Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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May 31, 2017

Three varieties of paranoia

1) "I would rely on my neighbors to help protect me from the State."

2) "I would rely on the State to help protect me from my neighbors."

3)  "I genuinely would rely on no one, anywhere, ever.  I rely on myself alone, and stand at every moment in a fighting stance, primed to protect myself with maximum savagery from attack from Everybody, at every moment, from any direction."

Hopefully someday soon, all persons in all three of the above categories will have their own planet to live on alone, together.

April 30, 2017
why do curators talk funny?

John Rapko described the problem well enough, with brio last year:

Analyzing their opaque manner of speech and mountebank-like presentation, I argued that . . . the curator must meet many, not obviously reconcilable, demands from various constituencies, including museum professionals, critics, academic historians of recent art, local money-bags financing the shows, and of course the millions simply thirsting for the latest in the arts.

from "Up from Contemporaneity; or, Why Do Curators Talk Like That? (Part 3)," source here

Rapko had initially laid the problem out a year earlier (2015):

An often noted feature of the Curator is her need to communicate with very different audiences and clients . . . Something of this need to, if not communicate, at least resonate with these diverse audiences may account for the un-eliminable indeterminacy of the curator’s talk. . .
In using those words the Curator signals to those in the know, but the use must also allow each of the other audiences to project something into the language, and to think itself finding something of significance there. The un-eliminable vagueness of the Curator’s speech may not in every case be maligned. After all, obscurity and indeterminacy are not always negative features of a linguistic style.
source here

What name to give this phenomenon?

"Heteroglossia"?  "Diplomacy" or "tact"? "Pretentiousness"? "B.S."?

"Strategic ambiguity," due to need to address incompatible if not mutually hostile audiences?

TiR can't decide.  Or rather, comes to a different decision after every few minutes of thought about the problem's various aspects.

In contradictory times, it's hard to talk about anything in a non-contradictory way.  You'll end up looking like a hypocrite or a fool, even more than usual, at least to somebody.  Though shutting up may have the same effect.

Post here could be retitled: "Why do we all talk funny?"

What do I know?  Bah.

March 31, 2017
notion of the month

Ondine, confirming (TiR would like to think) what we have observed to be the effect whereby Warhol's screen test films seem to make the subject's inner thought especially visibly manifest:

"Your brain seems to be apparent when you're on camera.  It seems as if -- when you look at yourself on the screen -- it seems as if your brain is working. Like, to me, I can tell what people are thinking by what they look like on the screen. Not exactly what they're thinking, but what their next moves are going to be, what they're going to do."

Above quote appears in Stephen Koch's Stargazer: The Life, World and Films of Andy Warhol (1991), but is evidently traceable ultimately to a 1973 interview in Norman Cousins's Saturday Review / World magazine.

To nominate the above for "notion of the month" may demonstrate that it's been an unusually bleak month for notions.

February 15, 2017

in conclusion, some general considerations:

If there is a universal truth about superstition, it is that superstitious behavior emerges as a response to uncertainty -- to circumstances that are inherently random and uncontrollable.  Malinowski's analysis of superstition based on observations of Trobriand fisherman is still valid: we are most likely to employ magic when we venture out into the dangerous outer waters of our world, where our fate is less secure. . . . 

Although the superstitious person may gain a sense of control from his rituals, I get a similar feeling from being able to think rationally about the circumstances I face.  Even when I have no power over important events in my life, I gain a feeling of control from understanding them.

from Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, by Stuart A. Vyse (Oxford U. Press, 2000), pgs. 201, 220

Black-cat market

Irrational investment habits lead to lower returns
. . . 
The paper also alludes to superstitious traders having a “general cognitive disability in financial decision making”, a diplomatic way of saying they are nitwits.

The Economisthere, discussing "Do Superstitious Traders Lose Money?” by Utpal Bhattacharya, Wei-Yu Kuo, Tse-Chun Lin and Jing Zhao, 2014, SSRN Working Paper.

What connects superstition, conspiracy theories, and seeing things that aren’t there?
. . . 
New evidence from a study by Jennifer Whitson at the University of Texas and Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University, Illinois, tackles this problem. . . . 

"Despite their surface disparities, seeing figures in noise, forming illusory correlations, creating superstitious rituals, and perceiving conspiracy beliefs all represent the same underlying process: the identification of a coherent and meaningful interrelationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli . . . " 

Source: here, discussing and quoting J. A. Whitson & A. D. Galinsky's "Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception," Science, Issue 5898. Vol. 322, pgs. 115-117 (2008)

some historical rulers who were reputed to be verry superstitious:

Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia 

Kaiser Wilhelm II 

Emperor Septimius Severus of Rome   

Nothing more to say.

February 14, 2017

in others' words:

Until the birth of her son, [T] and Kushner kept the sex of their baby a secret, due to [T]'s superstitions.

(source: ABC7 news, here)

Horowitz started working for [DJT] in 1996 . . . [DJT] was very open with Horowitz. Horowitz knew, for example, that [DJT] kept his office the way it had been for years -- cluttered with piles of papers and photographs and magazine covers of himself on the walls -- because he was superstitious and didn't think he should move anything.

from The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons, by Vicky Ward (John Wiley & Sons, 2014), pg. 14

The mood was changing in the modest Hilton ballroom, a venue chosen partially due to [DJT]’s superstitions of “jinxing” things . . . 

(source: GQhere)

[DJT] Plans Relatively Low-Key Election Night Party Because He’s ‘Superstitious
. . . 

