Friday, October 11, 2013

Nialling Down Before the Altar

Precisely what is it about a posh polished British accent and Oxbridge authoritativeness that causes Americans to become weak-kneed, flustered and forget all sense (critical and otherwise) as Og, Wally & Vermin do in the presence The Supreme Being??!? A smart dark suit, a smug and condescending  manner of superiority coupled with a self-attributed sense of intellectual omniscience about ummm errrrr everything, a dramatic flair accompanying words that flow smooth as hot oil with nary a stutter, hesitation, repitition or stumbling utterance - not unlike Ralph Richardson (above left) or convincing  director/thespian-turned-Smith-Barney-pitchman, John Houseman, or one might even suggest the historian (say that again, historian - not the economist) Niall Ferguson, that arrest the bullshit detectors and scream integrity - deserve-ed or not. The former, are, of course serious actors and entertainers of the first order, thereby having excuse and justification to play the part. The latter...well...appears to just enjoy the adulation, and yankee aversion to head-to-head verbal combat - the kind that amongst more critical experts might very well reduce his smugly and superiorly-rendered "facts" to the realm of mere conjecture and opinion proffered by an historian somewhat astray from his recognized comfort zone at best, to 'bat-shit' at worst. In simpler days past, with more humility, one such as Mr Ferguson might have been termed and perhaps even been respected as a 'polymath'. In the ever-increasing complexity of modernity, however, I fear that, when pontificating from up high on the subject of economics, he is, like Mssrs. Richardson and Houseman, just a convincing entertainer, and policy circles - particularly in America - would be judicious to treat him as such.

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