O layout mutilator! O blogger humiliator!
Among the most dramatic results of last Monday’s hearing on President of the United States Donald J Trump’s Twitter habits and related matters was the appearance in the virtual pages of Lawfareblog – among the majorest of major minor blogs of this post-blog epoch – of the Phantom Non-Breaking Space Bug.
Chrome Inspection reveals a major minor infestation in Lawfareland:
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Can a responsible citizen refuse to take a side?
Writing recently in Foreign Policy, Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid, author of several books, numerous articles, and thousands of tweets on Islam and democracy, managed to apply some difficult political-philosophical thoughts – on the nature of liberal democracy as a mixed system, or on liberal-democratic politics in the philosophy of world history – to current events and specifically to the presidency of Donald J Trump. That Hamid helps to explain Trumpism as a phenomenon, a force, and a set of ideas without rancor or aggressive defensiveness – and even while at one point implicitly comparing the typical ground level Trumpist to an Islamist taxi-driver on hashish – further recommends the piece.
In a more informal effort in The Atlantic focused on the question of unelected, nominally non-partisan officials mounting a successful resistance or “soft coup” against the President, Hamid again puts himself in the Trumpist’s place:
If I was a Trump voter, I can imagine being frustrated at this sort-of-deep state working to block or undermine Trump’s agenda. I’d say: Well, I voted for that agenda, and not necessarily some vapid, unthreatening version of it. Presumably, if Bernie Sanders, or someone like him, had won the presidency and decided to radically re-orient U.S. foreign policy, there would be elements within the military and intelligence services that would attempt to “block” him. For these state institutions, it wouldn’t only be a matter of democratic legitimacy but also of something as fundamental as national security. Does that mean that presidents, regardless of what a plurality of voters might want, simply cannot act radically when it comes to foreign affairs or national identity? To what extent are Americans comfortable with that—and are we willing to apply whatever standard we come up with consistently?
Needless to say, not everyone discussing this issue has the benefit of Hamid’s long experience dealing with reactionaries – his specialty having been Middle Eastern religious reactionaries, including the above-referenced cabbie. When, for instance, I recently sought to explain how an intelligence operative might view the illicit exposure of damaging information about a mad or criminal or mad and criminal president as the very soul of duty, a longtime internet friend called my statements “disgusting.”
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First envisioned years ago, since that time implemented in various ways via some custom functions and hackage, I’m proud to announce the uploading of Nested Comments Unbound to the WordPress Plug-In Repo. Fingers crossed that it goes well, that I didn’t make some ridiculous mistake or fall victim to some glaring oversight, and that the first reviewers are kind!
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The Post appears to be promising to narrate the death of democracy – or, if unconsciously, to be revealing an intention to embody it.
They may be right…
Others have been making fun of the WaPo’s well-intended new motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” but we can skip a Buzzfeedy recounting of the predictably snarky first responses, and just acknowledge that the cynics may have a point this time. “Democracy Dies in Darkness” will strike readers as pretentious, since it implicitly casts the newspaper itself as “giver of light,” like Jehovah at the birth of the universe, while the alliteration, which may have been meant to elevate by poetry, qualifies instead as twee. We might find nothing wrong and much right with the aspiration meant to be conveyed, but the statement itself is not aspirational, certainly not in the same way that the most famous motto in American journalism – “All the News that’s Fit to Print” – is aspirational. The WaPo’s motto has the form of a prophetic assertion, more suggestive of “Winter is Coming,” or, as Vikram Bath noted to me on Twitter, “The End is Near”: It asks to be taken as all-importantly true, but we can wonder if it really is true, and whether, even if we want to sympathize, taking it to be true really is better for us: Without pausing to define “democracy” or explain what it is exactly we might mean by its “death” or our “darkness,” and instead simply pretending we all understand the metaphors in the same way, we can ask whether democracy really does die in darkness, or is in fact stronger than darkness, or, for a democrat, is better seen as itself the immortal bringer of light, or potential bringer of light, even in otherwise all-consuming darkness. To fend off these and other questions, the assertion depends on the credulity and even the cooperation of the reader, including an in fact unlikely suspension of the same critical faculties that the motto is in another sense clearly seeking to celebrate. In short, the Post or its publisher and editors are depending on us to give their new proposition a friendly reading, rather than the ironical one which will immediately and intuitively occur to one and all in this ironic age, and especially to those not already inclined to expect prophecy or heroism from the particular enterprise or the larger journalistic enterprise. The enemies and adversaries of the WaPo or of whatever it represents to them will accept the unintended invitation to read the motto in the same way we read that other motto just noted, as a gloss on the content forthcoming: For them and perhaps for many of the rest of us as well, the Post appears to be promising to narrate the death of democracy – or, if unconsciously, to be revealing an intention to embody it, all the news that’s fit to kill.
