Archive for Philosophy and Logic
Let’s all take a (much deserved?) breather from the muck-a-muck of local (politics?, no. Vindictiveness? That seems more accurate…) whathaveyou, and have ourselves a read from the blog of The French Broad Brewery. They have a blog? Why yes, yes they do.
Tim Kreider is a cartoonist who last June wrote a much-quoted column for the New York Times about “busyness” and its glorification. “A boast disguised as a complaint,” he said of the quick, thoughtless reply (“Busy!”) to any question of how one is doing; something not often heard from the working poor dead on their feet from double shifts and routinely from them who’ve staffed-out their precious hours to a multitude of tasks taken on out of “ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.” As is probably pretty clear, among these frantic doers Kreider does not count himself. ”I am not busy,” he says. “I am the laziest ambitious person I know,” going on to describe an idyllic daily regimen comprising a few hours of morning work, long bike rides and errands done, evenings consumed in watching movies with friends, having drinks, et cetera et cetera. Reading this, you–if you’re me–surround all of a sudden a feeling in your belly like a pinch and a punch and a warm glow of covetous pleasure all at the same time, because you, like me, are, if not a deeply lazy person, at least someone who places a steep premium on leisure time, who has somehow gotten off track, veered into a lane where the traffic is faster and tailgating rampant and highway noise loud enough to disrupt one’s train of thought. (Although, to be honest, it is usually less a “train” of thought than a listless, colorful regatta, or a twilit-sky-filled-with-hot-air-balloons of thought.)
“It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this,” Kreider goes on, brilliantly, “any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.”
To pick one nit, it does seem sometimes to happen all by itself–independent of a person’s anxious desire to be occupied. Day follows day follows day, a box of To-Do appears behind this door, which, son of a gun, was that even there yesterday? And what about this list in my hand? Who put that there? Hold on, wait, I have to answer this… You rise sore into the day that keeps you on your feet and going until you collapse into the night’s sleep equivalent of a Megadeath concert however many hours later, then rise sore into the day… And you (you, who like sitting) didn’t ask for it. The days were longer, before…idler, more free…less productive.
Well, boxes of To-Do have indeed been proliferating around our rickety old barn by the stream, lately. There’s a crate with a canning line in it, a newly leased space, a just-installed mother of a brite tank that, freshly packed with IPA, sprung an alarming leak, a swirl of roster changes around which we’re all learning to dance (with new partners and the tune unknown)…this on top of the gradual incorporation of the grain augur that’s redeeming the elbows’ and backs’ of our brewers from their many batches of toil (though not without its hiccoughs) and the systemic alterations made front of house that necessitated last month a three day furlough for the Tasting Room. Commerce, we disorganize and rebuild ourselves around you.
Also: listened day before yesterday to an excerpt from a keynote address given by the late David Foster Wallace to a class of college graduates. I forget what college, but I feel enormously envious and protective of their experience, ’cause this excerpt flat knocked me down. Click the link, please! I will not demean those nine plus minutes with summary, but will say that they involve consciously practiced thought. They involve the lame truth that our default mental state is woefully small and self-interested. It speaks to the intelligent person’s capacity, however, to substitute for this automatic childishness a wider, more adult awareness: the world does not exist for me; the people in the world do not exist for me; neither my comfort nor my convenience are the point of the human day. This is good!
So let this be a quality of the busy season: that we occasionally sublimate ourselves to the great, shifting abundance of folks and needs and places that clutter the day and the unseeable vectors of cause and effect that put us where we are, next to who we’re next to, doing things. Let our engines churn but our minds find time to idle.
I’ll take mine with a pint, if you please. And how are you, after all?
RERUM NOVARUM, ON CAPITAL AND LABOR, POPE LEO XIII, May 15, 1891
The foremost duty, therefore, of the rulers of the State should be to make sure that the laws and institutions, the general character and administration of the commonwealth, shall be such as of themselves to realize public well-being and private prosperity … to benefit every class in the State, and amongst the rest to promote to the utmost the interests of the poor … since it is the province of the commonwealth to serve the common good.
What, no rugged individualism or moral hazard?
A teacher once said that the hardest thing for her to deal with was not the child who could do the work but would not apply himself. It was the child who kept trying and kept failing. Unlike Lake Wobegon, in real life every child is not above average.
