Re: Pinned, Wriggling

1

They sure like Gravel, don't they?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:11 AM
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"Charmingly marginal"


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:13 AM
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They're not nice to Obama, either. Isn't this just a pre-TV excuse to do the same kind of IthinkIthunkathought reporting that they always do about candidates?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:13 AM
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A near-perfect restatement of conventional wisdom repackaged as bonhomie. In other words, not the worst David Brooks has to offer.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:15 AM
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What does it mean to say Thompson's judgment is "salubrious"?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:16 AM
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God, how I hate these fuckers.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:19 AM
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Gawd, are you wrong. Is it unclear to anyone anymore that the Republicans would prefer an HRC nomination, whether because they prefer her as an opponent or as a President with whom to do a deal? "Self-aware and superior"? Jeebus.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:20 AM
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Also, when it comes to Brooks I'd probably look to "The Hollow Men" rather than Prufrock. "Rats' feet over broken glass," perhaps.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:20 AM
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I would like it a lot if it had been done by a blogger. Very good.

Anyone else thing "Candidates in a Box" is a reference to "Dick in a box"?


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:21 AM
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Note also the sheer chutzpah in describing Giuliani as "efficiently groomed."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:21 AM
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Thats just annoyingly clever way to snark at everyone.


Posted by: jamacker | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:22 AM
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A near-perfect restatement of conventional wisdom repackaged as bonhomie. In other words, not the worst David Brooks has to offer.

No, that pretty much is the worst Brooks has to offer, as everyone seems to react--in the best cases--just as you have. It's a shiv with a smile.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:22 AM
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Ogged, I'm curious in what way you view this as "actually pretty good"? Good how? As a concise distillment of pop-media sentiment? I'll grant that, I guess, but wouldn't call it good.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:22 AM
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I can't see this, whatever it is.

With this field, it seems to me you really only need three boxes: `assholes', `lunatics', `no chance'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:24 AM
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It's very enlightening to be told that Joe Biden's language is "Oceanic."

Wait... no it isn't. WTF does that even mean?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:25 AM
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I think it's a difficult exercise to sum things up in a word or two, and most of the judgments about the impressions the candidates make seem about accurate. I thought they were unfair to Gravel and "grumpy but tired" was unfair to Obama, and they're a bit kind to McCain, but generally they get a lot right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:25 AM
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5: That was one of the first things that caught my eye. I still can't imagine what happened, since my first thought, "that word doesn't mean what you think it means, Brooks", can't possibly be true. Even NYT editors and David Brooks have dictionaries, right?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:27 AM
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WTF does that even mean?

Oh, come on, "oceanic" is a great word for Biden. It means that he's grandiloquent and interminable: it seems majestic, but it goes on forever and you never seem to get anywhere.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:28 AM
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This is not the kind of information I want, and it's not the kind of information anyone should have. The media should stop reinforcing their own nonsensical narrative right now, and never do it again. Let people make up their own minds.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:29 AM
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I think the "salubrious" for Thompson is a reference to his hedonism and notorious campaign-trail laziness: he chooses those things that are easy and pleasant for him.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:29 AM
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"grumpy but tired" was unfair to Obama

But they say "Grumpy when tired", which has been a bit of a running joke about Obama as a campaigner. I don't know what it's based upon, but I certainly won't argue it too strongly. Hell, I'd be pissed off and grumpy too when tired and forced to glad-hand.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:29 AM
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Yeah, I get annoyed by inconsistency of vocabulary in things like this. You can't just switch from descriptive to metaphorical without some kind of reason, you dipshits. But I read too much eighteenth-century prose, and the English language has, in fact, changed since then. Now you can do whatever the fuck you want with words and someone will call it insightful.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:30 AM
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but generally they get a lot right

You are admirably stubborn in your love of being wrong, ogged.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:30 AM
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I should stop talking about politics. Nothing good comes of it, and I'll still just be depressed about it all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:32 AM
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20: Hedonism can hardly be considered salubrious.

Though I forget that you're ogged. The man whose breakfasts consist of chicken salad light-on-the-mayo with a whole wheat pita and whose lunches consist of mind-numbing lap swimming.

