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January 4, 2013

suffering david brooks gladly

Hey hey David Brooks!  You might think that the favorite topic of David Brooks is obscure sociological studies.  Not so.  That's just what David Brooks does to relax.

No, what really gets the blood of David Brooks flowing is manners, because without manners, what are we?  What higher aspiration can an American have than to be considered well-mannered by David Brooks, or even someone else?

So this morning's column concerns "suffering fools gladly."  You see, this phrase has been used to describe some people in newspaper profiles, and it got David Brooks to thinkin':

Today, the phrase is often used as an ambiguous compliment. It suggests that a person is so smart he has trouble tolerating people who are far below his own high standards.

We'll let that sit there a second, until it cools to room temperature.

But turns out David Brooks is not all for not suffering fools gladly!  In fact, he thinks it's — get this — unseemly:

Smart people who’ve thought about this usually understand that the habits we put in practice end up shaping the people we are within. “Manners are of more importance than laws,” Edmund Burke wrote. “Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”

Not to wade into the waters of 250 year old English history, but do note that it is the location of the platonic ideal of behavior according to David Brooks.

But the fun, really fun thing about the piece is the hypothetical of "not suffering fools gladly" that is conjured by David Brooks (as described by the first quote above).  Someone too prepossessed with knowledge treats the honest, naive mistake of someone lower on the social scale roughly.  David Brooks characterizes the inability to suffer fools gladly as some baronial default — no need to embarrass the peons as the natural state of the peon is already something approaching embarrassment.

The blind spot in that naked obsession with privilege is that sometimes the fool is not some poor miscreant.  Sometimes, the fool is one's equal, or even one's better.  And sometimes, the fool is David Brooks himself.  To not suffer a fool gladly is not always an act of social condescension.  It's just as likely as an expedient reluctance to traffic in bullshit.

Briefly, David Brooks doesn't really know what a fool is.

This is surely a sign that life is going back to normal from the holiday blitz, finding the fatuousness in a David Brooks column.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:17 AM

January 3, 2013

scoop: allen west to lead new confederate states

Further to the immediately previous post, I did dig up the link I was talking about, the one to a serious consideration to a New Secessionist movement.

It's totally from a site that's, let's say, outside of the mainstream, but it is seventy-five percent less cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs racist than the example I offered yesterday, so, yeah, here it is.

Again, it's not parody or satire.  Apparently, Tea Party patriots have finally noticed the "Sharia Law, Fema Camps, Marxism and RIFD Chips" that we've been sneaking into their food supply and/or children's education.  And they're scared that this might be the end of America!

And if you don't have five minutes for crazy, I share with you this, the "kicker" of the article:

The name of Allen West is being tapped as potential future Leader of the projected New American Confederacy according to sources familiar with the sponsors and promoters of the Breakaway States, and tentative arrangements are already in mind to draft a new watertight Constitution under a single autonomous directly elected tier of Government.

That's as earth-shattering as it is idiomatically challenged.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:49 AM

January 2, 2013

new new secessionists

This is embarrassing, and Exhibit A for the argument that I am not utilizing technology correctly, but there was this article I read right before I left for work, an article that I mulled over on the train, and an article that now I cannot find for the life of me.  It was concerning a new secessionist movement, one manned by all those states that Obama did not win in the South and Midwest.  I have no idea where that freaking article went to, but it linked pages like this one (which, as a warning, is source material and not satire).

First of all, it's fascinating because it is so emotionally stunted, the belief that the rational response to losing elections is to DEMAND THAT THE ELECTION REFLECT THE COMPLAINTANT'S CLEARLY DOMINANT PREFERENCE, or, failing that, let them start their own elections in which only we win.  It's behavior that would not be tolerated from a child, and yet, there it is.  (And, if you look across the globe and through the prism of history, it's not exactly rare.)  I would better understand a slow evacuation of the complainers — "we are outnumbered; we will go somewhere where our crypto-racism is tolerated."  That would make more sense than attempting to win an argument by starting a war.

But even more mystifying is this kneejerk urge to fight the Civil War again, because as I recall, the last time it happened it did not end so well for the Confederacy.

But this is the result of the hyper-partisanship of the early 20th Century: wingnuts not just intractable, but willing to take up arms not as a last resort but as a second resort.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:03 AM