• Juan Cole, U. Michigan’s infamous Middle East specialist, strikes again

    Prof. Cole, whose regional specialty overlaps with terrorism, ought to know a thing or two about the subject.

    Ought to.

    But doesn’t.

    His latest op-ed, written for The Nation (a small but influential left-wing publication) is entitled:

    Ariana Grande Understands Counterterrorism Better Than Jim Mattis

    Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis said in an interview on Sunday that US strategy toward ISIL has moved from attrition to annihilation. Since 2014, he said, the United States has been making it difficult for them to stay in one place, disrupting them and chasing them out of their strongholds (through airstrikes). Now, he said, the new strategy is to surround them and kill them all, to prevent the foreign fighters from returning home to foment more terrorism. –Juan Cole in The Nation

    The problem with that strategy, says Cole, is that ISIL/ISIS seeks such “polarization.” This leads the hyperbolic Cole to metaphoric self-immolation:

    The strategy of annihilation is sort of like fighting forest fires with gasoline hoses. –Juan Cole

    Cole concludes by strongly endorsing Ariana Grande’s tweet, which favors  “compassion, kindness, love, strength and oneness,” which are “the exact opposite of the heinous intentions” of the Manchester terror bombers.

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    Comments:

    • Ariana Grande’s compassion is wonderful. So is her bravery in returning to Manchester.
    • There are serious debates among counter-terrorism specialists about the right mix of lethal force and incentives, the right balance between restrained rules of engagement and permissive ones
    • But thinking that holding hands in a circle around Mosul, putting “COEXIST” bumper stickers on our drones, and singing “All we are saying is give peace a chance” is not a winning strategy.

    If you think so, then drive through any of these extremist Muslim areas with a bumper sticker that includes a Star of David and a Cross. Drive around Europe or the US with that sticker, no problem. Drive around Saudi Arabia or Iran,no head.

    And slinging mud at Gen. Mattis is disgusting. And it demeans Cole, not Mattis, to say the SecDef knows less about strategy than a pop singer in her early 20s.

    Cole has earned a reputation for vitriolic criticism of the United States and even more vitriolic hatred of Israel. He is a poster child for everything that is wrong with Middle Eastern studies in US universities.

    His latest op-ed burnishes that well-earned reputation.

     

  • How to reduce the number of women physicists in one easy lesson

    Feminist researcher invents ‘intersectional quantum physics’ to fight ‘oppression’ of Newton (College Fix)

    The author, Whitney Stark, does her “physics” at The Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona.

    You probably think of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies primarily as a place where so many great discoveries in modern physics are made.

    That’s certainly true–Nobel laureates clutter the hallways–but the Institute does not limit itself to breakthroughs in the physical sciences.

    They go much further, as Prof. Stark’s work shows.

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    Stark’s “Assembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities,” is being published by Duke University Press’s Minnesota Review (proving a powerful quantum point right there, you can be in Durham, Tuscon, and Minneapolis at the same time).

    Stark identifies Newtonian physics as one of the main culprits behind oppression. “Newtonian physics,” she writes, has “separated beings” based on their “binary and absolute differences.”

    “This structural thinking of individualized separatism with binary and absolute differences as the basis for how the universe works is embedded in many structures of classification,” according to Stark.

    These structures of classification, such as male/female, or living/non-living, are “hierarchical and exploitative” and are thusly “part of the apparatus that enables oppression.” –College Fix

    It’s hard to take human knowledge back, in one swoop, to misunderstandings that Newton cleared up in the mid-1600s, but, hey, Whitney Stark, has done it.

    If she has seen less here, it is because she refuses to stand on the shoulders of giants. Worse, she is determined to smash their clavicles.

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    But Prof. Stark has done more than subtract from the sum of human knowledge.

    She has cut to the quick of modern oppression and so helped train a new generation of physicists. It is a field that needs more women, and Prof. Stark is certainly doing her part.

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    Extensions of this powerful intellectual breakthrough should be easy enough and lead to many more publications.

    After all, the entire field of computer programming is currently built on zeroes and ones.

    Computer scientists are currently working to create true quantum computing that goes beyond 0 and 1.

    But that does not excuse the current binary coding from its cloak of domination and oppression.

    Hey, binary is built right into the name. Need I say more?

    Understanding that should ease the tsunami of female programmers currently swamping Silicon Valley, Austin, and Seattle.

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    What we have here, as Strother Martin famously said in Cool Hand Luke,  is worse than a “failure {pause} to communicate.”

    It is a failure {pause} to think clearly, whatever pig’s blanket of obscurantism you wrap it in.

    Prof. Stark takes a soupçon of the complexity and indeterminacy introduced by modern quantum physics and stirs it into the humanities, which are already drowning in it.

    Then, she waves a magic wand and makes up a mechanism connecting abstract mathematics from the mid-1600s to something she doesn’t like to today.

    Voilà!

    That a peer-reviewed journal at a major university published this is truly wondrous to behold.

    Well done, Whitney. 

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    BONUS for extra fun.

    Here is the actual abstract of the article. I swear it is real. (Link here.)

    In this semimanifesto, I approach how understandings of quantum physics and cyborgian bodies can (or always already do) ally with feminist anti-oppression practices long in use. The idea of the body (whether biological, social, or of work) is not stagnant, and new materialist feminisms help to recognize how multiple phenomena work together to behave in what can become legible at any given moment as a body. By utilizing the materiality of conceptions about connectivity often thought to be merely theoretical, by taking a critical look at the noncentralized and multiple movements of quantum physics, and by dehierarchizing the necessity of linear bodies through time, it becomes possible to reconfigure structures of value, longevity, and subjectivity in ways explicitly aligned with anti-oppression practices and identity politics. Combining intersectionality and quantum physics can provide for differing perspectives on organizing practices long used by marginalized people, for enabling apparatuses that allow for new possibilities of safer spaces, and for practices of accountability. –Whitney Stark, “Assembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities” in the Minnesota Review

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    Hat tip to Tom Elia for finding this gem and to

    Toni Airaksinen for writing the piece in The College Fix

    May the quantum force be with you.