WHAT WE DID: Reviewers sell a silly Group Story!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2018

Part 3—For decades, we've purchased such tales:
On the back of The Order of Time, the reader is assailed, indeed propagandized, by the standard encomia.

First up is The Financial Times. Under the heading PRAISE FOR CARLO ROVELLI, we're told that the Financial Times once said this about that:
"The physicist known for making complex science intelligible."
On that same back cover, four others recite the same story. The Scientific American is said to have once said this:
"His concise and comprehensible writing makes sense of intricate notions..."
Reviewers always stand in line to say such things about those who, by the assessment of the guilds, are judged to have made-Einstein-easy.

There's little hope for these willing reviewers. Accepting this unfortunate fact, we issue our challenge to the general citizen reader:

Rovelli's concise and comprehensible writing makes complex science intelligible? Dear citizens! If you're willing to buy a story like that, what story won't you purchase?

If you can swallow that Standard Tale, which Standard Tale will you question, doubt, wonder about, even be drawn to challenge?

Which claim won't you purchase? Will you buy the claim that Al Gore said he invented the Internet? Will you accept the claim that he hired a woman to teach him to be man?

When Susan Rice discusses Benghzi, will you buy John McCain's instant account of what she said? Or will you look at the actual transcript, to see what she actually said?

When creeps on The Rachel Maddow Show side with James Comey in July 2016, will it occur to you that you are perhaps being handed the latest Loaded Tale? Will it cross your mind that an exhibitionist clown like Maddow can't necessarily be trusted?

Will it ever occur to you that you can't necessarily believe the things you're told by the people who pose as your cable news friends? That you can't necessarily believe the things you're told by groups of people jostling to maintain careers?

Along the way to the present day, will you buy the claim that Comey ("Comey the God") is the world's most upright person? Will you buy that claim when it's made, in Standard Group Fashion, about Paul Ryan, and John McCain, and even Judge Starr, before him?

Will you buy the claim that Bill Clinton is slippery, slick and "Clintonesque" in a way that others aren't? Concerning Hillary Clinton, when Chris Matthews tells you the sorts of things which are shown below, will you fail to let yourself think that something seems to be wrong inside this strange person's head?

Hillary Clinton was going to run for the Senate. Matthews was very upset:
MATTHEWS (12/6/99): I'm Chris Matthews in San Francisco. Let's play Hardball!

Well, joining us right now from Washington, D. C. is author and journalist Gail Sheehy. She's got a new book, it's called Hillary's Choice. We'll get to the meaning of that.

[...]

MATTHEWS: You talk in a nice way about how Hillary never wanted to learn to ski. Now, I learned to ski at a relatively late age, and I love it. But it does involve falling. And you point out in your book that she doesn't like to fall. And therefore—

I mean, just falling, the physical act of falling in front of other people, where they see you fall. Yet she was willing to take on a seventh of the American economy with no economics training, and say that she was going to personally redefine the economic system with regard to health. How can she be afraid to fall on her butt on the bunny slope, and yet willing to jeopardize the health security of the American people without a blink?

SHEEHY: Well, I think she thought she knew what she was doing, and she thought Ira Magaziner would be—

MATTHEWS: The guy with the propeller on his head!

SHEEHY: Right.

MATTHEWS: I mean, why did she hang around with that clack? Those guys have never been elected to anything, they've never run for anything. Why does she trust those kinds of guys?

SHEEHY: Well, she—

MATTHEWS: They're all lefties and propeller heads! They're worse than she is!

SHEEHY: Wait a second! Let me just ask you one thing. I know you don't like Hillary Clinton—

