Comments: The Art of Primal-Dual Debating

I can't help but suspect there's a point here I'm missing.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 3, 2009 12:50 PM

Take the following list of words (Hitler, Mein Kampf, koala, eucalyptus, chomsky, einstein, primal-dual, cat, buttered toast, Confucious)
and write a blog post?

Posted by N E at September 3, 2009 12:59 PM

Google notices a sharp uptick in searches for "Hitler koalas".

Posted by Poopyman at September 3, 2009 01:13 PM

It's all relative.

Posted by abb1 at September 3, 2009 01:44 PM

Wonderful, Bernard, and very zen. You could say (quick, cover your eyes) it's "Nazen."

Posted by Oarwell at September 3, 2009 03:18 PM

I see you've been working on your worms, Chazelle.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at September 3, 2009 10:37 PM

I believe it was the poet John Keats--dead at a very young age, don't you know, old chap-- who said it best:

"Truth and Beauty are related to each other, on a vase."

He wrote that poem, you know, right after a long afternoon of worm-studying.

Posted by johnny at September 4, 2009 09:02 AM

Prof Chazelle, I am totally clueless and feel ignorant but does this, in anyway, have anything to do with the media, their double speak and Cheyney?

ps all the commenters and readers, you are not allowed to laugh!

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 4, 2009 09:12 AM

What the holy f--k are you talking about?

Posted by catherine at September 4, 2009 12:54 PM

Chazelle is an obscurantist who fancies himself an intellectual. Some day he may see the difference. Further down the line, he may actually appreciate the difference. And then hopefully, before he takes his eternal dirt nap, he will implement that difference in his own perspective, and apologize to all of us who wasted time reading his crap.

Oh well. I guess if you're the host's buddy, you get to post bullshit without remorse.

Posted by Fame is Not Wisdom at September 4, 2009 01:09 PM

Is this your version of a new "Rorschach" test, Prof Chazelle? Interpretation, not of inkblots but of 'whole texts'!

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 4, 2009 01:31 PM

Speaking of cats and buttered toast, when we're buttering toast at breakfast our cat comes to the table to lick the butter off the butter knives. Of course, we don't let him do so until we've finished buttering the toast. And we don't actually give him butter, either - it's Smart Balance, allegedly more heart-healthy.

Somehow I suppose there might be some link between this posting and P*t B*ch*n*n, although I couldn't elaborate my suspicion.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at September 4, 2009 02:50 PM

Geez, the humourless sanctimony of an unfeasibly large wedge of the commenters at this site is rapidly becoming super-tiresome. Aren't there wait staff somewhere you could be sneering at? About the tardy arrival of your mocha, or something equally earth-shattering?

Posted by RobWeaver at September 5, 2009 08:13 AM

"Geez, the humourless sanctimony of an unfeasibly large wedge of the commenters"

Hope that didn't include me--I only saw one or two people with a hostile reaction to this post, notably the misnamed "wisdom" guy, who seems to have some sort of problem with Bernard. Your own comment is about as nasty as "wisdom's", just aimed in scattershot fashion.

For myself, I figured Bernard might have had a particular satirical point he was making and I didn't get it. No hostility intended.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 5, 2009 11:29 AM

In my haste to be humorless, I forgot to mention that 'Exterminatieren die Verminen' is the sort of lyrically beautiful German that would make Mel Brooks weep tears of joy. I know it makes me want to take off my shirt, put on a pair of tight Lederhosen, and run through the streets crying "Wo bist Du Schaetze? Ich will Dich einspritzen!"

Posted by N E at September 5, 2009 01:45 PM

I didn't find this post confusing, but amusing. As Einstein once said, God does not play dice, but he does play poker and is good at bluffing.

Posted by Doug Lain at September 5, 2009 04:17 PM

"Koalas lieben, auf Eukalyptusblättern zu munchen."

The German major in me must point out that better phrasing would be "Koalas fressen die Eukalyptusblättern gern"

Posted by fledermaus at September 5, 2009 08:39 PM


You noticed THAT but not "exterminatieren die Verminen"? (One not as devoted to Mel Brooks might say "die Schaedlinge ausrotten", oder vielleicht vernichten).

