Saturday, October 31, 2015

Perusing the Political Pumpkin Patch

The Jack-O'-Lantern is a Halloween tradition associated with the strange flickering lights over peat bogs thought to made by will-the-wisps or Jack-O'-Lanterns. To emulate this flickering light, the flesh of a pumpkin is scooped out and an image, which is usually comical or grotesque, is carved out on the gourd. 

Pumpkin carving can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century in American and the British Isles. But today, pumpkin carving is not confined to crudely hewn scary faces for Halloween. This allows folk artists with stencils to create all sorts of scary countenances and images from the political pumpkin patch. While most of these carvings depict faces, some renditions are more conceptual.

The President is often a subject for pumpkin portraits.

But a lame duck President like Barack Obama just may not be scary anymore. Or more likely, we have to live the nightmare not vex over it. 

Partisans may create Jack-O'-Lanterns to depict their favored party in a positive light.

Top contenders from the Presidential nomination often get the pumpkin carving treatment.  Former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-AR NY)  seems to be a favorite to depict for both supporters and detractors.  

Surprisingly, cursory searches could not find carvings of Hillary clad in more Halloween attire.

Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the other leading contender in the Democrat primaries, also had many depictions in pumpkins.  

It took twelve hours for that folk artist to carve the pumpkin homage to Sanders. Many progressive Jack-O'-Lanterns may also  "Feel the Bern".

There was a curious quirk among Republican pumpkin carvings.  Logic would lead one to believe that the most popular candidates would be more likely to be popular carvings.  But it there is nary a carving to be found of current frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson.  

Could this be because the Seventh Day Adventist Church frowns on Halloween for occult associations?  Not very likely.  A more reasonable explanation is that Jack-O'-Lanterns traditionally depict comical or monstrous images.  Opponents may disagree with Dr. Carson but his characteristic soft spoken and thoughtful delivery makes it difficult to demonize.

On the other hand, there were plenty of Jack-O'-Lantern depictions of  strong second place challenger for the Republican Presidential nomination--Donald Trump. 

While this rendition of "The Donald" was colorful and employed multi-media, it only merited fifth place in the Oklahoma State Fair.  It would be a huuuuuge mistake to associate "The Donald" with anything but the best.  So a more traditional pumpkin carving is in order.

Although I suspect that stencils may be out there, it was hard to find carvings for Gov, Jeb! Bush (R-FL) or Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). And the carving for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) paled in comparison to his eminence during the GOP CNBC Debate.

By this time next year, as we will be in the culmination of the Election 2016 campaign cycle, there this little doubt that there will be many more adorned gourds in the political pumpkin patch 

As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) has become speaker of the House, there was no need for the Boehner-O'-Lantern

Too many knives seemed to have spoiled the Jack-O'-Lantern.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trepidations About a Troll Party Takeover

It is interesting to attempt to understand Trump’s fanatical support.  I assumed that it mainly consisted of disgruntled Tea Party types who are disgruntled with the “Surrender Caucus” which currently rules Between-the-Beltways.  After the Second GOP Debate, however, social media Trump-etteers give a different impressions– unprincipled, uninformed, obnoxious and ultimately alienating.  In other words, tending to be troll-like.

One abrasiive interlocutor touted former one term Congressman Col.  Allen West (R-FL 22nd)  as being the right choice for Trump’s VP, She dismissed the possibility of having the former Florida Congressman as a replacement Speaker of the House if Boehner loses the Vacate the Chair vote for an unusual reason.  Not the unlikely novelty of electing a Speaker who no longer is a member of the House. But this Trump true believer tweeted: “The Speaker is just a vote counter spot and [Allen West is] more valuable than that.”  Hmm.  That was a novel, if not naive, understanding of American government.

