Monday, July 30, 2007

The Lions of the Two Rivers

Yesterday, in a brief reprieve from the harsh realities of occupation, the Iraqi people celebrated victory as their national team, who were overwhelming underdogs, managed to beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in a hotly contested Asia Cup finals, thus securing the first such championship for the "Lions of the Two Rivers." Though the traditional celebratory gunfire did result in a few unfortunate deaths and a handful of injuries, the warnings from government officials as well as the mosques did keep the accidental violence to a minimum. The well placed corner kick in the 71st minute, coupled with a critical error from the goalie, who horribly misjudged the trajectory of the ball, resulted in the only goal of the game. The header was beautifully executed by the captain Younis Mahmoud, a 24 year-old striker, who currently plays for Al-Gharafa, which is a Qatari League Team.  The performance of the National Team at the Asia Cup for the past few weeks had been well-monitored by the Iraqi populous eagerly anticipating Iraq's performance, with each successive victory leading to greater and more boisterous celebrations.

        A far cry from a few months ago when  in April mired in controversy, strife, and general frustration (I think for obvious reasons), the team hired Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira. Only seven weeks prior to the start of the Asia Cup, Vieira a convert to Islam accepted the job after three previous candidates rejected the position after receiving death threats, his own assistant could not come to Baghdad because he received threats that his son would be kidnapped. However, Vieira, who has a doctorate from France in Sports Sciences and speaks seven languages, galvanized his team and had them prepare for the Asia Cup in Amman, Jordan. The team is made up of all three major religious and ethic groups in Iraq: Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurds, and he managed to unite them under his calm and professional leadership. Vieira is no stranger to coaching in the Middle East, he assisted Jose Faria and led a plucky Morocco to its second World Cup in 1986.  While at Mexico '86, they became the first African team to win their group and advance to the second round, a group which included England, Portugal and Poland losing a close second round match to the eventual runner-up West Germany.

       The 54 year-old Vieira has coached a number of club and U20 national teams in the Middle East, and despite cobbling barely enough players (six) just six weeks prior to the Asia cup to start a training session, his real work has been in attempting to unify the hearts and minds of his players. Watching the on-the-pitch celebration, the lines between Sunni, Shia, Kurdish were blurred by tears of joy and disbelief.  A dream run if there was ever one, undefeated and only conceding 2 goals during play, the Iraqis also handed pre-tournament favorite, the Socceroos of Australia a stunning 3-1 defeat on their way to their first Asia Cup title.  

The post-tournament press conferences revealed the good work that Vieira and the rest of the Iraqi National Team staff have done in promoting team unity. Nashat Akram, a midfielder and man-of-the-match winner, proclaimed that this victory sent one message to the rest of the world, "The message is that there is only one Iraq, Iraq belongs to all its sects and all its people." Captain Mahmoud suggested less positively yet with the same nationalistic bravado that he wanted America out, "Today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow." State television minutes after the victory reported that Nouri Al-Maliki, the recently much maligned and embattled Shi'a Prime Minister of Iraq, would reward each player with $10,000 dollars (Iraqi). Unfortunately, many of the players cannot return to collect that reward since some insurgents apparently do not like soccer and have threatened them or their family if they returned to the country. Also in a wise and prudent move, Vieira has announced that he would step down as head coach in a press conference after the victory, comments amusingly reminiscent  speech given by Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln way back in 2003, "I have worked my best to give happiness to the Iraqi people, to bring a warm smile to their lips and my mission is accomplished."

One victory in Central Jakarta will not lead to lasting unity, but as a general believer in the salvific power of sport; it is nice to know that the Iraqi people for the past month have had something to distract them, and that something, for once, didn't let them down.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Everybody Panic, possibly!