MATTHEWS: No, that's not true. That's not the relevant point. I'm asking you why did she— Why was she afraid to fall on soft snow on a bunny slope, but wasn't afraid of bringing down the health security of 260 million Americans? That's what I don't understand.
She didn't want to fall on the bunny slope! As he continued to rant, Matthews explained the thinking behind the health care plan which Clinton had helped devise during her husband's first term:
MATTHEWS: She said, “I'm going to give you universal coverage. I want to give every man who gets into this country, legally or illegally, free health care, and they're going to have to thank me for it, and bring flowers to me like I'm Evita.”...She wanted to sell it as socialism, because then she could get credit for it. She and the government, like Eleanor Roosevelt, her hero.
He would call her "Evita" for years. Later in that interview, as Sheehy worried about her own personal safety, the Doctor was very much IN:
MATTHEWS: Here's the weird thing about this dysfunctional relationship, and you've been sorting this out as an author for so many months. You have one partner on the team that thinks they're always right. They think they're better than us morally, politically, culturally, and intellectually and every other way. The other person believes they've never done anything wrong. If you have one who's a born cover-up artist who can't even turn in an honest golf score, and the other one who thinks she's always right about everything, God help us! As you say, Hillary's choice is the choice to be blind-sided or to be blind about the truth. What an amazing credential to be United States senator for New York!

[...]

I get the feeling she's got this moral superiority that somehow he [Bill Clinton] was lucky to have her, but she wasn't lucky to have him, like she could have gotten there with any guy—as that little story you tell in the book goes, any guy she could have dragged into the presidency—because she was the superior moral, intellectual and cultural and political force, and he was just some bumpkin she picked up and dragged along like a barnacle behind her rear end.
Bill Clinton couldn't record an honest golf score. Hillary Clinton had a weird approach to skiing.

She thought he was some bumpkin she dragged along like a barnacle behind her rear end! Our upper-end, elite "journalism" would be like this for many years, right through 2016.

Question:

Were you able to watch such rants without thinking that something seemed to be wrong with this very strange cable news star? When a web site spent twenty years detailing this endless insanity, were you able to wonder why a person like that retained his status within our floundering nation's journalistic elite?

Were you able to wonder why no one within that alleged elite ever raised these points about the very strange behavior of this very strange person? Did you ever wonder why Your Darling Rachel went out of her way to say so many nice things about him a bit later on?

(Why she vouched so hard for Greta, her drinking buddy, who had served for years as The Birther King's prime enabler on Fox?)

We're skipping lightly over the roads which sent Mr. Trump to the White House. We're asking you to consider the various Approved Group Stories which were aggressively sold, and willingly purchased, as that highway was laid.

We're asking you to wonder why so many Group Stories were purchased Over Here, within the tents of our own self-impressed liberal tribe. As of November 2016, the weight of twenty-five years of these ludicrous stories sent Donald J. Trump to the White House. We're asking why this endless array of Clownish Group Stories were endlessly tolerated and bought.

Those Official Approved Group Stories have turned out to be profoundly destructive. Even today, the corporate journalists we liberals most love still refuse to discuss this topic on their precious air or in their well-known newspapers.

Now for a bit of a contrast:

The claim that Professor Rovelli is comprehensible isn't deeply destructive.

It's part of entertainment culture, full stop. It won't lead us to Mr. Trump's War, which is apparently destined to start during Ivanka's one truncated term.

(Reportedly, she appoints her father Secretary of Dispositive Global War. He starts by sending Thai divers to seize the children of Canada's PM. Reportedly, the New York Times continues to say that we mustn't discuss any possible mental illness.)

The claim that Rovelli is clear and concise won't lead to this global war. That said, it's one of the silliest stories ever told. Despite this rather obvious fact, elite reviewers stand in line to recite it. This makes the story a good example of the way our species functions.

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Professor Harari says the invention of human language gave us two essential tools. He says it allowed our species to "gossip" and to sell group "fictions." He says these capabilities allowed our species to conquer the world.

We think the professor is right on point! Even today, it's amazingly easy to gossip and sell those group fictions.

Tomorrow, we'll return to the fiction which won't start that war. Acknowledging that it's all good fun, we'll offer more examples of the "comprehensible" things Rovelli has said.

Tomorrow: We return to the-text-in-itself!

Just for the record: When Matthews ranted about Candidate Gore and Candidate Clinton, his owner was conservative near-billionaire Jack Welch. According to press reports, his salary went from $1.6 million to $5 million as he staged these endless ludicrous rants.

We can't vouch for those reports. By the rules of the game, we aren't allowed to know how much our favorites get paid for their journalistic services.

They rail about chump change for everyone else. Their own bloated salary figures stay hidden. As they rail, they're selling a story.

Gratefully, we gulp it down. What Harari said!

