Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crossblogging And Comment Followups

Pure laziness on display today, as I get an entry out of copy-and-pasting what I wrote somewhere else. I'll also be responding to some comments, which means letting other people do some of the work.

First up, the crossblogging. I already dealt with this same issue, possibly raised by the same silly person, here back on January 20th. However, when Cassy Fiano wrote an entry about a site dedicated to thanking former President Bush for keeping America free from domestic terror attacks for over seven years, the same silly response got raised. Copy-and-pasted from her comments section, here we go. First, a response from "Baz":

The mission is accomplished? Complete? I did not know that.

Of course, you know that this a faulty syllogism anyway, the notion that he kept us safe. Like my cat keeps me safe from rhinos. No rhinos in my yard ever since I got my cat. That’s security.

Proximity does not prove, or even imply, cause. To suggest otherwise is magical thinking.
Then I replied (edited slightly to minimize my typos in the revised history books of the future):
Baz - I can’t be bothered to check whether you’re the same person who posted this exact analogy on the American Spectator site a few days ago, or just somebody who read it and thought it was clever enough to plagiarize. Either way, here’s how I responded to your idea on my blog, back on Tuesday:

“The lack of terrorist attacks means nothing; I haven’t had any problems with Rhinos in my yard ever since I brought my cat home. Therefore, my cat keeps Rhinos away? No.”

I trust I don’t need to point out the logical error in that spectacularly arrogant display of nitwittery.

The heck with it. I can’t resist dropping a hint: how many rhino attacks do you suppose this person’s yard suffered before the cat entered the scene?

One other question, in case you still don’t get it. Do you have rhinos skulking around your neighbourhood and openly plotting attacks, only to be repeatedly thwarted by your cat blowing up their headquarters and killing or capturing their ringleaders? If not, your analogy is even dumber than it looks at first.
Baz came back for another round:
Zirbert: My argument is straight out of Critical Thinking 101, *really* basic Junior High stuff. Faulty syllogism. Look. it. up. Your analogy is irrelevant and beside the point.
Glutton for frustration that I am, I responded:
Baz: You’re correct about the analogy being irrelevant. However, it’s yours, not mine. I made no analogy. I just pointed out the inability to see cause and effect inherent to yours.

Can you give an example of a situation where you *can* relate cause and effect? You apparently don’t think that increased security leads to fewer security problems.

Here’s a hint to get you started: do you brush your teeth? If so, why?

That's where things stand for now. Nobody else has posted a comment to that thread. Hopefully if anyone does, it won't be Baz, because I don't think I'd have the patience to try to explain his / her logical error any more clearly. By his / her - you know what? I'm going to assume that Baz is male so I can stop doing that. If I find out I'm incorrect, I'll switch, but for now: By his logic, armed guards on board armoured cars do nothing to prevent armoured car robberies. After all, my car has no armoured guards, but it's never once been robbed. The fact that no robbers have ever targeted my car, and would never have any interest in doing so, is completely beside the point.

A faulty syllogism would be something like, "Since Barack Obama became president, two of my son's front teeth have gotten loose. Therefore, Obama causes children's teeth to fall out." Understanding that the policies of the people in charge of national security did, in fact, have an effect on national security is about as far from being a faulty syllogism as you can get.

Now on to comments. I'll be replying to comments on my story about the night when I met a strangely combative fellow at the gas station.

TB (who has been a friend in real life for many years) said,
Here's the thing- you ARE a nerd.
Spoken like a gentleman, sir! (Note: this is to be read in imitation of John Cleese in the "Eric the Half A Bee" sketch, from the 1972 album "Monty Python's Previous Record". If you prefer, feel free to substitute a hearty "Agreed!", a la Terry Jones in the Wizzo Chocolate Factory sketch from "Live at the Hollywood Bowl", when told that one of his company's candies is particularly nasty.)(Good thing I'm not trying to argue your point. I wouldn't stand a chance.)
How many articles on computer repair and Magic have you posted here?
Computer Repair - 12.
Magic: The Gathering - 6.

