Friday, December 14 2012
There was an especially bad shooting today at a public school in Connecticut. Something like 20 little children, a couple teachers, and a principal were shot and killed by a madman with a portable arsenal that included an assault rifle. According to some, it's just the unfortunate price of freedom. According to others, it's God's wrath for public schools not having organized prayer within the paradigm of some specific state-approved religion (in other words, God lashes out at inattention much like a psychopath does).
The scale of the carnage was impressive, but at this point in America's history, I'm not surprised when these things happen. Indeed, I found it a little puzzling to read on Facebook the postings of friends who claimed to be "speechless," and "horrified." I was neither. It just seemed like another inevitable (if somewhat extreme) consequence of the way Americans have chosen to structure their society. Indeed, it's very hard for me to feel, to have true empathy, when such events happen. Intellectually, I know the words that must be expressed in polite company in the aftermath of such things, but unless someone I know was involved, I really don't feel anything. Oddly, though, I do experience empathy when I hear about horrors that befall animals or individual humans made to suffer injustice. But there's something about a mass murder that triggers the shift from thinking about it as a tragedy to thinking about it as just another of Joseph Stalin's statistics. I should mention, though, that I think there is an element of practicality to much of the horror being expressed on Facebook. A lot of my friends have children roughly the ages of the victims, and they, like my friends, looked to be mostly white and upper middle class. It's easy for a childless person like me to shrug off a tragedy like this with a "What are you gonna do, this is a fucked-up country full of neurotically-inadequate paranoid white guys!" But come Monday morning, many of my Facebook friends are going to be having a bitch of a time convincing their kids that going to school is the smart thing to do. Statistical ignorance, like gun fetishism, is part of the lifebood of America.
Today (or perhaps some other day this week) was Sarah the Vegan's birthday, so Nancy picked Gretch and me up at our house and we drove out to the house Sarah is dogsitting at in Bearsville. Unlike last year, Sarah is only dogsitting two large Labradors this year, though she also has her cat Wilma, which (as you might recall) was our cat until two and a half years ago. Wilma is now 15 or 16 years old and is starting to look like an old cat. Her hair is soft, but she's lost a lot of weight. Not to give encouragement to feline anorexics, but she actually looks better this way. She's also gotten sweeter, and is now unlikely to take a swing at you when you're petting her. She still asserts herself with the dogs, but they all know about her and she feels more comfortably simply walking among them. The only dog who didn't yet seem to know about Wilma was Ramona, though she soon learned to give her her space.
Dinner tonight was a four or five course meal, beginning with tapenade, moving on to a white bean soup, then lasagna and salad, and finally apple crisp with vegan icecream. Sarah has been taking vegan cooking classes for weeks, though her food tonight demonstrated a surprising lack of conviction regarding seasoning. The soup, for example, was delicious once a certain amount of salt and pepper was added. As for the lasagna, well, that was a considerably tougher item to retroactively flavor, but it was still doable.
Back at the house, I stayed up late watching all my various gold mining shows from the Discovery Channel, one of whose mottos is "Think gold, it's Friday."
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