By the way, many years ago, back when there were two Germanys, I saw die Fledermaus with a group of foreign students like me in Hannover, BRD, and it wasn't a great performance and I thought the opera was really boring, or perhaps I was distracted, so another equally bored young person and I (a she that I was a little fond of at the time) snuck off to a pub at intermission and wrote postcards while drinking a few liters of that fine German beer, until eventually we sang a really horrible duet of "Tainted Love," which proved to be our song.

So Die Fledermaus is far and away my favorite opera. Thank you for bringing it back to life.

Posted by N E at September 5, 2009 11:03 PM

Not everything's about you, Donald. I guess it was the reference to sanctimony that raised your hackles.

Posted by RobW at September 6, 2009 12:11 AM

"I guess it was the reference to sanctimony that raised your hackles."

Yep. Also the somewhat sweeping indictment and the bad temper.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 6, 2009 09:21 AM

I have racked my brains to figure out what this post means and am failing miserably. I am going to try just one more time and see if I come up with any thing that makes sense.

"Hitler and Mein Kamph" it is the so called "Just War" but in reality the "Unnecessary War".

'It's got this annoying "News You Can Use" style that suggests the author's motivation was not just to make a mark but also to make a Mark'

This sounds like NYTimes, print uselesss news but make money (Mark with a capital M).

"Koalas lieben, auf Eukalyptusblättern zu munchen".

A frivolus statement like the frivolous items published in the papers

"Say you're debating Chomsky on national TV. You've spotted the flaw in his plan for world peace and you're ready to pounce:"

This is the dual debating part, USA style ( Vive la difference.... that is what I found! ), where two parties with oppsite political views look at the same event with a different perspective and instead of talking to each other, talk at each other and come to a different conclusions.

"primal-dual" approach

Basic facts of dual debating.

"That'll do. But primal-dual debating is an art you'll need to practice. It exploits the subtle tension between two cosmic forces. Think of what happens when you strap buttered toast to the back of your cat and you toss him up in the air. (Warning: This is a thought experiment. Should you ever do that to a real cat, I will dump you in a real vat of real boiling oil.) The cat will land on its feet, as cats always do, but by Murphy's law it will also land on the buttered toast, ie, on its back. Can't be both, right, so what happens?? The galaxy explodes! That's what happens!!
Same thing with primal-dual debating. As Confucius put it, "It will pulverize your adversary like a famished tiger attacking a fortune cookie." Hitler was no great fan of primal-dual debating. When his therapist suggested it to him as an alternative to invading Poland, Hitler smiled gently and quoted this classic line from his book, "I shall go all primal-primal on the Pole. And to a world aghast I shall say these three words, Go kampf yourself."

I do not know if this represents, in part, bombing of Hiroshima and in turn, bombing of AfPak now.

Prof Chazelle, your comment is awaited. Thank you.

ps for all commenters and readers, if anyone can enlighten me, it will be very much appreciated. thanks.

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 6, 2009 12:46 PM

Rupa, my reading is just that Bernard is pointing out the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam, and ragging in particular on those who think citing multiple "authorities" means they've won the argument. And having a little fun into the bargain.

Posted by John Caruso at September 6, 2009 02:51 PM

Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur!

Posted by N E at September 6, 2009 04:13 PM

John Caruso and N E:
I am the least knowlegeable person who comments here and am always learning something new at ATR. Thanks to your comments, I have learnt a bit of Latin. Thanks.

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 7, 2009 12:18 PM

Thank you Rupa Shah, and I'll pass your thanks on to my son, who taught me that Latin phrase just a few days earlier because he thought it was funny. And really I didn't even remember the phrase after that--i just used the almighty Google to look it up again.

But I like stories, so here's a story: I had a professor who once told us how when he started reading old speeches from the 1600s he was astonished how well versed in Latin everyone was. The gentlemen of that era were always giving long recitations in Latin in their public gatherings. But after reading lots and lots of that stuff my professor figured out that they were all reciting the same passages, because those were the only passages any of them knew. They found every segue they could to get back to one of those passages and recite it. And the rest of them nodded and harrumphed their agreement and approval.

Same old same old.

Posted by N E at September 8, 2009 10:57 PM

N E:
Yes, do please pass on my thanks to your son. When I found out the meaning of your phrase, my first reaction was to laugh out loud. How true it is! It catches one off balance momentarily ( till one can go to google and find out what that means!).

ps btw, trying to search, I found a goldmine of a website...

Posted by Rupa Shah at September 9, 2009 10:35 AM