26 years in Britain

When I moved here in 1997, the US seemed ahead in all sorts of ways. Since then, the UK seems to have caught up. Grocery shops sell salad dressing and ground coffee, and they’re open on Sunday. People say “kids” and “Merry Christmas”. Men don’t wear ties much, and cyclists do wear bike helmets. There are coffee shops everywhere with excellent wifi, and you get a lid on your cup at the motorway service area.

Here’s what it feels like. It has been my curious fortune to live in Britain during precisely the quarter-century when the two countries became aligned.

Of course, there is another possibility. In September I’ll be moving back to Massachusetts, and I am nervous.

[2 May 2023]

The tree of knowledge

Children are oblivious to sex, and then starting as teenagers we become obsessed with it. The Bible puts sex at the very center of knowledge.

I think on balance the children’s view is the more accurate one. Yes, of course, sex is essential to survival of the species, but so are gravity and oxygen and your liver and hypothalamus, and we don’t think about those things very often. Seen from a dispassionate distance, sex is just one of hundreds of things that make our world go around.

So why do we adults, and the Bible, give it such special status? I think it’s because the way that sex works requires us to be obsessed with it. Breathing can be done unconsciously, but mating requires attention. Sex is not more important than oxygen, but knowledge of sex is more important than knowledge of oxygen.

[25 March 2023]