kottke.org posts about Tim Kreider

The drama of Amtrak's Quiet CarJan 27 2013

Tim Kreider on the how Amtrak's Quiet Car isn't all that quiet sometimes.

Eventually I found myself on the wrong side of the fight. I was sitting in my seat, listening to music at a moderate volume on headphones and writing on my laptop, when the man across the aisle -- the kind you'd peg as an archivist or musicologist -- signaled to me.

"Pardon me, sir," he said. "Maybe you're not aware of it, but your typing is disturbing people around you. This is the Quiet Car, where we come to be free from people's electronic bleeps and blatts." He really said "bleeps and blatts."

"I am a devotee of the Quiet Car," I protested. And yes, I said "devotee." We really talk like this in the Quiet Car; we're readers. "I don't talk on my cellphone or have loud conversations -- "

"I'm not talking about cellphone conversations," he said, "I'm talking about your typing, which really is very loud and disruptive."

The ReferendumOct 14 2009

Tim Kreider muses on people's changing relationships to each other as they grow older, specifically related to the choices that we've made in comparison to those around us.

The Referendum is a phenomenon typical of (but not limited to) midlife, whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers' differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt. The Referendum can subtly poison formerly close and uncomplicated relationships, creating tensions between the married and the single, the childless and parents, careerists and the stay-at-home.

This article resonated with me to an uncomfortable degree, especially this line from a James Salter novel:

For whatever we do, even whatever we do not do prevents us from doing its opposite. Acts demolish their alternatives, that is the paradox.

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