So I'm in the Atlanta airport at breakfast time, and I have half an hour before my flight to Greensboro is scheduled to board. The nearest food place that looks promising is Atlanta Bread Company.
We really liked Atlanta Bread Company when they had a restaurant on Westover Terrace, and because they take bread seriously, what could go wrong?
Answer: Nothing. I got their egg-and-cheese bagel with bacon and from the first bite it was delicious.
Here's my question: Why was it that Atlanta Bread Company could put a square slab of scrambled egg on that sandwich, and it actually had a realistic egg-like taste?
I mean, when I tried McDonald's Sausage Biscuit with Egg, the dry-as-dust, chalk-flavored biscuit left plenty of opportunity for the egg to stand out.
Instead, the egg was as flavorless as ... well, I was going to compare it to something that I don't want to explain how I know what it tastes like. But trust me: Nothing that tasted like Actual Egg.
But I finally figured it out. Atlanta Bread Company used real hen-laid eggs in their slab-o-scrambled-egg preparation.
Not that McDonald's is fibbing when it calls the eggs on its biscuits "eggs." I'm sure that everything began with female chickens squeezing out eggs. It's just that somewhere along the way, the preparations imposed on the McDonald's eggs remove from them anything that would signal my nose or taste buds that anything chickenish had ever been involved in the creation of that sandwich.
But it can be done -- Atlanta Bread Company does it.
Maybe it has to do with making an eggish mixture and shipping it in frozen blocks or food-quality tank trucks or plastic gallon jugs -- I have no idea how they ship it -- and therefore processing it so that when you fry it up it has an eggy texture and color.
But maybe they train some of those $15-an-hour employees right there in each McDonald's to break open fresh eggs every day, and then find a way to remove all the flavor before putting them on a biscuit.
Atlanta Bread Company hasn't discovered this process yet, which is why they will never be a huge worldwide corporation like McDonald's.
Best thing about the Egg McMuffin: You know it was made with an egg.
I'm listening to the Great Courses lectures on Nietzsche (and it's one test of your education whether you know how to spell his name without looking it up; I worked hard in eighth grade to learn it, and as long as I put the z in the right place, I'm set); (another test is whether you say "NEE-chee" or "NEE-chuh"; which is not like the test on pronouncing Bach -- either with a final k sound or the German gliding voiceless ch or the emphatic guttural Hebrew ch -- which is actually a test of how much of a jerk you are, with the simple k sound being the only non-jerk pronunciation for an American); (the Don Quixote test is much more benign: If you say "kee-HO-tay" you're trying to be authentic, while if you say "QUICKS-oat" you're an old-fashioned Brit, because when the sun never set on the British Empire, they pronounced anybody's language exactly as it looked to an Englishman).
So yeah, as I was saying, I was listening to the course on Nietzsche, and in order to put Nietzsche's philosophy in context, they're talking about Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the pre-Socratics, Schopenhauer, Hegel, and, like, anybody else who ever philoed a soph.
And one thing that comes up is, Nietzsche had a problem with Socrates (as depicted by Plato) because he hated real life. Nietzsche came down on Dionysian side: that life itself is joyful, on balance, even counting all the pains, woes, and tragedies that afflict us.
In other words, Life Is Good.
Whereas Plato was on the side of: This life isn't real. Happiness only comes in the Real World, and this isn't it. Which Nietzsche identified as being the root of the Christian displacement of joy into heaven.
And because we live in a nation with an established church, which relentlessly uses the machinery of government and mob rule to persecute any heretics who don't show absolute submission to the ever-shifting dictates of the religion of Tolerance and Love, my thoughts turned to the question of how to categorize the philosophy of the politically correct.
This is not a moot point. We can live for decades in a country where bathrooms are sorted by sex, so that women and girlchildren can feel safe from predatory males. Then, suddenly, anybody who wants to put on a dress -- or merely claim that they identify as a woman regardless of apparel -- is now allowed into those restrooms.
Set aside the obvious fact that group bathrooms have always been a horrible idea, and public restrooms should be one-person-at-a-time private stalls with toilet and sink, which are then completely scoured after each use.
For six months this absurd and pointless intrusion on the privacy of women becomes the law in one absurd and pointless North Carolina "city," until the state legislature passes a law that returns us to the status quo ante, along with language designed to keep other cities from passing laws to enforce conformity with the dogmas of the Established Church.
But now a return to the simple, safe rules that protected women for generations have become Heresy, and the state that dares to defy the new dogma is worthy of a boycott by all of the Total Conformists. Suddenly the practices that were universal a year ago are a hideous crime, a rebirth of fascism, a virtual pogrom against the transgendered.
