Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

I get to be as self-indulgent as I want without wasting anyone's time. Guilt-free solipsism -- excellent!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Once again, props due to Rafe at, not just for tirelessly pointing to the *most* interesting, fresh insights on Afghanistan and America post 9.11, but also for his willingness to discard his presumptions and biases when events warrant.

Case in point: as a good historically-aware lefty, he (and I) felt that using the Northern Alliance as a proxy force was asking for trouble. Yet, as he lucidly demonstrates, it was unquestionably the right decision in this case.

Hayakawa talks about the 4 ways one can react to a statement:

1. accept the speaker and accept the statement;
2. accept the speaker and reject the statement;
3. reject the speaker and accept the statement;
4. reject the speaker and reject the statement

An ability to have responses 2 & 3 is a hallmark of an open-minded person and a sophisticated thinker. There's an analogue for ideologies -- some people need to have totalizing, pure ideologies/beliefs or none at all. When ideologies are challenged by messy realities, many opt to keep their beliefs simple and pure by bending the facts to fit. I think the more appropriate response is to revise one's opinions to incorporate the new insights. This does not usually require abandoning one's beliefs -- just adding nuance to them.

Unfortunately wartime conditions are not conducive to this type of thinking, probably because propaganda comprises much of our diet these days, and good propaganda is not nuanced. Prosecuting the war can be A Good Thing yet eavesdropping on attorney/client meetings to this end is A Bad Thing. But as any advertising agency swine can tell you, that is too complex a message to be effective.

Whew, what a ramble! Incidentally, I just went to my first .info site. If you haven't been to one yet, click on that last link to relieve your .infoginity.


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