August 6, 2020

Can you tell whether it's elevating and not racist to compare Black Lives Matter artists to cavemen?

I'm trying to read "New York’s Sidewalk Prophets Are Heirs of the Lascaux Cave Artisans/What street art adorning boarded-up storefronts tells us about our shared political realities and the ways our stories are connected. A critic’s tour deciphers the signs and symbols" in the New York Times.

Maybe to answer my question you need to know more about the racial identification of the writer, whose name is Seph Rodney. I'm just going to give you a sample of the prose:
What became apparent to me is that in the intervening millenniums between those cave paintings and the killing of George Floyd, the messages we share, like the sociopolitical circumstance that impel them, have become more complex. Now street artists take account of the qualified legal immunity protecting police officers, the Black Lives Matter movement and the ramifications of a dysfunctional democracy, among other realities, using a well-developed visual language of cultural memes that illustrate the ideological battles among regional, racial and cultural factions. When we see the image of thin, green-skinned, bipedal beings with teardrop-shaped black apertures for eyes, we typically read “alien.” But when I see the image of such a creature holding a sign that reads “I can’t breathe,” I grok an urgent message: Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire.
IN THE COMMENTS: Jamie said:
I stopped processing his prose before he said "grok," but woke back up when I got there. I hate when people who aren't Heinlein use "grok" to connote their deep understanding... Those people almost invariably missed the point of Stranger In a Strange Land.
The OED has an entry for "grok" — U.S. slang, "arbitrary formation" by Robert A. Heinlein, from 1961. It is defined as "To understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with" or " To empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment." The 2 quotes from the book that are in the OED are: "Smith had been aware of the doctors but had grokked that their intentions were benign" and "Now that he knew himself to be self he was free to grok ever closer to his brothers." The OED also gives these quotes:
1968 Playboy June 80 He met her at an acid-rock ball and she grokked him, this ultracool miss loaded with experience and bereft of emotion.
"Sounds like Hugh Hefner's place," said Meade, when I read the quote out loud and without any context at all — no reference to time or place or what I was researching.
1968 T. Wolfe Electric Kool-aid Acid Test vi. 86 Instead they are all rapping and grokking over the sound it made..as if they had synched into a never-before-heard thing, a unique thing.
I read that one out loud and Meade guessed "Tom Wolfe." He's grokking well this morning!!

Did Seph Rodney misuse the word "grok"? I don't think so, but Jamie didn't say he misused the word. She said/implied that he missed the point of "Stranger In a Strange Land." I read that book half a century ago, so I can't say I remember the point, even as "grok" lives on in the language.

ADDED: I'm reading the Wikipedia entry for "Stranger in a Strange Land." We're told "The book significantly influenced modern culture in a variety of ways":
Church of All Worlds

A central element of the second half of the novel is the religious movement founded by Smith [the main character, a human who was born on Mars and raised by Martians, then comes to Earth, with his Martian ways], the "Church of All Worlds", an initiatory mystery religion blending elements of paganism and revivalism, with psychic training and instruction in the Martian language. In 1968, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (then Tim Zell) founded the Church of All Worlds, a Neopagan religious organization modeled in many ways after the fictional organization in the novel. The spiritual path included several ideas from the book, including polyamory, non-mainstream family structures, social libertarianism, water-sharing rituals, an acceptance of all religious paths by a single tradition, and the use of several terms such as "grok," "Thou art God," and "Never Thirst."

