Friday, January 09, 2004
Voting Rights a Go-GoKevin Drum's talking about how ex-cons can't vote:
I have to admit that many years ago, when I first learned that ex-cons couldn't vote, I was shocked. I had always figured that once you've paid your debt, you've paid your debt. The right to vote ranks with free speech as one of the absolutely most fundamental rights in a democracy, and I honestly can't think of anything short of certifiable mental incapacity to deny it to any adult.Reminded me about how disappointed I feel over the Texas redistricting decision. Or of the fact that the entire District can't vote. Do you think that the gap in America between blacks and whites persists because the races are different—whites like powder, blacks like rock, whites vote Republican, blacks vote Democrat—or because whites chip away at blacks by targetting their derivative characteristics? Man white people blow.
Personally I could maybe see why a murderer should lose his right to vote, particularly if the murder was a hate crime, since I've heard there were a couple of parties in history that have been motivated by hate-inspired murder. Otherwise, I can't think of crimes that have an honest correlation with voting—it's not like you're ever going to see a politician pandering to the child molestor demographic. I'm not totally sure why we restrict voting in prisons, except for the fact that most substantive issues don't apply to prisoners, but iff felons have served their time, by all means they've served their time.
Unless you're the guy who stole my guitar. You can rot.
posted by kriston at 1:03 PM........
I'll Have a Venti Mocha SHUT UPThe Club for Growth launched a new anti-Dean ad in Iowa. In the commercial, someone asks a couple of fogies what they think about Dean's "plan to raise taxes on a typical family by $1,900," and the two answer:
Without hesitation, the husband responds: What do I think? Well, I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading?Sure, fine, Dean's a scruffy-looking Nerf herder, but what caught me was that they called him "latte-drinking." A quick stop by Starbucks tells me that there are exactly 2 retail locations in Vermont ("The Green Mountain State"), as opposed to 9 stores in Iowa ("The Hawkeye State"); more dramatically, in Republican-friendly Texas ("Fuck Off All Democrats"), there are 397 Starbuckses. Even adjusting for population, were Texans drinking lattes at the same rate as Vermonters, over one third of the TX stores would have to close up shop. Apparently Texas needs its frappaccinos, possibly more than Texas love a good tax-hike fright, so I'd suggest leaving that ad in Iowa. Must be the $1,000 more in disposable income that Texas brings home over Vermont—but that can't all go to coffee. Someone's gotta be buying the sushi....
The comparison finds that Vermonters are on average far smarter than Texas, but we can kick their asses.
posted by kriston at 11:35 AM........
Drinking in a Winter WonderlandIt's snowing, and holy shit, does this bar sound good:
At the venerable Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel, bartender Jim Hewes likes to create special bar menus for various times of the year. During the winter months, he really goes to town, mixing classic tipples and holiday flavors.Yu-hum. While I don't really like the changing weather part of changing seasons, I'm all for the changing drinks. That toddy sounds way better than, say, hanging out on Mars, where it is even colder than snow.
Better send some good whiskey with those astronauts.
posted by kriston at 10:40 AM........
TerrorizedTerror alert is sliding back down to yellow (will we ever reclaim those halcyon blue-green days again?). No yellow in NY or DC yet, where we live in perpetual danger, which is good for the liver. Seems like we had at least some evidence of terrorist activity over the holidays. Maybe we should think about pursuing Osama or something....
...OH I'm just playin'! I hear on Mars the girls got three boobies, let's go!
So in DC the SAMs will stay out a little longer. Hopefully long enough to greet spring.
posted by kriston at 10:11 AM........
Realism vs Science FictionNow I get it... we need a base on the moon... he's rebuilding the Death Star. I knew Bush wouldn't forsake the legacy of Reagan!
Actually, I don't get why we need a lunar base any more than why we need a ballistics missile shield, or, how we're going to pay for all this stuff. Are we creating jobs on the moon?
A disclaimer: I'm not hesitant about supporting NASA. I'm a nerd, and it's against any nerd's constitution to doubt the prudency and propriety of the space program. Lots of people bring up a common hesitation: Why not spend NASA money domestically? As in feeding the homeless or restoring education or what-not rather than building lunar stations. It's both a realist and (I think) a moral hesitation. To answer that, I'd say that, 1) it's not at all obvious that if you took money from NASA, it would definitely go toward education or the homeless or whatever your preference is (and you may like the alternative less than NASA); and 2) it's fine to spend tax dollars on programs that don't directly benefit people socially, like it's OK to watch TV or paint instead of volunteering. Tax spending isn't vertically hierarchical, so we don't have to arrange our spending per priorities (maximally beneficial behavior is not necessarily minimally acceptable).