25 comments:

  1. There is something very odd about Somerby's picture of consumers of commentary as passively accepting whatever they hear.

    He thinks the solution is to make sure that pundits say correct things. But I doubt anyone ever passively accepts what they are told. I doubt they hear these stories in the same way or care about them equally, and I doubt they accept much of it.

    Certainly most viewers didn't accept Matthews' view of Hillary. She won the popular vote by more than three million and was elected Senator of New York before that, despite the opposition of people like Matthews, Dowd, and probably Somerby.

    Today's post, I suspect, has the real intention of reminding us about these very negative images of Hillary. I doubt this is about Matthews at all. Somerby, like the rest of us, perhaps read about a draft Hillary in 2020 movement, and is trying to head that off at the pass by presenting us with a very ugly picture of her aspirations, in case any of us get any ideas about voting for her again. While pretending to rail against cable news stars. Because he too is selling a story. And it is pushing Bernie, so Hillary must be trashed again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why would you take the time to write this? According to your theory, anyone who reads it is unlikely to accept what they are told.

      If you doubt consumers of commentary accept what they hear all you have to do is look at how the Democrats bought into the "Russia collusion" myth without a shred of critical reasoning.

      Delete
    2. There's no collusion says the biggest liar on our planet and you believe him, then have the gall to discuss Democrat critical reasoning.

      There are actual studies of how people process what they read and hear. Why take Somerby's word for this?

      https://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/why-you-cant-help-believing-everything-you-read.php

      The question is whether people evaluate what they hear in the light of conflicting information and contradictory facts. Somerby thinks people engage in no reality testing, no critical thought. Maybe that is true of people who don't care, but it isn't true of those who take the time to engage with political ideas. Why would anyone listen to Matthews and never think about what he says?

      Delete
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      One such type of underground marketplace on Dark Web is RDP Shop, a platform from where anyone can buy RDP access (remote desktop protocol) to thousands of hacked machines for a small fee.
      While investigating several underground RDP shops, security researchers from the McAfee's Advanced Threat Research team discovered that someone is selling remote access linked to security systems at a major International airport for as low as $10.

      Yes, that's $10, I didn't miss any zeros.

      Instead of buying RDP credential, researchers used the Shodan search engine to find the correct IP address of the hacked Windows Server machine, whose administrator account was up for sale, as shown in the screenshot.

      When researchers landed on its login screen through Windows RDP, they found two more user accounts, which were "associated with two companies specializing in airport security; one in security and building automation, the other in camera surveillance and video analytics."

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  2. Somerby thinks that because Rovelli isn't comprehensible to him, he is comprehensible to no one and this is all a big fiction.

    Millions of people love reading the novels of Nicholas Sparks. Somerby, probably not so much. Does that make reviewers of Sparks' books wrong? Does that make all those people wrong? Why then should Somerby's lack of comprehension of Rovelli's work make Rovelli or his reviewers wrong? And how does that make all narratives fiction?

    Narrative isn't the problem. It is just a way of organizing thought. The problem is Somerby's naïve view that if one size doesn't fit all, then it doesn't fit some either. Instead of asking who understands Rovelli, Somerby says the narrative is wrong.

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    Replies
    1. Bob's right about the false lucidity of these books. It's all a lie -- a mindless, nutty, PR angle -- and that's his point

      Delete
    2. I'm going to take stock of what I've got.

      Delete
    3. "Why then should Somerby's lack of comprehension of Rovelli's work make Rovelli or his reviewers wrong?"

      Why should Somerby's lack of comprehension of Rovelli's work make Rovelli or his reviewers right?

      Your logic is totally empty.

      Delete
  3. "By the rules of the game, we aren't allowed to know how much our favorites get paid for their journalistic services."

    I want to know how much Somerby is being paid by Russia (through intermediaries) to post this garbage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much does Rachel get paid?

      Oh that's right. Nobody knows for sure. Which makes Bob completely correct here.

      Delete
  4. "We're asking why this endless array of Clownish Group Stories were endlessly tolerated and bought."

