Saturday, January 21, 2017

This Grows Tiresome

A:  What do we want?
A: When do we want 'em?


Counting pronouns in speeches has become a parlor game in the media.  I recall the hospital chaplain gushing, her voice breaking, that Obama had used the word "we," whatever number of times in his inauguration speech. To quote Inigo Montoya "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means." When Obama uses "we," it is in formulations such as We must resist the urge to demonise those who are different...we must guard against fake news...we must get our facts right...we must stop making excuses on the refugee crisis... 

I don't think there is any indication he has ever meant himself in these comments.  Does anyone claim that Obama is confessing his own sins when he talks about demonising those who are different?  If you are a supporter of his, you try and give him the benefit of some doubt that he means "All of us, some more than others, it's a journey, a process."  Is there any evidence of this in any of his other statements, suggesting that he deserves this benefit? 

There is none. He means a plural "you," and especially his opponents. They are the ones who must do x or y going forward.  He's already done it, you see, and so have his supporters. This is confessing the sins of others, a particularly vile form of hypocrisy we have discussed before around CS Lewis's The Dangers Of National Repentance.

The counters tell me that Trump used "I" very little, but "we" and "you" a fair bit.  I'm not entirely sure what he means by the latter two.  In common usage, "we" means something between Well you, actually, with me going along for the ride or Well me, actually, with you going along for the ride.  It is supposed to mean something 50-50, but there is a lot of variation. A lot of mischief can be hidden here. Given his previous speeches, I am thinking that it's not intended to be clear, it just sounds nice.


The common formulation is that being intolerant of Intolerance is different, that it doesn't count. Taken as an abstract, I think that's true. Where it goes wrong is that this is hardly ever the case.  The counter-intolerance expands rapidly to the people themselves and all their hateful tribesmen, and expands along another axis to include disagreements that can be called intolerance, up to and including positions that can be logically defended, but mind-reading suggests that the opponent holds the idea with bad motives.

Apparently there are Motive-O-Meters out there which can be purchased at a reasonable cost and take little or no training to operate.  I can't find them on Amazon.  Maybe certain organisations or institutions hand them out for free.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Off-Limits Humor

Steve Sailer's most recent: Why Trump Won: Obama Shared White House With His Mother-in-Law For Eight Years And No One Dared Joke About It.

First comment
Jokes are funny when they punch “up,” like when you mercilessly mock a white Heartland Dad who makes $40K/yr. They’re not funny when you punch “down,” like when you mock an Affirmative Action hoaxing Harvard Law Professor cum United States Senator.
Think about it for a moment. I had completely forgotten the mother-in-law thing.  Nothing wrong with the arrangement.  But of course it is ripe for humor, as are the president's odd relatives, his basketball court, and a dozen other easy targets. Easy targets. There was some popular humor about Michelle's decision to try and control influence what children ate at school, but nothing from the pros.  And that was about it.

Sailer puts this in the context of a "New Yorker" article complaining about the more evil, coarse humor of Trump, in contrast to the woman's 70's childhood when humor was good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dominic Cummings on Brexit

Dominic Cummings, though he downplays his role, was one of the motive forces behind Brexit. Blogger Lexington Green* over at Chicago Boyz put up The Spectator article How the Brexit Referendum Was Won. Some sections may ring true to readers here.
I’ve learned over the years that ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average. Most educated people are not set up to listen or change their minds about politics, however sensible they are in other fields. But I have also learned that when you say or write something, although it has roughly zero effect on powerful/prestigious people or the immediate course of any ‘debate’, you are throwing seeds into a wind and are often happily surprised. A few years ago I wrote something that was almost entirely ignored in SW1 [A London District] but someone at Harvard I’d never met read it. This ended up having a decisive effect on the referendum.
 And, related to the current discussions in America
Much political analysis revolves around competing simple stories based on one big factor such that, in retrospect, ‘it was always clear that immigration would trump economic interest / Cameron’s negotiation was never going to be enough / there is an unstoppable populist tide’, and so on. Alternatives are quickly thought to have been impossible (even if X argued the exact opposite repeatedly). The big event must have had an equally big single cause. Confirmation bias kicks in and evidence seeming to suggest that what actually happened would happen looms larger. People who are quite wrong quickly persuade themselves they were ‘mostly right’ and ‘had a strong feeling’ unlike, of course, the blind fools around them. Soon our actual history seems like the only way things could have played out. Brexit had to happen. Trump had to win.
Or even better
The branching histories are forgotten and the actual branch taken, often because of some relatively trivial event casting a huge shadow...seems overwhelmingly probable.
I wonder if this is so because journalists, unable to insert their own opinions except indirectly, rely on experts of their choosing in order to have something to write, and "experts" in the social sciences - history, sociology, political science - are largely academics. That is, people who know a great deal, but much that is mere fashion and untrue.

