Thursday, November 13, 2008

True North

Weather VaneA few years ago Sarah Vowell pointed out this truism in "The Nerd Voice", an essay in "Partly Cloudy Patriot": it's the height of uncool to like learning in this country. The cool kids copy eachother's homework and are distinguished by how well they're able to get away with it. After high school, of course, the geeks all find each other and realize that they live more interesting lives anyway, but for 12 years, we live with the idea that you have to hide being interested in the past, the future and the world around you.

Welcome to Graduation Day Redux, boys and girls.

That's one of the developments I'm most looking forward to since the night DC exploded into cheers and honks and screams and high-fives and hugs: the geeks are out and proud again.

Two remarks that struck a cord:
  • As I walked to the White House the night of the election, the crowd was chanting "Pack yo' shit! Pack yo' shit! Pack yo' shit!"
  • My friend Emily's facebook status the next day: "Food tastes better, drinks are stronger, steps lighter, strangers nicer. It's like Mr. Rogers neighborhood."

  • As hopeful as I am about the coming four years, I'm dismayed to see the successful and accomplished Michelle Obama further morph in the public eye into mommy, fashion icon, and supportive wife. Hopefully, the fact that her husband seems to understand the compromises she's made will make a difference in domestic policy.

    In other explosive stuff, I keep coming across examples of high speed photography of stuff while it's exploding - vases with flowers, teddy bears and balloons. Beautiful.

    Also, I finally cleaned out my Netflix stash when I watched The Triplets of Belleville. It was a charming if occasionally slow animated film about a French kid who grows up into a Tour de France bike racer who gets kidnapped and later rescued by his grandmother and three fading stars of the French stage. The best part: when the tough, crusty, French grannies all turn out to be expert percussionists who play bicycle rims, newspapers, and their shoes with equal ease. It was beautifully rendered in an over-the-top caricature. Check out the trailer.

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