Thursday, December 03, 2020

Pie Request

I am seeking a milder recipe for mince pie - the non-meat variety.  I am the only one in the family who likes the New England traditional at full strength and would like to make it as one of many for Christmas. Alternatively, a way to cut the mix would also be considered. Done as a custard, perhaps?  In the end I may just cut the listed spices in half and see how that goes.

And I may still end up eating all of it over a two week period myself anyway.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Undeceptions

Many Hasidic stories follow the same form, of asking the follower why he went to a distant place to learn under a particular Rebbe, the implication being that it was a waste of time, only a banality. Yet there is always an answer in such stories, and it is the same answer.

"What did you learn in Vilna?

"I learned that God is sovereign."

"Pssh! Everyone knows that!"

"Everywhere men say it.  But in Vilna, they know it."

When I first taught a course on CS Lewis in the 1990's, I stressed that the most important thing to learn from him is that if a thing is true, we have to follow it, no matter the cost. It was much the same as Lewis himself said, right off in The Screwtape Letters. The thought animates much of his writing. Yet if I were teaching that course now, I would stress instead that Lewis wrote continually about self-deception.  Perhaps he felt he was particularly susceptible to that sin, or that his class, or his nation, or his era was.

"What did you learn from CS Lewis?"

"I learned that I deceive myself."

Pssh! Everyone who has known you for ten minutes knows that!"

"Yes, but now I know it too."

I came to Lewis via Tolkien, but at the time of my conversion in 1975 I don't think I had read anything but the seven Chronicles of Narnia.  I had not thought much about self-deception.  At any rate, nothing I wrote at the time nor any conversation I can recall mentions it. Yet the fantasy fiction of both was an enormous preparation for understanding self-deception, though I did not view it that way at the time. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is notable in that he is a straightforward creature who does not much deceive himself. The dwarves, especially Thorin Oakenshield, do deceive themselves, which very nearly leads to their ruin. The Lord of the Rings, however, enters almost immediately into the theme of self-deceit, and is one of the key themes of the book.  Self-deceit leads to ruin. It is nearly the ruin of Theoden, and is ultimately the complete ruin of Boromir and his father Denethor, of Saruman and Wormtongue, and ultimately of Sauron himself. 

In Narnia, self-deception is at the root of Edmund's treachery before the first story has even much gotten started. Character after character is dangerous almost in exact proportion to his self-deception: Uncle Andrew, Eustace, Rabadash, the dwarves in The Last Battle. Susan shows foreshadowings of her later estrangement from her siblings, and it is self-deception rather than being deceived by others that is at the heart of it.

So I was prepared unawares for the topic before I read The Screwtape Letters very early on in my Jesus people days. To read that there was in his day a witty, urbane society that would be dismissive of Christianity and virtue with only tones of voice, as if the joke had already been made I recognised immediately. I had, in fact been found out. Letter after letter to Wormwood touched on lies he might implant and truths he might keep out of his patient's mind, but mostly advice on how to enlist his patient's own desires in the service of his eventual damnation. In retrospect, much of what I read in Lewis at the time carried that same theme: We are...(gulp) I am deceived because I choose to be.

It recurs often enough that I will have to continue this.  We will see if tomorrow's walk brings any particularly good examples.

Fries

For those who didn't see it at Insty, here is the link to making the original McDonald's fries. I still think they are going to be more magical than they are when I drive through on occasion. The article mentions that they do not hold quite their flavor as before, and need to be eaten almost immediately now.  I am even more aware of this, as finding a spilled fry in the car a day later - which used to be a lesser, but worthwhile nibble on its own account - is now a "why did I bother?" moment.  Unless of course, I eat french fries anywhere else, which causes me to hanker for even a carmat McDonald's fry.

