Miscellaneous things

The world is f[o]ull of stuff. (BMcC[18-11-46-503])

Anent asking for directions, etc.

"See if there's anything good on...." "Why bother?" (DESPAIR, Copyright © Robert Crumb, 1969, used with permission for non-profit educational purposes only; authorized by R.Crumb himself: "McCormick, Permission granted. R. Crumb") Do not reproduce. This image to BMcC indexical of many things.

"See if there's anything good on." "Why bother?"

I am driving in a big city where I feel the buildings are closing in on me and I am lost. I ask a pedestrian for directions. I stop at a perhaps slightly sleazy gas station and go into the service bay and ask for directions. Family member does not like this and say something like that they are embarrassed. Males in America supposedly don't ask for directions, because it does not fit their self-image.

Some time probably around 1998. Home has only one bath tub/shower, but it is out of commission due to bathroom being under reconstruction due to water in the wall and a huge insect nest having been found in the intrawall dampness. But I need a shower because my scalp is getting itchy. Therefore, feeling I am intruding on their privacy, I knock on the door of nextdoor neighbor whom I scarcely have ever met, and ask them if I can use their bathroom to take a shower. Fortunately, the answer is Yes. Their bathroom is close to a catastrophe. Under normal conditions I would probably not enter it. But these were not normal conditions, and I got my shower and my head stopped itching and my body felt refreshed (no longer "sticky"). I thanked my neighbors and told them that I really appreciated it.

More recently, and in a different house, I apparently, entirely inadvertantly, missed something offensive in the bathroom.[1] I am peremptorily interrupted in my studying and asked about it in a not respectful way, but rather in an Indicter-is-offended way. I snap back that I certainly did not mean to do it, and proceed to fix the problem and want to be done with it and get back to what I was thinking/writing. My mood is spoiled, which doesn't help my thinking/writing. Accuser tells me I am arrogant, even after I make the highly not recommended response of saying: "mea culpa" and raising my hands together as if in prayer (I was supposed to say "I'm sorry" in a penitent way).[2] Who, my reader, is the arrogant one here?

Some context: When I was younger, ca. aetatis suae 30 years, I was a pretty flippant computer systems programmer. I knew the limits of my knowledge, which limtations were at least close to massive. But I also knew some important to my job things, and I knew I knew them and that some of the people around me didn't. I may indeed have told one manager that if he wanted to change from bi-weekly to weekly status reports that was no problem for me because "two half nuthin's make a whole nuthin'". Third line manager: We know you can do it your way, but what do we do about all those who can't? My answer: Let me do it my way and tell them they can't because they can't. (←not exact quotes here) And I did once metaphorically skewer a peer job rank coworker who had been trying to jerk me around via his manager, in a meeting where I was teaching something; after that I had no more trouble out of him.

On the other hand, I earned sufficient respect from a different manager that when I told him there was something that needed to be done that needed management OK, he immediately went to his manager to get it done.[3] I also never turned away an application programmer or technical clerk who came to me admitting they needed help and respectfully asking me to help them. I loved helping such folks, albeit, if I was on my feet, asking them to please let me sit on the nearest chair, first.[4] Always, I either resolved their problem or, worst case, if I could not do that, contacted somebody who could help, or, failing even that, guided them some way they should proceed further. Computer operators (a species beneath the dignity of many but not all computer programmers to consort with!) liked me and let me do whatever I wanted in their computer room (as a systems programmer, I had formal authority to do this, but they could have seen to it that I didn't get very far with it). I was particularly fond of the third shift operators, "the wrecking crew", whom I would encounter at the end of their shift when I arrived at work in the morning before any other programmers. The humble application programmers (and also IBM PSR's -- programing support representatives, of every rank) liked me, too. I surely had a bad attitude. Was I snotty and arrogant? Or was I asking for appropriate dignity and respect? What so you think, my reader?

I have a friend who is a master computer programmer. He has always been more flippant than ever I was, and he too was/is always helpful to those in need who respectfully ask him for help (including myself). "Lead, follow or get out of the way" might be his motto. He contracted with a company that does HVAC for nuclear submarines, for the air conditioning in his home. He has always been eager to learn from those who had something to teach him. I find him not arrogant but much worthy of respect.

I do not suffer what I call "pretenders to knowledge" or other fools, unless they credibly threaten me with substantive injury, which did happen once ("in a way that will not leave any marks"). Ticks and fleas, but lyme disease bearing ticks can wreck a person's life in 20th/21st century and fleas caused the great plague of the fourteenth century. Galileo was an idiot. Not having the stomach to become a martyr, he should have written only in Latin and bracketed his beliefs as hypotheticals. Then the Inquisition would likely have left him alone. And, furthermore, I seem to have read that he couldn't rigorously prove the helioentric hypothesis, and, of course, God is omnipotent and consequently can do anything. I'll speak and write in the latin of my time (I seem to recall Walter Ong wrote that the last colloquium in real latin was held in 1953). What do you think here, my reader?

What is "The New Right"?

In response to A New York Times article, I sent a Reader Comment. The article was about the New Right in Germany, and it may be different in other countries:

I had not previously heard of the "New Right". It sounds like more of Freud's chickens (aka the repressed unconscious) are coming home to roost. A collective not individual Unibomber? If one reads the Unibomber's maifesto, which NYT published so-to-speak at gunpoint, one will find some wisdom in it -- a Professor Jacques Ellul who could not express his concerns in eminent Professorial prose and so chose bombmaking.

"Make love! Defend Europe!"[5] Have these right-wingers co-oped some valid issues in our present time of political correctness Stasis? Are they right-wing or polymorphous? This is to me scary, because we live in an age where, as has been noted by some such as "The Power of Nightmares" BBC producer Adam Curtis, reality aka truth has become just a tool in the toolkit of those who manage the world. Which side are you on? To grossly misrepresent Patrick McGoohan's fine TV series, "that would be telling".

We are in purgatory, on a down elevator, and the German New Right may -- however poilitically incorrect this thought may be, but scholars, I think, should be able to study everything[6] -- sometimes be right.

There really should be something good; a return to Henri Matisse

I probably studied something about Henri Matisse in college, but I doubt it had much effect. When I worked as a clerk (←that rhymes), Assistant to the Registrar, at The Baltimore Museum of Art (1969), I had opportunity to become a bit more acquainted with his work. My manager was a not to-myself nice person[7], who went to the museum's Director about said manager's displeasure at my coming to work early each day and taking the most interesting mail for myself to answer. Director, Charles Parkhurst, reamed me out. He explained to me that he was an old military man (probably no General Milley). I replied to him that I had no reply because I did not want to [exact words forgotten:] make my situation worse. Somehow I finessed a transfer to a different job in the museum (Museum Shop Manager) and survived. I got away from the stain on the reputation of Goucher College.

Back to happy things (negative miracles will never cease, or at least they seem to follow me everywhere). Which brings me to my first positive thing: A what-would-now-be politically incorrect statue across the street from the Museum. It was a life size (larger than life?) equestrian statue of rebel Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The inscriprion on the base was: Jackson: "SO GREAT IS MY CONFIDENCE IN / GENERAL LEE THAT I AM WILLING TO / FOLLOW HIM BLINDFOLDED / STRAIGHT AS THE NEEDLE TO THE POLE". Well, not only is that politically incorrect, but it is also grossly wrong: Always and especially post-WWII Germany, nobody should uncritically follow anybody anywhere. And General Lee may have "blown it" at Gettysburg. But I liked it and still like it. Why? Because for so long as I had to work to earn a living, I wanted a manager whom I could trust (who would lead empathically-wisely from the front, not selflessly-heroically from the rear → hypocrites with metaphorically reversed alimentary canals...). I had more than one good manager, but not all of my managers deserved respect.

