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EAGANBLOG ARCHIVE
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Strike Nowhere
There is a safeguard, under law, that is meant to protect us from crappy products. The Implied Warranty of Merchantability it’s called, and it holds that anything we buy in the course of normal commerce must be fit to use for the purposes it is intended.

If you buy a broom, it has to be good for sweeping. If you buy a house, it has to be habitable. And, I would say, that a box of “Strike Anywhere” matches would have to contain matchsticks that would ignite if scratched firmly against almost any surface. As to that last item, let me assert that the Diamond Match Co. has violated my warranty with their crappy matches.

There was a time when saying that a match could be struck anywhere could be relied upon. Oh, you couldn’t ever strike them on the leg of your magenta velvet bell bottoms, but on your dungarees? Oh yes. And plenty of other surfaces, too, including your thumbnail.

Sadly, those days are gone. No more Ohio Blue Tips, no more Diamond red and whites. Just these lame green and beige Strike Nowhere matches that won’t even light when you drag them across the sandpaper on the box.

What’s more, I’ve seen nothing about swat teams swooping in to close down any match factories. So much for my Implied Warranty of Merchantability. Maybe I can use it to start my wood stove.
Control Experiment
Nic Stone, who wrote the novel Dear Martin, could have let it fly when a North Carolina school district banned her book from being used in a local high school. The book is aimed at kids of that age, and besides its frank depiction of racial profiling, it contains a few unspectacular “bad words.”

Ms. Stone might have called racism over the incident, but instead she chose a gentler analysis. “In times like these,” she said, “we are all looking for something we can control.”

That calm assessment, delivered with a smile, has stuck with me. She might have singled out any of a number of the players in this story for criticism: the parents who showed such over-the-top outrage, the school administrators who acquiesced so swiftly to the demands, the leaders who fostered the climate of fear and ignorance that surrounded these events. But I think her insight penetrates more deeply to the heart of the matter.

Books are an easy target. They don’t fight back, at least not in conventional ways. All they have are the strength of their ideas and the actions and voices of their characters. Viruses and catastrophic weather are more daunting as foes. So are imaginary bogeymen like the Deep State. How could there be a more hopeless war than one waged against an enemy that does not actually exist?

There will always be uncertainty and real danger in the world. Reality is scary enough. With the recent rise in disinformation, though, we have seen the fright level inch up a notch. These kinds of lies, coming as they do from the highest and most trusted sources, only make our feelings of helplessness worse. And now that the rot of mendacity has spread down to street level, lying for gain on any subject has become a cottage industry.

So we are all a little on edge. Norms and ways of being that used to be taken for granted are suddenly under threat. The foundations of our way of life appear to be weakening — all across the political spectrum.

Fear and rage and even irrationality are perfectly appropriate responses to all that. But emotionality is something we can live with. What we can’t abide is oppressing one another. If we are looking for something to control, that seems like a good place to start.
Eaganblog 500
As is my habit, I’d like to pause and reflect about Eaganblog itself. Similar self-reflections have now occurred with every hundredth blog. This one is number 500.

First, let me address the writing itself. I will confess (once again) that there are just too many modifiers in these pieces. Better verbs would help, but finding the right verb is a lot tougher than coming up with some self-important, high-and-mighty, let-the-devil-take-the-hindmost adjective. You see? I did it again.

That tendency is a part of a much larger battle I am waging against lazy writing. All I can try to do is work harder at not being lazy. But before I can do that, I’ll need to work harder at not being too lazy about working harder at not being lazy. As I said, it’s a constant battle.

Let’s move on. This seems like a good time to let go of some topics that have been sitting on the back burner for awhile. Not only am I never going to write these blogs, they have been on the back burner for so long that the saucepans they’re in will also have to be thrown out. Before I do that, though, let me share the topics with you:

• My Pulsating Nodes Theory of space, time, and everything. My fellow cosmologists have long since moved beyond my work in the field and left me choking on their cosmic dust. So be it. They’ll be eating their words once we reach the End of Time.

• Bad sneakers. There was a point at which nearly every new sneaker design was an abomination of awful color and clownish configuration. Those days seem to have passed. There are still plenty of ugly shoes out there that need to be mocked, but sneakers as a particular target are now off the table.

• The cruel, crazy stupids. You know who I’m talking about. I’ve decided not to invest any more energy in these people lest I become one myself.

• Those strings inside bananas. I’m sure you shouldn’t eat them, but my research has come up empty.

• Treason, She Wrote. Sounds promising, but there’s nothing there. Trust me.

• Knute Rockne had acne, Mitt Romney drove an Omni, and David Brinkley was wrinkly. All true, but it doesn’t go nowhere.

• The Pyramid vs. the Web. This was going to be something insightful about the different governing styles of men and women, but it all sounded so sexist I just quit.

I have more themes that have yet to bear fruit as well, but tossing out ideas is not something I do lightly. So, it is still possible that you might discover these themes in future Eaganblogs:

• The slippery slope. Nobody likes these, but it seems that only people who are on the left of the political spectrum are susceptible to them. In some cases, they are even at risk of sliding uphill.

• Elon Musk’s hyperloop invention. Here, the challenge is explaining how it works in as few words as possible for people who are not engineers. Still fine-tuning my eighteenth draft.

• Self-cancelling terminology. This is mostly an exercise in linguistic geekiness, but I am convinced there is word humor platinum to be mined here. It’s just a matter of gearing up to write it all down.

• My Pulsating Nodes Theory of space, time, and everything. Yes, I know that I said I was abandoning this topic, but it just so happens that one of the essential tenets of the PNT is that nothing ever really goes away. So here it is, back on the list.

Hey, you made it to the end! See you at #600!
This Guy I Know
There’s this guy I know — just met him recently, actually — and he is a puzzling dude. I like him, but there is no doubt that he is more than a little strange.

Not in a bad way, really. He’s got a great personality and is always ready with a quick smile. He and I also share an interest in music and sports…and in enjoying life while we can. All of which makes him fun to hang with. If you try to engage him on something like the virus, though, or global warming or the state of the economy or anything really serious, he kind of glazes over and clams up.

He’s more of a good-times guy, I guess. A party animal. It’s almost as if he’s not even conscious of all the strife and worry in the world. On the other hand, I’ve never seen someone who is so quick to tears. Even over the smallest of things, I’ve seen him break down and cry like a baby.

I suppose that’s because he is a baby, but still. Strange.
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Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz