I took a week off from work and politics and traveled with the family to Puerto Rico. I’d never been to the Caribbean before and it was a wonderful experience. My first report is that the beaches exceed all expectations, but not so the food.

I did a pretty good job of staying offline, too, which I think was needed for stress management. What I saw when I glimpsed the news was pretty much more of the same, and more of the same simple isn’t good for my mental or physical health.

It’s really hard to believe that we are serious as a people the way we go about our business in the face of such growing and daunting challenges. You’d never know we’re such idiots if you just restricted yourself to normal interactions with our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico or, for the most part, the people you encounter everyday at school pickup or soccer practice or the post office. People seem fine. They don’t appear to have been infected with some brain disease sometime in the last quarter century.

But once you start looking at the news, it’s hard to understand how we can all tie our shoes or remember to breathe.  Collectively, our political priorities and narratives are submental, and every incentive is for us to remain that way and even get worse.

One symptom I did notice as a tourist is just how widespread the meme/content virus has become. There are so many people out there who are spending time making content for their Instagram or TikTok pages, and you can watch them living out their lives almost as second hand observers of their own experience. They don’t see an old Spanish fort. They see themselves seeing an old Spanish fort, and they see it through the eyes, as they imagine them, of others who will watch them looking at an old Spanish fort. It’s like no one is truly present and alone in their own experience. No one’s experience is intrinsically valuable unless it can be marketed to someone else.

It’s very weird and I think it’s having some consequences. It doesn’t seem like the consequences are good.

The day I left for vacation, a ship crashed into and collapsed the Keys Bridge in Baltimore, paralyzing one of our most vital ports. My first thought was that the pilot was stating at his phone, but it turned out to be the result of a power failure.

While I was gone, Israel seemed to progress far along the path of having zero friends in the world, culminating Tuesday morning with the decision to bomb and kill seven members of José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen who were in an aid convoy in Gaza. I hope Israel figures out soon that nothing good can come from Benjamin Netanyahu and that he belongs in prison rather than in charge. But I can’t talk down to the Israeli people  because I’m not convinced my fellow countrymen won’t make an ever graver and more obvious mistake by restoring Donald Trump to power.

I see we’re thinking about selling 50 F-15 fighter jets to Israel, or maybe not if they don’t start listening to guidance. What to you do with 50 advanced fighter jets if you don’t sell them? What happens to the industry if you don’t make them? Seems like we’ll find a way to forgive Israel any transgression just as we do with the Saudis, even when they dismember our journalists.

Yes, why did I return from vacation again?

It certainly wasn’t to discuss the great tragedy of having Trans Visibility Day on Easter or the merit of renaming Dulles Airport after the orange, criminal ex-president. But there are plenty of things I do want to discuss now that I’ve had time to recharge my batteries. I just have less tolerance than ever for our stupid discourse.

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