10 July 2007

An appreciation of Derbyshire

... by Andrew Sullivan of all people. Not sure I would go as far as Sullivan goes in saying that the Derby writes with genius, but it does explain my joke about National Review (which I wrote mainly on the strength of two writers: Victor Davis Hanson and Derbyshire). Here is the quote from the big D that got Sullivan going:

On the other hand, my rather strong impression is that while the president CAN think, he DOESN'T, much. The Iraq blunderings, the poverty of his off-the-cuff oratory, the endless repetition of tired, empty cliches long discredited, the Harriet Miers fiasco, the stupid squandering of his small remaining political capital on that major-stupid immigration bill... not much thinking there that I can see.

Can't say I disagree. As I said, some people writing at National Review Online can be interesting even when they are wrong. And even a blind chicken gets some corn.

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At 11 July, 2007 14:29, Blogger jack perry said...

I don't know if you've ever addressed it, but I've always thought Jonah Goldberg nearly always succeeds at being both funny (in a sunny fashion) and extremely careful with his writing. "Happy warrior" sort of guy.

I come to think more and more that the weakness of all sides is when they try to construct perfect systems. They're all pretty strong when they criticize the idiocies of the other side.

It reminds me of a great book by Thomas Sowell, whose title I've forgotten. He documented brilliantly how leftists consistently misrepresents facts and relies on invalid arguments (conflating correspondence with causation, constructing ad hominem attacks) and in the same book committed more or less all the errors that he complained about. He also committed repeatedly the error of generalizing from the specific, but I don't remember if he mentioned that the left wing does that all the time, too.

At 11 July, 2007 23:30, Blogger Clemens said...

For some reason I've never cared much for Godlberg. To me, he comes across as too smug. Don't read Sowell - isn't he the one who caught some flak for suggesting what this country needed was a military coup?

And you are right about the weaknesses being typical of both sides. There is more and more research showing that the human mind is hardwired to take a position and then systematically discount all info that contradicts it, while ascribing too much import to what supports it.

I think the key to a sane and balanced life is not to believe in anything too much, and to always tell yourself: I may be wrong. Or perhaps rather: They may be right!

But I could be wrong.

At 12 July, 2007 02:56, Blogger jack perry said...

To me, he comes across as too smug.

Okay, you have a point. Never heard that Sowell called for a military coup, and actually I'd find that unbelievable from him. Maybe I haven't read him enough. I don't plan on going out of my way to read more, though.

At 13 July, 2007 14:34, Blogger Clemens said...

Jack, I put up a post with the info on Sowell and the military coup line. He doesn't actually call for one, just says it might be necessary.


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