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Author Topic: Obituary for Facts  (Read 5303 times)
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« on: April 21, 2012, 11:15:11 AM »
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A satyrical obituary from Chicago Tribune.

My favorite part, at the very end:

"...Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC."
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Slobodan

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RSL
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 11:23:05 AM »
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I'd love to watch it, Slobodan, but I flat refuse to sit through the damned advertising that comes with clips like this one. As soon as I see it I kill the whole thing.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2012, 11:34:43 AM »
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Russ, I did not watch it either, for the same reason. Just skip the video, and read the article... well worth the trouble of scrolling down one screen.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2012, 12:05:19 PM »
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Thanks for posting the essence of it here, Slobodan. I think that says it all.

Eric
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 12:49:07 PM »
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You're right, Slobodan. It's a fair summation of the situation. If he'd added some more of the lies being tossed out during the current campaign he'd have made his case even more thoroughly.

The article reminds me of an essay I wrote 30 years ago for a discussion group on roughly the same subject. It's at http://www.russ-lewis.com/essays/commoncause.html if you're interested.
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kencameron
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 06:49:38 AM »
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The article reminds me of an essay I wrote 30 years ago....
So things were just as bad 30 years ago - but at some earlier time they were better? I sometimes think the notions of a past from which we have declined and of a future towards which we are improving are equally at risk of being no more than symptomatic of our own state of mind, or (in)digestion. Which is not to say that things don't change - just that I don't see much evidence for a uniform direction. We didn't invent spin, or lies, or social conflict.
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2012, 10:37:04 AM »
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It's a fair question, Ken, but it depends on what you mean by "better." For instance, if you mean was there was a time when people went out of their way to avoid offending the others around them, and a time when most useful swear words hadn't lost their shock power through overuse, I can tell you from personal experience that there was such a time. One illustration was an antique picture on the cover of B&W magazine a few years ago of two depression-era hoboes getting out of a boxcar wearing suitcoats and hats. The were seedy looking, but they were trying to blend in with the people around them.

A key paragraph in my little essay was this:

"Though not everyone worked hard or followed the Ten Commandments, those who didnít hid their sloth and sin as diligently as possible. Sinners, probably no less numerous then than now, at least were willing to genuflect to what everyone knew was 'right.'Ē

Things weren't "just as bad 30 years ago." Actually, they were a little bit better. The Western world has been in a continuous downhill slide since the mid sixties, and it looks as if we haven't yet hit bottom. But we will hit bottom, and history tells us that from the bottom, up is the only direction open. As far as your evidence for a uniform direction is concerned, since you didn't bother to tell us how old you are, I have no way of knowing how long you've had to gather the evidence that you "don't see."

No, we didn't invent spin or lies or social conflict, but we've certainly intensified all of them over the past five decades.

 
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 01:23:53 PM by RSL » Logged

opgr
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2012, 11:33:56 AM »
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No, we didn't invent spin or lies or social conflict, but we've certainly intensified all of them over the past five decades.
 

But the question then is; *how* did we intensify that?

What is certainly evident in the past 30 years is a steady decline in accepted quality. For some products and services that is probably fine, but most certainly not to the extend as we currently experience. Through consumerism we now have an unprecedented choice, yet not choice in quality, merely choice in similar crap with different coatings of spinning sugar.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2012, 02:06:19 PM »
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But the question then is; *how* did we intensify that?

What is certainly evident in the past 30 years is a steady decline in accepted quality. For some products and services that is probably fine, but most certainly not to the extend as we currently experience. Through consumerism we now have an unprecedented choice, yet not choice in quality, merely choice in similar crap with different coatings of spinning sugar.


Terribly true.

However, I do think that itís more than a little subjective, this decline in standards. I originally noticed it in í66 when I went to my first external pro lab to have some colour prints done for a client. Coming from a situation where I mainly was the colour lab, I simply couldnít believe the cavalier attitude towards getting the optimum quality: commercially acceptable was the mantra to which these commercial printing people worked and declared themselves to be working.