While Sokolof’s victory dealt a blow to the corporation, it wasn’t exactly a win for consumers, either. Exchanging beef tallow for pure vegetable oil in high-temperature frying introduced consumers to a different and arguably worse dietary threat than saturated fats: trans fats, which, as we now know, are a major cause of cardiovascular disease, digestive issues, and weight gain. Despite the best intentions, Sokolof ultimately made a bad problem worse, one that McDonald’s has spent decades trying to fix. They’ve bounced new ingredients in and out of their frying oil to reduce the levels of trans fat, claiming today to have essentially eliminated them from their fries.

I dispute that "best intentions" claim.  There were some good intentions behind Sokolof's crusade, but they weren't best. Best would include keeping up with the nutritional science we had even then. We knew genetics was involved somewhere.  We knew that other oils had different problems. Best would acknowledge that he was making it up as he went along while thundering from his pulpit.  Best would include the admission that he hoped to stop people from eating french fries at all.  We now know that fats are a problem for some diners, but starches are for more of them, and focusing on the beef tallow was a minor issue, straining at gnats while swallowing camels.

I did not work for the chain, but I did work for Howdy Beefburger in the late 60s. Howdy sir, may I help you?  Would you like some crisp hot fries with that? My brother worked for McDonald's, which was always a source of mixed shame and pride in a suburban town. Tangentially, it is that brother who trained me in alertness to that word "best" which I referenced above.  Even now, if I use the word better he will challenge "What do you mean, better?" It is said humorously and can be irritating, but it is nearly always a useful question and I have learned the lesson pretty well at this point.  It hardly needs saying that the word "best" would draw an even more intense, mock-horrified challenge.  Which is fair.  I don't think I have dared use the word in his presence for twenty years.

Three sons and a semi-son worked at McDonalds in the early 2000s, after the Great Fry divide. The two Romanians remembered McDonalds from its magical appearance in Oradea, where they were born but  then lived an hour away. Given the history and economy, it was not a cheap downmarket restaurant but moderately expensive, exciting event.  Clean restrooms - unknown in most of Europe but even more so in Romania. Servers who were polite to you - ditto Europe, Romania. Heat in winter and air-conditioning in summer - ditto Europe, Romania. Consistency - uh, Europe, Romania. But most of all, the flash of America and the outside world.  And beer.  You could get beer at McDonalds in Romania. Which might have made it even more perfect in America, though it does verge into the "What could go wrong?" category.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Veterans Home

The news is worse out of Tilton, NH. After months of no cases, the seal has been broken and they have over 40, with 13 dead.  Most of these guys are pretty old (Joe Bennett, who we visited until recently is 101), but not all.  There are disabled vets in their 60s and even 50s there. Staff have tested positive as well, which means others have to work overtime or otherwise cover for those not there. The cumulative effect of that is enormous.  People can get energised by a short-term emergency and rise to the occasion.  It's source of pride and accomplishment.  I may have stayed at my job so many years because it was a series of daily emergency, which are a rush to fix.  I never liked covering on the longer-term units where the emergencies just silently an softly clubbed you day after day, nothing getting fixed.  Long-term staffing shortages, where no one really cares to hear about it anymore, and you just show up and put your shoulder to the wheel every morning without thanks take a different type of courage.

So spare a prayer for all concerned when you get a moment.

Please Not True

 A Lancet study found that one-in-five of those diagnosed with CoVid "develop" mental illness within the next 90 days.  

In the three months following testing positive for COVID-19, 1 in 5 survivors were recorded as having a first time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia. This was about twice as likely as for other groups of patients in the same period, the researchers said.
We really, really do not want this to be even partly true.  Once kindled, mental health issues tend to recur under later stresses, even if there are periods with few or no symptoms in between. Crises are often labor intensive for medical facilities. 20% is a big number, so that's a lot of extra misery in the world. There have been earlier reports of neurological sequelae to C19, and I remain worried about that. Maybe that is part of what is getting picked up in this study.

