Earth Day 2009: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

Leaf One

Con games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else.

Like the movie teen backing through a darkened doorway in the serial killer’s lair, we focus intently on one thing while something more important takes place just outside the sphere of our focus.

I’ll give you a real-life example that has bugged me for a long time.

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Head to Head

I’m caught up in a back-and-forth argument with a guy online. He maintains that all news media are in the business of entertainment, and that there’s no difference between them. The far right, the far left, they’re the same. Fox News equals CNN equals MSNBC equals Jon Stewart, yada-yada-yada.

This was my final shot at explaining how wrong I think that view is:

Shane: The news media are entertainers, yes. I’m glad you see that. I worked in the news media for a number of years, and yeah, news pieces are put together as “stories.” Each item is framed in a narrative the viewer will find interesting and digestible. This is known — from the first days a budding journalist is  learning to write news, you’re taught to do this. And yes, sometimes the story can overpower the facts.

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Letter Home to Texas on the Eve of Seccession


Hope things are going well for you all down there.

I’m self-employed just now, and struggling with it. I think things are about to turn around, but argh, I’m in a bind right at the moment. It’s not the economy so much as a few of my own bad choices, but the economy is definitely playing into it.

Other than having no money, life’s going good. It’s spring here. The place I live, I wake up most mornings to the sounds of wild turkeys in the yard. So far this spring we’ve had whitetail deer, raccoons,four kinds of squirrels (gray, red, chipmunks and flying squirrels), blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches and crows (plus a lot of other birds passing through) as daily visitors. Some nights we see red foxes, and there have even been a few coyotes strolling through in the moonlight.

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Triple-Filtered Crazy

[ Another long one. Sorry. ]

Sanity has a horizon.

Meaning: Everything you and I do seems sensible to us. Everything other people do seems sensible to them. But not everything you and I do seems sensible to others, and not everything others do seems sensible to you and I.

Everything you and I do seems sensible, of course, because it’s US, and we’re caught up in the subjective immediacy of our lives. We’re inside our own horizon, and everything inside it with us is visible, understandable and comfortable. We naturally find it hard to think of ourselves as wrong or villainous or insane. Everything we do, however weird it might seem to others, seems sane and reasonable to us. Even if we don’t know the reasons, we’re prone to automatically assume SOMEONE knows, and those reasons must be good ones.

On the other hand, other people, out past our own personal horizons of sanity, often do things that seem crazy.

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