Happy Thanksgiving — May we all give thanks to those generous Americans who gave food, kindness and welcome to a hopelessly lost band of immigrants (despite their refusal to learn the language).
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
The rains are upon us in the Golden Foothills. Not enough to break the drought, but enough to make the days dark, gloomy and damp.
A few days later: The dark, gloomy and damp days continue without let-up. It is cold too. So after dropping HRM off at school, I usually huddle-up back in bed until it is time to pick him up. I feel like a kid again — snuggling under the blankets on a cold winter’s morning feeling warm and good. At 75 feeling warm and good is about as much as one can hope for.
Another day of two: Ah finally the sun has emerged. It makes me deliriously happy. It is a wonderful thing when ones contentment with life is dependent on such simple pleasures.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The Little Car that did — II.
I do not recall where we landed, Calais perhaps. Jason and I got back into the Trojan 200 and drove off the ferry into France.
I had never been to Europe before. As for France, for some reason I had been convinced the French were rude, arrogant and anti-American and so it was my intention to drive through the country as quickly as possible, hopefully in a day or two.
It was late afternoon when we entered the town of St Omer, not too far from where we disembarked. We were both hungry and tired so I checked us into a small hotel with an attractive restaurant on the ground floor. I thought a good night’s rest and some food would better allow us to push through France into Italy as I had planned.
The room was pleasant and after we rested a bit, cleaned up and played around with the bidet and giggled (I had never seen one before), we went down to the restaurant for an early dinner.
As we entered the little restaurant, a rather arrogant looking waiter, a bit chubby with curly reddish hair, a bow tie and striped starched shirt and apron approached and motioned for us to follow him. After we were seated, he said something in French that I did not understand. I responded, in English of course, that I would like whatever he considered appropriate for dinner with an extra plate for my son. I also requested a glass of the house wine. He reddened a bit, made a slight noise like the chuffing of a hog and disappeared in a huff.
Now, my mother was a great cook and my family owned a number of Italian restaurants so I was used to eating good food, but I never had experienced the wonders of a full French meal before. I was stunned. Course after course was brought out and Jason and I happily and greedily ate them all for at least an hour and a half. (I learned a few years later that this place was a Michelin two-star restaurant)
The only problem was the wine. I asked for a glass and he brought me a bottle. I thought that I was about to be charged for the entire bottle. I was determined not to give the arrogant bastard the pleasure of fleecing me so I drank the whole thing (much later I learned that they only charged for the amount of wine one drank).
I was no stranger to drinking wine, being Italian-American, but this was long before the American wine revolution. The wines available in the US then were generally straw encased bottles of cheap Chianti, Italian Swiss Colony Red, Almaden white and the like. They always tasted as though the wine maker left a bunch of metal shavings at the bottom of the bottle. This wine was different, as smooth and mellow as a good night’s sleep.
Following the meal, I staggered with Jason back to my room and after putting him to bed fell into a long deep dreamless sleep.
Thereafter, my plan to race through France was at an end. Every day I would wake up a bit groggy, pack Jason and myself into the Trojan, drive two or three hours and stop to check into a hotel. We would eat lunch at which I would drink the entire bottle of wine. After this I would stagger back to our room and we would nap until dinner. As a result, my intention to traverse France in a day or two turned into a ten-day trek before we caught sight of the Alps.
One day shortly before reaching the mountains, we were traveling along a lovely two lane road through the French countryside, when I heard a large clank at the rear of the Trojan and it abruptly coasted to a stop. I got out of the car to find out what was wrong. What I saw appeared to me as though the Trojan was a giant prehistoric bug that had just taken a metallic crap in the middle of the road. The pile of metal was the car’s engine. This, I realized right away, was probably a much more serious problem than the mysterious stoppages.
Nevertheless, I proceeded with my usual approach to these things — changed Jason’s diapers, threw the used one into the bushes lining the road, walked with him a while and returned to the car. There I sat cross-legged on the road next to the pile of metal with Jason nestled on my lap and began to contemplate my options. I certainly did not relish the thought of hitch-hiking the rest of the way to Sicily. Nor was it appealing to contemplate finding a French mechanic who might be able to fix the machine. Eventually, I realized that the pile was composed of two large pieces of metal and a number of much smaller ones. This fact seemed to demand closer investigation. Jason by that time had fallen asleep so I carried him back to the cab, laid him on the seat and returned to the pile.
