Waiting for the Miracle

Well, it’s Saturday morning, and I’m really hoping next week is better than this week. I’m listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle” right now. This live version is pretty good. I never got the chance to see him live, and now I really regret that. Hearing of his passing right after the election news was a bit of a one-two punch.

I’d been listening to The Essential Leonard Cohen a lot recently, so he’s been on my mind. I got on a Cohen kick a couple of months ago, after reading a book called A Cold and Broken Hallelujah, by Tyler Dilts. It’s not a book about Cohen, rather a police procedural that references Cohen (and Springsteen, and some other interesting music and books).

I didn’t really intend on writing another blog post touching on the election, but I’ve got a lot of stuff swirling around in my head, so maybe letting some of it out might help.

I was going to link to one or two articles on Quartz, but there are so many random post-election articles on there that picking out one or two seems pointless. Oh, heck, I can’t resist the temptation: here’s their two most popular articles right now (from the “popular” link at the top of the home page):

  1. A playlist of Leonard Cohen’s songs to help you make sense of the world
  2. Want to understand how Trump happened? Study quantum physics

The first one is just a list of YouTube videos (including some pretty good ones). I’m not even going to try reading that second one. From the headline, it seems like it would be fairly similar to a whole host of media stories about how we can “understand” the election through the lens of one particular viewpoint or another (math, physics, history, art, etc.). At this point, I think I’ve decided to opt out of reading any more of those.

Here’s another bit of media overload I hit this morning: Yesterday, I saw an article somewhere about a hiker running into Bill and Hillary Clinton while out for a walk. The hiker got a selfie with Hillary. Minor, innocuous, story, right? The kind of thing that wouldn’t even be a story, if we still got our news printed on dead trees and delivered daily. But on the web, it’s worth writing up and posting, because it’ll attract a few clicks, so why not? Well, this morning, in the infamous “trending topics” sidebar on Facebook, I see a link to an article with this title: “Was the Hillary hiking in the woods photo staged?” (I’m not linking to this article, for obvious reasons.) First: a generally good rule of thumb for any article whose headline is phrased as a question is that the answer to that question is always “no.” If it was “yes,” the headline would have been a statement instead of a question. (This is apparently Betteridge’s law of headlines.) Second: who cares? Hillary has already lost the election. Why would she be “staging” photos? Why would anyone care if she did? I think this article is basically the result of a process that got started at the beginning of this election cycle and is now stuck on auto-pilot, and nobody knows how to turn it off. The day after Hillary passes away, years from now (hopefully not any time soon), there will be an article titled “Did Hillary fake her own death?” (The answer will, of course, be NO.)

My main takeaway from the paragraph above is that I should really spend less time on Facebook. One of my Facebook friends recently linked to F. B. Purity, which is a Firefox add-in that cleans up Facebook a bit, allowing you to hide some of the more annoying bits, like that “trending topics” section. I went ahead and installed it this morning, so we’ll see if that helps. Of course, it’s only useful on Mac and Windows, and not on iOS. I’ve fallen into the habit of checking Facebook on my phone a lot at work, and I should really stop doing that. Sometimes, it’s a nice little break, if I hop on there and see something funny, or a nice photo of a friend’s kids. But generally it’s just a time sink, and I shouldn’t be bothering with it at work.

I think I might want to revisit the Bored and Brilliant series of episodes from the Note to Self podcast. When it first aired, I thought there were a few really interesting observations and ideas in there, along with a bunch of stuff that seemed either really obvious to me, or that didn’t really apply to me. Right now, though, rethinking how I use my phone and how I consume news and social media seems like a really good idea.

Working my way back around to something that actually relates a little more directly to the election results, rather than how the media is reacting to the results, and how I’m reacting to that, here’s a link to a blog post by Marco Arment on the election results.

Most people in the world are good, and want to be good to each other. Whether they vote that way or not, far more Americans believe in progressive, liberal, inclusive views than regressive, aggressive, conservative ones.

He relates this election to his feelings during the George W. Bush years. I’m apparently a good bit older than him, so I’ve been thinking back to the Reagan years, which correspond almost exactly to my teenage years. So thinking about the next four years as “probably not much worse than Reagan or Bush” is… a little comforting?

I remember a lot of Reagan-related black humor from my nerd friends in high school. I suspect there will be a lot of black humor over the next few years. I just recently finished reading a book of Hunter S. Thompson essays from the Reagan years. I think we really need a find a new Thompson for the Trump years. Maybe Matt Taibbi? Not quite, but he’s usually worth reading. Of course, he rejects the comforting idea of comparing Trump to Reagan or Bush:

Trump enters the White House as a lone wrecking ball of conspiratorial ideas, a one-man movement unto himself who owes almost nothing to traditional Republicans and can be expected to be anything but a figurehead.

So now my panic pendulum is swinging back from “this is kinda bad” to “this is a disaster”. I don’t know. I should just stop reading all these think pieces, right?

I was kind of hoping I could go see Fantastic Beasts today, but it doesn’t open until next week. Here’s an idea: get on the train and go over to the Met Breuer, and see the new Kerry James Marshall exhibit. And, hey, the Paul Klee exhibit looks pretty good too!

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