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 09, 2016 - 2:41 p.m.
I used to say that I never sleep late. I can't say that anymore. I slept till 10:30 this morning and I went to sleep before 1 AM. A change like that gets me nervous. Is it the Zoloft? Is it depression? Is it something else? I'll have to discuss it with my psychiatrist. I've always monitored my body's functions closely. I'm not sure if that's a result of dealing with Crohn's disease or just part of being me. I don't know when it started. I had to learn that everyone doesn't do that to make it worthy of note.
Speaking of worthy of note, did I do anything worthy of note yesterday? I think not. There's always food. I ate at Steak 'n' Shake for the first time in ages, probably over a year, maybe two. It's like going to Shake Shack for half the price and the shakes are twice the size. I love that I need two straws to drink the shake; it's two thick for one. That's how a shake is supposed to be. I stayed home and watched the Met game last night. Jane and Bernie went to the game. The Mets lost. I'm going to blame them not me as they were there and I only had a connection via TV. My scientific analysis of baseball continues. Till now Sabermetrics has ignored the most important aspect of winning and losing, the fans, in particular me. Nate Silver should stop wasting time on getting elections right and work on what's important.
Meanwhile my fantasy baseball team is ridiculously good. We are at a new high point of the season. We have five players on the All-Star Team, Xander Bogaerts, Nelson Cruz, Eric Hosmer, Michael Saunders, Alex Colome, and Steven Wright. I'm pretty sure that's a team record.
And now on to the serious stuff. I have been thinking and writing about conspiracy theories; looking at Facebook does that. Here's a new one, the Dallas police massacre was the work of … the police. It was done to divert attention from Black Lives Matter. This is a particularly disturbing strain of paranoia; it is dehumanizing people who disagree with you. It's saying that the police are so far from the norms of humanity that they'd murder their own for political gain. It is saying that the opposition are monsters. This feeds on itself, if they are monsters then it isn't wrong to kill them. Just look at that theory, it makes as much sense as saying that the killing of blacks by the police were part of a black plot to disempower the police. I bet there are right wingers that believe exactly that. There are those that thing that Sandy Hook and Orlando are fabrications designed to take people's guns away. At least they aren't saying that the massacres were done by the gun control lobby, just that they don't exist.
It's the dehumanizing of opponents that's the most dangerous part of it all, the concept that the opponents will stop at nothing. Another aspect is invidious comparisons. That's what Godwin's Law is about, in any internet discussion someone will eventually invoke Hitler or Nazis. One version of the law states that whoever does that loses the argument. That's how it should be. It's pretty hard to find anyone who compares to Hitler if they haven't committed genocide on a people just for existing. And not just through things likes forced migrations as the Turks did the Armenians or Andrew Jackson did to the Indians, but setting out to exterminate the race. The irony is that is exactly the tool that the Nazis used to ferment hatred of the Jews, saying that they were an existential threat to the German people. As much as I hate him, Donald Trump is not Hitler and of course Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump but you'll see people making these comparisons.
It's not difficult, just follow the golden rule. If you would find it offensive if someone said it about you, do not say it about them. Saying but "They really are like that" is not an excuse. They feel the same way about you. There are so many legitimate criticisms to be made, there's no need for hyperbole. I'm particularly sensitive to when people that agree with me say these things; the liberal bias of the facts is all we need.
I don't know what I'm going to do the rest of this weekend. I should have just planned well in advance and got a cheap bus ticket up to Boston for Friday and coming home Monday so I could go to the New Bedford Folk Festival with Joe, Emily, and the kids. I'm missing RUNA. There are lots of bands I love there but I hardly ever get to see RUNA and they are one of the bands I want to follow around in a psychedelic painted van. Next year I am going to the festival come hell or high water.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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