Two Weeks of Nothing: Random Thoughts After a Relaxing Vacation

Back from vacation. From possibly the most relaxing vacation of my life. You want to know what made it relaxing? Well, lots of things. But I stayed in a place with no cell reception. No internet.

No internet will set you free.

There was a television but I hardly watched any of it. I wasn’t completely unmoored. I just had to drive a few minutes and my phone showed a few bars. I still posted stuff. My kid and I are in a deep Pocket Planes game on my iPad and our aviation empire grew. But otherwise, I was off the grid. In the sense that I didn’t really know what was happening in the world and, for two weeks, I didn’t care.

Random thoughts:

  1. Vermont is enough to make you sense America’s greatness. Vermont is both simple and surprising, or can be, and yet fully a part of something much larger. America is not, of course, perfect. It’s not even close. But still.
  2. The America not being perfect part. Well, yes. Just before I left on vacation, we had Aurora and a shooting during a movie premiere and then upon my return, the shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. America had its original sin in slavery (and I’m not singling America out on this – I think each and every country in the world has its own version of original sin) and now it’s guns. I do not believe Americans are more violent than other people. But that Second Amendment is screwy, let’s not sugarcoat it, and the gun debate in the US is screwier because it’s not even happening. It is an enormous blind spot and to people from outside the country it continues to be a head scratcher (here’s a great post from a friend who was once pro-gun but can’t bring herself to be anymore). Gun ownership in Canada, to the surprise of many, is actually quite high. Something like 30%. It’s even high in Quebec, considered a province of pacifists (meaning no one from outside the province has seen the amount of hunting and fishing media this place generates). But our murder rate, or violent crimes committed by guns, is way lower. A fifth lower than the American rate. A few years back, Quebec City, a metropolitan area of about 600,000, did not register a single murder. Not one. Think about that, America. Something gives.
  3. I think everyone should read Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru. I won’t say what it’s about (here’s a link to its Goodreads page) because the plot is secondary. I just think you should read it because of the writing. It is astonishing. I was astonished. Doug Coupland wrote a fabulous review of the book in the New York Times. It’s a good starting off point. An added bonus: Doug’s review is also one of the best book reviews you will read this year.
  4. I reread The Stranger by Albert Camus. I kept imagining a movie of it, but set in Texas, maybe near Galveston, or even perhaps Reno. I think America is kind of having an uber existential moment right now. Discovering, or rediscovering, the logical conclusion of the Existential argument, and its basic amorality, sets you up for some strange truths every time you watch the news.
  5. Quebec is having an election. The choice is between nationalist assholes, corrupt assholes who have lost all the courage they may ever have had, shitheads whose platform on immigration is about as appealing as the acronym of their name, and a party whose only elected member is a dangerous smooth tongued anti-semite. Lovely. It almost makes the American election look palatable. Not quite. But almost.
  6. What has happened to the political class and when did it happen?
  7. I can not understand NBC’s policy in terms of the Olympics. In some ways, I’m happy their coverage is so awful. If not, I might have actually watched some of the Games and my vacation might have turned out differently. My question to NBC: what year do you think we are in right now? You have this 24/7 multi-platform coverage and yet nothing of import is live. Huh? And on the topic of the Olympics, I didn’t think the Brits were going to pull it off. Even the opening ceremonies (the only thing I have watched other than yesterday’s 100m final) were kind of goofy spectacular. A perfect embodiment of Great Britain. Kind of like bangers and mash.
  8. Mother loons give their newborns piggyback rides. There was a family of loons on our lake. The babies were less than a month old. We watched them every day.
  9. I ate a fish so fresh I could taste the lake. I also killed the fish with a 2×4 to the head. The entire lake heard the whacks. I gutted it. The whole thing was kind of primordial.
  10. Jersey Beef. We talk about Wagyu beef a lot. Try Jersey. Wow.
  11. Speaking of guns and the Olympics: Syria. Don’t forget what’s happening there. Every time you think it can’t get uglier, it does.
  12. Finally. Facebook. Someone take it away. It’s just not worth it. I hate that I don’t have the courage to delete my account. I truly do.

I’m going to work tomorrow. I’m going to travel and experience new things and places. The world will unfold. It unfolds with or without us. We fill the air around the world with stuff. With noise. Some of it tremendously beautiful. We reach for Mars and dig up rocks and search for life. We are capable of some spectacular things. And we also have to learn that Sikhs in the US have suffered greatly since 9/11 because ignorant nut jobs think they’re Muslims. And no one says anything about the sad facts and ironies loaded into this reality. Or that nut jobs are hunting down “Muslims.” Because that would make every one uncomfortable. And we wouldn’t want that.

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  • […] Two Weeks of Nothing: Random Thoughts After a Relaxing Vacation – Arjun Basu. "Remember when people blogged, and you knew them, or got to know them online, and they got to know you? I miss those days. This is just a nice old fashioned blog post from my pal, Arjun Basu, about a bunch of stuff he was thinking about during and after an unconnected holiday. Refreshing to read." (Hugh for Mitch). […]

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