Lee and Jackson were across the street. On the near side of the street, The Baltimore Museum of Art had (has?) a great colletion of modern art: The Cone Collection. Spinsters [Medical!] Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta. They had inherited wealth from North Carolina textile mill(s). They were friends with persons like Gertrude Stein. They lived in an apartment in the aristocratic section of Baltimore. They were deceased by the time I came to The Museum. They had bequethed their massive collection of modern art to The Museum, including Matisse's Blue and Pink Nudes (what was their sex lives like, I wonder?), and a great Cezanne Mont Sainte Victoire (insurance value in 1969, if I recall correctly, US$800,000, and also I had a problem with this painting: apres Norwood Russell Hanson's duck-rabbits, at some point, I started seeing the mountain as Dr. Claribel Cone's recumbent head in profile and that spoiled the painting for me.

The Matisses never spoiled (although The Blue Nude is pretty much "in your face"). Albeit also my thoughts about sex were at that time still underdeveloped; I had not yet studied enough. I did not yet know the sources. But I was able to enjoy some privileges I had as a museum employee, privileges the Director probably never would have thought of to deprive me of. Items: (1) The Chief Conservator, Victor Covey, was a blue collar man whose academic pedigree I believe was vocational training by the eminent conservator Carolyn Keck. Vic was a good guy whom I much respected. His assistant, Kay Silberfeld(sp?) I also respected. Their skylit work room I also liked. At one museum opening Covey quietly made a politically incorrect aside comment to me about some lady in attendance. I forget the comment but I have lastingly liked him having shared it with me. Here was a man of the earth who was also conservator of some the highest artistic achievements of Western civilization. Later, Director Parkhurst, become Asst. Director of The National Gallery of Art, fetched Covey to become (initially or by promotion, I do not know) Chief of Conservation for his new employer. (2) One day I went into the office of the Curator of Prints and Drawings (I do not remember if the door was unlocked). I opened at least one of the file trays of prints and drawings not on exhibit and at my leisure perused them. (3) this was not a fun one: I did not fully understand how international shipments of art works should be handled. Nobody educated me. I decided to try to save a museum to which BMA had lent a painting some money by not going through the customs agent on one painting's return. I spent one sweating day getting that painting from Baltimore's Friendship airport to The Museum without the packing crate being opened by customs. A good manager would have been on top of that one.

I attended Museum "openings". They were elegant, held in the what I would now call Renaissance courtyard at the back of The Museum. But those openings were not what was most special about that courtyard to myself. I had freedom to go wherever I wanted in the Museum. I had a master key (which maybe they did not know I had, and I wasn't volunteering information; I did not use it much). I would be sometimes in the museum at night, when the only other person there was the night watchman. I got along very well with "the guards". Again blue collar integrity v. white collar Smiling faces, etc. I would walk around the museum, then only dimly lit by night lights for the guard to be able to see as he made his rounds with his Detex Watchclock recorder. The Museum, disabused of what I would now describe as Hermann Broch's "clamour of the non-existent", was very beautiful to me then. But the Cone Collection gallery and the conservators' workspace were also beautiful in the daytime sun light. I remember once, I do not recall for what reason, a guard let me accompany him into the guards' break room, which to me was far more beautiful than the Director's office (an easy choice).

I could go on here more about my experiences as Assistant to the Registrar (not Assistant Registrar!) and Musuem Shop Manager. I will tell a Kafkaesque task I had as ATTR: I was assigned to copy a huge number of cards for the Registrar's office files (this was before computerization of records; consequently the Registrar's office maintained 3 duplicated files of all the objects in The Museum's collection, by: (1) genre/artist name/title, (2) accsession date, (3) donor). I started the task. I found that the Xerox machine was not fusing toner to paper. I reported this. The Xerox machine was not fixed but I was directed to keep copying, so that the museum had a lot of index cards of dubious longevity. Another item: Somebody donated a big collection of dolls to the museum. I was assigned to accession the dolls. I had a reverse doll fetish: I was repulsed/revulsioned to touch the damned things (I can speculate on the psychoanalytic explanation for this). I did my bestleast, and I forget how far I got with the task. I also liked the Museum's Assistant Director (last name McIntosh(sp?)). He was a gay person (1969) who lived with an artist. He was a Baltimore City employee, not a Museum Trustees employee, so that he did not report directly to The Director. He was in charge of the guards and the building and the grounds, not the art. He was pretty much looked down upon by the art history grad degreed employees. But he at least once took me aside and told me something -- I now forget what, but he was a good guy.

Some time before I worked at The Museum, they had an exhibit: Early and Late, which showed an early and a late example of each famous artist's work. I thought that was pretty neat. I think the curator for that show was Gertrude Rosenthal, a lady I never met, but who may have been a far better person and also scholar than one of her successors. "We" also had a traveling Atget exhibit. I loved the photographs. But I also liked how neatly they were packed (crated) for shipment. The shipping crates were not part of the exhibition. On one museum staircase there was a large painting by Lovis Corinth: The black hussar, which was indeed very black and which I think was a fetish of Director Parkhurst to acquire for the collection (why?). Baltimore Sun, quoting later BMA curator: "'When it was on display, they used to get letters complaining about it... It is scary...'". I didn't think of it as scary, but it was very big and very dark -- "dunkel ist das leben, ist der tod". Which leads me to recall that the men's rest room in the basement of the museum was kind of awe inspiring: a big room all marble (Lyndon Johnson should have had one like it). When I was Museum Shop Manager the rest room was just one staircase flight away from my work space, and visiting it was a pleasure of beginning each workday.

Which leads me to The Museum Shop. I got the job as Manager when "they" were trying to liquidate it. Part of the reason I got the job was that the immediately previous occupier of the position had apparently turned out to be a dope addict; also, as I explained to the museum's PR director, a sometime Methodist(?) minister, for the salary they were paying they had a choice of me or somebody with more experience but less ability. The curatorial "they" wanted to turn The Museum Shop into a postcard stand (they didn't want competition). It had previously been a fine handcrafts shop. I started liquidating American Indian turquoise jewelry. A--hole me. I should have bought a bunch of the stuff. Anyway, somehow, the Shop survived and I started selling fine handcraft ceramics, and stocking books like by Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi, and the then new, massive (also Newtonian type weighty) book: "The Japanese House: A Tradition for Contemporary Arhitecture", by Heinrich Engel (I don't think BMA had any Japanese collection). Postcards? I had a long wall piled high with them in the museum's basement, and I tried to finesse them. I also played inventory hide and seek (mouse and cat?) with the museum's auditor lady, to maintain $ breathing room for myself as Shop manager (I had a pad of purchase order forms in my briefcase, which helped build my self-respect).

I earned loyalty from my clerk employees by not only respecting them but also giving them big discounts on purchases. These included the bookkeeper, a quite old and eccentric lady and her sister. Also another not quite so old and very "with it" lady who was mother of the man who lived nextdoor to the man who would succeed Parkhurst as Director; she had one day out of nowhere presented herself to me to take on: Dorothy Linaweaver (she was a great saleslady!); I once had the pleasure of driving her home and seeing her apartment (I like to explore the inside of persons' homes, now that I think of it, probably because as a child I thought of persons' homes as facades with no life behind them -- am I a bit Asperger's? Ludwig Wittgerstein famously was). Anyway, the Shop had a big safe with a 4-number combination. I used to keep some of my own money in it ("loose boundaries"), and I skimmed some of the very best ceramics I purchased for resale off for my own collection, including one little wood-fired vase (Malcolm Wright) for which I reimbursed The Museum the wholesale price: US$6, but which I consider to be priceless. I should have bought much more!

