Video of the debate (California = failure)

And here, as promised, is the video of Tuesday’s debate. (If you’re new to The Hannibal Blog, I’m talking about this debate.) I kick things off, followed by Gray Davis, and it gets both humorous and intense rather quickly.

Your arm-chair analysis in the comments is encouraged. And don’t be polite. 😉

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36 thoughts on “Video of the debate (California = failure)

  1. I would like to put up for debate the following two motions:

    Motion 1: Exactly two people on that stage were without a tie, only one of them female.

    If you agree, type “1”
    If you disagree, type “2”
    If you are undecided, type “3”

    Motion 2: Ronald George is not the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as there is no such title.

    If you agree, type “A”
    If you disagree, type “B”
    If you are undecided, type “C”

    Please submit your answers in the form “3B”

    • As far as I understand it, there’s no such thing as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, only a Chief Justice of the United States and a Chief Justice of California, all of whom ex officio preside over their respective Supreme Courts.

      Thus, if a prankish dentist implanted cobra fangs into the jaws of John Roberts, he’d be a venomous Chief Justice of the United States and NOT (as many media outlets would erroneously report) a poisonous Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

      Moreover, if … oh, I see that my seven minutes are up.

    • If during one of these Intelligence Squared debates someone changes their mind from “agree” or “disagree” to “undecided,” is that being counted as changing one full mind or as changing half a mind? I contend that the latter makes more sense, so if two people who were certain before the debate are undecided afterwards, it ought to be clocked as having changed exactly one mind.

      Here’s the new motion:

      Changing one’s vote to “undecided” counts as changing exactly 1/2 mind.

  2. It was interesting to see the video after reading the transcript.

    It was much as I would have expected, allowing for the fact that transcripts and video often create different impressions. But my impression of Bobby Shriver on video was much different from my impression of him from the transcript of his words.

    His words in transcript were disjointed and almost incoherent. But in the video, he came across to me very differently – his spoken words making an eminent sense that his words in print didn’t.

    Interestingly, I found it the same with Bobby Shriver’s uncle Teddy – an impressive speaker in front of a TV camera, but almost incoherent in print. So this must be a Kennedy thing. Another uncle of Bobby Shriver’s, John F Kennedy, famously said that it’s not what you say or do that’s important, but how you appear.

    As most people today now know, those listening on radio to the first 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate, thought Nixon won. But those who watched it on TV thought Kennedy won. Kennedy’s poised and very cool demeanor won out over Nixon’s five-o’clock shadow and shifty eyes.

    As a man of the pen, rather than of the spoken word, you nonetheless, in your debate of Tuesday, projected yourself extremely well. Could some of this have had to do with the turtleneck – which always lends an air of urban sophistication, and even a patina of…………….foreignness?

    Anyway, I found the whole debate to be most educational. What greater praise could I give it?

    I was glad to hear there were no punch-ups at your dinner afterwards.

    • Yes, very educational. I enjoyed it quite a lot also because of the personal flavour of Andreas being there (who now I know looking a bit German).

      TV and print, a very different effect indeed. In fact the way Bobby Shriver said the following hit me, since he talked well: “lack of political compassion, the state is not there to protect the weak from the strong”. Btw, it seems a bit all the same in the other US states to me, while in Europe (or Canada) states seem to care more, are less socially Darwinist.

      John F Kennedy …”not what you say or do that’s important, but how you appear.”

      Translated into the world of the pen – always with aesthetics winning over ethics – Oscar Wilde’s phrased a similar concept: “There is no such a thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

      But maybe he was corrupted by the French culture a bit. And Kennedy? His wife was French if I remember well.

    • Very interesting comment, Phil.

      As a text guy, I think about this a lot.

      I remember Henry Kissinger remarking that his generation, which learned and got news through text, had fundamentally different thought processes than Bill Clinton’s generation, which learned and got news (on the Vietnam War, eg) through TV, ie moving images.

      In the same way, the human brain seems to process what somebody writes and what somebody speaks differently. Things that appear to be Non Sequiturs in written form make perfect (or intuitive sense) when spoken. Things that seem crystal clear when written are hard to follow when spoken. Etc.

