HOISTED ON A WHAT? Marilyn Armstrong

Last night I said to Garry “Aha! He is hoisted upon his own petard!” And Nat Helms wrote a piece about Trump hoisted on his own petard. But really, how many of us have the slightest idea what a petard is or was? I didn’t know until … (gasp) … I looked it up.


“What,” I asked Garry, “Is a petard?”

“I have no idea,” said my husband. This is when I realized I’ve been using this expression my whole life and didn’t know what it meant. Petard sounds French, but what is it? I grabbed my laptop and typed  “hoist on his … ” into Google. Before I got to petard … up it came. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

petards

Voila! Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is the rest of the story.

petard was a bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. Castles. Walled cities. That sort of thing. The word was originally (duh) French and dates to the sixteenth century.

Typically, a petard was metal (bronze or iron), shaped like a cone or box. Filled with two or three kilos (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder and using a slow match for a fuse, the petard was a primitive, powerful and unstable explosive device.

After being filled with gunpowder, it would be attached to a wooden base and fastened to a wall, on or under a gate. The fuse was lit. If all went as planned, the explosion would blow a hole big enough to let assault troops through.

Thus the phrase “hoist on his/her own petard” came to mean “harmed by one’s own plan to harm someone else.” It suggests you could be lifted — hoisted — by your own bomb.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS – Marilyn Armstrong

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

We spend too much time trying to figure out what life means and too little time doing stuff we enjoy. I suppose it’s normal to wonder if the reason you are sick, broke, or miserable is the result of something you did or failed to do. Normal, but a waste of time and energy because I’m going to explain everything and you’ll never have to wonder again.

Meaning of life

Learning to accept the total randomness of stuff that happens is difficult. We want it to make sense. We want orderliness. We want the mess we call life to mean something important.

I’ve put a good bit of thought into why my life keeps falling apart. I know I’m not perfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s pretty small potatoes in the scheme of things. It’s hard for me to believe, even in my darkest hours that I’m so wicked The Big Guy has in for me.

One day, I had an epiphany. I saw The Truth.

I considered founding a church to spread my word. A church with no faith in anything. No deity to get pissed off if you disobey some arbitrary rule. Contributions would be welcome since we all need to pay the rent.

This would suit our modern lifestyle, don’t you think?

Faith is opinion in fancy clothing.

You can believe what you want, but you can’t know the answers. You take the exact same leap of faith believing in God or declaring yourself an atheist. Both positions require you to accept as absolute a thing for which you have no proof and for which you will never have proof.

Thus if believing in a loving God makes you feel good, believe it. It could be true. If it turns out you’re right, you’ll have backed a winner.

If believing there is no God, and science is the only path and is therefore antithetical to God and Truth (a position with which I completely disagree), go with that. Regardless, you are making a faith-based choice. There’s no proof God exists or doesn’t exist. Take your best guess. I hope it works out.

As for me, I don’t know. Really. I don’t.

 I know nothing. Neither do you.

Accepting you know nothing is a big step, so take a deep breath. Your next challenge will be figuring out how you can cash in on this new knowledge. What’s the point unless you can awe people with your brilliance — and make a few bucks?

It’s all in the wording.

You need the right lingo to dazzle your audience. Big words (4 or more syllables) used in the right context can showcase your education and intelligence. People will make little cooing sounds to show their admiration.

meaning-of-life3

Big words enhance your likelihood of getting a management position. You can write important books. Have a blog like me and I know you want to be just like me. Big words can take you far if you’re skilled at deploying them.

Note: Make sure you know how to pronounce these words. Mispronouncing big words can cause unexpected laughter. That’s not good unless you want to be a stand-up comedienne.

Phenomenology

Ah. phenomenology. When I was studying religion in college, phenomenology was a way to prove the existence of God. Phenomenologically speaking, all human experience is proof of God. You can use the same reasoning to prove there is no God.

Phenomenology can help you prove all things are one thing, all things are God. You are God. I am God. I am a warm cup of tea and you are a daffodil. If this doesn’t clarify it for you, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers further elucidation:

Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.

In other words, you can use any and all human experience, yours and anyone else’s to prove whatever you want. Phenomenology is fundamental to all belief systems: religion, politics, and Fox News. Lots of people believe in religion, politics and Fox News, so maybe they will believe in you too.

