Print Story If you can't say anything nice, at least be wickedly funny
Diary
By lm (Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 05:25:45 AM EST) (all tags)
One of my imaginary Internet friends posted this blog entry where he exhorts his readers to say something nice about the candidates in the US presidential election for whom they are not voting. I'd like to expand this idea into:

The Say Something Nice Fun Challenge.

Can you say something both substantial and positive about a politician that you're voting (or have voted) against?

Blather follows.



But a first, a taste of my own medicine. John McCain vehemently opposed Bush's tax cuts early in Bush's term, stood up to Bush on torture of America's enemies early in Bush's term, reached across the aisle (gang of 14) to avoid a meltdown in the Senate over Bush's reactionary supreme court picks early in Bush's term, opposes drilling in ANWR on principle (comparing it to drilling in the Grand Canyon) and had the guts to wear a pinstripe suit in the last debate. He also has a long history of attempting to reform campaign financing (McCain/Feingold) and for many years was one of the key players in the US Senate working to keep it functioning as a moderate and bi-partisan institution.

The most positive thing I can think to say about Sarah Palin with regards to her capacity as a public figure is that she is very good at feeding red meat to certain elements of the party base. I tried hard to think of something nice to say about her. I failed. If we extend the conversation to her  personal life, there are a few things I do find admirable about her. But I'm not so certain that those things are pertinent to public office.

. . .

I started writing a summary of the lecture I attended last Friday on the creation and transformation of metaphysics as a science in late antiquity. The easy part was the actual summary. The hard part is trying to explicate why anyone would care. One of the challenges for me in a history of philosophy program like the one at Catholic University is understanding why so many philosophers care/cared/will care about issues that make me want to say ``Who gives a $%&@#?'' While the lecture was extremely interesting to me, while trying to summarize the argument that had been made, I found myself wondering ``who, if anyone, on the Internet is going to read this and think that the time spent reading it was worthwhile?''

. . .

I really liked this NY Times article on ugliness. It had a couple of really good points like one from a Cornell professor, ``Because of successful identity politics, people have come to identify profoundly with other kinds of groups  `I am a Jew,' or `a French person.' But it’s not likely with `I am an ugly person and let’s have a meeting of all ugly people.''' They also quoted one of my favorite living authors, Umberto Eco, who apparently recently published a book on the history of ugly that escaped my notice. They quoted the introduction.

In every century, philosophers and artists have supplied definitions of beauty, and thanks to their works it is possible to reconstruct a history of aesthetic ideas over time.  But this did not happen with ugliness. Most of the time it was defined as the opposite of beauty but almost no one ever devoted a treatise of any length to ugliness, which was relegated to passing mentions in marginal works.

I've read some of Eco's nonfiction before. His book on writing, Postscript to the Name of the Rose is a fantastic reflection on the writing process and a book I'd recommend to anyone who wants to learn to write good fiction. (Anyone who can already write good fiction is probably beyond most of the content.) The collected essays debating belief in God between Eco and Cardinal Martini, Belief or Nonbelief? was also entertaining if less substantial than I had hoped. On Ugliness looks very interesting.

. . .

Over at the NY Times Krugman and Brooks are both advocating for a Keyenesian stimulus package rather than just sending out more money in the hopes that consumers will spend it rather than paying down debt or plopping it into savings. It's a bit odd to see Brooks and Krugman on the same side of any given issue.

It seems to me that Libertarians are reduced to making the same move that Communists were making back in the late eighties. Oh, but that wasn't really a free market that caused this crisis.

Speaking of libertarianism, more problems with the suggestion that negative rights never conflict hit me while out on my morning run. I need to spend more time developing the idea but it seems to me that property (specifically title to property taken from the commons) and pregnancy are two situations where negative rights are in conflict. The former is most acute for libertarians that adopt something like a Lockean theory of property which, presumably, is not essential to libertarianism although it does seem to me to be enormously prevalent in libertarian circles. The latter, it seems to me, presents an insurmountable obstacle to the idea that negative rights are never in conflict.

. . .

Towards the beginning of the week I clocked in at 180lbs. I'm nt certain why. Frustrated, I ate half a cheesecake for breakfast the next day and had as many servings for dinner as I pleased. The next day I was down to 176. Go figure.

< The Circle of Life | Notes on the Failout >
If you can't say anything nice, at least be wickedly funny | 28 comments (28 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
As The Economist said in it's Obama endorsement. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 05:43:36 AM EST
Here
Mr McCain has his faults: he is an instinctive politician, quick to judge and with a sharp temper. And his age has long been a concern (how many global companies in distress would bring in a new 72-year-old boss?). Yet he has bravely taken unpopular positions—for free trade, immigration reform, the surge in Iraq, tackling climate change and campaign-finance reform. A western Republican in the Reagan mould, he has a long record of working with both Democrats and America’s allies.

If only the real John McCain had been running


As Weisberg said in Slate last week
The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

sure, make me look like I'm late to the party by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 05:50:59 AM EST
Actually, I should have known about that Slate link, I think it was the article that the guy from Forbes was responding to.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Yeah by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #4 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 06:13:07 AM EST
That's what makes it hard.  I would have had no troubles coming up with nice things to say about McCain in July.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I would mostly echo what you said about McCain by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 06:01:32 AM EST
and I hold a secret hope that he knows he's showing the GOP just what to expect if they continue to run on divisive social conservative issues and tax cuts.


