Heyo, things have been mad busy is the real-life portion of the J Continuum, so very little time for posting. As always, I shouldn't be posting now but rather working, and on the other hand, there are also eleventy billion things I should talk about and be posting on if I had my druthers. Instead, part II of my "Back in the US" diary from my first hours here after returning from Brasil ~ 1 month ago. Enjoy. Or, you know, don't. (Though someone might try COMMENTING one of these days... throw me a frickin' bone here, I don't WANT to be an echo chamber...)
Monday, April 11, 2005, 9:38 AM:
Not sure if I heard the women behind me correctly, but let us assume I did, at least just to be a foil for this rant.
They were talking about traveling and the different politics of different regions – one of them commenting that really it’s only the cities (or hubs was her actual word) that are liberal (blue was her actual word). That the countryside of all the states was red; “I don’t know of one truly blue state,” was what I thought she said, and will pretend that she did in fact say for my purposes here.
Now let’s think about it – it’s worth assuming she said this because it reflects an attitude I think truly exists in the American collective unconscious (or conscious). “Except for the cities, we’re a conservative country.” “Well, most of the state is actually red, but Portland and Seattle are blue so there you go.” Of course, the reason why the “hubs” have such an effect is because that is where most of the people live. To sort of wish away the crazy liberals in the cities is to disregard half of the country! The fact that half of the country lives in close proximity to each other in cities does not, to me, have much to do with how valid their political views are in contrast with the less densely populated larger LAND area the rest of the people live in. Now, I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake of saying that just because a lot of people live in the sparsely populated countryside their ideas or votes should be disregarded. But how many times have you heard, or got the impression of, “if it weren’t for Chicago/Detroit/New York City/Los Angeles/San Francisco/Portland/Seattle/what have you, that state’d be red”? Well sure, and if dolphins were made of jelly we’d spread them on pieces of bread in the morning and have it with some coffee (it took me 5 minutes to think of something that ridiculous, I hope you appreciate it). That is to say, sure, yeah, you’re right, if it weren’t for the cities, the country would mostly skew red (though not as much as many people think – see here and here and here – most of the US is pretty evenly divided, with most of the clearly red areas being very small population-wise, and by far most of the country "purple hazy", very visible here (from M. T. Gastner, C. R. Shalizi, and M. E. J. Newman, (c) 2004):
...But to talk like these women did, it's, it's... it's sipmly to make up world where most people don’t exist and, I guess, the people in the countryside make their own cars, appliances, cheez whiz and all the other heavily processed consumer products that these days they make in those knees-bent running-about so-called enlightened cities.
Yeah, and if it wasn’t for my horse… (award yourself 85 points on your J Continuum Home Game if you recognize that joke)
At some point later, they were complaining about how hard it was to keep a job these days, especially since once you get a little bit of time underneath your belt in a company, they try and boot your ass so they can higher someone cheaper/younger. “All they care about is money – is about that bottom line,” says one as the other nods in agreement. “But that’s Big Brother for you.”
Does she think the Government (probably composed of some liberal city-like pockets – if it weren’t for those liberal EPA bureaucrats…) is the reason her company and many others fire people in order to hire younger ones, just cuz they’re cheaper and are likely to cost less in health care expenses? Or, is the reason, oh let’s see, who could it be now, could it be…. SATAN! I mean, CAPITALISM? Or does she think Big Brother is just some general term for, I don’t know, institutions that are larger than your circle of friends? Big Brother consisted of faceless bureaucrats and indifferent caprice in Orwell’s 1984; how is it an indictment of liberalism that her company is the same? (Of course, she may not have been connecting this to liberalism but just general… I don’t know, general “things to grouse about”.) Nonetheless – Big Brother? Huh? If only I were a little ruder so I could’ve intruded in their conversation to see what the hell they were thinking (I really wanted to ask the one whose boyfriend still eats only “Freedom Fries” if she and/or her boyfriend knew that “French Fries” are (according to their own accounts) from a country I like to call “Belgium” and that people in the country of “France” don’t give a shit about "Freedom Fries” since French Fries is a long-used US-exclusive name? Or would that be too knees-bent liberal snotty intellectual elitism, to, you know, know what actual words mean and when they might be wrong/stupid/aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh?)