Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stephen Fry On Statues



Jump to about 6:30.   Filmed way before the current controversies.

In Support Of Nancy Pelosi

FLG never thought he'd agree with her, but agree with her he does.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guess FLG Won't Be Buying This Book

FLG was considering buying James Poulos' book (because they're both Hoyas, he generally like Poulos, and loves Tocqueville), but after reading this review he decided against it.   It sounds like the prose is what would happen if Hegel wrote for BuzzFeed.

"With the mutability money confers comes commensurability. The more things change, the more things interchange. Money allows us to change like it does by allowing us to exchange - to "reconnect" (as we say) with our unity by participating in a kind of interchangeability that carries, however fleetingly, a sense of import. Our experiences of significant interchange are an inspiring bulwark against the dispiriting experience of our interchangeable insignificance. Without the commensurability of goods and services - in principle, any and all goods and services - access to that experience is imperiled or lost." (p. 132)

In Defense of the Loquacious and Mellifluous

The spread of mass media, the rise of motion pictures, and the popularity of Strunk and White all helped shape the sensibilities we have now.

While FLG can appreciate a well-crafted 200-word sentence, he can only do so every once and while.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bourgeois Virtues

FLG caught wind of this op-ed:

[Bourgeois] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.


And then this response that makes wild and questionable links to the Charlottesville tragedy and then this:
extolling the virtues of white cultural practices of the ‘50s that, if understood within their sociocultural context, stem from the very same malignant logic of hetero-patriarchal, class-based, white supremacy that plagues our country today. These cultural values and logics are steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough i.e. black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.

Uh, okay.   But even the Brookings Institution says more or less the same thing:
Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

FLG eagerly awaits the March Against Fascism And Evil Incarnate down Massachusetts Avenue.  Justice demands that we confront, by any means necessary, the conclusions of Brookings Institution studies to prevent them from being normalized!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Anti-Climatic

** Game of Thrones Spoilers Ahead **

Now the Season 7 is over, FLG is somewhat disappointed with how the season went.   It feels like they are getting bored with the whole thing and trying to tie up loose ends and finish the story as quickly as possible.

FLG wonders if he is alone with being seriously disappointed with how The Wall fell.   For seven seasons, we were told The Wall was 700 feet high and had old, powerful magic in its foundation.  The dead couldn't pass, etc....in the books, there is a plot thread about the mythical Horn of Winter, which can supposedly bring down The Wall.

But after all that The Wall falls in like 30 seconds.   Look, FLG gets it.  It was really cool visually.    And the Night King needed to get a dragon to come up North, kill it, reanimate it, then fly it to The Wall in order to blast it down with crazy blue dragonfire or ice or something.   That's a lot to do.   Okay, point conceded.

But come on...The Wall is huge and massive and ancient and the Night King goes through it like a hot knife through butter?    The Army of the Dead barely even slowed their march.   No battle, trickery, or strategery.  No nothing.   Just fly up, attack with a dragon, keep on going.     That was a lot of build up for almost nothing.   At no point, did anybody in the Night's Watch do a dragon threat assessment?

UPDATE:  Here's a comment from the show runners.


The Wall's kept these things out for 8,000 years, and there's no real reason that it can't keep doing that unless something puts a hole in the wall. There's one thing on the board from the beginning that is now big enough to do that, and that's a dragon. That just started to suggest itself as a logical way forward.

Still not quite satisfactory for FLG. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Thoughts On 2020

FLG will say this.  He, very reluctantly, voted for Hillary Clinton.

He will also say this, the Democrats, since the beginning, have misinterpreted, at the very least, FLG's vote.   Going back to Michael Moore the very next day:


If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don't. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump. The only reason he's president is because of an arcane, insane, 18th-century idea called the Electoral College. Until we change that, we'll continue to have presidents we didn't elect and didn't want.
You live in a country where a majority of citizens have said they believe there's climate change, they believe women should be paid the same as men, they want a debt-free college education, they don't want us invading countries, they want a raise in the minimum wage and they want a single-payer true universal health care system. None of that has changed. We live in a country where the majority agree with the "liberal" position. 

At the time, FLG blew this off as, well, as he does will all things Michael Moore does and says.   But just to be clear, at least in FLG's case, a vote for Hillary should NOT be interpreted as a vote for the most progressive Democratic platform pretty much ever conceived.   It was more along the lines of choosing the turd sandwich instead of the giant douche.

Anyway, long story short, if they run Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or any number of far lefties, FLG's very likely going to vote for Trump, unless he literally starts a nuclear war.

And, again, to be clear, he more or less screams profanities at Trump's image on the Internet and Television almost every day.   It's not like he's happy with Trump by any stretch of the imagination.

Is FLG the marginal voter in an electoral college race?   Perhaps not.   But he is also pretty sure voters like him in Northern Virginia aren't inconsequential either.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

FLG Is Sorry For Repeating Himself

...but he enjoys reading Jacobin, if only because almost every sentence causes him to ask, Holy shit, people think like this?   Where do these people even come from?   Which is a health thing to do sometimes because it force one to revisit their own assumptions.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Who Knew?

