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November 16, 2005

Comments

Gary: you're right, I meant pseudonymously.

"No one denies that the Viet Cong/NLF continued to exist until c.1975 (when, it should be noted, much of their now-useless leadership was sent away for "reeducation" or worse). But they were never again a meaningful battlefield threat post-Tet. As you note, the NVA had to shoulder the burden of the Communist war effort thenceforth. My point stands."

The key to this seems to be defining "meaningful battlefield threat." It's a term that in and of itself is vague to the point of near-uselessness. Which makes it easy for different people, absent a definition, to think that another is being inaccurate when arguing about it.

How about both Tacitus and dr. ngo offer a definition, and then we can play some more? (Probably I'm the only one still interested in Vietnam debates, or at least debates about military aspects of the war, though.)

On first read it looks to me as if dr.ngo's assertions about the VC/VCI support the notion that they were "meaningful" on the battlefield, whereas Tacitus seems to be using "meaningful" to mean something very much stronger, such as "dominant."

Clearly the VC weren't the main force attacking the ARVN after, say, 1969; that hardly means they weren't "meaningful" on the battlefield, though. I'd find it educational if Tacitus would address this, and respond to the given cite with specifics, rather than his usual (in my limited field of view) insults and uninterest in substance beyond personal ad hominems (I'm sure Tacitus has a substantial body of work, but all I've ever read by him, for the most part, are his appearances here, and about 94% of his work in my field of vision has been nothing but ad hominem; I suspect he may not realize that this is the persona he's presented here.)

. Sigh.

The incident seems to have spawned a mini-debate on the thread about anonymity and whatnot. Just for the record, yes, "Spartikus" isn't really anonymous. As others note, I include an email (not my real one though) with my name, which when entered in Google is prominent for two individuals, and funnily enough despite the other one being a Hollywood special effects bigwig, I'm the first one. My blog currently has reference to my employment, and I see from my webstats that someone who could be Tacitus visited yesterday. And just for the record, while I very much appreciate Hilzoy's stand I didn't, and wasn't, going to complain.

How he fit one handle, which was anonymous, to the other, I don't know. I guess he must have gone into the registration records of Tacitus.org. Or maybe he just guessed. I will note that this seems to have happened to other people before. While two incidents doesn't truly suggest a pattern, it does seem...odd.

What I really don't understand is why I in particular would rate such ire, being only an occasional (and admittably ineffective) member of the commentariat.

It's your site, and you should do as you wish, but I think allowing repeated anonymous posting is destructive to conversation. I do feel quite strongly that, alternatively, respecting pseudonymity is highly important.

I was going to post something using the word "pedantic," but you'd probably just point out how I was using the word incorrectly, or something.

And it's entirely understandable that you might end up not making sense

Ahem, that would be the deranged DaveC that steals my thoughts and seeks an outlet.

I prefer to remain anonymous because that's a way to minimize my email, by the way. I dont like to registering and logging into sites. I think everything has gone to hell since the days of 300 baud acoustic couplers. I don't have any political, academic or professional credentials of any interest either. You kids have no respect for your elders and the music sounds like noise.

Is there anyway to find old pre-scoop Tacitus archives? Occasionally I go back into archives, particularly Winds of Change, to refresh my memory about various things.

"'Spartikus' isn't really anonymous."

Well, by definition, it couldn't be, could it?

I have to wonder if everyone actually knows what "anonymity" means. [scratches head]

You can't actually be known by a name and be "anonymous," after all. If you're known by a name, you are definitionally not anonymous. You are known if you are known. I'm not clear what's unclear about that, so I'm back to thinking some folks don't understand what "anonymity" means.

It's true that the person whose e-mail address is J---- G----- posts pseudonymously as "Spartikus," but, of course, no one has any way of knowing whether JG is the name on the birth certificate of the writer, and, more relevantly, no one has any reason to care.

People change names all the time. They're adopted. Their parents divorce, and they are given a new family name at the age of three. They seek independence, and pick a nickname to be known by at age 12, or 17, or 28. They marry and change it. The move to a different country, and localize it. They decide to repudiate their family or father. They decide to make a new start. They don't want to be known at work as the author of the opinions posted on a given site or sites. There are a million reasons people change names, sometimes many times in a lifetime.

Whatever. It's all frigging arbitrary, including whether your great grandparents had the same name you do (hey, most of them didn't!). That people often seem to have a purely magical belief in "real names" is an artifact of being blinded to what is a product of their own culture and what isn't; nothing more. Names are no more or less "real" than any other names, or words. Thinking otherwise is a map/reality category-error confusion.

