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
February 02, 2015 - 11:52 a.m.
I didn't do much yesterday. I stayed in all day except for a trip to the bank and Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is always empty during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately I know that. I am not a big football fan but if I had one and was home because there was nothing else to do I'd watch it. If I were invited to a Superbowl Party I'd go. But neither was the case so I went shopping. This has happened before.
Katrina called me after the game and was excited. She's from New Hampshire and so roots for the Patriots. Many of my friends root for the Patriots. I can't forgive Belichick for abandoning the Jets and Brady once said he wants to go into politics as a Republican so I root against them. But it's football, no big deal. Baseball and basketball matter. The thing is I can't resist teasing my friends so my Facebook Status is: "Congratulations to the Dirty Rotten Cheaters on winning the Super Bowl." I knew that would prove popular. Everyone knows I'm not serious. I mean they aren't the Yankees or Phillies.
Was the highlight of yesterday the pancakes I made for breakfast? I make them exactly the right frequency. It's always a special treat but not a rare one. I have them once or twice a month. It is one of the things I can make perfectly. I use real maple syrup and I warm it up. That's the kind of thing microwaves are perfect for.
Even though I just read it on public transportation I'm about halfway through The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. I have not been in a good emotional state and Pratchett always helps that. Like so much of his work, it's a story about the power of stories. I am going to resist quoting a passage and explaining why I love it. In other words I'm too lazy to get up and get the book.
OK I was handed a lemon so I'll make lemonade. I saw this headline on a Facebook link.
Huckabee Compares Accepting Gay Marriage To Asking A Jew To Eat Bacon
I was ready to launch into a diatribe about Huckabee. No it is not the same as asking Jews to eat bacon, it's the same as Jews accepting that other people eat bacon. Hey they accept that I'm a Jew that eats bacon. But I can't write about that you know why? Huckabee neve said that. What he said was; " “It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli,” That's totally different. Now I disagree with Huckabee and think it's not an exact analogy but it isn't totally ridiculous. The headline writer knew that too which is why she felt the need to distort what he said to make it sound even worse. This is from Think Progress. Now I like Think Progress but they are an advocacy organization so they are biased. I never just accept what they say. I have to verify facts. And that's a shame. I wish the standard for discourse were higher. It shouldn't be about making the other side look bad. It should be about showing where the other side is wrong. There is no room for distortion in public debate. They are as bad as lies.
And this all feeds into the culture of distrust. One of the devastating consequences of the Vietnam War followed by Watergate was the erosion of public trust. The problem is the republic can't function without trust. It shouldn't be blind trust but it shouldn't be blind distrust. When confronted by things they don't understand people too often distrust the actual experts who do. And of course what they end up doing is trusting other people because they still don’t' have the knowledge and training to properly judge the evidence.
If there was a news report that Grand Fenwick attacked Fredonia and the Obama was contemplating helping Freedonia some would automatically assume this was all a lie and we just wanted control of Grand Fenwick's mustard mines.
The fact that Bush betrayed the public trust and got away with it made it that much worse. Bush should never have been re-elected after being caught lying. But he was. But that does not mean we should just assume everyone is always lying. All institutions have suffered from this. Look at the people who don't vaccinate their kids because they don't trust scientists. They don't even realize that they are instead trusting Jenny McCarthy. The irony is that the whole anti-vaccination movement is based on research of a man who did lie and faked the paper that linked vaccines to autism. And they ignore that this kind of thing doesn't work in science as the liar was exposed. People tried to replicate the results and couldn't so he was discredited. Science is based not on blind trust but tested trust. It is self correcting. But people treat it as if it were politics. People deny climate change because they think the scientists are in a conspiracy against capitalism. And of course the anti GMO crowd think that scientists are totally controlled by big business.
A huge part of why Bush could get away with it is the feeling that everyone does it so it doesn't make a difference who we elect. The only ones trusted are the ones saying to distrust.
And it comes down to what it so often does. You have to actually think about things and make tough decisions. And to this I'll add that when you don't have enough information and expertise you have to trust those that do. But you have to make those that betray that trust pay.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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