"Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked."--Niccolo Machiavelli
This headline does not reflect the contents of this article. Therefore, it is meaningless. And I sincerely hope there are no new numbers as I have always had problems with the ones we already have...
"Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!"--Leonardo da Vinci
I have gratuitously included an unrelated photo. It is not attributed to anyone and it is not accompanied by an explanation.
"Most critical writing is drivel and half of it is dishonest. It is a short cut to oblivion, anyway. Thinking in terms of ideas destroys the power to think in terms of emotions and sensations."--Raymond Chandler
Cherry picking of data means we look for particular data and statistics that help to illustrate our point of view. It can also mean we present data in a certain way which is more favorable to creating the impression we want. Note also that this comment does not relate directly to the quote by Chandler.
"One picture is worth 1,000 denials."--Ronald Reagan
Sometimes I like to include images without attributing them to their source. I did not create this graphic, but I'm not going to tell you who did or what it means. By the way, did you happen to check to see of Ronald Reagan actually said this? If he did, what was the context? Did you know that there are 70 people in the U.S. named Ronald Reagan. (I got this 'fact' from this website: http://howmanyofme.com/search/) By the way, I don't know if this number is accurate or where they get their information, but I was intrigued to learn that there may or may not be 297 people named Cheryl Hicks in the U.S.)
If governments did not mislead their citizens so often, there would be less need for secrecy, and if leaders knew they could not rely on keeping the public in the dark about what they are doing, they would have a powerful incentive to behave better."--Peter Singer
No explanation needed, but you might want to find out who Peter Singer is. Warning: You may find yourself going down a rabbit hole as you try to wrap your head around the concept of applied ethics.
If you bothered to read this far, you deserve a good laugh!
"My mother-in-law had a pain beneath her left breast. Turned out to be a trick knee."--Phyllis Diller
"People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die."--Plato
I was watching the news this morning (first error of the day) and noticed a reporter giving an account of what is currently happening, or not happening, on the streets of New York. Of course, the reporter was standing on the sidewalk. And she had an entire crew, or maybe I am wrong, maybe it was just a camera operator, with her. Is it truly essential that every reporter who speaks a story be located where the story is occurring? For example, over the years, we have put lots of lives in danger in order to place journalists in danger zones such as wars, major crimes, and natural disasters. I do understand that journalists must sometimes travel to the area of conflict in order to get the facts. But is it really necessary, in this age of tremendous electronic ability, to stand these folks up in front of a live scene to get our attention?
And it is so difficult to get the facts! I actually have a degree in journalism, and fondly recall the days when news stories were differentiated from editorials and features. I recall when the news was approached via the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) with the most important W being the basis for the lead, or main idea, of the article. Sadly, I see very little journalism these days--just a lot of partisan infotainment.
I also recall the concept of sources, whether that was a person or a piece of research that could be quoted directly or have their words summarized with integrity. Not so much these days.
"'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'"--Lewis Carroll
And please don't even get me started on what this lack of attention to detail and truth has done to our educational system... As a teacher of twenty plus years, I always thought it was most important to teach my students not WHAT to think, but HOW to think. Unfortunately that process is a little more difficult to evaluate.
The results are fairly predictable. A generation later it has become almost impossible to find a reliable article about any topic. For example, if you look for information on a nutritional diet, you will find lots of articles. On close inspection you will soon, I hope, realize that they are written by people who may or may not have any knowledge on the subject. They include information that may or may not have been tested. They were written merely to fill a quota or a demand for a certain amount of words. This is not a victimless crime.
"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."--Dalai Lama
Think about it. Please.
"There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths."--Bertrand Russell
"Good intentions are not enough. They've never put an onion in the soup yet."--Sonya Levien
I am usually quite content to be isolated with my own thoughts. Wallace Stevens says, "How full of trifles everything is! It is only one’s thoughts that fill a room with something more than furniture." In the same way I like to move the furniture around, I like to juggle ideas to gain a new perspective.