You probably consider that weekend bowl of wheat germ served with a tall glass of carrot-prune juice to be the dizzy heights of pleasure on this earth.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:32 AM
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Now you can do whatever the fuck you want with words and someone will call it insightful.

Aboogly adda da, aboogie woo gay yo, fastidiously.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:32 AM
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But they say "Grumpy when tired"

Sorry, mistyped. I thought it was unfair not because it's necessarily inaccurate, but because it's much narrower than anyone else gets for "temperament."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:32 AM
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19: Yes. Really, we're one step away from Russert and Matthews skipping the news clips entirely and acting out the campaign themselves with sock puppets and squeaky voices.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:33 AM
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dictionaries

I am unreasonably happy that FedEx brought us a spanking new Shorter OED yesterday. Does that make me a nerd?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:33 AM
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I should stop talking about politics. Nothing good comes of it, and I'll still just be depressed about it all.

Welcome to my world.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:33 AM
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28: That would be a huge improvement.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:33 AM
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I think the "salubrious" for Thompson is a reference to his hedonism and notorious campaign-trail laziness: he chooses those things that are easy and pleasant for him.

But that's weird, isn't it? Doesn't 'salubrious' mean healthful? Is Brooks confusing it with lascivious? Or something like that? 'Lugubrious' isn't like that, but it seems more apt.


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:34 AM
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18: So, it doesn't mean his language is salty and prone to bouts of storminess? Or that it has a dazzling surface but vast, dark, unguessed-at depths?

"Grandiloquent" would be way better, if I didn't come to this blog for the elementary reading level.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:34 AM
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And "salubrious" means Thompson really knows how to buy a smoothie.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:35 AM
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27: That was actually the one that originally jumped out at me most, too.

I think it's a difficult exercise to sum things up in a word or two, and most of the judgments about the impressions the candidates make seem about accurate.

Really this whole thing is more of a tell about the authors and those reacting to it. So now we know that ogged lies somewhere along the continuum from David Brooks to some Telegraph columnist.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:35 AM
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David Brooks is a dumb man pretending to be a smart man pretending to be a dumb man.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:36 AM
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So, it doesn't mean his language is salty and prone to bouts of storminess? Or that it has a dazzling surface but vast, dark, unguessed-at depths?

I think this gets at what's going on: you're not supposed to go from the one word description to knowledge, but from knowledge, through the word, to a chortle.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:37 AM
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Doesn't 'salubrious' mean healthful? Is Brooks confusing it with lascivious? Or something like that?

Hmm, since I thought "salubrious" meant something very similar to "lascivious" until one second ago, maybe he is.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:37 AM
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29: There's no such thing as unreasonably happy in that situation.


I thought it was unfair not because it's necessarily inaccurate, but because it's much narrower than anyone else gets for "temperament."

No argument there. Though for snark purposes rather than accuracy, they went the better route.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:37 AM
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I really ought to be writing, and if I keep commenting today I know this will end up as one of those threads where I keep yelling at some token centrist about how Clinton and the DLC just want to grind up the poor and use them as meal to feed their corporate masters, so I'll check out for now.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:38 AM
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Later, Mike Gravel Stras.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:39 AM
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Oh, and 36 is the most concise description of Brooks's shtick I've seen to date.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:40 AM
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What does "overly complex" communicate that "complex" wouldn't?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:40 AM
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Yes, 36 is brilliant.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:40 AM
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I thought it was funny.

I'm sure I'd care more about the nomination process, maybe enough to quibble over the chart!, if I actually got a vote in it. But I don't, so fuck it.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:41 AM
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Quintessential Brooks. He should have a blog. And only a blog.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:42 AM
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What does "overly complex" communicate that "complex" wouldn't?

A negative connotation?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:42 AM
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If they can't figure out a way to format this so I can look at the whole horizontal expanse of it on my 12 inch screen, I can't imagine how it can be useful.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:43 AM
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12: Actually, I find this Brooks mode -- shiv with a smile, as you suggest -- better than his totally-wrong-on-the-merits-but-unwilling-to-give-an-inch-in-service-of-a-mythical-middle-America-that-only-I (and the ghost of Ronnie Reagan)-can-possibly-understand stuff. But I hear what you're saying: none of it's any good.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:44 AM
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43: Things should be a simple as possible, but no simpler.

