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
March 26, 2018 - 2:25 p.m.
I ate brunch with two mugs of coffee, but I waited too long to start this; my eyelids are getting heavy again. I will have to discuss this with my psychiatrist; I'm not on any medication that should cause this. I hate being sleepy, but I love the hypnogogic state, it's like walking through the looking glass. I was thinking about the TV show Gotham while I slipped into the state and it felt like I was watching it, not an episode that aired but something original coming from my mind. There are so many variants of that experience; I have conversations with people and travel to places I haven't been, some of which don't exist. It's not quite dreaming and it's not daydreaming, it's a unique state.
How did I live most of my life without making Philly cheesesteaks? They are now a staple. What's nice is that I can vary them by using different kinds of cheese, sauces, and condiments. Last night I had it with steak sauce; seems like a natural but I've never done that before. There was no actual cheese, just cheese product, Cheez-Whiz and American cheese. Cheez-Whiz is the authentic choice, weird as it isn't even authentic cheese. I've gotten tired of it; I finished the jar and won't replace it for a while.
Pesach starts on Saturday and I still have matzoh left over from last year. I buy five lbs and it pretty much lasts forever. It’s matzoh, it starts off stale. Today I made matzoh brei with peanut butter. Do not knock it till you've tried it. I always pimp my matzoh brei.
I want to write about the gun debate, but I can't find way in; I don't have an overriding theme but a diverse collection of thoughts. I'm going to try to turn a bug into a feature, and just tell you a slice of the things I'm thinking at once.
School shootings are the issue of the day. The term school shooting has no agreed upon definition and people abuse the term to make their point. The crimes that people think about, the ones that get all the attention, are somebody walking into a school and shooting people at random. That's what causes the fear, that it can happen to any child, it can happen to your child. My usual reaction is to point out that they are a small fraction of the number of children shot and a smaller fraction of the total deaths. People are too afraid; driving to school is far more dangerous than being in school. The difference is we read about every school shooting and very few of the car accidents. That’s my usual reaction but I usually miss something important. The danger is exaggerated but not he horror. Auto accidents are largely preventable but there's no malice. As much as the deaths we are reacting to the thought that someone, usually another child, wanted to kill children. Like terrorist acts, the damage to our collective psyche is amplified. The numbers don't capture the entire problem. People are humans not Vulcans.
The lunatic right sees the Parkland students as the enemy. They accuse them of being either agent provocateurs or the tools of the nefarious left-wing conspiracy. There is no use arguing with them. The are the opposite of Vulcans, abandoning rationality. Peter Mulvey quoted Christopher Hitchens Saturday night and it is apropos; "That which can be asserted without evidence can be denied without evidence."
Those that aren't lunatics claim that the Parkland students are too naïve and inexperienced to understand the issues. There is some truth to that; I would not expect them to write the gun control measures. That's not what they are trying to do though. They are urging the adults to do SOMETHING! To not be afraid of the NRA, not treat the shooting deaths of children as business as usual, to not shrug their shoulders and say there is nothing we can do, to not call for measures that would inconvenience them but other people.
That is the job of protesters, to light the fire, not to come up with specific solutions. Those students, especially Emma Gonzales and David Hogg, are unusually bright and unusually informed, more so than most adults, more than most of the people criticizing them. The pro-gun lobby are the ones that ignore experts and evidence. They believe the Good Guy With A Gun Myth, not the reality that people with guns are more likely not less likely to die from guns. During the Occupy Wall Street movement Krugman pointed out that many of the solutions being advocated wouldn't work but that did not discredit the movement. Economics is complex, it takes special knowledge and special skills to understand. But it doesn't take that to understand that the current situation was untenable, and changes needed to be made. The generalities of what were wrong were made clear by the protesters and that was important. The same holds true of the students.
There's more but it's getting late, so I'll leave it at that. I might start tagging things on to future entries. I signed the Pro-Truth pledge, so I can't leave it at that. I'm stopping here because I got anxious thinking about the next thing I want to discuss. I'm imagining how people will react and not liking what I imagine. I know I'm probably wrong about that, it's personal, my usual theory of mind skills are distorted. I'll just leave it as this, it's about theory of mind. When you talk about guns put yourself in the position of a gun rights supporter. They are the people that need convincing. That means you must understand them You can't oversimplify and dismiss them as gun nuts.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Believe in Yourself, but Don't Take It Too Far - April 02, 2018
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