Because We Are Here
August 1, 2021
Because We Are Here
I sometimes think about the world too much. Maybe it's because I'm a philosopher and I'm supposed to do that, although lots of people think about the world too much and they're not philosophers. So often the world seems like a big cartoon with funny characters constantly approaching the edge of a cliff and now and then falling over it. Then they get up again and that doesn't make sense. I guess that's the problem. We try to make sense of things and most things are nonsense. So here's a look at the world today about which I'm thinking about.
We're wallowing right now in a Covid-19 surge with a national wonderment over whether or not old restrictions – distancing, business closures, masks, etc. – will be put back into place. Many states are barely at fifty percent vaccinated and many are well below that, largely because some people like the comfort of wallowing in ignorance.. School districts are facing fierce pressure from parents to let their kids go back to school without masks, even though we don't have a children's vaccine yet and, even if we did, you would see the same opposition to kids getting vaccinated as you do with adults.
We're also wondering what will happen in Afghanistan once the U.S. completes its troop pullout at the end of August. There are fears that the Afghan government is simply not equipped to prevent a complete Taliban takeover, with the subsequent blood bath that implies. Sadly, all those opportunities for women that evolved during the U.S. presence will likely disappear.
Used car sales are surging because new cars are in short supply, a consequence of computer chip shortages and supply chain missteps. It's a good time to sell your car for a great price, but good luck finding a new one. There's a similar situation in the housing market with a shortage of houses for sale driving prices to record highs. These are both unusual situations, as is most of life right now.
Climate change, of course, is hardly being denied anymore because wildfires are raging out west; the west and parts of the Midwest are suffering a drought; the far west and the Atlantic east are experiencing heat waves, and major parts of Germany and Belgium just had catastrophic flooding due to monster rains.
Our politics are pretty crappy even with Lord Voldemort out of office. The Democrats are advancing numerous plans aimed at shoring up the economy and infrastructure and immigration, but the Republicans won't budge in their opposition. To be fair, the Democrats have been rolling out some pretty over-the-top plans and seem unwilling to compromise. Republican states are rolling out huge voting restrictions to minimize voter fraud – which pretty much everybody knows only minimally exists. Their strategy is, essentially, if we can't field candidates that people love we'll just make it very difficult for our opponent's supporters to vote. That makes sense to them, but not to anyone else. The strategy, though, in an alternate world, is quite reasonable, since people in large numbers find it hard to love Republicans.
We've also engaged a fierce debate over what is referred to as CRT (critical race theory). Essentially, what's being argued here is that racism was present in both our founding folks and our founding documents and it has been with us ever since. That this is, to so many people, both a surprise and a nasty revision of our history is what surprises me, along with the idea that it is shameful that we would teach this to our young. Most of our history is a story of our foibles and mistakes and how we've tried to overcome them, and it's teaching that creates the path toward a more honest view of ourselves and of the steps we need to take to become increasingly better.
Our economy, for now, is healthy, but with more and more people going back to work and getting money to spend and having pent-up urges to spend money surfacing, there are fears that inflation will rear its ugly head. Still, employers are begging for workers, but the available workers seem to have developed a collective "meh" attitude.
We're in the middle of the summer travel season right now with hotels and vacation spots booked solid. If you didn't plan your trip months ago you're out of luck. Plus, good luck getting there: airports are a mess with travelers being constantly stranded, sometimes for hours, as flights are cancelled or delayed. The main culprit? There is a fearsome pilot shortage as many of those who were laid-off during the pandemic have not returned. Even car travel is tight with gas prices going well over the $3 a gallon mark.
Cybercrime is running rampant right now with major hacks and ransomware attacks going on throughout the world. Mostly, they target businesses and industries and not so much the personal user. Why force someone to take a thousand bucks out of their retirement fund when you can get ten or twenty million from a business? I recently endured a Firefox crash that pretty much froze me up for a day, but that was a problem coming out of either Firefox or my aging computer. Still, although the Biden administration is offering a ten million dollar reward for turning in cybercriminals, our vaunted tech world doesn't seem to be doing too well at preventing or repelling these attacks.
So it's August and the dog days are here. Dogs, of course, are dependable. They even make sense.
So that's where we are right now.
G.K. Wuori © 2021
Photoillustration by the author