nteresting morning: I had a bunch of little errands and since it was blustery and chilly, I decided to do them by bike. The route was from my house a mile to the donut shop (where I read a book I’ll describe shortly). Then across the street (the street being Corrine Drive, which is a good simulation of the beaches of Normandy) to drop off another book (a creepy serial killer thing). Then two miles over to the drug store (picked up some keep-alive pills). Then two miles over to the chain bookstore to pick up a classic (I’d checked at the used store but no joy). Then home, another mile or two.
The crux of this was that my backpack was nine lbs, which feels like an elephant. Contents – heavy bike D-ring lock, pills (okay, pretty light), Great Expectations (heavy in weight and subject) and a really huge book, Norfolk & Western’s Clinch Valley Line, a massive eight by eleven monster, over an inch thick, that a friend co-authored. I’ve been meaning to read it and I did over donuts and coffee.
But there’s a little more backstory. In the train club, me and a couple of young guys are having an argument about trains, a silly thing, really. But they are both under thirty. They have been engaged (as adults) in trains for maybe ten years. I don’t know if they’ve read anything about trains (well, one of them has bought some books, I gathered). As for me, I’ve got a shelf full of train books. I’ve read extensively about the two Southern Pacific Divisions I’ve modeled, the fruit shipper company that worked there, an associated short line, as well as dozens of books about all sorts of aspects of trains (from history to train control, and everything in between). Also, I’ve been in the train club for over thirty-five years.
None of that matters. Much of their arguments are based on their hazy understanding of how railroads (and their positions) are organized. In my brain, I’ve got dozens of real-world examples to support my point. And not of that matters at all. It’s two to one. A pure democracy where wisdom does not get a vote.
Welcome to the new media. You can Wiki something and be an expert. Or you can just argue a belief, not with facts, but with those beliefs. It is true because I think it is true.
We’ve seen this “thinking”, from the insurrection (and the acceptance of lies) to the pandemic responses (I lost two friends who “believed” Covid was an overstated thing) (by lost, I mean RIP). I also see it online, where people argue that trade school is good enough – you don’t have to learn critical thinking to swing a roofing hammer. In college, I read Great Expectations. These guys who take the short path in the Game of Life are operating with Lower Expectations.
Knowledge doesn’t count for anything. Mental prowess is distrusted, ridiculed. The only sexy bookworm in recent times is Indiana Jones, and he’s more of a tomb robber than a scholar.
I’ve noted elsewhere that the next generation engages in tearing down the world of the current generation. And from here, I can see the edge crumbling away, day by day.
I only wonder at the brave new world that will replace ours. I can see it in the distance, and it doesn’t look pretty.