When I was 9 or 10, my family got our first microwave. It was huge. It was the 70s. It was not an Amana Radarange, much to my disappointment then.
My mother, who was not in the least mechanically or technologically inclined, mastered the thing within a week. My brothers and sister and I had it nailed within a day or so and were happily heating up pop tarts and burning our mouths.
My father, however, didn’t go near the thing for almost ten years. He didn’t have to. He was the breadwinner, dammit, the patriarch. We were there to serve him.
Now, my father was a smart man. An asshole sometimes, but nonetheless a smart man. He was licensed both as an architect and engineer, with a master’s in architecture and a BS in civil engineering. But he needed help with the microwave for nearly ten years. I suppose it’s useful having minions.
Finally, when many of the older kids were away at college, he got laid off in the first of a series of waves of layoffs in the insurance industry in Hartford. He was in his 50s by then and never did find steady work again. My mother had gone back to work by that time, so he was all alone in the house for the first time in ages.
Alone with the microwave.
Suddenly, any time anybody approached the microwave, he was full of advice on how to use it, which settings to use, the works. He even got to the point where he started offering advice to anyone walking in the vicinity of the kitchen.
Why do I mention this? Because it’s what came to mind when I read Scott’s post on Will Saletan’s latest embarrasing offering on abortion.
Lord Saletan’s latest (and even less plausibly “pro-choice” in any meaningful sense than usual) attack on pro-choicers was so bad I wasn’t sure where to even begin. Fortunately, Garance Franke-Ruta for the most part does an terrific job. One part of the critique, I think, deserves bold type:
“To start with, he needs to more frequently acknowledge that what he’s calling for is not new and not just his idea.”
I won’t get into this because I’ve written so much about it recently, but the most remarkable thing about Saletan is that he discusses supporting increased access to contraception and sex ed (which, of course, reduce unwanted pregnancies and hence abortions) as if he just split the atom, when of course pro-choice advocates already figured this out decades ago. As Franke-Ruta says, it’s pro-lifers who generally oppose these initiatives. But, of course, take away his excruciatingly banal policy proposals and you’re left with nothing but “I think abortion is gross but I suppose it should remain legal but highly regulated,” which seems unlikely to be an argument that will get your op-ed published.
“You know, you can nuke that for 15 seconds.”
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