Thatís a lot longer than thirty years ago; but yes, even within the thirty-year space things have changed a lot. I see it also in television news features, where since the advent of commercial news channels in Britain, dross is suddenly of weight; actor and footballer private lives (if they can be called private any longer) become news. Important stuff is give a brief mention but minutes are spent on discussions and post mortems about team postions within various sports leaguesÖ Once, a single person could read the news; now, we see teams of eye-candy girls reading from computers and even weather girls have to be displayed. Why? Of course I know why, but audience figures arenít a measure of station value to me but they sure seem to be to the world at large.

Quality of clothing has also fallen dramatically: was a time when dresses had properly finished hems; zips, where they were used, didnít start to snag on loose threads and freeze tight on the first day of wear. I have worn Levis for decades; a recent pair of them has bad workmanship around the button holes: the button at the belt can only be undone by trying to do it in an upward direction; do it the normal way and you could spend all day fighting the damn stud thing where it has become caught in the loosened threads in the button hole. And so on down the entire fly. Levi jeans, would you believe?

I could go on, but whatís the point? Mr Public appears happy enough; all he seems to wants is more money to spend on more of the same. Thatís why I suggested it might be subjective.

Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2012, 02:36:57 PM »
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If you wander around an American mall for a half hour, Rob, you immediately see why quality doesn't matter any more. In the mall I see grown men, some of them even middle-aged, dressed as if they're pretending they're in sixth grade, usually with at least one obscene slogan on a sloppy t-shirt. And I see women, even some I'd have called "elderly" not long ago, trying to look like street sluts, and succeeding.

For people like these, quality means nothing. And it's not just quality of products like clothes, prints, and reporting that mean nothing to them, it's quality of thoughts and ideas, which mean nothing, because if your upbringing and education haven't introduced you to quality thoughts and ideas, you have no conception of quality in anything.

There are plenty of exceptions to this situation out there, and, perhaps, they'll be the salvation of the whole lot.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2012, 02:41:46 PM »
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... And it's not just quality of products like clothes, prints, and reporting that mean nothing to them, it's quality of thoughts and ideas, which mean nothing, because if your upbringing and education haven't introduced you to quality thoughts and ideas, you have no conception of quality in anything...

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Slobodan

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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2012, 02:56:00 PM »
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Exactly, Slobodan. Our universities stopped educating people a long time ago, and substituted training. Since very few nowadays are capable of distinguishing between education and training we've had to fall back on credentialism to distinguish between people. Our universities have become diploma mills the quality of whose over-priced product is about as high as Rob's jeans.
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2012, 04:44:47 PM »
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Exactly, Slobodan. Our universities stopped educating people a long time ago, and substituted training. Since very few nowadays are capable of distinguishing between education and training we've had to fall back on credentialism to distinguish between people. Our universities have become diploma mills the quality of whose over-priced product is about as high as Rob's jeans.



Not what you meant, I know, but Rob's Levis were costing over Ä50 a piece several years ago. Brand value...

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2012, 04:52:07 PM »
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On the matter of education, it's a downhill struggle for many teachers, too. They have to deal with threatening parents who can't accept that their progeny can really be dumb, and that it is simply a matter of poor teaching. How easy to rectify it would be were that true. However, a whole political culture (and party) is built around the concept (or should that be creed?) that all brains are created equal. Strange, then, that not all products of the same school end up with the same successes in life, successes in whichever different path they take, I mean. products of the same school? Products of the same loins are often totally different in their capabilities.

Rob C  
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kencameron
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2012, 05:11:19 PM »
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A couple of further thoughts.

I hope Asimov isn't being quoted as supporting the view that things have changed for the worse. "There is a cult of ignorance...and always has been".

It isn't hard to come up with lists of "things that have changed for the worse in my time" (62 years, in my case, btw). But such lists don't prove an overall direction. We need to beware (be aware) of our personal disposition to notice only those things and overlook the counter examples of which, IMO, there are plenty. Fewer mothers and babies die in childbirth. We live longer (and for mine, that is a good thing, every minute is priceless).  Black and white people get to ride in the same sections of public transport. Casual racism is socially unacceptable. Women get to work outside the home as well as in it (if they choose).  If I want to find out about a painter or writer or photographer I have virtually instant access to his or her work and to facts and informed (sometimes) opinions. We have a better understanding of how to look after our planet (whether we are doing a better job is another question). I can afford a half decent camera.

