Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, Microaggressions and other Stupidities.

Mizzou, Yale and the culture of entitlement in colleges - "Too many students are wasting their educational years going to college -- and earning degrees in self-indulgence. The academic institutionalization of entitlement is lobotomizing America's kids. If I had been a black college student at the University of Missouri last week, I hope I would have had the courage and conscience to support their effort to end the school's vestigial racism. In some twisted "Twilight Zone" anomaly, on this campus, the South won the Civil War. It's impossible to read the students' heartfelt reports of discrimination and not share their anger and pain. I also hope I would have resisted student demands to institutionalize their intolerance by censuring speech, muscling journalists, demanding confessions of "white privilege," and requiring "safe spaces" fenced by race...

As ridiculous as it sounds, the expression of legitimate grievances at Mizzou has devolved into ultimatums that we protect college students from life's real brutalities -- sombrero-themed trick-or-treating, other offensive Halloween costumes, and politically indecorous language. At least at Yale University, freedom of expression has been preserved: It's in a bottle of formaldehyde in the Department of Outdated Privilege. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Yale will not allow mean words to hurt. Don't be too quick to judge Yale protesters (Opinion) An early-childhood education researcher at Yale was concerned that her helicopter-parenting university was "afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween." I doubt this is how Yale produced five presidents. Erika Christakis wrote an email to students recommending radical advancement: Lighten up, academe, and trust students to pick out their get-ups. Christakis suggested that Halloween costumes should be allowed to scare people and, in ghastly moments, even offend them. She wrote, "Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society."

Crazy talk, a student responded. "It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It's about creating a home here!" An intellectual debate? In academia? Get over it! So much for preparing our kids for thoughtful, independent lives by exposing them to the world and its challenges. In academia, we no longer put steel to stone to hone edges. We sharpen the next generation on mashed potatoes...

On campuses, speakers who don't echo what students revere have suddenly found themselves nixed from college forums. Even Condi Rice, the first female African-American secretary of state, and first female National Security Advisor to a U.S. president, was not tolerated by advocates of tolerance at Rutgers. That university pledges to "challenge and support our students to think critically ... and make informed choices" -- unless informed thoughts make waves. Where did today's under- and upper-classmen, sorry, under- and upper-class-people, get the idea they are entitled to rich, full lives in "safe spaces," where their success and superiority is unthreatened? From yesterday's college students, their indulgent parents. Boomers built this soft culture of entitlement, where great things are expected, but few have to be earned. Today's students are the sons and daughters of parents who refused to face the consequences of their irresponsible social choices and poor economic decisions. A $20 trillion debt? That's not a problem: It was the solution America preferred over paying its bills and working to renew its economy. Now, we are all entitled to "safe economic spaces" where no one should be denied a $15 minimum wage, our neighbors must pay for our health care, and our retirements are magically guaranteed."

The Atlantic: "The focus belongs on the flawed ideas that they’ve absorbed...  how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance. 

What happens at Yale does not stay there. With world-altering research to support, graduates who assume positions of extraordinary power, and a $24.9 billion endowment to marshal for better or worse, Yale administrators face huge opportunity costs as they parcel out their days. Many hours must be spent looking after undergraduates, who experience problems as serious as clinical depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual assault. Administrators also help others, who struggle with financial stress or being the first in their families to attend college. It is therefore remarkable that no fewer than 13 administrators took scarce time to compose, circulate, and co-sign a letter advising adult students on how to dress for Halloween, a cause that misguided campus activists mistake for a social-justice priority. 

“Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers—but not more professors,” Benjamin Ginsberg observed in Washington Monthly back in 2011. “For many of these career managers, promoting teaching and research is less important than expanding their own administrative domains.” All over America, dispensing Halloween costume advice is now an annual ritual performed by college administrators...

Christakis believes that he has an obligation to listen to the views of the students, to reflect upon them, and to either respond that he is persuaded or to articulate why he has a different view. Put another way, he believes that one respects students by engaging them in earnest dialogue. But many of the students believe that his responsibility is to hear their demands for an apology and to issue it. They see anything short of a confession of wrongdoing as unacceptable. In their view, one respects students by validating their subjective feelings. Notice that the student position allows no room for civil disagreement. Given this set of assumptions, perhaps it is no surprise that the students behave like bullies even as they see themselves as victims. This is most vividly illustrated in a video clip that begins with one student saying, “Walk away, he doesn’t deserve to be listened to.”"

...In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in “catastrophizing,” which is to say, turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear. After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.” What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon. According to The Washington Post, “several students in Silliman said they cannot bear to live in the college anymore.” These are young people who live in safe, heated buildings with two Steinway grand pianos, an indoor basketball court, a courtyard with hammocks and picnic tables, a computer lab, a dance studio, a gym, a movie theater, a film-editing lab, billiard tables, an art gallery, and four music practice rooms. But they can’t bear this setting that millions of people would risk their lives to inhabit because one woman wrote an email that hurt their feelings?"

