You see? Not only am I, apparently, now dumb as a rock (and more so than I was in the past, in keeping with my theory), but that person at Slate is even dumber.
Oh, you’re going to say that the fact that the average was higher proves that not the whole ‘verse is as dumb as Molly and me?
Well, that just makes me chuckle condescendingly and tell you that that is evidence of another universe — one where people are slightly smarter — interfering with this one. I’d quote from Timeline to ‘splain to you how that works, but since you live in this downward-spiraling universe, you wouldn’t understand it….
Moderns seek to escape a universe that’s gone all medieval on ’em.
In recent days, I’ve found myself picking up and rereading Michael Crichton’ sci-fi novel Timeline, which is not a great book, but modestly diverting.
(It was made into a movie — the above photo is from that — that somehow, through the special magic of Hollywood, managed to make the story even more disappointing than the original.)
No, it’s not a time-travel story, as the characters keep protesting (but sometimes they speak as though they’ve forgotten it, and act like it IS time travel). Basically, the premise is that a tech company has come up with a way to transport people and objects to other universes in the multiverse (by sending them through holes in quantum foam, or something). And since there is an infinity of them out there, and gazillions of those are almost-but-not-completely exactly like our own, you can travel to one that is exactly like this ‘verse back in the 13th century.
So the protagonists do that, and have adventures — most of them having to do with trying to get back to our own here-now, because the denizens of that other ‘verse keep going all medieval on their a__es.
So this has me thinking about how in such a multiverse, butterfly effects might cause every ‘verse to keep splitting into ones that will be henceforth forever different from each other. (Or something like that; I admit it’s hard to think coherently about this stuff because it’s so batty.)
Which gets me to thinking about how I’m in the wrong ‘verse now. I’m supposed to be in the rational, enlightened, Madison-Hamilton one in which it would be impossible for someone like Donald Trump to become president, and in which even if something so outrageous happened, the Congress would soon (like, way before now) rectify the situation through the process of impeachment.
I’m not sure how this happened to the creature I think of as “me.” Maybe I ate the wrong thing for breakfast one morning, or got up a few seconds too late (being the me that lives in this universe, it’s highly unlikely I got up too early). But I’m pretty sure this is not the ‘verse I’m supposed to be in.
And things are getting worse in this here-now. We know, thanks to the clever people who figured out stuff like quantum foam, that the universe tends toward entropy. Well, this one also tends toward stupidity. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but that tendency has been accelerating ever since we took that wrong fork in 2016. As I write this, the erstwhile “greatest deliberative body the world has known” is about to acquit Trump, facilitating the process by preventing the presentation of witnesses and evidence, because even they have enough residual intelligence to understand that facts would condemn him.
We’re just spinning off into Idiocracy at an alarming rate.
The head of that tech company in the novel is a prize jerk, but maybe some Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or someone like that in this world should get busy on the quantum technology so we have a chance to get outta this madhouse of a universe and get over to one that makes sense….
I get up in the morning, I work out, I skim Twitter, I peruse several newspapers, and I get ideas that could be blog posts, but I fritter them away in Tweets before breakfast is over, and the blog lies fallow for much of the day.
So I’m going to start turning more Tweets into posts, so the conversation can occur here as well as there.
Let’s start with this one:
For all of you who accuse gun control advocates of exploiting a tragedy for political advantage: THIS is what that looks like, just FYI. You know, for future reference… https://t.co/l1NHmHjuy0
Of course, I was far from the only one to react this way. A couple of other Tweets on the subject:
When questioned by AP about his voting record, @PhilNobleSC said that he supported the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee even though Sheheen had gotten an “A” rating from the NRA two years earlier and also supported a guns-in-bars bill. My full story: https://t.co/Xy3mxBVpd8
Today while I was working on website copy for an ADCO client, I kept myself sharp by listening to the Pre-Fab Four — The Rutles! — on Spotify.
If you don’t remember The Rutles and their breakout film, “All You Need is Cash,” then you’re probably too young to be allowed out of the house alone.
They were incredible. I don’t know enough about music to understand how Neil Innes could write songs that sound SO much like Beatles songs without actually being Beatles songs.
It sort of cheapened the Beatles a bit for me seeing how easy it was to mockingly sound like them, but I managed the mental acrobatics necessary to be a fan of both groups. I ran out and bought The Rutles’ first album immediately.
