Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gawenda bender

Sure, it’s the season of goodwill, but Michael Gawenda may have carried it too far. He describes President Bush as humble, contrite, and prepared to admit to error. Nonsense.

There is all the difference in the world between saying “Mistakes were made” and saying “I made mistakes”. Bush has no problems with the first but is never going to think, let alone say, the second, ever.

The distinguishing mark of a mistake is that someone gets fired for it. When that happens in the Bush administration – and if it does, beware of flying pigs – we can start talking about contrition.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Same again, for some reason

"Sauniere had created a life-size replica of Leonardo Do Vinci's most famous sketch.... Vitruvian man... a perfect circle in which was inscribed a nude male... his arms and legs outstretched in a naked spread eagle."

No, Vitrivian Man doesn't show a spreadeagle, or at least not only a spreadeagle. VM has two of every limb, and thus shows a man in sixteen different possible positions.

Sauniere hadn't replicated it, and couldn't. If you piled two renowned creators in a stack you could just about do it (though even then I think you'd have difficulty maintaining the side-facing foot position required) but with one Sauniere you have as much ambiguity as with the anagrams; sixteen possible positions would all qualify. I personally see the renowned curator in the left-leg-straight right-leg-45-degrees right-arm-straight left-arm-45-degrees pose. Very Monty Python.

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Dan Brown Rant no. 246

"Sauniere had created a life-size replica of Leonardo Do Vinci's most famous sketch.... Vitruvian man... a perfect circle in which was inscribed a nude male... his arms and legs outstretched in a naked spread eagle."

No, Vitrivian Man doesn't show a spreadeagle, or at least not only a spreadeagle. VM has two of every limb, and thus shows a man in sixteen different possible positions.

Sauniere hadn't replicated it, and couldn't. If you piled two renowned creators in a stack you could just about do it (though even then I think you'd have difficulty maintaining the side-facing foot position required) but with one Sauniere you have as much ambiguity as with the anagrams; sixteen possible positions would all qualify. I personally see the renowned curator in the left-leg-straight right-leg-45-degrees right-arm-straight left-arm-45-degrees pose. Very Monty Python.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The lesser of the two weasels


The lesser of the two weasels 31 May 2000
Top
Chris Borthwick,
Managing Editor
Health Promotion Journal of Australia

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Re: The lesser of the two weasels

Norman Fairclough's book New Labour, New Language? deals with the watering down of political discourse. Jeff Aronson's review of the book unfortunately perpetuates an example of its own. Aronson says ".."weasel words" [are]... used (most famously by Theodore Roosevelt, criticising President Woodrow Wilson) to describe rhetoric that sounds as if it has substance but is actually empty of specific meaning, or is at best ambiguous and vague." No: Roosevelt was more precise. He wasn't naming the rhetoric in general, he was pinning down the particular words in the sentence that carried it. What he said was "When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a "weasel word" after another there is nothing left of the other." Empty or vague rhetoric is not in itself made up of weasel words; that only happens when you nominate a firm action or decision or stand and then add a few carefully chosen saving words that deprive the action of any specificity. To say "I am against prejudice" is simply vague rhetoric; to say "We will act against prejudice" may sound precise but be ambigious; to say that "My government pledges to introduce a bill outlawing prejudice at the first appropriate opportunity" is a firm commitment with one weasel word, appropriate, to suck the content out. I think it is a distinction worth preserving.



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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tradition

It's often said that we’re living in an era of unprecedented change, but it’s good to see that some fine old traditions still persist. By the time Australia’s F-111s are phased out they will have been in service for over forty years. If change had been this leisurely in the past the Battle of Britain would have been fought in the Wright Brothers’ original flyer, the Bleriot biplane would have made it to the Korean war, and the Sopwith Camel would have come along just in time to be phased out for the F-111.

I’m not complaining – Australia’s airforce is basically a large BEWARE OF THE DOG sign, and it would be silly to spend much money on it – but I do think the National Trust should be consulted before any final decisions are taken.



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