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Gary Fletcher
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13/01/2019 12:04 pm  

Fine article here in praise of Bernie Sanders:

Bernie Sanders; America's Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas for those of you who don't follow Canadian culture, is a great figure in our history, a much greater and more respected man than probably 90% of our Prime Ministers (I'm being conservative).

Bernie is the same for the United States. He's been fighting the good fight since the early 1960s. I submit that he is a greater figure in American history than a mere President.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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13/01/2019 4:26 pm  

If you were to go back and reread about the last 50,000 words I've written in reaction to your political posts, I think you would see a pattern. You say something about a person that's really about ideology, I write something scathing about ideology, you come back with some defense, usually that I misunderstood you, and I realize, almost immediately, that I don't care about any of the politics.

What I do care about is honesty. I don't mean the sort of honesty that keeps people from stealing bread or cheating on their wives. I mean the sort of honest self-awareness that a man needs to keep from telling himself lies. 

Ideologically, Bernie Sanders is a socialist. He's not a democrat, and he has no interest in being a democrat. He's closer to Gary Johnson's Libertine ideology than, say, Elisabeth Warren of Nancy Pelosi's liberal democratic ideology.

In fact, he's closer to me than he is to you -- if you are a democrat. I suspect that you really are not a democrat, though. I think you are a boutique liberal in public, but what you really are is a pinko commie socialist.

That's a compliment. I mean, a serious, no-holds-barred, newly self aware compliment.

See, I think I'm a socialist libertine like Bernie, Gary Johnson ... and Gary Fletcher. You are more social in your socialism, I think -- that democratic tinge, maybe -- but the basic planks are the same.

I bet if we listed all the different agenda line items, we'd agree on 95 percent of them. You'd choose a few of the more social things, but only a few. I bet you have a strong "get off my lawn" sense, too, living in the West like I do. We like space, and we like privacy. We also like teamwork, and we like worldviews that include the whole world. So we are libertine socialists. Socialist Libertines. Commie Pinko Rugged Individualists. 

I'm sure we aren't done with (name deleted due to PC-shaming). But she is a symbol, not an actual player. And I'm not much into symbols. That might be one of the 5 percent we disagree on. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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13/01/2019 10:04 pm  

Yes, I have no doubt that we are largely in agreement. Seems like we are always looking to scrape the hide for the last few remaining scraps of unseasoned flesh.

I am most certainly a live and let live kind of person. The thing is, many people love to give orders and hate getting orders. Me, I hate getting orders, and I also hate giving them. "I" don't like to tell "you" what to do.

Hey, I can do both things when necessary. But I'm not so much independent as I am a loner.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 9:05 am  

I thought about this before, but sooner or later I need to build an ideology version of my Hall of Fame Test. Rather than merit-based answers (best to least best, most to least most) it would test (Test) the intensity of your answers to questions like these:

  • Do you pay cash for everything, prefer to manage your finances with a mix of credit and financial planning, or frequently max out your credit cards? No judgment, just what do you do?
  • Do you save up to buy big items, use credit to buy big items, or simply never buy big items?
  • (1) Do you live in a single family dwelling with no more than one person living in each bedroom? If so, (2) does it make you feel luxurious? Cramped? Safe and comfortable? Nothing (you never think about it)? Guilty for taking so much space? Proud because you own so much space? Multiple answers are ok, you can be of more than one mind about it.
  • Do you work for a corporation? Do you work for yourself? Do you work for a small business? What is your level of satisfaction?
  • Same question, but in your dreams. Which scenario would most satisfy you?
  • Combine the two: how easy (or hard) is it to satisfy you in the workplace?
  • How diverse is your neighborhood, in terms of business, recreation, entertainment and artistic interest?
  • How much local business is there in your neighborhood, and how much franchised business?
  • How ethnically diverse is the population? What is your level of interest in it? Your level of comfort? Your level of agitation?
  • How religiously diverse is the population? Same levels.
  • Thinking about it ... go back to the other diversity questions and ask yourself the levels questions.

And so on. I bet I could get to a hundred questions without breaking a sweat.

What would it measure? I think, like the Test, it can't really measure anything from the outside. It won't establish any facts, because it's a series of opinion questions. It won't tell the test giver much of anything, but it will compel the test taker to organize his/her own opinions. 

If you lie about your answers ... trust me, we will all fudge answers. The key to getting value from this particular Test is twofold:

1. Try mightily to recognize when you are lying to yourself.

2. Flag any questions wheere your answers tickle your spider sense.

If you take the test, say 3-5 times, constantly running those two questions through your mind as you go, eventually you will dial in your spider sense. You will be able to recognize when you are lying to yourself, effectively diagnosing your natural tendency toward self delusion.