This recollection has not much been about Henri Matisse, but it has told some good experiences I had. Why did I leave this perhaps unrealistic Eden? (1) I had no academic art history credential, nor was I likely to acquire one, so the job was a $ dead end. (2) I made some mistakes, including, one morning when I must have been in a bad mood, telling a lady who told me she was looking for a print to paste inside the lid of her harpsichord that maybe it didn't want one. This was not only very bad politically, but it was also stupid studywise/pedagogically, for I thereby forfeited a likely opportunity to visit the lady's apartment. I should have said to her something like: "Please excuse me, but I am not sure about what you are looking for. Perhaps I could see your harpsichord to be able to help you better?" A--hole me. (3) I had a fantasy -- and this proved very crazy -- that computer programming was a kind of participation in Pure Reason. I had not yet read Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities. But I wanted to participate in Pure Reason and therefore took a job as a COBOL programmer trainee at The United States Fidelity & Guarantee Company, where I discovered R. Crumb and also they had a company doctor who removed, no charge and not even me having to leave the building, a festering boil from my right hand (Androcles in lifeinsuranceland?) -- after he removed it I did not bandage the hole in the back of my hand which still looked [dermatologically] "bad" and had a piece of gauze to drain it; I proudly displayed it for all to see (after 40 years its scar was vanished without a trace). Sic transit gloria mundi.

Tuchman nails 'em

Boy, does she [←that's probably politically incorrect]! Already at the time in prep school, classical poetic form BS smelled bad[8] to me (that's a metaphor, for my semiotic sense of smell was not yet fully developed then). Tuchman writes that somebody said of a certain 14th century historian/rhymer: "the tyranny of rhyme left him little leisure for accuracy" (op. cit., p. 228). Been there, done that. What is the truth? Where did it go? NIMBY/NIH. (Tuchman's quote is my kind of poetry!).

Barbara Tuchman's 14th century seems to me an all too high-res mirror of much of 20th/21st century United States of America (a friend writes that her daughter who just this year graduated from college "hates America"; perceptive young woman, IMO; sometimes better the dog than its owner; yet while History continues, small mammals burrow under the ground -- am I repeating some unknown to myself classical author here?).

A kind of verbal judo that should not cut both ways

"You cooked the kasha, you eat it." (Russian saying, NYT 22 Aug 2020)

I believe that the best way to defeat the ideation of persons with nefarious intent (nefarious in my opinion, of course ← that's ironic), is to get them to choke on their own words. Feed back to them what they have themselves said, but, by calling attention to the beam in their eye when they are getting off on pointing out the mote in their opponent's eye, make them look so massively idiotic that even they see their folly and humbly correct themselves. But this should not be a tactic that works both ways, i.e., we should speak so clearly and truthfully that, when our words are fed back to us, both we ourselves and others should thereby be nourished. "Did we actually say that? On reflection, it seems good to me. Gives us something to think about...."

The ability to deploy this tactic most effectively depends on having a rich store of referential allusions to draw upon: seeing what the malefactor is saying in the light of other, often prima facie unrelated things. This comes from study, and reflection on one's life. That is unfortunate, because it means that mastery varies inversely with anticipated lifespan during which to deploy it. Geniuses, be they chronically famous people or isolated moments in ordinary, "hidden lives", can of course, sometimes exception this time line, when they have insights that cannot be explained from what is currently known. Item: When Isadore Znamirowski was chastized about his invention of the "Star and bars" insignia for U.S. military aircraft: "Dense" Officer: You disobeyed orders because you modified the existing design instead of creating a new design like the Admiral assigned us to do. Isadore: No, Sir. He asked the question wrong. Remember: Isadore's solution has already been officialy approved. (Now: Repeat the Dense Officer's words back to him, i.e., let him show that he misunderstood the issue. In the present case, that would be redundant.)

I also have a second tactic: Tell people what that need to say, in the case where they cannot figure it out for themselves, so that they can then give the right answer. This tactic, too, should not be reversable: We shoud speak so cleary and truthfully that any such proposed rescripting would obviously fall flat, unless it was an exhortation for us to repeat what we have already said.

Anent disabilities

I read an NYT OpEd piece celebrating disabilities. True enough, disabilities can be life-saving, for instance where they result in a deferment from coerced military servitudece. But the article's main point is that having a non-disabled, esp. according to a certain, "Western", canon "beautiful" body should not been seen as an ideal.

As a person for whom each blemish is a waking nightmare, I cannot agree with [fill in the blank, e.g., tumors] are beautiful. I suspect The Elephant Man would have heartily agreed. On the other hand, I believe "Different strokes for different folks". Why cannot this conundrum be solved by:

For those who think what others call their "disabilities" are better than all available alternatives, let them keep their condition. If an ophthalmologically void person wants to keep being such despite being urged that life would be better/richer after cataract removal and being shown(←metaphor, here) the difference and offered the surgery at no cost to them and being assured they would not suffer social ostracism for electing it, still wants to keep their lack of ophthalmological "sight", let them remain as they are. Conversely, let no child be genitally altered by their parents or other custodians (e.g., clerics), but let said alterations proceed only upon a legally responsible individual's free choice of same after being shown the consequences of all options, and, again, with assurance they would not be shunned for choosing either way.

Q: Who could object to such a socially responsible libertarian policy? A: I think any orthodoxifying cleric or other wielder of power over other persons who cannot be content with running their own life and "gets off" on runining other persons' lives, too.

If "All suffering is intolerable", what about....

22 July 2020CE. Someone says that (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump ought to be burned alive. That got me to thinking again about Elie Wiesel's dictum: "Don't compare. All suffering is intolerable", which I deeply believe. For (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump to be burned alive would entail him suffering. Does he deserve to be burned alive? Being responsible for many deaths and much suffering, he would certainly "qualify". General Curtis Lemay had the self-awareness to speculate that, had the United States lost World War II in The Pacific, he would probably have been tried as a war criminal for having ordered the incineration of most of the cities of Japan. (POTUS №45) rTump has demonstrated no such self-awareness.

Be that as it may (not Lemay...), I have concluded that (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump ought not to be subjected to any sufffering, not for his sake, but for "our" sake. What then to do about him, presuming that he could be disposed over instead of him disposing over others -- as Professor Paul Krugman said in a New York Times OpEd piece, (POTUS №45) Trump volunteering America's citizens "to die for the Dow" (Dow Jones stock market average number). I came up with an idea: The White House Press Corps, cameras rolling, should document Federal Agents arresting Mr Trump and taking him to be arraigned in a Federal court for numerous charges, including treason. If Mr. Trump resisted arrest, he should be put in a straight-jacket to protect himself and others.

In this way the earth and all the creatures living on it would be saved from further ravagement by Mr. Trump, but he would not be subjected to any suffering. Now, let the present thought experiment go further[10]: Suppose the person thus apprehended was not (POTUS №45) Donald J Trump, but someone like Dr. Josef Mengele or his Japanese counterpart. Someone whose mental and emotional capacity would be less in doubt. Presuming that an impartial war crimes tribunal would find said person guilty of crimes against humanity and against individual persons, what to do with him (or her), again, operating on the principle of "all suffering is intolerable"?

I think the answer should be something like that the person would receive a "life sentence without the possibility of parole", under conditions whereby they would be decently housed, receive basic medical care, etc. But also they would not be permitted any contact with anyone other than relevant prison staff, historical researchers, et al. In particular they would not be allowed any contact with friends(?), family, followers, et al., for reasons including that they must not have any opportunity to further influence anything beyond their own daily bodily and mental functioning. They would not be allowed to see newspapers or have any books other than their own publications, again, to remove them from the world they had previously balefully affected. They would also be provided with an endless supply of paper and ball-point pens (subject, of course, to 24/7 monitoring to prevent them committing suicide...), and it would be explained to them that they could write whatever they wanted and that their writings would be destined for an archive avaiable only to accredited researchers at some date (50 years?) after their death, like radioactive material.

