my fall, one second everyday

December 1, 2018

RIP George H.W. Bush. Two thoughts on him:
1. He was wise enough not to decimate and overthrow Iraq - maybe even recognizing that a counterweight to Iran was useful in that region. Similarly, he seems to be the last actual fiscally conservative Republican president we've had.
2. I suspect Bill Clinton benefited from Perot running in 1992 more than Bush did. Without Perot's run, Clinton's win, it's a different landscape - Gingrich's "Contract with America" was a brilliant piece of political blah blah blah that resulted from that, and maybe in this alternate scenario the drive behind stuff like The Tea Party movement never has the focus, and maybe things aren't as stupidly polarized as they are now.
jendziura twitter thread making the rounds, thoughtful stuff on the "first principles" thinking of conservatives and libertarians vs "what are the outcomes" thinking of liberals. It's still pretty compatible with the "moral foundations" theory of Jonathan Haidt - liberals are very concerned about harm and unfairness, conservatives mix those concerns with other concepts of proper authority and what not. And also with the idea that authoritarian-leanig folks are more concerned about not letting "cheaters" and outsiders benefit unfairly without pulling their weight.
"That was my shot. It's a funny language, German. For one thing, everybody shouts it. All those very long words: the literalism, the tinkertoy accumulation. It sounds pushy, beginning every sentence with a verb like that. And take the first person singular: ich. "Ich." Not a masterpiece of reassurance, is it? I sounds nobly erect. Je has a certain strength and intimacy. Eo's okay. Yo I can really relate to. Yo! But ich? It's like the sound a child makes when it confronts its own ... Perhaps that's part of the point. No doubt all will come clear as soon as my German gets better."
--Martin Amis, "Time's Arrow". (And with possible apologies to my German friends!) Fascinating book, thanks for the recommendation Dave Adams. The concept (and this is only a spoiler for the first few pages) is of a homunculus riding along in a doctor's head, except the homunculus experiences everything in reverse - so starting with death and moving onto being merely infirm, gradually regaining mobility then vitality, and so on. Much of the book is reframing the ordinary and seeing what still kind of works in reverse (much small talk, for instance) and what become an abomination (to quote Wikipedia, "Blows heal injuries, doctors cause them. Theft becomes donation, and vice versa. In a passage about prostitutes, doctors harm them while pimps give them money and heal them. ") Besides the pleasure of that, it's intriguing to compare the narrator (feeling the doctor's feelings but not privy to his thoughts, or able to exert any control) to our own subconscious minds.