Why we can't have nice things: Sayre's Law is a mighty law. The leading authority on the dictum explains the holding like this:
Sayre's law states, in a formulation quoted by Charles Philip Issawi: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." By way of corollary, it adds: "That is why academic politics are so bitter."A tightly-stated variant of Sayre's Law is often attributed to Henry Kissinger. As always, the more often you hear a certain claim made, the less likely the claim is true.
Sayre's law is named after Wallace Stanley Sayre (1905–1972), U.S. political scientist and professor at Columbia University.
We thought of Sayre's Law today as we read the New York Times. More specifically, we read this endless report by Kim Severson—a report about a roiling dispute within an organization no one has ever heard of.
Severson's lengthy report is long, suggestive and murky. You'd think the fate of the world was at stake. The lengthy report starts like this:
SEVERSON (6/230/20): For years, people have been calling for John T. Edge to step down as head of the influential Southern Foodways Alliance.You can learn real things from the Times! Today, we learned that there is an organization called the Southern Food Alliance, and we learn that it's influential.
They say he is a kingmaker. They say he is a white man—however charming—who has too much power over who tells the story of food in a region where so much of the cuisine was created by enslaved people.
For years, Mr. Edge has been listening, and remained in his position at the top.
A few questions did come to mind. Influential among whom? we wondered. Also, influential concerning what?
We can't say that we were clear about those questions by the time we finished the endless report. Nor were we ever told how Edge got to be head of the SFA to begin with, or why there is no pathway for him to be induced to step down.
We weren't told why the phalanx of whining bougies in Severson's piece can't start their own pointless org somewhere else. Mainly, though, we thought about this:
This is why we can't have real discussions about public schools, or about our lunatic health care spending, or even about what actually happened in Flint.
How did the tyrannical Edge become head of the SFA? Why is there no provision by which he can be replaced?
In best Times fashion, Severson skips these obvious points. Instead, she lards her piece with whining and crying, generally built around insinuations and complaints about unexplained matters of race.
At this time, within the Times hive, this is all the hornets know. The newspaper's hopelessly foppish, Hamptons-based culture feeds on such blather as this.
No real discussion takes place in the Times. But dear God, can they ever fill space!
We had an oddly similar reaction to a very different type of report in this morning's Times.
This second report appeared in the Science Times; it was stunningly erudite. That report started like this:
KORNEI (6/30/20): Chaos and conflict roiled the Mediterranean in the first century B.C. Against a backdrop of famine, disease and the assassinations of Julius Caesar and other political leaders, the Roman Republic collapsed, and the Roman Empire rose in its place. Tumultuous social unrest no doubt contributed to that transition — politics can unhinge a society. But so can something arguably more powerful.Yes, that's right. Academics have determined that a major eruption from Okmok, a volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, helped bring the Roman Republic to an end.
Scientists on Monday announced evidence that a volcanic eruption in the remote Aleutian Islands, 6,000 miles away from the Italian peninsula, contributed to the demise of the Roman Republic. That eruption—and others before it and since—played a role in changing the course of history.
The eruption occurred in or around 43 B.C., give or take. Soon thereafter, the republic was on the way out.
These academics today! They've been able to determine that an Alaskan volcano took the Roman republic down. But for twenty months during Campaign 2000, journalists were inventing crazy claims and pretending that one White House candidate had been these claims, and no academic ever stepped forward to note the way this stupid practice might bring our republic down.
Our eggheads know all about Okmok. Our bougies want Edge out.
The New York Times is immersed in such matters; that's how it butters its bread. But when it comes to basic questions about various forces which drive the society, the paper is out to a very late lunch.
Aside from food disputes and ancient eruptions, the Times is a rolling joke. Admittedly, decades of branding make this fact hard for most liberals to spot.
Truly, we can't have nice things. For us, that will always be Poundstone's Law. We heard her state it first!
Meanwhile, as in Sayre's Law, the less at stake, the greater the squabble! To the whiners inside the SFA, we offer some good sound advice:
Full your bougie selves with your best bougie food. Then go jump in some deep Southern lake!
Also this: Parkinson's law of triviality? You'll find it explained right here!