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Friday, May 28, 2010

ABF Friday:  Off Piste edition!

Why do we call it the “off piste” edition?  Because, arbitrarily but funnily enough, today’s installment of Things I Write is over here, off piste.  Have an ABF weekend, everyone.  And sing!

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med

And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel þu singes cuccu;

Ne swik þu nauer nu.

The last line means “and you don’t stop.” Variant: throw your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like you just don’t care.

(That one was for you, Dr. Virago, if you’re still using the internets.)

Posted by Michael on 05/28 at 10:32 AM
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Video Thursday

My friend Chris Castiglia brought this to my attention the other night:

[Warning:  the language gets a little spicy toward the end, with a vorhanden here and an aufgehoben there.  NSFW—not safe for wissenschaft.]

It’s funny because it’s true!  I took Rorty’s Heidegger seminar in spring 1985 partly because I was told, in the fall of 1984, that I would need that seminar in order to understand what would be going on in the Derrida seminar scheduled for fall 1985.  I never took the Derrida seminar, though, which is why I remain mired in the metaphysics of presence to this day.  It’s ontotheological, I know, but I like it.

I also like this.  It is my second favorite ad in all of adland, next to everyone’s favorite ad, the Old Spice “the man your man could smell like” bit.  But what I really like is that at 0:11…

the standard disclaimer appears, “Professional driver on closed road.  Do not attempt.” Because I would hate for you kids today to go careening around the surface of Ganymede in your hip-hoppity moon rovers just because you saw someone do it on TV.

Posted by Michael on 05/27 at 06:28 AM
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Civil rights

OK, now back to some old business.

Megan McArdle, you’ll recall, replied to this old post from April 13 later the very same day. Like so:

Michael Berube’s response to my writing about the lack of conservatives in the cultural elite is, perhaps unsurprisingly, just a tad overwrought, and not very responsive.  Frankly, I sort of wondered if he didn’t outsource it to an undergraduate.  He makes some decidedly unhilarious jokes—conservatives!  country clubs! take my wife—please!—and then proceeds to berate me for not mentioning Jim Crow.

Yes, obviously, Jim Crow was an important means of maintaining segregation.  And yet, in the three quarters of the country where it didn’t exist, we still didn’t have a lot of blacks getting hired into positions of responsibility by white institutions.  How could that be?  It’s almost as if there was some other force . . . maybe we could call it “discrimination” . . . that was keeping people out of whole areas of employment.

Get me the New York Times! The world needs to know about this!

Yep, that’s one finely-wrought response there, coming from someone who kicked things off by likening the position of conservatives in academe to that of African-Americans in the 1950s seeking jobs as bank managers.  But I have to admit that the bit about whether I outsourced my post to an undergraduate stings, and stings badly.  I have been called out by one of the finest prose stylists on the Internets. Who else could have written

Obviously there’s been an enormous amount of ink shed about why this is, but my experience of talking to people who might have liked to go to grad school or work in Hollywood, but went and did something else instead, is that it is simply hogwash when liberals earnestly assure me that the disparity exists mostly because conservatives are different, and maybe dumber.

... all by herself without any help or outsourcing?  I guess that’s why Megan McArdle writes for the Atlantic and I don’t.  It’s a meritocracy out there, and like all libertarians, McArdle has only herself to thank for her success.

So what do readers think about her argument?  Here’s Mitchell Freedman, commenting on my blog:

I just responded to McArdle at the Atlantic.  She wants us to think Jim Crow is a solely southern phenomenon and of course that is horribly ignorant.

What I should have also added is that she then talks about structural discrimination as if that is something outside of Jim Crow, when it is part of Jim Crow.  Weird, really.

And then here’s Buzz, commenting at Crooked Timber:

Well, McArdle gets the best of this in her cogent response to this nonsense. The whole Jim Crow angle is obviously wrong because, as McArdle points out, even without the force of Jim Crow laws in most of the country, blacks still weren’t being hired for certain positions.

And so it is with conservatives in academe: even without the force of law, there is very real institutional and departmental bias against hiring people with certain points of view.

I feel sorry for your students, Bérubé, for having such an blinkered fool for a professor.

Hmmm, looks like opinions differ.  Surely both sides have their strengths and weaknesses.  We’ll have to call it a tie!

