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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.


My new word is “unempirical.” It’s my name for the intuitive judgment I make when something I read or hear trips a bell in my brain that sounds a little like my mom saying: “Who said it’s ok to say that?” 

For example: 

Fucking Dan Balz, “Chief Correspondent”:

This was the week when the Republican Party finally went all in with President Trump. What once seemed unlikely is now reality. The Republican establishment — there are a few dissenting voices, of course — has succumbed to the power of the presidency, and this president in particular.

My thoughts: 

“now reality” 

Dan Balz is explicitly clear that, no matter what else you may read in this little piece of correspondence, he—Dan Balz—believes that he is describing a world which takes place outside his own mind. He is reporting on something you or I could touch if we were there, the place he is sending thing this correspondence from, wherever that is.

”the Republican Party went all in” 

In this “reality," our correspondent tells us, there is a poker game where each player is actually a whole party of people. One of those players, the Republican Party, has bet all his money or chips on this present hand. 

“seemed unlikely” 

To? Dan Balz, presumably. Why is the reporter telling us about his own probability calculations from the past? In any case, he was wrong. (Or was he? The Nates insist that probabilistic claims about the future are true no matter how things play out. That's what makes them so useful!1)

”the Republican Establishment” minus a few dissenting voices “of course” 

So this is the set of human beings that makes up the Republican Establishment. Who is on this list? Colin Powell? Or is he a dissenting voice? Thad Cochran? Or is he a dissenting voice?

What we do know (and it's early days, yet): The Republican Establishment is a finite list of human beings, each of which is definitely either “all in” for Trump or not “all in” for Trump. This news story, then, is one about the set of humans among that Establishment that is, in fact, "all in," whomever they may turn out to be.

 “the power of the presidency”

We are blessed with a correspondent who can see electricity, the movement of electrons at the speed of light which powers our world. It's a great time to be alive.

So what’s the story?


A list of people, one of the finite number of permutations of some Republicans, but not others.


bet (all their chips) [context suggests this is a metaphor for something... unknown]


An invisible power. [context suggests that this is not a metaphor]


1. Like this piece of steaming bullshit:

You won’t be surprised to learn that I see a lot of similarities between hurricane forecasting and election forecasting — and between the media’s coverage of Irma and its coverage of the 2016 campaign.

The weather is physics. Human events are not physics. The burden is on Nate to explain what it means to say "if you run the election 100 times, Hillary wins 57% of the time."

We can see two storm fronts merge over Puerto Rico. We can see it again.

I can flip a coin. I can do it again.

Nate cannot run the election twice.

It makes no fucking sense to say what he says! No sense at all! Goddammit, it makes me mad that he is allowed to exist. A nation full of universities, each with a Philosophy Department, and no one stops Nate Silver!

Universally Annoying

The Intellectual History We Need