Full Circle

Fenster writes:

It only takes a couple of generations for social things to come full circle, with that generation’s victims this generation’s bullies, and so on.

Here is a photo of Amsterdam’s “white bicycle” program, a free bicycle share idea pushed by the anarchist-influenced Provos in the mid-sixties.  Witte Fietsen for all!

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And here is how the current generation of anarchists have chosen to respond to bicycle sharing in Portland, Oregon.

vandal-biketownsign

Stations trashed; bikes vandalized.  “Our city is not a corporate amusement park.”

It is tempting to say that the anarchist spirit has stayed the same and that what has changed is the Establishment, which finds ever new ways to commodify desire.  Some truth in that I am sure.  But there is also a big difference between the playfulness of the earlier anarchist vision and today’s sour, angry and bleak version.  No one escapes the merry-go-round.

 

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Border Wars

Fenster writes:

The mainstream (i.e., anti-Trump) position on family separation is at least as disingenuous that of the Administration.  Much of the grandstanding in Congress relates to whether Trump can stop separation “with a phone call”.  Further, the mainstream press supports that view, arguing that the Flores consent agreement does not “require separation” and that Trump can stop the process on his own. That is true but misleading.

When someone is detained for federal criminal proceedings they are given over to US Marshalls.  It is never the case that children are permitted to accompany parents who are so accused. So the initial separation arises inevitably (in the case of illegal border crossings) from the decision to prosecute entry at the border rather than waving people through.

Most often the proceedings are quick and if the accused is found guilty of entering on an unauthorized basis they are sentenced to time served, generally days, are reunited quickly with family, and all are deported.  If all that can be done in under 20 days the Flores tripwire (no detention of children after 20 days) is not triggered.  But during that period of up to 20 days separation is unavoidable once the approach taken is the swift resolution of the legal matter.

But let’s say someone who is caught entering illegally not at a border crossing asks for asylum after being caught. Perhaps they ought to have presented themselves at the border (or to Mexican authorities, or to an American embassy–these are for the moment but trifling points).  But they are free to assert a claim for asylum even if they are brought in by traffickers not at a border crossing and subsequently apprehended. Such individuals may still have the charge of illegal entry to deal with but the asylum process beyond that can take a longer time.

Alas, under a 9th Circuit ruling dealing with Flores handed down a few years ago children cannot be detained for more than 20 days even if they are with their parents. So the government is prohibited from moving the asylum seeker to detention with their children awaiting an asylum hearing; even that situation is not permitted under Flores.

It is for this reason that the Administration favors a quick law change that would get rid of Flores restrictions on length of stay and permit families to be together. Who could oppose that?

Well, the Dems appear to be opposed, arguing that Trump doesn’t need the legislation.  Since Flores does not “require separation” the argument is that he can reunite families without a law change, with a phone call.

Sure but it appears that the only way to do that would be to just let the families go entirely. If it is objectionable to separate a child from a parent who crossed illegally, even for a matter of days, they can always be released, right?  Same with asylum seekers.

It sounds easy enough but I do not see any way the Administration’s approach to prosecution and asylum can be easily squared with keeping families together.

Now, there are of course different views on the wisdom of the Trump approach to the border. Migrants, their advocates and large chunks of the liberal electorate are fine with catch and release. They want the migrants in the country. If you like more immigration you will presumably like releasing families whether or not they have requested asylum.  Better to finesse the law than insist on its enforcement.

It is OK to have that opinion, but it is quite a different thing from saying Trump is free to end the separation policy with a phone call–not if he wishes to continue his current approach to entry and asylum.

That is the disingenuous part—what is not stated by the Dems is that in order for him to end separation without a change to Flores he would have to drop the current approach to the border, and revert to the prior practice of waving families through.

Why is this aspect not highlighted by Trump’s opponents?  The Dems know that the American public does not like family separation but they also know that the public does not favor the lax approach elites have taken to the border in the past, and just do not understand why someone who walks across the border should not simply be denied entry.

Is there a good case to be made by Dems for ignoring the law and letting people through given the complex nest of restrictions and laws in place at the time of entry? Something that will resonate with the public?  I doubt it.

Meanwhile Trump’s polling continues to improve.

 

 

 

 

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Couldn’t Do It Today

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Naked Lady of the Week: Felicity Stewart

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

fs-cover

I don’t know anything about this week’s Naked Lady, Felicity Stewart. I came across her while browsing the great Vintage Erotica Forum and was taken with her fine features and cool bearing. Is her face a little reminiscent of Meg Ryan’s?

Her portfolio appears to include a lot of work for publications with nostalgia-inducing names like Mayfair, Club, and Men Only.

One of those publications, this one referring to her as Nikki, attributed the following exchange to her:

When asked what she does in her spare time, Nikki’s concise reply is, ‘Have a good time.’ When asked what she would do if she had more spare time, she smiles, ‘Have a better time.’

I suspect she’s British.

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

Continue reading

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Design for Educating

Fenster writes:

Design is the new IP

Design is the new marketing

Design is the new currency

Design is the new engineering

Design is the new green

Design is the new black

Design, it seems, has some powerful mojo.

Yet with all things mojo how much is real?

Buckminster Fuller put the essence of design into two pithy sentences at the beginning of Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.

If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat makes a fortuitous life preserver.  But that is not to say the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top.

Not much arguing with that.  At base design expresses a few key concepts:

–Intentionality

–about solving a problem

–taking account of context and systems

–with a goal in mind.

So far so good and pretty straightforward.  Now, it is not clear that Fuller’s Dymaxion Car. . .

dymaxion-yando

. . . springs from this idea fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.  But this conception of design does partake of the positive tradition of American pragmatism.  Things can always be made better.

