Monday, August 13, 2007

Informational Minds

Study: Primary Role of the Internet Shifting from Communication to Content - Ars Technica

I don't really see a shift here. What I do see is the continuation of our need for information and a culture that constantly seeks new ways of transmitting information. While I am not one to attribute the motive force of history to a single element, I do think that the way and speed at which information travels has a lot to do with how the history of the West has progressed. I think that content and communication are two aspects of the same cultural production. We have created a new way to transmit information and as it did when the novel or the printing press itself was created, culture caught up and began transforming it into something else. I don't see this as anything earth-shattering. Now when we start altering our minds themselves then I'll say that's earth-shattering. This is just more of the same with new packaging.

Determinism v. Reality, pt 6498

The Story of the Week - Andrew Sullivan

I'm not as deflated as say, Ezra Klein, is about this Science Times article but I certainly don't share Sullivan's enthusiasm for it. I'm not a big believer in ecological or biological determinism. In part I view such efforts in the same light as the positivist efforts to distill everything about the human experience into a scientific theory. Books like Guns, Germs, and Steel and this new text, A Farewell to Arms, only serve to further the claim that you can place the subject of history in the same realm as Newton's laws. Simply put, you can't. I do agree that ecology and biology do place an important role in how human history has moved but, as any decent historian knows, there is no singular cause to the events of history and no singular motive force in history. Braudel proved this rather handily nearly fifty years ago with his idea of the 'long duration'. Historians cast a series of causes, with each higher one generally more pivotal for the moment than the one below it. But historians know that a) history is not simply the sum of its parts; and b) a historical text reveals as much about the time it was written in as it does about the time it was written about. Dr. Clark seems to think that the meaning of historical facts do not change when they clearly do. More to the point, a decent scholar would know this because they would have taken a historiography class that beats this idea into your head. Historical facts are not like science facts such as the sky is blue. They always require interpretation, contextualization and the constant movement to and fro from objective to subjective and short periods of time to the millennial view.
If you can't tell yet, books like Dr. Clark's piss me off to no end. It's not so much that I think the conclusions drawn from the evidence used are wrong but that the conclusions are puffed up to appear grandiose when a real historian would sooner laugh at them than take them seriously. This kind of history went out of style with Spengler and Tonybee.

Roll over Rover

Karl Rove, Adviser to President Bush, to Resign - WaPo

Well that's a kick in the head. I've only had a few sips of coffee and a couple of drags off my cigarette when the Washington Posts screams this across my computer screen. For once I am genuinely surprised. I would not have expected this, and certainly not at this time. Obviously I have missed something. Of course Rove is giving the 'for the family' line but that begs the question of what is his real reason for leaving?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Week of Uber-Conservativism

Sign Off - Bruce, The Daily Dish

I must say that while I disagreed with most of what Bruce Bartlett had to say, he at least has a working mind. His views on taxation are something the rest of the GOP should take another look at, if for nothing else than to actually put forth a well thought policy. And even his views on gay marriage were surprisingly moderate in the sense that Bartlett only wants the federal government to stop sticking their noses into other people's business. I'm going to have to work on coming up with some effective arguments against his ideas on taxation and for that I thank him.