Archive for May, 2010

Benign

FYI, I found out that the mass was benign.  I get to live!  Anyway, busy couple of days behind me and a busy couple ahead of me.  I’ve got to be ready to move this week.  I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.

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The Surgery

Well, I had my surgery on Tuesday and am still waiting for the results.  I’ve spent the past two days in a haze in front of the television or trying to read.  On Tuesday I watched the entire first season of East Bound & Down.  The worst part is that I have this ginormous bandage that covers the entire left side of my chest, looks ridiculous (so much so that I don’t like going out in public) and the thing really restricts movement.  Bathing and shaving were hell.  But today I am back and alert, in spite of the bandage still clinging to my body.

The prep-nurses laughed when they saw my tattoo and thought it was a temporary thing I had got for the surgery.  They were also playing black gospel in the background and one guy was wearing a Pittsburg Stealers handkerchief on his head.  All of this was very distressing.  The last thing I remember was explaining that the tattoo was permanent and that I had it before I even knew about the lump in my breast tissue and then, lights out Cole.

When I woke I was extremely happy.  I remember thinking, “oh good, it’s all over.  That was easy!”  I then attempted to talk to the nurse beside me, and I remember talking a good deal.  I’m pretty sure nothing I said made sense.  I honestly don’t even remember anything about the conversation except that I had one.  I then convinced the nurse that I was capable of walking, which I was.  Though in hindsight it was pretty stupid of them to let me walk out of there.

After the surgery, I never got to talk to my surgeon Dr. Elsaid.  He told my Mom that it was much bigger than they originally thought but that he didn’t think it was going to be cancer.  Which I thought was good news.  The final results of the tests will be in by the end of the week, I hope.

In any event tomorrow is the last day of school!  Hell yes.

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A Response To Mike

Oh mike, I assure you that my job has done little to affect my political thoughts.  The Catholics I encounter have read Ayn Rand and surprisingly claim to like her.  And I have never read The Catholic Worker.  These “anti-freedom” thoughts I’ve been having have slowly developed and finally came to a head when I decided that I am opposed to John Locke.

First, let me defend my characterization of our political parties:  The democrats encourage absolute social freedom; in this they are blatantly libertarian.  Furthermore, their quasi – socialist economic agenda comes about naturally because it is needed to support a society of atomistic individuals.  Reality would dictate that my choices in what I do or what lifestyle I choose for myself are limited.  The left, insofar as they are able, seek to extend the ability to choose to as many people as possible and ardently oppose any fixity in culture or any demands upon individuals that institutions (the church) tend to make.

For instance, a poor woman who is pregnant really ought to attempt to tie down her man, make him a breadwinner, put off future dreams and fend for the child.  The same goes for a man who gets a woman pregnant, society would naturally lead him to publicly commit himself to that woman and ensure that she and the child are given food and shelter.  If he’s ambitious he might even try to provide his child with opportunities he didn’t have.   This occurrence, though seemingly a natural development is abhorrent to the left.  They see marriage, caring for children, putting off one’s dreams for the sake of a child, or for the sake of a wife – all of these things are considered deprivations of freedom and a violation of “rights.”  I think this abhorrence is seated in our equality-fetish; because, if rich people make mistakes when they are young, the parents still have the means to provide support for the child while also retaining the freedom to seek an education, travel, go to the country club, etc.  The rich people don’t need to limit themselves in the same way as poor people and the left loathes that thought so attempt to diminish the impact of our decisions through providing financial support from an ever-increasing bureaucratic administration.

What the left fails to recognize is that you absolutely cannot make the consequences of these actions disappear.  If the child is born then someone will have to pay for it.  Even when the rich people make mistakes repercussions are felt, just not as severely.  Rich people can screw up and lose their money.  Wealth in America is extremely transient.  And that’s not because our laws make us “more equal” it’s because our rich are more idiotic and poorly educated; they are simply ambitious.  This is of course only the norm and necessarily the case for every rich person/family.

Ok, so that justification of my characterization of the left went a little long.  But now let me justify the my characterization of the Republicans.  It shouldn’t take so long because it is more obvious.  The Republican party claims to be for the free-market and for traditional morality.  But they would scoff if a community were to condemn a certain business enterprise because they believed it had adverse affects on society.  The Republican Party can talk all they want about traditional marriage, opposing abortion and… oh wait, those are the only aspect of morality they really talk about. You write, “The American right believes the state should dictate values and morals to citizens and trample as many rights as necessary to maintain order.”  Really, because I have seen no tangible results of their moralizing, at the national level.  The Republicans claim to oppose debauchery but can’t lift a finger against industries that profit from selling immorality.  We allow them to exalt the most debauched lifestyles but claim to stand for virtue.  The popular Right is either delusional or evil.

