October 4, 2017
Below are unconnected musings, recent events, and random items picked, like bitter fruit, from the Internet,
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
Things fall apart; the centre cannot
Yeats wrote that in 1919 to describe post-war Europe, but do his words fit well on the U.S. a century later?
My own unease began with the disaffection of the Republican Party in July of 2015 and unease soon devolved into disdain. The GOP had, for years, been the counterbalance to the progressives with their lies and bags of poison candy, but that counterbalance was loosing its heft. The Republican Senators seems committed only to remaining in the Senate and feathering their own nests. Not only has the Senate done little to assist President Trump, some actually appear to thwart his efforts in hopes reaching the White House themselves.
That said, I can not foresee the U.S. going to hell in a handbasket in the near future. Europe almost committed suicide with WWI & II. The closest the US has come to that level of folly was the War of Northern Aggression. Even though the Vietnam War was a stupid blunder that did much damage to the social fabric, the country did come through. The information technology revolution has changed many of the foundation of society (I read today that social security numbers are outdated), but have the basics changed? Is the country rotting internally? I recently came across this:
by Michael Shermer, journal Theology and Science, July 2017
The success of the Scientific Revolution led to the development of the worldview of scientific naturalism, or the belief that the world is governed by natural laws and forces that can be understood, and that all phenomena are part of nature and can be explained by natural causes, including human cognitive, moral, and social phenomena. The application of scientific naturalism in the human realm led to the widespread adoption of Enlightenment humanism, a cosmopolitan worldview that places supreme value on science and reason, eschews the supernatural entirely, and relies exclusively on nature and nature’s laws—including human nature and the laws and forces that governance us and our societies—for a complete understanding of the cosmos and everything in it, from particles to people.
Next, I read:
1) That less than 26 percent of poor Americans and 39 percent of working-class Americans are currently married, compared to 56 percent of middle- and upper-class Americans. Another scientific study shows that the percent of happily married couples has shrunk down to the 25 percent range and, of course, the divorce rate is always climbing.
2) The media (with the exception of Fox) and all liberals despise the POTUS.
3) The annual overdose deaths from opioids surpasses deaths from both car accidents and guns. Experts estimate that nationwide over 500,000 people could die from the epidemic over the next 10 years.
4) The number of Americans incarcerated has increased from .5 million in 1980 to 2.5 million in 2017, not counting those on parole. This week the media screams that a man killed 58 persons in Los Vegas, as if tacitly waiting to announce next that another crazy has broken that Guinness record. Somehow the smug boost about the widespread adoption of Enlightenment humanism, a cosmopolitan worldview that places supreme value on science and reason and eschews the supernatural entirely, seems to ring a bit hollow.5) "The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047," Lionel Shriver imagined America slouching into dystopia merely by continuing current practices. In a Reason magazine interview, Shriver says, "I think it is in the nature of government to infinitely expand until it eats its young." In her novel, she writes: "The state starts moving money around. A little fairness here, little more fairness there. ... Eventually social democracies all arrive at the same tipping point: where half the country depends on the other half. ...Government becomes a pricey, clumsy, inefficient mechanism for transferring wealth from people who do something to people who don't, and from the young to the old -- which is the wrong direction. All that effort, and you've only managed a new unfairness."
"What in the world are you going to do with all those?" The red faced customer replied in a world weary voice, "rat traps," and I said he must have millions of rats and then asked how tees would trap rats. He demonstrated how another piece would be attached, filled with bait, and fastened to the wall of a chicken house. I failed to see how the contraptions would work and he agreed, "Just some more Tyson bullshit that the growers will have to pay far."
Before I departed the hardware Keenan said the bread was for communion for over 200 participants. As the faithful usually tear off just a morsel of bread, I wondered why so much was required. "Just want to be sure we have enough," he said,...( perhaps he thought some uninitiated might rip away enough to make a sandwich). Then he gave me a quote from The Lord of the Rings for Vicky, as the two of them are devout followers of Tolkien...(something about birds in a cedar tree was all I could remember, but Vicky understood anyway).
My last stop is the grocery store for a bag of unshelled peanuts. As this is the first of the month the store is full of recipients of government electronic money. At the check out stand is an odd ménage à trois. A skinny skin head, chinless white guy with a Chinese character tattoo on his neck, a rough but attractive black woman built like Serena Williams, and another less attractive chunky black woman with a gold ring in her nose. All are in their early 30's. Their two carts are filled with the usual low class selection: white bread, lunch meat, gallons of soda, sugary cereal, jelly, kool aid, and of course, no fresh vegetables. The woman with the nose ring has the WIC card. The computer knows which items are allowed and which must be paid for. To pay for the unauthorized items she produces a wad of bills and hands the clerk a fifty. In the parking lot I see them loading the loot in the back of an almost new Jeep Cherokee. I don't think ill of them because "Government is a clumsy, inefficient mechanism for transferring wealth from people who do something to people who don't, and from the young to the old -- which is the wrong direction." To Lionel Shriver they are my fellow drones.
On the drive back to the farm I consider the morning events and decide to record them, so I might look back one day and remember this day in rural south Arkansas.