Haunting

I had a very spooky experience yesterday. I was visiting the hospital as normal, and they asked me to speak to this one patient. I recognised the name. Of course, names don’t guarantee uniqueness, but until I met her, I was . Was it? wasn’t it? I was full of anticipation.

This woman was somebody I met professionally, just the once, and just for five or ten minutes. For some reason, her name had stuck. In fact, she was a solicitor, doing something on my behalf. Everything was mostly conducted through correspondence, but we met for my final signature.

The verdict? Well, I didn’t think so, but I wan’t sure. There are two limiting factors. One of which is my eyesight. I don’t trust it, certainly to recognise somebody I met for five minutes, five years ago. Second is just the hospital environment. Talking to her partner, she’d had a haemorrhage and had just come out of intensive care. She wasn’t very communicative and she looked like shit. And, of course, when I met her before she’d have been very smart. But some things matched. Same colour hair, as far as I could remember, and must have been the right sort of age (I meet a few people there, but not many who are younger than me.) Inconclusive stuff, but enough to still have me wondering whether it was or not.

My plan? Well, I’m up there again in two weeks. They’ll probably ask me to talk to her again, but if not, I’ll have to think on and go looking for her. She was quite newly-admitted yesterday, so I guess she’ll still be there. Also, was quite uncommunicative. Hopefully in two weeks she’ll be more interested in having a conversation. Or, hopefully, I’ll catch her partner again. He needs to know that, however bad it seems now, someone can get their life back, especially when they do an intellectual job. I’ve seen that just in myself – this morning I’ve been taking some very specific data out of a database, and ultimately displaying it in a web browser. So, it can be done. There’s a shedload of stuff that’s too hard physically, but intellectually, I’m right back where I was.

Cheesed Off

I’m really cheesed off that I can’t even type just a few words, without finding a typo of some kind or another. For the most part, no harm is done.

I can sometimes read something and get the exact opposite meaning, because my eyes will miss a “not” or a “-n’t” somewhere. I can trap these mistakes, because in the context of the surrounding sentences, something doesn’t make sense.Red isn’t their favourite colour? Hang on, in the last sentence, they said it was.

But writing. I can easily think clearly enough to know what I want to type, so it is purely hitting the wrong key and not noticing. No great consequence, just embarrassment. The sentence as a whole clearly make sense, but my spelling lets me down. And, to make it even more infuriating, 99% of the time, I am perfect, nobody would know that anything in particular had caused this. Tell you what, if there are typos in this post, I shall leave them as an example of how irritating it can be. (Except the bloody thing will likely be perfect!)

All except the title. I’ve had to correct that, if only to save you from scratching your head. God knows what a pff is supposed to be!

Fandango’s Proocative Question #37

I’ve been following a blog by a chap called Fandango. Every week or so, he asks a “provocative question”. As in, one in which his readers have to ponder the question before answering. I participated last week, with this response.

This chap is an American, and this has a bearing on the this week’s question. He says that Trump has fuelled a very polarised debate over there, something I can easily imagine. People either love him, or he’s an asshole. I use that word deliberately, I want it to convey that the standard of debating has dropped. So, Fandango asks whether is it possible to disagree with somebody without being disagreeable? Of course, I have to take this from a UK-perspective, because that’s the history I know.

An interesting part of Fandango’s question is that he adds a time element. He asserts that “once upon a time” it was possible, but now it is not. For my part, I’m not sure that’s true, but I’ll discuss that below.

I’m reminded straight away of a sketch by a guy I used to watch a lot, Emo Phillips.

There is a point to this. That, however closely your views coincide with someone’s, dig sufficiently deep and you’ll find something to disagree on.

I think that reasonable people will be able to disagree reasonably. There always comes a point at which you have to shrug your shoulders, and agree to differ. Nowadays we have the luxury of talking politics. How do you make a child’s education better? By doing X, or Y? And you realise that with all politics, it’s a matter of priorities. Trump, for example, wants to make America more prosperous. Just as far as that aim, I’m sure pretty much every American would agree. It’s how he goes about it which is abhorrent to some people. But that’s just politics, why one person votes for the left, the next for the right.

A moment ago, I used the word “luxury”, because we’re arguing about details. A few years ago, we argued about whether we go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That too, contained some very unpleasant disagreements at the time, but our societies have got past them. A few years earlier, the American war in Viet Nam. Same thing. 

A hundred years ago, (the Suffragettes, in the UK. I’ve no idea how suffrage got to America, I must ask. I know they didn’t have universal suffrage at the time of the revolution so there must have been transitions at some points.) people were fighting for representation itself. Unfortunately, these women were fighting for themselves, rather than for universal suffrage (they cared about women not having the same rights as men, but never uttered a peep about people in the colonies, who had no rights at all), so while we can laud them, there was a bigger picture that they missed. But quite violent disagreements, for the time.

Go back a bit further and you have the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Worker rights. For their efforts, transportation to Australia. Probably an example of the state over-reacting, given their “crime”.

Further still, the reformation. Religion – the birth of the Protestants. Wars were fought throughout Europe on this. And, of course, still on the religious theme, the crusades.

My point here is to try and show that people have been unreasonably disagreeing with people since the year dot. Trump is merely the latest cause. If we look at the subjects on which there’s been disagreement, they’ve become a lot more well-defined. Most of us would regard arguing about religion to be a waste of time these days, although some still do. We’ve mostly developed a “live and let live” tolerance of each other. There’s far less argument about something like suffrage, where the principle of “apply to one, apply to all” is more readily accepted.

But as Trump shows, it’s still possible to stoke violent disagreement, even in this age. In fact, one might argue (because most of us draw the line at killing each other) that we disagree better than ever! I think humans just have it in us, and if someone pushes the right buttons…