The Plangent Tone of the Subdominant Chord, or, With a Name Like Edsall, It's Gotta Be Good

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If you're interested in a sneak peak at an advanced uncorrected, unpaginated copy of Thomas B. Edsall's upcoming book Building Red America: The new conservative coalition and the drive for permanent power, here's a random page sampling:

Page 1:

More than in the past, the Republican Party has become a coalition of the dominant, while the Democratic Party has become, in large part, an alliance of the sub-dominant and their allies.

Page 10:

For Democrats, an aggressive attempt to exploit Republican vulnerabilities is necessary (lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Ohio Representative Bob Ney, California Representative Duke Cunningham, etc.), but by itself, can produce only short-term gains.

Page 11:

As of 2006, the Republican Party is in charge of all three branches of the federal government: it controls 28 out of 50 governorships and 20 state legislatures, to the Democrats' 19 (10 are split, and Nebraska is unicameral).

Page 22:

While Republicans have used modern technology to discover the 'anger points' that mobilize individual voters, the party has developed an encompassing rhetoric to signal sympathy to those constituencies that it is most interested in getting to the polls.

Page 44:

I worked 32 years for the Arrow Shirt Company. They got bought out and downsized, then I went to work for Proctor and Gamble… The Democratic Party is too much special interests. Give away everything. The gays hold a demonstration, they are right there with them. Any feminists, they are right there with them. I just think the Republican Party is more accountable, more responsible.

Page 88:

Rasmussen contends that there have been major changes in the composition of the nation's workforce, and "these changes mean that the workforce today is a lot closer to George W. Bush's goal of an 'ownership society' than it is to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal."

Page 176:

They have recruited to the Republican cause mainstream voters who feel culturally besieged by what they view as a coarsening of the popular culture, on a continuum from video games, to visible tattoos, to body piercing, to rap music, to 'transgressive' television—"daytime talk, the lowest form of Trash TV…the democratization of perversion," as well as cable shows such as Desperate Housewives, Weeds, Six Feet Under, Queer as Folks, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Page 352:

The Democratic and Republican Parties have also split on racial issues—a pattern reflected in congressional voting on busing, affirmative action, civil rights remedies, and the encforcement of the Voting Rights Act—in addition to their split on the central issues of women's rights and the sexual liberation movements: abortion, access to advanced contraceptive technologies (Plan B), and even sex education in the schools.

The next page in the sequence should be 704, and the book doesn't go up that far, so here's the very last page of the copy I have (oddly listed as page 22):

A young person who earns an average of $35,000 a year over his or her career would have nearly a quarter million dollars saved in his or her own account upon retirement. That savings would provide a nest egg to supplement that worker's traditional Social Security check, or to pass on to his or her children.

In my experience there's only one book that has never failed the random page test, and that's Cross of Iron by Willi Heinrich.

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  1. Now check pages 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42.

    Bonus feature: By typing in those numbers I just revived the H&R squirrel for another 108 minutes.

  2. an alliance of the sub-dominant and their allies.

    Now that’s straight from the department of redundancy department.

  3. Was that really a “random” sequence of pages? Or was there a pattern?

    I only ask because of thoreau’s comment.

    *look of confusion*

  4. Bleh. With all these dominants and sub-dominants flying around, I’m suddenly in need of a tonic.

    *rimshot*

  5. Smacky-
    Don’t watch “Lost,” do you?

  6. Adam W.,

    No.

  7. Um, what is the “random page” test? Didn’t you mean that “Cross of Iron” was the only book that “failed” it? (How do you fail the random page test?) If you meant what you said, how did you determine that “Cross of Iron” never failed the random page test? Construing your statement rigorously, you have apparently tested every book ever printed over and over again, and none ever “failed” except “Cross of Iron.”

    Also, it appears that you select the paragraphs from each page not at random but because they provide some sort of continuing argument. If you selected individual letters from pages selected at random you could construct any text you wanted. What is the purpose in all of this? Is there a god? Just wondering.

  8. Oh, I see the test:
    -Pages 1, 10, 11
    -Double 11 to get to 22
    -Keep doubling

  9. as well as cable shows such as Desperate Housewives, Weeds, Six Feet Under, Queer as Folks, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

    Isn’t at least one of those on network TV?

  10. “Isn’t at least one of those on network TV?”

    Yes, Desperate Housewives is a regular network series on ABC. NBC has also occasionally run episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to cross-promote it (its regular network is Bravo, which is owned by NBC).

