Our author calls Pennsylvania the most linguistically fascinating state in the country, with five comprehensive dialects.
There’s this opening paragraph:
‘The 4 hour and 46 minute drive from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is marked by several things: barns, oddly timed roadwork projects, four tunnels that lend themselves to breath-holding competitions, turnpike rest stops featuring heat-lamped Sbarro slices and overly goopy Cinnabon.’
You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Breezewood, Pa, the ‘Town Of Motels,’ after eating a few heat-lamped slices of Sbarro some hours before.
Here are some examples of central Pennsylvania dialect:
1. ‘It’s all (pronounced awl)’–It’s all gone.
2. ‘The lawn needs mowed‘–The lawn needs to be mowed.
4. ‘Hoagie‘ (the ‘o’ sound more like ‘owe’)-Submarine sandwich
For the sake of pronunciation:
5. ‘It’s hawt owt‘–It’s hot out.
6. ‘Are yu’uns goin’ to the maul?’–Pardon me, will you (plural) be attending the nearby indoor commercial center?
–On that note, here’s an interview with William Labov (mentioned in the article) at the University of Pennsylvania on the changing nature of American English in relation to economic and political factors.
Depending on your ambitions, you really don’t want to be too local:
‘You’re dead on Madison avenue if you sound like New York‘
‘That the President and a top aide offered a defense of the administration’s international agenda that tip toed past the misreading Russia issue suggests that despite their evident discomfort and concern, the President’s foreign policy inner circle hasn’t yet come up with a strategy for national much less international leadership in our increasingly tumultuous world’
‘The Obama Administration cannot escape its share of the responsibility for what has gone wrong with U.S. foreign policy. And the result is unwelcome news both for the world, which largely depends upon the United States to promote order in the absence of any other country able and willing to do so, and for the United States, which cannot insulate itself from developments beyond its borders’
I’m guessing many in the Obama administration already know themselves to be in possession of many of the right ideals and far as peace and democratic activism go, so we’re not going to be seeing much change.
The world just wasn’t ready for it.
***As posted previously-It might be worth revisiting that Cairo Speech to see how rhetoric is meeting reality.
I’ve also been referred to Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech to show the framework upon which he hangs his foreign policy. He’s been called a realist, or one who generally deals with the world as it is, not as he’d like it to be. In the speech, Obama sets an expectation of using force against evil in the world if necessary. He’s willing to part company with Gandhi and MLK in the face of a genuine possible evil and the grim choices events may require.
According to this view, Obama has rejected the Hillary Clinton/Samantha Power wing of humanitarian interventionism as idealists to his realism. He split the difference in Libya to the operation they wanted (like Bosnia) because of hisrealism.He later thought Syria wasn’t worth the risk because of his realism (it has since devolved into a near worse-case scenario into which Putin had to step-in). He approved, then withdrew, the surge in Afghanistan after he didn’t see the gains he wanted because of his realism.
No further comment….
What about activism at home?: Well, FIRE (The Foundation For Individual Rights In Education) has its hands full, intelligently pushing back against the coalitions of activists that have taken root in our colleges and universities for some time now, but which find special expression through White House task-forces under this administration:
‘Perhaps most worryingly, the Task Force appears to be enthusiastic about essentially eliminating hearings altogether for students accused of assault and harassment. The Task Force is exploring a “single investigator” model, where a sole administrator would be empowered to serve as detective, judge and jury, affording the accused no chance to challenge his or her accuser’s testimony.’
Yes, feminists and anti-rape activists make moral claims, and they take them very seriously, so seriously in fact that they can work themselves into a frenzy:
‘If those of us who defend civil liberties had to name our greatest historical adversary, the leading candidate could be summed up in two words: moral panic. Moral panic is a sudden, powerful, and often highly exaggerated perception within a society that people or their values are facing a dire threat.’
Here’s a further example of Left activism leading to potentially extra-judicial, quasi-official task-forces and councils and suspect bodies that can interfere with 1st amendment protections, Perhaps we can take a note from Canada, which has no such protections:
Ezra Levant’s opening statements during a lengthy investigation after he published those Danish cartoons of Mohammed:
Originally, a letter was written by Syed Soharwardy, an imam living in Alberta, to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Soharwardy claimed that the cartoons were morally offensive to the religion of Islam. Levant believed his decision to publish the cartoons was protected by Canadian law, and that Soharwardy found a path to legal action (at the expense of Canadian taxpayers) through the Human Rights Commission because no one else would take Soharwardy’s claims seriously.
One of Levant’s main concerns seems to be the the way in which someone like Soharwardy, (with unchallenged religious beliefs, and illiberal ideas of social freedom), has infringed upon his freedoms through an institution like the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Admit it, even if you came to learn that Christopher Hitchens started out a Marxist materialist, and ended up a contrarian, eventually tethering himself to the New Atheists, you probably enjoyed it when he defended freedom of speech against its erosion by the politically correct multiculturalists, or perhaps when he wrote his polemics supporting the Iraq war.
