I’ve been sitting at the coffee shop again, killing time before school lets out early in anticipation of the Seattle Snowpocalypse that’s anticipated to being any moment now. While I’m here, I’ve been attempting to reconstruct a plot for Fire Weather and mulling over our heating situation. We’ve been toasty for a while now, but I keep recalling the last big freeze we experienced in the area (back in 2006), and I’m sort of anticipating that we’ll be without power again.
Under these lines of thought is the notion that I haven’t talked about what I’m grateful for in a while. And away we go!
Seat belts and safety nets, yep all those things that keep people safe or prop people up when they invariably fall down. Catastrophic mitigation efforts that are everywhere, and I am grateful that they are.
Bernard Cornwell’s latest War of the Wolf consumed most of my January. I felt sort of obliged to read this mostly because it’s a continuation of Uhtred of Bebbanburg’s tale. And it’s the consummate, well-crafted storytelling as one should expect from a master such as Cornwell, but, and it took me two readings of the novel to realize this, it’s about an old man. That’s what makes it, in the cannon of Uhtred, super special.
Truth be told, there just aren’t that many good stories about old people. Why? Probably, because no one wants to read about some old dude’s sword swinging sciatica. Instead, most audiences apparently wish to learn about the youthful genesis of all those pinched butt nerves. You yong’uns and yer hopping about and booty shaking. GET OFF MY LAWN!
During my second listening, I realized that Cornwell’s craft was directed to the concept that age can limit our activity, but it doesn’t change our character. Uthred is still Uthred, despite the limitations age has imposed on his body. Wasp’s Sting still hisses in its scabbard, Bebbanburg still stands implacably at the peak of Northumbria, but Uthred is slowed and takes more care as he deals with the upstart Sköll and the Saxon’s to the South.
So that’s my first fiction insight and the second? The second is that life before safety belts genuinely, without question, you-can’t-argue-this-even-a-little-bit, sucked. We’ve come so very, very far since the days when a scratch could end a life. When death and brutal violence were our mainstays and not rare exceptions to the norm.
Yes, I actually watched the highlights of the State of the Union speech. Yes, I felt threatened. And yes, I acknowledge the multitude of lies that were told in a setting that should only allow brutal honesty. But there’s no riddle in any of that. Nope. “All that was to be expected,” he’s says while breathing a cognizant “Oh shit!”
Safety belts? Yeah, here’s the up-sight I’d like to share. During the SOTU He Who Should Not Be Named uttered the following, “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
With the prospect of too much snow headed my way I can unquestionably say that I welcome government intervention. Please come plow my roads. I’m glad there is a quality education available for my kids. Please, help prepare my offspring for the future. In fact, in just about every aspect of my life, I’m pleased that the burden’s of living can be shared and the risks to my life can be equitably mitigated.
I do not embrace the anarchy that deregulation and “independence” will inevitably bring. These are not the words of contemporary Conservatism, rather the fiddle song that plays while Roam burns.
I’m grateful for safety belts in cars, for snow plows on roads, public schools funded by tax dollars, ambulance services, interstate highway networks, maintenance crews, single-payer healthcare, grid electrical supply, housing projects, and the whole damn enchilada that is modernity. I’m grateful for all of this because the alternative is hissing steel in leather scabbards, and I’m too old for that.