Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/2021: Bucket List Edition

bucket on head

In truth, I hate bucket lists and the whole concept behind them, which I regard as emblematic of a general misunderstanding of the nature of life. However, I must say that the experience I had last night—waking up at 4 am with my mouth full of blood—is certainly a unique and memorable experience that everyone should have. In my case, it was literally a bucket list item, because I could have used a bucket to deal with the problem.

As it turns out, the issue was neither as bad as it sounds or looked, at least according to my oral surgeon. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the last ten days (and nights) have been something of an ordeal, reaching its peak yesterday, when I only had the time and energy to put up a single post, and one about Ellen DeGeneris at that. I also could only walk Spuds briefly, I missed two client deadlines, I’m late paying my bar dues (two of them) and so many people are annoyed with me that I might as well join the Republican Party.

I also find myself getting worried, really for the first time, about health impeding my many projects and aspirations. The great pop philosopher Satchel Paige trenchantly observed, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” In my case, the answer would always be about 14, and I’m proud of it. My friends and relatives are depressing me: they are younger than me and they are retired or soon will be. They look old , and sound old. An old geezer at the dog park where Spuds romps always latches on to me like a barnacle (he’s also a Bostonian refugee), and I thought the guy was about 80. Last week I learned that he’s six years younger than me!

Like both my parents, I have always been blessed with good health and energy, but boy it’s hard to feel 14 when you get hit with a cascade of health issues like what I’ve had to deal with lately. But the obligation is to, as Winston Churchill, liked to say, “keep buggering on.”

1. Giving it away. This is the story of my life, or one of them: this week a longtime client wanted to do a video promo for a seminar I’ll be doing next month. And asked if I would write the copy, and do the video, because they “talked about it and agreed that I was better at these things than anyone on staff.” And I said yes. My wife and business partner things I’m a sap in such matters, and indeed, through the years I have given others the benefit of my time and talents without compensation to a ridiculous extent. This one of many reasons I will not be spending my golden years playing golf. It’s my fault, and only my fault. Once you get a reputation for giving your work away, people and organizations will take advantage of it.

2. Postcards from Cancel Culture Hell: Poet and writer Joseph Massey penned a exposition of his cancellation at the height of #MeToo—you know, before progressives decided that sexual harassment didn’t matter when it’s done by politicians they find useful. It’s a long essay, as is the linked essay about what he did that got him cancelled (not good), but his last section is worth remembering should the mob ever come for you. He writes,

The Roman poet Ovid, after he was exiled in 8 AD for pissing off Emperor Augustus, wrote: “they’ve stripped me of all they could take, / yet my talent remains my joy, my constant companion.” Companionship in joy that is invulnerable to any individual or mob, or worldly condition, is one sure way to save yourself from falling for the traps small minds have set before you. Set your mind on preserving the parts of you they can’t take away.

3. Let’s play “Idiot or Liar”... I have now heard Joe Biden say repeatedly that “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater.” First of all, that’s not true; second, it’s a hackneyed reference to a generally derided opinion. (Ken White, who feels the way about this quote that I do about the “77 cents of every dollar” fake state, did an epic job dismantling it here.) Joe has a law degree, and either he doesn’t understand the point of the quote from Justice Holmes, or he’s deliberately misrepresenting it. Which is it? I have absolutely no idea.

4. Which provides a neat segue into this hilarious story, from the Washington Times:

One hundred days into the Biden administration, The Washington Post is calling a lid on the presidential fact-checking database.

Glenn Kessler, editor and chief writer of the Fact Checker, tweeted late Monday that the team would continue to fact-check President Biden “rigorously” but would no longer maintain the database started under former President Trump…

The Post reported that Mr. Biden had 67 “false or misleading statements” in his first 100 days versus 511 for Mr. Trump, although the former Delaware senator makes far fewer public appearances and pronouncements than did his Republican predecessor.

Does anyone really believe the Post is doing this because, as Kessler wrote that he had “learned his lesson,” noting how many of President Trump’s statements he had to check. Of course, the lesson he learned is that the standards he applied to Trump’s “misleading statements” could never be applied to Biden. because his goal with Trump was to undermine him, and his goal with Biden is to prop him up.

Remember these?

Biden PromiseBiden tweet4

The first thing I did was to check whether those two Biden tweets made the data base, since they are. after all, outright lies. Nope!

As for the Trump list. I once set out to determine how many of the statements were lies by any valid standard. Most were not, and the study was too frustrating. I literally just picked this one at random, from Jan 20 2021: “We just got seventy five million votes. And that’s a record in the history of in the history of sitting presidents.” Kessler calls that misleading. It is true (well, Trump said 75 instead of 74. The Horror.) Here’s the Post’s critique:

Biden earned more than 81 million. That’s a margin of 4.5 percentage points. Biden’s margin in the popular vote is larger than Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004. Trump ignores the fact that more Americans voted in the 2020 election — two-thirds of the voting eligible population — than in any other in 120 years. A big reason is Trump himself. Trump was the most polarizing president in modern political history, inspiring fierce loyalty from Republicans and deep hostility from Democrats. In 2016, a lot of voters were indifferent about both Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton. After the past four years, few Americans don’t have strongly held opinions about Trump, helping power record turnout for his 2020 general-election opponent.

How does any of that make the quote “misleading or false”?

8 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/2021: Bucket List Edition

  1. I still think I’m about twenty three. I’m almost seventy. It’s fun being a commenter here. Everybody’s young and energetic. Hilarious.

  2. It was the standard joke to ask my Dear departed FIL (who left me stranded as the only Conservative in both extended families) his age the day after his B-Day (i.e. 80th): Well…I’m gonna be 81.

  3. I hope you feel better sooner than later. Your pain is still real and valid even if you deem your father or whomever else to have gone through worse in their lives (a subjective assessment ultimately) and you are allowed to feel bad about it.

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