Ok, I think I’m done defending my characterizations of America’s left and right.  I would also like to defend myself against slander!  First I’m accused of offering feudalism as the answer to our problems, then I’m accused of only offering a critique of capitalism but no solution.  Well, that’s just inconsistent.  In any event, I don’t feel like I’m arguing for feudalism.  If we must have a representation of what I find preferable I would offer up The Republic of Geneva under the auspices of and in the years following John Calvin, before it turned into the socialist shit-hole we see today.  There industry was encouraged, yet immoral industry was forbidden.  The church and the civil magistrate were separate, yet the church was a unified whole in the community, teaching one morality, one doctrine and constantly seeking to inculcate virtue in the citizens.  Physical and financial punishments came from the magistrate, while corrective measures of the church took the form of social punishment.  (The church has to have a strong influence in the community for its authority to have effect, while also retaining separation from the civil magistrate.  Without significant influence, the private moral virtues could only be enforced by the sword, which is never preferable, or reasonable.)  Out of Geneva came the protestant work ethic, and the protestant reformation.  But of course, Geneva is only offered to counter the claim that I offer nothing tangible.  We need not adopt every practice and every dictum laid down by those venerable rulers of Geneva.

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Broken Soul

Today I told a Hannah that her soul had something wrong with it.  During French class I put on Palestrina to listen to while they worked on their study guides and she complained.  I explained that the music was naturally pleasing to any ear.  The counterpoint provided strong and comforting resolutions that would naturally please the ear of any listener.  She replied, “I really just want to turn that off.”  I laughed and told her she could leave the room but only after explaining that if this music wasn’t at least pleasant than she had allowed other forms of low music to harden her soul, making her incapable of experiencing beautiful music befitting a moderate soul but only chaotic music befitting the degenerate soul.

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Against The Libertarian

Neither of our political parties is capable of remedying our ills because their separate ideologies are in reality the same.  Both the left and the right embrace the conception of the individual liberated from the relational demands placed upon him by the community.  We find this libertarian conception of man pervasive among enlightenment-age philosophers, most notably John Locke.  For Locke the only cause for man’s participation in society is self-interest, which is only abridged by contracts.  To many ears, this terminology will not sound so offensive.  But what happens when this vocabulary of contracts is applied to relationships? To friendships and marriages, even?  Nothing can be expected of citizens with the exception that they not bother other citizens.  Communities and their governing bodies rule in a merely negative manner, that of arbitrating disputes.  The local authorities find themselves keeping people apart rather than encouraging them to come together.

While Locke outwardly argued for a “limited” government, his philosophy necessarily creates an authoritarian state.  As communities, families and every social bond deteriorates the governing apparatus must grow in order to compensate for the naturally increasing number of disputes that arise between those now disparate individuals and communities.  What’s more, as the social webs that had previously supported hard-pressed people deteriorate, the government must evolve into the welfare state. This growth allows it to support the massive amount of economically impoverished citizens who hitherto found financial and social relief from neighbors, friends, families and churches.

The libertarian philosophy destroys these fixed institutions and social relations and brings about what it seemingly hates the most, the authoritarian state.  We are experiencing this process first hand.  And while Tea Party activists and Republicans may shout and rage against the growing welfare state they have not been capable of rolling it back one inch.  All the political enthusiasm in the world cannot fix this trend; only probity and a new emerging political will may stand.  A will that must focus on the reestablishment of community through honestly evaluating what makes communities cohesive, productive and and free from the abusive reach of a distant federal government.

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Fair-Weather friends.

Michael and Andrew are hilarious.  One thing I’ve noticed is that when they don’t share the teacher’s ire the guiltless party exalts in the others failure.  For instance, in Algebra this morning Andrew got it bad.  I made him come to the board to do a problem because he was being a little punk, and I know he hates going to the board.  Once at the board he couldn’t get anything right, and everyone made sure to let him know.  Finally, when he started screwing up even simple things like multiplying fractions I just told him to sit down.  Sure to form he pouted for the rest of class and was visibly ticked.  But instead of joining his rebellion Michael was eager to answer every question and tackle every problem.  It’s like Andrews failure made Mike smarter.  As Andrew’s level of participation dropped Mike saw an opening to crown himself king for the day and increased his own participation; surprisingly his comments kept hitting the mark.

With every question Mike got correct Andrew’s rebellion grew a little more.  By the time I assigned practice problems Andrew couldn’t even deign to begin them, though Mike attacked them with a fervor I rarely see from him in math class.

This is a particularly strange phenomenon because these two are such close friends.

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Surgery

I haven’t told many people because I don’t think it will be anything to worry about.  But I know that people I did tell wished I had told them sooner and wanted to know when I was going under; a date I didn’t have at the time.

So, fyi, I am officially having surgery on the 25th.  I know, you might’ve thought, “Cole, you’ve had a pretty shitty year.  I doubt it could get any worse.”  But you would only be partially correct because, along with the world, my body now seeks to betray me.

Today was fun though.  We took the kids golfing.  Well, Tom took them golfing.  I sat in the golf club-house and read a book.

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