FLG had no idea that what was next after changing marriage is that it is between one man and one woman is the changing the definition of what man and what woman means.  He thought the next step would be polygamy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Look What FLG Stumbled Across In His Morning Internet Browsing

A Rehearing for Rousseau by RITA KOGANZON

Canonical authors, it seems, are always on trial. Not only do they face a jury of contemporary readers disinclined to recognize their greatness, but they must re-argue their case with every succeeding generation that charges them with irrelevance. As the arbiters in this tribunal are biased and the prosecutors zealous and unprincipled, a skilled and tenacious advocate can be an extraordinary asset.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Quote of the day II

Eric Hutchinson:
the study of the Classics teaches us something about what it means to be human, both in terms of the ideal of what we would like to be and, at least as importantly, in the much more somber sense of what we all too often are. 

Depressing

FLG has long been interested in getting a salt block, but he never quite knew why and never actually bought one.   After reading this article, that was probably the correct decision.  But here's the depressing thing:

It’s fun, but I’m not sure I can justify the fun. Lot’s wife sits on the counter, giving me salty looks. She’s a hotty, but a high-maintenance one. I turn around and keep walking.

That the link to the wikipedia page was included made FLG depressed.   We're not talking about some obscure story, like Ehud in Judges.  This is Genesis.   This is Sodom and Gomorrah.   Are we at a point where we can no longer assume that people in the US or UK know the story of Lot's wife?

To be clear, FLG isn't lamenting that not everybody is a Jew or Christian, nor saying that people should believe the story.   He's just bummed that shared cultural stores of such power to convey ideas and thoughts are no longer assumed shared.   Will we soon have to provide wikipedia links to explain David and Goliath, having a cross to bear, brother's keeper, and picking up the mantle? 

Quote of the day

Heather Mac Donald:
The authors titled their study “Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect.” A more accurate title would have been: “Language from police body camera footage shows that officers treat all drivers courteously but are more colloquial with young black drivers.”

Isotopic Signatures Of Ancient History

FLG found this interesting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh, Tell Me Again How Trump's Rhetoric Is Too Heated

Here's what North Korea recently said, which frankly is pretty tame for them:
If the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the US is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks

Quote of the day

Conrad Black:
The question of why large numbers of intelligent people have been reduced to babbling idiots by Trump’s presence in the White House will be a matter of great historical curiosity, though I find it a rather hackneyed subject now.

Monday, August 14, 2017

On Charlottesville

FLG was shocked and deeply sadden by what happened in Charlottesville.  This is probably as close to FLG's take as can be:

FLG Doesn't Have Access To Read It

...but laughed at this headline, given his recent post:

How Does That Poll?

FLG continues to read Jacobin despite being ideological opposed to pretty much everything written there, but he finds it useful to read something, think, "Holy shit, people really believe this shit?"   Because it makes him ask himself, wait, they'd probably ask FLG the same thing.  And so he has to ask himself, why does he believe what he believes.

Anyway, FLG read this and wondered...ok, at least there is logical and ideological consistency here, but how would this poll?  Or perhaps more specifically, is this really a politically viable strategy?    He doesn't think so.  And certainly doesn't hope so.  But who knows?  He didn't think and didn't want Trump to win either.

People see Al Gore living a lifestyle that clearly has more of an impact on the world than theirs, and they resent climate change solutions that threaten to make his lifestyle their problem.
[...]
Fortunately for the Left, there’s a simple response to this talking point: reclaim class warfare. The fight against climate change has to be understood as a fight against capitalism. If you leave climate action in the domain of private decision-making, then of course rich people who make decisions to disproportionately pollute are hypocrites when they call for action against climate change. But if you understand climate change as a fight to take personal discretion out of the equation — to abolish private property and place control in the hands of democratic governance — that’s another matter.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Writing

Stephen King wrote an entire book on writing, but FLG decided to read The Gunslinger, first novel in The Dark Tower series, while on vacation, and King included this passage in his foreword explaining why he revised The Gunslinger many years after being published:

Before I close, I should say a word about the younger man who dared to write this book.   That young man had been exposed to far too many writing seminars, and had grown far too used to the ideas those seminars promulgate: that one is writing for other people rather than one's self; that language is more important than story; that ambiguity is to be preferred over clarity and simplicity, which are usually signs of a thick and literal mind.

That last part, the part about preferring ambiguity over clarity and simplicity, resonated with FLG.   His current job involves coaching junior employees on writing, speaking, and presentation.  He's constantly appalled at the average person in his field's facility with language.  It's terrible.   He's seen supposedly professional written documents littered with run-on sentences and passive voice.

A couple of years ago, FLG worked in a job where most of his colleagues were educated at prestigious institutions...Ivies, Duke, University of Chicago, Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics...you get the idea.   Back then, he was shocked when they didn't know who Kronos was or know much about Shakespeare, but the vast majority could write a clear, concise, and coherent sentence.

Currently, most of his co-workers went to Big 10 schools or are former military who completed a degree online.   The vast majority are smart folks who can get stuff done.   Rather than, for example, writing a policy position paper on it, but damn is their writing ever awful.   Rather than a Coke, he's tempted to buy the world a copy of The Elements of Style.