So I chimed in noting that the Majority Whip is the House Republican vote-counter whereas the Speaker sets the agenda, acts as the face of the House and is third in line for the Presidency.  The social media shrew sarcastically claimed that she didn’t need to be schooled. Really? Yet I did not want to inherently alienate an anti-establishment Republican, I replied: “If you knew then you would not have asserted that House Speaker is just a vote counter. Sorry” Even this attempt at an olive branch gave umbrage yet this troll still wanted to blurt out more bile and incorrect assumptions on how the lower chamber works. My viewpoint was denigrated because I was too DC.  It seems that a handle like CalamityDC is too subtle of a  protest to business as usual in the District of Calamity (sic) for that Trump-eteer.

 Her cyber comrades in arms claimed to block me because “You can’t fix stupid.”  What a way to win friends and influence people! My heart certainly does not break for being blocked by a Trump-eteer troll. But I have to wonder what is the objective of these online activists?  I was not even questioning the merits of their desired nominee. I interjected with obective process information, yet Trump-eteers took it as an attack and made me the campaign equivalent of Scientology’s Suppressive Person (SP).  Guess that coalitions or even winning more Republicans is unnecessary to their bewitched beliefs.

Another close encounter of the social media kind was with a guy whose handle is “No More RINO Excuses”, but he was juxtaposing Donald Trump to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).  This struck me as strange that a libertarian Republican like Dr. Paul was labeled a Republican in name only. Fleshing out the dispute, the Trump-eteer disliked Dr. Paul’s disengagement from foreign military entanglements.  But the poster asserted that Mr. Trump would have a robust military.  I asked to be educated how this would be done, as Mr. Trump has only pronounced platitudes in his two debate performances and his so called major Foreign Policy speech (which only lasted for ten minutes) aboard the U.S..S. Iowa.

The Trump-eteer inquired if I watched the debate. Of course I had but I noted that it should be easy for him to tick off the specifics. Naturally, the Donald had not done so other than cite the slogans “Winning”, “Make America Great Again” and “I build the best military that I won’t even have to use it.”  When pressed for specifics, the Trump defender claimed that no candidate offers specifics at this time.  I observed that Carly Fiorina was quite specific about battalions and troops at the Reagan Library debate.  And I’ve even heard Dr. Ben Carson talk about replacing the Ohio class submarines.  What made me prick up my ears was how the flustered Trump-eteer suggested that I ask “The Donald” myself as I would be happier with his answers. Sure. This is a social media activist posting numerous pieces to support his candidate and thinks that a skeptical questioner is going to get the equivalent of “face time” with the candidate.

I saw another active social media commentator who sent hundreds of anti-Fiorina messages, accusing her of proliferating nuclear materials to the Persian Gulf.  When others asked what was his sourcing, the standard answer was a stonewall:  “Do your own homework”.  OK. Pugnatious, smearing and ambiguous.  Masochistically, I read a day’s worth of his reposts and messages to confirm who was his candidate.  Unsurprisingly, the diatribes started soon after the Reagan Library debate, pointing to an internet poll which purported that Trump beat Fiorina big league, so to speak. Similar internet polls claimed that in 2008 and 2012 that ex Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX 22nd) won huge victories after his debates.

Perhaps these are three isolated examples, but these  experience underscores Rich Wilson’s warning about not allowing the Republicans to be co-opted by Trump’s Troll. Like their leader, Trump-eteers love to point to the polls which have the billionaire with a Huuuge lead.  They don’t appreciate being challenged on the cross tabs.  Aside from discerning if it is a national poll (which means nothing more than name recognition) or a state poll.  Then there is sample size, party affiliation, percentage of undecided voters,  being registered or a likely voter etc... As silly season (the summer before Presidential primary season) ends, celebrity status driving name recognition wanes and voters get serious about their support for candidates to the Oval Office.

These exchanges relish the fight and refuse to give in, despite not having the fact on their side. That seems jesuitical. These internet exchanges do not seem based on constitutional principles. Nay, one gets the impression that details do not matter or ignorance on the interworkings of our Constitutional Republic. These cyber shock troops will brook no dissent nor take no prisoners. Such agitated activists would probably support having Charlie Sheen as Trump's as Vice President because of "Winning".  This is not out of the realm of possibility as the star of Anger Management is willing to be Trump's VP.