When we remember a time when we were all polite and agreed with each other about fundamental values, we need to think about who was excluded from that happy consensus and be sure we aren't being sentimental about a time when white protestant males were the only people who mattered.

Belief in a golden age is a human universal. The ancient greeks believed in one. Undiscovered tribes in the amazon basin probably believe in one. Fair enough, but let's not confuse it with history.


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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2012, 06:51:01 PM »
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Okay, Ken, as Walter Williams would say, "let's look at it."

1. Fewer mothers and babies die in childbirth. That's a plus, but fewer of those babies have both a mom and a dad, and, in fact, there are fewer babies -- too few if you understand how our social welfare system is supposed to work.

2.We live longer. Until Monday, when I get in the car and head home for the summer, I'm in a retirement community where people are living longer, going around on their walkers, some with failed kidneys undergoing daily dialysis, some developing dementia, etc. All the joys of old age. It's a real blast!

3.Black and white people get to ride in the same sections of public transport and casual racism is unacceptable. No question that that's very, very much to the good. Unfortunately, with so many race hustlers at work it's still an ongoing process. When we all get to the point where all of us can listen together to "Amos 'n Andy" and get a belly laugh out of it, we'll be at the end of the process. Wish I could live to that day (without a walker), but I don't expect to.

4. Women get to work outside the home as well as in it (emphasis added). With the tax structure we have at the moment it's not so much that they get to work outside the home ad that they have to work outside the home. It's nice that the prejudice is gone, or at least, greatly reduced, but it's not all sweetness and light. Women have given up a lot to reach the point where they get to work outside the home. I hope they can recover it without losing what they've gained.

5. Yes, on balance the availability of information on everything imaginable is a boon to humanity -- or at least it ought to be. But on the downside of the information flood, there's also TV. I sometimes question whether on balance it's all a plus.

6. Who says we have a better understanding of how to look after our planet? When I was at University of Michigan at the beginning of the fifties geologists were so convinced we were about to enter a new ice age that at least one of my professors was learning how to build an igloo. Now we're supposedly heading into floods and famines because of estimated temperature levels often experienced by the earth in the past. The reason this new fad seems so different from the crap that was going on in the fifties can be found in #5, above.

6. You always could afford a half decent camera as long as you were willing to give up enough other things.

When was that time you remember when we all were polite and agreed with each other? And the idea that there was "a time when white protestant males were the only people who mattered" seems awfully Eurocentric, to borrow a term from the left-wing fanaticum.

But there's always been a golden age back there in history: it was when you were nursing.
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kencameron
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2012, 07:13:45 PM »
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Okay, Ken, as Walter Williams would say, "let's look at it."

When was that time you remember when we all were polite and agreed with each other? And the idea that there was "a time when white protestant males were the only people who mattered" seems awfully Eurocentric, to borrow a term from the left-wing fanaticum.

But there's always been a golden age back there in history: it was when you were nursing.


Russ, I wouldn't dispute the proposition that there are downsides to my upsides. What I am arguing is that one needs to be very cautious about one's personal disposition to focus on the one rather than the other. My phrase about "the time when we were all polite..." is a reference to the essay you linked, in which you seem to be referring to a time of civility and social consensus which, in my view, is largely mythical. Similar comment about the "white protestant males" thing - I am arguing that the american social consensus you refer to in your essay was insufficiently inclusive, not that white protestant males were ever, in fact, the only people who mattered in the world.
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 03:48:47 AM »
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I canít really imagine that anyone of pensionable age can doubt that things are not, overall, as bright as they used to be.

