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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(T) Virginians

A news report about N. Gingrich's failure to come up with enough signatures to get on the primary ballot in Virginia referred to this being his home state. At first I was aghast. I thought it was deliberately meant as a slur against Virginia, or that it was one of the mistakes, most of them grammatical, that one sees newswriters making all the time these days. I had always thought Gingrich was instead a product of one of those more hapless states in the Union, like Georgia. But they were merely referring to the fact that McLean, a posh suburb in Northern Virginia, is his current place of residence, and Georgia is indeed still the state that regurgitated him up against perenially victimized and ostracized D.C.

He was one of those many in all the states who are drawn to the opportunities in D.C., all furnished by the Government, and when their dreams come true and their purses and their paunches become sufficiently fattened, they invariably deteriorate into becoming Republicans, at which point they then support every effort that anyone might want to make to castrate and cripple that same institution that made it possible for them to live so high up on the hog. So now R. Paul has risen higher in the effort to become the Repub candidate for President than R. Perry, because Paul promises to chop off five (5!) departments from the body of the Government, compared to the three spoken of by Perry, when he can remember them all.

Then I also realized that just a few days ago, in another post mentioning Gingrich, I had referred to myself as being a Virginian, with nothing added to explain that I am in no respect a product of Virginia. I am instead and will always be a Washingtonian.

I say that, though, not out of any deep infatuation with the place, for otherwise I would never have left there, right? And if I'm not still a Washingtonian down to my innermost fiber, then why are at least half the dreams in my slumbertimes always set somewhere in D.C., usually on some street or avenue there, on which I am desperately trying to get back home without being hassled or hijacked or some such, though the dream never lasts long enough to reveal what home that might be. It's just the hard , cold fact that, to its credit or to its discredit -- you take your pick -- I am purely a product of the Rainbow -- same-o same-o "black" -- community of Washington, D.C., though not the one that is there now. That community of which I'm speaking has most likely long since largely disappeared from the planet, by the usual methods of attrition, mainly by "passing away," as the kinder, gentler term puts it.

From now on I will have to remember to add something to the "Virginian" bit whenever I speak of myself that way, to denote that I am and will always be just a tranplant here, and the title of this post is my first shot at doing that, though I'm not sure of how successful that will be, or whether there should even be a reason for that to matter.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Disqualified Rascals

Rick Perry a little earlier and now Newt Gingrich have both been banned from having their names appear on the ballots in the Virginia Republican primaries three months from now.

As a Virginia transplant who wrote scveral posts on this site opposing both men and who would never vote in a Republican primary in any case, my first reaction was that it couldn't happen to nicer guys, and my next thought was that though I've heard of brain waves being able to exert remarkable power from afar, this is ridiculous.

This says something extremely unflattering about the supporters of both men. Being required to submit 10,000 signatures before a certain date, they must've been unable even to count up to that nice, round number -- a bad disability that seems to have extended to the candidates themselves, because it is known that Gingrich delivered his signatures in person.

Update: It appears that three of the chronically "single-digitees" among the formerly crowded Republican Presidential field also failed to scare up enough signatures in Virginia, provided that Bachmann, Huntsman, or Santorum bothered to submit any at all. Thus M. Romney, always the presumptive frontrunner, and his latest serious challenger, R. Paul, will have the Republican side of Virginia all to themselves this coming "Super Tuesday."

Well, at least that means they will enjoy having some much better-looking poll numbers in that state than they've been used to seeing in early bird Iowa and New Hampshire, where for months anything close to 25% has been considered to be good and even great.

Meanwhile Gingrich and his people have scratched back hard, claiming that the fault lies not with them but with Virginia and its primary system instead, and they've vowed to get around this humiliation by mounting a strong write-in campaign. They must have also failed to learn that in Virginia -- where the law is especially hidebound, being strong on passing questionable new laws while repealing few if any unnecessary old ones -- write-in votes are not permitted in primaries.

