But Next Week

One thing that is continually frustrating to people with principles (whatever they may be) is how vulnerable the public at large is to Events. What difference, the rational person might ask, does it make if your fellow says a stupid thing? His policy positions remain the same. The Other Guy still has his policies, and they’ll be the same even if he comes across as stupid in some interview, which he inevitably will.

So, much of the election cycle comes down to people who have their minds made up watching in horror as the curling match plays out. What sort of arcane maneuvers are necessary to slowly move the puck to your side? How does the substrate respond to this or that?

It’s a load of nonsense. If the election were held last week Trump would have won. If the election were held this week Hillary will win. But the election wasn’t held last week, and isn’t held this week, and yet you have people on both sides acting as if it is.

It ain’t.


Spiders of some sort–I lack the academic credentials to identify them– had recently taken up residence in the stairwell of my old apartment building. I sweep the dirt from this area, since I sometimes track it in from the construction sites where I work.

But the spiders, I decided, could stay. They looked harmless enough. I’ve never been particularly afraid of them, and I find the things they predate on far more annoying in general. In the following weeks I noticed the spiders appearing, occasionally, in my apartment proper. I never disturbed them.

Once, an old girlfriend of mine spoke of the jumping spiders in her rented home in Amakusa in Japan. Naturally being afraid of them, she eventually happened upon a method to kill them with ease: a vacuum cleaner. I thought she was quite clever, at the time. Later she spoke of a new infestation, a round of much more horrible bugs, which the jumping spiders had evidently been keeping in check. Not so clever after all.

At the time I thought nothing of it, but now I realize that I came to understand that spiders are our friends more than they are our enemies. Very seldom, upon hearing this story, have I killed any of them. If I can, I always spare the life of a spider. I’ll even live alongside them if they aren’t obviously dangerous.

I think of this as something of a metaphor for tradition. Tradition is like a spider–unappreciated, perhaps even disgusting, until you kill it and see for yourself every nasty thing it has kept at bay.