Circus Maximus MMXVI: Talk talk

10 11 2015

Reading Gawker’s live blog makes it tempting, but. . .

. . . once again, I am neither listening to nor watching Republicans debate one another on who can heighten walls highest, lower taxest lowest, and shrink government down to the shrinkiest dink possible.

It’s magic!

Those kids could go far.

Of course, I also think this guy would fit it quite well: just substitute “government” or “immigrants” or, really, anybody, and there’s your campaign slogan!



Circus Maximus MMXVI: Keep on keeping on

6 08 2015

Sorry I haven’t been around much: a combination of delayed after-effects of an antibiotic and a tough week at work has left me in tatters.

But: tonight is the GOPpers first [set of] debate[s], and I wanted to get in a quick hit about Trump before this thing is over:

I think he’d do best not to behave.

There are rules for debates, formal and informal, and while he may be forced to follow the formal rules (whatever they are), there’s likely nothing the moderators can do if he decides to spin off dispatch after dispatch from his own, alternate, universe.

Half a decade ago I considered the possibility of a Sarah Palin run for the presidency, and wondered “how do you fight against someone concerned only with her own creation of the truth?” As I embedded a clip from an old NewsRadio episode (which you can view here; the crucial bit begins around 9:20) as an example of how someone willing to crash through the most basic expectations of argument will beat the person who abides by those expectations.

As I noted then

You can deal with a reality-manipulator, because the manipulator has to have some sense of that reality before she warps it to her own ends. And even that Bush staffer who sniffed to the NYTimes reporter about those stuck in the ‘reality-based community’ and the ability of the Bush admin to create its own reality nonetheless still gestured to reality. They did, in their own baleful way, seek to create new facts on the ground.

[. . .]

So how does someone avoid the physics of politics, the inevitable grinding down and peeling back and failure associated with all political action? You don’t accept that there are any rules, any downs on the other side of up, any nulls to one’s hypotheses; there is only the rabbit pulled out of the hat and the declaration that this is, indeed, magic. And that magic is real.

A Trump who tries to whittle himself down to fit into the role of the “serious candidate” is a Trump who whittles himself down into nothing at all.

No, for Trump to triumph he should keep doin’ that Trump thing.

Won’t help him win the nomination, of course, but it might keep him in the game a while longer.


Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto

11 03 2013

It’s a bit of a pickle.

How does one—how do I—create the conditions for a good debate on an issue which I think is not debatable?

This is a 100-level class on contemporary issues—and the students are high school seniors, to boot—so the constraints on debate are different, stricter, than what I’d allow in a 300-or-above-level class. I can trust my experienced students to stretch themselves around and take apart emotionally and ethically tricky issues without worrying that they’ll become undone; I can trust that they’ll use, rather than lose, their minds.

(Of course, not every student bothers to stretch herself, but lack of engagement is, in this context, less problematic than over- or mis-engagement.)

I want the intro-level students to learn about these issues and learn how to think for themselves, but it’s a damnable paradox that I have to structure the hell out of the classes (trans: do a lot of underground thinking on their behalf) in order to enable them to think. I don’t want to steer them; I have to steer them.

So, anyway, specifics: how do I have debate about sexual equality when I don’t think this is debatable?

I’d never have a debate about racial equality in this course, so why a consideration of sexual equality?One response is that sexual equality is a conventionally controversial issue in ways that racial equality is not. Very Serious People (to borrow an epithet from Krugman) are allowed to harrumph on the “natures” of men and women in ways that would be decidedly non-kosher if applied to ethnicity.

It’s a real, live issue, in other words.

Another response is that I did a shitty job in defining the issue as “sexual equality” as opposed to, I dunno, something else. Difference and equality, maybe? Changing sex roles? With either of those approaches, at least, I could find good, solid arguments from a number of different sides, that is, I could encourage debate in ways that don’t insult logic, evidence, or my own (and my students’) humanity.

I did manage to find a few pieces which approach the issue from the difference/equality perspective, so the students leading tomorrow’s class should be okay. Still, it could have been better.

This is what I get for thinking We should talk about this without figuring out ahead of time This is how we should talk about this.

Mayan campaign mashup 2012: What’s in your head, in your head

3 10 2012

I listened to the last 20 minutes of the debate and was annoyed at Romney for being Romney and annoyed at Obama for not being Obama.

There’s a scene from the original Rocky (that I can’t find and so may be misremembering. . .) in which Mickey keeps telling Rocky to stay cool, stay cool, and then at some point Rocky and Apollo go at it after the round ends and Mickey says, in effect, RIGHT ON!

Rocky: I thought you told me to be cool.

Mickey: That was cool!

Again, I may have gotten the scene wrong, but from the brief bit I heard and from the live-blogging I followed (Slog at The Stranger), Obama never bothered to switch up his cool.

Disappointing. Unlikely to matter much, but still.


They’re not stopping!

15 10 2008

Forty more minutes of this.

Each minute a nail in my melting head. You’d think that [melting] would make the pounding [of nails] hurt less.

And yet it doesn’t.

Make them stop. Please. Make them stop.

15 10 2008

Oh my god. The debate.

The horror! The horror!

Be glad I’m stifling the urge to blog line by line. This is less out of self-discipline than self-preservation: I fear my head would deliquesce.

I will forbear, and listen. But must. stop. writing. . . now.