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Archive for April 10th, 2007

but were they nappy-headed spear carriers?

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Richard Stern, perhaps the most baffling near-octogenarian in the blogosphere, chips in an only-somewhat hesitant defense of Don Imus today at TNR’s Third Way Open University.

Imus, following the low lead of his complexly semi-racist producer, Bernard McGirk, laughingly said that the triumphant Rutgers University women’s basketball team looked like “nappy-headed hos.”

Protests, soon spearheaded by the usual spear carriers, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, called for Imus to be permanently denied the publicly financed airways.

Lots and lots of spears in that last sentence. Wow.

I’ve been following Stern relatively closely since this post a few weeks ago, which just might be the most inscrutable piece of webloggery I have ever seen. Anyone who can explain the last paragraph to me (and to all of us really) wins some sort of prize to be determined, likely a prize without products, but still. Stern even wrote a follow-up, meant to explain, but which only makes things worse.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

April 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Posted in blogs

black swan

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This guy is a trip. Nassim Nicholas Taleb… He’s got a book out that I’ll likely buy, and I most definitely remember the alluring New Yorker article about him by Malcolm Gladwell. He fancies himself something of a renaissance man, and I guess to a certain extent he is one, if one of a very peculiar sort.

But check this out from something on his site that he reminds us at length is definitely not a blog.

This brings me to my comparative discussion Benoit Mandelbrot/ Susan Sontag that I truncated on the day Sontag died. I met both on the very same day, in New York, in October 2001. At the BBC studio where we were interviewed (separately) about our books, Sontag was told that I dealt in “randomness” and developed in interest in talking to me. When she learned by looking at my bio on the dust jacket that I was “in markets”, she gave me the look as if I had killed her mother. She turned her back to me as I was in mid-sentence, leaving me to the discomfort of having to speak without audience. It feels extremely humiliating to be speaking to someone’s back; it felt like the worst, most demeaning insult I ever had in my life. I swallowed my pride and, as I had an afternoon to kill, I forced myself to go to B&N get a copy of her book. I forced myself to enjoy her style, in spite of the frustration, and, after 4 pages, I was able to find it charming –but I kept wondering & introspecting: had I not had witnessed closed-mindedness and abject manners, how would my appreciation of the text turn out to be? (Levantine patricians used to be taught that manners > acts; it is worse to be rude to someone than try to murder him.)

Probably yet another mark in Sontag’s favor. I’ve been on something of a Sontag kick lately, and this one warms the heart a bit…

A bit further in the same post (not a blog so it can’t be a post), we get this lovely nugget:

My Stand Againt Atheism. This, and many other things explain why I just cannot understand atheism. I just cannot. If I were to take “rationality” to its limit, I would then have to treat the dead no differently from the unborn, those who came and left us in the same manner as those who do not exist yet. Otherwise I would be making the mistake of sunk costs [endowment effect]. I cannot & I just do not want to. Homo sum! I want to stay rational in the profane, not the sacred.]

Not really sure what this has to do with atheism/theism, but the “sunk costs” bit is rather fantastic bit, no?

Here’s the kicker: both excerpts are from a post entitled: Baudrillard-Give the Dead Some Respect-Against Atheism.

And finally, a paper that executes the closest thing to perfect-10 Inverse Sokal that I’ve ever seen.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

April 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm

god hates fags… and sweden

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I’m not going to bother saying anything clever about this. Not sure there is anything to say.

The Sweden bit happens at the end of part 3 and beginning of 4.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

April 10, 2007 at 1:25 am

Posted in america

as grave a threat as the neutron bomb

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From a report on future threats generated by the UK’s Ministry of Defence and as reported in the Guardian:


“The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx,” says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the “sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”.

Interesting isn’t it that a reaction against moral relativism (usually named as the principle export product of humanities departments in the US) will, according to the authors of this report, lead to the popular re-embrace of Marxism.

Given my few recent experiences with, yes that’s what it was, retrograde post-structuralist “relativism” taken to a very shady place (quick version: Abu-Ghraib Did Not Take Place) all I can say is: let’s hope the MoD is right, at least on this count.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

April 10, 2007 at 12:08 am

Posted in academia, socialism