Saturday assorted semiotics links

1. “Men can’t handle the truth of transparent government, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” tells us. And so, Andersen gives us a consolation prize: a brave little boy who speaks up to reveal a truth that ultimately empowers the boss.”  Link here.

2. Hidden signals in corporate ribbon-cutting ceremonies?

3. NYT obituary for Jerry Fodor.

4. “Chinese man repaints road markings to make his commute quicker.  Bus passenger thought having a special lane to turn left was slowing down traffic going straight on so he tried to remedy it with paint and brush.”  He was fined $150.

5. What do Belgian princes and American academics have in common?


#1 really doesn't work for me, even though I can be a bit amused by the "valiant" attempt to equate deliberation with opacity.

The problem with too much visibility, or too little deliberation, were on display today.

Nicely timed.

#3 had never heard of these critiques of Darwin. Fascinating

Decent summary at Wikipedia:

Seems laughable. Also seems to build upon Gould's "work".

Holy cow, that's an incredible waste of brainpower to write a book that so badly misses obvious points.

"5. What do Belgian princes and American academics have in common?" Chocolate.

Looking forward to something on the tax reform bill

4. Seinfeld already did it:

So that is what American TV has become: a Chinese dystopia.

"If we advocate for transparency, should we not praise, rather than ridicule, the king and his courtiers who enable the public to see what goes on in the castle?"

So transparency implies the subjectaps must always support their leaders, even when they waste their money buy non-existent clothes?

1. There's no reason to believe that any particular individual is virtuous, especially virtuous enough to be able to tell others what to do. Of course even those that seem virtuous can succumb to evil at a moments notice when given the opportunity. That's why we should assume that anyone in possession of power or wishing to obtain it has a strong tendency toward evil. If they're not satanic presently, eventually they will be. Naively, people, especially voters, seem to think that their choices are somehow above avarice and perversion when they are its epitome.

1. I thought the key point of The Emperor’s New Clothes was that people were told the clothes would be invisible to those who were unfit for their stations, so everybody other than the child had an interest in not speaking about what they knew.

1. Sexual misconduct is nonpartisan. But as I have already pointed out, any sexual activity not intended for procreation is misconduct. What else could it be, other than pleasuring oneself. St. Paul, the father of the Christian religion we know today, encouraged followers of Jesus to be like him, celibate. In the ancient world, people believed sexual desire would make one physically ill. Paul knew, ancient people knew, that sexual desire was the ticket to Hell. Or at least public humiliation and exile. I've given sexual desire a lot of thought, I'd say pretty much every hour of the day, and I've come to the conclusion that God has a twisted sense of humor.

Is rayward trying to be a troll?

Oh. My. God. Ray claims to be a southern gentleman but it is obvious - he is Dave Gahan! (Umm, for all you young 'uns and people otherwise not interested in Gay British music from the 1980s, Mr Gahan is the lead singer of Depeche Mode).

After all what is this but a restatement of the earlier claim that,

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours
But I think that God's got a sick sense of humour
And when I die I expect to find Him laughing

See? It makes sense really. It is clear that some of their lyrics must have been written by a MR reader - Everything Counts for instance. Unfortunately some of them have clearly been written by MR commentators:

Feeling unknown and you're all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver, I'll make you a believer
Take second best, put me to the test
Things on your chest, you need to confess
I will deliver, you know I'm a forgiver

Good catch

Nice theory except Martin Gore wrote the songs, not Dave.
Is Ray really Martin?

#5 -- Why don't you try asking some adjuncts in your department what they would have to give up with a 15% pay cut?

1. What is "transparent government"?

3 - I'd like to read one of Fodor's books, but just haven't gotten around to it. The first time I heard of him was in Pinker's Stuff of Thought. There Pinker relays a great quote from Dan Dennett:

“Most philosophers are like old beds: you jump on them and they sink deep into qualifications, revisions, addenda. But Fodor is like a trampoline: you jump on him and he springs back, presenting claims twice as trenchant and outrageous. If some of us can see further, it’s from jumping on Jerry."