"'Spartikus' isn't really anonymous."

Well, by definition, it couldn't be, could it?

I have to wonder if everyone actually knows what "anonymity" means. [scratches head]

You can't actually be known by a name and be "anonymous," after all. If you're known by a name, you are definitionally not anonymous. You are known if you are known. I'm not clear what's unclear about that, so I'm back to thinking some folks don't understand what "anonymity" means.

It's true that the person whose e-mail address is J---- G----- posts pseudonymously as "Spartikus," but, of course, no one has any way of knowing whether JG is the name on the birth certificate of the writer, and, more relevantly, no one has any reason to care.

People change names all the time. They're adopted. Their parents divorce, and they are given a new family name at the age of three. They seek independence, and pick a nickname to be known by at age 12, or 17, or 28. They marry and change it. The move to a different country, and localize it. They decide to repudiate their family or father. They decide to make a new start. They don't want to be known at work as the author of the opinions posted on a given site or sites. There are a million reasons people change names, sometimes many times in a lifetime.

Whatever. It's all frigging arbitrary, including whether your great grandparents had the same name you do (hey, most of them didn't!). That people often seem to have a purely magical belief in "real names" is an artifact of being blinded to what is a product of their own culture and what isn't; nothing more. Names are no more or less "real" than any other names, or words. Thinking otherwise is a map/reality category-error confusion.

"I was going to post something using the word 'pedantic,' but you'd probably just point out how I was using the word incorrectly, or something."

I doubt Gary would do that unless you were writing in a way that changed the meaning of what you wrote from what you intended to communicate.

Do you really think it's "pedantic" to try to untangle the confusion that results when someone writes something that isn't what they mean?

Or do you really think that the difference between writing pseudonymously and anonymously is trivial and unimportant?

You, say, wouldn't mind if we all actually posted anonymously?

What anon says makes sense to me.

We should all post anonymously!

R u a moron?!!! If we al posted that way, no 1 would tel us a part!!#!

Shuddup, pen-dart! This is BETTAH!!!!!!!

. . . including whether your great grandparents had the same name you do (hey, most of them didn't!).

Now that's an understatement! We each have 8 great grandparents. The odds that even one of them has the same name as you are remote: even if you are Gary Herbert Farber IV, your great grandfather would be Gary Herbert Farber Sr. Not the same name.

Yes, one can adopt the name of any of one's 8 ggparents. I don't feel much like an Eleanor, though . . .

Data points: the US Census did not record anyone named Gary Farber from 1790 through 1930. There are something like 100 adult Gary Farbers in the US at this moment. Only 3 people named Gary Farber have died in the US from 1950 to the present.

An impressive uptick, and at this rate, the entire world population will be named 'Gary Farber" by -- well, can one of our math whizzes give the figure?

No one is scheduled to discover my clones until 2024, when we form the critical mass!

You must all die, now.

Gary is a pendant for not posting anonymously!

it's barely "outing" someone if it's a matter of the subject using a nom de interweb that shows another name on the first page when dropped into Google.

Gary: I don't disagree on this point, nor on the distinction between pseudonyms and anonymity. But since this was apparently written with reference to my own "nom de net," I thought I'd google "dr no" and see just where and how my true identity is revealed. [Taking into account all of the epistemological questions raised about names and "true identity," maybe I should change that to my "conventional nomenclature" or "the name I was born with (and actually go by)."]

I was a bit surprised to find that when I googled "dr no," this information did not show up, at least on the first page (or first few pages). Possibly I did it wrong; this has certainly been known to happen. Or, just possibly, I Am Not Who You Think I Am! Boggles the mind ...

Try googling "ngowen," the name on your typekey profile, which we see when we put the mouse over your posting ID.

"It's your site, and you should do as you wish, but I think allowing repeated anonymous posting is destructive to conversation. I do feel quite strongly that, alternatively, respecting pseudonymity is highly important."

Gary is entirely right - or rather, I agree entirely with Gary. I expressed some unhappiness with a commenter here who had changed handles, and I would likely have done the same in this thread except that it seemed inappropriate in context.

"Dave, I'm very sorry to hear about this, and now that you bring it up again, I recall you're making an equally vague reference in the past. My sympathies go out to your family in this time of trouble. I wish all of you all the best."

Gary is again entirely right, except for "you're".