36: was exactly right.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:44 AM
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What does "overly complex" communicate that "complex" wouldn't?

A negative connotation?

As in, your attempt at understanding the chart is overly complex.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:44 AM
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What does "overly complex" communicate that "complex" wouldn't?

"Complex" means that figuring it out is worthwhile, "overly complex" means you shouldn't bother.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:44 AM
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pwned by 47


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:45 AM
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36: There you go again. See my comments from the other thread.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:46 AM
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What does "overly complex" communicate that "complex" wouldn't?

A judgment.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:46 AM
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"The journalist concluded LordPalmerton's...language trivial.."

I wonder if the English ever weep at night at what we've done with their language.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:47 AM
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51. better usage:

"Ogged's approach to dating is overly complex"


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:48 AM
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58

Threadjack! Having slaved away, helping on [very big grant] (I am not a PI on it) for [long time] and finally recently sent the damn thing off, I have this question:

Is it a really bad sign career-wise that while I'm glad I don't have to look at it any more, I honestly don't give a rats ass about the content?

Sometimes I hate my life.


Posted by: William H. Taft | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:49 AM
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I saw this and thought it sucked then wondered when someone would blog about how it sucked. Ogged never disappoints.
Imagine them doing a row for the candidates in the last 2 presidential candidates (GWB, Gore, Kerry- in real time, not retrospectively) and you'll see how well it illustrates the media sucking. Which, as an illustration, would actually be pretty good.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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58: It's perfectly normal to feel this way about grants.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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10- Is that actually supposed to be a complement?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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We need a Spaulding Gray porn allusion here to lighten up the thread. "Tentacle monsters in the Farmer's Daughter's Box?"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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Is it a really bad sign career-wise that while I'm glad I don't have to look at it any more, I honestly don't give a rats ass about the content?

Soupy, we've talked about math before.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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The oddest but of the chart was the description of Thompson's voice as "god-like". WTF? There's a fairly standard "voice of god" sound, and it's nothing like Thompson's voice.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:51 AM
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I ban myself.


Posted by: William H. Taft | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:53 AM
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There's a fairly standard "voice of god" sound, and it's nothing like Thompson's voice.

But very much indeed like James Earl Jones' voice, which really makes me wonder what Southern Baptists of the non-Jimmy Carter sort are thinking.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:54 AM
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58: Grant applications aren't about content; they're about sales. And if sales aren't your thing, as they aren't for most academics, then you'll feel icky upon finishing grant writing.

Go for a run and take a shower, you'll feel better.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:54 AM
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I miss Stras. Can someone call him back?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:54 AM
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36 is a pretty common mode of discourse in this town, AFAICT. People are so afraid of being found out as shallow dumbasses when they try to sound smart that they chuck the whole thing and try to sound as stupid as possible, but using big words so everyone will think, "Oh, he's just holding back or being ironic. He's really a genius." Cf. all my grad student peers who talk about nothing but Brangelina and Britney, but using keywords from theoretical texts to do so.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:55 AM
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58: Seriously? That's pretty much how I feel about every major piece of work I produce in the immediate aftermath of getting it out the door. Later I start caring about the content again, but at that point all I care about is that it's done.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:56 AM
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Media -- destructive force -- not just not informational, but worse than nothing


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:57 AM
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72

The fifteen words that end in -'brious':

1 celebrious, a.
2 ebrious, a.
3 equilibrious, a.
4 fimbrious, a.
5 funebrious, a.
6 inebrious, a.
7 insalubrious, a.
8 ludibrious, a.
9 lugubrious, a.
10 muliebrious, a.
11 opprobrious, adj. and adv.
12 reprobrious, a.
13 salubrious, a.
14 tenebrious, a.
15 unsalubrious, a.

Which of these properly apply to Thompson's judgment?


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:58 AM
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I think it's a difficult exercise to sum things up in a word or two, and most of the judgments about the impressions the candidates make seem about accurate.

Accurate to whom? In what way is 'silky' a good descriptor of Obama? How is 'oceanic' appropriate for 'clean and articulate' Biden?

