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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Entry 25: The Unravelers III


September 30, 2014


Dear Friends

Re:         Entry 25

Someone once told me to never confuse the American People with the American Government; they are not one in the same.  In recent months, on several fronts, we have come to the point of the question I never thought I would seriously pose:

Do you trust these clowns with your lives?

A few points of distraction:  They want to disarm you while dismissing terrorism all around.  They surveil your calls, your computer habits—this blog—and record everything.  They collect your taxes and use some of them for purposes the mass of people would never countenance if given the direct choice.  They decry “climate change” and forego vital domestic energy assets in the name of world climate leadership, while Russia holds Europe hostage over energy (and Europe likes it, apparently).  They have their agencies act as arbiters of free speech, in violation of the founding principles.  They welcome immigration without scrutiny in the name of compassion, but with the cynical knowledge of its effect on electoral politics.  They let Americans rot in foreign jails.  They coddle enemies ([tell President Putin] “… This is my last election ... After my election I have more flexibility”) while demonizing and ridiculing and stereotyping half of their citizenry (“…And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations..”)  They seek to limit what you can eat, drink, choose—unless that choice is to kill an unborn child.  They divide us.  They dominate us.  They dictate to us.  They tell us what to think, to believe.  They watch terrorists roam our streets and care more about the world’s opinion than their citizen’s safety.   They spout their insolent sophomoric nonsense from their juvenile teenage-wise spokesmen and women, and expect us to fall in line.  They turn our military leaders into their personal lapdogs.  They indulge in the arrogance of the idolizing of their own ability and intelligence yet are incompetent in actual leadership and execution.  They open the borders and in walks Ebola.

Do you trust these clowns with your lives?

There are things out there, that are truths, and we know they are truths because, well,  they just are.  One of them is that men and women are equal and that in that equality, God gave them rights that cannot be denied—rights like the ability to live, and to live free, to choose to do as it pleases you so long as that right does not infringe on the rights of others.  One of the reasons we even form governments that last—and last all over the world—is that the people bond together and voluntarily consent to the government, and not the other way around.  In fact, whenever the government becomes too strong and begins to destroy the reasons the people put it in place to begin with, the people have an unfettered right to alter or to abolish it and to put in its place a new government, one that has as its foundations the original principles and organizes itself in such as way as to protect the people, their lives and their happiness.  And it isn’t just with the drop of a hat that such decisions and changes are made—to be prudent, no people should just change their government because of some correctible problems—people will suffer much and should only change things if it is the last resort.  But at the end of all of this, when any government becomes more important that those that granted it power, and when it in and of itself derives its right to govern from itself and not the people, that is the same as tyranny.  When this happens, the people have an absolute duty to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Now, dearest reader, I am loathe to tricking you, but by now you probably realized that most of the last paragraph was a poor paraphrase of Jefferson’s prose, the italicized part verbatim, from the Declaration of Independence.    For you see, we have been here before.  I believe the choice is coming, and I am not advocating anything but peaceable change in the way things are done to restore freedom to the consent of the governed.

I ask again:  Do you trust these clowns with your lives?

I remain,


Fessler

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Entry 24: Banned from the Lexicon

September 16, 2014

Dear Friends

RE: Entry 24

There are certain words, phrases better said, that should no longer have a place in public discourse.  For those of you who may continue to flail away your fleeting hours watching the news of any stripe, you poor wicked demented children of the cord, you are often exposed to many of these phrases; and so much so that they pass through you as ghosts, unseen, leaving their haunting residue on your very souls.

All of us have heard them, the 20-something idiot-laced punditry that has come to dominate every news network (yes, gasp, Fox too I daringly proclaim in hushed tones).  The words and phrases, so overused, are often poetic-sounding, laced with imagery, but now so much said they become stripped of color and meaning.  Sort of like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, they’ve played it so much at Christmas, I keep wanting George to drown, for Potter to take over the town, for Uncle Billy to get the chair.  Yes, it has come to that.
So here is the start of my list.  With luck, longevity and nothing better to do in the future I will supplement it:

In harm’s way.  I once looked this up to see where it originated.  I don’t recall finding it out, but I probably have confused clicking on a Google ad for loss of interest.   It is poetic, and projects a vision of strength, daring and courage.  I have this picture in my head of Nelson, standing on the bridge of a storm-tossed brigand, one arm sleeve dangling, then flapping in the wind, driving the ship headlong into the teeth of the fire of the French.  But it is no longer so.  Everyone uses it, in every context.  I once heard it at church (so many of these banned phrases end up in the offices of America, like gum on the floor of a theater, still pathetically on display but lacking utility and flavor).  “In harm’s way” has come to be used in lieu of “danger” by every clueless commentator on every talk show.   Worse, it is passive voice.  Yipe.
It is what it is.  What does this even mean?  I have actually heard this used by professionals—and I have taken to asking for an explanation every time.  Getting one is really enjoying, because the doper logic that coined that phrase falls apart when scrutinized or forced into clarity.  Once my high school gym teacher (and football coach) a great man, told me “don’t define a word using the same word”.  Pretty simple.  But time and again some clown will use this phrase and when challenged will say something such as “like, man, it means that it is all that it is and all that it can be”.  Somehow, those five words got transmogrified from the book of Exodus.  Ban, please.