Fount of Wisdom

You can now explain anything. Everything. You can prove things based on something a couple of friends said years ago while under the influence of powerful hallucinogenic drugs. Although others may fault your logic, in the world of academics, everyone disbelieves everyone else unless they are citing them as a source, so you might as well stick your oar in the water.

meanin-of-life-snoopy

There are people who will attack you using faith. Faith is based on itself which makes it hard to dispute. The only person who is ever convinced by faith is the he/she who holds it. Nor does it really matter how many other people believe or disbelieve it.

Having more believers or followers doesn’t transform faith into fact.

If it did, we could achieve some really nifty things. Like, say we all believe in magic and therefore, it exists.

Cool.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES, WE COULD RIDE TOGETHER – Marilyn Armstrong

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb

I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more. Gentle, well-schooled mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.

96-Sunrise-Rockport-NK-1
Rockport Harbor at dawn

72-Percheron-Horses_06

 

STONES AND GLASS HOUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #16


PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
SHOULD NOT THROW STONES.


For years, Garry had a thing about westerns. “Why,” he asked, “Do they always break the windows? Don’t they realize how expensive reglazing is? Can’t they just open the window?”

A friend from Texas felt it was the drama of the breaking glass. “Shattering glass gets the audience’s attention,” he said. It certainly always got mine.

I have never lived in a glass-house, but I have lived in houses that contained a lot of glass. I admit I was very careful about throwing things — and not just rocks. Pottery, books, old dysfunctional cell phones, blocks, tools — anything hard was a no-no. Especially when it came to really BIG windows, you can easily spend a month’s salary getting someone out to your place just to give an estimate much less repair the damage!

So should I ever be unlucky enough to live in a glass house — which I would rather not do since it would require I always be dressed and make would make showering treacherous, I would definitely hold back on any casual stone-throwing. Unless I was making a movie. Then I’d fling stones to my heart content.

Because we want the viewers to feel more involved!

A WORD MEANS JUST WHAT I CHOOSE IT TO MEAN by HUMPTY DUMPTY

Photo: Wikipedia

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute, Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

‘Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

Today, Humpty Dumpty is ruling the world.


From “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

HAMLET’S TRAGEDY – Marilyn Armstrong

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Shakespeare
Act 1, Scene 3

LORD POLONIUS:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!


I’ve been thinking about the difference between borrowing, grants-in-aid, and theft. Which brought the quote from Hamlet to mind. I felt a clarification was necessary because a lot of people don’t recognize that “borrowing” is different than getting a gift or grant, or for that matter, theft. Sometimes the line is narrow, but it is there. Let’s see if I can illuminate the differences.

  1. To borrow something implies you intend to return the item, or, in the case of money, to return an equivalent amount of money preferably during the lifetime of you and whoever lent it to you.
  2. If you ask to borrow money (or some other item) but do not intend to return it? That is not borrowing.

(a) If the lender believes you will return it but you know you won’t and probably never had any intention of returning it, you’re a thief.
(b) If the lender is Mom or Dad and everyone knows you won’t return it, it’s a family dance performed to save the feelings of all the parties. It preserves the borrower’s pride and makes the old folks feel less foolish.

On the whole, most of us know that money and other items “lent” to a child or relative is probably a “grant-in-aid.” We call it a loan so everyone gets to keep his or her dignity. It’s a gift, not borrowing.

72-Sunrise-March-12_12

Then there are the true leeches. Not only are they thieves, but they are righteous thieves who believe they deserve whatever they take.

We need new words for this kind of “borrower.” These are the folks who want your stuff because, in their twisted minds, they feel they deserve it. We can afford to give it to them because whatever we have, they are sure they should have it. Therefore, it’s okay for them to take it because it really belongs to them.

Not only do these folks lack boundaries, but they have a bizarre sense of entitlement which is not the result of need or poverty. They are sure they deserve “the good stuff.” If you have it and they don’t, you have deprived them of their rights.

These are the ones who won’t work for a living because they don’t feel they should work. They aren’t responsible. Ever. No conscience, no honor, no respect for anyone else’s work. either. Not immigrants. These are usually white Americans with a really bad attitude.

Envy rules their world. They hate immigrants who they are sure are stealing their jobs (even though they wouldn’t do the hard work immigrants are willing to do) and they hate anyone who has a nicer car, bigger house, or even looks better.

If you make the error of feeling sorry for them and offer to share your life with them, they will view your generosity as a sign of weakness and take full advantage of you and yours.

I love being generous and am tickled pink when I give things away and it makes someone happy, but I take exception to the inevitable ingratitude. I’ve heard this quote as having come from OscarWilde, Mark Twain, and several other people but cannot confirm its real source:


“I don’t know why he hates me so much;
I never did him a favor.”