I'm not sure whether it reads more like a sixth-grade slam book or a pop psychology word association test, but either way I wish we had a better press corps that did something besides try to get the cool kids to like them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:01 PM
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67: < unban> Yeah. I guess what I'm saying is I really don't know if I can keep doing this every couple of years. It's all political, tactical, nonsense. Sometimes I find myself not giving a shit even about the good parts of this game. Burnout, I guess (hope?). </unban>


Posted by: William H. Taft | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:01 PM
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all political, tactical, nonsense

Aka life.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:04 PM
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72: "Celebrious" is the obvious choice.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:05 PM
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36 was laugh-out-loud brilliant, or LOLB, ATKS, AWB.

The one time I want the New York Times to define a word when I click on it, and it fails. What does "Thomistic" mean? Is it like "Jesuitical"?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:07 PM
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74: There's no worse moment in the game (comparing what we do to the drug trade in The Wire?) than finishing a grant. But really, the dirty secret is that finishing any major piece of work can be pretty damn discouraging: "That's it? All that effort for this?" My colleagues, who lack gender sensitivity, often compare their feelings in the months after publishing a major essay or book to postpartum depression. I tell them to fuck off but agree in private.

Also, my dog keeps trying to stick her nose up my butt. And that's not my thing. I've used my safe word and everything. But she just won't stop. Anyone want a five-year-old chocolate lab with a seizure disorder, seasonal allergies, and a persistent interest in ass?


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:08 PM
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Aka life.

No. This is a choice. You cannot easily eliminate it from your life or course, but putting up with arbitrary amounts of it is a choice, for all of us.


Posted by: William H. Taft | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:09 PM
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Accurate to whom? In what way is 'silky' a good descriptor of Obama? How is 'oceanic' appropriate for 'clean and articulate' Biden?


Cala, the bit was pretty clearly meant to be humorous and light-hearted. You're not supposed to approach humor with a scalpal and magnifying glass.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:09 PM
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71- I checked in to the debates last night saying 'I know I shouldn't do this. I know I shouldn't do this', and I run into a head wind of Dodd talking in Spanish. Noticed it was pretty good Spanish, then 'I need to get the fuck outta here'.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:10 PM
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82

69 is interesting but seems to me overanalized.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:11 PM
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83

69 is possibly overanalingled, even.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:12 PM
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80: Oh, come on. If that was supposed to be humorous, that's the driest, most boring humor I've ever come across, including w-lfs-n's. If it was supposed to be political insight, it's stupid. If it's supposed to be a metacommentary on the state of political analysis, it might remotely come across as humorous, but I have a feeling that would require laughing at Brooks, not with him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:12 PM
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69- Or how about those 'serious' journalists who talk about how stupid it is to talk about Britney.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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86

AWB had a very different grad school experience than I.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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29: You need the Longer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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79: I disagree. Political, tactical nonsense is a fundamental part of all human interaction in groups larger than two or three (and in some groups smaller than that). Modern economic life (and maybe all economic life) requires all sorts of interactions with all sorts of groups larger than two or three, most of them operating on partial (at best) understandings of the relevant parties and circumstances. It can be controlled to a degree, but only to a degree.

78: Heebie, anmik has a dog for you.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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It's not just Brooks, you know. Ben Schott collaborated on it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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There is nothing wrong with laughing at Brooks.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:15 PM
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What 84 said.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:16 PM
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77:Thomism


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:16 PM
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Ah, we see these tables are Mr. Schott's schtick -- http://www.benschott.com/en/journalism.html


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:18 PM
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86: I think it's a school-specific thing. I never ran into that kind of behavior at my MA school, and it's true that high-falutin' conversation can wear on the nerves, too. At my school, when you say something analytical about literature, people stop responding to you and blankly say, "You are so smart! I'm just intimidated sitting near you! You've read so many books!" It's really condescending, because it means, "Shut the fuck up and start deconstructing the VMAs like a proper grad student."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:18 PM
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87: Yes, but (a) I don't have the shelf space, (b) it's expensive, and (c) the Shorter reminds me of dsquared and makes me chuckle.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:18 PM
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32, 38--
you want 'salacious'.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:18 PM
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88: I think you misread me (my fault), I agreed that you can't get rid of it. You can choose, however, whether or not to interact with groups or in situations where the ratio of this to interesting things is too high. Sometimes it is very, very high.


