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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Monday, May 29, 2006
NOW, CLASS, WHO CAN TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS? Anyone? You, there, in the back?
Israeli leaders and academics Monday slammed a vote by the largest university and college lecturers' union in Britain in favor of a motion recommending that its members boycott Israeli academics and institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories.

The motion passed with 106 in favor and 71 against. There were 21 abstentions.

The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) debated the proposal for the boycott at its annual conference in the northern English city of Blackpool. Two parts of the motion passed with a show of hands while a third went to a vote. Under the boycott, union members also will not submit articles to Israeli research journals.
Anyone? Anyone?


Yes, that's right: there's no British boycott of that fine and upstanding democratic nation that so honors human rights both in Tibet and at home, China.

Nor of Russia, which displays its fine treatment of human rights in Chechnya.

Nor of, so far as I know (I trust someone will let me know if I'm wrong), of Sudan, which behaves simply splendidly in Sudan.

Nor of Zimbabwe.

Nor of Myanmar/Burma, which we were just talking about.

Nor of that exemplar of human rights, North Korea.

Nor any boycotts over objections to Saudi Arabia's splendid upholding of women's rights.

Boiling people in Uzbekistan? A-ok!

No, clearly the most evil and oppressive country in the world is Israel.

Glad to know that British academia has taken a stand.

Bradley Burston calls it "Lawrence of Arabia Syndrome" and is a tad cutting.
Let us revel this morning in our own righteousness, our self-evident immunity from reproach, our moral stain-repellence, our unerring instinct for the just, our irresistible compulsion to right wrongs and raise the downtrodden.

Let's, just for the moment, be British leftists.


Save us, Britons. Save us from ourselves.

The Mandate never dies. It only changes uniform.
Yes, but they did such a splendid job in the first half of the 20th century: who wouldn't welcome advice from the former occupier? Father knows best!

Read The Rest Scale: if you weren't paying attention before (I was, but figured I'd wait until something happened; it's not like they care about my opinion), now's the time. Yeah, the vote will likely be overturned with the merger next week, but meantime, nice way to send a message that you care, NATFHE.

ADDENDUM, 6/02/06, 8:12 p.m.: Heh.

5/29/2006 08:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 8 comments


I'm a member of the AUT (with whom NATFHE are about to merge, and who have proposed their own boycott of Israeli journals in the recent past), and I rather wish they'd take more notice of China. The college I work at is keen to start offering courses over the internet for students in China - something that's closer to support of the Chinese regime than publishing a few articles in their academic journals.

That having been said, your objections and Bradley Burston's seem a bit generic. They remind me of the objections that right-wingers used to come up with in the 80s, when leftists passed motions about South Africa. Russia was much worse. Why didn't they pass a motion about them? Wasn't it racist for white people to presume that black people needed their help? Grasping at straws, basically.

By Blogger Sam Dodsworth, at Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:55:00 AM  

As you've probably noticed, there are three posts on tehgrauniad's Comment is Free on this already. I'll just claim ignorance of the whole of the Middle East, but of their contributors, Steven Rose is by far the most intellectually impressive. (This does not of course mean that he's right outside his field, but he's the only one I've read a book by.)

By Blogger Backword Dave, at Tuesday, May 30, 2006 9:31:00 AM  

"As you've probably noticed...."

I hadn't, because as of yet, at least, I've not developed a habit of perusing there, though I've read quite a number of posts when linked by others.

I take it you were also referring to this by a Brian Klug (which seemed eminently sensible to me), and this by a David Hirsh (also quite right).

Didn't see one by a Steven Rose until I looked him up by contributor and found this.

"We recognise that this has not been an easy decision faced with the extreme pressure put upon the union by outside forces, including the Israeli government and the organised Israel lobby."

Twaddle by an apparent twat. That's all there is to his post: no argument -- just a bunch of adjectives and self-congratulation. But looking at his other posts, I see he has a consistent history of it. So at least there's that.

Mind, it's hardly as if I oppose criticism of Israel, you know.

