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
-Bertrand Russell

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 01, 2017 - 5:44 p.m.

Better Than He Was, Kinder, Wiser

It's very late and I really should skip updating and head out to pick up mail and shop, but I didn't want to disappoint My Gentle Readers. It's fine I'll cook without olive oil tonight. Sigh. I was born to be a Jewish mother. I will have to run across the street and buy American cheese, that's the one thing that's not ridiculously overpriced on City Island.

Yesterday's adventure was going to the mainland to pick up my prescription. There are no pharmacies on the Island. On Monday they gave me the wrong prescription that I didn't discover till I went to take it at bedtime. I had to call my psychiatrist and have her send in a new prescription for the right med. It was not her mistake, it was either the pharmacy or their computer's. I was disappointed, the pharmacy cashier was no fun to joke with, not like the one the day before. She had told me that if I come in on Halloween I'd get candy. I did not get candy. I should have asked but there's that whole anxiety thing.

I couldn't ask for candy, but I could write to a folk famous band's booking agent and asked if they could play a benefit concert. The impresario asked for my help booking as it's short notice. I'll give you the details when they are announced. What caused anxiety is that I don't know this band at all and they don't know me. At least one album charted (top 100).

I wrote that an hour ago. Don't ask me what happened since then, I have no idea. I didn't fall asleep, that's good. The meds that I've been taking for months are now making me sleepy. I changed when I am taking them, I'll give that a chance before I call the psychiatrist. The key might be to take them hours before I go to sleep so the worst kicks in when I'm sleeping. I should call before NERFA as that would be a good place to try it as I will be sleep deprived. I hope my room is near the Ripton Coffeehouse showcase room. They have the best coffee at NERFA and it's free. One year I was across the hall from them. I'd wake up, stumble across the hall, get coffee, and then be awake enough to go down to the dining room for breakfast and more coffee. Sometimes I get the added bonus of seeing Richard and Beth.

Now I'm going to work without a net, writing about my thoughts. I have all these political/social topics planned but this underlies all of them. It was not a revelation but something that slowly dawned on me. I want to be a force for good and my goal in blogging is often to change people's behavior for the better, starting with myself.

When people make a mistake in fact, or voice what I think is a ridiculous opinion, my reaction is to correct them. I just did while I was writing this despite knowing that I shouldn't. It's so hard to resist, and there are times that it's the right thing to do; but less frequently than I find myself doing it. When you tell someone, "you're wrong" they rarely change their behavior; instead the justify it which makes it even more ingrained. That's what started me thinking that my goal is to make the world better and if saying something doesn’t move towards it, I shouldn't. Sometimes I succeed. I had a valid argument about someone's racial attitude, I was going to call him if not a racist, at least totally ignorant of the effect of what he says. It was all true but what would it accomplish. It would make me feel good about myself, reinforcing my sense of my own virtue. It would make me feel smart, it was a good argument. I would have the pleasure of venting. But that's all about me, not about the world. It would not make him change, it would just offend him. How can I accuse him of ignoring the effects of what he says if I ignore the effects of what I say? I had an entire discussion with him, in my head, but that's it. It did some good and I can use what I came up with in non-confrontational situations and perhaps get someone to think twice about what they are saying.

This attitude makes blogging more difficult. I must be subtler. I must slowly lead people to conclusions on their own. Living better must be left as an exercise for the reader.

What do I mean by better? Two things, kinder and more rational. Kindness should rule what your goals are and rationality the means to achieve them. It takes both to be good, something about the road to New Jersey being paved with good intentions. Maybe it wasn't Jersey, someplace bad but not that bad.

I read two elegant essays on Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg called Marshall the greatest lawyer of the 20th century. He spent 20 years crafting an argument to end segregation in the US culminating with his victory in Brown v Board of Education. I had never read of his strategy before. He didn't start by challenging the Plessy v Ferguson's doctrine of separate but equal. He knew that wouldn't fly. He had to lead the court one step at a time to ruling against it. He began by challenging specific instances of facilities for blacks not being equal to those for whites. He spent most of the 20 years doing that. Then when he saw the opportunity he pounced and used the accumulated precedents to argue that nothing separate could ever be equal. This was before MLK, before Selma, before Freedom Riders. It was the first step that paved the way for the rest. After Brown v Board the law was the side of racial equality.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg used Marshall as her model in fighting for women's rights. The defendant in her first case was a man, a widower, denied the childcare survivor benefits a widow was eligible for. The roles of the man as the provider and the woman as caretaker of children was not just custom but law. She too played the long game and guided the justices one step at a time.

We have a long way to go on the rights of both African Americans and women, but we've come a tremendous distance from where we were. Two great lawyers that became great justices, carried us a great deal of the way by resisting the emotional appeal of angry words, and putting themselves in the place of those they were trying to convince.

One thing that makes it difficult for me is that I want to be corrected on matters of fact. If I talk about the 1905 Dodgers I want someone to say; "From 1899-1910 they were called the Superbas. And then for someone to correct that and say that the official name of the team was the Brooklyn Base Ball Club and both Dodgers and Superbas were used as nicknames then. I love learning things like that. I just went to Wikipedia to verify that in 1905 they were called Superbas and discovered that they were in fact called both names. Dodgers didn't become official to 1932 when the name first appeared on their home jerseys. They didn't get on the road jerseys till the next year. To me that sort of correction is fun. I get to learn something. It was not the example I wanted to use but I'm an idiot and forgot the correction someone gave me that I was grateful for. But the thing is that everyone doesn't feel that way and tone has a lot to do with how it is taken. If someone says, "In 1905 they were Superbas, all serious baseball fans know this;" I would not be happy. I'm working now on not correcting people when it's minor, not that interesting, and not germane to the point being made. I'm a know-it-all and that's not easy for me.

There are times when I know it is right to correct someone and it still causes backlash. I just deleted an entire story, one that I like, where I was had righteous indignation on my side. Why? Because it would make me feel good but not create backlash, the very thing I'm trying to avoid.

Am I going to be perfect? No, only mathematics is perfect. Do I want you to say, "Gotcha!" No, but a nice aside suggesting that perhaps what I wrote isn't helpful would be helpful.

I'll leave you with a video, listen to the words and you'll realize why.






Walk Off To Look for the End of America eo - November 06, 2017
Try Hiring Guards Next Time - November 05, 2017
We Didn't Dress for Dinner - November 04, 2017
This was written by a white Jewish atheist who used to be fat - November 03, 2017
It's just Manicheanism being Manicheanism - November 02, 2017



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