Blog post # 322 “LEFT-OVERS”

Irrespective of the degree of skill and creativity employed in the creation of an elegantly presented meal, its awarded, superlative descriptions, such as “artisinal” and “gourmet quality,” are severely degraded, to the common status of “left overs,” with respect to its uneaten surplus. In response to the question, “What’s for dinner?” the occasional answer,”Left overs,” often evokes an uncalled for, and manifestly unjust, expectation of an uninteresting and tiresome meal. The subject noun, in actual fact, is not, in any way, qualitative or judgmental; it is instead, a statement of factual and quantitative import. Moreover, it is a matter of  irrefutable, empirical experience, that if the initial meal was an exquisite one, the consumption of the uneaten excess will likewise, unquestionably, be enjoyable. The obverse is also unfortunately true; additionally, there always are some diners who do not  agree that the initial meal was truly deserving of its many bestowed-upon superlatives.

Taking the liberty of generalized metaphorical similarity, the problems associated with the retrospective evaluation of any human interraction [ statement or act] is our specific  subject of interest in this note. With regard to our convenient metaphor, (our regular readers are familiar with our unrepentant inclination to use metaphoric references) the extent of individual variations in taste, regarding food, are relatively limited and usually specific, while variations in perceptive evaluation of past statements appear to be virtually unlimited, and often non-specific.

Additionally, the recollection of parties themselves, as to the actual words they personally employed in a statement, may be inexact and vary significantly. There are countless instances, where parties have a specific subject matter in mind but, despite their avowed honestly, and stated firm recollection to the contrary, just never have expressed it clearly, if at all. It is infinitively more difficult to deny, or forget a specific dish, served as part of a meal, than to deny, or be obliged to affirm, a statement made in a conversation. These indeed constitute questionable and arguable” left overs.” It is not rare to hear contrary  statements such as, “You never told me” and “I did so” or ” You said…”  and the response “I did not.” From the point of view of nuanced perception, they both may be telling the truth (as each is honestly aware of it).

There would appear to be no prescribed antidote for the prevention of occasional misunderstandings. One needs to maintain his flexibility and willing understanding, in view of individual variations in the skill of clear expression of thoughts and intentions; the resultant, “left overs” or, recollection, of what we hear (or perceive we hear) may not be the specifically intended message. In matters of significance, especially when the other party’s mode, or style, of communication is unfamiliar us, it would be useful to request further details or clarification.  When matters are especially complex or sensitive, one might even, in a  courteous manner, attempt to restate the other person’s message or point of view to him, to assure confirmance of his understanding. Of course, an additional, major complication is that, as receptors, our accurate recollection, (our personal ” left overs”) is universally challanged by our (natural) subjective perception.

Evaluating last Sunday’s dinner left overs, is so much easier.

-p.

Post # 321 HIGH ALTITUDE ZONE- OUT (Redux)

The consistent use of a recognizable musical theme at the outset of each installment of a television mini- series, is the most commonly employed technique, to restore the viewer’s attention and recollection, of the genre and narrative, as well as the personalties appearing in the series. The (” Pavlovian”) association of the nuanced musical theme, with the contextual presentation of the narrative, is virtually instantaneous, returning the mind-set of the viewer to a recollection of the past installments of the ongoing series.

In metaphorical similarity to such associative dynamic, we seem to uniformly experience an automatic and identical response to each act of boarding an airplane, amounting to   an enlarged, self-awareness, almost bordering on an out-of-body experience.

As we, uncomfortably reach around to locate the two ends, to mandatorily snap on on the seat belt, we are privileged to hear an unsettling, smarmy welcome from the Captain, not entirely unlike some mid-western take on the warmly unctuous, menacing welcome by Igor, to Castle Frankenstein. Next, we experience another robotic, extra-terrestrial welcome from the chief flight attendant, accompanied by her emotionless lecture, concerning the proper etiquette to be observed by travelers, should the plane happen to ditch into the Atlantic Ocean.

Admittedly, we travel by air no more than once or twice per year, yet in each such experience, the out-of-body type self- awareness develops, particularly noticed, as we attain the distance of 33,000 feet of airspace, between the soles of our shoes and the surface of the planet, below. The hypnotic illusion seems, to effectively redact all recall of our complex, multi-faceted and busy life on terra- firma, notwithstanding, the relatively brief nature of the flight; apparently, Dr. Pavlov has rung the determinant bell.

The  hypnotic episode is exacerbated by the relative silence of the large number of belted,  and effectively incarcerated, fellow passengers, the subdued lighting and the sustained, incessant, soft drone of the engines. Our experience, despite its “ground hog” familiar recurrence, manifests itself in a state of mind, while not fearful, is somehow mono-focused on a “twilight zone” existence, solely confined to perceived occurrences taking place relative to the flight of the airplane.

Let no reductive thinker, blithely, conclude, that on some unannounced level, we have any fear of airplane travel. Admittedly, we are often aware that there is a lot of airspace between the soles of our moccasins and the ground. However, we are well reassured by the scientific basis of flight; the jet engines producing greater pressure below the airplane, than that above it, hence the resultant lift. We are further reassured that there are some persons in command, experienced and capable of so finessing the lift, that we arrive at the pre-determined destination; and who, additionally, have the recognized skill set and experience to guide our airborne leviathan to a balletic return to the airfield.

The out- of body sense of reality, seems to dissipate upon successfully surviving the exit  from the airplane, together with impatient fellow passengers; and then, completely, after enduring the officious administrative tedium, no doubt constituting their raison d’etre.

So, at last, we have returned to Mother Earth, and, relative to our theme, she has returned to us. It almost seems as if we have acquired an alternate personality from our other self, the one who experiences flying in airplanes.

In the diligent quest of further enlightenment regarding the academic science of aeronautics, we have resolved to consult, on the didactic subject of aeronautic”lift,”  a true expert in the field, one of our local Canadian geese.

-p.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogpost # 320 RAGTIME

It seems that when we reach our later years, and are obliged to finally confess, that we are well into that stage of life, commonly termed, “growing old,” that we are, at times, confronted with the return of long-term memories, concerning  singularly meaningful experiences in our past life; perhaps, a spontaneous projection of the stage- setting of a period of residence, in our very early life, the sound of a forgotton voice, or perhaps, a remembered scent (like ocean air, or a cooked food) suddenly recalled, after a veritable lifetime of subsequent experiences.

Such a sudden, recent memory visitation, was apparently triggered in us, by the mere encountering of the mundane verb , “crochet,” which appeared on the page of a novel we were reading. The word was not, in truth, used in any complex, metaphoric, meaningful or especially artistic sense; just the normal, unexciting and mundane word. At first, our lowering of the book and looking away, felt unusual; then, a sudden eclat, “Mom!”

Our mother knew how to crochet and managed to be rather accomplished at her often practiced skill, despite the lack of a right index finger (amputated in the “dark ages”of medical ignorance of the White Russia of her childhood, in primitive manner, to prevent the spread of infection.) Crocheting was a common pastime, when she was not cleaning house, cooking meals, tending to sick children or food shopping.

Historically, she may, perhaps, be entitled to be numbered among the world’s original recyclers; but truthfully, only did so, as a matter of necessity.  In the impoverished life, endured, together with her hard working, immigrant husband, and children, seldom was anything actually discarded, if it could be seen to have some other function, or some future possible utility.

Among our earliest memories, was of mother, actively tearing long, thin strips of cloth, from clothing and other fabrics, the latter, finally consigned to the dire functional diagnosis as no longer repairable, and, consequently, and at long last, falling into the rarified scientific category of “schmattas.” There was no limit to the wide provenance of these residual schmattas, old washclothes, towels, pants, undergarments, very torn sweaters, ancient shirts, blouses, dresses and whatever deserving fabric which, at long last, had fairly earned the right to meet its maker.

We would see her, in any break from housecleaning, cooking meals, nursing sick children, and the like, crocheting these substantial, multi- colored, multi-textured, accumulations of ancient family utility. Her recognized artisinal canon was area rugs, which  multi-splendored, objets d’art, kept our bare (or stockinged) feet warm, despite a cold flat and cold floor.

Then, a second lightening bolt (“eclat”)  struck; this time, a truly inventive, exciting and more scholarly eclat; as distinguished from the emotional jolt, set forth, above.

These cloth strips, torn from fabrics, used during the time of her family history, starting with her emigration to America, represent a witness, going back to the time of her escape from pogrom country and the Russian dark ages, though an American period, from Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt to John Kennedy, and encompassing  events which occurred during such era, including, World War II, the Korean and Vietnamese Wars,  the exponential changes in technology and medicine, social upheavals and developments, indeed, all of the intervening domestic and World history of the era.

May not these historic strips, albeit arranged and conglomerated into somewhat different form, be of significant academic use to historians, economists and sociologists, studying the life and events of the approximately,  one Century of American existence represented, find a veritable treasure trove of desired information therein? Devoted and capable scientists obtain needed enlightenment from radioactive carbon, from fossils and geological strata, from the study and computation of tree rings, why not schmattas? Mom would be very pleased to know that they have yet another use.

-p.

