly hexagonal crystals. Emoto’s experiments proved that energy generated by positive or negative words can actually change the physical structure of an object.

Because water can read, people.

Friday Ephemera

The inspirations for Star Wars, a 2-hour annotation. // The dialogue from Star Wars, sorted alphabetically. // Robot hand relays softness of virtual breasts. // Cold-brewed cannabis beverages. // Seamless ice balls. // Your personalised balaclava freak mask. // Frolicking octopuses. // “Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.” // As sculptures go, it’s quite large. // Oldest known trousers found in China. // A well-travelled hedgehog. // Algae batteries. // Breweries of the United States. // Internet sarcasm detector. // Data teleportation. And so it begins. // Audrey and her friend. // Fondue slippers. // A simple interface. // When winter ends, they fly kites. // And finally, I suspect this is an excuse for being tight

Heavily Educated

A message from the young thinkers of the University College London Union: 

This Union resolves to… struggle against fascism and the far-right… with the perspective of fighting the root cause of fascism – capitalism.

Apparently fascism is “far-right” - a claim that Mussolini and Hitler, avowed socialists, might have found puzzling - and is caused by capitalism. And not caused by, say, dogmatic collectivism and its endless justifications for authoritarian urges. Urges not unlike those of the Union itself, with its intent to ban student groups that it deems both “sexist” and “anti-Marxist,” and which therefore must be met with “unconditional resistance.” To say nothing of the Union’s somewhat ambitious plan to bring about “a socialist transformation of society.”  

Via BenSix