Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Noes! An Experiment in Nepotism Goes Awry! ^O^

Headline from a Yahoo news article by Dylan Stableford: "Critics on Chelsea Clinton’s ‘Rock Center’ debut: Boring!"

Is anybody surprised? o_O

She was chosen for her family background rather than for her talent. I might sympathize with the young Mrs. Chelsea Mezvinsky who was doubtless only thrust into this position because her parents wished to use her as a pawn rather than from any desire that she herself had for the post, but the fact is that this is not what she was trained in nor is it anything she had job experience in. I wish her well but this does seem to be what happens when someone is thrust into a job because of nepotism rather than because of skills. In any situation where technical competence or talent matter and the recipient of such patronage lacks it you will find that it is merely an act of cruelty both to the recipient and those who must suffer from her lack of ability.

However both she and ABC may comfort themselves with this....

1. At least none of them put themselves into the same position as the poor fools who voted someone into the Presidency with no more executive experience than that of being a "community organizer". Nor are they in the same position as the poor foolish "community organizer" himself who will go down in history for his outstanding incompetence. :P

2. If they learn from this that such nepotism as this is a very bad idea then they will have proven themselves quicker learners than the people of Illinois.

I think that those are solid items of consolation, don't you? ^_~

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Poison in the Well!

Quoth Glenn Reynolds: "Reliance on Bellesiles is scholarly malpractice."

I actually have to disagree with him on this one. The problem with pseudo-histories of the sort that Bellsiles practiced is that it is easy for them to become embedded down through the ages by virtue of the fact that even the most determined scholar cannot check every source. You and I might know that Mr. Bellsiles is unreliable by virtue of our knowledge of current events but can some innocent researcher of the 23rd century necessarily be expected to know this as well? This is how "scholars" such as Bellsiles and Parson Weems thrive. It's in essence the Livy vs. Polybius approach to history in action. Livy felt that the purpose of history is to create accounts of the past that would guide moral behavior while Polybius felt that the purpose of history is to provide accurate knowledge of the past by which we might learn from past mistakes and precedents and thus be prepared when similar events come our own way. As someone who considers himself political scientist and historian I am inclined to consider the approach of Polybius the correct one. The path of Livy is nothing more than poison in the well.