Unhelpful Pedantry in discourse

Disclaimer: I teach math (and occasionally do math) for a living. I understand the necessity of precise language in certain situations. When it comes to, say, a mathematical theorem, meeting the hypothesis matters!

But when it comes to discussing the issues of the day, being inappropriately pedantic gets in the way.

One big example is the issue of “assault guns” in the hands of civilians. Sometimes, hard core 2’nd Amendment supporters chide liberal gun control advocates for “not knowing what an assault weapon is” or even claiming that “assault weapon” is a meaningless term.

Let’s be clear: though most who have a strong opinion on this issue is NOT a firearms expert, what is meant here is a weapon that

  1. Fires a military grade round at a military grade muzzle velocity
  2. Has a magazine that can hold multiple rounds
  3. Can fire multiple shots very quickly (not automatically) without jamming
  4. Is semiautomatic (self loading, though the trigger has to be pressed for each shot)

And yes, I know; the better known weapons (AR-15, AK-47) are examples of this kind of weapon, but are far from the only kinds out there.

They gun people know these things; one survivalist put it this way: (paraphrasing as I lost track of the book): if you have supplies like food and water, others might try to take them from you. What do you defend yourself with? Using a sporting rifle against well armed intruders is just noisy suicide.
(not my thoughts, but I cannot find the reference)

Well, the rifle that you’d want in such extreme conditions (that you can legally obtain sans a lot of extra hoops to jump through) is what we’d call an “assault rifle.”

People like me do not believe that civilians should have possession of weapons which are military caliber weapons without the automatic setting. These are for killing people effectively (or causing horrific wounds).

Jerry Coyne’s blog has a nice post on this topic.

Note: this issue is one where we have to start from where we are (our country has a LOT of these type of weapons) and we are very divided. I don’t see how a ban could work. And if you think that we have any prayer of repealing the Second Amendment, you are delusional :

Sure..we can’t even get 50 Senate votes…LOL.

I hesitate to point out that it isn’t just the conservatives that are guilty of this.

Think of Critical Race Theory and K-12 education. Technically, CRT is really a law school caliber theory to help lawyers and judges apply the law more fairly. So, no, you aren’t getting CRT in grade school.

But that is NOT what is meant when parents complain about CRT.

As Yascha Mounk writes:

The idea that critical race theory is an academic concept that is taught only at colleges or law schools might be technically accurate, but the reality on the ground is a good deal more complicated. Few middle or high schoolers are poring over academic articles written by Richard Delgado or Kimberlé Crenshaw. But across the nation, many teachers have, over the past years, begun to adopt a pedagogical program that owes its inspiration to ideas that are very fashionable on the academic left, and that go well beyond telling students about America’s copious historical sins.

In some elementary and middle schools, students are now being asked to place themselves on a scale of privilege based on such attributes as their skin color. History lessons in some high schools teach that racism is not just a persistent reality but the defining feature of America. And some school systems have even embraced ideas that spread pernicious prejudices about nonwhite people, as when a presentation to principals of New York City public schools denounced virtues such as “perfectionism” or the “worship of the written word” as elements of “white-supremacy culture.”

And parents ARE concerned and have a right to be. In my own state, a school received attention because it decided to stop “giving 0’s in the gradebook” for work not turned in because they felt that such a standard is unfair to minority students. (Note: the article I linked to has a very misleading headline: there are NOT race based standards; the standard would apply to all students in said school).

I am old enough to remember the segregation/integration wars, and I remember one argument that segregationists used was that integration would lead to an erosion of standards.

I am NOT saying that the liberal wokes are the same as the racists; they are NOT. But some of their policy prescriptions sure reminds me of stuff the racists used to say (disclaimer: I am Latino and I am sensitive to accusations that whatever success I have had was due to my meeting a lower standard).

My point: dismissing the concerns of parents by saying “LOL..your kid isn’t learning CRT” is to miss the point. It hurts dialogue and..on a political level, hurts Democrats.

Bonus topic

Yes, I’ve frequently been more critical of Democrats than Republicans for the following reason: I’ve voted Democrats for years. The current Republicans are the party of COVID denial..the party of taking deworm medicine for COVID..the party of climate change denial..the party of eroding voting rights. I want nothing to do with modern Republicans; there are no Romney/Bush/Rockerfeller/McCain types that I’d consider voting for (at the national level)

They are the party of this type of insanity:

So, I want Democrats to win, even if I can’t stand some of the social stuff they do. But my goodness, too many Democrats campaign as if they are trying to win over NPR listeners, college professors and Unitarians.

Some thoughts on this topic: Bill Maher asks Democrats to dial back on appealing to our extreme factions:

More along these line…

One (of many) things liberals don’t get…

I didn’t see the last Democratic debate, but I did see some clips and I listened to what some said about some of the exchanges:

And liberals were all “OMG, Warren just GUTTED Bloomberg…she is sooooo gonna take it to Trump!”

Well, it has been tried before..like in 2015:

And that is what many “bubble” liberals simply do not get.

We live in bubbles. If a woman complains to HR, they are taken seriously. And in a college environment: OMG…they are listened to and administrators at least have to pretend to take their concerns seriously. And such attitudes get carried into Democratic debates.