I didn't notice a resolution boycotting Palestinian academics until they all renounce terrorism and blowing up children, by the way. Funny, that.

Another particularly odious thing about this resolution is its calls for boycotting of individuals unless they pass some sort of vague McCarthyite test of swearing a loyalty oath to... what, isn't exactly clear, insofar as I understand it. But also consider that even the most passionate Israeli academic campaigner for peace and justice might look at the notion that a bunch of foreigners are demanding that she or he must swear an oath to various foreign-imposed demands before they'll deign to have contact with you -- and yours is the only nation on Earth treated this way -- and it's just possible that they might want to spit in your face, deliver a grand "fuck you," and then go back home and to working for real peace where it matters.

But, no, probably that couldn't happen; completely unlike human nature, such a reaction, eh?

That it would be my reaction is surely atypical. I'm sure the resolution will be very effective. It has nothing to do with feeling self-righteous, and everything to do with actually effecting real change for the better.

But, sure, single out the one Jewish country in the world for this sort of thing; treat no other nation on earth like the Jewish nation.

Couldn't possibly be anything anti-Semitic about that, and it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the huge streak of anti-Semitism that has run through the British left in the last couple of decades or so. Pure idealism at work, clearly. Israel gets treatly uniquely among all the nations of the world because it is, clearly, the most evil. Obviously, if there were a more evil nation, it would be the one treated this way. Q.E.D. Lesson learned.

I'll go with the Klug and the Hirsh. Sorry.

(Now, if you want to call for Hamas to recognize Israel, and for there to then be fair negotiations between Israel and the PA for a mutually agreed upon settlement and border and treaty and peace, and for Palestine to have its capital in East Jerusalem, I'm right with you.)

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 30, 2006 10:12:00 AM  

I see here that in fact Stephen Rose is the instigator of the whole thing.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:26:00 PM  

My own guess is that Israel has come to be the default Country Against Which Leftists Pass Motions because of the support that Israel gets from America. Anti-Americanism is, for obvious reasons, very popular on the left. Criticising Israel encourages anti-semites, of course - just as racists use criticisms of African regimes as 'proof' of African racial inferiority - but I think you're getting cause and effect the wrong way round if you think it's anti-semitism that started leftists passing motions about Israel.

It's hard to take discussions of Israel and anti-semitism very far without starting a flame war, but I do wonder... I think we both agree that some of what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is unacceptable. What, in your opionion, is the right way for someone who is neither Jewish nor Israeli to criticize that conduct? Or is it something to steer clear of entirely, as being too likely to encourage the anti-semites?

By Blogger Sam Dodsworth, at Wednesday, May 31, 2006 7:29:00 AM  

"...I think you're getting cause and effect the wrong way round if you think it's anti-semitism that started leftists passing motions about Israel."

I wasn't trying to suggest that, precisely.

But I'm really not particularly interested in the cause-and-effect, frankly. I'm not, I assure you, trying to insulate Israel from criticism; there are endless highly important criticisms and critiques to be made of many Israeli policies, and they need to be made and must be made.

But I do believe that there are legitimate and illegitimate approaches, just as there are of anything.

I have a post in mind criticizing Israel to do later today, myself, as it happens, if I can get to it (or, if not in the next couple of days, I hope), as regards the course of the wall and the effect.

"I think we both agree that some of what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is unacceptable."

Yes, definitely and unquestionably.

"What, in your opionion, is the right way for someone who is neither Jewish nor Israeli to criticize that conduct?"

In a way that is no different than one would criticize any other country, and not disproportionally to the wrongs Israel is doing compared to both historic wrongs of other countries and the context in today's world of other countries' wrongs. That's about the only way I can put it off the top of my head.

If NATFHE, or the new merged union, were to institute some sort of reasonable system of rating freedom, or democracy, or human rights, or whatever, of countries around the world, and work out some sort of system of different levels of pressuring them in response, fair enough. Israel wouldn't be being unreasonably singled-out in a way that is effectively anti-Semitic (because when you're treating Jews by a standard different from that applied to anyone and everyone else, yeah, that's effectively anti-Semitic, no matter the motive).

