FLIRTING WITH DISASTER
I’m out of safe Washington waters and swimming near the edge in Idaho, Coeur d’Alene, and I don’t feel safe. Rightly or wrongly, I sense I’m in the sort of place where gays get tied to fences and beaten to death, where blacks are dragged to death behind cars, where self-appointed militias plot to kill those who protect the Constitution, where schemes are hatched to bomb government buildings, where the religion of the majority is forced on the minority, and where Paul Hills shoot doctors whose practices they don’t agree with and union men are dragged from jails and lynched. Only three of these actually happened in Idaho and one was decades ago. Do you know which three it is?
Idaho, land of Reverend Butler, skinheads and a strong religeo/conservative business movement which owns the state and the worker. History suggests, these are the kinds of places where, if the Churchly were given free reign in a Constitutionless time, Inquisitions would be formed up and anyone who didn’t toe the Church line would be pressed under stones or imprisoned. Free speech would be silenced unless it met certain Churchly codes.
Now, of course, many of my fears are groundless—yet (these things have been done by the religious right in other places)—and my fear has got me by the balls, and I’m reading Synaptic Self which discusses all these fear reactions I suffer with and which should allay my fears, but I’m a liberal in a strange Idaho landscape, and I am faced with black and white thinkers, and the fact is pretty well proven that black and white thinkers are rigid and authoritarian types, Taliban types, who are quite able to blow up or murder those with whom they don’t agree. And this is the town whose news rag has censored my input in the form of letters to the editor. They won’t even accept them.
BETTER THINK TWICE
Saw an intriguing license plate holder today:
“World’s Greatest Husband!” across the top
and beneath, “Just Ask My Wife.”
The first thing I’d be asking that woman is how many times she’s been married so that she can make those kinds of comparisons.
WE’RE TALKING OBSERVED CHEMICAL PHENOMENA, HERE, NOT GUESS WORK
“As long as the degree of emotional arousal is moderate during memory formation, memory is strengthened. But if arousal is strong, especially if it is highly stressful, memory is often impaired.... stress impairs explicit memory by altering the functioning of the hippocampus.” p. 223.
Discussing racial biases: “Given that negative attitudes and biases have their strongest effects on behavior when they are unconscious, and thus cannot be guarded against and compensated for, should researchers inform subjects of these biases?” p.221
“Humans with orbital cortex damage become oblivious to social and emotional cues, have poor decision-making abilities, and some exhibit sociopathic behavior.” p.227
The three passages are from Synaptic Self by Joseph LeDoux, Penguin Books (2003).
Like it or not, we humans are damn near robots. That’s the next fact that those who live in fear of knowledge won‘t be able to accept about reality. They’re still fighting facts like evolution which were long ago settled by the scientists who should know and who can demonstrate the evidence and interpret it meaningfully.
"In some parts of the world, people still pray in the streets. In this country, they're called pedestrians." —Gloria Pitzer