Coronavirus recalled incidents revisited



  1. Understand as best you can the difference between what we wish were true and what is actually true.

    SB, in her comments on 20 April, quotes a couple of fine literary and artistic minds. But good style can distract from important content. For an easy expanse of beauty, style is supreme. For knowing what works, content is king.

    None of us have the option of not interacting with objective reality. Regardless this objective reality, we all have an imaginative ability to believe anything that feels good, that is, until it conflicts with the objective truth of things, and/or we find ourselves in conflict with the contrary imaginings of other minds.

    When I sailed to distant places as skipper of my own sailboat, I realized that no matter how much I loved the artistic look of a navigation chart, if it did not correlate with the objective realities of land and sea I could get myself and my family into serious trouble. The methods whereby these charts are made to be most reliable are identical to how we chart into our heads our “knowledge” of the world in which we find ourselves navigating this voyage of life. Being checked against logic and empirical (measurable) evidence is the means by which the “charts” being recommend by others are tested for accuracy. Such testing for a good navigator is a positive, knowledge-growing activity. If a reasonable interchange is FELT to be something unpleasant, or threatening, this is a strong symptom of an attitude less interested in growth than it is in protecting and/ or expanding a cherished belief.

    1. DS: “ None of us have the option of not interacting with objective reality. Regardless this objective reality, we all have an imaginative ability to believe anything that feels good, that is, until it conflicts with the objective truth of things, and/or we find ourselves in conflict with the contrary imaginings of other minds.”

      Oh, how true! Applause … applause. Gotta look in the mirror.

      1. For multiple decades I have known myself to be vulnerable to all the ills that beset humanity. That is why I have learned to be skeptical about my own positions and rely on data that others can replicate. Empirical is measurable and thus is something “out there” that others can test for themselves. That is what increases the probability that what I think, is actually close to being objectively true. It would work for you, and any other person too.

  2. This article was in The Atlantic? Hard to believe.
    Each of the following paragraphs refers to a paragraph in the article as it was presented:

    Define “decency”. Define “spiritual”.

    Clarify in what ways Trump has shown himself to be a “failure”. In particular, in the last three years.

    Explain how the described “disordered personality” has been so successful in building the economy and getting other countries to participate in internationally agreed payments. Observed in this article are the negatives of diagnosing illness from afar, and then the writer does just that.

    We see opinions here that do not reflect empirical evidence. “Immediate tactile or visual experience” are the only things Trump has an ability to understand? No one builds anything of complexity without significant abstract thinking skills. This is as true of policy as it is true of construction complexities.

    Like a goldfish, only able to be reactive? It is incredible to see such a deep hatred of an individual that it causes a mind to ignore the myriad forms of obvious and empirical evidence that contradict that emotional state! Donald Trump has a long history of not only visualizing future projects, but a history of leading complex teams and making the dreams become real.

    The claim is made that Donald Trump is detached from reality. This is an accusation made be a person who advocates and apparently needs a “spiritual” base to support his concept of decency?

    It is true that Trump is unique among Republicans in that he reflects back to the Democrats what they have been doing for decades to the Republicans. To demean Republicans (and likely to enhance their self-opinions) the following charges have been relentless: SIXHIRB stands for; sexist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, intolerant, racist and bigoted. Since the late sixties, the major media has been the Democrat’s megaphone. Today, there are alternatives to such bias, and after decades of righteous monopoly these clarifications come as a shock to the spiritual, and moralistically indoctrinated, leftist mind.

    It appears that those who have been accusing Trump of wrongdoing are themselves being shown to be the wrongdoers. Fascinating how two plus years of intense and expensive research by a panel of top Trump-hating lawyers came up with no evidence that Trump had done what the Democrats had accused him of doing. Interesting too, how Democrat efforts to frame him for quid pro quo indecencies spread the spotlight instead on the Biden’s. And look who the Democrats have selected to be the head of their “spiritual” spear. A person who for his Presidential announcement lied about Trump having said that there were good Nazi’s when Trump stated, “There were good people on both sides.” A most cursive glance at the transcript of this exchange with the press proves that Trump was referring to those marching for and against statues.

    Charles Krauthammer described this problem the writer is experiencing as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. The cure to this debilitating disease requires that such a mind consider the possibility that some of its beliefs might be wrong, Then, there is for it at least a possibility of becoming healthy and objective.

