Dark Age Ahead

I haven't seen the sun in many days. How is it that people live and are happy in the Pacific Northwest? When will the Cascades surrender to sight?

I've been reading "Dark Age Ahead" by Jane Jacobs. She is famous for "The Death and Life of Great American Cities".

Perhaps not the best book to be reading during this woeful winter of discontent. The President was acquitted of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The virus continues its relentless spread. And here I am thinking of the useless.

Study the teachings of the pine tree, the bamboo, and the plum blossom. The pine is evergreen, firmly rooted, and venerable. The bamboo is strong, resilient, unbreakable. The plum blossom is hardy, fragrant, and elegant.

Words to remind us of what needs to be done in our own life.


Credentialing instead of education. This is the theme in which Jacobs grabs me.

I am sure if I mistakenly added a CS degree from Brown to my resume I'd be getting a bit more job interviews. People don't actually care about that stuff, do they? Who is to know? Maybe it's worth trying.

There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. *Defeat* means defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.

What's a degree anyway? What does that piece of paper so longed for really mean? Jacobs says,

A degree can also be a passport out of an underclass, or a safety strap to prevent its holder from sinking into an underclass. [...]

In the meantime, rejoicing that university education has become a growth industry, administrators and legislators seek increasingly to control problems of scale by applying lessons form profit-making enterprises hat turn expanded markets to advantage by cutting costs.

Jacobs! From what I remember of "Death and Life" she had such a flare for imparting useful information. She was a novice, like Barbara Tuchman, or at least considered a novice since she never graduated college. That personal bit of her biography appeals to me.

Sadly, it feels as if there is no magic in this book; no great insight about the epoch. I was around in 2004 and I don't recall it like she does. Alas, mine were the eyes of youth and inexperience. Meanwhile, she was approaching her death.

Here's a bit that jumped out at me. The routes of current policy hark back to the Great Depression and the...

repeated rejection, with its burden of shame and failure.

We've become, as a nation, so obsessed with staving off mass unemployment. We've collectively, according to Jacobs, decided that we must never again experience another Great Depression and that we will all do what we must to ensure the current victory.

Although I can turn the pages I lack compulsion to underline or take any "notes in the margins". The pages flow and are forgotten. Yes, I am typing out passages that grab me NOW but even those are bland. Tasteless with a pitch of salt. There's that Jacobs kick but it's lacking in forward motion.

It's a scant book that is easy to digest and recover from.

I will leave you with this bit:

I am in no position to do traffic research. I don't drive, nor do I own a car.

Well, neither did Moses.

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page last modified: 2020-02-06