Heinlein objected to Zell's lumping him with other writers such as Ayn Rand and Robert Rimmer; Heinlein felt that those writers used their art for propaganda purposes, while he simply asked questions of the reader, expecting each reader to answer for him- or herself. He wrote to Zell in a letter: "... each reader gets something different out of the book because he himself supplies the answers. If I managed to shake him loose from some prejudice, preconception or unexamined assumption, that was all I intended to do."...
I would therefore ask Jamie whether her demand for proper understanding of "Stranger in a Strange Land" is itself a misunderstanding of "Stranger in a Strange Land."
Grok

The word "grok," coined in the novel, made its way into the English language. In Heinlein's invented Martian language, "grok" literally means "to drink" and figuratively means "to comprehend," "to love," and "to be one with." The word rapidly became common parlance among science fiction fans, hippies, and later computer programmers and hackers,[ and has since entered the Oxford English Dictionary.
For my list of things without which we would not have had hippies.
Fair Witness

The profession of Fair Witness, invented for the novel, has been cited in such varied contexts as environmentalism, psychology, technology, digital signatures, and science, as well as books on leadership, and Sufism. A Fair Witness is an individual trained to observe events and report exactly what is seen and heard, making no extrapolations or assumptions. When in the Fair Witness uniform of a white robe, they are presumed to be observing and opining in their professional capacity. Works that refer to the Fair Witness emphasize the profession's impartiality, integrity, objectivity, and reliability.

An example from the book illustrates the role of Fair Witness when Anne is asked what color a house is. She answers, "It's white on this side." The character Jubal then explains, "You see? It doesn’t occur to Anne to infer that the other side is white, too. All the King’s horses couldn’t force her to commit herself...unless she went there and looked – and even then she wouldn’t assume that it stayed white after she left.”
Now, I have a great assignment for my seminar on reading comprehension: You are a Fair Witness and you accompanied Seph Rodney on his tour of the murals that he described in his article. Write your article — that is, rewrite Rodney's article consistent with the practice of a Fair Witness.
Waterbed

Stranger in a Strange Land contains an early description of the waterbed, an invention that made its real-world debut in 1968. Charles Hall, who brought a waterbed design to the United States Patent Office, was refused a patent on the grounds that Heinlein's descriptions in Stranger in a Strange Land and another novel, Double Star (1956), constituted prior art.
I just love that.

90 comments:

Owen said...

Wow. This guy is*good*. Let me guess: Harvard? Princeton? An honors program in Grievance Studies?

Mike Sylwester said...

The New York Times has become a clown show.

Jamie said...

What a maroon.

I stopped processing his prose before he said "grok," but woke back up when I got there. I hate when people who aren't Heinlein use "grok" to connote their deep understanding... Those people almost invariably missed the point of Stranger In a Strange Land.

Sydney Ski said...

"Circumstance that impel" - I hate those things, just don't grok em. (Isn't the word "grok" a racial giveaway?)

The Crack Emcee said...

I avoid anyone who talks like that - of any color.

Lucien said...

Speaking of qualified immunity, it’s a defense to suit under a federal statute, 42 USC §1983? Any state can pass laws making peace officers civilly liable for violating citizens’ rights. It only takes the political will to do so.

Oso Negro said...

It's so obviously dire. Perhaps black people are simply too sensitive, dare I say "fragile"?, to live in the United States with white people and others. Perhaps there is another continent where they might be happier? Of course, their forebears lived there, before they were the losers in the tribal wars and were sold as slaves by the black people in Africa. What if our black people here are simply inclined to be losers? Unless they cross-breed with white people (Barack Obama) or Asians (Tiger Woods). What would the green extraterrestials say about that. Maybe the black people need their own safe space. Say a reservation in a part of Mississippi? Of course the Democrats have tried it before. Perhaps the time has come around again.

gilbar said...

Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire.

IT'S TRUE! The plight of black people in the US is SO DIRE, that the overwhelming majority of black people in the US have tried to leave, and go back to africa. In the last 20 years; NOT A SINGLE black from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD has tried to move into the US

Think of IT!
If things weren't SO DIRE, would SO MANY blacks be trying to leave?
If things weren't SO DIRE, would SO MANY africans be trying to enter?

As Al Smith would say: Lets Take a Look, At the Record

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Are the aliens on Fentanyl?

rhhardin said...

That's a white guy. Overcomposed prose with a wide vocabulary at hand, plus general idiocy.

Gordy said...

Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States

I think aliens would compare old Somalia with New Somalia (Minneapolis) and conclude that blacks in America have a pretty sweet deal, all things considered.

