Random Rules

The great Linda Gottfredson reports from the trenches on the realpolitik of academic freedom. I wonder what she would make of Walter Block's position?

Sister Y outdoes Roissy.  Twice.

Slate's repentant thought criminal, William Saletan, turns his attention to the politics of eternal sunshine in a fantastic multi-part series on memory science. The series also serves as an introduction to the inestimably important work of Elizabeth Loftus, who, in her capacity as an expert witness for the defense, has arguably done more good than any living psychologist. I'm working on a longer post about this stuff that also considers the work of…

…Errol Morris on illusory competence and the problem of  "unknown unknowns." Is it just me, or did Mr. Death get to this guy?

Nine-Banded Books author Andy Nowicki visits the Beloved Country (at the movies).

Prompted in part by Peter Singer's much-discussed NYT commentary on David Benatar's dangerous idea, Nine-Banded Books author Jim Crawford has been keeping up a lively pace over at his blog, "Antinatalism: The Greatest Taboo." (Regarding Singer, see especially the June archive.) Recent highlights include a reprint of Dan Geinster's provocative essay, "Negative Utilitarianism: A Manifesto,"  a simplified primer on hedonic asymmetry, and a series of flyers, cartoons, and broadsides extolling the virtues of childlessness. Incidentally, Jim recently asked that I comment on this godawful essay which brandishes the old line that some ideas exist beyond the pale of respectable discourse (or "thinkability") and should therefore not be engaged. Since the implications scale beyond the subject at issue (antinatalism), I'm using the occasion to springboard into a more ambitious critical survey of "arguments for silence" such as have been deployed to curtail public discussion of various nostrums near and dear to the Hoover Hog's latakia-encrusted heart. I'll be looking at subjects ranging from  natural rights metaphysics to free will denial to transhumanism to the three-punch crimethink combo consisting, as ever, of biorealism, holocaust revisionism, and childhood sexuality. In addition to being more rationally situated than critics initially assume, these and other cerebral minefields are unified in that they have elicited explicit calls either for censorship or for intellectual stigmatization. I am confident there's a story here, and if I can fit the pieces together just so, this may be as close as I'll ever come to writing a manifesto in defense of dangerous ideas. Stay on my ass, and wish me luck.

In related news, I've been sparring with a small contingent of godless pronatalists here.

In further related news, Thomas Ligotti's extinctionist treatise, The Conspiracy against the Human Race, is now available from Amazon. Read it and weep. Seriously.

In yet further related news, Jim's book is slated for review (along with other antinatalist titles) in an upcoming issue of Aschwin de Wolf's Cryonics magazine. I'll post a link when it's up.

Moving on…       

Sociopaths have feelings too!

Richard Hoste cracks corn, waxes on lingusitics, and schools right-to-be-white critics of comparative advantage. Hoste is a guy with whom I often disagree, but he's a straight-shooter who writes in a breezy manner that I can't help but admire. 

Jack Donovan (aka Jack Malebranche) considers suicide.

It turns out that Katherine Dunn wasn't bullshitting about her legendarily postponed work-in-progress.  Here's an excerpt from The Cut Man presented as a short story.

Andrew Sullivan revisits the strange case of Trig Palin, and Half Sigma notices. Before she was bullied into silence by obnoxious Tea Party cultists, the sleuthing blogger known as "Audrey" was busily compiling a dossier of evidence that eventually convinced me that Sarah Palin's official Trig birth story was utter bullshit. I still think the story will break (unlike her water) before the 2012 election, and I'm willing to place my wager.

Enough then.

Memento mori.