Still I'd like to think that, since there's no space race at the moment, we could delay wild increases in any unnecessary spending until we've destroy al-Qaeda and rescued the nation from the trade deficit/debt. And this says to me that "wild" would be too modest a term for the likely spending hike:
Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, proposed a sustained commitment to human exploration of the solar system -- with a return to the moon as a stepping stone to Mars -- in 1989, on the 20th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon. NASA came up with a budget-busting cost estimate of $400 billion, which sank the project.So, why—unless we're under threat of being spanked by moonrocks and no one told me....
This proposal is so irrelevant it almost sounds like a Democrat's.
posted by kriston at 10:10 AM........
To the Moon, Cheney!Bush will announce his NASA vision next week, which includes proposal for manned missions to both the moon and Mars. Also detailed in Bush's vision is the final death heave of fiscal responsibility. Summarizing my thoughts on the topic, the CNN article noted, "An administration official said the president is not expected to immediately discuss the potential cost of his new space vision." I really can't stress how absurd this news is.
UPDATE: A Mars orbiter just photographed the detritus from both the Viking and Pathfinder missions; pretty amazing that they're both still there. If you follow the link, you can see that the '76 Viking Lander and the '97 Mars Pathfinder did not land too distantly from each other—that's because all landings must take place in the equator, at a certain elevation, on ground with a certain pitch. This spot represents (so far) the landing spot for earthlings, which is one compelling reason for a manned mission to Mars: Once we land people there, they can move about with a much wider range than an AI-directed lander can.
But one compelling reason to stay home is the cost. Mars is mostly difficult because you'd want the astronauts to come back, which means you're building a shuttle the likes of which we have never seen, or you're cramming two shuttles into one, or something. That's not impossible, but the development costs alone—especially given the limbo status of our shuttle now—could be 'astronomical.' Also, remember that the cost for the unprecedented Viking mission in 1976, adjusted for inflation, was in the neighborhood of $3 billion. For 1976, that's ridiculous.
The Mars mission is interesting in one other aspect: Psychologically and possibly physically, humans don't seem prepared for it. A one-way trip to Mars is a 7-9 month flight, and logistics will require that (at least) two astronauts be cramped into the smallest volume possible for the trip. Quick: Who's your wingman for a 9-month roadtrip? Now divide the size of your car by a quarter, strap a vacuum to your crotch for bathroom breaks, all but eliminate the chance of stretching your legs and replace the world passing in your window with the cold, dead vacuum of space, and you're on your way. It's a recipe for murder.
I have thoughts on NASA and Mars, but I'm going to have to come back to them. This President is too much.
posted by kriston at 8:18 AM........
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Public Service AnnouncementYou can do your part to end the long national nightmare by voting for Norbizness for a weblog award. On that note, who says, "Hey, I got it, my blog schtick is going to be awards." Who gets to grant themselves award-granting stature?
From now on, G.p is the bathroom wall of weblogs. You tell me and I tell the world: What computer nerds are looking for a good time, which pundits were here on what date, whether or not the South will indeed rise again. Make this your first and last stop for penile scrawlings. I'll yet make my mark on the world.
Really going to have to change the name to Sex.police now.
posted by kriston at 2:26 PM........
Pessimistic and PissedEven for a dumb place like the blogosphere or the larger, dumber world of punditry, the "Dean-is-not-optimistic-enough" meme is too stupid for words. I use the dumb blogospherism meme because that's what you write when "idea" is too generous, such as when Peggy Noonan goes off about Dean's angry image:
He is not a happy warrior but an angry one. In the past I have thought of him as an angry little teapot, but that is perhaps too merry an image. His eyes are cold marbles, in repose his face falls into lines of mere calculation, and he holds himself with a kind of no-neck pugnacity that is fine in a wrestling coach or a tax lawyer but not in a president. We like our presidents sunny, easygoing and optimistic. They have access to the nuclear launch code, and we don't want them losing their tempers easily. Mr. Dean's supporters no doubt see him as optimistic, but optimists aren't angry.Pardon me, Peg, but the newspaper I read this morning reported that 9 soldiers died in a Black Hawk crash in Iraq and nearly every day since May of 2003 has seen a similar headline. Since when was everything so cheerful? Bush takes a break from the Super Nintendo long enough to give some inspiring words ("Bring 'em on") and no harm's done, but if Dean's a pessimistic man in pessimistic times he's unelectable because... he'll make us feel down? What the hell?
