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What Is True?
I caught a little of the PBS special about the human brain yesterday. The brain is a big topic for any TV program, so it left a lot of questions unanswered. In fact, I’m still sorting through the ramifications of one claim that was made on the show. It concerned the nature of reality. What is real, brain scientists suggest, is strictly a product of our own minds.

What they meant was that we digest what our senses take in and reconstruct it later to form our own personal version of what happened. To do that, we use our memory of events coupled with some kind of subconscious, base-level analysis. That’s the straightforward scientific take on this phenomenon, and it wasn’t intended to have any larger philosophical implications. Even so, I find it a little unsettling that each of us is cooking up his own distinct version of reality…second to second, day to day, year in and year out. It raises the possibility that there is no objective truth at all — only billions of these separate, very personal concoctions made up of wishful thinking and emotional imperatives.

There must be something real out there, though. We manage to function and survive within the world outside our minds (or so it appears), so we must have some kind of handle on that world and how it works. We get up, we go to our jobs, we eat, we continue to exist. We don’t die. Whatever version of reality we have constructed seems to be working on some level. That tells me that we have a hold on some kind of truth.

And maybe that’s all we can hope for…some kind of truth. You might even argue that that is enough. As long as we can stumble along using trial-and-error and the advice of others, why worry? Does it really matter if we get a few things wrong? The all-star professional basketballer Kyrie Irving, for instance, believes that the earth is flat. He is absolutely convinced that this truth — his truth — is the true truth. Kyrie’s a multimillionaire. He’s famous, he’s admired (at least up until now). What’s the diff if his truth is actually false?

It’s certainly easier not to care. The truth is simply what you overheard on the bus. Or what somebody said on TV. No need to check it or think about it or question it at all. Just swallow it whole and move on. The alternative is to remain constantly on guard, trusting no one, fact-checking everything. You might spend all kinds of time digging for an answer — with no guarantee of actually finding it. It’s a complete hassle.

And what is true, anyway? If reality is being pieced together in our separate subconsciouses, as those brain scientists say, maybe we can never be sure.

Even so, I’m going to take the controversial position of being pro-truth. In the long run it’s just more reliable than untruth. And as my ultimate success story, I will point to science itself. It built our modern world based on the tested, verifiable truths gleaned through the scientific method (Kyrie Irving notwithstanding). And all of that came from asking the simple question, What is true?

If it’s good enough for science and engineering, it’s good enough for every other field, including politics. So I say keep asking that question. Over and over again. And trust no one, including me.
Crazy Smart?
I noticed the other day that Drump insult-tweeted fellow millionaire Mark Cuban. “He is not smart enough to be president” according to our president. Our leader has also informed us on many occasions that he, conversely, is very, very smart.

I don’t want to get into a discussion here of whether Drump is a pathological liar. We cannot deny, though, that an alarming number of his declarations of fact turn out to be untrue. Let’s just say that he is not a reliable source of information on any subject, including comparative intelligence. But that’s not what I want to discuss either. Instead, I want to focus on a disturbing dimension to his chronic inaccuracy. I see it mostly in comments like the one about Cuban. To my eye, there is a maniacal symmetry to these attacks.

Let me give an example. Drump repeatedly refers to Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.” Now, I’m not here to defend Ted, who does have some genuine issues with credibility, but it struck me when I first heard this that it might be an instance of the pot calling the kettle a bullshit artist. Our president does, as we have said, score quite high on the frequency of untruth scale — much higher than Ted Cruz. An impartial observer might well conclude that The Donald deserves the nickname more than The Ted. The mirror-image symmetry is striking. Accuse your opponent of the very thing you are guilty of. I know you are, but what am I?

And then there’s the “Crooked Hillary” meme. Drump promoted it relentlessly during the campaign in spite of the fact she’s never been accused of rape by her mate. Nor has she stiffed thousands of workers while skimming off profits for herself. Or ripped off customers on a Hillary University scam. Or broken the law by refusing to rent to black people. Or been fined for anti-trust violations. Or been accused of sexual assault by multiple victims. And despite walking very close to the line, she has never used her charity as a personal ATM…the way Drump has. Can we bring in our impartial observer again and ask him, who is the crooked one here?

Even his cracks about “low-energy” Jeb Bush might fit this pattern of symmetry. One could surmise, based on outward appearances, that Drump is lazy, incurious, incompetent, and willfully ignorant. He doesn’t attend briefings or read about policy or burn the midnight oil over anything other than insults and braggadocio. Aren’t these the hallmarks of a low-energy persona? It’s right there in the cracked mirror, Donald.

And so on. He decries fake news while making it in the very same breath. He loves leakers but hates to be leaked on. He drains the swamp by filling it up. And everything his opponents touch is a “disaster.” Has he been reading the news about the insane asylum he's running in the White House?

One might argue from all this that he, more so than Mark Cuban, is the one who is not smart enough to be president. We see the evidence every day in the media. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and none of his hand-picked people do either. In this case, however, I must defend our president. He may not be very, very smart, but he is probably smart enough. The problem, however, is that he’s also a crooked, low-energy charlatan who knows you are...but what is he?

Crazy is scary no matter how smart you are.
One Man, One Vote
I dreamt last night
About the Drump
And about
Impeachment

He stood astride
The Senate floor
A colossus sprayed
In peach tint

You can’t fire me!
He thundered down
His lips all pursed
In fury

But nothing could
Prevent it now
These stiffs would be
His jury

Yet when they vote
It’s 50 – 50!
How will this tie
Be broke up?

I see Mike Pence
Step forward now…
And that is when
I woke up
Courting Disaster
This is why we have the Constitution. Just in case a few boneheads and bad actors get into power and start screwing things up.

The separation of powers will be particularly useful, because the executive branch is plain crazy and the legislative branch has sold its soul for power. So the courts are where the action is. We’ll need to dust off the emoluments clause, limber up due process, and max out the Bill of Rights.

All this will take some time — maybe even four years — so whenever we’re not speaking or assembling or suing like crazy, let’s get those impeachment papers drawn up, just so they’re ready to go when the time comes. We can fill in the blanks later, but be sure to leave plenty of space.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee