“Say, have you an opinion or two?”
“Thanks for asking, so do I! Would you like to argue about them awhile?”

Some people will say “no”, and that’s that. Some topics are too personal, or too uncomfortable, or too weakly held, so one’s just not interested in a discussion. OK, one has to respect that.

Some people will say “game on”, and that’s more fun. One may stake claims, produce evidence or oratory, look for flaws in the others’ arguments (or one’s own, for bonus points). Questions may be uncomfortable, but the possibility exists for changing the participants’ mind. These are delightful for people like I.

But some people will say “ok”, make some claims, and then are shocked when someone disagrees. They amp up the rhetoric, and are shocked again that this doesn’t work: there is still someone in the social circle who doesn’t believe those self-evident truths. Despite open genuine questions, the discussion is slammed shut, the social network deloused, and the dissenters disinvited. Oh well, some people are insecure in their convictions, and welcome only like-minded feedback. The tragedy of it is twofold. It harms the long-term health of a clique if it excludes the admission of contradicting information. It wastes the time of those who participated, and maybe tossed their discussion artifacts away.

So, my humble advice is to know yourself, before you offer an opinion. If your venue offers free-form response comments, shut that off if you are comfortable only with “likes”. If you say something controversial, only feel brave if you risk falsification.

Posted Sun Mar 4 11:56:00 2012 Tags:

Carroll LeFon, ex US Navy pilot, poet-warrior, died yesterday in an airplane crash. I have never met the gentleman (in all senses), but was a devoted reader of his for years, and we have exchanged the odd email. Eulogies are pouring out all over the blogosphere. Lex has left behind an awesome corpus of work even just counting his blog; enough material to fill a book with. I am unworthy of identifying his “best of Lex” articles, so many times has he made this grown man exhilarated or all teared up, sometimes in the same piece. To lose a man who can create like this – or from a selfish point of view, to have no more to read from Lex – is terribly sad. But at least we can re-read.

Last week, Andrew Brietbart also died. He was not a literal soldier like Lex, but did wield his own sort of weapon against his own sort of enemy. He too left prodigious artifacts behind. His politics may not be your cup of tea; if it isn’t, consider instead some departed leftie like a Kennedy or a Layton. One can slurp their saved intellectual nectar for quite awhile.

UPDATE: I meant to also mention Michael Masterov, who until his sudden death during a motorcycle accident, spent years tirelessly educating his readers on all matters aviation. This was through some thousand postings on Usenet, and via meetings with pilot groups throughout the USA.

I have written before that approximately everyone’s ideas are worth saving. One day, we all become just memories. Please care that those memories last. Please, record your stories, keep them safe, pass them on. It makes loss less lousy.

Posted Wed Mar 7 10:21:00 2012 Tags:

Spengler writes a piece, drawing interesting connections between the decay of a loss of libido, decay of fruitful-family-centered culture, pornography, glorification of the single secular life, and lonely old people. As always, he’s worth a read.

Posted Tue Mar 13 10:27:00 2012 Tags:

Tonight’s unrecorded scene: a line of fifty people, waiting in the dark, on opening night of the seasonal ice cream shop, in the parking lot of a local shopping plaza. Yes, it was that warm, and the demand was that pent up. Damn, I wish I had my camera with me.

Posted Thu Mar 15 23:16:00 2012 Tags:

There I was, on a busy urban road, in a second-story room above a store. Streetcars rumbled past. People on the sidewalk went around their business, dodging a garbage truck trying to clean up. Then someone got hit.

I heard the sound of the crash first, as I was by the windows facing the street. Others gasped. Outside, a man was thrown upward by an impact of a truck. Then he stopped. Mid-air. Those in the room with me turned back to their conversations. Life on the street resumed, with movement everywhere, except in the few cubic meters around the accident. There, nothing moved. The truck nose was crushed, and the flying man stayed frozen, six feet above the ground.

I was the only one who saw something wrong with this. I pointed, yelling “holy cow!”, but people only glanced over, then away. Tens of seconds went by. I was not sure whether to disbelieve my eyes, or take offence at the nonchalance of the crowd. “Don’t you all see, this is impossible?” No response.

Then something flickered around the frozen flying man. It reminded me of something – yes – just like the deja vu scene in the original Matrix movie. Suddenly, other strange occurrences started making sense. Something about the world was not quite right, and with this strange guy in the air, reality wasn’t quite real. This wasn’t just a new freaky physical phenomenon, because others would have shown surprise too. If it was just a hallucination, the others would have disagreed with me instead of disregarding the scene. No, whatever was wrong involved both the street scene and the people around me.

What could it be? Maybe I’m imagining both the accident and the nonchalant observers? Or maybe I’m stuck inside a simulation that sometimes breaks. How do I tell? My mind went racing about tests to run, things to say, facts to collect. I was sure that I would be able to figure it out: the puzzle became the most important thing. I would spend the rest of my life solving it. I would have to.

“Frank! Eric went downstairs in his pyjamas!”. The words were spoken quietly enough, but they were enough to shatter my state of mind. I opened my eyes. It’s Stuart, ratting out his big brother. Where am I? Ah yes, in bed. What about the floating man? Maybe it was a dream; maybe it was a memory. I wasn’t so sure any more. Let’s lead a normal life for now, at least until something that strange is seen again.

Posted Tue Mar 27 10:27:00 2012 Tags: