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
November 30, 2017 - 11:29 a.m.
I'm starting to write early today; all I have to do now is figure out what to write about. There was an article in the Times about how bad the bus service in New York is and I experienced it yesterday. I went to Stop & Shop yesterday to pick up a few things. It's much cheaper and has better variety than any store on City Island. It takes just one bus to get there and when things go right the trip takes 16 minutes. That means I can get ice cream and it won't melt before I get home. I planned things well. i went early evening when the buses run frequently. I left caught the 6:01 bus and if I shopped efficiently I could make the 6:55 bus home. I did shop efficiently but thanks to a hitch at checkout I didn't reach the stop till 6:56. Thing is I could see the bus hadn't come. I checked on the bus time website and it said it would come in two minutes. Ten minutes later it hadn't come and now the website said there was no bus on-route. There is supposed to be one at 6:15. That one didn't come till 6:29. I waited 35 minutes when the buses run every 20 minutes. I spent as much time waiting for that bus as I spent shopping. Should I write and complain? What good would it do? They know the buses were late.
Over the last two days I watched the 4-part Arrowverse crossover, Crisis on Earth X. A guilty pleasure but one I enjoy. The shows have the right mix of humor and drama. When they are silly the characters are aware they are being silly. There was one infuriating scene. I won't spoil it for you but it's the last one with Thawn.
If you look right after the entry and before My Amazon Wish List, you'll see something new, The Pro-Truth Pledge badge. I won't make you click on the link; here is the pledge
I expect My Gentle Readers to hold me to this. If you find erring let me know. I want people to know they can trust what they read here. If everyone followed these rules Trump would not be president. What I found most dismaying is that the lesson many are taking away is that they should be spreading fake news that supports their positions. Take the time to verify your sources and check your facts. If it is not worth that time, then it isn't important enough to post. My personal rule is to not post stories from ideological websites. If they say something I'm interested in I check their sources and post the source. I rarely even read anything from mybiasisthesameasyours.com.
People are walling off their ideological bubbles. Every time I see a friend post, "If you believe in X, I'll unfriend you;" I cringe. That attitude is akin to homophobia. Are people afraid they'll turn into racists? Stay friends with them and read their posts and see what the other side thinks, even when it's unpleasant. I have friends that post horrifying things. They aren't close friends, they aren't people I spend time with, but they are people I know and have things in common with. When they post propaganda I will at times, I don't have the stomach to do I always, read it. I want to see their arguments. So often it's just the flip side of what people I agree with say. The same event will be described totally differently. It's Rashomon. By reading that I learn not only what the opposition thinks but what invalid arguments look for when reading pieces that I agree with. One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. You can't just accept a narrative because you want it to be true.
I was going to post something on how people get the 25th Amendment wrong. They read this part:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
But forget this part:
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office …I was prepared to lambast them for suggesting that Trump can be removed from office that way when all he has to do is say, "I am able to be president," and he's back in power. Before I wrote that I checked the wording of the amendment. Notice the ellipsis. This is what it says:
unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.Now that's not going to happen, two thirds of congress is not going to go along with Trump's removal barring a incapacitating psychiatric diagnosis, but it is at least possible. It still isn't worth discussing as it isn't going to happen. If we could do that he could be impeached, that's a less onerous mechanism.
The one fun thought that came to me is how Tolkien described something analogous to the Russian fake news assault in The Silmarillion. Melkor was the enemy of the Valar, the angelic beings that are the caretakers of Arda, the earth and its environs. He was defeated and brought in chains to their home in Valinor. After ages he was released on probation. He feigned being helpful, but he started a whispering campaign to sow dissention among the Elves. His prime target was F´anor, the greatest and proudest elf. F´anor hated Melkor as much as Melkor hated F´anor, and wouldn't listen to Melkor. He didn't have to he listened to the people that talked to the people that talked to the people that listened to Melkor, so the lies reached him, and he believed them. This is what led to all the tragic events of the Silmarillion.
For lies to have power it takes people to believe them and others to not check on the facts. We must all do our part and not just point out the untruths of our opponents but those we agree with.
If you want to help you can sign the pledge too. It's why I supplied the link. I posted it on Facebook, but I was disappointed to find that nobody reacted to it or signed it themselves. Here's another chance to, take it.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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