Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Way to go, Barry! Me and Deepak get it on. And other marginalia.

I like Obama's new deficit-reduction plan, as well as his in-your-face way of debuting it. Good for him. The way he was going for a while there, he had everybody mad at him, including his base. If his presidency is destined to go down in flames, he might as well do it being the guy whom some of us elected....


Had a brief but interesting Twitter-spar with Deepak Chopra over the weekend. Was a little bit surprised that he would "engage," given his sometimes-imperial demeanor and his very vocal unhappiness with me over this piece for The Wall Street Journal; you can read his response here. However, I think I might have caught him with his logic down. Here are the tweets in chronological order:

DEEPAK: "Only life creates life."

ME: "But if only life creates life, then I'm assuming you dispute the validity of evolution/Big Bang etc."

DEEPAK: "I do not dispute big bang , evolution, cosmogenesis
they are all expressions of a living universe."
ME: "OK but at a certain point that becomes sophistry. If everything is alive
i.e the universe itselfthen nothing is, either."

DEEPAK: "Biological evolution describes the transformation of life not the origin of life."
ME: "And for that matter, God is not technically 'life,' either
correct?so the line breaks down there too."

DEEPAK: "There is no observable experimental evidence of how life began
ME: "OK, I'll grant that. But then how do you reconcile that comment with 'only life creates life'? If we don't know, we don't know."

Anyway, I thought it was interesting.


Later, this buffoon* tweeted: "A life without cause is a life without effect."

To which I replied: "Again, a nonsensical platitude. Did Mt. St. Helens have a 'cause'? Did it not have an effect? PEOPLE: Stop the Stupid, Now!"

Dr. Cummins has not replied.


Baseball fans will know that the Philadelphia Phillies were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, and then a divisional championship (admirably, their fifth straight). The latter happened on Saturday night. On Sunday, the Phils lost big. The next morning, in a column titled "Phillies appear lifeless in loss to Cards," one of sportswriting's best and brightest, Amanda Housenick
whose columns often unfold in a never-ending series of Sportsthink cliches—framed Sunday's loss like so: "Seven of the Phillies regulars were physically in the lineup, but their regular intensity wasn't.... A day after clinching their fifth consecutive NL East title in record time (150 games), the Phils hit into double plays three times in the first four innings."

This mentality, which is pervasive not just in sports but in the broad culture, reasons backward from an observed result and finds a mental/emotional predisposition to explain it. It's a mindset that implies that everything is responsive to sheer willpower
or, to quote the Socrates of our day, Tommy Lasorda, "The guy who wins is the guy who wants it the most."

That line of (alleged) reasoning is dumb enough big-picture, but it gets especially silly when one does what Housenick did, i.e., using it to explain the countless, often inconsequential component parts of a given outcome. The linkage that Housenick draws between the Phils' lack of "intensity" and their three double-plays is so absurd as to hardly bear comment, but comment I will. Those of you who play baseball or even watch it now and then realize that, first, you normally have to hit a ball pretty hard in order to hit into a DP. So where exactly did the lack of intensity come into play? Is Housenick implying that it was flagging intensity that caused the hitter to
on the one handhit the ball hard, but alsoon the other handhit it right at a fielder? That is not just silly. It is probably insane. After all, if those same balls had been hit a few feet or even inches to one side of the fielder who started the double-play, the result easily could've been a run-scoring hit. Are we saying that a player with more intensity would've somehow "made sure" the balls (a) weren't just hit hard, but (b) found open spots in the infield? ... Please. Spare me.

* Read his page. If you don't laugh your ass off, I'll give you your money back.


RevRon's Rants said...

