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A Cat, a lamp, and the Presidency

May 28, 2008

“If you remember nothing else, never forget: The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.” I never forgot. I recalled the words of Mr. Ackroyd, my eighth-grade science teacher, at 5:38 this morning. I applied Snell’s Law to overcome my mind’s tendency to re-enact events as they might have happened, even if they could not have happened that way. I applied Snell’s Law as if a wrought-iron lamp would behave exactly as a beam of light would behave. And fortunately, somehow it did. The lamp hit the floor on a straight downward trajectory, and did not move a foot to the right to strike my head. I do not know exactly how the Cat accomplished this.

I have a disaster mentality; it took a few minutes to stop reconstructing things and thinking about what would have happened if the light bulb had shattered in my face. Actually, the bulb didn’t break at all. My husband sleeps on the side of the bed away from the killer lamp. Not presuming anything, he asked what happened.

“Nothing. The Cat just tried to frame you for murder.”

But the Cat, if he had any incentives at all, was foiled because his presumptions were off. He padded into the kitchen, tail in vertical alpha-cat mode, and ate for a few minutes, then threw up. This is my cue to get up and clean up his place setting (yes, he has a placemat with dishes at the table so I don’t have to bend to the floor to feed him) and give him fresher food. But his presumptions were off again. I decided he could wait till 6:00. In fact, I kept him waiting till 6:10.

Presumptions have been getting a lot of press these days. My Cat’s are no more attenuated from reality than those of anyone running for President. We have a new term in the national lexicon: “presumptive nominee.” What is that? Why bother with a convention? Why not just have a “presumptive electee” and be done with it?

But the American people aren’t as dumb as they look in the press. They’ll put up with stupidity. They’ll put up with “misspeaking.” They’ll put up with autonomic lying. But they won’t put up with the presumption of electability. It’s a ray of light the incidence of which I’ve been encouraged to see reflected.

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One Comment
  1. May 28, 2008 9:27 am

    Presumptive nominee, presumptive electee, virtual reality. I think they are all connected somehow.

    The Cat, at least, rests his presumptions on tangible things. And I think he has the presumption of innocence down pat.

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