Which is fine by me, because I have no real interest in arguing with Megan McArdle.  It’s not terribly productive or illuminating.  More important, after reading that slacktivist post on the Procter and Gamble hoax, I don’t think it’s simply a matter of ignorance about Jim Crow or racism.  (I was serious when I said that discussion has changed my sense of how the world works.) It’s not even something specific to McArdle herself; there are just too many conservatives and libertarians out there complaining that they face structural discrimination in the “cultural elite” comparable to that of institutionalized racism in the pre-civil rights era.  You can try to tell them that this is absurd, but I’m getting the feeling that it’s a little like telling the evangelicals that Procter and Gamble doesn’t really donate a portion of its profits to the Church of Satan.

And Moloch knows, it’s not as if I haven’t tried!  Why, only a few years ago I wrote a whole entire book called What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Here’s a relevant passage:

It turns out that there’s something more serious and insidious going on here, and that—once again—race is an issue even though African-American scholars make up only five percent of all college professors nationwide (and half of those scholars teach at historically black institutions).  For much of the conservative complaint about “underrepresentation” is drawn disingenuously from the legal discourse of affirmative action; in the American Enterprise issue that announced the findings of the Horowitz/ Zinsmeister study, attorney Kenneth Lee, a member of the far-right Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, made the case in so many words.  “The simple logic underlying much of contemporary civil-rights law,” said Lee, “applies equally to conservative Republicans, who appear to face clear practices of discrimination in American academia that are statistically even starker than previous blackballings by race.” Even starker than previous blackballings by race: according to Lee, conservative scholars have it worse than did African-Americans under segregation and Jim Crow.  (This would mean, I imagine, that on some campuses there are fewer than zero conservatives.) It is a fantastic and deeply offensive claim in and of itself, but it becomes all the more offensive if you go back and look at the history of conservatives’ opposition to affirmative action programs in American higher education.

Better still, you might look at the history of conservatives’ opposition to desegregation across the board.  That would be instructive.

In November 2005, not long after I finished writing the book, National Association of Scholars president Stephen Balch appeared in Pittsburgh to testify in Pennsylvania’s very own Horowitz-inspired investigation of liberal bias in our public colleges and universities. The state legislature, Balch argued, “should expect to see the problem of intellectual pluralism addressed with the same vigor that the state’s universities are already addressing what they take to be the problem of a lack of ethnic and gender diversity.” So there should be an affirmative action program for conservatives—who, by the way, oppose affirmative action programs.  As Balch himself said in his very next sentence, “I’m opposed to according any preference to ethnicity or gender in academic hiring or admissions.” Yes, we got that part, thanks.

And that reminds me, in turn, of my old pal Dinesh D’Souza.

Fifteen years ago, I was asked by the journal Transition to review Dinesh D’Souza’s The End of Racism.  You might remember that book for such pull quotes as “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well” and “Activists recommend federal jobs programs and recruitment into the private sector. Yet it seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine underclass blacks with their gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, and arsenal of weapons doing nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble or the State Department.” (And now I wonder: why did he single out Procter and Gamble? Could it be ... Satan?) But you might not remember that the book’s concluding chapter called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Here was my take at the time:

D’Souza’s rationale for repeal is clear:  “America will never liberate itself from the shackles of the past until the government gets out of the race business.” Now that racist discrimination against African Americans is largely a thing of the past—as D’Souza points out, “all the evidence shows that young people today are strongly committed to the principle of equality of rights”—government action can only produce a justifiable white backlash.  Drawing his inspiration from legal scholar Richard Epstein, D’Souza does not worry about freeing the private sector from antidiscrimination laws; for in a truly free market, racial discrimination would not exist at all, since “discrimination is only catastrophic when virtually everyone colludes to enforce it.” D’Souza’s case in point is major league baseball, about which he poses a truly novel thought experiment:  “Consider what would happen,” he writes, “if every baseball team in America refused to hire blacks.” Lest we are unable to imagine (or remember) such a state of affairs, D’Souza guides us step by step:

Blacks would suffer most, because they would be denied the opportunity to play professional baseball.  And fans would suffer, because the quality of games would be diminished.  But what if only a few teams—say the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers—refused to hire blacks?  African Americans as a group would suffer hardly at all, because the best black players would offer their services to other teams.  The Yankees and the Dodgers would suffer a great deal, because they would be deprived of the chance to hire talented black players.  Eventually competitive pressure would force the Yankees and Dodgers either to hire blacks, or to suffer losses in games and revenue.