Today I was thinking about how societal shifts have changed the things we value. There are a lot of jokes online about using toilet paper as a form of currency. This is not the first time that something unexpected has become quite valuable. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay for their rent with onions and even give them as gifts.
And there is an old tale of a shipwrecked man who washed up on a beach covered with diamonds, which are worthless in that country. All he has with him is a bag of onions, which are highly unknown, and therefore highly valuable there. He is rewarded for the onions with a shipload of diamonds. When his brothers go back there with garlic, hoping for more diamonds, they are rewarded with the most valuable thing in the country, a bag of onions!
I am constantly delighted by the way everything in the universe seems to be connected, so I was not really surprised when I happened upon a blog titled, "The Universe As An Onion," which discusses the symbolism of this edible bulb. The blog author notices that when one cuts an onion from top to bottom, the center is similar in appearance to that of an eye. She also mentions the practice of placing onions over the eye sockets of the deceased so they could see into the next world. This seems somehow ironic when one considers the eye irritation that can occur when cutting up onions. I also read that the smell of onion is the most effective thing for relieving stinging eyes irritated by tear gas!
These onion thoughts may seem silly. But one never knows where one's mind will go once it begins a journey. Paul Cezanne said, "If isolation tempers the strong, it is the stumbling block of the uncertain." I am a little more certain at the end of this blog than I was at the beginning. That boost of certainty probably won't last long though. That is why I try to work on my blog a little each day. It is a way to pick myself up and dust myself off. I find that the ups and downs are less extreme if I keep moving. And if that doesn't help, I consider the following words of advice:
In these tumultuous times it is not unusual for us to experience rapidly changing emotions. Kurt Vonnegut says, "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."
I will close today with this cartoon from Nathan Pyle:
"Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces."--Sigmund Freud
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who is finding it difficult to wrap my head around what we are currently going through on this planet. I admit I have a tendency to spend a lot of time in my own imagination. But I realized recently that this pandemic has both reinforced some of my natural tendencies, as well as causing me to change some of my habits. For example, I have always been prone to conservation. I try not to use more shampoo or soap or detergent than I need, even though I really enjoy a luxuriant lather. I definitely do not waste food. I eat leftovers (usually cold) with relish. But lately I find that I am more conservative with everything. I make sure to turn off lights when I am not using them. I mean, think about it. I don't know when I will next be able to go to the store to buy more bulbs or if there will be bulbs there when I do. If there are bulbs, someone has to make them and ship them. What if some vital link in that chain breaks. And isn't every link a vital one? Hasn't social distancing made each of us a vital link that must become broken in order to save the chain?
"A day may sink or save a realm."--Alfred Lord Tennyson
I will admit that social distancing is not a challenge for me. I am not a touchy feely person. Not a hugger. I spend most of my time alone or with my husband. We are both hermits. And we like it that way. With the exception of our kids and grandchildren, we prefer a solitary existence. So staying home has not impacted our lives greatly. Traditionally we have only bought groceries once a week. We enjoy the challenge of planning and executing and being efficient. Now we have extended that to once a month. Sure we eat some weird stuff that last week, but it is making us more creative in the kitchen. It has made us more appreciative of food in general. And we don't eat as much.
"We're in very bad trouble if we don't understand the planet we're trying to save."--Carl Sagan
I will also admit to a fascination with post apocalyptic fiction and movies. I'm not sure why. It is a sort of brain game to try to figure out ways to save the fictional world. But I never imagined that a virus would do this much harm in real life. In some ways, my imagination has failed me.
I recall when I was a very young child, having a moment of panic when I first realized that I would never know everything there is to know! I have always had the habit of asking myself when I learn something new,"What else don't I know? Where are the gaps in my knowledge?" And now I know--I have a lot of gaps. These are the kind of things I think about when I am painting. And since I have been sick for a while, I have not been painting--just spending all of my time reading and thinking. Thank goodness I am starting to return to normal and will soon be able to paint again. Too much thinking without action can be detrimental...
Until next time, stay healthy, friends.
"Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms."--Mark Twain
Cheryl Hicks is a writer and an artist. She is happiest when she can combine the two pursuits.