Sebastian said...

"shared political realities"

Like, progs shoving their nasty ideology down our throats?

"Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire."

That's right. Aliens, being endowed with superhuman intelligence, will understand the dire plight of drug addicts trying to use counterfeit money who then resist arrest.

chuck said...

The author is evidently a triple "P" purple prose peddler.

tim maguire said...

The Lascaux Cave paintings are generally thought of as representing a breakthrough in human development. So that's what I'm going with for the "not racist" angle. BLM is our next breakthrough as humans. That's how awesome BLM is!

Leland said...

Latest polls shows that most Americans don't trust the media, and Seph Rodney is just one more example of why.

wild chicken said...

What slimy fawning dreck.

"Grok" was the last straw.

Temujin said...

What happens when the people learn that George Floyd was saying "I can't breathe" well before he was on the ground, or laying with a knee on his neck? What if people learn that he was drugged and having heart and breathing difficulty, as well as being very disoriented before the police even got to him, and while they were first talking with him. Enough so that people there can be heard and seen to say that he's off his nut? What happens if it's revealed that his heart stopped due to mix of fentanyl and other drugs and not a knee on his neck?

I suppose it's too late for a national/worldwide Emily Litella moment. "Never mind." Even with a bad cop putting a knee on his neck for 8+ minutes, it may not have been the cause of death. George Floyd's own behavior was the cause of George Floyd's death. That's the truth of it.

No one likes truth. I'm very over this entire thing. Sorry if I don't just get in line.

Michael P said...

I think the author's racial identity is irrelevant, given how strongly he signaled his cultural and political affiliations in that paragraph.

A dysfunctional democracy? How ignorant of the history of abuses by even a narrow majority of the public does one have to be to work something like that?

"I grok X"? That's beyond merely using it to describe thorough understanding, that's identifying oneself as part of the cultural movement that would use that neologism.

An additional question that was begged: Are these "sidewalk prophets" seeing the future, or regressing to the past? At least this seems to be an essentially opinion piece, rather than something passed of as straight journalism. (Now there's a regression to the past! The idea that "straight journalism" is an ideal to be strived for.)

tim maguire said...

By the way, that article is one seriously navel-gazing piece of garbage. In a better mood, I might be impressed by the author's ability to just make stuff up. To wax poetic without any reference to reality. I feel like this person could say anything at all about anybody at all and take 2,000 words to do it.

Static Ping said...

I write like that sometimes, but only when I intend to be a parody of a serious writer.

Having done the required 10-second internet search, he apparently is invoking n-word privileges. That said, comparing an artist to cave paintings should not be considered an insult given that cave paintings are held in high regard. However, sufficiently "woke" individuals find insult wherever they can find it.

JAORE said...

I have a framed picture of the iconic cave drawing, "F*ck the Homo Erectus".

Chris N said...

Was a man bun involved?

If a man adopts a hyphenated last name, that’s the event horizon. No light can escape.

Fernandinande said...

Can you tell whether it's elevating and not racist to compare Black Lives Matter artists to cavemen?

Who cares?

Have the race-hustling racists at the nyt ever mentioned, by name, any police shooting victims who are not BLACK, especially since most are not?

the plight of Black people in the United States

The plight of BLACK people in the United States is other BLACK people.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Half-way through the excerpt, I groked that this guy could bullshit progressive white elites on par with Comrade Obama.

Big Mike said...

I’ve never been to the Lascaux Caves, but I’ve seen the wall paintings on numerous shows. I believe that the cave paintings are superior to the BLM artists.

rhhardin said...

As ye grep, so shall ye grok.

Kevin said...

using a well-developed visual language of cultural memes that illustrate the ideological battles among regional, racial and cultural factions.

Translation: who is and is not allowed to paint letters on the street.

Joe Smith said...

The caves at Lascaux are in France, so white cavemen. Any black person depicting anything in that style are culturally appropriating.

And 'grok'? This person cannot be taken seriously.

