Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I have arrived!

You're not a "real" blogger until you've been satirized, especially by someone who displays considerable intellectual... sloppiness.

Woo hoo! I'm a real blogger now!

Update: The noted site now correctly attributes my work; I'm assured by the author that the mistake was indeed an oversight.


  1. A young anonymous lay philosopher summed it up as follows:

    Did he not look a bit to the right on his screen? It's kind of funny that he accuses you of pompousness without checking his own verbiage at the door.

    Methinks the moniker "Cassandra" is most fitting...

  2. I don't know how old Cassandra is, but I guess I should at least be flattered by the "young" part. I'm not yet decrepit, but at 43, it's been a while since anyone has called me young.

  3. Oh, and for the sake of anal-ret... er... strict accuracy, Cassandra represents herself as female.

  4. Male or female, I think we can safely dismiss anyone who characterizes a news source they disagree with as "Al-Guardian."

  5. I don't know... how about "Faux News"?

  6. I haven't arrived, but I think my blog would be easy to satire:

    In most of the posts I call someone stupid and then go and make some grammatical or spelling error.

  7. Sorry, Norm. You'll have to actually piss me off before I'll satirize you. Your content appears much to reasonable and sensible to get me really worked up.

    On the plus side, you've earned a spot on my blogroll. And that ain't chopped liver: Being on my blogroll can add literally one's of readers!

  8. Note: the errors of typography in the previous comment were intentionally introduced to make Norm feel better about himself. Yeah, that's the ticket.

  9. I see that in your response on her site, you say: "quotations should be copied precisely as written, not paraphrased". I agree with you.

    Can I assume, then, that you would consider it unethical to quote someone else's comment for the purpose of responding to it, while reducing his sentences to an unintelligible hash by cutting out about half the words which you arbitrarily decided were "unsubstantiated assertions"? Surely the ethical thing to do would be to "copy it precisely as written" but explain why you thought some of it was "unsubstantiated assertions", if you did.

  10. Infidel753: I'm not sure I understand your complaint. It had been establish long before what your position was; I was commenting only on the moral basis underlying your conclusions.

    It's clear from the quotation (which is, in fact, an exact copy of your words, not a paraphrase, with elisions clearly indicated by ellipses) that you're claiming expertise without actually substantiating that expertise.

    I don't think your original statement:

    My assessment of the risk that a nuclear-armed Iran would try to destroy Israel is based on much more than just a "gut feeling". It's based on the statements of the Iranian regime, and on the doctrines, mentality, and track record of Islam, a subject I have studied exhaustively for several years and know very well. No one can claim absolutely certain knowledge of what other people would do in a given situation, but I do claim far greater knowledge than someone who is not a specialist in the field would have. The nature of the real world is that we constantly need to make decisions on the basis of, not absolute certainty, but the best information we have.

    adds any necessary information vs. my shorter version:

    My assessment of the risk... is based on... a subject I have studied exhaustively for several years and know very well... I do claim far greater knowledge than someone who is not a specialist in the field would have.

    necessary to understand my response:

    [A]ny rational audience should simply dismiss his vague claims to the authority of expertise and demand actual arguments, including an evaluation of arguments contrary to his position and reasons why his evaluation should prevail over those counter-arguments.

    My intent in eliding the quotation was not to change the sense of your words, but to highlight your unsubstantiated claims to expertise which I objected to.

    Since I did not actually address any of your claims about Iran, I didn't include them as irrelevant to the point that I was making.

    I'm not a perfect person. I probably could have made the same point without a block quotation, paraphrasing most of your comment and quoting smaller pieces of it; this change would have rendered my response more stylistically pleasing.

    And if you think I've misrepresented the substance of your remarks (which I don't think I have) you're welcome to correct me; if I'm wrong, I'll admit it.

  11. Also note that my initial complaint against Cassandra was for representing a paraphrase (albeit substantively accurate) as a quotation and not sourcing my work. Neither of these charges are true of the quotation you mention.