With that in mind, let me tell you how it may not be this bad.  Bsking pointed out that the first finding is often the most robust in just about everything. The bigger number jumps out and asks to be studied.  I believe it was Asimov who said that science does not progress by Eureka moments, but by scientists looking at results and muttering "Now, that's strange..."* So you are looking at bits of information culled from electronic records, and there may be three effects that eventually turn out to occur about equally, but whatever one just happened to show up more in the first run gets noticed.  Let's study that.

Next, absent from the list of illnesses are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which would be really frightening. The three conditions listed are among the most over-diagnosed. Nervousness is different than anxiety. The latter is formless, an uneasiness looking for something to attach to, while the former is related to a specific something.  You can be nervous about a job interview, and that's just a response to a life difficulty. People can be sad because they are grieving, but not have depression. However, they look and feel the same in the moment, and in the face of the stressor it may be hard to discern what is up.  Also, if the doctor wants to give you an anxiolytic or an anti-depressant, she might err on the side of puffing up the chart a bit for insurance purposes.  So...particularly if it is early in the course of events, a person might be nervous - you did just get diagnosed with something that might kill you.  Or they might be sad, especially if including the sudden quarantine thoughts of mortality. They might find it harder to sleep.  These might be just the normal responses to bad news.  I said might. My worry is that while some of this is over-reading the situation, some of it is going to turn out to be real.

Just to editorialise slightly, something similar could be up with the economic fallout. If you lose your job you might get "nervous" and "sad" and "lose sleep." If you are talking with a doctor about this it might get called anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It isn't easy to draw clear lines.  In fact, it is often impossible. We are going to find downstream effects of all of this.  Students who graduate into a recession have less career success their entire lives, but we only discover it decades later, in aggregate.  You can't necessarily see that in any individual over the first year. So if a business takes a hit and limps along for a while but two years later goes under it doesn't show up in the statistics for 2020.  If the owner, or one of the people who had the best job she was likely to get for a while gets more and more discouraged and commits suicide two years after that we don't mark it anywhere as being related to the illness or our economic downturn because of it.  It might be years before someone picks up a blip in the numbers and says "The over-55 group who went through the crisis in 2020 developed dementia earlier - or never did get back to full employment - or reported more sleep problems the rest of their lives, or whatever.  When only looking at individuals it's hard to see that, because one might have only been affected 1%, not even noticeable, while his neighbor was affected 30% but it was attributed to other causes.  His business may have been rocky anyway.  His co-existing conditions might be most of the problem, but CoVid took a few years off the end fifteen years later.

*Prazosin is a blood-pressure medication, but guys in the VA system were mentioning "Y'know, doc, I haven't been having nightmares since I started this." Now it is a PTSD med.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Crown of Creation

One of my favorite songs at the time.  Revolutionary Rock, I thought I was one of the true ones. I was just a suburban hippie.


Notes: Jorma Kaukonen was a fabulous guitarist that never quite fit with this.  He was a blues and country guitarist, which does not show much in any of the Airplane's music. He was learning the new acid rock style and seems to be playing fast and fascinating things that don't complement what everyone else is doing that much.  As time went on he kept working with some of them and it all came together in Hot Tuna.  He still plays now, and in fact is doing weekly quarantine concerts with...

Jack Casaday, an inventive bass player with whom he has played throughout his career in one band or another.

Notice that the 60s style still automatically defaulted to harmony even for revolutionaries who were rejecting everything, as here.

About the Government Categories of Race

I have liked David Bernstein's reasoning on a number of issues.  In this article at Reason, The Government Should Stop Mandating the Use of Race in Medical and Scientific Studies,  he describes some difficulties in using race as a legal category, and relatedly, as a medical and scientific category.