My first thought was of the Geico caveman...looking sad because someone said, 'Even a caveman can do it.'

Fernandinande said...

"NYC has had more shootings so far this year than in all of 2019"

"New Yorker’s hearts were broken[sic] when stray bullets ended the life of teen Bronx hoops star Brandon Hendricks on June 28, and 1-year-old Brooklyn boy Davell Gardner, shot dead in his stroller on July 13 at a Brooklyn barbecue."

No graffiti for those two.

Drago said...

The bottom line is that murals are so easy to create even a caveman can do it....

...and since its now probably impossible to insure buildings wherever the marxist, anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, anti-nuclear family BLM (gee, no wonder LLR-lefty Chuck adores them so) is active, we can now commence with the Geico commercial parodies.

CJinPA said...

Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire.

Not just "dire." Not just "so dire." Not just "obviously dire." But "so obviously dire."

Behold your intellectual and moral betters.

Nonapod said...

I do find it odd that despite these long months of protests and agitations to defund the police, evidently around 80% of black Americans want either keep the police as they are or even increase their presence in their local area. Now, as I've said many times before I tend to mistrust most polls especially these days, but this one is so strongly counter to the MSM narrative that it's hard to dismiss outright.

Gabriel said...

"Grok" literally means "drink" in Martian. It's extended to mean "incorporating something from outside into oneself", the way that when you drink water it ends up incorporated into all the cells in your body.

Kevin said...

The OED has an entry for "grok" — U.S. slang, "arbitrary formation" by Robert A. Heinlein. It is defined as "To understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with" or " To empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment.

Translation: I truly get it, thought I might not fully understand.

On the scale of understanding Blackness, it's the woke person's bullseye.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"Can you tell whether it's elevating and not racist to compare Black Lives Matter artists to cavemen?"

It would seem the solution is to disconnect Black folks from the larger human experience entirely. No shared history, for better or worse. No interrelation with the rest of humanity. An echo chamber with no inputs from people that aren't "Black".

No one wants segregation more than White Progs and their house Toms.

RNB said...

Pre-ten-CHUS!

tim in vermont said...

It’s been a long time since I read the novel, but I think Heinlein defined it in a passage as a deep and emotional understanding, encompassing the implications of a concept, not just an intellectual understanding of some kind. It takes a year of study on top of twelve years of academic preparation for most physics students to ‘grok’ Newton’s F=MA. So, for example, I would say that feminists don’t grok evolution, since they so often hold fantasy ideas that men and women were somehow created exactly equally in all respects that aren’t visibly obvious by an obviously kind, fair-minded, and loving God. They wouldn’t put it that way, but if they ‘grokked’ their own philosophy, they would clearly understand that this is the absurd foundation of their belief system.

But it’s a clumsy word that should be used carefully, and with an eye toward your audience, for example don’t use it around feminists who resent what they don’t understand. Also, the guy used it wrong, as I understand the word.

tim in vermont said...

"No one likes truth.”

See now, this is the kind of shit I don’t like.

madAsHell said...

Why are we searching for salvation in an inherently racist statement?

Just like the stupid face masks, the inherently racist statement will be gone after Election Day!

Michael K said...

What happens when the people learn that George Floyd was saying "I can't breathe" well before he was on the ground, or laying with a knee on his neck?

Don't worry. They won't. I'm only surprised those videos leaked. It's why I get US political news from Brit newspapers.

gilbar said...

Temujin said...
What happens when the people learn that George Floyd was saying "I can't breathe" well before he was on the ground
?

i wondered the same thing;
so i posted the bodycam footage on my facebook page, and asked my lib friends about it
EVERY SINGLE ONE of them Refused to watch a single second of it; saying...
"I Won't watch a video of a person dying"
When i pointed out, that he doesn't even get on the ground in this video, let along die;
they said: "I said Dying, not dead"
libs aren't just ostriches; they'll ALL ostriches in the Exact Same Way

madAsHell said...

