The Reading Lottery

I hear everyone is lining up to get their Powerball tickets, especially those who don’t usually play. The Washington Post ran a story today discussing the good things that have happened to people who have taken home large lottery winnings. One man, Roy Cockrum, said exactly what needs to be said more:

The best way to help starving artists is to give them a chance to work. Culture is what enriches us all. We are all in trouble when the arts are not supported, when there is no seed of change.

I know we were all dumb for studying the humanities and now our fellow students in business and finance are quite well-off, but I do believe the market for writers (Oh. I’m sorry. I meant, content strategists), musicians, designers and other artists will continue to improve. As knowledge and creative work (aside from creative ways to make money from others’ money — we’ll leave that to our former classmates) become more important at the same time the middle-class is realizing it long ago lost that status now that white-collar work is proving quite compatible with automation, we will, hopefully, continue to find employment.

Thus, I am happy to, as I called it in my last post, outsource my design.

In the current issue of The Spectator, Matthew Parris discusses British “leaders’ suicidal urge to sex it up.” It being any foreign conflict into which they find they’ve steered the country. He, essentially, discusses what I posted here in 2003 about Bush and the Iraq War: Just be honest and I’ll at least respect you. As Parris writes:

“I want to suggest how (Prime Minister) David Cameron might have presented his case better, proofing himself against the sneers of such as I. He could just have told the truth.”

I don’t necessarily agree with the rest of his column and its ultimate conclusion that Britain should follow the U.S. in whatever foreign excursion requested.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, I was sad to read about the two Iraqi refugees who turned out to be terrorists. It immediately makes one think that the logical answer is to, well, as Ted Cruz said outright,

“There needs to be systematic and careful retroactive assessment of terrorists brought in from high-risk countries, to examine the public records, to examine all of the evidence that might indicate whether these individuals have ties to radical Islamic countries,” he said. “What communications, what statements have they made, what actions have they taken?”

Be honest: When you first heard about this story or read the headline “Two refugees from Iraq living in U.S. arrested on terrorism-related charges” (or whatever sensational breaking news alerts on cable are calling it), the first thought was, “Damn. What the hell. How incompetent are we? Should everyone be rechecked? Should we bar people for longer?

Of course, if you take only a few moments to think about it, you realize that, yes, this was one big honking screw-up. We’re lucky we caught them. But it doesn’t necessitate barring refugees or asylum-seekers. Nor does it mean our background checks aren’t up-to-snuff (even most so in the past few days). But better attention must be paid. We just don’t need Ted Cruz proposing as policy that barbaric reaction which our animal brains — flight, fight or freeze — immediately come to rely upon when confronted with enemies in their midst.

By the way, I call the Republican primary today: It’s Ted Cruz, brokered convention or no (notwithstanding Trump). 

Misty likes to say that I like showing off that I’m the smartest person in the room and blah blah blah because I’ve started taking part a little over at Genius.com. I encourage others to join or, at least, download the plug-in so you can see others’ annotations around the Web. Whether you follow my advice or not, if I do have the propensity Misty claims, Genius reminds me I’m not very intelligent.

Finally, the other day, I was writing in my journal — I have a third of a small bookshelf filled with green hardback journals — when Misty said to me, “You know, no one will ever read that when you’re dead.” I kept writing but I also stopped. That may be true. I write in my paper journals as if others will someday read them. It hurt, though, too. As if I should acknowledge the futility of it, my avocation. I won’t because I can’t, but those words still hurt. They make me question myself and the purpose of this.

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