New Year Musings
By Daniel A. Kaufman
- Middle age is widely believed to be challenging, because it is the point at which we become uncomfortably aware of our mortality. I turned 50 this year, and my own experience has been that the hardest thing about middle age is that it is the time when one simultaneously has to manage one’s children’s adolescence and one’s parents’ old age.
- This was the year in which I fully realized that the most significant thing I will have done in my life is raise my daughter. It has been a surprisingly liberating insight and has led me to enjoy my professional work more than I have in years.
- Without permanently sharing my life with another human being and raising a child together, I don’t believe I could have become a fully developed adult. Too many of the virtues one has to cultivate depend upon the compromises and self-abnegations that are unique to these kinds of relationships.
- Marriage in the US is in trouble because people have a catastrophic misconception of it as a kind of “dating forever.” No one prior to the Baby Boom thought of marriage this way, and unsurprisingly, it is with the Baby Boomers that the divorce epidemic began, with all the socially devastating effects that followed.
- My return to playing tennis with a wooden racket has reminded me in a very visceral way how much better and more interesting the game was in the 1970’s and early 80’s. What today is a game dominated by athleticism and technology was then one in which tactics and skill determined who won and who lost.
- My effort to do as much of my reading as I can in actual print, on paper has reminded me in a very visceral way how importantly different an experience it is from reading on a screen. I find myself wishing more and more that I was publishing The Electric Agora in the era of the print magazine.
- Our current applications of technology differ from those in the past in one key way: rather than presupposing that we already possesses the relevant skill and saving us some labor, current technologies do away with the need ever to develop the skill in question at all. It is as if we are trying as hard as we can to become H.G. Wells’ Eloi.
- The wild and otherwise inexplicable spike in mental illness and suicide among young people indicates, beyond any doubt, the harmful effects of being raised from a young age with cellular technology and social media. What we do about it will tell us everything about whether we actually care about our children or not.
- With the current, feverish inclination to try and force others to say/not say all sorts of things, by way of intense social pressure (including attacks on their livelihood), I wonder how long it will be before we start to see a rise in interpersonal acts of physical violence.
- Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette special on Netflix, her subsequent misandrist rant at the 2018 Emmy Awards, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to both signals the end of comedy as we have understood it for generations. Of all the negative social developments of the last several years, this strikes me as one of the most ominous, as humor has been one of the essential means by which human beings over the ages have borne what otherwise would have been unbearable suffering.
- Given the capitulation of so many scientific, medical, and political institutions to contemporary gender ideology, I don’t see how even the most basic conception of the male and female sexes will survive into the future, even in the short term, at which point we will be entering a truly Brave New World.
- The declaration of total war by gender identity activists on traditional feminists and gay and lesbian activists would seem to signal the final disintegration of the civil rights coalition that has existed since at least the 1960’s, one that may effect a significant political realignment. Whether it will be for good or ill will remain to be seen.
- Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in good part because he saw no role for himself in today’s world. The transformation of much of the contemporary Left into self-righteous, bullying, censorious commissars suggests that he was tragically mistaken and that we need him now more than ever.
- That Democratic politicians and their friends in the commentariat failed to see that the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings hurt rather than helped them makes me think that we have not learned much of anything from the loss to Trump in 2016.
- Though referenda have no place in countries with representative forms of government, the way in which the political class in the UK nullified the Brexit vote may have damaged UK politics beyond repair, at least for the foreseeable future.
- Presidential politics in the US has become such a partisan disaster and Presidents have become such mediocrities that I increasingly see the profound wisdom in having an apolitical, mostly ceremonial head of state, as one does in constitutional monarchies.
- Our historical and literary illiteracy are a good part of the reason that what should have been a golden age in the West, after the end of the Cold War, has instead been a subtle, but nonetheless discernible disaster.