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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato

In anthropology, culture, nature, philosophy, psychology, society on July 28, 2012 at 18:36

 

From: Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato, e-flux.com

There is a certain very particular “animist” sensibility that one could call delirium. Of course it is a delirium by our standards; it is something that cuts psychotics off from a social reality that is completely dominated by language—that is, from social relations—thus effectively separating them from the world. But this brings them closer to the other world from which we are totally cut off. It is for this reason that Félix maintained this laudatory view of animism—a praise of animism. And obviously this leads us to speak about art. For Félix, art was the strongest means of putting something such as the Chaosmos into practice.

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Marilyn Monroe’s Unpublished Poems by Maria Popova

In books, poetry, psychology, society on July 28, 2012 at 18:20

 

From: Marilyn Monroe’s Unpublished Poems: The Complex Private Person Behind the Public Persona by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, http://www.brainpickings.org

Her personal library contained four hundred books, including classics like Dostoyevsky and Milton, and modern staples like Hemingway and Kerouac. While she wasn’t shooting, she was taking literature and history night classes at UCLA. And yet, the public image of a breezy, bubbly blonde endures as a caricature of Monroe’s character, standing in stark contrast with whatever deep-seated demons led her to take her own life.

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Post-Literacy or Super-Literacy? by Daniel Evans Pritchard

In academia, education, literature, society, technology, writers on July 24, 2012 at 03:25

 

From: Post-Literacy or Super-Literacy?  by Daniel Evans Pritchard, The Quarterly Conversation, http://quarterlyconversation.com

Writing programs form a significant subtext throughout Copula Spiders. The MFA is a booming business, and expert writing advice is not cheaply bought. Tuition at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where Glover teaches, costs $8,445 per semester, and yet, as he notes, “it is possible to obtain any one of these degrees without writing a publishable sentence, paragraph, story, novel or essay.” Not a ringing endorsement of his employer. Further daring the bounds of professionalism, Glover quotes passages from instructive letters he’s written to students while airing professorial grievances. He may gnash his teeth over the poverty of student writing, but he also revels in his literary superiority—even quoting, analyzing, and commending his own published work.

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Proving the ‘shifting baselines’ theory by Jeremy Hance

In biology, civilisation, ecology, nature, research on July 23, 2012 at 20:06

 

From: Proving the ‘shifting baselines’ theory: how humans consistently misperceive nature by Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

…In other words, due to short life-spans and faulty memories, humans have a poor conception of how much of the natural world has been degraded by our actions, because our ‘baseline’ shifts with every generation, and sometimes even in an individual. In essence, what we see as pristine nature would be seen by our ancestors as hopelessly degraded, and what we see as degraded our children will view as ‘natural’.

Shifting baselines requires that an ecosystem has changed. Looking at changing bird populations in Yorkshire County in England, the researchers were able to show empirical evidence of a population undergoing ‘shifting baselines’, both through generational amnesia and personal amnesia.

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Corporal Punishment by David Benatar

In education, ethics, philosophy, psychology, society on July 23, 2012 at 19:52

 

From: Corporal Punishment by David Benatar, World Corporal Punishment Research, http://www.corpun.com

It is surprising that the moral question of corporal punishment has escaped the attention of philosophers to the extent that it has. In this paper I want to consider the various standard arguments that are advanced against corporal punishment and show why they fail to establish the conclusion in defense of which they are usually advanced — that such punishment should be entirely abandoned. However, in doing so I shall show that some of the arguments have some force — sufficient to impose significant moral limitations on the use of corporal punishment — thereby explaining, at least in part, why the abuses are beyond the moral pale.

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Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor by Anthony Lock

In civilisation, government, literature, society, writers on July 13, 2012 at 01:14

 

From: Prick the Bubbles, Pass the Mantle: Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor  by Anthony Lock, the Humanist Magazine, http://thehumanist.org

It’s hard to say where Hitchens’ greatest popularity lies, but much Hitch-love comes from his status as the successor to George Orwell. Orwell’s manner, if anything, was the opposite of Hitchens’ strut. But the two are compared because they both criticized the Left from within on matters of international policy, albeit in independent ways. Hitchens broke from the Left over the so-called war on terror, quitting his literary homestead, The Nation, and making particularly derisive comments about his comrades. These actions were viewed as the strongest individual leftist dissent by a writer since Orwell’s infamous break over the Spanish Communists and the Soviet Union. To boot, Hitchens offered strong, vocal admiration for the elder English author and polemicist, and invoked Orwell on matters of principle and ethics regarding his own conservative turn. Indeed, the two are similarly noteworthy for their incorporation of morals into their politics.

