Although the President of the United States is an idealized office that has less power than the emotional tide leading up to an election suggests, I am concerned about what I see as a train wreck with two possible outcomes: the train stays on the track or the train leaves the track. In either case, the train isn’t the little democracy that could, but is instead the fact that, as Chris Hedges stated, “We do not live in a functioning democracy, and we have to stop pretending that we do.”
Anti-white, No-deal Rhetoric
As often is the case, the attempt to correct one ill in society creates a second ill. To point out the second ill, of course, is not to minimize the one ill, but, rather, to prevent a perpetual reciprocity of ill for ill.
In this case, the critique of white privilege as the cause of economic and racial inequities in the US may ultimately reinforce the problems the critique attempts to resolve. At least that is the point of David Marcus’ “How Anti-White Rhetoric Is Fueling White Nationalism” (May 23, 2016). He writes, “In reducing all phenomena to a question of race, both the alt right and the progressive left ensure the dominance of racial resentment as the lynchpin of our society.” He argues that the more white guilt is stressed, the more likely whites, who are trying to ignore race, become sensitized to it, with the result that some of them are drawn into the polarization that the critique intended to dissolve.
Voices and Voting
A non-partisan note on presidential nominations and elections. Am I the only one who evaluates candidates in part on the sound of their voice? Not an expert of all the current voices, I do know the big three or four (Trump, Sanders, Cruz, and Clinton in reverse alphabetical order).
Smartphones, Urim, and Thummim
Yesterday I had my internet service cut off to avoid distractions from my home projects (writing unreadable novel, reading unwritable novel, and other things). Meanwhile, getting on my bike, I laid my flip phone outside the doctor’s office, on a window ledge. An hour later, I discovered no phone and no way to call my phone with Skype to see if someone had picked it up. As I biked back to the doctor’s office, I pictured the phone gone and my getting that iPhone 5 that my phone company had been offering me for so little money for so long.
Chunks of Metal Moving in the Street
The streets I see are filled with big chunks of metal moving past, spewing gasses. That is how it appears to me, now, over a year since I sold my car. Sure, these chunks also include plastic, sometimes leather, probably rare earth metals for the electronics, and some stone for the glass. It is the metal, though, that contributes most to their mass, and that makes them seem disproportionately big and heavy when they are moving a 170 pound person up and down the road. According to Slate, the chunks weigh about 4,000 pounds, on average, with or without the driver.
“Ask” is a Noun
A few days ago I told a few friends that, where I work, “ask” is now a noun, as in “what was the ask of the meeting?”
When my dad decided to forego “maintenance therapy” for his health condition, knowing that the therapy would thoroughly impoverish his ability to live a productive life, he told the health care professionals, “I want to die and receive the new body Jesus came to give me.” He had an exit strategy.
It’s Business, Not Personal (a dream)
So…I was assigned a spot in the rear of a jumbo jet airliner from where I would shoot the occupants of two designated seats, one at either side of the plane, several rows ahead of me.
But before explaining that situation, I want to consider the relation between wording and persuasion, asking, How does one separate elegant wording from misleading thinking? If something is pithy, doesn’t it also seem true—whether or not it is?
Throughout my adult life, I’ve shied away from justifying decisions with the convenient disclaimer that it is “business, not personal.” Perhaps in part, I’ve not needed the phrase because I’ve also shied away from business. Lately, however, as the encumbrances of career and property accrue, I find myself using the formula occasionally.
‘Tis an unweeded garden (surgery, minor)
Lying there, shirtless, I waited beneath the fluorescent lights, alone for a quarter hour, thinking how lonely a hospital room can be. And so it would have been, except I’m a veteran with this procedure.
In comes Surgeon, we greet, and I say, “Cut on me.” We locate the three lipomas that I want removed from my arms and chest, three being a standard insurable amount, and then he throws one more in for free—each now having its own X inked over it.
Already I’m happier.
The Grammar of War and the War on Grammar
I am more qualified to talk about grammar than war, although (the pending Syrian) war is the truly important item—so I will start with grammar.
The War on Grammar: We know that language simplifies itself over time. For example, the use of the apostrophe seems doomed. Half the people who see it’s importance, use it incorrectly (yes, I know, I did, and I know punctuation is not grammar, strictly speaking).
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