 Standing on the dance floor surrounded by the din of the Wednesday night bar crowd and staring blankly into spaces unfamiliar and faces unreachable, I noticed that Late Night with Conan O'Brien was on. His guest that evening was Neil de Grasse Tyson. The latest in a string of physicists to explain all things cosmic, his apparent street credentials garnered him an audience with the august Mr. O'Brien. Mr. Tyson, one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people. He was discussing among other things a relatively significantly sized asteroid that has a pretty good chance (pretty good as far as the mind-boggling expanses of deep space allow) of striking the Earth. Originally calculations had the 1000ft diameter traveler striking in 2029, further refinements now suggest that the close fly-by to Earth (so close that it should make a bit of show as it streaks by), specifically Earth's gravitational pull, will alter the trajectory of Apophis in such a way as to set up a possible collision 7 years later on April 13th, 2036 to be exact. Apophis is a Hellenization of the name of the Egyptian Demon Apep.  A water snake (pictured left, taken from a Temple in Luxor) he will be slayed by Ra.  This of course nicely predetermines the name of the ship/mission that will be sent up there to destroy the asteroid in case the calculations turn out to not to be in our favor. The movie that results should be great, "Armageddon II: Ra Ascending," Bruce Willis' cryogenically frozen body will be reanimated just in time for the sequel and when he is done he can begin work on "Die Hard 14: Please Just Die."   The mythological references aside, Tyson informed Conan that "top people were working on this" (pause for sarcasm). The chances of this rocky formation slamming into our dear planet is somewhere around 1/5000 to 1/45000. These are not necessarily overwhelmingly dire odds, but nevertheless some at NASA are concerned, and have begun to develop response strategies in order to potentially avoid disaster. The other factor in Earth's favor (one of the few things that are her favor these days) is that the size of the asteroid  will not cause catastrophic damage to the entire planet; however, scientists predict if it were to strike, significant local or regional damage would occur. With all the asteroids and meteors and other NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) how was this possibly threatening one discovered. The Spaceguard Survey since 1998 has been devoted to discovery, tracking and assessment of these objects. The graph to the right shows the orbits of the terrestrial planets along with the orbits of the 100 nearest-to-Earth objects. The Spaceguard, which took its name from a similarly tasked research body in the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Rendezvous with Rama, has quite a lot to look after with a modest budget of approximately $3.5 million per year. Reading the white-paper on this research body is a bit of a jarring experience, considering the catastrophic consequences that abound in between the lines. For example consider this snappy line from the Spaceguard's documentation:

Indeed, during our lifetime, there is a small but non-zero chance (very roughly 1 in 10,000) that the Earth will be struck by an object large enough to destroy food crops on a global scale and possibly end civilization as we know it (Shoemaker and others 1990).

"Small but non-zero chance." Comforting, eh? If one becomes concerned about everything in the universe of which there is a small but non-zero chance of occurring then perhaps one would soon be committed to a mental institution suffering from an extreme case of depression and/or paranoia. Nevertheless, I am bemused by the fact that we are surrounded at all levels: locally, nationally, globally, and cosmically by threats and perceived threats (both true and false) to our existence, and despite our occasional complaints about an unnecessary cultivation of fear in our society prompted by our media and our administrations, we are often ignorantly quiescent to many of the less publicized but nonetheless possibly cataclysmic imperilments that we face on a daily basis. More entertaining is that there are people whose job, on a daily basis, is to analyze and consider these imperilments (I am sure many of whom are inside the Beltway) with all the perfunctory flourish of a mailroom attendant.  I imagine water-cooler conversations must have a hint of an additional gravitas or maybe they still talk about how much the Redskins need help. Though the sky is not falling, and the bad men aren't always knocking at our door I wonder how much we'd care if we knew they were. Generally, I feel that it is dangers such as this, though not particularly asteroids crashing into Earth, that really are worth fretting over, and many of the so-called dangers to society that are hyped up in the media or by government officials are the things that are the least doom-spelling. The incurious attitude adopted by so many finds me standing in a bar disappointingly alone in my thoughts, looking intently at the TV screen, wondering if I looked hard enough or stood still enough someone else would notice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hyperbole Shrugged

