Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chronicles of Banality

Nobody in Particular is banal. I, as its author, understand this. I'm not a particularly insightful or artistic person, and so there's not much here for the person who's really looking for a different take on the world. And in that sense, I wonder if it will ever really be useful beyond the exercise in writing and/or discipline that it provides me.

I don't know that it will be, but I would like to think that it will have some use to someone at some point in the future. History is made by great people, art is made by creative people and so on, but perhaps the day-to-day understandings (or misunderstandings) history and artistry will provide a context for people to make sense of them.

For nearly all of the events of the present, and every event of the past, I only have second-hand knowledge. I was not present to see them myself. (For instance, I didn't go out for lunch today, and so missed the abortion-rights protest that was taking place across the street from the building I was in.) The only way I can know anything about these events is to receive information from some other party. Who may or may not actually have been present themselves. And so much of what I know about the world is due to someone deciding that it is important enough to tell me. But the important things that happen when I am present for them are few and far between.

And so I write about things that are everyday and humdrum, and I'm likely an everyday and humdrum writer. Hopefully, that is okay.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Drumming For Peace

I stopped by Lake Forest Park today, and checked in on the weekly protest. It's still going, but the members are ageing. I was somewhat disappointed that their numbers aren't being filled out with younger people. Not that I believe that younger people aren't invested in the cause of ending the conflicts that the United States is currently engaged in. But they have their own protests.

This is always the way of things. Merely having the same goals doesn't necessarily make people allies.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Behind the Times

In 2012, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was interviewing a young native woman about a sexual assault she had reported. In short, the officer was basically fishing for some sort of evidence that the young woman had been at least somewhat cooperative with the man she said assaulted her, asking if there were "at all turned on" or subconsciously "responsive to his advances."

Cue the outrage machine. Which is all fine and good. But I'm not sure that it's newsworthy as presented. Sure of the officer's line of questioning, and his clear suspicions that the young woman was making a false report, belong more in 1912 than 2012. But what are people to do with the fact that an unnamed RCMP officer was being a Neanderthal seven years ago?

More useful, I think, would have been a broader examination of what was done with the case at the time, and if the RCMP a different institution now than it was then. As it is, the readers can rest assured of their moral superiority over the single officer, but not really much else.

As it stands, it's a click-bait link. And while those have value from the point of view of engagement metrics and click-through rates, they're less valuable as actual sources of useful information. But I suppose that useful information is a secondary concern for most news organizations. After all, if people will click through as long as the headline promises something to be upset about, news may not be worth the time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Trade You

On Monday, Trump tweeted: "There is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs," and that they can be "completely avoided if you buy from a non-Tariffed Country, or you buy the product inside the USA (the best idea). That's Zero Tariffs."
Fact-checking Trump's Buy America strategy of avoiding tariffs
This is what having a certain level of political support buys an office-holder. The ability to note, however obliquely or even painfully, a certain truth. It may very well be true, as CNN points out, that there is no easy or painless way for the American public to dodge the tariffs. But it's also true that making China the producer-of-choice, while it may have been easy, was itself painful. People and businesses in the United States voted, with their wallets to send a portion of United States manufacturing to China, and to other nations, because they would rather pay for a combination of lower wages and higher corporate profitability than they would higher wages for fellow Americans. But putting all of those people out of work itself came with a cost. American businesses moving their operations into a nation that offered lower manufacturing costs, but restricted access to its own markets may have been a profitable decision, but it also came at a cost. And to a certain degree, the public, businesses and government alike dodged some of those costs. President Trump's imposition of tariffs on goods from China makes at least some of those costs inescapable.

And this is something that the President can only get away with because he has a core of people behind him who believe that President's tactics on this will, in the end, be to their (and by extension, the nation's) benefit. And in this, the President deserves a modicum of credit. A lot of the reaction to this is political, more than anything else. And it's part of a common political narrative that always wants to push back against pain. But for the first time in decades, people in the United States are actually reckoning with the costs of choices that were made, and are still being made. Of course, the President is, at the same time, ducking other important questions. But hey... one thing at a time.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sacred Lots

O-mikuji fortune slips, tied to the branches of a tree at a local Shinto shrine.