Since school is out of session, I can’t go to the office. This shouldn’t really matter, as I work at home, but there’s something about being around other adults drawing a paycheck for a common goal that makes one feel part of a larger world. However small it actually is. Consequently I am going mad.

Had a dream this morning in which I was sucked into the great clanking bowels of a baggage conveyance system,, pulled like a Warner Brothers cartoon character through tubes and chutes – for one moment I realized I was in a small room, and as the hook attempted to pull me through a narrow apeture in the ceiling, I let go. (Apparently my subsconscious has been outsourcing the symbolism beat to failed TV sitcom writers; how obvious is all this?) The room looked like an abandoned shed, and I had a sudden horrid attack of claustrophobia, the sort only dreams can truly provide. In the dream I thought of something I’d said a few days ago when asked if I was claustrophobic: when God closes a door, He also paints shut a window. I stood on a box to see if I could get through the hole in the ceiling, but it was no good. It had the diameter of a coffee can. It was, in fact, a coffee can. I looked around the room, spotted a door – dreams sometimes operate like old text adventures, and if I’d just said >look room I would have seen it. I walked outside, and there was the glorious bright world. With a giant airplane crashed on the tarmac. I woke.

The house was quiet. No one was up. It was later than usual, and that meant my wife had slept in – she’s under the weather – and Gnat and Jasper were also sacked. I went downstairs to the cold kitchen, made coffee, got the paper: 12 miners alive. Well, that’s good news. I read the paper, flipped open the laptop: 12 miners dead.

I’m not going to jump up and down all over the media on this one, because clusterfargs like this are an editor’s worst scenario, and no one wants to have a mistake like this happen on their watch. At some point you have to pull the trigger; presses have to roll. There is an assumption of trust when it comes to wire services, just as there’s an assumption of trust with your favorite bloggers: they’re acting in good faith to the best of their knowledge. This would be a watershed moment if you thought the mainstream media sources were infallible, but if who thinks that anymore? Who ever did? It’s not the big errors like this that annoy me – it’s the overall tone of the papers that grates, the omissions, the ideological elisions, the pigheaded indifference to historicity, the wimpy even-handedness so intent on non-judgmental objective reporting you half expect them to call a murder-suicide a “Double homicide.” It’s accurate, but doesn’t quite convey the flavor of the event.

Reading the national / international news section of the paper is like putting your head in a thin bubble. Then you fire up the browser, hit the nets, and the bubble pops.

Well, I went off on a rant tonight; didn’t mean to, but it’s been building. I blame myself; I am feeling particularly small and useless these days. For God’s sake, my primary contribution to the world today was a 300-word piece on pretentious bath towels. Seventeen more years of this, then the gold watch? How exactly is it possible that I love my job, love my life, feel extraordinarily lucky and grateful, and still want to bang my head into the kitchen counter at night. Oh, tomorrow’s podcast should be a keeper! Tune in! Hear me deal with the maddening fugue of middle age! Boring.

Anyway, I snipped the rant and put it in the revived Screedblog. It’s an elaboration on this breathtakingly depressing column by Mark Steyn. Of course, there’s nothing sillier than elaborating on a Steyn column, unless it’s “expanding on remarks by Mark Helprin” or complaining about anything that does not involve having a loved one in a mine. So pay no attention. Better mood tomorrow.



c. 2005 j. lileks .