      On December 6th, 2006 Norman Borlaug won the Congressional Gold Medal. The Congressional Gold Medal is the legislative equivalent to the Presidential Medal of Freedom and not to be confused with the Congressional Medal of Honor which is a military distinction. Most, if they were asked to name the only two living American-born Nobel Peace Prize Winners, the name of Norman Borlaug would be slow to follow the honorable Jimmy Carter (those who might suggest that Kissinger is still alive must remember that he was born in Germany, although with that deep guttural tone which smacks of authoritarianism, how could you forget). Norman Borlaug has been called many things: a father of the Green Revolution, Greatest Living American and perhaps if you are a fan of the television show "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" you will recognize the title the "Greatest Human Being Ever." It has been estimated that this man has saved close to a billion lives. His primary contribution to the world has focused around developing new techniques to increase the world food supply. His research has led to high-yield, disease-resistant wheat and other essential agricultural crops. Still very active and sharp at the ripe age of 93, giving his well-delivered acceptance speech without notes; it is inspiring to read about his single-minded commitment to augmenting the world's food stores, a commitment that has garnered some negative criticism due to the input-intensive nature of his farming techniques as well as his development of cross-breeding and genetic engineering techniques, which have been claimed to be unnatural or damaging to the environment. Mr. Borlaug despite his numerous appellations continues his important work as an advocate of responsible and effective world food supply management. If you are interested there is an excellent biography, The Man Who Fed the World (Durban, $25) by Leon Hesser, with a foreword by the other currently living American Nobel Peace Prize winner former President Carter.

     The competition for the honorific  "Greatest Living American" is not a one horse-race, in fact, according to Google, it is none other than Mr. Stephen Colbert. Through a grassroots Google Bombing campaign he has managed to earn this well-deserved title.  In a further attempt to alter the public discourse, Colbert has suggested that the phrase "Giant Brass Balls" be the most popular searched phrase. Though Colbert's character in the show is a self-aggrandizing, cartoonishly conservative flagophile; his efforts have been warmly accepted by the young, and by the confused and generally awkward glances from the audience coupled with icy stares from the First Lady he received at White House Correspondence Association  Dinner on April 29th, 2006, general derision from the established (read: old) media outlets and the current administration. His latest attempt at shameful self-promotion (let us be clear that it is us who should be ashamed or so I think the unconventional wisdom would suggest) is a book to be released on October 9th, 2007 called humorously enough I Am America (And So Can You!) (Grand Central, $27). Apparently, it has already received the Stephen Colbert Award for Literary Excellence, so it is sure to be a page-turning read or if I were channeling Michio Kakutani, the enigmatic New York Times reviewer who will probably get her hands on an errantly released copy of this work as well,  "Colbert's limber voice seamlessly shifts between high satire and low digs at the tabloidized media, the evasive administration and the knee-jerkable public, a riotous romp through America's political and cultural landscape."

     That particular dinner speech was hilariously funny and unbelievably audacious, his calm and collected demeanor in an increasingly antagonistic crowd speaks to his talent and composure. Some have impugned exceptional importance to it, Frank Rich specifically suggested that that speech was a "cultural primary" and labeled it the "defining moment" in the 2006 mid-term elections. Despite the minor coverage over the controversy engendered by Colbert's 16 minute vicious invective, its genuine popularity is a direct result of the masterful utilization of the Internet and the much bandied about Web 2.0. Colbert has done a magnificent job, better certainly than any of the candidates in the 2008 Presidential Election, if the feeble YouTube videos contrived by their respective campaigns is any indication, of monopolizing the bandwidth of the denizens of the Internet.  Perhaps in the "Colbert Report" introduction he could add "Puppet-Master" to his growing list of self-congratulatory sobriquets.

Perhaps not....

Colbert and other have capitalized on the American penchant for Hyperbole in their media diet. Despite its unhealthy side-effects (it is of course terribly deficient in informative vitamin rich content and it is mostly fluff), the public loves a good outrageous claim (see Mike Gravel/Ron Paul), regardless of its "truthiness." Though I do not claim to have some special epistemological access to the truth and all its treasures, nor do I suggest that I or anyone else can be completely oblivious to the social and cultural conditions which facilitate this sort of obsession for aggrandizement; it must strike some as odd, if not just interesting, the continued misguided prioritization of and focus on the major issues and people that exist in our society and around the world. Perhaps it is the fact that real problems require real solutions, and such solutions are usually  long, hard, complicated and boring. Those solutions involve standing a wheat-field in Mexico for hours for months on end taking measurements of soil pH, and seed growth. These solutions require committed focused individuals who can shrug away alarmism, elitism and baseless criticism, public notoriety and must have their feet on and ears to the ground, the right ground (not D.C. but Baghdad). These solutions require serious people. The irreverence displayed by such shows as the "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" all too easily highlights the lack of seriousness often present in our politics and exhibited by our politicians, by seriousness it is important to recognize the distinction between it and drama. Drama is a cheap simulation for resoluteness and purposefulness. Drama is the all night debate staged by the Democrats on the situation in Iraq which took place last week. Seriousness and earnestness are the illustrated by the real sleepless nights that members of our armed services are faced with on a somewhat regular basis, the two should never be confused.  We must shrug off the seductive nature of hyperbole so that we may bear the burden of a sometimes harsh reality.

