The Gunman’s Fallacy

In the battle for liberty there is not one enemy but two.  There is first the ignorant who think they are fighting an oppressive establishment with violence.  There is second, a class of the establishment more than willing to let the ignorant carry out their violence in the hope of future control.  At the front lines in this battle are the police.  They are the keepers of the peace, and a power structure which does not like an overarching oppressive establishment any more than the violent perpetrator.  It is not, of course, simply correct to say that the police and the violent perpetrator are on the same side, only that if the violent perpetrator were not also ignorant, then they would see that the police are not on the side of oppression, and serve as protector of the common man’s liberties in the face of others who wish to strip them.

Implicit Coordination

It happens everyday, but not least in the highest reaches of government.  In the highest reaches of government, people are quick to clean their hands of any potential wrong doing with a turn of phrase.  The matter does not have to be complicated.  If I am a diplomat and I say that we don’t like X, and if you do Y, we will do Z, this only constitutes a threat if the other side does not like Z and it is not to your advantage that they do Y.  But if you say it like that, your hands are washed of whatever wrong was done with Y, and if you do Z given Y, you can effectively establish trust – all under the guise of whatever protection Z feigns to provide (e.g. xyz=(Ukraine,Syria,Economy).

Matters are not as cut and dried as national broadcasts would like, and in relations, both domestic and foreign, such implicit agreements are the norm rather than the exception.  Still I cannot but beg to maintain that if there is to be integrity to the system – and if our leaders are to know the first as well as the last thing as to what is going on – then we need a system of coordination which is forthright and does not save face for the sake of future votes, protecting against future spin, and living in a reality of appearances which cannot be sustained given a more intelligent populous.

I am not less a MAN for that. But I am less a man, sure. Because I’m just a man, sadly.

Should I think you have nothing to say, it is because I am self-centered.  Or maybe it is because you have said things in the past which do not make sense.  Or maybe it is because you say things again, which I have already heard.  It is perhaps because what you say is frivolous, and I tread on higher ground.

It would all be very interesting, but perhaps I find you unattractive.  I am not only self-centered.  I am superficial too.  As a writer it is words which should excite and not how or who.  But I will say that should I choose (and off the record), I choose a beautiful woman’s casual charade to cold comfort of philosophers.  I am not less a MAN for that.  But I am less a man, sure.  Because I’m just a man, sadly.

It is sadly indeed, for in every communication their is a life behind the words.  A life to empathize with, for it is a life you could have led.  To not reflect in those moments, on what your life could have been, and allow yourself to be struck with boredom – that is self-centeredness – and it is worth fighting that.

And still it is so much easier when you are beautiful to look at.

The Objectification of Women

By this is typically meant the process by which a woman is evaluated based on their appearance, but to say that this is the objectification of women is to ignore the fact that if one is evaluated based on metrics of almost any sort, then they have been ‘objectified’ and this socially acceptable form of objectification even has a prestigious business name: Human Capital Management.

The real problems with objectification are not with evaluating people based on their appearance, which is a set of characteristics subject to objectification as well as any other. The real problem is treating people as capital, and that is just business. How to reconcile the need to objectify people while treating them as loving, feeling, breathing individuals, generally – that is our problem – and it applies to Vegas strippers as well as CEOs.

It used to be the men who treated people as capital in business, and women were a balance who treated people as loving, feeling individuals at home. Now it is an afront to women if they are not treated as human capital like everyone else, and you are ‘setting women back’ if you are a woman who does not treat people as capital in turn. Ahh progress.

This is not to say that women have no place in business, but it is to say that society has lost some of that balance, and men need to begin to treat people more as loving, feeling individuals to help regain it – Women, we need your help, so don’t lose your touch.

Beyond Discrimination

When there is discrimination, there is always difficulty getting through it.  But the issue is not simply one of instilling a different mindset toward the discriminated, which is hard enough to do.  The issue also has to do with the fact that discriminators fear retribution for their actions should the discriminated get fair compensation.  This cycle of discrimination and distrust can be overcome by instilling a different mindset in the next generation, but relying on this entails no justice for the current one.  And no justice for the current generation entails slower change, if any.  This cycle can be broken, but there needs to be a perception of fair-mindedness from both sides.  In some areas progress has been made.  It is usually best made when we accept our differences as much as highlight our similarities, and each side recognizes compensation as fair.  Freedom is not Justice, but it is a healthy attitude to take the opportunities given. They can be compensation enough.

