So, how do you guys think this Alan Houston trade is going to turn out?
Why did I bother? One hour, three sites, and ten rooms later, I swore it off for good.
I forget, when browsing around the political sites and adding comments, that my opponents (and alas, sometimes even my allies) don't rise much above the rule/drool level. I attempt to engage folks I partly or completely disagree with, sometimes chummily, sometimes with asperity. It does not often end well. Adults seldom descend to such obvious mindlessness, but they are frequently just as binary and unable to well, think. Or listen. Or something. Educated adults can disguise this absolutist thinking better, but it's still there.
Somewhere in my bones are the general rules of argument necessary for the high school persuasive essay. When I write, an imaginary intelligent person with a red pen sits over my shoulder and makes notes: Is this what you mean to say? or This doesn't follow. or Weak connection.
The person with the red pen also writes sp and unclear from time to time, but that's a separate problem.
Even people who make their livings with words and ideas, and presumably did well on those persuasive essays at some point in their distant past, make statements that are simply baffling in their poor connection. The writers at the Huffington Post often get picked on for this, and deservedly so. Hoping for another excellent example of prize stupidity from Glenn Greenwald, who produces many, I went over to HuffPo to yank up what he had last written, sure it would suffice. Before I got to Greenwald, however, the first article in the upper left recommended itself to me as a better example. (Greenwald is, BTW, a First Amendment attorney, who one would expect to have some command of what is a reasonable argument. I suspect from his writing that he is instead an expert in what convinces people of his POV, not in what is logical).
Can I just say that again, for those of you like Bethany who skim these things? The. First. Article. How do they do it? Chris Kelly, who I know nothing about, writes
According to a new report in the Journal of Pediatrics, for every hour a day that toddlers watch Baby Einstein, they learn six to eight fewer words than toddlers that don't...I think we're going to spend a lot of time, cleaning up after the Bush Years, correcting things that were glaringly wrong from the start. "Make your baby smart with TV." "Let the extraction industries write their own laws." "Merge the government and the church." "Get the Arabs into democracy by murdering them."Note: Alert readers will rightly point out that I could have hidden a world of mischief in that ellipsis. If you read the essay, however, you will find I have been just. Bush nowhere praises Baby Einstein as a worthy educational product. Kelly writes as if he does.
I also suspect Baby Einstein might not be educationally valuable, but will point out that Kelly's summary of its weakness contains an ambiguity wide enough to drive a truck through. And I don't think that's accidental.
More to the point, however, is his connecting the bad educational idea to George Bush's policies for reasons that your high-school history teacher would have rejected. Mentally take out your red pen, would you please?
Make your baby smart with TV. Red: Is that what the speaker claimed?
Let the extraction industries write their own laws. Red: What are "extraction industries?" How did they write their own laws. Explain.
Merge the government and the church. Red: ??? Give examples. Look up "merge."
Get the Arabs into democracy by murdering them. Red: Do you mean Persians? Define "murder." Illustrate with actual quotes that this was the plan.
Chris Kelly's killer argument:
You know how we should have known it was a shit idea? Because it's really obviously a shit idea.
I don't think Alma Langlois, my English and Journalism teacher, would have given me many points for that reasoning. Her minimum should be ours.