When they died their body would be donated to a qualified medical research institution and when no further scholarly/scientific results could be extracted from it, the residue would be cremated and the ashes scattered at sea in international waters. Only after this final disposition would their death be announced to the public. The whole point of this would be to prevent them having any further effect on anything or on any person or on "history", esp. their "followers" (in (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump's case, his "base"). No suffering. As to "mental anguish" either for the criminal themself or for any person who had an interest in them, let Sophocles's dictum apply: "Pray no more. The sky is deaf.", since his other observation could not be applied: "Best of all never to have been born."

It's so sad

'Who's afraid of their own shadow?" "Me [BMcC]"[11] "Why is that?" "Because my feet are swollen; Œdipus's disorder; idiopathic edema. I'm having trouble walking and don't want to trip over my shadow and fall. Gotta keep my feet raised as much as possible or else, my primary care physician threatens me, flesh will rot and I'll get sores and it will not be good. Got it?" "I see."

Salud! But swollen ankles are hopefully a passing disability. For decades, something probably highly politically incorrect that has galled -- May I never have gallstones! -- me: I read endlessly about persons who have been sexually abused. I have much sympathy for them. But, in cases where the damage is entirely psychological and not also physical, I almost envy them. Why? Because I grew but not up in a late 1940's/early 1960's Dark Age probably worse than the historically normative one, in which repression of the very idea of sexuality was superceded by "in loco parentis" (parents are insane), and I did not have an after-school life where things were healthier.

New York City Department of Health guidance for safe sex during Covid-19 pandemic

Who speaks of this other form of sexual abuse of children? Hopefully humankind is living 2020CE in a new Renaissance. At least The New York City Department of Public Health and The BBC are. As Hermann Broch wrote, with the material for character construction with which the reader has been provided, they, e.g, you, my reader, can figure out the rest of this story for themself.

Male circumcisionAll trash to recycling! not medically necessary (as it was necessary,e.g., for King Louis XIV?)? Why can't these people keep their hands and other body parts[12] to themselves? Why can't G-d stop their knives like He did Abraham's hand when he was about to murder his son? "You, BMcC, are being sacrilegious! Stop it!" To modify Joseph Welsh's world-historically famous question: "Have you no imagination, Sir/Madam?" My pedagogy would have failed this test.

Well, how about religion? I have always been willing to testify that one of the few good things about the Episcopal prep school I attended was that students and teachers had freedom of religion there. We students had to attend Chapel each morning, but we were not required to believe in God.

However: Freedom from is not enough. One needs also freedom for. And that I did not get at "St. Paul's" (not the famous one!); would that Saul of Tarsus had hit his head a lot harder when he fell off his horse on the Damascus Road. I would never have imagined that a person such as Walter J. Ong, SJ, could exist, until introduced to his writings by Professor Forsdale (atheist). Imagine in The Roman Catholic Church a person whose depth of thought, as far as I can see, rivals Immanual Kant[13].

This leads me to yet another thought: Is it possible that in the 2020CE People's Republic of China (PRC), a person could have heretical ideas and not be Stasied if they did not urge regime change, and constrained themselves to scholarly discourse? Jan Szczepanski and othjer sociologists apparently lived well without inquisitorial proceedings in Iron Curtain Poland, and the ideas Szcz expressed in "Individuality and society" are far more radical than the banal lust to make a buck, of would-be exploiters of surplus value aka "free marketeers": Szczepanski celelebrated unique personal human creativlty. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes? Definitely. But also fear smiling (or dour) faces of all idealogical colors, including USA Republicans exercised about limits on their governmentally propped up "free market" freedom.

To again cite Elie Wiesel's profound dictum: "Don't compare. All suffering is intolerable." Also: Why should any person care about any person who does not care about said person? I pose this question to teachers and students, to parents and children, to employers and emploees, to society and the individual, et al.

"You have treated a fellow human as a slave an employee!" "That is not a crime." "That, unfortunately, is true in our social surround." "Just out of curiosity, what crime would you, BMcC, invent to charge me with?" "Treating a responsible fellow human as other than a peer in discourse, conjointly with him/her disposing over a shared world.[14] But, now that I think of it, Sir/Madam, you could plead innocence due to having been ethnically childreared, for example, a 'normal' middle-class American 19x0's childhood."

I am profoundly disgusted

I was going to start here with a quote from Friedrich Hölderlin, and I shall get to that. But I got diverted (Holzweg) to a YouTube video of a professor's lecture on Martin Heidegger's late thought about Hölderlin. That led me not forward to the sublime but back to the disgusting (I will get to the sublime below, I promise). Let us recall Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's watchword that unemployment compensation must not equal or exceed persons' job pay. Why? Because if it does, the persons will not have incentive to go to their jobs which provide them with nothing other than $[15]. That means: You waste your life. (If Senator Mean-spirited used his eyes to see humanity instead of only his cronies' bottom line, he might think that if persons' pay was raised above the amount of unemployment compensation, however high the latter, then perhaps the persons would have incentive to return to work. But he either is too stupid or too cynical -- I vote for the latter -- to legislate that. And, of course, if unemployment compensation was high enough to meet persons' pragmatic needs, some persons might choose not to waste their lives just for more $$$.)

However: I am thinking here about myself, not about Everyworker. No amount of money short of quickly freeing me from having to earn a living that way could have compensated for the 18+ years of Waste I devolved between approx. 01 June 1999 and 15 June 2018, increasingy Passum sub iugum computer programming work, where any such character string as "Martin Heidegger", if it had any presence in the workplace at all, must have been a secret of management, but I doubt they had any such secret. In any case, what I underwent helped me to forget that character string and, at last, having some remaining sense of self-preservation, to wish not to wake up each morning. (Note: This is not an indictment of my last two managers who were pretty decent persons; as for some corporate management types, who may not have been in my direct line of reporting, I feel differently.)

"Robbie"'s invitation to think and write here brought me back to life. I never knew how to "earn a living" in a way that would have ended up fostering living not devolving. I readily admit that I never took Entrepreneurship 101, nor have I ever had any desire to do so (but it should have been a required course for me!). Nor should I have needed to take it, but that's fate (Martin Heidegger's: "Es gibt"; (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump's: "It is what it is").

Insofar as ever I was alive, I always wanted to study and think, even if I could not thematize that so clearly before engaging with Professor McClintock. Having admitted such a lost soul as myself, Yale should have helped me to successfully get myself to a place in this social world where I could get my low in Maslow's hierarchy of needs needs met by pursuing needs high in the hierarchy. They did some things, but not nearly enough.[16] I failed to teach myself. They failed to teach me.

Now to rise up. Friedrich Hölderlin:[17] "Voll Verdienst, doch dichterisch wohnet der Mensch auf dieser Erde". Entirely worthily but poetically, man dwells on the earth. In younger years, I was able to entertain this thought (and other thoughts) even while working as a computer progreammer. What concerns me here is not the personal aspect of this, but what it says about my social surround: I was able to entertain such thoughts along with cognizing about my social surround, somewhat like seeing a cat and a mat at the same time. The cat does not contradict the mat. I have for many years thought of the social surround of my childhood as a less-than-world: Abwelt. But I was able to think about it concurrently with other thoughts because it was bracketed as past i.e., an object of psychoanalytical/anthropological/etc. study.

In 2020, I find in the less-than-world of (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump's impact another Abwelt, but this one is contemporary, and even personally threateningly so. Now I do want to wake up each morning but must wonder whether (POTUS №45) Trump's trumpery will prevent that, or worse, since I do not believe in an afterlife, cripple me so that, as the Cat Stevens song goes: I will stiill be here but my dreams will not (e.g.:, I may be on a Covid-19 ventilator). I cannot concurrently think something like "Poetically man dwells on the earth" and the neo-Abwelt of (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump. Ergo: I am profoundly disgusted here. This neo-Abwelt, like "scrums"[18] in the computer programming world, is repulsive to me.

