Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
For reasons that exist but have not been comprehensively stated, this blog is concerned with current events and the prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms in our society that determine how we are supposed to think about those events. We look into that while casting a jaundiced eye toward those prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms, determined as a first priority to flesh out the logical problems with same. And for good reason.
Those prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms are wombat-rabies-bollywonkers crazy.
I mean, really. Really. It’s gotten so bad that if you can’t sort through what I’m talking about, you can pick just about any issue to get a great example. Pick one. Pick…oh, I dunno…gun control. Event: Bad guy shoots good guy. How to think about it based on prevailing sensibilities: If the bad guy didn’t have the gun, he wouldn’t have shot the good guy. Course of action: Get rid of the guns. That’s nuts. Nuts. By the time a sane, mature, logically-thinking person has matured to the level of graduating the fourth grade, he or she should be able to understand this just doesn’t work.
Now, a couple of months ago I was inspired to explore a cultural schism that has been developing over several generations in America and all over the world, that has a lot to do with this. Every day, someone is heatedly arguing over a question that has resulted from this cultural schism…like the gun control example, above…but nobody — nobody — ever talks about the schism itself. Except here, at the blog nobody reads.
Since the schism is never discussed, the two sides of the schism have no names. It falls to the blog that nobody reads, to name the sides.
So in my post back in February, which concerned the budget problems of Porter County, Indiana, I called the two halves “Yin and Yang.” My point was that the fiscal issues that befell this poor county, as they were described in the article that found its way to me — never would have happened, had Porter County been overseeing its budget the way responsible people oversee their budgets. And, as county governments, or other large administrations, never, ever seem to do it. Arbitrarily, I attached “Yin” to the way I think things should be done, and “Yang” to the way things actually were done, to the best of my understanding.
It’s safe to say that in nearly all of the arguments we have nowadays, and boy do we have a lot of heated arguments, the difference of opinion results from one side being a Yin and the other side being a Yang. And it’s safe to say that all of us, over the course of a year or two, have done a mix of Yin things and Yang things, as a result of our being imperfect creatures. But, it’s safe to say that as far as our goals in life are concerned, we are all completely, utterly, overwhelmingly dedicated, down to the very core of our souls…self-programmed to concentrate, with laser-like focus…to do either Yin things, or Yang things.
We get in arguments, fire people or quit our jobs, serve or receive divorce papers, because we have encountered someone who lives on the other side of a “fence.” That’s the problem. The fence is a figurative thing, something very few people ever think about. We’re trying to get oil and water to mix, and that’s why we do so much arguing. Maybe someday, the fence should become a literal concept, and should actually be built. Yin live with Yin, Yang live with Yang. Then we’d all be happy. That’s my theory, anyway.
What makes a Yin? What makes a Yang?
There are many different definitions.
Now at this point, you’re thinking…What? Wait a minute. That can’t be. You can’t go dividing the world up into two different halves, the entire world, without supplying and then adhering to one single definition of what the two halves are. Well, you know, that’s absolutely right. But we have several definitions anyway. That’s kind of the point.
When we program ourselves to do something, that programming leads to other programming, whether that is intentional or not. For example, in the early toddler stage a child may make up his mind that “I’m unhappy when people aren’t paying attention to me.” His sister may make up her mind that “when I’m playing with my toys, I want to get something done and I don’t want to stop until it’s done.” This is programming that lasts a lifetime. The boy will become a performer, and the girl will become studious. He will become an extrovert, she will be an introvert. The parents and teachers may become distressed as his “social skills” develop at a faster pace than hers; it’s supposed to be the other way around.
Later on, she’ll have much better grades.
He may find a wife more easily than she will find a husband.
And her earning potential will be higher than his…unless he goes into real estate.
Point is, these things are all linked. There is a hierarchy to them, involving cause and effect.
Thus it is with Yin and Yang. But there is always a root cause…one that is responsible for all ensuing effects. So if you’re looking for that as a defining distinction, I would say it is this: Yin think, Yang feel. Of course, everybody thinks and feels. But when & if the Yin perceive two cognitions, one resulting from thought and one resulting from feeling, they place more priority on the cognition that comes from thinking. Put the Yang in the same situation, and they will place more priority on the cognition that comes from feeling.