You won't like your answers if you do it right. Nobody will. We all have massive disconnects between our reality and our romantic self image. We tend to either demonize ourselves or idealize ourselves, I think. Mostly idealize. Our romantic self image is how we see ourselves in an idealized world.

Example: men spend half their time in the bathroom fixing their combovers while full figured women trending toward getting fat start wearing dark clothing. Nobody over the age of about 46 will ever stand naked in front of a mirror if they still see themselves as sexually appealing, unless they are one of those workout freaks who have their own idealizing issues. Me, I wear hats and hoodies to hide by gut and my receding hairline, plus I'm 56 and I STILL have long hair.

Some people are probably chronic, masochistic self-demonizers, but most of us are more likely to use the occasional self-demonization as a defense mechanism, painting some deliberate flaws so we don't recoil in horror when we catch a glimpse of our real selves in the metaphorical mirror. 

An example would be, "I'm basically a nice guy, but I sometimes yell at bad drivers and shoot at Jehova's Witnesses when they walk by my house." or "I like my job and I'm happily married, but I do like to look at young girls. I mean, really young, hot girls."

That keeps the guy from going into a deep depression when he gets caught shoplifing underoos. Me, I hate other drivers so much that most of my self-talk when I'm driving is designed to keep me from going all Falling Down on somebody for making a stupid move.

At a guess, less than 5 percent of the population would be capable of matching the two together, if that. It might be less than 1 percent. It would be akin to learning a martial art. 

Would it help anyone? I doubt it, to be honest. The disconnect itself is a defense mechanism. It keeps us happy with lives that can't be perfect. One of the problems with Trump's life is that he's basically King Ralph without the moral gumption to grow into his princely slot in life. It's like Ghandi and Cliff Clavin swapped cribs as babies. 

I could go on for days, but this shit is hard on my brain hole without coffee. 

 

  •  

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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14/01/2019 10:29 am  

I walk around half believing I'm Dorian Gray, but of course I'm really the portrait.

Sounds like a fun test. I'd take it.

I spent a few weeks at my cousins back in my early teens. My aunt apparently subscribed to Cosmopolitan (she had a pile of them in the basement). I used to love taking all those personality tests. Are you a good lover? Do you know how to please a man? Are you a good mother? I took them all. I don't remember my scores, but I can tell you this: Apparently, I'm a damn good woman.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 11:25 am  

Go back and take 'em again, asking yourself those two questions as you go. Either they will stop being "fun" or you'll eventually start poking yourself for fudging the answers. I don't think it's possible for any other result to happen, unless you cheat at those two questions, too. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 11:38 am  

Combining the last four (or so) posts between us, I am coming to realize that truth is harder work than we think. We think of truth as a simple act of volition, unhindered by anything but our own fuckedness. If we see someone lie, we look down on them as moral failures.

The truth is -- so to speak -- that the truth is only easy when it's fun.

Just like everything else.

So the choice we often make is between truth and happiness, or (to recoin an old phrase) between the truth and being set free.

Because the truth won't set us free. The truth chains us to the ground as thoroughly as gravity. The truth is about as fun as a root canal, as persistent as inevitable death (a truth we all know, yet we are incapable of not denying 99 percent of the day, in self-defense) and as good for us as being forcefed 50 pounds of kelp.

My journalist training obsessed so much on truth that my own truth mechanisms are out of whack. I try mightily to keep my "truth" balanced with truth in the real world, but in fact the real world had little interest in the truth all along.

So "truth" isn't linear, as most people see it. "Truth" is a slippery, layered, pockmarked, kaleidoscopic, dopplered, tangental, episodic winking, blinking, hiding and furiously circling and screaming ball of confusion that occasionally jumps right in your face, just to fuck with your brain hole.

And then it runs off, replaced by a smiling Ann Coulter offering to blow you for 20 dollars while Richard Nixon waggles his jowls and gives you the peace sign. 

So fuck it, it's almost baseball season. 

 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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14/01/2019 12:35 pm  
Posted by: ventboys

So "truth" isn't linear, as most people see it. "Truth" is a slippery, layered, pockmarked, kaleidoscopic, dopplered, tangental, episodic winking, blinking, hiding and furiously circling and screaming ball of confusion that occasionally jumps right in your face, just to fuck with your brain hole.

 

Thought that was worth repeating, so I have.

I see OldBackstop has returned from his suspension. I quickly check in about once or twice a day, or once every two days. But while you are ever so slowly working on returning to BJOL, I'm thinking more and more about dropping out.

