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December 21, 2010

Comments

I certainly expect that Dr. Science can speak for herself, I was initially and only commenting on your usage of the phrase 'factually false'. You are welcome to stand by it, but I don't think that phrase means what you think it does.

Is there any group or belief association that Charles could make which compel you to shun him as Catsy describes?

Semi-relevant question: if there are people who think Charles is worthy of shunning, to what degree are those same people spending time & energy talking about him, here?

I suspect that by "shun" you mean "get him to shut up". But I could be wrong, and hope that I am.

@Slarti: would "get him to stop trolling" be sufficiently charitable?


Happy Holidays to all of you from this long-time lurker!

@cleek: I can empathize re. Christmas, but I don't think New Years (or, say, Presidents Day) are generally seen as holy. I hope you enjoy your vacation at least as much as I am enjoying mine.

I wouldn't call it trolling. It's more unthinking participation. The main idea behind the post, for me, is that Christmas is really just the tip of the iceberg of a pattern of human existence that has gone on since people first began to try and determine what the future held for them. Charles seizes on the intro, that hinges on a pun and claims that Dr. Science is making a 'factually false' statement. Never mind that she specifically ascribed it to something taught to her in school, which could then be treated as something to discuss, chas suggests that Dr. Science is just too blinded to figure out when her teachers were relating facts and when they were trafficking in fantasy, even though what she relates what is a pretty common thought about the Battle of Trenton.

Chas then uses a website primarily designed for junior high school students as an authoritative source. and asserts the opposite, that colonists DID celebrate Christmas and then attributes the whole thing to liberal blinders. When called on it by me, he 'stands by' his statement, but claims that 'reality is complex'. Yet if DS is guilty of being factually false, than so is Charles, by his own admisson, because saying that the colonists DID celebrate Christmas is just as reductive as saying they didn't.

I don't wish Chas any ill will, but the idea that Dr. Science is blinded and can't see what are just so stories and Charles is more discerning, while a neat rhetorical trope, is, given the evidence Chas musters and his further statement about reality being complex, problematic and I'd like him to see that. If he has said 'Doc, I think you (or perhaps your teachers) are overstating this, and I think that many colonists did celebrate Christmas' would have not had me comment or maybe comment on colonial celebrations of Christmas. Still, there is an underlying notion that somehow, liberals don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (which I'm not convinced is necessarily a bad thing), and Chas is just speaking truth to power, loosely defined. But he's not, he's just substituting one generalization for another, and I don't think that it's really conducive to understanding.

Charles, do you have a cite on either the facts, or to support your logic from which you derive your thinking here?

I wrote a reply yesterday, Gary, but it didn't take. Arggh! LJ provided an informative link. Concerning my logic, instead of asking my support for it, why not tell me where it's flawed?

Have you noticed that these two sentences are contradictory, unless you are under the impression that Kim Jong Il is apt, or has ever been apt, to personally operate an artillery weapon that fired on South Korean territory or personnel?

I don't see the contradiction. Kim is an authoritarian Supreme Leader, so artillery attacks and torpodoeing SK ships come directly from him. Or are you suggesting that Kim is losing control of his military?

In the department of coincidences, this Slate piece discusses (but provides no answers) the question of why Americans claim to be more religious than they are.

I refudiated Dr. Sci's blanket assertion

Is that really a word now?

"Is that really a word now?"

Of course it is. There it is: "refudiate." You know what it means, I know what it means, which of course means it's a word. What else is a word but letters put together that we understand?

If you prefer an authority who isn't me, see the Oxford American Dictionary.

You can pick a more prescriptivist or descriptivist dictionary as you like. This is why it's important to know which dictionary you're using, what the history of it is, who accepted that one or doesn't at which publishing house, why "Webster's" is a meaningless term (because it is; it's not a trademark, and you or I can put out "Webster's 12th Annual Authoriative Dictionary," or use the name "Webster's" as much as we like, and as much as lots people do, which results in endless numbers of people who are clueless about dictionary having no idea how dictionaries work; end rant), etc.

Words are what people use to communicate. If we observe people using certain sets of letters in a consistent way that conveys a meaning as clear as any other set of letters, which is to say, as well or badly as the reader is educated, knowledgeable, and able to read and understand, it's a word.

Who chooses to use it or not, or recognize it or not, is another story, as are what other people choose to define as "words."

There's no law about that, in English-speaking countries, nor even any officially recognized authority on the English language that can be appealed to, unlike, say, the Académie française.

[...] The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.
We have neither.

Nor is English like these languages.

Besides, I'm a huge fan of John Sladek, who coined the term.

More discussion.

