Ephemera: 2023-05, 2023-06
I have friends who in 2023 have occasion to leave their house and they return with breathless reports of how few people at the airport were wearing masks. They cluck to each other at how sad it is that humanity seems to have given up the fight against the Coronavirus. Meanwhile my prison friend says that he’s probably had Coronavirus a half dozen times. He says he doesn’t want to get a vaccination because he really doesn’t trust the government.
Time Magazine likes to talk about how great it is to have been Time magazine in the past. An attentive reader is in and out in fifteen minutes.
The New Yorker Magazine will explain that living in New York today has it’s moments, but that the world is full of meaty goings on and it can be fascinating to explore a few of these things in depth if you have a few hours to kill. Or just look at the cartoons. This is New York, after all.
Public Transit advocates are concerned that because of a lack of funding and a lack of riders, public transit could soon enter a death spiral which means they cut back services so fewer people ride so they cut back services, etc.
This morning, the highway was closed down on both sides because of a multiple car pileup. Death Spiral. My children and I rode our bikes to school. On the way back some douchebag in a truck felt obliged to honk his horn at me because he had to detour around the Death Spiral and what kind of jerk rides a bicycle down a narrow neighborhood street?
On our way to the gate, we saw a pack of soldiers, dressed in fatigues. I got excited, a tingle, to see they were Ukraine soldiers. “Slava Ukraine,” said I. I noticed at least three prosthetics among them. A nice blade foot and two guys with claw hands. My guess is that they hadn’t come to the US for training, but for some leave, earned hard.
They got their bearings, turned around and returned in the direction they had come. Were they coming or going? When people are surviving a war, the future is especially hazy.
“Any questions,” asks the waiter.
“… why is it so expensive?” Asks our older son.
“Questions about the food,” we prompt him.
But his is a good question. The food is expensive, but we have money. But when I was growing up, we wouldn’t eat at a place this expensive. We had money but not the kind of money his family grows up with. He is aware of his privilege. We want him to grow up not to be an entitled jerk. If he is occasionally questioning the Price of Things, I guess we aren’t doing so bad?
He knows he has Privilege. Why does his family have more money than others, I ask myself. Shouldn’t we all make the same … shouldn’t we be equal?
I think to myself, I have said it before, for the same money, I would wait tables. Computers are engaging but helping people is emotionally rewarding. The market economy says pay the computer technicians more to incentivize them to use the rare skills we all so desperately need. You can’t have all the computer guys wandering off to serve in more emotionally rewarding roles!
Or can you? Necessity .. invention ..
Ursula Le Guin. I think of the novel about a planet where the people have no gender, except for the brief periods where they need to mate. Their planet is Socialist. Or was it Anarchist? People are assigned jobs for a period of time by a computer. A fair system. Maybe not as efficient as we prize.
I think I would enjoy not doing the same career forever. But the money … I can not complain too loudly. This frustration is enviable.
Helping people is a reward in itself. Early on, I preferred IT. Or, as I called it: Information Services. But the economic path of the profession seeks to divorce itself from the “cost center” of “helping people work more effectively” to the prestige concept of “Engineering” … Systems Administrators call themselves DevOps now, which is a nonsense word that connotes “Developer Operators,” I guess?
I was thinking about National Service the other day. I have long thought it would be maybe not such a bad thing if we “earned” the right to vote by demonstrating our personal commitment to our collective success. But it needn’t just be a year or six months in your youth. The tree of liberty needs constant watering. Every decade or so, spend a few months helping out. In the classroom. In the streets. On the land. Cleaning a public restroom. Doing what needs doing. Helping a family with paperwork at the hospital or the funeral home. Learning the skills we will all need at some point.
The people who run the computers. The people who run our businesses. The people in charge. The People with Privilege. These are all folks who could use some better context in their “day jobs” just as anyone and everyone could use an open pair of eyes. To ask the questions worth asking.
I have a friend who posts trench warfare videos on his Facebook. I see a lot of Russian soldiers get killed each week. I take a dose of joy and sadness at the same time.
My sympathy for people who had everything and paid a bunch of money to a charlatan and signed all the disclaimers for the adventure of riding in a janky submarine … good for them. They died as they lived. Lives of privilege. They have no need of my sympathy.
Some guy from a rust belt mining town in the Ural mountains who signed up to die in a shit-stained trench in a propaganda video on Facebook. He made a bad choice among bad options. My feels for that guy, and his family.