    A problem with many “spiritual” minds is that no amount of reasoned debate is likely to have any degree of correcting impact. The objective world can be just too offensive for minds habitually steeped in a sacred vision whereby they so clearly know (need to know) themselves to be good and others evil.

    Yes, we must recover reasoned skepticism about our beliefs, and become more objective as well as decent, more reflective, and more stoic—before mindsets similar to what is seen in this article send us into a spiritual black hole from which we might never emerge.

  3. Reprint from The Atlantic

    With Each Briefing, Trump Is Making Us Worse People

    He is draining the last reserves of decency among us at a time when we need it most.
    There has never been an American president as spiritually impoverished as Donald Trump. And his spiritual poverty, like an overdrawn checking account that keeps imposing new penalties on a customer already in difficult straits, is draining the last reserves of decency among us at a time when we need it most.
    I do not mean that Trump is the least religious among our presidents, though I have no doubt that he is; as the scholar Stephen Knott pointed out, Trump has shown “a complete lack of religious sensibility” unique among American presidents. (Just recently he wished Americans a “Happy Good Friday,” which suggests that he is unaware of the meaning of that day.) Nor do I mean that Trump is the least-moral president we’ve ever had, although again, I am certain that he is. John F. Kennedy was, in theory, a practicing Catholic, but he swam in a pool of barely concealed adultery in the White House. Richard Nixon was a Quaker, but one who attempted to subvert the Constitution. Andrew Johnson showed up pig-drunk to his inauguration. Trump’s manifest and immense moral failures—and the shameless pride he takes in them—make these men seem like amateurs by comparison.
    [David Frum: This is Trump’s fault]
    And finally, I do not mean that Trump is the most unstable person ever to occupy the Oval Office, although he is almost certain to win that honor as well. As Peter Wehner has eloquently put it, Trump has an utterly disordered personality. Psychiatrists can’t help but diagnose Trump, even if it’s in defiance of the old Goldwater Rule against such practices. I know mental-health professionals who agree with George Conway and others that Trump is a malignant narcissist.
    What I mean instead is that Trump is a spiritual black hole. He has no ability to transcend himself by so much as an emotional nanometer. Even narcissists, we are told by psychologists, have the occasional dark night of the soul. They can recognize how they are perceived by others, and they will at least pretend to seek forgiveness and show contrition as a way of gaining the affection they need. They are capable of infrequent moments of reflection, even if only to adjust strategies for survival.
    Trump’s spiritual poverty is beyond all this. He represents the ultimate triumph of a materialist mindset. He has no ability to understand anything that is not an immediate tactile or visual experience, no sense of continuity with other human beings, and no imperatives more important than soothing the barrage of signals emanating from his constantly panicked and confused autonomic system.
    The humorist Alexandra Petri once likened Trump to a goldfish, a purely reactive animal lost in a “pastless, futureless, contextless void.” This is an apt comparison, with one major flaw: Goldfish are not malevolent, and do not corrode the will and decency of those who gaze on them.
    In his daily coronavirus briefings, Trump lumbers to the podium and pulls us into his world: detached from reality, unable to feel any emotions but anger and paranoia. Each time we watch, Trump’s spiritual poverty increases our own, because for the duration of these performances, we are forced to live in the same agitated, immediate state that envelops him. (This also happens during Trump’s soul-destroying rallies, but at least those are directed toward his fans, not an entire nation in peril.)
    [Read: How the pandemic will end]
    Most leaders would at least have the sense not to relitigate every vendetta in their personal Burn Book at such moments. That’s what rallies and sycophantic interviews with Fox News are for, after all. Indeed, polls now suggest that even the president’s base might be tiring of this exhibitionism. But that is irrelevant to Trump. With cable news constantly covering the pandemic, he seems to be going through withdrawal. He needs an outlet for his political glossolalia, or his constantly replenishing reservoir of grievance and insecurity will burst its seams.
    Even Trump’s staff—itself a collection of morally compromised enablers—cannot cajole him or train him to sound like a normal human being. Trump begins every one of these disastrous briefings by hypnotically reading high-minded phrases to which he shows no connection. These texts are exercises in futility, but they at least show some sense of what a typical person with friends and a family might want to sound like during a national crisis. Once he finishes stumbling through these robotic recitations, he’s back to his grievances.
    Each of these presidential therapy sessions corrodes us until the moment when the president finally shambles away in a fog of muttered slogans and paranoid sentence fragments. In a time of crisis, we should be finding what is best in ourselves. Trump, instead, invites us to join a daily ritual, to hear lines from a scared and mean little boy’s heroic play-acting about how he bravely defeated the enemies and scapegoats who told him to do things that would hurt us. He insists that he has never been wrong and that he isn’t responsible for anything ever.
    Daily, Trump’s opponents are enraged by yet another assault on the truth and basic human decency. His followers are delighted by yet more vulgar attacks on the media and the Democrats. And all of us, angry or pleased, become more like Trump, because just like the president, we end up thinking about only Trump, instead of our families, our fellow citizens, our health-care workers, or the future of our country. We are all forced to take sides every day, and those two sides are always “Trump” and “everyone else.”
    [Read: Why does the president keep pushing a malaria drug?]
    Perhaps to call this daily abomination “therapy” is unfair, because therapy has a healing goal. As Jennifer Melfi, the psychotherapist for HBO’s fictional mob boss Tony Soprano, realized at the end of the series, when she finally threw him out of her office, counseling someone incapable of reflection or remorse is pointless; it makes the counselor into a worse person for enduring such long exposure to the patient.
    Likewise, Trump’s spiritual poverty is making all of us into worse people. We are all living with him in the moment and neglecting the thing that makes us human beings instead of mindless fish swimming in circles. We must recover this in ourselves, and become more decent, more reflective, and more stoic—before Trump sends us into a hole from which we might never emerge.

