The Crazy Peaks

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

Trump is clearly the most dangerous when he is hunkered down and connected to reality only by the thin thread of twitter. The last week has apparently felt even more besieged than usual, either out of exhaustion from his trip or in anticipation of James Comey’s testimony to Congress. Either way, the net result has been a disaster – and the worst may well be yet to come.

If it’s not yet clear to everyone that this man is not fit to lead anything it will be soon.

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Fun with Funny

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies.
 – E B White.

What makes something funny?  It turns out that there are many different Humor Theories and none of them are funny.  That may seem like a problem right there, but the irony that you expect it to be funny and it isn’t could be funny if you … Hey!  Wait!

OK, so this duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Why is it so often a duck?” and the bartender says, “Look, if you want to analyze stereotypes you could ask why it’s always a bar.”  The duck shrugs his wings, sits down, and gets so hammered he doesn’t even remember pecking to death the priest, the rabbi, and the lawyer.

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Men’s Issues

Nothing causes men to latch up quicker than a discussion or article on “Women’s Issues.” We are, by definition, not included. More to the point, it almost certainly is going to stray into something we’d rather not hear about in the first place given that it’s almost certainly going to make us feel brutish, inadequate, or queasy.

Don’t worry guys, this is not about menstruation. This is about the stuff we can actually do.

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Reason

“Conventional Wisdom” isn’t.

Everyday life is the process of understanding and using key facts about the world around us. The sky is blue, red means stop, the 94 bus leaves at 7:53, and coffee will wake you up. Most of the important things in life are obvious enough, based on immediate observation or past experiences strung together.

However, the presence of technology and a growing interconnectedness impinges critical “facts” onto our lives which reach far beyond our senses and sensibilities. Cell phones work because they just work, this thing called “money” in our bank account is extremely important, people who live in distant lands are motivated by something akin to demonic possession, et cetera.

This is where it all breaks down. Or, more importantly, where things breaking down accelerates as reason itself fails.

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Memorial Day

The scraggly oak trees intertwine their branches in a tall ceiling that shades the entire drive. Here, the appropriate view of the eternal isn’t blue and bright, but sheltered and close to the ground.  The rows of marble and granite dazzled by bright flowers have their own quiet redemption as the slow speed limit and a gentle wave from each passerby gives the setting grace.

This is Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul’s municipal cemetery, founded in 1853.

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Count Our Blessings

My concern is no longer with politics, per se. “Politics,” as we know it, has come to be so totally divorced from policy it is largely meaningless anyway. It’s primarily about identity, which is what far too much of language is actually about.

So let’s instead talk about politics, the art and science of human interaction.

I am far more interested in anger as the primary response to … well, everything. Every interaction, artful or not, seems to produce a lot of anger. The pathology of this pathological response is worth thinking through in many ways – if for no other reason than to cool it down.

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“That’s Our Hitler!”

The moment comes about halfway through Mel Brooks’ brilliant 1968 movie “The Producers”. Max Bialystock is deep into his plot to stage the worst musical ever for the purpose of having it close after one performance. All he has to do is raise far more money than the flop could possibly take to stage and no one will ask for their share of the 25,000% of the profits which has been sold to investors. The worst musical ever, “Springtime for Hitler,” has been chosen. It’s now time to cast it.

Hippie Lorenzo Saint DuBois wanders into the casting call and gives his performance. As soon as he says, “If everyone in the world had a flower instead of a gun the world would be one big smell-in!” Bialystock rises triumphantly and declares, “That’s our Hitler!”

It’s the moment when simple comedy runs boldly over the line into farce and never looks back.

So it is with the Trump “budget”. For all we have said about the aspiring dictatorship we can now proclaim that we have our Hitler – but not in the sense anyone expected.

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