Monday, December 22, 2003
“Death Sentence, The Decay of Public Language”
Author Don Watson has a new book out, the title used as the title for this post, wherein Watson “defends a language he says is being mangled by the globalising forces of obfuscation.” From the review of Watson’s book,
The book charts how “managerial language” has infiltrated the English of politics, business, bureaucracy, education and the arts. The book is about the rise of core strategies and key performance indicators, and the death of clarity and irony and funny old things called verbs. It is about a new language that Watson calls sludge and clag and gruel. Those three blunt words speak to the book’s larger intention. Death Sentence is also a manifesto, the first shots, Watson hopes, in a campaign everyone can join to bring the language back to life.
Here’s the link to the rest of the review.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
A Sunday Afternoon Read
Though in the post immediately below this I have a jab a Richard Dawkins, this article, written by Jack Hardy, titled Memetics How Mind Viruses Influence Our Choices and the Way We Think, explores Dawkins idea of memes, which he published in the book The Selfish Gene. Hardy believes memes have been regarded “too narrowly.”
Via J. Orlin Grabbe.
Still Missing the Main Point
Interesting piece written by Edward Rothstein in the New York Times. The piece is entitled Reason and Faith; Eternally Bound. I, personally, have no argument with Rothstein’s title, and the piece itself, though shallow in thought provoking argument, is an interesting read, considering he quotes Dawkins, whose drum banging to create a new label for atheists, is mere juvenile clique formation. Still, the main point is missed.
The main point to be considered is not that faith is bad, nor reason, but that using either faith, or reason, to coerce individuals to conform to perceived moral standards or behaviors is wrong.
Read the Book
Joshua Zader, who blogs at Mudita Journal, notes and provides a link to an interview with screenwriter James Hart. Hart is evidently working on a new screenplay for Atlas Shrugged. I’ve never viewed any of Rand’s work that has been turned into a film, and I am somewhat hesitant to do so, based on the visualizations created in my mind, as I read Rand’s books. I think it may be possible for a good screenplay to be written and then produced as a film, but I do not think justice could be done to Atlas Shrugged in a film format. Many individuals do not want to think that hard. But that’s just my opinion.
Hart did make one very accurate statement in the linked interview,
We’re on the threshold of what Ayn Rand predicted,” he noted. “Socialism has crept into everything and we’re penalizing the thinkers, the movers and shakers for being successful. In a way, the world that Ayn Rand created in Atlas Shrugged *is* the United States today.
Can’t Find Honest Work
I noticed the article yesterday about Gary Condit suing three tabloids for, as the suit says,
The stories published in The National Enquirer, The Globe and The Star portrayed Condit as a “murderer” and “sexual deviant” and “caused him to be exposed to public hatred, contempt and ridicule ... for things that never happened,” according to the suit filed in Palm Beach, Fla.
Poor Condit, he just can’t seem to line his pockets with any honestly earned dollars. Although Condit did honestly earn the public’s hatred, contempt and ridicule, for dissing his wife in favor of the young Levy.
Update: I couldn’t recall where I had read the quote below when I posted this earlier this morning, but, because I think it is appropriate, I add it now. The quote, from the tome Plutarch’s Lives, is spoken by Aemilius Paulus to Perseus.
Why, unhappy man, do you thus take pains to exonerate fortune of your heaviest charge against her, by conduct that will make it seem that you are not unjustly in calamity, and that it is not your present condition, but your former happiness, that was more than your deserts?
Saturday, December 20, 2003
NYT Editorial Making Sense
A couple of days ago, in a post I titled What if I’m Wearing It?, I commented on France’s Chirac beating the drums to eliminate individuals’ rights to wear clothing that is in keeping with their religious beliefs. This morning I find this NYT editorial that actually takes Chirac to task for this nonsense. The key sentence,
Banning believers from following the discipline of their religions would amount to imposing the view of the state upon them.”
As long as believers’ disciplines do not impinge on my rights, or yours, no harm, no foul.
Friday, December 19, 2003
$$$ Boondoggle $$$
Among taxpayers, though, it was the price tag inspired that the most awe. The project cost was more than double the Panama Canal’s in today’s dollars. Citizens here and nationwide - 60 percent of the tab was federal - wound up paying far more than expected. Revelations about hidden cost overruns angered many, as statewide highway tolls climbed. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is planning a $150 million lawsuit against firms that managed the project.
I guess the lawsuit is supposed to act like a rebate.
From an article on Boston’s Big Dig.”
Looks Like I Won’t Have to Be Concerned with Being Selected as a Juror
Radley Balko provides some links to the latest “nannyisms.” I was interested in the article entitled Trial Lawyers Question Jurors’ ‘Strong Religious Beliefs’. Reading the article, you’ll find that not only are they warning the moneygrubbers about individuals with strong religious beliefs but about individuals with “extreme attitudes about personal responsibility.” They even have a term for this, “personal responsibility bias.” Look for a law to corral this bias soon.
Here’s what happens if you accept personal responsibility and believe others should, if you are selected for a jury pool.
Identified Problems, Wrong Solution
The Washington Times, in an op-ed written by Deborah Simmons, once again reminds us of the failure of public education, with an emphasis on D.C. public schools. The standard litany of failures are displayed within the op-ed, poor student academic scores, ineffective budget management, nothing new. The solution presented, as usual also, is to put control of the schools, and authority, in the mayor’s hands and, magically, things will become, gradually, otay.
