INTERVIEW WITH JOHN EMERSON.

“spat Gavin” of There could be snakes in here has an interview with frequent LH commenter John Emerson, who has provocative things to say about philosophy, economics, and academia, among other things; I will quote this final bit:

I am not working much. I do plan to put out more collections, but my energy flags. Your interest is a positive factor, believe me. The topics would be Lao Tzu and Chinese philosophy, the rise of Genghis Khan, the origins of Chinese shi poetry (the Cao clan), Populism, and the general philosophical stuff you’ve showed interest in.

…and add my plea for the book on Inner Eurasia promised in the preface to his 2007 collection Substantific Marrow (see this LH review). John has accumulated a unique mix of knowledge about this too little studied region, and I would like to see it on my bookshelf, so if reader interest is a positive factor, here’s another dollop of it.

Comments

  1. marie-lucie says:

    And here is my extra dollop, for what it’s worth.

  2. Barry Freed says:

    And another dollop from this first-time commenter here. I’ve been reading John Emerson for just about those ten years, mostly in comments at Crooked Timber, Yglesias back in the day, Unfogged, Max Sawicky’s old digs IIRC and elsewhere and have always found him one of the most interesting and thought provoking thinker around. I’d have to say that if you gave me dsquared and zizka, as he used to be known, save for one or two blogs, you could keep the rest of the blogosphere, I’d be content.

  3. Barry Freed says:

    And another dollop from this first-time commenter here. I’ve been reading John Emerson for just about those ten years, mostly in comments at Crooked Timber, Yglesias back in the day, Unfogged, Max Sawicky’s old digs IIRC and elsewhere and have always found him one of the most interesting and thought provoking thinker around. I’d have to say that if you gave me dsquared and zizka, as he used to be known, save for one or two blogs, you could keep the rest of the blogosphere, I’d be content.

  4. Barry Freed says:

    Apologies for the double-posting. Let me add that John Emerson’s someone I’d either love to take a course from or to be a couple of beers for, or both.

  5. dagger aleph says:

    I have always said that John (or someone) should collect his best blog comments from over the years and package it as a book of aphorisms.

  6. Throwing in a dollop from over here too.

  7. dearieme says:

    I can’t read the interview because it’s bright on black. Some people are such arseholes.

  8. Do try to be positive, dearie. The author may be shy about his opinions, and so veils them in black. Or perhaps he is targeting a younger, bright-eyed audience who still enjoy peering into mysteries.
    I myself don’t mind being left in the dark – one is spared so much in that way. I rejoice at every unreadable website I encounter, and every unintelligible book – one less thing to deal with !

  9. Tolerance is the tribute that indifference pays to social cohesion.

  10. dearieme says:

    You are a commendably calming influence, Stu.

  11. Dearie – can’t you copy it off and paste it into plain text and turn the type black (or preferred colour)?

  12. dearieme says:

    That occurred to me, Catanea, and then I thought uncalm thoughts about how absurd it would be to go to such trouble: I suppose I adopted a proto-Grumblyist position.

  13. Dearieme, consider yourself lucky. I can’t even access the interview because it’s at xxxblogspot.com and as such blocked in China. Uncalm thoughts are nothing to what I am feeling.

  14. Similarly for Lughat’s blogspot.
    Incidentally, do I detect some kind of favouritism with Languagehat linking to Lughat?

  15. The internet censorship practiced by the Chinese government (and acquiescence in this practice by Google) is not a suitable matter of indifference. Although the legal and mediatic reactions in the West will make small improvements, I think the Chinese people will have to work this one out internally, for and by themselves. That will take a long, long time, and who knows what the outcome will be.
    “Globalization” is a dodgy business. Thank God there are still nation states that can decide to do things their own way. But that applies to China as well as to Western nations.

  16. Incidentally, do I detect some kind of favouritism with Languagehat linking to Lughat?
    I have no lugs in my hat!

  17. What, ye don’t pull your hat doon over your lugs when the wind blows cauld?

  18. Dearieme and all Hattics: The Readability bookmarklet helps a lot with pages like that. Go to the page I linked and drag the “Read Now” button to your browser’s bookmarks bar. Then click on it whenever you want to make a page more easily readable. It deals with bad colors, annoying formats, etc.

  19. John, that readability bookmark(let) is very helpful, in addition to being technically interesting to me because it is so simple. People should take a look at Readability’s FAQ, which answers the questions “What is Readability?” and “What happened to the free version of Readability?”.
    In short: The bookmark is “still free”, and this is what it’s all about:

    We’re turning Readability into a monthly subscription service with a unique twist: the great majority of your fees (70%) will go directly to the writers and publishers you enjoy. We’re tethering a small, passive transaction to the reading decisions you make through the platform. You can even publicly share the top domains you’re enjoying through Readability. It’s a new type of badge: “I support these writers & publishers.”