We'll have to see how well that old wink-wink nudge-nudge stuff holds up here.

Rare Metal Squeezes

It so happens that shenanigans in Asia have suddenly led to some price sky rockets that affect two of my main activities.

The first had to do with the solder that holds the pieces together in the copper foil method of assembling stained glass projects. The most recommended kind is 60/40, an alloy of 60% tin and 40% lead. Two or three years ago (I have stopped trusting what I tell people about time spans, because all that is starting to run badly together) you could get a pound for six or seven dollars. Now it has tripled to an average of 19 or 20 dollars.

This outrage could have something to do with the rare metals difficulty that has been going on with China, the world's chief supplier of those metals, though I always thought that the U.S. has plenty of lead mines, while I remember that during World War 2, the hangup with tin was that Malaya (now called Malaysia), not China, was the main source, but both places had been overrun by the Japanese, and I remember as a child doing my bit for the war effort by walking along the roads in then rural but now wall-to-wall shopping mall Landover, Maryland and picking up all the discarded cigarette packs I could find, tearing out the tinfoil inner linings, and molding them till soon I had a heavy, good-sized cube, for building a tank or a bomb or whatever.. It's surprising now to think how there was no shortage of those crumpled packs, while today you never see them among the roadside littler. They've been replaced by beer cans and fast food wrappings.

Rare metal companies are supposed to be gearing up in places like Death Valley to avoid being crunched by China, but I guess that hasn't gotten far enough along. Whenever foreign shortages develop, there're always supposed to be sources somewhere in this huge country of ours to take up the slack. Otherwise what was the use of grabbing all this land from the Indians?

But that's all right, because also I don't have anything at the moment to solder, being as that I haven't done any stained glass for about five months. But I suspect that whenever I do get something ready, a little roll of solder will still cost 20 bucks or more. Sellers get comfortable with that kind of windfall markup, you know

Computer hard drives have also tripled in price, and normally reasonable vendors are asking $110 or more for sizes that just a few weeks ago you could get for just $30 or $40. The cause of that, as I understand it, is that the makers of one particular piece that goes into the drives, I think it's called the slider, are all made in Thailand, and their factories all went under water during the recent floods there.

But I am suspicious, because the sellers feel justified in raising those prices so sharply and quickly by saying that though that may not be one right now, as soon as their inventory runs out, there's going to be a big shortage, and it could be a year or two before hard drives hit their former quite reasonable price, compared to what they used to cost in the old days for just a small fraction of modern capacities

It has the ring to me, though, of those who instantly raise the price of food to the survivors as soon as there's some natural catastrophe, grabbing the chance to make a quick killing. Shouldn't they wait till there actually is a shortage before they raise their prices? I guess not, because then people, knowing the shortage was coming up, would just gobble up all the hard drives they could find at those lower prices and hoard them.

I could be too attuned to how much things used to cost, compared to what they cost now. This mental malfunction reaches its nadir with a flyer that I get from an insurance company every year during my birthday, telling how much various common items cost the day I was born. That was a lot of years ago, yet somehow those prices, intended to sound comically low, don't seem to me to be too far out of line with what they should be today. (Smile)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Falls of Age

I have developed what I hope is a slight version of the characteristic stoop of the aged, and I've been teased and criticized for having it and taking it so lightly, though never by teenagers or young adults. Instead it's always by people in their 50's and 60's. I guess it's because the sight of it reminds them that they themselves are fast approaching the bridge of no return (the dreaded age 80) that I am now so blithely crossing.

But the other day it occurred to me that there's a big advantage in being stooped, and that is that if you are shaky on your feet, as I am, it's much better to fall forward or to the side than it is to fall backward, because then you have a chance to throw out your hands and ward off injury, except maybe to your nose.

About ten years ago I had just such a complete backwards fall. It could've easily been serious but wasn't in any way, except to my self-esteem.

