There is, apparently, a sort of seaweed called sargassum (Sargassum muticum, among other species) that is well known for drifting about endlessly in the west Atlantic gyre. The early European mariners that sailed that stretch of ocean found it so inescapable that they tagged the place the "Sargasso Sea", a term that has come to mean a mysterious nowhere that traps travelers in a sort of no-time and no-place. These unfortunates drift aimlessly in stasis, without purpose or hope, until, perhaps, they emerge somewhere confused and disoriented.
That's a bit where I am at the moment.
My little life goes on apace; I am busy in small ways with home and family, wife, children, work, my own foolish pleasures.
But all about me I am more and more adrift. I can see the sort of rank, appalling idiocy, meanness, and shortsightedness that seems to be bringing my country closer to a sort of Gilded Age dystopia. (And I really recommend you follow the link to the Bob Reich post I linked to right there; it does a terrific job of summarizing in the example of Detroit how we in the U.S. today really are becoming two societies, separate and unequal, how this is a feature, not a bug, and how this is not good for those of us not in the two-yacht family.)
It seems like every time I bother to read the national news I rediscover that the depressing reality that about a third of my "fellow Americans" are batshit crazy has not changed. It makes me not want to read the national news. Or see if the National Institute of Mental Health can classify "voting Republican" as a mental illness.
In my national legislature the "people's house" does not find it objectionable that a secret agency can use a secret program to secretly collect...something; every single phone call made anywhere? Somewhere? Somehow in pursuit of phantom enemies that may not even exist, since we can't know what or who these enemies are lest we frighten them from using the phones that we then secretly surveil to secretly learn...something secret.
And using this blog to point out, discuss, complain, or rant about this vast national desuetude just seems...well, louche.
So I've been adrift lately, not really wanting to turn this blog into some sort of bottomless well of personal minutiae and yet not really having any sort of real reason to tackle the big issues of the day, those issues being either utterly insoluble so far as I can see or the "solutions" as or more distasteful than the problem.
In fact, the only "issue" that raised my hackles even so far as to make me consider a blog post was the entire business of "self-defense" as defined by the laws of the State of Florida that, in effect, allows an asshole with a weapon to pursue you, force you into either fleeing or fighting and, if the latter, allows them to then legally kill you if the fight goes against them.
This, in a nation that is increasingly idiotic about firearms and who and where they should be carried about in public, is not a good idea. As I have mentioned before; the most fundamental tradeoff required for the "domestic tranquility" specified in the nation's foundation document is internal disarmament. For civil society to function I must be confident that I can disagree with you - even to the point of getting up in your face and using intemperate language - without you pulling a hogleg and blowing a hole in me.
Because if I cannot I really only have two options. I can walk wide of you, all of you, for fear that you can do that. Or I can arm myself and enter into any public dispute ready to draw and fire if I even think you're going to do the same.
There's a reason that those old Westerns where the hero sheriff "tames" the wild out-of-control cowtown always has a scene where the hero sheriff confronts the drunken cowpoke carrying his shootin' iron in violation of the big ol' sign the hero sheriff has nailed up reading "The Carrying of Firearms Is Strictly Prohibited".
Because if he doesn't, then little me the meek store clerk has to strap on my own .45, just in case the drunken cowpoke comes into my store demanding a bottle of whiskey and some hard candy and threatening to plug me if I don't give it up. Or stops me on the sidewalk to tell me I look like a sissy and that I need to lick his boots because that's what sissies do.
And I was all het up about this until I read our Oregon laws regarding "self-defense" and realized that we here rather sensibly draw a bright line at the place where the armed citizen starts the fight; "...a person is not justified in using physical force upon another person if...(t)he person is the initial aggressor..." (ORS 161.125 (2)) There's a little loophole where if I start the fight and then lose and the other party doesn't let me escape I can shoot 'em. But there's none of the sort of nonsense here that's in the Florida law about how if I'm fearful that the guy I followed and bullied may kill me that I can kill them.
So there's nothing here for me.
So...how about a nice picture of my son's swim lessons? The Boy is totally rocking both the front and back crawl.
Does anyone still call that the "Australian crawl" anymore?
Oh, and "my" EPL club Norwich City came to Portland last night and played a "friendly" with the Timbers.
Nothing at stake, just a fun evening watching some of the Timbers guys we don't see much play and checking out some of the new signings for Norwich that included the improbably named Ricky van Wolfswinkel who turned up wearing #9 for NCFC but was rather less than wolfish in front of goal, the local lads running off 1-nil winners.
One thing I should mention; this now-inescapable procession where the players of both teams are escorted onto the pitch by (or escort onto the pitch) twin files of local urchins.
I guess I'm not sure of the point of this parade. Is it to give the nippers a thrill? I guess I'd have been thrilled to have marched out alongside some idol of my youth; I certainly hope these kids are. But given my own son's interest in the game I wonder. He loves to play but for the playing itself. He doesn't know any of the professional players or care about them. He'd have a hard time picking any of this year's Timbers squad out of a police lineup.
So it makes me wonder if the little kid-parade isn't just a bit of cynical showmanship on the part of the club.
I just liked this image, the patient woman with her book waiting for the gates to open. Very Portland. Generally we don't race about and shout unless we have a good reason for racing about and shouting.
And you will not find me at a Timbers match sporting the opponent's colors...unless the opponent is a team I have followed and cared about for many years that has come 5,000 miles to play in Portland.
"Kick it, throw it, have a little scrimmage,
Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die;
On the ball, City, never mind the danger,
Steady on, now's your chance,
Hurrah! We've scored a goal.
City!, City!, City!"
Mind, I'm still drifting. I'll try and come up with something of interest this weekend, some stray seaweed tendril from the slow, sunny summer of my personal ocean.