Saturday, January 2, 2010

What's going on

For the two people who noticed that I haven't been commenting on blogs as was my wont, I've been busy. Rather, the entire local system within which I'm embedded has been busy. Oh, all right, maybe not, but let's pretend for the moment that it isn't just me overcommitting myself.

Most political blogs don't seem to have caught what's going on in the U.S. right now. There are a lot of people in America who wrote about politics in the age of Bush because they were, rightly, very concerned about where the country was going, who don't themselves work in politics. And they seem to have generally treated this administration as more of the same. Current events to keep track of -- Republicans and lunatic, blogging, right-wingers to mock -- damage control to do -- stupid things that politicians say. And it's really not that any more.

Not because Obama is a great progressive, or anything like that. He's not. It's simply that right now, progress is possible. Ever since Reagan, everyone I know at work, often for their entire political lifetimes, has been engaged in a bitter delaying action to keep past gains from being lost. Now the system has shifted to the point where we can win new ground. And that's tremendously different.

Of course, the system I work within isn't really suited to this change. As always, we all fight the last war, using the skills polished in the prior era. For my part, I've been engaged in a flurry of what is probably best described as librarianship. Ever since sometime in July or August, when everyone I regularly work with all called at the same time and asked me to work on some project, I've programmed Web sites that allow public access to data on toxic pollution, chemical accidents, governmental finances, especially around the economic stimulus... And this material has duly been used to help people inform themselves, do activism, write news stories, aid in writing reports that conceivably may influence legislation. I have to believe that it's good work, and of course it's what I'm good at. But librarianship as a response to politics always seemed like a sort of last-ditch gesture. It's "The barbarians are coming, so let's write everything down and send it out so that someone somewhere will find out about it." It's not what is most needed now. But it's what I do.

At any rate, I'm hoping that I've finally caught up to the point where I can write non-work-related things again. Poetry, SF criticism ... blog comments.

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