What I Learned from my Dad

I was raised with an almost naïve lack of bias against anyone for their superficial qualities. It is “almost naïve” because it is in many ways the correct way to view people – treating each and every person with individual dignity may be exhausting once you come to note that discrimination and reverse discrimination do still exist, but thankfully I made it well into my 20’s without being well aware of any of it, and by then the way that I treated people was mainly fixed.

I did of course know that discrimination existed. I knew of the treatment of Jews and Gypsys during and before WWII. I knew of the impetus for the civil rights movement in America in the 60’s. I knew of racial slurs, even if I never heard them said in person and in earnest. But I never saw discrimination with my own eyes. My naïveté was preserved as a youth and therefore treating people with individual dignity was not exhausting, but feasible.

I am not perfect, but what interpersonal equanimity I have, I owe to my parents and I give special credit to my Dad. My Dad had to fight the wars, day in and day out. The wars of business, the wars of reputation, the wars of attrition and perserverence, and then he had to come home and not ruin us with his personal struggles, temporary as they were, however grand they may have been. Not that there were never negative repercussions, but they were always surmountable, because they did not strike at the core of what is good.

No one is perfect, but my parents had foresight. They saw quite clearly that the world would be a better place for me and everyone, if we did not judge by those superficial qualities into which we are born, but treated each as an individual as best we could. It is all the more impressive knowing that such was not the standard in the age into which they were born. And sadly, if this is the standard today, there are many, persecutors and victims alike, who are distinctly failing to achieve it.

My Record Deal

“Just listening to your recording. It appears you are white.”

“Yes… Is that in my recording?”

“I gathered that from some things. Not to mention your skin color.”

“Yes, my skin is white.”

“Yes. Yes it is. Now tell me, how does a white boy know the blues?”

“Like anyone I’ve had life’s comeupin’s.”

“Nobody talks like that anymore… where are you from?”

“Wisconsin, but we have black people too.”

“Oh is that how black people talk?”

“They used to. I read it in Faulkner and Twain. They are always gettin’ their comeupin’s.”

“Ok anyhow. Did you ever work a chain gang? Or flea a coon hunt? Or overcome an addiction? Or get your heart stomped on by a woman? Or do any bluesy thing in your life?”

“That’s not really what the blues are about sir. They are about facing trials and obstacles that don’t relent. They are about that forlorn sentiment that accompanies relinquishing hope to a life of daily bludgeoning by unseen forces.”

“And you know this, this sentiment?

“Well, yes sir. I do a lot of reading on the internet. And putting aside the awful lack of general prosaic literacy, the writing tends to nurture the utmost depravity by means of insinuating my ignorance, and this leads me to indulge in a superficial vice which diverts my general frustration.”

“like?”

“like the sensual delights of the female figure.”

“Like Playboy.”

“Yes, but a little… anyway yes.”

“This ain’t the blues son. You gonna sing about that? This is plain old lack of confidence.”

“What makes you think this?”

“Please.”

“Ok. I find this a terrible judgment of my character from my otherwise homely appearance.”

“You ain’t so ugly son. Just wimpy is all.”

“Yes, I have a bit of a feeble constitution.”

“Wimpy. Just wimpy. You got to sit up straight and try to put some meat on those bones.”

“That’s fair.”

“And how can you sing the blues with those wimpy pipes? Give me a little raspy Satchmo will ya?”

“Technically Mr. Armstrong was a jazz musician. But here it goes…”

“Really terrible.”

“How do you know? You are not African American either. You’re whiter than me.”

“Ugh, now it’s a racial thing…”

“But you…”

“I know the blues son. Plenty of white artists know the blues too. Now I have a jet waiting, but if you want to send in an audition recording my staff in the foothills will look it over.”

“Tell me now sir, what will it take?”

“To make it? The grace of God.”

And with that, my life took a religious turn.

The Courage of Robin Williams

Many people don’t appreciate the courage it takes to be a good comedian. A comedian has to say things just right and also spontaneously. If they fail, they can cause themselves great difficulty.

I have hidden most my life behind the crafted word. The words fully thought through and not stepping over the line because they are so constructed not to pass that line. But in good comedy, comedy from the heart, there is always that precipice.

Robin Williams defied the fear of stepping over the line. It seemed he’d say anything, but only very rarely would he say anything truly inappropriate, and then it was not in malice, but an untimely indiscretion.

I’m very sad to see you leave before I had a chance to meet you Mr. Williams. I have to think that your passing is something we messed up, and I hope we can make amends. Love to you and your family.