I said this in a comment back on this thread, but I think it’s work elevating to a separate post. When our elected representatives do a good thing, however small, and do it in a way that is prompt, mature and respectful, that is worth a bit of applause, however much some of my friends here may scoff.
It’s easy to have contempt for the minimalist action action taken by Columbia City Council Tuesday regarding bump stocks. After all, what possible practical effect can it have? If someone uses a bump stock in a mass murder in Columbia, what will happen as a result of this ordinance? He’ll get a ticket?
But it’s hardly fair when you realize how little a municipality can do, and that other levels of government are doing nothing. I think you should consider the following:
There was widespread, bipartisan sentiment for banning bump stocks right after Las Vegas. It was remarkable, because all calls for limiting anything having to do with firearms on the federal level generally lead to nothing but a liberalizing of gun laws. Still, nothing happened this time, either.
Between the 2nd Amendment and a Legislature determined to keep local governments from making decisions for themselves, a municipal government’s power to act is extremely limited.
Within those extreme limits, Benjamin and the council decided to do what they could, in contrast to the paralysis in Washington.
They didn’t make an entirely empty gesture. They took an action, to the limits of their power, without trying to overstep that power.
They did so in an orderly, mature, deliberate manner, exhibiting reason and restraint that too many of us no longer expect from government. They did it without finger-pointing, name-calling, or bloviating. In other words, they set an example for how other levels of government should function. By doing so, they made a case for a good cause — subsidiarity. They suggest by their mature, restrained actions that maybe MORE decisions should be made on the local level. (Note this headline: “<a href=”https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/columbia-south-carolina-passes-a-bump-stock-ban-since-congress-wont-pass-even-minimal-gun-control.html” rel=”nofollow”>Columbia, South Carolina, Bans Bump Stocks, Since Congress Won’t</a>.”)
In this degraded, hostile, dysfunctional political atmosphere in which nothing good happens but a lot of ill-will is created along the way, I think the way this was handled was admirable.
Bud and Doug will scoff: Form instead of function! Mere words! But this is the stuff of civilization, without which we descend to the level of deranged beasts. And I think that makes it worth giving the mayor an attaboy.
A shorter version of the above:
The council has said, “We can’t do much, but we’re going to do what we can, and we’re going to act like grownups doing it.” These days, that’s progress…
Three years after ordering the Legislature to start doing right by children who live in poor, rural school districts, in connection with a landmark 24-year-old lawsuit brought by those districts, the SC Supreme Court has just said, “Never mind.”
At least, that’s the way it looks at first blush.
The justices who joined Justice John Kittredge in voting to abandon the monumental, decades-long case were elected to the court since the 2014 ruling.
The court in 2014 ordered the Legislature to come up with ways to bring poor, rural districts up to snuff — without specifying how. We’re still awaiting lawmakers’ action on that front. Now, Kittredge writes that continuing to breathe down lawmakers’ necks on this “would be a gross overreach of judicial power and separation of powers.”
But hey, don’t worry, because he also writes, “Does the dismissal of this case reflect a lack of appreciation for the critical importance of public education in South Carolina? Absolutely not.”
So is that it for the poor districts? Well, Speaker Jay Lucas (from Darlington County) has often expressed his interest in doing right by them, while at the same time asking the court to get off his back.
“He’s very popular in my state,” Mr. Graham continued. “When I help him, it helps me back home. And I think it probably helps him to be able to do business with an old rival who’s seen as a deal maker.”
To Republican critics of Mr. Trump, Mr. Graham is risking his reputation with such a calculus.
“Lindsey Graham knows better,” said Peter Wehner, who advised former President George W. Bush and is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. “Deep in his heart, he must know that Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit to be president, and he has to pretend that Trump is. And when you engage in a game like that, there’s often a cost to it.”
Mr. Graham is willing to take the risk….
It’s really a shame to see this. Especially when Lindsey’s best buddy John McCain, as sick as he is, is determined to go down swinging against the guy Graham once quite rightly termed “the world’s biggest jackass.”
Because the thing is, he does know better. And therefore, he owes us better…
Smith in 2015 speaking at a rally calling for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.
Well, this is good news. And here’s the notice he sent out to potential supporters (I didn’t get one, but it was forwarded to me):
All of my life I have felt the call to service. I have been grateful for the privilege to serve my community, my state, and my nation. In that spirit, after 9/11, I resigned my commission as a JAG officer, enlisted in the Infantry, and deployed to Afghanistan to fight for our country and protect our way of life. There, I was privileged to serve with the very best our State and Nation has to offer, alongside real heroes- soldiers who best represent what America stands for.
