Just a few things I've been thinking about . . .
What makes The Brain think it's the boss?
Last week was a real humdinger from start to finish. With so much unusual excitement going on, I should have been prepared for The Brain to take control and to push me into the passenger seat. At least this time The Brain held off on the electrical surges until Thursday night; the only bad thing about it waiting so long is that the surges are worse than normal -- as if seizures are ever normal per se. I don't like it when The Brain takes over, but that's life; I'll continue to deal with it as best I can.
Why are people so willing to believe what they hear without bothering to investigate the facts?
Watching the debate over health care reform devolve from discussion to organized shouting matches has made me pull out my much used and well loved copy of John Stewart Mill's essay On Liberty and to reread his discussion of the Tyranny of the Majority, because I see its bud fully flowering on this single issue in a way that it hasn't for quite some time.
The "people" who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised; and the "self-government" spoken of is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of government over individuals loses none of its importance when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the community, that is, to the strongest party therein. This view of things, recommending itself equally to the intelligence of thinkers and to the inclination of those important classes in European society to whose real or supposed interests democracy is adverse, has had no difficulty in establishing itself; and in political speculations "the tyranny of the majority" is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard.When a group, whether numerically greater or not, gains enough power to assert its authority over others and uses that power to silence dissenting voices, we have Tyranny of the Majority. Since tyranny is the antithesis of liberty, and something that Americans take an inordinate amount of pride in "removing" from the world, why do we allow it to happen in our own back yard?
Among other things, controlled experiments on tyranny have shown that
- Tyranny can be implemented and exercised by normal people.
- Tyranny is more likely when people are competing for insufficient resources.
- Tyranny is more likely when the tyrants have little empathy for the tyrannized.
- Tyranny is more likely by stealth by those in power than by coup. (Source)
To say that people are competing for insufficient resources in these difficult economic times is, perhaps, to use an old cliche, the understatement of the century. Because of fear mongering further compounded by the fact that the average American is too lazy to search for factual information independently and thus, like so many lemmings, is willing to throw himself off the cliff without cause.
Empathy is having the capacity to understand, be sensitive to, and feel the experience of someone else. When the economy is bad and people are concerned about making their own mortgage payments, putting food on their own tables, and meeting the needs of their own families, empathy often gets lost in the daily struggle. The problem is that the same people who struggle to make ends meet but have health insurance are the very ones who ought to have the greatest empathy for their uninsured fellow Americans who find themselves having to choose between paying for a doctor visit or a prescription and making a house payment or buying groceries!
The special interest groups on both sides of the health care reform issue resort to stealth by spreading misinformation anonymously. It doesn't take long before the lemmings leap into panic mode and once they pick up the ball, the lobbyists can sit back and enjoy the show as they pat themselves on the back for a job well done; they know that to stage a successful coup, they need only to strike fear into the hearts of the lemmings who can be relied upon to take them at their word without ever bothering to research the facts themselves.
God protect us all from the lemmings of the world irrespective of the side of the political spectrum on which they sit!
What am I missing?
So my laptop is up and running again. All the software has been reinstalled, the file folders created, the desktop organized and decorated just the way I like it. It's even running much faster than it was pre-hacker / Trojan. I should be happy, right? Bleh -- that would work in someone else's world, not mine! Something is missing, I just know it! The problem is that I can't put my finger on what I've forgotten, and it's making me crazy. You know what it's like when you can't remember a song or movie title and it sticks in your head until you do? It's like that with the missing software. I know that I neglected to reinstall something, but what? I don't know! I guess it will hit me on the head like a sledgehammer when I go to use it and can't find it -- then I'll know what I forgot to install!
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." -- Thomas Paine