I remember back when I was in junior high and had my first Walkman - the original gray one. The album Every Turn of the World, by Christopher Cross, was exactly the length of an Eastern Airlines air shuttle flight from New York's La Guardia Airport to Boston's Logan International. When I say exactly, I mean I recall three or four times that year when I clicked 'Play' just as the engines spooled up for takeoff, to have the last notes fade down to black as the Boeing 727 turned off the active runway heading for the gate.

Of such useless but personally vivid facts is memory made.

I'm in Houston again. I don't like coming to Houston, but my job has other ideas. I have spent two nights drinking with colleagues, one night drinking while admiring one of my colleagues' nearly-new Porsche 911 Carrera S and his Glock 9mm which he keeps in the forward cargo compartment. Alcohol, cars, guns - the American trifecta, or with apologies to Johnny Cash, "American III."

I'd consider movies, or dining, or even book shopping, but Downtown Houston isn't equipped for either the first or third option, and I'm feeling so unbelievably fat these days that even dining, the one actual pleasure in my life, isn't an attractive notion. I'm hoping I'm just feeling bloated because I'm trying to wean myself off the latest SSRI, but who knows - despite my waistband being only middlingly bad, I'm sure in shit shape. Maybe I'll force it and go looking for a steak to conquer; this is, in fact, cattle country.

That fact is reinforced by the decor in the business hotel I'm staying at. Eight ink print portraits are arranged in a fussy 4x2 on the wall of my room; each is captioned with the name of its subject. "Jane," "Ellie," "Miranda," "Oscar IV" and others. All are cows. Sorry; cows or bulls. Cattle. The elevators contain enormous murals of placid bovinity, looking sidelong at the occupants with the certainty of the truly ruminant.

There's no fucking 3G service in my office building, just to add insult to injury.

Not much to do but complain. I realized this week that there was no way I was going to be able to make it to HD6 - in glum acceptance, I have decided instead to send the gathering a present. They'll know what it is when it arrives.

Four more days of crap hotels and shit food.

Oh well. At least it isn't home, where I'd just be moping somewhere familiar.

I have been meaning to write something on this for a while, but am trying to phrase it in such a way that it goes beyond being a daylog in the pejorative sense. Things in my personal life are going in a way that is relevant to the world as a whole, but I am yet to have a grand theory about them. My basic thesis, however, is that they call it a depression for a reason.

Since late 2008, unemployment rates have been at a level not seen since the 1982/1983 recession. (Although the 2002 recession might have come close). This means that unemployment is at a level that no one under the age of 45 or so was really part of before. This can't make people very happy. And I have noticed a great many news stories about people going crazy, about mass shootings and the like, some of which are at least partially related to unemployment. I don't know for certain, because events like these are very rare and attract much media attention, but it seems like there is a correspondence between economic tough times and people becoming severely, even insanely depressed.

Economists have a tough enough time handling the current state of their own discipline, let alone figuring out how it fits in with other social sciences. One of the cornerstones of economy is that people act in self-interest, which is a gross simplification, especially when it comes to employment. People seek employment because being a productive member of society and a good member of society are synonymous. People have a social imperative to work to gain social esteem. At the same time, society, through economics, tells people that their work is not needed. There is some serious cognitive dissonance here.

This touches me personally because I am young and unemployed, living in a studio apartment and spending most of my time noding or reading. I am also, like many young people, overeducated, getting a Masters Degree this June, after which I have no simple employment prospects. Its quite a change from the days when a High School Diploma let people into the middle class club; these days it seems that someone can spend the time and money to get a master's degree and still be seen as a worthless hanger on to society. So yeah, I am depressed, but not crazy depressed. In fact, I would have to be crazy to NOT be depressed.

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