Tuesday, September 17, 2019

30 Rock Moment

Lemon has hired a "woman" who turns out to be ridiculously childlike, and attractive to men. Jack: "You should be careful with her around the crew. New York gives a tax break for employing sex offenders. It's a terrible program."

One creator of the new discourse on gender

Funny. Christopher Dummit in Quillette.

My methodology worked like this: First, I would point out that, as a historian, I knew that there was a great deal of cultural and historical variability. Gender had not always been defined in the same way at all times and in all places. It was, as I put it in The Manly Modern, “a historically changing set of concepts and relations that gives meaning to differences between men and women.” How could you say that being a man or a woman was rooted in biology if we had evidence of change over time? What’s more, I insisted that “there are no ahistorical foundations for sexual difference rooted in biological or some other solid foundation that exists prior to being understood culturally.”

And I had my favourite examples, eventually working them into pithy anecdotes I could use in lectures or conversation—about Louis XIV and what I called his manly-calf pose, which would have been seen as the height of manliness back in the 1600s, but looks rather effeminate by today’s standards. Or I would talk about blue and pink, pulling out quotations from the 1920s that showed people saying little boys should wear pink because it was fiery and earthy, and girls should wear blue because it was airy and ethereal. And these would get a laugh and make my point. What we thought of as the absolute certain truth of gender had actually changed over time. Gender wasn’t binary: It was variable and maybe infinite.

Second, I would argue that whenever you came across someone saying that something was masculine or something was feminine, it was never just about gender. It was always, simultaneously, about power. And power was, and remains, a kind of magical word in academia—especially to a graduate student first reading Michel Foucault. Recall that we were then in the midst of endless discussions about “agency” (who had it? who didn’t? when? where?). So if someone denied that gender and sex were variable, if they suggested that there really was something timeless or biological about sex and gender, they were really making excuses for power. They were apologists for oppression. Sound familiar?
But then there are two more questions, and these are the ones that really matter. The first of these was “how”: How did this happen? How did people think in the past? To answer these questions meant reconstructing patterns of thought. You can never fully reconstruct the thought patterns of others, especially those who lived in another era. But I do think that on this task, I got a passing grade.

But the biggest question of all—the most important—is the final one: “why?” Why did a certain event happen in the way that it did? In my case, it was: Why did postwar Canadians talk about men and women in the way that they did?

I had answers, but I didn’t find them in my primary research. They came from my ideological beliefs—even if, at the time, I wouldn’t have described this as ideology. Nor did my fellow scholars who adopted the same approach—and, unlike me, still do. But this is what it was, and is: a set of pre-formed beliefs that are built into the gender-studies disciplinary penumbra. Essentially, I followed the three-point Foucault-centric methodology outlined above.


Of course, it would be possible to look at the same material and come out with entirely plausible alternative explanations. Could postwar Canadians have socially constructed the idea that men were risk-takers? Yes, that’s plausible. But it’s also plausible that they talked about men in this way because, on average, men…took more risks. This could, in fact, simply be the way that men are. My research didn’t prove anything either way. I just assumed that gender was a social construct and proceeded on that basis.
My flawed reasoning, and other scholarship using the same defective thinking, now is being taken up by activists and governments to legislate a new moral code of conduct. It was one thing when I was having drinks with fellow grad students and battling it out in the inconsequential world of our own egos. But now much more is at stake. I wish I could say that the scholarship has become better—the rules of evidence and peer review more demanding. But the reality is that the current almost total acceptance of social constructivism in certain circles seems more the result of demographic change within the academy, with certain viewpoints coming to dominate even more than in my grad-school heyday.

This confession should not be interpreted as arguing that gender is not, in many cases, socially constructed. But critics of the social constructionists are right to raise their eyebrows at the so-called proof presented by alleged experts. My own flawed reasoning was never called out—and, in fact, only became more ideologically inflected through the process of peer review. Until we have seriously critical and ideologically divergent scholarship on sex and gender—until peer review can be something more than a form of ideological in-group screening—then we ought to be very skeptical indeed about much of what counts as “expertise” on the social construction of sex and gender.

Lowest of the low? Update II

Still too soon to give out the prizes. The competitors are in a scrappy mood--we might be surprised at who comes out on top. Who are the magic 7 witnesses who might justify a new FBI investigation of Kavanaugh?

