Whatever happened to that playlist service where you could embed a sound file in a blog post like this? I feel like we need some 50 Cent all up in here, “In Da Club,” cuz shawty, it’s my birfday, we gonna party, cuz it’s my birfday.
Actually, probably the partying will be kept to a minimum, although the year 58 must be celebrated somehow, and it is the biggest bar night of the year. Some friends and I discovered one not too far from here that has the best jukebox I’ve seen in ages. (Detroiters: Better than Honest John’s, oh yes it is.) So that’ll be da club for tonight. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m cooking, so I have to get up ready to rumble in the kitchen.
That’s middle age for you.
I accept and thank you for all your tributes in advance. We’re all buddies in here.
A few links to get out of the way, some of which you folks have already posted in comments:
Gin & Tacos on security vs. freedom, bringing the Obviously sauce to the picnic:
By giving Americans the freedom to move about as they please and buy whatever they can afford (including some things that could be used to do harm) we are choosing (reasonably) to live with some risk. We’re never completely safe. As I tell the students, the only way to guarantee that you won’t be stabbed on the way to your next class is to create a society in which either cutlery or the right to walk around outside are forbidden. It’s certainly not likely to happen, and that’s why we choose to live with the minuscule risk that it will.
This is all incredibly simple, yet here I am explaining it because half of adult Americans do not appear to understand it. At one moment we appear to believe that we can protect ourselves from a nebulous and ephemeral threat and at the next moment we are willing to increase vastly the risks to ourselves and to society. The same people, for example, who oppose admitting Syrian refugees because doing so might pose the slightest increase in risk of danger from terrorism are most vocally in favor of letting everyone carry any kind of gun anywhere and at all times. We’re so concerned about our security that we are willing to let Syrian refugees die (literally) to protect ourselves, yet we don’t see a problem with handing out powerful, high-capacity firearms to any possibly unstable, possibly deranged white guy who can pass a laughable background check (or use one of the many loopholes in gun sales to circumvent even that) and hand over the purchase price. Our national principles can be jettisoned when we’re confronted with scary brown refugees but when we deal with the desire some of us have to avoid being murdered at work or school our freedoms are sacrosanct.
Neil Steinberg, touching on the same themes:
The right side of our political spectrum is devoted to marrying Islam to terror, Which makes them on the same team as ISIS, because that’s precisely why they commit these acts. Western culture is a big, warm, inclusive blob that absorbs and alters everything. Joan of Arc rides in, clad in armor, her eyes aglitter with passion for the Lord, and 500 years later, Miley Cyrus swings out, straddling a wrecking ball in her underwear. ISIS wants to separate Islam from the West, so men like them can be in charge forever and women never get to drive or sing. Thus they strike at the West in nihilistic acts of terror, counting on the Bruce Rauners of our nation to leap up and shout, “Golly, do we really want all these Syrians here?”
Yes, yes we do. Because the way to manufacture patriotic Americans is by letting their grandparents into the country after their homelands go to hell. My grandfather, Irwin Bramson, didn’t end up in a trench in Poland because a relative, Ira Saks, plucked him at age 15 out of the jaws of doom. So my mother, June, got to be born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1936, and not in Bialystok, Poland, where she’d end up another 5-year-old butchered by her neighbors.
I liked that image of Miley Cyrus swinging out of western civ. Made me chuckle. Of course, others see this as evidence of decadence; Rod Dreher — look up his stupid blog if you want to read it, I’m not linking here — has had his panties so bunchy lately, between terrorism and the hoo-ha on college campuses, that I’ve come up with a new rule: If it upsets Rod, I’m for it. Personally, I can’t wait until he makes good on this Benedict Option crap he’s always threatening and fucks off for good. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’ll be fucking off to someplace with wifi and a sinecure.
Which brings us to a final link, to Foreign Policy magazine, on terrorism in general, arranged in a helpful list:
Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”
The Israelis have been living with terrorism for generations. I don’t know that they’re the model we want to follow in our response, but they don’t hide under their beds, either.
So with that, I leave to go pick at a light breakfast before a 9:30 workout. The link between terrorism and birthdays isn’t an obvious one, but some years, maybe so. Not this one, not yet anyway.
Happy Thanksgiving, too. Look for photo posts through the weekend.