Friday, November 29, 2019

AAUP: "A Tale of Two Arguments About Free Speech on Campus"

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) offers a long article by Michael C. Bahrent, “A Tale of Two Arguments About Free Speech on Campus”, link
The article talks about the alarm risen by a group called FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The article develops the idea that the current generation of professors and students don’t value free speech they way people did around the time of Y2K. 

They see personalized speech is more useful to the already well-off, who generally don’t like to “take action” and have no shame in demonstrating. Furthermore, the distraction of individualistic speech makes it very difficult for campuses to become inclusive of groups of previously less desired people.

There is also a way the political climate on a typical campus compounds this.

The Left is demanding relief from a hypercritical attitude that classifies individuals as simply winners and losers and tries to justify a superficially meritocratic hierarchy. Yet, within the intersectional groups the Left tries to form, they would find they have to set up their own hierarchies.
But they insist it makes some sense, that if you can shut down all speech that simply seems critical of someone for not being as competitive sexually as someone else, you could stop bullying and sequences that have horrific results.  In their view, my own William and Mary expulsion was the result of this talk, rather than from morally legitimate claims I could myself become a mooch on the larger group.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A word of "Warning" and the effectiveness of anonymous speech (well, whistleblowing)

“Anonymous” says that he or she (“they”) remains anonymous as the author of “A Warning” (published by Twelve) so that readers may focus on the content and not the personhood .  Alexander Hamilton and James Madison remained anonymous for part of the time leading to ratification of the Constitution, they said, CBS News  story. The author may reveal their identity in January. 

“A threat to America,” according to a senior Trump administration official.

The book says, “everyone is chief of staff except the chief of staff” and speculates that Pence might get dumped.

The president is reported to have considered naming illegal migrants as “unlawful combatants” for Guantanomo Bay.

My own book would have had no political impact (on gays in the military back in the 90s) had I remained anonymous “to protect the family.”

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Richard Stengel's "Information Wars": He would weaken platform immunity and Section 230

Today, Fareed Zakaria, on Global Public Square on CNN, interviewed Richard Stengel, author of “Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It”, 2019, Atlantic Monthly Press, 368 pages, Amazon.

Zakaria described hate speech laws in Germany to the United States today. You can be prosecuted for displaying Naza items in Germany.  Private platforms may censor you but the First Amendment makes it impossible to make it illegal.

Stengel says that if you travel around the world, people find it remarkable that in the US hate speech is tolerated.  Why are people allowed to burn the Koran in public in the U.S.?

The answer is partly that the U.S. embraces individualism more than other countries. The U.S. officially is less interested in protecting people as members of groups as for the limitations they may feel.
Stengel also suggested that social media platforms should be held responsible for hosting hate speech and that Section 230 should be much reduced. He also suggested that we need to teach media literacy in schools, and noted the Pizzagate scandal in 2016 as an example of American gullibility. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Article in conservative magazine resembles Damore's, causes ruckus at Indiana University when a professor tweets a link to it

I’m going to treat this as a “booklet” because of its topicality.

An Indiana University business professor drew demands for his firing after he tweeted this UNZ article about campus environments by Lance Welton, “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably

It says that the article is 1500 words long, but it doesn’t look it.

The article suggests that males are more likely to be geniuses because of male instability and inpredictability and dependence on logical processing with less attention to feelings or agreeableness. 

 But Welton is right in that students need to learn to deal with other people’s ideas even if they could be threatening.  I’ve seem this my whole life.

Maybe, that sounds like James Damore’s ideas, but in this case the particular professor who wrote the tweet has more issues with homophobia, reportedly. Furthermore, Damore suggested inclusiveness of everyone on an individual basis, simply not quota-consciouesness. 

When I was in grad school at KU in the mid 1960s a female student finished and went on to a PhD program at the University of Illinois.
It’s true that some of the spectacular science fair type achievements have been from young males (Jack and Luke Andraka, Taylor Wilson, John Fish) but I’m not sure if I have a real sample and have looked at the female accomplishments.  I may be biased in simply hanging around or paying attention more to people who appeal to me personally.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

"More for Less": Andrew McAfee's book explains how modernity can survive adjusting to climate change

Today, on CNN’s Global Public Square, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Andrew McAfee, author of “More for Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next”, 352 pages, from Scribner, publisher link

The author points out that we are producing much more wealth with fewer resources, and that our need for energy consumption has plateaued.
Zakaria had started the interview by noting that today’s young adult generation wonders if it will be called upon to demonstrate the “personal virtue of restraint”, and give up flying, driving alone, air conditioning, and hot showers, and especially meat.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Atlantic: "A Nation Coming Apart", collection of essays for the December 2019 issue; a second civil war?

The December 2019 issue of the Atlantic will be called “A Nation Coming Apart”.  I got a link for it   and apparently my paywall status let me see all of it.  It would be advisable to pick up the print – but typically that means getting to a Barnes and Noble or similar bookstore.  The email had a subtitle, “How to stop a (second) civil war”, or, as Tim Pool says, at least an insurgency.

There are three parts, each divided into several essays.

Yoni Applebaum writes about “How America Ends” and focuses somewhat on how non-whites will become a majority.  She also discusses the collapse of the GOP, and notes that authoritarianism or fascism or communism will come when center-right parties collapse and lose sight of their principles and behave like identarian tribes.  The right often comprises groups who have lost power and privilege to change, whereas the left comprises intersectional groups who are vengeful about the sins committed against them in the past.
Johnathan Haidt talks about the “Dark Psychology of Social Networks”.  Visitors are gripped by the latest clickbait scandals and lose sight of longer-term goals and principles, because of the speed of news. Many people are not mature enough to recognize “junk”, and better educated people are often unaware of the way “the masses” process things when overwhelmed or manipulated – through their tribes. Even David Pakman made a video in early 2019 admitting that many voters don’t understand anything and are swindled easily.

Here the writers suggest (1) stop evaluating the performance of individual content pieces with Likenomics (Instagram is already experimenting with this (2) reduce use of unverified accounts (or bots -- this means everything source should be idenitifed, at least like private registration of domain names; it's not quite the same as the Twitter verification check) (3) eliminate low-quality posts and comments.  
Tom Junod has a piece about Mister Rogers and personal localism. People are often disinterested in “neighbors” and more interested in the faraway worlds they have snatched for themselves.
Gay libertarian writer Johnathan Rauch discusses “too much democracy” and says that “direct primaries” and various other changes have led to primary seasons that attract extremists and ideologues and not people who can win and actually govern.
Danielle Allen describes “The Road to Serfdom” and James Mattis has a similar piece “The Enemy Within”.  An important idea is localism and the way people participate socially in solving problems.  
A lot of us (myself included) have become global and projected our rationality on media platforms on our own and ignore calls from local advocacy groups for help because they seem partisan and beneath us. It’s like the non-profits need more people marching and demonstrating and fewer bloggers filming them without joining in.
Adam Serwer cloases this out with “Against Reconciliation”, talk of another Reconstruction, to stop the idea that remaining in a historically privileged class is a birthright.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"The Science of Living Longer", supermarket book from Time

Take a look at a special edition of “Time”, “The Science of Living Longer”, in supermarkets until around the end of November.

The editors are Siobhan O’Connor and Jeffrey Kluger.

There are 16 photoessays or chapters, divided among three sections, “Mind”, “Body”, “Life”. There are 96 pages (a common length for this brand). 
In Chapter 1 (Alice Park), there is a chart on pp 16-18 showing how different parts of the human body age.

One surprising finding, collagen in the skin that gives smoothness and elasticity declines 1% a year. That means by age 30 it would have declined more than 12%.  Obviously from general observation, this seems to be quite variable.  Beto O’Rourke, at 47, looks young (being thin helps).  Too much sun probably accelerates it.  The replacement of muscle with fat accelerates after age 40 (which is about when most major league baseball careers end).  Brain concentration, for chess players for example, hits its summer solstice from ages 25-28.  But real decline may tend to start at around age 70 (without an actual disease like Alzheimer’s).  There are other oddities not often discussed openly, like the fact that many (especially white) men typically notice loss of hair from their legs by age 40. In the past, cigarette smoking may have made this problem much worse. This may be a little more common for men who go bald (on the pate) genetically, or when men are overweight.

On brain maturity, because the brain is still “pruning” and focusing on what it is good at, mental illness has become a risk in the age 18-25 group.

On p, 68-70, Dave Beal says that the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-St Paul MN, is one of the best cities for longevity (after a few blue zones in Italy and in California’s central valley). I lived there 1997-2003 and just revisited.

People live longer if they age in the area where they grew up.  People tend to return to earlier memories or contacts, even after a long adult life.
Long-term married (and never divorced) men tend to live longer than single or divorced men, and that is less true for women.  It may be true for gay male couples.  While never married men tend to fare worse, there are remarkable exceptions, such as individualists or artists or scientists very focused on their own work.

Monday, November 04, 2019

NYTimes booklet by a mom on recruiting teenagers by "racists" (October), rather firm in warning parents

 Joanna Schroeder has a rather strident booklet-article in the New York Times Oct. 12, 2019,  “Racists AreRecruiting.  Watch Your Sons.”  There is a tagline, “Parents need to understand how white supremacists prey on teen boys, so they can intervene.”

Caleb Cain would later relate on his recruitment and then deradicalization on the David Pakman show.  I think I've used his video ("Faraday Speaks") on YouTube before.  It did not seem that the views he had been exposed to were all necessarily extreme, at least in the beginning. But he added that teens generally aren't mature enough to see the flaws in how they are being manipulated (but neither do alo of adults). 

Schroeder pointed out one specific technique, calling boys “too sensitive” to specific remarks about people who are less competitive.
On the other hand, you can point out that other teens (more likely some PoC) can be recruited by similar techniques into conventional gangs, or sometimes the far Left.  It all depends on the circumstances in the home and surrounding community.

Teens who do accomplish things in school or family-connected or sometimes faith-based activity (scouting, sports, music, drama, science fairs, etc.) can build a sense of personal identity and resist “tribal” pressures to please their peers.  These things have to happen at least partly in the real world apart from the Internet.

The other thing is the ability to do abstract thinking (like that starts with math).  That happens much sooner for some teens than others.
That’s what you notice about the Parlkand teens, for example, how they could abstract from what happened and build a movement on their own.

Picture:  Tennessee Civil War park SW of Nashville, my trip, May 2014/  

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Foreign Policy issue makes strong arguments for open borders

Bryan Caplan has a booklet-like article in Nov. 2019 Foreign Affairs, “Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea”. Cato has already been tweeting it around.
Yup, most of the objections are political and cultural.  Immigrants commit less crime (as a totality), and add skills and willingness to work. They know how to run small businesses.  Their kids pick up English immediately.
Yet, Open Borders have come to be viewed as a placard of the radical Left.  You have to have countries, sovereignty.  Well, maybe you don’t forever, but you can’t make changes that quickly.  You can perhaps settle intentional communities within and make them autonomous.
Last night, at a post-Halloween party I happened to spot someone who had been at one of these abolish-ICE protests.  Yet he was perfectly intact, steady, seated in his own life.  Not everyone on the “Left” is as crazy as the neo-liberal YouTube channels (Tim Pool) claim. The truth is half way between Pool and Pakman.
Of course, there’s another side to it.  Maybe the poorest countries need to keep some of their talent so they can recover.