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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 1st H, 2019

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Preamble

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)

The idea for Dr. Dreimer’s diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era – in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.

Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.

 

 

 His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.

As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimer’s own life.

The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.

 


 

Latest additions to the site:

March 24  Drivel -- Conclusions from the NZ shooting; Obs. 1613 - 23
March 19  Observations  1605 - 1612
March 17  Drivel: Reflections on the Yangtze; Observations 1595 - 1604
March 13 Drivel -- the Border Wall
March 7 Gerald Butts Limerick
February 28, Trudeau limerick
February 25 Diary -- On plagiarism; Observations 1587 - 94
February 24  Drivel  -- Mysterious case Gerald Butts; Limerick Lane February 21 Smollett limerick
February 17 The Walmart Credit Card Trap
February 13 Trudeaumania limerick.
February  12 Observations 1582 - 6
 


 

February 25, 2019

On plagiarism

We shall not pass this Way again. Each Individual has a unique Experience of the World, and an Opportunity to respond to it in Deed – and Thought.

Of all Species, we are the One with the Opportunity to record our Thoughts – to leave behind some Detail and Measure of our unique Response to the World. Written Expression is the closest we can come to the Depiction of Mind; when we are no longer physically present -- there can be left some Evidence of the  mental Complexity distilled from Experience.

It is a Wonder to us how few bother to take the Opportunity. We must suppose that many feel that they, while unique, have Nothing of Value to say; they prejudge the Matter to their own Disfavour.

What is a continuing Fascination to us is the Plight of those who reach Positions of Prominence, have Occasion to voice their Opinion, and deliberately defer to others in the Manner of their Expression – without bothering to indicate that the Expression is not, in Fact, their own.

The latest Example of this Phenomenon is Fr. Thomas Rosica – a Spokesman for the Vatican – who has admitted to serial Plagiarism over the last fifteen Years. He has used blocks of Texts from other Sources without Attribution.

This is particularly strange for one who – one would think – would be concerned about Honesty as a religious Requirement.

But leaving that aside – we wonder what Thought Process is at work. We can think of only three Explanations.

The first is simply the Pressure of Time. The Plagiarist feels compelled to produce more than he can conveniently manage using his own intellectual Resources. The Calculation must be thus: it is more important to come up with Something that sounds reasonable – and take a Chance on being discovered – than miss an Opportunity in the Spotlight. Short-term Vanity overcomes longer-term Prudence.

 

A possible second Explanation is that the Plagiarist does not see the Connection between Thought and the Manner of its Expression. It was Alexander Pope who said: "True Wit is Nature to Advantage dress’d, What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well express’d." Suppose Mr. Pope had said: "Good Writing depends, in large Part, in being able to express ordinary Thoughts in an original Manner." Do you think that Sentence would still be quoted hundreds of Years after it was penned? We think not.

The Plagiarist, then, must be tone-deaf. He thinks that an Idea expressed is an Idea expressed. An Idea is just a Brick – whether the Brick is smooth or rough, decorated or plain – it’s just a brick to be inserted into the Structure for utilitarian Purposes. The Manner of its Expression is irrelevant. Since Originality doesn’t count – taking the Expression of Others is not Theft.

Frankly, we do not find this Explanation convincing. The Plagiarist is choosing what sounds good – that very Choice indicates that he is aware that Ideas are not simply Bricks.

Finally, we must wonder whether there is a Sense of Insecurity at Play. The Plagiarist, perhaps, senses the Peter Principle at work. He has been promoted beyond his Level of Competence. The Skills that have led him to his Position are not commensurate to the Skill in Expression now apparently required. Indeed – we sometimes suspect that the prominent Plagiarist gained his Position, in Part, through undetected Plagiarism. He is simply being pragmatic – doing what has always worked in the Past. "Full Speed ahead, and damn the Torpedoes."*

We view all this, of course, through the Lens of our own Experience. We have never had the slightest interest in stealing the Work of Others. Even as a Child, we refused to write conventional "Thank you" Notes. We had to be original. Mother was somewhat annoyed at our Insistence. Her approach was utilitarian; ours was creative. We recognize that Others have Talents which exceed our own by far.** But we would not wish to appear so desperately inferior that we would pretend that something we admired was, in fact our own. If – on that account – we have to admit to Vanity – we would prefer that to Dishonesty.

Perhaps a psychological Study has already been done to determine the Motivations of Plagiarists; if so – we might profitably have taken Passages from it. If not – it would seem to be a worthwhile Endeavour to help explain what appears to be the Taking of dangerous and unnecessary Risks .

*David Farragut. Normally, we would consider this so much a Part of the common Knowledge, that we would not give Attribution. Since this Piece is about Plagiarism – we thought Prudence should prevail.