Gary Farber: You can't actually be known by a name and be "anonymous," after all. If you're known by a name, you are definitionally not anonymous. You are known if you are known. I'm not clear what's unclear about that, so I'm back to thinking some folks don't understand what "anonymity" means.

You mean, like these folks?

Perhaps someone should start an organization called "Pedants Pseudonymous".

So if everyone were forced to post as "anon," that would make no difference whatever to you, Gromit? I mean, anon?

It would make a difference to me. What does that have to do with whether a person posting under an assumed name can be described as "anonymous"?

How many angels can fit through the eye of a needle?

Discuss.

"It would make a difference to me."

Why are you being such a pedant?

People who claim it makes a difference are pedants! Pedants, pedants, pedants!

if everyone were forced to post as "anon"
That's what I'm in favor of.

Thats not you doing the exercise is it? I mean your blog name, strawman.

DaveC, "rosenschale" means "bowl of roses", if that's what you're asking about.

I guess I was expecting a vase, or something.

One thing I have wonder about Tacitus, is why he keeps making new blogs. Is he a Johnny Appleseed? Or after a while does he think "Nobody goes there, it's too crowded".

I miss crionna.
I wonder if he would allow an occasion diary entry like that to be posted in comments, although he really dowsn't come here anymore.

<ObPedantry>

You can't actually be known by a name and be "anonymous," after all. If you're known by a name, you are definitionally not anonymous.

Depends on how you mean "known by a name". We ascribe names to anonymous authors (see, e.g., the various debates on Biblical authorship); we can refer to individuals who perpetually change IDs by one of their nicks; or writers by some identifying traits within their letters or posts; and so forth. To be pseudonymous, to me, requires that the individual adopts a name which then has a persistent connection to that individual -- unless you count, e.g., "Bourbaki" as a pseudonym, which I don't really -- over a multiplicity of works, thus providing, in some sense, an authorial "life" wherein everything matches up to reality (author actually wrote those letters, etc.) in everything except the name.

To put it more concretely, were I to write a single letter to the editor signed "Abbyrium" (to make up a name on the spot), I think it would be completely legitimate to describe my authorship of that letter as "anonymous", my fake name notwithstanding. [You could also describe it as pseudonymous too, but I'm not sure to what end.] Were I to write further letters to the editor under different names -- "Jack Ham", "Togo", and "Myxomandiosus", to pick three further random examples -- I think it would be fair to describe me as anonymous but not, in any meaningful sense, pseudonymous... even if everyone referred to me as "Abbyrium" since that first letter was so gol-danged good. [Hence, I'd be "known by a name" which is nevertheless not in any meaningful sense my pseudonym.] Were I to write further letters to the editor under the same name, however, it would be inappropriate to describe me as anonymous and appropriate to describe me as pseudonymous.

That distinction -- repeated writings connected to the original author via the same name as chosen by the author -- is crucial to my eyes. Pseudonymous communication on the net, for example, is very similar to conventional RL communication in many respects since it allows for persistency of communication, reputational systems and the like. Anonymous communication is vastly different -- even if, as I said above, you happen to be known by a name -- and much trickier. [Anonymous RL communication exists, but most of us don't indulge.] So while I certainly agree with your larger point that the distinction between "pseudonymous" and "anonymous" needs to be maintained, I think you have to be a lot more careful in describing what exactly that difference is.

</ObPedantry>

What about that excellent(*) early music group, Anonymous Four? Are they anonymous or pseudonymous or neither (since they have their pictures and "real" names on the back cover of the CD)?

(*) Really. Devotees of medieval music (**) for women's voices should track them down, if you haven't already done so.

(**) Including pseudo-medieval music, such as the [modern] score written to accompany Dreyer's silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc.

My mother-in-law went thru a phase where she liked to enter sweepstakes, any kind of sweepstakes she encountered. She liked it so much she entered us in the sweepstakes as well, sometimes multiple times. Needless to say, we got some interesting mail for a while after that. Thank goodness an email address wasn't required on the entry form.

Were I to write further letters to the editor under the same name, however, it would be inappropriate to describe me as anonymous and appropriate to describe me as pseudonymous.

That distinction -- repeated writings connected to the original author via the same name as chosen by the author -- is crucial to my eyes.

Exactly so.

Pedantry is "a ostentatious and inappropriate display of learning." It's not "making an important distinction."

The difference between pseudonymity and anonymity is hardly insignificant. If it were, one couldn't switch one for the other and not be bothered.

