2-28-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Not "the Greatest" Intellectual Journey

He commits the common sin of treating Islam with kid gloves later on, but sportswriter Sheldon Hirsch does at least raise some serious questions about some of the more popular views on Cassius Clay:

[Muhammad] Ali's literal embracement of extreme Black Muslim ideology lends credence to [Mark] Kram's ignorant mouthpiece allegation. Ali accepted the claim (by W.D. Fard, the founder of the Nation of Islam in 1930) that over 6,000 years ago a mad scientist named Yacub bred a dominant white species ("devils") from the original black populace through eugenics and the murder of dark-skinned children. The Nation of Islam redemption story put forth by Fard stated that a spacecraft called the Mother Plane, controlled by black men, orbits the Earth. When the day of Allah's retribution comes, the spacecraft will bomb the earth and kill all the white people.
There's more, but consider the implications of the news media not taking Clay to task for swallowing such claptrap hook, line, and sinker -- on top of becoming a bigot, rather than fighting all bigotry. As offensive as the latter sin is, at least it is understandable. The former, the sin against the truth in the form of indifference, is far worse.

From the Mailbag

Here are a few interesting links sent in by readers...
  • A reader points me to a post about "Kafkatrapping". I commented on this some time back, but the email caused me to think of a variant of this mendacious type of persuasion that I don't think Eric Raymond or his commenters covered. I call it the Model R (for rational): "You will eventually accept {some conclusion I am too lazy to support with a rational argument} because you are rational." Note that the truth or falsehood of the conclusion is irrelevant: It is the fact that the person making the statement (or implication) is trying to extort agreement, rather than earn it. Note further that it is possible to say this as a statement of fact and not be guilty of attempting to bully an opponent.
  • Snedcat mails me something that reminds me of Poe's Law: A list of comments by purported conservatives regarding Vermont's new Latin motto.

    The motto, "Stella quarta decima fulgeat", means, "May the fourteenth star shine bright." Like Snedcat, I wonder how many comments are from befuddled conservatives and how many are parodies.
  • Reader Steve D. tells me of an interesting book, THORIUM: Energy Cheaper Than Coal, which also came up recently on HBL. As both sources indicated, the idea is intriguing, but you'll have to overlook the author's belief in global warming.
Soccer's Morning Raid

When I moved to Boston and learned that I could follow the English Premier League on basic cable, i was thrilled. But I assumed this was due to a peculiarity of the local market, and that, once we left, I'd either have to pay extra or do without. As a sports writer notes, that isn't the case. The EPL has benefitted greatly from the time difference between Old Blighty and the States:
[T]he biggest catalyst for the unexpected ratings boost is the opening to watch sports in the early mornings on Saturdays and Sundays. I believe these time slots without any kind of antagonist (sports competition) are the key element that hooks in viewers. The combination of a popular sport, played at a high quality with great players during a time when a majority of casual sports fans are waking up without having to go anywhere is the perfect storm for a ratings boom-which this is (all things considered).
I've noted elsewhere that, in addition to this, followers of the EPL can get a game in while the spouse (and, sometimes, the kids) are asleep, making them less likely to leave "Soccer Widows". Even if I preferred some other sport (which I don't), the time slot would make it easier to follow soccer than the other sport.

-- CAV

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