The Fractal Self-Similarity of the Wingnut Function, Stephen Hayes edition

by Henry on May 30, 2008

Stephen Hayes was on NPR a few minutes ago complaining about how Scott McClellan wasn’t very interesting, because he was just delivering ‘left wing blogworld talking points.’ This complaint itself, of course, being itself a re-iteration of a Karl Rove talking point. The deeper you go in …

(title stolen from The Poor Man)

{ 20 comments }

1

bh 05.30.08 at 4:01 pm

The self-similarity is certainly funny enough by itself, but it’s also a pretty crappy talking point, no?

The standard complaint about bloggers is that they’re clueless outsiders, never leave their parents’ basements, etc. Whatever McClennan’s faults—and I count waiting until 2008 to take a “stand” to be one of them—he [i]did[/i] work in the White House. So it’s hard to see how that draws any blood, even among the small percentage of people who know what “left-wing blogworld” is supposed to be.

Or maybe it draws blood, but not quite the way Rove intended. After all, “White House Insider Agrees with Left-Wing Bloggers” is an interesting headline, but it’s hard to see how it flatters the administration.

2

Alex 05.30.08 at 6:52 pm

I shall be proud forever that when someone betrayed Karl Rove, the worst insult he could think of was to compare the fink to a…left-wing blogger!

3

Jay Livingston 05.30.08 at 7:39 pm

Apparently, nobody can deny the substance of what McClellan wrote (at least not in the news stories I’ve read), so they’re left with only ad hominem . They accuse McClellan of being self-serving, ungrateful, and greedy, and worst of all sounding like a left-wing blogger. But they don’t accuse him of lying.

4

lemuel pitkin 05.30.08 at 8:29 pm

Isn’t “fractal self-similarity” redunndant? Altho I admit the Editors, who never err, did write it.

5

bizzah 05.30.08 at 9:04 pm

4: Isn’t “fractal self-similarity” redunndant?

Not really. Roughly, an object is fractal if its dimension isn’t a whole number, which implies a certain kind of messy complexity, but that doesn’t have to take the form of self-similarity. Conversely, there are perfectly good senses of self-similarity that don’t require that an object be fractal. (Think of the relation between the real line and an open interval of that line.)

6

Mrs Tilton 05.30.08 at 10:11 pm

Lemuel @5,

[ob-grammar nazi:]

“The Editors” is singular.

7

clew 05.30.08 at 10:11 pm

A straight line is self-similar but not fractal, lemuel; and, with reasonable definitions, you can have a fractal that is not self-similar.

8

lemuel pitkin 05.30.08 at 10:43 pm

you can have a fractal that is not self-similar.

I guess that’s my question answered, then.

9

Roi 05.31.08 at 1:41 am

Fractally self-similar wingnuts? Mandelbrot may be useful after all.

10

Great Zamfir 05.31.08 at 12:25 pm

Think of the Mandelbrot set

11

bi 05.31.08 at 1:37 pm

Mrs. Tilton:

“The Editors” is singular.

I’m still partial to treating the term as a grammatical plural, but I’d like to know if there’s any line of reasoning, perhaps based on the works of Shakespeare, Cicero, Mark Twain, etc. that may suggest that it should be viewed as grammatically singular.

 – bi, Intl. J. Inact.

12

Righteous Bubba 05.31.08 at 4:18 pm

I’d like to know if there’s any line of reasoning, perhaps based on the works of Shakespeare, Cicero, Mark Twain, etc. that may suggest that it should be viewed as grammatically singular.

There’s the fact that The Editors is a very funny man.

13

bi 05.31.08 at 6:38 pm

Righteous Bubba:

Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night.
 – Shakespeare, Macbeth

14

ehswan 05.31.08 at 11:52 pm

It seems that I have fallen into a language groove. Thank you “Crooked Timber” people. I’m intrigued by the use of, “first of all”, then “second of all”, then “third of all” in Carls comments. How many “of alls” are there? And what do they mean, if anything or are they just supposed to sound impressive as in “I can count”? To round it out, I liked Scotts coming clean and the controversey he has stirred up.

15

ehswan 06.01.08 at 12:43 am

This is interesting, as I type “a preview of my comment will appear below” as I type. I observe none.

16

Kieran Healy 06.01.08 at 8:09 pm

That’s because it’s broken at the moment.

17

Mrs Tilton 06.01.08 at 10:34 pm

Bi @11,

I’d like to know if there’s any line of reasoning … that may suggest that [The Editors] should be viewed as grammatically singular

I’m afraid this is on of those “not reason but experience” things. Those of us who have been reading The Poor Man long enough know that “the editors” of that website is a Massachusetts exile in California.

18

bi 06.02.08 at 4:43 pm

Mrs Tilton:

That may well be, but I still insist the phrase is grammatically plural, just like King Duncan is plural when he addresses himself as “we”.

19

Righteous Bubba 06.02.08 at 4:59 pm

but I still insist

Me too, but the opposite! Therefore I can boldly state that you are wrong.

just like King Duncan is plural when he addresses himself as “we”.

The Editors is not King Duncan and refers to himself as “I” quite a lot.

Note also that it is funny to be one person called The Editors. Ha ha.

20

bi 06.04.08 at 4:56 pm

The Editors are King Duncan, or at least they are essentially King Duncan (heheh). They’re one person, but they’re still plural.

Comments on this entry are closed.