I probably won't (drop out), but I've had nothing to say to the BJOL group for...checking...last post was December 17.

I think that the BJOL group is happier closing itself off from controversial subjects. I can't leave political shit alone, so what good does it do them to hear from me? And if I leave politics alone, do they really want to hear from me about music or literature or philosophy or tragedy or heartbreak (the heartbreak of sour grapes). Sour grapes...such as feeling that every post about baseball on BJOL seems to be re-re-re-re-re-re-fried beans. True confession here being that the ones that aren't still treat each new or interesting development with the same old arguments?

Even Bill seems to be repeating himself. I dunno...I guess I just got tired.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 1:33 pm  

I think it depends on whether or not you want to learn more about baseball. I have a fascination with the Hall of Fame that you don't have, but I share your basic lack of interest in most of what passes for Sabermetrics on there (hint: it's not sabrmetrics). 

I'm not a stat nerd, and I'm not all that interested in hashing out (rehashing) the things we talked about years ago ... but those arguments are what baseball fans do. Knowing that Backstop is back will be enough to end my flirtation. I'll go back to reading Bill's articles and otherwise ignoring the place. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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14/01/2019 2:07 pm  

Bill James once wrote about a sportswriter...or was it a guy who was the curator at the HOF back in the old days...that he wasn't all that interested in the statistics or how baseball does or should work. Rather he was interested in the players, the people of baseball, their characters, their stories. Of course the details affected these people and their stories. But the drama, anecdotes, the humour - that was what baseball provided, what he was attracted to.

I'm like that, though perhaps not so extreme. I enjoy the broad strokes of analysis, but grow weary when the subject grows so obsessed with details that cannot affect conclusions very much, that are so easily lost in the statistical noise of pure luck.

I guess this is thread drift. I'm still thinking of writing something about bass guitar.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 2:15 pm  

Rule number one of playing bass guitar. If you encounter a bass guitar with five strings, take a pair of wire cutters and cut the bottom string. If anyone protests, shoot them in the crotch and feed them to the pigs.

If you encounter a bass guitar with six strings, don't bother with the first step. Empty your gun into the crotch of any prick holding a 6-string bass guiter, screaming "fuck you!!!!" at the top of your lungs the entire time. 

It's not necessary to reload, or to stomp repeatedly on the festering pile of worthless hamburger that remains, but I recommend it as a helpful method of closure.

And I apologize on behalf of my fellow musicians, who would never stoop to actually hiring one of these horrid, horrible people to inflict what they call music on the ears of unsuspecting human beings, animals, vegetation and multi-celled amoebic organisms.

On second thought, at least one reload should be mandatory. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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14/01/2019 3:34 pm  

Hah!

I read Sting's autobiography (Broken Music) where he writes of his pleasant discovery that as a bass player he was more able to control / guide the bands he played in.

I read a Paul McCartney interview in which he talked about the same thing, that as the bass player he was in charge of the band. "You guys aren't going anywhere without me!" was his characterization.

Right now I'm reading a book by Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead. Phil started out as a trumpet player, was asked to join the Grateful Dead by Jerry Garcia, who told him he wanted him to play bass guitar. He writes that (perhaps because of the high value that band, in its early days at least, placed on improvisational live performance; perhaps because of his classical and jazz roots) he found that he could really push the band in certain directions, influence not only pace but mood in a way not really available to the other instruments, especially in combination with the drummer.

Now, this could certainly be just the fantasy of frustrated musicians, but I don't think so (I sure don't think McCartney or Sting were frustrated artistically, though who knows). Lesh also opines that other than the drummer and the bass player, many of the other instruments have very limited roles unless they are soloing. Even there, they don't "drive" the band. 

To my musically untrained, inexperienced mind, this seems legitimate, though perhaps extreme. I'd be very interested in your thoughts.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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14/01/2019 6:47 pm  

What do you think? If you were tasked with deciding if those people were selling or telling, which would you think characterizes their stories better?

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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14/01/2019 11:29 pm  

Of course their egos drive their opinions; I am asking you your opinion on the potential roles of different instruments within a group. Seems obvious to me that the rhythm section is the playground on which all of the other instruments are given the opportunity to play. 

In the Beatles, sometimes McCartney's bass is keeping the pace and Ringo's drums are supporting the song changes. Other times McCartney is forcing itself to our attention while Ringo is keeping the pace. I just find it interesting, is all. But you actually are a professional musician, hence my interest in your thoughts.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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15/01/2019 10:28 am  

I have two responses, one stacked on top of the other. I'll start with the bottom pancake, my answer to your question.

