In the last such post, I offered that one handle on the pandemic was to consider that it was the result of the absolutely damnable wasted opportunity to keep our citizenry educated. (Public Schools must be abolished.) Today, I want to comment on another aspect of the uncertainty, and in so doing add a second handle.
Much like an earlier post which attempted to take a god’s eye view of white-collar managers’ all-time favorite sport of office-switching, which I wrote in order to lambast the clearly superficial effort that somehow still takes place, today we’ll similarly view the present uncertainty with a view from the sky.
To do this right, we need to spend a minute on assumptions. There are six.
1. To be a pilot you must be brave. So in a pilot’s eyes, everyone choosing to alter their lives because they might die is cowardly. When afraid, learn. Your fear will disappear with knowledge.
2. Normally, to be cowardly is thought of as weak and unmanly, but for the purposes of this thought experiment, it’s fine. Because at least we know where each other stands. And now that you’ve admitted your fear, you can overcome it.
3. We know that the virus doesn’t kill us at an alarming rate. So we shouldn’t fear contracting the virus. Got CoVid? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
4. We know the positive test result doesn’t mean we will have symptoms. Tested positive? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
5. We know that people who wear masks still test positive and still show symptoms and still die from the virus. You’re wearing a mask?! So what? Yet we still wear masks. Yet we still fear.
6. Another assumption: Something should be different today due to the timeline being different. Just like our perspective changes the higher our altitude, our understanding of the situation should be different now than it was in March. Why? We’ve had more time.
Assumptions stated. Now let’s talk.
So what’s the difference? We now know that the only real burden the pandemic places on us is that we don’t have enough hospital rooms/beds. That’s it. If there were enough hospital beds, the, ahem, leaders would have nothing to write home about. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d no longer be afraid. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d know, in precisely the same way as we do with all the other diseases we’ve been living under threat of, that if we get sick, we go to the hospital.
Now let’s imagine I’m really onto something and that we fix it. More hospital beds? Poof! Done.
Now let’s take a look at our planet from the heavens. With me? What do you see? Yup. Me too. We moved people from one place to another.
Aren’t we smart?
Aren’t we compassionate?
Aren’t we little scientists?
Aren’t we really doing it?
Here’s the thing. As I get older, I’ve been struck by the thought that you’re not older than me. You’re either the poor performing football star of high school or the poor performing partier of college. In both cases, you never learned how to read. You didn’t know what you were doing then, and you still don’t. And yet you get a thrill out of having something to do. Well, guess what? You’re still illiterate. And if you’re not reading, then you aren’t doing anything. You’re certainly not helping. You’re middle management at best.
Building a hospital bed helps stop the pandemic? I won’t have to wear a mask because we built more hospital beds? Are you serious?
You were a placeholder before the uncertainty began and you’ll be a placeholder when the uncertainty is over. Why? Who knows? Because you want to be. That’s probably why. What I’m asking is that you stop playing adult and start living as one. Life includes disease. No amount of hospital beds can fix that. Have a different fear than running out of hospital beds? Fear something besides “overburdening” the healthcare system? I’m all ears. And then I’ll help you overcome that one. For now, stop telling me what to do. You’re as stupid as you were in high school and college. I didn’t listen to you then. I won’t listen to you now.
I’m working on this fine Thanksgiving Day. That means that I’m often perusing the depths of my phone as I wait for the bat phone to ring. Like most stories I read of late, the content of today’s entries keep mentioning restrictions and cancellations of typical events. The mention that spurred me to offer my own volley into the bloggy battle was that some the parades have been canceled.
I haven’t watched a parade in years—maybe 20 years. I remember watching them as children. I cared about every part of them. I loved the floats. I wanted my group to perform. And when I was around 18, my family even went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC.
