The Blog of Doom
Mobbing 9/11; Gravois as Screech Owl (P.1)
B16149 / Mon, 19 Jun 2006 20:35:25 / "War on Terror"
Introduction…In the June 23, 2006 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, staff writer John Gravois has penned an article entitled, Professors of Paranoia? (1)
So, I thought it fitting to return the favor and give my short critique of Gravois a suitably demeaning title.
Some background…I wanted to be fair to Gravois, and extend the courtesy of researching some of his other recent writings online, to be sure that he wasn’t a loose cannon, firing off superficial articles like a Gatling gun… and came across some interesting stuff that he has written about “mobbing”;
“When songbirds perceive some sign of danger — a roosting owl, a hawk, a neighborhood cat — a group of them will often do something bizarre: fly toward the threat. When they reach the enemy, they will swoop down on it again and again, jeering and making a racket, which draws still more birds to the assault. The birds seldom actually touch their target (though reports from the field have it that some species can defecate or vomit on the predator with “amazing accuracy”). The barrage simply continues until the intruder sulks away. Scientists call this behavior “mobbing.”
The impulse to mob is so strong in some birds that humans have learned to use predators as lures. Birders play recordings of screech owls to attract shy songbirds. In England, an ancient duck-hunting technique involved stationing a trained dog at the edge of a pond: First the dog got the ducks’ attention, and then it fled down the mouth of a giant, narrowing wickerwork trap, with the mob of waterfowl hot in pursuit all the way.
Birds mob for a couple of reasons. One of them is educational: Youngsters learn whom to mob, and whom to fear, by watching others do it. But the more immediate purpose of mobbing is to drive the predator away — or, in the words of the eminent Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz, to make “the enemy’s life a burden…” (2)I want to suggest that perhaps Gravois has been affected by his own research into “mobbing” and is unconciously acting as a songbird who has perceived a threat (or perhaps he is more of a screech owl).
In any case, I should immediately point out that Gravois has a solid sense of his writing craft, and has the ability to type really good stuff. His coverage of the case of Sami Al-Arian is a prime example. (3)
However, Gravois really comes into his own reviewing Bollywood softcore;
”...When Tanya goes away for a couple of weeks on business, Sapna falls for a dashing young Indian metrosexual named Rahul (Ashish Choudhary). Upon Tanya’s return, Sapna is overjoyed to tell her best friend that she is in love ? -an announcement followed by a percussive crash and a sudden close-up of Tanya’s panicked face. Aside from Tanya’s forthcoming jealous fits, the greatest tribulation that Sapna and Rahul’s relationship must withstand is Sapna’s confession one day at the beach (where most of the film seems to take place) that, one night some time ago, she and Tanya got drunk and ended up in bed. Well, not just in bed ? -they sleep together all the time, as naturally as Shakespearean bedfellows ? -but doing funny things in bed. The accompanying love-scene-in-flashback is a biomechanical marvel: With black satin sheets between them, the two women are depicted essentially engaged in a long, languorous bout of rubbing against each other ? - with Tanya, of course, on top. And while there’s lots of eye-rolling and moist lips, the camera doesn’t record a single kiss between the two. (Indian censors don’t take kindly to snogging, no matter the genders involved.) Rahul accepts Sapna’s drunken indiscretion as a wild hair and takes her back into his arms. But the poor guy can’t get those steamy, kinky, anatomically baffling girl-on-girl scenes out of his head. Which makes for some pretty sultry Tanya-Sapna dream sequences later on ? -to show how tormented Rahul is, of course.
The movie plugs along like this with all the hormonal melodrama of a “Baywatch” episode until its final act, which veers off into the territory of werewolf and slasher flicks ? - dark and windy nights, with full moons standing against black skies. Sapna finally figures out that her best friend is more than just the clingy type when Tanya starts stalking her around the room, huskily yelping, “We don’t need men.” But the monster really jumps out of the closet when Tanya confronts Rahul, declaring, “I’m a lesbian,” as the camera spirals into her deranged face and the orchestra gives a menacing swell. Moments later, she is panting, with blood streaked across her face and a knife in her hand, and Rahul is lying unconscious (but not dead) amid the semi-translucent wreckage of his designer bachelor pad. The movie finally ends with Tanya charging blindly at the two frightened heterosexuals, inadvertently disposing of herself by crashing through a window. In a parting gesture, director Razdan supplies her with a very, very long fall. At my theater ? - Delhi’s Regal Cinema, where Nehru liked to watch movies ? - the house lights came up before Tanya had even hit the ground…” (4)I mean, Boy Howdy! Makes me think again about getting a Region 5 DVD player, I tell you what!