Life is not fair that way, our conservative friends like reminding us. There are winners and there are losers. Yet in the next breath they assure us that with hard work, in America anyone can overcome their circumstances and succeed. This is not just an American myth. I once read something similar written in iron above the gates at Dachau.
Equally mythological as hard work guaranteeing success is the unwritten subtext. That if you have not triumphed over your circumstances, it is because you are lazy. You just need to work harder.
This is one of “4 Things Politicians Will Never Understand About Poor People,” writes John Cheese in a recent issue of Cracked magazine.
“Politicians can’t get past the idea that the only possible way to fail in America is if you sit back and do nothing. The idea that someone can put out the effort, yet not gain ground is inconceivable to them.”
Only Law Enforcement Officers Will be Outlaws
(UPDATED below: The Zombie Apocalypse is here.)
Via Crooks and Liars,
A Texas state representative says that a bill banning the enforcement of any new gun control laws is constitutional because it would only prosecute police and other state officials.
Texas is the asylum. Guess who’s running it?
It may seem a little premature to recount Pat McCrory’s top hits as governor, but the first month of his tenure has given us enough gems that it seems like a good idea to stop and take stock before the legislative session begins and the wonders of January start to fade with distance. So here’s a run down of what I believe to be the best quotes to come out of the McCrory administration so far. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
1. “The educated elite have taken over.”
“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”
Tom Sullivan has already done a good job unpacking the beauty of this statement. For myself, I’m wondering who’s supposed to be in charge of education apart from “educational elites.” Educational mediocrities, maybe?
2. “I’m trying to make it.”
And yet it’s clear that McCrory doesn’t have a problem with elites in general. Read More→
In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting, we see the expected hand wringing about the easy availability of firearms, the unavailability of mental health services, and the radicalism of a powerful gun lobby that sees a rising body count as acceptable to ensure our “freedom.”
Not to defend the National Rifle Association, but there is something bigger going on here than the availability of firearms or lack of public mental health services. In the flurry of articles in the aftermath of September 11, someone suggested that rather than “How did this happen?” or “Why do they hate us?”, the most pressing question was “Would America keep its head?” Uh, no. We experienced a kind of mass psychosis we never quite recovered from. America sanctioned an illegal invasion, kidnapping, warrantless detention, secret prisons, and government-sponsored torture. Our leaders smiled into the camera while defending it. And America went along.
With the microphone in front of him during a public forum, Mark Meadows didn’t hesitate.
“Yes,” the Republican candidate told the questioner, he would call for an investigation into whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
Meadows told the Blue Ridge Tea Party on June 12 that if Republicans are successful in the fall, “we will send him (Obama) back home to Kenya or wherever it is.”
Patterson told the same group that “there is something there that’s not right” about Obama’s birth certificate and that “I don’t know where he is from.”
I understand that they’re in a runoff and that it will be a very small number of the most engaged/enraged Republican voters who will decide the victor. The candidates’ willingness to advocate conspiratorial, fringe beliefs is helpful information for the rest of the electorate as folks look toward the November general election. Without the primary we might never have known that the two Republican candidates were men who espouse such farcical views. When confronted by rational people in the press? The story changes fast:
“Meadows and Patterson, in interviews with the Citizen-Times days later, said they believe Obama was born in the United States.”
“It doesn’t matter where he is from, and that was my point,” Meadows said. “What we have to do is go on the issues and turn out the vote based on the issues.”
Well that’s not what you said, Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patterson. And now we’ve all got to wonder whether you’re tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists or just two more GOP politicians who’ll say anything to get elected. Either way, it’s helpful information for voters.
I would think that people who want to be part of our U.S. Congress would be willing to rise above these cheap conspiracy theories that inflame fearful passions without generating any solutions to the real challenges western North Carolina faces.
So says Adam Mordecai:
Nick Hanauer, self-described “super-rich” entrepreneur, gave a pretty compelling TED Talk about how the middle class—not the super-rich—are the real job creators. But TED, which has released over 100 different political videos in the past, thought this one was too partisan and chose not to release it.
Under pressure, they eventually did. Here it is anyway. Enjoy.
All property shall be held in common; for as many as possess lands or houses shall sell them and bring the money to the the capitol; distribution shall be unto every person according as they have need.
I wonder how many Christian pastors would be out in front of the polls urging people to support passing that because it’s from the Bible. And not in an Old Testament book written half a millennium before Christ, but by people who knew the man and wrote the Gospels and the New Testament.
Act 4:32 ¶ And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
Act 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35 And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.