Archive for July 15th, 2008

Ed Winkleman writes:

My personal take on political correctness is that it’s an artificial construct that has benefits in the short run, but will outlast its usefulness and eventually become harmful. What I mean by that is shaming people into considering others’ feelings (or at least keep their hurtful opinions silent) long enough for those others to gain some power socially is a good thing, but for everyone to truly be on an equal playing field, that pseudo-politeness eventually has to end. It’s foolish to think you’ll ever get everyone to like/accept each other. The only practical thing you can hope for is that people have equal opportunity and equal protection under the law and that with those protections they can fairly fend for themselves.

I am no big fan of political correctness. I articulated my thoughts recently in a comment at Quirky Indian’s blog:

Personally, I dislike political correctness and think it does more harm than good.

It is of course a laudable trait to keep in mind other people’s feelings. And I have nothing against those who choose not to use phrases that might demean certain groups of people. However, there are pitfalls to taking these kinds of things too seriously. Today, we are in an era where political correctness often takes precedence over accuracy or truth, or where it is deemed right to suppress free expression simply to avoid hurting certain people. Or, it leads to situations like you mention, where certain groups get worse treatment than others. It leads to other absurdities too, with alarming regularity.

The better alternative to political correctness is a culture where people are — well — less sensitive. I am not saying this lightly. I am fully aware of the historical suppression of certain peoples and also of the power that words can carry. But everything is ultimately about striking balance and it seems to me that if people display a little less offence and a little more humor in dealing with perceived slights or offences, and able to, for instance, laugh off a politically incorrect joke rather than get worked up over it, we will all be better off. And the kind of culture I am proposing would also be one in which freedom of expression is accorded more respect than it is today in much of the world.

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Farmers tell their stories.

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There are many video clips up on the web with excerpts of the amazing Wimbledon final betwen Federer and Nadal. This one, however, is by far the best I have found so far. Around 13 minutes long, it documents most of the best shots played that day. The quality is amazing and the Coldplay music playing in the background complements the tennis perfectly.

I have some minor quibbles — the fourth set tiebreaker should have included in its entirety and the amazing return by Federer on the last game of the match (see this clip at timestamp 3:46) isn’t there at all. Nevetheless, it is a great compilation and a wonderful gift to all Federer or Nadal fans.

Watch the whole thing! (But if you are pressed for time, just watch the segment from 8:05 to 8:30 documenting the part of the now legendary fourth set tie-breaker that led commentator Andrew Castle to exclaim – “The two best passing shots of the tournament without doubt have just taken place on the last two points.”)

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“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand”

Milton Friedman.

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July 8, 2008.

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