Another click on the ratchet

I woke up with the song “Sixteen Candles” running through my mind. I didn’t get the dyslexic pun until I realized that I turn sixty-one today. Technically, I’ve got several more hours at sixty, since I’m writing this at 6:22, and I was born at about 11am (at Christ Hospital in Jersey City).

In an unrelated matter, last night I attended an Obama gathering in Boston that was enjoyable except to the degree that three followers of Lyndon LaRouche kept bending conversation sideways toward their own ideological vectors.

When the evening was ending, I stood outside talking with one of the three (who had been told to leave by one of the meeting’s organizers). At first I thought we could have a conversation, but it wasn’t possible. The guy was not only convinced absolutely of his own (and presumably LaRouche’s) rightness, but resolutely paranoid. (Later he gave me a small pile of LaRouche literature. Not surprisingly, it was thick with paranoia.)

Aside from the nature of his opinions, I found it sad that a mind so young was so completely closed.

I remember realizing, at about age sixteen or younger, that I would never know everything, and that I should always stay curious about the world and open to facts that challenge my opinions. One might think that this would get harder as one gets older, but it doesn’t. It gets easier.

We need our opinions, our certitudes, our belief systems. Can’t get along without them. But even belief systems need new information. Being right is overrated. Being open is essential if we wish to grow as human beings. At any age.

19 comments

  1. Flip’s avatar

    Wow! You’re really OLD!!

    Others are worried about getting their ARRP cards at 50. :-)

    http://chuqui.typepad.com/chuqui_30/2008/07/popping-up-out.html

  2. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    Happy Birthday, Doc! It’s your day to be the Duke Of Earl, too, In the Still of the Night. Have a great birthday, and a great year.

  3. Frank Paynter’s avatar

    Happy birthday, Doc!

  4. Bob Morris’s avatar

    A seasoned organizer on the Left once told me, don’t try to figure out the LaRouchies, it’ll just make your brain hurt. Sage advice, indeed.

  5. camilo’s avatar

    Happy birthday, most excellent Doc

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, everybody.

    And Bob, that’s so true. I did try figuring LaRouche for a little while and my brain hurt real bad. No wonder the Quakers threw the dude out of their meeting.

    What worries me is that some people like that shit. Does it make their brain feel good, then? Scary.

  7. Cameron Reilly’s avatar

    Happy birthday mate! Here’s hoping you have another 61!

  8. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Happy Birthday, Doc!

    LaRouche for years was the only one who was openly stating what appears to be obvious to someone from the rust belt… our “physical economy” has been trashed. In plain speak… we don’t really make anything in this country any more. He goes on about Helgian dialectic and other such stuff way too much for my tastes… and it’s only recently that I’ve even bothered to learn what that term meant…

    The Dollar is a fiat currency… it’s the ultimate in debasement… you can just add a zero to the end on the piece of paper if you need more money. It defies the laws of physics… as long as people believe it to do so, then reality comes crashing back into play.

    I’m not paranoid… I know nobody is out to get me… I haven’t pissed off anyone important. If I did, I’d be gone already, so why worry about it? ;-)

    When the media can lie in real time (see the Rodney King incident for a great example) and rouse the masses, those of us who accidentally acquired some critical thinking skills realize they’re probably lying about other stuff too. It’s pragmatism, not paranoia.

    Sorry to go on about LaRouche so long, but I think that might help explain it to you a bit. We need to understand each other in this country… to fight for that last inch that Dave was talking about over at Scripting.com earlier. Understanding even those whose ideas we abhor can help us to fix the situation and make things better.

    Thanks for all you’ve done for all of us so far… I look forward to being informed by you, and conversing with you, for a very long time.

    G-d bless

    –Mike–

  9. Keith Dick’s avatar

    Happy Birthday, Doc!

    Mike: I’m pretty sure that most of the misinformation in the media is not deliberate lying on the part of the news people, but a result of them not understanding what they are writing about, and allowing themselves to be led by those who they believe do know what is going on, or sometimes being careless because they are rushing to get the news out first. In the latter case, the truth usually comes out pretty quickly. The former case is the big problem, in my opinion. It is those so-called experts that the news people rely on who are lying to us. (I’m sure that in some cases, the news people do know they are reporting lies, but I suspect it is a small portion of the cases.)

    Ideally, the news people should do enough investigation that they can avoid parroting the misleading data they are fed, or at least point out that they are repeating information from biased sources, but they don’t seem to do that. I’m not sure why. Probably a combination of not enough time, not enough interest, not enough understanding, and not enough competition in the news business.

    In recent times, bloggers have exposed some of the misinformation we’ve been fed, and forced the main news sources to report the truth. That helps, but still a lot of misinformation doesn’t get exposed well enough. I hope the situation gets better. That is, I hope in the future we see more widespread exposure of misleading information until everyone who cares to learn the truth about public affairs can do so relatively easily.

    What was that old quote? Something about eternal vigilance is the price of freedom? Jefferson, I think.

  10. Mike Taht’s avatar

    Happy birthday, Doc –

    Hopefully in 3 years, you’ll have a certain Beatles tune in your head to start the day….

  11. WJ’s avatar

    Happy Birthday, Doc! May you have a terrific one!!

    Have been reading your posts since some time now and you never ever fail to amaze me. Every post of yours has a story to tell and gives me the chance to learn something new.

    Here’s to your energy and unfailing enthusiasm!

    -WJ

  12. Chip’s avatar

    Wow
    Widely read enough that your birthday becomes locus for commentary on fringe politics

    Just can’t get that Jerry Lee Lewis voice out of my head …

    Ciao
    Chip

  13. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Mike,

    What you say in your comment, and the way you say it, makes infinitely more sense to me than *any* of the stuff the LaRouche supporters said at the Obama gathering, and any of the literature they gave me.

    To be fair, only one of the three LaRouche supporters was disruptive (and insulting, personally) to the point that he was told to leave. but all three strained their welcome. And none was interested in conversation, much less the exchange of ideas. They listened only to interrupt, and their persuasive powers were in the negative range.

    Same goes for the LaRouche literature. What I saw of it was thick with judgmental mockery and paranoia — based, near as I cared to tell, on little more than LaRouche’s own ideology. Its put-downs of the Internet, and of blogging in particular, were so far beyond wrong that I don’t see how any other than True Believers could make sense of it.

    I agree that we need to understand each other. But I saw no effort in that direction by these three dudes. Nor, from what I read of LaRouche in his literature, from The Man Himself.

  14. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Doc, I think it’s a case of figuring out the truth about some things, and then extrapolating too far out. The core truth attracts followers, the far out stuff breeds a sense of isolation, and it becomes self-reinforcing. I agree with some of what they say, because it’s truth, and discard the rest.

    I agree they need to listen and converse, not try to be the loudest broadcaster.

  15. Eyebee’s avatar

    First time, I’ve read your blog, but Many Happy Returns for yesterday. I’m about to turn 50 in January, and yes, don’t the years fly by!

  16. Mark Turner’s avatar

    Happy belated birthday, Doc!

  17. John Robertson’s avatar

    Doc, grow a dick. Obama is a nothing. I know of LaRouche, and he attacks the baby boomers, basically because they are a bunch of degenerate morons, especially those with PHD’s. They have the tendency to be anti-truth and especially anti-authoritarian. Look at your blog, making some stupid claim about LHL being paranoid. Yet when he speaks of a conspiracy to destroy the united states, even going so far as to spell out to you what you would know if you picked up some of the actual literature provided by ex-presidents and others, the huge majority of your generation begin to behave on the intellectual level of the rhesus monkey, whining about not believing, and my opinion- your opinion. Well done.

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