Truth makes our brains hurt

By David Grima | Jun 23, 2020

Here is example of what I mean.

On the one hand, some employers claim the weekly federal unemployment benefit of $600, when added to the weekly state benefit of varying lesser amounts, is keeping many workers away from their jobs.

After all, it’s more than many of them have ever been paid in their lives. Especially in those states where the legal minimum wage is still $7.25, as set by the federal government.

On the other hand, some workers say it’s the fear of death and disease that is keeping them away from work. Death and disease really put a crimp in one’s lifestyle, they seem to believe.

The question is, which of these statements is true?

The answer almost certainly is that both are true.

However, in the current binary state of the national debate, many of us are unable to accept such subtle complexity. It makes our simple brains hurt. That is why we are at war with each other; at war with ourselves. The truth makes our brains hurt. The version of reality that we all so longingly desire just won’t measure up to the objective facts.

* * * * *

Last weekend spring turned into summer once again, yet without a doubt there are fewer sailboats and other recreational watercraft out in Rockland Harbor. Just as there are far fewer visitors in the streets.

Friday and Saturday evenings last weekend, the city closed downtown to traffic, hoping to boost the number of people willing to come out and shop or dine.

On Friday at least, other than the spectacle of dozens of people taking a protest nap against other people’s police while lying down on Main Street, there seemed to be rather few members of the public out and about. Also, rather few businesses seemed to be open. ‘Twas a pity.

My beloved and I did have a fine evening of it, however, nibbling on pizza at an outdoor table behind Ada’s Kitchen, in the warm late-spring evening air. At one point, we were also able to admire a pair of brown pythons, whose owners had brought them out for a stroll around town.

I have always believed this particular little area of downtown could be turned into something interesting and valuable for the city and its people. But other than a study that was paid for back in the 1990s, I think there has been little attention paid to the larger possibilities.

* * * * *

A restored Depression-era logging boat is expected to arrive in Rockland soon, to be based at Capt. Jim Sharp’s maritime museum in the Blessed South End, just along from the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street where I am forced to live.

Heavens, it might already be here.

According to the Newburyport Daily News of June 16, the vessel is named Polaris and is registered in Newport, R.I. It began its journey to the Lime City in Florida, and was making its way up here via Casco Bay.

* * * * *

I received the following note on Monday from George Parks, owner of Dooryard Books on Main Street. He is here to close up the used-books business after many years.

“I’m in Maine and at the store giving away books, Camden Library just came but took only about 60 books for the present.  Pass the word to all your friends.”

Come one, come all!

* * * * *

I understand the Farnsworth Art Museum is to reopen this week. I will be very careful to wear a paper face covering, but I am itching to see its collection of paintings again.

Wearing a face covering these days is a way of showing respect for others, and I don’t really mind looking a little ridiculous when I wear one.

As they say quite wisely, if you want respect you should give it to others first. I did try to explain this basic principle to my dear friend Lord Prez Trumpleton, but he didn’t seem to grasp the point.

* * * * *

Speaking of the Prez, I understand he recently suggested that if we were to stop testing people for the Plague, there would be fewer cases of it.

It reminds me of when he said keeping Plague-filled cruise ships at sea, not letting their poor passengers come ashore, would keep the numbers down in America.

Again, I think he was missing the essential logic of it. But I won’t mention it to him again. The poor old boy is really in the dumps at the moment, following his less than well-attended rally in Oklahoma, last weekend.

Something like 6,000 plus people showed up in an auditorium sized for 19,000.

Afterwards, when the poor Prez got off the antiquated Marine Corps helicopter after flying back to Washington, he looked more miserable than I ever saw since I found him hiding under his desk in the Oval Office a few weeks ago.

He unknotted his Famous Red Tie, and was carrying his Famous Red Hat crumpled in one hand, and his shoulders were slumped like those of a dejected schoolboy who has just been sent to the principal’s office. His face registered deep incomprehension. He had been to a rally, but for the first time the rally had not worked for him.

* * * * *

National Public Radio is reporting a growing shortage of coins in circulation in the country, and it’s causing problems.

Apparently the shortage arises from cuts in production associated with the Plague, and with the reduced amount of commerce that is a feature of our lives these days.

Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to inspect a private coin collection Sunday afternoon, and was fascinated by the dimes issued in and around 1942, the first year of the War from the United States’ point of view.

These little silver coins each bore the stamped image of a fascine, reeds tied together with an axe in the middle of the bundle, an ancient symbol of the Roman Republic. Americans often used symbols from ancient Rome to represent our modern republic, for example, on early gravestones.

Understandably, the fascine suddenly seemed less representative of the U.S. Republic in 1942, as it had been adopted as the symbol of the Fascist party in Italy, and as of December 1941, the fascist states were officially our enemies.

* * * * *

Last week the Bangor Dreadful Newspaper ran a feature about Samuel Waldo, the man behind the name of Waldoboro, Waldo County and the town of Waldo, and in doing so deliberately raised the question of whether these place names ought to be changed, to avoid the association with the slave trader (for that is what he was, apparently).

I just don’t know. In fact, I had no idea he was a slave trader until the BDN informed me. Neither did I know that Colston Hall, where I attended a concert in Bristol, England, almost 50 years ago was named after a British slave trader, not until the good people of Bristol got it into their heads to toss his statue into the river earlier this month.

The printing of a Confederate flag as an illustration in the Sports pages of this newspaper last week left me a little queasy, however. I get that they were talking about this symbol being dumped from NASCAR races, but I doubt they would have printed a swastika, to which some have argued it is a functional equivalent.

Complex times, huh? I think that’s the point I have been getting at. What I am trying to figure out is which of this stuff is of genuine importance, and which stuff is simply dust being kicked up into the wind. As I told dear Trumpleton the other day, time will tell.

Although the stars and bars in the Courier left me feeling uneasy, at least I understood the point; I cannot begin to describe how I felt when I saw that someone sprayed Churchill’s statue in Whitehall with the word "fascist."

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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