Borlaug 1 Colbert 0  

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Steroids Possible Factor in Glasgow Bombings

Newspapers out of Scotland report that Alex McIlveen (pictured right), a local  Glasgow taxi driver became the latest addition to a list of growing local heroes, when he confronted the bombing suspects immediately after they crashed their fuel-filled Jeep Cherokee into the Main Terminal. Upon approaching one of the suspects, who happened to be in flames due to the resulting explosion, the father-of-two did what any self-respecting Scot would do and nailed the burning terrorist right between the legs with a ferocious kick, reminiscent of anything you might see at a Celtic vs. Rangers fixture (in the stands, no doubt). Much to the surprise of the heroic cabbie, the conflagrant would-be bomber seemed to be oblivious to the blow, "he didn't even flinch," McIlveen reported. A doctor later informed Mr. McIlveen that he had managed to tear a tendon in the altercation. Unfortunately for the cab driver, he also had his Nike trainers taken, due to the impeding investigation, and received a parking fine for his troubles as well. The Daily Record reports that the terror suspect on the receiving end of this "kick felt round the world," was the Lebanese doctor, Khalid Ahmed.

Though just speculation at this juncture, one cannot rule out summarily the possibility of steroids being a factor in this incident. Typically involving long well-planned out and pre-mediated affairs which may take hours or even days to transpire;  the Chris Benoit murder-suicide case is just the latest in a series of possible "roid-rage" related incidents to have transpired in recent history along with: the judge's decision to re-incarcerate Paris Hilton, the flare-up by Rosie O'Donnell on ABC's The View, many of the actions of Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez, the Iraq War and of course global warming. There are, in this episode however, possible signs that point to anabolics potentially playing a significant factor. One, the erratic, impatient driving evident in the alleged terrorists' action is a common symptom of roid-rage. Furthermore, the non-reaction to a massive kick to the jimmy might be indicative of a severely shruken set of testicles, and with the added hormonal output a near obliviousness to all forms of pain as illustrated by the fact that Ahmed was still in flames at the time of the booting. It also cannot go unmentioned, as these foreign doctors worked at a local Glasgow medical facility it is quite plausible to assume that they had relatively easy access to this cholesterol derived rage-juice.  

Though toxicology reports will not be published or released for weeks even months, the steroid usage of Islamofascist groups as well as Al-Qaeda should certainly be monitored. It is also clear that Vince McMahon's avoidance of the steroid question in the Benoit case should raise some red-flags and will perhaps lead to an investigation of his overseas and possible terrorist connections. It is a well-known fact that the WWE has long had in its employ, an Iranian by the name of Khosrow Vaziri, who has gone under a number of aliases, no doubt to throw off any possible inquiries by authorities. He is perhaps best known for being The Iron Sheik, one half of the "Foreign Legion," along with Russian-wrestler Nikolai  Volkoff.     Pictured below demonstrating his famed Camel Clutch on an unsuspecting stockbroker, no doubt trying to procure funds for "charity" organizations, he has long had sympathies for the anti-US stance held by Iran. Though he was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame by longtime rival Sergeant Slaughter,  interestingly enough, on a June 18th, 2007 episode of "Monday Night RAW," the Sheik requested of Jonathan Coachmen, a representative of WWE and an associate of Mr. McMahon's as well,  that he be offered a segment on the show. Coachmen implied that he thought the idea was interesting and would take it under consideration. Perhaps this segment is payment for services rendered on behalf of Mr. McMahon for certain covert overseas operations. A further inquiry should soon be underway.

The issues here are quite subtle, but the coincidences speak for themselves. A touchy CEO with known terrorist sympathizers on his payroll subverting questions about Chris Benoit's medical history, a tendon-snapping kick administered to the likely miniaturized  testes of a potentially nonplussed but generally unresponsive candescent Lebanese doctor, a pro-Iranian wrestler asking for blood money in the form of airtime one week prior to the tragic murder-suicide of the Benoit family and two weeks before this botched bombing attempt; I don't need a needle sticking out of someone, evidence, a medical degree, or even a coherent, plausible explanation to make the connections here. There is a growing menace to the current world order and that menace has a solid polycyclic alcohol with a hydroxyl group at the 17th carbon atom, possibly alkylated, dripping out its syringe and popping out of its blister pack. 

