Jeez. I’ve been writing all day, it seems. Well, let’s write some more.
(G)Nat recovered this morning and went back to school late. She expressed reservations about how if felt weird to go back in the middle of the day; everyone looked at you. I was two sentences into the Parental Perspective Speech – do you laugh at kids who come late? Of course not. So why would they laugh at you? It may feel odd, but it’s really not – when I realized I was spouting nonsense. It does feel weird to go back. I remember it exactly. You enter in the middle of the day, out of sync, out of joint; the classroom somehow belongs to everyone else in a way you can’t quite share. I remember exactly how it felt.
Every parent knows the feeling: you spend all your time around a kid, and manage to forget what it’s like to be one.
At a Mac site Tuesday there was a bitter debate about the 24-hour time limit on movies rented through the AppleTV. Some of the debate thrashed out the actual issue, but a good number took issue with the blogger’s inability to understand how kids can keep you from watching an entire movie in 24 hours. She didn’t particularly care, as she was a “non-breeder.” Another “non-breeder” took her side and sniped at those people who make “clones.”
I’ve heard worse terms, but they're still tiresome. If people choose not to have children, that’s their decision. Obviously. You could make the argument that the future needs kids, and plenty of them, especially if you believe there should be an intermediary government entity transferring part of their income to you when you’re old. You could make the argument that childless people are doing their part to save the earth, and the earth will be so grateful it will show up at your funeral and sit in the front row sniffling into a handkerchief. The other guests will nudge and point – is that the Earth? I didn’t know they were close. I tend to believe we have reached an unusual point in human history when we have to debate the merits of reproducing, but there you go.
I'm not talking about the people who don't want thier own kids but love kids anyway, and prefer the Cool Aunt or Cool Uncle role: bless you. I'm not even talking about the people who are indifferent to kids. I'm talking about the people who find some sort of personal identification in a militantly anti-kid stance. ( I suspect a lot of anti-kid people would be offended if you told them they wouldn’t be a particularly good parent, because it requires skills they lack; the strenuously anti-kid types often believe that these skills are simply beneath them, and could be mustered if - God forbid - the occasion arose.) Granted, some people aren’t parent material, and it’s best they not do something they don’t want to do. I’m not cut out to be a traveler, for example. I enjoy occasional jaunts here and there; I love being in new places, especially since the anxiety disorders haven’t kicked up in a long, long time. But I lack the skill for spontaneous adventure. Let’s take a rickety bus four hours into the jungle to see some ruins! We can probably catch a ride back with someone from the village. You go on ahead. I prefer to remain within walking distance of refrigerated beverages at all time.
I think my life is poorer for this. I know I’m missing things, but it’s not a great ache I must salve by flying to Rome again and seeing the Trevi Fountain for the second time. I will try to compensate later, but it will be under carefully controlled circumstances, like a very large ship with hot showers and 24-hour coffee. In other words, I think it’s possible to recognize that a personal preference constricts your experiences, and not feel compelled to do anything about it, because you know who you are. This may be what you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice in the abstract sense, all things considered.
So I don’t judge people who don’t want kids, but I can’t stand “breeder” and “clones” and “crotchfruit” and all the other terms of derision. It’s the worst form of misanthropy, and a curious protestation of ignorance: these people literally do not know what they’re talking about, since there’s nothing about parenthood you can observe from a distance that compares to the thing itself. Being irritated with poorly-socialized children in a restaurant does not set one up in a moral high chair. Believe me, parents are just as irritated with those people as you are.
One more thing: I understand waiting a while to have them. Just don’t wait too long.
One more thing: I wrote a piece about children, and how I did not like them, in college. Odd how things change.
And one more thing: after hearing me recap this entry, my wife reminded me that I went after Foodies with the same gusto as some anti-child people go after parents, and for the same reasons: I can't possible appreciate what they appreciate. Damn wives and thier evens-handed listening and retention skills!
Well, I’d meant to write about the Obama sweetheart house deal, but on second thought, we can wait. I’m still grapping with the idea that there may have been favors and money at work in Chicago-area politics. I just don’t have any intellectual context into which such a thing can be plugged.
More from the scanner bed. Who is this man?
I’ve no idea. Maybe he had no idea. You can read so many things into that expression – loneliness, spite, venality, resentment, piety. Or mild heartburn. Worries about work. The lingering effect of a ten-year stay in Sing Sing. He’s flanked by two women reading books with no great rapt interest; down the line there’s a big old bag who looks like she’s seen a ghost; next to her, Leo G. Carroll, or someone who looks like him.
It’s a detail from this photo I found in the Strib archives: New York Subway, 1941. That’s what the cutline says, although it’s a rather bright tunnel. Probably the El.
The fellow in the middle of the large shot commands your attention, doesn’t he? Whatever was bothering Percy Gooseface, it wasn’t bothering Snappy Jack Little.
Today I begin the return, long promised, of the Minneapolis site. I think I finished that site in the late 90s / early Oughts, and it’s small and archaic. Everything has been rescanned and reshot. I’ve made some upgrades to the Long Gone section in the new style, but now it’s time to get the project going and get it done. With weekly updates it should occupy a year and a half. For once I’m not pitching this project at the default monitor size I see at work – we’re still in 800 X 600 land, I think. The pictures are big. I’m glad I didn’t start this project a few years ago – the introduction of Google Street Views will add an entirely new aspect to the site, and make the then-and-now comparisons much more dynamic. I suppose this means I’ll redo the site in ten years when GoogleHolo projects 3D images into your brain, but I scanned everything in super high-res, so I should be fine. Here it is.
New video up at buzz.mn. See you there!