I can’t really get enough of Haidt takedowns like this one in the Guardian.

The core irony of The Coddling of the American Mind is that, by opposing identity politics, its authors try to consolidate an identity that does not have to see itself as such. Enjoying the luxury of living free from discrimination and domination, they therefore insist that the crises moving young people to action are all in their heads.

In their safe space of TED talks and thinktanks and think pieces, the genteel crusaders against “political correctness” create their own speech codes. As their constituency shrinks, their cant of progress starts to sound hysterical. The minds they coddle just may be their own.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/20/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind-review

Most of my programming career has been focused on keeping things simple and eschewing premature abstractions summarized aptly by: “duplication is far cheaper than the wrong abstraction”

Existing code exerts a powerful influence. Its very presence argues that it is both correct and necessary. We know that code represents effort expended, and we are very motivated to preserve the value of this effort. And, unfortunately, the sad truth is that the more complicated and incomprehensible the code, i.e. the deeper the investment in creating it, the more we feel pressure to retain it (the “sunk cost fallacy“). It’s as if our unconscious tell us “Goodness, that’s so confusing, it must have taken ages to get right. Surely it’s really, really important. It would be a sin to let all that effort go to waste.”

https://www.sandimetz.com/blog/2016/1/20/the-wrong-abstraction

Late arrival to Verrücktes Blut

I was supposed to see this play six years ago. Let’s say better late than never. Seen Wednesday, March 20th at the Maxim Gorki Theater.

It starts off very chaotically with everybody shouting. It is very hard to understand what anybody says. This gets better later on but I still had to peek at the surtitles regularly. I guess I’ve been spoiled by Dutch theaters where they strap microphones to their actors.

The premise is clever and the scene surprisingly light-weight. What follows is a bit too drawn out. The physical acting does not impress and you can only threaten to shoot somebody so many times before you actually have to shoot them. If you don’t, things get a bit dull.

The play itself is badly dated and the various debates have far moved on mostly to become irrelevant. The bits of Schiller that they play have held up much better over the past two centuries than Verrücktes Blut has over the past decade. Schiller also lets the actors in this play show their skills.

There is some Islam-criticism that is supposed to be edgy but misses the point. Additionally, we hit the obligatory ethno-clichés, many of which made me laugh during the wrong moments. Neither manages to be actually cutting. The social engagement on display is there for entertainment only.

The troubles with the kids in the play have only worsened and a new generation is now forced to make their rounds through Germany’s broken school system. Nothing about the systemic reasons behind the problems the kids are facing is even mentioned in the play. The situation is unfixable and there is nothing to be done other than ‘acting dumb’.

The actors can’t help the fact that this theater will have to play their break-out hit until the end of days. Especially if it keeps on filling the house. But at some point, it might be good to call the curtains.

Highlights for Pnin

by a huge, active, buoyantly thriving German Department which its Head, Dr. Hagen, smugly called (pronouncing every syllable very distinctly) “a university within a university.”
Pnin, despite his many shortcomings, had about him a disarming, old-fashioned charm which Dr. Hagen, his staunch protector, insisted before morose trustees was a delicate imported article worth paying for in domestic cash.
desuetude
lozenges
It was the world that was absent-minded and it was Pnin whose business it was to set it straight. His life was a constant war with insensate objects that fell apart, or attacked him, or refused to function, or viciously got themselves lost as soon as they entered the sphere of his existence.
shadowgraph
Therefore he preferred reading his lectures, his gaze glued to his text, in a slow, monotonous baritone that seemed to climb one of those interminable flights of stairs used by people who dread elevators.
cerebration
anent
He never attempted to sleep on his left side, even in those dismal hours of the night when the insomniac longs for a third side after trying the two he has.
Still more oppressive was his tussle with the wallpaper. He had always been able to see that in the vertical plane a combination made up of three different clusters of purple flowers and seven different oak leaves was repeated a number of times with soothing exactitude; but now he was bothered by the undismissable fact that he could not find what system of inclusion and circumscription governed the horizontal recurrence of the pattern;
The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.
surds
amphoric
canthus
Whatever eyes Liza Pnin, now Wind, had, they seemed to reveal their essence, their precious-stone water, only when you evoked them in thought, and then a blank, blind, moist aquamarine blaze shivered and stared as if a spatter of sun and sea had got between your own eyelids.
pharmacopoeial
ovipositing
vernalization
vagitus
“Why not leave their private sorrows to people? Is sorrow not, one asks, the only thing in the world people really possess?”
jocose
Only another Russian could understand the reactionary and Sovietophile blend presented by the pseudo-colorful Komarovs, for whom an ideal Russia consisted of the Red Army, an anointed monarch, collective farms, anthroposophy, the Russian Church and the Hydro-Electric Dam.
Kopffüsslers
cupule
distemper
slattern
“Pity Vladimir Vladimirovich is not here,” remarked Chateau. “He would have told us all about these enchanting insects.”
Literary departments still labored under the impression that Stendhal, Galsworthy, Dreiser, and Mann were great writers.
This did not prevent him from traveling tremendous distances to attend Modern Language conventions, at which he would flaunt his ineptitude as if it were some majestic whim, and parry with great thrusts of healthy lodge humor any attempt to inveigle him into the subtleties of the parley-voo.
poetasters
adumbrations
connubial
calvity
one of those informal gatherings where old-fashioned terrorists, heroic nuns, gifted hedonists, liberals, adventurous young poets, elderly novelists and artists, publishers and publicists, free-minded philosophers and scholars would represent a kind of special knighthood