Kevin Vallier on “Cancel Culture”

Kevin Vallier has an interesting blog post on cancel culture at his blog, Reconciled. Check out the post and the blog itself if you haven’t.

Vallier’s argument is nicely structured, but isn’t, in my view, sound. The first part goes something like this:

  1. For any X, if we cancel X, we (must) reliably know that X deserves it.
  2. But we don’t reliably know that any (given) X deserves it.
  3. Hence we should not cancel.

That argument is a little too neat to capture what Vallier really has in mind, but I think it gets the basic point across. Claim (3) is stronger than what Vallier intends: his point is not that we should never cancel, but that we should rarely cancel. So throw out (3) and replace it with this latter, weaker claim (3*), i.e., “we should rarely cancel.” Continue reading

Looting, Burning, and Blathering

Jason Brennan, prefacing a blog post on looting:

Before I get going, I’d like to remind you that I was writing about police violence and systematic injustice against blacks (and others) in the criminal justice system years ago, before it was cool and on your mind. So when you see me talking about protestors’ excesses, it’s not because I think that’s the most important issue, but because it’s what I find philosophically interesting now.

“Before it was cool and on your mind.” WTF. Whose mind? Continue reading

The Following Citations Comprise Our Sermon

My two latest YouTube videos:

Was Ayn Rand a good writer or a bad one? Find out now using this one weird trick!

And in a follow-up to the above video, I talk about what I forgot to mention there, namely how Ayn Rand’s fiction stands in the tradition of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. With film clips! (Plus the shocking revelation of my shameful drinking problem!!)

NOTE: Because this video contains (fair-use) clips from the 1950 American film Cyrano de Bergerac (which is public-domain in most of the world), it is apparently blocked in France and a number of smaller Francophone countries, most of them French territories. If you’re in one of those countries, well, you still have options; poke around on YouTube for info about tools for unblocking videos like this one. Bonne chance!

You may be asking: why the jump from Episode 7 to Episode 9? What happened to Episode 8? Well, we have ways of dealing with people who ask such questions.

The Incredible Husk

A masochist, as we all know, is a person who gets perverse satisfaction out of the infliction on himself of what he regards as painful. A literary masochist is one whose pain fetish attaches to published pieces of writing. In general, literary masochism manifests itself as the compulsive desire to read and re-read books that one hates, or loves to hate, simply in order to have the perverse pleasure of doing so: some books are so bad that they hurt so good. Continue reading

Pompeo and Circumstance

This morning, I made my third attempt at watching the RNC proceedings. My first was a minute-long foray into Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speech, which ended when I found it impossible to listen to a speech that described Puerto Ricans as immigrants. My second was an attempt to listen to Donald Trump, Jr., aborted about 30 seconds in, after he described a bunch of hapless virus-carrying bats as members of the Chinese Communist Party. This morning, I managed to make it all the way through Mike Pompeo’s speech from Jerusalem–a bittersweet event for me, because as an “ordinary citizen,” like Mike, I too had planned to go to Jerusalem this summer, but couldn’t, when I was mysteriously “struck” by unemployment in the best economy (with the best employment rate) the world has ever seen. Continue reading

South of Heavena

I decided this morning, from the motive of civic duty, to watch a bit of the RNC from last night. I got as far as Kimberly Guilfoyle’s describing her mother as a Puerto Rican immigrant, and I’m like, “OK, that’s enough. ” I’m pretty sure that civic duties are imperfect.

“An unforeseen future nestled somewhere in time.” If only we weren’t heading into it.

At-Will Employment Redux

Back on July 25th, I took issue with Jason Brennan’s claim that

…in general, in legal contracts, even when there is language to the contrary, parties do not acquire the right to unilaterally revise the conditions.

This claim, I argued, is close to the reverse of the truth. Most employment in the US is employment-at-will. In at-will employment arrangements, employers unquestionably do have the right (both de facto and de jure) “to unilaterally revise the conditions” of employment. They often conceal this by having their employees sign what look like (and are called) “contracts.” But the “contract” in question will typically contain language to the effect that the employment arrangement is at-will, implying that the terms are revisable at will.* Continue reading

Election 2020: The Choice is Clear

With Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as running mate, the choice we face this November is now crystal clear. On the one hand, we face Trump-Pence: mass suicide. On the other, Biden-Harris: mass self-degradation. In other words, either we die or we live to take a crap on ourselves another day.

Come on America, this is not a tough choice. Biden-Harris 2020.

Some half-forgotten material to inspire you. Continue reading

No Cheers for Kamala Harris

I went to the doctor yesterday, and had a prostate exam. It’s a really uncomfortable procedure, bordering on painful. You lie there, ass to the doctor. He puts on gloves, then plunges his finger up your ass and twists and turns a bit. Finding nothing in my case, he pronounced me “good to go,” leaving me with a dull ache where, I guess, my prostate is supposed to be.

The blessing about prostate exams is that you only do them once a year, but I’m cursed with having another one scheduled very soon–November 3rd, otherwise known as Election Day. I don’t mean that I have a doctor’s appointment on Election Day. I mean that with Joseph Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as running mate, Election Day has now become the functional equivalent of a prostate exam. Yes, I will vote for Biden-Harris. Yes, they will probably win. And once I commit this act of self-violation, I’ll be “good to go”. The problem is, I’ll be left with a dull ache where, I guess, my soul is supposed to be. Continue reading