Healthy, Yet Furrowing My Eyebrows

Today, another trip into the city, to CMPC, to see one of the cardiologists and status my health, two years and eight months after my heart transplant. Had bloodwork done last Friday, and chest X-ray, and echo-cardiogram done today just before cardiologist visit.

Everything’s fine: blood, x-ray, echo. Earlier symptoms have almost all gone away. We didn’t have any issues to discuss except the precise amounts of two blood pressure meds I’ve been taking, and we decided to make no change. Then we went to Mel’s Diner and I had huevos rancheros for lunch.

Today, two items that caused me to furrow my brow. Then some fringe topics.

Anne Lamott, Washington Post, 17 Jan 2024: Opinion | Age makes the miracles easier to see

The writer is a novelist.

Every so often, even in heartbreaking times, the soul hears something so true out of the corner of its ear that it perks up, looking around like a meerkat for the source. Mine did this when, decades ago, I read a quote of Albert Einstein’s: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

There are the obvious miracles all around us — love, nature, music, art. We drunks who somehow got sober call this the central miracle of our lives. Some of you have children you were told you couldn’t have. Some of you were sent home to die, years ago. And have you ever seen a grain of sand under a high-powered microscope? It looks like a jewelry store.

But what do we do with the seemingly unmiraculous? For instance, former president Donald Trump is a bit of a stretch for me. How do we see the miracle in the madness of the months since Jan. 6, 2021? Well, we saw that democracy held. It might have gone either way. We here in the colonies rejoiced, in our quiet and fretful ways.

And so on. Sorry to sound cynical, but I think this is just sloppy thinking — describing the ordinary pleasures and fortunes of life as “miracles,” which invites conflating them with the supernatural miracles of the Bible. Yes, yes, I know writers wane metaphorical. But many readers take such stuff literally, as validations of their naive faith. She goes on and on.

I can still walk the flatter trails of our mountain, where the streams have begun to fill with rainwater, though not enough to actually flow yet. The peace of nature wears down the fear and hatred that arise in me on bad days, until I remember at some point that all we can do is the next right thing. I often remind myself of something the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that helps me focus: “Don’t let them get you to hate them.” When they do, I lose me, I lose my center and my goodness, which will be needed for the hard work ahead of being older and saving democracy. There’s an incredible reflective herringbone design in the stream of rock and shadow and rock and shadow. I breathe in the cool air. My soul settles.

Nice writing, but again use of the word “miracles” erodes distinctions between what is real and what is imaginary. (The TV news media routinely uses the word “miracle” to describe heart-warming, unlikely events, like two long-lost sisters encountering each other in an airport. And of course you only hear about the stories they happen to have video of.) It’s like the people who use some abstruse argument to “prove” the existence of God — say, the fine tuning argument — and immediately conflate this with the 10 Commandments, Jesus, and the validity of intercessory prayer.


OnlySky, Adam Lee, 19 Jan 2024: Libertarians in the desert—an update

The desert town of Rio Verde Foothills ought to be a lesson in what happens when you buy a home in places without the resources needed for human life. But some people are doing their utmost not to learn that lesson.

As a quick refresher, Rio Verde Foothills was a libertarian’s dream: an unincorporated community in the rural fringes of Maricopa County, Arizona, northeast of Phoenix. To those who bought homes there, it was a desert paradise, with peace and quiet, gorgeous scenery, predictable weather, and best of all, very little government.

I note this not for the specific case, but because libertarianism has always struck me as an unrealistic fantasy, one in which (among other things) there is no government to regulate business, but also no government to build the interstate highway system, or even the public streets in your town, let alone run NASA. Granted I haven’t read any defenses libertarianism. Its *social* stances — leave the government out of people’s private lives — is perfectly acceptable to me. But not to the far right, who wants to regulate “morality” even while they want to eliminate government regulations.

I believe David Brin has pointed out that there has never been, anywhere, a successful libertarian nation, or state, or town.


From the fringe:

And from the party of limited government and freedom:


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