TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Dark Genius Of Humanity

How many really know you? How many know of your fear, your sadness, your shame, your anger, your depression? They are questions worth asking at any time, but particularly this week.

I had no clue who Kate Spade was, so her suicide registered faintly, but the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death jolted me. I saw a lot of living, a lot of pain in his 61-year old face, but he was traveling the world, doing things that most of us can only dream of doing, with joie de vivre and roguish panache. And dead now, from his own hand, in his France hotel room.

How many knew the truth of his life?

I’ve come to believe that the great tragedy of humanity is not our inevitable pain, the frailties and struggles but the isolation so many of us feel. The great Catholic writer, Henri Nouwen, a transparent sufferer himself, famously said that what is most personal is most universal. By that he meant that those frailties are precisely what we have most in common with others. Yet we remain inclined to believe that we are unique, comparing our tattered insides with the outsides of others, not knowing that most of those others pretend like we pretend. The dark genius of humanity is our great ability to conceal the truth of our insides from one another. We are all such great actors.

I was damn good at it, too. In the mid-1990s, when I was enjoying success and recognition in my career, I was dying inside. I understand suicide, how the terrible disease of depression can trump all love and logic. I also understand how isolating depression can be. I’m lucky to be alive myself, frankly, lucky that the choice I eventually made was to try and defy the disease and reach out to others, Fred Rogers included.

I’ve traveled a long road to heal —  know that it takes patience and loads of self-acceptance, and trusted others who know the truth about your insides and find it a privilege to walk with you, sharing their own truths along the way. Finding those people takes some discernment … but they are everywhere, waiting.

This week I spent sacred hours talking about the deepest things with friends who know me to my marrow, who have walked with me through the darkness and now accompany me to this amazing place of light and peace. This week I read of skyrocketing suicide rates, and celebrity suicides and can’t help but wonder, how many really knew those who died.

RON SCHALOW: Prevaricator Port — Featuring New Lies!

To review:

Rob Port is a blogger. It’s his calling, I guess. And Port writes plenty of things that just aren’t so. Fictional, as the English language puts it. I assume he tells the same stories on the radio, but the pitch of his voice makes my toenails recede.

Furthermore, Kevin Cramer’s loyal basset hound is not an expert on anything, although he likes to give that impression.

He has called for North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani to be fired. Does Rob know the first thing about running a university. No. Learning. No. Did anyone care about his demand. Nope.

Walk onto a construction site, Professor Port, and make a few suggestions. Walk out of the construction site with an ass full of nails. Those men and women like their nail guns. Who wouldn’t? Port.

For Donald Trump, the unofficial psychiatric diagnosis is called narcissistic personality disorder — and a few other quirks. People are saying things. Except Port.

Many preschoolers think that Trump’s last name is “falsely claimed.”

Rob also scribbles a column for the Forum Communication Co., which is generally just a rewrite of one of his blog posts.

Or, as was the case this past Sunday, he copied off the paper of one his “associates,” as he calls the writers with education and talent. So, ForumCo blasts the blog posts and columns across the state, giving the lad a cred he never had. A paying job.

The Big P will intentionally fabricate, with full knowledge of his of his fib, or dream something up and presume it’s correct because, well, he’s Rob Port. Either way, he doesn’t care.

Port is the perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Dialed up to 10.

“The Dunning-Kruger research hypothesizes that the competent overestimate others’ skill levels. But the error is more complicated for the incompetent — they overestimate their own skill level and they lack the metacognition to realize their error. In other words, they were too incompetent to recognize their own incompetence.” — Patheos

Of course, as with most things, the Portweasel has problems understanding science. As climate change denier, he assumes that his Minot High School diploma trumps the doctorates of thousands of scientists because, well, he’s Rob Port. Old news.

Then, there’s math.

In 2015, the North Dakota Legislature, replete with Republicans, lowered the extraction tax levied on oil producers from 6.5 percent to 5 percent. It’s written down. But in defiance of mathematical absolutes, the groin-pull king repeatedly insists that the decrease never happened.

Explain it to him all you want, but his calcified brain cells won’t concede that 5 is less than 6.5. It’s pretty harmless, since only a moron savant could follow the machinations he went through on a legal pad to make the case that 5 = 6.5. Or even that 5 is greater than 6.5.

As deceitful as the tufted capuchin monkey, Robbie is bound by Dothraki law, too, shill for anything oily, including the North Dakota GOP, and Trump Jr.’s hair.

And this.

Since the Trump tax scam, the spin to make middle-income folks believe that they will personally see a gain has built up a lot of inertia. Higher gas prices will swallow most — if any — benefit, but that isn’t in the narrative. If Cramer howls to protect his position as one of Trump’s bestest benign moles, Port follows suit.

And it’s here where math evades him again, as Port tells readers: North Dakotans have gained the most “on average” of the states from the tax cut. Supposedly $2,100 each. But tiny bubbles doesn’t understand what average means.

Tell the lad that if 10 people get $10 to share, the average is $1 per person. Yet, the average is still $1, if one of the people gets $9, and the others get change. Like a marble countertop, nothing gets through, and Port will repeat the deceptive figures, over and over.

And the worst lie.

Pontificating about mental health and the nature of suicide is dangerously stupid.

On May 3, in Grand Forks, Astra Volk shot her three children, then herself, with a pistol she purchased the day before. It was a horrible tragedy.

Then somebody, on Twitter, or somewhere, floated the idea, that perhaps Volk shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun.

Port sniffed out that truffle and explained in detail why the gun was of no consequence to the murders and suicide. He is only a few thousand credits short of becoming a doctor, but lack of knowledge never slows the bowling ball down.

The sale was legal. None of her cries for help were answered, and she surely was not of a mental state to have a gun in the house, but the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database is in shambles (by design), and the Department of Human Resources in this state is being starved (by design), so Volk was missed.

Ideologues of Port’s brand are against such frivolous services anyway, so he cheers when any department to help people gets slashed.

Here’s the egregious falsehood.

Port, the MHS graduate, writes: “We should acknowledge that denying someone like Volk access to a gun does not mean we can prevent them from doing something to hurt themselves or others. Volk chose to inflict harm with a firearm. She could have easily chosen an automobile, as Susan Smith did in 1994. Or poison, as Therese Roever did earlier this year.”

The intellectual, in his own mind, doesn’t know what Volk would have done, minus the gun.

And that’s not how it works. I know this through personal trials and by doing scads of research over the course of decades. But I’m not a doctor, either, so what do authentic experts say?

“It is often said that people would kill themselves anyway, even if they didn’t have access to guns,” says Dr. Paul Nestadt, a postdoctoral fellow in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s psychiatric epidemiology training program.

“There is an entire body of research that tells us that is simply not true.”

He pointed to previous research that found 71 percent of people acted on suicidal thoughts within an hour of having them.

“If there is no gun around, many people won’t have the means to follow through on those impulses, or would use a less lethal method with a much greater chance of survival,” Dr Nestadt said.

“Suicide is an impulse and can only be carried out by firearm if there is a gun in the drawer. Any barrier you can put up can work.” — The American Journal of Managed Care

This issue is way too complex for the amateur to diagnose. Shilling for the NRA doesn’t make you educated, or smart.