Posted by: bkivey | 7 November 2015


Fair: In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate

Oxford Dictionary


Fairness is a word Progressives toss around a lot, which is ironic, because they are the least likely to exercise it. Many people, and not just those on the Left, use the word without any real understanding of the concept or the definition. It’s one of those ideas that everyone grows up with, thinks they have an understanding of it, but never really think about. And unless you’re engaged in the legal profession, there usually isn’t any reason to think about it. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, most people feel like they know it when they see it. But as has been famously observed “I do not think it means what you think it means”.

The human concept of ‘fairness’ is pretty much non-existent in the natural world. Ask a baby bird. Even among the higher mammals, individual actions aren’t motivated by the desire to do the ‘right’ thing. Some of the most intelligent species on Earth, elephants and great apes, exhibit what might be construed as altruistic behavior, but that’s more a group survival mechanism than recognition of an abstract concept. Nature is more in line with Tennyson than Rawls.

Savannah Times: Gazelles attacked by lions: oldest, weakest hardest hit. 

A pride of lions attacked a herd of gazelles late yesterday, killing two. A gazelle spokesanimal said: “It’s a tragedy. We were just minding our business, grazing peacefully. It’s not fair that only the fittest among us are able to survive. We’re pushing for tooth and claw control laws.”

As taught, the human concept of fairness evolves over time. For young children, fairness is synonymous with equality of results. Everyone must have the same size  slice of cake. Everyone gets a turn, regardless of ability. This is useful, because raising children is civilizing savages, and young children have a limited grasp of abstract concepts. Later, as children are exposed to organized sports, fairness is about following the rules. To be called a ‘cheater’ is a social ostracism of high order. At this point, fairness becomes an exercise in equality of opportunity. Not everyone can run fast, or hit the slider, or send a cross into the box. But the playing field is level, and the rules are the same for everyone. Children lacking athletic ability go on to do other things, and while they may suffer a bit of humiliation from their more physically gifted peers, they at least know they competed under the same rules as everyone else.

Adolescence seems to be where the concept of fairness becomes twisted. This is the time of life when children are experimenting with independence, but aren’t quite ready to give up the meal ticket of parental support. Somehow ‘fair’ comes to mean ‘getting what I want’. The average 14 year-old  is an expert on things that aren’t fair. This is a regression to early childhood, when nearly everything was provided by adults. By adolescence, most children are able to provide some things for themselves, but in many cases fail to make the distinction between equality of results (things provided by others), and equality of opportunity (things provided by themselves).

And that’s really the crux of the matter. If you’re dependent on others, you expect equality of results. If you do for yourself, all you ask is equality of opportunity.  This country was founded (in principle) on equality of opportunity. Sadly, we have devolved into a nation of dependents. No society can be great when the constituents expect reward without effort.

Word Watch

When I checked online dictionaries for the definition of ‘fair’, the first definition at Mirriam-Webster is “agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable”. The first definition at Oxford is ” In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate:”

I would say that Oxford is more on-point than Mirriam-Webster, which appears to have drunk deeply of the PC Kool-Aid. By comparison, my desk copy of Funk & Wagnalls (1980), doesn’t give the primary Oxford definition until the sixth iteration, and doesn’t list Mirriam-Websters interpretation at all.

Bond, James Bond

I saw the latest James Bond movie on opening night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie on it’s opening, but James Bond is a guilty pleasure, and Daniel Craig has been called the best Bond since Connery. That’s saying a lot, but I’ve seen Craig in prior films, and he personifies Bond well. Without spoiling the film, I’ll make some observations.

  • The recent incarnations of Q and Moneypenny are a delight. Q shows some moves in the field.
  • There are several ‘homages’ to Bond films, and one rather obvious one to Jaws.
  • James needs to talk to his tailor about his jackets. They all look too tight.
  • For the last five years or so, the film industry has been in love with the orange/blue palette. That’s very clear in this movie.
  • Bond once again re-purposes transport machinery.
  • Hardly any gadgets.
  • If you’ve wondered why people at MI6 go by letters rather than names, this film will show you.
  • I’ve noticed in the Daniel Craig era the movies explicitly show Bond tortured. This movie is no different. Purely a personal preference, but I’m no fan of horror movies (too much time in the ER). I don’t need to see Bond getting (blank) done to his (blank). This is James Bond, man. I want ass-kicking. I want hot women. This is a fantasy. I don’t want the Roger Moore-era fantasy, but, still.
  • The movie runs long. There aren’t really many scenes that could be cut, but at 2 1/2 hours, the movie drags in places. Tighter editing would have helped the film.

I didn’t read any reviews before I saw the film. I figured from the title that it was a bit of an origin story, and it is. This is a serviceable Bond movie, but there’s hardly a movie there. It’s more a collection of scenes. I realized this watching the closing credits. Without hyperbole, if you put the script on the screen, it would be shorter than the closing credits. I don’t go to movies a lot, but it seems that directors are relying more on visuals than dialogue. Even the older Bond movies had more exposition and less lingering camera shots. I know the film mantra is ‘show, don’t tell’, but there’s something to be said for telling if it moves the plot along.







  1. Your review on James Bond was Fair!

  2. Hi Joe,

    I enjoyed the film, but there were missed opportunities. It seems that Bond films are evolving from ‘James goes out into the field alone’ to ‘James leads a team in the field’. Sort of a British ‘Avengers’. I’m on the fence about this. As I said, the current incarnations of Moneypenny and Q are fun to watch; I just don’t know if I’m ready for a team effort in the field. James Bond is The Man, and adding folks in the field seems to take away from that. I’d hope that the franchise would go in a ‘True Lies’ direction, where a developed team supports the hero, but the Bond franchise doesn’t appear to be going that way,

    We have Daniel Craig for one more film, and then, who knows? We can only hope it’s not some PC bullshit.

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