There’s something disingenuous about D’Souza’s plans for integration, since D’Souza had argued earlier, citing Joel Williamson, that Jim Crow laws were “designed to preserve and encourage” black self-esteem.  But let’s assume, for the nonce, that D’Souza is serious here, and let’s assume also that franchises like the Celtics or the Red Sox of the 1980s could not win games without a sizable contingent of black ballplayers.  How precisely is this argument supposed to work in American society at large?  Are we supposed to believe that bankers and realtors don’t discriminate against black clients for fear that their rivals down the street will snap up all those hard-hitting, base-stealing young Negroes?  Or is it that when black motorists are tired of being pulled over in California they will simply take their business to the more hospitable clime of Arizona?

Ah, 1995.  A few outlying conservatives and libertarians were saying the Civil Rights Act was unnecessary because racism simply doesn’t make economic sense, and there was much wingnuttery in Arizona.  It was a different time, you understand.

So, you see, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing this kind of thing from a certain wing of the intellectual right.  Having tried their best to keep the Negroes out of universities (and sometimes the women too, as in the case of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton), and having opposed federal antidiscrimination laws, some of these good people are now terribly, terribly concerned about the possibility that they are being barred from the ranks of the cultural elite.  Well, they say the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, so I’m sure they will overcome someday. 

Posted by Michael on 05/24 at 09:00 AM
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Mister Answer Man:  Insane Clown Posse edition!

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  I am beginning to suspect that the letters you receive are not really letters from readers at all.  In fact, I am beginning to suspect that you make them up yourself, and then give the “letter-writers” names that you think are “clever.” Am I right?  --Mary Rosh

Mister Answer Man replies:  Ms. Rosh (if that is your real name), my letters are genuine real letters from readers.  All of them!

Well, not really.  But this one is—I received it in the electronical mail two days ago.  It’s from “Clueness in Kansas,” and he writes:

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  We’ve all witnessed just how badly the Republicans want Obama to fail. They’re doing everything they can to derail any advancement or improvement he might possibly be able to make, just to point out that he failed. They’ve demonstrated that they’ll latch on to anything that could in any way be construed as bad, and drive it into his heart. My question to you is this: Given the extent to which they want to ruin this man, why don’t they take advantage of the Tea Party Sea/BP Gulf oil fiasco, and start screaming that Obama is not going fast enough to switch us all to renewables? Obama is even not admitting just how bad the leak is! He has no idea how to stop it, no plans to make sure this never happens again, no clue how to clean this mess up, and no clue how much death and economic destruction this is going to cause. Why aren’t Republicans screaming that this great nation of ours cannot afford to wait for the “Democrats” to get off their high horses and “negotiate” in their back room deals, and “agree” to make a “decision” to make a “plan” that will somehow magically “fix” all of the planet’s problems, but not until they’ve achieved social “justice” for little Demitria down the street? Why aren’t Republicans using this disaster to their advantage, taking this opportunity to call for a change in this nation’s energy priorities?  --Clueless in Kansas

Mister Answer Man replies:  Dear Mr. Clueless, I am happy to report that you are aptly named.  Your entire question, from start to finish, presumes that Republicans will use “logic” and “reason” to characterize Obama as a failure.  While you’re right that Republicans could make Obama look silly by calling for a renewed emphasis on renewable energy, you’re “right” only in the sense that your point makes “sense.” You need to understand that from the perspective of today’s GOP, the important thing is not scoring “logic points” from this disaster.  The important thing is that the American people have to understand that this socialist Muslim black blackety black man, who pals around with terrorists and (with the help of ACORN) elevated an actual scary Muslim person to the post of Miss USA, is arrogantly bowing too low to foreign leaders.  Also, socialism.  If we are ever to address the problem in the Gulf, we will need to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.

This answer may not make “sense” to you.  But it is the right answer.  And because I understand that, people call me--

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Answer Man

P.S. Who is “Demitria”?  That sounds like a made-up name.

Dear Mister Answer Man:  Last month, the Globe and Mail published an interview with Camille Paglia in which she said,

This whole thing about global warming—I am absolutely incredulous at the gullibility of people. What is this hysteria over drowning polar bears? And finally I realized, people don’t know polar bears can swim! For me, the answer is always more facts, more basic information, presented without sentimentality and without drama. To inflict this kind of anxiety on young people is an outrage.

