Robert Caro: biographies of LBJ and Robert Moses

Anne Brown…

Oh pulleeze, if you want to read some painful yet beautifully written political biographies, read Robert Caro’s lifework (4 volumes to date) on LBJ. I only got through his 1200 pp. biography about Robert Moses, “Master Planner of NYC,” which made me want to scream. I keep starting LBJ, but he’s even crazier than Robert Moses, and I have to fling the book down screaming.…

LBJ was so awful as a youth, growing up, I was just repelled by his behavior, and that was BEFORE he was the ultimate politician.

If you’re at all interested in NYC, read Caro’s book about Robert Moses…Like so many, he started out as an idealist and ended up as the most entitled, corrupt government official imaginable. He’d also lost any respect for the poor people—for EVERYONE, for that matter. The only thing that stopped him was Nelson Rockefeller.

In the US, it’s very common for parents to say to kids, “Who do you think I am, Mrs. (if you’re the mom)/John D. Rockefeller?” Decades after his death, he’s still the ultimate symbol of unbridled greed and capitalism.

His kids were much more service and philanthropically oriented. Because Nelson was governor, had a lot of charisma, and was Moses’ equal on every level, there was nothing Moses could get on him to bring him down. He couldn’t bribe him, wreck his property, blackmail him, etc. Oh, it was a wonderful moment in the book when he took Moses down.

What topics do you love but find difficult to get into on Quora?

My day job.

Partly because my day job is so multifarious: it’s IT policy, or IT standards, or business analysis (except not really, because it’s more technical analysis), or system architectures, or schools IT. Very hard to pin what I do down, and particularly for the policy side and data architecting, very niche to be asking questions about.

Partly because we’re government-facing at my day job, and involved in ongoing projects; so we haven’t been chatty about what we do.

Partly because of the circumstances whereby I got into the job, as detailed in The Decalogue of Nick #3: I work in schools IT policy by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile.

Miguel Paraz does try to prompt me to talk more about programming, but I’ve been dragging my feet to date. Don’t give up on me, Miguel. 🙂

What topics are you muting/have muted?

Second Amendment crap:

Made the mistake of defending Australian gun control in a thread once. Not doing that again. Muted the shmuck who yelled me for daring to wade in, too.

I watch Game Of Thrones only on DVD; hence:

And I don’t remember muting this one, but I can see why:

What origin does the last name Gargasoulas sound to you?

Ah yes. Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas, man who two days ago stabbed his brother for being gay, drove off with his pregnant girlfriend hostage, did donuts in the central intersection of the Melbourne CBD, then sped off with the cops in pursuit, and plowed into a shopfront, leaving four dead and tens injured.

2017 Melbourne car attack – Wikipedia

The (misspelled) Dimitrious already gives his name away as Greek: “However, the suspect claimed to be “Greek Islamic Kurdish” in his Facebook posts.” The Greek press is identifying him as ethnic Greek: Μελβούρνη: Αυτός είναι ο ελληνικής καταγωγής οδηγός που σκόρπισε τον θάνατο [εικόνες & βίντεο] .

The name was unfamiliar to me, and in fact it’s confused the Greek media, who have been transliterating it back into Greek as either Γαργάσουλας [ɣarˈɣasulas] or Γαργασούλας [ɣarɣaˈsulas]. There’s no such surnames on Google: the surname matching on Google is Γκαργκάσουλας/ Γκαργκασούλας [ɡarɡasulas]. For instance, Ο Γκαργκασουλας ανακοινωσε τον νεο συνδυασμο! refers to a Kostas Gargasoulas who is a councillor in the Argolid.

It’s not a Hellenic-sounding name, especially with the hard g. I’m finding hits of the surname online in the Argolid, Arcadia, and Boeotia, so my guess is it’s Arvanite (ethnic Albanians who settled in central Greece in the Middle Ages).

What is the ratio of your total upvotes to your total number of answers?

I’ll go first. As of this writing:

20400 upvotes all time.

1681 answers.

12.1 upvotes/answer.

Should Quora implement a system to reward or recognize frequent editors?

It is a good idea, Nikki, though my first thought was no. It’s certainly no worse than awarding Top Question Writers. It acknowledges the community-mindedness of users, outside of writing answers. It might even incentivise more community-mindedness.

Catches with such a proposal, which led to my first thought being no:

  • Top Writer is already (indirectly) meant to incentivise community-mindedness, as it is not based exclusively on answers written. So some clarification in criteria would be desirable.
  • Even more room for subjectivity, as the number and extent of question and answer edits are not publicly available (though the edits themselves are—if you’ve got a couple of spare millennia to scroll through the edit logs).
  • Slightly more workload for Quora people (or bots) to identify prominent editors.
  • The non-negligible risk of misimplementation.

If it were to happen, I’d prefer Quora Topic Gnomes to be folded in with it.

If you could learn to speak 12 languages (including your native language), which ones would you choose?

Ah, the question asks that I do it for only practical reasons?

Erk. That’s… regrettable. I’ll have to jettison languages I know (Lojban, Klingon) and would like to know in theory (Irish).

The first six, I know. (Well, kinda, as Clarissa Lohr and Kat Rectenwald can attest.)

  • English. Because I am Australian, and because English, for better or worse, is the current lingua franca
  • Greek. Because I am Greek. What a horrible thing it would be, for me to have restricted access to Greek culture. Or my relatives.
  • German. Because of German-language scholarship, especially in my original field of historical linguistics. (And because of the heights of German culture.)
  • French. Because of French-language scholarship, especially in my original field of historical linguistics. (And because of the culture, although I’m much more of a Germanophile.)
  • Esperanto. Because I’ve learned a lot about other cultures and literatures through Esperanto (including Esperanto culture and literature).
  • Latin. For vocabulary, literature, scholarship (yes, you heard me right, scholarship, in the Classics) and all-round cultural foundations of the West.

The next three, I only know bits of.

  • Italian. Some literature, and it proved handy to know a smattering of it while vacationing in Italy.
  • Russian. There’s scholarship and literature I’d have liked to have accessed, and Russians I’d have liked to have been able to talk to in their language.
  • Turkish. For neighbourliness and linguistics.

The last three, I don’t really know at all.

  • Albanian. For neighbourliness and linguistics.
  • Armenian. To impress my wife. Hypothetically, because actually she doesn’t know much Armenian.
  • Mandarin. Because China matters more and more and more in my part of the world.

Now, if fun were a criterion for the language learning (and that’s the criterion most answers have actually applied), the next six are instead:

The two other conlangs I already know:

The two other conlangs I’d like to be across more:

  • Interlingua. Just like Latin, only artificial.
  • Interglosa. Best designed conlang ever.

The two weird and wonderful natural languages with cultural resonance in the Anglosphere:

  • Irish. How cool would that be.
  • Old English. Man, I’d love to be able to contribute to se Englisc Wikipǣdia!

Has anyone ever blocked you on Quora? Why do you think they blocked you?