During an interview by Glenn Beck, social media expert John Cardillo analyzed the fervent support of Trump-eteers.  Cardillo opined that they were not Tea Party supporters but were part of 4-7% of Republican supporters with an identity crisis.  They are tired of losing and turn their anger towards the Republic Establishment without having defined goals or base principles.

 It is easy to liken this to rivid men of action during times of trouble in Western Europe in the aftermath of The Great War.  A charismatic leader who confidently promises to make the trains run on time can utilize such unquestioning foot soldiers as well as dispense of them when it becomes too inconvenient. Beck tends to think that the world is going into a very rough patch and that the polity has been framed in a top down/bottom up/inside out paradigm which creates chaos.  That is when the masses cry out for a strong man to make all the tumult go away, and perhaps making our Constitutional Republic go away in the process.

While politics is a favorite contact sport in the District of Calamity (sic), it must be admitted that poltics is not a beanbag sport. Prolonged primary campaigns involve endurance, strategy, building support, formulating and articulating proposed policy, persuading voters and getting out the vote. It can get rough and tumble in the primary trenches but in the end, it is hoped that the party can come out unified and offer an appealing vision which wins over Independents and undecided voters and becomes victorious. But the vacuity and vituperativeness which seems to characterize Troll Party elements calls those political precepts into question. In that case, is “Winning” just an empty boast like drinking tiger’s blood?

The current Republican field has a baker’s dozen of serious candidates that have anti-establishment animus would appeal to Tea Party Sympathies (Carson, Cruz, Walker, Paul, Jindal).  Thus the Tea Party vote is currently fragmented.  Winnowing of the primary field field may allow a coalescing around a couple of strong candidates who espouse Tea Party values. But  if the Troll Party overwhelms the Grand Old Party, it may be impossible to bridge the political chasms which divide Ameicans as the path will be blocked by untamed trolls. That may well be a bridge too far for principled constitutional conservatives.

h/t: Daily Beast 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ciscentrism and Other PC Newspeak Conceits

Campus Reform  recently made headlines as it reported upon a "Bias Free Language Guide" posted on an official University of New Hampshire website  which noted problematic words in American (suggested substitute "Residents of America") lexicon. Such inclusive language sought to encourage "[C]ommunication that does not stereotype or demean people based on personal characteristics.”  This suggested UNC PC Newspeak rationale is that:  “Each step of inclusion moves us closer to a full democracy”.

To that end, campus skulls full of mush were encouraged to use non-binary pronouns with spivak pronunciations like ze/zie/hir as are "often used by trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people.”  So there's nothing like paying thousands of dollars for an university education, only to finish sounding as if one has a speech impediment  (another verboten phrase - perhaps unconventional pronunciations) engender conversation on inclusive language use.  Would you like fries with that?

Even referring to gender-neutral bathrooms was considered "problematic" to the authors of the "Bias Free Language Guide" as  it reflects ciscentrism, which is defined as a " pervasive and institutionalized system that places transgender people in the ‘other’ category and treats their needs and identities as less important than those of cisgender people.”  Such ciscentrism can also include the lack of gender neutral lockers and residences.  Perhaps this will be featured on "Caitliyn" (ne Bruce) Jenner's new E! television reality show "I am Cait".  Bully for zie/zi (sic).

The UNH Bias Free Language Guide discourages the use of mothering and fathering in order to avoid gendering a non-gendered activity. This politically correct non-gendering language is about as convoluted as Jack Byrnes "Milking Cats" colloquy with Greg Focker in Meet the Parents (2000).Wonder if these PC philological protagonists would be as deft in intellectually accommodating  Stan aka Loretta's right to have babies as portrayed in  Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" (1979)

Demonyms are sensitive subjects because of the sense of latent American imperialism. If one were to identify as "American", that precludes other countries in the hemisphere. Hence, the Bias Free Guide Language Guide suggests "Resident of America".  But that frankly seems incorrect, as it excludes the other hemispheric inhabitants of the continents.  If one were to say "Resident of the United States", it also excludes Mexicans still residing South of the Rio Grande, as they live in "Los estados unidos Mexicanos".  So once again, there is the quandary of including an uninclusive identification: "Resident of the United States of America" or "American" for short.

