July 27, 2017

Trumptastic Review

Looking at the insane tweet clown show that is the presidency of Donald Trump, I wondered if I had made any predictions or statements regarding DJ Trumpy that would still hold up now. So, taking a look back at my posts of March 8, 2016, March 16, 2016, and August 7, 2016, it appears I had the following to say:

From March 8 (wherein I reported that Trump would never be president - my serious mistake):
As should be evident, you change position depending on how the question is asked and when. You make flimsy excuses ("I didn't hear the question") for bad positions, you state different things at different times, you hedge, you engage in glittering generalities, and you bluster about hand sizes and other nonsense.
Also from March 8:
We have swallowed it long enough. It is no longer a question of taking a deep breath and opposing Obama or Hilary or whomever. You have become a force to be opposed. And we will do that by refusing to vote. We think you are a charlatan - a paper tiger - a sophist - a ridiculous TV clown who opens debate answers with penis jokes.
March 16, post-nomination:
Donald Trump is a mockery of this virtue. He remembers every evil. He seems not to have grand or noble designs - instead, his every speech is flattery to the crowd. He reverses course when challenged on his own words, denying that he said them, or excusing them as an error of the moment. In fact, he seems more apt to live up to the OED obscure definitions related to his name: (1) trump - noun: "A thing of small value, a trifle; pl. goods of small value, trumpery;" and (2) trump - verb: "To deceive, cheat."
And also from March 16:
We have laughed at the idea of virtue in society, exchanging it instead for an ethics of utilitarianism. We are now on the verge of electing a man whose very nature is excess - excess in wives, in wealth, in appearance. He is the embodiment - the end, the telos - of an age dedicated to excess. His popularity cannot be denied, and I do not think it a stretch to say that his popularity is based in no small part upon his willingness to step upon and trample older ideals of virtue.

Re: Trump v. Hilary, from August 7:
This reasoning presumes, of course, that Trump is a better option than Hilary. I do not think this is proven. In fact, Trump seems equally likely to engage in all sorts of questionable, and perhaps immoral, behavior. Certainly, he has no qualms about doing that during his campaign, sounding quite insane in the process: "(Cruz’s) father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up...."
The same August 7 post:
He's a loudmouthed, buffoonish, machismo clown, with delusions of grandeur. He is completely driven by appetite - and that's quite bad. I would wager, to reference Aristotle, that he is nearly a vicious man. Does he regret making personal attacks at every turn? Does he even realize what he's doing? C.S. Lewis once noted that it would be better to live under robber barons than omnipotent moral busybodies...but what about robber barons vs. intemperate bullies? 
I think all of these are still very much apt, even more so as Trump continues his paranoid style of politics, acting as a one-man clown show. 

July 13, 2017

Medieval Cookery

Two of the more interesting pages I have run across are the Medieval Cookery page and the Gode Cookery page. Apparently, one thing ubiquitous in English cultures (and perhaps more broadly - I have not investigated) is the existence of cookbooks. Some Nutritional anthropologist would no doubt have more to say on this score.

For your own edification and entertainment, I recommend at least a cursory perusal of the above pages. For a preview...

Puddyng of purpaysse

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS 279 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Stuffed porpoise stomach


.xl. Puddyng of purpaysse. Take þe Blode of hym, & þe grece of hym self, & Ote-mele, & Salt, & Pepir, & Gyngere, & melle þese to-gederys wel, & þan putte þis in þe Gutte of þe purays, & þan lat it seþe esyli, & not hard, a good whylys; & þan take hym vppe, & broyle hym a lytil, & þan serue forth.

July 11, 2017


I am no fan of President Trump, as readers of this blog know well. I do think that he, more often than not, does not get a fair shake by the press. However, this obvious bias does not excuse the man's more glaring faults.

One of those faults is his use of Twitter. I don't think much of Twitter as a platform, and I think it's part of our societal woes, for various reasons.

Therefore, what I am doing here is "intelligentsing" a few of Mr. Trump's recent tweets, as a fun exercise.

Very amusing for me, very good for you - and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it. - Gandalf.