    • Thanks, SGx

      I did remind myself beforehand not to ummm, not to “you know”, and not to “I think…”

      “I think”, in particular, is a useless waste of time in human speech.

  3. Thanks for posting the debate. My better half and I were both “undecided” before watching the debate over dinner. Great debate. We both found it very stimulating and enjoyable.

    After watching the debate, I voted for the motion. And my better half voted against the motion.

    Will try to write more later when I find more time.

  4. I watched the debate this morning and with some exceptions, found it painful to do so. Remember, however, that I am a native Californian and listened to Mr. Davis for too many years.

    Several observations:

    The debate reminded me of two essays: one, organized (with some irrelevant digressions) anchored by a clear thesis, understandable topic sentences, and ample specific support to drive home the thesis. The other essay was bland, disorganized with poor word choice, focus, and statistics.

    Your team wrote the better essay and it was lucky, indeed, to have most of the important facts delivered by you, the writer of the first paragraph. The second and third paragraphs seemed to focus too much on narrow topic sentences with some silly support. ( I almost choked on my celery when Sharon indicated that Hollywood embodies the values of the state…) But then again, perhaps that observation is true).

    You are a fine debater; some of the other members of both teams, while funny and well intentioned, were not as effective in arguing the point.

    What was amazing to me is that you speak as well as you write. It isn’t often that those two gifts are given by the gods to one mortal.

    • Cheri,

      I feel your pain in watching the debate as a Californian.

      I’ve only traveled to California once for a few days for work many years ago, I had no idea the various problems the great state of CA faces. As a Canadian, I do feel very strongly when I drove around LA where one county can look great and then the immediate next one can look like a dump.

    • Speaking on behalf of all six speakers, you take no prisoners, Cheri, and bless you for it.

      I’m glad, of course, that I was on the side with the “better essay”.

      I was thinking of Socrates’ critique of text as I was on stage. He was against writing thoughts down, because he believed that only in spoken back-and-forth can there be progress toward truth. But actually, in spoken debate, logic falls by the wayside almost at once. Text forces one to order one’s thoughts logically.

    • Ah Andreas, I hope Socrates’ “spoken back-and-forth” isn’t the same as modern day “spoken debate”. A spoken debate usually is time-limited and has a winner and a loser.

      If “A SOCRATIC DIALOGUE ON MATHEMATICS“ is anywhere close to a good re-imagination of Socrates’ “spoken back-and-forth”, the chat and discussion seems very leisurely.

      P.S. Here is a link to “A SOCRATIC DIALOGUE ON MATHEMATICS“,

      Click to access Socratic%20Dialogue%20On%20Mathematics.pdf

  5. Cheri: I feel your pain too, I love California, I’ve seen the homeless people and heard at the debate of the homeless veterans, which surprised and pained me as well. As a foreigner I followed the debate with difficulty, as with fatigue I’m typing these words now.

    Andreas: the motion was about the state, not the culture, ok, but I’ll confess this flawed things a bit to me. The strength of a culture, its resilience, innovation capacity, are to me crucial – as not only Van Jones believed but also the Shriver scion admitted.

    California has a ‘big’ innovation culture – the green stuff, allright, but just the Internet is an example powerful enough. So C. having changed the world, don’t see why it couldn’t change California itself. I’d bet on California, and I believe institutions are the reflection of culture, while the reverse is only partly true.

    America founding Fathers – or Rome, whatever the Greek Polybius abstractly thought, but don’t want to wrong him or you: dunno why u seem like married now to me lol – created good institutions because they both had tremendous cultural potential.

    In the case of Rome – this is a blog that mixes ancient and modern after all – a mystical feeling of superiority, the myth of Rome itself (they had no other myths), a dogged peasant’s tenacity, total self effacement (different from the Greek, whose heroes were individualistic and Cato justly feared such ways because disruptive of the Roman old ways), a solid (stolid?) but ever practical mind – this culture in short made the Roman state, not viceversa.

