Whatcha reading?

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DVG
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Postby DVG » Tue May 30, 2006 11:10 am

I don't quite see the point of the exercise. By the time the War is a good idea, we are in an alternate universe where Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, used them, was about to use them on us, said as much, and we had elected Gore Vidal president with Chuck Norris as VP. Anything else is simply asking Frank to say what he doesn't believe, and we already have the White House Press Secretary for that.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Tue May 30, 2006 12:24 pm

DVG wrote:I don't quite see the point of the exercise. By the time the War is a good idea, we are in an alternate universe where Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, used them, was about to use them on us, said as much, and we had elected Gore Vidal president with Chuck Norris as VP. Anything else is simply asking Frank to say what he doesn't believe, and we already have the White House Press Secretary for that.



Here's the point. If you can't articulate the case for the other side, then the probability that your own position is weak, insufficiently thought through, and dependent upon its own prejudices, blind spots, and biased sources, is much higher. As is the probability that anytime you actually meet someone whose position is opposite to yours, you'll be talking past him or her, and therefore wasting your time as far as learning anything OR enlightening your opponent.

It is SO much easier to remain convinced your position is unimpregnable, let alone absolutely right, if you pay no attention to the opposition.

The proposed exercise is a hedge against insularity, which is a fault to which too many on the left are just as prone as the worst religious and political fundamentalists.

By the way, whatever the White House Press Secretary says is not necessarily congruent with whatever the average American Bush supporter believes. It's entirely possible that a lot of what keeps Bush afloat, popularly speaking, is so obvious to his supporters that it remains largely unsaid in public. To put it more simply, what gets stated and quoted in and for the press is more often the trees, as opposed to the forest, of faith.

But maybe not. All I'm saying -- and I'm with Eric on this one -- is that I seriously doubt Frank is up to the job of deconstructing the enemy.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

DVG
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Postby DVG » Tue May 30, 2006 12:37 pm

The sound of the jet passing over your head is what is normally referred to as "heavy sarcasm."

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue May 30, 2006 3:33 pm

The proposed exercise is a hedge against insularity, which is a fault to which too many on the left are just as prone as the worst religious and political fundamentalists.

And it also mitigates fanaticism and encourages empathy as well.

It is useful to remember that yelling in a loud voice does not make your argument any more credible or reasonable.

Sadly, it is extremely dispiriting to realize that the left is just as mindless and robotic as the right. Wisdom lies in another direction altogether.



There is plenty of time to read if you TURN OFF THE GODDAMN TV! Ahem...uh...sorry.



I'm currently reading Graham Greene, a novelist whose path I never seemed to ever cross over the years. End of the Affair is a sad beautiful book.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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Eric Martin
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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 30, 2006 5:06 pm

>Here's the point. If you can't articulate the case for the other side, then the probability that your own position is weak, insufficiently thought through, and dependent upon its own prejudices, blind spots, and biased sources, is much higher. <

Thank you, David, well said.

It's not that Frank is wrong, or that I don't agree with him on a few things. But I'm not convinced that he's any less extremist, blinkered, and fanatical then his counterparts on the far right, given his language.

I wasn't expecting Frank to take up the challenge, because I honestly don't think he can. It's an old conversation killer I used to use on fundamentalist Christians..."ok, how about you give me three reasons Jesus and his teachings are harmful to modern society? Can't? Surely you can find one?" They never can.

As for Hitler, everyone's favorite go-to for the Big Evil, just as Alan Dershowitz once said he could defend him, so could I present a case for Adolf as a great leader. You have to know both sides of the river bed to truly get downstream.

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Tue May 30, 2006 5:31 pm

You could present a case for AH, but you wouldn't believe in it, would you? Everyone can make up something they don't believe in, only it's a waste of time no one wants to go through just to get your respect. :shock:

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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 30, 2006 6:35 pm

>Everyone can make up something they don't believe in,<

That's the point, Jan...NOT everyone can. True believers see one side of things, only.

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Postby JohnG » Tue May 30, 2006 7:03 pm

It's entirely possible that a lot of what keeps Bush afloat, popularly speaking, is so obvious to his supporters that it remains largely unsaid in public. To put it more simply, what gets stated and quoted in and for the press is more often the trees, as opposed to the forest, of faith.(David)


David, with all due respect, this is a very nicely made point save for the very last clause. It might explain, for example, the disconnect between the media polling and the actual vote tallies in some areas--the pollsters just don't poll the correct target populations because they can't "see" them.

Are you suggesting, though, that the only reason people would vote for Bush is as an expression of religious faith--expressed as the "values" meme by the after election analysts? I don't think this is enough to explain the 2004 election results, for example, versus 2000.

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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 30, 2006 7:46 pm

I don't remember what Bush's margin was, but it wasn't a lot. So just over half the voters (and that's important...the VOTERS, not the rest of the complainers, the indigent or the disinterested who don't bother) picked Bush.