I avoid anyone who talks like that - of any color.

Polysyllables can't hide a lack of reasoning skills.

mikee said...

Geico Caveman ad

Geico Caveman apology ad

Faye gets the caveman a cubicle

Cancel culture from 2004.

Josephbleau said...

I don't think it's bad to be compared to a cave man, they were us. When it came out that Neanderthals were related to "w"hite and Asian people and not Africans there was a lot of jeering about how that meant Blacks were smarter.

I don't know why, the Homo Sapiens won the war but the Neanderthals could have had properties making them more hard working or more creative. We don't know the mental qualities of the two species of cave men in their time, they faced some different challenges. They did interbreed though.

Ice Nine said...

>>Can you tell whether it's elevating and not racist to compare Black Lives Matter artists to cavemen?<<

What a ludicrous question. He was of course neither obliged to be elevating nor trying to be/not be racist. Surely neither occurred to him as he made his rather apt analogy -- nor did it to most of his readers. (And yes, I get it -- Paleolithic man never entertained lofty concerns such as rogue cops' qualified immunity. So what? -- analogy is not identity.)

But yeah, I suppose it might be racist -- if you're one of these people who seem to need to search for racism everywhere. There's no shortage of them these days, y'know.

Here's a helpful hint, though: If you have to ask if something is racist or not, it's probably not.

mikee said...

Micahel P: The neologism "I grok X" comes from Heinleins novel about a human raised by Martians, and indicates total comprehension of and identification with X, beyond anything normal humans can accomplish or perceive. So it is gaslighting and a humblebrag and a bit of BS.

Gahrie said...

@Jamie

I was using grok when we were back in high school together. I've used it several times on this blog.

Gahrie said...

What happens when the people learn that George Floyd was saying "I can't breathe" well before he was on the ground, or laying with a knee on his neck?

I want to know what was wrong with the way the MPD handled the incident? All four officers were fired/suspended within a week and charged with a crime. What would have been better? lynching all four the same afternoon? Three years earlier when the MPD killed a White woman (who was the one who called the cops in the first place) it took them 8 months to fire and charge the officer.

Gahrie said...

I don't know why, the Homo Sapiens won the war but the Neanderthals could have had properties making them more hard working or more creative

Could be. Or it could just be that Europeans and Asians are descended from those with the curiosity and motivation to explore and Africans are descended from those content to stay home.

Gahrie said...

To grok is the legitimate older brother of "being woke".

Tank said...

the plight of Black people in the United States

For the most part, their plight is that they are among the luckiest, richest and best off Black people to ever exist on planet earth.

MikeR said...

"If I chopped you up and made a stew of you, you and the stew, whatever else was in it, would grok--and when I ate you, we would go together and nothing would be lost and it would not matter which one of us did the chopping up and eating.” StrangerIASL

Gahrie said...

Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire.

Even though Black people have a standard of living in the United States higher than most people alive today, and 99% of all the people who have ever lived.

They would also quickly understand that most problems that Black people have are not due to racism, but rather the pathologies of the Black culture.

Earnest Prole said...

I hate when people who aren't Heinlein use "grok" to connote their deep understanding.

Because the point of words is that only their inventors can use them.

Biff said...

That's the sort of prose that a Ph.D. in "Museum Studies" will get you these days.

On the bright side, he did not use the word "semiotics" once in the article. He gets points for that.

Narr said...

Josephbleau beat me to it--and others have suggested viewpoints to suggest they grok the issues also.

Here's a theory: the ancestors of Europeans and Asians, and their offshoots, got fucking tired of the bigger, stronger, best-adapted-to-Africa homo sap. tribes and either left on their own or were forced out. While they went into cold and inhospitable regions, adapting to and mastering their new and challenging environments, others stuck to Mother Africa.

Neanderthal (I'm about 2% or so I'm told) and Denisovians were encountered and either crushed or swallowed up in the dominant gene pools. Tens of thousands of years go by, and great creative cultures and civilizations compete, rise, and fall; great religions and philosophies come and go.