Some of the junior employees appreciate feedback.  In fact, one took a job at an extremely prestigious organization.  Not long after, she wrote to FLG thanking him because she'd been put in charge of reviewing the formal written products her department puts out.  Her writing was that much better than everybody else's there.  (Perhaps reviewing might be the shit job in the department, but she didn't seem to think so.)

Others..not so much.  When FLG explains that fewer words are better...that their primary goals should be clarity first, followed closely by concision, they nod their heads and continue churning out rambling, ambiguous prose.   At one point, FLG took to editing an entire paper to show how he could reduce the length by 30% without losing an ounce of meaning.    (In fact, he thought he improved the clarity with the shorter length.)  'Oh, okay' was the response.

Getting back to the specifics of the passage above.   The thick and literal mind part resonated with FLG because in many cases the root cause of the ambiguous, lengthy prose is the desire to cover their ass, which in turn leads to tons of caveats in the argument.  Very literal and thick minds.   This is different from weaselly ambiguity because they lack the courage to write what they really want to say.   That's a problem as well, but not the literal and thick problem.    The literal and thick problem is when somebody can't write "The Sun is out during the day" without including "except during an eclipse" or "when it's really cloudy and it's there, but behind the clouds" or some such nonsense immaterial to the claim made in the sentence.

FLG fears he sounds like some sort of pedantic asshole.  And maybe he is.  But he steadfastly believes that if everybody wrote more short, concise, and active sentences, the world would be a much improved place.  And if being a pedantic asshole makes that happen, then he'll gladly accept the moniker.

FLG Doesn't Like Trump, But...

the North Korea situation isn't his fault.    Certainly not when taking the long view and not even taking the very short view.   Furthermore, he thinks many of Trump's critics are making themselves look foolish.

Long view -- The North Korean regime is a horrible regime.   Let's just state that at the out set.   More relevant to the discussion, however, is that it has has pursued nuclear weapons for decades, during the watch of presidents from both parties.  (Although, FLG places probably an unreasonably large and possibly unfair amount of blame specifically on Carter, a brilliant and caring man who somehow seems completely devoid of practical wisdom, and these types of statements only add to FLG's level of blame against him.)   They just happened to acquire or will very shortly acquire the capability to launch an ICBM against mainland US during Trump's tenure.   In the long view, any of Trump's actions, inactions, statements, tweets, etc are vanishingly small to the story thus far.    There is a reasonable argument to be made that the North Koreans are merely rational actors trying to use strategic nuclear weapons to deter the US, but, again, FLG sees Trump's presidency as immaterial to getting to where we are now.

Shorter view --  FLG thinks this is a stronger case that Trump is at fault, but ultimately it's still not compelling.   The North Koreans have been making completely irresponsible and outrageous statements for decades, a trend that has seemingly increased since the current leader took power.  FLG sort of understands the concerns of critics who say the US shouldn't use such rhetoric in return.  Too dangerous, might spook the North Koreans.  The only issue is their fear of the US, which this just exacerbates.     FLG thinks this is fundamentally misguided.   Kim Jung Un who in addition to being a horrible tyrant, which nobody refutes, whose regime consistently makes outrageously irresponsible and bellicose statements as a matter of course.  They've threatened to annihilate the US multiple times.   Yet, it's Trump that is somehow irresponsible all of a sudden?   The world has spent too long ignoring this type of language from North Korea.   Apparently, the regime that has been making outrageous threats for so long is unable to withstand the factual claim that the US will fucking wipe the country from the Earth if they loose a nuke at the US or her allies?    And maybe the madman theory will work in reverse to make the North Koreans or, more likely, the Chinese to get scared shitless, take a step back, look around, and say maybe there's something more we can do here.

Is this dangerous?  Yes, FLG is very scared.   But let's be clear here.   The North Korean regime is deadly serious, murderous, and very likely cares fuck all for what happens after any would be fall precipitated by causes either foreign or domestic.   Late night talk show hosts looks, see a jolly, fat guy, and think he's just goofing.   He's not ,and he definitely needs to know the consequences of any disastrous actions he might be thinking of taking.  

FLG thinks Obama's failure to press for robust missile defense might end up being what history views as his biggest mistake.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
You cannot stop terrible people from promoting sound ideas for bad reasons. Liberals who think that ad hominem is a sufficient rebuttal to a policy proposal should first stop to consider the role of Hitler’s Germany in spreading national health insurance programs to the countries they invaded. If you think “But Hitler” does not really constitute a useful argument about universal health coverage, then you should probably not resort to “But Jim Crow” in a disagreement over school funding.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

This Probably Says More About FLG Than Anybody Else

...but he just realized, all things considered, he'd rather have a White House with The Mooch in it than Ben Rhodes, that smug fuckhead.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

While FLG Is On The Subjects Of 80s Videos

Sometimes, randomly, the words "Give me a bottle of anything...and a glazed donut..to go!" pops into his head, and he chuckles to himself.

FLG is currently listening to



Old Skool.
 
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