We got computer

21 12 2016

So I’ll be collecting all of the sources and resources I’ve mentioned in these various ‘Life during wartime’ posts on the—hm, what should I call it? I KNOW—Life during wartime page.

Please do add any suggestions in the page’s comments (which I just enabled).

In the meantime, let’s listen to this series’s musical inspiration:

~~~

As I’ve said, I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The possibilities range from ordinary Republican (bad enough) to Oh holy hell-shit-fuck! and everywhere in between—and, honestly, given how little I now realize I know, anywhere outside of that range as well.

I tend toward thinking it won’t get as bad as it could possibly be (fascist takeover, nuclear war), but given that either of these are a rather plumper non-zero possibility than I, well, I would have thought possible two months ago, I have to keep them in sight—even if only out of the corner of my eye.

Reading about Weimar leads me (as I’ve banged on about repeatedly) to believe that we’re not Weimar, that the Liberal elements of our political culture are stronger and our democratic institutions sturdier than those German republicans were ever able to enjoy. And while we are a violent society, our levels of specifically political violence is, compared to Weimar, low.

But we are polarized, and a good chunk of our society—the economic sector—can’t be counted on as bulwark against authoritarianism: if they can make money off of this administration, they won’t oppose it.

Nor can we count on certain cultural institutions to take a stand in defense of Liberalism and pluralism.  It’s not at all clear that the news media will defend itself against attacks on it or on its reporters; a “scrupulous neutrality” may end up being more neutered than scrupled.

And Google, which used to think not being evil was important, refuses to adjust its algorithms regarding Holocaust denial (which has led to a campaign to fuck with that algorithm to drive the denial off the front page) and a search for “oven definition” offers this as the first item:

oven-googleYes, “a cremation chamber in a Nazi concentration camp.” Excellent, excellent. Right up there with Twitter reinstating the neo-Nazi Richard Spenser’s account,  or A&E’s planned series on the KKK.

And we on the left aren’t doing ourselves any favors with our sniping at those nearest to us rather than aiming our fire at the other side. I’m not against criticism (Santa Maria, I am not against criticism), but I’m seeing too much of the I WAS RIGHT/YOU SHUT UP variety and not enough of the What worked, what didn’t?

As Mark Twain is popularly attributed as saying, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

I don’t trust anyone who knows for sure why we lost, not least because I used to know for sure that Donald Trump would never be president. The sting to my ego, however, is nothing compared to damage to come—damage which will be even greater if we fight each other rather than the forces which threaten us all.

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Doctor, doctor

1 09 2013

Two things.

One, migraines suck. I know, not news, but I feel it’s important to mention.

Two, I wish my medical coverage (which is on the whole not-too-bad) included dental.

I have three unrepaired broken teeth, and while two of the three are molars and the problem with the front tooth isn’t too evident, I’d really like to get at least the front tooth and one of the molars (which, unlike its opposite on the other side of my mouth, keeps losing bits) fixed.

I also need eye surgery (which is a third thing, I guess), but I’ve been too lazy to deal with my insurer to find out what I need to git ‘er done-and-covered.

My last eye surgery, over a decade ago, was a relatively minor procedure, involving a short outpatient surgery under conscious sedation and a scrip for Vicodan. This one will necessarily be more complicated, tho’ not so much that I think it will require a hospital stay.

Still, I’m going to look—and feel—like I lost a bar fight, so I need to time it to my breaks in teaching. That shouldn’t be too difficult to do, but, y’know, I’d need actually to plan this all out and. . . blegh.

On the other hand, the problems with my peepers are getting progressively worse, so perhaps that will propel me finally to push past my procrastination.

The secret to my [lack of] success: wait for things to get sufficiently terrible to do something about them!





The planners get embarassed when the plans go wrong

14 04 2009

Do you remember the story ‘Harrison Bergeron’? A dystopian bit on an egalitarian future in which every, last, bit of life was planned and coordinated by, hm, I guess the government.

I think I read it for an undergrad pol sci class; I probably have the story stashed away somewhere in my files. (Yeah, I know: hanging on to undergrad files. Well, I did. Some of them. So fuck off.)

Twenty years, and that story stuck with me—perhaps because of the finale, in which our hero skittles a bucket of marbles across a crowded platform or sidewalk, disrupting what should have been an orderly commute.

At least that’s what I remember. Why bring it up now? Rod Dreher at Crunchy Con had a bit on ‘Nemesis Visions‘, i.e., a great anxiety about what could happen. He cribs from James Poulos (no, I dunno who he is), who states that To qualify for nemesis status, a vision must be coherent, compelling, and viable on a mass scale. Rod feared the rise of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (don’t ask, but if you want to know, check out Philip Rieff), and others worried over the loss of Absolute Truth or the triumph of Absolute Truth.

My Great Anxiety/Despair? I offered my worries over the closing of the society, that is, that unpredictability and uncertainty will fall to ever-greater administration and planning, and a sense of wonder or unfolding or just not knowing will be snuffed out.

As I noted, I’m not against planning for specific programs—hello, universal health care!—and I’m the kind of chica who, for example, created a list on tasks to finish before her spring break concludes. I like to be on time for appointments, carry a Swiss Army knife, and am the person who will always have band-aids, ibuprofen, acetominophen, and tampons on her, just in case.

Still, there’s a difference between trying to keep my shit together and, as I noted, a general ethic which requires that every aspect of life be managed. I try to keep my shit together precisely because I expect things to go to hell, and I want to be prepared. And while it’s annoying as hell to have one’s plans fly apart, it’s good to be reminded that just because one’s afternoon or whatever went off the rails, one’s life continues, unabated.

Or, to sum up all the wisdom that can be contained in a bumper sticker: Shit happens.

The general ethic of planning, however, is designed to forestall any kind of shit happening. In fact, a sense of moral wrongness attaches to not knowing exactly what is to happen next.

What are you going to do with your life/When are you going to get married/When will you settle down/What about a pension/What about kids/How are your kids spending the summer/What about building a resume/How will you ever get into college/What do you mean you don’t know/don’t care/it doesn’t matter. . . ?!!!!!

I hope you know that this will go down/on your permanent record/Oh yeah/Well don’t get so distressed/Did I happen to mention I’m unimpressed?

Yeah, I could have gone with a disquisition on Arendt, but I think the Violent Femmes struck exactly the right attitude.

There’s a longer post lurking within this one, on the melancholy proposition that, maybe, this long moment of openness, begun around the time of the Scientific Revolution, is coming to a close. And perhaps it is. But as long as there’s a world, there is possibility.

And marbles. Damn, I really should rifle my files for that story.