Seriously though… well written, informative, clever, that’s the stuff.
However, after a bit of searching I found that 9/11 wasn’t the first topic to be mugged by Gravois. Last year he wrote The De Soto Delusion, a Slate article trouncing Hernando de Soto’s ideas. (5)
It didn’t slip by the radar of a couple Libertarian pundits who took the piece to task. First let’s examine the commentary by Tom G. Palmer, D. Phil. in Politics, (Oxford), M.A. in Philosophy, cum laude, (The Catholic University of America);
“John Gravois, a staff reporter at the Chroncile (sic) of Higher Education (and an editor of SixBillion.org, “An Online Magazine of Narrative Journalism”) has now written a quite poorly argued but insolent attack on de Soto’s work in Slate.
Much of Gravois’s case rests on the strategic use of dismissive phrases as “voilà!”; if you take the time to think about his critique, however, you can see what a poor job he’s done at undermining de Soto’s work.
Let’s start with Gravois’s admission that “Secure property rights probably are indeed, as he [de Soto] puts it, the ‘hidden architecture’ of modern economies—or something like that, anyway.” Well, are they, or are they not? Let’s compare countries with well defined and legally secure property rights with those without. Want to take the bet, Mr. Gravois?
Then let’s go on to his unsourced claim that,
Government studies out of de Soto’s native Peru suggest that titles don’t actually increase access to credit much after all. Out of the 200,313 Lima households awarded land titles in 1998 and 1999, only about 24 percent had gotten any kind of financing by 2002—and in that group, financing from private banks was almost nil. In other words, the only capital infusion—which was itself modest—was coming from the state.
A citation would have helped (but he’s only editor of an online magazine of narrative journalism, so maybe he doesn’t know about links and online sourcing and putting PDF files up and all that). But even so, it sounds like…maybe 24 percent would be better than, say, 0 percent. What’s the baseline? The paragraph makes no serious point that I can discern…” (6)Ouch!
Ok, maybe Tom is just a Gloomy Gus. How about someone else then… another Libertarian, Ivan Osorio, Master’s in Latin American History, (University of Florida), a degree entirely appropriate for the discussion of De Soto;
“Stop the presses! Hernando de Soto is harming the poor!
So argues John Gravois, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, in a recent Slate article. Gravois sets out to debunk the man he considers “the patron saint of the global elite.” He makes some good points—more on those later—but his charges against de Soto are off-base.
Gravois accuses de Soto of selling this elite—gathered at powwows like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—an economic snake oil panacea that has been “packaged and peddled all over the Third World.” That snake oil is “one solution—individual property titles—for all kinds of poor people in all different kinds of poor places,” by which “dead assets are turned—voila!—into live capital.”
This is a gross distortion of de Soto’s ideas. To say that something is necessary is not to say that it is also sufficient. Gravois implies that is what De Soto is doing. Gravois acknowledges that, “De Soto is right to point out the importance of legally sorting out who owns what in the Third World.” But then he goes on to build up “titling-is-all-you-need” straw man around De Soto…” (7)So, as we have seen, he kicks off the article with a rude title, then it’s straight into “dismissive phrases”, the “unsourced claim”, a “gross distortion” or two, and that old standby, the “straw man”.
Ya with me so far?
God, I hate Conspiracy Theorists!The piece has already been framed somewhat by the title; Professors of Paranoia? and enhanced by a dubious subtitle; Academics give a scholarly stamp to 9/11 conspiracy theories (8)
See? Don’t you get it? Any analysis of the official narrative of 9/11 is “conspiracy theory”. By the invocation of this term, the writer is free from serious criticism of the subject at hand, it deserves none. However, somebody has to fill up the “Faculty” column at the Chronicle, and well, somebody has to churn out a couple thousand words about… something. So the deed is done.
”...And a whole subculture is still stuck at that first morning.” (9)Dismissive Phrase #1. You are part of a “subculture”, beneath normal culture, “stuck”, not moving forward. Clearly, you are beneath the Reality Based Community, of which the author is a representative.
With 8 points shy of a solid half of those polled recently by Zogby suspicious of a 9/11 coverup, that’s a pretty huge subculture. Sort of like how “women” are a “subculture”. Get out much?
”...They are playing and replaying the footage of the disaster, looking for clues that it was an “inside job”...” (10)They are obsessed! Ever seen Reefer Madness? Same thing!
Admittedly, some indie 9/11 researchers do just that, review the video evidence endlessly. Here’s his website.
”...In recent months, interest in September 11-conspiracy theories has surged. Since January, traffic to the major conspiracy Web sites has increased steadily. The number of blogs that mention “9/11” and “conspiracy” each day has climbed from a handful to over a hundred…” (11)Oooh, and he goes long with an unsourced claim! Look, I can do it too!
“The number of sites has grown steadily, exponentially, (with a minor spike of late), over the past 4.5 years.”It’s easy!
Gravois then claims it’s all because of Steven E. Jones’ paper, all this durn conspiracy talk lately! That’s why the kids won’t listen! That’s why gas costs so much!
Well, maybe that’s why he got coverage in the Chronicle, but the recent boost in 9/11 interest owes a significant tip of the hat to the documentary Loose Change, notably the 2nd Edition, released late in 2005 and playing on a hipster’s DVD player near you, or on a podcast, or streaming via google, or downloaded onto your hard drive… who knows how these kids do this stuff.
Then there’s that whole Charlie Sheen thing…
Yup. No doubt. It’s all Steven E. Jones fault… because he is the enemy which the songbird has identified. Vomit and poo, away!
”...Now he is the best hope of a movement that seeks to convince the rest of America that elements of the government are guilty of mass murder on their own soil…” (12)Well, if Jones forensically proves that Thermate was used to help bring down the WTC, history is going to change on the fly. It won’t be pretty. Until then, he’s one of the best hopes of a large number of people who were denied a full investigation of the events of 9/11. The cover-up leads to speculation.
Part of the speculation is that yes indeed, they MIHOP.
Others speculate that they LIHOP.
Some just want a real investigation.
Although several organizations have endorsed Tarpley’s Chicago resolution which certainly goes the furthest, I am aware of no litmus test for 9/11 official story skeptics which says that you must “convince the rest of America that elements of the government are guilty of mass murder on their own soil”.
Thanks for the the pigeon-hole, songbird, but I suspect that the amount of 9/11 official story skeptics that would be happy just to see some of their neighbors review some of the evidence which suggests that the official story is just that, a story, actually outweighs the number who seek an ideological umbrella so that they can be considered part of a “movement that seeks to convince the rest of America that elements of the government are guilty of mass murder on their own soil”.
After all, there are a few Sioux, Pequot, Lenape, Osage, Kiowa, Tonkawa, Cree, Cheyenne, Tehachapi, Piegan and Cherokee Indians who could tell you a thing or two about state-sanctioned genocide, mass murder, etc., so who are we trying to kid?
How about the Ludlow Massacre?
”...When the strike began, the miners were immediately evicted
The miners at first thought the Guard was sent to protect
In April 1914, two National Guard companies were stationed in
The following day, a telephone linesman going through theTO BE CONTINUED…
(1) Professors of Paranoia, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2006.
(2) Mob Rule,The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 14, 2006.
(3) Her Father’s Trial, The Village Voice, December 16th, 2005.
(4) Tempest in a D Cup, The New Republic Online, September 13, 2004.
(5) The De Soto Delusion,Slate, January 29, 2005.
(6) Weak Critique of Property, tomgpalmer.com, January 30, 2005.
(7) Will the Real Hernando De Soto Please Stand Up?, Competitive Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2005.
(8) Professors of Paranoia, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2006.
(9), (10), (11), (12) IBID
(13) Howard Zinn, “The Ludlow Massacre”, A People’s History of the United States, Harper Collins (2001) pp. 355-57