Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Movable Type and the Pope

I have been doing a lot of thinking about something that Andrew wrote last week about how cynicism. He wrote "...to be clear, I HATE the cynicism. I have no respect for it. It is idiocy and hate pretending to be wisdom. It is destructive and biased. It is immoral."

Just so we are clear, this is the offical definition of "cynical":
cyn·i·cism (sinəˌsizəm) noun 1. an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism. "public cynicism about politics" synonyms: skepticism, doubt, distrust, mistrust, suspicion, disbelief; 2. a school of ancient Greek philosophers, the Cynics.
Have we become too cynical and, if so, why? I have a theory. When Johannes Guttenberg "invented" moveble type in the 15th Century, he opened the world up to a vast world of knowledge. And by that one invention, it enabled the mass production of books and the rapid dissemination of knowledge to those who could acquire reading skills. At once, common people had access to information that they had never had before. Suddenly, they had access to knowledge that expanded their world and made them question everything that they were taught to believe. And certainly they had access to information that did not add up once it was put in print.

So has the internet. Our modern-day invention has opened up our world to the entire knowledge of humanity at the click of of mouse. But, just like those in the 15th Century who must have needed a period adjustment to their newfound knowledge, we need an adjustment period too. Too much knowledge too fast can be a dangerous thing.

You see, I don't believe that humans have changed all that much in the last 600 years in how we process information. And I don't believe that humans have changed so much that there aren't people who are motivated by self-interest who will exploit that information for their own personal or political gain. It is healthy to be intelligently cynical of the constant assault of readily available "information". But the key here as always it to be intelligent and always question the motives. I know that we as humans, will eventually adjust. Maybe it is the eternally optimistic contrarian in me, but that cynicism is not a sin. Frustrating at times, but certainly healthy.

Other stuff:
So, Pope Francis is coming to NYC later this week and I can't seem to get away from him. I live four blocks from the Papal Nuncio [Yeah, it's easier to write than the Official UN Observer Mission of the Holy See and the Official Residence of the Pope when he is in NYC...] and work one block from the WTC where he will be visiting, so I will be Poped out by Saturday. But it will be interesting. Here is my take on the current Pope.

I am not Catholic, but Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air for the Catholic Church. He is trying his hardest to bring people back to the Church. And frankly, I think he is often mistranslated [See: definition of "cynical"]. He is one who truly believes that one should love the sinner, but hate the sin. Don't be shocked, but I admire that he is not afraid to die. Much to the dismay of our security apparatus in NYC, he does not want to be protected from his flock. He seems to trust that God has a plan and if God's plan is that he should die by an assassin's bullet, then so be it. I respect that. And I fully expect to see him buying his morning coffee and bagel with a schmear at my local deli. If he does, I may convert, but don't tell my Dad.



BevfromNYC said...

Sorry this was late. I forgot to set the time before I hit "publish".

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I do very much believe that we have become too cynical. I see it all throughout our culture and that is changing the way people process information. These days, people view gotcha questions and conspiracy thinking as wisdom. There is no benefit of the doubt. There is no patience to way to see what the facts are. There is spin. There is willingness to admit that someone wasn't rotten after all, no matter what the evidence is.

I'm not saying that cynicism is something new within us, i.e. human's have developed a new behavior patterns, but in modern America, cynicism has set in like a disease and become most people's primary thought process and analytical tool. That was not true in the past.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Sorry to hear that you are being stalked by the Pope! ;-)

In all seriousness, I think the new Pope is pretty fantastic. Sadly, conservatism has chosen to go to war with him because of how the MSM has described the things he's said... but I can't blame them because, after all, as any conservative knows, the MSM should always be believed in a knee-jerk sort of way, right?

Unfortunately, this is letting the left reclaim Catholicism in the US. We'll see how that plays out. Maybe like a poison pill that will force the left to the right? Though I doubt it, they're more likely just to use Catholicism as a PR shield to claim a religious mandate.

In any event, I suspect that before his tenure is over, the Catholic church will be much larger, much more people focused, and a much stronger religious institution. Good for them.

