Humanities going the way of chivalry

Whether you celebrate or bemoan it, we’re all pretty much in agreement that chivalry is dead. As noted here before, feminism is what killed it. Broadly speaking, men and women had an unspoken social contract whereby women were expected to behave in a certain way (chaste, modest, nurturing) and in return expected certain behavior from men (protection, self-sacrifice, gallantry). When women started brazenly flouting their end of the contract, it is hardly fair to expect men to hold up their end. Would you give up your place on a lifeboat for a coarse, vulgar, tattooed lady woman otherkin? You’d be a chump to do so, but PTT has a more technical term.

Another social institution whose death it has become fashionable to celebrate/bemoan is the humanities. Can a parallel between the two deaths be drawn? Was there a social contract of sorts between the the soft, sensuous, nurturing humanities and the patriarchal hard exact STEM sciences? (And was whoever coined the acronym in on the joke?) When humanities ceased to be the study of beautiful art, literature and music and descended into coarse, violent, foul-mouthed grievance fetishism — it became destined to go the way of chivalry.

Mount stupid

A hat tip to Scott Aaronson for re-acquainting me with Mount Stupid. Aaronson was last seen here engaging in the somewhat weasely behavior of walking back his “thrown in prison for life” blog post in the comments section of a different post — yet as of 04-Jun-2017, the original post is still up without so much as a hint that Scott does not, in fact, wish to see men thrown in prison for their private beliefs.

The latest Aaronson post is mostly standard SJW boilerplate and not of interest to us, except for the following bit:

One reads about the historic irony of some American Jews, who are eligible for German citizenship because of grandparents expelled from there, now seeking to move there because they’re terrified about Trump.

PTT will issue a blanket statement: Any American Jew considering moving to Germany because he’s terrified of Trump isn’t merely occupying Mount Stupid. One does not achieve this level of stupid as a lowly amateur; you can only ascend this Everest of stupid with professional Sherpas. Strident Trump derangement compounded with the maladaptive “escape” to Germany (Germany!) is virtuoso. Welcome to the list, Scott.

In other news

You were correct to be more worried about an Isalmic terrorist than a piece of furniture.

Not directly related, but somehow I’m reminded of having it pedantically drilled into me in high school physics that there is no such thing as centrifugal force, only centripetal. It was only in college-level mechanics that the professor casually mentioned the former, and seeing our shocked looks said, “C’mon guys, you knew it was a real force all along”. [Yeah, I know — we also “knew” at age 3 that the earth was flat, so don’t read into this more than is there.]

She’s a bad ass motha functor

Move over, Queen Izabella. Like, literally, move your cishet white ass da fuck over. You’re the rear guard now, and the POCs are more deserving of your position. Sez who? Sez Piper Harron, a “temporary assistant professor” of mathematics at the University of Hawaii. You can check out her blog, theliberatedmathematician. It’s pretty much a run-of-the-mill cargo cult demand, so common among a certain, ahem, demographic (warning, last link NSFW). She also maintains a prolific blog over at AMS (really, AMS, really?), which is actually not entirely devoid of wit.

I liked the blog title itself, as well as some post titles (no, I did not actually read the posts — just scanning the titles provided more than enough masochistic frisson). Hey, Piper — if you’re looking for new post ideas, how about “Intersection/Union” or even the title of this ‘umble post?

Now PTT’s mandate is most emphatically not to engage with various random kooks on the internet. The kooks must have some minimal standing in the intellectual community. Fortunately, we at PTT are pretty adept at sizing up a fellow academic’s standing. This Piper Harron has a PhD in math from Princeton, advised by the Fields medalist Manjul Bhargava. On the other hand, it did take her 10 years and it’s the only thing she ever published (though her CV includes such gems as “survived external and internalized misogyny”, “survived external and internalized racism”,
“grew human in own body”, “created milk with own body to sustain new human”).

Reading between the lines, I would guess the department was either pressured or guilt-tripped into accepting a WOC and when she didn’t get the hint after ten years, it was less of a hassle to just write the thesis for her (certainly for someone of Bhargava’s caliber) than to deal with her histrionics. I cannot know for sure what Dr. Harron’s mathematical contribution was, but judging from her own description of her work (Prologue: “Respected research math is dominated by men of a certain attitude.”) you’re invited to make your own (no doubt biased, racist, cissexist) conclusions.

