The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mysterious slime and other events
Tom Smith

[This is a family life update. Read only if necessary.]

It has been a long time since I wrote a family life update, so much so that I fear I have lost the habit. But perhaps it is like exercise, which is never too late to begin, or so the doctors say. Of course, there's a great deal the doctors are not telling us, and that's probably just as well. I will not attempt to be complete in my accounts. I will just touch on a few curiosities.

Notable I suppose is that somebody, probably sketchy teenagers who have come to inhabit our neighborhood, ripped one half of our driveway gate off, left it lying in the driveway and simultaneously deposited what looked a giant pool of light brown latte on the cement, as if in haste upon realizing they had ripped the gate off. This may sound odd, and you may not quite follow what happened, but I could not figure it out either.  Step 1, rip off gate. Step 2, deposit mysterious substance on driveway.  I say mysterious because when I came to hose it off, my instructions as to doing it having somehow not sufficiently impressed themselves on my offspring, I found it could not be coffee, as it didn't want to budge. Too oily to be coffee, apparently, but neither did it seem to any of the normal bodily exhudes vandals might be expected to produce. Brushing and Mr. Clean eventually removed it. We carried the gate off onto the undeveloped part of our lot that does little more than separate me from my neighbors. I was annoyed but mostly just resigned. Teenagers, coyotes, rattlesnakes: they come with the territory. I imagine it was the result of drunken confusion rather than malice.

In a sure sign of aging I find myself thinking of the young and what will become of them. LWJ and I have two kids in college now and a third who will be applying next year.  (Plus a nine year old who is another story.) It doesn't do to dwell on it, but I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels bitter that our masters have decided to steer the country in a direction that will make it harder for them, not to mention all the highly leveraged students I teach, to start careers and lives of their own. Notwithstanding the vast influence I exercise as a blogger, there's not much I can do about it. It is a bad feeling, but also a strange feeling, disorienting. It feels wrong in a way like something is out of joint, gravely disordered as a Catholic might say, what it is ain't exactly clear, as Buffalo Springfield might say. I never thought to experience an entirely novel sensation of socio-political alienation at my advanced age. One wonders if it will ever be morning in America again or if we will just have to keep the faith through a twilight of uncertain length.  I'm not sure what time it is, but I know it's not supposed to be this dark. People who grew up in this light will think it's normal, I guess. To be balanced, my efforts as an historian, which I fear resemble in some respects my efforts as a swimmer (see below), suggest most people at most times have lived in pretty menacing circumstances, usually much worse than our own.  The English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, The American Civil War; our history is one calamity after another. And consider if you were Latvian. (h/t LS)

A great consolation to me, sorry that sounds so gloomy, is swimming. I'm a pretty terrible swimmer, in terms of technique. The worst thing that could happen to me would be to see a tape of myself swimming. If I look anything like as comical as the people in the lanes next to me, which I probably do, I would be too ashamed ever to swim again.  Were one to just find oneself magically transported to the pool at the Y at swim at without the usual cues, one might think one was at Seaworld, in a new exhibit of albino walruses, clad for some reason in nylon and goggles.  My goal used to be to get good enough to start swimming in the ocean, but lately I'm not so sure. The pool is new, and ever so clean and perfectly heated to a soothing 80 degrees or so, not warm, just so. There is also the complete absence of sharks, not that I would worry about so improbable a predation.

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Posted by: JMS | Dec 14, 2012 5:41:07 AM

There are lots of places outside the USA that are booming, offering opportunity for teenagers. The USSA is a has-been, only getting worse. Those who have vision and language skills would be well advised to leave, just as Saverin did.

Posted by: Jimbino | Dec 14, 2012 9:03:30 AM

Let's speculate that the debt will be "restructured" in some way that spreads the pain to our creditors (the Greece tactic) and that, maybe as part of the deal, the US Dollar will cease to be a "reserve currency". The value of the dollar would probably drop significantly against some other currencies, not necessarily all of them. Any drop in the value of the Dollar will likely increase our exports and reduce our imports, not immediately, but over a decade or so. This might not be so bad; we might become a more self sufficient entity (well, how could we avoid it? we cannot become more dependent on imports than we are now can we?). We would be obliged to reduce our foreign obligations, military and otherwise. We would have a more fractious world to live with but maybe our absence would increase the sense of responsibility on some wealthy nations such as China and Australia and Japan (OK, that might be pollyanna speaking but some force would fill the vacuum of our withdrawal). So I think the odds are at least fair that the USA will continue to be a fine place to live. Just different.

Posted by: Kieth | Dec 14, 2012 12:06:25 PM