Of course it would be crass to politically correct types to refer to American citizens.  But it is problematic to refer to "illegal aliens".  It may be acceptable to refer to such persons as "undocumented immigrant" but it is recommended to call them "person seeking asylum" or "refugee" instead.  The UNH PC Newspeak makes saying foreigner problematic, as it is deemed better to say "international people".

As concerned as the UNH Bias Free Language Guide is about people, there is little doubt that our PC betters would still refer to abortion victims  as "clups of cells" or perhaps of fetus (of what?) rather than unborn persons so as not to offend progressive womyn (sic).

Examples of Bias Free Language Guide's Problematic Lexicon 

Other problematic phrases included: "sexual preference", "speech impediment", overweight (as arbitrary), "freshman", (why not sophomore -- a wise fool?), "chairman" and "dumb".  It's a good thing that the latter expression was denounced as there would be no way in UNH PC Newspeak to convey the merit of this Bias Free Language Guide.

After a few days of "problematic" publicity in conservative media circles such as Laura Ingraham, University of New Hampshire President Mark W. Huddleston made an emphatic statement about free speech. This peon to free speech should seem unremarkable in a state with a motto of "Live Free or Die".

Huddleston's denials, however, seem somewhat hollow as the Bias Free Language Guide was part of UNH official website material and it referred to Counseling Center training on" Microagressions: Subtle but Detrimental".  The Bias Free Language Guide seems like companion scholarship, if that is politically correct to say.

Universities ought to be citadels of free speech and a Chatauqua of ideas. Alas today it seems to foster the inculcation of  anarchistic intellectual indoctrination under a polity governance of raised eyebrows. Sorry to say that ciscentrism sounds like politically correct crap which poses as inclusive language but really redefines rhetoric to an unreality that is antithetical.  No wonder George Orwell opined about the risks about truth telling in a delusional society.

h/t: Campus Reform

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Betwixt Bluster and Boorishness

The first prime time 2016 Republican Presidential debate featured the top ten candidates based on national polling.  Some complained that having so many politicians on the stage gave short shrift to substantive consideration about the issues, in so far that candidates would have ten minutes or less each in the spotlight.  Still the exercise allowed America to become acquainted with the aspiring GOP nominees, discern their demeanor as well as shed some light on where they stand politically. 

Based upon polling popularity for the blockbuster Fox News debate was Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman who bravado and brash campaigning has stolen much of the early political coverage.  As the front-runner, he got the most attention and harsh questions from the moderating panel. Early in the debate, Megyn Kelly inquired about how Mr. Trump he referred to women --

“Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like 'fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.'"

Trump tried to brush off the challenge by qupping that he was only referring to Rosie O’Donnell. This was neither well received by the booing audience nor Megyn Kelly who insisted that these degrading insults were directed at more than the so called “Queen of Mean”. Trump shifted his argument to noting that America is too politically correct and we do not have time for that. 

Bluntness and being anti-PC reflects the anger of the so called Silent Majority who have propelled Trump to the top of the summer polls. But this retort was unsatisfactory to an abrasive executive who seems oriented to intimidation. Trump interjected that he thought that Megyn Kelly was disrespecting him and not being nice. Trump asserted that he had always treated her well and Trump passive-aggressively asserted he might have to rethink that consideration, but that he would never do that.

After the debate ended, Trump (or his staff) was up until 3:45 a.m.  tweeting. This social media sharing attacked Megyn Kelly and he also retweeted a message declaring that Kelly was a bimbo.

