Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Hammer of Mental Jerking-Off
I live on Earth. Where I come from, if you and I are having an argument, and I look you in the eye and say “I’ve been forming an opinion about your show without watching it, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m just going by feelings here, I’m not smart enough to debate you point by point, I have the feeling 60% of your stuff is crap, but I pretty much just pulled that out of my ass and can’t back it up” — when I say that, you won the argument. YOU WON. How could you not have? I just admitted I’m engaging in mental masturbation, I haven’t done any homework, certainly not enough to contest what you’re saying. I’m going by what feels good at the moment. In that scenario, I lost; you won.
But that is Earth.
We got a Planet-Blue-State that is in orbit right here in the Good Ol’ USA, in which feelings trump thought. That is not my characterization; it is David Letterman’s. During his now-famous exchange with Bill O’Reilly (video behind link, Political Teen), in the very sentence his fans are holding up as evidence that he beat the Fox commentator black-and-blue, he said, “I�m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling…about 60 percent of what you say is crap. But I don�t know that for a fact…I’m just spitballing here.”
It’s a great line. Great line. Because, you see, all over the innernets today, bloggers who want to instruct their readers to believe Letterman “won” the exchange, like my good friends at Hammer of Truth, use this line to prove it. Bloggers who want to instruct their readers to believe O’Reilly “won” the exchange…also use this line.
This blog, the blog that nobody reads, will also use the same line. Dear reader, you may draw your own conclusions.
But it kind of strikes me as interesting. David Letterman, paladin for the day of the Blue States and their hatred of George Bush, freely admits, without reservation, that he cannot follow the argument point to point. In fact, anyone who refuses to accept this admission of defeat from him, need only rewind the video a minute or two to watch him squarely duck a sincere, straightforward, good-faith salient question from O’Reilly. Having thrown the match, in the arena of exchanging reasonable opinions based on solid, established facts — he just manufactures a quotient on-the-spot: Sixty percent. Can’t back it up. Sixty percent. It’s an important number, because this is where his sympathizers declare his victory. Look at all that applause from the audience, he must be right. Hammer of Truth evidently thinks so (although they might take me to task on this later).
Eh — when the conversation started, what was the “point” that Letterman really wanted to drive home? Something about, Why are we there? Something about going in on “bad intelligence”?
This is what I don’t understand about the Bush-bashing blue-state crowd. If they want to make a difference in the elections this year, they have a very good chance of doing so if they can demonstrate the Bush administration had opportunities to gather superior intelligence — verifiable intelligence, that would have illuminated a prospective Iraq invasion as a really bad idea — and failed to gather it (or act upon it). To date, their best shot at doing this has been Joe Wilson’s trip to Nigeria, and this has been shot full of holes. But if they can pull up fresh meat that substantially supports the conclusion that Bush had evidence the Iraq invasion would be a mistake, and he chose to ignore it based on his feelings…if they can do that, I think 2006 midterms will be a cakewalk for them.
The foregoing is an opinion, not a fact. It is just my opinion. What makes my opinion important, is that the blue staters agree with me about it. They understand this prospect is lucrative for them. They go out of their way to imply the theory I’ve described, all the time. Consider the Downing Street Memo. Consider the celebration of Richard Clarke. Consider the “Bubble Boy” media campaign. You really don’t have to go far to bump into more talking points that say: The Bush presidency is a special chapter in American history, because of its insulation from reality.
They know that Americans cannot tolerate, will not tolerate, being sold something that the salesman, himself, when the rubber meets the road and facts become really important, would not buy.
And yet — what would you call this exchange in the video clip?
Ignoring the evidence based on your feelings.
Engaging in an exercise purely for the value of self-gratification, choosing to do it unproductively, so as to conserve the effort that would be spent gathering an outside resource that would have been needed to engage the exercise more productively.
David Letterman, no doubt representing many, has the feeling that 60% of what O’Reilly says is crap. I don’t doubt his sincerity at all. I think he does have that feeling. How much of a feeling? How much money would Letterman be willing to bet that his feeling can be born out by facts revealed subsequently? That’s the real question.
I have the feeling, and I can’t prove this, that Letterman isn’t really quite as sure of the sixty-percent quotient as George Bush was, that going into Iraq was the right decision. Because to continue my vulgar, prurient analogy, what the Bush administration did wasn’t purely self-gratification. Bush went out and got the best intelligence that was available to him.
He got ‘er to think he was kind of cute, bought her flowers, met her parents, took her out to dinner-and-a-movie, then brought her home and banged the daylights out of her.
And now, three years later, we’re having a debate about whether she’s good-looking or not.
While David Letterman, Hammer of Truth, and people who think likewise, continue to spank the monkey. Indulging in feelings that feel good, without gathering evidence to back ‘em up, because to go out and get it would be too much work.
You doubt me? Hammer Of Truth’s editor, Stephen VanDyke, will be on my blog any day now, snivelling away in the comments section about how long the post is and how hard it is to read.
But I don’t know it for a fact. I’m just spitballing here.
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