For myself, insofar as "poetically man dwells on the earth" does not apply to man or to the earth, I have no taste for existing in the same social surround as the persons who cause things to be this way. I am thankful to have recovered Hölderlin's thought. A character string that provides hope, contrast with a whole Abwelt. Any comparison of a positive and a negative is antipodal. To borrow my favorite essay-ending sentence from George Steiner: Damn the man. (Of course that is not correct, for without his enablers DJT could not do anything.)

Finally here: Back to Heidegger. As I continue listening to the lecture, I have several thoughts. First, his extra-marital affair with Hannah Arendt and at least one other woman (was he really that physically attractive?). Second, a question: To what extent did he as a human being abandon or fail to help his teacher Edmund Husserl in the Nazi era? Third, the lecture portrays his lyrical "take" on Being (etc.). I think he should have done some philosophizing as an inmate in in a concentration camp and on a ventilator (to avoid anachronism: in an iron lung, or, as I believe befell Prof. Forsdale's mother, ALS) and check if his feelings about Being (etc.) would remain so unambivalently, faux-peasant lederhosen-wearingly adoring (I am thinking here about human suffering, not about the "intellectual luxury" (ref.: (POTUS №40) Ronald Reagan) of existentialist anxiety[19]).

Again, let me try to be clear here: I interpret the beauty of Hölderlin's poetry in a radically post-Enlightenment contextualized way, not as a longed for fantasized peasant life that, especially for a tenured philosophy professor, never was nor would they really want to live even if it was possible (no university paycheck in an authentic peasant's hut, Prof. MH!). The ad nihil cynicism of Heidegger's thought/[lack of] feelings in this regard is perhaps epitomized in his book "The Principle of Reason", where he writes, without denouncing it, of: "Es Gibt", which means, to borrow a phrase from (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump: "It is what it is", or from his acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney: "Get over it" (17 October 2019). das Man.

Shakespeare lived an ordinary life....

Somewhere here, Professor McClintock admonishes all of us that Shakespeare lived an ordinary life, just like us -- including you, my reader, and myself. This is a profound statement. It is a key to honorific humanity, or, better, being a peer interlocutor in universal discourse of all self-accountable beings, be they humans, extra-terrestrials, Messiahs or other.

I am ever increasingly saddened and sickened by sublunary stars and their non-HVAC fans, bosses who do not occupy their organization chart positions in humility, and other would-be ontologically asymmetrical Beings. I listen to Bob Dylan songs on YouTube. I study them. I think about them. I think of my own substitute lyrics sometimes. But in the user comments I find persons grovelling before "The genius", or other asymmetrical honorific. If I was truly a Superior Being, e.g., G-d, would I be happier to have grovellers praising me or to have peer interlocutors in discourse judging that what I did was good (or, if such be the case, bad)? If one would honor geniuses, become their peers, per the quote.

"But, BMcC, geniuses are different from us, aren't they?" Of course they are different. But in what way are they different? I propose that no person ever had a new idea, and the proof is very simple: A person can be responsible only for something that he or she has a notion of: something -- something which is contained within the person's existential horizon, which, for that person, includes all times, places, persons and everything else that either is or is not. But a new idea, ex hypothesi, is something that cannot be algorithmically generated from the set of things which are or are not, because if it could be so generated it would just be a different permutation of more of the same, not genuinely new. Where do new ideas come from? I propose that no being (not just persons) can ever know this, for to do so would be to get outside the totality of their world which, of course could only be another place inside their world. Q.E.D.

The genius is a person who has been blessed by fate to have more and/or "bigger" new ideas than most persons have. But this is just luck, not responsibility. Honor or dishonor is not accident but responsible action. If one person stabs another to death ("Et tu, Brute?"), that is a responsible act. If one person -- say a lifeguard -- saves the life of a drowning person, that is a responsible act. If a person conceives a new law of physics or makes a novel work of art, that is not a responsible act, except to the extent that the person took care to receive and pass on an unthinkable X which was vouchsafed to them by fate (Isn't it also fate that the person had this opportunity instead of having to strip hog carcasses on a meat plant assembly line all day?). As with listening to a radio. a person can be responsible for turning the radio on and listening to it and transcribing what they hear. That too would be a responsible act. But not receiving the unforeseeable X to be transcribed, itself.

As I have written elsewhere here, my uncle Isadore Znamirowski, as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy in World War II had a new idea of world-historical importance (not major importance, just the insignia to this day displayed on all U.S. military aircraft). Except for myself, I believe nobody knows or would ever know about it. I have assumed responsibility -- albeit not as much as I ould have!, and certainly not as much as a big Admiral could have!-- for remedying this situation. Note the "big Admiral". That's Isadore's phrase, and it makes a big judgment about those persons who would deploy asymmetrical power vis-à-vis their fellows (please read the story).

To sum up: Make yourself (whoever "you" are) be as well educated, self-accountable, etc. as you can be. If your life circumstances frustrate your efforts, pass judgment, and, if you have the power, seek redress. Not vengeance, but simply for the culprit to stop what they were doing or not doing and, if they hurt you and they are accessible, to get reparations (e.g., pay the medical bills if their culpability sent you to a medical professional).

If you meet the Buddha on the road, greet him respectfully. If he responds in kind, and greets you respectfully, that is an auspicious sign. If, however, he acts like Laius in the Œdipus myth, and tries to run you off the road, he is a criminal against whom you have the right of self-defense. If he expects you to worship him, just leave him to find his worship where he can get it. I think it's that simple. If you meet Shakespeare on the road → well, I think I'd rather meet Dr. François Rabelais, hopefully the two of you can have some good safe fun together, and learn from one another. (Question: If the Buddha has a heart attack, should you call "911", or is he too enlightened for that?)

Aside: Now let us not exception famous men! If extramarital sexual relations and a gold Rolex were good enough for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., shouldn't nothing less also be good enough for Everyman (woman, child)?

I learned some good stuff

I learned some good stuff from a Ladders posting. "If you use these 5 phrases, you aren't as empathetic as you think.... Dismissive listening is the opposite of empathetic listening. It says 'I want to fix you' or 'I want to fix your problem' instead of 'I hear you, what do you need?'"

  1. "Aww! Don't be upset!" Instead: I'm listening. That sounds hard. (I do not believe this item applies to myself. When a person is upset, I believe they are upset and that they generally have good reason(s) to be upset. Smiling faces tell lies, etc.)
  2. "What if you try this?" Instead: I want to help. How can I show up for you moving forward? (This one is me. I love to cite what I think are helpful references.)
  3. "Oh! You should read/listen to this..." Instead: Ditto #2 above. (This one is me. Ditto #2 above.)
  4. "I totally get it. One time..." Instead: It sounds like you're saying... Is that accurate? (This one is me. I love to share what I think are resonant personal experiences.)
  5. "You'll be fine!" This is the worst of the worst! Instead: It sounds like you're saying... Is that accurate? How do you think it will impact you moving forward? How can I show up for you? (I do not believe this item applies to myself. When a person fears things will not be fine, I generally believe they probably have good reason(s) to fear they will not be fine. On the other hand, if a person consults a competent medical professional about a medical problem and the competent professional adjudicates the person will be fine, I will pass that along to the person.)

I think I generally have empathy for fellow creatures' suffering, but maybe I can express it more constructively (cf.: here). Achtung [Attention!], "Prisoners of childhood" wardens (parents, teeachers, et al.)! See also my page here: The peremptory discourse of petty power: "Only if you want to!"

