26 June 2013

Kyle Kramer, Ph.D. and his frivolous history lessons

Clearly the acquired habit of clicking on casually attractive links is not doing me a power of good. This time I have been blessed by another proof of that rule, titled Is Terrorism the New Boogeyman? from a site OpenGov.US that promises "A Critical, Independent look at News & Politics".

The article starts in a quite familiar manner:

Below is the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of two words. Please keep in mind their meaning when reading the article. There is a relationship between the two words:

Boogeyman: a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children
Terrorism: Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. This word also rhymes with absurdism.
Well, says I to myself, another Ph.D. trying to belittle the plague of terrorism, almost ready to click myself out of that piece. However, the sentence "In the past 75 years adults in the United States have been under the influence of three or more scary boogeymen." slowed me down and eventually I had to read the whole, my disbelief growing all the way to the end of this amazing opus.

So who are these three or more (imaginary, lest you forget) scary boogeymen for Mr Kramer?  In fact, after promising three or more examples, the author offers only two, but each one a doozy. The first one:
The boogeyman I refer to was one for my parents and grandparents: he was called the Nazi’s [sic] and he lived in Germany.
Now you know what was the first "monstrous imaginary figure". And Mr Kramer deals with it very elegantly and lightly. I have seen more effort going into a fly swatter:
For some years my parents actually feared being bombed or invaded by that boogeyman. Note they lived in the Midwest and not the East coast. Had they thought it through, they too would have realized that was not possible due to logistical limitations then present in military aircraft (today they can refuel midair). Today it seems rather absurd that people could believe such a thing back then, but it was real to them.
I only wish everyone had taken the same healthy attitude at the time, everything would have been so much simpler and easier... but there is another curious afterword I almost missed:
Nonetheless, the government fanned the flames of fear (maybe use of terrorism) ,and almost all people believed what they were told by media and government back then.
Strange, that. I was sure from my history lessons that people in US and elsewhere didn't know half of what Nazis were really up to. It appears the history books, my parents, teachers and other people of relevant age were wrong then. Go figure...

And the second boogeyman? That is, the "monstrous imaginary figure":
He was the communists and the threat of communism. If we did not stop this boogeyman, he too, might take our liberty and freedom like the one before. We stared to fear this boogeyman shortly after World War II and into the 1980s.
Uhu... I see. So that boogeyman was a pure figment of someone's imagination too. And all these tens of millions that perished under this boogeyman's boots were imaginary too. How quaint.

Well, at least Mr Kramer didn't mention Midwest and inability of the Red Army bombers to get to it. I wonder why? Whatever.

That's it, and now the author moves to the current boogeyman.
The boogeyman of the modern era is terrorism. He came out in the late 1990’s and made his real debut on September 11, 2001.
It's amusing how (not) deftly the history of terrorism is truncated, starting on September 11, 2001. One is indeed starting to wonder about the character of school education in the corner of the woods Mr Kramer traces his origins from. And I supposed that terrorism stems from much more ancient roots, but then I can't put Ph.D. to my name. Too bad.

You may want to read that piece further, I would jump to its (unsurprising) conclusion:
Maybe stopping our forays into other parts of the world will eliminate the current boogeyman.
Not sure, I am absolutely not sure about it, but whatever. I just have to say that in my eyes the article's effect was the opposite of what its author intended. I was considering the terrorism a moderate threat we all will have to live with and cope with for years to come. However, using the other two "boogeymen" - Nazism and communism for comparison, having in mind to drive the terrorism into insignificance, Mr Kramer elevated it into something uber-monstrous indeed. Should I raise my personal threat indicator to orange now? Oh boy...

As for Mr Kramer: there is some elusive word I was looking for, trying to sum up the article and its author. And, miraculously, Merriam Webster, so respected by Mr Kramer (and by me) came to the rescue, granted - from an unusual angle. So, to Mr Kramer, "Scientist, Businessman, Student of Life"

About Kyle Kramer, Ph.D.

This LinkedIn entry shows a respectable education, a serious career path and other awesome credentials, such as "A dynamic and likeable person adept at interfacing with thought leaders, corporate executives, and technical staff." No, no help here with the word I was seeking.

It is not that I believe in the fate-shaping abilities of a name, but it was worth (as you should immediately see) to check the first name of our protagonist, especially since he loves Merriam Webster so much. And here we are, at Merriam Webster:

Kyle: In Scottish the meaning of the name Kyle is: Strait. Channel. Narrow. 

And now to the definition of


1 b): not possessing usual or expected width

8: of limited activity (as with little or no demand or supply for particular issues)
and often suggests the provincial, sectional or partisan

Bingo! Provincial.

Case closed.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep, looks like a boogeyman to me.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Isolationist? Oh...is that what the dumbasses call themselves now?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Is that anger or rage? See Akaky, these nuances are important. So, what is it? spit it out man...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Confusion. I thought the dumbasses were calling themselves progressives these days. This is the sort of thing that happens when I don't keep up with things. I didn't know Kim Kardashian was pregnant until the day after she had the kid, and a couple of years ago I had to ask what a Lady GaGa was. I thought it was a rum drink, but apparently I was mistaken in this belief.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That too, but I think Akaky Akakyevich got another angle, which may be predominant.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No contradiction there.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I will start feeling like that rabbi which says "you are right too" to everyone ;-)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Sadly I have to confess to the same kind of ignorance where these two ladies and many more worthies are concerned.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Dumbasses aside, the names you drop seem to me inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. I know that Gaga is a nice way to describe a certain mental prognoses. The other one sounds like a carpet franchise in Kabul. Have these dudes contributed to humanity's progress in any significant manner?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Not really, although Kardashian looks good while she doesn't contribute to humanity's progress in any significant manner. I suppose that should count for something.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Looks are a transient fad. I would need something more compelling to note this Kardashian as search worthy. Meh thinks "keeping up" with this Kardashian and offspring thing is dumbass territory. Now whatever happend to Bevis and Butthead? They were certainly progressives.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I hear the boys are back in town with fresh episodes.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Just to put this out there, National Review is asking, did James Gandolfini ignore the four signs of an imminent heart attack? Given that James Gandolfini is as dead as the metaphorical doornail and that the cause of his death was a heart attack, I'd say it was fairly self-evident that he did, in fact, ignore the four signs of an imminent heart attack, which makes me want to ask, what kind of dumbass question is that?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That will be a typical journo question. Specifically, there is a lot of noise re four signs of an imminent heart attack, and my guess is that it stems from a lot of publicity related to this:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Actually, Gaga is a game Israeli kids play, similar to dodge ball. Mr. B. enjoys it at summer camp at the J.