We can retire that refrain pronto.
posted by kriston at 1:03 PM........
Stick a Fork in It...Texas is finished. Charles Kuffner links to all the big Texas coverage. Very disappointing that when politically motivated gerrymandering (legal) and racially motivated gerrymandering (illegal) coincide, the legality of political motive overrides the illegality or racially discriminatory results. As divided as the state of Texas is along precise racial/political lines, how could a judge decide that the means justify the ends?
I imagine some "WD-40s" (white Democrats over the age of 40) like Lloyd Doggett will survive the transition by the strength of name recognition, but most Democratic candidates are going to face an uphill battle at the polls.
I won't be holding my breath for the SCOTUS to pick up this case.
posted by kriston at 12:33 PM........
Hesitation on ImmigrationI was just talking to someone yesterday about the strengths and pitfalls of Bush's immigration policy repositioning and she likened the proposal to Turkey's arrangement with Germany. (Like Mexico and the US, Turkey serves as a low-wage temp agency for Germany.) It just so happens that the NYT is running a fascinating piece on Turkish-German artists. Whereas immigration policy is inflammatory from every angle, I can make the rather non-controversial claim that immigrant art is neat.
On Bush's immigration policy, though, I report myself on the fence with a handful of opinions on the matter. I share Howard Dean's concern that cementing worker-alien status will only sanctify second-class citizenship, but then illegal aliens are already second-class citizens, if even that. I do not share the labor concern that this will affect American employment—there are clearly jobs that American citizens will always pass on. I'm nervous about a worker-status that requires employer sponsorship—sounds rife with opportunity for employer abuse, yet illegal aliens are already submitted to rampant abuse by employers (like Wal-Mart). I imagine that Bush's policy will also lead to a rise in traditionally illegal immigration, but—most importantly—I don't really have much faith that this policy will be instated in such a way as to have much effect. I'm still listening, but let's face it, we've all heard the compassionate conservative song and dance before.
I'd rather talk about immigrant art, or better yet—immigrant food.
posted by kriston at 11:41 AM........
The Last Temptation of Howard DeanWere I Howard Dean I'd probably be tempted to ask a number of reporters to step outside. The spotlight cast by conservatives on Dean's religious values has revealed some nasty tendencies of his critics. Of special importance has been the fact that Dean—a Congregationalist—is not only married to a Jew, but his children are Jewish as well. See if you detect any undertones to what Cal Thomas, conservative Christian pundit, has to say:
Dean is from a Congregationalist background, a liberal denomination that does not believe in ministerial authority or church hierarchy. Each Congregationalist believes he is in direct contact with God and is entitled to sort out truth for himself. Dean’s wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus.First of all, even among holy rollers like Thomas, the Congregationalist denomination doesn't have the bad reputation that Thomas implies. Marvin Olasky, a fellow conservative Christian columnist at Townhall, calls 18th century preacher Jonathan Edwards "America's leading thinker." (You may recognize Edwards from his hit single, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which was a Congregationalist manifesto. I take this informally to mean that even by asylum standards Thomas is pushing loony.
Second, the thing that has Thomas's and others' eyebrows raised in pious indignation smells of sexism and reeks of Christian-centric superiority. Criticizing Dean because he 'allowed' his wife some bearing on the religious orientation of his children? His wife, a Jewess at that? I'm not calling it anti-Semitism only because Thomas would apparently have the same reaction to Dean no matter what religion (or even Christian denomination) he and his family obtained. It's a flimsy mask for religious bigotry, that's for sure.
I might be taking the worst-case example and running with it, but other 'coverage' of Dean's religious views haven't been much more charitable. I immediately checked out Amy Sullivan's opinion when these stories started popping up, since she's been writing often about how Democrats need to embrace religion in some sense. It's great that she clarified what she meant post-Dean's excoriation:
When I said that Democrats needed to start talking about religion and reporters needed to start asking questions, I should have been a little more specific. Let's try again. Democrats need to talk more about understanding the importance of religion in the lives of many Americans and reporters need to ask questions that get at the root of why that matters in the political arena. We haven't had religious tests for political office in America in a couple of centuries and it would be really nice if we didn't start now, the questions of Mr. Howard Fineman of Newsweek notwithstanding.We're long overdue for someone to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with the national media, but it's not on the horizon if even Newsweek is brandishing the pitchforks and torches in interviews.