If I had better interpersonal skills, I probably would have realized that your question was rhetorical. (If it makes anybody feel better, I more or less made up that first number.)
I bet that guy will be embarrassed when he reads about himself online.
This made me laugh. I'm not sure which word I find funniest - "online", or just "reads".

I actually wondered for a moment on my drive home that night, what story would the other guy be telling the next day? He was pretty much a jerk and (failed) bully. It would be tough to paint him as the hero of the incident, and everybody wants to be the hero in their own story.

Then my cynicism returned, and I realized that his version would be no problem. Here it is from his perspective (albeit with better grammar and an expanded vocabulary):

"I was sitting back, waiting to gas up my van. This one guy finished pumping his gas and went and paid, but when he came back he just started his car and sat there. After a while I went over and asked him if he was going to move or what. He was a real jerk, whining about not having enough room to get out. He was driving a little tiny wussmobile of a car, and my van was way back out of the way. He had all kinds of room, but I guess the little princess didn't think it was enough. I told him off, then backed up even further so the sissy had enough room to put a transport through. I guess that was finally enough space for him to get out without calling his Mommy to come steer for him, so he left. Jerk."

On to the comment from RebelAngel, who does not know me in real life, as evidenced by her opening:
What is it about your personal appearance that gives people the clue that you are a nerd, even while sitting in your car at the pump? Horn rimmed glasses? Pocket protector? Magic: The Gathering t-shirt?
Oh, where to begin. Would you like that alphabetically, or in order of importance?

I was wearing a coat, zipped all the way up, so he couldn't see what t-shirt I was wearing. For the record, though, Magic t-shirts are for newbies and poseurs. I'm old school. I'm more likely to wear a Netrunner t-shirt.

Sadly, the bit about owning - and wearing - a Netrunner t-shirt is true. Perhaps more sadly, I'm kidding about mocking Magic t-shirts. I've got a couple, and wear them regularly. All the gaming shirts are left from when I ran a comic and gaming shop, back in the nineties. Wizards of the Coast used to send them out free to store owners for promotional purposes. In retrospect, it's surprising they ever sent any that fit me. My weight has never gone over 145, which is about half an average comic shop employee over age twenty (to eliminate the skinny high school kids who work part time for store credit).

Anyway, to go back to your actual question: you'll just have to trust me when I say, "you'll just have to trust me."
I agree with you that a**hole would have been a more appropriate choice than nerd.
Thanks. So does my Mom.
I think you intimidated him, actually, and he tried to cover it up by blustering.
I really don't think so. I mean, I hope not. I wasn't trying to be intimidating, and it's safe to say that I'm usually not. I intentionally try to be pretty agreeable and non-confrontational when dealing with people outside my house. As far as depends on me, I try to get along with people. I'm like Rodney King without the crack pipe and baton scars.

There. I'm out of jokes about this stuff.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a scale model of Noah's Ark according to the dimensions specified in the Bible. You may notice that there are no trunks, tails, ears, or giraffe necks sticking out of it to comedic effect.


RebelAngel said...

Too bad. There are all kinds of places where one can buy scale model animals. You would think they could manage to jazz it up a bit.

As far as which insult would be more approproate, I was thinking grammatically (perhaps a dying art these days) and perhaps writing dialog to fit the scene. "Nerd" seems a dweebish thing to say to someone in the given situation.

Zirbert said...

There actually are scale model animals in there, they're just hard to see because of the (my) amateur-hour photography. If you look really closely - try opening just the picture by clicking on it directly - you can see a couple of white things in the fourth column, middle row. Those are sheep.

My point was actually that when you look at the dimensions of the Ark stated in the Bible, it was big. It wasn't the ridiculously small tugboat with animal parts sticking out in all directions that you usually see in storybooks. There was plenty of room for several representatives of each kind, even the big fellows like elephants, camels, and... well, that's for another time.

The real Ark, however, had no large glass (or plexiglass, I'm not sure) viewing window in the side. An oversight, no doubt.

As for insults, here in eastern Canada you simply cannot go wrong with "tool". It's funny every time.