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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Semicolons and Strained Metaphors
In his repost of archival material, JB included this almost offhand comment:
Only government, as the expression of the informed collective will of the people, has the moral authority to do it.
By "it," he means ensuring justice, and I think it's worth mentioning that "justice" can be a big umbrella. Many Conservatives identify "justice" as the mechanism by which trespassers are shot on sight, or the structure through which all elements of society are kept in their proper place. Liberals, generally, see "justice" as a means (one hopes) of seeing that the powerful are not endlessly able to screw the powerless.

Are my definitions liberal-biased? Absolutely! If you want a pro-Conservative spin, consult just about any non-internet mediasource. But if you're reading this, then you already knew that.

And another thing. The government is not only the only agency with the moral authority to ensure justice; it's also the only agency that's both empowered and required to do so. Bush, Norquist and their ilk (I'm talking to you, John Stossel) prepetually hail the virtues of privatization, as if an unaccountable multibillion-dollar multinational is somehow magically better able to provide for the common good than the Fed. Big Government, so the story goes, is bad because it's an unaccountable, entrenched power designed to protect its own interests. Big Corporations, one the other hand, are good because they're unaccountable, entrenched powers designed to protect their own interests.

Er…

On CSPAN2 over the weekend Kurt Vonnegut (who has looked exactly the same for approximately five decades) advised new writers to avoid semicolons; apparently I don't know how to listen.

I mentioned a strained metaphor. Here goes:

I think that the rising tides/all boats image is good, but it works only in the abstract. In reality, the yachts ensure that they rise all the higher by throwing their various anchors onto the little rowboats beneath them. Sure, the yachts are vastly outnumbered by the rowboats, but they can afford a whole bunch of anchors. And they'll always need somebody to scrape off the barnacles and clean the manatees out of the propellers.

I'll know that I've been blog-reading too long when JB unveils an ancient entry from the archives, and I remember reading it the first time through.

edited, because I forgot how to use html
edited again, because I forgot how to spell

edited one more damn time by jb to put in the link to his earlier post; this collaboration thing is going to be fun; Vonnegut is right about the semicolons

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