Friday, March 11, 2005

No Cornpone Pseudophilosophy Zone

Opinion is not philosophy. Opinion is not fact. Opinion is not knowledge. Opinion is not even wisdom.

Take this bit from Shaw's "Man and Superman", and apply it to today:

"DON JUAN. Pooh! why should I be civil to them or to you? In this
Palace of Lies a truth or two will not hurt you. Your friends are
all the dullest dogs I know.
They are not beautiful: they are only decorated.
They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched.
They are not dignified: they are only fashionably dressed.
They are not educated they are only college passmen.
They are not religious: they are only pewrenters.
They are not moral: they are only conventional.
They are not virtuous: they are only cowardly.
They are not even vicious: they are only "frail."
They are not artistic: they are only lascivious.
They are not prosperous: they are only rich.
They are not loyal, they are only servile;
not dutiful, only sheepish;
not public spirited, only patriotic;
not courageous, only quarrelsome;
not determined, only obstinate;
not masterful, only domineering;
not self-controlled, only obtuse;
not self-respecting, only vain;
not kind, only sentimental;
not social, only gregarious;
not considerate, only polite;
not intelligent, only opinionated;
not progressive, only factious;
not imaginative, only superstitious;
not just, only vindictive;
not generous, only propitiatory;
not disciplined, only cowed;
and not truthful at all--liars every one
of them, to the very backbone of their souls."

Think about that for a little while, as I gather my thoughts.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blogs on Nightline

John Donvan and Chris Bury did a pretty good job on bloggers, so to speak, and it is to their credit that they showed anything at all. One does wish that an expert would host the show though, as it might avoid that "aliens looking at aliens" feel and tone. But again, to dedicate the entire show to bloggers is laudable in today's obscurantistic climate.

We won't go into their egregious anonyMoseslessness...

Personal pain, national character


Dr. Arthur Kleinman

Kleinman shows how individual travails reveal a society
via Harvard Gazette

I remember my first class with Dr. Kleinman. I was class shopping as was the rage back in the '80s, and his Medical Anthropology class description made me curious enough to give it a try.
When he first walked into the room, I felt a strange heat on the right side of my face, but didn't give it much thought, until, upon introducing himself, he asked if anyone felt the right side of their face heat up earlier.

Shopping done. I shall see what this mystical man had to impart.

I know some people who have completely flushed their teachers and professors out of their minds. For some, they were never present to begin with. Class was simply a thing be gotten through, collect the grade, thank you very much.

I was not one of these people. And often, I will write down the names of every teacher I have ever had, even Kindergarten...where Mrs. Cora Lee Sykes, bless her soul, would do things like sit us in a circle, and teach us the art of conversation. Or have us stand up before the class and show-and-tell about some interesting thing we had learned.

She brought a churn and a chicken into the classroom (whew!) and we made butter and saw an egg being brought to bear. And although not a very worldly woman, she loved us, and taught us the things she knew about.

Dr. Kleinman knew about some very interesting things, and funneled these various streams of knowledge through his diamond-sifter mind. An Anthropologist, a psychiatrist and an MD, who spent years studying Chinese medicine and culture, as well as our own, he was able to span the continents and synthesize a global understanding quite rare among blokes. And I got to peel off a cheeseparing.

If you are a student, and are unhappy with your teachers...seek out better ones. As Balthasar Gracian wisely counsels: Know the great minds of your time. Spend as much time researching your professors as you do classes, and you might make yourself happier and wiser.

If you happen to be interested in Social Suffering, Chinese Medicine, Medical Anthropology, Doctor-Patient dialog, Healers in the context of culture, hypnotism, and the like...you could do worse than reading his works, which are at most online booksellers.

Kleinman receives Doubleday Award

About Arthur Kleinman

As seen on CNN: The American Street

Where ideas come from.

If you haven’t heard, American Street was featured on CNN the other day while showcasing a few of the more evolved and exciting blogs.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Gore Vidal and Ed Cone on the Pravdization of American Media

In the old Soviet Union, various Russian friends were often surprisingly well informed about the world despite the fact that their view of it was largely shaped by their New York Times, Pravda. When asked how do you find out what's really going on, they would give secret smiles: "You must know how to read Pravda." -Gore Vidal, December 17, 2001, The Nation

The Soviets called their party newspaper Pravda -- "Truth." Americans used to laugh at that kind of phony journalism. But more and more, the joke is on us.
Ed Cone, March 6, 2005, News & Record

Gore Vidal is writing about how The New York Times buried the truth of the Consortium's analysis of the 2000 election...in the 16th paragraph:

Finally, paragraph sixteen: "A New York Times investigation earlier this year showed that 680 of the late-arriving [overseas] ballots did not meet Florida's standards yet were still counted. The vast majority of those flawed ballots were accepted in counties that favored Mr. Bush after an aggressive effort by Bush strategists to pressure officials to accept them." I then got out this earlier story (July 15, 2001). It is somewhat less homogenized than the current account. "In an analysis of the 2,490 [overseas] ballots...the Times found 680 questionable votes," of which "four out of five were accepted in counties carried by Mr. Bush," making him victor by 537 votes. Yet on July 15 the Times felt "all [680 votes] would have been disqualified had the state's election laws been strictly enforced." I suggest that the editors, to show good faith, should have used paragraph sixteen as their lead paragraph: Start with the crime and then unravel it--or deep-six it if that's your plan. Putting it as the coda to a confusing story suggests a desire to obscure, not illuminate, what happened.

Welcome to BushWorld! Now learn how to read your Pravda. As Mister Cone says at the end of his column:

One big difference between the old Soviet Union and the land of the First Amendment is that the party-line press cannot exist here in a vacuum. Serious reporters, working for organizations or as independents, are able to expose scripted news and the agenda behind it. And with increased transparency into the news-making process a big promise of the new media, that process should only intensify. Over time, that ought to lessen the credibility of the scripters, but it won't stop them from trying to manipulate the news.
Eternal vigilance being the price of liberty, informed skepticism toward government-issue news is an ongoing obligation of Americans.

I was US target - journalist

Sgrena tells Rome prosecutors: There was no "checkpoint," unlike in the Pentagon's cover version of the story. She Was the Woman Who Knew Too Much About Fallujah. 3/7