Around the Digital Campfire

The internet and social media have provided platforms where “everybody’s unintelligent ideas are flying in circles like mosquitoes around the digital campfire,” he wrote. “So now, in the world of online commenting, it’s all stupidity, all the time.”

– John DeSanto, 65, of Warwick, N.Y.

I prefer to keep my unintelligent ideas right here around my own campfire where others can choose to come read them.

[via The New York Times: How to Log Off of Facebook Forever, With All Its Perks and Pitfalls]

A Short Course in Stoicism

The stoic says the universe
Is leagued to try the sage’s virtue.
If evil smites you, look for worse,
And if it hurts you, let it hurt you.

Let Nature, with its crowd of woes,
In vain endeavor to defeat us;
Impassive, let us bear its blows
Like Seneca and Epictetus.

I met a stoic in a bar
Who argued much for resignation.
He pushed the stoic faith so far
That he proposed a demonstration.

I’m tough,” he said, “and I defy
Fate’s angry effort to provoke me.
I’ll take a breath, and any guy
Can hit me. Step right up and poke me!”

But no one present wanted much
A demonstration so heroic.
Fell circumstance refused to clutch.
I never saw a madder stoic.

— Morris Bishop, The New Yorker

Trump as Nero


It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of “betrayal.” This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think.

Winter is a time of regeneration

Winter, for me, is a period of reflection and regeneration, of withdrawal, reminiscent of a time when humans were forced to be more malleable and responsive to the seasons. Each year, I long to see the landscape around my home in Germany transformed by the cold: frost-limned trees, crisp air, and snow shrouding everything, muffling every sound, as if covering over the acoustic evidence of humanity.