URLs du Jour

2017-12-10

Proverbs 18:24 speaks on friends, unreliable and otherwise:

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I would wager that I could find out my unreliable friends pretty quickly by posting a lot of political stuff on Facebook.


■ Jillian Kay Melchior writes at the [probably paywalled] WSJ on Lorde of the Flies: Why College Students Reject Reason. I must admit I was unaware of…

The experience of being an outsider is central to the poetry of Audre Lorde. So it’s curious that Lorde, who died in 1992, has posthumously become the ultimate insider on American campuses, providing an ideological foundation for today’s social-justice warriors.

It’s hard to overstate Lorde’s influence. Each spring, Tulane hosts a “diversity and inclusion” event called Audre Lorde Days. The Ford Foundation’s president, Darren Walker, quoted Lorde in his 2017 commencement address at Oberlin, describing her as “one of my sheroes.” The University of Utah has an Audre Lorde Student Lounge, as well as LORDE Scholars, an acronym for Leaders of Resilience, Diversity and Excellence. The University of Cincinnati hosts an Audre Lorde Lecture Series each semester and is working on the Audre Lorde Social Justice Living-LearningCo mmunity, which will offer “gender inclusive” housing, activities, collective projects and a supplemental curriculum. The university’s LGBTQ Center director even has a tattoo of a Lorde quote on her arm.

It's not a pretty picture. But it caused me to google "Audre Lorde" at the University Near Here: 46 hits. The links do not disconfirm Ms. Melchior's thesis. For example, the English 609 syllabus from Reginald A. Wilburn contains:

Drawing upon Audre Lorde's “Uses and the Power of the Erotic,” I classify my teaching pedagogy as an “erotic pedagogy of liberation.” This philosophy is rooted in feminist pedagogy and (1) challenges students to recognize and affirm the power of their individual critical voices; (2) subordinates the “banking concept” of education in favor of privileging students' life experiences, ways of knowing, and areas of expertise/specialization as testing grounds for their interpretations of literation and culture; (3) emphasizes the vital significance of "oppositional consciousness," (especially in terms of race, class, gender, and sexuality), in any and all responsible assessments of literature, culture, and critical reflection; and (4) promotes what I call "thinking readers" and "thinking writers." You may expect to be challenged on the philosophical content of your ideas by me as well as your peers. Such challenges will never resort to personal attack or insult but will always endeavor to advance critical thinking from multiple perspectives

Any questions? Ah, you there in the back. What, you ask, is "oppositonal consciousness"? Well, according to that link, it is "an empowering mental state that prepares members of an oppressed group to undermine, reform, or overthrow a dominant system."

Sheesh. So have fun storming the castle, kids.


■ Returning to Earth: Matt Welch writes in Reason about Why Jeff Flake Matters.

"These are challenging times," Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) said with a little self-effacing chuckle. "The definition of what it means to be conservative has shifted dramatically over the last year or so."

We were at that most oxymoronic of Washington, D.C., events—a libertarian fundraiser for a major-party elected official. There are only about five people I'd consider doing this for, I have heard almost verbatim from hosts at two separate such gatherings in the grim political year of 2017. Los cincos amigos: Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Mike Lee (R–Utah); Reps. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R–Ky.); and Flake.

Flake is leaving the Senate at the end of his term, due to his massive unpopularity with Arizonans.


[Amazon Link] David Bentley Hart reviews the latest book from Daniel Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back. The review's title is The Illusionist. David's not a huge Dennett fan. Discussing Dennett's notions of consciousness:

The entire notion of consciousness as an illusion is, of course, rather silly. Dennett has been making the argument for most of his career, and it is just abrasively counterintuitive enough to create the strong suspicion in many that it must be more philosophically cogent than it seems, because surely no one would say such a thing if there were not some subtle and penetrating truth hidden behind its apparent absurdity. But there is none. The simple truth of the matter is that Dennett is a fanatic: He believes so fiercely in the unique authority and absolutely comprehensive competency of the third-person scientific perspective that he is willing to deny not only the analytic authority, but also the actual existence, of the first-person vantage. At the very least, though, he is an intellectually consistent fanatic, inasmuch as he correctly grasps (as many other physical reductionists do not) that consciousness really is irreconcilable with a coherent metaphysical naturalism. Since, however, the position he champions is inherently ridiculous, the only way that he can argue on its behalf is by relentlessly, and in as many ways as possible, changing the subject whenever the obvious objections are raised.

Brutal.

I read a Dennett book back in 2003, and it did not make me a fan. I have one of his books on my shelf (Consciousness Explained), but I'm not sure if I'll get to it.


■ At the NRO Corner, Veronique de Rugy writes About That Tuition-Waiver Deduction for Graduate Students.

I was on PBS the other night to talk about the House and Senate versions of the tax plan. At some point, we started talking about how the House reform plan treats graduate-student tuition waivers as taxable income. In response to the other guest on the show saying that it was malicious, I pointed out that a tuition waiver was indeed income. Based on the response I received from listeners, you would have believed that I had just endorsed torturing kittens.

Yet notwithstanding all the articles and commentaries about supposed cruelty to grad students, the House Republican plan is based on conventional tax analysis. Simply stated, tuition forgiveness in exchange for work is indeed a form of income even if no money technically changes hands. So the “exclusion” currently in the law is a loophole. Saying this doesn’t mean that grad students would feel no pain or wouldn’t have to pay higher taxes — even though with the doubling of the standard deduction and lower tax rates, it may not be as bad as what people fear. By the way, lost in the drama is the fact that outright scholarships would remain tax free. In other words, don’t be surprised if universities re-categorize tuition waivers as scholarships if that part of the House plan is in the final bill. Voila!

Both our state's senators (Jeanne and Maggie) have tweeted sob stories about poor UNH grad students who may be exposed to the reality of income taxation at an earlier age than they would ordinarily expect.


■ Which brings us to our Tweet du Jour. Non-political:

We didn't get that much, but enough to make me fire up the snow thrower for the first time this season. If you hear swearing coming from the direction of Rollinsford, NH, it's probably me.