But everyone gets to decide for themselves what they think is or isn't a "word," and whether they'll accept it, argue over it, use it, not use it, etc. Language is what people use; describing it is descriptivism. Deciding you prefer a particular meaning and usage is prescriptivism. Prescriptivism by definition is an appeal to an authority, and which authority you choose to appeal to is, again, a matter of individual choice, or, if you're a writer, a matter of who you're being published by, what kind of writing, and other variables.

Thanks for the question!

Happy Boxing Day!

Charles:

As for your link, you've encapsulated once again why it's having conversations with you are frustrating exercises.
Do you have a poll on this? Because if you don't, what you mean is "you've encapsulated once again why myhaving conversations with you is a frustrating exercise."

I'm sure it is.

Are there other people whom you are authorized to speak for about their experiences conversing with LJ?

If so, please name them; if not, then you're speaking for yourself, but saying you're speaking for others. It's gotta be one or the other. Which is it?

My guess is that you're speaking for yourself, and didn't mean to imply otherwise, but if you'd like to clarify that, it might be helpful. Perhaps you do have a list of people you can name whom you're speaking for.

CMatt:

@Slarti: would "get him to stop trolling" be sufficiently charitable?
No. Writing that we disagree with, or think is ignorant, or wrong, or irritating, or stupid, or provoke negative emotions is not, per se, "trolling."

"Trolling" is a specific activity:

troll

1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase “trolling for newbies” which in turn comes from mainstream “trolling”, a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. See also YHBT.

2. n. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, “Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll.” Compare kook.

You are free, of course, to regard whom you like as a troll, as are we all. Charles does not meet my definition of a troll; if one wishes to suggest a particular comment might be regarded as trolling, we could discuss the comment and who thinks it is and isn't, and why, and go for it if you like, though personally I doubt it's going to be a useful debate, and as it steers into the direction of mind-reading and arguing about personalities, I'd suggest a more productive use of time, but up to you.

I do agree with liberal japonicus' December 26, 2010 at 02:33 AM comment.

Charles:

[...] Have you noticed that these two sentences are contradictory, unless you are under the impression that Kim Jong Il is apt, or has ever been apt, to personally operate an artillery weapon that fired on South Korean territory or personnel?

I don't see the contradiction. Kim is an authoritarian Supreme Leader, so artillery attacks and torpodoeing SK ships come directly from him. Or are you suggesting that Kim is losing control of his military?

The latter question is interesting, but irrelevant.

The contradiction is in your December 25, 2010 at 10:54 AM comment.

Turbulence wrote, in regard to George W. Bush (italized in the following, and you quoted, and then responded:

Of course [George W. Bush] is a terrorist. Every President in my lifetime has been a terrorist. Terrorism boils down to using violence or threats of violence against civilian populations to coerce them into making political change.

I suggest your definition is too broad, Turb. I would confine "terrorist" to the person who actually commits violence. I don't consider Kim Jong Il a terrorist because he uses angry words against South Koreans such as "sea of fire".

That's fine.

Now let's reread again. You stated:
I would confine "terrorist" to the person who actually commits violence.
This is your statement. Do you stand by it, or wish to revise it?

Do you mean something by it other than the standard reading that "actually commits violence" means directly engagine in a violent act, such as hitting someone, striking them with an object, or manipulative a device, such as a knife, gun, sword, grenade, RPG, mortar, bomb, or larger aimed projectile, munition, energy at a person or persons which results in harming them?

If not, than that's my understanding of what "actually commits violence" means. Please do let us know if that's what you meant, or if you wish to revise it.

Then you wrote:

I do consider him [Kim Jong Il] a terrorist if he lobs artillery at a disputed island without adequately targeting military installations.
So we're back to: are you saying Kim Jong Il personally fired a weapon at someone? Or are you saying that he gave orders?

If you're saying that giving orders constitutes "actually committing violence" then you've contradicted your previous statement that George W. Bush can't be called "a terrorist" because one Charles Bird just wrote in the same comment, as his point that:

I suggest your definition is too broad, Turb. I would confine "terrorist" to the person who actually commits violence.
So which is it? George W. Bush and Kim Jong Il are both leaders who have issued orders to their militaries that killed people. Can we agree that this is true?

If so, do we know of any cases where they "actually committed violence" in against enemies of their country? If so, cite please?

If not, then what exactly are you saying or trying to say?

You subsequently stated that:

[...] Kim is an authoritarian Supreme Leader, so artillery attacks and torpodoeing SK ships come directly from him.
Is it that Kim Jong Il is "an authoritarian Supreme Leader," and thus "artillery attacks and [other actions by the North Korean military] come directly from him," but since G. W. Bush was elected to office in 2004, therefore actions he orders by the U.S. military to kill people do not "come directly from him"? Or what?

It's possible someone else here understands what you mean, and if so, do please speak up. If not, any clarification from you, Charles, would help me understand what your POV is here. Thanks.

Happy Boxing Day, and thanks for any clarification.

