Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why let him Write about Technology?

Sticking with the current issue of The Weekly Standard, I wanted to comment on their Casual column, “Betamaxed Out”, by Philip Terzian (p.5). He’s writing about technology and the impossible-to-have-missed release of Apple’s iPad. Let’s take the first snippet I had a problem with:

"when it comes to electronic/computer gadgetry, not only am I actively uninterested in nearly everything about them, but I have striven to lead a happy, fulfilled existence, as much as possible, in their absence."

Great, this automatically makes any comment the author writes about technology totally and utterly useless and pointless, not to mention destroys all his credibility.

With the second part that irritated me, one needs to take into consideration that TWS was pretty much leading the charge on the ‘Obama-is-an-out-of-touch-elitist’ movement. Terzian writes,

“I have long since made my peace with DVDs and CDs — although, as I feared when vinyl LPs disappeared from the market, there are innumerable recordings (Glenn Gould’s version of the Schoenberg Suite für Klavier, the last time I looked) that don’t exist on compact discs.”

Ah well, in that case… I imagine Terzian doesn’t realise that just because you know of obscure classical pieces doesn’t make you refined or impressive. It is also clearly not a piece that was popular enough to transfer to CD (though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was available, somehow, as an MP3, not that the author would deign to stoop so low as to embrace this medium). As someone writing for a conservative paper, he must be familiar – if not a fan – with the idea that corporations, including music labels, need to think of their bottom line, and therefore are less likely to produce stuff they aren’t going to make any money on. Anyway, back to the “we’re not elitists, Obama’s people are” thing – I somehow doubt that Sarah Palin (TWS editor Kristol’s item of obsession) would have the faintest idea who Glenn Gould is, let alone what the title of the piece actually means. I’m not saying she has to, but you can’t tout anti-elitism on the one hand, while actually doing everything in your power to exemplify every cliché of the Elite on the other. The National Review can get away with it because a) it’s a better magazine, and b) they know what they’re doing and talking about.

The whole feel of the piece is irritating pretty much from the get-go. I have no idea who Terzian is, what his qualifications are to discuss technology or progress thereof (apparently, absolutely zero, which puts him a notch below my grandmother), but his style is clearly that of someone who really wishes he was an eccentric, endearing aristocrat. Sadly, he is not, and his style is clearly affected. Only one person can genuinely pull this off: Prince Philip. Maybe also Prince Charles.

Misappropriation of UK Tories

From Hadley Arkes’s “The Crisis Republicans Should Not Waste”, in this week’s Weekly Standard (p.27):

“The current conflict may have brought us to one of those rare crises that produces a recasting, or realignment, of the political parties. At a similar moment, Margaret Thatcher destroyed Britain’s Labour party as a socialist entity, forcing it to abandon its schemes, long cherished, for nationalizing major parts of the economy.”

Fine, but she still left the NHS in place – given that this article is meant to be extrapolating from the passage of Obamacare, it’s a bad example. But I’m not really surprised that someone writing for TWS would pick and choose, without reading all the way through (think 2nd Amendment, any argument based on anything in the bible).