Tag Archives: risk

There are no time-outs

Time passes just for a writer as much as it does for a carpenter or for anyone else. You as a writer enjoy the act of recording your life events and thoughts. You like living that lifestyle, writing the journal, etc., taking time-outs from life to record, though of course there are no time-outs, and writing is living.

I couldn’t write only novels, as Molly says she does. I would feel I’m losing my days that way. Funny, I felt like that the first couple of weeks out of school, needed to make one of those daily-weekly charts I used to make a lot of when I wasn’t writing every day. But once I got into the vacation, the days flow on, flow with me and flow from me, and that’s OK, too. I couldn’t, wouldn’t want to, at least, do what Molly does. I need the journal, need to take time to process and think and such. M said last night even if we get busier with our careers, our kids, later on, we have had a nice time here these last few years with just each other—all this time after getting married, she said. Some people start having kids right away—we’ve had time to ourselves, to each other.

I don’t know—there’s an aspect to a writer’s life, a sense in which we live it a little deeper, perhaps, by going over it, living it twice? Sucking the marrow out of life? Writers don’t climb mountains or take risks, big life-affirming, life-threatening—life-affirming because they’re life-threatening, unless of course they’re life-ending—risks. I, for one, believe I just don’t have the gene for thrill-seeking. Supposedly science says there is such a gene, though such an explanation sounds like an excuse, eh? Putting the blame for a personal, internal preference on the external world—”my genes, I can’t change them.” So, OK, I just don’t like great thrills.

I don’t mind a little challenge now and then, and it’s good that I had Uncle L__ to provide them—hike through Baxters’ woods at night, on trail but under the canopy, all I could see was the pale, ghostly white of the bucket.

[From journal of Friday, 14 July 2006, 7:55 a.m., Journal 75, page 8-9]

Surveillance is interesting but beside the point

While listening to a recent “Fresh Air” broadcast about the history of government surveillance, which mentioned some of the numerous attempts to gather digital information in ostensibly trying to prevent another terrorist attack, I thought about this post at The Atlantic that points out that in the interval of 1999 to 2010,

terrorists killed roughly 3,000 people in the United States. And in that interval,

  • roughly 360,000 were killed by guns (actually, the figure the CDC gives is 364,483 — in other words, by rounding, I just elided more gun deaths than there were total terrorism deaths).

  • roughly 150,000 were killed in drunk-driving accidents.

So, the surveillance programs are focused on a threat that is responsible for far fewer deaths than the rather mundane, always-with-us problems of gun violence and drunk-driving.

But I suspect that all the government and private-contractor employees — presumably, smart, ambitious people — are involved in intelligence work because, well, it’s intellectually engaging, technologically challenging work. Analysts get to look at evidence and try to find killers before they strike again — it’s a mystery show! It’s interesting, perhaps in a way that fighting these boring-but-deadly problems isn’t, but it seems a situation reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch:

“More apparatus please, nurse … the E.E.G, the B.P. monitor, and the A.V.V.” “And get the machine that goes ‘ping.'” “And get the most expensive machine in case the administrator comes.”