The situation in Ukraine is ramping-up, and we could be looking at potential engagement between Russian and Ukranian forces. Putin is still leveraging his position with alternately militant and vaguely conciliatory language.
It’s true that as in Georgia, our likelihood of going to war on this far Eastern front of Western interests was small to begin with, and not necessarily in our best interests, any more than playing Putin’s Cold War gamesmanship is in our best interests.
Putin and the Geneva Conventions?
Something needs to be done and we need some kind of Russia policy, but which kind exactly?
This is not particularly reassuring:
Spoken to Secretary @JohnKerry to coordinate next steps on #Ukraine crisis. Russia's failure to follow up Geneva agreement is indefensible
The current diplomatic team still seems to be telegraphing its intentions and aims too easily, with a particularly naive use of social media while setting deadlines it often can’t meet. This can undermine our credibility.
Many folks like the idea of Western interests banding together, rowing in the same direction to promote liberal democracy by enticing those with divergent and opposing interests to join or face consequences. Human rights, democracy promotion, and tough-as-nails diplomacy through international law and institutions are presumed to be the best foundations for the kind of world we’d like to live in (better than the consequences of Iraq, for example).
Yet, promoting democratic elections in Egypt hasn’t worked out particularly well for our interests (little as we could do there), leading to the return of what will likely be another military-controlled autocracy after the Muslim Brotherhood failure. The surgically-controlled coalitional strikes to take out Gadhafi in the hopes Libyans could put something together in his wake has led to instability across North Africa, and a haven for Islamic radicalism pouring into Syria. Libya was in rough shape, and is still in rough shape.
Meanwhile, in Syria, we emboldened a weakened Putin to leverage us heavily, while allowing Assad to buy himself time. As a result, the country’s Civil War rages on, Islamist radicals have poured in, and as Adam Garfinkle pointed out on April 10th, this has had consequences for us in Crimea.
‘The Syria point? The Obama Administration should watch its mouth. It should say as little as possible about reports of the Syrian regime’s use of poison gas unless it’s prepared to actually do something appropriate to the challenge. Its feckless posturing only drives its credibility further down the crapper. It’s not time to wring hands and blurt out Hamlet-like soliloquies; it’s time to wring necks. Again, if the facts prove that a poison gas attack has occurred and the Obama Administration does essentially nothing about it, it will be open season on every American and allied interest worldwide. It’s nice that Chuck Hagel went recently to Tokyo to calm our Japanese allies down, as though their jitters are not fully justified by the facts; a lot of good it will do, however, if the President does another duck-and-cover over the enormities of the Assad regime.’
Do you long for the days of unabashed American consumerism? Are you nostalgic for nights lit only by a soft, neon glow on the underbellies of clouds? Return to a time when America broadcast its brash, unironic call to the heavens.
-Check out Buzludzha, the abandoned communist monument in Bulgaria’s Balkan mountains, which still draws up to 50,000 Bulgarian Socialists for a yearly pilgrimage. Human Planet’s Timothy Allen visited the structure in the snow and took some haunting photos. You will think you’ve stepped into a Bond film and one of Blofeld’s modernist lairs, but with somewhat Eastern Orthodox tile frescos of Lenin and Marx gazing out at you, abandoned to time, the elements and to nature.
‘If you’re ever wondering what the War Room of “Dr. Strangelove” would look like if the movie had been directed by Prince, here you go.’
When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.
will believe this
of vast import to the nation
‘But Piketty’s utopian notions and authoritarian inclinations — ones that I’m pretty sure most Americans (and probably most Democrats) would still find off-putting — do not seem to rattle the left-wing press one bit. While Piketty’s economic data might be worth studying and debating, his political ideas are unworthy of discussion’
Maybe it’s important to leave a respectable path out of the thick brush. Some folks probably haven’t realized just what they’re chattering about while some others have.
On that note, strange bedfellows?: Social and religious conservatives (often Burkean) and more highly individualistic, free-market libertarian coalitions may have a tough time staying together without a common purpose (to say nothing of the gap between Tea-Party populism and establishment Republicans).
‘There does seem to an emerging consensus among sophisticates today that non-libertarian conservatism—and authoritative religion in general—are “reactionary.” They have been discredited by “capitalism”—or economic and technological progress—and so are destined to have no place in the emerging future. A reactionary is nostalgic for a world that’s been surpassed by history and so can’t and, in truth, shouldn’t be restored. Unlike crabs, we dialectically materialistic beings can’t crawl backwards.’
This raises a question posed to me often:
Our institutions have necessary hierarchies built-in, from bureaucracies to law to the military. This requires authority of some sort. You don’t have to deeply agree with your boss, your law professor, and/or your drill instructor (a more complicated example), but you do have to go along to get along most of the time.
Do you find church doctrine, Natural Law and/or Natural Rights to be a morally legitimate source of that authority in our institutions and in the public square?
If you’re like an increasing number Americans, probably not.