Polar bears can swim!  Mr. Answer Man, this is perhaps the most disturbing thing I have read all year.  I mean, I don’t expect much from Paglia.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she’s become a birther.  For many years she’s been a flibbertigibbet, a will-o’-the-wisp, a clown.  But this is perhaps the single most stupid thing I have ever heard from a college professor, and that’s setting the bar awfully high.  Do you think this is dementia, or is Paglia consciously trying to bait us, the way she does sometimes?  --Concerned in Calgary

Mister Answer Man replies:  On the Internets, it has become customary to dismiss Paglia’s rantings by suggesting that Salon likes the attention and the click-throughs.  But that tired, reductive Marxist explanation won’t wash here, because this has nothing to do with Salon.  So we need to look elsewhere.

There is a moment, earlier in the interview, that leads me to believe that Paglia is going for deliberate self-parody:

Do you have any impression of the landscape in Canada right now?

I’m not that familiar with Canada. But when I was at York University a few years ago, I thought, “Oh my god, they are so shallow. Such a backwater.”

It’s kinda priceless to accuse Canadians of shallowness by prefacing your remark with “I’m not that familiar with Canada.” You can’t make that kind of performative-contradiction shit up.  But in this case, I . . . I . . .

People don’t know polar bears can swim?

Sweet merciful greataunt of Moloch.  I got a whole penalty box full of nothin’.  And I’m supposed to be Mister Answer Man!  Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out how much Paglia knows about facts and information and science.

We will have to ask her how magnets work.

Posted by Michael on 05/21 at 04:58 AM
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost and found in the archives

So I showed up at UC-Irvine a day early, because even though some of the Rorty archives were born digital, most of them were born analog, and I wanted to check them out.  (Note to distressed California taxpayers: there was no honorarium involved, and I paid for my extra night of lodging.  Just for the record.) About half of my talk dealt with blog discussions of Rorty’s work, like this one and this one and this one, on which I relied heavily.  I promised Dave Maier I would not make the mistake I always make, so, in a deconstructive spirit, I made it again anyway, but differently this time.

This time I merely claimed that human deliberations about Neptune and quarks and the cosmic microwave background radiation involve intersubjective agreement, but it’s intersubjective agreement about the not-human.  That doesn’t make it any more “foundational” than human deliberations about justice or beauty, but it does mean that when Neptune and quarks and the cosmic microwave background radiation are disclosed to us, we have to understand them precisely as entities which beforehand already were.  Just like Heidegger says in section 44 of Being and Time:

Newton’s laws, the principle of contradiction, any truth whatever—these are true only so long as Dasein is.  Before there was any Dasein, there was no truth; nor will there be any after Dasein is no more. . . .  To say that before Newton his laws were neither true nor false, cannot signify that before him there were no such entities as have been uncovered and pointed out by those laws.  Through Newton the laws became true; and with them, entities became accessible in themselves to Dasein.  Once entities have been uncovered, they show themselves precisely as entities which beforehand already were.

I have been mulling over that passage for 25 years now, and that’s part of what my Rorty Story is about.  But first, let me make clear to Dave and everyone of like-Dave mind that in talking about these entities-which-beforehand-already-were I am not (as I said at the conference) indulging in any Stupid Realist Tricks.  First, I am not suggesting that physics is not a language, that it gives us direct unmediated access to the way the natural world would describe itself if it could; on the contrary, I keep harping on the cosmic microwave background radiation because (a) it’s really important, being physical evidence of the Big Bang, and (b) its discovery involved a Latourian network of scientists, wherein one guy realized that the inadvertent finding made by other guys just might be related to this other guy’s unpublished paper.  (Details.) Second, I imply no teleology, no sense that discoveries in physics are moving us somewhere progressively and incrementally, and that someday we’ll finally get it right once and for all; on the contrary, I strongly suspect it’s quantum turtles all the way down, in all the extant universes.  And last, I am not suggesting that the kind of knowledge we obtain from physics is a template for all other kinds of human knowledge, that it affords us a model of the way we could deliberate about justice or beauty if we just tried hard enough; on the contrary, I’m saying that it’s a highly specialized and ungeneralizable kind of knowledge that involves intricate interpretive protocols for understanding stuff that isn’t Dasein and doesn’t have Dasein’s interpretive protocols.  But the truths we obtain by means of those protocols will be truths only so long as Dasein is, because when Dasein disappears, nobody’s going to talk about “truth” anymore.