    1. Let’s see, JEG. An excellent article from The Atlantic (around since 1857). However for readers/contributors like DS, I offer you these cliches:

      1. Love is blind (especially with irrational cultist foundations? Which accuse others of superiority complex 🤔); and, more simply …

      2. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink (the mare might?).

      Define “decency” … “spiritual”? Justice Potter Stewart might have been able to simply define it: he knew pornography when he saw it. Not empirical enough?

      1. For any reader who wants clarity:

        Look carefully at what SB has presented as a rebuttal to my observations about the Atlantic article. She acknowledges that what she has presented are clichés. When examined, it is clear that they can all apply to her positions, positions that rely on sentiment only, not anything measurable, and therefore they are incapable of being objectively verified by others. Apparently in her heart she “knows” deeply that other views (including mine) are a form of pornography and hers are pure and good. It is true that Justice Stewart said that he knew pornography when he saw it. Understand too that many a Puritan knew a witch when they saw one. Be very cautious when given advice from those who believe it is their views that are the purist of mind and heart.

        The fact that The Atlantic magazine has been around since 1857 means nothing as regards the direction its current editors choose to take. I once admired the New York Times, and now its editorial bias is off the charts, and it is selecting corrupt and/or corrupting a new cadre of reporters. They now seldom attempt to hide introducing opinion in what used to be hard news.

        About “spiritual”? Anyone familiar with the history and the contemporary complexity of religious sentiments will immediately understand what a slippery, quicksand foundation they provide for building systems capable of supporting today’s need for social harmony. Faith (excess certitude about one’s place and way of goodness) does not lend itself well to adjustment to objective, but contrary evidence, and too often war becomes the first, or only way to deal with others holding faiths that differ. As for “decency”? Is advocating for policies that increase division and diminish productivity more “decent” than policies that unify, such that we can be more productive of the resources that expand potential and save lives? SB can pretend that she is “decent”, but, likely because she needs to protect such self-boosting pretense, she rejects the objective methods that could remove make-believe from the equation.

        It should be clear to all readers that SB and I are truly advocating for contrary methods. The reasons we differ are important for all to understand. The shape of the future will be less hostile, or more hostile to human life for those reasons. But note for clarity; I advocate that reason and empirical (measurable) evidence should be the guide, not sentiments such as those presented in the Atlantic article, or SB’s concept of “decent”. Those feelings can and do grow like destructive weeds from any false (usually self-enhancing) belief capable of being imagined.

        1. Some of the guidelines I admire:

          “It is a good divine that follows his own instructions.” — William Shakespeare

          “Never do unto others as you would have others do unto you. They might have different tastes.” — George Bernard Shaw
          “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” — George Bernard Shaw

          And …

          “My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.” — George Bernard Shaw

          Too verbose?!?!?!

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