UPDATE: I suggested that Dean fight his inquisitors before I found out that he was in Ninja III: The Domination (thanks, PG). Now Mr. Thomas better watch his ass—we all know that ninjas like Howard Dean have no honor.
Sullivan is right that the Democrats could use to abandon their Scarlet-A athiest image but it won't happen so long as the media works liberals from that presumption.
posted by kriston at 10:52 AM........
The New Republic Endorses IrrelevancyTNR offers some bitter medicine to the Democratic Party:
When The New Republic endorsed Gore in the 2000 Democratic primary, the editors wrote that, "[a]s the Clinton administration draws to a close, it leaves a Democratic Party cleansed of many of the habits that long alienated it from average Americans and from its own best traditions."Couldn't be closer to the Gospel... and then they go on to endorse Joe Lieberman, thus exemplifying one of the other weaknesses of the Democratic Party: The inability to coalesce a solid theme around a solid candidate. The 2004 Democratic primary race should be (and is) about two candidates—one pro-war, and one anti-war. The primary race will yield a candidate who will run against Bush on either a pro-war or anti-war platform. The domestic issues that make Bush a horrible president are a given for either candidate; what should (and will) distinguish him is his perceived ability to lead the nation in a time of war, either away from foreign conflict or toward imperial resolution. For the 2004 candidate, leadership will mean more than the right stance or voting record; it will absolutely entail electability. That candidate is either Howard Dean or Wesley Clark—that candidate is certainly not Joe Lieberman.
MORE: Kevin Drum is worth considering here. While you're there, check out his post about how conservatives/Republicans mask their agenda items behind traditionally liberal terms. (His argument is more analytical and less devious than I just made it sound.)
This lapse is even worse than NOW's endorsement of Carol Moseley-Braun, because at least NOW can claim a single-issue agenda.
posted by kriston at 10:35 AM........
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Winning WTC Memorial Design Revealed (Sigh)When the finalists were announced, unappreciative rumbling could be heard among both critics and the public; in response, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation managed to take a middling design and make it terrible for both camps. Michael Arad's winning "Reflecting Absences" design came close to being a respectable entry for a slapdash contest before the LMDC got its paws on it; now, the design comes down to two reflecting pools and a wall featuring victims' names. That's it.
MORE: It should be noted that the images you've been seeing online today may not be, and in fact probably aren't altogether similar to, the final final design, which will be revealed next week:
It took that step, the development corporation said, because the winning entry — Reflecting Absence by Michael Arad and Peter Walker — has undergone "significant" changes since its initial version was revealed in November, according to Kevin M. Rampe, the development corporation president.So it's not just bitterness informing me when I assume they do this because they have to squeeze a bit more hacking in over the weekend. Sheesh.
posted by kriston at 3:55 PM........
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Brave New WorldFor the first time ever, my computer just kicked my television's ass. With only antenna reception and daytime programming, it can't compete with the Netscape FeedRoom, over which I just watched not only the full-motion, color video of the Martian landscape captured by the Spirit lander, but also a Victoria's Secret runway show. I think we're going to like the 21st century.
So long as, you know, Martians don't blow it up.
posted by kriston at 1:59 PM........
Space: The Final Contemporary FrontierBritish art darling Damien Hirst pushed buttons in the 90s by displaying the, well, contents of vivisected animals in galleries. What do you do for an encore? Go to Mars: One of Hirst's "spot paintings" was included with the Beagle 2 lander, and will be (would have been?) used to calibrate the lander's instruments and cameras:
"The spot painting lends itself to this project and as an artist you want all the things that you make to be useful on some level," said Hirst. "It had to have as little weight as possible, so there are no dead cows strapped to the back of it."How we compromise for function.
Fun Factoid of the Day: Hirst used a family of hues called the "Mars suite" for the painting, and said he agreed to do the tiny piece "Cos there wasn't room for a pickled sheep." Hooray, kids!
posted by kriston at 11:08 AM........
