“But also like Madison, a majority of Americans – as reflected in our democratic institutions – are ultimately unwilling or unable to make the costly changes that would be necessary to achieve equality in practice.”
Hope & optimism have a place, and so do economic reality and fiscal prudence. The answer probably is not one or the other, but somewhere in between them.
A leader in a first-world, industrialized country supports the dismantling of his home country. He has a base of constituents who, according to polls and even (contested) elections, represents a majority of their respective region’s population. Yet his attempt to lead his democratic people into a separate state that is of the apparent majority interest is met with indictments of treason and sedition.
The world stands by and observes with little intervention from neighboring European countries and little to no acknowledgement from the United States. Trump, Brexit, Erdoğan, and Macron. An international establishment and a revolt of those left behind in the push for globalization. A shortsightedness and inability of federal and parliamentary governments to successfully transition from industrial nation states to an intelligence economy and articulate the the growing pains and changing circumstances that accompany it.
If a democratic majority cannot exercise its right to choose, and is rather squashed by a bureaucratic hand fearful of the rising tide of discontent and angst, I ask: what is a Country?
“Mr. Puigdemont’s televised speech was carefully calibrated and he didn’t refer explicitly to the new independent republic that separatists say was created Friday afternoon—a nod to the legal challenges that could he face in coming weeks. Spanish prosecutors have raised the possibility Mr. Puigdemont and some of his officials could be charged for sedition or rebellion for the bid to split with Spain. Mr. Puigdemont has previously acknowledged he could face imprisonment for his independence push.”
“He writes as though… you can, you can tell he’s from a country unlike ours. You know he grew up in something like… Israel? I think it was Israel. In a country with far less security, you know on a day-to-day basis, than ours. Like someone could end your life right now. Like the AK-47 under the bed. Like anything could happen at any moment – he writes like that.”
I sat there, wondering if she’d read that somewhere in the New Yorker, if she herself was just passing off a professional reviewer’s review. And then I thought to myself, who cares if she did or not, she makes a good point and I nodded in agreement and smiled, “yeah, good point.”
She took her DiBruno bros. bags and left Saxby’s, en route to DiBruno bros. “I’m the workhorse of the house,” she said and I told her it was nice to meet her.
Still not really sure what has happened in this book, though. If nothing else, it’s strange and pushes the boundaries of normal life that desk jobs (or at least, in my experience) can accustom us to believing. In that respect, he’s like Haruki Murakami. Realistic enough that it’s all believable, but so strange you wonder if your conception of life is so limited that you just never considered these things or if it’s all just nonsense. The kind of book that leaves you a little less sure of your whole framework when you put it down.
Without referencing Teddy Roosevelt’s hero in the arena quote, let’s think about ways we can actually contribute to the causes we care about. Forcing the hand of the world’s largest energy company (albeit in a non-binding fashion) to produce greater transparency into its exposure to climate-related asset price volatility would be a significant and measurable step forward.
Well, I’ve been meaning to write this — or try to — for a couple days now. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so that’s a fine excuse.
And now my sister is playing music really loudly at my kitchen table as I sit here pondering on whatever it was that I even wanted to write about anyway. Maybe I should just let that thought float away — you know, if it really was something I cared deeply about, it’d find a place to hang out in my brain for a while, right?
But that happens far, far too often for me to be comfortable with it. Not the music part — that part I like. The part about my thoughts floating away.
If you’re like me, you value yourself based on the thought material you can come up with. For that, there’s a two-fold judging process: quality and speed. It’s one thing to come up with a wonderfully beautiful thought that solves Hawking’s theory of everything. But if it takes too long or, even worse, comes just at the wrong time, it’s meaningless.
Now think — you’re at the bar. It’s a regular night and your friends look like they need a few drinks so you saunter over to the bar, ready to be that guy. You’re in your own little world, minding your own business. Til OH SHIT — the girl you always see after your MWF 1:25 walking to the Thomas building. Man she’s quite a beauty. Long, silky, brown hair and a slender appearance and man does she look good ah yes she does. In the month that you’ve become aware of this being’s existence, you’ve thought of approximately 287 lines you’d hypothetically use if you were to approach this woman.
It’s here and now that they choose to attack at once. All 287. They’re all floating around. And some are good. Some are bad. Most are bad. Most are really bad. But some are funny bad. Should you use one of those? Self-deprecation is a wonderful ice-breaker. Shows you don’t take yourself too seriously. But then she won’t think you’re enterprising. I knew I should’ve worn that button-down tonight. That’d be the perfect paradox.
You know, if you had 287 picks into this lottery of language, you’d pick the perfect opener. But you have one pick. And here it goes, “hi.” Woah there killer. Take it easy. How’d you come up with that one?
Quality and speed. One is pretty damn useless without the other.
On that night, we’re a rousing failure. Recite the old “every failure is one step closer to a success” and “there is no such thing as failure…just another lesson to learn from”. But the mind, the center of existence, just wasn’t firing. And then what are we?
What did Descartes say? “I think…therefore I am.” Well shit. My thoughts were horribly scattered and inconsistent tonight. What does that say about me? Plug those inputs into the algorithm that explains life and the magic 8-ball reads “you are horribly scattered and inconsistent tonight.” Hm.
So I guess that’s that. I am — well, we are — the products of our thoughts.
Now let’s head back to the original story. My thoughts ran away. They were damn good ones too. I remember being excited about them. I love being excited. Now if I can just remember those thoughts, I know I can be excited again. What were those thoughts? I slowly hunch and the eyes roll back into my head, searching this vast, deep universe inside the walls of my skull. After a few Nancy Drew moments, flashlight in metaphorical hand, I resemble something like our friend, the thinker.
So now I’m at a cross-roads: do I throw on my jet-pack and search ever deeper for them? Or (and soo much scarier) do I let them go? Allow them to exist elsewhere and maybe make someone else happy far away?
The latter option implies that I move on with nothing but the hair on my head, this plaid J-Crew shirt, and the cool Casio watch I just ordered on Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is cool. Jeff Bezos is a beast. How’s his rocket-ship company doing? Probably better than the WaPo. Does anyone call it that? Shit, back to the story.
So now I’m all alone. No thoughts. The excitement those thoughts promised is now lost temporarily. Do I trust this thought machine to produce new content to keep me content? Otherwise, I can just go home.
I feel exhausted just thinking about chasing. So I say fuck it. Drop the pre-conceived notion of me. It was really easy to identify with the old thoughts. And boy was it easier to carry them around, like “oh yeah. X excites me. I know that about me. I know it for a fact. It’s a fact and I can say that about myself. Yup, I know some truths, some permanent truths about myself. Yep.”
But now, here I am letting go of that beautifully simple rendition. And I’m at the dinner table listening to “country” music. And I exhale. And my thoughts roll away like the tide……..