Duck! and Gather

Archive for January 2009

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Surfed over to the New York Times to read their take on today. In 24 point bold font, here is the New York Times’ interpretation of today:

President Obama Vows Era of Responsibility

It’s kind of interesting that the NYT took that message out of Obama’s 2,399-word inauguration speech. Because many pundits today were simply rehashing the same old “Holy Shit! A Black Guy in the White House!?” story line. That was the NYT’s lead story when Obama won the election back on November 4. So when I surfed over there today, I expected more of the same drivel.

But to my pleasant surprise, the NYT “got it” this time. As I said in my first post today, Obama’s 20-minute speech boils down to: “Duck!, and then Gather”.

The core of my own “Duck!” counsel over these past five years has revolved around the theoretical belief of mine that America is about to plunge into a civil war described as “People vs. Corporations”. I say this is a “theoretical” belief because I can still can’t envision how such a battle would play out. Who would be the combatants? Where would the battle lines be drawn? What weapons would be used?

I’m baffled by these questions. Theory leads me here. But I can’t see how theory touches the ground.

But putting aside that doubt, for now, let’s just assume that the theory is correct. Let’s assume that the next great American crisis will pit People against Corporations. With what will the People fight the Corporations?

Over the 5-year course of this blog I have proposed one answer to this question. That answer is: Responsibility.

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Count my wife and I among the vast bulk of human-kind swept away and moved by the proceedings today in Washington, D.C. My wife, amidst her joy, noted that Michelle Obama’s wardrobe could have used some funky-ness.

I responded that Michelle, and Obama himself, had achieved the effect they were looking for. They were looking to create the impression that the transition from George and Laura to Barack and Michelle is a smooth, natural one. Nothing to alarm the villagers. Because if everyone really knew just how radical the transition is, chaos might ensue.

But today, in his 2,399 word inauguration speech, Obama finally spoke without fetters. He is not running for anything anymore. And he has no one to whom to answer anymore. From this day forward, he is speaking only to history. So his words today were truly meaningful.

In my last post, I said that these words equated to: “Duck! and Gather”. This post will dig deeper into those words to cull meaning. Here goes:

Duck!

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Read the transcript of Obama’s inaugural address.  Wonderful speech.  Powerful. 2,399 words.

Allow me to boil this speech down for you to just three words:

Duck! and Gather

As Bush leaves town, and Obama takes over, and the nation prepares for this joyous occasion, I thought I’d take this opportunity to pee on the parade just a little. 🙂 Maybe toss some dark clouds onto the horizon of these endless blue skies. Hey, somebody’s got to do it. Here is my simple, depressing thought:

Have you ever had an asshole neighbor? I mean, people you’d be better off just avoiding, but they live next door?

If so, you know that that is a problem. But it’s not the end of the world. I mean, you can build a higher fence, plant hedges and trees on that border, minimize your interactions, etc. Not optimal, to be sure. But at least manageable.

But then, what if a family member, who is living in your house, turns out to be an asshole? Now that is a problem. It’s an intolerable problem. It’s not manageable. It has to change, one way or another.

This all brings me to Bush and Obama. Bush is that asshole neighbor. Just ignore him and his ilk, and everything will be OK, albeit not optimal.

But Obama is family. He is One of Us. And therein lies the problem.

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I guess I should post this one on my YOUscription website since it addresses mental health. But I’m posting it here because it follows from my “Foxy Knoxy” posts.

The idea is the following: The difference between pathologically crazy people and “normal” people, which becomes clear as we pass our 30s, is much less clear during childhood.

Specifically, during baby/toddler-hood (i.e. before the kids can count, identify the alphabet, etc.), and during puberty-teens-early-20s, this difference is quite small. Very hard to detect.

I think the reason for this is that those two periods are the periods of greatest change and development in the human body and mind. Those huge changes affect all people — the crazy ones, and the normal ones alike. And those changes are bigger “signals” than the crazy vs. normal signal.

For example, in my own life, we have a 3-year-old daughter. It is just now becoming obvious which of her peers is on the crazy path, and which isn’t. This difference is obvious in terms of development — language, math, etc. (assuming no medical reasons for the slower development).

But before this point in her life, when she was a baby, the difference wasn’t obvious at all. The babies were growing so fast, it was hard to chalk up any differences to pathology.

The Foxy Knoxy case addresses the other period of rapid human change.

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Well, I dip into a story, write it up in a post, and then the old brain just keeps on ticking with more thoughts. Here is my next one: The three perps of this sordid story — Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede (see my previous post) — represent America, Europe, and Africa. What I mean is the following.

Amanda, a visually striking young girl, with a noticeable pathological streak, is the perfect symbol for America. From the outside, from the PR-crafted image, this is a perfect being. Helen of Troy, to quote Amanda. But underneath that shining image, poking out in every direction, is profound disturbance. Underneath the virginal image is one deranged girl.

This is America. Probably circa 2007, rather than 2009. America circa 2009 will be Amanda six months into the 30 year sentence she will be getting. Then, the pathology will be much clearer in her, as the pathology in America is obvious to all today. America is rotten to its core. But unlike Amanda, we Americans will reinvent ourselves, and redeem ourselves within 20 years. Amanda will still be in jail in Italy.

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for the money has gone too far

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