The real solution is to put control of the schools back into individuals hands. The parents of the children who attend. Government does not belong in the schools. Parents do.
If Only My Telescope Were This Powerful
I own a small telescope, it’s optics are better than Galileo’s but are no match for the Hubble or the new Spitzer Space Telescope. The photo that accompanies this article is sweet.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
There is an article in tonight’s Grand Rapids Press entitled “Solid proof of crimes by Saddam hard to find.” Unfortunately, no link is available. The article is written by one Farah Stockman, who evidently works for The Boston Globe, as that is the byline, and I cannot find a link for the story there either.
Let me provide you with a few quotes.
“The former Iraqi president’s “deity like status” probably protected him from records of his regime’s abuses.”
From the article,
Despite the fact thta Saddam’s regime meticuously documented its own abuses, Saddam was more prone to issue broad pronouncements than specific orders,...”
“But the lack of documents specifically linking Saddam to the crimes will make it more difficult for prosecutors to hold him personally responsible for the regime’s atrocities,...”
Screw Saddam Hussein and the fucking horse he rode in on. Take him out in the woods and shoot like the dog he is. Bastard.
As for people who spew crap like that quoted above, it’s time for you to grow up. This isn’t make believe.
Not the article I want, but it’ll have to do for now. It’s got experts.
A Perverse Winter Pleasure
Yesterday I had to fire up the old shovel. First time this season. Although we had received accumulating snowfall prior to this, mother nature had done my work for me. But yesterday, with temperatures cold enough for the snow to stick around, I did some shoveling. Twice as a matter of fact. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
I can’t say I’ve always had this attitude. At the age of six, when my Dad first placed a shovel in my hands and said “I want to be able to see the curbs,” I didn’t think much of shoveling snow. Especially after, I thought, I had completed shoveling the driveway and gotten my keister back in the house. Invariably, my Dad would poke his head round the basement stairs and say, “I can’t see the curb.” So back outside I’d go and toil some more. This went on until my folks changed the locks on the doors as a way of letting me know that my shenanigans weren’t going to be tolerated any longer in their home.
After, I like to say, moved out, on my own, I didn’t bother much with shoveling. I’d just run whatever winter beater vehicle I was driving through any snow that had accumulated. If the snow was especially deep, I’d have to make a couple of passes in order to pack it down to a navigable surface. By the end of winter, the drive would be packed like a glacier, and you wouldn’t see the curbs til late Spring.
Later, after joining the Navy, I didn’t have to do much shoveling for five years. Being stationed in Hawaii had some distinct advantages, even beyond not having to shovel snow. But after I got out and returned to Michigan, shoveling needed to be done once again. The funny thing was, I ended up shoveling like my Dad always wanted me to when I was a kid. I always wanted to see the curb.
Now, twenty plus years after getting out of the service, shoveling every winter, I take a perverse pleasure in wielding my shovel. The scrape of the blade on cement, the piles of snow growing each time I shovel and the cold air making my nose run. It’s quite satisfying.
People always ask me why I don’t get a snowblower. I guess it’s because I can’t stand the sound of them, or, because I just enjoy shoveling. It’s kind of mindless work, but with verifiable results. Besides, a snowblower just doesn’t clean the snow from the curb real well, and the exhaust doesn’t go well with a cigar.
A Home for Plagiarists
Does the New York Times run ads for journalists that state one of the requirements for being hired is an ability to falsely claim others work as your own, or, lacking that ability, to conjure quotes? Nicholas Provenzo, at The Rule of Reason, looks at Michele Malkin’s story on this entitled Another Jayson Blair.
This is Logic?
Joan Jacobs Brumberg, writing for the New York Times, opines,
“But new research in the behavioral sciences suggests that we should start to think about violent youths in a different, more logical way. Studies by the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice are finding that the cognitive, emotional and social development of adolescents is incomplete, and that boys well into their late teens have difficulty curbing their impulses, thinking through long-term consequences and — most relevant to Lee Malvo — resisting the influence of others. These problems persist in adolescent behavior, past or present.
While it’s hard to establish exactly when maturity occurs, conflating childhood and adulthood is a relic of Charley Miller’s time. As a country, we need to exempt youthful offenders from capital punishment, just as the Supreme Court excluded the mentally retarded in a recent case. Kentucky’s governor understood this and set matters right. Let’s hope the jury now deciding Lee Malvo’s fate does the same.”
When I read this type of drivel, it calls to mind the many biographies I devoured about the early presidents, statesmen and other personages of the U.S. when I was a lad. Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Kit Carson, George Washington etc. The books, written for young people ages 10 - 15 or so, would provide details of these eminent peoples’ lives; such as they were providing food for the family larder, via hunting, at the age of 12. Or, that at the age of 14 or 15, said biographical individual, was in charge of the family books or some such task of importance. My question is, have people de-evolved so drastically since these times that maturity never is reached and taking responsibility for your actions is nothing more than a rumination for philosophers?
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
What if I’m Wearing It?
The headline reads, Religious clothing generally allowed in U.S. schools. So I doubled checked my dictionary, and based on my research, I’m wondering if the clothing in question, in this case scarves, in French schools, cause immediate conversion, to whatever faith, if an infidel happens to don said article of clothing. Now that’s some powerful faith.
Via Google News.