But then I became an adult and went off to the Air Force to be a hero pilot. Something changed in me. I just stopped caring about the parade. Music preferences had changed. Lots of things felt different. Maybe it was my mental attitude, more concerned with war and the inner conflict of wanting to distinguish myself through one but not actually wanting to participate in one, but what I know is that it became difficult to care about what I considered to be small potatoes
I think I might even say that because of the gravity inherent to flying, I found myself wanting more and more to entertain myself precisely as I chose, and not with some other person’s method. A bit dramatic and morbid, but I could admit that my opinion became, “If I could die any day, I don’t want to have lived someone else’s life.”
Skip to the pandemic. I can’t see Metallica. I can’t go to the symphony. I can’t attend church (in a meaningful way). That’s no fun. But now I don’t have to have an excuse to stay home. Now, I can shut myself off from the world without an excuse. I can use my phone. I can use my laptop. Most importantly, I can use my books. I can sit around reading or texting all day long, and never feel guilty for being fairly anti-social. Hear me clearly: through the pandemic, I have not been terribly inconvenienced, but I have been relieved of a terrible feeling (guilt).
“With COVID-19 out there, we could die any day,” we now say. Then we hunker down and pretend to be making sacrifices for the good of each other, for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, hell, for the good of the world.
“We are heroes!” we allow, silently.
But the dark truth is this: we like our new way of life. It’s easy. It’s without guilt. And it’s how we’ve kinda always wanted life to be—alone, undisturbed, and free from responsibility.
And it’s all because we believe that we could die any day.
“Sect. 54. Though I have said above (Chap. II), ‘That all men by nature are equal,’ I cannot be supposed to understand all sorts of equality: age or virtue may give men a just precedency: excellency of parts and merit may place others above the common level: birth may subject some, and alliance or benefits others, to pay an observance to those to whom nature, gratitude, or other respects, may have made it due: and yet all this consists with the equality, which all men are in, in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another; which was the equality I there spoke of, as proper to the business in hand, being that equal right, that every man hath, to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man.”
I met a man once who seemed like he had a good head on his shoulders. As our friendship blossomed he kept inviting me to sign up to some kind of free enterprise online magazine club. Due to the twin facts that it cost money and that I don’t believe Truth costs money, I always rebuffed him. Just wasn’t my thing. Finally he offered to pay for the refundable intro lessons. I still declined. Later, at my pleading, he shared with me (for free) a link to some kind of private YouTube video (must have link to view) and I gave it a whirl. In the video, the lecturer declared, “Every word should have one meaning and one meaning only.”
“Puh. What garbage,” I instinctively reacted.
Equality is the word I ask you to consider with me today. Would you have guessed that Mr. Locke had announced which shade of meaning he was after when he said, “All men by nature are equal”? Of course, Thomas Jefferson didn’t include an explanation of which shade of equality he meant alongside his, “All men are created equal” within the Declaration of Independence, so don’t follow your mind to a place we’re not going. My question remains. Would you have guessed that Locke explained that he knew of other meanings of equality?
I would have. The reason I would have is because I’ve been reading great writing for some time now and it simply sounds different than contemporary writing.
For a variety of reasons, our peers are up in arms about equality these days. And they try to use Locke’s idea as a unifying backbone. “See? You, Captain American Declaration, already believe these disenfranchised people are equal too…” they say. It’s nonsense. The house of cards collapses with a single question, “Which sort of equality?” Kamala Harris doesn’t know which sort she means. She doesn’t even take time to evidence that she knows that there are different sorts. This means only that she is not a great writer. Who knew?
This is why I read great writing. Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to discern the many nuanced meanings of equality. I wouldn’t be able to discern who is attempting to con me and who is attempting to persuade me. And without this discernment, my mind would be, at the least, enslaved to another man’s mind, and, at the most, enslaved to his will.
Lastly, to be clear, you don’t have to agree with Locke or the Founders’ assertion about all men’s equality in order to agree with me here. I promise, however, that whether you agree with Locke or not, you will not forget what he taught you about equality.
Read on, young man! Read on!
Why do I always leap at the chance to read Peggy Noonan? Because she’s published by the Wall Street Journal. For my whole life that publication has been elevated as more valuable than all others. Simply put: it had better writing. But I would never pay for it. No way. It wasn’t that good. And I knew that if I did pay, then the guilty pleasure of sneaking in some articles at hotels or the gym locker room would have died.
But I’m tired these days. It’s still great writing. But reason matters to me too. And in Noonan’s Bogus Dispute op-ed of today she writes, “But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.” And later, “On top of all that, the outcome was moderate: for all the strife and stress of recent years, the split decision amounted to a reassertion of centrism.”
These two statements cannot be defended as reasoned conclusions. I’m not saying they are illogical. I’m talking about Reason, Locke style. Fear and worry have no place in a reasoned life. We are never right to worry. Never.
As for the second statement, it’s not only unreasoned, it is also false. Since when do polar opposites added together amount to centrism? Centrism amounts to centrism.
Noonan seems to think that conservatives can be abstracted up to a state-of-being similar to mere energy. And then she asks us to place that energy on one side of an equation where progressives are on the other side, similarly abstracted. Then, if anyone can even follow this mental gymnastic, she asks us to see that the result-announcing equal sign is the USA. (Or maybe the Flag.) Fortunately, she is wrong.
If Ms. Noonan wants us to ‘go abstract’, here’s how it would work. Conservatives abstract to, say, 70 million, and are added to progressives, -78 million, and the result as any fourth grader knows is not zero (or balance), but negative eight million (70,000,000 + -78,000,000 = -8,000,000). Or, concretely, a progressive President.
Life is not math, though. It is art. And the great thing, for optimists like me, is that even when there are less colors (freedom), art can still be beautiful. And that’s all that’s happened here. A few or perhaps even many colors are disappearing. So I, for one, look forward to the new restrictions, the new boundaries from which to make my masterpiece. But, then, I never did understand abstract art.
John Locke opens his, “Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government,” (which he wrote to combat the notion, en vogue at that time, of Divine Right of Kings—itself predicated on the idea that the King was descended from Adam), he opens with four points.
Paraphrased, he says, firstly, Adam had no right (nor did he claim any right) to be such a king—over his family or others. Secondly, Adam’s children were not passed any such right. Thirdly, if his children were passed such right, there is no way to tell which child of each successive family should or did receive the right. And fourthly, (here I’ll directly quote at length) “That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of which is the eldest line of Adam’s posterity being so long since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of the world, there remains not to one above another the least pretense to be the eldest house, and to have the right of inheritance.”
Put shortly, Locke says, even if we believe Adam was endowed especially by God to be King, and even if this special endowment was to be passed on to one of his children (and then one of his children and on and on), too bad! We’ve dropped the ball. We’ve lost track! There’s been too many generations, too many brothers and sisters each generation! Next!
The clarity of his writing is enough to make anyone smile. So read more Locke. Especially if you want to criticize the government. Because as it stands, all criticism I come across is unfocused, unclear, and childlike. We can do better. John Locke is proof.
When thinking Biblically, it is difficult to avoid developing theories for why the pandemic is happening. As in, “What have we done, O LORD, to bring upon ourselves this time of uncertainty? Gambling? Entertainment? Wine? Women? Empty pews? Unrepentant hearts? Not saying your name often and loud enough? What?”
As you may have expected, I have one answer. This answer nourishes my soul and it may prove to nourish yours. So I’m sharing it today.
The reason that this is the day for sharing is that last night, H- reported to me that her elementary school fifth grade class’s week of “different form of government each day” had drawn to a close.
At the close of last week, the eternally incapable of critical thought, and therefore stupid, young teacher had sent a warning/announcement email to mothers and fathers (addressed politically correctly as “parents/guardians”), asking us to not spoil the fun. The email mentioned that the immersive experience would include one day within Monarchy/Dictator (hardly a “slash-able” form of government to anyone who knows how to read), one day within Communism, one day within Socialism (does a ten year old ((or 30 year old for that matter)) really possess the faculties to understand the nuances between these two?? Read on to find out…), and one day within Democracy.
The following are my daughter’s reports.