Post # 319 SELF-GRADING AND THE CUMULATIVE INDEX

In an attempt at clarity of our theme, [viz., the universal need for self awareness] and, as well, in an effort to encourage reader interest, we have elected, in this mini-essay, to employ the well-known academic metaphor, of the liberal arts academy.

College students are universally aware, that the grades, awarded to them are the result of a determination, by the respective instructor, (at times, somewhat subjective) of the student’s performance, and of his understanding of the course’s subject matter. The final accumulation and analysis of all such determined grades [in total] is known as the “Cumulative Index.” Despite the arguably, small amount of subjectivity, in the awarding of individual grades, the Index, in its recordation of the student’s total performance, is credited with providing a practical and acceptable measure of the success of his performance.

It is, not our intention, to present, in this writing, a redux of our oft-repeated , eternal theme, viz., that all of mankind, bears a continuing (evolutionary) moral responsibility to pursue self-advancement and enlightenment, in an effort to attain a richer life, and, as well, to constitute a more valuable member of his society, or nation.

We would also disclaim any intention to discuss the wide world of difference between an entity, deemed to be considered,  “technically alive” by biologists ( manifesting function, such as, respiration, movement, nutrition and excretion) and the qualitative and complex “being alive” of homo sapiens, possessing the capability to pursue knowledge, and potential for advanced living.

Our present attention is, instead, focused upon the efforts of mankind, as a sentient entity,  needing to maintain a fixed and personally acceptable, self-image of himself and of his society. This urgent need, by its nature, requires regular confirmation, and is the primary subject of man’s life-long, evaluative, inner conversation with himself. Not too very different from the metaphoric grading of performances at college he, often in retrospect, makes an evaluation (“grades”) his reaction to an event, statement, or change of circumstances, relative to his privately conceived persona. Often, as in the case of college grading, this expo-facto judgment may be somewhat subjective, specifically, in the case of mankind, colored by his available ego-defense mechanisms, or run through some personally contrived, protective filter.

Returning yet again, to our serviceable metaphor, while one’s perceived evaluation of himself, in his reaction an event (“grades”) may bear the color of subjectivity, a retrospective of a reasonable number of such behavioral reactions (“the Cumulative Index”) will serve to furnish a useful picture of the extent of difference, if any, between the held, perceived persona, and the cumulative, empirical evidence.

Such a regular, privately conducted audit of our characteristic behavior, particularly in reaction to stressful events, can be productive of a confirmation of our previous conception,  or a practical and useful way to understand perceptions of us by others; even of greater utility is the possible enlightened invitation to engage in personal improvement.

Socrates preached, “Know thyself.”

-p.

 

 

 

 

Blogpost #318 TERMITES IN THE FOUNDATION

At some indeterminate moment in his primitive history, mankind made the stupendous advance to the status of living in societal community. Living alone, meant an eternal search for shelter from the elements, the daily, desperate search for food, all added to an ever present fear of  marauding strangers and predatory beasts. Living in society, by stark contrast, provided a plethora of benefits,  the improved safety of joint defense, joint enterprise, group hunting and food gathering, the sharing and development of skills, and, as well, and perhaps getting closer to our theme, satisfied an innate human need for interaction with other homo sapiens. In the precarious context of the primitive era, factual reporting and accuracy of communication was absolutely vital to survival.

In the the present day and age, speaking truthfully, is, at times, sometimes spoken of as a personal “virtue”;  but, much more accurately and profoundly, it still continues to be a vital societal construct. For reasons of practical  necessity, there exists the every day assumption, that a speaker is truthful. Conceivably and empirically, no society could operate successfully, or, even minimally exist, without an  implicit trust in the factual reports and spoken words of its inhabitants.

It may be useful, at this point, to  define “lying,” as we understand that disreputable verb. The act of lying, involves the utterance a falsehood, knowing it to be inaccurate,  with the intention to deceive. Actual lying is a shameless breach of the hearer’s trust, and, as well,  a true and clear revelation, as to the actual falsity of any previously assumed honest and sincerely based relationship.The prevaricator, by virtue of his exclusive possession of the truthful facts, marks himself, ipso facto, by that wrongful act, as a mere stranger, and not, as previously represented, a sincere and respectful  friend.

We, emphatically, do not include in this contemptible act, innocent, but inaccurate and erroneous statements, nor a friend’s soothing, and optimistic, but knowingly inaccurate, representations, to a dying, or chronically ill patient, of a positive prognosis nor, indeed. a social, albeit insincere, compliment on a fellow guest’s purportedly ” fine appearance.” A lie, to qualify as such, requires an intentional communication of a known false statement, of a fact, with the specific, purpose, that the hearer rely upon it.