I hadn't read Chopra's response to your piece, but have to admit that I got a laugh out of it. Rather than actually address the documented problems endemic in our healthcare system, using tools that have proven themselves effective, we are supposed to buy into the unproven woo that has made him more $$ than he could ever have earned as a practicing physician? His response is every bit as credible as the testimony given to the FDA by plastic surgeons who wanted their cash cow (silicone implants) back. The FDA didn't just blow it, they swallowed... just as Chumpra is hoping society will do with his garbage.
share your delight with the return of Obama 1.0. I've been writing him for many months, telling him he needs to quit kissing butt and start kicking it. It appears that he has finally realized that "no" really means "no," and that if he's going to get anything done, he needs to enlist the American people to join him in the fight.

Cal said...

I'm located where I read the paper of the team the Phillies just lost four straight to. The consensus is that it portends a great future for this team, i.e, "they got the monkey of the big bad Phils off of their back".

This may end up being true, but I can remember in 2000 the Yankees were in the same position and lost a bunch of games in September to the Baltimore Orioles. The owner of the Orioles said something to the effect that his team was beating the Yankees up, and it would continue into the next season. Alas, the Yankees have made the playoffs every since then except one. The Orioles haven't even sniffed the playoffs. And the Yankees usually always win the season series, by a lot.

In addition, the Phillies clean-up hitter didn't play any of these recent games.

I thought there was some kind of baseball axiom that you don't put too much stock into these September games anyway. There ends up being a lot of one-month wonders from the minor leagues.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal: Go Nats! (I say that half-facetiously but also with a certain filial pride, since the team I run in my local 45+ league wears the Nationals' jerseys.) And hey, the Nats have a lot of talent on the field, and more on the way, with Strasburg, Harper, etc. Should be exciting to watch before too long.

Your comment also sorta reminds me of an NFL playoff game I was watching some years back, in the pre-SHAM days. One team seemed to have the game well in hand, then the opponent recovered a fumble, scored a quick TD, then executed a successful onside kick. The announcers said, dutifully, "Wow, you can just feel how the momentum has shifted." Whereupon the team that was originally ahead proceeded to intercept a pass for a TD, then score another quick field goal and put the game away.

Cal said...

Hi Steve,

I do remember you having a pic of your baseball team on here with Nationals jerseys on.

Your comment about uniforms reminds me of my first Little League team. We were the Astros. So I kinda developed a liking for them (this was back in the Nolan Ryan days). I even loved the home uniforms the 'Stros wore back then. Those uniforms are always on the "Ugliest Uniforms Ever" list, but I thought they were nice.

Jenny said...

Hi, Steve!

Re: * Read his page...

I clicked on the buffoon link and it took me to my own Twitter page. :) What's the guy's name? I'll look him up.

By the way, I've missed you a lot! Haven't been around SHAMblog lately (or Twitter, for that matter) but thought of you this morning after smirking at yet another PMA-cheerleader.

Nice going with Deepak. OM....

Dimension Skipper said...

Jenny, I had the same problem except I don't have a Twitter page so it just generically takes me to Twitter.com.

Steve's link has a '%21' in there which is really just ASCII hex code for '!'. If you manually do the substitution you'll get this link which works. (I have no idea how or why the %21 gets in there in the first place.)

I noticed the guy seems quite fond of quotes.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I'm guessing, but are you the only baby boomer who never dropped acid?
It may help you understand The Chopster.

Steve Salerno said...

Never dropped acid, Anon. Stuck mostly with the weed (and then only on rare weekends when the football team was blowing off steam). But you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that the New Age's present appeal is limited to (or even found primarily among) those who've slipped tabs onto their tongues. I have a hard time picturing Oprah's well-coiffed 35-ish audience on mushrooms, and they're the ones who drove The Secret to its magical/mystical heights.

Anonymous said...

Hah! Oprah on shrooms.
I'd watch that episode.

From what I've seen of all those things you mention, I think I agree with you.

The only thing is that Chopstick is on about states of mind with a non-dual bent, which is where he gets his life creates life/living universe thing - and that's famously a view that presents itself to trippers.

Whether trippers are really finding the truth is another debate, I suppose.