Not alone in the universe

When people are searching for meaning, their minds seem to gravitate toward thoughts of things like aliens that do not fall within our current scientific inventory of the world. Why? I suspect part of the answer is that such ideas imply that humans are not alone in the universe, that we might be part of a larger cosmic drama. As with traditional religious beliefs, many of these paranormal beliefs involve powerful beings watching over humans and the hope that they will rescue us from death and extinction.

–Clay Routledge, Don’t Believe in God? Maybe You’ll Try U.F.O.s

Routledge ends with this: “The Western world is, in theory, becoming increasingly secular — but the religious mind remains active. The question now is, how can society satisfactorily meet people’s religious and spiritual needs?”

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?”

TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.

BAKER: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

________

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?

HABERMAN: I did, actually.

Excerpts from the Times’s Interview with Trump

A few thoughts on reading the transcripted excerpts of the most recent NYT interview with 45:

1.) Some theater company ought to do a staging of Glengarry Glen Ross where all the parts are played as Donald Trump impersonations. You heard it here first. I’ll clear space in my schedule for next year’s Tony Awards. (Seriously, though: I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this.)

2.) In interviews with competent executives, it is usually the journalists asking their subject for basic information and clarifications. In this interview, the president asks the reporters a lot of questions about things you would expect him to know. Or, as in the quote above, the president asks a rhetorical question that only makes him look like an uninformed buffoon.

3.) In a post that is very critical of the president’s lack of ethics or good sense, Rod Dreher comments, “I don’t see how Jeff Sessions has any choice now but to resign. He has lost the confidence of the president. And I think Sessions will one day very soon be grateful that he got out of this Dumpster fire of an administration before it all went to hell.” To which I say, “before it goes to hell”?!? But also: Jeff Sessions has a lot of choices. Jeff Sessions played a central role in legitimizing Trump for the Republican base during the long election, and I’m sure that he intends to do a lot more with the power of the A.G.’s office before he’s done.

Dreher, bless him, seems to operate under the impression that the key players in the Republican Party have some semblence of a political conscience. But they fell in line behind Donald J. Trump, a man who has demonstrated a truly incredible capacity to prove his ignorance and lack of moral scruple time and again. In a country where a majority of the Republican base could be outraged/shocked/marginally perturbed by Trump saying, almost in so many words, that he would not have hired Sessions as Attorney General if he’d known that Sessions would do his job in holding the president accountable to the law, perhaps Dreher would be on the mark. In the real world,  as long as Trump’s flagrantly tyrannical effusions don’t upset the core constituencies that keep them in power, people like Jeff Sessions can continue to bathe in the dumpster fire, confident that they won’t get burned. I mean, the whole thing stinks, but voters evidently will continue to hold their noses and pull the lever for these people.

Neither savage nor barbarian

Clara broke in here, flushing a little as she spoke: ‘Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living? — a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate — “nature”, as people used to call it — as one thing, and mankind another. It was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make “nature” their slave, since they thought “nature was something outside them.’

‘Surely,’ said Morsom; ‘and they were puzzled as to what to do, till they found the feeling against mechanical life, which had begun before the Great Change amongst people who had leisure to think of such things, was spreading insensibly; till at last under the guise of pleasure that was not supposed to be work, work that was pleasure began to push out the mechanical toil, which they had once hoped at the best to reduce to narrow limits indeed, but never to get rid of, and which, moreover, they found they could not limit as they had hoped to do.’

‘When did this new revolution gather head?’ said I.

‘In the half-century that followed the Great Change,’ said Morsom, ‘it began to be noteworthy; machine after machine wa quietly dropped under the excuse that the machines could not produce works of art, and that works of art were more and more called for. Look here,’ he said, ‘here are some of the works of that time — rought and unskilful in handiwork, but solid and showing some sense of pleasure in the making.’

‘They are very curious,’ said I, taking up a piece of pottery from amongst the specimens which the antiquary was showing us; ‘not a bit like the work of either savages or barbarians, and yet with what would once have been called a hatred of civilization impressed upon them.’

–William Morris, News from Nowhere, or an epoch of rest, being some chapters from a utopian romance. Edited by James Remond, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970, pp. 154-55. (1890)