But the other aspects of this particular thing bother me greatly, as well, as I mentioned: the completely McCarthyite way it demands that Israelis -- and no other people -- must swear a personal political declaration in order to be treated like any other academic -- that's simply appalling, and and if people can't see it -- if they can't see what they'd think if it were a totalitarian right-wing government making such a demand -- then they're effing blind.

Similarly the focus on how such a declaration must be made in order to root out what Israelis are thinking.

I mean: !!!!!

It's one of the most fucking stupid things I've ever seen so many people do, and it's hard not to kick the British left as a whole, given how popular this idiocy has been (though, of course, fortunately not with all).

I know you guys are drenched on a daily basis with news of Israel's Apartheid Horrors (many exaggerated/slanted, some not), but this approach is still indefensible. And it's impossible to not see it as being about feeling self-satisfied that One Is Doing Something, rather than about merely actually accomplishing anything good beyond personal self-congratulations about one's virtue.

Want to really do good? Move to the Gaza Strip and volunteer. Or to the West Bank. Or to Israel. Or send donations. Or support organizations working for peace. Try to bring Palestinians and Israelis together. Whatever.

But instituting McCarthyite treatment of Israeli academics (almost all of whom are bloody left-wing, for pete's sake!) isn't the way to go.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Wednesday, May 31, 2006 7:45:00 AM  

Thinking about it, I wonder if the problem is that you're trying to advance arguments against this specific action when your real concern is the general tendency in the British Left that this is an example of. (Unless that's what you've been saying all along and I've just been misreading you of course. I am prone to that.)

If NATFHE, or the new merged union, were to institute some sort of reasonable system of rating freedom, or democracy, or human rights, or whatever...

Calling for a rating system is... odd. If it was really going to be fair, you'd have to apply it to every good cause supported by anyone anywhere - otherwise it would function as a barrier. The kind of fairness you're looking for is a too complicated to be reduced to a set of rules, I think.

...when you're treating Jews by a standard different from that applied to anyone and everyone else, yeah, that's effectively anti-Semitic, no matter the motive.

I don't agree. If you're treating Jews differently because they're Jews then that's anti-semitism. If you're treating Jews differently from another stated motive, then that's a reason to suspect anti-semitism, but not sufficient evidence to prove it. This is the basic stuff of discrimination cases.

In the case of the British left, I think there are enough other reasons for Israel becoming the baddy-of-the-moment to make accusations of anti-semitism dubious, at best. I've touched on some of those reasons already: I'd add to them that Israel is a functioning democracy, and that Israel's universities are part of the academic mainstream. (More on that last in a minute.) I do agree, though, that making Israel the baddy-of-the-moment creates a climate in which anti-semitism could take root, and that it's worth keeping an eye on that. Anti-racism and anti-fascism are traditions of the left, but traditions get eroded over time.

...the completely McCarthyite way it demands that Israelis -- and no other people -- must swear a personal political declaration in order to be treated like any other academic -- that's simply appalling
...this approach is still indefensible.
...instituting McCarthyite treatment of Israeli academics (almost all of whom are bloody left-wing, for pete's sake!) isn't the way to go.

Sorry for the slightly odd quoting there, but I want to address a few particular things you say as well as the genral issue of McCarthyism.

First off: I am prepared to defend their approach. It's not what I would have done, but I think there's a plausible reading of the motion that's neither evil nor amazingly stupid.

Second: a union is not a government, and it acts in a different context. Insofar as NATFHE members are part of international academic community (which may, admittedly, not be very far - I think they're giving themselves airs), this is better interpreted as shunning: a social sanction that takes place within the community. Social sanctions can still be oppression, of course, but there's a significant difference between "all citizens must sign the Loyalty Pledge" and "we're not talking to you until you admit you're wrong".

