Archive for July, 2021

It’s Time to Smack Us Around Again

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

There has lately been a sharp uptick, on social media, of messages to the effect of “Take the vaccine you idiot.” I was wondering if it was just my imagination, then someone found this.

Click to embiggen

I haven’t bothered to hunt all these down to see if they’re genuine. It doesn’t matter much, does it? People have their hackneyed lectures to give because they came up with them themselves, or they’re spewing what someone else gave them…whatever. A wave is a wave. I do wonder if my tax dollars are paying for this one, though. They probably are, and there isn’t likely to be much I can do about it.

People are frustrated. They feel like they’re doing all the right things, and here come our busybody “leaders” to clamp down again. They’re not allowed to get mad at the busybodies and this causes some strange things to happen in human psychology.

Really, all of the last year-and-a-half has been like this. People consciously realize they should have opposed the “peaceful protests” that were actually violent riots, last summer, and expressed frustration at them, even anger. But socially, they feel like they’re not allowed to do so. So they redirect onto the “insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January sixth.”

They consciously realize COVID-19 was not a natural event like a hurricane, and the “bat soup” theory doesn’t gel. But socially, they feel like any acknowledgment of this would end with an indictment or besmirching against China, which is full of people who aren’t white, and that must be racist. So they redirect onto that jerk who wouldn’t wear his mask. He must have done it to us.

They’ve built up an association in their minds between following the instructions from the NIH, the WHO, the CDC and Dr. Fauci, and “beating this thing.” They’ve built up an association in their minds between failing to follow these instructions, and ending up on a ventilator. Consciously, they understand that what we’ve seen happen is the opposite — people follow the instructions, get vaccinated to BeatThisThing, and end up getting told No whoopsie, sorry! You’ve got to keep wearing your mask! If a woman’s husband did as good a job relocating the freeway again after tootling through the backroads as Dr. Fauci has done guiding toward beating-this-thing, she’d insist on pulling over to ask for directions, and maybe grab the steering wheel or kill the ignition. But it’s not socially permissible to doubt the great Dr. F. And so this myth arises that “If everyone got vaccinated we’d have beat-this-thing by now.” We’re supposed to pretend science backs up that notion, when actually science says we’re infected and we’re never getting rid of it.

We can develop herd immunity, sure. There are ways to get there, and there is advice from our experts. We hope there will be a lot of overlap between the advice we receive, and what actually works. To date there’s been very little of this overlap. The experts have taken to inventing boogeymen to explain this, rather than admitting “I was wrong, hopefully I get it right next time”; and we let them. Getting mad at and placing blame on that guy over there, is quick, easy, costs nothing, and it’s socially uplifting and fun.

This is what too much emotion does to your thinking process. It keeps pushing you to focus anger and blame in the wrong place, to fabricate delicate fantasies about why things are the way they are. It lulls you into looking for the lost watch in the ditch with the best light, rather than the one on the other side of the road, where you dropped it.

Memo For File CCXVIII

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Yesterday I hung up on our first “schedule your free vaccine appointment” telemarketer. Yay, my tax dollars at work.

Obviously the times are changing. Thirteen years ago people were wondering “Is America ready for a black President?” Now we can see not only was she ready; it turns out, the election of our first black President didn’t change diddly squat. The implied accusation, that we weren’t ready and could never be ready because we’re just too bigoted, stood firm. In fact it has metastasized like a cancer. There’s a lesson here about caving in to people who say “I’m going to spread the slander about you unless you do such-and-such a thing.” It never seems to ever pay off to do the such-and-such a thing. The more years I see come and go, the more impressed I am by seemingly smart people who rush around doing the such-and-such in this futile effort to defend their reputations, against predators who lack the standing or dignity to do real damage. It seems they never learn this.

Two recent events dwarf this O-Election in significance, and by quite a big differential. There is the Voldemort Virus, of course, and all the lockdown fever and “we’re all in this together” nonsense that goes with it. And then there is the big problem from four years earlier that all this was exploited to address, and possibly engineered to address: The election of Donald Trump back in 2017, and with that, the demise of journalistic objectivity. One Lewis Wallace had the audacity to announce this in what I consider the most important column of the last ten years, give or take. He weirdly tied this in with his own status as a transgender, then got sacked for having written it. And then, arguably, was proven correct in the ensuing years, over and over again.

But is this really a change? This is one of those questions that arouses decent points to be made on both sides. It would be hard to live through the earlier Obama years and come out of them saying there was any neutrality left that needed killing. But, it’s just as hard to live through the Trump years, and into these first few months of the Biden administration, and deny some meaningful event has taken place.

There’s been one, and things are different.