 Not to be outdone, during a day after media appearance on CNN, Trump berated the Kelly File host by saying: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” 

Whatever could Mr. Trump meant (sic)?  The best the Trump team could spin on that pointed choice of phrase was that Mr. Trump meant “whenever”.  Sure. 

Aside from boorish bimbo eruptions concerning Megyn Kelly, some Trump-etteers complain that Kelly is not a conservative.  That may well be true, but over 90% of the press corps is liberal. Tim Russert was a liberal from upstate New York who would ask hard gotcha questions of both sides hoisting a politico by their own petards  Megyn Kelly seems cut of the same cloth, though it was troubling to hear post debate softballs which Kelly tossed with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

It is foolish to expect as a Republican, which Trump now says that he is, that he will receive fawning treatment from the political media. But if Mr. Trump feels threatened by pointed political questions, how would he react in the Oval Office against our adversaries or even allies?

There was scuttlebutt that big GOP donors and the Republican establishment had ordered a take down of Trump. Instead of the assault  mainly coming from Trump’s rivals to the “Game of Thrones”, the attack stemmed from the biased panelists of Fox News. Granted, they do have Karl Rove on all the time, it is dubious that FNC takes their marching orders from “the Architect”.  How about aggressive journalism which asks tough questions, trying to create controversy and attract eyeballs?

In response to the misogynistic musings  coming from “The Donald”, Eric Erickson uninvited Mr. Trump from participating in the the Red State Gathering in Atlanta.   Erickson wrote:  

“[I] also think that while Mr. Trump resonates with a lot of people with his bluntness, including me to a degree, there are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross.
His comment was inappropriate. It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him. But I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong.”  

Now Trump-etteers discount Erickson as just a tool of the establishment.   It seems in Trump territory, it’s always someone else’s fault.  That seems like such a familiar modus operandi, except there was no rush to blame Bush (for now).

Res ipsa locquitur is a Latin phrase for “It speaks for itself”.  Trump’s pugnacious predilections to berate women whom he dislikes epitomizes the “war on women” gist of Kelly’s hard question. Implying that Kelly’s questions stemmed from menses is sexist, disrespectful and degrading. Suggested synonyms from Webster's dictionary for boorish are: course, uncouth, loutish, churlish. 

The derogatory demeanor in the exchanges with Megyn Kelly speaks directly to Trump’s reputation for dealing with women with whom he disagrees.  This was not a off the cuff quip, this is a persistent pattern of behavior.  Are these qualities which Americans wish to see stemming from the Oval Office.

But it’s not the only instance of boorish behavior coming from Team Trump.  Michael Cohen, special counsel to Donald Trump and a Vice President of the Trump Organization, threatened a political reporter who was going after a marital rape allegation by Ivana Trump during her 1980s divorce by suggesting:

"I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know, So I'm warning you, tread very f---ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting. You understand me?"

  Politics isn’t beanbag but such bullying behavior is remarkable.  In an environment in which the Lamestream Media lap dogs cower so as not to lose access to the White House, I shudder to see such thuggish tactics employed on professional practitioners of the freedom of the press.  Trump put little distance from his errant aide. After all, Cohen was just doing his boss’s bidding and using intimidation tactics that seem culled from the Art of the Deal (1987).

Then there was the McCain mutiny.  During a candidate forum in Iowa in July 2015, Frank Luntz got Donald Trump to comment on Senator John McCain (R-AZ). McCain had recently called the 15,000 people who turned out at a Trump event in Phoenix as “crazies”.  Trump berated McCain as being a loser and then followed up by insisting: 

“McCain is not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell you that. He’s a war hero because he was captured, okay? And I believe perhaps he’s a war hero but right now he’s said some very bad things about a lot of people.”

 Afterwards, Trump refused to apologize according to the civic script. Professional political pundits thought that the outrageous comments would sink Trump’s candidacy, but it only increased his stature as a primary celebrity. Once again, Trump riffs, making outrageous and insulting insinuations and then holds a vindictive grudge. 

