A physicist loose among the liberal arts

National Defense

A South African cyber-security researcher whose nym is “the grugq” recently posted a review of what we know about recent attempts to interfere with elections through the insecurity of our computer and social-media networks.

The thing that jumped out at me was his diagnosis of why the attempts in France failed.  OK, #1 has to be that whatever cyber-criminals were trying to rig the election look like Boy Scouts next to former-president Sarkozy.  But right behind that is the fact that the social-media troll army that did so much damage in the US ran into a brick wall:  Trolls speak bad French, so the French didn’t listen to them.

We should promote a similar idea here.  If the audience for our political discourse insisted on good English, complete with literary allusions (Sarkozy called François Fillon a “Thénardier” in the interview linked above), then external attempts to subvert elections would be doomed to failure, and our national security would be enhanced.

Disclaimer #1:  I recognize that this proposal would have probably elected Jesse Jackson back in the 1980s.

Disclaimer #2: Observing the size of Pentagon research grants, compared to the size of research grants in the humanities, could not possibly be related to my motivation for writing this post.


Michael Drout: The Decline and Hoped Rebirth of Germanic Philology


Sørina Higgins: Real Modernisms


  1. “Trolls speak bad French, so the French didn’t listen to them.”

    Alors, nous somme presque freres!

    • Joe

      I am astonished to find online no catalogue of ways to speak bad French. I shall have to produce one. Possibly the most important thing about France is that a self-centered tourist gets a very different reaction from a scholar whose syntax slips unpredictably among the centuries. And both are perceived differently from a basement-dwelling edgelord with Google Translate.

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