On your earlier point, Charles, you asked me:

Concerning my logic, instead of asking my support for it, why not tell me where it's flawed?
Sure. You wrote:
Secondly, the logic of the Hessians being surprised by the Christmas attack, because colonists didn't celebrate the holiday, makes no logical sense. If they thought that the Revolutionaries didn't celebrate Christmas, then they would've been on alert on Christmas Day as they would any other day.
You're using inductive reasoning. Do you agree that this is inductive reasoning?

If not, which "logic" did you use? Deductive? Other? They all have names, you know.

It clearly seems to me to be inductive reasoning, but if you'd like to explain that it's another form of logic, then please do so. Names would help, though links are only necessary if you think your terminology may not be understood by most.

Are you familiar with weak inductive reasoning?

The words 'strong' and 'weak' are sometimes used to praise or demean the goodness of an inductive argument. The idea is that you say "this is an example of strong induction" when you would decide to believe the conclusion if presented with the premises.

Alternatively, you say "that is weak induction" when your particular world view does not allow you to see that the conclusions are likely given the premises.

[...]

Weak induction

Consider this example:

I always hang pictures on nails.
Therefore:
All pictures hang from nails.

Here, the link between the premise and the conclusion is very weak. Not only is it possible for the conclusion to be false given the premise, it is even fairly likely that the conclusion is false. Not all pictures are hung from nails; moreover, not all pictures are hung. Thus we say that this argument is an instance of weak induction.

You wrote:
Secondly, the logic of the Hessians being surprised by the Christmas attack, because colonists didn't celebrate the holiday, makes no logical sense.
It's up to you to defend that claim. (I'd say it's untrue, that it is in fact perfectly logical, which has nothing to do with whether it's true, but that's not what you said here; you said it "makes no logical sense," and that's why I'm asking you to clarify your claims about logic.

Cites to reliable sources might be more helpful, but you're not going that way, so far, so you've chosen here to not provide facts, but your own "logic."

You took a stand on "logic."

You did so, in your first run through, with your following words:

[...] Secondly, the logic of the Hessians being surprised by the Christmas attack, because colonists didn't celebrate the holiday, makes no logical sense. If they thought that the Revolutionaries didn't celebrate Christmas, then they would've been on alert on Christmas Day as they would any other day. They obviously weren't. The more obvious rationale is that they were surprised because their adversaries did celebrate the holiday.
But, of course, there are many other possibilities. You're here committing the fallacy of begging the question.

Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true. This sort of "reasoning" typically has the following form.

1. Premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or the truth of the conclusion is assumed (either directly or indirectly).
2. Claim C (the conclusion) is true.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because simply assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) in the premises does not constitute evidence for that conclusion. Obviously, simply assuming a claim is true does not serve as evidence for that claim. This is especially clear in particularly blatant cases: "X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true."

You:
The more obvious rationale is that they were surprised because their adversaries did celebrate the holiday.
What's "obvious" is subjective. That's not an argument, it's a declaration of your subjective belief. It's not a fact. It's an opinion. You're entitled to it, but you shouldn't be surprised that people might not buy argument-by-assertion.

If you have more than assertion, no cites, and fallacies, do please provide them.

Or perhaps you won't have time, in which case it's been nice to have a chance to discuss things with you again.

Have a happy new year if you don't respond. If you do respond, on point, answering these questions by clarifying, many thanks!

Secondly, the logic of the Hessians being surprised by the Christmas attack, because colonists didn't celebrate the holiday, makes no logical sense. If they thought that the Revolutionaries didn't celebrate Christmas, then they would've been on alert on Christmas Day as they would any other day.

Or they would have thought that even if the Americans didn't celebrate Christmas (the way they did), they would respect the fact that the Hessians did celebrate it (that way). Which was probably consistent with the Hessians' previous experience fighting in Europe.

See, it's not a logic problem. It's a history problem.

Gary,

Regarding my logic, I didn't attach a label or category to it. It's basic common sense. The question is also basic: If Hessians believed that Revolutionaries didn't celebrate Christmas, why would they less alert for attacks on Christmas Day than any other day? From LJ's own link, the most probable answer is poor leadership (and perhaps poor discipline), not what Dr. Sci asserted. I'm not sure why my comment is even controversial, other than a moderate conservative said it. And apparently, that was enough for one commenter to angrily remark about "coddling". Trust me, I don't feel coddled here. Never have.

But putting that aside, it has been established that George Washington himself celebrated Christmas, as did an untold number of colonists at the time, so I'm a little confused that you're not agreeing with me that Dr. Sci's comments that "American colonists didn't celebrate the holiday" and that "at the time of the Revolution Christmas was unAmerican" are unsupported and false. I've been told more than once that front-pagers are held to a higher factual standard, yet not even one whiff of a word of critique from you toward a front-pager. Why? Seems like that standard has gone topsy turvy in my absence.