Posted by: William H. Taft | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:19 PM
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The chart would be funnier if our candidates weren't predominantly contemptible, frequently useless and occasionally insulting.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:20 PM
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99

98 meet 24.

dammit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:22 PM
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you want 'salacious'.

Ooh, I did. Thanks.


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:23 PM
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61: Well, if he used the same level of politeness for RG as for some of the other candidates listed, he probably would have put "Baldy."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:23 PM
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Do we agree that the favored candidates of this table are Huckabee and McCain?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:28 PM
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97: Agreed. I wasn't so much misreading as deliberately responding to a claim stronger than the one I figured you meant. The desire to be free from bullshit is strong stuff but can, IMHO, lead us astray. IME bullshit and interesting things often hang out together, so trying to escape the bullshit ends up meaning that you give up a lot of interesting stuff along with it, plus you end up stuck interacting with people who play the same bullshit games but at a much lower and more tiresome level.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:28 PM
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100--
i should have said,
salacious: you *know* you want it.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:28 PM
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92: Would "scientistically religious" work?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:33 PM
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...same bullshit games but at a much lower and more tiresome level.

We always come back to academia.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:35 PM
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106: I was thinking of my six months in an insurance company fileroom many years ago, but I won't argue the point.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:40 PM
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108

you want 'salacious'.

Also "lubricious". Which when combined, become healthful!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:41 PM
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Oh, come on. If that was supposed to be humorous, that's the driest, most boring humor I've ever come across, including w-lfs-n's. I

First, I think Ben's funny.

Second, look at the description of Mike Gravel! Even the description of Thompson's voice as "god-like", while I don't think it's appropriate, can't possibly be earnest. I am amazed that you apparantly take all of that seriously. Also, did you read the introduction to the graph? And you weren't expecting humor?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:44 PM
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108--
pretty soon it's kokomo, right?
salacious, lubricious, scrumptiously delicious

let the sky rain potatoes.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:49 PM
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But that's just it; it can't be taken seriously because that would mean taking Brooks to account, which he can never be asked to do because everything he writes is inanity thinly veiled as irony. The genius of Brooks is not that he has interesting ideas; it's that he convinces people his ideas are interesting by pretending that he doesn't really mean what he says, leaving the "Oh, actually, that is interesting!" to the reader.

And yeah, I was kidding about w-lfs-n.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:51 PM
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What I want to know is: why isn't this blog a nonstop Matt Taibbi lovefest? He does the sharpest and funniest political commentary around:

http://www.alternet.org/authors/6535/


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:57 PM
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The desire to be free from bullshit is strong stuff but can, IMHO, lead us astray.

I disagree. Or more to the point, my experience doesn't reflect that, and I have too often seen people put up with extraordinary amounts of baloney because some world-weary friend is giving them advice along the lines of "Don't trust your own instincts; all fields that are worthwhile are like that." (I'm not saying that's what NPHamlet is doing.)

Shorter me: 79 is right.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 12:57 PM
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94: That shit drives me nuts. I mean, I'm as much a fan of drive-by cultural criticism as the next, but c'mon. Then again, I find my reactionary anti-hipsterism gets me into trouble when someone is being snooty about something for no good reason & I feel compelled to defend it with all of my clever graduate student tricks, just to irritate them. But then again, that behavior also constitutes a mockery of deconstruction, which I loathe, by applying it to trivial matter . . . Sigh. Pretty sure I just pwned myself, again.


Posted by: caldwellian | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:00 PM
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needless to say, the above link will lead you to much more interesting takes on the candidates than this lame NY Times piece.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:01 PM
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The description of Mike Gravel isn't the least bit funny. It's bitter and unfair. Maybe this is what Brooks thinks brings the funny, sorta like kicking over a beggar's cup. (Also, calling Kucinich "irrelevant": hilarious!)


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:01 PM
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115 referring to 112.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:01 PM
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29, 39, 87, 95: I have, thanks to the charity of others, a great view of the OED over here. Interested?