I had a dream

I had a dream in which a good spirit (or at least PA voice) told me: "You already have a classical education." This, presumably in response to my self-assertion that I am semi-literate. The literate part meaning that I have studied some things and think literately about things. The semi- part meaning I have not read many of the classical texts of Western or other civilization (Item: The Iliad). Let's apply phenomenological reasoning: All the things that are are equally intentional objects (noemata), a National Treasure tea bowl and a 7-Eleven Big Gulp soda cup (right) are equally objects in experience. One should be able to learn, albeit not enjoy, equally from either. Maybe classical education does not have to do with specific noemata (i.e., assigned readings in courses), but with appreciating + living the modality of appropriation (noesis) of any eperienced object whatsoever. In this sense, perhaps I am literate. Task for educators: Most intentional objects (aka assigned course material) are optional (and nobody can study them all)[20]; for the student to understand this makes all the difference. Teach this. Credo quia absurdum, perhaps?


Aside: Maybe students should be taught latin or better classical Greek. Why? Because maybe then their ideation would fall below The Holy Inquisition's Political Correctness's radar. Galileo should have written only in latin, and have always bracketed his heliocentric ideas as hypotheses (which, in fact, even if not in the spirit of honorific humanity, they were! If nothing else, God can do anything, including exceptioning the laws of physics). Then Galileo, who was no Joan of Arc or John Sidney McCain III, would likely not have been humiliated into recanting. ("Eppur si muove"? Give the inquisitors/tor-mentors of whatever ideological persuasion some Ex-lax)

"If you can inherit wealth you can also inherit debt"

Quote is from an OpEd show about reparations for black persons, spoken by a person on The New York Times payroll. I see hypocrisy in privileged persons not talking about their privilege. I would not deny them their privilege (I do fear them ripping away from myself what little privilege I have to be able to study and breathe). But I do believe in transparency. (Item not related to slavery: On 08 December 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have made a speech: "YESTERDAY. December 7, 1941, a date which will live as chickens coming home to roost....", instead of: "YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy....")

However, I do not believe in throwing babies out with their bathwater. "If you can inherit wealth you can also inherit debt" is something I find worthy of being thought about irrespective of who said it or why, and I had not previously thought of things quite the way this assertion cuts. If my father had died a zillion dollars debt, I certainly would not have wanted to inherit that. (In fact, my inheritance was about US$96 per month for 4 years, payout from a GI life insurance policy.) If my father had died with a zillion dolars assets, I certainly would have wanted to inherit that. (My favorite author, Hermann Broch, sold a family business to finance his intellectual life; since he sold a few years before the Great Depression and subsequent National Socialist discrimination against jews, he may also have done economic good for the rest of his family?)

Anyway, I think the answer here needs to be that debts get paid before distribution of estate. If the real debts include all extracted surplus value, there probably won't be much left. But surplus value gets extracted from working- and middle-class "free persons" of all "colors" who are wage slaves, as well as from persons who were literally enslaved. Who talks about this?

My proposal for a negotiated settlement would be: From those to whom much has been given, much should be expected, which should provide inter alia more to redistribute to those who have been given less. Conversely: From those to whom little has been given, little should be expected and more should be given, to redress their situation.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country? Who asks this? (Now let us praise famous men.) Should Bill Gates or Elon Musk have assets in 8 digits US dollars? Bill Gates is working to improve the public health of poor persons in poor nations. A recent NYT interview with Elon Musk and his girlfriend suggests they are asocially hallucinating.

If one person's Harvard education leads to other persons being saved from malaria, should the Harvard person be retrospectively denied their education? If a University of Pennsylvania education leads to nothing more socially useful than art of the deal hallucinations [Note: I don't know where Elon Musk went to school], isn't that a different story?

Shouldn't the challenge be to reaise persons up, not to drag persons down? Before the 20th century this may have been an impossibility, since technology had not advanced to the point where most necessary labor could be abolished, even if there was social will to do that. But I think advanced technology does make the Marxist utopia possible (or the WWII U.S. Army Air Corps mess hall dictum: "Take what you want; eat what you take."). Ojala! (Translate: May The Source of All Being grant....)

But have I done nothing?

"As anyone can tell, who reads the Scriptures, or even just looks at the pictures..." (David Peirick)

"Did Jesus play varsity lacrosse, or was He nailed to a wooden cross?" (BMcC)

Brooklandwood, built by Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Currently occupied by St. Paul's School for Boys. ~ Click to see another mansion owned by Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

See Mount Clare, another CCofC mansion ⇒ 

In general, true enough.[21] On the other hand, if virtue begins at home, I emailed to the new head of the "preparatory" (aka: perpetratory) school I attended (St. Paul's School for Boys, Brooklandville, Maryland USA), documenting some of what happened to and around me there (1959?-1964) and noting to him: He writes a letter to the school's community that (1) he is committed to the development of each student as an individual, and also (2) he cheers excitedly for the school's varsity contact sport teams. I replied that the development of individuals, and bodily contact sports and their attendant cheering are two things which can concurrently be held in a person's mind only by what is psychoanalytically called (but plainly enough): "splitting". (He has not responded to me.) So I have done something.

As often here, I digress: On the school bus trip each day from my then split-level acre "house" to said school, each morning, on Greenspring Valley Road, the bus would pass what was only just barely visible on a high hill and which meant nothing to me but was at the time somehow evocative. It was not a (POTUS №40) Reaganomic "city on a hill". It was Rosa Ponselle's Villa Pace (right). (Today, in 2020, I would say it looked like a home in an honorific sense.) Alas, even though St. Paul's School's administration building, Brooklandwood (above right), was built by Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972), there was nothing either Enlightenment or Ponsellean about the place, except architecturally, when I was there. (I cannot imagine Rosa Ponselle head-butting a soccer ball, even at the affiliated girls' school down the hill from the boys' school -- gender separation Über Alles!)[22]

But have I done nothing? Epilog

19 August 2020. As noted above, I sent an email to the new head of St. Paul's School, detailing some of my concerns about the place. I did not write to this person as an individual, but as chosen leader of the institution. I now note that he is a black man, who should have some empathy for the oppressed, even if they are white and male gender and were a student of the school of which he is taking the helm.

I have not often (if ever) found my emails fail to get delivered, without receiving an email back notifying me of the failure to deliver. No response. So I must assume he has pled guity in absentia. I here follow (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump's and Martin Heidegger's guidance: "It is what it is" ("Es gibt"). I will, as someone else who has disappointed me, but at least did respond to me, advised: "get on to a new 'brilliant' topic". Asperger's syndrome Ludwig Wittgenstein ended a book I largely do not understand: "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen." (Concerning that of which one cannot speak, one must remain silent.) George Steiner ended an essay on British traitor Art Historian Sir Anthony Blunt: "Damn the man."

Something else

Where's Waldo? Find the individual in the group! Does the group change when one particular individual changes (e.g., dies)? Does one particular individual change when that particular individual changes (e.g., goes on a ventilator in ICU)? As a certain BRM motivational slogan said: "You are the difference".

As elsewhere indicated, I do not voluntarily participate in mass (ref.: "the masses") activities of any kind. Not (POTUS №45) Trump rallies, and not liberal ideology Peaceful Protests, either. However, when I see a Post Office truck approaching, I wait for the postperson, and tell them I hope Louis De Joyless is not going to cause them to lose their job and I wish them well. That's my equivalent of participating in a mass protest. The limit of 1 / n as n approaches infinity (or just 328,200,000) is zero. 1 / 1 = 1, which is not nothing (albeit 328,200,000 * 1 is much bigger). Maybe I have made one at-risk individual fellow human's day a bit better?