Regarding my "frustrating" comment with LJ, you read my meaning accurately.

Regarding Kim, since there is virtually no doubt that he ordered the strikes, they would be tantamount to him pulling the trigger himself, not unlike the person who is charged for murder for hiring the hitman who successfully completed his job. I still believe that menacing words alone does not a terrorist make. Those threats may make the person a bully and a loudmouth, but not a terrorist. This is, of course, my opinion, but I think defining a term so broadly that practically every political leader can be called a terrorist dilutes the word to the point that it carries little relevance or meaning. Maybe that was Turb's intent. I don't know. There are also multiple definitions of the term, so am I being subjective about it? Yes! And so was Turb.

Oh, and Gary, a Happy New Year to you, as well as the rest of the gang here.

Changing the subject, Bird Dog Jr. just started college at a place not far from your old stomping grounds. Golden is a pretty cool place.

See, it's not a logic problem. It's a history problem.

Since your comment is speculative, Hogan, I can't say that I agree. But it at least has the benefit of being plausible, and it points to a leadership problem, specifically that the officers may have made poor assumptions about the enemy. But from the other sources I've read (such as this), Rall was either given disinformation or he disregarded critical intelligence. Further, he wasn't respected British officers or his own troops, which again goes back to the leadership question.

Charles, I think you're actually agreeing with me about the nature of the problem (it will be solved by evidence, not by reasoning from first principles), and the evidence is inconclusive.

Doctor Science used a piece of hyperbole to introduce a point about comparative religion that cuts against the Fox News "war on Christmas" rhetoric. The hyperbole has flown thicker and faster since.

The fact that Washington observed Christmas by attending a church service doesn't prove that "Americans celebrated Christmas" (nor does the fact that the Hessians were drunk, stupid and ill-led at the Battle of Trenton). Even Washington doesn't appear to have done anything that resembles what most people here would consider "celebrating Christmas," because that celebration wasn't developed (or invented, as you prefer) for at least fifty years after the Revolution. The most revolutionary section of the thirteen colonies was founded by people who considered Christmas a papal/pagan accretion that was not part of the true Christian religion, and it was some generations before that belief completely wore out. Other colonists (whom the New England founders would have considered papal/pagan accretions themselves) did not feel that revulsion, but neither did they consider Christmas, based on any contemporary source I've seen, the most wonderful time of the year. So yeah, nuance.

You were not wrong to note that DocSci's hyperbole was hyperbole, although I don't think anyone was in much doubt about that. You were rude to go on to snidely attribute motive to that hyperbole based on nothing more than "well, that's the kind of motive People Like You have, If You Know What I Mean, and Merry Christmas anyway." (And I should note that if that were the worst thing I'd done this week, I'd be having quite a good week.) It's too bad, although not a bit surprising, that the discussions of those two questions got tangled up.

I hope your Christmas was at least as good as mine, and that we can talk history some more.

Charles:

Regarding my logic, I didn't attach a label or category to it.
I'm aware of that. I'm asking you to. Which form of logic did you use? They have names. I trust that you're familiar with logic.

Either you used deductive reasoning, or inductive reasoning. Please pick one, and let us know. Thanks muchly!

[...] It's basic common sense.
Where may I do further reading on the logic you use, or methodology, or sources of, what you assert is objectively "basic common sense"?

Is it possible that you're making a subjective statement?

If not, if it's objective, please do support it with a cite, if you'd be so kind.

Alternatively, if you'd like to agree that you cannot supply a cite to demonstrate that your statement is objective, do you suggest that there are alternative states other than "objective" and "subjective"?

Thanks for helping me out with this!

[...] I've been told more than once that front-pagers are held to a higher factual standard, yet not even one whiff of a word of critique from you toward a front-pager. Why?
Charles, I only very recently became a front-pager here, as you may or may not know.

There's rather a lack of continuity between most of the current posters, other than Sebastian, and most of ObWi's history.

I'd therefore be ignorant of any previous standard that you, Moe, Katherine, Edward, Sebastian, von, and later bloggers, held in which it was considered dereliction to not have posted on a subject, any subject.

Could you help me out by letting me know what the previous standard was, in which you felt obligated, and had time to, write critiques of every single post written by a co-blogger?

I don't remember that. But my memory is poor.

If you'd like, though, and I've been so derelict, I can commence catching up by going back to old posts by ObWi bloggers, and critiqueing those I missed.

Since most of us enjoy having our work read and responded to, is it possible you'd be happiest if I started by responding to previous posts of yours that I missed responding to?

Or would you suggest I start with Katherine or Hilzoy, if you think that would be more intellectually honest of me?

Or would you suggest that I -- say, have you noticed that I haven't written a single post yet that takes issue with a co-blogger?

I may have forgotten, of course. Could you please point me to a post by me, here, as a front-pager, in which I've taken issue with a co-blogger, and thus might be considered inconsistent and hypocritical for not doing so with all such posts, or any such posts?

If not, would you like either myself, Jacob, Eric, or Dr. Science, to link to comments I've made in which I've taken issue with things they've said on this blog, including in their front page posts?

Would you find that helpful?

As as supplementary query, it's quite likely that you wouldn't regard their testimony as relevant or convincing, but I do invite you to inquire of Doctor Science, Jacob Davies, and Eric Martin, if they feel I've insufficiently critiqued posts of theirs, and if they feel any lack of either attention on my part, or any lack of my holding them to my usual standards, and my frequent degree of irritatingness in doing so?

Alternatively, I could give you links to comments I've made that I tend to think will support my claim that I have indeed done this, more or less in proportion to the number of posts posted by those here, in the year 2010.

Would you find that helpful?

[...] I've been told more than once that front-pagers are held to a higher factual standard, yet not even one whiff of a word of critique from you toward a front-pager. Why? Seems like that standard has gone topsy turvy in my absence.
I feel personally critiqued by this, Charles. Am I in error?

If so, my apologies.

If not, I'd be apreciative if you could give some links to support your assertion, which you are clearly comfortable making, and which you obviously are therefore able to support, since obviously you wouldn't want to be insulting someone by making an unsupported claim that there has not been "even one whiff of a word of critique from you toward a front-pager."

Can you actually support that claim, Charles?

Do you think I'd be asking if I couldn't give you quite a few links that demonstrate the falsity of that claim, which, after all, logically can be disproven, as a matter of factual incorrectness, by only one example?

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and soon enjoy a happy 2011!

Charles:

[...] Regarding Kim, since there is virtually no doubt that he ordered the strikes, they would be tantamount to him pulling the trigger himself, not unlike the person who is charged for murder for hiring the hitman who successfully completed his job.
I'm not wild about repeating myself, Charles, but let's revisit yet again.

You wrote:

I would confine "terrorist" to the person who actually commits violence.
Could you please reconcile these two statements? Or withdraw one? Or suggest some other response you'd recommend people give to you if asked such questions?

Remember, your answer must also refute what you were refuting, which is the statement that:

[...] Of course [George W. Bush] is a terrorist. Every President in my lifetime has been a terrorist. Terrorism boils down to using violence or threats of violence against civilian populations to coerce them into making political change.

I suggest your definition is too broad, Turb. I would confine "terrorist" to the person who actually commits violence. I don't consider Kim Jong Il a terrorist because he uses angry words against South Koreans such as "sea of fire".

I would prefer to not have to repeat your words back to you yet again, and ask you to reconcile them in some fashion or another, but I'll be here all week, to some small degree, probably, so if you'd like to keep going on this merry-go-round, I may be able to keep up.

Thanks if could simply reply in a way that doesn't make me have to repeat your statements yet again, and yet again invite you with hope to reconcile them so there's some kind of consistency that perhaps only I am not seeing.

If you'd like, I invite you to ask Sebastian and von to comment on our exchanges. If they feel I'm being unfair to you in some way, I'd welcome their feedback, as I'm certainly no more objective about myself and my responses than you are about your responses and self.

Third-party feedback is useful. But only if the parties involved mutually agree. If you'd like to suggest some other person who might read our exchanges, and explain to me my misreading, or suggest to me where I might be being unfair, wrongheaded, in error, or otherwise responding inappropriately, please do so.

Thanks kindly.

Yes, the Front Range of Colorado is beautiful, and wonderful to live near, isn't it? I'm glad Junior is getting to enjoy the area. I loved it, myself, but, then, I also didn't have to drive in the snow. :-)

But it's very wonderful state, overall, in my opinion. My seven and a half years there were among the more pleasant of my life, relatively speaking, and I do have some regrets that I made the choice to leave, save that it's the past, and done is done, and it got me here, and so: no real regrets.

I do love me some mountains, though.

So long as all I have to do is look at them, rather than climb them.

Catsy, I still intend to get back to you; please accept my apologies, I hope, for my delay and responding to others here, instead.

If you'd like to remind me of your email address (mine, again, being gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com), I'd appreciate that.

If you read this. :-)

Gary,
I'm not interested in going into your level of detail regarding labels and categories of logic. If you don't want to accept it as common sense, then that's your prerogative.

As for front-pagers and standards, you should know as well as anyone that there are few, if any, written standards. I'm going by what has been said in the past, and I'm going by what I see here in this thread. I don't doubt that you've taken other front-pagers to task, but why not here? Do you accept Dr. Sci's comment that "American colonists didn't celebrate the holiday"? Even though there's plenty of evidence to the contrary? If so, why? Do you accept Dr. Sci's assertion that "at the time of the Revolution Christmas was unAmerican"? If so, why? Are front-pagers held to a higher factual standard than commenters or not? At least as it pertains to this thread, Dr. Sci is the teflon blogger, in my opinion, with plenty of enablers to go around.