The campaign is in its early stages and there is a crowded field. It was unrealistic to expect precises platform positions in a first debate, but two hours on center stage can give a feel for the demeanor of a candidate and offer indications on his or her likeability.  

During the debate, Donald Trump was bold enough to raise his hand to say that he would not commit to supporting the eventual Republican nominee (unless it is himself) nor would he rule out being spoiler third party Presidential candidate.  Bold and brash as well as being self centered and unconventional.  These qualities may appeal to anti-establishment political firebands, while potentially alienating the Republican base which actually votes in Republican primaries.  Pugnacious personality who is always spoiling for a fight may make for fun reality television but it is dubious if Americans seriously want that in our living rooms each night as Commander in Chief.

 When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Between the bluster and the boorishness, we are getting the measure of the man. Time will tell if Trump’s braggadocio and bullying can politically cash the checks which his mouth is underwriting.  There is plenty of opposition from the Silent Majority to the craziness contained in Political Correctness, however Greg Gutfeld is right that political incorrectness is speaking the truth but not necessarily lewdness. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Editor's Note: On Internet Argy Bargys and Charitable Commenting

Editors Desk

Writing is an avocation for most who have blogs. Without the resources of a Madison Avenue magazine, a blogger is writer, editor and publicist. When a blogger shares his thoughts with the world, it can be a cathartic, but it also a desire to engage others with one’s thoughts. This desire to be read and engage readers can be likened to the philosophical conundrum: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?” 

 In the era of dead tree editions (traditional publishing), a commenter would have to go through the bother of putting a pen to paper and then mailing it to a publication. The editors sifted through the correspondences, selecting the best of the bunch and often editing them for space and content for publication in a future edition. This could take weeks to transpire. 

 Things move much more rapidly in the internet age. One can hurriedly compose a comment and immediately share it with the cyber world. Sometimes vexed writers rush to publish a poison pen reply to a piece before applying common sense and civil decorum. Or an impassioned commenter pushes “Enter” without spell checking or editing a response. 

 As one who writes and maintains a website, I appreciate engaging with readers. Feedback can be useful (and is often incorporated without fanfare). I prize having civil exchanges, even with those whom I do not see eye to eye. However, I believe that in social media that the veil of absolute immunity often brings out the worst in people. From my perspective, it’s fine to use a handle when responding. But a site which allows for unmoderated and anonymous comments tend to quickly degenerate into crude, ad-hominem snark fests which are far afield from the original point. I have no desire to let the lunatics run the asylum, so to speak. 

 When comments are on point, they move the chautauqua of ideas forward. Disagreement can allow for a refining of ideas, even if the internet interlocutors ultimately retain their original positions. I have friends with whom I strongly disagree and can keep honest by exchanging challenging comments. Yet I do neither hold it against them that we differ nor do I fixate on the disagreement. 

 In my experience, when comments amount to a prolonged back and forth between two posters, it loses the rest of their audience as they become indulgent and unfocused. Thus their dialogue should be taken “off line”. So after couple of volleys over an issue when there is an impasse of views, I act as an editor and end the exchanges. 

 Some over-eager commenters perseverate and want to continue “sharing”. I am of the belief that it is preferable to chastise in private. Thus, I will send an email as a courtesy to let the riled up reader why continued comments restating the points will not be published. 

 Another sort of commenter thinks that it is sufficient to damn the published viewpoint and then simply redirect readers to another site. It can be a courtesy to include source material via hyperlink at the end of an argument. But a one word response and a hyperlink is not argument, it’s crass marketing. If you want to promulgate a position and not engage on topic, attract your own eyeballs. 

 Then there are the self important commenters who thinks that they can dictate how someone else should run his site. Good for them. They can do what they want on their own blogs. So there is no confusion, let me state my editorial rules for comments: 
1) No ad hominen attacks (gratuitous personal attacks without reason for those in Rio Linda) 
2) No profanity 
3) Stay on point

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Editors Note: On Aphorisms and Authenticity

As District of Calamity marks its third anniversary, it seems right to reflect upon its methods and message.