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Isaiah Berlin by Joshua Cherniss

In history, philosophy, politics, society on July 13, 2012 at 00:54

 

From: Isaiah Berlin by Joshua Cherniss, the Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

Berlin’s work also cautions against the self-righteousness of all who claim to have a monopoly on virtue, whether they be rulers or dissidents. It also condemns the craving for similarity, and intolerance of those who think differently from oneself. It thus suggests that even when we encounter policies that we feel confident in condemning—and that Berlin’s principles suggests we should condemn—we should do so moderately and humbly, while retaining doubts about our own program and resisting the lure of our own certitudes. Most people, at all points along the political spectrum (including the liberal centre), could profit by this advice.

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Moscow supports Kim Jong-un by Leonid Petrov

In Asia, Europe, government, history, politics on July 11, 2012 at 00:09

 

From: Moscow supports Kim Jong-un by Leonid Petrov, The Montreal Review, http://www.themontrealreview.com

One may be surprised by the timing and generosity of the deal. Despite promises of a new era of strength and prosperity, this year saw the DPRK at odds with old evils. The coldest winter and the driest summer in decades have dashed its expectations for a proper harvest. The embarrassment of a faulty rocket launch in April was compounded by the withdrawal of US food-aid and international condemnation. The hyper-inflation of North Korean currency and the continuing energy crisis are not the propitious signs of effective governance by the newest leader in the Kim dynasty. Is Russia trying to help Kim Jong-un consolidate political power and overcome mounting economic difficulties?

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In Praise of Vacant Lots by Jay Walljasper

In community, ecology, economics, nature, society on July 11, 2012 at 00:04

 

From: In Praise of Vacant Lots by Jay Walljasper, YES! Magazine, http://www.yesmagazine.org/

Modern society’s obsession with efficiency, productivity and purposefulness sometimes blind us to the epic possibilities of empty spaces that aren’t serving any profitable economic function. The word “vacant” itself implies that these places are devoid of value.

But think back to all the imaginative uses you could discover for vacant land as a kid. In my neighborhood we squeezed a baseball diamond, 6-hole golf course, horseshoe pit and vegetable garden (right behind the third base line) into the lot behind my house.

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Leftist Nostalgia for Academic Standards by Peter Wood

In academia, culture, education, humanities, North America, politics, universities on July 10, 2012 at 23:55

 

From: Leftist Nostalgia for Academic Standards by Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars, http://www.nas.org

What’s happening? We might think of it as a surfeit of success on the part of those who championed “cultural studies” and relativism in the humanities. They won the institutional war, much of which was fought by dismissing the importance of all curricular standards and capturing students with not-so-rigorous courses centered on progressive political themes. Many faculty members who were not actively involved in promoting this curricular dilution passively approved it. Voting to establish a Chicana/Chicano Studies program or accepting that “theory” would henceforth be a major part of an English-department curriculum seemed to them fairly harmless ways to promote progressive values.

The bills for these innovations are coming due. Students everywhere are deserting the humanities in favor of business-degree programs—“neo-managerialism”—and those who remain behind in the “studies” programs and the remnants of the old humanities departments are—all too often—not performing at very “high intellectual standards.”

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Water by John Protevi

In government, history, philosophy, society on July 10, 2012 at 01:15

 

From: Water by John Protevi, rhizomes.15 winter 2007, http://www.rhizomes.net

[3] For Deleuze and for Deleuze and Guattari, being is production. The production process (intensive difference driving material flows resulting in actual or extensive forms) is structured by virtual Ideas or multiplicities or “abstract machines.” Multiplicities are composed of mutually defined elements with linked rates of change [“differential relations”] peppered with singularities. In mathematical modeling of physical systems, singularities are points at which the graph of a function changes direction. Singularities in models represent thresholds in intensive processes, where a system undergoes a qualitative change of behavior.  Being as production is symbolized in Difference and Repetition by the slogan, “the world is an egg” (251). What this means is that “spatio-temporal dynamisms” or intensive processes are that which actualizes or “differenciates” Ideas. These processes, however, are hidden by the constituted qualities and extensities of actual products. The example of embryology shows this differenciation of differentiation, as the dynamic of egg’s morphogenesis implies a virtual Idea unfolding in such a way that there are things only an embryo can do or withstand. The world is thus a progressive determination going from virtual to actual. Thought, however, is vice-diction or counter-effectuation: it goes the other way from production. It is a matter of establishing the Idea / multiplicity of something—”constructing a concept”—by  moving from extensity through intensity to virtuality.