I came home a different man. With a deeper faith. More thankful for my wife and family. Less caught up in the petty politics at the State Capitol. And believing I could do even more. That I was called to do more.
I see the potential of our state. I see what we can be. But I also see what’s getting in the way.
I am running for Governor because I feel like I must do all that I can to fight for the people of South Carolina. I am running because I want South Carolina to realize her fullest potential and to do that means no one gets left behind.
I see South Carolina as she can be and ask why not? Why not more than a minimally adequate education? Why not an energy plan that works for all of us and a South Carolina prepared for the jobs of the future? Why not a South Carolina where we invest in our quality of life, support for our families, rebuild our infrastructure, reform our government to be efficient, transparent and accountable, and provide access to quality healthcare?
A South Carolina where those in power serve the people and not themselves.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t have Democratic opposition. It would be nice if we had one person running for governor who could start listening to those of us in the middle right away, instead of spending a primary season reaching out to the extremes of a party — the way the Republicans are having to do…
Capt. Smith writing home from Afghanistan in 2007.
Oh I don’t mean you, Lindsey — I mean your execrable bill to trash Obamacare and make healthcare in America considerably less accessible, which the Senate declined to vote on today.
Remember, I generally approve of your job performance. I’ll probably be applauding something you say and do again soon — but not until, say, next week, when the deadline for you to be able to cram this thing through with 50 votes and no deliberation is safely behind us.
Until that line is crossed, I won’t breathe easy for the nation. I don’t pronounce things dead until they’re buried. And once we get to where you’d need 60 votes to pass it, it’s buried.
Watching you on this issue has not been pleasant. Of course, trying to rush through such an awful proposal, dressing it up in language about the virtues of federalism, was bad. Really bad. But you managed to make it worse by acting like you were all excited that Donald Trump, of all people, was supporting what you were doing.
Yeah, I get it. You get weary of that bunch the GOP euphemistically calls its “base” hating on you all the time. You’d like to seek your party’s nomination just once without an army of snake-flaggers coming out of the woodwork to oppose you. It’s not fun getting booed at party gatherings. And you’re right to dismiss liberals who love you only when they think you’re acting like one of them. I get it. You’re an actual conservative Republican — conservative in a sense that doesn’t insult the English language — and you’d like others to respect that.
But while I’m sure it would be peachy to be popular among your own for once, it’s not worth taking medical coverage from millions of Americans. Not to them, certainly. And it shouldn’t be to you, either.
That Kirsten Gillibrand is just all over the place this week — standing next to Bernie Sanders to back single-payer, and now teaming up with our own Lindsey Graham:
Gillibrand, Graham Propose Legislation to Establish National Commission on Cybersecurity of U.S. Election Systems
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced bipartisan legislation to establish the National Commission on the Cybersecurity of the United States Election Systems.
The Commission – based on a model similar to the 9/11 Commission that investigated the terror attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania – would look into the cyber-attacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle and make recommendations on the best way to protect our nation going forward.
Cyber-attacks, in particular those from foreign intelligence services hostile to democracy, are a growing threat to candidates and political parties. They also pose a danger to nonpartisan election officials and election infrastructure, which are responsible for keeping accurate tabs on voter rolls and vote tabulation.
“There is no credible doubt that Russia attacked our election infrastructure in 2016,”said Gillibrand. “We need a public accounting of how they were able to do it so effectively, and how we can protect our country when Russia or any other nation tries to attack us again. The clock is ticking before our next election, and these questions are urgent. We need to be able to defend ourselves against threats to our elections, our democracy, and our sacred right to vote. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission to defend our democracy and protect ourselves against future attacks on our country.”
“Hostile governments like Russia don’t believe in democracy,” said Graham. “They have shown an eagerness to meddle in elections in the United States and other democratic nations. We need to ensure we fully understand the threat they pose and the best practices to protect ourselves from future attacks. But Russia is not our only worry. We could face future attacks from North Korea, Iran, China, and others who oppose American foreign policy and reject the values we hold dear. This issue should be beyond partisan politics as it strikes at the heart of our democracy. We must take steps to ensure that we protect the integrity of our elections from hostile, outside, and foreign influences.”
