I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.
Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.
After they finished watching the Bond movies, I figured the next series John Gruber and Dan Benjamin would discuss on The Talk Show would be Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. But Gruber refused — too personal for podcasting, he said. Disappointed, I rewatched 2001.
Instead of acknowledging the wisdom of leading from behind, the Right jumped on the Obama administration’s handling of Libya as yet another example of at best incompetence. They lost me there.
Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was still only 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust this US President.
Nobody from usesthis.com has asked me what my setup us, nor is likely to anytime soon. So I’m just going to mouth off here about it. But first, some background.
On the Leon Wieseltier/Andrew Sullivan spat, Walter Russell Mead seems to want to have his strudel and eat it too.
Defeat in the Olympics bid may focus the mind in the Oval Office where it should be: Afghanistan.
ews editors revel in it; when used as a seeming synonym for refutation, denial is a candidate for our most Orwellian word. As a verb, it undermines modernity’s great achievement of presumed innocence until proven guilt, enabling insinuations before the subject can even get her boots on. As a suffix coining a hyphenated noun, it renders disagreement unreasonable, irrational and even malign, so undermining another great modern achievement — tolerance.
In headlines, the short and solitary verb is usually overshadowed by what follows: the description of the denied act, now indelibly linked with the denier. A recent news.com.au headline reads: “Warren Rodwell’s wife Miraflor Gutang denies being involved in kidnapping”. Yet the story contains nothing to argue that she was a party to the crime, except perhaps the unstated idea that all Filipinos are bandits. Indeed, buried 2/3rds down, a Filipino government official says Gutang was instrumental in securing Rodwell’s release!
In an argument, a denial garners infinitely less respect than a refutation. If I refute a mathematical proof then I demonstrate its fallaciousness, but if I deny it, I’m either stating that the proof never existed, which is absurd, or that I dispute its conclusions without having refuted the proof itself — which is also absurd, or at least, blatantly and even ridiculously dishonest, an exercise in magical thinking. I have left the realm of reason.
Refutation comprises logic whereas denial comprises judgment and power. To reasonably deny something it must be within my domain, and this applies for both senses of the word, refuse and refute. Computers are programmed, at least in fiction, to say “Access Denied”. Denying differs from obstructing, preventing or blocking access in that it is more metaphysical; while these other actions involve physically barring access, denying it is a decision about my right to access; the operating system’s power to enforce that decision is a given. Similarly, a government agency grants or denies a visa, a court one’s visitation rights.
I may plausibly deny actions or knowledge attributed to me (even without refutation, contradiction or an alibi) but I cannot plausibly deny those of others, nor independent things such as ideas. (Though we do speak of denying the rights of others, since the domain is now the theoretical. Here it’s understood that I don’t have the power to enforce my denial, but am instead exercising a moral judgment of their right to that right. Perhaps this is within my domain because, like property, rights are possessed through consensus, which includes consent from me.)
All this is why an accusation of x-denial is so damaging: it puts me in an absurd, Kafkaesque position. Since I cannot reasonably deny something that is not within my domain, accusing me of doing so renders me unreasonable. And if the thing I’m denying is a consensus that seems salutary, such as climate change and efforts to save life on earth, or Holocaust history and efforts to preserve its victims’ memory and ensure never again, then I am surely perverse, anti-social and/or malign. To be a hyphenated denier is to be a pariah — and in some countries even a criminal (though few have ever been convicted).
As Edward Skidelsky puts it, denial is the secular form of blasphemy. Previous generations of Europeans persecuted Jews for Christ-denial — how antagonistic, such refusal to accept the good news. Why spoil this liberating, universalising, true and good movement by refusing to join it? Wikipedia currently defines denialism as “choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth.” We’d do ourselves a favor if instead we defined it as trafficking in accusations of such.