I voted by absentee ballot in the November 2019 election, to cast my vote against (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump. Should one protest dehumanization by merging into a homogeneity? In prep school, I protested "cheer rallies" ("Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori!"), by silently standing apart from the mass [They would not let me not attend]; my behavior was tolerated even if my example did not result in anyone seeing the light. If protestors are protesting for individual human dignity, don't they see the pathetic irony of what they are doing? But maybe what they are protesting for does not include individual dignity? At least joining a labor strike does help, because when every employee declines to report for work (can that be done by individuals, each from his or her individual abode?) then the employer is forced to hire "scabs" or do something. Does every life matter? How about: Each life matters? Better dead then red abstaining from peaceful protests for Good Causes?

I emailed to a district director of the CDC to man up and tell the public how (POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump and his toadies were threatening them, before it became popular to think such thoughts. To raise their voices, persons do not have to spread the virus by emulsifying themselves in streets (aka protest demonstrations for "Good Causes"). They can use email or even snail mail. If my voice was not heard, neither does "Where's Waldo?" make a difference. Public education gave most Americans basic literacy; let them learn to express themselves with something more epidemiologically well advised than their alveoli and voluntary leg muscles.

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Criminal penalties

I think the penalty for assault resulting in victim enduring less than fully living in unrelenting suffering should be more severe than for what one might call "simple" murder. At least the dead are no longer suffering. For a person to be paralyzed and have had most of their digestive tract removed and more but fully knowing and feeling all this can go on and on for decades. It's not over, Debbie (ref.: JAMA. 1988 Jan 8;259(2):272).

I just don't get it. But I think I do get it.

I just don't get all this police brutality in USA today (August 2020). I try to think from the perspective of a true racist. And what I see is not police brutality but barbed wire cordoned reservations where "they" can't come in and "we" can enjoy being superior. That could probably even be spun into half-respectable alt-Right PR. But that is not what we are seeing. Why?

I think the problem is rage not racism. It's lightning finding its lightning rod in racist propaganda. Any port in a storm. They could just as well be killing cats to ward off the plague. The only reason I can see for a police officer putting not 1 but 7 bullets in a petty perp who's running away's back must be that the officer is having a very bad hair day: He has not been able to strike back at and get off his back something that's getting to him. And what might that be? Maybe he saw some "pointy headed intellectual" running their mouth off in front of a big wall of big books on the cable TV, when What's he got to go home to after his shift, but McDonald's Happy Meals for his kids in a tract house where he gets to watch more cable TV? Is a tooth-decaying (high sugar content) Coca-Cola the pause that really refreshes? Jealousy, anyone?

I think the problem is the treason of the privileged. Some persons have tried some. Lyndon Johnson had his Great Society, but (POTUS №40) Ronald Reagan wanted to ennoble USA's public universities to become trade schools. What USA President ever declaimed: Ask not what the American people can do for their country until their country has asked what it can do for the American people, and implemented the answer? An army advances on its stomach. Sleepers awake! "Get real, Elon Muskies et al.!"

While (POTUS №45) Trump-baited adults may be unreachable by any means (but who is trying? hopefully, Joe Biden?), their children may not yet be irrevocably lost. USAF Colonel John R Boyd said that, in a guerilla war, the way to win is to offer the people a better life than the life the enemy offers them. I once had a psychotherapist who said that a reason really good therapists were able to do good therapy was that they were: "Well paid and well laid". Should blue-collar maybe not even high school graduate police officers be less affected by instinctual urges than post-graduate educated white-collar psychotherapists? Just like at Pearl Harbor on Decenber 7, 1941, chickens come home to roost, even with the comeuppance of not dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's first. I propose the difference between Ted Kaczynski and Jacques Ellul may be deep education in the humanities.

The Grand Illusion

Date: Fri, 04 Sep 2020 08:06:15 +0000 [04:06 EDT]

Reply-To: The New York Times <>
Subject: Your Comment on What Will You Do if Trump Doesn't Leave?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community.

Bradford McCormick | New York

Germany 1930s. Some persons who were some combination of smart, lucky, monied, connected, famous got out. A Rolex or Patek Philippe wristwatch could get a person across a border. The film The Grand Illusion was about WWI, But its ending applies more generally. Two escaped POWs are crossing a vast open snow-covered field. One is limping. A patrol spots them; the soldiers take aim [they are an easy target]. Their officer tells them to hold their fire:

"They are over the border [into Switzerland]. The war is over for them. And so much the better for them."

Such was The Grand Illusion.

Leaders, againAll trash to recycling!

"Any relation of asymmetrical power of one person over another, if it is not fiduciary, is crime. No exceptions." (BMcC)
"They decided to award him [Stalin] with the star of Hero of the Soviet Union. They issued the order without telling him. To Stalin for his organization, etc. He heard about it. He said: 'Scoundrels. I haven't been at the front in battle. What kind of a Hero of the Soviet Union can I be?'" (Stalin's bodyguard, YouTube)

In times of crisis and impending catastrophe, it may be historically necessary for Leaders to send their citizens to slaughter. Perhaps it was necessary for Franklin Roosevelt to dispatch citizens of The United States to suffer and die to defeat Hitler and Imperial Japan. Perhaps Royal Air Force pilots needed to die to reach the kill ratio that blocked the Luftwaffe from opening the British Isles to a Nazi land invasion. But none of this is felicitous. At best it is material for Bertolt Brecht plays. Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a day that will live in history as the chickens coming home to roost. Never have so few sacrificed to much for so many (not true: the Greek citizen-soldiers at Thermopolae sacrificed at least proportionately more)....

To honor the sacrificial lambs, it is not necessary to celebrate the life-styles of their Leaders. Why could not FDR and Churchill, and, especially, Stalin (World War II was won with American arms and Russian bodies (ref. lost)), have all bowed their heads in sorrow if not contrition for what they had had to do (we had to ampute the patient's legs to save him from [whatever, e.g., flesh-eating bacteria])? The enlisted men who took Mount Suribachi did not get to savor Brandy, Port and wine -- particularly Champagne and most particularly Pol Roger --... But Scotch was a daily tipple and an essential feature of his working day. Scotch probably would have been essential to their working days, too, if they had had some, and also the accommodations of 10 Downing Street or wherever WC slept each night in a bed.

I am not saying it may not have been historically necessary for the Leaders to have gracious luxury in order to figure out how to get the troops to win their wars, especially when the wars, like World War II but not World War I, were apparently historically necessary. Leading from the front, while good for morale and PR, may not be optimal historical use of great minds (when a Leader's mind is not great, that would be a different story). I am just asking that the Leaders honor Wilfred Owen and all his fellow martyrs, for whom pro Patria Mori was not Dulce et Decorum (in part due to having had to don their gas masks).

The highest way to honor all history's sacrificed lambs, both combatant and civilian, would be to always remember them all and make sure there never again be a single one more of them. German and Japanese soldiers fought the same fight as Allied soldiers, just having been childreared on the opposite side. Curtis Lemay was at least self-accountable enough to figure out that, had the other side won the Pacific War, he would likely have been tried as a war criminal. "You, too, will have the wrong enemy and will wage the wrong wars. Not because there are men worse than others, but because war is bad" (Hermann Friedrich Honold, ex-combattant). I would like to see those brave men and women who, if they survive, are able to say (to recall a propaganda slogan from my "prep" school): "I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.", also say: "Damn you all for having made us do it."

