Frog Legs and You

Maybe you remember that experiment in science or biology class where they zapped a leg of a freshly killed frog and the leg extended like the frog was jumping. Then your teacher zapped it again, and once more the leg sprang to full extension. But soon you saw that additional zaps resulted in less and less leg movement, until at last the leg didn’t even twitch when it was zapped. That’s known by science brainiacs as the “Zap the frog too much” experiment. The reason it’s too much, at least in part, is because of the overload of stimulation.

Turns out, we’re just like that frog leg. You may have become desensitized to things like extremist right wing insanity because of the incessant pummeling you’ve taken over the past few decades and especially now. You’ve learned that there is no bottom, no low that’s too low for these people, so that what was once scandalous and provoked you to yell at your TV, now just stimulates you to grab another handful of popcorn. And that’s dangerous.

Maybe you’re sick of Covid – who isn’t? – so you turn away from news and discussion about the pandemic. That’s understandable. But there’s a new variant on the way here from Europe and my understanding is that it’s as contagious as the Omicron variant. I don’t know how lethal it is or whether our current vaccines will protect us against serious illness and death from it. That’s because I’m sick of hearing news about Covid and have left myself ignorant. And that’s dangerous.

Late addition: Here’s a good report on the new variant. You need to see this.

Let’s connect that to another piece of dangerous human craziness.

I was noodling about our uncivil discourse, our toxic tribalism and our extremists calling for a new civil war. That evolved into some back of the envelope calculations and I discovered a shocking number.

The population of the United States in 1861 was 31,429,891. Our Civil War resulted in approximately 620,000 dead Americans. If we were to have another Civil War and we were as efficient at killing one another as our antecedents were, our current population of 329,500,000 citizens would produce about 6,500,000 dead Americans. It would be the equivalent of the Covid pandemic more than six times over.

So, to those who are calling for secession or a new Civil War, is that what you really want? Seriously? You want six-and-a-half million dead bodies? Are your rage and hatred so enormous that you want to trigger another Holocaust, but this time entirely of Americans?

Maybe it’s time to ratchet down the demonizing of neighbors. Maybe it’s time to turn off your QAnon feed. Yes, I’m aiming at the far right, because whatever far lefties are saying I’m not hearing any them calling for violence upon those who disagree. I’m not hearing preposterous lies from them.  They have some out-there opinions, yes, but not lies. I really don’t think this is a both sides issue. I may well be wrong about that, so I welcome your enlightenment via the Comments section below.

Yes, we should turn down the rhetoric, but here’s the thing. You and I have had our froggy sensibilities zapped so many times by what are demonstrably outrageous lies intended to infuriate that it’s easy, even demanding, that we ignore the stimulus and not even twitch in our disagreement. That’s very dangerous.

If we fail to stand up to the attacks we will invite far worse. It’s like the failure of the world to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s murderous ways in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Crimea and the Donbas. That we sat on our hands while he committed war crimes led to his invasion and the laying waste of Ukraine.

Challenging as it is, we have to stand fast for what we know is right. We don’t have to respond to every lie or every absurd conspiracy theory intended to stoke hatred. But we humans are designed to act when we sense danger, so we have to recognize it even when we’re saturated and our froggy legs want to remain unresponsive.

Passive is not our job. Our job is to protect and defend, because our Constitution is supposed to be a living document and it only lives if we make it live. It’s time for all of us to extend a leg.

That means taking action, which is the exact intention of the sentences in green that lead the bottom section of all my posts. It’s about full leg extension. Indeed, pass this along to three friends, because they and we need their legs extended, too.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from Frank Bruni of the New York Times, writing about extremist Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was caught flagrante delicto in insurrectionist text messages that the January 6 committee is investigating.

“What a terrifying moment, in which the wife of a serving Supreme Court justice unabashedly exploits her insider access, ignores the idea of checks and balances, promotes conspiracy theories and essentially endorses insurrection. Her conduct isn’t some passing curiosity. It’s a sign of the times. And it’s a warning to us all.”


The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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2 Responses to Frog Legs and You
  1. Edward Kant Reply

    While I whole-heartedly agree with all you say in this Disambiguation, I cannot help but note that, for the most part, you are preaching to the choir.

    My hope is that there are enough uncommitted or on-the-fence individuals who will also get the word and realize that they are also part of the problem.

    A shrill, loud alarm can wake one up, but how many Tucker Carlsons does it take to wake up an entire segment of the population…

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Exactly so, Ed. The key is to spread the word to enlist more of us.