And I wondered: Is there a philosophy here? Unlike medieval Christianity, there's no effort at logic or consistency or even evidence. We have to take anthropogenic global warming on faith -- and then prosecute any scientist who insists on rejecting theories that are contradicted by all the evidence.
We have to believe in "feminism" even though feminists completely flip-flopped on Bill Clinton diddling a young woman who was obviously on the small end of the power differential, and feminists now are silent about protecting women who were or might be victims of male sexual predators; it seems the only dogma of feminism that the Established Church cares about is that you have to be in favor of killing babies.
But then it dawned on me. The Established Church isn't about ideas, and therefore the tools of analysis don't apply. The Established Church is all about feelings, and the ruling emotion in every action of the Established Church is:
Oh, they claim to be about Tolerance and Love, but they have a highly limited list of whom to tolerate and whom to love. Transgender: On the list. Victim of sexual predators: Off the list. Gays who demand the name of "marriage" for their liaison: On the list. Christians for whom marriage, strictly defined, is a holy sacrament: Off the list.
Mel Gibson, for saying anti-semitic remarks while drunk: Off the list. Anti-Israel college professors for whom no Islamist terror group can possibly kill too many Jews: On the list.
If you're off the list -- no matter how recently and without public discussion the list has been amended -- then you are to be hated, publicly scorned, deprived of the means of livelihood, hauled into court, silenced in all public forums, treated as a nonperson, and this must go on forever because this is a religion without forgiveness.
Notice how short a timelag there was between Bruce Jenner's big publicity push and the demand that all "transgendered" people must be called by their new name and with pronouns appropriate for their new "gender." Notice that instantly anyone who expressed disapproval was the object of outspoken hatred.
Why, the opposition to this change hardly had time to realize it was happening before the Established Church got its Total Conformists in various cities to legislate complete access to the Women's Room for any man who claims gender "confusion."
Notice, finally, that adherence to the old rules -- which protected women -- became a heresy, a crime, a reason for the Hollywood Hate Squad to Hate Hate Hate.
Hate is the chief value of the Established Church. It's the reason they exist. It's the feeling that binds them all together. (That and smug self-congratulation because they All Hate the Right People.)
They are relentless in their hatred.
If you want to understand the Salem Witch Trials, or the persecution of the Jews in medieval Europe or modern Germany and Russia or contemporary Muslim countries, you only have to look at the way these Total Conformists march in goose-step lock-step as they form mobs that shout down, punish, isolate, and expel anyone who says a word or takes an action in support of another belief system.
The most pernicious symptom of this movement toward Total Conformity is the way intellectuals from areas completely ruled by the Established Church -- Seattle, San Francisco, Manhattan, Los Angeles, most universities, most national media outlets -- cannot even imagine how anyone might balk at their iron-fisted rule.
They make all the cooing noises of peace-loving tolerant kind loving people -- "Can't you open your mind to the possibility that ..." -- while remaining completely oblivious to the fact that the minds that are utterly closed, and the hearts filled with rage and hate, are their own.
And someday, when the Church of Hate loses power, they won't understand why people didn't like living under their rule. "All we wanted was a more open, tolerant society." Yeah, but it sure looked like all you wanted was to Get Your Way and Shut Everybody Else Up.
But because you make rules without first trying to build consensus, and without tolerating any discussion, and without making any allowances for the conscience of others, it sure feels like oppression to those of us who believe in evidence, diversity of thought, democracy, and the value of free speech, a free press, and open inquiry. Oh, yeah -- and freedom of religion.
So when I was in Los Angeles last week, I proudly told people that I'm from North Carolina, which usually brought comment about our "awful" new law -- and said that, while no law is ever perfect, I'm proud of our state legislature for standing up against the tsunami of insane, intolerant social change.
Of course, they had to cease speaking to me immediately -- those who were Total Conformists within the Established Church. No heretic can be allowed to pollute the purity of their ignorance.
But most of the time, the response I got was, in a nutshell, "Yes! That's how I feel about it!" even though, in almost every case, their tone had been scornful of our law until I spoke up in its favor.
Because few regular people actually believe in the dogmas of the Established Church. They just know that if they don't talk as if they believed, the consequences are likely to be unbearable.
You know, like the citizens of Communist countries before liberation. Like Afghanis under the Taliban. Like Palestinians under the rule of terrorist governments. Like citizens of Seattle.
on the art and business of science fiction writing.
Over five hours of insight and advice.
Recorded live at Uncle Orson's Writing Class in Greensboro, NC.
Available exclusively at OSCStorycraft.com