I’m reluctant to treat people as exemplars of a category, but here goes: did anyone else notice that the two mass murderers in this week’s headlines were both guys aged 21?

I was pretty ignorant at 21. I mean, I had learned several languages and read a lot of hard books, including the Phenomenology of Mind and The Interpretation of Dreams, but my understanding of the world was minimal. And egocentric.

The sort of weapons those young men used should be forbidden to anyone under the age of, say, 45. That might slow things down a bit. In a good way.

(Actually I would prefer to reserve them for people over the age of 102, but if it involves legislation, you have to water down your ideals.)

A continuation of this thought. It makes me wretched to think that these murderers were only 21. To have given up on life and other people to that degree, at only 21: how does that happen?

Aside from what we call mental-health issues. This is a seriously screwed-up place and time.

And then I thought some more. The “normal America” I refer to tacitly is the one where we have learned from some of our mistakes, repudiated Thurmond, Goldwater and Wallace, and started to figure out how to live together with and despite our differences. Everything since Reagan is for me a distortion and a lie: plutocracy, leukocracy, kleptocracy. But kids born in 2000 have known only this distorted country. And, for the record, the Summer of Love, 1968, is farther in the past to them than the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was for me, born in 1960.