Skip to main content


Showing posts from May 1, 2016

journalists and prediction 2

Prediction 2 In the sciences, the ideal of prediction is given by a test. A guess – a hypothesis – is made about a situation. The situation is tested in some way and the prediction about the results of the test are based on assumptions about the causal compositon of the situation, what factors are in play, and whether one has assigned them a correct value. Naturally, there are levels of causal consistency. Two factors can, separately, have different effects than they do when combined. In journalism, there is definitely a reference to science, but more for the prestige than the method. More important in the shaping of public opinion is to make predictions that exclude any radical change in the current order. In other words, predictions are instruments for making the order seem inevitable. This is correctly intuited by the citizenry. For some, this is reassuring. Often the majority will prefer inertia to the risk of change, even if the order itself is changing in such a way that t

journalists and prediction 1

On Prediction 1 Obama, at his last roast, said – on a serious note that was quasi-bogus – that the press should seek for the truth (although of course not too hard – Obama’s Justice department, which has sought more injunctions against the press than any since the Nixon administration, will see to that). Obama’s statement is in the true grain of American piety. We are always being told that the truth, objectively, is seeking the truth. Although the majority of the population doesn’t believe that at all. As David Bowie sang in Five Years about the newscaster who said the world was ending “News guy wept when he told us Earth was really dying Cried so much his face was wet Then I knew he was not lying.” Of course, this was before we had an inkling that the ice cap in the Antarctic was likely to diminish by half within our lifetimes. News guys have ceased reporting on this news – it is too depressing, so they leave it to NOVA. In any case, the self-image of the media – that t

250 years after the slaveholder's republic was founded, the pundits discover racism in high places

One of the ironies in Donald Trump’s elevation to something more than presidential candidate – to a veritable Trumpope – is that he was the best of the 17 guys vying for the nomination. It is easy not to see this under the impression of misogyny and racism that he naturally projects. But compare him to his rivals, and it soon becomes apparent. As Cruz astutely put it (in tones that would have made Uriah Heep blush), Trump has long been a Democrat on the issues that tickle the cold dead heart of the usual GOP constituency. Trump will be, in public, a horrible misogynist, treating women the way, well, Cruz’s elbow treats his wife. But on policy issues, Trump is actually much better for women than his rivals. His opposition to abortion is a conversion of convenience; where his rivals talked of shutting down Planned Parenthood and maybe lynching the people who work for it, Trump doesn’t care. On race, of course, Trump has shown himself to be the most overtly racist candidate since G

revery of the catalogue

Pour l'enfant, amoureux de cartes et d'estampes, L'univers est égal à son vaste appétit. Ah ! que le monde est grand à la clarté des lampes ! Aux yeux du souvenir que le monde est petit ! I was that child, a maniac for maps (although less interested in prints). In place of prints, there were catalogues. My memory just touches on my earliest conscious self, the one that couldn’t get enough of catalogues – behind that it is all white noise. I was told by my parents that they could quiet me in my crib by giving me a Sears catalog. I still have a sensual memory of the little insets of tractors (it was a farming catalogue – at one point in its corporate existence, Sears had a strong rural presence, more about which anon). For some reason, there was something incredibly alluring about the array of things that one could get. Not of course that I had any infant inkling of the cash nexus. But I had an early inkling that the charm in life was that the diverse things that cons