Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘anti-intellectualism

Rhetorical Question of the Day

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From the Awl: Do you think future generations will look back at this era as the point in human history where the solutions to our problems became impossibly complex while, simultaneously, the consistent and powerful strain of anti-intellectualism foisted on an already suspicious society in an attempt to discredit ideas which might prove detrimental to the interests of large corporations helped encourage the belief that everyone is an expert and an amateur opinion is just as valid as a trained one, and these two developments finally intersected to create a world where “Tell us: How would you fix the oil spill?”-type polls became the norm?

Early Monday

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* BP claims the Deepwater Horizon link has been partially contained. I’m partially impressed. Scientific American points out that what’s happening today will have consequences for decades. Elsewhere in oil news, the oil lobby is fighting efforts that would make them more accountable for the actual costs of their toxic industry, while elsewhere in the world the tar sand rush is on.

* Climate change: still real.

* The financial reform bill: better than you’d think?

* Libertarianism Bingo.

* Aesthetic controversy in Detroit! Can street art be moved and preserved?

* Aesthetic controversy in Scranton! The Office should not survive Michael Scott.

* Terror in Greenwich! Old-money WASPs being forced out of their homes and nonprofit boards by Jews, Catholics, and “others.”

* Popular Science remembers your cities of the future.

* Today cell phones don’t cause cancer. Live your life accordingly.

* And dueling commencement addresses: Rachel Maddow (part 2, part 3), Glenn Beck. Stay for the end of the Beck for some really intriguing anti-intellectualism that pits eggheads and their so-called “expertise” against the mighty Holy Spirit. Guess who wins.

Is It Finally Safe to Be an Intellectual in America?

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Obama in the Classroom

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The New York Times looks at Obama’s twelve-year stint as a professor, including copies of his syllabi and final exams.

I’m quite aware that there are plenty of people out there in Anti-Intellectual America for whom an article like this is a huge turn-off—but for me and my blogging cohort of over-educated literary theory PhDs it’s a very big deal, as close as we may ever come to seeing one of our own in charge…

Via MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 30, 2008 at 1:09 am

Can McCain Win?

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Marc Ambinder has a press release from the McCain campaign making the case McCain can win. Some of the charts are in fact pretty worrying:

I’ve been saying privately for a while that I think I know how McCain might win, and that’s to transmute Obama’s assertion of “better judgment” about the war into a claim that Obama thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us. Having been right in American politics isn’t necessarily better than having been as wrong as everybody else, and in fact there are even ways in which having been right can play as a disadvantage. One way to beat Obama—alongside the more under-the-radar patriotism smears and generic race-baiting—is to force him to explain, over and over again, just how it came to be that his judgment on the war was so much better than everybody else’s back in 2002.

A majority of the citizenry and nearly everyone in government supported the war, but not Barack Obama. In state (not federal) government, what did he see that no one else could see? What did he know that no one else knew?

(And of course: Or is he just a pacifist? Does he oppose all use of American military force, or just the use of military force against Islamic countries?)

Put another way, this is a claim that Obama was “right for the wrong reasons,” while McCain and The American People were wrong for the right reasons.

This is a tough argument to make at the same time McCain feels compelled to assert that he has actually been right on the war all along—but that contradiction isn’t necessarily all that devastating. If there’s one thing Karl Rove taught us, it’s to attack your opponent at their point of strength from your point of weakness. Thanks to the prolonged Democratic primary, Obama’s already been saddled with the elitist frame; I really think his advantages on Iraq could be neutralized using it, if McCain can thread that needle.

Naturally, I hope he can’t.

FOLLOWUP: But this is just silly:

I strongly encourage John McCain to make every effort to win California.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm