no more mr nice-guy

I was happy late last week when the New Zealand Government *finally* got round to offering assistance to the USA, specifically the people of New Orleans. I fully realise that what we have to offer in the scope of the chaos is small, however that shouldn’t preclude us offering, however humble that offering may be. I’m confident that the USA Government’s continuing vileness towards New Zealand is insignificant compared to the vileness and despicable lack of respect they’ve shown towards their own people. Shame, George, shame.

Back in May I had the pleasure in meeting Mark Bernstein at the BlogTalk Downunder conference in Sydney. Mark is pretty much my idea of a renaissance man – he’s charming, well educated, and man, can he string two words together. On Saturday September 3, Mark had clearly had quite enough and he unleashed his careful words in this blog posting – “What Ended”. Here’s a little of what Mark had to say:

What ended this week is the illusion that words can substitute for real work and real knowledge. This was the last, spectacular failure of the internet bubble, the final burnout of paper businesses that had no business and paper politicians who had no cause and paper experts whose expertise lay in their bogus credentials or in the wealth of their pals. …

What ended, too, was the illusion that history is over, and the academic illusion that whatever clever argument we can make is equally good. In the last decade, arguing specious positions has been a route to funding and fame. You could argue that we didn’t need better flood control in New Orleans. People did argue it — just like they argue still for teaching intelligent design to our kids, just like they argue that global warming needs more study, that maybe the environment will take care of itself.

That’s what ended. We know, now, that sometimes we need experts in jobs that require expertise. We need scholars in jobs that require scholarship. In jobs that require doing your job — even in the face of discomfort and danger — we need people on whom we can depend.

When I think of Mark, I think of him as a 21st century Thoreau, sitting in a cyber-cottage on the shores of a digital Walden Pond, reflecting deeply on the rhythms of nature. I think Mark’s had quite enough of the shilly-shally, the weasel words, the spin. I think Mark just wants to stop the dumb-ification and the denial; and replace them with dependable and dedication.

It’s wrong to be putting my words in Mark’s mouth – and he is more than capable of putting his own words there. But I have to say, Mark, I think there’s a real battle awaiting there – a good battle, and one that deserves to be fought – and won. And maybe it is in the long tail of the blogosphere that a chance of protecting and preserving the ideal might happen. I’m sure there are other people sick of the lies, excuses, and stupidity.

But I don’t like the odds of doing it alone…we need to team up.


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