A mind is a terrible thing to change

Socrates swallowed poison rather than humble pie


Charlotte Yee wants to change the perception that federal employees have a cushy jobs. She used to be an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics until a male superior chased her around a file cabinet last year. She filed a complaint with an administrative court where, she has come to discover, accusers have a one-in-four chance of victory — if they get to the appeal stage. Yee calculates that fewer than three percent of complaints get anywhere in the process. (note: the text that follows the hyphen was added after a correction from Yee, who is my friend. See details in comment number two below.)

Now Yee blogs on the the theme that, while federal employees may have cushy jobs, the price they pay is a slavish submission to superiors because they have no recourse to blow the whistle on malfeasance by superiors. In a recent posting Yee focused on the case of a plumber at a Department of the Interior facility near Lake Mead who:

gets accused of smearing doodoo on the toilet paper dispenser. The burden of proof is on the agency, which has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that the substance of the charge is more likely than not. . . . “[Ms. Carolyn Steward] was curious about what was in the neatly folded paper towel so she retrieved the paper towel from the trash and put it in a Ziploc bag.” . . . (the) guy gets canned . . . see it for yourself, I’ve printed it here in PDF

So why the painting of Socrates (above) drinking poison? I once read a book, “The Trial of Socrates,” that was written by now-deceased journalist I.F. Stone. He wondered how the Athenians, inventors or democracy, could have condemned this great thinker to death. I have linked to an interview in which Stone explains his forensic reporting on the trial, but it summarize, what he found was that Socrates was a member of what would have been the fascist clique of his day. And in a two-stage trial, after Socrates was first found guilty of sedition against Athenian democracy, he taunted and mocked his accusers. So instead of simply expelling Socrates from the city, the normal punishment, they ordered his death. One last juicy morsel. If you know the word “sophist” to be a person who specious arguments devoid of substance, dig this. Stone argues that it was Socrates who displayed that behavior. Plato, his disciple, hung the “sophist” label on the Athenian faction that defended the democracy. And it was Plato’s version of the trial that survived. Socrates got the last laugh. He lives forever in fame while his opponents wallow in shame!

Misconceptions can kill. Saddam Hussein has WMDs. Oh, wait, he doesn’t. Our bad. A group of teen-aged girls in Massachusetts made a pact to get pregnant. Or maybe not?

It’s so difficult to know what to think at times. Better not to think at all. Just shake your fist when Bill O’Reilly gets into his harangues. Those federal workers with their fat pension! If private sector folks can’t have ‘em, nobody should! The Austin Louge Lizards, a folk band,has a song about this intellectual race to the bottom. It’s called, “Teenage, immigrant, welfare mothers on drugs.” Hey, I hear those pregnant bitches are behind Al Qaeda, too!