**Not too far, of course.

 

 

February 1, 2019

Open Borders

We confess that we are much enchanted by the Idea of open Borders.

The World is a discouragingly unequal Place, with some Nations having much Wealth and Freedom, while Others are sorely lacking in those same Benefits.

It seems only fair that those who have should open their Doors to those who have not – so that there can be a happy Distribution of the Largesse of the Favoured to those in Need.

We think, however, that open Borders are a great Step of major – possibly overwhelming -- Consequence. Our natural Prudence leads us to think that some testing of the Principle beforehand would be wise. It is our Observation that Evolution is superior to Revolution. Great Changes wrought by Revolution seem always to come unstuck – they are frequently beset by that great Destroyer of Enthusiasm – the Law of Unintended Consequences. Evolution is more successful: small Changes are made over Time -- with each Step building on the tested and proven Last – until, after an appropriate Period, a great Change has been successfully accomplished.

Evolution is, after all, the Process by which single-celled Organisms have developed into Arachnids, Birds, and human Beings. We doubt that, had the original single-celled Organisms undertaken a Revolution to create a Scorpion, a Booby, or a Democrat, that they would have had much Success.

 

It seems best to start small – with a modest Alteration of our Circumstance.

We propose, therefore, that the "Open Border Project" should start with a small City – perhaps one the Size of Washington. At the beginning of a Month – chosen by selecting Names from a Hat – the Locks on the Doors of every other Residence would be removed. This would have the effect of creating a test Group and a control Group of Residences.

As those with lockless Doors realized the Benefits of sharing with those in Need, those with locked Doors would soon remove their own hateful Barriers to Sharing.

And again, once the Principle was well established in Washington, it would be a simple Matter to extend the Open Border Concept, little by little, to Cities, Towns and Villages throughout the entire Country.

We have no Doubt that when the manifest Benefits of unlocked Doors and generous Sharing have become obvious to all, the Way will be clear for the Removal of all Barriers to Entry into the Nation as a Whole.

We have every Expectation that our Journey on the Path to Nirvana will thereby be much advanced.

 

 

January 12, 2019

Alps upon Alps of Stupidity Arise
 

We have long observed that Equality of Result is an Ideal which is impossible to achieve. Yet so attractive is the Notion that it seems to have endless Fascination for those for whom Thinking is a significant Challenge.

The Idea is implicit in many popular Theories. Socialism – an Idea about Government which has a persistent History of Failure – assumes that a Society can be created in which Citizens are "equal" – except, of course for those who decide how the "Equality" is to be achieved. Multiculturalism – a Concept extremely popular in our own fair Land – assumes that all Cultures are equally worthy – despite the Fact that some cultural Values lead to more successful Societies --and some cultural Ideas are antithetical, and hence incompatible.

Political Correctness – the new Religion – is also founded on the Notion that People – regardless of their actual Qualities – are deserving of an equally high Sense of Self-Esteem. Speech should be controlled so that No One should ever feel the Anguish of hurt Feelings.

It is worth noting, perhaps, that every Attempt to establish an unnatural Equality necessarily involves Coercion and Oppression. Thus, it will be seen that every Experiment with constructing a socialist State ends in Dictatorship. "Multiculturalism" requires that any Criticism of cultural Values must be discouraged or banned: consider the recent passage of Bill M-103 – which suggests that "Islamophobia" is the equivalent of "Hate Speech." And Political Correctness attempts to forbid any Speech which would criticize Ideas which those in one Group or another might find "hurtful."

Indeed – one of our Observations about "Equality" might well be changed. Thinking primarily of Education, we have said that: "When equality is the aim, mediocrity is the result; when excellence is the aim, equality finds its true place." It would not be unreasonable to re-state the Idea: "When equality is the aim, mediocrity and coercion are the results..."

In this Context, it is fascinating to see our Society – rather than moving soberly towards Wisdom – seems to be lurching drunkenly towards a Greater Stupidity.

And where is it most likely that this inebriated Lurching should be found? If the cynical Reader were to suggest at a Centre of Learning – he would be absolutely correct.

It has come to our Attention that the University of Washington-Tacoma plans to hold a Seminar at which Faculty Members will be urged to disregard the "Quality" of a Student’s Writing in the Grading of Assignments. The Problem is, apparently that standard grading Practices perpetuate "white language supremacy." (Breitbart News, January 11)

 

In the Minds of the cognitively challenged, it appears that Language has acquired a Colour and a racial Characteristic. The Implication is that Race determines the Kind of Language used. Proper "grammatical" Language is used by white People. Less correct Language is used by those of other Races.

(It is well understood, of course, that, in the Battle against Racism, racist Assumptions are crucial and necessary.)

What underlies this Insanity, is the Idea of "Equality." In order to foster a greater Equality of Outcome among Students of different Races, it is necessary to lower the Standards.