I am deeply confused about the etiquette of outing the commenter's other handle, which, as best I can tell, was truly anonymous. On the other hand, what is the etiquette of changing your handle, then re-engaging someone with whom you have a long-standing grudge?

Sorry to return to this, but since I pointed out the outing first (perhaps it would have gone unnoted had I not?), I should toss in my 2 yen.

I think it is deeply wrong to refer to someone's real-life identity, which is what happened here. It's made worse by the fact that the person who did it went apparently went into the registration information of one of the sites he runs to dig this out and use it. (btw, isn't this what Fitzgerald is working on with Libby?)

As for pointing out that the person is changing his/her handle to continue an attack, if that had been all that was pointed out, I would have had a lot more sympathy.

One question this does raise is how much we need to credit a person's real life experiences when they write. Well, if they use that experience and it turns out that they embellished or manufactured that experience, I think that is misleading their audience and it should be pointed out. However, I think that their real life identity shouldn't be threatened because that is an escalation. Perhaps it will be that this person using that pseudonym won't be able to show their face on that particular blog. And it is possible that people may chase them to other blogs as a form of cyber-stalking, which is not so nice, but given the way blogs work, not possible to police. But there should be a bright line separating the information here and real life identity, unless that information could have an impact on other people's lives in the real world.

We've had two incidents (not counting Gary playing anonymous to make his point about how an anonymous poster could disrupt a forum, which brings back a strange nostalgia about Usenet) here that bear on this. IIRC, one was when a longtime poster chose a different handle and started an argument with Slarti. Slarti pointed out that the person had the same IP address as another poster who made remarkably similar arguments. The commentor said that he changed his handle every so often for no special reason. This was hooted down and the person stopped commenting here, I think. I think this led to Slart looking over the IP addresses and found that a set of particularly virulent commentators who often argued against Hilzoy's posts were all from the same IP address. The IP address was banned, and I don't think anyone has since appeared displaying that commentator's brand of rhetoric. Thus, there seems to be a default policy of banning people who get obnoxious and post with multiple handles from the same IP address, so though there is not a specific mention in the posting rules, it seems to have precedent in the ObWi book. And it would certainly fall under the rubric of 'disrupting the conversation for its own sake'

I'm quite sure that when I write things here, I'm writing them in real life.

I'm pretty sure this blog exists in real life. This isn't all a dream, is it?

For really real
link

I guess you've not been around the internet very much, eh? I bet you don't even have a blog!

Pedantry is "a ostentatious and inappropriate display of learning." It's not "making an important distinction."

A pedant can also be "a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning". It is the pedant who fails to realize that the distinction in question is important to him, and to him alone. For example, I recently saw a Burger King commercial in which an Imperial Stormtrooper lights a grill with his blaster. I remarked, with no small amount of disdain, that the blaster fire should not be blue, as portrayed, but red. Clone Troopers' blasters fire blue bolts. The Blastech E-11 issued to every Stormtrooper fires red bolts. Any idiot knows this.

My wife rightly noted that I was being pedantic. Those weren't the words she used (which, for the sake of my dignity, I'll not transcribe here) but that was the message, in a nutshell.

Don't get me wrong, there are important distinctions between pseudonymity and anonymity, but in the case of a person who uses a pseudonym to conceal his real name, as far as I'm concerned, both may apply. Hence Alcoholics Anonymous, in which members are known only by their first names. By the strict standard you advocate, the members would not be "anonymous" at all. Perhaps you would argue this point with the organization's founders. However, they would be justified in labeling this argument "pedantry".

not counting Gary playing anonymous to make his point about how an anonymous poster could disrupt a forum, which brings back a strange nostalgia about Usenet

There does seem to be some sort of poetic justice about this anon poster disrupting things, but lets not assume it is Gary. And Its hard to believe Gary didnt read Tacitus in the olden days.

That is a very good point, DaveC, I should have written
"not counting someone (who I think may be Gary?) playing anonymous with multiple handles..."

One of the hive mind could look at the IP address(es) used, but I would much prefer they write posts rather than have to do that.

I am Spartikus. No...I am Spartikus.

Go right ahead.

OK, you are Spartikus. Can we go home now?

Okay, okay, I take back my pedantry charge, which was levelled not because Gary thinks the distinction between anonymity and pseudonymity is important (it is) but because I thought he was intentionally taking the long way to that point.