I hope that’s clear.  Because now it is story time.

So it’s the day before the conference, I have only four or five hours to work with, and I decide to look through a couple boxes of Rorty’s papers, lectures, syllabi, and notes from the 1980s and 1990s.  (I also decide to look through one box of juvenilia, just because.) I find some good stuff, and I incorporate it into my paper, like this fine example of what John Holbo (in the fifth link above) calls Rorty’s “rhetoric of anticipatory retrospective”:

we shall only get the full benefit of either Hegelian historicism or pragmatist anti-representationalism when we have become as insouciant about the question “did human beings have intrinsic dignity, and human rights, before anybody thought they did?” as we are about the question “did transfinite cardinal numbers exist before Cantor found a way to talk about them?”

Then I decide to start leafing through the correspondence files, looking for a correspondence theory of truth.  (That joke killed in the Poconos, folks.  I’ll be here all week.) It was a little like Abe Simpson’s rendering of Thomas Edison’s reading of the alphabet over the radio: I started with “A.” Then “B.” “C” would usually follow....

And in the B’s, I had a genuine authentic unheimlich moment.  I wasn’t surprised to see my correspondence with Rorty from 1994-95, which consists of a series of letters about Public Access in which Rorty chastised me for my dismissive attitude toward social democrats like Howe and Schlesinger and I insisted that The Disuniting of America, like Bernstein’s Dictatorship of Virtue, was a hysterical book, and not in a good way, either.  It was nice to see all that in its very own sub-folder, but I remembered it well.  What surprised me was a stray item from 1985, a handwritten letter on three pages of yellow legal paper.  The letter appeared to be in my handwriting ... because it was! It was dated sometime in June 1985, and it was basically an agonized request for an extension on my overdue paper. 

I have no idea why Rorty kept it, but reading it was like the moment in Chamber of Secrets when Harry opens Tom Riddle’s diary and gets transported back to Riddle’s days at Hogwarts.  After taking Rorty’s Heidegger seminar that spring, I had the option of taking a final exam or writing a stand-alone paper.  The exam was by far the easier option, and one of the questions, “to what extent does part one of Being and Time advance a pragmatist theory of truth,” was an implicit invitation to go over our class notes from the first four weeks of class and say, “well, it pretty much does, just like Rorty says it does, see.” I didn’t want to do that, because I had my own little take on part one of Being and Time, but I wasn’t sure how to go about writing it down.

Well, now I was in dangerous territory—and the danger might be familiar to some of you.  I now had a late paper hanging over my head, and worse, it was a late paper for a Famous and Distinguished Professor.  I was 23.  Let me put it this way: the third link above is titled (by Holbo) “Dave Maier Tells You Interesting Stuff about Rorty.” It is indeed a very interesting post.  But I had no interesting stuff to say; I was quite convinced that there was nothing I could put into a paper that would be of any interest to Rorty whatsoever.  Week by week, that conviction deepened, as did my sense of dread.  So in June, just before Rorty left for a trip to China, I clenched my teeth (no, not really) and sat down to write a letter (a) sketching out my idea and (b) asking for an extension.

You know the genre, surely: crazed, anxious graduate student expounds on the details of a promising but never-to-be-written essay.  The first two and a half pages walk through the half-formed argument, in which I suggest that what Rorty took to be the “pragmatist” aspects of Being and Time (the categories of the vorhanden and zuhanden, or “present-at-hand” and “ready-to-hand”) are just setups for the real payload, the insistence that “truth” is a matter of “disclosure” (aletheia), and that one of the reasons Heidegger goes to such trouble to establish those categories is to persuade us that factual assertions, far from being the locus of truth, are mere present-at-hand entities that get stuff done.  This may sound like a pragmatist critique of positivism (which is no doubt why Rorty liked it), but it ain’t where Heidegger’s going; in sections 43 and 44, he’s going to show us that since assertions are not the locus of truth (as he has conclusively demonstrated), truth must something else, namely, the disclosure of Being specific to Dasein.