Can We Take A Joke? Standup Comedy vs. Political Correctness - Hit & Run : ""If you think you have the right not to be offended," says comedian Jim Norton, "either change the parameters of what offends you or realize you're wrong. Those are your two choices." Can We Take a Joke?, a new documentary about standup comedy and the policing of speech, debuts on Friday, November 13 at DOC NYC, one of the country's biggest film festivals.  ...the film features Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, and others discussing how political correctness and other forms of repression—including corporate pressure to not offend—are undermining the free-wheeling, ribald, and uncensored world of standup comedy.

"...time to evolve."

Terence Got It.

"What matters is the fight."

"’s a free nugget of wisdom: not everyone agrees with your point. Grow up." "I am constantly amazed at how others want to change the culture of another group solely because THEIR ego, THEIR superiority complex and their need for everyone to be like them needs to be fed...

So I propose this to everyone – in let’s make 2016 the year of Mind Your Own Goddamn Business.  Take care of your own shit before you try to clean out the homes of others.  And please people, try to understand that YOUR fight isn’t going to be everyone else’s.  And that doesn’t make them a racist, bigot, homophobe or whatever stupid label you want to apply to people who have problems of their own and don’t bow to you.  And here’s a free nugget of wisdom: not everyone agrees with your point. Grow up."

God already knows what you want, he just wants to hear you beg for it.

Hell is where all the fun people end up.

Cavemen. Obviously.

"It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working."

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs - STRIKE!: "In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by century’s end that countries like Great Britain or the United States would achieve a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes’ promised utopia – still being eagerly awaited in the ‘60s – never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn’t figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we’ve collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment’s reflection shows it can’t really be true. 

Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the ‘20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers. So what are these new jobs, precisely? 

A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be).

 But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones...

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.” It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is exactly what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens. While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets...

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them. Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done – at least, there’s only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there’s endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it’s all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy...

There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a corporate lawyer who didn’t think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is..."

"From a technical standpoint, it's the worst defense I've ever seen in a boxing ring."

"I've followed boxing and dance for 23 years.  Apollo Creed was in dance shape, not boxing shape."


Columbia, SC Killings: "NOW is the time to talk about WHITE SUPREMACY!!"

Attacks in Paris: "Don't talk about RELIGION!!"
I'd like to pretend I don't understand why, but it's all about facts not aligning with preconceived narratives and cognitive biases.  



Via untexting

"It's been two centuries."

"Stop violating me with your different opinions!" - Modern Educayshun

"We haven't added our privilege points yet!  Don't you know anything?"
"You think you're so great with your math and your science and your facts?  What about feelings?  Feelings are more important than facts!"

Understanding Politics.

'Problem' Solved.

"To all the people who can Quest like A Tribe does - Before this, did you really know what live was?"

25 years.  Damn.  Listen To J. Cole's Remix Of A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?" | The FADER: "On November 13, A Tribe Called Quest will commemorate the 25th anniversary of their 1990 debut LP, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, with the release of a buffed- and beefed-up reissue. Remastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob Power, the reissue will include three new remixes by banner artists: Pharrell, who remixed "Bonita Applebum"; Cee Lo Green, " who chose "Footprints"; and J. Cole, whose reworking of "Can I Kick It?" is out today."

"I'm Perd Hapley, And I Just Realized..."

Now on Supergirl.  'I'm Perd Hapley, And I Just Realized I'm Played By An Actual Newscaster' : NPR: "If you're a fan of NBC's recently-concluded sitcom Parks and Recreation, then you know actor Jay Jackson as Pawnee's ridiculous newscaster, Perd Hapley — the man who doesn't seem to know centaurs are fictional and once signed off by saying, "I'm Perd Hapley and I just realized I'm not holding my microphone." Before Jay Jackson played Perd Hapley on NBC's Parks and Recreation, he was a real reporter at KCAL9 News in Los Angeles. Courtesy of Jay Jackson Jackson also had roles on Scandal, The Mentalist, movies like Fast Five and Battleship. And he always — always — portrays a newscaster. "People would say [I'm] typecast," Jay Jackson says. "Well, it's not typecast. It's all I know how to do." That's because Jackson spent 22 years as an actual reporter in Southern California. At KCAL9 News in Los Angeles, he was the one at the scene breaking lead stories."

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Old Ben was pretty taciturn, in hindsight.

Wait for it.

If you need it explained, here you go.

"What's strange is that demanding an end to the wars in which the troops are fighting, killing, and dying seems not to count as support."

Who Supports the Troops? - Hit & Run : "You'd think that the ultimate expression of support would be, "Bring them home now!" But that's not how typical troop supporters see things. In fact, they think that's the opposite of support—and even treason. Topsy-turvy. While I believe their expressions of support are sincere, I also believe they haven't thought things through. Good intentions aren't enough. Their expressions in effect are only in support of the regime that moves the troops to dangerous spots on the map like pawns on a chessboard in the ruling elite's geopolitical games. I concede that opposing the wars—how many are there today?—is also little more than a declaration not backed by much action and therefore without immediate effect. However, I see a difference. To the extent that declarations of support for the troops reinforce the government's militarism, it endangers those troops, and those not currently deployed—and that really doesn't seem much like support. In my book, merely making the troops feel better about what they are doing (if that is indeed the effect) doesn't count as actual support."