  12. Anyone can see that there is a huge difference in meaning, clarity, and coherence between the two. The fact that one object of "is based on" was "the statements of the Iranian regime" is completely omitted, as is the fact that "a subject I have studied exhaustively for several years and know very well" refers to "the doctrines, mentality, and track record of Islam". The entire last sentence, which was crucial to the point I was making, was left out. Your "quote" bore hardly any resemblance to what I actually said. This is dishonest, regardless of the reason. Anyone -- you, me, Shakespeare -- could be made to sound like a fool by that kind of editing.

    But the details aren't the point. As you yourself said, quotations should be copied precisely as written. Mangling something into incoherence and replacing what you cut out with ellipses does not meet that standard. You talk a lot about having principles, but if I quoted something you wrote, I would never do what you did, even if I was citing it only in order to respond that it contained "unsubstantiated assertions". Quote it accurately, point out what flaws you think you see, and let the readers judge for themselves.

    The plain fact is that, for whatever reason, in this case you failed to live up to the high standards you set for yourself. Everyone slips up occasionally. The question is, when it's brought to your attention, do you acknowledge it, or start splitting hairs and playing word games?

  13. Would it satisfy you if I rewrote the offending section?

    In his comment, Infidel753 appears to support his conclusions with vague claims to his own expertise. He says he has studied the subject "exhaustively for several years," and he claims "far greater knowledge than someone who is not a specialist in the field."

    He himself is entitled to assess the risk any way he pleases, rational, irrational or arbitrary. He would be, hypothetically speaking, perfectly entitled under the doctrine of free speech to advocate bombing Iran just because he doesn't like the name of the country, or just because he likes bombing people in general. I think, however that any rational reader ought to demand actual arguments for his position, including an evaluation of arguments contrary to his position and reasons why his evaluation should prevail over those counter-arguments.

    I'm not trying to fix up any substantive flaws that might exist in my own argument, just flaws of style and quotation. I'm happy to continue discussing the substance of our conversation if you so choose.

  14. Let me say this as well: It was definitely not my intention to make you look bad; it was my intention only to demonstrate that you had appealed to your own expertise.

    I honestly don't think that my quotation makes you look bad, but I could be wrong. I'll state categorically that I myself do not believe your original comment was incoherent. I apologize for my error in giving a false impression of your coherence and sensibility.

  15. If you had written it this way accompanied by an unedited quote in full of my paragraph which you originally hacked up, or at least a clearly-indicated link back to the orignal comment (not just the post it appeared in, or to a login screen which comes up even when I'm already logged in, as your current link does), then that would address the specific point I'm making here. I still think your longer response misstates my actual position about Iran (in ways some of which would be clear to anyone who viewed my unedited comment), but at least you would not be mangling my own writing to make it sound stupid and then presenting it as if it were meaningfully equivalent to quoting what I had actually said, which is what I was getting at here.

    It's always best to quote exactly. Even with the best will in the world, which I think you very often have, it's simply impossible to fairly produce an edited or paraphrased version of a position one disagrees with.

  16. The entire last sentence, which was crucial to the point I was making, was left out.

    I'm not sure I understand this complaint either. I quote the last sentence in full later in my response.

  17. As far as links go, that's a technical issue. I have not figured out how to link to specific comments. As for the link to the post I did put in, I double-check most of the links I put in my documents, but sometimes I miss one.

    I see now that the links to a post's comment section are different for the site administrator (myself) than they are for ordinary viewers; I will be careful in the future to use the correct link.

  18. Even a link directly to the comments section would have sufficed, since the comment you were responding to was first in the series. If linking directly to the thing being responded to isn't an option, I think it should be quoted without editing, for the reasons given. Cutting major chunks out of a quote but presenting is as a quote is always going to mean misrepresentation (in this case, egregiously so), whether that was the intention or not.

  19. The incorrect link was a technical error and has already been fixed.

    I've apologized for inadvertently offending you.

    I've rewritten the offending section in this thread; if want me to change the original post, I'm willing to do so.

    You've had your say in this thread; I have not nor will I alter or delete any of your remarks.

    I think it's time to bury the hatchet and move on.


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