My answer is that it depends on the song. Some songs are heavily driven by the rhythm section, while others are driven by other instruments, with the rhythm section either absent, passive or perfunctory. And everything in between.

And the same thing applies within a song. There are sections of Bohemian Rhapsody that are driven by all sorts of different musical forces.

  • the intro is three-part accapella harmony, all voices equally dominant
  • a fourth voice is added (Freddy) and one voice (not Freddy, the bass voice) moves to the forefront for a line.
  • Freddy's voice takes over on "I'm just a poor boy" and the other voices slip into the background momentarily.
  • The blanket harmony voices return with a vengeance for a moment to thrill the listener with "easy come, easy go, little high, little low."
  • Freddy returns for "Take me where the wind blows."
  • The voices come back to the front for "doesn't really matter to me."
  • Freddy shoves them back and takes control for his final, solo accapella "to-o me."
  • The piano takes over and holds things together for the second movement, which is just Freddy, piano and a spare bass for the first half of the first verse
  • Once the drums come in, the rest of the first verse is driven by a mix of piano, bass and drums, a fairly typical mix of rhythm instruments. The piano is still in control, and remains when the other instruments fall out at the end of the verse.
  • Next verse, the drums move to the forefront of the 3-instrument rhythm ensemble. Roger Taylor adds a heavy bass drum beat to give the song a more intens, driving feel.
  • Brian May's lead guitar comes in to foreshadow towards the end of the verse and the bass guitar adds a strident double-picked rhythm to add urgency, but the drums remain at the front of an increasingly heavy rhythm.
  • May's now-famous lead takes over the show; the rest stay home and give him room to fly.
  • Toward the end of the guitar lead, all instruments get together for a triplet accent that ends the second movement.
  • As ring of the second movement leaves the stage, a staccato piano is left behind to hold things together.
  • The staccato piano, a multi-dubbed virtual choir, individual voices and a series of sledgehammer-heavy guitar/bass/drum accents alternate, seemingly fighting over control of the song's speed, direction and intensity. The multilayered, shifting sound blasts are a deliberate and devastatingly effective performance tool, compelling the listeners' inner voices to ping-pong around their craniums in a frenzy of dissonance, begging for a resolution.
  • They don't get it, at least not yet, as the band doubles down on the dissonance. The orchestra/choir finishes the passage with a powerful, angry chant as the rhythm instruments build to a crescendo, all in full-out intensity, until the guitar comes in to provide a consistent, pulsating rhythm to the dissonance.
  • The fourth movement begins with the listeners jolted by May's powerful guitar, a sudden rhythmic punch to the solar plexus driving an entirely new feel to the song, a mish-mash of punk and power rock at 120 decibels. The piano is gone, its rhythmic duties replaced by the power trio of lead guitar, bass and drums in a unified pulse that compels the listener to dance, head bang and otherwise feel like he/she has been suddenly transported to the blowoff at the end of a Metal show.
  • This goes on for a while, as Freddy lays an attitude-laced vocal over the blanket band rhythm. Toward the end of the passage, the rhythm begins to fray as the individual instruments (deliberately) give up the driving beat to "bit the lollipop" and start free-lancing feel-based fills, trills and melodic scales. The beat dies of neglect as the tempo begins to stretch and contract like taffy.
  • In concert (deliberate, I think), this frayed interlude of dissonance gives Freddy a chance to get to his piano. Once he gets there he restores order, laying down a beat on the piano that leads to the next passage, and -- finally -- the desperately craved resolution. 
  • May's lead guitar provides a long-winded resolution, his second signature melody. He ends the passage with a lightly fingered bluenote slide, paving the way for Freddy's voice to take it home.
  • Freddy's piano underlies his vocal, controlling the torchy coda. The guitar, drums and even the choir make final cameos before a gong blast allows the listener to  finally fall back and relax, spent by the mere effort of listening.

But that's an extreme example, perhaps the most extreme example I could come up with.

Most songs, it really just depends. Sting may have written his songs with the bass dominant in his mind, but in my memory the Police songs were mostly driven by the drums, with his bass lines riding over the topof the beat rather than driving it. Stuart Copeland was a real beatmaster, simplistic but very creative and intuitive, I think. They made a lot of good music, so we won either way.

The Beatles, I think the way to choose which instrument is driving is to think of a Beatles song. Whichever instrumental part you remember was the driver at that time.

The Beatles were a simple 4-piece band for most of their run of concerts (in the studio they had all manner of added sounds), so it's relatively simple to identify the dominant force at any given time. If it's hard, that usually means it's an ensemble force.