1. Ramirez's mom remembers Ramirez saying "something happened at Yale."

2. Kennth Appold.
A suitemate of Kavanaugh's at Yale who is now the James Hastings Nichols Professor of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary, Appold was an original source for the New Yorker story that first reported the Ramirez allegation. Appold spoke anonymously for that piece, but later, in October 2018, allowed his name to be used in a New Yorker update because he hoped to force an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh. The New Yorker said Appold "first heard about the alleged incident ... either the night it occurred or a day or two later." Appold said an eyewitness told him the story and that he believes it is true because what he heard matches Ramirez's account even though Appold has never spoken to her.

Appold told Pogrebin and Kelly a bit more. "Within a couple of days of the party, Ken Appold stood in a Lawrence Hall entryway and was told by two Stiles freshmen (whose identity he can't recall) what Kavanaugh had done to Ramirez," the authors write. (Stiles is a Yale living area.) "'It was fresh in their recollections,' Appold said. 'One person saw it; the second person was hearing the story from him for the second time.'"

Appold told the New Yorker that when Kavanaugh was nominated, he, Appold, tried to get in touch with the person who actually witnessed the alleged event but got no response. The magazine reported that it was able to reach the classmate, "but he said that he had no memory of the incident."

Still, Appold said the Ramirez matter was "not the kind of thing you forget." And, for Pogrebin and Kelly, he added a damning new twist: "Appold said he was told an additional detail, however, that Ramirez does not remember," the authors write, "that after she pushed the penis away, Kavanaugh went with Genda into the bathroom, became erect, came back out, and tried it again." (Kevin Genda was a classmate of both Kavanaugh and Ramirez.)

"That was the story as I heard it," Appold told Pogrebin and Kelly. Whether Appold told that to the New Yorker is not clear, but in any event, the New Yorker did not publish it, although it certainly would have been big news in the context of the nomination battle.

Kaus focusses on "it's not the kind of thing you forget," and the alleged witness actually did forget--if indeed it ever happened.

3. Then: a guy who heard it from Appold.

4. A guy who overheard a young woman, at about the time of the alleged incident, recounting a similar incident. This guy doesn't know who the female student was, and certainly has no idea if Kavanaugh was referred to. He has never spoken with Ramirez.

5. An anonymous friend who refers only to "the incident," with no names.

6 and 7. Two guys who remember "something happening to Ramirez" during the relevant year.

No reasonable person would think any of this has anything to do with Kavanaugh, except that pro-choice or Trump-hating people have some combination of real memories and false memories which they are trying to weaponize against Kavanaugh. No experienced investigator would ever accept that this bullshit amounts to anything, and after all this time, probably no ethical investigator would be able to promise to figure anything out. To say the very least, there is no forensic evidence.



Verified account

28m28 minutes ago
MoreMollie Retweeted Julie Kelly
More than that, Pogrebin was long-time roommates at Yale with Kathy Charlton, a woman centrally involved in the anti-Kavanaugh efforts (according to public statements from her husband). That she was roommates is briefly disclosed, but Charlton's coordinating role is not.Mollie added,
Julie Kelly

Did you know Robin Pogrebin was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh? I didn’t until last night—seems to be an important detail she should disclose in her reporting: https://twitter.com/chuckrossdc/status/1173804572273512448 …
29 replies .315 retweets584 likes
Reply 29 Retweet 315 Like 584

Update II Sept. 17: The mother of the Kavanaugh-hating journalist or "journalist."

Monday, September 16, 2019


At the very least, she should be in the debates alongside the geezers and the losers.

Stephen McIntyre

2m2 minutes ago
MoreStephen McIntyre Retweeted Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi cutting deep once again.Stephen McIntyre added,
Tulsi Gabbard
Verified account


Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not "America First." https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1173368423381962752 …
0 replies0 retweets0 likes
Reply Retweet Like