I picked up the two large pieces and found that they fit together perfectly. I then opened the engine cover and discovered I could fit those prices snugly around whatever was remaining attached to the vehicle. So, taking a long piece of thin wire that a prior owner of the auto had left in the cab, I carefully fitted the two pieces in place and then wrapped the wire tightly around the whole thing until it seemed relatively secure. I then fitted what small pieces I could back into the engine, throwing the remaining ones into the back of the car just in case they proved to be important.
Satisfied with my efforts, I returned to the cab, turned the key and after a few coughs, to my great surprise, the engine started and we drove off in the direction of the looming mountains. (to be continued)
AD 325: Jesus becomes God
The Council of Nicaea: By a vote of 161 to 157, the surviving attendees at the Council declared that Jesus was God.
(Wow, I guess it is true that every vote matters. If just four votes had switched Jesus would have remained a carpenter and we may have elected a Republican as God instead.)
A. Arrogance and Futility in Action — Cont.
The following is the second letter to the editor of the Bangkok Post advising the Thai government on how to draft their new constitution.
“To the editor of the Bangkok Post:
This, my second letter regarding Thailand’s current attempt to draft a constitution, focuses on dissent.
All social arrangements, including governments, although they may begin by pursuing valid social goals, gradually become institutions serving their own purposes and needs. Without constant reform, those institutions eventually disintegrate. In the case of a state, disintegration often takes the form of social turmoil and violent reaction, either of which may sweep away the constitutional foundations of a country. Perhaps the most effective means of generating reform is through public dissent.
Professor Quigley reminds us that allegiance and dissent are necessary components of any state capable of reforming itself.
‘First of all, allegiance and dissent, it seems to me, are opposite sides of the same coin. We cannot have organized society without allegiance. A society cannot continue to exist without loyalty. But, I would further add, a society cannot continue to exist that is incapable of reforming itself, and the prerequisite to reform is dissent.
Allegiance is absolutely vital. But so is dissent. To me, allegiance means devotion to symbols and organizational structures, both of which are necessary in any society. Dissent, it seems to me, is the opposite side of the coin. It implies a critical approach to the symbols and to organizational structures of society.’
(Presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on 24 August 1970)
He goes on to point out that preservation of the means for reasonable dissent is a necessity to forestall the tragedy of revolution and reaction.
‘No society can stand still. Its institutions must constantly adjust and evolve, and periodically undergo reform, because the needs they are supposed to serve are themselves constantly changing. And institutions cannot grow and reform unless the people whose needs they fail to serve, or serve badly, can make their dissatisfaction felt…. If dissent is stifled and denied redress, it builds up like a head of steam. Many people assume that dissent and the demand for reform are the first step toward revolution. They are mistaken. My study of history shows pretty generally that revolutions do not come from dissent. They come from a failure to reform, which leads to breakdown. It is quite true that misguided reforms which fail to attack real problems may also result in breakdown. But dissent, and reform responding to dissent, do not lead to revolution. They lead away from it.’
Therefore I urge the committees drafting the constitution to include the right to dissent but, identify the reasonable means to exercise that right and include a process for redress of the grievances if the dissent continues and begins to threaten essential governmental services.
B. Pookie’s puerile epigrams:
Scientists tell us we know nothing but only think we do.
Religious leaders tell us we know nothing, but someone they have never met knows everything.
Politicians tell us that they know everything and we don’t.
Business people tell us, if it cannot be bought and sold it is crap.
“…capitalism, because it seeks profits as its primary goal, is never primarily seeking to achieve prosperity, high production, high consumption, political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Any of these may be achieved under capitalism, and any (or all) of them may be sacrificed and lost under capitalism, depending on this relationship to the primary goal of capitalist activity— the pursuit of profits. During the nine-hundred-year history of capitalism, it has, at various times, contributed both to the achievement and to the destruction of these other social goals.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.
This is a photograph of a fire rainbow. Fire rainbows appear when sunlight hits frozen ice crystals in high-altitude cirrus clouds. Because the fire rainbow actually involves no rain at all, scientists would rather we refer to this occurrence by its much less fun, but much more accurate title: the circumhorizontal arc. Since the arc requires both the presence of cirrus clouds and for the sun to be extremely high in the sky, it’s much more likely to be seen at latitudes closer to the equator.
May a circumhorizontal arc brighten your day.