The most dominant bass guitar lines, if you ask me, were in funky soul bands like Earth, Wind and Fire or some of the disco bands, where most of the other instruments were practically canned while the bass guitar was allowed to get funky.

Off the top of my head, though, the most consistently creative force with a bass in his hands might have been John McVey of Fleetwood Mac. McVey and Mick Fleetwood played together for years and years before they hit it big in the US, and they were tight and very creative. McVey's bass drove "Rhiannon," for example, and this song you probably never heard before, "Blue Letter," from the 1975 self-titled album.

Ok, the top pancake.

The interesting thing in this isn't necessarily my answer, but the question itself. It's rarely what people say that interests me. It's why they say it.

Why would a bass player say the bass is the dominant instrument? Well, why would a stripper say that stripping is an artful exercise? Why would a beggar say that the freedom of the streets is better than all that uptight establshment shit the man brings down on you in the office? Why would a diabetic say that splenda tastes better than sugar?

See, that's what interests me. Why do people say what they say? If the truth is a rock in the middle of a field, how does each statement relate to that rock of middle truth? 

That's a clumsy analogy, so I'm not going to elaborate on it. But the point is there, where you can see it. We all see "truth" or "fact" or "reality" as a balanced scale, but in fact we always measure with our thumbs on the scale.

That's the point of journalistic disinterest. It's not balance, or neutrality, or seeing both sides. It's simply trying to report facts without thumbing the factual scale. Old baseball writers used to call it reporting with your elbows out. Don't be part of the story. Keep your dammed elbows out of the story. 

I need to remember this, because it comes up all the time with you. It's not that you thumb the scale (everybody thumbs the scale) but that you often think you are not thumbing the scale while I can see your thumb, pushing it down while you look elsewhere. 

So I point to your thumb, and you say "what thumb?" -- in all honesty as far as you know, because, in this metaphorical scenario, you literally cannot see your thumb. You genuinely do not know that you are thumbing the scale. 

Ever meet a man sober for the first time, after knowing him for years as a drunk? In this scenario, you are that drunk man (or the sober man never drunk, if you prefer, it doesn't matter to the analogy) and you have never seen yourself sober. 

So of course you can't see your thumb on the scale. Until I pointed it out, you didn't know it existed. You still don't know, because I'm not necessarily a trustable source and I don't have any corroborating evidence to back me up. Just the observation. "Hey, your thumb is on the scale, there." (say it in Norm MacDonald's voice, it sounds funnier). 

So you can believe me (bad idea), not believe me (waste of time talking to me, then), or take my observation and do a cursory check for corroboration. If I'm a troll, this is a waste of your time, but see the second point, earlier in this paragraph. If you aren't going to even entertain the idea that I speak truthfully, it's a waste of time to talk to me.

In this particular scale-thumbing exercise, it's not your thumb on the scale, but Sting's and the other guys. Why are they thumbing the scale in that particular way? Self-interest is usually the basic reason, but you can dial it in at least one more notch. It's not because Sting is trying to sell you the idea. He genuinely believes it.

Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker both knew they were bullshitting us, but Billy Graham may not have known it. He may have believed he was a conduit for the Messiah. They sound the same, but you have to react to them differently if you want to be effectie. 

I mean, tell a bullshitter that he's full of shit, and you get a predictable reaction (denial, usually followed by an attempt to demonize or bully you into a retraction). We can all deal with predictable reactions.

Tell a zealot that he's full of shit, though, and you could get just about any reaction, up to and including assault or even murder. You can't predict the reaction of a zealot.

The obvious analogy here is one I've been struggling to get both you and John to recognize. You both focus on Trump, when the danger is actually his base of zealots, not the bullshitter in chief. Trump is nothing without his supporters. Just the same empty suit he was for his entire life. With the supporters, he's dangerous and unpredictable.

So the upshot is that it's the zealot supporters who provide the danger, not bullshitter Trump. Remove Trump, the zealots will remain, and remain unpredictable and dangerous. Neutralize the zealots, though, and Trump becomes a pussy cat, effectively powerless. 

It's of value to a critical thinking mind to constantly, relentlessly look for these differences in approach to the truth, the various ways we thumb the scale.

It helps us understand why people say the things they say, and do the things they do. For guys like us, I think it's even more valuable, because this is the sort of thing we thumb our scales on. We spend half our lives trying to make sense of what someone said, or did.

So recognizing these variations of truthfulness can make our lives as much easier as a good slide rule would have helped Plato. It's a useful tool, one that most other people won't bother to pick up. 

 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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