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Comments by bob

On “America is Waiting 3x

Yeah did get that - could update the video with clips from just the last 20 yrs or so.

There is a feel to things now that seems very mid century - atomic agey.

At any rate, the video was worse than the audio, apart from the content, the visual effect is kinda flashing lights. So my listening/viewing strategy was short bursts of play/pause/play/pause.

The echoing of that past into the present gave me the motivation to persevere.


Completely unaware of this until now. Musta been in a different America in the 80's, no doubt still am, just didn't think it started that early

On “Rod Spared. For Now.

"haters of children" may be a bit strong. What if we only don't like 'em?

On “Exceptionality vs Exceptionalism (Comment at S-USIH Blog)

I've been reading Tsong-Ka-Pa's commentary on Nargajuna, so "fundamental" appears to me more as "irreducible", "inherent", or "non-contingent" or even "soul". If we accept a "the sun rises" level of discourse as true, then "fundamental" as "basic to this level of abstraction" is just fine. But then what's the point? why not just say that? "Fundamental exceptionalism" seems to point to some irreducible element, some kind of God given soul that is above mere contingency.

The coastline/ocean/interior analysis is much more clear in its boundaries, says something specific not given to emotional/political vagaries. Of course these virtues are exactly what is being avoided in the phrase.


I find this discussion kinda vague. And maybe this comment covers no new ground, and is in general agreement with this post.

What unites the various beliefs "that the U.S. was unlike other countries is some fundamental way" other than there is something? Can Turner for example be said to be a proponent of the idea if he thought that America might be (ie that it's possible) loosing its "fundamental" exceptionalism? For that matter what's "was" doing in that quote rather than "is"? If it can be lost while life goes on, what does "fundamental" mean?

Every place on earth has exceptional geography. Certainly it's possible to imagine dystopias in which Anarctica has the most awesome geography from which to launch world domination, or at least survival.

Certainly incoherent ideas can be taken as true, and certainly such beliefs can have historical significance. But given the historical variety of what has been meant by AE, I don't find "awesome" to be particularly vulgar or historically unimportant.

On “McCarthy’s unusually actually reasonably conservative conservative foreign policy

It is a good essay. One quibble:

Liberal democracy is unnatural. It is a product of power and security, not innate human sociability. It is peculiar rather than universal, accidental rather than teleologically preordained

The use of "natural" throws things in the wrong direction, as it frequently does. It appears to present a binary of the natural, apparently here this means, human sociability, the universal and teleological, and the unnatural, meaning the specific (ie the contingent), power and security.

If the universal is natural, it must be contingent. Otherwise, like God, it is apart from, beyond, the natural.

In the context of the essay, this may be nit-picking, but in the context of previous discussions here, it seems worthwhile to point out.

On “The Hebraic Heidegger (Another Discussion Not To Be Held)

The question concerning (specifically) Heidegger being read in 1000 yrs raises another question: Read by whom, or more precisely, by what?

Heidegger's faith (rather than pessimism) in the saving power of art is widely dismissed, not even referred to. If this pessimism turns out to be true, then in 1000 yrs the machines will have eaten us, or simply disregarded us creating a world that no longer holds us.

On “one cheer for TNR’s re-re-design

Back to the photos - I recall a TNR guy commenting on your previous post about stock photos ie they used the big black headline box because they mostly used stock photos, so the quality wasn't what it might be, so it's ok you can't see them. This struck me as odd or disingenuous at the time. Why bother with photos at all if they suck vs "this is the best reason I can come up with".

So now I like that they let the viewer see the photo, (stock photo certainly does not equal sucky photo) although the black box headline still looks odd to my eye.

On “Open Thread


Thanks for the heads up. Writing that post really taxed my brain - more so than others for some reason.

Just fixed it.

On “Climate Change vs Moderation

Good start on expanding the theoretical field. When I read Cyborg Socialism a couple of wks ago, I found it pretty discouraging in that I just couldn't get traction on how to approach the whole thing.

Timothy Morton calls CC a "hyprobject" in that one one hand its scale is too large for short term experiential understanding, and on the other, we are completely immersed in it. (So the constant conflation of climate and weather.) This contributes to various forms of inaction.

On “David Bentley Hart as Atheist (On Creative Principle and Creator Principal)

Of course - I was just getting the ball rolling.

