Wednesday, March 15, 2017

First words

Goomba's repertoire has finally extended beyond random objects - shoe ("shoes"), tissue ("shoes"), dog ("doh"), doll ("doh"), fish ("shish"), and blueberries (also, incomprehensibly, "doh") - to include her dear parents, "Da" and "Ma." Ma is a very recent addition, since as of last week, we were both Da. But then she looked at me, pointed, and announced "MA!" A great moment of recognition. Now that she has been duly praised for this attainment though, she won't stop saying Ma! whenever she sees me, which is really quite often.

Ever since "shoes" first emerged in November, I've been wondering why these particular words would be her first ones. What's so special about shoes that they merit being spoken first? We don't talk to her more about shoes than pants, shirts, hats, and coats. Why dog? We don't even have a dog. We have a cat and, while she is always happy to yank his ears and tail when she can get a hold of them, she has no interest in saying his name or identifying his species. Not even the fact that her favorite toy is a stuffed cat has motivated her to master the word. Why? Is there any reason behind any of this?

Monday, March 06, 2017

What's good on the internet

- An unrigorous but still illuminating study of the ideology of Silicon Valley. I think the author is wrong to say that their ideology doesn't amount to individualism because they support redistribution and social welfare. Why do they support them? Because their view of the species is essentially that there are a handful of amazing individuals, and then a vast mass of useless proles who need to be bribed to keep their pitchforks down. In a way, that's even worse than previous American individualist ideas like libertarianism, which attributed to everyone an equal potential to benefit from their regime.

- Busyness as status symbol. One of my students sent me this, suggesting that it as an illustration of our readings about ancient vs. modern conceptions of work and leisure. The children is learning.

- "Nostalgia for now."

- PC culture round-up: the PC advocate psychoanalyzed, and something similar and more substantive from Deresiewicz on PC as religious stand-in. The problem is that everything that's not explicitly religious is a functional religious stand-in according to cultural critics, so the line of attack is always losing its persuasive power. He has some good lines ("The term political correctness, which originated in the 1970s as a form of self-mockery among progressive college students, was a deliberately ironic invocation of Stalinism. By now we’ve lost the irony but kept the Stalinism.") but on the whole, it suffers from the same problems as a lot of other PC criticism. I might have more to say about his essay later, if I find some time between spring break grading to write it.