Pinker then proceeds to demolish Fodor's argument...but his work sounds interesting nonetheless.

Second offense: bullet in back of head.

#1 a compromise. NSFW

1. Ill educated hence missing the point. A king was feared because you could lose your life. They ended up being surrounded by people who said what they wanted to hear, and with the means to force obedience from the population. No one said anything because they were afraid. Except the child who didn't know it should be afraid, and by a few words dismantled a power structure based on fear.

Power is always given to the powerful. The powerful manipulate people by fear or promise of reward to hand it over to them.

In almost all the cases hitting the news what happened wasn't secret, it was known, even enabled by others in the inner circle.

The whole theory of transparency doesn't survive a light perusal of the Ken Starr report, although that is ancient history and likely not even known by the writer.

The author is not ill-educated: he likely considered and rejected your theory since it is too gender-neutral to be of help demonizing men. Notice how the article ends by saying that the problem may get solved if basically everyone in power is a woman.

Anyone who would even think such a thing is ill educated. If there is anything to learn from history it is that people with unassailable power abuse it.

Victim glorification is usually pushed to cover evil intent.

2. Amusing to me they didn't reference "Kremlinology" given the researcher is Russian. Kremlinology in this sense being the study of pictures of officials at public functions, such as "positions at the reviewing stand for parades in Red Square" (wikipedia[1]) to determine the shifting of power in a closed government. Of course though a bit silly, this is a valid method of communicating subtle favors, without speaking them outright, and so worth inspecting if you are trying to capture all the info you can about some subject!


As usual, article #1 makes a very misandric stereotype of males: "Not that men in power will do terrible things to women but that so many good men will know and stay silent when there is no public scrutiny. The effect of sexual harassment in crushing women’s spirits and ambitions is on the whole good for men’s careers." etc.

This sort of stereotyping of jews, muslims etc. would be rightly called out as bigoted, but when it comes to men, hardly anyone even notices it, let alone calls out. TC is a repeat offender in propagating such stereotypes that demonize an entire gender, near 50% of the population.

1a. "What incentives — for men particularly — must be in place to make transparency possible?" Accountability and a willingness to embrace dissent from those lower in pecking order. By the author's logic, transparency causes the rats to scuttle. It is better to go along and wait for the powerful to reveal themselves. ???? Isn't that what women have been doing since the Garden of Eden? Anita Hill spoke up and suddenly sexual predators must hide their transgressions? I don't follow.

1b.It is disingenuous to lay this solely at the feet of the men, because members of both sexes have enabled bad people to abuse their positions of power.

1c. Feminism is about equality not usurping men.

The Chinese are a practical bunch.

Need a nap? Just head to Ikea.

Need some fresh air, just open the plane's door.

#1 This completely missed the mark, unless I'm missing something huge (entirely possible, mind you).

"Andersen recognized a bitter political fact about our discomfort in seeing the imperfections and indiscretions of people in power. Most people prefer powerful people to look and act like powerful people."
The way the people saw the emperor never changed. What changed is the way the emperor saw himself. It was not the people who preferred he look powerful, it was the emperor himself. This is an entirely different thing.

"The only way transparency works is when everyone works hard to make it happen. Courtiers have to pretend publicly the Emperor is wearing clothes when he isn’t. They have to encourage him to expose himself to the world. Nobody can laugh."
How is lying to prop up an ego a component of transparency? Is that not at least somewhat antithetical?

Twitter is one of the prime examples of where to find Taleb's "Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots".

It used to be that you could never really know the idiocies, depravities, or the brilliancy of the people you know in real life without spending uncomfortable amounts of time with them. The paradox for me is that social media seems to have unlocked the gates most people used to govern the revealing of the most the first two of those characteristics. I am mostly still waiting for social media to show me the third one, but am starting believe it mostly doesn't exist for those who actually take to social media.

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