While huge rallies have been a hallmark of [DJT]’s campaign, a source familiar with [DJT]’s plans said the party in the Hilton ballroom will be relatively small. The person explained that [DJT] is “superstitious” and doesn’t want to jinx things.

(source: NY Magazinehere)

But for all his swagger, [DJT] had an awareness of unseen, deal­breaking contingencies that held his triumphalism in check. He was compulsively superstitious; twice on other plane trips I had seen him toss a few granules of salt over his left shoulder after eating. And here he was, on the day before he would effectively clinch his nomination, calling a single obscure delegate in a state he had already won in a landslide --  an implicit nod to the forces aligned against him before resuming the affect of indomitability.

(source: NYThere)

February 13, 2017

TiR waited for someone else to pull together the data on a tendency we thought obvious.  Hasn't happen yet.  So here are some data points we found.  Make of them what you will.

in his own words:

Everything in life is luck.

from Portable [DJT]! [DJT] in Your Pocket to go: Over 175 Timeless Quotes . . . (Lifehacker Books)

I've also come to believe in luck.  I've known people who have worked hard and done everything to succeed, and yet it just doesn't seem to happen for them.  I'm not sure what the concrete reasons might be, but it makes me believe in luck to a certain extent.

from Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education In Business and Life, by DJT (Vanguard Press, 2010), pgs. 59-60

[DJT] suspends retail leasing effort: 'I'm in no rush'

The big retail space in [DJT]'s riverfront skyscraper has sat empty so long that the brash New York developer has stopped courting tenants to fill it. . . . 

[DJT] also is looking at two other potential deals in the Chicago area, but declines to provide specifics.

“I don't want to jinx the deal,” he says.

[DJT] negotiated for fifteen months with the city of New Rochelle for rights to develop David's Island. The price was $13 million but [DJT] offered $12,999,999.99: "Being superstitious, I thought I might make it a little bit complicated." 

New York Daily News, 1/12/96, quoted in The World According to [DJT]: An Unauthorized Portrait in His Own Words, by Ken Lawrence & [DJT] (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005)

“Well, I’ve really worked on this hard,” [DJT] joked Tuesday morning during an interview with “Fox & Friends” when asked whether he knew who he will vote for.  . . . 

“Well, it’s very exciting,” [DJT] said about Election Day. “You know, I’ve spoken to you folks for a lot during our very successful primaries. Oftentimes, every single one I was speaking to you in the morning so I’m a little bit superstitious. So when you said, 'please call,' I said I’ll call. But I won many primaries speaking to you first thing in the morning, so I’m gonna keep that string going.”

People ask me what happened to my signature red power ties.  Nothing.  i still have them; I just like going the gamut now.  . . . I also happen to be a little superstitious.  For example, I had been thinking that red ties brought me luck, so I kept wearing them.  Then one day when I was wearing a big, bright red tie, I got creamed in a court decision.  After that, I decided no more red ties for a while.

from [T]: Think Like aBillionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life, by DJT & Meredith McIver (Random House, 2004)

 I used to wear red ties all the time and I had a lot of good luck, and then one day I got creamed in a deal I was doing and I was wearing a red tie. After that I don't wear red ties too much anymore. You never blame yourself; you have to blame something else. If you do something bad never, ever blame yourself.

February 12, 2017

refugees [7/7]

are, at their real-deal scariest, corrupt bankers:

As a result, a global shadow realm has developed in the last few decades, with bases on all continents, a parallel economy that escapes all democratic scrutiny, and from which many profit: banks that provide assistance to tax refugees, as well as attorneys and companies that devise sophisticated systems to obfuscate the path the money takes.

[Thus concludes TiR's week-long trawl through its random links  saved during the past several years.]

February 11, 2017

refugees [6/7]

are us

or rather, like slavery, were an essential functional component of the foundational project of inventing the USA:

The loyalists of the American Revolution, that is, those who remained loyal to the British crown during the Revolutionary War, have not gotten much of a fair shake from historians. They were, after all, the losers in the Revolution, and history is usually not kind to losers, especially exiles or refugees from a lost war. . . .  Although the loyalists had been raised to consider Britain as “home,” most of the refugees, even those who were privileged, soon discovered that they were strangers in a strange land. . . . . Like the other things the British government provided the loyalists -- land grants, free passages, rations and supplies -- awarding compensation for losses was truly remarkable, all part of the British government’s Atlantic-wide program of refugee relief. The government never believed that the loyalists had a right to reparations; instead, it assumed that Britain had a moral and paternalistic responsibility to provide aid to its loyal subjects.

from Gordon S. Wood's "Good Losers," review of Maya Jasanoff 's Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

February 10, 2017

refugees [5/7]

we caused then, by using our iPhones:

In “The Race for What’s Left,” he continues his exploration of the high stakes at play when the demand for resources is bottomless. Powerful nations are on collision courses marked by differing claims of ownership; economically weak countries have little chance of prevailing in contests of greed over need. In addition to those conflicts are the disasters that climate change will foist on large swaths of people, causing millions to become refugees.

The case Klare makes is dire but simple: There are no longer any essential resources for economic expansion or survival that are abundant, accessible and safe to obtain. 

from Louise Rubacky's review of Michael T. Klare's The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources

February 09, 2017

refugees [4/7]

bring great new art . . . 

Notice that many of the people on the list were German because the dealers who were my friends and anxious to lend things were Kurt Valentine, Carl Nierendorf and J.B. Neiman, all refugees from Germany.

from interview with Elizabeth Rockwell Raphael, here 

                                              (. . .  though sometimes of very troubling provenance)