Members of the Commission would be selected by state election authorities and congressional leadership so that a comprehensive group of experts would be able to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to address the concerning vulnerabilities of our election systems.
The Commission would do the following:
Identify action steps or prevention measures which address cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to the 2016 election in the United States;
Document and describe any harm or attempted harm with respect to election systems in the United States in 2016;
Review foreign cyber interference in elections in other countries in order to understand additional cybersecurity threats, interference methods, and successful defense mechanisms;
Make a full and complete accounting of what emerging threats and unmitigated vulnerabilities remain and identify likely threats to election systems in the United States; and
Report on the recommendations of the Commission for action at the Federal, State, and local level.
Yeah, I know — I’m almost two decades late on this.
But when “The Sixth Sense” came out, I was uninterested. The trailers with the terrified little boy saying, “I see dead people!” just didn’t move me to want to watch.
But recently I kept seeing it promoted to me on Netflix, and last night I was giving platelets at the Red Cross, which immobilizes me with nothing to do but stare at my iPad for a couple of hours, and I’ve heard for years that the movie is good, so… I started watching it.
And I figured out the “surprise ending” in the first scene. And everything that happened subsequently confirmed it. In fact, it was telegraphed so strongly, and so persistently, that I couldn’t see how anyone would miss it.
Now, let me admit right off that I had a helping hand. I knew there was a creepy, even shocking ending. I thought I had heard that the surprise was that the little kid himself was dead. But it became quickly obvious that that explanation didn’t work, and that another premise was completely inescapable. So I had a big leg up.
What I can’t figure out is whether I would have seen exactly what the “surprise” was without that hint Maybe not. But certainly I would have had questions along the way, such as:
Why doesn’t the big-deal, award-winning psychologist Malcolm Crowe have an office? Why doesn’t his young patient, Cole, go to see him there? Why does their first meeting involve Crowe spotting Cole and chasing him down the street? I really think these details would have made me expect answers — and if they weren’t forthcoming, would cause me to start speculating.
Why does the psychologist go everywhere with the kid — to school, to the hospital, to his home, to a funeral, to his school play, which his mother doesn’t even go to because she’s holding two jobs (which raises the question of how she pays the psychologist to look after her son 24/7)? Why doesn’t such a celebrated shrink have other patients? Why does he says he used to be a great child psychologist?
Why doesn’t the boy’s mother ever speak to Crowe when they are together? More than that, why doesn’t his wife, who we saw in the first seen was very warm and affectionate toward him, never speak to him or even look at him? Sure, there’s misdirection intended to make you think there’s a problem in the marriage, but it’s lame and unconvincing.
If you could see all of these things without figuring it out, I guess it would create a wondering tension that would make the reveal at the end a real kick in the head. But is that possible? Did people really not figure it out?
And if it was a big surprise, I sort of feel like Shyamalan undersold it. The reveal seemed low-key for such a realization on the part of the central protagonist — nowhere near as powerful as, say, the star’s realization of the truth about himself at the end of “Memento.” Beyond that, the resolution of various conflicts seemed a bit too pat and easy. What caused the teacher to give the outcast child the lead in the school play, for instance?
Assuming you saw it, what was your experience? No big deal, I’m just curious, after having heard how effective the movie was all these years…
Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! This is why I’m a Catholic, people!
I don’t just mean that the Pope said something cool, so yay, Catholics….
I mean it speaks to the whole communitarian nature of Catholicism’s appeal to me.
I became a Catholic in 1991, and over the years, when people ask me why, I generally say something like… Being a person with a strong sense of history, I wanted to join the original (in the West, anyway) church, and more than that the universal (which is what catholic means, y’all) church.
Before that, I had been, technically, a Baptist (I was really pretty nondenominational, but I was baptized in a Baptist church). And (please correct me if I’m explaining this wrong, Baptist friends) each Baptist church sees itself as a separate church. If you go to a Baptist church other than your home church, you are a visitor — a welcome one, in my experience, but a visitor. The universal church is the opposite of that: Wherever you go in the world, you are a communicant of whatever Catholic church you walk into. Back in the days of the Latin Mass, the language would have been the same.
I wanted to be in communion not only with all Catholics in the world today, but with all who had ever lived and ever would live. That’s the way I looked at it. That was my motivation. Not my only motivation, to be sure, but the one I was best able to articulate.
Looks like maybe the Pope is Catholic for some of the same reasons. You know, aside from being an Italian who grew up in Argentina…