Thursday, November 24, 2005

Some Other Things To Be Thankful For

Hygiene. Soap and water are cheap and plentiful in our society. We no longer get diseases from filth in the street or doctors not washing their hands before surgery.

Relative lack of pollution. It's not just that we no longer leave human or transport animal waste in the streets, but that in the last forty years we've cleaned up the emissions of our factories and cars so much that, even with more people and more cars, the air is cleaner.

Public libraries. I have no idea what libertarians think of them and I'm not usually much on government funding of non-necessities, but I love the fact that even poor children in America can go into a public library and check out books. It feels like taking away treasure, just on the promise you'll bring it back in two weeks.

Supermarkets and all-you-can-eat-buffets. Okay, most of us should probably stay away from the latter--I know I should--but both are possible because food is abundant, available, and cheap. That has not been the case in all societies, either in the past or now. We have so much food we can afford to overfeed not only ourselves but our non-working domesticated animals.

The whole online world, even if it does contain a whole lot of porn, frivolous shopping sites, and such "oh god, please let this be a joke, why are these people serious" sites as the Chapstick addiction pages. Thanks to easy research tools and news blogging, it is now much harder for news programs or politicians to lie to the public without being caught; also with blogging we're a lot closer to something Chesterton mentioned once, the ideal of everyone (who wants one) being able to have his own newspaper. And for everyone who's had some jerk harass him on an irc Urkel chat room, there's many more who've had interesting conversations, made friends, or were inspired to learn a new skill from people they've interacted with online. The many countless people who maintain informative websites are engaged in what the public libraries I mentioned above are engaged in--the sharing of treasure.

Modern dental practices. If we have rotted away our teeth with desserts today, we don't have to face a choice between persistent dental pain and decay or having our teeth ripped out by a pair of pliers with no anesthesia beyond getting drunk as possible beforehand.

Factories. Not a very crunchy thing to applaud, I'll admit, but if we're honest, we all have to admit that our current high standard of living owes a lot to the much-maligned assembly lines. We should all think about it every once in a while, when looking around our kitchens or sewing rooms, laundry rooms or living rooms, computer rooms or garages--could we afford to buy the things we have in those rooms if they weren't mass produced, assuming they were available at all?

And this is definitely not a PC thing to list, but Uncle Pookie is grateful for the fact that "our ancestors killed off all the really annoying beasts, leaving us with only the minorly annoying beasts." When I'm slapping mosquitoes next summer, I'll try to remember to be thankful they're not saber-toothed tigers, but I'm not promising anything.

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