The contribution of sub-Saharan Africa to any of this is simply miniscule. For thousands of years and into the present that region of the world has been little more than a pit mine
of human labor and natural resources for the more dynamic tribes to exploit.

My guess is that Seph is mixed-race.

Narr
He's mastered the academic jive jargon fer sher




n.n said...

Some, select Black Lives Matter is a forward-looking statement and well-intentioned advocacy to relieve the "burden". #Planned

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

The Lascaux painters were not Neanderthals, and probably did not reside in any cave.

Mary Beth said...

He's only using "grok" as a joke since he's talking about aliens. It wasn't meant to have any more significance than that.

TestTube said...

Jamie,

What is the point of Stranger In a Strange Land?

I mean, I thought I grokked that book, but maybe I didn't...

jaydub said...

The Palaeolithic Lascaux cave drawings in the Dordogne River Valley have been closed to the public for almost 60 years. There is a replica site nearby (Lascaux II) where you can see replicas of some of the drawings. I traveled there in 2018 wearing shorts.

The BLM graffiti will be forgotten in two years. Calling its scribblers "heirs to the Lascaux artisans" is an abomination.

Wilbur said...

I had never heard or read the word "grok" until this post. Doesn't seem like I missed much of anything.

You could've grokked me over with a feather, while I'm grok, grok, grokkin' on heaven's door.

PM said...

Got no beef w/graffiti artists.
However, the act has traditionally included the risk of fine or incarceration, which adds intensity to the artist's performance and work.
This ain't that. It's lame.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Josephbleau said...

I don't think it's bad to be compared to a cave man, they were us. When it came out that Neanderthals were related to "w"hite and Asian people and not Africans there was a lot of jeering about how that meant Blacks were smarter.

Apropos of the above....

Oprah: Whiteness Gives You The Advantage, No Matter What

Jupiter said...

"I want to know what was wrong with the way the MPD handled the incident? All four officers were fired/suspended within a week and charged with a crime."

Well, since they hadn't done anything wrong, firing them and charging them with crimes seems a bit hasty, no?

Ice Nine said...

Forget Lascaux; go to the nearby Pech Merle caves. Better than viewing the Lascaux replica caves and way fewer people.

Big Mike said...

I will tell you something about Seph Rodney. If he writes for the New York Times then he manifestly does not grok Heinlein.

Birkel said...

https://mobile.twitter.com/stillgray/status/1291381986469150721?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1291381986469150721%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Face.mu.nu%2F

Biden says black people all (must?) think the same.
He said it on video.

effinayright said...

rhhardin said...
That's a white guy. Overcomposed prose with a wide vocabulary at hand, plus general idiocy.
********

I suspect he developed his style by reading Ta-nehisi Coates.

stevew said...

I cannot take seriously anyone that uses the Heinlein word 'grok'.

It's ok to compare today's black street artists to cavemen because said cavemen were 'artists' and are held in quite high regard.

Jamie said...

@Jamie

I was using grok when we were back in high school together. I've used it several times on this blog.


I remember that, Gahrie! I used to use it too on occasion. But have you ever used it the way this guy did? I venture you've actually read the book, and based on how the guy wrote everything else, I'd venture that he did not. (Else he would've recognized that what he wrote was a pretty great example of self-satire... so maybe he did in fact read the book and his whole piece is brilliantly meta. But I doubt it.)

What I'm more concerned about right now is that I think I might have unintentionally introduced a racial term - "what a maroon" - when what I was referencing was Bugs Bunny!

Nichevo said...

70 comments posted at this point and neither Althouse nor any commenter has called out the use of millenniums versus millennia?

Nichevo said...

What if our black people here are simply inclined to be losers?


Genetically? They were naturally (?) selected to be losers; losers don't sell winners into slavery, though I suppose Joseph and his brothers constitute an exception.

Selected to be losers, but with enough strength to not quite die in the process of losing.

Iman said...

He met her at a ball and his heart stood still
(da grok run run run, da grok run run)
I

Ice Nine said...