And that is exactly what happened, insofar as I can infer, with Porter County’s budget problem. A budgeting process was set up that was designed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to spare peoples’ feelings. This was done by, as is the case with most large bureaucracies, making sure that at the end of the process the money was all gone. (My original post explains how this works.)
“Yin” wouldn’t do that because they can’t do that. To place thinking over feeling, means to concentrate on getting a job done, regardless of your own feelings. Pride and prejudice are displaced in favor of following some kind of project plan, timeline, and management of milestones. Just like the girl toddler playing with her blocks, who won’t stop until the thing is built, and will chafe at any interruptions that get in the way — parents imposing mandatory nap-time, or her attention-whoring brother.
And this has impact on our political debates. No, Yin are not Republicans and Yang are not Democrats. If my “wall” were to be built, we’d have donkeys and elephants on both sides, just in somewhat different numbers. But banning guns makes a person feel good. Oh good, we can’t have any more gun crimes because we got rid of all the guns. The sentiment doesn’t survive the process of critical thinking very long at all, but it feels good. The Yin, on the other hand, evaluate the process of banning guns as the young girl might evaluate a move in chess, as soon as she got old enough to start playing the game. What is going to happen next? And so, when she’s old enough to start voting, even if she is pressured by her peers or other sentimental attachments to support gun control, she’s going to find it nearly impossible to do so. By the time she’s in her thirties and the go-along-to-get-along impulse has been relegated to the dustbin of her history, like Puff the Magic Dragon, she will be vigorously opposing gun control, or at least spectacularly failing to support it. She will have been looking for a viable plan in the exercise of gun control, something logically compatible with the stated goal of improved public safety, and if she pays attention to the events around her she will have become frustrated in this quest.
Her extrovert brother might be engaging in regular political debates with her, because he will likely be in favor of gun control. He’s going by feelings. And why shouldn’t he? He likes the resulting attention. When he wants to ban guns, he seems to care.
Everybody likes to look good. So we have the above-mentioned “prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms.” What’s so interesting about the times in which we live, is that the prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms are at odds with the way people vote. The Yin are voting in stronger numbers than the Yang right now. But the Yang, craving attention and getting attention as they do, decide our prevailing sensibilities and cultural norms. We’re supposed to oppose the War on Terror, but after our leaders give speeches against it, they support it — or else get voted out. We’re supposed to want abortion to be legal from sea to shining sea, but the way elections are going, the electorate seems to want it decided as a sovereign-state issue. We’re supposed to want that gun control, but we’re torn down the middle on it, with noisy people supporting it and real voters opposing it.
Now that we have spent 22 paragraphs getting our definitions straight, let us evaluate the 37 paragraphs written up in the Sacramento News and Review (April 6, 2006) cover story: The conversion of Judge McGrath, subheaded “The conservative right-wing jurist says that he made a mistake and that had he known then what he knows now, he could not have sentenced Michael Morales to death.” Michael Morales, about whom I had written when he “virtually” beat the rap, you might say, was sentenced to die. He had bludgeoned a young girl in the face with a hammer twenty times, then stabbed her in the chest. She’s dead. A quarter century later, we’re figuring out what to do with him…and the result seems to be a complete dismantling of government’s ability to protect the innocent from the creeps who will always be around, who can’t be reformed.
Wow, before you even get to the “reform” of California’s execution process, that’s already pretty big news, huh? The judge who sentenced Morales to death in the first place, has re-thought everything and joined the other side! Morales must be innocent! How could such a thing happen?
Well, as is usually the case with the Sacramento News & Review, you have to read the whole article…the headline is designed to present a different picture than the content. I’ve often suspected that News & Review doesn’t actually want anyone to read the content of their articles. It’s a free magazine, which means that to spend the time necessary reading paragraph after paragraph until you get to the very end, is…well, I did it, anyone can do it, but it might be thought of as a bit odd. Heh. If you read this far, I hope that doesn’t come as a shock. Anyway, the headlines are always, on the cover story anyway, what you would call “sensationalist.” But very seldom does the meat of the article actually support what’s being implied by the headline.
