Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Mrs. Nesmith Got Rich

As we recall, the mother of Michael Nesmith -- one of the Monkees -- invented Liquid Paper. Older readers will no doubt remember it: that white paint that you used to cover up typing mistakes. She made a lot of money, before the typewriter industry up and died.

(Seriously, one of the many cool things about our current TV obsession, Fringe, is that the greatest scientific minds of two universes communicate using an IBM Selectric. Those things were amazing, in their day.)

Anyway, Liquid Paper is hard to come by these days, even if we still owned a typewriter. But we still make mistakes. Even a casual reader will see that the Egg is full of misspellings and unfinished sentences, the inevitable errors that result from writing very fast, squeezing things in between the breviary and confirmation class.

But some errors are bigger than mere typos. Sometimes, and today was one of those times, we spend a significant amount of time writing a post that we think is worthwhile, but which -- upon re-reading it -- turns out to be junk. Or, if not precisely junk, then junkish: rambling, unclear, unfunny, and quite possibly mistaken.

Yeah, we wrote a piece called "Stupid Things," which was up for several hours. It was about religious epistemology, as well as the connections between the Birther movement and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. It mined our favorite vein these days, the fascination (especially among middle aged clergymen) with spreading falsehoods. And, as you can probably guess from this brief description, it was a mess.

So you know what we did? We deleted it. There's a "delete" button on Blogger, which just lets you make the piece of bad writing disappear forever. It's like the biggest and most effective bottle of Liquid Paper on earth, and it doesn't even dry in little lumps on the page.

Sorry if you read the damned thing. Truly, we are sorry, and wish that we could give you those three minutes back. The only solace we can offer is the assurance that nobody else will ever have to suffer as you did.


Joelle said...

Well shoot. I missed it. Now I want to know the connection between the birther movement and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza.

Father Anonymous said...

Trust me, you're better off not knowing.

In a nutshell, I was trying to figure out why the Birthers choose to believe something that the rest of us don't. They have no evidence at all. We do have evidence, and lots of is, which they simply can't accept. So the question is why?

At first I thought that there might have been one trusted leader,w hose story convinced them all -- a Borg Queen. Or a Borg Pope, really. It would have fit with the usual authoritarian structure of conservative religious movements -- you trust the Leader above anything else.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is no Birther Queen. They aren't convinced by any actual negative testimony; they are simply not convinced by any positive testimony. The presume anything Obama or his supporters say to be false. In a sense, they are using a hermeneutic of suspicion. Which is pretty ironic.

Of course, this also means blunting Occam's Razor. For all the positive evidence to be false, there has to be a very complicated and unlikely conspiracy, probably stretching back decades. Most people recognize that as unlikely, and therefore conclude that the evidence is valid; the Birthers, unable to accept that possibility, construct a Rube Goldberg world, in which a chain of wildly improbable things can be assumed to have taken place.

Sort of obvious, when you think about it. But it took me pages of badly-written nonsense to say any of this. I'm embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Nesmith for bubblegum music, Naismith for basketball. Wenn ich Kultur höre, indeed!

Father Anonymous said...

Gah! See what I mean about typos? Thanks.

Funny thing is that my brother went to Springield, so I should have that drummed into my head.

Anonymous said...

But what about those of us among your many adoring fans who, prior to your pressing of the delete button, copied and pasted your thoughts for wider distribution? web