Lowering the Bar to Achievement will allow larger Numbers to meet the apparent Goal. It is only the apparent Goal, of course – because the Goalposts have been moved. The greater the Distance between the Posts, the more Goals will be scored. But the value of the scored Goal diminishes with each Degree of Separation. Carrying the Trend to its logical Absurdity – the Goalposts are not necessary – neither is the Attempt to score Goals. Everyone should just go Home and bask in the comforting Glow of not having tried – or accomplished – Anything.

As we have said – when Equality is the Aim, Mediocrity is the Result.

There is, as yet, no Sign of Oppression. But it is not difficult to imagine that the "Suggestions" in the Seminar will become Requirements. In practical Terms, which Professor will maintain Standards not upheld by his Peers – or by the University Administration?

Our Guess would be not One.

We live in interesting Times. Despite better Diet, improved Technology, and superior Access to factual Knowledge, the Level of Stupidity in our Society is reaching Heights we could never have predicted -- even twenty Years ago.

We wonder, idly, at what point impossible Ideals – like that of "Equality" will be seen for what they are – Follies both hopeless and destructive – and some Semblance of Sanity will return.

Perhaps the Observation of Charles Mackay, writing in 1841, is relevant: "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

There is, however, no Sign of Recovery yet.

 

 
 

January 1, 2019
 

On New Year’s Eve, we had Occasion to watch "Air Farce, New Year’s Eve" – a Version of the perennial CBC Comedy "Air Farce" Offering.

We found it to be uninspiring – and apparently typically so: almost all those commenting on recent Shows at the CBC Website lament the Days of Glory, and note the present State of Decline.

Beyond that, we have to admit to a Moment of drop-jawed Flabbergast. As we remember, the Show used to end with the Firing of a "Chicken Cannon" of disagreeable Ingredients at the Picture of a disagreeable Individual.

This has been replaced with the Dropping of an "F-Bomb" at some "irritating" Targets.

We could hardly believe that the final Target of the Evening was Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Supreme Court. Why would he be considered irritating? What serious and subversive Rot has eaten away at the Minds of those responsible for the Show?

We can only conclude that the Rot is, in Fact, Political Correctness – and the "Comedians" have fallen down the Rabbit-Hole of Absurdity: they believe that all Women who complain of sexual Assault are telling the Truth. It seemed clear to us that Ms. Blasey Ford’s Accusations were politically motivated: they surfaced at a politically opportune Time, after many Years of Silence; her Memory of Details was unclear, and – despite repeated Attempts --she could find no one to corroborate her Story.* She lied about her Fear of Flying.

We should note at this Point that satiric Humour depends on a "satiric Norm" – a Point of View shared by the Writer and the Reader or the Performer and the Audience. If there is no such shared Point of View – the Reader -- or the Audience -- will not share in the Triumph of Laughter. If "Air Farce" sees Mr. Kavanaugh as an "irritating" Rogue, and some considerable Portion of the Audience sees him as an unfortunate Victim, there is no shared satiric Norm.

If the CBC Audience laughed – it shows that they have a View of the World which we, frankly, find incomprehensible.

It has been observed by Many that in an Era of Political Correctness, Comedy has become increasingly difficult. That is easy to explain.

 

Laughter is the triumphant Recognition of Incongruity. It may be a Difference between Pretension and Reality, between what is apparent and what is real, or between two different Meanings of the same Word. It is agnostic with Respect to Feelings. Indeed, the tragic View of the World is concerned with Feelings; the comic View is concerned with Intellect.**

Political Correctness is, above all, concerned with Feelings. Feelings are far more important than Facts. While Everyone knows that certain Jokes are likely to be offensive, and will avoid them – Political Correctness holds that Feelings of those in certain specified Groups – must never be troubled, hurt, miffed, scuffed, or ruffled.

In the Instance under Consideration, Ms. Blasey Ford – being a Woman claiming Victimhood – could never be the Target of a Chicken Cannon. Mr. Kavanaugh, a successful white Male, is fair Game. The Facts of the Situation have no Relevance. Ms. Blasey Ford could be a certified Witch, and Mr. Kavanaugh one of the Heavenly Host. It would make no Difference.

If Readers are interested to know exactly which Groups are considered untouchable – we are quite confident that any modern University can provide them with a List – and, additionally, provide Courses of Study in a Variety of related Matters.

As Political Correctness extends its sensitive Tentacles – more and more Feelings will be declared inviolable – and more and more Topics will become unsuitable for Comedy.

Indeed. We wonder whether this explains the Decline of the Air Farce Comedy Show. Perhaps it can simply no longer find Folly and Stupidity anywhere except among those whose Feelings must not be hurt. 

 

*See Diary, September 30, 2018.

**This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel. (Horace Walpole, fourth Earl of Oxford, 1717 - 1797)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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