This may well correspond with a cultural drift towards liberalism, libertarianism, and a less religiously rooted form of conservatism, for what it’s worth, or also part of a much deeper process of indiviudation (I have no empirical evidence to back such a statement up).
Looking at the the authoritarian and big government consequences of modern mainstream liberalism as it’s currently practiced, and the darker totalitarian impulses of the harder Left, it seems an important question to ponder.
And now for something kind of related:
Apparently, Dennis is suspicious of King Arthur’s claims to rule, and thinks himself part of an autonomous collective.
‘If we look at the middle three quintiles, very few of their worst problems come from the gap between their income and the incomes of some random Facebook squillionaire. Here, in a nutshell, are their biggest problems:
-Finding a job that allows them to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not abruptly terminate them.
-Finding a partner who is also able to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not be abruptly terminated.
-Maintaining a satisfying relationship with that partner over a period of years.
-Having children who are able to enjoy more stuff and economic security than they have.
-Finding a community of friends, family and activities that will provide enjoyment and support over the decades.
This is where things are breaking down — where things have actually, and fairly indisputably, gotten worse since the 1970s. Crime is better, lifespans are longer, our material conditions have greatly improved — yes, even among the lower middle class. What hasn’t improved is the sense that you can plan for a decent life filled with love and joy and friendship, then send your children on to a life at least as secure and well-provisioned as your own.’
There are serious forces at work in our society right now, from high-rates of technological change and many areas of rapid scientific advancement, to many political, social, and cultural effects as a result. Global market forces continue to apply downward pressure across many industries and sectors of our economy, as they have for many years, altering the kinds of decisions people must make in their daily lives.
Is inequality so bad that we need a ‘global wealth tax’?
I’m someone fairly convinced that American progressive politics and Left-liberalism, in the long-run, generally leads to less opportunity for greater numbers of people, less overall wealth, and more social stratification. It’s a fast-track to many of the problems that many European societies and their governments face: Sclerotic, slow-growth economies, deep structural debt and lower birth-rates.
In America, such an approach seems a sure way to grow a deeply wasteful, unresponsive, over-promising and under-delivering government which fails to protect and serve the kinds of everyday people that have made our country so remarkable. In practice, I imagine this looks more like De Blasio’s coalitions in New York City: Labor activists are quite good at moving tax-revenue and labor activists around, while searching for the right cronies and monied interests to help fund their efforts and realize their aims. This can burden our institutions with impossible demands and a narrow coalition of interests working under what is presumed to be a universal idealism, making our politics deeply contentious and bitter as we fight over scarce resources (including political power).
As McArdle points out, challenging and/or rewarding work and career opportunities, more money and perhaps a little time to maintain the love and family lives that are often at the heart of so much of what we do…this is a good place to focus the debate. In my opinion, this requires broad economic growth and a private sector outgrowing the public sector, and many other things besides.
I’m hardly encouraged by our politics right now, either side really, but I think we can do so much better than this.
Any thoughts and comments are welcome. Let me know what I’ve got wrong.
Click through for a Serra-released photo of four metal pillar-forms aligned in the deserts of Qatar, designed to inevitably rust. The piece has a slight ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ feel, but that could just be me.
‘The Qatar Museums Authority is estimated to spend about a billion dollars per year on art. At its head is the young Sheikha al-Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a sister of the Emir of Qatar and a Duke University graduate, who was recently named the most powerful person in the art world by ArtReview.’
Get while the getting is good, so long as the Sheiks have the dough.
Serra is a quite accomplished modern artist and sculptor often working in the ‘land-art,’ category, or site-specific pieces interacting with the viewer and the natural surroundings. Check out Hyperallergic’s visit to ‘Shift,’ a series of concrete forms he left in an Ontario field.
Here’s Serra discussing a piece of his at 21 West Gagosian, or a densely-packed, carefully measured series of metal forms in a room. What does the viewer experience in this space?:
Serra, I think, more than other land-artists, turns that discussion a little more inwards, towards the abstract, the body moving through a space of his design as he tries to bring something across to the viewer.
‘On the one hand, Qatar’s art initiatives can be seen as a modernizing force, one that could liberalize the tribal attitudes of the country’s native population and pave the way for further political reform. On the other hand, contemporary art may merely serve as a cover for further repressive policies.’
On another note, that of land-art, Robert Hughes took a look at the work of Michael Heizer, who’s been working since 1972 on a sculpture in the Eastern Nevada desert, which was originally called ‘Complex One.’ It’s morphed into his life’s work, called City. It’s very large. It can’t be moved. You can’t reproduce it. It represents a break from traditional sculpture. It can’t be put in a museum and it’s not clear that it has a function. See more on Hughes take on it from his series, “Shock Of The New” which includes some aerial shots (from 00:45 to 5:30):
If you’re a non-economist like me, this can take more time to understand:
‘Overall, the main argument is based on two (false) claims. First, that capital returns will be high and non-diminishing, relative to other factors, and sufficiently certain to support the r > g story as a dominant account of economic history looking forward. Second, that this can happen without significant increases in real wages.’