As for Kim, the key word is "tantamount". Why would you not accept the notion that a person who orders violent attacks has not committed violence? Kim pushed a button which directed someone to push a button. Why would a degree of separation all of a sudden not be the commission of a violent act? If Obama ordered an air force captain to drop a nuke on Tehran, are you prepared to say that Obama has not committed violence? If so, why?

Gary Farber: being the change he wants to see in the world since two thousand dickety.

Actually, Charles, Dr. Science said that she was taught that. It could be sketched out like this

Person A said X=Y. Y=Z. Therefore (according to this person) X=Z!

Note that this has nothing to do with being factual or not, as 'I recall being taught' is the stand in for Person A. There is actually nothing in there that is 'factually false'. Perhaps this is why the commentariat and the rest of the front pagers didn't drag Dr. Science three times round the blog.

But it does make it seem that you really take offense at the notion that colonists didn't 'celebrate' Christmas, but as Hogan pointed out, what we generally think of when we think of celebrate Christmas didn't appear until much later. I think this plugs into the Slate article I linked to about how Americans (and Canadians!) tend to overestimate their church attendance. From the article

Religion in America seems tied up with questions of identity in ways that are not the case in other industrialized countries. When you ask Americans about their religious beliefs, it's like asking them whether they are good people, or asking whether they are patriots. They'll say yes, even if they cheated on their taxes, bilked Medicare for unnecessary services, and evaded the draft. Asking people how often they attend church elicits answers about their identity—who people think they are or feel they ought to be, rather than what they actually believe and do

That you are attacking this point with such abandon suggests that you feel that not celebrating Christmas is somehow insulting. I'm not sure why, but if you take a moment, you might realize that you are somehow reacting to your own views of what celebrating Christmas means rather than any problems with Dr. Science's facts.

About the standards of the front page posters, somehow, it is hard to believe that the front page posters' standards of truth have gone downhill since you suggested that dead Muslim terrorists should be buried in pig lard because it would prevent them getting into heaven. I feel like the logic you used there is again on display here.

Gary,

While your cited (12/26 12:47pm) definition of a troll (2. n.) is acceptable to me and I would accept chiding and apologize if I'd said that Charles was a troll (full stop), that's not what I said or meant.

Actor and acts can be separated. Charles' http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/12/axial-tilt-and-the-numinous.html?cid=6a00d834515c2369e20147e0fcf46e970b#comment-6a00d834515c2369e20147e0fcf46e970b>initial contribution
to this thread was trolling, IMO. More, below, on later contributions, but in response to your

; if one wishes to suggest a particular comment might be regarded as trolling,
I submit the initial contribution linked above.

If that comment was intended to be something other than disruptive to http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2003/12/the_longawaited.html>reasoned argument then the attempt was rather poorly executed (again IMO).

My appreciation of ObWi is as a place where productive conversations can occur between front pagers and between other commenters, whether in agreement or disagreement. It has always seemed to me one of the things that distinguished the blog (especially the comments sections) from others. Basic respect for other posters and contributing commenters - essentially application of the Golden Rule - seems essential to maintining that atmosphere. I respect attempts to enforce / maintain that atmosphere.

I just think they are misguided in re. Charles' contributions to this thread.

Not because I think Charles is incapable of contributing productively to any threads, but because I don't think he has in this one.

It is hard to expect equanimity from fellow commenters when someone drops a steaming rhetorical pile upon their entrance to the thread and ignores its existence for the remainder of the thread. He did make an argument on one point tangential to the post topic (and you've noted the qualities of this argument) and the conversation somewhat derailed onto the that topic afterwards, as it was the only subject he replied to in the thread besides Christmas greetings.

Most of us have thrown rhetorical bombs a time or two, but discussions tend to work better if we at least acknowledge their existence within the bounds of the same conversation we dropped them into.

It really doesn't seem like too much to ask him to bring the reasoned argument and leave most of the baggage at home. If that's what he's showing up for. If he only posted in the thread to sling some rhetoric and to say Merry Christmas to old acquaintances, then maybe reply in kind to the Merry Christmas and acknowledge the remainder of the postings for what they were, rather than what we might prefer he post.

There it is: "refudiate." You know what it means, I know what it means, which of course means it's a word. What else is a word but letters put together that we understand?

OK.

I note only refudiate Charles' argument, I ridiculize it! I make a hockpockmockery of it! A pork-choppery of it!

I find his findings unfounded! And not only unfounded, but unfoundable! In fact, I unfind them!

They are beyond a farrago of nonsense, they are farragone!

I'm seeing a lot of fun in my future.