One of the prominent features of this site are aphorisms. This is deliberate to have daily, pithy memes which can be inspiring, provocative or entertaining.  What was originally intended as an impetus to post every day evolved into a feature which gives short yet thought-filled memes.

While is oriented towards politics, not all wisdom of the world is drawn from the Federal City.  This site revels in public policy analysis which is intended to last longer than the average politician’s promises, so it should not be locked into quotidian Capital Hill struggles.

Rather than just list texts which make eyes glaze over, District of Calamity pairs the pearl of wisdom with a narrative graphic. Often the graphic depicts  the originator of the phrase so readers can match the meme to a person.  But illustrating the gist of the quote can also be effective.

Some readers have challenged the use of quotes.  After posting a quote attributed to Soren Kirkegaard, the interlocutor demanded “Are you a REAL Kieregaard scholar? If so, cite chapter and verse to the origins of the quote.”   Well dear reader, the answer is no but not that it matters.

 District of Calamity posts over 300 daily quotes a year.  Rarely are memes simply cut and pasted from other sites. The Pearls of Wisdom project is a labor of love which encompasses an eclectic range of art, history, literature, philosophy, politics,  pop culture  and humor.  However, it takes  time to locate, create, arrange and publicize an alluvia of aphorisms, particularly without repetition.

Regular readers may notice that quotes are often correlated to the calendar, reflecting anniversaries, issues of the day  and times of the season.  In addition, strings of quotes may project a larger theme pointing to issues which impact the District of Calamity (sic).

When a saying  sounds shaky or too good to be true, some effort is made to corroborate the quote, but it is not always a scholarly citation.

So for the Kierkegaard question, consider the site’s quotes to be as reliable as Wikipedia.  It may be inspiring and even informative but you need to do your own homework to be certain before putting it in your dissertation.

Some critics have claimed that quotes are taken out of context, such as Bobby Jindal on immigration and  assimilation.  This critique was comical as a 55 minute video of the speech in question was also embedded in the post.  It is dubious if the progressive protestor spent the same time appreciating the quote in context before pulling out the proverbial poison pen.  But even when chapter and verse can be given, it is not usually included lest a meme look like a pharmaceutical disclaimer chyron or the credit roll for Bambi Meets Godzilla.

A reader recently claimed that a quote about society from Cal Thomas was confusing because it could mean anything.  Well, knowing who said something can be illuminating.  If the reader knows who Cal Thomas is, then the prescriptions for fixing society would be quite clear.  Nevertheless, the gist of the aphorism that our leaders are a reflection of societal values is valid without that insight.

Another website visitor was agitated about a piece about bigotry by George Bernard Shaw.  The reader offered an unsolicited education about Shaw’s social sins. In this instance, the source of the quotation was provocative and intentionally ironic considering Shaw’s Faustian socialistic foundation-- however the truth of the aphorism was indubitable.

The internet can be a conduit of thoughtful two way communication.  So if readers can correct a mis-attributed meme, it is appreciated and may be incorporated as warranted.  Unfortunately, contributors have demanded corrections which were not warranted and perseverated.  For example, a graphic countered the claim that Ted Cruz knew nothing about a Second Amendment case.  Cruz was associated with arguing the Heller case before the Supreme Court, when in actuality he had only offered an amicus brief.  The mis-attribution was noted and credit was given, but the correction did not moot the gist of the post so it was not withdrawn.  But that was not satisfactory to the correspondent, who harbored a hatred for the politician.

While it is hoped that you will be inspired and intellectually stimulated by aphorisms, if you question the authenticity, please offer gentle correction with affirmative information if necessary. Feedback can be useful and is often incorporated without fanfare.  In the end, if a reader finds that one's charitable contribution is unsatisfactory, then please seek truth where you can find it.