Update:  I hit many other quotes I was tempted to put up, but on a second reading (the article is long, but there is a lot there), this one jumps out
The media made a similar mistake with Trump. Trump did lots of things wrong and the post facto re-branding of his campaign as ‘brilliant’ is very silly. BUT he had a national message the core of which appealed to a big majority and which defied categorisation as Left/Right. Again the media do not realise this – they label it, like Vote Leave, as ‘populist right’ (abetted by some charlatan academics). But the reason why it is successful is exactly because it is not a simple right-wing message.

*Co-author of America 3.0


I now don't pay much attention to the bottom of my sidebar. I use the top as an effective way to go to common sites. HBDchick just had a post after 10 months - to apologise about not posting.  She did give a link to her twitter account, which seems to be pretty active, if one wants to keep up with her material. Unz Review was originally put on solely to link to Steve Sailer after he moved there, but one can't link to him alone.  It is an alt-media site, probably a plurality alt-right, but there's at least two apologists for the communists and their descendants, a slew of writers who believe the Jews are the center of our problems in the Middle East, a small flock of guys with deep demographic concerns, and some genuine unclassifiables. I recommend you go over once in a while to really get outside the mainstream media. I no longer click most of them, having previously established what their monomanias are, but sometimes even the worst of them puts up an intriguing bit worth reading into the third paragraph or so. I make myself fight through some of them, just to hear.

I should edit, I should add.  I probably won't.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Two By Two

My son had a post about the Favorite Albums From Teenage Years trend.  He gave his list, two per year plus also-rans, considering it a point of honor to be honest about this, not padding his resume by pretending he never liked some bands or was an early discoverer of others.

I decided I wasn't going to do it myself, but thoughts kept coming into my head, and once I had put "7th Grade - Mamas and Papas" I couldn't let it go.  This is a purely personal exercise of no value to others.  I think I will predate it to bury it back in the pack, actually. The main criterion is that I played the album incessantly for a time - couldn't get enough of it.  What is interesting is that I had a difficulty narrowing the list to two in the early years, but trouble finding two in the later years. I imagine there is something about the early teen years that lends itself to such obsession.

Looking for reminders, I was hampered by the difference in organising the material:  I remembered the albums by school year, and moved a summer favorite in either direction; online lists are by calendar year.  Also, I didn't necessarily get obsessed with something when it first came out.  I might not have discovered it until later.  Fads came later to NH anyway. Not like those with-it people down in New York.

I listen to very little of anything now, and only when I'm alone.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

SNL Writers Discussion

I've got an idea!  This week, let's make fun of Donald Trump!

Gad, we are so smart here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Anonymous Quote

On Redditt, found over at American Thinker:
Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows - the skits and jokes aren't really funny, but it's fun to look at the pretty girls, and you're all on the same team.

Personal Update

The beginning of retirement has been wonderful for taking long walks in the woods.

I am happy to report that the xrays of my shin/ankle were negative, even though I limped an additional two miles on the injury to get home.  When I awoke this morning it was hard to take any steps. Anti-inflammatories, compression, rest, elevation. Recommendation for some sort of OTC brace, as I will have increased vulnerability even after I heal.

I keep telling everyone: exercise is bad for your health.  Urgent Care is full of people who have been exercising.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Radio Free Thulcandra

In reading the author bio of  Susannah Black for Tim Keller Goes For a Walk at the site "Mere Orthodoxy," I learned that there is a website called Radio Free Thulcandra, which of course intrigued me. It is a sci-fi fanzine with a Christian orientation.  Lelia, James, and Texan99 come to mind immediately. There are probably others here who would like this.