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ACTA Lives by Michael Geist

In copyright, ethics, Europe, law, North America, politics on July 9, 2012 at 16:58

 

From: ACTA Lives: How the EU & Canada Are Using CETA as Backdoor Mechanism To Revive ACTA by Michael Geist, http://www.michaelgeist.ca

While the court referral has attracted the lion share of attention, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that there is an alternate secret strategy in which Canada plays a key role. According to recently leaked documents, the EU plans to use the Canada – EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions.

The CETA IP chapter has already attracted attention due to EU pharmaceutical patent demands that could add billions to provincial health care costs, but the bigger story may be that the same chapter features a near word-for-word replica of ACTA. According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules. One of these provisions even specifically references ACTA. A comparison table of ACTA and the leaked CETA chapter is posted below.

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The Basic Income is Dead by Edward MIller

In economics, government, history, North America, politics, sociology on July 9, 2012 at 16:43

 

From: The Basic Income is Dead by Edward MIller, Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, http://ieet.org

Technological progress is accelerating faster than ever before. Are robots going to “take our jobs?” Do we require a Basic Income to solve this? Let’s examine some basic principles.

Wages are determined by the margin of production. What this means is that a laborer’s bargaining power in the market is determined by their next best alternative to wage labor. Typically, that alternative, where available, has been homesteading.

That was the historic difference between the “New World” and the “Old World.” The New World was a land of opportunity because it had a lot of high quality land available for the taking. Not just for elites, but for any citizen who was willing and able.

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CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson by CERN

In nature, news, science, space on July 4, 2012 at 15:54

 

From: CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson by CERN, http://press.web.cern.ch

“We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, “but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.”

“The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”

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Women less likely to endorse independence in gender-unequal societies (phys.org)

In anthropology, culture, gender, politics, society on July 3, 2012 at 18:08

 

From: Women less likely to endorse independence in gender-unequal societies, phys.org, http://phys.org/news

Women in countries with great gender inequality are more likely than men to support authoritarian values, according to a new study of 54 countries. The shift away from beliefs in independence and freedom is the result, social psychologists say, of authoritarianism helping such women cope with a threatening environment.

“If a person is authoritarian, they are more likely to follow what group leaders ask them to do, and to follow the crowd more generally,” says Mark Brandt of DePaul University in Chicago, a co-author of the paper just published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Prior research has found that adopting authoritarian beliefs gives people a sense of connection to others and protection against threats. “It might be one way to compensate for the social devaluing that is associated with being a member of a disadvantaged group.”

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What Is Normal? by Simon Critchley

In economics, philosophy, politics, society on July 2, 2012 at 18:32

 

From: What Is Normal? The surprising power of the political imagination by Simon Critchley, Adbusters Magazine, http://www.adbusters.org

We are living through a dramatic and ever-widening separation between normal state politics and power. Many citizens still believe that state politics has power. They believe that governments, elected through a parliamentary system, represent the interests of those who elect them and that governments have the power to create effective, progressive change. But they don’t and they can’t.

We do not live in democracies. We inhabit plutocracies: government by the rich. The corporate elites have overwhelming economic power with no political accountability. In the past decades, with the complicity and connivance of the political class, the Western world has become a kind of college of corporations linked together by money and serving only the interests of their business leaders and shareholders.

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The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum

In civilisation, ethnicity, gender, interview, philosophy, psychology on July 1, 2012 at 02:24

 

From: The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum, LITERAL, http://www.literalmagazine.com

… I have studied the emotion of disgust a lot. Research on disgust shows that all of us are uncomfortable with the signs that mirror animals, that show we are mortal. And so the bodily fluids, the corpse, all of those things that psychologists call “animal reminders,” are heavily avoided. They are viewed as contaminating and they are stigmatized. In a second step, people who somehow come to represent those stigmatized things, fluids, decay and so on, are subordinated as a result. Now, in many cultures it seems pretty arbitrary how those groups get constructed in that role, maybe it is because of fear or anxiety, sometimes it is Jews, sometimes it is lower castes in Indian society, sometimes Muslims in India today, but women, in more or less all cultures, come in for that kind of projected disgust, as I put it. That is to say they are associated with the things about the body that are feared and viewed as contaminating because they give birth but also because they are seen as sights of fluid, the menstrual period, they are also seen as the receptacles of male semen, which is something that males feel anxious about. For all these reasons, the researchers who work on disgust think that misogyny is connected ultimately with people’s own anxiety about their own bodies.

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