GRATITUDE HAS A SHORT MEMORY – Marilyn Armstrong

gratitudev2

Throughout my life, since I was old enough to be responsible for my own actions, I have given when I could to people who needed it. I have received — if not in kind, certainly when in real need. Always the gifts came from others, but almost never from the people to whom I had given.

Karma apparently doesn’t work like that.

I assume this is not talking about holding a door or helping someone put groceries in their trunk or letting someone in a hurry go ahead of you on the cashier’s line.

I don’t consider that kind of civility anything but common courtesy which everyone should extend to everyone else without regard for payback or even thanks. I couldn’t remember 99% of them. They are to me — and I assume to most people — almost knee-jerk reactions to moving through life. Being polite is programmed into our social DNA. Or should be. I call them “good manners.”

I’ve loaned money to people who were desperate, bought things I absolutely didn’t need because someone wouldn’t take a gift, but if I bought something, she’d take the money. I’ve let friends and almost-friends live with me when they had nowhere to go, sometimes for years at a time.

And I have been taken in when I had nowhere to go. I’ve fed the hungry and been fed when I was hungry. I’ve delivered groceries to people in need, given clothing, computers, musical instruments, books, bags, furniture,, and the occasional automobile because I had more than I needed and they didn’t have any.

Was it done in secret? No. I usually respond to needs spontaneously when someone makes it known. I hear they need a coat, would love to own that book, need a car. Don’t know how they’re going to feed the family this week. I give what I have to fill a need.

Does it make the gift less worthy? I don’t think so. Do I require a lifetime of gratitude in exchange? You’re kidding, right?

It reminds me of the story told about William Randolph Hearst, who remarked upon seeing an old adversary on the street, “I don’t know why he hates me, I never did him a favor.” And there are many similar quotes.

“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.” — Baltasar Gracian.

“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” — Edward Gibbon

Dr. Malherbe of Natal University said to Field Marshal Smuts as he left a political meeting, “Why were those two hecklers at the back so bitterly hostile?”

Smuts replied, “I understand the feelings of one of them very well indeed. He and I were brought up together in the same small town in the Western Cape. I got him his first appointment—and his second. In fact, he owes all his worldly success to me. But I don’t know why the other was so hostile. I never did him a favor in my life.”

“You did him a favor. He’ll never forgive you for that.” — The Boxer 1997

If you do a good deed, do not expect it to come back to you as gratitude or in kind. Such expectations will doom you to disappointment.

Acts of kindness and generosity do not make friendships. More often than not, they stir up resentment. People hate owing debts of gratitude. The most popular people are always those who don’t do anything for anybody. Those are the folks who are admired and adored, followed and emulated. Don’t ask me why. Human nature is a peculiar thing. The longer I live, the less sense it makes.

If you figure it out, be sure to let me know. It’s one of the deepest secrets of life. Very deep. Very secret.

STUPID IS THE NEW NORMAL – Marilyn Armstrong

96-OneRuleToRuleThemAll
My motto and I really should remember it more often

For the past couple of days, I’ve been dealing with the customer service for the medical plan I was trying to join. I spent — LITERALLY, NOT KIDDING — four hours on the phone yesterday until the battery on my phone died. It has never died before. Ever. In like five years. It’s not a cell phone.

They couldn’t answer a simple question, they gave me wrong answers, transferred me to the wrong departments, but to be fair, they didn’t disconnect. A miracle indeed. At the end of the conversation, I said: “SEND ME BACK TO BLUE CROSS!”

And then and there, I switched back to my previous medical provider. Because if this was before the plan had even gone into effect, it was going to be like the year I spent with Fallon when I needed to see a medical oncologist and the person on the Customer Service line told me there were doctors listed, but not their specialties.

“So how do you list them? Alphabetically?”

My doctor’s (not this doctor, the doctor before the last doctor) dimwitted secretary sent me to a cancer surgeon and when I called her back and explained that I don’t need a surgeon, I need a medical oncologist because I had cancer and what I need NOW is a checkup. I went with that company for a year and never actually got the checked.

Then came Blue Cross and life got better. This plan would have saved me around $150 a month which is a good deal of money, but I was pretty sure it would also ruin my life. I can’t do it anymore. I cannot spend the rest of my life fighting with customer service to just answer a simple question. I’m too old, too tired, too beat up.

I’ll pay the money. Just let me have people who answer the phone and know what they are talking about. Please!

And for all the comments I haven’t answered and posts I haven’t read? I swear to you I have spent about 9 hours over the past two days straightening out my medical plan — well, OUR medical plans. I’m exhausted. And I’m running out of birdseed again.