The Beagle Has Not Quite LandedThe histrionic mumbling over the silence from the British Mars lander Beagle 2 relative to the the dazzling photos we're receiving from the US' Spirit. Here is an example of a common false sentiment, that somehow the Spirit is qualitatively better than the Beagle 2 when the two are entirely different sorts of crafts with notably different missions. Both are on Mars, fair enough, but otherwise the Eurocritics' bone of contention rests with the fact that the US spent so much more on their craft and didn't need Blur to fundraise for them. (Yes—Woo-hoo!—that Blur. Lent their name to a few exhibitions to attract sponsors.) Nevermind that the British craft is much smaller and therefore wasn't as expensive.
Reports of a Beagle 2 failure have been entirely overblown, too. I was assured of this by guests on Charlie Rose last night, who sounded British and looked like scientists. As I understand it, though it was possible that the Beagle 2 and its mothership Mars Express might retain contact after the B2 deployment, full contact wasn't necessarily expected; and even when Beagle 2 project spokesmen say things like, "With [today's overpass] we will have the first optimum opportunity for the Beagle 2 to communicate with the mothership, the Mars Express," the overpass is still described as a "last ditch attempt" [emphasis added]. Reports of the Beagle's demise, true as they might turn out to be, have been prematurely exaggerated.
The contest in which we did unequivocally spank the Brits was the Revolutionary War, not the space race. Boy, we sure did whoop some limey ass that time.
posted by kriston at 10:03 AM........
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love RedistrictingI feel like Sue and I owe some sort of apology for whatever happens next in the newly created Texas Congressional District 24, which is where my parents live and where she went to high school. This candidate, for example, who currently lives where my parents live (and represents them in the TX lege, too: R-Coppell), and went to Sue's high school (making him the biggest celebrity alum since Vanilla Ice): Like a good wealthy north Dallas suburban resident/representative, he's a brown-noser, collecting signatures for whatever reason from seemingly every politician in the state.
As for my other home in Texas, CD 25, well, I have to wonder if there's not distinct advantages to a district that connects (central, Democratic) Austin and (essentially Mexico) Brownsville. Sure, as far as political representation is concerned, it's preposterous. But maybe with the lifting of political borders Austin will see a NAFTA-like whoosh of incoming authentic new salsas and conjunto music, and Brownsville could stand to use a few empty office towers built by silicon dreams, right?
I bring up districts 24 and 25 because both of them are apparently problem districts (along with CD 23) in the case now being waged before a three-judge panel on the legality of the redistricted map, according to the Quorum Report and Charles Kuffner. Hear that? A tentative yay-hooray for my Congressional districts—choke on a habanero, Tom DeLay.
Tentative, because the panel could redistrict the redistricting, or wait for the SCOTUS to sort it out.
posted by kriston at 8:44 AM........
Monday, January 05, 2004
Goddamned Democrats... er, wait a second...OK, guys, which one of us slipped up and let ANSWER and the LaRouche Youth Movement register Democrats.com? We can't be giving Jonah Goldberg ammo like this—that smarmy smile smeared on his face stems from the fact that the kids at Democrats.com are praising Bush=Hitler adds and suggesting a "Bush Knew" chorus regarding September 11th. (Luckily, the kids haven't figured out how to do hyperlinks, so with any luck those posts will be buried with less offensive inanities. Large quantities of peace-in-the-Middle-East hashish; poor HTML.) We've all heard it before, but I'll take a moment to reiterate the three ancient Chinese rules regarding conspiracy-mongering 'leftist' college students:
Link rubbed in my party's face by NRO.
Shame on MoveOn for even considering it.
posted by kriston at 8:29 PM........
Wouldn't Believe It Had It Not Come from the APAP writer Nedra Pickler on yesterday's Democratic candidate debate:
JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) -- In a feisty, first debate of the election year, Howard Dean drew fire from fellow Democrats on Sunday over trade, terror, taxes and more, then calmly dismissed his rivals as "co-opted by the agenda of George Bush."And from the transcript of the debate, the respective "quotes" by Howard Dean that Pickler chose:
[No Child Left Behind] is a bill that ought never to have been passed. And what has happened -- this is why I am running for president. What has happened to so many Democrats in Congress is that they've been co- opted by the agenda of George Bush, who came into office with 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore.Note that with Pickler's first quote, Dean isn't referring to his rivals on stage, as Pickler not only implies but bluntly states. Then see that the second quote was never uttered by Howard Dean. Niggling points, but in the English language, quotations—often signified by quotation marks (")—imply a standard of exactitude, and nowhere are quotations heeded more cautiously than in journalism.
