Beware of Republicans Bearing Gifts

images.jpgElayne Boosler once described the near-empty interior of her refrigerator noting the foods that were possibly beyond their freshness date. She asked one pointed question: How can you tell if yoghurt is spoiled?

Today I read an even more head-scratching comment: How can you tell if the Federal government is sh*t down?

In both cases, I’m stumped. But if I had to guess I would say that the yoghurt was okay but the Federal government was definitely spoiled.

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Lady Macbeth Cocks an Eyebrow

This comment by Marianne Schaefer Trench posted at The Daily Beast caught my eye and forced me to arch a curious eyebrow of my own. 🤨

The Raised Eyebrow Is the Lazy Writer’s Favorite Cliché

You rarely see a raised eyebrow in real life, but in fiction they are rising, knitting, and furrowing everywhere, or at least if you’re looking at truly crappy novels and stories.

images.jpgI have developed a severe allergy to hyperactive eyebrows in fiction. They have become writers’ go-to lazy shorthand for pretty much any emotion. In novels, eyebrows do all kinds of things. Most commonly they “rise.” Sometimes a single eyebrow rises all by itself, but often both eyebrows rise in unison. Slightly more creative writers make the eyebrows “knit” or “furrow” or “hike” or “tighten” or “pinch” or “wiggle”—or any other verb that might describe a mobile eyebrow (or two).

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Are You Informed?

images.jpgThe moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

— Hannah Arendt

Ulam Paradox

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The famous mathematician Stanislaw Ulam thought of the following paradox, which is now known as the Ulam Paradox: When President Richard Nixon was appointed to office, on the first day he met his cabinet he said to them: ‘None of you are yes-men, are you?’ And they all said, ‘NO!’

— Raymond Smullyan, A Mixed Bag, 2016

[Reblogged from The Futility Closet]