AMERICA FIRST IS RACISM FROM OUR PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

This post is primarily composed of quotes from HuffPost and other sources. “America First” has a rather long and ugly history … and it started long before Donald Trump.

If anyone thinks what Trump is doing is new, it isn’t. This is Fascism on the rise. It’s easy to suddenly discover that “free” now means “people who agree with The Leader.” We are far too close to that now. I’d hate to see what a second term would accomplish.

Democracy is a slippery slope. Ours is covered in ice.

Dr. Seuss Cartoon from 1941 on antisemitism. The old story, just updated with a red hat.

Trump Was Not First To Use The “America First” Slogan. It has a long history.

In his Inaugural Address, President Donald Trump repeated a theme from his Presidential Campaign, telling the world: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.” Many Trump critics point to the fact that this was a watchword for those who opposed U.S. intervention in WWll before the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. Actually, the phrase has a longer history.

President Woodrow Wilson, a hardened internationalist, ironically coined the term today associated with Nationalism. In 1916, Wilson was running for re-election by promising to remain neutral in WWl. His campaign slogan was: “He kept us out of War,  America First.” Once Wilson was safely re-elected, he ordered troops into what was, at the time, called “The Great War.” My mother who had the “luck” to live through both world wars always called it “The Great War.”

Once the U.S. was enveloped in the war, newspaper Publisher William Randolph Hearst, a vociferous critic of Wilson, used the slogan against the President.

Hearst was sympathetic to Germany and warned the U.S. not to aid the allies in the fight against Germany. Hearst exclaimed: “Keep every dollar and every man and every weapon and all our supplies and stores at home, for the defense of our own land, our own people, our own freedom, until that defense has been made absolutely secure. After that, we can think of other nations’ troubles. But until then, America first!”

This slogan soon became an imprimatur for non-interventionists in both major political parties. Once WWl ended, the Americans became wary of foreign intervention. Wilson failed in his efforts to garner the requisite two-thirds majority needed in the U.S. Senator to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which included allowing the U.S. to join a collective security alliance called “The League of Nations.”

Some Senators would have supported the agreement if the President agreed to certain reservations. However, the bi-partisan group that steadfastly opposed the treaty came to be known as “the irreconcilables.”

Complete post: TRUMP WAS NOT THE FIRST TO USE AMERICA FIRST” – Huffpost 

UNLESS YOU’RE A SERIAL NUMBER, CORRUPTION MATTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

The entire quote is from Paul Krugman of The New York Times:


Why corruption matters.
Hint: It’s not the money, it’s the incentives.


When money corrupts the decision-makers, the decisions they make may ultimately have nothing to do with right or wrong, the public interest or private needs — or anything but how the decision affects a business interest or pay-day.

Vermin Supreme poster

If everything is about money, the moral and ethical elements that should be part of the decision-making process vanish. When the bottom line is the only line, decisions can be made by computers. And probably will be it they aren’t already.

I DON’T KNOW WHY HE HATES ME SO MUCH. I NEVER DID HIM A FAVOR! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Grateful

I’ve heard this aphorism many times and it has always been ascribed to Oscar Wilde. But Wilde didn’t say it and in fact, no one lays claim to it.

Nonetheless, it’s true. For reasons beyond my grasp, no one seems to hate you more than the people to whom you have done favors, especially when you weren’t even asked. Gratitude seems to be the one emotion human beings can’t find in their emotional bucket.

For many people, where gratitude would be the logical response to a kindness extended for no better reason than friendship or love, the recipient, unable to respond in kind, grows bitter, angry and comes up with a thousand reasons why you really did it. You were jealous and were thus proving yourself the better person. You were backstabbing your “friend” by making them look needy (never mind that they were needy). You were making yourselves look good while making them look bad. And that’s merely the beginning.

Flocks of Goldfinch

And this is how, by being kind and supportive, you wind up with an enemy for whom you were nothing but gracious.

I’ve had it happen several times, though most of the people apologized eventually and admitted they behaved badly. I just don’t know why people act like that. It baffles me. I am, if anything, overly grateful for kindness extended and often almost shocked. It is so rare.

Gratitude is the rarest of friendly interactions, so don’t be shocked when you do your bestie a favor and you get anger and bitterness in return. It makes no sense, but it’s such a common response.

People aren’t logical or sensible.

And now, some classic quotes from Oscar Wilde. Some of these you probably already know. Others you may not know or have attributed to others.

This is the stuff of which memes on Facebook are made!