Looking back at Gary's post, I see that he may actually have been confused about Hilzoy's meaning. From context, it was pretty clear to me what she meant, but I can see how a reasonably intelligent person could be confused, given that we did have some pseudonym switching here.

Slarti pointed out that the person had the same IP address as another poster who made remarkably similar arguments.

Which I kind of regret, I have to say. Not the detective work, but the dragging of any of the end products out into the public eye. The identity of the posters is not anything that y'all should be concerned with. It is, however, something that I concern myself with when it threatens to disrupt the conversation.

I am here in this old thread sent by someone to whom Atrios sent me when calling Trevino the wanker of the day.

I would like to comment on one of the comment by Francis.

"those guerrilla movements crushed by occupying forces (Mau Mau in Kenya, Viet Cong, FLN in Algeria) were defeated, i suspect, by tactics considered unacceptable today.

(It's probably also worth pointing out that the govts of each of those three countries since the end of the guerrilla wars have not exactly been characterized by stability or pro-west attitudes.)"

In fact the FLN and the Vietnamese communists were victorious. In Vietnam Hanoi achieved its war aims. From 1964 on, the Viet Cong followed orders from Hanoi (denied at the time confirmed since then). They, like the FLN won the war after losing all the battles.


Similarly, the Mau Mau were a Kikuyu movement aiming for independence and Kikuyu hegemony. Both were promptly achieved after their alleged defeat. The British generally assumed that Kenyatta was the true leader of the Mau Mau insurgency (no proof or confirmation was or is available). He became dictator soon after the Mau Mau were "defeated".

Francis is wrong about one thing though, Kenyatta was pro western. In this case, the British achieved their aims by aloowing their perceived greatest adversary to take power (see also "Cyprus and "Makarios").

If the British were right about Kenyatta,
the three examples of defeated insurgencies turn out to be three insurgencies whose aims were completely achieved.

Trevino's claim about what could be achieved in Iraq if our will does not falter is based on claims about what could have been achieved in the past if someone's will had not faltered.

There are two cases of genuinely defeated insurgencies, Africaaners in South Africa and communists in Malaysia. In each case, the insurgency was fought by an ethnic minority (in South Africa a minority of Whites). They were genuinely defeated, although it is true that the Africaaners obtained power half a century after their defeat.

Way back in 2005 this might have made them seem relevant to Iraq. Now that Iraq is in civil war and we don't want to take sides with the Shi'ites, the cases are irrelevant

I am here in this old thread sent by someone to whom Atrios sent me when calling Trevino the wanker of the day.

I would like to comment on one of the comment by Francis.

"those guerrilla movements crushed by occupying forces (Mau Mau in Kenya, Viet Cong, FLN in Algeria) were defeated, i suspect, by tactics considered unacceptable today.

(It's probably also worth pointing out that the govts of each of those three countries since the end of the guerrilla wars have not exactly been characterized by stability or pro-west attitudes.)"

In fact the FLN and the Vietnamese communists were victorious. In Vietnam Hanoi achieved its war aims. From 1964 on, the Viet Cong followed orders from Hanoi (denied at the time confirmed since then). They, like the FLN won the war after losing all the battles.


Similarly, the Mau Mau were a Kikuyu movement aiming for independence and Kikuyu hegemony. Both were promptly achieved after their alleged defeat. The British generally assumed that Kenyatta was the true leader of the Mau Mau insurgency (no proof or confirmation was or is available). He became dictator soon after the Mau Mau were "defeated".

Francis is wrong about one thing though, Kenyatta was pro western. In this case, the British achieved their aims by aloowing their perceived greatest adversary to take power (see also "Cyprus and "Makarios").

If the British were right about Kenyatta,
the three examples of defeated insurgencies turn out to be three insurgencies whose aims were completely achieved.

Trevino's claim about what could be achieved in Iraq if our will does not falter is based on claims about what could have been achieved in the past if someone's will had not faltered.

There are two cases of genuinely defeated insurgencies, Africaaners in South Africa and communists in Malaysia. In each case, the insurgency was fought by an ethnic minority (in South Africa a minority of Whites). They were genuinely defeated, although it is true that the Africaaners obtained power half a century after their defeat.

Way back in 2005 this might have made them seem relevant to Iraq. Now that Iraq is in civil war and we don't want to take sides with the Shi'ites, the cases are irrelevant

There is today by the dress from the http://asuncivanfrados.webng.com >dick suck elevator to the next several months. Mandy.

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