This is very unfortunate, because, in addition to other problems discussed below, the FDA and NIH mandated that the "race variable' be based on the arbitrary (but now standard in American life) racial and ethnic classifications established by the Office of Management and Budget in 1977 for civil rights enforcement purposes. At the time, the OMB warned that the "classifications should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature." This did not stop the FDA and NIH from institutionalizing them into medical and scientific research….(italics mine)

I would say that race is theoretically still a useful category medically because it does capture some genetic differences in a rough way, and is a counterforce to the preponderance of research being conducted on WEIRD individuals. However, this will wane with every passing year as DNA info, which is much more precise, will become more useful. Also, we are slowly mixing, as all peoples (even Neandertals and Denisovans!) do when in contact with each other.  The speed and extent of this is exaggerated in the popular imagination and even among researchers who should know better.  In a hundred years there will still be people broadly European even in America, the most mixed of countries. Until we have better tools, it is best not to throw away the ones we have. Bernstein disagrees.

Even if at one time race may have been useful as a crude proxy for genetic heterogeneity, as DNA testing has become more available and much less expensive, race is a poor substitute for looking at actual discernible genetic differences between people. "Pooling people in race silos," an editorial in Nature Biotechnology declared, "is akin to zoologists grouping raccoons, tigers, and okapis on the basis that they are all stripey."…
Well, yes and no. Some of our current categories are indeed ridiculous, lumping Indians in with Chinese, or Puerto Ricans in with Argentinians. There are Native tribes that last shared a common ancestor with other natives 15,000 years ago. Those are rather like grouping stripey animals.  Africans have enormous genetic diversity more than the rest of us put together in some ways, though they might look simply "black" to non-Africans. Medical categories purporting to include Africans as a whole will not result in good medicine.  African-Americans, however, are drawn largely from Sub-Saharan West Africa, and the diversity, though still considerable, is reduced, and they are quite different from populations outside of Africa. The different effects noted on the lab results you get from bloodwork are not made up out of nothing, they are the result of real researchers trying to get a handle on what medications tend to work better on blacks from Chicago or Chattanooga.  They will be obsolete, maybe even soon, but for the moment they are real. 

Bernstein, in The Modern American Law of Race, a related paper in progress that he links, is especially disapproving of "laws dictating ethnic and racial categories were designed primarily to assist African Americans overcome the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination" having that clear use expanded into a dozen vaguer meanings.One of my principles on legislation, or trying to fix many problems in general, is that you get about 90% of what you want at first pass, as you solution collects all the low-hanging fruit.  After that it becomes more difficult, and doubling and quadrupling down on government regulation does not necessarily get you very far after that. Remainders may need very different solutions. Those laws were designed to combat legal obstacles forty years ago and were applied to medical and scientific questions because we had nothing better.  Had they been continually updated for scientific reasons, they might be more useful now.  Might.  Theoretically.  But it didn't happen that way and now they should be dismantled, retaining only those bits that can still prove their medical usefulness.

Have I argued out of both sides of my mouth here?  Yes, a fair bit, if one wants to see it that way. The old legal categories are largely but not entirely useless for medical and scientific research now and should no longer be the default. 

There is an argument that all racial categories are entirely artificial, invented by Europeans in the 15th C or so to justify slavery and to "other" entire groups for their own reasons. We preserve those distinctions now because of the oppression those others experienced, until such time as that is no longer an issue. I haven't touched on it here.  Perhaps I should.  It has a bit that can be said in its favor, but mostly it's just er, silly.  It's common now, but comes up against numerous walls when one tries to apply it.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Excess Deaths, Murder Statistics, and Sexual Offenders.

Long sections of my career were spent working with sexual offenders.  The behavior of staff is worth noting. There are rescuers: 

He's developmentally disabled and he mooned some schoolgirls from his bus.  There's no way he belongs on the sex offender list for life.

He was 19 and she was 16 and she has accused other men.

And there are punishers:

After he raped her he knocked her out and tried to set her on fire.

He molested all the girls in that family but only one had the courage to testify against him. 

Versions of these statements had made it into the chart, the hospital's official record of the patient's history, which can be brought into court and used as a reference for expert testimony.  Thankfully, that information cannot in and of itself be submitted as evidence.  Normal rules of evidence apply in court. This is a good thing, because all four of the above statements were false. For example, the man started forcibly raping the neighbor girl when she was 11, she first reported it when she was 16.  No one tried to set anyone on fire in that other case, or even knocked them out. He groped her while she was asleep and the house burned down two years later. People get activated around sex offenders.  They want certain things to be true. I shouldn't say "they."  I should say "we."