How would I explain the news cycle and the zeitgeist of the now, after time-traveling to something that came before. Before Obama, before the September 11 attacks, Clinton’s impeachment, all of that. Modern times, but not weird-modern-times…like, early 1980’s, late 1970’s, thirty-five to forty-five years ago. They/we wouldn’t recognize this mess. In fact, they/we would require some cushioning of the blow. How would we even begin to explain the differences?

1. I’d say the one advantage we have now versus then is that the divisions are clear. Back then, people thought Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather were centrists. With the FCC Fairness Doctrine in place, we just swallowed what was spooned out to us by…well, the whatever. Passive voice is necessary here as the subject of the sentence is an afterthought. “They” would tell us what was going on in the world and what it meant. A few of us would suspect there was a slant to it, that the purveyors of this information were concealing meaningful details. But, unable to tell a complete story about it, and unable to assess the extent of the deception, would go about our business. We knew the news leaned left, but people “knew” this the way they knew Roosevelt was in a wheelchair or that John Kennedy was screwing around on his wife. Now, you can look at how Chris Wallace, et al, treated Donald Trump during those debates. Look at the fact checkers beclowning themselves. The partisans are out and proud.

2. Charles Krauthammer commented many years ago that conservatives think liberals are merely misguided, but liberals think conservatives are awful, terrible people. These feelings are essentially the same now but much more intense. Also, liberalism has been revealed as an ongoing effort to misguide easily misguided people, and this effort is conducted by liberals who are awful, terrible people. This is why, when conservatives find themselves “debating” liberals, there is this confusion arising especially when the conservative and liberal happen to like each other, or even are married to each other. What happens in the discussion is ever-changing, but the one constant is that the conservative is left wondering the same old thing, every time: What has happened to my co-worker, my old college buddy, my wife…etc.? Are they being earnestly snookered? Or have they turned evil? Do they really not care about these kids being “educated” in ramshackle substandard school districts, the aborted babies, the waiters and busboys who can’t find jobs with a higher minimum wage in place and the shelter-in-place orders…? This has been going on a long time. But nowadays, it’s much easier to see that when a liberal is the caboose and not the locomotive, that he’s among the deceived and not the deceiver — there’s a certain willingness. Al Gore’s house uses a lot more energy than the average — oh, I don’t care about that. The liberal may throw a “fact check” back at you about it, but it’s pure sophistry. He’s really saying he just doesn’t care about what should be a game changing revelation. Today we can see this. In times previous, we couldn’t.

3. Back then, there was a prevailing notion among those who supported the guy who lost the election, that the winner, hopefully, would remain unchallenged by subsequent events and his term in office, while not preferred, would be a successful one. In other words, the passengers who didn’t like the pilot, would hope the pilot wouldn’t crash the plane. That’s gone now, as the man-in-the-street has become a much more political creature. He’s not hoping the pilot crashes the plane necessarily, but he doesn’t envision a safe landing. This is perhaps the most meaningful change and it isn’t a good one. For this I suppose we can blame the changing nature of impeachment, from a truly exceptional emergency-case maneuver, to a standard political weapon. Congress merely lurching off in the direction of impeaching Richard Nixon, was the precedent-shattering transformation of the day. Looking back on it, it’s just adorable. Now we have real wisdom. You can tell it’s “wisdom” when there’s a tragedy involved in gaining it. And the tragedy here is that impeachment hurts the vision. “Step One: Got to get rid of that guy.” It’s tainted both sides.

4. Those who are elected, or appointed, enjoy many tools they didn’t have in the box before, to choose their own constituencies. There are people who’ve noticed this and they like the changes being made, sympathizing with these new-constituents being enfranchised. These people are morons. There’s no kind way to put it. Government picking and choosing the people who get to elect the government is like the killer robot being in possession of it’s own remote control. Who’s being enfranchised, and how this affects subsequent electoral outcomes, are less-important considerations. Government selecting the character and priorities of itself, is untenable and out of character with the intent of our founding. Anyway; this is somewhat new. Not completely new. But you know there’s been a change because these enfranchising maneuvers are more-or-less commonplace now. Illegal aliens, convicted felons, children. As far as I’m concerned, it’s okay to have these measures on the table and put up for referendum — people should be able to vote to give away their vote, to help that killer robot seize it’s own remote, if that’s really what they want to do. But they should understand this is what’s really being discussed. And where it happens, it should always be by referendum. Congress, and state legislatures, shouldn’t be able to sit down and decide “Yeah, totally, we want 16-year-olds to be able to re-elect us,” because enfranchising this guy means disenfranchising, to some degree, that other guy.

