Posts Tagged ‘Commentary’

Fifteen Minutes?

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I was thinking about this yesterday as I watched video of the disappointed fans of Susan Boyle – some of them with tears in their eyes after her loss on “Britain’s Got Talent” – mourning this “stunning” defeat of their hero. I was thinking that perhaps Andy Warhol was a better prognosticator than we all thought when he predicted that at some point in the future “everyone will have fifteen minutes of fame.” Maybe we’re to the point where that is down to ten minutes or less, but really, his comment in 1968 has certainly proved to be more accurate than all of the “experts” who predicted that the 21st Century would see flying cars, meals consisting of pills, and the 12 hour work week.

Well, the 12 hour work week is kind of accurate if you average in all of the unemployed and underemployed people in the country (like myself), but I don’t think that was the intent of the prediction, so again, that leaves Warhol almost alone in successful predicting.

There are plenty of stories about fame being gained on Youtube and other similar sites. Twitter is now starting to make people famous. There are also people seemingly intent on becoming “infamous” in these days of quick and fleeting fame. But to what end?

Now, of course, many embark on campaigns to become “internet famous” just for the chance to market themselves and make a lot of money. The “Octomom” now has a family of 14, but apparently the deals didn’t work as well as she thought. She doesn’t have a popular television show like Jon and Kate, and neither does she have the best selling books, the $10 million dollar, 24 acre estate in Virginia that they do, although I’m sure she was counting on that happening.

I really don’t know if someone “discovered” Susan Boyle and helped her market herself to fame and apparent fortune, but it would be sad to find out that they did. Like most people, I love the surprise celebrity of someone who has been obscure and ignored by the world and by the good things in life, the someone who when finally given the chance proves to be worth as much as the many privileged who occupy the celebrity shelf in our society.

I hope that Susan makes as much money as she can in the next year or so, and that she invests wisely, because after about a year she’s going to go from “Hey, you’re Susan Boyle!” to “Didn’t you used to be Susan Boyle?” If she’s smart, she can be set for life. I hope she’s smart.

As for me (and the rest of us)? Well, we will continue to toil away, hoping that someday, somehow we will move into the spotlight for the fifteen minutes Warhol promised.

In the mean time, at least we have each other… Don’t we?


Bad Faith Arguing

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’m sure Noah Pollack mostly thinks he’s being cute here, but what he’s really doing is demonstrating how hard of a time neoconservatives, especially the Jewish neoconservatives disproportionately represented in the pundit class, have with making a good faith argument in defending Israeli actions like the rocket attacks in Gaza.

For background, Pollack is essentially belittling Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Spencer Ackerman. He takes a potshot at their age, and closes it by accussing them of trading on their Jewish surnames in order to gain some sort of advantage when it comes to criticizing Israel (I’m sensing some projection myself.) But when you break it down, this really doesn’t make any sense. Here’s how he responds to Ezra:

Ignore the fact that nobody in the history of the Jewish community has ever actually uttered the words, “Israel, right or wrong,” and ignore the disgraceful apologetic for Hamas’ rocket war (Klein should go to Sderot and tell the people living in bomb shelters to come out from hiding, because Hamas is only taking potshots).

This doesn’t really make any sense if you assume it’s a good faith argument. Obviously there’s a very real local concern with the rockets, but that doesn’t mean it’s of the nature that requires a massive disproportionate response on the larger level. Bad things happen on small scales everyday, and that’s unfortunate. But no one seriously argues that you should undertake massive retaliatory action in every circumstance, and indeed Pollack isn’t really making that argument either. Instead, he’s trying to use an emotional appeal to make the rocket attacks seem like a much larger issue than they are.

But his response to Yglesias is probably even more telling:

Matthew Yglesias writes something  so dumb that it needs no elaboration:

But already the number of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets has increased (from a baseline of zero) since the retaliatory attack that was supposed to prevent such killings.

Maybe it’s just me, but Matt seems to have a very good point. Before the retaliatory strikes, there were no Israeli deaths from the rocket attacks. Afterwards, the death toll rose. Now obviously that’s not necessarily a casual relationship, rocket attacks always have the possibility of killing people, but it does make the claim that the Israeli response is defensive pretty absurd on the face of it, and any idiot would have to concede that if your casualty toll rises after you took action designed to defend yourself, your strategy has, at the least, been a failure.  But Pollack doesn’t want to admit that, so he does a cheap little framing trick to avoid actually addressing it at all.