Republicans don’t play that. Our “firework” debates are pillow-fights by Republican standards.

Trump would just make stuff up, call Warren “Pocahontas” and other names…basically just blow her off and ignore whatever she says. College educated feminists would cheer and exclaim how Trump has been exposed as a “misogynist, sexist pig” etc. Then their heads would explode when they find that Trump’s support hasn’t changed at all.

It is a bit like this old Brexit meme (Godfrey Elfwick)

We never learn.

Democrat Dinner etc.

Last night, I went to the Peoria County Democrat Dinner. I’ve been going to these since 2005.

Sen. Dick Durbin was the keynote speaker.

Linda E. couldn’t make it due to an illness, and of course Barbara is in India.

This morning…well, some worries about the car (it was hit while parked). But I drove my other car to the Riverplex: yoga with Ms. V. and then a super slow 5 mile shuffle (1:07..not a misprint). I really put little effort into it and it was windy. No wonder a 10:20 pace feels hard after a while.

Bodyweight: 193.5 with shoes and shorts; which corresponds to 191 without. The weight is coming off.

Impeachment, deadlifts, etc.

I am drinking coffee and thinking about what deadlift workout I want to do. Reps or some singles? Sumo or conventional? I’ll do some with the hex bar too.

A dear friend is gearing up for a trail 100k; better her than me. I’ll go and walk after deadlifts..

Impeachment In a nutshell, the Republicans know that Trump did what he was a accused of. But:
1. They are getting tax cuts, business deregulation and their judges.
2. The rube base would revolt (at least against them) were they to vote to remove.
Seriously: they openly said as much:

As he weighed the evidence against President Trump, Senator Lamar Alexander reached an unavoidable conclusion: Mr. Trump had done what he was accused of, pressuring a foreign power to investigate his political rival. But however inappropriate his conduct, another conviction overrode the first: Americans would not tolerate the Senate stepping in to substitute its own judgment for that of the voters fewer than 10 months before the next election.

“The Senate reflects the country, and the country is as divided as it has been for a long time,” Mr. Alexander said Friday during an interview in his Capitol office. “For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn’t be on it, the country probably wouldn’t accept that. It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.”

With that logic, Mr. Alexander delivered a victory to Mr. Trump — and to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, with whom Mr. Alexander has been friends for more than a half-century. In announcing he would vote to block witnesses at Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, he set Mr. Trump on a quick course to his inevitable acquittal.

Frankly, most of us knew that removal was a non-starter. I am hoping that this will peel off just enough Republican votes in the swing states to get us over the finish line, but I am NOT optimistic.

And as far as the opposition party: we are basically worthless.
We cheer those who spout off (I see it as not being thoughtful and as being undisciplined ..like Trump is). But when they spout off against us..we get all butt-hurt.

Loudmouths gonna loudmouth.

And we live in many separate bubbles …which allows us to become outrageously delusional.

Here is an example:


Her biggest political victory: a seat in the Georgia State House and becoming D leader. OMG…anyone who believes that doesn’t understand marketing. I’ll just say that, in our image conscious country, an obese woman has a serious disadvantage. And being black: Obama won but he was your “perfect image” candidate: handsome, family man, charismatic, outstanding speaking skills, etc.

Politics: Jerry Jones will beat Paul Krugman

First: I did my morning workout: yoga with Ms. V and then 5 treadmill miles: 5.2 going up every 5 minutes (32:54 at 3) then 42:41 at 4, 52:24 at 5. I didn’t have the pep to go too much under a 10 minute pace toward the end (19:30 for the final 2). I felt good but must have looked terrible getting off of the treadmill.

Now about politics: I see this so often.
1. Liberals lionize someone..either a kid (here or here) or some orange haired “activist.”

2. Conservatives attack: “that kid needs to learn some….(insert “history”, “policy”, “economics”)” while smirking.

3. Someone like Paul Krugman pounces point out that said activist is saying basically true things.

4. Liberals say “see…I told you…listen to the kid…even Krugman (or some other expert) says that they have it basically right…”

And we lose. Why?

Politics often has little to do with facts; conservative attacks are more about “neener neener…those libs are following some dumb kid (or weird activist)” hoping that the undecided say “ugh..do I want to ally myself with THEM?” That is, “is THAT the kind of team I want to join?”

The correctness of the ideas has very little to do with it.

And that is where Jerry Jones, the owner of the NFL Cowboys, comes in. The Cowboys are the NFL’s most profitable team and, by objective measures, perhaps the most popular team.

Yes, the do have a distinguished history; at one time, they WERE among the NFL’s elite, year in, year out.

But that was a long time ago. In the 24 seasons since their last Super Bowl win (1996, after the 1995 season):

1. Regular reason: they are 20 games above .500, with a record of 202-182 (about a 9-7 season average).
2. Playoffs: they have appeared 10 times and have…FOUR Wild Card Round wins to show for it..zero divisional round wins..which means zero appearances in the NFC championship game.

Reality: the Cowboys are a very average franchise, in terms of on the field success. And yet, they remained viewed as one of the top franchises.
That is “marketing” and Democrats are dreadful at it.

That is, IMHO, why we lose so much.