Usually the corrective can be fairly low key, with someone saying "I don't think the evidence for that is very good.  I've been doing the psychosocial history/talking with his attorney/going through the old records and I think this got added in.  It seems to come from a neighbor saying 'We always knew something was going on in that house.  I'll bet he molested all those girls.'" But sometimes it has to be a bit harsh, and though I was not a confrontative person by nature* I learned to be, because sometimes you are sitting at a table and have to say. "I have put a note in my official eval that this is not true and previous records claiming it should be ignored.  We have to stop saying this, both formally and here in the team room." Not easy when one of those claims is by your supervisor, who is sitting right there. I have experienced this in reverse as well, of making a statement and having another staff member saying  "That's just a rumor, started by her previous girlfriend while they were divorcing. There's no evidence for it."  It's pretty humiliating, but if you don't want to be part of keeping non- or low-level offenders locked up or dangerous people let out, you try and be a stand-up guy. When something isn't true you can't let that go.

We were overinfluenced by recent events in this.  When we get to the bottom and uncover that the criminal justice system has kept a guy locked up for ten years, came to us, and was gradually given more freedom over the next ten until the halfway house finally set him up in an apartment, and it turns out it was another guy all along, we are altogether too eager to believe the next person proclaiming innocence and let them out more quickly. Which incidentally, still isn't all that quickly. More evidence to never plead Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. We own you for life, then.  Dealing with so many lying, manipulative bastards one yearns for someone to believe, to rescue. Then also, when someone we released six years ago commits a crime we just naturally snap into a more restrictive, even vengeful mode.

****

When discussing violent crime statistics and race, people want very badly for some numbers to be true and some false. It does not always break down neatly, as people will want the numbers to show their favorite theory, such as the presence of fathers, or early intervention, or having a better attorney is the primary driver of the numbers. It shows up in the explanations of the facts. The numbers are higher for young black men fighting because the police want to round them up and get them off the street and they have worse lawyers. But the next person will say Actually, the numbers for young black men are too low, because the police don't give a rat's ass what happens to them and just send them on their way so long as they aren't bothering white people.  Also, it's hard to get witnesses to testify so the police just shrug.  Bring whatever pre-judgement you want, you can undermine what the statistics are. Except, as Steve Sailer pointed out years ago, that all falls apart with homicide.  You have to have an actual body, you can't just say that the police are exaggerating or over-enforcing.  And if you have a body, you have to have an explanation, and if he bled out in the ER from gunshot wounds you can't just make that go away and say it was extreme obesity leading to a heart attack, no matter if he weighed 600 lbs. That was tried in mob cities decades ago, as in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. "He unfortunately died of a heart attack while he was being stabbed." You can make up ways to get around it in order to write a book or make a movie, but 99.9%, you have to have a body to start with, and all else flows from there.  Which is why the homicide statistics for victims is so important.

**** 

I remember my training far less than I should.  We do not generalise in even the most obvious things sometimes.  But occasionally, I remember, and I have been trying to remember throughout the C19 crisis (and more recently, the election accusations from people who voted for Trump and counteraccusations from those who just don't like the guy and tell themselves it's about issues.) We have to be ten times more suspicious of what we hope is true, because that is where we are most likely misled.

All this in mind as I caught wind of a Johns Hopkins report saying there were no excess deaths from C19.  I consider Johns Hopkins to be reputable.  I was interested.

I waited until more info came out, as I do when I have kept my wits about me. We are in a period when studies come out showing that only 4% of the population has been infected, followed by claims that 40% has. Lots of finger pointing and claims of bad faith by the other side. Lyman Stone, who I have referenced before about excess deaths is not kind in discussing the retraction of the JHU study published in their student newspaper.  