5. Laws that are supposed to stand for something, and include real penalties that can’t be dodged, are now up for debate. Compared to generations previous, we have a sprawling mess of “not-laws” that are supposed to declare some certain action illegal, and don’t, because they’re offset by cultural taboos that say you can’t enforce the law. There are also things we’re supposed to enjoy the right to “tweet” and to say out loud, but we can expect to be punished if we do, so we don’t really have the rights we’re supposed to have. Up above I mentioned the vaccines. Do we want to start requiring those? If we’re thinking about passing a law, we’ll have to discuss it first, and consider the constitutional ramifications. Layers of judicial oversight would have to hear the case. But if it’s a cultural demand, we bypass all that, and then we have to head into a dirty, mud-slinging melee between two factions competing with each other for the coveted position of “mainstream thought.” This is why people like me haven’t been too crazy about the civil disobedience remedy against the lockdown-mania. This isn’t supposed to be how we decide what’s allowed vs. not-allowed. We have written laws, and written protections against what could be penalized, for a reason. That’s all jeopardized with this business of “It’s illegal on paper but we’re gonna go ahead and do it” and “It can’t be punished on paper, but just try it and see what happens to your career.”

6. Some thirty years ago or so it was understood throughout all sorts of different cultures and walks of life, that people should be treated equally regardless of their sex, religious creed, or skin color. Now it seems to be universally understood that that’s not supposed to happen. I’m not sure who we could “credit” for having brought that change about, but it’s gotten a big helping hand from people who weren’t elected to anything anywhere, and there is no set of circumstances available under which this can lead to racial harmony or anything good for society overall.

Engaging the Liberals

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

There’s an old saw you might occasionally notice embroidered into wall hangings in trailer homes inhabited by little old ladies, something like “Grant me the serenity to accept what I can’t change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” These are good wise words and they suggest the little old ladies might be on to something. In fact, every year I see come and go, I become more convinced that true satisfaction in life is connected to that wisdom. But I would put a little bit of a twist on it:

Grant me the patience to allow the problems to solve themselves that will naturally solve themselves; the courage to solve the ones that won’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is where we have to reckon with our status in the universe, as aberrations. Let’s say your house is on fire. From the universe’s point of view, that’s a problem that will naturally resolve itself. The fire will exhaust it’s fuel, or else it will spread to where there is more fuel and then exhaust that. Either way, the conflagration will reach full entropy and a sort of order will be restored. But that’s not in your interest. From your point of view, this is an urgent matter that requires your attention and you’d better hop to it. That’s because, as an aberration, you rely on other aberrations. What’s a natural state of rest and order for you, is not that state to the universe as a whole, and vice-versa. The universe can chug along just fine with your home reduced to ashes, but if you smell smoke, you’d better locate the source and act on it as necessary.

How do liberals fit into that?

Whether or not they’re a problem we have to solve with urgency, is, in & of itself, a question we have to answer with urgency. I can’t help noticing it seems to resurface again and again and again. People who agree with me about politics continually chide me against engaging the liberals, wisely counseling that ignoring them is the far better alternative. I tried that in 2008 though. We all did. These assholes are a house fire.

The way I see it, they are a symptom of a larger problem. Cavemen lacked the technology we have, and with that they lacked the understanding of the basics we have. But they didn’t tolerate liberals. When they roasted the carcass over the fire and prepared to share it because it was far too much for any one family to eat, the hunters who brought down the kill got the choice cuts. The others had to contribute in some way. Nobody got to amble to the front of the line and say, “I contributed nothing but I think deep thoughts and do a lot of complaining, and I have visions of where society should go. So feed me and my non-productive friends first, and then you mighty hunters who brought down the kill, we might think about tossing you some bones.” That’s essentially what liberalism has become today. It would not, could not, have existed back then. Can you just imagine?

Ignore the liberals? Ignore the house fire?

Not only are there consequences. We’re living in them. And more are coming, if we continue to let the house cook away. There’s lots more fuel.

Liberalism hurts people.

I think we should go ahead and engage them, simply because the alternative is contrary to the assurance of our continued existence. Just like a house fire. This isn’t something on which we need to speculate; we’ve lived through a cycle or two of their destructive ways of thinking and their destructive deeds, and we know for sure. Socrates, who was known for derailing seemingly invincible propositions merely by asking “Socratic” questions, would have wondered what’s taking us so long. The philosophy of liberalism, such as it is, cannot even survive exposure to it’s own premises.

Retreating from liberalism is like retreating from a duel in which your opponent is constantly stabbing himself. Why? Seems like a waste of energy to me. It’s needlessly hasty, and it exposes innocent fellow universe-travelers to unnecessary pain.