UFOs, schmoufos. I’m lying in my bathtub, staring at the clouds in the sky, when suddenly there’s a person hovering above me. Yes, in a hang glider. It’s still disturbing. The whole point of having a house that backs into nature is not to see people out of the window.
I’d honestly rather eat toenails than go in a hang glider. It’s terrifying! People are weird.
Remember back in the heyday of blogging? Jill Filipovic, Sadie Doyle, Amanda Marcotte – they were occasionally annoying but not batshit crazy.
I accidentally stumbled across the three of them on Twitter the other day, and they are certifiably nuts. Like howling at the moon nuts.
And by the way, I first thought it was the menopause that was not being kind to them but then discovered that all three are younger than me. Two of them are actually in their thirties. By the intensity of their rage at life, you’d think they are ancient old hags but no, it’s not the natural aging process that’s messing them up.
Speaking about coal miners, I had a bunch of them in my family. We’d go stay with them in the summer. I knew even as a small child that I was very different from them. My sensibilities, the way I spoke, everything about me was different. There was a lot of violence. My miner uncle would get drunk and beat his wife regularly. When we were around, he’d be on his best behavior and get drunk sullenly and silently alone because he knew we were fancy.
Romanticizing working class life and posing as working class is deeply stupid. There’s nothing superior about manual labor. There’s no virtue to it because workers aren’t “good savages.”
Russell Kirk speaks about the enormous – and profoundly negative – impact that Rousseau’s theories about “the natural state” has had on liberalism, and he’s right. In last week’s episode of Top Chef, a bunch of rich foodies invited Native American shamans to a meal. The shaman started to do an incantation about how “the food you have eaten now knows you and you have come in touch with our ancestral wisdom.” The rich foodies stood there, frozen in abject respect for the “ancestral wisdom.” For them, the shaman is “a good savage” who hasn’t been spoiled by civilization.
I wrote before about how I had to fight to preserve the word “civilization” in a course title. This is straight out of Rousseau. Civilization = bad, savages = good. We don’t call them savages any more, but the approach is the same.
In 1990, I went on a school trip to the UK. One of the excursions we were taken on was to a former coal mine which had been turned into a museum. The tour guide showed us the houses where early twentieth-century coal miners lived, their furniture, their clothes, their children’s toys.
Then the tour guide took us into the backyard and showed us a small wooden outhouse.
“Can you guess what this is?” he asked.
We stared at him dumbly because for Soviet children an outhouse was as common as a spoon. We couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be mysterious about the outhouse.
“Well, just try to guess!” the tour guide encouraged us, flinging the door open. “What do you think this is?”
We continued to stare dumbly because it looked like a pretty regular outhouse. Way too clean compared to the ones we were used to but it must have been gussied up for the tourists.
“It’s a toilet!” the tour guide exclaimed. “See? This is where people sat, this is what they used for toilet paper. Can you imagine? That’s what people had to do to use the bathroom!”
We were in our early teens, so we started collapsing with laughter caused by the realization that the tour guide was trying to educate us about outhouses.
The tour guide complained that we were insensitive to the suffering of the British working class, and our principal gave us a huge dressing down.
I wish my university followed the CDC guidelines because I feel bad for my secretary. She both had COVID and got vaccinated, so she must be completely immune. Plus, she’s young and healthy, so not at risk to begin with. Yet she has to wear a mask, which means that every time I come out of my office, she has to put the mask back on. The poor woman spends all day yanking the mask up and down.
But we haven’t even implemented the old CDC guideline to reduce social distancing from 6 to 3 feet. Masks are probably going to be mandated for the entirety of the next decade.
I have a strong feeling that Illinois will be the last state to remove the mask mandate, and my university will be the last school to notice.