    In other words, this is another scheme to keep track of where you go with your browser. You’ll have to decide if you want to live with that. It seems reasonable enough to me.
    The make-it-more-readable feature appears to work as follows (I’ve inspected the page sources, but am not a javascript expert):
    1. Let’s say you are positioned on some web page x.com in your browser. That is, the “page frame” showing the contents of that page is in the foreground of your browser.
    2. You click on the “read now” bookmark. This is a “widget” containing javascript activated by your click.
    3. The bookmark javascript is called with the “x.com” address, causing the browser to redirect to another piece of javascript at blog.readability.com. This other javascript technically reads the HTML page at “x.com” (the stuff which was originally hard to visually read). It then converts that into a “more readable” HTML page at blog.readability.com, which is then the final address at which your browser frame is positioned.

  20. Actually it was inaccurate for me to call Readability “another scheme to keep track of where you go with your browser”. The Readability website takes action only when you click the bookmark widget. Readability does not track anything without your knowledge.

  21. Bathrobe says:

    The internet censorship practiced by the Chinese government (and acquiescence in this practice by Google) is not a suitable matter of indifference.
    Actually, Google doesn’t acquiesce in this practice at all. Google has withdrawn from China and all searches are directed to Google Hong Kong.
    Google (or Google users) are paying for Google’s open defiance of the government: Google services such as Google Search and gmail are now being actively interfered with by the Chinese government. Both are intermittently unavailable — one minute they are ok, the next they are suddenly hard to access. It is very frustrating to hit one of those frequent patches (at least several times an hour and possibly increasing) when you can’t open your email or can’t do a search. The interference is more subtle than an outright block and has been denied by the Chinese government, but it is very noticeable. I doesn’t pay to publicly defy the men in power in this country. (Apart from vindictiveness/exercise of power, one other reason for the block is to turn people off google and encourage them to use local services.)

  22. Actually, Google doesn’t acquiesce in this practice at all. Google has withdrawn from China and all searches are directed to Google Hong Kong.
    Google acquiesced for years until very recently, from 2006 to 2010, despite media-driven public outrage in America and Europe. This was no secret. As reported by the New York Times on January 12, 2010 in the Asia Pacific section:

    Google said Tuesday that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country altogether, citing assaults from hackers on its computer systems and China’s attempts to “limit free speech on the Web.” … Since arriving here in 2006 under an arrangement with the government that purged its Chinese search results of banned topics, Google has come under fire for abetting a system that increasingly restricts what citizens can read online.

    The current Chinese government practice of subtle interference, as you describe it, is commendably sophisticated, on a level with Google’s own subterfuges.

  23. The most recent subterfuge was reported on German television last week. Here is part of a sober article from April 22, 2011 at finanznachrichten.de on the subject:

    A Wall Street Journal article today revealed that Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to the respective companies. They also gather information on Wi-Fi networks near the smartphones and transmit that data to the companies’ databases as well.

    I see no reason to be particularly outraged at such practices. Global companies corrupt absolutely, and their price is eternal vigilance. That’s just the way of the world.

  24. Bathrobe says:

    Well, writing from the relative freedom and comfort of Germany, of course it’s easy to be admirably even-handed about things like this.

  25. Bathrobe says:

    Chinese apologists follow the same line as you, Grumbly. “Everywhere is the same, so why talk about China?” It’s a wonderful copout, and there’s no comeback.

  26. It’s a wonderful copout, and there’s no comeback
    That’s precisely why I called the practices “commendably” sophisticated, Bathrobe. I commend to the attention of liberal intellectuals the fact that these Chinese and Western practices cannot be distinguished on the basis of principle. They are different only in practice, but that makes all the difference. It is why I cherish political particulars (imperfect nation states), and am suspicious of the corresponding universal (one-size-fits-all globalization).

  27. J. W. Brewer says:

    Without wishing to lose the valuable contributions of valued contributors such as bathrobe, shouldn’t our host be vaguely miffed that http://www.languagehat.com is apparently NOT blocked from access in the PRC? It’s like the studied insult embedded in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s description of Earth as “mostly harmless” (which, admittedly, was an upgrade from an earlier edition’s description of simply “harmless”).

  28. At this site the running dogs are active in underground corridors, beneath several feet of bedrock judiciousness, and so are invisible to the Chinese bureaucratic eye.

  29. Bathrobe says:

    Languagehat isn’t hosted at xxxblogspot.com. If it were, it would be blocked, too.
    Interestingly, Financial Times blogs, Wall Street Journal blogs and similar blogs of large respectable media are not blocked. China has realised that it can allow access to Western media sites since they don’t really pose any great threat to its control and allow it to win plaudits from the West for its openness. It’s the little guys they are afraid of.

  30. The mill was known and localised in 1985 as eastern historian pharmacies. , [URL deleted, as were a couple of dozen other such comments - LH]

  31. Bathrobe says:

    cialis seems to be extraordinarily active these days. Has this got anything to do with John’s interview?

  32. I have hardened my heart against these newfangled remedies. Arteriosclerosis is good enough for me.

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