    Why, because this is what the establishment media are. Anything else would not be tolerated. If you want something else, read and watch something else.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Why is Somerby talking about this instead of about the opinion piece telling Democrats how good Kavanaugh will be for them, published by the NY Times yesterday? How did the NY Times just happen to have such a piece ready to print?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is Matthews to blame or is Sheehy? These are two members of that New England Irish clique that hated the Clintons.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why did Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Israel help Uncle Vova's team to get in touch with Mr Trump's team? Because they hope that if Mr Trump ends the sanctions and concedes that Uncle Vova owns Ukraine and especially Crimea, Uncle Vova might persuade Iran to get out of Syria.

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/israeli-saudi-and-emirati-officials-privately-pushed-for-trump-to-strike-a-grand-bargain-with-putin

    ReplyDelete
  8. It surprised me when Matthews did a 180.

    True story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "When creeps on The Rachel Maddow Show side with James Comey in July 2016, will it occur to you that you are perhaps being handed the latest Loaded Tale?"

    Somerby keeps making this charge. Here are the two relevant Maddow programs, with guest host Kornacki. Two segments, one guest each. Kornacki wasn't praising (or "siding" with) Comey, nor was he denouncing him; he was examining the content of Comey's remarks and the effect they might have politically:

    http://www.msnbc.com/transcripts/rachel-maddow-show/2016-07-05

    http://www.msnbc.com/transcripts/rachel-maddow-show/2016-07-06

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  10. Long time no comment for obvious reasons, but Bob this is a really good one...

    ReplyDelete
  11. 2:03, you're missing the forest for the trees. MSNBC is a corporate propaganda outfit, ala Fox News. But for the "other side."

    LINK

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
  12. I imagine that at the Somberby family picnic last week, as Bob cornered his little relative to tell her about “the worst book ever written,” she screamed “Cousin Bob is being weird again!” and the girl’s mother rushed over crying, “Bob’s got hold of another physics book. Get the net!”

    The Slowest Boy in Science Class, held back last year after his failure to understand the first things about Einstein’s theories, is back now to tackle quantum gravity. This should be rich.

    First he wastes time complaining that Rovelli is “pompous”. Here’s an excerpt from what Bob calls “pompous piffle”:

    We inhabit time as fish live in water. Our being is being in time. Its solemn music nurtures us, opens the world to us, trou­bles us, frightens and lulls us. The universe unfolds into the future, dragged by time, and exists according to the order of time.

    Is this pompous? Surely that’s a matter of taste. But the book was translated from Italian. Could the fault lie with the translators trying to mimic the style and diction of a foreign language? Or is it scemenze pomposo in the original? I don’t know since I don’t read Italian, but I doubt Bob does either.

    The late lamented magazine Spy had a recurring feature called “Logrolling in Our Time”, in which examples were cited of authors favorably reviewing each other’s work. i don’t think we were meant to be shocked that expressions of taste could be influenced by self-dealing. Does anybody adopt others’ opinions about taste as matters of truth?

    Rovelli asks “Why do we remember the past and not the future?” and Bob smugly answers “Because the past has already happened and the future hasn’t?” It certainly seems to my mind that the future hasn’t happened yet, but is it that easy to dismiss determinism? And what should we make of Kurt Gödel’s homogenous, rotating universe (a particular solution of Einstein’s equations of general relativity) that allow closed time-like curves. In such a universe an object can return to its own past.

    Perhaps we’re living in Gödel’s universe as the Slowest Boy in Science Class returns again to ridicule popularized science, having himself learned nothing on the return trip.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dang. Cmike was right about you. You’re the science guy. Quantum gravity? Okay.

    “Kurt Gödel’s homogenous, rotating universe…” Dang. I scratched the surface:

    “In 1949, K. Gödel constructed the model of a spatially homogeneous rotating universe. He gave an exact solution of Einstein's field equations with a negative lambda term for incoherent matter of positive density. His model was complete in the sense of differential geometry, that is, free of singularities. He showed that in his model the matter is rotating rigidly with constant non-vanishing angular velocity with respect to the local inertial compass of an observer moving with the matter. The light rays emitted by sources moving with the matter in the neighborhood of the observer exhibit at his place the same angular velocity with respect to his inertial compass.”

    Almost incomprehensible, but, “...free of singularities.” Does that mean Kurt was wrong? Because the evidence for singularities seems rather strong. Or am I misunderstanding the term singularity?

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete