“When men cannot change things, they change words.”
Jean Jaurès, speech at the International Socialist Congress, Paris (1900).
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN SAN FRANCISCO:
After tearing through the Sunday NY Times in the morning and downing some strong black coffee, we left Mendocino for The Cool Grey City of Love to visit my mom for Mother’s Day.
The 98-year old’s short term memory may be in decline and her heart weakening but she gave as good as she got in the exchange of good-natured intra-family insults that characterize our family get-togethers.
The matriarch and family.
After leaving the nursing home, I visited with Peter Grenell at Bernie’s Coffee Shop in Noe Valley. Peter just had part of his shoulder replaced and was still feeling a bit of pain. We sat on a bench outside, drank our coffee and, in the increasingly halting style of the aging, swapped tales. Given that anyone over 70 has passed his dispose-by date, I lamented that our age we have become little more than cartons of curdled milk. Peter responded by advising, “when all you have is curdled milk, you might as well make cheese.”
On the way back to Peter’s house where I was to have dinner and spend the night, Peter pointed out the incredible prices commanded in the Techie Paradise that Noe Valley has become. The following photograph shows a house about three doors down from Peter’s that is on the market for four million dollars.
A Four Million Dollar House
At dinner that night, I played with their granddaughter a one-year-old two-fisted eater whose Hawaiian name I do not recall but it sounds like Aurora. I also learned that Barrie, Peter’s wife, swims an hour every morning in frigid San Francisco Bay. I was shamed. I refuse to swim anywhere the water temperature is below 80 degrees.
In the morning, riding on the J Church on the way to the Amtrak office downtown, a large androgynous African-American female and a small, skinny equally androgynous white male began a loud altercation right above where I was sitting trying to avoid eye contact. They were shouting at each other about something; or rather the larger of the two was shouting and the other cringing while pleading with the driver to call the police. I pictured myself appearing on the local television news as the unwitting and unwilling victim of an only in San Francisco perplexing racial and gender contretemps. Luckily for me, at the next stop, the larger combatant ran off while the smaller continued trying to explain to the driver what happened.
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
I am back in El Dorado Hills. Alas, adventure does not seem descriptive of anything one does here. I get the impression that even a change of seasons can cause anxiety among some of the denizens of these golden hills.
It has been four days since I have returned and I can happily report the rose bushes in the back yard are in bloom — now the weekend cometh. I leave for NY next Wednesday.
On Thursday evening, the rains came. I was eating pepperoni pizza at Mama Ann’s in Town Center when the storm hit full of lightning and thunder. Like in the tropics, the deluge flooded the streets but lasted only about two hours. It departed as suddenly as it arrived leaving the air clear of pollen and dust. I slept well that night.
I read somewhere a doctor observed that patients as they aged experienced an ever increasing series of maladies most of which were curable but eventually they begin to occur so rapidly that the body simply gives up the fight. Today while eating breakfast at Bella Bru Cafe a piece of a tooth fell out and embedded itself in my bagel. Since I leave in a couple of days, I will be forced to travel with a dark black empty space in my smile until I find a reasonably priced dentist to insert a bridge.
The weekend flew by like an osprey falling on its prey. The weather was cold and overcast so no swimming for me. Instead, I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road to get my blood pumping.
HRM’s flag football team lost the championship game to the hated Seahawks 34 to 6. The coach was devastated. The kids were happy with their ice-cream after the game.
Since I seem focused on aging this week, I thought I should mention the three phases of aging among old men: First you forget to zip it up; then you forget to zip it down; then you die. I am at phase-one. I’ve taken to wearing long shirts outside my pants because, no matter how much I try to remember, at least once a day I forget.
Monday came in cold and cloudy. I leave on Wednesday, so I set about on last minute things, the bank, the pharmacy and tackling the conundrum of how to pack a single carry-on for a two-month trip.
The last day before I bolt town. What have I forgotten?
According to a study by Microsoft Corporation, human attention span has supposedly dropped from 12 seconds in 2002 to only eight seconds in 2013, which is a second shorter than a goldfish.
If this is true, perhaps we would be better off running a goldfish for President. I’m sure the goldfish would win the Republican presidential nomination debates hands down. Wouldn’t it be wonderful then to watch the goldfish and Hillary to go at it in the general election.
A. Quigley on Top:
“Sovereignty has eight aspects: DEFENSE; JUDICIAL, i.e., settling disputes; ADMINISTRATIVE, i.e., discretionary actions for the public need; TAXATION, i.e., mobilizing resources: this is one of the powers the French government didn’t have in 1770; LEGISLATION. i.e., the finding of rules and the establishment of rules through promulgation and statue; EXECUTIVE, i.e., the enforcement of laws and judicial decisions. Then there are two which are of absolute paramount importance today: MONETARY, the creation and control of money and credit — if that is not an aspect of the public sovereignty, then the state is far less than fully sovereign; and lastly the eighth one, THE INCORPORATING POWER, the right to say that an association of people is a fictitious person with the right to hold property and to sue in the courts. Notice: the federal government of the United States today does not have the seventh and eighth but I’ll come back to that later.”
Carroll Quigley Ph.D. ”Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, AD 976 – 1976.”
B. Artie’s Death:
Stevie Dall commented on the death of the dragonfly riff in my previous issue of T&T:
“Similar moral quandaries here, too. I spent quality time this morning rescuing, drying, and relocating the spider who occasionally falls into the shower because last night sweet Artie, a cat who hung out at the canal beside our house, died.
Though Artie would eat treats placed for him on the counter outside our kitchen window, he would never allow himself to be caught.
Last week Artie pranced into the backyard carrying a deceased adolescent gosling. By the weekend he seemed under the weather, but he still evaded capture, and by last night he was a goner.
I’m thinking of giving the spider a name.”
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“In the United States we have often elected to public office the stupid and at times the crazy. It has only recently, however, that most of those we elect happen to be both stupid and crazy.”
(Note: Trenz Pruca is not me — nor is he my alter ego. Trenz is my Harvey; but instead of an invisible rabbit, he is a six-foot-two-inch invisible white rat with dark glasses wearing a black fedora and a red and white striped scarf. He carries a Mac-book with him wherever he goes. He can usually be found sitting in the dark corners of lightly patronized coffee houses in San Francisco or during the winter months, Marrakesh, typing away on his Mac-book and obsessively downing endless cups of strong doppio espressos. I only see him on my name day, March 15, when he stops by to celebrate with a glass of wine. Otherwise, he sends me reams of emails each day, most of which are gibberish. Every now and then, however, I find he has written a clever bon mot or an interesting sentence or two that I share with you in T&T or on Facebook.)
D. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
* A paraprosdokian with a mustache and a cigar is called a Groucho Marx.
E. Testosterone Chronicles:
“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”
Line from a recent episode of Game of Thrones.
(Note: a dwarf’s member is considered an aphrodisiac in certain parts of Westeros, similar to the way some East-Asians regard a rhinoceros’ pizzle.)
F. Today’s Poem:
I live on borrowed things
I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn
Borrowed then left
When I move on.
This is perhaps one of the more informative charts explaining the source of many of the seemingly intractable problems we are facing today. Since 1915, only 100 years ago, population has grown from somewhat over 1 billion people in the world to slightly less than 8 billion today. About a seven-fold increase. It the next 35 years that population is expected to increase by almost 1/3, close to 10 Billion.
During the same one-hundred year period, the per capita use of energy has barely doubled but total energy use has increased more than twelve-fold.