I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
November 25, 2015 - 11:35 a.m.
I'm starting this as the WFUV question of the day is finishing. That's my goal. I didn't look for something else to do; I started writing even though I don't know what I'm going to write about. I have one serious topic I've been thinking about for a while we'll see if I get to it. I generally don't get good responses when I write about politics.
I stayed home yesterday which is why I'm free to write about anything. Today I'm leaving to visit Joe and Emily for Thanksgiving and I won't be back till Sunday night. Just as I did for NERFA I packed the night before. How did this happen? When did I become a person that packs the night before? I'm not sure I want to be a person that packs the night before.
I thought I didn't have eggs in the house and I didn't want to go shopping right before I left so I tried something different a bacon and cheese sandwich on a bagel. That was good. Then I realized I had one egg left so today I'll make matzoh brei. I have to go shopping when I get back. I made garlic jerk chicken for dinner. That's incredibly easy to make; I just coat a cutlet with olive oil and put on jerk seasoning and garlic salt. Then I put it in the skillet. The only thing to be careful of, and this is true of making chicken of all stripes, is to not overcook it. You can see when chicken is ready; it's when the meat goes from translucent pink to white. You should stop cooking as soon as possible after that. From that point on it will get dried out and crumbly. Cooking chicken means a lot to me. I love chicken when it's made right but it's rare to get it that way. Damn am I going to write about chickens? I've been thinking a lot about them recently and started to do some research. In fact I just edited the Wikipedia article on chickens to reflect my research. It said there were 24 billion chickens, I changed it to 19 billion which is what a variety of sources said; I referenced The Economist. So here's my revelation on chickens, it comes from thinking of them from a Darwinian viewpoint. Chickens are the most plentiful terrestrial vertebrate by a good margin. What is the reason for their success? They evolved to be a good food source for humans. Yes we kill and eat them but in return we feed them far more than their wild ancestors the red jungle fowl. They evolved to take advantage of a new food source, us. For much of history it was the eggs that were the most important thing. And that's remarkable, red jungle fowl lay seasonally but chickens evolved to lay eggs all year round making them more useful to people. It is an exact analogy to trees evolving fruit for animals to eat as that helps them disseminate their seeds. Many flowering plans produce nectar to attract insects, humming birds, bats, and others animals which help them spread pollen to fertilize their flowers. We tend to think of us as the active force altering the chickens but that whole idea is recent. Before this farmers just bred the chickens that laid the most eggs and gained the most weight without knowing anything about genetics or evolution.
Ok that's it for chickens. I could write a lot more. So thank me for showing restraint. OK now for the meat of the entry. Yes I was being ironic then following the discussion of chicken. Before I get to the meat I'll give you the menu I'm ordering from and some thoughts on my decision on what to order. I could write about the refugee and terrorism issue. The negative is that most of My Gentle Listeners will agree with me on this and I don't like preaching to the choir. So if I did it I would also discuss intervening more in Syria where most of My Gentle Readers would disagree with me while I see the two as intimately related. That connection is what makes it worth writing about and I get to bring Spiderman into the discussion. My big question is can I change anyone's mind? If not what's the point? I have thought of writing about this every day since the Paris attacks. OK I'll do it. Forget the other things.
There is humanitarian crisis in Syria that can't be ignored. Millions of people are displaced, can we just say, they aren't Americans so we don't care? I can't, and neither can most people. I have heard those that say, "We have to help Americans first." Why not help both? And we should allocate resources to those in greatest and most immediate need. The refugees face imminent death. But that's not the big argument of course. Now it's people fear of terrorism. This fear is visceral but irrational. It started because at first they thought one of the Paris attackers was a refugee. He wasn't but the fear remains. Even if he were the other terrorists weren't refugees. Do you really think they couldn't find one other person outside of refugees? There are so many other ways of entering the country, being a refugee is the most difficult. It means waiting at least 18 months and being heavily vetted unlike tourists and students and people coming on work visas. And even if we barred all refugees from entering that would not lower the net risk. Most terrorist are either home grown or radicalized while already in the country they attack. The real danger is in radicalizing people. It's making people feel that they are not part of the country. Europe has far more home grown Islamic terrorists as the Muslims there are more marginalized than in the US. If we deny the refugees some Muslims will then think, "Americans don't see Muslims as people. I am not one of them." And that's the first step on the road to terrorist. It let's others who are not terrorist feel, "but I understand why they are doing it" and give them support or at least do nothing to stop them. That's a far greater danger than a terrorist slipping in with the refugees.
And if there is a small risk, we take risks all the time. I was going to use the 30,000 people that die in car accidents every year or the similar but greater number killed by guns. We don't ban cars are guns. In fact the politicians who want to keep the refugees out are the very ones that fight gun control and safety regulations on cars. But those risks are nothing compared to others we take. Air pollution kills 200,000 Americans every year. Read that number. That's 67 times as many that died in the World Trade Center and it happens every year. Yet again the same politicians fight pollution control measures saying they are job killers and decrying the war against coal. We routinely accept far bigger risks. People aren't rational about risk, but we should try to be and our political decisions should be based on reason. Politicians should not be fanning the flames of fear; they should be explaining the facts.
And why is this America's responsibility? Because we have the resources to do it. As Peter Parker learned, "With great power comes great responsibility." Yes that's a comic book but the reason comic books are popular is that they are modern myths; they strip things down to the essentials. And that's what leads me to thinking about military intervention in Syria. It's very easy to say "war is wrong so we shouldn't get involved" when it's other people dying. It's not a philosophy that has many adherents when people are being attacked themselves. It comes from not thinking of the Syrians as "us." Now of course it's never that simple and that's all I ask of others, to realize it isn't that simple. Going in an attacking can make things worse. It's impossible to avoid civilian casualties; innocents will die. Just remember that innocents will die if we do nothing too. They are dying right now. They are dying in the time I takes me to write this. Going in and bombing them, the emphasis on "them" is just going to make things worse. Often people act foolishly out of the feeling "we have to do something." There are risks involved with whatever we do … or don't do. Doing nothing is a conscious choice and bears just as much responsibility as doing the wrong thing. Remember Peter Parker's Uncle Ben. I felt we should have established a no fly zone years ago. That would give the Syrians a safe refuge in Syria so they wouldn't have to become international refugees. Do I know that's right? Of course not. I don't know nearly enough about the situation, neither do you. What I want is for our leaders to base their decisions on what's best not out of fear of what people will think. Football coaches don't go for fourth downs nearly often enough, this is demonstratively true. So why do they do it? Because they would catch far more flack for going for fourth down when they should and not making it than they would for punting or kicking a field goal even when it's wrong. I don't want our government working like that but it's what happens. It's why governments will implement security measures that violate basic rights when there is danger. They will face less blame for that than having an attack come on their watch when they hadn't taken such measures.
OK all I want is to get you thinking about it. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, just help you be less rigid in your thinking.
Now there is a matzoh brei with my name on it. I'm going to eat it despite the fact that it has writing on it. Then I'm off to the Bay State.
I Don't Want To Live Like A Refugee - November 25, 2015
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