This much is probably obvious to Heideggerians, but give me a break.  I was 23.  The tricky part—the part on which I was stuck—lay in the realization that I was more or less saying that part one of Being and Time involves this elaborate performative contradiction whereby Heidegger argues logically and patiently (and laboriously, good lord) that argument is not where truth lives.  I had the idea that perhaps this might shed some light on the famous “turn,” which, for me, might amount to Heidegger saying (among other things), “you know, I’m not going to argue anymore that assertions are merely present-at-hand—I’m just going to go straight to aletheia and disclosure, and write sweeping accounts of philosophy since the pre-Socratics, meditations on Romantic poets and the phrase ‘it gives being,’ and a bunch of stuff about the clearing and the jug and the fourfold, so there.”

And that paper probably would remain unwritten to this day (with the world so much the poorer for it), had Janet not realized, some months after I asked Rorty for that extension, that she was pregnant.  “ZOMG,” I said (no, not really), “if we’re going to have a baby, I need to finish that damn Rorty paper.” My anxiety about the-entity-that-would-become-Nick quashed all my anxiety about the-entity-that-was-the-paper-I-could-not-write, and I wrote it in a frenzy over four or five days.  It turned out to be the last paper I would ever write out longhand before typing.  And it turned out, when I finally finished typing, to be fifty pages.  After stewing over the essay for months and months, I had become the Graduate Student From Hell, turning in my paper very late and very long.

If there are any graduate students reading this, do not do this.  It is bad.

But it was a formative experience.  Not only because it got me off the schneid, Heidegger-wise, but because it taught me how to manage anxieties: that is, by using real ones to dissolve pseudo ones.  “Merciful Moloch we’re going to have a baby so I have to finish this class so that I can finish my coursework so that I can write my dissertation and try to get a job” is so much weightier than “what if Rorty doesn’t like/ is bored by/ disagrees with my essay” that there’s no point wasting any time with the latter.  Priorities, people. 

Still, I can’t believe Rorty kept that letter.  I recognized the kid who wrote it, a leaner and squirrelier version of the person who’s writing this, but more important, I remembered that whole weird and directionless Charlottesville summer, working at the National Legal Research Group, not writing, breaking up my band (and then recording a posthumous album anyway), wondering whether I should stay in graduate school.

So I guess there’s a moral here, and the moral is that I have forgotten my umbrella.  No, wait, that’s not it.  It’s that you never know what’s going to wind up in the archives.  Even your crazed letter, “Dear Mr. Rorty [that is the custom at the University of Virginia, btw], can I have an extension because the dog ate my vorhanden and I stayed up late Being-with-others and overslept and I promise to turn in my paper precisely when I finish it which should be any day now sincerely yours,” might be in there, somewhere, for scholars of the future to wonder and snicker at.  You have been warned.

Liz Losh (who organized the whole thing) has a wonderfully detailed account of the conference, here, here, here, here, and here.  Many thanks to Liz for all her great work.  Ian Bogost’s version is here; his witty and provocative paper is here (.pdf, and w/o the great visuals).  And last but not least, it was totally awesome to meet Mary Rorty.


Posted by Michael on 05/19 at 08:08 AM
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Monday, May 17, 2010

To put things in perspective

In comments to the preceding post, JP Stormcrow writes,

At this point I think I’ll root for whoever wins in the West. Just do not care for teams that barely qualify for the Playoffs winning it all.

Let me put that another way:  the Flyers are here because they won a shootout against the Rangers in the final game of the season.  That’s right, you win a shootout in the final game to squeak into the playoffs and you get home ice advantage in the conference finals.  It just seems wrong—because it is.

OK, granted, it’s not as bad as seeing the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars in the finals with a record of 27-39-14.  The NHL can be a funny league sometimes.  Hey, remember the four years when Vancouver was in the Eastern division and Philadelphia was in the West?  I promise I am not making that up.

Also, I have a question.  I caught part of game six of the Celtics - Cavaliers series in that other sport, and I couldn’t help thinking about it while I was watching the speedy Sharks and Hawks pepper each other with a combined 85 shots (45-40 Sharks) in game one.  For those of you who follow basketball, was that first half exceptionally slow and poorly played, or have I gotten spoiled by things like Sharks-Hawks games and improbable Flyers comebacks?

Non-hockey blogging will resume shortly.  I have a good story (well, I hope it is a good story) to tell about the trip to Irvine.  No, not the one about how SEK overslept on Saturday and left me without a ride back to LAX at 6:30 in the morning.  That was OK—I walked some and hitched some.  It’s another story altogether, about my brief look into the Rorty archives.

Posted by Michael on 05/17 at 01:45 PM
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