by Brian on November 2, 2003

Language Hat objects to the sentence “Stephenson, who is sixty, is tall and deprecating.” by Field Malony appearing in the New Yorker. He says it should have been “self-deprecating”. But this seems excessive, since it’s clear from the context that the thing Stephenson deprecates is himself. If an author had written that Stephenson is “tall and charming” we wouldn’t be calling them out because the things Stephenson habitually charms are other people, rather than his pot plants, or his own temporal parts. I don’t see why deprecating should be any different.

(Bonus question for philosophers and linguists. If context is as clear as clear as I say it is, but Stephenson is a pot-plant-deprecator rather than a self-deprecator, is the proposition expressed by Maloney’s utterance true or false?)

The Military and the Media

by Brian on November 2, 2003

Over on Volokh, Cori Dauber writes:

bq. THE ECHO CHAMBER IN PLAY … Study and after study has shown that Americans accept casualties if they believe they were in support of a necessary mission. The idea, promulgated again here, that public opinion is linked causally to the number of casualties and falls in predictable algorithms based on casualties taken is a canard, based on interpretations of the data from Vietnam detached from all context.

If you actually click through that link, you’ll see three things. First, all that is being claimed is that for a given war, higher casualties result in less support, so the need for context (i.e. cross-war comparisons) is not ever so clear. Second, the evidence for this is not just from Vietnam, but also from Korea. Third, the source isn’t just the echo chamber repeating itself (like Dauber’s unsourced ‘studies after studies’) but is credited to Dr William Hammond, from the US Army’s Center for Military History. The liberal media conspiracy has really long tentacles if it’s reached into the Army’s own historical division. (Why does the US Army hate America so much?)

Dianne Abbott is a hypocrite?

by Harry on November 2, 2003

A nice piece in today’s Independent on Sunday (UK) by Adam Swift, defending Dianne Abbott from herself.

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