I once read (ref. lost, but see: right) that, in Iran, there was (and there may still be?) a cemetery for soldiers who died in the war against Iraq (1980-88), with a fountain of red-color liquid (fake blood). Scowling Ruhollah Khomeini and smiling Ali Khamenei, but, for those not in so-called Revolutionary Iran, just NIMBY and NIH, their/our Leaders may have real blood on their hands, too. [My reader: Can you imagine what would have been done to me if I had submitted the present mini-essay to my preparatory school masters, who took zero constructive initiative, either syntactic or semantic (cultivating in myself neither style nor substance), to help me to be able to write it? "How dare you! Why are you doing this to me?" "Because we are legitimated representatives on earth of our Supreme Legitimizer du jour in Heaven." "Satan, get thee hence!"]


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  1. Look before you leapafter you poop! Aside: We now know that flushing a toilet without putting the lid down produces aerosol dropets which can spread the virus. But many public toilets have no lids. This problematic may still not offend "people"? The same "people" who celebrate single-gender public nudity in locker rooms but are against gay sex? (Petri dishes for Freudean ucs aka repressed "unconscious".)
  2. I think I have also learned something else: That persons who are not malignant narcissists, but who are just victims of childrearing, sometimes get distracted from one thing to another and more or less misplace their memories. Consequently, unlike bombardment on the Western Front in WWI, quiet waiting may sometimes bring temporary Waffen stehen bleiben until the next time, although not a peace agreement.
  3. I think the way I won this manager's respect was that, when I had been employed in the company just a couple days, we drove in the evening from Baltimore to the Washington D.C. IBM data center. The task was to do an MVS/OS1 "sysgen" (system generation). I did it methodically. As GWB would later say, "Mission Acomplished". We drove back to Baltimore in the early morning with our new operating system (this was a Burroughs to IBM conversion). My manager was a master Burroughs programmer.
  4. Sometime during prep school, I was an a--hole kid chasing another kid around a classroom full of student chairs and desks. My left kneecap collided sharply with the leg of one of the desks and dislocated. At least until my mid-20's my knee would spontaneously come out of joint, hurt badly and causing me to limp for several days. Surgery? Not for me unless absolutely required. Curiously, the older I have gotten, the better this problem has become. In my 40's I had started running (usually 3 miles each morning in 30 miutes), but had to give that up after a while because it did exacerbate the damage. I also spontaneously broke my right leg fibula bone, in running. No pothole, no twist, no nothing except foot to ground while running and all of a sudden, limp. But after backing off from danger, the knee has continued to be good, until, at age 73+1/2, it only shows up on an ultrasound as a "Baker's cyst" which I didn't know I had. In my late 20's, sitting was a physical desideratum for myself if not for politeness (cf. how Tycho Brahe is at least rumored to have died).
  5. Another NYT article, about German New Right leader Götz Kubitschek: "It is not in our nature to adhere to some strict political ideology like communism or Nazism, he said; rather, human beings ought to be raised according to their inclinations. 'There's something the human being can achieve, something he can be. It's in this direction that he ought to be raised. And we ought never to pull him away from that.'"
  6. As aways, I quote St. Paul, even if he would not have understood his own words so radically: "Prove a things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess 5:21)
  7. Things were not so simple: When I was hired the Registrar was a man who said or at least implied I would be prepared to take over the Registrar position eventually. He unexpectedly took a position at a different museum. I got a new manager who was not going anywhere: an intestinal blockage.
  8. I was also much disappointed when, being much frustrated with diagramming sentences, teacher told me that likely not all sentences could be diagrammed. So why bother? (Said teacher did not know about SGML.)
  9. Among reasons for male circumcisionAll trash to recycling!: desire of some fathers to have their sons look like them. If ever there was an example of colonization of persons' spirits by social customs, surely this is one of the best, i.e.: worst. Just because it was done unto you, father, you don't have to engrave your colonization so indelibly into your son. Be satisfied with running your own life! Freedom for children! Stop involuntary ethnic social custom transitivity (aka: ALice Miller's "For your own good") now!
  10. Pedagogical note: I (BMcC) think what I am writing here would be good material for high school or college students to read, discuss and write essays about.
  11. I get offended by people who get easily offended. Victims of childrearing who are executioneers of persons' spirits when given a chance.
  12. What do vampires do?
  13. This is interesting: An internet search turns up that Kant wrote strongly against self-pleasuring. However I seem to recall having read somewhere (ref. alas lost!) that he did it each morning to keep from being distracted in his studies. BMcC false memory?
  14. I can see someone objecting here that universal peerage is not possible in a country with 3.28 x 10 ** 11 currently living and still increasing. I would urge that just because something is difficult does not make it either false or something not to be aspired to actualizing (JFK said that landing a man on the moon and bringing him back to earth would be difficult).
  15. Doing the laundry, I came upon a U.S.A. quarter dollar coin somebody presumably had left in a pocket. It was remarkable: It was such a shoddy manufacture that I would have thought it one of a board game's tokens had I not known better. USA has sunk so low that it no longer makes a coin I would want in my pocket. On the other hand, we are aiming for a cashless society, so maybe making coins you wouldn't want in your pocket is part of a grand strategy?
  16. Item: Yale student health service physician removed the nevus which otherwise would probably have murdered me by melanoma. I have always appreciated that. But, as noted in the above linked to text, removing the physical object did not ipso facto remove the psychological damage said object did to me. I needed a lot more help. Example from an NYT OpEd piece: Military veteran walks as an outpatient into a VA hospital for some reason. VA psychiatrist asks him: "How are you?" He replies he is OK and then vomits on the psychiatrist's desk and collapses. The psychiatrist and some other staff help the man. When he "comes to", the psychiatrist reassures him it's OK, that he was just releasing some unrecognized by himself trauma. All ended well for the man. The psychiatrist, in my opinion, merited a letter of commendation in his personnel file.
  17. Another Yale positive item: My freshman roommate was not so much less than a FH: a highly cultured 26 year old man, George Hunting Howell. In 1964, 26 year olds were not normally college freshmen. George's best friend was a Yale sophomore, Juan Negrin, whom I seem to recall was a son or the last President of The Spanish Republic. George chain smoked Gauloises. I seem to recall he knew Albert Camus and others personally. George loved avant garde jazz and was later to arrange a concert by Ornette Coleman at Yale. He was also at the time making little Kandinsky-like paintings (drawings?). Etc. George was probably the first highly cultured person I knew in my then 18 years old prep schooled life. Prep school? I just now remembered that at least there were no free-range juvenile delinquents there to physically threaten me like in the semester of public junior high school that preceded my entancee into that [the prep school] highly ambivalent place.
  18. A ratio: "Nam" is to "Korea" (soldiers) as scrums are to walkthrus (computer programmers).
  19. Please do not get me wrong here: I am all in favor of existentialist anxiety. My only issue with it is that, if it is true that there are no atheists in a foxhole, I think there is also no existentialist anxiety there, either. "To be or not to be?" is presumably not the question when you need to hurry up and get your gas mask on.
  20. Of course there are exceptions: Young persons need to learn about such things as slavery, concentration camps and The Gulag, and wage-slavery. They also need to learn about the works of François Rabelais and Henri Matisse. Learn some things that ought never to have existed and some things that ought always to exist.
  21. I have an additional answer here, available upon request.
  22. Is this the big secret? They made banal sexual physiological conjunction more exciting for people who had no imaginations by making what was beneath thoughtful consideration "sub rosa"? Give them [esp.: Louis Thick-as-a cinder-block Clark] a Nobel Reused Condom Prize!

BMcC signature seal stamp. Modelled on 18th century messenger's letter box in collection of Suntory Museum, Tokyo. Japanese write poems and prayers on slips of paper which they tie into knots like this shape although with longer legs. Prayers are often tied to branches of trees which can look like they are covered with snow. "Symbol of a symbol, image of an image, emerging from the destiny that is sinking into darkness...." (H. Broch, "The Sleepwalkers", p.648) Always remember. Add value. (This image created not later than 21 May 2003)Invenit et fecit

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2022-05-19 10:33:39