Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Current book, FANTASYLAND

The current book is called FANTASYLAND How America Went Haywire, A 500 year History, by Kurt Anderson. I'm not quite done, but I've caught up to current events. The book is pretty good, a series of essays on various periods and forms of craziness. It's getting a bit repetitious, but that's because Americans keep falling for the same stupidities.

The short story isn't that America isn't newly crazy, it's been crazy right from the start. Religious whackadoodles of every persuasion and hucksters selling every variant of snake oil they could imagine are just the beginning.

In my own lifetime I see the differences in grownups. When I was a kid, being a grownup was the thing. You could drink, you could drive (and far too many did it in that order) you could stay up late and party with the opposite sex, you could indulge in whatever hobbies you could afford. You were expected to vote, go to church at least some of the time, hold a steady job, provide for your family or stay at home and raise the family (and back then nobody looked down at stay at home moms because that's what many moms did), and generally have at least reasonable answers for tough questions.

It's all come unglued. Back about 20 years I was visiting some friends in California, and chatting with their high school age children. They said of people a little older than me, "they're from the sixties, it's like they don't even know the internet happened." One of those kids had a buddy who was essentially the parent in that house. If he didn't pay the bills or bring food home, it didn't happen. The parents were stoned much of the time. I didn't ask where the money came from. In a harsher time they would be dead. It wasn't so long ago that just being unlucky or being in the wrong place at the wrong time was a fatal mistake. Even the best decisions were barely good enough. One can't make good decisions when stoned.

I was brought up by people that lived through the dirty 30's and the immediate aftermath. It was a brutal time. I remember being a small child grocery shopping with my grandmother. She knew to the penny how much money she had, and knew better than the store clerk what the price of various items was. This, of course, was long before there were bar codes on everything. People made careful, responsible decisions about money and jobs. You had to. The social safety net was your immediate relatives and whatever you might have saved up.

Now I look at the decisions people that appear to be grownups make, and I'm baffled. If you've never seen the People of Walmart, google it and be horrified. People that think what they see on TV is real, and that being just like those people is a worthy goal. People that seriously think the earth isn't a sphere, that vaccines are poison, that the world will end soon, and any number of other equally foolish beliefs. People that think immigrants are uneducated layabouts living on welfare plotting terrorism, but who can none the less steal your job. People that think fat old rich white men make wise decisions about the economy, and have the well being of the average voter in mind.

I could go on. And on and on and on. Even worse, these people don't see the problem. Why can't they believe what they want to believe? Listen to a flat-earther try to explain how evidence of a spherical earth isn't true, and what knots they have to tie themselves into explain how a flat earth works. Now imagine someone so irrational being put in charge of something important, like a major country.

Surprise! We don't have to imagine it. All Canadians have to do is look south. I keep thinking that there has to a be a moment of collective "What was I thinking?" happening, but it hasn't happened yet, and worse, shows no appearance of being about to happen. Right now, Russia owns and operates the President of the USA, along with the collusion of Congress because they're the oligarchs at the top now. Who knows what's next? I'm sure China will want their turn at running it, and will take whatever action seems appropriate. At least it won't be a shooting war; one doesn't burn down the house you own while trying to evict the unruly tenants.

Right now the general public is being distracted by the Trump train wreck. That show is like the tiny portion of the photo below that's actually in focus, a bit of the petals. But there's so much more. The flower looks entirely different if you change your view. The bees are only interested in the centre parts that are producing nectar. The gardener is interested in that blue pot that makes up the blurry background. Then there's all the other flowers in the rest of the garden, to say nothing of the remainder of the city lot.

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