I never liked Paul Keating when he was in power by cam (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 06:33:57 AM EST
as either Treasurer or Prime Minister, yet the modern Australian state has moved from a Deakinist one to a modern state through most of his reforms and policies. It is better governed for it too IMO. He is probably the best modern politician Australia has had.  


cam 
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic
Hindsight can be funny like that by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 06:42:40 AM EST
Are there any good books on his terms in office. That sounds like an interesting read.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Dont know by cam (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 12:16:51 PM EST
he is easy to caricature as he is a very arrogant man with an ascerbic tongue. Not sure if there is a good history on the Hawke/Keating years that isnt either rosy, cartoonish or partisan. I should start reading through the histories from that era and see if there is a good one.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]
Hm by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #6 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 06:39:25 AM EST
Bertie Ahern was instrumental in bringing about an end to violence in Northern Ireland by distancing modern Ireland from the old, tired, sectarian republicanism during the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. No other party leader of the time could have done so more effectively.


Likewise Blair by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:30:57 AM EST
He and Bernie made a good team on this.

[ Parent ]
Mccain was right by garlic (4.00 / 2) #8 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:53:06 AM EST
in 2000 and is right now, that corn ethanol subsidies are not the way towards energy independence.


Now, Bush... by garlic (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:56:16 AM EST
that's tougher.

Liberating people from brutal dictators is a noble idea.


[ Parent ]
His Presidency has made me appreciate my vote by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:00:08 AM EST
for his dad.


[ Parent ]
I was a kid by garlic (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:01:10 AM EST
when the first war happened, and remember thinking it was dumb that we didn't take saddam out. I'm not real sure if it was a good idea or not to leave in in power like Bush Sr. did, but I can certainly see some reasons for it.


[ Parent ]
Is he still for that? by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:44:45 AM EST
It's hard to tell...I don't think I've seen anything about what he believes that doesn't involve Obama's friends.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I thought this was were we were saying nice things by garlic (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:03:37 AM EST
Mccain brought up ethanol subsidies in the debate. I recently re-listened to some interviews from 2000 off of the chicago NPR affiliate (the same station that has the conservative blogs enflamed over some obama recordings), and he's been saying a lot of the same things on the campaign trail now as he said then, when he talks about issues he believes in.


[ Parent ]
Maybe I read the wrong press by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:43:26 AM EST
Damned if I've heard anything but why Obama sucks.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
philosophy.. by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:34:14 AM EST
One of the challenges for me in a history of philosophy program like the one at Catholic University is understanding why so many philosophers care/cared/will care about issues that make me want to say ``Who gives a $%&@#?''
Or, before there was McD's, how did these people earn a living unless they were on some commune/monastery ?

But, some of those "deep" questions have a place in theology, and some are just plain "what were you smoking ?" (cf angels on pin-heads..)



angels on pins is almost certainly theology by lm (2.00 / 0) #19 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 01:11:49 PM EST
But metaphysics, not so much. The question of whether or not natural science is the bedrock of knowledge is a very secular question. So to, the question of where we get the rules of thought (the principles of identity, contradiction, negation, etc.) from. Such questions certainly can cross the line into theology if one drops the philosophical method (sticking to that which is evident, self-evident, or the conclusion of an argument that rests on evident and self-evident principles) for the theological method (I know this is true because God told me or because I believe God told someone else who told me).

It's more that we're just raised with a different perspective. How many folks really care about whether or not we can be 100% certain that we exist and mathematics is true? Most people look at the Brooklyn Bridge and Sputnik and say `works good enough for me.'


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I read this article in the school newspaper the by Clipper Ship (2.00 / 0) #16 Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:18:45 AM EST
other day because apparently Eco was thinking of Robarts Library when he was writing the name fo the Rose a book I've never read and am quite unlikely to now that i am creeping ever forward towards old age and imminent genius. I was surprised to find that out. He was doing research here at the time and U of T gace him a home. All I can say is, he's pretty fat. I'm not one to judge, but he may also be ugly. I'm no adonis, but I can tell you that the picture did him no justice.

---------------

Destroy All Planets

You're over-thinking this. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #20 Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 01:52:47 PM EST
Beauty has been demonstrated to be a function of facial symmetry.
Ugly is therefore asymmetry if the face, and likely the remainder of the body as well.

Of course, certain deviants do prefer asymmetry of this sort, and re-define beauty to their benefit.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

s/if/of by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #21 Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 01:53:47 PM EST
Fucking hangover.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
You're underthinking this by lm (2.00 / 0) #22 Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 05:12:11 PM EST
If beauty were facial symmetry and ugly were facial asymmetry, then only those things that looked likes faces would be beautiful. But it isn't clear that all beautiful poems remind one of symmetrical  or are even symmetrical at all. The same holds for sunsets.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
You're shifting the goalposts. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #23 Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 08:42:44 PM EST
`I am an ugly person and let’s have a meeting of all ugly people.'

Looks like people was the topic at hand.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Right, because that's the only bit I cited by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 02:38:00 AM EST
People was one of the topics at hand.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
It was the prominent one. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #25 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 04:43:55 AM EST
I take the view that people are more important than things.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
If by prominent ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #26 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:06:57 AM EST
... you mean that it was interesting but not long enough to be block quoted, not pointed out to be by my favorite author and didn't have any analysis done to it on my part save for the note that it was interesting, then I agree it was the prominent one.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
John McCain by duxup (2.00 / 0) #27 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:36:06 PM EST
There are a lot of good things to say about McCain, but most have worn off or don't seem to jive with the McCain I see today.  I gave the dude a couple bucks hoping he'd edge out Bush back in 2000.  I just don't see the same dude anymore.  He's different.

____
(Comment Deleted) by SunlightGirl (2.00 / 0) #28 Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 06:21:11 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by SunlightGirl



If you can't say anything nice, at least be wickedly funny | 28 comments (28 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback