The new normal

Hindenburg burning“Oh, the humanity,” cried Herbert Morrison, as he watched in horror as the giant airship, the Hindenburg, burst into flames at its mooring. The year was 1937, and Morrison’s words still echo down the decades. As the disaster unfolded in front of him, Morrison exclaimed, “…it’s falling, it’s crashing! Watch it, watch it, folks! Get out of the way, get out of the way! … Oh, the humanity… This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

Eighty-three years later, uttering those words of anguish and disbelief wouldn’t be out of place in an eyewitness account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. They’d be particularly apt when standing in front of a Talibangelist megachurch packed with worshippers while the sane world is in lockdown. Or commenting on the armed proto-fascists protesting lockdown in states that Donald Trump wants to win next November. Or the crowds of self-absorbed and immature people in Florida and California breaking social-distancing rules to demand state governments open beaches so they can party.

In the aftermath of the Hindenburg, travel by airship virtually ceased and the industry died. Air travel never returned to a pre-Hindenburg “normal.”

But as COVID-19 spreads and continues to wreak havoc on communities, businesses, and economies, many of our leaders and indeed citizens believe that it will simply pass, after which we will return to a pre-coronavirus “normal.” Things, they tell us, will go back to the way they were and we will continue on as we did before the pandemic. Things will be “normal” again.

Not only will that not happen, it should not. Normal is what got us into the mess. Normal caused the problems and if we go backward, we will only repeat them in the very near future.

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Shaving notes, again


It’s been a while since I wrote about shaving, so I thought it was time to bring that story up to date. If you wish to read my previous posts on shaving, blades, and razors, you can do so here.

Suffice to say, I gleefully returned to the art of shaving with a double-edged (DE) safety razor a couple of years back and spent some time (and money) trying different brands and styles of razor and blade. I can’t believe all those years I wasted using those plastic razors with their environmentally-hostile throw-away blades. And don’t get me started on the time and money wasted on electric razors! I should have just mimicked my father and his habits, but that’s a far-too-late revelation now.

Shaving isn’t always a daily activity for me these days because I have retired from working with the public and care less about my appearance than perhaps I should. Many a day I look like those scruffy council candidates who barely shaved before the election and had no idea what a proper shirt and tie were for. Well, okay, usually not that bad, but still less well-groomed than I used to be. I suppose we should all be thankful I spend most of my time puttering around home.

Shaving for me is usually done every two-three days (I did let the full beard grow in for a while, but Susan prefers me with smooth cheeks so I relented). I’ve never been a hirsute man, but as I age, I find my beard seems to grow faster and thicker than ever. If I let it go three days, I get that grizzled, Burkowski-look that suggests sleeping rough and over-indulgence in certain strong spirits. Or a council candidate pre-election campaign.

Some time ago while I was learning about the various types and styles, I read claims about the effectiveness of slant-head (or slant-bar) razors. These are not new, just not as common today: the popular notion is that first slanted razor was patented in 1916; however, this site shows numerous earlier patents for slanted razors going back to 1904. They were rare until recently (for a while only Merkur made them), but now several companies manufacture them (or make the heads to attach to an existing handle). Interest in them is still growing.

A lot of people (well, okay, mostly men, but there’s no sexism in razors: women can use and appreciate the DE safety razors just as well) raved about these razors and their smooth shave on various shaving and barber forums, some stating they provided the best shave ever. I was a bit dubious of the claims, but eventually got curious enough to order a head (closed comb, Razorock German 37) to test. You can see it above, on the left (attached to a Rockwell 6S handle). The razor on the right is the Wilkinson butterfly-head (more on that, below) for comparison.

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