My guess would be that Bush won because the world is a little scarier after 9/11, and John Kerry just didn't seem to have the panache to kick ass when necessary. Americans like an ass-kicker. Bush comes off as one, someone ready to shoot first if need be, and really, no-one who votes in any significant numbers gives a shit about the economy, or the environment, or civil liberties, or bibles in the schools, or the flag and whether it should be burned or not, or cola machines in kindergarten or handguns or gay rights or porno or UFOs....these are all boutique issues for specialists.

People want to feel safe and think there's a chance they can get rich. In 2004, Bush looked like the man who'd better provide those two things, to those people who didn't feel safe enough and/or want more ready cash. And since there were, and always will be, more of them then us, people like Bush are going to win elections.

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Postby JohnG » Tue May 30, 2006 8:14 pm

Eric Martin wrote:I don't remember what Bush's margin was, but it wasn't a lot.


Some raw numbers:

2004: Bush 62,040,606, or just slightly less than 51%; Kerry 59,028,109, or slightly more than 3 million for Bush

2000:Gore 51,003,926 (48+%); Bush 50,460,110 (47.9%), Nader 2.883 million(2.7%) 543,000 more for Gore

1996: Clinton 47,400,125(49.2%); Dole 39,198,755(40.7); Perot 8.085 million(8.4%)

1992: Clinton 44,909,806(43%);Bush 1 39,104,550(37.4%); Perot 19.7 million(19%)

1988: Bush 1 48.9 million(53.4%);Dukakis 41.8 million(45.6%)

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Watchya reading?

Postby BrianSiano » Tue May 30, 2006 9:06 pm

I just finished Nabokov's _Lolita_ today, and I really regret not reading it when I was twenty, or thirty. Then I'd have a stronger sense of how this book would be very, very different each time I came back to it-- instead of knowing this from my first-time reading this year.

This is one of the most amazing, horrifying, and even moving books I've ever read. I think I'm going to wallow in Nabokov for a while.
"Everything... Everything... Everything gonna be all RIGHT this mornin'..."
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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed May 31, 2006 11:33 am

JohnG wrote:
It's entirely possible that a lot of what keeps Bush afloat, popularly speaking, is so obvious to his supporters that it remains largely unsaid in public. To put it more simply, what gets stated and quoted in and for the press is more often the trees, as opposed to the forest, of faith.(David)


David, with all due respect, this is a very nicely made point save for the very last clause. It might explain, for example, the disconnect between the media polling and the actual vote tallies in some areas--the pollsters just don't poll the correct target populations because they can't "see" them.

Are you suggesting, though, that the only reason people would vote for Bush is as an expression of religious faith--expressed as the "values" meme by the after election analysts? I don't think this is enough to explain the 2004 election results, for example, versus 2000.



Not sure whether you meant "of faith" as the final clause, or something more. But let me say right away that I was using "faith" in the broadest possible sense -- with reference to things believed but that are not subjected to reason, logic, and question -- not specifically religious.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed May 31, 2006 11:36 am

Eric Martin wrote:I don't remember what Bush's margin was, but it wasn't a lot. So just over half the voters (and that's important...the VOTERS, not the rest of the complainers, the indigent or the disinterested who don't bother) picked Bush.

My guess would be that Bush won because the world is a little scarier after 9/11, and John Kerry just didn't seem to have the panache to kick ass when necessary. Americans like an ass-kicker. Bush comes off as one, someone ready to shoot first if need be, and really, no-one who votes in any significant numbers gives a shit about the economy, or the environment, or civil liberties, or bibles in the schools, or the flag and whether it should be burned or not, or cola machines in kindergarten or handguns or gay rights or porno or UFOs....these are all boutique issues for specialists.

People want to feel safe and think there's a chance they can get rich. In 2004, Bush looked like the man who'd better provide those two things, to those people who didn't feel safe enough and/or want more ready cash. And since there were, and always will be, more of them then us, people like Bush are going to win elections.



Sadly, I think that pretty near sums it up.

Except that I would add that I think the knack Bush has for looking comfident and not at all worried, more than "being able to kick ass," is what appealed to many voters.

Candidates who act like they take serious problems seriously make people worried, because that pricks at their ability to ignore bad things that are staring them in the face.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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David Loftus
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Re: Watchya reading?

Postby David Loftus » Wed May 31, 2006 11:39 am

BrianSiano wrote:I just finished Nabokov's _Lolita_ today, and I really regret not reading it when I was twenty, or thirty. Then I'd have a stronger sense of how this book would be very, very different each time I came back to it-- instead of knowing this from my first-time reading this year.

This is one of the most amazing, horrifying, and even moving books I've ever read. I think I'm going to wallow in Nabokov for a while.



I think I've read it three times -- at 20, at 35, and last year when my book group chose it. It gets better every time.

Even if you don't feel like reading the entirety of Brian Boyd's marvelous two-volume bio of Nabokov, do check out the chapter or two devoted to Lolita, which is terrifically illuminating.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Mindtraveller » Wed May 31, 2006 1:24 pm

I'm reading The Alchemist's Apprentice by Jeremy Dronfield. Quite an interesting yarn with clear metaphysical overtones.
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