    So getting now to the violins and Bologna’s shoes, your Italy’s parallel of California creativity. A brilliant move it might have decided the game, but basically not correct to me.

    Like California, Italy may even more appear failed in many respects. But, like California, IT has always been a land of great innovation in the centuries for a big portion of the sciences, arts, banks, technologies even prior to the industrial revolution possibly.

    A for the effects of culture on performance, up and downs, failure and success, as for IT if we consider trends only for the period, say, 1900-2010 and compare IT’s, UK’s and FR’s performance, IT is going up while UK & FR down.

    In 1900 we were like Egypt is now vs rich countries, ie, at that time, vs these 2 big world powers. Then we went up a bit in the 30s, then we lost ww2 so in the mud again and in the starting 50s we were in such poverty and everlasting illiteracy I have some nightmares about it. All infrastructure was disintegrated, cars I remember had to swim to cross rivers. But suddenly, again, we 1) became a founding member of the EU; 2) in a generation a G8 state. 3) We joined the Euro, plus 4) in 2008 (World Bank’s estimates) Italy’s GDP scored 2,313,893, UK 2,680,000, and France 2,866,951 (millions of USD).

    Not bad for a culture (sorry, for a state), also considering 1/3 of the country (!) being still close to Egypt (and I wonder what could happen if we defeat Mafias and the South starts flying like the rest.)

    Ok, thus being said, I would have voted against. And I would have lost 😉

    • Ah, you equate “state” with “culture”. It was in our interest during that debate to separate the two.

      But beyond that being in our interest, I actually do separate the two, instinctively. You can have fantastically run states with unimpressive cultures (Singapore) and lousy states with impressive cultures (Italy).

      Italy’s GOVERNANCE was, for much of post-war history, a laughing stock of Europe — with one or two governments a year, inflation, deficits, corruption, etc.

      But its culture remained a beacon throughout that period.

      In any case, what’s interesting about California is precisely this: that the governance can be so shitty and loony, while the energy and diversity of the culture is so breath-taking.

    • @Andreas

      you equate “state” with “culture”. It was in our interest …to separate the two.

      Right, here “not bad for a culture (sorry, for a state)” but not in my comment where I argued that any state (charter, governance etc.) is the product of a culture, more than vice versa.

      So, agreeing with you that eristic is bad, I talked on the phone with The Jurist (he teaches administrative law at Luiss University) and his promising son Antonio.

      They explained all the technicalities of a state failure like Argentina, added California is yes failed but cannot fail or the US might fail, and in the end I shot my big deal question: state and culture, which influences which, mostly?

      “Oh THAT! – the Jurist said. It is debated since hundreds of years: pointlessness, we leave to the philosophers.” Ugh! I couldn’t but yield to the specialist.

      Now back here still unconvinced I’m afraid, I accept the pointlessness, and will stop being pointless 🙂

  6. Observations and shallow comments:
    I was embarrassed for you when you were introduced. Did it have to be about the yoga? Was the moderator insecure about his waistline? Smitten?
    I wasn’t prepared to like Bobby Shriver, but I did. I didn’t expect anyone to play the suffering card. That’s not supposed to work on me. That was disarming.
    Sharon Waxman rocks.
    I enjoyed listening to Van Jones (if that is his real name). Did he not talk about taking asthma inhalers from children like it’s a good thing?
    Mr. Renaissance Man is the sort that gives Baby Boomers a bad name.
    When Gray Davis started talking, I puked on the guy sitting next to me in the Airport. (But the guy was totally cool with that after I showed him the video.)

    I haven’t made it past the first round. More later (maybe)

    • (Part 2)
      The whole debate: Sharon Waxman at 85 minutes. We have shit happening NOW. Gray, Van and Mr. R. look like frat boys who realize they just chopped down the last apple tree. It’s not funny any more.