78: I really liked "'All in the game' - Traditional West Baltimore"


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:04 PM
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113: There's certainly a meaningful difference between extraordinary levels of bullshit and merely ordinary levels, but if you've identified interesting ways of making a living that don't involve significant amounts I'd truly like to know about them. I'm not being snarky or world-weary here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:06 PM
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One thing that can help is new bullshit. Part of what leads to being sucked dry is trench-warfare bullshit, when a change of situations will at least infuse power struggles with new faces, new flavors, and new products asurroundings. Part of interesting work is that the results are amorphous and require cooperation.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:13 PM
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And you weren't expecting humor?

I was expecting something other than a sub-Vanity Fair graphic gag from a newspaper that pretends to be the national paper of record.

(Well, no, I wasn't, actually. But I'd like to expect more from the national paper of record.)

It isn't that gags like this can't be funny--though this one isn't very--or that they shouldn't be done, but why does NYT need another gag writer?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:22 PM
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The NYT ran another of Schott's dealie-doos here, which is actually pretty cool, and belongs there becuase it's actually about something (and very interesting!).

It bears out ogged's crazification factor theory.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:28 PM
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Brooks puts a slick, amusing surface on center-right conventional wisdom in a way that can fool a certain small slice of people who think of themselves as moderates. He also is allowed an occasional independent stand, but when it matters he's a reliable partisan Republican. I still remember how smoothly he introduced the Republican talking point about Ohio voting during TV coverage of the 2004 election.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:30 PM
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To go on, Brooks' moderation rarely has any impact or meaning, and probably not too many people listen to him, but he's effective in his little niche, and the Republican machine gets 1% here and 1% there when putting together it's 51%.

In other words, I'm saying that he's a Republican operative assigned a specific task. Not an independent conservative. And he might decide to jump ship somewhere down the line, but he'll be one of the last rats to do so. He was hired to be a Republican, and he's a Republican.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:34 PM
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its


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:34 PM
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On Brooks: well, I mean, obviously, right?

The Democrats don't have as many straight-up operatives in the press. Krugman, for instance, is far from being a Democratic operative.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:36 PM
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No, it's.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:37 PM
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119: Serious answer:

1) Choose your boss wisely.

2) Don't engage in it yourself. When I write a letter of support for a grant application, I say true things. This is counter to the ethos that says being genuine means being naive. I'm not naive, but I am perfectly willing for people to think I'm overly earnest.

3) Be willing to sacrifice the respect of people whose respect isn't worth having.

4) Be willing to quit over a principle. This doesn't mean you have to be independently wealthy, or that you should ever even threaten to quit. But just knowing that you could, that somehow you and your family would survive and keep food on the table if it came to that, is extraordinarily freeing.

5) Be comfortable talking about ethics with a straight face. Our cultures doesn't have a good vocabulary for doing this, so it's 90% ignored and 10% lip service. But if you can actually look someone in the eye and say "Do you think it's ethical for us to do this?" you can get an astonishingly honest response. People want to think of themselves as moral.

Snarky answer: Limit the time you spend around journalists, researchers, professional philanthropists, and corporate lawyers.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:37 PM
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Whoops, 128 was me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:41 PM
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119: Those are good coping strategies, but they're about living well in a world with BS in it, not about avoiding BS.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:43 PM
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119 s/b 128


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:43 PM
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Ahem, I don't want to make trouble, but perhaps syphax's personally-identifying email address should be redacted for the sake of the Ruprechts?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:45 PM
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Dear unfogged, I never thought this would happen to me, but I posted in the wrong thread.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:45 PM
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119 - Work for a government. It is very rarely exciting, but good jobs are sincere and worthwhile in an incremental kind of way. The work is too staid to attract much bullshit.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:48 PM
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134: You'll be pressured to produce bullshit, and your non-bullshit work will often be ignored in favor of bullshit, but it's rare that you'll actually have to produce bullshit.

At the federal level, of course, we live in rare times.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:51 PM
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Yeah. Present federal administration excepted.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:53 PM
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134: Megan, you're so very sweet when you're all earnest and naive like that.

Kidding aside, I have a job of that sort and am very glad of it. The bullshit is perfectly tolerable and often entertaining and/or interesting. But it's not absent.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 1:53 PM
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Completely free of bullshit? That's a high bar for knowledge workers.

