The political campaign, years long, delivered a result that not even O’Henry, master of surprise endings, could have crafted.
One has several options available at times such as these, and all have their merits. One could retreat; chuck the computer and Ipad into the pond, enjoy the garden, take up needlepoint. One might opt to add a three martini dinner to the three martini lunch, hoping a six martini day might dull the anxiety. Some will march and protest.
What is really happening? Figuring that out, if that is even possible, requires thinking. Also reading thoughtful writers–not multi-volume tomes, necessarily, but something more that a 140 character peep.
It is the case for me that writing helps me think. Remember those torture-mongers who stood in front of the classroom masquerading as teachers, inflicting exquisite agony by assigning paper after paper to write? Perhaps they were onto something.
So Halfpond on the Highway will be shelved; we are launching a new blog. The new material will attempt to take a bit of a deeper dive; less wistfulness and sentimentality. A new look, too.
Some of the early articles in the queue:
Christians for Trump: Why and How?
Did Misogyny Sink Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Aspiration (Spoiler: Yes!)
Only Prudes Object to Crassness and Vulgarity? Let’s Ask Miss Manners
Mother Oh Mother! Must We Say Goodbye? Ouch!
If the only reader of the new posts is me, that will be okay. In that event, we will just call it a journal without appropriate boundaries. But dialogue would make this whole enterprise so much more enriching. If you give the piece a read, please comment. Thoughts. Voices. Points of view. Want and need them all.
The launch is in the works. Goal: go live by December 1.
A super person passed under a super moon.
Thanks for all you gave us. Friday nights will never be the same, but your spirit of good cheer will be with us always.
Four years ago, we went out on a limb and shared our bold election result predictions for the 2012 race. Who remembers Herman Cain’s 999 Plan? Or Sandra Fluke and Rush? It seemed so awful at the time. Little did we know.
Consider this. Mitt Romney was maligned for earning $26 million and paying a mere 13.9% in federal income taxes. There are no words.
Last year, we correctly called six out of eight swing states. (I think I just heard Nate Silver breathe a sigh of relief.) Anyway, lets crawl out on that limb again, just for kicks.
Virginia: Hillary and native son Tim Caine
North Carolina: Maybe the Cheeto, but hoping for Hillary
Iowa: Probably the Cheeto
Florida: Hillary (Gracias!)
New Hampshire: Hillary by a nose
As you can see, HalfPond is feeling bullish for the D’s. Gotta go make dinner, set up all our TV’s and old laptops for tomorrow, and hit the hay early. Don’t forget to set your alarm for 1:00 AM, and check in to see how those crusty old residents of Dixville Notch, NH voted!
About 800 years ago, I took a philosophy class from a monk named Brother Vitus. He was pretty old, and pretty round, and he would stand in front of the class with his habit all dustied-up with chalk. In every class, he drew the same diagram on the board: a profile of a face on the left, a two foot arrow pointing from the face to an apple drawn on the right.
Then, he would start to teach us how we know, or, to put a finer point on it, what it means to know.
Brother Vitus might say something like this:
For every question is a question about being, which we always already know, yet must always further inquire about, without ever being able to grasp it in fully comprehensive knowledge. (Emerich Coreth)
I would hear this:
Για κάθε ερώτηση είναι μια ερώτηση για την ύπαρξη, που…
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I am giving up beer for Lent. This may not be especially burdensome, since I haven’t had a beer since. . .last July? Still. As a precaution, I decided to empty the fridge of all the bottles, especially those that might be hiding behind the mayonnaise jar. This will preclude you-know-who (the little guy in the red pajamas) from trying to lead me into temptation every time I open the fridge door.
As I cleared out the bottles, I couldn’t help but notice that no matter which way the bottle tipped, the beer inside was parallel to the horizon. Please don’t start with me. I know we all learned about this physical phenomenon in First grade. But this set me to thinking about the way everything seems, naturally, to even out, or balance.