So we might consider my questions at least succeeding at crossing the threshold for starting a discussion. Perhaps not the best, or most elegant, but at least adequate.

And if our putative partner in patter is Mr Hart, I think it's reasonable, necessary even, for him to give his account of necessity, because he also attributes choice to God. He attributes it, but does not in the article Lee M linked to, even try to resolve the tension between divine necessity and choice.

And I think we should understand "choice" here as "free will". That is God merely choosing between alternatives doesn't really make sense. The choices of this God must necessarily be radically free willings.

So this God is both eternal and temporal. Hart admirably presents this as a bare concept without an “analogical interval”. So, "what occurs in Jesus of Nazareth is in some sense the story of God becoming the God".

Now I'm fine with appeals to faith in these matters. But again, Scott's question is how Hart and an atheist might discuss these things. Faith pretty much obviates discussion.

Attributing both a bare necessity and a bare free will to God needs, outside of faith, some better explanation for discussion to continue.


Back to the beginning of the post, Scott's question, how would an atheist might begin a discussion with Hart.

Perhaps Buddhism doesn't quite qualify me as either theistic or atheistic. So I might not be the ideal person to respond to Scott's question.

But what strikes me in the quote at the top of this post, and in the article Lee M links to, is the role of necessity. So that's where I would begin such a conversation...Why is God necessary for necessity? Why is necessity necessary?

On “The sanity of Chait’s “complete insanity” (race in contemporary American politics)

Yeah, definitely congrats. Hope things are good on the lily pad. You should hop on by more.


I have nothing of substance to add to this discussion.

Itdoes reminds me of the poem The Comma of God by Milton Kessler, whom both Karen and I studied with. It begins:

I am nothing compared to the Medicaid sneer
I am nothing compared to the owner of the door
I am nothing compared to the elevator of Heidegger

and ends

I am nothing compared to the furnaces of Dresden
I am nothing compared to the last drops of snow
I am nothing compared to a bicycle with wings
I am nothing compared to the comma of God

I don't know what he meant by "the elevator of Heidegger" but somehow it seems apt.

On “2nd Comment on “David Brooks: Better in the original German” (Schmitt and the neo-imperial moment)

Interesting article at Larval Subjects.

Here, then, we see the relevance of Schmitt, perhaps, who has attempted to show how many of the concepts surrounding the modern understanding of sovereignty are, in fact, secularized theological concepts. Part of the project of atheology would thus involve overcoming a certain framework of sovereignty, thereby producing an anarchistic and communistic social framework. The structural isomorphism here is between the sovereign and God, where the sovereign, like God, “decides the exception”. Insofar as the decision of the sovereign– a decision that both decides what circumstances are exceptional and decides whether or not to count the exceptional as belonging –is without ground or ultimate justification, it has the form of a secularized miracle.

On “Economic and Special Warfare Are Also the Health of the State

Nicely done - don't really have anything to add. The neoliberal horizon seems to subsume any alternative.

On “2014.02.20

One thing I didn't see addressed there was whether links send you to another window/tab or not. Your links keep you in the same window - personally I prefer another window especially, as is the case frequently here, I want to go back and forth between the original site and the linked site. Any thoughts on this?

On “2014.02.17

Your dad still got it.

Say hi from me.

On “Discounted Countenance (TNR’s web re-design a year later)

Domus, a site I enjoy, but visit only once in a while employs a similar, but I think more successful version of this strategy. Here, the text box is a similar color to the dominant color of the photograph, is more transparent, and overlays less of the photo.

As a design, I think it accomplishes the tasks Mr McManus specifies, but more successfully. Of course, from TNR's perspective, it has the defect of already being in use.

But just as continuing the design issues discussion a bit, I thought it might be of interest.

On “2014.02.16


But you learn all kind of things trying.


Yeahbut didn't you have to illustrate the proofs with diagrams using se&r?


Geometry was really a HS favorite for me. We also didn't use graph paper - I mean straight edge and compass right? The teacher, first day of class, said he would give an A for the course to anyone who could trisect an angle using straight edge and compass. I tried all year.

But I digress...

Format direction is fine with me...maybe you'll trisect the angle of opinion.

On “Open Thread

Knowing next to nothing about the history of yoga, I'm not that surprised. I'm guessing yoga, the Vedic tradition, derives from some sort of shamanic tradition. I do know that part of the traditional role of shamans was to conduct spiritual war on rival tribes and their shamans.

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