Third, I think the fact that most Israeli academics are left-wing is exactly the point. I read this as a wake-up call to fellow leftists who are, in the opinion of NATFHE, tacitly complicit in the oppressive practicises of the Israeli government. I would be prepared to argue that they're being high-handed and provincial in their assumptions, but I'd characterize that as 'silly' rather than 'indefensible'. And, obviously, the reason they're singling out Israeli academics is that only Israeli academics are citizens of Israel.

As for why they're passing motions about Israel at all... The cynical answer is that it makes them feel important and it's easier than campaigning for better pay and conditions for their members. The only slightly less cynical answer is that passing motions on international affairs is a ritual affirmation of their commitment to international socialism. The important question though - and this is where we potentially disagree - is if they're doing even a little more good than harm by passing this motion.

By Blogger Sam Dodsworth, at Friday, June 02, 2006 4:01:00 AM  

"...I wonder if the problem is that you're trying to advance arguments against this specific action when your real concern is the general tendency in the British Left that this is an example of."

I don't think so. It seems to me that this particular type of action is particularly repellent, for the reasons I've described (as have many others, of course, though largely in parallel; I came to my conclusions before I went out and noted that, inevitably, innumerable others had noticed the same objectionable points): a) the absurdity of picking only on Israel, which is hardly the most offensive country on human rights in the world -- not even close; b) the offensiveness of demanding personal political declarations from individuals; c) the evil nature of demanding people correct what they think.

"Calling for a rating system is... odd."

Don't see why; it's what one would do if one genuinely cared about human rights, rather than about being fashionably anti-Israel.

"The kind of fairness you're looking for is a too complicated to be reduced to a set of rules, I think."

Gee, ya think? Funny, that. Actually, systems could probably be worked out, but, yes, they'd be complicated. If that's a problem, well, yes, being reasonable and fair and appropriate has its complications. It's easy to simply be absurd and unfair and arbitrary, on the other hand.

"If you're treating Jews differently because they're Jews then that's anti-semitism. If you're treating Jews differently from another stated motive,"

I'm really not very interested in motives. I'm not here to look into people's souls or hearts, or mindread them, and I'm usually only going to be guessing about motives, in any case, so largely I don't worry about them. I don't care if these people are anti-Semitic in motive, I care that they're being anti-Semitic in effect. And I think that's undeniable, when you treat the one Jewish state absurdly differently and disproportionately from all other states. It's hardly as if Israel, for all its wrongs as regards Palestinians, acts as badly as China does regarding Tibet and its other minorities, let alone Russia in Chechnya, etc., etc.

"Anti-racism and anti-fascism are traditions of the left, but traditions get eroded over time."

The tradition of leftist solidarity with Israel eroded away a few decades ago.

"Second: a union is not a government, and it acts in a different context."

You may want to read up more on McCarthyism: it was largely a private movement. All the blacklists, the "Red Channels" publication, etc., were private movements, done by unions and private associations and companies: they weren't government-mandated. No one on the left remotely found that a defense or defensible.

"I read this as a wake-up call to fellow leftists who are, in the opinion of NATFHE, tacitly complicit in the oppressive practicises of the Israeli government."

That's too fucking ignorant of Israeli academics for words.

Also, again, the paternalism is outrageous. Were I an Israeli, I'd say "piss off and take care of your own problems." If others in the world organized a boycott of British academics unless they signed a personal pledge to do more to fight racism and anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic and ant-gay sentiment, you'd probably think that ridiculous, and that Britain was working to deal with such problems. Israel has more serious issues, but it's hardly as if it's not also working on them, as well. Not fast enough for your satisfaction? Fair enough; so also do many Israelis think, and I'd like more speed, too; but boycotting individuals is an absurd way to try to deal with it. Frustrated you can't do more? Well, I haven't been able to do much about solving Chechnya, either; life doesn't provide easy shortcuts to such things. And attempts to get such shortcuts by punishing irrelevant people unfairly aren't reasonable.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Saturday, June 03, 2006 8:08:00 AM  

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