Steroids, yesterday it was baseball records, today its Islamofascism, and tomorrow possibly world domination, if we don't stop this menace in its acne-covered tracks.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Condemnations of the Anointed

730 years ago a French Bishop by the name of Etienne Tempier, conducted what is known as the Condemnation of 1277. Though the specific motivations for this instance of condemnation are unresolved, some suggest that it was papal mandate while evidence suggests that the Pope though not disappointed by his all-to-eager Parisian Bishop's enthusiasm was surprised to learn of this rejection of some 219 various philosophical and theological treatises and propositions. In any event multiple members of the faculty of arts at the University of Paris were condemned and their works and thoughts were placed on the syllabus of errors. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the radical condemnation of the faculty can be seen as either one salvo in the battle between faith and reason, or Tempier's touchy temperament with the increasing rationalist or even populist currents growing in the university. He maintains that the philosophical fetishism which had been growing in academia created an atmosphere which supposed that, "...there were two contrary truths, and as if against the truth of Sacred Scripture, there is truth in the sayings of the condemned pagans." This is a reference to the hermeneutic strategy misunderstood as a metaphysical assumption, which is the doctrine of double-truth. The doctrine of double-truth states in its strong and never defended form that there are two truths, one revealed by Scripture and one revealed by man's reason. The other weaker form of the doctrine offers that an individual proposition can be analyzed from the standpoint of standard theological investigation, or from reasoned philosophical inquiry. I think the genuine fear was that intellectual effort, which was effective, persuasive and interesting was being performed outside the domain of the Church, and that this heretical trend if allowed to fester would infect society with a sickness, a sickness of independent thought.

Cross a few centuries, through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Romantic reaction, the modern era, and the Postmodern and we arrive here, in the fascinating age of the Internet and the so-called Web 2.0.  Where the free exchange of ideas, the rise of the Instapundits and YouTube-celebrities and the cacophonous blare of the blogosphere are delivered via the titter-tatter of keyboards in the wee hours of the morning. The fingers responsible for this titter-tatter, driven by inquisitiveness, caffeine (or perhaps harder fare) and apparently a Cult of Amateurishness. A recently published polemic, The Cult of the Amateur (Doubleday, $22.95) by Andrew Keen, is the latest in a series of relentless attacks on all the amoral evils and stifling discourses Web 2.0 has brought to culture. Of course, I am sure he anticipates the negative reaction he will receive from the citizens of the blogosphere; moreover, for those who are sympathetic to his position will see this as a vindication of his claims...insuring a vortex of non-falsifiability, Fantastic. I will not go into a review or point-by-point analysis of this book; however, if you go to Lessing Blog, you can see such a breakdown. What is interesting about his interpretation is that he claims the book is self-referential satire laced with a great deal of irony and hence should be considered a fantastic boon to the bloggers of the world instead of a call to arms. I will leave this an open question. 

Mr. Keen (ironic or not) is not alone in his condemnation. Nicholas Carr over at RoughType, seems to have a special place of hatred for Wikipedia.  Yet, it seems his anger, and those who would agree is either misdirected or self-agitated. Look at what he has to say about the conventional wisdom on Wikipedia:

Let me bring the discussion down to a brass tack. If you read anything about Web 2.0, you'll inevitably find praise heaped upon Wikipedia as a glorious manifestation of "the age of participation." Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia; anyone who wants to contribute can add an entry or edit an existing one.

Really? Inevitably find praise...Wikipedia is almost universally unacceptable as a valid source for papers written for a  high school or college level paper. Wikipedia is often mocked for its gloriously wrong information. Vandalizers and bad jokes put on Wikipedia have their own page on Wikipedia. I don't think there is the universal praise that Mr. Carr seems to be in such a bind about, I think it is a straw-man, a red herring. Moreover Wikipedia is not great as a primary source, but it is great in nailing down information that is supposedly well-known or canonical for a particular subject. Furthermore, many of the better edited pages have links to more authoritative sources, which are generally interesting and helpful.

