Monday, October 13, 2014

Trend-surfing Alacrity

For years I've resisted writing anything about Liberia or Sierra Leone. Too painful, too raw, too soon. The pen keeps calling however...

I figured Liberia and Sierra Leone deserved a couple of decades of peace and quiet but, as they say, 'Tings deh happen. Expect some toli.

I saw Rev. Jesse Jackson today with the Texas Ebola victim's family. Really? Some of us remember his history with Charles Taylor during Liberia's descent.

The Country Preacher ought to steer clear of anything related to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It's unseemly.

Suggested reading regarding Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson (Pat Robertson!) and Charles Taylor: The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Was it Stalin who talked of useful idiots? They always seem to materialize before and during wars.

Consider a taxonomy of useful idiots: the ignorant, those who should know better, the reflexively-tribal, and the professional opportunists.

Servants to power, we are all striving simians on the savannah at heart, looking to Alpha authority.

Apologists for war (think Iraq, think War on Terror) and apologists for unfettered capitalism have had a rough start to this century

Most useful idiots lie low when things go awry. That, paradoxically, is the only time they are of any interest.

Only posterity is unkind to the man of conventional wisdom, and all posterity does is bury him in a blanket of neglect - John Kenneth Galbraith

Professional opportunists are singular gremlins in human society and deserve close study. Sadly, we simply shake our heads at the spectacle

The professional opportunist knows no shame and depends on our short attention span. Hey! Look over there...

I looked.

Most professional opportunists escape scrutiny and scorn because there's always a core of past competence that one can point to.

The notion of shame has become a vestigial sentiment in many Western countries; some call it a casualty of modernity. I dissent.

Coming from a shame society, it's hard to watch bad behavior tolerated with benign neglect, or even rewarded.

My mother emphasized the necessity of permanent outrage. Will I be able to convey that to the children I'm raising in America?

I know my place in America (at the intersection of Tenuous St and Hired Immigrant Worker Alley) and accordingly keep a low profile.

Also civility.

Let's posit a corollary to the quantity theory of insanity. Perhaps a coefficient of opportunism? Argh, forget it: rusty mathematics.

Just because a lizard nods its head doesn't mean it's happy - Ghanaian proverb

observers are worried

Observers are worried

I'm reposting these (slightly annotated) twentysomething thoughts on opportunism here for archiving purposes. With a little distance, I realize that this product of few fevered minutes of short form writing essentially revisits a theme I'd previously covered. Timing is everything I suppose.

[Update: November 2021]

See A Taxonomy of Useful Idiots for a more considered take

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