>>Nichevo said...
70 comments posted at this point and neither Althouse nor any commenter has called out the use of millenniums versus millennia?<<

That's likely because there is nothing to call out -- both are correct.

bagoh20 said...

Our culture has a new and sad neurosis that requires that every sentence, spoken or written must first run the judgmental gauntlet of is it offensive. It's pretty rare to make it through unscathed, and often the substance is never even explored, having been discarded by the gauntlet. If you want your message to survive long enough to be heard, you wrap it in some hate of the right people. Write "Trump sucks" on the envelope, or maybe put a BLM on there with fist.

Sam L. said...

Rah, RAH, R.A.H!!!

Bilwick said...

As long as we're quoting Heinlein here, here's an evergreen quote I send out to Howard, Inga and the other State-fellators here (especially the first two sentences):

"Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

Nichevo said...

neither Althouse nor any commenter has called out the use of millenniums versus millennia?<<

That's likely because there is nothing to call out -- both are correct.


Feh, Ice Nine. "Millenniums" is grating. On a level with, though not equal to, indiscriminate confusion of "amount" and "number" as in "a large amount of people." It may be au courant, but it's low.

Unknown said...

Why is it ok to board up windows so activists can paint stuff? It hurts these stores. They only boarded up because of violence and threats. It isn't an art gallery. It is vandalism.

Jamie said...

me: I hate when people who aren't Heinlein use "grok" to connote their deep understanding.

another: Because the point of words is that only their inventors can use them.


I appear to have touched a nerve!

No no, my objection to people's using "grok" unironically is that it seems to me they often don't. Grok, that is. As in the case under discussion - the guy surely does not deeply drink of understanding of the plight of black Americans; he's telling himself a story. Nor do many who use "grok" seem to understand that Heinlein was writing social satire.

I would be a terrible Heinlein fan if I didn't acknowledge the right of people to reclaim prior story or, presumably, word inventions with the serial numbers filed off (as the Dean himself said, presumably about himself - I think maybe in The Rolling Stones?).

Earnest Prole said...

The caveman racial angle is lazy, since the Lascaux artists were obviously lily white, as are a majority of the BLM street artists in New York today.

I presume you, like I, are in favor of peaceful protests and legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights, so what’s not to like about all this artwork?

bbkingfish said...

That comparison is no more offensive than it would be to compare Trump to a yellow-cheecked gibbon, depending on the context, or to any of the lesser primates for that matter. I wonder what Banksy would say about it, or even Werner Herzog.

Jamie said...

Althouse: I would therefore ask Jamie whether her demand for proper understanding of "Stranger in a Strange Land" is itself a misunderstanding of "Stranger in a Strange Land."

Heh... I just returned to the original post for the first time since I First hit the comment thread this morning - I've just been refreshing the thread from time to time all day. This is definitely a high honor!

Ans.: [raises hand] Caught! I should have thought twice, at least, before putting my love of Heinlein up against our host's love of words and their use. Apologies to all I apparently inadvertantly insulted or annoyed here, when the only person I intended to insult was the dude who wrote the piece in question. (I still don't think he groks what he thinks he groks.)

Narr said...

I've used 'grok' and referenced Fair Witnesses on this blog in the last year or so.

Of course, it's just a bit of scifi arcana NTTAWWT.

Narr
I used 'millenia' in my earlier post--that's just my old-fashioned preference

ken in tx said...

I thought the Fair Witness concept was introduced in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

Bunkypotatohead said...

Aliens aren't going to give a damn about George Floyd.
They won't be able to breathe either.

Jamie said...

No, Fair Witness was in Stranger. Anne, the statuesque blonde among Harshaw's three secretaries, was the Fair Witness. I think she may have been patterned on Heinlein's first publicly known, actually second, wife...

Jon Burack said...

My favorite aliens are those in the film "Independence Day." They definitely did not discriminate.

Bilwick said...

I'm so old now I remember "I Grok Spock."