What seems to be main argument here is that the Web 2.0 is undermining traditional media and traditional media's opportunity for making money, by overloading individuals' bandwidth for information, entertainment, news, arts, and culture.The traditional media outlets necessarily present better, more polished information that is independently researched, peer-reviewed, fact-checked, edited for grammatical and stylistic errors, marketed, etc...While, on the Web 2.0 side every, Tom, Dick, Harry, and Cindy (can't forget about Cindy) can put up whatever he or she feels like on the Internet, and it suddenly gains authoritative valence. However, the argument that seems so interesting for those that would bash the Web 2.0 is that relatively few people actually do those things. Some of the statistics presented in the book and on Mr. Carr's website claim that relatively few users, through Google Bombing and other related strategies have monopolized the blogosphere, and that individuals with no credentials are given extremely wide discretionary powers to decide what goes on major websites like or Wikipedia. Isn't this exactly the sort of argument that was initially levied against big media a few years back, wasn't it maintained that relatively few companies had control of an overwhelming majority of the media outlets currently accessible, and that it would be the Internet that would break this hegemony. Second, this rhetoric is not functionally different from Francis Bacon's criticism of the Idol of the Marketplace in his masterwork Novum Organum. That there is the interaction between the free association of men, which leads to a confusing of language is a well-rehearsed argument.  Yet, the false learning and sophistry from supposed wise men to which the masses are to accept since they are the ones with the degrees, pedigrees, and copy editors, well Bacon has an Idol for them too.

 What I find intriguing about these sorts of attack is that it is directed toward their ostensible target audience. I started hearing these rumblings from the media industry, when the Atlanta-Journal Constitution decided to discontinue their book review section.  There is some suggestion that this was due to the influx of amateur book reviewers on the web cutting off advertising dollars from the print media. There was some backlash to this, and I think for the first time, those in the traditional media formats felt genuinely threatened and afraid for their welfares from a bunch of philistine Internet blog-fiends. But those philistines, those amateur book-reviewers are the ones most likely to pick up a copy of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and read the section. Book-reviews on blogs are not so ubiquitous as to not avoid being seen. One may suggest it is only one click away; nevertheless,  it is still one click away. Most people who aren't looking for book reviews don't find them.

Finally, the claim that those on the Internet posting their random musings, have unchecked biases and hidden or not so hidden agendas is in danger of politicizing and relativizing all forms of media is also a common complaint. That genie won't go back into that bottle, if Richard Rorty (may he find his liberal utopia and final vocabulary in the sky) has taught us anything is that this is just a debate between two different sets of vocabularies the one of the amateur and the one of the professional. No one has claim on Truth, everyone has claim to truths.   Whining about the absent moral compass and the lack of a desire for objectivity of some bloggers which will lead to a cannibalizing of culture, is clearly a case of the "lady doth protest too much."

Though I don't want to,  I can't help but see a residuum of truth to their position, as transparently self-serving and unimaginative as it is. In Herman Hesse's outstanding The Glass-Bead Game, the scholars of Castilia are rather repulsed by a previous Age of culture called the Age of Feuilleton, the word comes from the French diminutive for leaf or book. In this age sensationalist, cute journalism, cultural criticism and the arts replaced serious reading and close reflection. It occurs at the end of the 20th century, to which the predecessors of the monks of the Glass-Bead game flee in order to reestablish order and proper intellectual edification. This age led to decadence and superficiality to such a degree that there was a massive breakdown in culture and chaos ensued. Though the action in the novel takes place sometime after this age; the concern over such an age is well articulated. I can't help but think that there is some resonance with the warning that Hesse is obviously giving us and the sort of pleas that books like the Cult of the Amateur are intimating.  I am not sure if such a warning is representative of plain unadulterated cultural elitism, or is their something genuinely more at stake. What is culture other than the sum of its participants? Can we really assess some type of moral imperative to impugn onto Culture in this day of relativism and postmodern antipathy towards Meta-narratives? 

Or is this series of condemnations, just like the ones of 1277 but this time it is not a concern of double-truths being promulgated but double-authorities being established? That in fact it is the Church of the Professional which is launching its own inquisition against the heresies and blasphemies of the Cult of the Amateur. Operators are standing by.