Saturday, March 25, 2017

Truth

When I was a kid, truth seemed simple. Over the last sixty years I learned that truth is not really simple at all. Truth can be surprisingly elusive, and finding it can require a whole lot of intelligence, energy and time.

Some devote their entire lives to finding truth.  They search for decades in the hope of discovering the truth about tiny slices of our reality. Think of astronomers, particle physicists and cancer researchers. Some philosophers have devoted their careers to thinking critically about the very meaning of truth. Those explorers are the vanguard in the quest for truth.

For most of us truth is more mundane than the study of cosmology and the meaning of life. "It's raining"; "I'm hungry"; "that shirt doesn't fit me well"; "it's dark out". Statements like these are easily verified. We measure truth with our eyes, our gut, our skin.

When it comes to things that others tell us, truth is more complicated, though we can usually verify what we are told. I test your honesty when you tell me "It's raining". Your coat is wet, I see the rain, I know it's true. As I learn that you speak the truth, I come to trust you. Once I trust you I simply accept what you tell me in the same way as when I see the rain myself. The truth we speak, and the trust we earn and share, are the bricks and mortar of our society.

How is the truth complicated?

It's complicated because we have all failed to tell the truth.

Failing to tell the truth does not automatically call our trustworthiness into question. We sometimes misperceive.

On a sunny summer day many years ago I walked past an outdoor movie set in a narrow street in Old Montreal. Someone indoors waking and peering out the window facing the movie set would have thought it was a gloomy rainy day. They might have misinformed a friend. Upon verification, their friend might have doubted their shared trust. More likely, the true friend would have questioned that statement. "I'm two blocks away and there isn't a cloud in the sky". Each of them would then have learned the truth about movie sets.

When enough people believe something that is not true, the lie appears to become the truth. Then we all become victims of falsehood.

"The earth is flat". That spectacular falsehood was perceived as truth for many centuries. All those who believed it did so because they verified the truth of the statement with their eyes. Eventually, scientists discovered the truth. "Earth is a sphere, the sun is a sphere, our world orbits the sun." Speaking the truth when most people believe something else can take enormous courage. Sometimes it can be life-threatening, even fatal.

One aspect of our humanity is that when the truth is inconvenient, we lie.

We lie to spare a friend's feelings ("No... that shirt doesn't make you look fat at all"). That's a 'white lie', a lie that might not bar your path to heaven - if you believe in that kind of thing.

When we lie, not to spare people's feelings, but to advance our own self-interest at the expense of others, the lie fades to black, veils, hides, buries the truth, and corrodes trust.

One of the challenges we face with truth is that finding the truth about complicated things can be quite difficult. To speak the truth concerning complicated things requires diligent work. As the scale of the task increases, when we need to speak the truth to a community, to a nation, to the world, on subjects where finding the truth requires hours and hours, and sometimes months and months, of hard focused work, truth often suffers. We take shortcuts, and truth erodes, along with trust.

On that scale, outright lies are so much easier to manage than truth. Lies simplify the job by orders of magnitude. Supporting public policy, particularly bad or evil policies that undermine democratic principles of equality and fairness, is much simpler with lies than with truth. The lies stack the deck in favour of the liar. Each convenient lie takes mere moments to conjur, and hour upon hour of diligent work to disprove. Faced with a tide of lies, dogged determination and real courage are needed to seek and speak the truth, in order to maintain the trust our society is built on.

When we tolerate a liar in our midst, we turn our backs on truth. When we lose the truth, we lose trust, and we place our society in grave danger. Scientists, judges and journalists are those among us who seek truth and make it public. They maintain the foundations of democracy. When scientists, judges, and journalists come under vigorous attack by liars, as they are in this moment, the risk to democracy becomes intolerable.

Truth is independent of politics. No one can claim a monopoly on truth. Whether liberal or conservative, devout or agnostic, each of us has a sacred duty to promote truth. Each and every one of us has a duty to seek and speak the truth.

Make no mistake. This is a call to vigorous action.

Here is a short list of things you need to do in this time of peril:

  • Subscribe to a reputable newspaper and read it daily;
  • Watch responsibly reported television news;
  • Speak the truth;
  • Call a liar a liar;
  • Start doing this now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Unexpected recognition: Top 100!

I received word over the weekend that Life on two wheels was recognized, based on social media metrics, as one of the top 100 motorcycle blogs.

I can't begin to express what a pleasant surprise that is.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Coasting for oysters: Lostboater's Oyster Tour

I know some of you have been anxiously waiting for episode four of the vlog.

But first I have incredible news!!

On Monday, February 27th, 2017, I rode my Vespa all the way to the south western end of greater Toronto to fetch some parts for our living room lighting. That was a first. I feel almost bullish about global warming (no, not really).