Now Trump apparently likes the idea of policing every shithole country in the world. In fairness, I guess the U.S. is the one country in the history of the world that can sort of intervene or not intervene wherever they want, and get away with it. Even if 9/11 was backlash (against what? Schwarzenegger's True Lies?), nothing quite like that has happened since. But the intervention is always going to be a bit haphazard. Precisely because of their underlying sense of security, partly obscured by their insistence that they fear almost everything, Americans will intervene enough to make themselves feel better, but not necessarily enough to do lasting good. They built a lot of stuff in Iraq, at huge expense. I think it's a bit like the bridge over the river Kwai: the joy of building takes over. They even carried out a kind of nation building/ establishment of democracy by putting the Shiites more than ever in charge,and strengthening Iran in the region and the world. All of this required a long period of extreme violence, including sectarian violence and ethnic or sectarian cleansing of substantial areas of the country. The sheer difficulty and expense of this makes it unlikely that it will be attempted again. Afghanistan goes back to the anti-Soviet fight of the mujahhadeen, supported with money from both the U.S. and Osama bin Laden. For a while this seemed a brilliant success at relatively low cost, but then yesterday's freedom fighters became today's 9/11 terrorists. Trump seems to be thinking seriously about getting out of Afghanistan and leaving the Taliban in charge.

Generally speaking, American intellectuals have no idea what to do about Detroit, Chicago, California or Mexico--but they have recipes for Venezuela and Syria.

I sometimes wonder which presidents have actually been able to stand up to all the experts in the situation room. Maybe Obama insofar as he scaled down the Libya operation, which still turned into a complete disaster for Libya. Would it have been better either to do another Iraq or do nothing? Going back, Eisenhower surely never deferred to all these turkeys. Bay of Pigs, missile gap, he called bullshit without much hesitation.

Almost a Trumpian joke from Kaus

Would Toobin support Toobin for #SCOTUS?Mickey Kaus added,
Jeffrey Toobin
Verified account

Forty percent of the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct. #SCOTUS
11:27 pm - 15 Sep 2019

Thread has some funny stuff, including details on Toobin's shenanigans.

I'm not clicking on the Toobin stuff, but presumably he thinks all charges against Kavanaugh and Thomas are "credible"; 2 judges out of 9 is not 40%. Who else?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Kavanaugh story wins support for Trump?


Starts with detailed observations that Leyland Keyser refused to corroborate any part of Blasey Ford's story, and in fact, upon reflection, questioned the credibility of the story as a whole. A young woman like herself, going to an otherwise all-male party as described, with no details as to how to get there or how to get home? This is contrary to anything she remembers about those days--implying that Blasey Ford would have had to be crazy to have acted as she reports herself acting. Enormous pressure was put on Keyser to say something in corroboration of Blasey Ford, but she never did. Blasey Ford changed her story, as she did several times, this time to say Keyser drove her home--a more realistic story than "I just wandered off." Keyser simply doesn't remember any party as described, or driving Blasey Ford after such a party.

It is a cliche to say the person we are rooting for is probably telling the truth--she had nothing to gain by saying what she did. Blasey Ford's defenders say this about her. Everyone knows the pro-choicers are determined to keep judges off the court who might question the abortion liberty. They would regard Kavanaugh as merely collateral damage in this cause. Educated, secular women in general were available to provide Blasey Ford with emotional and other support (including not questioning any of her ridiculous lies, including the ones about flying; this case was never going to any court, but if it were, any good lawyer for Blasey Ford would say: you'd better stop lying, or you are screwed). Perhaps she didn't anticipate the GoFundMe campaign, and the new financial freedom she now enjoys; but it is certainly not a complete surprise. Keyser by comparison has paid a real price, financial and otherwise, simply for not agreeing with a story that 1. does not match anything in her memory and 2. simply sounds like bullshit to her.

Hard-bitten, nasty people, comfortable with being part of dirty tricks, were and are disgusted by the anti-Kavanaugh campaign.

Blue Jays stats

Finally got to a game with my son. A poor performance by the Jays (yesterday, Saturday), but on to next season.

Stats this season: OPS ranking
Bichette .948 42 games
McGuire .890 only 22 G, small sample size
Gurriel Jr. .889 80 G
Guerrero Jr. .781 114 G
Biggio .760 87 G
Smoak .742 115 G
Hernandez .737 115 G
Grichuk .726 139 G
Tellez .717 100G

September, 10 G or more: Grichuk, Biggio, McGuire, Bichette, Tellez, Hernandez (.542)

August, greater than 19G
Guerrero Jr. .977
Bichette .974
Hernandez .850
Grichuk .826
Biggio .743
Smoak .718

I'm never thrilled with Grichuk, but he's been pretty consistent.