Oh To Be Old Again!
The best part of Back to School Night is that it eradicates any desire to be young again. I made the round of classes at the high school, and gradually figured out the bizarre numbering system of classrooms (room 320 isn't next to room 321 because someone decided to put even numbered rooms on one side of the building and odd numbered rooms on the other), and grasped which stairwell is for going up and which stairwell is for going down (following the same cat-food industry protocols that gave us pumpable meat). But I can't imagine how, even with practice, I could learn to sit still in those classrooms for hours on end.
I couldn't go through that again -- that daily imprisonment, the warehousing of one's cohort, the tedium of a curriculum jammed with what some faraway, faceless person has deemed important, the molasses progression of time itself. Staring at the clock. Studying the peeling paint on the walls and ancient stains on the floor. Surviving only through mental calisthenics and the standard improbable fantasies about unobtainable personages.
No, I won't go back. They can try, but they won't take me alive.
[As noted late yesterday in the boodle, they don't appear to spend a lot of time in high school teaching kids how to write. I think it's great that they're reading Herman Hesse and Chinua Achebe and the great Garcia Marquez in their "English" class, even if those are works in translation, but what kids really need is a major dose of Strunk & White, and so on. They need to learn how to put one word in front of the next and know when a sentence needs to come to an end. They need to be saturated in the classic American literary voices, from Hawthorne to Fitzgerald to Morrison/Updike/Delillo et al. And why not some non-fiction? McPhee. Tom Wolfe. Dillard. Sedaris.]
Character is destiny. Who said that? One of those one-named guys like Heraclitus or Demosthenes or Thucydides. (Wouldn't you be disappointed if Thucydides actually had a first name. "Bob Thucydides" just doesn't sound right.)
So, speaking of character, how much longer do we have to hear George Allen described as a potential 2008 presidential candidate? Via Dean Barnett at HH's blog we see that Fred Barnes is promoting the fanciful notion that Allen will win in November, and come out in such good odor that he'll be a strong contender in '08. Seems more likely, though, that Allen will be lucky to get a job as president of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. (It is very hard to get past the fact that he had a noose in his law office. I am trying to figure out -- and pardon the awkward sentence construction -- the benign thing that that could be a symbol of.) [Marc Fisher has an excellent, linky post on George Allen as a perpetual humor generation machine.]
More politics: Here's Bush on Dems as the party of cut-and-run. And Woodward saying Bush is prevaricating about the war, ignoring Andy Card's advice to dump Rummy, and consulting with Henry Kissinger (when do we get to hear Bush say our goal is "Peace with honor"?). (But don't you dare say it's another Vietnam!) Our own Jonathan Finer says both parties are being dishonest about Iraq.
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