A few months ago, I noted a technique for stripping Twitter embeds of extraneous conversation, involving setting the tweet attribute “data-conversation” to “none.” What I provided was more hack than add-on, and required a somewhat laborious process of copying the page source and search and replacing it.
So, this morning, frustrated by yet another Twitter convo that couldn’t be carried forward effectively on Twitter, and that anyway deserved to be preserved for the eternal archives, I decided to automate the process.
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The unveiling today of some rather extraordinary magazine covers seems occasion enough to justify presentation of the OAG Gallery as it happens to stand at the moment. Since, during the course of normal business at this site, the images appear only in thumbnail size, as randomly selected from a set of images, it occurred to me that I should somewhere display them un-cropped, full-size, and with whatever information I happen to possess about them.
Suggestions for additional images are welcome! (Just paste the urls, if you have them, in a comment box.) The only criterion for inclusion in the gallery consists of “happened to strike CK as striking, or objectively were striking enough to him for him to bother to grab them.” Most appeared without attribution in my Twitter feed, but, where artist information is available, I’ve provided it. The selection does not include very many photographs, mostly because the best ones are owned by the photographers or their syndicates, and this site respects the creative rights of artists.
“America First” by Edel Rodriguez – Der Spiegel
From the Plug-In’s Description:
Commenter Ignore Button (CIB) lets a user put one or more commenters “on ignore.” To have such an option enabled is a frequent request at blogs and other sites where comment threads are plagued by trolls or other problematic commenters, but where site operators prefer to err on the side of open discussion – or don’t want to get involved unless they really have to. Once users become generally aware of the option, people just seeking attention may either be more polite or move somewhere else, while regular commenters – and lurkers – may become more willing to engage.
You can download it from the Repo using the link above, or you can get it here.
Just wanted to note the line, from the Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit (§69), for later use and overuse.
I’m quite fond of the larger passage:
Since the man of common sense makes his appeal to feeling, to an oracle within his breast, he is finished and done with anyone who does not agree; he only has to explain that he has nothing more to say to anyone who does not find and feel the same in himself. In other words, he tramples underfoot the roots of humanity. For it is the nature of humanity to press onward to agreement with others; human nature only really exists in an achieved community of minds. The anti-human, the merely animal, consists in staying within the sphere of feelings, and being able to communicate only at that level.
…will have to dig up the original German sometime in search of any lost nuances…
Took a little while, but I finally figured out how to add WordPress Media Library multiple image selection for a process partly depicted above, part of a plug-in still in development.
My code follows. As I mentioned at StackExchange WordPress Development – where I first put the issue in the form of a question, at a point when I was unsure of my ability to answer it – I’d be happy to accept and credit improvements on this work from some true jQuery/WordPress expert, though the code seems to be working quite well so far. Read more ›
[T]he facts are what they are — email server management, rather than any deeper or more profound root cause, was the dominant issue in Donald Trump’s successful rise to power.
The facts are what they are: Even intelligent, knowledgeable, sophisticated, and articulate writers for successful websites dedicated to usefully explaining events and issues for well-educated readers were, in America 2016, utterly incapable of usefully explaining events and issues for well-educated readers.
Matthew Yglesias apparently believes, as the sub-head in his Christmas Day article has it, that “Big events sometimes have small causes.” The notion is suggestive of chaos theory, which describes how small variations in initial conditions can sometimes produce radically outsized differences in eventual outcomes, but the situation in question is better evoked by the saying on straws and camel’s backs. Yglesias tweet for his post re-stated its conclusion, quoted above, even more illustratively:
The “hook” is precisely the absurdity – and self-inter-exponentiating meta-absurdity – of the notion it entails, and of the co-absurdifying and absurdified political culture and political system it reflects. Read more ›