      People want to know, WTF is a green job. I’ll say it again. WTF is a Green Job? Do I wear a green jumpsuit? Do I make Soylent Green? Environmentalism (the new ‘ism’ formerly known as Ecology, with its own flag) is the new religion for the suburbs – “if We just believe and recycle, everything will get better.” So Gray, (I hope you’re reading) keep preaching and you can lead us back to the dark ages. Aren’t we done listening to politicians talk about solving technical problems like they were packing for a picnic? We have to educate children and adults like we mean it, not like it’s crowd management.

      As a colleague said, ‘the laser was not created by making incremental changes to the candle.’ Spending more money on what we already do is not going to solve our biggest problems. Wasting our best orators on the agenda of politicians won’t help either. Scientists need great communicators like Van. Like it or not, look what Al Gore did for climate research. Why did we progress from the whale oil era? We killed all the whales. How do we progress from the post-whale-oil era? We kill all the post-whales. Wait. No. I mean do our math homework.

    • We should have had YOU on stage (on our side), Mr Crotchety. You combine the hilarious and the serious as noone else.

      Embarrassed about the yoga reference? Oh, I’ve embraced it. Everyone needs an eccentricity that can be named in public, and sitting on that tatami mat has become mine. It could be worse.

      Gray Davis made two people puke in an airport, and fraternize about it after? Wow. Perhaps he really had to be recalled (although I’m still against it).

      I agree with you that all the “green” stuff has become corny. This decade’s “downsizing”, “rightsizing”, “synergy”, all rolled into one. I knew it had lost all meaning when Thomas Friedman started talking about “red, white and green”.

    • Mr. C,

      We are probably just jealous that we weren’t invited to debate. After all, what do we know?

      I am positive that if you had taken Bobby Shriver’s place of Bobby Shriver and I for Sharon Waxman, the debate would have been scholarly (Andreas), hilarious and biting (Mr. C) and anecdotal (me). The victory party at some cool NYC restaurant would have been, as I used to say in the 60’s, bitchen.


    • Not really. I prefer to take pot shots at people with greater courage, ability and knowledge – and to remain anonymous. And I’m uh, uh, uh not uh um, a good talker. I would volunteer for the drinking afterwords.

      (I think the word is bitchin’. Are you sure you’re from California? Bitchen is like German or something. Like, “… ein kleine bitchen deutsch spreche…”)

  7. @Mr. Crotchety

    Ah, finally some FUN!

    Renaissance lets Crotchety know he has absolutely no idea how crotchety a Roman crotchety can be.

    Our blood is HOT, whatever blasphemy is NEVER enough (see *a wild lecture* to innocent students), especially the Roman boomer crotchety, the worst kind, THRIVING in bad reputation and most of all being delighted when he can infect that of the others.

    Someone puking on me on a plane? My reaction could have bloody aspects not to be related here.

    Saying now basta to irony (and sarcasm), I fully recognize to the Angli and connected cultures the incredible intelligence they proved in almost any field and that made them the winners historically. Period.

    [That I’d have preferred a less commercialized world ruled by the French, or the Spanish, little matters.]

    As an evidence, albeit small, of the said superiority, the fact that Mr. Crotchety succeeds in being such by making use of true understatement: THAT, to one who understates as camouflage, to survive, IS amazing (would love to read his blog but see no link)

    So I surrender. But the Angli don’t take prisoners.

    • Yes, and I would then elaborate that it is the unintended consequences of a surprisingly empty slogan — “democracy” as misunderstood in “direct democracy, California-style” — that we are now mired in.

  8. I’ve only made it through your opening remarks so far — in which, I notice, you manage to describe California as both stark naked and wearing a straitjacket.

    • You have spotted my hypocrisy, Vince.

      I, who ran an entire mini-thread on this very blog called “mixed metaphors”, have … mixed metaphors.

      It even occurred to me as I was talking. In the nanosecond-long dialogues that occur in the minds of speakers, I was debating with myself whether I should say “um, um” and grope for a way to extend the “nakedness” theme, then gave up and decided to press on.

      Another instance of text differing from speech. A lot of it has to do simply with reviewing time. You don’t have any time to edit yourself when you’re speaking. Perhaps that’s why I prefer text.

      In any even, I rely on you (in the plural) to keep me honest here. 😉

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