Monday – (To be clear, this day was a surprise to her. She had not been informed that the day was going to be different than any other before arriving at school.) Besides telling me she cried and subsequently putting her video on pause because I laughed when she told me as much, she said, “I didn’t like how mean and strict she [her teacher] was.” (She couldn’t really remember the name of the form of government.)
Tuesday – “Communism was okay. Had to do the same thing as everyone in the class. At least we got to talk with our friends.”
Wednesday – (Socialism, I think. Again, H- couldn’t recall the name.) “The teacher chose seven students. Then those seven ruled over two each. I didn’t like it. But it wasn’t that bad really. But it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it that much.”
Thursday – “Today, the last day, was Democracy. It was pretty fun, but there were more boys than girls. So it was unfair. Because we had to do what the boys wanted.”
Can you, dear reader, imagine a greater success to a more important undertaking?!
What have Americans done to bring about the uncertainty? Answer: Squandered perhaps the greatest opportunity to educate the whole of our nation’s children that the world (thus, the LORD) has ever given mankind.
Put bluntly, I sleep better and live better with the thought that the deaths of this here pandemic, the uncertainty and fear caused by it, and the Public School’s decision to move to remote learning—with its result that parents can no longer ignore the failure of the falsely lauded public school teachers (“Oh, whatever would we do without these noble education-major-because-I-lack-creative-impulse-at-eighteen pedants?”)—might combine to mean that the facade is over.
The LORD has spoken! Public Schools must be abolished. Since we’re not smart enough to see their harm, the LORD will do it in his own way.
Maybe you can see the wave of abolishment building, too. Know that it is real. And know that it is good. Bring on the ‘rona! Four more years!! Four more years!!
I love writing at this moment. Love it! Why? Because all you ground-based beings are stuck in uncertainty. My wings release me from such trouble. And while at other times your permanent connection to the earth gives you advantages, at this moment, “advantage pilot”. At this moment writing feels like flying.
So Trump lost. Whoopdie doo. It was all hype anyhow, like I said. The important thing, right now, is to resist every urge to keep the hype going. There was no coup. There was no inordinate amount of voter fraud. There wasn’t. In place of those things there was a presidential election in the United States of America in November of 2020. And lifetime politician Joe Biden won.
Resist every urge, I say. Do not feed the hype. The sky is not falling. There is no silver lining, no matter how many minorities voted their conscience instead of their skin color. Resist every urge. I say again, there is no silver lining anywhere. But it’s not because there is no hope. It’s because there is no dark cloud. That’s the truth. You’re just depressed. Admit it. Then cheer up.
How? Escape. I’m talking exercise your capacity for fantasy. Read romance novels. Watch romance movies. I’m still working through Kushiel’s Dart and every one of the 594 pages so far has improved my mood. Try not to smile challenge: The heroine/temple-prostitute/servant-extraordinaire explains, “While I learned how to kneel uncomplaining for hours at a time and the proper angle of approach for serving sweets after a meal, Ysandre was learning how greed and jealousy corrupt the human soul.” Saucy.
And last night we watched Romancing the Stone. “I’ve never been anybody’s best time,” Douglas replies, crushing it. “This is Joan Wilder, who writes the books I read to you on Saturdays!” the drug-lord clarifies.
Do not feed the hype. Resist every urge.
I’m rushing to push out this short post today because I want to keep up my status as one who has his finger directly on the pulse.
Firstly, I was right. It was all hype.
Secondly, I feel like Biden won.
Thirdly, I can’t find anyone in the mainstream media (or the replacement media even) who has said this yet. And this is weird. I mean, of course we don’t know the final outcome with certainty yet (that’s why I said “feel”). But is there really that much doubt? “O ye of little faith.”
More importantly, however, than sharing with you who I feel won, I wanted to say that, I don’t know about you, but I feel great. Why? Because I was right. It was all hype.
No commentator gets it. None of them do. So I’m compelled to get back to it. Last post, I think, before the election.
The pundits are trying. They even seem to be pulling out all the stops, as it were. (One Trump defender actually discussed Trump’s oft-neglected athletic stamina when advocating for him.) But they’re wrong. None of them really possess the focus and clarity that this moment requires. Lucky for you, I do.