The private act of lying often causes the subsequent creation of a false fact pattern,  requiring the prevaricator to quickly and uncomfortably, manufacture supplemental, or explanatory, false information; in his desperate need to attempt to achieve consistency. Was it, Walter  Scott, or William Shakespeare, who penned the prescient observation, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”?

The words, prevarication, mendacity or, put simply, lying, may be at the zenith of all other, contemptible, miscreant human acts. Without the assumption (and existence) of veracity, there would be no useful communication between members of the human race. It is nothing short of a crime, both against mankind’s advancement to date, as well as in the future. It may be noted that once trust has been violated, it can never be repaired, or put back on the chart of man’s commendable progress. To lie, is no less than to. sin against our evolving anthropology.

We have opted not to proceed further with the subject of the ethics and the existential necessity for truth, as they relate to our current President; whose numerous practices of daily mendacity, would require several professional firms of auditors to recount.We have stated, in a past note, that considering all of the many varieties of reprehensible and unprofessional acts of President Trump, none would be shamefully comparable to his mendacity, except his related, overt, sociopathic and irresponsible, attack on “truth.” He is, metaphorically, a despicable hive of hungry termites, chewing away at the foundations of civilization.

-p.

 

Post # 317 AMERICA RESTORED

It is not uncommon for an individual to be enjoying good health for an extensive period of time, and then quite suddenly, experience illness. Customarily, after an initial period of realization and acceptance, relevant measures are thereafter sought, preferably, with the guidance of an experienced physician, conducive to the restoration of one’s former state of good health.

Who, in his most troubling and irrational nightmares, would have been capable of conjuring up the remote possibility, that our young nation, well on the road to achievement of the status of the world’s avatar of republican democracy, would be suddenly, stricken with such a malignant illness, as to effectively reduce it to a contemporary reprise of the  Dark Ages, [autocratic rule, medieval protective walls, lack of concern for the poor and needy, abuse of free speech, threats to critics, especially the media, covert dealing with foreign despots, self-serving financial dealings in the autocrat’s sole interest, discouragement of learning and advancement, assertion of bellicose threats against other countries, and self-licensed, obscene and reprehensible behavior]. Even a casual student of history, would have little difficulty in seeing this anachronistic  and atavistic return to the nightmarish Hell of the Medieval Dark Ages.

The devastating etiology of this sudden onset of serious pathology, is unarguably determined and specifically identified, as the shocking elevation of Donald J. Trump to America’s Oval Office. Once this pathogen gained entrance, the body politic suffered a predictably rapid onset of the metastasizing, disease, presenting dire symptoms, and a panic-stricken, citizen-wide awareness of its apocalyptic possibilities.

Mr. Trump’s resume reveals experience as a former host of an inane television game show, and real estate sharpie; a job interview would have uncovered a persona whose overweening ego and feigned self-confidence, camouflages his low character, and his declared unsuitability for the Office of the Presidency. He evinces the possession of that ultimately hazmat combination of basic, reductive ignorance, accompanied by an ersatz  demonstration of supreme confidence added to a neurotic need for attention. This less than salubrious  melange of adolescent neurosis, has brought about a sharp decline in respect for the office of the American Presidency and, in many ways, the nation, itself.

Prior to the disastrous election of Donald Trump, the institution of the American Presidency, had,, generally enjoyed a long, salutary and deserved  history, of reverence and respect, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, from John Adams to Abraham Lincoln, from the two  Roosevelts, to the recent, admirable and enlightened term, of Barack Obama.

With the surprising election victory of Donald Trump, our healthy and progressive Ship of State appears, to have mortally struck an unseen iceberg and, like the onset of any  sudden disease, shortly thereafter, began to manifest multiple symptoms of serious import to our body politic. We will not, here, recount the overstuffed Pandora’s box of despicable and shameful examples of mismanagement, poor judgment, mendacity,and bigotry, which we have previously enumerated; any continued useful discussion, would now properly focus on the urgent need for a restorative cure for the malady.

That portion of the treatment, regarding the attenuation of the major observable symptoms, is easily and quickly administered;  a permanent immunity,  may well require a somewhat longer course of therapy.

Relatively quick, symptomatic relief, can, with be identified by consideration of the cause of the onset of the pathology. In the last election, a great many regular American voters stayed home. The portion of our population, which we have, perhaps unkindly, referred to as the low information, flat earth people, which usually, does not vote, this time, voted in great numbers, due a program of insincere “pie in the sky” promises, tactically engineered, and financed. by the wealthy industrial, anti-regulation, air polluters (who value profits above human and planetary health).