Hogan:

You were rude to go on to snidely attribute motive to that hyperbole based on nothing more than "well, that's the kind of motive People Like You have, If You Know What I Mean, and Merry Christmas anyway."
There's no rule against it here, but may I suggest, as I consistently do, very very very strongly, that putting words between quotation marks that are not, in fact, quotations, is a practice that tends to end badly, at least temporarily, and may not be the best way to make a point.

Sf fans invented a useful punctuation style back in the early Fifties (possibly a bit earlier or later; my memory is a bit vague at the moment, and it's not relevant for me to be precise), which it's a shame never caught on more widely.

The "quasi-quote mark":

Quasi-quotes - Quote marks with hyphens, indicating the quote is only the substance of a statement, not the exact words.
The hyphen ran underneath the quotation marks, both opening and closing.

It was and is highly useful for dealing with the issue of wishing to paraphrase, when one has reason to think it won't be misinterpreted.

Alas, as I said, it's not standard punctuation.

Meanwhile, quotation marks in standard English, according to any and every authority, only go around actual quotations.

One can use quotation marks as one wishes, but I as reminded Sebastian earlier this week, probably to his considerable irritation, it's a fraught practice, and those who engage in it shouldn't be surprised if people read according to standard punctuation and English, i.e., that quotation marks are used for quotations. If you'll pardon the phrase: period.

Of course, I'm a well-known pendant.

Russell:

[...] I'm seeing a lot of fun in my future.
As used to be the highly popular saying on AOL, once upon a time: "me, too!"

Charles:

[...] If you don't want to accept it as common sense, then that's your prerogative.
Yes.

[...] I don't doubt that you've taken other front-pagers to task, but why not here? Do you accept Dr. Sci's comment that "American colonists didn't celebrate the holiday"? Even though there's plenty of evidence to the contrary? If so, why? Do you accept Dr. Sci's assertion that "at the time of the Revolution Christmas was unAmerican"? If so, why? Are front-pagers held to a higher factual standard than commenters or not?
Charles, if you decide you'd like to answer the questions I've asked you, repeatedly, in this thread, I'll be happy to answer your new questions.

Golden rule, Charles. Golden rule.

If not, then that's your prerogative. Be well, and happy new year.

Of course, I'm a well-known pendant.

I see what you did there!

I fear I am weak enough that I will respond to this one further point by Charles:

[...] I'm not interested in going into your level of detail regarding labels and categories of logic.
I wrote:
[...] Either you used deductive reasoning, or inductive reasoning. Please pick one, and let us know. Thanks muchly!
That's all.

"refudiate"

I imagine another dictionary consigned to the fire by Nero Wolfe.

"I've heard from some liberals that GW was a terrorist, too."

Charles might have meant me. I remember saying here that GW's campaign (or the campaign he ordered others to carry out) against the Iroquois was barbaric and might have used the term "terrorist" or "war criminal" or something of the sort. Of course the Iroquois attacks on civilians were also terrorist attacks using the modern lingo. The subject came up because people were saying that GW adhered to the laws of war--when fighting white people that might have been true.

GW was a complicated man--admirable in many ways, not at all admirable in others. It's silly to pretend otherwise.

Wonderful to read about The Jewish Festivals,facts and information is also wonderful.

I imagine another dictionary consigned to the fire by Nero Wolfe.
I adore Stout, Wolfe, Archie, and the whole cast.

But, yes, both Stout and Wolfe were strictly prescriptionist.

I think that's great.

I'm neither prescriptivist or descriptivist; I swing both ways, as appropriate to context.

My guiding compass in usage is neither; it's to seek greater clarity, and try to lessen opacity and confusion.

I don't care which path one takes using that compass.

Any path will get you there, if you follow that compass.

Even if you need to use a machete and then a chainsaw.

Doctor Science: This is a spam: "Posted by: Dissertation | December 27, 2010 at 03:14 AM"

Only you, because it's your post, or Eric, or anyone else trusted with the superuser password will have to delete it, or at least wipe the link under the name, rendering it pointless spam.

It's a good idea to wipe all spam ASAP, because if not, they come back with more to any site that works for them.

Just mentioning to whomever can get to it first, since I can't.

Charles:

But from the other sources I've read (such as this)[....]
Charles' link goes to the blog of an elmentary school teacher.
About Me

Elementary History Teacher

It's very sweet.

An interesting choice of source, and information on history.

Pretty interesting to examine about the large element of the American Christmas,although post is also wonderful to read.

"Posted by: Dissertation Writing Services | December 27, 2010 at 05:56 AM"

This is spam. I can't remove it; only Eric, Slart, or Doctor Science can, or if there's someone else with the master password.

(Although I could go to Eric's *other* blogs, and do what I like, if I were untrustworthy, since he did give me his user password to all of them. Probably they could use spam cleaning.)

Gary, point taken re quotation marks.

