Workload combined with preoccupation over a family medical issue (everything's fine thanks, no need for concern) will probably wipe out the week.
Given this, I'll direct you to a fine series of essays written by Sara Robinson over at David Neiwert's joint. Sara, a former fundamentalist Christian, examines the social and psychological underpinnings of fundamentalist society at large, extends into authoritarianism, and then ties it all up in integrating ways to effectively communicate with people who are predisposed to not just disagree with you, but consider debate weakness. Ways of communicating honestly and openly, but keeping in mind the different ways different social structures view language and culture.
I think this series of essays is not just a wonderful tool in public discourse, but might also be helpful for some readers having intra-family issues. And setting aside domestic politics -- this is also the sort of discussion we should be having about our cultural warfare component in the struggle against Islamic Fundamentalism.
Cracks in the Wall I: Defining the Authoritarian Personality
Cracks in the Wall II: Listening to the Leavers
Cracks in the Wall III: Escape Ladders
Tunnels & Bridges I: Divide and Conquer
Tunnels & Bridges II: Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
Tunnels & Bridges III: A Bigger World
I belive she's got a bit more to come. This follow-up post is important, as it nails down what I was trying to say in "Ain't" although notwhere nearly as well as Sara does:
Stereotypes, Sellouts, and Winning the Meme Wars
There have been a recent rash of books out about framing and language debates, and my main point stands -- once you have been defined as "Other", nothing you say will make any difference. We have to dig in and start taking language theory seriously in the comming decades. In a nation where just under half of the citizens believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 -- despite the President recently publicly and repeatedly admitting there was no such connection -- we're past message control. We're into hard-wiring.
It seems a good moment to address a personal deficiency. An astute reader of this blog recently e-mailed me, basically pointing out:"For the guy who wrote 'Ain't", you're awfully confrontational about, say evolution." He's right --I'm awfully confrontational about a lot of things, despite preaching a "common ground" linguistic approach.
Some of it's a straight-out character flaw. Mark Waid will sometimes shake his head at me going off on a commenter --"Why, why do you poke the bear?" The problem is, I still have a lot of gut instinct left over from my stand-up days. You do not "reach common ground" with a heckler -- you destroy a heckler, or anyone else who threatens the fragile emotional suspension required in a successful stand-up show. Destroy them, or suffer the consequences. A thousand people's night will go wrong based on one person's selfishness or idiocy -- and your failure to control same on a split-second's notice. (Huh, actually one could argue that there are elements of authoritarian behaviour in a stand-up performance. Situational microcosm. Interesting.)
Part of it's my physics training. As one scientist I know put the discussion between evolution and ID -- "Its not science vs. faith. It's science vs. crap." One of the truly wonderful things about science is that it's open source -- no matter who you are, if you can back up your hypothesis with successful experimentation, you win. Simply put -- intelligent design is just not bad science, it's not even science. (Here's the best, clearest explanation I know of the difference, the one I wind up sending everyone when this comes up). The current argument about evolution is occurring only because ID proponents are taking advantage of the fact that most people don't know how the scientific method works. They are undermining the scientific method. To me, that's like selfishly breaking the tool that allows anyone with enough intelligence and resolve to change the world. I can see reasonable people disagreeing about abortion, God, gay marriage in society, the best anti-poverty initiatives, strategies and tactics in the GWoT -- but 2+2=4, and as soon as it doesn't, these people have destroyed something that most of us have no idea is so beyond price. And we will only miss it when it is too late.
But that same love of the scientific method is why I try -- often poorly -- to approach communication in a methodical way. We've already joked about how I parsed out joke structure compulsively back when I performed. So I'm always caught, the physicist in me trying to construct finer and finer instruments with which to better understand our communications, and to hone them -- and the the stand-up in me, ready to start bashing in brains with those delicate tools wielded like a bleached thigh-bone. Please forgive me the odd hoot and snarl.