Symptomatic relief, as well as complete restoration of the nation to its former condition of good health, can be achieved by the excision of the harmful pathogen from the body politic, by a large regular voter turnout. We are often required to repeat Thomas Jefferson’s prescient admonition, that for a democracy to work, it requires an informed and literate citizenry.

Long -term, or permanent immunity, is acquired, in addition to regularly staying informed as to the current political scene, by engaging in those activities that affirmatively promote personal growth and wisdom, ex, reading good literature and  interest in the arts and sciences. The latter activities, whose promotion has been the raison d’etre of this blog space, also rewards one with a richer and more fulfilling life.

-p.

 

 

 

 

 

Post # 316 ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SOLSTICE

Academics specializing in the lifelong study of the universe and our solar system, have confidently declared the arrival of another Winter Solstice; what may be of greater and more profound impact to many citizens, is the concurring determinations, of the Hallmark Greeting Card Company, and Macy’s Department Store.

Here, at the home offices of plinyblog.com, after two and one-half solstices in existence, and consistent with our mandatory commitment to absolute candor, we are obliged to again repeat the disappointed phrase, coined by us at the advent of year 2018, “Today is yesterday again.”

In factually based contravention, to the many perennial resolutions for positive change. and the high-minded prognostications of the enthusiastic (and otherwise stimulated) celebrants, too many people seem to persist in living lives, eternally stuck in the time consuming and engulfing mire, of the pursuit of ephemeral, mindless and superficial diversion, and lacking any positive aspiration for personal growth and self-fulfillment.  The empirical by- product of such superficiality, in addition to such irresponsible failure to live up to our innate human potential for advancement, appears to be a lack of moral inclination to care for other members of the human family, less fortunate than they are.

Far too many, human beings, despite mankind’s indisputable debt of gratitude, for the many benefits of Darwinian evolution, including the generous gift of an advanced brain,  an opposable thumb, the structural architecture to walk upright , together with the  inclination for living in society, nevertheless, wastefully, expend their brief allotted time on the planet, living a limited, ignorantly reductive, disinterested and insular existence, ungratefully unaware of their innate potential for some measure, at least, of personal growth.

Arm chair lassitude has tolerated the general deprecation of intellectualism and the search for knowledge, in the sciences, medical and literary arts. This is inclusive, irresponsibly, and indeed, dangerously, of the ignorant and ultimately suicidal, denial of the uniform findings of virtually all scientists, of a clear and present danger of man-made climate change, which could, conceivably, degrade the status of our [still] green planet to a lifeless, moon-like rock. We note that shamefully, such ignorance is programmatically promoted, to low-information voters by the air polluting industrialists, who selfishly and foolishly, exalt profits above human life.

Such pervasive arm chair ignorance, with its concomitant disrespect for human advancement and enlightenment, is too often, the underlying etiology for racial and other pernicious forms of bigotry. Every living personality, it seems, craves respect and status of some sort. This natural drive, leads the enlightened citizen to strive for laudable accomplishments, such as new understandings, discoveries, advancement in science and medicine, the publication of an esteemed work of art or a good book. It appears evident, that among the low educated, flat- earth denizens of our planet, that, to attempt to satisfy such need, an artificially manufactured “pecking order” solely configured by them, having its purported basis in skin color, appears to be the only one available.

Ignorance is the virulent basis of bigotry and, while in the main, this situation has been improving (thanks to enlightened and moral members of society) the armchair species of humanity, at best, has been an immobile spectator, at worst, a vile participant, in the industry of hatred. While, assuredly, there have been advances in the recognition of universal, all inclusive, civil rights, we, in the words of an American poet have “miles to go before we sleep.” For one illustration, among a great many possible others, bigoted ignorance still seems to tolerate an unfair justice system, inclusive of the profitable “prison industrial system,” shamefully and cruelly, fueled by an abnormally inflated inventory of black men.

The armchair waste of human protoplasm, studiously avoids any reminder of the fundamental ethic of our nation, which that declares that “all men are born equal,”, “one man, one vote” and “all men have the inalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It was this atavistic genus and species of mankind, frighteningly comprising a sufficient number of voters of like description, that succeeded in electing one of their own camp, Donald J. Trump.

It is abundantly clear that every properly informed American of good will, must responsibly take the time to cast his vote, that great emphasis need be placed on the quality of American education for the young, and perhaps programs of needed supplemental education for adults (possibly motivated by attractive benefits). We, yet again, refer to the wise prescription of Thomas Jefferson, to the effect that, for a democracy to succeed, it needs literate and informed citizens.

We hope to be enabled to publish a happier note for the next Winter Solstice.

Happy New Year!

-p