Saturday, June 24, 2017

What's Really Going On?

(If you're new here, this column consists of weekly letters written to my grandchildren, who exist, to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead, and my great-grandchildren, who aren't here yet.)

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

Ya' ever wonder what's really going (or has gone) on?

I do, that's why I'm a current events junkie. I'm not just a living, old school version of one of those ubiquitous Now Trending lists that are currently so popular. I harbor no secret fantasy to win big bucks on Jeopardy. I haven't played Trivial Pursuit, any edition, in years.

I want to know what the approximate truth is in light of our current knowledge and to the best of our current abilities. I not only really want to know because I really want to know. I really want to know what actually works, not just what I/we/they hope will work; what works the best for the most while maintaining maximum liberty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
I use the word approximate deliberately and without reservation. If you really want to know what the whole truth and nothing but the truth is, step one is to acknowledge that truth is always provisional, approximate and subject to change.

BIG BUT.

Maintaining an open mind, and heart, doesn't mean that you get to deny the obvious when the obvious is inconvenient to your preconceptions, proclivities or purposes (nefarious or otherwise). Denial is not a river in Egypt, although people drown in it every day. It simply means that the smart play is to consider truth as sort of the "working title" of reality.

For example, the process I follow when I write one of these letters.

I get an idea. I click on the New post button. I select a working title, hope that Marie-Louise is in the mood, and start writing. Paragraphs (hopefully, not always) begin to accumulate. Write, read, tweak, rewrite. Gradually (sometimes painfully), a letter emerges. Write, read, tweak, rewrite. With a little luck, I'll eventually wind up with a finished product with (hopefully) an understandable point. A missive of a thousand (more or less) words that strikes me as true.

Little but.

The content is subject to revision: tomorrow, next week, next month..., etc. The working title almost always changes before publication. And of course, any given gentlereader, grandsticky or otherwise, may decide I'm full of crap.



WARNING! 
Digression Ahead


I'm a curious, easily bored dilettante with multiple interests, one of which is a fascination with current events. If I were more intelligent and didn't suffer from a mild form of intellectual ADD compounded by been there done that syndrome, I'd be a polymath (I can dream, can't I?).

Polymath: a person of encyclopedic learning (Merriam-Webster). Polymath: a genius (or close enough) with expert level knowledge (or close enough) in multiple fields thus capable of a valid big picture view of complex problems (my definition).

In this, the Dizzinformation Age, we need big-brained knowledge synthesizers. You should be able to go to college and get a degree or two in Polymathology. When I'm king I'll make this happen. Unlike many non-STEM majors, this will be a real degree (or two) that will result in an actual job that just might earn you enough dough to justify a student loan debt burden. (Yet another problem awaiting your future monarch.)

The requirements for getting into/graduating from the program will be quite rigorous. Only a very limited group of the best and the brightest will be considered. Details to be worked out by me and my Royal Privy Council of Perspicacious Polymaths. Snowflakes need not apply.

End Digression


Although I came pre-wired this way, ironically, I credit/blame the teachers, mostly nuns, of three different (it's complicated, but no, it wasn't me) Catholic grade schools in or near Pittsburgh, Pa. for cultivating this aspect of my nature.

This was back in the distant dark ages (two of the schools no longer even exist) when nuns still had hair on their chests and dressed like they belonged to a cult that worshiped penguins. I was the victim/beneficiary of a traditional, old-fashion, (sorry, I can't resist) old school version of Catholic childhood education.

[At this point Iggy popped into my consciousness. Like, what's ironical about that, Poppa?]

Well, hairy chested nuns tended to focus more on suppression than cultivation. Their specialty was on turning high functioning chimps into civilized, Catholic citizens. Told ya' it was the dark ages. So the irony lies in that although I was thoroughly marinated in traditional Catholicism, traditional morality, and traditional discipline (including corporal punishment) and the like, the church was/is preoccupied with social justice and social justice requires a knowledge of current events.

Effective social justice requires that you know what's going on, what's really going on. As does effective voting, effective parenting, effective management, effective governing, effective _______. Ya' gotta work for it though. The truth is out there, but dizzinformation never sleeps.

I hasten to add, for clarity, that you must remember this was the tail end of the dark ages, which began drawing to a close in the mid-sixties. I was taught a version of social justice that is now considered by many to be obsolete. I was taught that social justice meant equal opportunity for all. Nowadays, social justice is often defined as equal outcomes for all.

I prefer the former definition because achieving equal outcomes would require central planning, setting specific targets, and worst of all, central planners. Central planners are, or at least think they are, experts, usually highly educated experts, the sort of experts preferred by the gummits and The Gummit. Which explains a lot. They ain't usually polymaths.

[Second rate comedian (on the cusp of a career in insurance), sparsely packed venue (what is that smell?). Hey folks, what do you call a bonkercockie artist at least fifty miles from home? an expert! Rimshot.

Now I'm sure that most of these folks are perfectly nice, well-meaning people. However, I'm also sure that attempting to centrally plan outcomes for any sort of ginormous enterprise involving millions of people and gazillions of variables only guarantees one thing -- the invocation of the law of unexpected consequences. Copy and paste the following into the search bar of your favorite browser: USSR, 1922 - 1991.

Your Poppa used to describe himself (I've altered this description a bit, see next letter ) as a wild-eyed bleeding heart libertarian with conservative impulses. In my next letter, I'll start explaining how it's possible, in my case at least, to be a child of the left, right, and center simultaneously without any given one of my multiple personalities feeling the need/right/necessity to delete one of the others. Compromise don't demonize. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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