I changed jobs in December, and I am still settling into my new position. But so far it seems to be a sustainable one. With holiday travel out of the way, I am hoping to get back to "Burdens" in a more concentrated fashion; at least to "Hippies vs. Punks," of which I have been thinking about a lot, and to comic books, where much work is being done that shines a light on the rapid changes the world is experiencing.
January will likely continue a pattern of irregular posts. I have some significant obligations to fulfill this month at work. Hopefully, I'll shake this tendency of wanting to do anything before -- I'd sooner wash a sink full of dirty dishes -- spending my time at the laptop.
The final game of the National Football League regular season was played Sunday night. It was an almost trance-like contest between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for the NFC North title. Games like this -- games where the offenses click for a moment but never establish a true rhythm while defenses look brilliant for a quarter or two before giving up several "home-run balls" -- were the norm this year. More than any other factor, I think it is this inconsistent play which is behind the much-reported television ratings drop.
I can't think of another year like it since I started watching NFL games again in 2003. The only compelling story line, if you exclude the reemergence of the Oakland Raiders, is Dallas' dominance thanks to two meta-human rookies, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Most NFL games in 2016 seemed to be like Sunday's between the Patriots and Dolphins -- lopsided affairs where one was better off doing something else, really almost anything, than watching. (My only tiny moment of gratification during the Patriots-Dolphins game was once again realizing how vile Julian Edelman truly is.)
It was fitting that the regular season end on New Year's Day -- a day when we are supposed to look ahead with vigor, new goals fresh in mind after an evening of indulgence. Fitting because the NFL is a commercial product intended to capture our time, to immobilize us in front of a device that bombards us with commands to consume. It is all about the commercials. And I consumed countless commercials this season. What better way to perjure one's New Year purity than camp out in front of broadcast TV for nine-plus hours?
Now, with "wild card weekend" -- back-to-back days of six-plus hours of NFL football -- less than five days away, any resolve has already been compromised. Another year has already begun with a lost weekend.
But I did not begin New Year's Day so pessimistically. I was out on the road early taking care of a resolution to get in an eight-mile run. There was a light dusting of snow visible, but the streets were free of ice. When I got to the "Wall of Death" sculpture beneath the University Bridge I was expecting to see a large encampment of homeless people. Homelessness is everywhere in the booming Emerald City, and the space beneath the University Bridge is dry, clean and paved -- an ideal place to hide from the rain and snow. But no one was there. Odd, I thought, as I continued west on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Maybe homelessness is not as bad as I imagine it to be.
In another half mile, I was on a relatively hidden part of the trail. On my right was a grassy knoll, while on my left was a bramble of bushes and small trees separated from the trail by a chainlink fence. As I ran along, I noticed all manner of bivouac shelters constructed out of refuse materials within the bramble. One guy was outside his makeshift tent shaking off the melting snow.
It dawned on me then that the homeless, probably because of some anti-terrorism edict, are not allowed to camp beneath bridges.
When I finally made it back to my apartment, I was all the more appreciative on the first day of the year to have a warm, dry, private residence to call home. The foundation of rationality is the ability to believe that there is a there there. If there is no there there, then we are in the realm of nihilism. And while my philosophy tends in the direction of nihilism, there are a few snags for me. History, for one. And the there there of a room of one's own.
For many Americans the National Football League season is what stands in for rationality. There are lies and public relations, yes, but nothing compared to Great Power statecraft where the rules are opaque and the opposite of reality is amplified and broadcast constantly. The NFL is sunny, simple and open by comparison, with instant replay for the close calls. The year winds down, and there are winners and losers. The winners move on to the post-season in the New Year and the losers disappear into the off-season. If not righteous, the NFL is orderly. It anchors broadcast television for the ad makers and fills our holidays with hosannas to consumption.
Here are my predictions, such as they are:
In the AFC the question is the perennial one -- Who will beat Belichik's Patriots? Only two teams have a chance, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. I like the Chiefs and hope they get to the Super Bowl. The Patriots can be beaten at home. The Seahawks proved it. New England's defense is good. Alex Smith is going to have to run more out of the pocket if Kansas City hopes to win.
In the NFC the question is can Dallas' rookies deliver in post-season. The Packers are on a roll but are banged up in their secondary. The Giants have beaten the Cowboys twice but probably won't make it out of Lambeau this weekend. The Seahawks and the Lions are too inconsistent. That leaves Atlanta. I would like to see the Falcons win in Big D, but I don't think they have the defense to do it. But since I am more about hope than despair in the New Year, I'm taking the Falcons in a shootout over the Cowboys.