The optics of the situation.  This is a relatively new one, maybe in the last year or so it has taken on a life of its own.  For the non-Fox News groupie, it means “it looks bad”.  But instead of saying that, someone got Roget in a headlock and he burped up that sentence.  My grandfather, from Italy, once sold a horse.  When someone came to buy it, he asked about the animal's health.  “She no looka too good” was the response.  About a week later the man came back asking for his money, claiming that my grandfather never told him the horse was blind.  “I tell you, she no looka too good”.   Clarity should be a goal.
A Conversation (as in “we need to have a national conversation about…”).   Blabbita blabbita blabbita.  Whatever happened to the days when someone attacked us, we did not get in touch with our inner self, try to understand the enemy’s desire to harm us, wonder how we could all get along, looked inwardly, morbidly so, at how we could have people hate us?  We signed up, went away, finished the job, came home and drove Chevys.  I say “we” in a broad sense.  More like our fathers and grandfathers.  They had no need for a “conversation” about anything.  The clueless classes that call for the rebuilding of America would have the need to have a conversation with a snail darter.   When America needed ditch diggers, our forefathers would shut up and dig.  They didn’t have some kind of existential angst over the philosophy of ditch digging. Only the well fed and over indulged can afford to be philosophical when there is work to be done.

God save us from ourselves.
I remain,


Fessler

PS—my grandfather never owned a horse, at least not in my memory.  But he did sound like that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Entry 23: The Last Light from Vega

September 2, 2014

Dear Friends

RE:  Entry 23

When I was younger, there was a song, by the Alan Parsons Project named “Some Other Time”.  It was during that period when it was fashionable to write and promote what were called “Rock Operas” or songs in the Pink-Floyd style of thematic concept music.  It was a time when LP albums rotated into infinity across America, the one cent weight of copper pushing the diamond tip into the vinyl at 33 rounds per minute.  This particular song had a line in it that I think about almost every time I look up in the night sky, a very poetic line for a rock song (before I tell you the line, I think the most poetic line in a rock song is in “America” by Simon and Garfunkel—“…and the moon rose over an open field.”  We can debate later).  The line from the APP song is “now the starlight, which has found me lost for million years, tries to linger, as it fills my eyes ‘til it disappears.”

The other night to a clear sky I was looking up, nearly at 90 degrees at the apex of the night sky is the star Vega, one of the brightest stars in the northern hemisphere night.  I looked it up; Vega is about 25 light years away, meaning that light travels over 150 trillion miles to my eyes.  Another way of looking at this is that the light from Vega emerged as a photon 25 years ago, so the surface light that I see (if say, I could see the surface of Vega like the sun) is 25 years old.  I am seeing that star as it looked 25 years ago.  It could have exploded 24 years, 11 months and 29 days ago.  I won’t know until tomorrow.  Another thing to remember, is that because Vega is larger than the sun (2.1 times larger, according to Wikipedia), that light photon was created at least tens of thousands of years earlier in the heart of the star, taking that long to get to the surface before it began its interstellar journey to  deposit its last ghostly remnant on me.  The thing about light, it creates pressure.  We don’t think of it in the sense of pressure pushing light as, say, a water hose, but the pressure of light is very substantial (look up “solar sail” if you don’t believe me).  That photon of light, that infinitesimally small amount of energy, traveled across the emptiness of space and spent itself in my retina, converting itself to a small amount of heat (so small as to be impossible to measure with our technology).  That it survived the journey to me is a miracle.  That it exists at all is a wonder.

I heard a documentary last month; I was listening but not watching.  It is very hard to watch television today, even the historical documentaries have taken it upon themselves to create false drama in everything (the fact that the History Channel is more pop-culture and trivia about pawn shop items tells you all you need to know).  Anyway, I was listening, not watching and realized that the speaker—a famous astronomer—was saying something that was utterly astounding.  He said, and I’ve heard it before, for years now, that 80% of the universe is “unaccounted for” as “dark matter and dark energy”.  Don’t know what it is, can’t see it, can’t measure it, can’t tell you what it could be, but we know it is there because we can see the effects of it.  In any other context this would be called faith.  I was once told by a friend that religion—faith—was worthless, because there were no real unknowns in the world.  Oh really? I asked.  And what of gravity?  You can point out the mechanics of it but you can’t say why it exits.  Or quantum mechanics?  Below the subatomic level, things get really, well, weird, inexplicable in normal terms.  When you get small below the particle level the theories are that the structure of everything is like…foam.  Wrap your mind around that.  And dimensions, we know four (well, there was a Fifth Dimension, but that age of music is gone); but there are theoretically more, maybe more than a dozen.  The whole concept of “Horton Hears a Who” may be more realistic that we think, only in dimensions and not size. And time—our “fourth” dimension--well that is constant isn’t it?  Time is a concept, and a manmade one.  Does time even exist, or is just a relative comparison between two things which are not really constant at all (which is basically what Einstein was saying)?  And time travel?—theoretically possible according to modern physics—at least backwards.  There is a theory, very difficult to prove, and somewhat of a paradox called “quantum entanglement”, or in the vernacular, and pejorative, “spooky action at a distance”.  Let me give you the Grant Town version:  two related particles, regardless of the separation of space or time between them, act in similar fashion so that when one is changed, the other exhibits related changes with no apparent connection between them.  This would mean that if I hit a bell on Earth last night it would instantaneously ring on Vega, 25 light years away, without delay (please, no physicists letters…again…I know I don’t have the description exactly right).  If two things act that way, that theoretically makes instantaneous communication across vast distances possible.  So what is it that we think we know?  We’re but blind, groping our way through the world.  And what is it about science that is constant? 

We look into a glass, and darkly.  That line was written about another type of faith.

I remain,


Fessler