Telemarketer: Um, hello…?
Brandon: I went to see trains.
Brandon: I went to see trains today.
I’ve been getting cold calls at work from a company trying to sell me their crappy product; I’ve been getting angrier and angrier each time, yelling louder with each subsequent call to remove me from their list.
Next time they call…this. I’m going to respond like your bean.
As an 18-year-old white dude, sitting calmly and quietly in a campus police station, I had an old, fat, one-donut-away-from-cardiac-event cop tell me that if I ran (which, clearly, I’d shown no indication, interest, or need to do), his partner wouldn’t hesitate to “blow my fucking brains out”. (That’s not a phrase you’re likely to forget coming from an armed man; it’s pretty well etched in my memory, that.)
His partner was a woman, so one might conclude this was his inbred, hillbilly way of being chivalrous or supportive of his partner. One might alternately conclude he was a piece of shit who should have been staked naked with rusty nails through his scrotum on a fire ant hill. (I favor the latter reading).
Reiterating: I’m a white dude. I was a preppy white dude at 18.
I have all the fucking privilege possible (I’d left my yellow cardboard star home that day, turns out) and this cop still showed me his true colors.
Are there good cops? Duh. Of course. And when they all step up and start arresting their bad colleagues and demanding justice, then I’ll be first in line to sing hosannas. When the good cops of America take time off from work to go to Ferguson to stand with the protestors, I’ll be there to drape them in garland.
I’m not rushing out to stock up on garland.
The science is hard (in the sense that it is an ever-present feature to the prose, not in the general sense that “science is hard”) and KSR is very into describing geographic features. I’ve found that while I read his longer descriptive passages about Martian land features, I don’t try to internalize them too much. I’ve a general sense of the north/south difference, the size and scope of the Elysium massif, notions about the chaoses and fossae and the prince volcanoes…but I’m never going to be able to draw you a map of Mars.
The books are, to me, best read as epic yarns about heroic/mythic figures JOHN BOONE! NADIA CHERNYSHEVSKI! SAX RUSSELL! COYOTE! HIROKO! NIRGAL! and as a love story about reason, rational thought, science, logic, and the justice-bending arc of the universe (with the understanding that there are some who just want to world to burn, but most people just see it differently from you).
I’ve been doing some rereading lately; I find it comforting in the way meatloaf and mashed potatoes would be were it not monsoon season. Right now, I’m about a third of the way through Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, having consumed Red Mars and Green Mars in the past few weeks…
…and it is amping up my frustration, my anger, my rage, my depression, and my feeling of hopelessness for myself, my country, humanity, and the world.
There is no Martian mission on the horizon; there is no release valve coming; there is no hope of a nigh-utopia with a mixed economy based on rational values; there is no world in which science and study and exploration and experimentation is cherished by all. There is just here. There is just an ugly, ignorant, backwater planet in the arm of an unremarkable spiral galaxy burning through its plentiful natural resources and beauty in a race to self-immolation.
* * *
I remember last year things looked so bad that I was thinking how it felt like 1968 all over again…with no Apollo 8 on the horizon to provide a glimmer of hope. I can see now that I was so wrong: there is no bottom to this endless drain, the coriolis forces increasing as humanity spins faster and faster to make each year worse than the last. Santa Barbara, Gaza, Ukraine, Ferguson…we’d just need a general strike in France to make the baby boomers all nostalgic. Instead, we get anti-semitism in France to make the Greatest Generation™ nostalgic.
* * *
My own personal failures and misery are obviously coloring my view of the world. It can’t be that bad, right? We’re not that foolish, right?
An anon’s been sending me very nice messages lately. Thanks. :)
Unfriendly reminder that in America it’s reasonable to say an unarmed black kid deserved to be shot six times because he might have robbed a convenience store, but a white kid shouldn’t be kicked off the high school football team just because he violently raped a girl.
Technically, if a black kid is a good enough athlete, his future is still more important than any woman’s as well. He might still get shot for topping off his Dr Pepper, but no mere woman’s going to keep him from playin’ ball.