Monday, August 13, 2018

The Ongoing Trump Shit-Storm

It's been hard to write about this, because it seems like whenever something happens, and I might be starting to have a coherent thought about it, something else happens before I can put anything together.

There's no need at this point to go through the litany.  It's obvious to any rational person that Trump is his own shit-storm.  It's also pretty obvious that rather than having any actual political philosophy, he simply sees the world and everything happening in it in terms of how it might affect him, personally.  He operates under something that used to be called the Illusion of Central Position.  Babies and very young children have this illusion: the world is there for them, they are at the center of it all.  And this is Trump.  No matter what happens, in his reactions he makes sure we know that it was all about him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wheel of Fortune: Ebonics is "wrong"

[I just posted this on Wheel of Fortune's contact page.]

On yesterday's show one puzzle included the word "embroidered." An African American woman solved the puzzle but pronounced this word so that it sounded like "emroided."  I believe that this happened because her underlying dialect (African American English) doesn't allow [r] before a consonant.  Pat Sajak (or the judges?) ruled it a "wrong pronunciation."  I believe this was a very serious error, not only in that the couple missed getting the round but also that a legitimate variety of English was dismissed as "wrong."  Her rendering was approximately [ɪmˡbrɔɪdəd].

I wonder whether someone from Boston, who might have pronounced it similarly, would also have been declared "wrong."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Social Science at the Olympics

Friday night, watching the Olympic opening ceremony, I was reminded of Chinese-American anthropologist Francis Hsu. The commentator described the opening ceremony (which had some very nice moments) as representing one of the differences between Eastern and Western culture: the emphasis on the group over the individual.
In the West, and especially the US, the enculturation system cranks out hyper-individuals, often social monsters like Trump; group work is seen as "collectivism" or even "communism." In the traditional East, enculturation creates a social system in which individuals are dependent on the group, within which exist reciprocal rights and obligations between and among members. Ultimately, in my view, a far less dysfunctional arrangement.