If you want to be completely free of bullshit, then you probably want to work somewhere very close to the laws of physics. Natural laws tend to scour away bullshit. I met some guys who did underwater structure inspection and repair. They did not fuck around.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:00 PM
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I'm just a social scientist, but the laws of physics govern almost everything I do.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:02 PM
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they're about living well in a world with BS in it, not about avoiding BS.

I should have been more explicit. To the extent that I have "identified interesting ways of making a living that don't involve significant amounts," it's not because I found the magic field or the magic industry that doesn't have any.

It's because the amount varies within each field,* and there is often not a fixed state. One way of not having to deal with significant amounts is by choosing and creating conditions that lead to the production of less. As outlined above.

*Although Megan's right that natural laws tend to reduce it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:07 PM
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If you want to be completely free of bullshit, then you probably want to work somewhere very close to the laws of physics.

Haha. Some surfer dude with a physics PhD just presented a paper arguing for a new-ish unification theory and physicists calling him a self-promoting bullshitter are thick on the ground. I really enjoyed my visit to the physics corner of the blogosphere, including the comment "This is why I left physics!" So.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:09 PM
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That's great -- a surfer dude came up with a theory that a hippie-mandala pattern explains all elementary particles. If it's true, you know that means we all have to vote for Kucinch and his UFOs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:12 PM
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139 - And yet, when you make an error on a paper, no one's oxygen tank fails and he dies.

Not knowledge work in physics. Physical work, close to the limits. That cranks the bullshit way back.

You knew this. You're just baiting the hippie.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:14 PM
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Hippie baiting is how I get back in touch with nature.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:15 PM
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139 - And yet, when you make an error on a paper, no one's oxygen tank fails and he dies.

I knew what you meant, but I am a shallow person.

I am also careful, but it would be a grim day indeed if someone's life depended on me getting some code (or, god forbid) some actual argument to within some teeny-tiny range of tolerance.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:22 PM
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the magic field or the magic industry that doesn't have any

There's not a lot of room for bullshit in that game. When you saw a woman in half, you better be damn sure you put her back together in the right direction.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:24 PM
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If you want to be completely free of bullshit, then you probably want to work somewhere very close to the laws of physics.

This should be true and by-and-large is, but it's worth remembering that the Vasa, R101, and Space Shuttle were all government projects, dependent for safety let alone success on the laws-of-physics trumping the bullshit.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:25 PM
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141, 142: Awesome! The article's anti-intellectual tone seems a little off; the guy wasn't working at a university, but he's not some untutored surfer savant.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:26 PM
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Not knowledge work in physics. Physical work, close to the limits. That cranks the bullshit way back.

Yet a lot of people who do very physical work wind up spouting a lot of bullshit about what they do when asked to talk about it. Professional athletes, for instance. Anyone who talks a lot about zen or flow states or being in the zone will often add a lot of bullshit to it, although there is definitely some psychological reality to what they are saying.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:27 PM
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Naw. If it were that important, you would take it very seriously and do a great job.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:28 PM
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Sifu is the hippie of hippies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:36 PM
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In other news, it turns out that LB is right to harp on initials:

Name initials may influence grades: study

Researchers who studied the impact of initials found that baseball players whose first or last name starts with the letter K, which signifies a strikeout, tended to strike out more often than other players.
And students whose names start with the letters C or D, which denote mediocre marks in some grading systems, did not perform as well as other pupils with different initials.

The researcher, however, appears not to understand the concept of the called third strike. There are some laughable conclusions in the article (at least as interpreted by the reporter.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:40 PM
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letters C or D, which denote mediocre marks in some grading systems,

and really excellent marks in some others!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:45 PM
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Name initials may influence grades: study

You know, there are twenty six letters in the alphabet. With a sizable enough sample, one of these will certainly throw up result like this at the level (1 chance in 20) that by convention is taken as statistically significant. So a lot would depend on the model specification and the sort of data they're using.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:47 PM
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My dad picked my middle name so I'd have a nice-looking set of initials for signing law-firm memos. I got back at him by having no career whatsoever.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 2:57 PM
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Powerful new techniques can find significance in any data whatsoever. The days are gone when we'd ever have to say that we don't know something.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 3:11 PM
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I know it's your blog and all, but pwned
95
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2007/11/surfer-comes-up-with-new-theory-of.html

This guy must listen to the jazz.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 11:46 AM


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 3:22 PM
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155: Among lawyers I've known/worked with, the most unfortunate one I can think of offhand is "SOW" (and yes, she's female).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 4:18 PM
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generally they get a lot right.