Pretty interesting to examine about the large element of the American Christmas,although post is also wonderful to read.

Posted by: Dissertation Writing Services | December 27, 2010 at 05:56 AM

Spammers will keep coming back as long as their spam is not deleted.

This is not a good thing.

I'd really like to be able to get rid of spam on ObWi. It only takes ten seconds.

I'd really be very very very happy to do it, if no one else can do it.

As I've offered to do for several years.

I'm still offering. (Not to delete every spam all the time; but to undertake to do what I can, which might not be insignifcant.)

Meanwhile, if one of the three people who can delete spam from thread's other than Eric's or mine, would like to delete these accumulating spam, you're the only three people who can do it, so far as I know. (Maybe Sebastian; I wouldn't know. Or... I don't know.)

Actually, Charles, Dr. Science said that she was taught that.

Duh, LJ. Let me give you the the shorter Dr. Sci: My teacher told me things that were easily provably untrue*, enabling me to make a stupid bullshit assertion.

As for my pig lard post, I regret writing it. But I was taken to task for a factual mistake, so the double standard is pretty clear to me. And predictable.

* You may derisively sniff that it came from a 7th grade website, but the thing is, even a 7th grade website was able to point out her unguestioning and uninquisitive use of historical inaccuracies.

An interesting choice of source, and information on history.

Nice ad hom, Gary. The teacher's sources were this and this. Care to remark on that "interesting choice of source"? Oh, never mind. You're hiding behind the skirts of the golden rule dodge. So, thanks and Happy New Year. All we needed was a few left-wing extremist spoutings from Jes and my experience in this thread would have been complete. It makes me look forward to my 50th birthday colonoscopy.

Best wishes, Charles, for the best possible 2011 for you, and a happy one.

The teacher's sources were this and this.
Charles, you appear not to notice that the second, accurate, "this" refutes the first.

It does make me wonder if you read the CSI Studies Iin Intelligence article you cite. I invite you to clarify.

Your original History Is Elmentary elementary school teacher's personal blog cite says:

[...] This American Heritage article seems to support the Honeyman service while this article from the Central Intelligence Agency site does a fantastic job of negating the whole thing.
Let's repeat. Your cite says:
[...] this article from the Central Intelligence Agency site does a fantastic job of negating the whole thing.

Second this: The Spy Who Never Was.

[...] The problem is, John Honeyman was no spy—or at least, not one of Washington’s. In this essay I will establish that the key parts of the story were invented or plagiarized long after the Revolution and, through repetition, have become accepted truth. I examine our knowledge of the tale, assess the veracity of its components, and trace its DNA to the single story—a piece of family history published nearly 100 years after the battle.

[...] Yet the Honeyman story’s myriad anachronisms and suspiciously detailed narrative signal Judge Van Dyke’s handiwork. For patriotic and social reasons, it was he who not only colorized the tale, but broadened its focus, thrust, and intent far beyond what Aunt Jane had ever envisaged. Between them, Jane and the judge endowed a most ordinary man with an extraordinary—and almost wholly fake—biography. It was John Honeyman himself, strangely enough, who is innocent of telling tall tales. For more than half a century, he remained resolutely silent about his wartime behavior (as well he might, given his not altogether sterling record.) Van Dyke, who “was with him very often during the last fifteen years of his life, and saw his eyes closed in death,” heard nothing of his grandfather’s past in all that time. His life was a blank slate upon which anything could be written. And so when Aunt Jane handed her nephew the ball, he ran with it.

That was more than a century and a quarter ago, and it is high time to bury the John Honeyman myth: a spy he never was.

It's an excellent monograph, including all the words between those two paragraphs.

Alexander Rose is as reputable a source as there is:

Alexander Rose is the author of Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (Bantam Dell; New York, 2006). He is a Fel­low of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the United States Commission on Military History.

Incidentally, and this is not a brag: I've read every single article ever publically posted to Studies In Intelligence since it was online, and for several years prior, via public, plus picking up used copies of my own.

I also collected and read over a hundred issues of Foreign Policy between ages 12-16. Ditto The Wilson Quarterly. Ditto several similar journals. (And many other magazines/journals irrelvant to this.)

I've reread several dozen articles at SII over the years, as relevant or interesting to me. It's an interest of mine.

I lack formal education, but instead I've always read.

"Pretty interesting to examine about the large element of the American Christmas,although post is also wonderful to read.

Posted by: Dissertation Writing Services | December 27, 2010 at 05:56 AM"

It still would be a very good thing to delete spam, or, at least, the active link, which is all that really matters.

It takes about ten seconds. Less, if you're a quick clicker.

If anyone needs an explanation of how to do this, I will joyously provide one.

As I've unendingly offered since 2005, many times each year, privately and publically, including many times in the past year, I would be delighted to take care of this myself, if someone would let me.

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