Members of the Government of the United States enjoy taxpayer-funded travel to visit other nations. (Some call these boondoggles; they call them “fact finding”.) During those visits, they often lecture anyone within hearing distance of the superiority of the American form of government. They must not know that these people follow closely the news about what is happening Washington. Most—if not all—of the people they lecture are too intelligent and too polite to laugh in their faces and call them “idiot”, both of which are justified.
I displayed curmudgeonly tendencies at a young age. Most think of such characteristics as being associated with old age. I was pre-mature, not as a newborn, but rather as a grumpy old man.
This rise of social media, which I only read about or are molested by in media, seems to have acerbated my natural tendencies. Of course, 24-hour news and talk radio—again, something I only read about—act like a shot of some drug to drive me up a wall and rant.
And then, there’s the stupid invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, which led to the current chaos in the Middle East and unrest throughout the world. Republicans must be really proud of themselves.
The only solution is to seek solitude in an isolated monastery or in a cave on top of some distant mountain. Of course, I would miss ice cream and the good stuff on television, like Modern Family or Jane The Virgin.
I am lucky to be alive. What could have been a nightmare, was actually a pleasant outing with dinner. Of course, the nightmare/death was only a product of my imagination.
Looking at scans of old photo negatives, I recalled an evening at a restaurant in Provence (that’s in France for all the ignoramuses in the audience). Although it was pleasant, my imagination thought up a different ending, which is credible…or could have been.
We were staying in a lovely hotel in a Aix-en-Provence, but wanted to try different restaurants. Being fluent in Michelin (again, for the ignorami, that’s a restaurant and hotel guide, which uses hieroglyphics), I checked on suitable alternatives and found one about thirty minutes from the hotel. Aix-en-Provence is a small city, so the outskirts arrive quickly and the uninhabited countryside is vast. Villages are few and far between in that part of the world. Little traffic impedes one’s journey, even at the worst of times (August, when everyone in France has vacation).
Anyway, we selected a restaurant with appropriate rating and drove to see if we could get two seats for dinner. As I mentioned, there was virtually no traffic, and we turned off the highway onto a long drive through scrub trees. No building was in sight, which suggested an idyllic location amongst olive groves and limestone outcrops. The building, once spotted, looked typical for the region and was neat. The drive and parking lot were nicely raked gravel, a sign of refinement and not the lack of funds for asphalt. The absence of other cars did not bother me, because we tend to arrive earlier than most French diners.
We were greeted by an older gentlemen, as one is at such establishments, who showed us to a table in the dining room. The view was over aforementioned olive groves and limestone outcrops, what one expects in Provence. The ambience was very pleasant, as one has come to expect in such restaurants rated by the folks at Michelin. The menu was appealing and the service, by aforementioned older man, was attentive.
At some point, I realized that we were the only guests. This seemed strange for such an establishment, which as I mentioned is rated by Michelin, whose opinion is highly regarded in France and difficult to achieve. Although my wife and I converse easily (she talks and I listen), there are lulls in the conversation. My strange mind started to wander, as I pondered the lack of guests and wondered about the situation. I realised that no one knew where we were: our children knew only that we were in the South of France (although I had a mobile phone, this was before the days of universal reception and constant contact). We had not informed the hotel of our dinner plans. At some point, I remembered the film, Psycho, and began to feel uncomfortable. Although our waiter seemed nice enough and all food and wine lived up to expectations fostered by the Michelin folks, I imagined his colleague in the kitchen slipping poison into the fish course. The two could dispose the body, even if digging in limestone soil is difficult. No one would ever find us, because no one would know where to look. Our car was nice enough, but not a reason to kill such a lovely foreign couple. It would take a sick mind…such as in Psycho. And, we were, after all, in France.
As I am able to write this, the fish course was fine, Dessert was excellent. We paid and drove back to the hotel. I never learned why a restaurant with such a reputation could be empty. Not wanting to distress my wife, who enjoyed the evening, I have never mentioned my fantasy/foolish fears.
But, it could have happened…
The United Kingdom is attempting to fool everyone (hardly likely) into believing that they have significant role to play in geopolitics. Because the prime minister felt over-shadowed/ignored by his German and French counterparts and not included in the recent cease-fire negotiations in Minsk, he must pretend to be doing something to solve the Ukraine conflict. Little does he understand that his effort is akin to pouring petrol (what the Brits call gasoline) on a raging fire. The Russians are surely chuckling about this midget trying to act like a big person.
Not caring about the long-term consequences, the UK are sending a handful of soldiers to the Ukraine. Some politicians—especially hardliners in the US—are hoping that one or more will be killed, so that NATO can be urged to start a war.
These folks have not studied history to understand how easily unnecessary wars start. They are driven by ego and fear of being seen as “weak”, whatever that means. Located far from any present or future firing line, they are safe in their stupidity and insensitive to suffering of others. Sending soldiers to perform foolish tasks is easy. Just before a general election, a sitting prime minister must attempt to fool voters into thinking that he is decisive, significant, and relevant beyond the border of his little country, where trains don’t run on time, health service is rotten, plumbing doesn’t work, and politicians are frequently caught on film being bribed.
I am not certain which of human traits is the worst: arrogance, shamelessness, or self-delusion. Politicians seem to display all.
Mixing one's wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.
Although few will admit to this, the United States is dominated by racism. One needs only eyes and ears and empathy to understand this fact. Almost a century and a half after the end of slavery (except in Alabama, where it is less) and almost fifty years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, racism is prevalent. There might no longer be benches marked “whites only” in states below the Mason-Dixon Line, which I witnessed as a child, but subtle barriers remain. There is something in human nature that drives people to seek an advantage over others, so maintaining the idea of racial inferiority is useful to such weak people.
I thought of this, when reading an article about the president, who is always labeled as “black”. I can understand white folks saying this, but not black people. I wonder if they call him “white”. The man’s mother was white, and he was raised by her and his white grandparents. He is not a product of the ghetto or the cotton fields, as Fox News would like people to believe. Although only one half genetically black, he is always tarred with that brush. This is a direct result of the racist nature of the country and the urge of white folks with an inferiority complex. Despite the delusion of greatness, such glaring slights tarnish the crown.
Ore of the most worthless—and most irritating—inventions is Twitter. Television and news programs insist on showing comments by people of no importance. Who cares what these people think? These words are neither newsworthy, compelling, or interesting.
I also do not understand the concept the need for this “tool”. Instant messaging and email is all anyone should need to inform (or annoy) other people.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.