And don't worry, we won't tell your dad! LOL!

tryanmax said...

Rampant cynicism is the logical result of philosophies that hold as their standard "Question everything" and "Question the answers." If someone were to take the time to coin a new mantra for today, it would be "Question everything. Believe nothing."

But I actually think we've moved beyond cynicism into something worse. I'm not sure what it's called, but maybe if I describe it, someone can find the word. We've basically entered a phase where the questions themselves are unveiled attacks. "Mr. Leader, can you tell the people why you're such an asshole?" I think this explains a lot of the rise of Trump. Who can rise in an arena where everyone is branded assholes except for an unabashed champion asshole?

Now, clearly things aren't too far gone. Trump's star has passed its zenith, it would seem, and people are refocusing on things more serious. But still, atmosphere persists: "Mr. Candidate, what do you have against the voters?" "Ms. CEO, explain your failures." "Mr. President, when did you decide to become a traitor?"

tryanmax said...

It is sad that the right has gone into attacking the Pope. It is equally amusing to watch the MSM stumble all over itself to find a way to be OK with the Pope. It's like a little kid eating peas to please his grandmother. You can see the wince through the smile. "It's *urp* really *gag* good!"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Agreed on both points.

Pope first... The far left sees the right's war on the Pope as an opportunity as people who have basically expressed militant atheistic views in the past are suddenly claiming him theirs, but in the sense of how he's repudiated the right. Basically, they are repeating the points made by right wing Talk Radio as true and then adding things like Susan Sarandon worrying that someone on the right will assassinate him. Seriously.

The MSM, however, is not as happy about praising him because even a left-leaning Pope (which he really isn't) still hurts their causes. So I think they are leery of accepting him, and they generally focus only on the headlines quotes where he is made out as repudiating the right. They are definitely worried about embracing him.

I'll be curious to see how this plays out ultimately if the fringe right attacks him like all the other RINOs in this apparently RINO world, and the left won't embrace him. Where does that leave the church? Maybe right where the Pope wants it... out of politics?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, On your other point, I concur. I see intense cynicism everywhere these days. It is the primary motivator of almost everything. Everything is a conspiracy, everything is meant to destroy, all motives are instantly assumed to be evil, and even the language used to express this stupidity is asshole-like.

But as you note, the crowd leading the charge has gone into, for lack of a better word, "hater mode" (the real word is probably "bullying")...

"You created a cure for cancer?" You must have done to get rich! You don't care about people! I hope you die.

"You wrote a book about kids?" You must be a child molester! I hope you get raped.

"You claim that all your bones were broken when that truck hit you?" That's bullsh*t! You're just looking for money. I hope you get nothing you malingerer! "Oh, your kid died from a defective product?" You raised stupid kids.

"You were accused of a minor crime and no facts about it have been revealed yet?" Well, you're obvious guilty! I hope you die in prison. And I'm going to leave death threats for your family! "Wait, that last guy was set up by the cops!" They all need to go to jail! Let's make death threats to their families!

"Some guy with mental illness shot his entire family?" Hey, they probably deserved it! Hey, let's use this for political purposes!

And I would dismiss this as just internet trolling, except that these are the kinds of things (only slightly cleaned up) that come out of the mouths of news hosts, celebrities, "comedians" and the such. This is becoming the norm.

BUT... there is hope. That's why I've written several articles pointing out how vast numbers of people are being kind and genuine when they see injustice or "bullying" and they reach out to the people affected. So there is a counter-culture of this.

tryanmax said...

To the right's credit, their opposition to the Pope is--as far as I've seen--very strictly limited to economic concerns. And I think most of that comes down to a language/culture barrier where capitalism means something very different in the Latin world. So, in essence, the left is twisting the Pope's words to say "he's on our side!" Unfortunately, the right is buying that last bit instead of arguing, "no, what the Pope really said was..." That said, this Pope does seem rather credulous to some currently fashionable policy movements--and I don't think anyone is wrong to call him on that.