You'd think that we're just seeing the hand of an errant AP fact-checker at play here, take a look at the lead from AP writer Calvin Woodward:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For a brief time in their debate Sunday, Democrats seemed to be hewing to a New Year's resolution to stick more carefully to the facts on taxes, the budget and more. But old habits die hard.These are not editorials, but objective articles from the Associated Press. On one hand, the media carefully (and responsibly) referred to the prospect of lies on Bush's behalf as "deliberate misstatements," lulling you into believing that the media had learned its lesson from 2000.
CONTINUED: Well, not really; I wrote more but Blogger chose not to showcase it, and then I couldn't get in for the rest of the afternoon. (I don't usually close out a post with a sentence starting, "On one hand....") Suffice it to say that I'm surprised that the Associated Press would attach their brand name to this scurrilous reporting—a high-school newspaper is above this stuff.
CORRECTION: Not of something I wrote, heavens no. The Las Vegas Sun ran a correction of Nedra Pickler's Dean misquote. Link courtesy of Atrios.
Who's editing these people?
posted by kriston at 10:59 AM........
My Professor Stole My GirlfriendCourtesy of sex blog Daze Reader, Laura Kiplis writes about professor-student relationships. At first glance I thought this was a revised form of an article that appeared in Harper's some time back, written by a seemingly sex-deranged woman who thought that not only were professor-student relationships appropriate, they were key to learning. Not learning life lessons or whatever, but learning about O-Chem or the French Revolution. (Wish I could find it online but the magazine's archive isn't helfpul.)
Setting aside feminist theory, which has a lot to say on the topic (and which I don't know), I think that perspectives about professors and students hooking up boil down to optimism or pessimism—whether or not you believe that 18-year-olds, upon setting foot one in their dorm rooms, are adults. Eighteen is an arbitrary lithmus for sexual maturity, and unfortunately, some college students (of any age) are going to fall on the shy side of that demarcation, and those are the ones we're afraid will be manipulated when we talk about regulating permissible behavior. As Kiplis notes, the Foucaultian power-projection concerns apply to nearly any hypothetical you can come up with—but those concerns don't disappear with a BA. There's just not much to be done about preventing people from getting hurt.
I'm all for letting profs and students do what they want, except when profs try to hook up with a girl I'm dating, which did happen to me once. As all three of us were meeting in the same classroom every Tuesday and Thursday shortly after I was robbed, at that point I was firmly against professor-student relationships. I don't know about those two, but the situation most certainly did not contribute to my knowledge of the works of Kierkegaard.
UPDATE: I forgot to talk about a book that Kiplis mentioned: Disgrace, by recent Nobel Prize-winner J. M. Coetzee. It's one of the fastest reads you'll pick up this year, about the state of shame incurred by a professor with a penchant for the barely legal. Might I note that the professor of my drama was not disgraced even a little bit, but instead went on to marry the girl.
I bet if this weblog were Sex.police I'd get a bajillion more readers.
posted by kriston at 9:44 AM........
Sunday, January 04, 2004
More on WonkeryGoing back to the "Books as Art Objects" article from the NYT that I mentioned yesterday—about an exhibit that assumes the question, Can books, without much explanation, without being read even, say something?—I ought to commend Michael Frank for writing a very accessible article on a very heady topic. It would have been all too easy for Frank to slip into the argot of linguistics/art criticism. Often writers who resist academic/critical jargon do so in strained protest of academic language.
As irritating as the rhetoric of literary and artistic criticism is to most readers, it has its place. If a primary goal of writing is to impart maximum information to your audience with maximum clarity, and if your audience is a like-minded academic set, then mimetic criticism is a more economical phrase than another phrase that defines what's meant by mimetic criticism. Many don't accept that there's any sort of trade involved with criticism—don't hear about much in the way of PoMo conferences—whereas science skates by without comment because its trade status is sanctioned, even though much scientific writing is both jargon-clad and poorly communicated.
The excesses of the poststructuralists really didn't instill much confidence in the skeptic, either—those guys went so far as to play with arrangements of hyphens, parentheses, and slashes in their concept words. I'm okay with some of that stuff but I'm permissive when it comes to academese; proletarian diction isn't the only factor in clear writing. If you're not so keen on critical jargon, don't let the stiff-sounding title of the article above prevent you from checking it out.
And also, check out Crooked Timber, a good bet for clear, academically focused weblogging.
posted by kriston at 12:06 PM........