Awake in the middle of the night here in Seattle. The Locus Awards were fine and fun. My shirt tied for third in the ritual Hawaiian shirt contest. (I was robbed, I tell you — if we were judging under last year’s rules I’d have swept it.) Various eliminatory issues are keeping me from sleeping, so naturally my thoughts turn to the sort of random crap that enters my head at two in the morning. Such as these potential discussion items:
- I recently observed in someone’s comment thread that a vanished culture seems to be able to leave certain things behind. Specifically, literature (The Odyssey is an example of this), art/architecture (much of ancient Rome), and toponyms (the Native American legacy embedded in many American place names). Thoughts?
- Once our culture vanishes, future historians may well adopt May 31st, 2003 as the date from which the decline of the American Empire became inevitable. That’s when US Highway 666 was renumbered to 491, in order to “get the devil out.” The primacy of superstitious nonsense in the setting of public policy has driven this country to bizarre extremes in research, education, family planning and foreign policy, but even highway numbering fell victim. (And to give shame where shame is due, this moronic alteration occurred under the stewardship of New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat.)
- It occurred to me this evening that given roughly my same medical and life history (a gross simplification), under pre-modern conditions i would have died around April 30th of this year at age 43, direct cause of death being uncontrolled internal bleeding. As it happens, I’ve also been in the ER twice for closed head injuries, along with experiencing other miscellaneous potentially fatal complaints such as tuberculosis. Anyone who’s ever had major trauma surgery, lives with severe allergies or an autoimmune disorder, experienced a major bacterial infection, or has simply taken a good, hard fall down the stairs is likely living on borrowed time. When would you have died under pre-modern conditions?