Sunday, March 16, 2014

Links and Brief Comments

A blogger known to all of you has sent along a link to a Gawker article, Bill Gates Is Kind of a Dick. She notes that this may be true for other reasons, but this particular article does not provide evidence for the claim.  I suggest it provides evidence that Gates is interested in solving problems, rather than having the right ideals about them.
Gates' gods are not political, but technical. He worships efficiency and measurability, not ideals.
I have made many accusations about liberals over the years, and sometimes repent of them, having to go back and clarify that I am generalising about very public liberals, and highlighting - perhaps unfairly - certain aspects of their thought and motivation. Then I read something like this and wonder whether I was right the first time.


My son sent along an excellent article Married To Depression. It all seems so easy from the outside, and so impossible from inside.


In discovering Half Man Half Biscuit below, I struck a vein of links about Ambleside, which in turn put me in mind of Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which is set in that region.  It is a book with many flaws, most of which are irrelevant, because of its depth of imagination. It put me on a rabbit trail of The Morrigan, the Thirteen Treasures of Britain, and all manner of northern European folk tales and goddesses. (How I love Wikipedia trails. I have noted ruefully that it has made me obsolete, as folks used to call and ask my wife and I for information they couldn't put their hands on.) Yet just as an example, read this entry on Perchta. There isn't one definitive version of her.  If you slide over a few valleys in Europe, Perchta/Bertha/Holda changes as well.

This holds true for not only the characters, but the stories themselves.  We sometimes read a tale and are suddenly aware that it is partly familiar, and were told a different version of Red Riding Hood or The Green Ribbon when we were young. While it is true that the old tales have been polished and made hard by many retellings, it is also true that each teller adds and emphasizes, and these variants may be ephemeral.  We can't count on some element being important just because it is there.

So too with languages. We blithely refer to Old French, as if there was some standard dialect in 1200 that was pretty consistent and generally understood.  But as the type of cheese changes from valley to valley in France, so too did the language. There was never a moment in time when there was a single Proto-Indo-European that started splitting off into other tongues as people moved away from ground zero of the Urheimat. It was always rather fluid and variable.

We know this, of course, and it's rather obvious when you think of it.  Yet it is easy to forget, because we put stories, and goddesses, and languages into named categories, and store them that way.


I read a Grantland article on the Red Sox by Charles S Pierce. I sent it along to son Ben, who reads far more about sports than I, with the comment It is puzzling to me.  I started out liking the article, but by the time I got to the end I was thoroughly irritated, thinking "what an arrogant prick this guy is."

But I can't tell why.  I have a partial answer, but it's not enough to cover, and the picture of him at the end confirmed it, but I was already irritated at that point.  The partial explanation is that his story of his personal history with the Red Sox has just been done too many times before. It's not only 400 writers, it's that every guy in New England my age has a story like this about Red Sox history and the 1960's.  His is better written than mine would be, or Mike King's or Jon Reckard's or whoever's, but it's not dramatically better.  Who cares, dude?  But that's really not enough to put me off this guy.  I read through the article again looking for clues, but I can't see much.

Ben had thoughts about this, and what I was sensing from afar, but I will let you have your own thoughts first.


Sam L. said...

Oh, NOOOOOOOOOes! Bill Gates ain't Progressive! The Horror! The horror... Or, not the writer's kind of Progressive, which must be mapped point for point with the writer's conception or be...Outcast!

Well, it IS an article in GAWKER, full of sound, some fury, and no meaning.

Retriever said...

I thought the article on a depressed husband was okay, but kept crankily wondering how they could have been so naive for so long....of course, people have been marrying loony Vifginia and Massachusetts cousins in my family for hundreds of years, so we're all quite matter of fact bout mad relatives and what pain in the #$@ it is to have them and/or join their ranks. But seriously, how could you live with someone depressed 18 years and NOT namd it until then?! I'm not trying to be nasty, just puzzled. also, in mh Cliffie bitch incarnation, it has always annoyed me that women take care of and put up with drpressd men, alcoholic mdn, sometimes enblkng thdif illness for years longer than necessary. Whereas wives ate expected to take care of everybody, do if a wife becomes I'll or addicted, she is expected to fix herself right quick, get help or she will be left. Think of Mrs Rochester. So women seek out card, take meds, etc because they know there is less cultural tolerance for them slumping around the place in a funk.

Retriever said...

Excuse fatfingered cellphone typos, above, please.

james said...

Who is this columnist with the authority to say to Gates "So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"?

The singers were outside Wisconsin capital building again this noon, still singing gospel songs reworded for political points.

Jeff said...

I can't read any of Charles Pierce's pieces, even though I read a lot of things on Grantland, and he often writes about topics that interest me. Something about him is just inherently obnoxious; I was never a bully in school, but I feel that if I'd known him, I would have picked on him.

bs king said...

Criticizing another persons giving is a perfect blend of not helping yourself, while also not helping anyone else.

From the perspective of a person in need, you'd prefer Bill Gates give 1% of his income than a regular Joe give 10%.

From the perspective of your own soul, it's only what you give that matters.

Except in a few isolated circumstances (hypocrisy, misrepresentation, etc), calling out another's giving seems pretty awful.

Michael said...

I took "Idiot America" out of the library and read about 1 chapter and realized the "idiot" tag referred mainly to anything coming from a conservative. I shouldn't have been surprise since he drew his paycheck from the Boston Globe at the time. I returned it. As to the Red Sox article, sure, I had the "it could be worse" thought on more than one occasion, but nothing ever made 1986 go down any easier. I think Texas Rangers fans know the feeling from their loss to the Cardinals a couple years back. He also simply accentuates the negative in the 1964 team which featured one of my boyhood heros, Bill Monbouquette winning 20 games, aided substantially by the best reliever in the game, Dick Radatz with a lot of offense coming from Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart. Carl Yastrzemski had yet to evolve into a Boston hero, but he was good and fun to watch throw out baserunners from left field. So, what is really wrong with the article is that Mr. Pierce is really a cynic at heart and he is trying to portray some level of respect for the current version of the Sox, but has to bash along the way. My two cents.