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
July 08, 2016 - 11:45 a.m.
I updated last night and clearly did not do much since then but unfortunately there are world events I need to write about. At 5 AM it was clear what I would write, not so much now. Still I will try. That won't stop me from being me and mixing the light with the dark, the silly with the somber.
I'm also going to cheat and let someone else write for me. This is from Jane.
BRILLIANT INSANITY (from Jane & Bernie): Our houseguest can be so endearing. We have a mischievous gnome named Nicholas who lives in our house who takes things & replaces them occasionally. Gordon realizes when major things (not socks; that's another demon) are misplaced that it's Nicholas wanting attention. Also, last night Bill, who plays chess with Bernie once a week, saw Gordon washing the pots & pans in the kitchen &^ remarked, "You have a scullery maid?" I said, "He's our very versatile butler", and I asked Gordon if he'd please polish my shoes. He remarked, "Of course, madam. I then asked if he'd wash & iron my purple dress that I wished to wear at a rally and he said, "It's already done, Madam". He makes a great butler!I can hear Hagrid saying, ":He's the world's worst butler." I have my skills and my weaknesses.
I didn't jinx the Mets last night even though I watched the second half of the game. Remember when I thought I was good luck for the team? Perhaps the unthinkable is true and I actually have no effect; can I really be that unimportant?
Now to deal with the dark side, the killings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas. When I try and see the big picture all I see is chaos, chaos I'm trying to make sense of. What I see is that part of the problem is people trying to make sense out of chaos. People make narratives then try to fit the world in them. Cops have to deal with the worst of us. They don't just read about crime they see it and spend their lives talking to other cops who see it. They develop the narrative that it's us against them and the face of them is too often dark. Even black cops share the prejudice of seeing other blacks as a threat. And that's what it is, a prejudice, prejudging. It doesn't take much, just feeling a little more threatened than when dealing with a white. Then you add to this mix police strategies that disproportionately affect blacks. Things like the Broken Windows and Stop & Frisk. These weren't done to inconvenience and drive up the arrests of blacks but they do and would have not been tolerated if they had affected whites the same way. The War on Drugs became a war on blacks as they suffered the consequences far out or proportion to their offence rates.
These two things combine in a deadly way. Cops are often put in confrontation with blacks and when they are they are in a heightened state of alert. The result is an arrest of a street hustler or a traffic stop can lead to death.
Then there's the other narrative, the one that says, "The cops are out to kill black people." And don't say, "they are." Don't let the narrative rule you. The cops did not set out and say, "Let's kill us a n_____." There are grounds for calling it manslaughter but not murder. There was no evidence of premeditation. The "cops are killers" narrative feeds the cops' "us against them" narrative. They feed each other. That's part of what makes it so hard to deal with. Cops see the legitimate and understandable and needed protests and see them as groundless attacks on themselves. But just as just a small fraction of blacks kill cops a very small fraction of cops kill blacks. A cop is an individual not part of cops. When people speak despairingly of cops it's as wrong of doing the same about blacks. Blacks and cops are all born of man and woman and deserving of the respect due to all people.
People trust their gut too often. Trusting your gut is another way of saying trust your prejudices. Feeling right and wrong doesn't make things right or wrong. We all need to question those gut feelings. When a cop sees a black man and his instincts tell him that something is wrong with him, he has to remind himself, "no he's just black." That doesn't mean ignoring real evidence.
All of us can avoid using inflammatory language. Every time we use it we raise the level of societal tension. When people speak of cops as murderers it will inflame some to the rage we saw in Dallas. Even more it might get some kid in a confrontation with a cop to pull a gun which will end up getting the cop or himself killed and feed the narratives.
Changing the way people think is very difficult. I have pulled out variants of this essay far too often and it's had the same effect as I do on the Mets. But it's just one small part of a bigger effort and if everyone does it they had up and things slowly get better.
On the more practical side we can reduce the number of guns out there. That is the common thread in all the killings. We can change police strategies so they lead to less conflict with blacks. We can make sure that black voices are heard more. When we make decisions on how to enforce laws or where to put a garbage dump their interests are not taken into account as much as they should be.
And we can listen to Master Yoda.
I'm not going to reread this. I know I'll be unhappy about it but there are things in here that are right so I'm posting it.
Annoying People - September 03, 2016
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