There is something off, though, about the way Fuller frames the issue.  Note that he puts design on the one side and, for want of a better word, serendipity on the other.  But is that a fair fight?

What Fuller elides past in this metaphor is another venerable tradition: tradition.  Many of the answers we accept as worthwhile do not just come floating by us in the open ocean after a shipwreck as flotsam and jetsam.  No, these answers are often themselves designed in a sense but not in the highly intentional manner that Fuller would favor.  Rather, they arise more via human choice, experimentation, and trial and error, and the Darwinian process of winnowing down that follows.

So in a sense Fuller unfairly sets his notion of intentionality against mere chance.  Design can beat mere chance on a one for one basis much of the time: a life preserver designed to save lives at sea will generally best a piano top.  But in the real world a designed concept is up against many shipwrecks over many years, and it is quite possible–indeed inevitable–that the collective “design” that results from seeming chance will best the best of intentional design.  Gee-whiz pragmatism is a wonderful thing and is to be celebrated but let’s make it a fair fight and let’s make sure Burkean conservatism is taken account of.

These ideas were much on my mind when I read a recent (paywalled) article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on whether design concepts need to play a larger role in higher education.  And not just in the pedagogy–there is plenty of that–but relative to the institutions themselves, and to how they are structured, managed and financed.

There has been a lot of breathless talk about redesigning higher education, disruption and dramatic change.  Clayton Christensen, the Guru of Disruption, speaks about altering higher education’s “DNA”–eugenics for the organization.

The author of the Chronicle article, Lee Vinsel, will have none of that.  To him design thinking in higher education amounts to a “boondoggle”.

(F)addists and cult-followers are pushing the DTs as a reform for all of higher education. In the last couple of years, The Chronicle has published articles with titles like “Can Design Thinking Redesign Higher Ed?” and “Is ‘Design Thinking’ the New Liberal Arts?” The only reasonable answer to these questions is “Oh hell no.” . . . 

You likely can’t get to the article because of the Chronicle’s paywall.  But you can probably guess the line of the argument.

–Design thinking is a fad, like the human potential movement that was in part responsible for its development and growth.

–People who preach the application of “design principles” in higher education are just using the same old consultant-speak, gussied up for a new era.

–There is no real track record of success in applying so-called design principles to higher education anyway.

I suspect there might be a lot of debate about the first two propositions above, with advocates taking issue with whether “design” is a valued added way of looking at things.  I suspect less disagreement with the third proposition.  Despite hand-wringing galore over the past decades higher education has not much changed.  Some institutions can’t turn on a dime.  Colleges can’t turn on a million dollars.

Some will defend that, pointing to the resilience of the odd structure, and that it has proven adaptive over time.  Others will say time is up.

Now, it is true that whatever cannot bend can only break, and if conditions will no longer permit higher education to continue past practices change will come one way or another.  But to what extent will such change truly represent design and to what extent is it likely to be a form of what Charles Lindblom famously called, in only a slightly different context, “the science of muddling through“?

Vinsel is no doubt correct in asserting design has not amounted to much relative to reforming higher education.  But that may say more about just how hidebound the institution is in its conservatism than it does about the inadequacies of design thinking.

So let’s give a cheer for design thinking. . .  and one cheer in this complicated situation, not three.

Of course design works–except when it doesn’t.  Context and history matter.  The highest form of pragmatism is skeptical of doctrine of any type and will look first at the Law of the Situation.  What are we dealing with here?

Colleges are just too plural from the get-go to expect a brilliant designer to come up with A PLAN that will cause the institution to turn.  Too many cats, not enough dogs.

Yes it is possible that design itself can be a plural enterprise.  And that is probably the best that can be hoped for–that as the place really starts to crash enough people on the inside will get religion and pitch in on new approaches.  But even then the line between  “design” in a Bucky Fuller sense and muddling through gets kind of muddied.

An approach designed from the top is bound to fail due to excess authority.  An approach too willing to indulge higher education’s characteristic chaos is bound to fail due to inertia in the face of crisis.  Will splitting the difference work?  Maybe, but that could fail too if the crisis is deep enough, and if it continually outraces efforts to keep up with it.  That’s what is called a predicament.

——-

Fenster on Christensen here.

 

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Democracy & Politics

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

Say the word democracy.  Notice how good it sounds.  Everything democratic is good.  A democratic meeting, a democratic policy, a democratic giraffe… if the adjective fits the noun at all, anything you paint with it comes out shiny and bright.

Now say the word politics.  Notice how bad it sounds.  This person is a politician.  She’s being so political.  These dangerous proposals would politicize US foreign policy.  Every use of the word is negative.  Everything you paint with it comes out sordid and mean.

But… what is democracy without politics?  Is there any such thing?  If there is, doesn’t it sound like something North Korea would come up with?  Our higher form of democracy has transcended mere politics.  Uh huh.  Sure.  I know where you’re going with that.

As objective realities — structures of governance — aren’t democracy and politics in fact… synonyms?  But if they’re the same word, how can they have opposite connotations?  How can it be that everyone knows, obviously, of course, democracy is a good thing, but politics is a bad thing?

— Moldbug

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Note To My Kids On JP

Fenster writes:

I see that Jordan Peterson book around and think it is a good idea for you to read it.

Meanwhile, here is something shorter: a very good article on the Jordan Peterson phenomenon.

As Peterson has caught on in the popular mind he has been attacked pretty viciously in the mainstream media.  Why?

Read the rest here.

Posted in Personal reflections, Philosophy and Religion, Politics and Economics | Tagged , | 3 Comments