  11. Um, what is the “random page” test? Didn’t you mean that “Cross of Iron” was the only book that “failed” it?

    You open the book at random, pick a random sentence from the page, and see if you like it. Most books fail quickly because they’re mostly made up of connective tissue that doesn’t make for very interesting sentences. Cross of Iron succeeds because, as I recall, on just about every page Steiner is gutting a Russian with his bayonet, or shoving a potato masher down the slit of a T-34, or emptying his Schmeiser at a charging squad of Georgians, or slapping some blubbering officer who’s lost his head during an attack. I’d say Building Red America is pretty much a nonperformer because none of the randomly sampled passages were very interesting (to me at any rate).

  12. 4+4=8
    8+7=15
    15+1=16
    16+7=23
    23+(4+7+1+7)=42

  13. OMG, VM knows the secrets of the Island!

    Are you part of the Dharma Initiative, VM?

    🙂

  14. huh?

    as in “Dharma and Greg” show? confused…. wandering around confused……

  15. VM-

    The numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 are part of some big mystery on “Lost”. It appears that many of the freaky things happening on the Island are the work of some group called the “Dharma Initiative.”

    Nobody is sure what the significance of the numbers is, or what the Dharma people are really up to.

    Anyway, some fans of “Lost” really get into the numerology. You found a pattern in the numbers, hence my comment.

  16. yeaaaa! Dr. T!!!!!!

    the fun thing, as you know, it’s possible to find probably any pattern in a series of random numbers. the one i like is that people think the lottery odds change with what was just picked 🙂

  17. VM-

    In college I knew a stressed-out physics grad student who had convinced himself that he could win the lottery by looking at sequences of random numbers. He explained that if the lotto thing is random, and his random number generator is random too, then you just have to figure out how different their randomness is. And once you know the difference you can correct for it and then your random number can predict their random number.

    I didn’t know much about statistics at the time, but even then I knew enough to realize that he was full of it. Strangely enough, he wasn’t smoking any herbal products. He was just high strung.

  18. “I’m not high, I’m just high strung.”

    Thanks, t. I’m going to use that one.

    Or maybe the other way around: “I’m not high strung, I’m just plain old high.”

    Either way.

  19. thoreau,

    …and his random number generator is random too…

    hopefully he wasn’t like a lot of “scientists” I’ve heard of who hear “Random Number Generator” and think those things really are random. I’ve dealt with geologists who think a 32-bit “float” type is accurate enough to do all kinds of math without loss of precision.

  20. Shawn-

    As far as randomness goes, it depends on what you’re trying to do. In some simulations, all you really need is to be able to sample the phase space of your system thoroughly. In that case, correlations between numbers in the sequence don’t really matter.

    As for what you say about 32 bits, I can’t think of many people who “need” that many bits of precision. The problem I’m more familiar with is that people think carrying that many digits around means that you have that much accuracy. They fail to realize that your algorithm might not have that much accuracy, even if you could carry around an infinite number of bits. If you subtract two quantities that vary in the 10th significant bit, you have lost 10 bits of accuracy, even if your computer is still carrying around 32 bits.

    Or did you have some other problem in mind?

  21. Leave it to thoreau to actually remember the friggin numbers…hell i didn’t even remember the name of the dharma group..

    Just that there is this crazy group and they have people put numbers in computer over and over again and if they don’t the world will end..that and some fat guy won lotto with them…but thoreau, the actual numbers!?!?!

  22. Bleh. With all these dominants and sub-dominants flying around, I’m suddenly in need of a tonic. *rimshot*

    After that joke, I hope you diatonic…

    Two Peckinpah references in two days (although TC only mentioned the book, and not the movie). I wonder if the movie is good at whatever point you fast forward to.

  23. Cross of Iron succeeds because, as I recall, on just about every page Steiner is gutting a Russian with his bayonet, or shoving a potato masher down the slit of a T-34, or emptying his Schmeiser at a charging squad of Georgians, or slapping some blubbering officer who’s lost his head during an attack.

    jesus h christ now that is abook for me!

  24. Talk about synchronicity–I watched part of Cross of Iron last night. It was in my movie blind spot until then, because I’d never heard of it before. It was a little odd (hey, it’s Peckinpah), but you can’t go completely wrong with James Coburn,
    James Mason, Maximilian Schell, and David Warner. Oh, and the briefly nude Russian women–great casting there 🙂

    Definitely not a pro-war movie (or book, I presume).

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