On social issues, the left just can't cozy up to him b/c the Catholic church is more socially conservative than the political right in this country. What they like about this Pope is that he frames economic matters in social terms, such that when George Will offers a cogent criticism of the Pope's apparent fiscal beleifs, Salon can dismissively say that George doesn't "get it" without ever addressing what "it" is. And how dare he criticize that nice old man!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, They actually started outside the realm of economics. The first thing that upset them was when he made the Church "pro-gay marriage"... which of course, he did not do. He said the Church needed to de-emphasize issues like gay marriage, but that it would not change its stance. That caused the initial pogrom.

Then he dared to get rid of some of the imperial trappings of the Papacy and to actually do things like touch poor people. He also ordered the Church's priests to get out of their Churches and go see the poor. That really pissed off the right for some reason.

Then the economics came up.

Now they have added that he's forgiving women who've had abortions, that he's pro-environment and he's even anti-nuclear weapon!

In any event, you are correct that the right's opposition to him is based on the MSM's misinterpretation of what he's said. They take his words without context or genuine analysis, spin them as leftist talking points, and the right freaks out. It would be funny if it wasn't such a completely lost opportunity to explain the merits of conservatism and why the Pope's words fit perfectly with that.

Kit said...

I'll say more late, but for right now, let me add this thought:

If in his address before Congress, the Pope mentions the Planned Parenthood videos, "which have reminded us that abortion extinguishes a human life", or says something along those lines about abortion, he can ramble on about economics and global warming all he wants.

ScottDS said...

Speaking of movable type, Adrian Frutiger recently passed away.


Okay, he was one of the great typographers, whose typefaces include Frutiger and Univers. More here.

As for cynicism, it sucks and destroys everything it touches. It's also why I try to avoid most political commentary, otherwise I'd become cynical and I don't want that! It's gonna be a long year till the election.

BevfromNYC said...

Wow, I didn't mean to be so cynical or maybe not cynical enough about cynicism. ;-) Andrew, I agree that we seem stuck in this polarized world. The other thing that you commented on last week was our lack of reason and we are now in a world of over-reacting to everything. I also agree with that. We are no longer allowed to be the reasonable middle ground waiting for all the facts before casting our learned opinion out into the hyper-speed of the interwebs. So everyone shoots their mouth off because who doesn't want that viral tweet, video, or meme to make them famous or infamous. We have entered a world of micromanaging and dissecting every single syllable for that "gotcha". Twitter is the worst for this kind of stuff.. [See: Anthony's weiner...]

There is a certain kind of "speaking truth to power" run amok in all of this. Yeah, I can tweet my displeasure directly to the President, but how does that really change anything? It just seems that we are digging our heels in more because we CAN speak truth to power directly.

BevfromNYC said...

As to the Pope - It is hard not to be polarized about Pope Francis when even the President tries to embarrass him with all of the lapsed Catholics and in explicable a few Episcopalians he has invited to greet the Pope at the WH. A lesbian who was fired by a Catholic school for her gay marriage, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, a leader for transgender rights, a gay Catholic blogger and a prominent nun-lobbyist who bucked the bishops on the Affordable Care Act. It is kind of like Obama just can't help himself in causing a divide.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I've already dismissed your opinion because obviously you work for Cynica Co. -- the makers of pre-packaged internet grade cynicism. ;-)

Seriously, I agree. There is a very strange quality to this Twitter world where millions of people are out there giving opinions that no one else actually reads or cares about. On the one hand, I guess it's great that people feel like they can speak their minds. But it really is the equivalent of talking to yourself and when you think of it that way, it seems kind of weird. Maybe people should be talking to their friends and neighbors instead?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I would put that down to Obama being an ass of Biblical proportions.

I'd love for the Pope to invite him to dinner and then bring along the head of the KKK, someone who knows how many states there are, and whoever used to sell Obama weed.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - LOL! That would be awesome

tryanmax said...

Andrew, trust me, I have no dog in any fight between the Pope and Fox News, but that’s not at all what I remember. True, his "who am I to judge?" statement re:homosexuality left a lot of conservatives scratching heads. That started the Obama comparisons, in the sense of being an appeaser. And from there followed the musings and accusations of being a communist.