Well back to the matter at hand. Wait no more, here is episode four. If I were a more proficient producer, director, editor, sound man, camera man, script writer, and cinematographer, episode four would have landed in your inbox yesterday.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hangin' with legends

Thanks for your patience.

Here at last is Episode 3 of Life on two wheels, the vlog.



In this episode I meet up in northern Florida with three Vespa legends. Ken Wilson, Jim Mandle, and Bill Leuthold.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rider profile: Bill Leuthold

Name: Bill Leuthold
Find me on Earth: Jacksonville, Florida in the historic neighborhood of Avondale.
Find me Online: Rocket and Me
Interview Date: Thursday, February 9, 2017
Interview Location: Cedar Key, Florida

Bill near Klosters, Switzerland

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rider profile: Ken Wilson

Name: Ken Wilson
Find me on Earth: St. Petersburg, Florida, sometimes
Find me Online: lostboater.comMotorcycle Men Podcast interview
Interview Date: Thursday, February 9, 2017
Interview Location: Cedar Key, Florida


Monday, February 6, 2017

I hit the road, Jack

At long last, it's episode 2 of Life on two wheels, the Vlog.

I has been a long day folks.

Episode 2 crashed my iMac, at least twice.


As promised I returned and added some show notes, useful links, a hint or two about what I'm up to, a list, and some other stuff too.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Leap of faith



This is a first, and you are witnessing history.

Last week I got a little lift courtesy of Ted Kettler's Motorcycle Men podcast when he interviewed me. I say a little lift because that interview took me from publishing my thoughts here in writing to sharing my thoughts in audio on his podcast.

I have had to scramble the rest of the way up to the windswept pinnacle of video blogging (or 'vlogging').

Let me know what you think.

I am brimming with a few vlog topics so this may not be the end (unless you are particularly cruel, in which case I'll take you on in a Twitter duel).

Finally, in response to David Blackburn, here are pics of those business cards. They are hot out of the mailbox:



 


Friday, January 20, 2017

So what the hell am I up to?

That's what Sonja asked a few days back. But so much more politely, I hasten to add.

I feel that I need to say something to break the suspense, you all deserve some kind of an accounting.

Things have been hectic and I have had my hands full (Christmas and the holidays, professional stuff, estate settlement tax reporting stuff, the stuff below (read on), and on, and on.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

31 days...

... hath December.

This is the second year that December sees me still in the saddle. My last jaunt on the Vespa in 2015 was on the 8th of December.

On Thursday the first of the month I rode downtown for a fruitful meeting at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Scribbled - Voting in a Democracy

Susan is a little concerned. She may be right.

Lately I have taken to sending e-mails to Toronto Star columnists. I have also written to the Prime Minister on two or three occasions.

We're not talking about angry Tweets, or dozens of e-mail messages, or about indiscriminate rants, much less unpleasant ad-hominen diatribes aimed at reporters and politicians. Still, Susan's concern is certainly warranted (she doesn't want me morphing into either Statler or Waldorf, those angry old muppet men).

That said, I may be done with the few topics that recently prompted me to take to my keyboard.

This morning I was ingesting my daily ration of news (Toronto Star, New York Times, and Quartz) and found it largely indigestible. This is a steady diet of worrisome stuff, after all. I can't write letters every time I read an item that rattles my cage. I'd spend my days doing nothing but. I certainly shouldn't devote too much time airing my concerns here, right? Who cares what I think, anyway?

So that may be it for a while.

Let me say this though.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PMS

We humans are ruled by hormones, pheromones, and craveomones.

Many years ago we were sitting around the kitchen table. We were eating something good, but it couldn't have been entirely healthy. The kids began to read the ingredients on the labels of the jars and other containers on the table. That's when someone discovered that one of the condiments claimed it contained "flavonoids".

It only took mere fractions of a second for us to invent "tasterenes".

In that same vein, yesterday I discovered that craveomones were ruling my body.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Life after snow?

Winter is here.

I was rummaging in the storage locker today. For a brief moment I considered the Vespa's winter storage cover. Then I tossed it back on the shelf.

Snow, shmow. I'm in no mood to close the book on riding for 2016. It might happen, it might not.

The truth is that Toronto is new to me. I'm pinning my hopes on the lake effect.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fall riff

Summer lasted forever.

And then there was fall. As often happens, when summer ebbs and leaves us contemplating the looming winter, life gets busy.

What have we been up to? We've been busy.

In mid-October I joined fellow members of the Toronto Motor Scooter Club and headed northeast towards Georgian Bay.


This is the ride that marked the arrival of fall.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.