Here’s the truth: It’s all hype. I’m stupid. You’re stupid.
How do I defend my assertion? Firstly, by clarifying that I don’t mean ignorant. I mean stupid. Ignorance is bliss. We are not living in bliss. We are living stupidly. We know better and are screwing it up.
Secondly, I defend my assertion by recalling to mind the joke from Ghostbusters that was told when the goddess Gozer appeared and asked one of them, “Are you a god?” Akroyd’s character answered, “No,” and then they all got hurt. At this point, the black ghostbuster rebuked Akroyd, “Ray! When someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”
That joke works because the information seeker, Gozer, at that moment in the parlay, had admitted a weakness: she couldn’t discern deities from mortals. And even the black guy knew that mere mortals would be stupid to give up their unexpected advantage.
Well, I say that this scene has been playing out among us since March. We were gods—even the blacks, for all their whining. Then we found ourselves in new territory—PANDEMIC!! At this point, we made our misstep. We asked Fauci and other mortals if they were a god. Unluckily for us, and (I fervently pray) damningly for them, upon hearing verbal confirmation that we were morons, they all were, unlike us, savvy enough to say, “Yes. Yes I am.”
To be clear, we were Gozer. We were the gods. And, apparently, I’m the only one on the planet who can put this into writing. That fact alone demonstrates how stupid we are.
Finally, I want to go on record as saying the following. This is not the most important election of whatever select time period. It’s not. It’s not even pivotal. The fact that we let people talk like that is further evidence that we’re stupid. This election changes nothing. That’s the truth. And I don’t mean that in some sort of depresso way. I mean it as dryly as possible. As in, “What do you think, Pete?” “To be frank? It’s all hype.”
People who we don’t know—stranger danger 101–have been duping us into believing they are smarter than us, more important than us, more powerful than us, more relevant than us, and that they have more insight into the nature of life on earth than us for nearly all time. Some of us have read the words of men who lived in moments in time that weren’t like this. Seems like it was fun. But the majority of human history has been a record of stupidity—gods giving up their power.
Wednesday will see the rising sun. So will Thursday and Friday and the rest of time. It’s all hype. I’m stupid. You’re stupid.
“I don’t think you’re accurately accounting for the level of vanity involved in the people who translate ancient (or for that matter contemporary) texts.”
That’s what I should have said. Instead, I indulged myself in a fruitless, ground-losing defense of the character of translators. I think my big claim was, “Trust me. These people get it right!” Fizzle.
Why was I talking about translating ancient texts? Because I was talking about the unparalleled world of reading that opens to a human that learns one language—English—as being superior to the notion of achieving some sort of highly inefficient, multi-cultural divinity because of speaking two or more languages.
My partner in the conversation was, naturally, repulsed by this placement of English on a pedestal. Her devotion to sounding welcoming of all peoples and tongues was so blinding that she couldn’t even see that it’s English that gives us the access to all peoples and tongues (or at least those who have had anything to say that’s worth repeating). There’s no Arabic translation of Shakespeare spreading through the Middle East.
Oh well. Now I know. Live and learn.
Rhetorical tip o’ the day: Go with what keeps the conversation interesting and plays into putting the moron on the defense of whoever I’m trying to defend.
“You can’t blame Trump supporters for their zeal. They were beaten into stupors by white supremacists as children. A child can’t recover from that.”
“Well, you know, pro-lifers haven’t really been exposed to other ideas and cultures. Especially the ones claiming female gender. They’re basically enslaved to their holy book, incapable of escape. Pro-life is their hijab.”
“Many of the men supporting gun ownership are actually just compensating for their sterility, which they contracted due to PTSD, either from A. essentially being drafted—due to their poverty—to fight America’s illegal wars, or from B. their having witnessed gruesome animal torture on hunting trips with local hate groups at a young age.”
Yep. Those would nicely tee up even the nimblest leftist rhetorician for slaughter.
Can’t trust translators. Puuh. What an empty statement.