Saturday, July 29, 2017

What's the Difference Between Accent and Pronunciation?

Errol Spence Jr. is a former U.S. Olympian, a current titleholder in the welterweight division, and a rising star in the world of boxing. When announcers pronounce his name, they give it two syllables -- ERR-roll -- like the actor Errol Flynn.

But Spence is from deep in the heart of Texas. And he has such a drawl that, when he says his name, it's one syllable: "Earl."

So here's my question: If he pronounces his name "Earl", why isn't that just the right way to pronounce his name?

Put another way, we view him saying "Earl" as just an accented way of saying "ERR-roll". If I go to the south and pronounce things like a Yankee, they might find my strange speech amusing, but outside extreme circumstances they'd recognize we were saying the same words. An analogy might be if someone with a speech impediment said his name was "Yonny", we might still say his name is "Johnny." That said, if, say, an Israeli told us his name was "Dah-veed", we wouldn't use the American pronunciation of "David." There we'd simply say that name was pronounced differently, and it would be expected that Americans would say "Dah-veed."

So when is it one, and when is it the other? Genuine open question for the crowd.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Conservatives No Longer Can Conceive of Non-Partisan Motives

There's something very odd about how conservatives frame calls for investigating Russia's attempted interference in our election. They insist that it is a product of Democratic self-delusion that Russia was the cause of Hillary Clinton's defeat. They crow that this is proof of liberals' inability to accept responsibility for their own policy decisions. They mock Democrats for supposedly believing that Americans will care about Russia in the midterms.

That might all be true. Counterfactuals are hard, and voter attention spans are fickle. But what's strange about this apparently widespread conservative view is that it seems utterly perplexed by the idea that one might want to look into attempted Russian interference into our elections simply because it's a good thing for America to guard against attempts to subvert our democracy from hostile foreign governments -- regardless of whether they redound to the clear benefit or detriment of any particular political party. In fact, "perplexed" isn't even the right word -- it doesn't seem to occur to them that such a motive could possibly exist. They don't respond to it, or even ignore it -- it's just beyond the horizon of their understanding that a political actor might try to do something for no greater reason than the good of the country.

If conservatives are right that the issue of attempted Russian interference isn't a political "winner" for Democrats -- and they may well be -- that should make the case for an investigation easier, not harder. After all -- if it's not something that will make a partisan impact, than it's simply a matter of good governance. But Republicans have lost the ability to understand that as even a theoretical motive for action. As far as they're concerned, once partisan politics falls out the picture, we're left with nothing but a gaping empty void.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Another Tentacle Roundup

The JTA just published my thoughts on the Israel Anti-Boycott bill (adapted from this post). Let's see -- I've done Tablet, Forward, Ha'aretz, and now JTA. We all know the Jews run the media, but what do you call the Jew who's taking over the Jewish media?

Anyway, world domination is distracting, and it's causing my browser to clutter up. Let's deal with that, shall we?

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While the hook for my Israel Anti-Boycott bill is "everyone is going crazy", I should say that I found J Street's statement to be measured and thoughtful.

The Dean of Yale Law remarks on why law schools have largely avoided the anti-free speech hysteria that is (perhaps to an exaggerated degree) encompassing other sectors of academia. Short version: law school relies upon a series of deliberative virtues, like hearing out your opposition and considering both sides of an argument, that encourage people to take arguments seriously. Strongly endorse.

In Fathom (haven't gotten them yet!), John Strawson reviews a new book on Colonialism and the Jews.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) blames "female Senators" for holding up Obamacare repeal, says if they were men he'd challenge them to a duel. Blake Farenthold kind of has a problem with women.

Sarah Ditum: Why Does Labour Have an Abuse Problem? A strong, thought-provoking essay.

Far-left French leader Jean-Luc Melanchon denies that the French (through the Vichy government) have any responsibility for the Holocaust.