Ogged: so conventional he *is* middle America.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 5:01 PM
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37: I think this gets at what's going on: you're not supposed to go from the one word description to knowledge, but from knowledge, through the word, to a chortle.

Exactly, and that's what is so very very wrong with it.
It's like ethnic jokes or sexist jokes. They presuppose the shared belief, the prejudice. By assuming the truth of the prejudice they reinforce and reaffirm it. You chortle, and thus you show that you're one of those normal people who know that blondes are dumb, etc.

It's substituting bonding ritual for political analysis and argument.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 5:07 PM
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But it's not a prejudice (well, Gravel, ok) but a judgment, and I'm still prepared to defend almost all of them. Yes, they're conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom isn't always useless; Fred Thompson is not going to turn out to be a mountaineering string theorist. If the objection is to the exercise as such, well, that's just humorless.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 5:12 PM
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I am disappointed that when I clicked on the image of the 19th century chart I was taken not to an enlarged and more readable version of the image but the chart already discussed here whose idiocies idiolect and idiosyncrasies have caused me to compose a sentence long in word count and poor in punctuation.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 5:21 PM
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But it's not a prejudice (well, Gravel, ok) but a judgment, and I'm still prepared to defend almost all of them. Yes, they're conventional wisdom, ...

Conventional wisdom is prejudice. It's what everyone knows without thinking about it, without having thought about it. [Okay, that may be a stronger claim than I can defend, but I'll see where it gets me.] Conventional wisdom becomes conventional by repetition. Hear something often enough and it becomes believable, then it becomes truth. It's the repetition that makes something a normal, or normative.

Yes, they're judgments, and they can be defended. But the whole point of making it a joke is that one doesn't have to defend the jugment. The answer is always 'it's just a joke'. Yet by repetition the joke becomes truth, without ever having to be defended.

Conventional wisdom isn't useless, it's politically very useful. It became conventional wisdom that Kerry is a sissy and GWB a brave warrior, that Gore claimed to have invented the internet, that the 60 Minutes Texas Air National Guard documents are forgeries. It became conventional wisdom through repetition, and through jokes, rather than through rational political discourse. A good joke is more powerful than a fact any day.

I hope those are examples, and not analogies. I'm a bit weak on logic.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 5:54 PM
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Rhetoric. (/w-lfs-n).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:01 PM
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Rhetoric, too. And literary criticism. And textual analysis.

But you should see the size of my vocabulary.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:03 PM
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A blogger who so loved convention
Thought newspapers good of intention
But our press ain't free
For you or for me
It's for folks who are too vile to mention.


Posted by: Larry Limerick | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:32 PM
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Oooh! Are we back to limericks?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:34 PM
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"Fixed in formulated phrases" seems more accurate than "pinned, wriggling" but who am I to presume?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:40 PM
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Oh my god. Clicking around from that surfer dude story, I found tree man. I'm still not sure if I'll recover without losing dinner first.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:41 PM
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Will no one share my pain? Or is everyone sharing my pain?


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 6:51 PM
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Tree man is in a bad way. HPV, weird.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:00 PM
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Wow. But largely reversible, it said. He has a lovely face, too.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:10 PM
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Tree man reminds me of this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:15 PM
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Trees kill more people than cars. That man is a menace.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:35 PM
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I have a completely over the top revulsion reaction to those pictures. My head swims every time I think about it. And yet I keep scratching the itch by coming back here.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:37 PM
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I just came across that over at the The Kircher Society. Eesh. His kids are drop dead gorgeous, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:39 PM
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That's awful. I really hope they can help that man.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 7:56 PM
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163 is rigiht.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 8:22 PM
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political science should just be frame volumetrics

for practice, i'll make a rule to turn any significant frame anyone throws out.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-16-07 8:29 PM
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