Siege Diaries 1/8/2021

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Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What am I addicted to?

Addiction is a strong term for my bad habits (and doesn’t really quite describe the situation for the one habit I struggle with controlling the most).  I like my Coke Zero, and if I have a choice, I prefer to have it–but I do not depend on it to “wake me up.”   I’m aware of my news junkie tendencies–and have learned, especially over the past year, how to turn away from it for my own peace of mind–although the last two days have been a challenge.  I have had unhealthy eating habits in the past, and right now am working to put those back onto a good post-holiday footing, which I’ve done before and know I can do again.

Finger-picking is my weakness.  In the early days of the pandemic, where I was constantly washing my hands, I won a short-term victory over it.  It’s not really an addiction–more a kind of compulsive, almost unconscious, soothing behaviour.  Right now, my fingers look pretty good, and I’m going to give it another concerted effort to continue to consciously attack this habit.

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Another day, another internet outage.  Today it only took an hour to fix.  Seemed to be the same DNS issue.

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I have kept a relic of my first real memory of living through history.  I was only seven years old at the time that Richard Nixon resigned as President on August 9, 1974.  The front page from the Columbus Dispatch that accompanies this post is from the day before.   While I have dim memories of some other events that occurred earlier–some kind of trouble at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, some recollections of later lunar missions–I was old enough at this point to have an understanding of the significance of this event.  I had become a voracious reader of the newspaper as early as the first grade, and this was the summer before I entered the second grade, where I rather clearly recall taking over the “current events” bulletin board in my classroom.  This is, more than likely, the event that escalated my interest.  By the time of the election in 1976, I was deeply interested in politics, and even won an honourable mention in the Dispatch‘s kids’ political cartoon contest that year.  And, interestingly enough, that’s also where I started leaning Democratic.  I’ll admit to the fact that it was partially under the influence of a new girl in my 4th grade class that year who I was trying to make friends with (after that horrific third grade year when I only emerged with a couple of friends at the end of the year).  (It worked, incidentally–we were friends until her parents divorced and she moved away).

When I think about it, though, it’s fascinating that I kept this page.  My parents must have encouraged it–my parents, who were solid Republicans.  I have to wonder, in retrospect, what they were thinking.  I remember them liking Gerald Ford;  I don’t remember hearing much at all about Nixon after the resignation.  But they certainly did not stand by him.  No, at that point in history, the law and the Constitution were still paramount over party.

As I write, I hear that a new set of articles of impeachment are being drawn up by the House of Representatives.  Of course, the current president has already been impeached once–so I doubt this will provoke resignation.  Resignation, of course, would allow him to be pardoned, as Ford did for Nixon–but resignation would mean an acceptance that he did wrong, and I don’t think he’s capable of admitting that.  He released a video last night that one could accurately describe as a “hostage video”–clearly under pressure, he more or less conceded and committed to an orderly transition, but there was certainly no contrition.  He’s not capable of that.  Just a little over a hour ago, Twitter followed in Facebook’s footsteps and permanently suspended his account.

The House is certainly capable of impeaching him before the inauguration.  What would be a real litmus test as to the veracity of the contrition of key Republicans such as McConnell and Graham would be what would then happen in the Senate, which is in a kind of odd limbo state, as the election results for the two Georgia senators have to be certified before they can be seated, and Pence would be the balance of power if that would occur before the inauguration (which may not happen).   I’m not sure what happens to an impeachment once it’s happened and then the impeached person’s term expires before a trial happens, or when a trial is underway but not complete.  There are serious consequences for being found guilty in a Senate trial besides just removal from office — it could impact future ability to run for office, eligibility for pension and Secret Service details, and a variety of other benefits extended to former Presidents.   This article has some interesting discussion about the scenarios from a number of legal scholars.

Whatever the case, I am wondering about the seven-year-old news junkies out there today, and what, if anything, they might be stashing away to remember.  Physical newspapers aren’t much of a thing in 2021–but, then again, once it’s on the Internet, it’s in many ways forever.  And it also now preserves those moments in time for those who forgot to save the front page of the newspaper in 1974, as witness the New York Times.

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And since the damn thing has been swirling around my head for the past day, I went ahead with the Shostakovich 11th Sanderling recording today.   Faster tempos in the climatic sequence in the middle of the second movement and at the beginning of the fourth, combined with an effective ratcheting up of tension and the explosive percussion so effective in his recording of the 8th, in stark contrast with the sense of hazy cold that starts the symphony and the bleak, shuffling, funeral march of the third movement make this an outstanding recording–but I was leaning towards favouring Nelsons’ interpretation right up to those final notes on the bells–which Sanderling does not cut off, but lets resound out into nothingness.

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Speaking of nothingness, there is this:

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