We all understand reciprocity. Out to dinner: you pay this time. Next time’s on me. If you take me to Le Bernardin in Manhattan, and I reciprocate by treating you at Appleby’s, we both know things just don’t smell right. Reciprocity is hardly something we need to be taught. Our sense of balance is so natural, it is very much like liquid seeking the horizon line.
So, back to Lent and beer. For those of you not in the know, Lent is a 40 day season that some Christians observe, which echoes Jesus’ experience of wandering in the wilderness and fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Lent is a time for observant Christians to engage in some form of self denial (thus, the “giving up. . . ” tradition) and to do penance for the times we have fallen short of the ideal (to put it mildly). And, to spend some time reflecting on our failings and vowing to do better next time (“always, we begin again” as John McQuiston has said.)
It is easy to scoff at such gestures, but I am a big fan of reconciliation rituals. And so are you, even if you are a hardened heathen. Reconciliation rituals are not confined to the sphere of religion. Say someone chooses to make a punching bag of another. We agree that throwing the offender in the clink for a couple of months makes sense. Why? Because he owes a “debt to society”. That he cools his heels in the hoosegow for a few weeks does nothing to heal the broken nose of his victim. But that’s not the point. The point is without extracting some price from the offender, things would remain out of balance.
Sometimes I noodle about how–or if–one who comes completely off the rails is able to get back on track. Many, if not most, bad acts are not easily unwound. One can scarcely undo a betrayal, for instance. So what is one to do with this burden? A ritual of reconciliation that triggers thoughtful reflection can hardly be valueless.
Here’s my plan. Over the next 40 days, when I open the fridge and reach for a beer, discovering none and then remembering, “rats! Lent.”, I am hopeful that I will be reminded, at least for an instant, of my foibles and failings. And I will remember that I deserve to close the fridge door and remain thirsty for awhile. Will this small penance unwind my offenses? Who knows? But maybe being reminded, however briefly, that though I have failed occasionally in the past, perhaps I might do better going forward will be a useful exercise. My hope is that I come out the other end of the season feeling unburdened and fresh as a daisy. And like water seeking the horizon, in balance.
Tonight, however, I shall make a hot fudge sundae and wash it down with a pale ale. Happy Fat Tuesday!
Honorary days are reserved for the extraordinary among us. Martin Luther King: civil rights martyr. George Washington: father of our country. Abraham Lincoln: slain emancipator. St. Patrick: patron Saint of Ireland who among other miracles rid the island nation of all snakes (would that I could summon him to my own garden.)
Who else? That furry, peace loving, grass eating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil. He popped out of his hibernation nest Saturday, and, according to legend, since he did not see his shadow, we are in for an early spring.
This tradition is among the more curious compulsions in which we humans indulge. Let’s be honest with ourselves. “Shadow” is probably a bit of a conceptual stretch for a ground hog. So, we conclude for Phil that he did or did not see his shadow based on the weather. Sunny: sees shadow; get out your long johns, ‘cuz winter’s not over. Overcast: quick! Grab your seed catalogs. Is it overstating the obvious to suggest that we don’t need a ground hog in order to determine whether February 2nd is a sunny day? So what’s really up with the whole thing?
Predictive rituals are a fairly common human phenomenon. We apparently find ambiguity to be anxiety inducing. We want to know.
But what is, perhaps, most interesting about our predictive rituals is that they suggest that we believe that there is a map already drawn and that someone out there is at the wheel. We do not believe that Punxsutawney Phil causes an extension to winter when he spies his shadow. He simply reveals to us what is already in the plan.
It is a comforting thought to imagine that there is a cosmic road map all drawn up and that Phil is one example of primitive GPS. It is frightening to imagine that we are spinning down life’s highway on the road to nowhere in particular.
But however much we want to believe that our route is defined, we know things are not quite so linear. The thought should not trigger despair. Since there are a lot of routes to choose from, and the destination is not preordained, then one cannot really get lost. And that, too, is a comforting thought.
So, I am off to read up on how St. Patrick finagled that snake thing. As Phil pointed out, spring’s coming the garden will need planting soon.