"Speak when you are angry," said Ambrose Bierce, "and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
Four decades: Independent, honest, reliable Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online since 1983


Courting anger in the oldest democracy

June 28, 2015

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, Al Fasoldt

I hate people who insert politics into a dicussion of technology. So let me dislike myself for a few minutes while I tell you something.

The Supreme Court made some rulings this past week that made some folks happy and other folks unhappy.

What's new, right? America is a place where some people feel one way and some people feel another way. That's what makes us diverse. We are, after all, the world's oldest democracy. We prize our differences.


I'm afraid some of you think "right" is the wrong word.

My dad and my cubmaster taught me two really important lessons a long time back.

From my dad, the lesson was this: No matter who wins, the big thing is doing it. Translated, it means winning isn't all. It means you try your best and that's what counts. It means sometimes you don't win. Don't even come close to winning.

If you don't win, my dad told me, you congratulate the other guy. You put out your hand.

My cubmaster taught me another side of this. Sometimes, he said, you win by being lucky, not by being better. Cockiness is an inappropriate response to winning. And sometimes you lose by being unlucky, not by performing worse. Anger is an emotion that has no place in the loser's heart. Or in his mouth.

It was anger I heard this week. Somebody "won" and somebody "lost." Somebody got mad. Somebody forgot that we live, all of us, in a democracy. The world's oldest. Proudest.

When things don't go your way, my dad told me, you behave yourself. When you lose, my cubmaster told me, remember that anger makes you weak, not strong.

"Speak when you are angry," said Ambrose Bierce, "and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."

Al Fasoldt is a retired technology writer for The Post Standard newspaper in Syracuse, New York. His landmark column, Technofile, is the world's longest running online column, predating the Web by a dozen years. Read any of his thousands of current and previous columns at technofileonline.com.