Hobby Season

In a few days you’ll get your hour back. The one you squirreled away in March, and that by now you’ve surely forgotten about. On the one hand, that’s great. It’s your hour. You’re owed it. You can sleep in a bit, and for one day a year you get an extra 60 minutes before the bar throws you out at 2am. On the other hand, it means that it’s about to start getting dark sometime between your lunch break and the time you leave the office, and that’s a load of BS.

We’ve been arguing about Daylight Saving time since basically forever, and if we would just get with the program and ditch the non-renewable fuels it wouldn’t even have to be a whole big thing. But we’ve waffled on the concept for more than a hundred years, and now, finally, with the exception of non-tribal lands in Arizona and Nevada, Hawaii, and overseas territories with no congressional representation, we’re all more or less on the same page that yeah, we do this weird clock thing a couple times a year. Fine.

You can write your congressman if you’d like, and try to get this thing changed, because if we’re honest it doesn’t make any sense. But aside from that exercise being a complete and total waste of your currently free hour*, maybe it’s also the wrong play.

Maybe the annual sudden darkness is a chance to not do all that stuff you did all summer. Like, read that book you were definitely going to read. Build a model airplane. Cook something like they would have done it on the Mayflower. It’s hobby season. Use your new hour to dig into a project. Spend a long time doing something pointless. Fuck it; gain 10 pounds.

Now is the time to hibernate and meditate. Crawl back into yourself and see what’s inside. You might find something you like.

*Free hour, like a tax return is free money

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A Broken Nation

This post was initially intended as a thought experiment in bicycle commuting, which to those of you who frequent this page should not come as a surprise. Each day we take our lives into our hands and gamble with it before would-be assailants in 5,000lb murder rockets. In the doldrums of our shared commute the aggressive and the oblivious meld into a tapestry of people trying to kill a vulnerable man.

The question, then, was whether the Castle Doctrine applies to our tiny slice of the road. Whether we, as cyclists, have a duty to retreat, or if, when an attempt is made on our lives by a passing motorist we may return fire under protection from the law. It was meant to be funny. Biting. True.

In light of the last 36 hours that seems in poor taste.

Instead we’re left with a kind of dull, hollow feeling that comes from the melange of anger, fear, heartbreak, and, ultimately, resignation that we, nationally, are unmoved by 600 partygoers being shot by a single man.

59 bodies are barely cool, but we carry with us the warmth of a president’s condolences, delivered 200 characters at a time. Brevity, it seems, is not only the soul of wit. And then after thoughts and prayers comes the tedium of parsing personal histories and allocating blame – bickering as we retreat to our partisan bastions and shield ourselves from the truth that ours is a broken nation.

That we do not care for the heartache of others. That until we are affected in a real and personal way there will be no change. That only when a majority of us are touched by violence will we move to make it right, and the chilling reality that that future is, perhaps, not so far off.

From those with the power to change we have warm condolences. We have thoughts and prayers. We have the knowledge that we will be judged harshly by history for deliberate inaction.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. – Abraham Lincoln

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More Arguments

We should have more arguments. And now isn’t to say, necessarily, that we should argue more (a few minutes on Twitter will nip that notion in the bud). It would simply be refreshing to have a bit more consistency when we do, inevitably, disagree about things.

Remember an argument is separable from a position. You may cling to a position religiously, in the face of all evidence to the contrary. You may defend the indefensible with impassioned anecdote and logical fallacy because you truly do believe it, whatever it is. Your earnestness is commendable, quaint, Lincolnesque. But can we have a day when we simply discuss the facts? And build arguments through reason, without circumspect? Just for a day?

Just for a day can we acknowledge our hypocrisy and pretend to care about truths when they refute our position? Can we skip the stories and the anecdotes and the back-in-my-days and embrace, for the start of a discussion, a set of premises on which we can each then build an argument? And then we could all just have at it? Wouldn’t that be great?

It just feels like there’s a lot of feelings out there, and a kind of proud stubbornness behind a Man And His Convictions. This notion that sticking to your guns in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is somehow admirable. Butch Cassidy stuck to his guns. And Davy Crockett. Gary Cooper, and John Wayne. Real Americans who stood for what was right, like train robbery and the genocide of indigenous peoples.

Just for a day wouldn’t it be nice to ignore (just for a day, remember) what’s “right,” and think instead about what’s correct? Rightness is subjective. It’s a function of our values and we’ve made it pretty clear over the last several elections that our values, nationally, are on a divergent track. Instead we could all just get together one day and embrace a single group of facts. A dataset. A statistic. Hell, a method, or a language of conversation.

Can we agree, just for a day, that if A=B, and B=C, then A=C? Is that too much to ask? And tomorrow we can fill A, B, and C with whatever slanted partisan position we like, but for today can we agree that aside from rightness and beliefs, that a thing called truth exists?

Of course it’s possible that this is not productive. Strict logic is helpful for answering questions like “what is a number?” and “did OJ do it?”, but outside of esoteric thought experiments it seems possible that the truth, in life, is irrelevant. Because values are derived from our experiences, which in turn tend to affirm our values. Experience and opinion have a positive feedback relationship – if we don’t value truth then it’s a short trip to seeing falsehood in fact. And while mathematics is the language of the natural world, we exist apart from that, in a latticework of self-made echo chambers and voluntary umwelt.

Instead we reside, perhaps, in a space where reality, or the notion of truth, has ceased to exist at the insistence of a preponderance of individuals who simply willed it into obsolescence. Where moral relativism was just a beginning, and that we live, now, in a place where things are not true until dis-proven, or false until demonstrated to be correct, but in which multiple contradictory truths exist in parallel, as confirmed by different sets of experiences titrating through different sets of values to generate and confirm contradictory but fervently held beliefs across swaths of otherwise intelligent people. Where two people can be shown one video of, say, a police shooting, and knowing nothing else about the incident see two completely different truths – a murder or an act of self-defense – based on no information beyond what they shared. Where, further, the shooting itself could actually have been both a murder and a justified shooting, all at once, in the parallel realities that make up American life in the 21st century. Where objective truth really is a fiction.

But then again shit what do I know maybe there’s just a bunch of liars out there.

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