Monday, October 18, 2004

Scott on politics and crazies

Scott comments on my election-as-train-wreck post:

re: "Are we, the American public, like people watching a train wreck about to happen?"

Have you read "The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss? It's the rarest of books from academics - it's actually got a point. It explains the cyclic nature of humanity that you alluded to above: things happen in cycles, and now is the time for the train wreck. The research kicks ass in thoroughness and the presentation is consistent and interesting.

But back to your questions. Yes. The streets will burn if Bush gets re-elected. Some of The Left in the USA lack the decency to allow Bush to visit a town without a traffic-stopping protest involving WTO-meeting style violence. And that's just for a visit. Given the amount of mental-retardation of folks who couldn't handle the ballots in Florida* (so confusing, being designed by a Democrat and all), this election is gonna be nuts.

Look at me, for crying out loud. I was politically hands off before this year. But all of the lying and vocal hand-wringing by the left (e.g. Michael Moore) became too much for me to stand. And if a guy as mellow as me has had it with the hippies in the USA... be glad you are in Korea.

As for your comment about being passengers on a train, Fred (i.e., Fred Reed of Fred On Everything) writes well, and often about the same topic. I believe his current column is a good intro into his thinking. He's retired but still writes semi-weekly - and it's all good. For fun, check out the columns he wrote when he was a reporter who rode along with police officers in Washington, DC.

I saw the movie "Team America" today. Pretty good, a bit over the top at the end. Big South Park fans will feel that they are watching a great deal of recycled material (a song, the foreign characters are all recycled, etc). My overall sentiment of the film was summarized by the song, "America, Fuck Yeah!"


[*I'm sure he doesn't mean you, Arn.]

I don't know if the streets will burn, but there seem to be some worrisome trends. As an example: political polarization happened fast in the blogosphere, where time is highly accelerated in the race to keep up with, or even anticipate, news topicality. Almost everyone has zipped straight into a distinct camp, with Glenn Reynolds and Bill Whittle on one side, and Kos and Atrios on the other. Scary self-organization, and a sad justification of what I'm becoming convinced is a huge liability: America's fixation on two-party politics.

If the streets do burn, this won't bode well for liberal prospects in upcoming elections. I have to hope that people will keep their cool, though I expect there to be lawsuits.

It's amazing to see how we've undermined basic notions of trustworthiness in society. This is related in no small way to the effects of postmodernist thought in culture: it seems nowadays that many people feel free to believe whatever they want about human nature and society. While I personally take a nonessentialist view of all phenomena (cultural and physical), I don't for a moment believe this means we throw principle (and history) out the window and embrace an "anything goes" ethic. It's important to restore a sense of trustworthiness and yes, groundedness to public action and rhetoric. It's also important to promote a value I've picked up from reading the philobloggers: interpretive charity. People on opposite sides of the aisle tend to assume the worst about the other; they shouldn't. Instead, they should stop, listen, reflect, and only then reply-- strongly if necessary, but civilly in all cases. What I don't want to see in America is the charade that's played itself out in the Korean National Assembly and in Taiwan as well: fistfights and mayhem, politics reduced to violence.

Scott also writes in about the loony bin (see recent post):


Re: "I'm beginning to wonder whether my language school, EC, is a magnet for crazy people."

ALL language schools are magnets for crazy people. Every single one. Language schools are like strip clubs for girls to patronize. The crazy folks come out of the woodwork at language schools, and they end up taking my class. Sure, many students come to learn something, but all too many (it seems) have had an extra cup of crazy with their cereal during breakfast.

At my school the craziest folks liked me a lot because I didn't get weirded out around them. I viewed the crazy as my misunderstood brethren. They may have been born in the country, but they were as foreign as I was, in some ways. Some even requested that I be their sole teacher. Private lessons with me was their granted request. And what were they looking for? A place to hang out and a familiar, non-threatening face to talk to. Kinda like the bar 'Cheers', without Cliff Claven.

As for the kids needing behavior modification... ouch. I got lucky and only had a couple of boys who needed physical coercion. And since those boys took a swipe at me, their attitude got corrected REALLY fast. The surprisingly thing is - no one else had even tried that. I'm not talking about a hard-swing, just a little love-tap upside the head of an 8-year-old who needs it. You know what? It adjusted their attitude. Kinda like Fred Reed's take on Marine Corps philosophy.

The lab-coat situation sucks for everyone, and I think the manager is on your side about things. But she's stuck having to enforce the rule. I think you hit it right with your stance: do it your way, but avoid a verbal confrontation.


One of my students had an obsession with callus-picking. After he left class one day, I looked down at his chair and saw a huge, disgustingly translucent hunk of finger skin sitting there, almost as if it were a gift shyly given. Tricorder readings seemed to indicate it was pretty damn skanky. Mr. Spock wasn't available to remove the foulness from my chair, so I got a tissue and took care of it myself.

The adorability of crazy people has limits. With Alien Miss Bae, I initially had a great deal of compassion, but she was an arrogant cow as well as an erratic student, so I was happy to be rid of her. I conclude from this that there are species of crazy. There's cute-crazy (think: Amélie or any character played by actor Christopher Lloyd), and there's ugly-crazy (think: people in their 40s who fling their dung at McDonald's workers if they don't get enough ketchup bags). I'd rather have the cute-crazies in class, but they're few and far between.


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