Saturday, August 11, 2007

In which the author converts to Pyrrhonism

Pyrrhonism, you will recall -- especially if you are very odd -- was an ancient philosophical system that carried skepticism to the limit.

It is said, in fact, that Pyrrhonists doubted their own existence. Descartes had to sit down and have a think about that. It led to his famous conclusion, "I think, therefore I am."

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Well, maybe. But what was good enough for Descartes is not good enough for me. I was flirting with Pyrrhonism before, but several of today's news items have pushed me over the edge.

Bloggers are wont to introduce a link to a story with the line, "You can't make this stuff up." But some things are more absurd than that. Not only could no one make them up -- nobody could even imagine them. Nobody could imagine imagining them. Ergo, when I come across certain reports, I feel fairly certain that I do not exist, because they are beyond mortal capacity to conceive.

Take this:
A pensioner has been told she must stop tending a public flower bed unless she agrees to wear a fluorescent jacket, put up warning signs and use a lookout.

June Turnbull, 79, of Urchfront near Devizes, has nurtured the blooms on the plot for six years. But now she is being told to obey health and safety rules after being spotted by a county council official. ... Urchfont Parish Council has recently applied for a licence and has had a meeting with the county council.

"We need to get a licence from the Highways Authority to enable work on this bed to be done, people must wear a fluorescent jacket, have warning signs and have two people working there," Peter Newell, chairman of Urchfont Parish Council, told BBC News.

An old lady is beautifying a traffic island which the authorities, if left to themselves, would probably ignore till it declined into a weed patch. She gets socked by The State for taking some initiative to improve the quality of life in her village. Imagine the sheer bloody mindedness of it! Tending plants without the necessary petition, hearing, permit, and being kitted out in a fluorescent jacket while a "lookout" stands by.

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The crime scene

But of course June Turnbull, being 79, was born about 1928, so she formed certain habits that pre-date the welfare state's bureaucratic apparatus and its settled principle that only the government can manage anything.

A Peruvian national in the U.S. illegally and who was previously charged with raping a 5-year-old girl pleaded not guilty Friday in the execution-style slayings of three young college students, a day after he surrendered to the Newark mayor. ...

FOX News has learned Carranza, who has a fake Social Security number, had been arrested on charges of raping a 5-year-old girl and then threatening the child and her parents. In that case he faced a 31-count indictment. In another, he was arrested on assault charges stemming from a bar fight. Immigration officials apparently were aware of Carranza's illegal status since his prior arrests, according to Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

And this:

Portland-area police arrested Alejandro Emeterio "Alex" Rivera Gamboa four times on drunken driving charges over the past seven years, but he went unnoticed by immigration officials until this week, when he and a cousin were accused in the death of 15-year-old Dani Countryman in Milwaukie.

Both Rivera Gamboa and his cousin, Gilberto Javier "Gabe" Arellano Gamboa, recently admitted that they entered the country illegally from Mexico, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed Thursday. If Rivera Gamboa's illegal status had been discovered at the time of his earlier arrests, it is likely -- but not certain -- that he would have been deported, immigration officials said.

"I've never asked somebody if they're legal or illegal," said Lt. Jason Gates, spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. "It's none of my business."

A county sheriff officer says it's none of his business if someone is legal or illegal? Sorry, I was under the illusion that figuring out whether someone's actions are legal or illegal is part of what we pay these so-called civil servants for.

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Silly me. Obviously, we dress them up in resplendent uniforms with knife-edge creases, give them shiny badges and all the latest telecommunications gear, so they can write up traffic tickets. (Or maybe stop old ladies from planting flowers without a permit.) Determining a drunken driver's citizenship status and possibly preventing a murder is above the lieutenant's pay grade, and would only get him into trouble with the "compassionate" dwellers in Oregon, who have made their state a legal sanctuary for illegals -- apparently, they have a taste for paradox.

I don't know about you, but these things are beyond my capacity to imagine, let alone believe. Clearly, I do not exist, and will insist on it as long as I'm around.
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1 comment:

David said...

I thought about your Pyrrhonism post when I saw this.