Nor does it here.
Paragraphs 1 and 2 give a rough profile of Charles McGrath, and how he is involved in Morales’ case (he was the sentencing judge). In paragraph 3 we get to the inspiring nugget of the story: “In an unprecedented reversal, the judge now says it would be unconscionable to execute the man he sent to death row for murdering Winchell.” Paragraph 4 discusses more of the judge’s crisis of faith in our judicial system, paragraphs 5 through 10 discuss some of the background of the case and McGrath’s historical right-wing conservative pro-death-penalty leanings.
In paragraphs 11 through 19, we get to what the Yin are going to be wanting to know, thus proving that this is a Yang story. It is a story built to agitate, not to give reasons for the agitation. Here it is, at last, why does Charles McGrath think the death penalty should not have been imposed on Michael Morales?
Although the plea-agreement deal between [Bruce] Samuelson [fellow inmate and career criminal with whom Morales had discussed the case, key witness for the prosection] and the prosecutor was disclosed to the Morales jury, McGrath said that Samuelson�s testimony describing the confession was the only evidence to support the lying-in-wait special circumstance, which made Morales eligible for the death penalty, and the rape conviction. Because the torture special circumstance was invalidated by a federal appeals court, the lying-in-wait finding was the only remaining aspect of the crime that kept Morales on track to the San Quentin death chamber. In addition, Samuelson gave other statements used in the sentencing phase that discredited Morales� own testimony that he felt deep remorse for the crime, a critical factor in the judge�s decision to impose the death penalty. Samuelson claimed that Morales made derogatory statements about the victim–including muttering “You fucking bitch” as he walked away from the body–callously boasted about the attack and solicited him to murder two prosecution trial witnesses.
So in a Yang article, there you have it. That’s the case against executing a guy who killed a young woman with a claw hammer. You aren’t really supposed to pursue the logic, that’s not the point…the point is, Judge McGrath doesn’t like the way it went down, and he’s the sentencing judge. You’re supposed to just adopt McGrath’s opinion as your own. Nevermind that McGrath’s objections are procedural objections, having little-to-nothing to do with actual guilt.
Nevermind that, if you’re upset by the death sentence because you’re a stickler for procedure…you’re asking a fairly obvious question that is answered nowhere. Why did the federal appeals court invalidate the special circumstance of torture? Did he not do it? Since the article makes no attempt to address this in any way, it falls short of being a useful chronicling of what happened, for those who like to make up their own minds…what the article is, is instruction. How to think, and what to think.
In fact, other things are left unstated, but implied. Ideally, you’re supposed to conclude from McGrath’s consternation that Morales was innocent, after all. California tried to execute an innocent man! They still might do it! Oh, the horror of it all!
Here is how the Yin would write an article probing the outrage of Morales’ sentencing to the death penalty:
Judge Charles McGrath doesn’t think Michael Morales killed her.
Got it? That would be a great logical argument for sparing Morales from death. Because, logically, it is a matter of fact that California doesn’t execute people for the crime of yelling “You fucking bitch.” Whether or not this was said, therefore, becomes irrelevant. If there is some procedure in place that says otherwise…that procedure is suspect, and it would be helpful to examine how such a procedure came to exist.
Only problem is, you can’t say “McGrath thinks Morales is innocent.” It wouldn’t have any relationship with the truth.
Being alienated from the Yang more than most people are, I’m handicapped from figuring them out. I don’t understand the selectivity of these sentimentalist feelings that shake, rattle and roll people into a frothy activist rage. Why does it have to be some feelings and not others? Michael Morales murdered a beautiful young girl by smashing her head to a bloody pulp; one would expect that to inspire certain feelings, especially in people who are self-programmed to act on feelings.
Why is it that the beneficiary status of this potentially-activist feeling seems to never, ever be conferred upon the innocent victims in these brutal homicides?
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