Jon Stewart’s Aristotelian Rally


As the “election season” (which started two years ago) finally comes to an end in a flurry of negative ads, robo-calls and junk mail, Jon Stewart and company supply the antidote. Like Aristotle, who proposed the Golden Mean – yes, yes, be fearful or angry, but only when being so is reasonable, and even then only to an appropriate degree – Stewart celebrates moderation. A couple of hundred thousand people are apparently willing to go out of their way to celebrate it with him, and that seems to me to be a cause for at least cautious – moderate, reasonable – optimism.

Here’s a clip of the start of the Rally To Restore Sanity (and/or Fear, but Colbert is clearly a supporting character here)-

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon and Stephen – Stephen’s Fearful Entrance
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or Fear The Daily Show The Colbert Report

Okay, maybe it’s not as amusing as his show, but what do you want for free and no commercials?

Here’s a portion of his closing monologue; memorizing it should be a requirement of graduating from Pundit school-

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear–they are, and we do.

But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.

The country’s 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult–not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker–and, perhaps, eczema. And yet… I feel good. Strangely, calmly, good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us, through a funhouse mirror–and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin, and one eyeball.

So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable–why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?

We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don’t is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

But Americans don’t live here, or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done–not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

Deafened By Political Noise


If you regularly drop by here (and I know that some of you do), you may have noticed that I’ve been posting less than usual. That’s partly because I’ve been unusually busy, but also because I’ve been benumbed by the unrelenting volume of political ads, junk mail, requests for contributions, and media “analysis” that either underlines various talking points, or throws poll numbers around without giving any indication of how the poll was actually conducted (just what were the questions? in what order?), or chuckles with snide self-satisfaction at the silly ineptitude of a few odd candidates and their conspiracy-minded followers. Have you heard any in-depth evaluation of the candidates’ positions on the issues lately? I haven’t. All I’ve heard are endless repetitions of certain fringe positions by a few ridiculous candidates (who may nevertheless win), or else enumerations of those candidates’ fear-mongering or ad hominem ads.

Anyway, don’t forget to VOTE! There is information about the candidates’ positions to be found on the net. There may not be any perfect candidates to elect, but there are certainly lesser evils to be chosen.

Facebook: Beyond The Last Straw


I recently ended my (little used) Facebook account for reasons discussed here. Given the recent news about privacy breaches in Facebook, I’m glad I did. Here’s part of what the Wall Street Journal has to say about it-

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

Facebook says it is taking steps to “dramatically limit” the exposure of users’ personal information, after a WSJ investigation showed that personal IDs were being transmitted to third parties via Facebook apps.

It’s hard to have much faith in Facebook’s sincerity when its business model has always depended on making information about its users available to advertisers.

If you’re thinking I’m in danger of becoming a bit obsessed with Facebook, don’t worry: this will be my last post on the subject. Promise.

Is This Why Facebook Is So Creepy?


I’ve posted several times on what I’ve described as Facebook’s creepiness (see, for instance, here, here, and here). Now that I’ve seen The Social Network, which dramatizes the story of Facebook’s creepy genesis, complete with a creepy portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg and the creepy internet economy (which seems to be built on a creepily extreme sort of narcissism, much like that of Wall Street’s Masters of The Universe that Tom Wolfe exposed in Bonfire of The Vanities), it seems to me that I may have found an explanation of its creepiness. Like most of the critics, I recommend it, although it left me feeling, well… creeped out.

Here’s the trailer-