In an influenza-soaked Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen peers through the shirthole of history at the long line of (mostly same-y) con-men that got themselves elected in this country, and asks himself 'is this the best we can do?' and asks himself 'is this even the worst we can do?' before the fever takes him away to a better place.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
'The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.'
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that in 1936. I won't deal here with the context in which he wrote it. I'd rather take it on its merits as a thing unto itself. Fitzgerald meant contradictory ideas such as "doom" and "hope." Let's be a bit less grandiose in choosing our ideas. Let's choose, for now, bigotry against black people, and the idea that bigoted notions about black people, or any people for that matter, are wrong because they are not informed by the deep and wide fullness of reality.
Clearly, a person can hold these two opposed ideas in the mind simultaneously. We white citizens of the USA are famous for doing so, and very few us can be accused of being plagued with first rate intelligence. How can we be intellectually both racist and anti-racist? This is because the mind is not a flat surface on which ideas are inscribed and from which they are read. The mind is a layered, weird thing, puzzling the creature attempting to use it to define its identity. It's not even clear how to define the mind within boundaries. The mind is so complex and elusive that even now it's telling me all kinds of lies about itself.
Fitzgerald was evidentally after something else in his statement than we've come to imagine when we consider it. As such, it's irrelevant to our topic, which today is "distraction." Well, then, why begin an essay on distraction with an entirely irrelevant bromide?
How better to demonstrate distraction? Right? I mean, that's pretty clever, actually.
Instead of testing for first rate minds, which are irrelevant in almost every circumstance involving anything of any importance, we should be trying to weed out the last rate minds. And to me, a last rate mind is one that divides the world into opposing ideas.
Here's an example: a friend of mine posted an article from Mother Jones about law enforcement attempts to identify individuals who might be planning to commit the kind of mass shooting we've been seeing more frequently over the last few years, and to connect with that (typically) young white man's family, friends and community contacts at school and elsewhere to get (typically) him to seek help in sorting out and dealing with his anti-social feelings in a non-destructive way. This strategy was... read more
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Erin is the author of the Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA from Nation Books.
This day in rancid, ugly, horrible, putrid, rotten history...
On this day in 1903 – [112 years ago] – a specially chartered passenger train was carrying the Purdue University Boilermakers, along with hundreds of fans, to a football game against their rivals at Indiana University. Just as the fast-moving train rounded a curve near Indianapolis, a coal train engineer, who was unaware of the Purdue train’s approach due to a railroad signaling error, backed his own train onto the main line. By the time the engineers of the two trains saw each other, it was too late. The railroad collision killed eighteen people -- including fourteen Purdue football players riding in their train’s lead car, which was smashed to pieces.
On this day in 1984 – [31 years ago today] – Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was shot and killed by two of her own Sikh bodyguards in the garden area of her official residence. The killing was widely viewed as an act of revenge, since four months earlier she had ordered Indian troops to enter the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, to remove armed separatist rebels who had taken refuge there. Indira Gandhi had been heavily criticized for that military operation, which cost hundreds of lives, and had been accused of pursuing it for political reasons. But her assassination sparked a backlash among her supporters which led to even more violence, as riots broke out in the streets of New Delhi and other Indian cities, ultimately resulting in the massacre of an estimated three thousand Sikhs.
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Flagg is author of The Audacious Ascetic: What the Bin Laden Tapes Reveal About Al-Qa'ida from Oxford University Press.
Valérie is in the middle of a trip across the Middle East and Asia.
Ed will be doing the reporting himself, but Antidote has been transcribing and publishing stories on Switzerland and the refugee crisis all year.
Anna is author of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins from Princeton University Press
Margee's new book is Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear from PublicAffairs Books.
OK now he just wrote me on Facebook, he must be done writing his new Moment of Truth.
Here is what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
The Audacious Ascetic: What the Bin Laden Tapes Reveal About Al-Qa'ida - Flagg Miller [Oxford University Press]
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins - A.L.Tsing [Princeton University Press]
Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear - Margee Kerr [PublicAffairs]
After a football-induced hiatus, This is Hell! is back with a one hour show. Listen 9AM - 10AM US Central. Four hours next week!
Flint's law firm, the People's Law Office, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago and six Chicago police officers.
Sarah wrote The Jewish and Palestinian Activists of the Ferguson Movement for Medium.