Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘generosity

Michael Jackson vs. the Asshats

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I’m not an especially big fan of Michael Jackson—like a lot of people my age I have strong memories of Off the Wall and Thriller and not much else—but nonetheless I feel shaken by the asshat snark explosion you see in things like the first MetaFilter obituary thread. There’s recognizable whiffs of both racism and queer panic in these kneejerk reactions, but also, I think, a simple human meanness. Even if you believe every terrible allegation made against Jackson—every last one—he remains in the end an incredibly tragic figure drained dry by a celebrity culture that completely and contemptuously devoured him. Whatever he did or didn’t do—and who knows—like the rest of us he didn’t choose the life he lived, beginning with an abused and ruined childhood that left him psychologically broken and, to use the favored euphemism, “weird.”

If we have a modicum of generosity, we can only pity him. I simply do not understand this impulse to moonwalk on his grave.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 26, 2009 at 12:33 am

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More on Linkblogs

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Candleblog hits back at Warren Ellis following his call for an end to linkblogs. I am mentioned, as is the sorely missed Gravity Lens. Meanwhile, Quark Soup is fed up with blogs altogether:

Stop and consider this in detail: someone afraid to even use their real name asks for an analysis of an extremely complex situation, decades in development, merely because Yglesias spent a few days in the west — and in airy Aspen, at that.

RoboticGhost doesn’t ask any journalist in the southwest who covers the water beat 40 hours a week, or any of a half-dozen writers who have written detailed and thoughtful books about the west and its water, or a thousand administrators whose job it is to ensure as smooth a water flow in the sw as possible. He asks a casual traveler.
And this casual traveler, who has spent his entire life living in apartments on the eastern seaboard, actually thinks he has something valuable to say, because a year ago he spent a few days in a Best Western somewhere in the southwestern US.

With no evident local knowledge whatsoever — even admitting as much — Yglesias nevertheless offers a solution to this enormous, complex problem, a solution based purely on some political theory he read in a magazine somewhere last year and which has absolutely no naunced understanding of the complexity of the true situation on the group or its many years worth of layered complexity or what privatizing water supplies would mean for hundreds of thousands of southwestern ranchers or the million living there facing ever rising water bills.

For what it’s worth, Yglesias concedes the point:

The only thing I have to say to defend myself from those charges is that I don’t think the post was really about why I suck, it was about why the punditsphere as a whole sucks with me just as a prominent example. And he’s right. To gain any worthwhile information about any topic whatsoever, you need to be reading the work of someone with real expertise. To develop real expertise requires years of study, research, etc. And years of study, research, etc. can’t be adequately condensed into a blog post. Thus, blog reading is a completely worthless exercise and nobody should really engage in it. I started writing this blog as a hobby; I thought it would be a fun thing to do. And I not only continue to enjoy writing it, but people pay me to write it. But the mere fact that I’m writing it doesn’t make it a worthwhile thing to read, which is why the overwhelming majority of Americans have never read this blog and never will.

Frankly, this is exactly why I tend to restrict myself to linkblogging. Nobody should expect themselves to be able to come up with The Big Answers after ten minutes of shallow speculation; hell, it’s taken me at least a decade and a half of trying to even start to get a handle on what the questions are.

Curiosity, generosity, honesty, and humility: these are the four pillars for all intellectual labor, and they’re the keys for blogging too.