Update on Ferguson

A police officer was wounded in the arm in Ferguson tonight. The wound seems to be light and there isn’t any threat to the police’s life.

There has been some pretty serious protesting in Ferguson in the past two days. It was provoked by the video of an apology by the chief of police in Ferguson. I’ve been sick, so not on top of the developments as much as usual but I listened to part of the apology, felt frustrated by the mood of “yes, but” that dominated that video, and turned it off.

For now, nobody knows who wounded the Ferguson police or why.

Product Placement

The reason I bought Harper’s magazine today was that its cover promised an article on the silencing of women.

The article, however, disappointed even more than I expected. After I tore my way through the thicket of endless passive voice phrases, I discovered the real culprit of the silencing of women: Freud.

I understand that print journalists are struggling but, somehow, I’m still bemused when I see such naked product placement. You have to agree, though, that it’s well-done. Women leave the article with the warm, comforting feeling that they have been delivered from sexist servitude by pharmaceutical companies and that pill-guzzling is their great feminist contribution.

Responsibility to Help

An article in Harper’s says that “Westerners bear a moral responsibility to help less well-off people living in other countries.” This sounds very nice but some crucial questions arise immediately. Help them to do what? What are the acceptable formats of the help and who should determine them? Should any strings to be attached? And, not the least important, once we have chosen to make morality part of the equation, whose morality are we relying on.

The point of the article is to show that the attempts to promote respect for human rights internationally have failed. That is not surprising given the vagueness of the language used to discuss the issue.

Friday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

The neo-Nazi Hungary allies itself with the neo-Nazi Putin. Big surprise.

Food stamps fuel entrepreneurship: “Harvard Business School professor Gareth Olds shows that access to welfare has a positive and dramatic impact upon entrepreneurship, and that people who become eligible for some form of government benefit are much more likely to become entrepreneurs than those who do not.” Food stamps is a great program that needs to be expanded.

In Spanish. The world’s greatest living writer Juan Goytisolo takes down the Catalonian project of so-called independence.

Going on the market before you are done with dissertation may be a wise move,” informs us Inside Higher Ed. As if PhD candidates haven’t been doing that forever. I’m beyond annoyed with these inane articles that give vapid advice and attempting to solve non-existent problems.

A really stupid pronouncement from someone who seems to consider himself some sort of an expert on the issue: “Women’s wages aren’t pushed down by employers who hire women but by employers who don’t hire women.” It always stuns me to see people who are so blatantly stupid.

I completely and passionately support gender equality but this article is just too stupid. Sorry, it isn’t my fault there are so many idiotic pieces in this week’s collection.

It amazes me that supposed experts in critical theory, textual analysis and semiotics cannot for the life of them recognize the use and societal relevance of large-scale allegory and metaphor in works of sf or YA.” Social relevance doesn’t make a text a work of art, that’s the problem. A political manifesto might be extremely useful and super relevant but it isn’t necessarily a work of art.

In Spanish. A hilarious scandal surrounding writer Javier Cercas. I’ve been meaning to write about it at length but haven’t had the time yet.

What do you think of the Atheist Positivity Challenge? I think it’s stupid, of course.

A very sad example of how people justify the abuse of children because they can’t find the courage to condemn the abuse they suffered in their childhood. As can be expected, the long text is peppered with fantasies of eventually becoming an abuser. This isn’t surprising but it is extremely sad.

Prepaid restaurant meals: is this a trend of the future?

Many beautiful photos of the city where I was born.

A study [PDF] published in a journal of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence found that sites that have a “downvote” button to punish bad comments lock the downvoted users into spirals of ever-more-prolific, ever-lower-quality posting due to a perception of having been martyred by the downvoters.” People should get a life immediately.

There’s a reason that “Social Justice Warrior” has become a pejorative. It’s not just the Right attempting to besmirch the name. No, these people do it just fine all by themselves. This is not a cohesive social movement; this is a bunch of whining babies attempting to one-up one another in the Oppression Olympics and having contests to see who can call out someone the fastest. If the Left wants the win the culture wars, it’s going to have to do better than that.” So true.

I may be a middle-aged white man, but I’m not an idiot. . . It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.” Yes, buddy, you are right, you are not an idiot. You are a total fucking brainless idiot. That’s an important distinction.

I read a stupid and boring article making a stupid and boring point that “progress ain’t that grand” and decided to look up the author. I was not in the least surprised to discover that the stupid fellow has tenure in Alberta.

When I was a kid in Florida (where it is very fucking hot), it was not at all unusual to see a woman in a bikini top in the grocery store in high summer. Now it never really happens. No one thought anything of it then, but now it’d be a scandal.” The reason why I personally don’t want to see people in swimming attire in a store is not because of prudishness but because I hate to see life robbed of its richness.

Long-term use of anti-anxiety and insomnia drugs may dramatically increase the odds of developing Alzheimer’s.

Despite embracing technology more than their elders, the study found that millennials were more likely to have read a book, either in digital form or on dead trees, in the past year than Americans over 30. Even more surprising is the fact that more young people believe there is important information that can’t be found on the Internet than their forebears.”

An Update on Putin

I know it’s completely useless but I will still quote this very good update on Putin:

Neither the Americans nor the Europeans seem to be in the same class as Putin when it comes to assessing power realities and crafting strategies. Russia remains a weak power with a poor long-term outlook, but its two greatest resources are the even greater weakness and incoherence of neighboring states like Ukraine and the fecklessness and moral posturing of the leadership of Europe and the United States. One would think that Western leaders would have noticed by now that caving into Putin’s demands doesn’t satisfy him but rather only emboldens him to demand more. One would have hoped that repeated exposure to Putin’s mix of clear vision, bold action, and lack of scruples would have led Western leaders to raise their game appropriately. So far there is no evidence of this happening. Putin is still able to outmaneuver and surprise the West, still able to inflict serial humiliations on it, and still able to out-think it.

Putin is a pretty stupid, uneducated fellow. His speech patterns, gesticulation and comportment betray very lumpenized origins. Yet even this idiot is managing to outmaneuver Obama, Merkel, and Cameron. Let’s hope that no dictator with a fully functioning brain appears on the world arena because, with the kind of leadership that we have, we’ll be royally screwed.