The Limits of Argument

Well, the debate was raging fast and furious, on the subject of ‘Should trans women be allowed to compete in women’s sports. As I believe I have written in this blog before, I’m in the same camp as Joe Rogan on that question. No. No, they should not. But, of course that got a lot of pushback because I’m apparently ‘transphobic’ and ignorant. Oh, so very, very ignorant. There was also quite a bit of conversation about the term cis, which did not exist until trans people decided that they should not be the only ones with a qualifying adjective in front of their gender, and ‘natural born’ would imply that others are not.
Anyway, the original conversation has almost nothing to do with this blog. Someone posted, without attribution, “Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the King’s command flatten it? No, I will not sign.” I read that and thought ‘By golly, that is a damned good quote, very medieval sounding, but strikes right at the heart of so, so many debates. Are there intelligent, space faring creatures from other planets? We can argue about it for days, but either there are or there aren’t and we don’t know. Is there life after death? What about ghosts? Re-incarnation? Is faster than light travel possible? Will it rain this afternoon?
So, I asked where the quote was from but it was a really long thread and direct questions often get ignored, so I typed it into the old google machine and voila. It’s from A Man For All Seasons, which is now on my list of things I really must watch, and there were some other great quotes from it, too.
You learn something new every day.

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Did Yang Just Screw the Pooch?

Well, it does seem from what I’m reading on Facebook that Andrew Yang has just stepped in a huge pile of dog poop. IMHO, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.
On the other hand, my Facebook skews left, and I am often stunned by what shit people can say and get away with it.
His statement, that we should all support Israel as it valiantly defends itself against the raging Palestinians, or something like that, might have raised nary an eyebrow in years past, and would have garnered him some votes in the Jewish community, but coming hard on the heels of a bombing that killed 20 people in Gaza, the storming of the mosque in Jerusalem, and the evictions in Jerusalem, was a bit off. It still might play well for him, we’ll wait a few days and see.
To me, it just reinforces my opinion of Yang, which is that he doesn’t have the political knowledge, much less the experience, to be an effective mayor of New York City. Like Caitlin Jenner, he has never held an elective office before. His UBI plan, while appealing on an abstract level, was poorly thought out and basically just a cover for cutting everything else. And, with this Israel thing, it seems like he just didn’t put any thought into it – and so it came across sounding somewhat bloodthirsty, in the moment.
But, whether people turn on Yang because he’s supporting an apartheid regime, or just because he’s a yutz, I don’t care. I would be very happy to witness his political downfall.

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The Guardian’s Confessions

The Guardian, one of the few newspapers in the world I respect, did something recently that was very cool. So cool that I think all newspapers should do this. Congress should do this. Judges should do this. Maybe even everybody should do this. (I said maybe we should. I actually have no plans to do this.) They published a list of their worst mistakes throughout the course of their existence, which goes back to about 1820, I think.
They backed the Confederacy during the American Civil War, that was a pretty bad one. They were quite unsympathetic to the Irish during their potato famine. They ran the Titanic story on page 9 and not the front page, totally failing to account for how popular the Titanic would become as a theme for movies. When Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, they basically said “Eh, no big deal, this isn’t going to cause any major repercussions,” they probably figured out within a year or two of trench warfare and mustard gas that they’d guessed wrong.
But the one that most people are talking about, the one about which they’ve only changed their minds recently, was their support for the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which said that Britain supported a home for the Jews in Palestine, which they were at the moment busy stealing from the Turks. It led to a lot of Jews coming in, and they eventually did establish a nation there in 1948, after kicking the British out. The rest, as they say, is history, which is kind of a dumb phrase when you think about it, because the whole thing is history.
Anyway, looking at Israel today, it is no surprise that the Guardian regrets that stance.

But, I don’t want to get bogged down on any one issue. My broader point is that it was forthright and refreshingly honest, and perhaps cathartic, for the Guardian to publish such a list. I hope the idea catches on.

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New Look

I had kind of a lazy Sunday but my IT department, which is my wife, the lovely and talented Helena, was busy revamping this page. Before, it was divided just into Home and Poetry, and now we’ve got a few more selections. Don’t pay too much attention to them, mostly it was just to get a bit of clutter out of the way.
Now it’s Home, where we are now, where I write the blog of the day, Main Collection of Books, Tarot Poems, and Rheets. Four buttons. More selections!
The Main Collection contains all of the poetry books I am seriously promoting, plus The Shit Guru, my one attempt at a novel. There are 16 poetry books and I’m proud of every one. They contain poems that will entertain, that will make you think, that will expand your mind and your view of the world. That’s not an exaggeration. They did for me. I’ll be tinkering around with some lines, trying to condense into words something I’ve been thinking about, and running all the possible rhymes through my head and BLAMMO! something hits that makes perfect sense and puts a spin on it, whatever it is, that particular moment of time, space and perception, that I’d never thought of before.
There are 16 of these books of poems, and if you click on Main Collection you can read them for free. You can also buy them, which would thrill me to death, and they make lovely gifts. But, you can read them for free. Like browsing in a book store, but nobody bugs you about loitering.
Then there are the Tarot Poems. One for each card. But this page is just a preview. I can sell you a copy if you live in Prague or you can get them at the artist’s (Marie Brožová’s) gallery.
Then there are the Rheets books. I took them off the main page because they are more just a writing exercise for me and I can’t say they contain great poetry. They are the short rhymes that I write every day just to introduce this blog on Twitter and Facebook. They are also sort of a time capsule. If you want to read them, there they are.

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No Excuse for This

As those who know me well may know, I am half Jewish. Mother’s side which, in the Jewish religion, is the side that counts. Also, in my youth I was quite pro-Israeli. I spent the greater part of my 20s in Israel, learned to speak the language, even had a passport and served in the IDF.
This is not something I’m proud of. In fact, when I see what’s happening in Israel today, I am downright ashamed to be Jewish. I am sure there are a lot of half Jews like me who feel the same way, and undoubtedly some of purer lineage as well. Because it is disgusting. It is inhuman.
When I saw this story on Facebook, I almost didn’t click on it, because I thought “Oh, that’s old news. That incident happened a couple of years ago. Which it may well have, but it happened again on Friday. From the article in Mondoweiss:

Hundreds of Palestinians were injured and dozens were hospitalized on Friday night across the city of Jerusalem, as Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and continued to crackdown on protests against the imminent evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. 

The height of the violence took place inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where tens of thousands of Palestinian worshipers had gathered inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding courtyard for evening prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan. “

It’s one thing for police to violently disperse a protest demonstration. It’s still not good, but this is a different, and much worse thing. They were in a mosque. They were praying. They were already on the floor, facing down. Houses of worship are traditional places of refuge. The police are supposed to respect that. Just like “a man’s home is his castle.” Police are supposed to respect that. Now, in today’s world, there is no place the police cannot go. There is no place where people are safe.

They were in a mosque. They were praying. And it was a religious holiday. Now, I am not a religious person. That’s how I usually phrase it, because I don’t want to argue with people about religion. But, the truth is, I think religion is absurd, and anybody who believes there is an omnipotent being watching over this madness, this failure of modern civilization, is badly deluded. But, as long as they are in a church, or a mosque, or a temple praying, they are not out robbing, and killing, and raping. And they should not be arrested, or beaten.


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