The Truthiness Is Out There

Is the term “conspiracy theory” ever used in a nonpejorative sense, in context with the actual definition of “theory?” Whether or not that be the case, my attention is focused on two aspects of the decidedly unsound variety rooted in speculation and/or outright hoax. First is overestimating the human capacity for large-scale concealment, cooperation, competence, knowledge, and consistency, violating a set of principles which I will dub Henderson’s Laws of Organization:

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Quote of the Day

“Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” has often struck me as the Bourbon Restoration attempted with rotgut whiskey.”

Wretchard T. Cat, on Facebook

His earlier comment in the thread provides context: “The key to [the Greatest Generation’s]  success was that they did not try to restore the pre-WW2 system. They let the British and European colonial empires die. The world was rebuilt on first principles. Subsequent generations have done the opposite. They’ve focused on preserving the World Order.”

The Reasons For The Season

On my long-neglected blog this post was an annual Christmas tradition.


While Christmas is officially a celebration of the birth of Jesus, for much of the Western world December 25 has come to be a celebration of family and community. No other time of the year is so thoroughly saturated with images pointing to our highest hopes for such relationships – and no other time of the year so effectively highlights the difference between our ideals and the world as it really is. Jesus came to Earth to bridge not only the chasm between humanity and God, but also that rift that separates people from each other. Christmas reminds us that we live in a broken world, and it seeks to encourage us by showing us through religious and even many secular trappings how that brokenness can be fixed.

Best of holiday wishes to all my readers.

Antisemitism

Having lived in South Texas since the 7th grade, antisemitism was not something I encountered in my social environment while growing up. That marked the heyday of All in the Family; at least as far as Jews are concerned Archie’s prejudice didn’t go beyond ethnic/religious snobbery and not-always-negative stereotypes (good with money, holiday dedicated to eating young kippers). The signature antisemitism of that decade revolved around Palestinian terrorism. The Holocaust was a subject of history lessons, and the miniseries that aired weeks before my high school graduation.

I didn’t find antisemitism in my adult social circles, either, only in news stories and news commentary – the since-forgotten politician or two whose membership in a country club not allowing Jews drew controversy, the Crown Heights riots, Jewish conspiracy tropes, more Middle Eastern terrorism, sporadic David Duke sightings, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, the alt-right subculture, and so on. I get the impression that a lot of folks treat antisemitism as a single phenomenon and not several. The following is probably not an exhaustive list. 

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The Vonnegut-Lewis Theory of Modern Art

I looked on with horror at this news story about a fountain recently unveiled in Vienna, Austria. A city that for centuries has been associated with some of the highest works of art paid actual money for an amateurish sculpture that ranks with that ruined fresco in Borja, Spain

I immediately thought of Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General featured in Kurt Vonnegut’s 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron. (Probably a coincidence, but her initials spell “damage” without the vowels.) In this tale, the year is 2081, and recent amendments to the constitution have empowered the Federal government to artificially “handicap” the more intelligent, attractive, and athletic citizens such that these advantages are brought brown to a lower common denominator. This paragraph describes a few applications of this policy:

“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

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