Tom Clyde: ‘Idiocracy,’ a parable for our times
It’s official, Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee. Be still my heart. From the clips I’ve seen of the non-convention, it seems like there were some interesting speeches and some substance behind it. I just can’t watch it. My decision was made four years ago, and is reinforced every day. The very stable genius is a danger to the republic. If you need to watch the convention speeches to make up your mind in this election, you haven’t been paying attention. This latest stunt with the Postal Service ought to be enough for anybody, but in the long list of incompetence and malfeasance, it barely stands out. Drink some Pine-Sol and call me in the morning, right after Mexico pays for the wall.
So instead of watching the convention, I’ve been catching up on movies I’ve recorded over the past several weeks. The keynote was “Idiocracy.” I was shocked to see that it was made in 2006. That seems like a very long time ago. It’s a story about a guy who is frozen as part of a military experiment. He was supposed to be frozen for a year, but the program got canceled, and he was on ice for 500 years. When he thaws out, instead of being the most statistically average man in America, he finds that he is now the smartest man in a very dumb world. The world has dumbed down to the point that all of life is somehow subordinated to Gatorade and Carl’s Jr. Nothing works and nobody knows how to fix any of it. And as long as the electrolytes keep flowing, nobody much cares.
When the movie came out, all those 14 years ago, it was hilarious. The message was a warning that if we didn’t invest a little bit more in maintaining our basic civic institutions, things could get bad. Like most parodies, it was so over the top that no part of it could ever happen. And then it did. Pretty much all of it. The movie was originally a work of fiction and a comedy. Now, it feels prophetic, like a serious documentary. The only thing missing was a distraught Rachel Maddow doing the introduction.
The one image that really hit — and that I had barely noticed before — was a scene with people riding jet skis in the trash-filled reflecting pool in front of the Washington Monument.
So overall, watching the non-convention speeches might actually have been better in terms of adjusting the outlook on our current state of affairs. Next week, we get the Republican version of reality. That ought to boost ammunition sales. Personally, I’m waiting for Kanye West’s campaign kick-off speech, which will look temperate by comparison.
For years, I’ve had a sort of cold war with a flock(?) herd(?) of bats that night-roost over my patio table. They like to hang up under the roof over the deck, way up against the ridge beam. I wouldn’t mind it so much except that every morning there is a pile of bat poop on the table, and they pee on the wall of the house. Somehow each bat seems to be able to produce enough pee every night that streaks run down the wall and smell like, well, bat pee.
I’ve tried a lot of things without much success. Moving the table has been the most successful, but it fits where it is, and the whole point of eating breakfast out there is to enjoy the view. If I move the table to the non-bat end of the deck, the view is blocked. So I’m back at it with the bats. A plastic owl on a perch near the bats’ favorite spot discouraged them for a while. A bag of mothballs stapled to the wall worked pretty well, but it was right outside the bedroom window and the bedroom smelled of mothballs. The house looked like some crazy person had stapled bags of mothballs to the wall. There’s a product that is a little bag of stuff with an overpowering floral smell that is supposed to keep mice out of the cabs of tractors when they are in storage. That, too, stunk up the house with the window open.
We’re supposed to love and appreciate bats. They eat a lot of insects, and are supposed to be good for the environment. You sort of have to overlook the general creepiness, rabies and COVID issues. Technically the COVID-carrying bats were different from our local bats. But I would love and appreciate them a lot more if they didn’t mess up the patio.
The latest salvo is a solar-powered spotlight, mounted on the wall high enough that it doesn’t shine in the bedroom window at night, but low enough to light up the underside of the roof where they roost. It’s only been a couple of nights, but so far, it seems to be working.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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