Women at work. Was a time when, for the average middle class couple, the manís Ďworkí was sufficiently rewarded to provide for the familyís needs. The woman was able to run the home, bring up the children as well as she knew how, usually with help from the grandmothers, and provide the essential support system on which family life depends if it is to flourish. This was good for the older generation, too, because it provided a worthwhile sense of purpose that isnít attained from sitting around getting bored alone or in equally boring company. Age requires the stimulus of youth; itís a trade where one party gets brightness in life and the other help, both physical and, if needed/possible, financial. Itís not even something that only the middle classes understood and enjoyed: the so-called deprives families of the third world and poorer parts of contemporary Europe still have an enormous grandparental contribution in their lives: itís where the home help comes from whilst the parents are out slaving.

The idea that, somehow, Ďwomen at homeí is a pejorative, some kind of life sentence of gloom and doom, is a nonsense born of libber sentiment and propaganda. My own wife and her contemporaries had a great life: not only did they have the joy of being with and seeing their young grow, they had time enough to go out socially wherever the mood took them. In our case, it appeared to be tennis, swimming at the local pool, going out to town now and again to see what new ideas the shops had to offer and probably squeeze in a bite of lunch. Nope, it didnít take a husband earning a fortune: I was a photographer, remember, with all the mighty ups and downs that implies. It took a mindset thatís now vanished for anyone but the rich. The sisters have spread all too successfully this idea that running a home is a downer, a less-than-second-best option for the failures in life. Bullshit. And you know what? I canít remember a time when I ever came home from the darkroom, even after midnight, and there wasnít a great meal awaiting me! I remember steak, fresh peas and chips (that's fried potatoes, not those hard, wafer things from a packet) and then off to bedÖ Had I but the digestive system left to enjoy that now.

Juvenile delinquency is often blamed on lack of opportunity. This may well be a factor, but how will there ever be opportunity when so many youths are both illiterate, innumerate and in many other ways unemployable, a lifestyle they adopt at school? They can grow up with a permanent grudge on their shoulders (a chip might do) expecting the worst or, instead, go out into the world with the intent of causing as much havoc as they possibly can, secure in the knowledge that there will always be the bleeding-heart lawyer or politician who will excuse them, find them television news interviews (you should hear such interviews!)  and find alternative places to deposit guilt other than firmly beside that chip/grudge already ensconced upon said shoulders. Where the parents are either both working to make ends meet, or there are not enough of them or they are also unemployed, the incentive to look after their responsibilities must rapidly vanish in a feeling of hopelessness, of living the treadmill.

Politeness? Of course we were polite; we were brought up to be and educated so to be. It didn't make us idiots, though, we just handled problems in a better way than by resorting to violence and oaths.

Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 05:07:41 AM »
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So, do tell, Rob - would you have been happy running a home instead of taking photographs?  You seem to have had a choice in how you spent your prime years (you chose photography), but your wife had no option but to be satisfied ensuring that there was a great meal to which you could come home.
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kencameron
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 05:12:26 AM »
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I canít really imagine that anyone of pensionable age can doubt that things are not, overall, as bright as they used to be

...........

Politeness? Of course we were polite; we were brought up to be and educated so to be. It didn't make us idiots, though, we just handled problems in a better way than by resorting to violence and oaths.

Rob C


Lots here that I could respond to. My difficulty is how to get from lists of examples, which can be multiplied and debated endlessly on both sides of the argument, to a conclusion about how things are "overall", with confidence that one's judgement isn't distorted by the various failures of mind and body that (for me at least) come with pensionable age, and the resulting difficulty in adapting to rapid change.  Things may not look so bright, but how can you be sure it isn't your eyesight? My children, who, in their thirties, are just as polite as I ever was, see a lot of challenges and seem up for the task of overcoming them, as I was at their age. My grandchildren and their friends are literate, numerate, interested in school, and show no propensity to resort to violence or oaths. They give me what I consider to be good reasons to be hopeful, and I don't see why I should assume that everybody else's children and grandchildren are that different. I certainly agree that greed, hatred,  ignorance, sickness, old age, death, and various species of idiot are just as prevalent as they always were, but I don't think they are any more prevalent.
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