Folks, that stupid JHU student newspaper piece has been retracted because it contained numerous blatantly false statements and elementary misreadings if the data. Just because you’re affiliated with JHU doesn’t mean you can’t be innumerate.

Please keep reading at his account. He does not shrink away from using the word "lie."

The reports have been circulating that the study was pulled because it offended the narrative or more mildly, that it was being misused by people who disagreed with the accepted narrative, and this is censorship because they should let science be free and open.  As far as I can tell, the only evidence for this is the beginning of the retraction announcement by the student editors, who then go on to admit that there was a lot wrong with the study itself, not just what people were doing with it. Retractionwatch, a publication I trust, has more of the story. Briand is in a graduate program for Economics, not medicine or disease. It looks like a great learning experience for those student editors.

People should have been alert from the first, because "no" excess deaths would mean that no one has died of CoVid, a position I don't think many take.  True, one could retreat to a position that it only hurried the deaths of 90% of its victims by 2-3 months, and the remainder could be cleaned up by jiggling around the flu statistics or something, but folks, those people died of something, and the people who were there watching them thought it looked like serious stuff, gasping for air while drowning in their own fluids. The CDC is saying at a midpoint 300,000 excess deaths. It's not enough to say "I don't trust 'em."  Find me better numbers.

I think I get why (some) conservatives cry that the balance between economic damage and health risk has been shoved out of whack, or that there has been inordinate focus on some unimportant safety measures. Those are indeed bad things, but they deserve to be argued on their own merits, not with made-up stuff. I even agree with a lot of that. I think a higher level of risk is justified.  I just don't get the drive on a fair number of prominent conservative sites, both the posters and the commenters, to insist that this is all overblown or even a hoax. Argue if you wish that 300,000 is still a small number.  Point out that politicians, prominently Democrats, have been hypocrites about what they allow for themselves versus what they demand of others.  Pound the table that people out there are being complete pricks (I ran into an irritating one myself yesterday). But stop seizing on stuff that tells you what you want to hear and waving it aloft without at least checking behind you to see if there is toilet paper trailing out of your belt. (Your opposition is also doing this.  It is infuriating.  But they have also been doing this your entire life. Don't imitate them.)

Actually, I do get it.  I've seen it on other topics my whole life, and I've even done it myself. I'm yelling at you, but I'm wincing because it's really me.

*I am on some things, but not as many as supposed. I feel guiltier about my cowardices than about my harshness.

  

Wake, Awake, For Night Is Flying

The lower harmony is one of my favorites to sing, but I have a tendency to bellow such things raucously. I thought this gentler version a good corrective for me personally, and allow me to attend to the lyrics.



If you like to read the music and sing along instead you can do so here. 

In the Revelation to John we see that while there is much singing, different groups have different pieces to sing. We will likely all be part of many choirs and ensembles based on out experiences and our roles, the members various in each. We will rejoice both to listen and to sing.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Saying Things Out Loud

"Saying things out loud, it somewhat forces you to think at a more organised level than in your head where it can be jumbled." Terence Tao. (Pulled from an interview video.) It's nice to know that someone about six times smarter than me looks at it the way that I do.  Good comments at the post, also.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Spirit in the Sky

This came up for reasons I will not share.

Despite the mention of Jesus, it is hard to descibe this as a Christian song.  Despite the presence of guitars, it is hard to describe this as guitar playing.  Despite the presence of girls clapping and moving, it is hard to describe this as choreography.



Critical Race Theory

 Quillette has a new article on how Robin DiAngelo gets Foucault wrong. I tend to like something easier and snappier, One Weird Trick that allows you so see through Marx, Hegel, and Foucault. Alas, that is seldom what is offered at Quillette and most other sites discussing the matter. More discipline and hard work is required.

