Monday, January 9, 2017
Evanston: officially harmless; classes: peasant and priestly; stress; not used up; gone
My flight to Dubai leaves tomorrow evening. Now that I am 75 I will not have to remove my shoes at the TSA inspection point. I am officially harmless.
As an undergraduate more than fifty years ago I wrote a paper with the deliberately provocative title, ‘The Peasant Class’ which argued persuasively enough to get me an A that throughout human history the mass of our species provided unskilled muscle power and a gene pool, and neither of these was any longer necessary. I might have been slightly ahead of my time, but that time is now.
Recently I read that 40% of current jobs will not exist in twenty years, and yesterday in a NY TIMES article about continuing mob influence on the New York waterfront, it was mentioned that a hundred years ago there were 40,000 longshoremen working in the harbor, now there are less than 4,000 and that number will continue to decrease.
Certainly new jobs will come into existence to offset in part those lost. An ex-longshoreman can become a Uber driver, but probably not a brain surgeon and perhaps not a computer programer.
Numbers are not needed for the gene pool any longer either. A few homo sapiens have the skill to design the rest of us. I’m rather glad I will not be around for that. I doubt any committee would design a Webb Chiles.
The primary function of priestly classes has always been to interface between the illiterate masses and the god. In our age the godhead is the computer and the priestly class are those who can write code or direct those who do. Most of us are as functionally illiterate of this language as peasants were literally illiterate in the Middle Ages.
As I postulated a half century ago, most homo sapiens are obsolete, and I’m not sure how long those who aren’t will continue to put up with us.
Two people wrote that stress in the workplace is as unhealthy as being sedentary. Though there is evidence that movement helps alleviate stress, I agree. I’ve known stress, but not that of the workplace since 1974. Some of you may recall my writing the following not long ago:
People often say I’m crazy. This is a pure failure of the imagination. Since 1974 I have spent zero minutes grid locked on a freeway commuting to or from work. I have attended no team meetings and no conferences. I have never been called into the boss’s office. I have never been laid off or even threatened to be. I have seen the sun rise from the sea thousands of times and watched it set while listening to music as my boat sailed toward darkness. I have sipped wine and whisky and watched diving birds. And some of the most charming, clever and beautiful women of two generations have shared their lives with me. So, who’s crazy?
Between San Diego and Hawaii on GANNET’s first ocean passage, I wrote:
Old man stands in companionway of small sloop. One very weathered hand holds lightly onto a halyard stopper. The other a jib winch. A big grin is on the old man’s face as he watches a small sloop rush though the ocean, little more than an arm’s length away. And because he is precisely where he is.
Use yourself up, old man. Use yourself up.
Last week I was asked why, after compiling so great a body of work, I continue. My answer was simple: I’m not yet used up.
I’m not going to explain the above photo, beyond saying that you are looking at a semi-frozen Lake Michigan through the window behind me and that it was taken this year. An explanation may come eventually.
Today I dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, mopped and waxed the hardwood floors. Tomorrow morning I’ll do the bathrooms.
I’m out of here.
Find joy. I will.