Recently, I requested that my daughter, a woman whom I know to be intelligent, hard-working, and accomplished, to use my seat at the G20 conference with world leaders. I have every confidence in her ability to do so. Unfortunately, some in the press and Democrats took this as an opportunity to lambaste my choice. As I am sure they are aware, if this had been Chelsea Clinton filling in for her mother, she would be touted as a presidential candidate.

As the hardworking and intelligent voters who elected me know, I have an America-First Policy. There are those in the media who will twist anything I say in the worst possible way, but I will nonetheless carry on, to make American Great Again! 

I thoroughly enjoyed my travels in Poland and meeting the leaders of that great country. I believe the speech I gave was well-received, as evidenced by the praise of even those who usually detract from my efforts!

By continuing missile tests, North Korea has increased instability in the region, threatening our allies of Japan and South Korea. It is truly a wonder that they have restrained their hand in hope of a final peace with North Korea. Perhaps the great China will significantly increase intervention in the role of peace-keeper with their traditional allies  and bring this to a long-lasting resolution.

June 29, 2017

Press Objectivity?

In light of my previous post, I would like to note something briefly. Christopher Lasch, the great gadfly, published an article in the Gannett Center Journal in 1995 called "Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument."

In that article, Lasch stated:
The role of the press, as Lippmann saw it, was to circulate information, not to encourage argument. The relationship between information and argument was antagonistic, not complementary. He did not take the position that reliable information was a necessary precondition of argument; on the contrary, his point was that information precluded argument, made argument unnecessary. Arguments were what took place in the absence of reliable information. 
Lippmann was the progenitor of modern journalism, argued Lasch, because it attempted to be a non-partisan supplier of "information" rather than debate. However, Lasch argued that:
The decline of partisan press and the rise of a new type of journalism professing rigorous standards of objectivity do not assure a steady supply of usable information. Unless information is generated by sustained public debate, most of it will be irrelevant at best, misleading and manipulative at worse.
Lasch seems to make the point that journalism ought not to pretend to objectivity, and simply make its biases and positions clear, and forward public debate, rather than simply pretend to objectivity and become the tools of the information supplier.

The News Media and the Church

I was saddened to see that George Cardinal Pell was charged by the Australian police with multiple counts of historic sexual abuse. "Historic sexual abuse" meaning that the crimes of which he is accused occurred some time ago.

While I hope he will be cleared, I equally am aware that he has testified as follows:
Last year, Pell acknowledged during his testimony to the commission that the Catholic Church had made "enormous mistakes" in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse.
However, at least some of the new allegations appear to flow from this:
[T]wo men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.
I wanted to take a moment, however, to note something about this "news" article, namely that it is another example of press bias, despite any claims of lack of bias. I would note, first, that this is an Associated Press reporter, Kristen Gelineau. The AP claims to be "always committed to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism."

In this news story, Ms. Gelineau states: "The charges are a new and serious blow to Pope Francis, who has already suffered several credibility setbacks in his promised "zero tolerance" policy about sex abuse."

Now, that these are a "new and serious blow" to the Pope's "zero tolerance" stance is ridiculous. They may be such, if the Pope knew of the occurrence of the claimed abuse, and did nothing, or refused to allow Cardinal Pell to return to Australia to face the charges. However, that these historic abuse allegations, apparently only now coming to light, could cause damage to a policy in some fashion, ipso facto their existence, defies reason and logic.

Many in journalism apparently do not see a conflict between "objectivity" and "issue advocacy" or "description." While to some, drawing conclusions as Ms. Gelineau did would be problematically nonobjective because it is based solely on assumptions and inferences that are not warranted under the situation, many journalists and their readers would see no conflict. To them, it is objectively true that the Catholic Church is riddled with sex abusers, and discovery of any such abusers must therefore belie the Church's commitment to no tolerance policies. For such, as the Church has not undertaken a full investigation of all clergy in its ranks, accused or otherwise, indicates a lack of commitment, I suspect.

Allegations against clergy must be taken seriously and investigated. However, they must also not be taken for an indictment of any policy the Church has of no-tolerance when there is no information currently in light that does so.