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January 9th, 2011

Anecdote of the Day

Fragment from Bruce Sterling:

I once had a long bus-ride with a reeking, sweaty, jittery madman who had clearly once been a formidably intelligent and very well-read scholar. It seemed pretty clear to me that it had been a long time since anybody had been able to indulge him in a conversation. Although, he couldn’t really “converse,” because his cognitive deficits no longer allowed him a coherent train of thought. There was something pitiful yet majestic about that guy. He was like a fragmentary Roman ruin.

He brought it up after reading about the incident of murder and attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords. As a person who dealt with a small number of schizophrenics working at the public library, then a rather larger share working in hospitals, it evokes many memories. Aged men, ailing, incoherent, emitting fragments of fascinating talk. I never had much time for them, I had work to do, and even when treating them, when my task was over, the “conversations” ended.

My wish for this country is that we can tone down the rhetoric. Sarah Palin will take the brunt of this criticism, and that is fair. She has been a firebrand, prideful about her ownership and firing of guns, her salesmen use gun and shooting words “DON’T RETREAT, RELOAD” and using gunsights as map markers against competitors is just no good. It’s consistent with the very violent history of this country, sadly. My hope is that we can work together and fix what ails the country without shouting or shooting at each other. Now is not the time for a violent revolution. It’s just not. Anyone who uses this kind of rhetoric needs to be told to tone it down. There’s enough death and violence in the world without using it in politics.

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