Update. None of the above is to be construed in any way as the faintest implication of malfeasance on the part of Prof. Bhargava. By “write the thesis for her” we certainly do not literally mean that he did the writing. In math, solving the actual problem is the heart of the work; faithfully transcribing the solution from blackboard to paper is routine (one can even do this without fully understanding the solution!). And again, we have no hard evidence that Piper Harron is not, in fact, a brilliant mathematician whose Princeton PhD thesis is the product of her own original problem-solving prowess. As for soft evidence, Dr. Harron’s writing strongly indicates that she herself doesn’t place all that much value on mathematical problem-solving skills:

If you are on a hiring committee, and you are looking at applicants and you see a stellar white male applicant, think long and hard about whether your department needs another white man. You are not hiring a researching robot who will output papers from a dark closet. You are hiring an educator, a role model, a spokesperson, an advisor, a committee person.

Trifonov understood cultural marxism

Yury Trifonov was a famous (Nobel-caliber) Soviet writer. Consider this post our third installment in the series on Russian classics uncannily anticipating various aspects of modern American culture.

Now you might retort, Of course Trifonov understood Marxism, he lived in it! But let’s give the man his due. In his masterpiece The House on the Embankment, Trifonov describes, among other things, an academic couple. The man teaches something akin to literary criticism and the woman teaches German, and happens to be a native speaker. These people don’t have a subversive or dissident bone in their body. They are true believers, who in full earnestness chide each other over vestigial petite bourgeoisie — over dinner, in the privacy of their home. [I imagine this is exactly how high-brow SJW couples urge each other, even in private, to come clean on their implicit racism.]

Trifonov’s couple’s only transgression is that, with time, they have inevitably transitioned from the vanguard to the rear guard. Playing out the quintessential leftist self-cannibalism paradigm, the fogeys are being hounded out of their academic positions to make room for the newer, more progressive generation. The German teacher tried to protest that her German proficiency is and forever will be far above that of the other teacher — regardless of how many margin notes the latter might scribble in the writings of Engels. To which the powers-that-be respond, “surely you can’t be denying the fact that language is a class phenomenon”! Just change that to “language is a social construct” and the sentiment will not be out of place in any respectable –studies course.

[Logic, however, would be out of place. If both race and gender are social
constructs, and we take a person’s feelings on the latter at face value,
why not on the former? Because shut up, they explained — that’s why.]

Intersectionality

Prof. Ellenberg was last seen here being (mostly) extolled for writing a delightful and useful book. In his latest post, he elevates the notion of intersectionality from its natural habitat of academic feminist jargon to a noble, pristine status of nonlinear operators:

the condition of being queer and disabled isn’t the sum of the condition of being queer and the condition of being disabled, or even some linear combination of those, it’s just its own thing, which draws input from each of those conditions in some more complicated way and which has features of its own particular to the intersection

We’re not 100% sure that Ellenberg is not channeling Alan Sokal‘s
“Transgressing the Boundaries” — but we’ll take our chances.

With apologies to Prof. Ellenberg (and with none whatsoever to the feminist
establishment), we’ll try our hand harmless drudgery:

intersectionality is a rent-seeking multiplayer zero-sum game of who can score the most pokemon grievance points, to be claimed at the bean-counter. In its coalition of the fringes manifestation it got Obama elected twice, but did not work out so well for Hillary.

Unlike the 2-player variant of such games — whose Nash equilibrium is efficiently computable — the multiplayer version is computationally intractable. Perhaps that is why we as a society still haven’t developed a reliable routine for determining the outcomes of intersectional battles.

This intractability is illustrated by the constant uncertainty about which grievance faction will prevail in a given conflict. Gay vs. black? Gays win (better organized, richer, smarter). Trans vs. TERF? The trannies won hands down: a guy really can “shake his hairy nutsack” at your daughter — or pin her on her back in a wrestling competition.

For the most recent example, witness the kerfuffle at Hypatia. There are few things so entertaining as feminist infighting, and say what you will about Sailer, but he sure did call this one.

On the gay vs. trans fault line, a clear winner has yet to emerge. My money is on the trannies, who are already putting lesbians on the defensive for having the temerity to prefer women with vaginas.

However, you can sell a castrated black African slave on your break between stoning a homosexual and beheading a transsexual and still get a get-out-of-jail free card. Can you guess how?

Abortion

I saw it said somewhere that few things are as cringe-worthy as seeing a position you support argued badly. So for the record, this blog is pro-abortion. (Not pro-choice, mind you — pro-abortion.) Still, putting out a children’s book where a kid thanks his parents for aborting his sister is sickening. Thanks for ruining abortion for us, leftists!