Potpourri, 2/20/19

1

Depression is a malfunction in the instrument we use to determine reality. The brain experiences a chemical imbalance and wraps a narrative around it. So the lack of serotonin, in the mind’s alchemy, becomes something like, “Everybody hates me.”

… I know that — when I’m in my right mind — I choose hope.

That phrase — “in my right mind” — is harsh. No one would use it in a clinical setting. But it fits my experience exactly.

  • In my right mind — when I am rested and fed, medicated and caffeinated — I know that I was living within a dismal lie.
  • In my right mind, I know I have friends who will not forsake me.
  • In my right mind, I know that chemistry need not be destiny.
  • In my right mind, I know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

I think this medical condition works as a metaphor for the human condition.

All of us — whatever our natural serotonin level — look around us and see plenty of reason for doubt, anger and sadness.

Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things:

  • In our right minds — as our most sane and solid selves — we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is a lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky.
  • In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage — or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day.
  • In our right minds, we know that hope can grow within us — like a seed, like a child.
  • In our right minds, we know that transcendence sparks and crackles around us — in a blinding light, and a child’s voice, and fire, and tears, and a warmed heart, and a sculpture just down the hill — if we open ourselves to seeing it.

Fate may do what it wants. But this much is settled. In our right minds, we know that love is at the heart of all things.

Michael Gerson

2

“Merciless sympathy” seems a pretty apt description for some of what we’re seeing in our fractious nation:

Merciless sympathy is how declining to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is transmuted into callousness toward rape victims, how support for the Second Amendment is recast as contempt for the children killed in Parkland, how doubting the breathless accounts of the Covington Catholic matter becomes racist hostility to an elderly Native American veteran. As rhetorical stratagems go, it is obvious, shallow, and stupid — and therefore effective in the era of Twitter-dominated discourse, in which shallowness and stupidity are weaponized.

Kevin D. Williamson

3

I was unaware that the Trump administration is pressing to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. No sooner was oddity that brought to my attention than I leared that it’s being opposed — in Out! Magazine, of all places — as “part of an old colonialist handbook.”

And moments later, I found the plausible explanation that ties the two oddities together. They’re probably both disingenuous:

The purpose of the Trump administration homosexuality-decriminalization push will be to add another mechanism or justification for regime change, sanctions, wars of choice, and punitive action against countries the military-industrial complex and AIPAC crew don’t like anyway. It will be used to justify action against places like Iran while countries with similar laws and regimes like Saudi Arabia will see no consequences. It’s a “pinkwashing” tool to get buy-in from urban/suburban liberals and “moderate,” bourgeois conservatives. Just watch — soon we’ll be drone-bombing Third World villages …

Nothing the “national security” apparatus in our country does should ever be taken at face value ….

Those ellipses omit some rhetoric that I don’t think Team Trump will use to explain the drone attacks. But I do suspect that the “pinkwashing” intends mostly to mute some Left opposition to more lethal aggression.

Retrace my steps here.

4

The episode unfolded on the morning of Feb. 4 at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Polk County. The boy, who had refused to stand for the pledge the entire school year, had a substitute teacher that day who confronted him when he did not join his classmates.

“Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live,” the teacher asked the boy, according to a statement issued by the teacher and obtained by Bay News 9, a news station in St. Petersburg, Fla.

According to the teacher, the boy, who is black, responded, “They brought me here.”

The teacher wrote that she replied, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”

She then called the school’s administrative offices “because I did not want to continue dealing with him,” according to her statement.

A school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department eventually responded to the classroom and arrested the boy ….

I think I took sanity for granted even before I went to law school. That story, that sub, is insane.

5

For what it’s worth, I’m not certain that the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse problem is accurately described as ephebophilia, though that’s evocative and closer to the truth than “pedophilia.” I think those who’ve caught on that it’s not pedophilia too easily are deciding “then it must be the other one.”

Basics:

Ephebophilia strictly denotes the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction.

Wikipedia. Do we have any reason to think that molester priests preferred adolescents?

That a gay priest should have his head turned by a remarkably configured 15-year-old boy, or by a hunky seminarian, gives full credit to “we’re just like you except for the objects of our desire.” So long as the hunky seminarian is as appealing as the 15-year-old, I don’t think it’s ephebophilia.

(This ouburst was provoked by a well-meaning example of the hasty “not pedophilia, but ephebophilia” genre.)

6

Coincidence?

A day after California filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency declaration on the border, the Transportation Department said it was exploring legal options to claw back $2.5 billion in federal funds it had already spent on the state’s high-speed rail network.

7

U.S. officials revealed last week that a federal grand jury indicted Monica Witt, a former Air Force counterintelligence official, on charges of passing extremely sensitive secrets to agents of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The case highlights how broken the U.S. intelligence system has become. For more than 30 years it has demonstrated an inability to keep secrets, to protect itself from foreign penetrations by hostile spy services, or to prevent current and former officials from defecting.

The result: Brave foreign nationals who risk their lives inside harsh regimes to spy for America are being killed and imprisoned on a significant scale.

I don’t think it would be hard to flip this Wall Street Journal column into, say, an Iranian perspective. See the added emphasis and think about it for a minute.

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About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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