Since then, the criticisms of the Pope from the right have consistently followed that vein. It's the left-leaning outlets that purport to decode the dog-whistle homophobia, sexism, and even racism hidden in their wonkish economic critiques. Plus, there is a steady stream of "Why Conservatives Hate the Pope" articles always being written wherein Jenny writes that Susan heard from Bobby that Kendall got a text from Devin that said that Marty thinks he heard April say that the Pope is a doo-doo head.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - It think the whole "whisper down the lane" analogy is right on the money. All I have seen is the left accusing the right of being upset by the Pope. But not much from the right.

I think most non-Catholic Christians really don't care one way or the other about what the Pope does or doesn't do or say. Actually, if there is any group that may be more vocally critical, it would be the conservative Catholics who don't really know what they are supposed to be doing or thinking or believing.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and Bev, I don't see anyone on the actual right or center right attacking the Pope, but I do see a lot of the fringers... especially bloggers. Every time there is some Pope headline, my dashboard lights up like an air raid siren of idiocy with "the Pope is a commie!"

Fox News is waging a war against the Pope too. Gutfield called him "the most dangerous man in the world." Kilmeade said the Pope "is in the wrong country and should stay home." Chris Wallace said, "some of the Pope's comments have no place in this country."

I've seen comments from the Talk Radio crowd too.

BevfromNYC said...

Wow, Andrew, you hang out with a rough cyber-crowd. No wonder you are cynical. ;-P

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You wouldn't believe the nutjobs I keep track of... both left and right, just to see what they're thinking. These people are all convinced that America is about five minutes away from collapsing into a Mad Max kind of world. And there isn't a conspiracy theory they don't believe. They need a lot of help.

Unfortunately, they tend to be the people who support Trump and Sanders.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Just to give you a sense of some of the fun, here are some of the latest issues being addressed by the whack-a-doddle crowd:

1. The Marines are buying "terminator" robots, who will take over the country.

2. Romney is secretly planning to run as a Third Party candidate to stop Trump.

3. There are liberal secret agents who have infiltrated the Trump campaign... for some dastardly reason.

4. Obama is giving billions in welfare to Syrian refugees, even as "most" Americans have no jobs and can't get welfare.

5. Women are being forced into abortions so PP can sell the tissue.

6. You will soon need a passport to board a domestic flight.

And so on.

BevfromNYC said...

Yipes! That's all kind of cray-cray....well, except for the"terminator robots", That is really happening, I just know it because I read "...somewhere that something was being written, I can't remember where, but someone named Jenny wrote that Susan heard from Bobby that Kendall got a text from Devin that said that Marty thinks he heard April say that she saw something like that..."

Hat-tip to Tryanmax!

tryanmax said...

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the right doesn't attack the Pope every time he sneezes. But they consistently attack him for being a commie. (That sneeze sounded an awful lot like "Trotsky.")

I'm sure some shirtless basement blogger thinks the Pope should bring back stoning adulteresses, but the bulk of the right is pretty fixated on the Red Vatican.

BevfromNYC said...

OT: I am now officially observing Yom Kippur and atoning for my many sins, so I will offline until sundown tomorrow. Peace to all.

AndrewPrice said...

Peace, Bev! :D

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The commie line is definitely the most prominent.

Kit said...

I think Ramesh Ponnuru has the most balanced article on Pope Francis. Worth reading, even if it is a tad long.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Thanks for the link! That is an excellent article and I agree almost entirely with it. The one thing I would add which Ponnuru glosses over if the Pope's experience with "crony capitalism" in South America. When he talks about "capitalism," he's not talking about free markets, he's talking about rigged crony markets. I think that's an important point to add to an article that otherwise really dissects well why the Pope is not a progressive.

Kit said...

"I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit." —Pope Francis

Huh. But the media said it was about excoriating Republicans Americans for their greed and global warming? And he was moving past abortion, trying to make it kosher for Catholics or something.


Kit said...

Another good article on the Pope at National Review, this time from libertarian(-ish) Catholic Kevin D. Williamson:

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