I may have enough of one to pass on to make life easier for you all. Foucault picked up on Marx's idea of ownership of the means of production and generalised it to a more expansive "power." That seems sensible enough, because power comes in many forms, including influence, cultural inertia, and even the subtler structures of how power is allowed to change. So much, you already knew. One could add in Derrida and Paul de Man, though those are usually more prominent in the discussion of "what a stupid bad person you are, thoroughly embedded in the prejudices of your grandfathers, for questioning us at all. It's clearly just resistance, which we know, because we assume it, says very bad things about you personally at the psychological level. And that your income and status depends on it. Have a nice day." But Foucault has held his spot better than they did. DeMan fell as rapidly as Satan from heaven after it was discovered that he had written propaganda for the Nazis. We are now mercifully free off him.

The fatal flaw of Foucault is that his ideas must be close to 100% true or they are not true at all.

The idea of power influencing our perceptions and even those elusive ideas of where our knowledge comes from is not all that alarming.  One can see it long before Foucault, long before Marx, back through Voltaire and Descartes, and even back to Pilate and Solomon in the Bible, and Plato. They all might describe this a bit differently, not in terms of power per se, but of hierarchy or citizenship or anointing, but we can make the mental adjustment quickly. Foucault's prism of power is about the same thing,  Related, anyway. Thus when we start to read his idea (or more likely, about his ideas from others) we find ourselves suspicious that it does seem somewhat reasonable.  We wanted him to be quickly, obviously, and completely wrong, and there he is, saying stuff we grudgingly acknowledge is true. We read on.

We have then passed a break point that we don't fully recognise.  In philosophical discussions and even more especially political discussions we are used to granting that an idea has something to be said for it. Sure, power is part of the picture, I can see that.  Give me some examples of where power is bending the curve, I'll try to adjust. We may not be in full agreement, but we can get closer. It's all a work in progress. Other Post-Modernist theories granted at least a little wiggle-room.  You could go part way down that road and allow yourself to be influenced, and hoped you might influence others in return.  I have long suspected on the basis of my reading that there was not very much wiggle room offered, but I deferred in judgement to liberals who seemed to be moderately reasonable that such things were possible.  They knew these people, worked with them and went to conferences with them and thought you could work with them.  "We can do business together," as Margaret Thatcher said of Mikhail Gorbachev, with whom she strongly disagreed on many matters of grave importance.

Foucault himself never gave the least indication that he felt that way. (I am not that familiar with his work.  Please correct me with something resembling citations if I have gotten this wrong.  My whole premise may be in ruins, but I have gotten in deep enough to risk that.) He was all-or-nothing, and his more recent CRT followers - or Theory in general - do not seem to grant this.

My thought over the last few years, maybe even a decade, had been that Foucault is merely a fundamentalist on this idea.  Bible literalists will likewise declare that those other people who claim to be Christians are not really so.  They haven't been baptised correctly, they don't get Creation right, their women speak in churches. Reasonable Christians work around this, and I thought reasonable post-modernists did as well. While I believe many people who work in academia, and publishing, and conferences for nonprofits still have power and influence and are trying to hold to this vision of postmodernism, that battle has been lost.  They are fighting a rearguard action, convinced, as conservatives still were in the 1960s, that their ultimate reasonableness will eventually prevail and this will blow away, having mildly influenced a generation.

The new generation is actually reading Foucault with some accuracy.  Power is not a method of looking at the structure of society, it is not merely the main method of looking at society, it is the only one. It does not allow for modification. Nice people in churches and those who put rainbow sermons up on their lawn think that they can accomplish much by listening. If it were listening to actual black people, gay people, Hispanics, or women I would merely shrug and praise them for at least acting in good faith.  But that is no longer who they are commanded to listen to.  They can only listen to a selected group of Theory fundamentalists now.

I overstate that, yes.  But not by much anymore. Colleges are obeying the fundamentalists now, issue after issue, as the controversy about the rock at Madison shows. The CRT fundamentalist have no rational argument, yet are winning the day. It's a small thing, but bigger things are coming.  Liberal professors might ask the conservatives they know if any of this looks familiar.