blivet – 2004/08/16

The Best Gift #

But the best gift was one that is available nowhere else. Audrey and Ian had a ‘no daddies’ session in his room last night. There was a great deal of squealing and giggling accompanied by a little boy running out and giggling at me, returning to his bedroom when reminded ‘don’t tell Daddy!’

This morning I was presented with a large hand made birthday card bearing the unmistakable active involvement of a not quite three-year old.

Priceless! Thank you, Ian and Mommy!

Things You Receive… #

Wonderful things that arrive on the unsolemn anniversary of your birth. Audrey, thank you so much!

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? #
Philip E. Agre Red Rock Eater News Service

"Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

  • Q: What is conservatism?
  • A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
  • Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
  • A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves “conservatives” have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States. (…)

The Destruction of Reason

Conservatism has opposed rational thought for thousands of years. What most people know nowadays as conservatism is basically a public relations campaign aimed at persuading them to lay down their capacity for rational thought.

Conservatism frequently attempts to destroy rational thought, for example, by using language in ways that stand just out of reach of rational debate or rebuttal.

Conservatism has used a wide variety of methods to destroy reason throughout history. Fortunately, many of these methods, such as the suppression of popular literacy, are incompatible with a modern economy. Once the common people started becoming educated, more sophisticated methods of domination were required. Thus the invention of public relations, which is a kind of rationalized irrationality. The great innovation of conservatism in recent decades has been the systematic reinvention of politics using the technology of public relations.

The main idea of public relations is the distinction between “messages” and “facts”. Messages are the things you want people to believe. A message should be vague enough that it is difficult to refute by rational means. (People in politics refer to messages as “strategies” and people who devise strategies as “strategists”. The Democrats have strategists too, and it is not at all clear that they should, but they scarcely compare with the vast public relations machinery of the right.) It is useful to think of each message as a kind of pipeline: a steady stream of facts is selected (or twisted, or fabricated) to fit the message. Contrary facts are of course ignored. The goal is what the professionals call “message repetition”. This provides activists with something to do: come up with new facts to fit the conservative authorities’ chosen messages. Having become established in this way, messages must also be continually intertwined with one another. This is one job of pundits. (…)" (more)

Day Off #

My employer (for a little while longer) gives a ‘personal day’ for birthdays, so I am taking the day off. Perhaps additional postings will ensue. I know, you’re not holding your breath…

Happy Birthday #

Forty-nine years ago this evening (in 1955), an ambulance carrying Mrs. Patricia K. Rager and Dr. Niles Stout screamed its way north on US75 to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka, Kansas from the small town of Lyndon. A blue and green ’53 Buick driven by James W. Rager was in high-speed pursuit with Patricia’s mother, Naomi A. Boyle, riding shotgun. Naomi was a Registered Nurse, so she probably didn’t have to call ‘shotgun.’

About an hour earlier, Mrs. Rager had tripped and fallen six weeks out from the projected due date of her first child and gone into premature labor. Several people got pretty excitable and Dr. Stout made the call to get her to the hospital ASAP.

So today is my 49th birthday. Way to go Mom and Dad! Yea Grandma! Yea Dr. Stout! Yea, me!