I was standing on a chair, with the back of it in front of me, while correcting the tilt of a painting (a la Jesse James at the moment when he was shot), and when I finished I must've totally forgotten where I was, because the next thing I knew I was toppling backwards with nothing to grab or otherwise save me, and on the way down I narrowly escaped having the back of my head hit the edge of the thick projecting ledge of my heating stove doors.

To this day I keep marveling that that blind, backward fall didn't hurt me in some way even without hitting that iron ledge. It must've been because all the relevant parts of my body slammed onto that hard tile floor at exactly the same instant and thus distributed the impact evenly.

But that's a piece of luck that you can't count on happening all the time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Good Question

In light of my previous post on IQ's and SQ's, one might well ask, "Well, if you don't find any difference in the slob quotients between white and black, why the hell have you been living way down there in rural Virginia for the last 35 years, on a road where you and your wife are the only blacks (that you crazily prefer to call "Rainbows," and everybody else is "Euro," or white)? And from all that anybody has been able to see, all the while you've been doing that happily, too. Why don't you just go back up there amongst your own kind and let that be the end of it?"

That's a good question. And let me see. Where should I start?

First of all, my "own kind?" Having never encountered or heard of anything that could even remotely be considered to be "my own kind," I don't know who they could be and therefore I have no idea where they could be. That means that such a thing just doesn't exist.

Furthermore, I'm not living just anywhere in this countryside, just as I wasn't living just anywhere back in D.C. Both neighborhoods were/are on the odd, unusual side.

In D.C. we lived in a tiny enclave of detached but closely spaced small houses that in a sense were almost completely cut off from the rest of D.C. by main streets and by being right next to the U.S. National Arboretum. And by then "white flight" had left that neighborhood all-Rainbow as far as I know -- except for a crusty old Scotch carpenter and his wife, who, as it happened, lived right next door to us, though we didn't know they existed until after we moved in.. This guy had resolved that all his compatriots could flee the dusky invaders if they wanted, but by God, come hell or high water, he was going to stay there in his little white house till the day he died, and that is just what he did, peacefully.

And that is what I also hope to do, in my little homemade "green oak house" that I built here on this road with my own hands (and using a few of the tools that I inherited from old Gallagly), and I didn't move here because of who was already here. In fact, I was slightly fearful, having always thought that everything across the Potomac from D.C. was a howling wilderness. And in fact, I still think that, because Virginia is still basically a red state, even though there have been signs lately that it could be turning purple, while my home town, D.C., invariably takes the high road during national elections (though not with the local ones) by being the most consistently Democratic state in the whole Union, which helps to explain my own remarkable moral and political instincts.

The Virginia thoroughfare on which I live now, bearing a poetic if somewhat ostentatious name just as if it's some posh street in Chevy Chase, Maryland, or elsewhere, instead of being what it is, a gravel and sometimes rutted road that wanders on for miles deeper and deeper into woods where few people live but there is a huge forsaken-looking pine tree farm. Meanwhile the two mile stretch where that road starts and where we live is the most curious part, being populated by native-borns of modest means, homesteaders from the 1970's like myself and also generally of modest means, some retirees who have somewhat deeper pockets, and some miscellaneous move-ins, also of modest means -- four or five families in each group, though I'm beginning to think that those more affluent retirees are getting to be the majority.

This end of the road is characterized mainly by having a strong, artistic bent, of which I am also a part. Meanwhile I am on good terms with all the neighbors that I have met, which is most of them, just as I was at the Arboretum in D.C., and earlier on a more boisterous city street in the Trinidad section. And that is the main thing that matters. Being on good terms with your neighbors, who, all in all, were just as pleasant and law-abiding in D.C. as the ones here in the county.

Admittedly, the threat of some form of random petty larceny or worse was always hanging over our heads in D.C., much more so than it does here in the boonies. We made sure to keep our doors and windows locked tightly at night and when we weren't home, and I had never appreciated always having to be so conscientious about that, and for a long time I didn't put locks on the doors here on my new house in the woods, though after a while I did so, when a known criminal friend of a friend offhandedly advised me to. But there are places in this county where I wouldn't feel so secure, about being robbed and worse. Places where I would be rejected on sight, with all the attendant bad feeling, aggravations, and misgivings, somewhat more than in D.C.

I had never been happy with some aspects of the highschooling I got in D.C. There was too much thuggery on the one hand and too much Rainbow snobbery on the other. And I didn't think my son was having too good a time with it either, years farther on, so that was a big reason that I wanted to do the "back to the land bit" of the 1970's. I thought that things might be a little less uptight in a country school.

He would complain about school in D.C., but then down here he did exactly the same, though he ended up being showered with the kind of acclaim and praise that I never experienced, mainly because of the opportunities he had in becoming a track star and also the first chair saxophonist in the band, and when he went to college, he chose a place deep in the heart of a city even more packed with population than D.C. -- the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

Chiefly however, I moved here to the sticks because I thought things would be much more pleasant if we were surrounded by oaks and hickories instead of people, and where I could use the fallen tree branches to keep warm, and I could have a big garden, and also I thought it would be really cool to live in a house that I had designed and built myself -- none of which were possible in D.C. or in any other city. And here somehow it all came to pass, not least because the chief virtue of the people here is not their ancestry, their intelligence, or even their slob content, but is instead their way of making themselves evident mainly by occasional muffled sounds far off in the distance through the trees.

SQ's Instead of IQ's

Just recently Andrew Sullivan, the guiding force over at the Dish or the Daily Beast, was going on and on about the relative intelligence of the world's various ethnic groups, also known as "races," before he finally seemed to sense that something was not quite right about what he was doing, and he resolved to drop the whole thing. Maybe he got too many unquoted emails that accused him of bigotry. I don't know.

He may even have vowed never to return to that subject again. I don't recall. But if he did, I strongly suspect that, given the kind of guy that he presents himself as being, he won't be able to stick to it. He struck me as being much too deeply in love with what he had to say about the comparative intelligences of groups. But I guess one can feel comfortable with such a discourse if he is secure about his own place in the findings, and Sullivan is definitely certain about the top placement of himself and his European group when it comes to IQ's. Otherwise, for one thing, he wouldn't be so fond of using so much abstract language and delving into so many metaphysical matters, to the point of obvious showoffishness, when he isn't expounding on the joys of the gay lifestyle, which he does so often and in such detail that soon one suspects that actually he is only trying to convince himself of something.

Maybe that same matter of group membership is why I, on the other hand, never relished even thinking about IQ's, even in that brief period, at around the age of 20, when circumstances caused me to have to take several intelligence tests, and even though I always scored high in them. In fact I think that one test placed me in the top 2 percentile, and also I was unexpectedly made a member of Phi Beta Kappa, that high prestige college scholarly society, though as far as I know, I never got any benefit from being eligible for Mensa or from having that Phi Beta key.

Invariably in explorations such as Sullivan's into relative intelligence, the native populations of Europe place highest, while those of Africa, from whence most of my ancestors came, are ranked at the very bottom, just as in Israel, the Jews from Europe are seen to be superior in brain power to those who had been living elsewhere in the Middle East, and the Japanese see themselves as being smarter than the Chinese and everybody else in Asia and the world, and the Chinese see themselves as being more endowed with native intelligence than the Japanese and everybody else on the planet, and so forth and so on.

Instead I could look around when I was 20, and now today, too, and see that what I take to be intelligence doesn't play much of a part in the controlling factors in Europe, in the U.S., in the Middle East, in Asia, or anywhere else. Instead all the normal decencies are relegated to second place or worse, in deference to blind passions of many sorts. If this were not so, then, why are so many Americans so eager to attack Iran, and why are the Japanese still killing whales, and why are the Chinese and the Russians backing the Assad mass murderer in Syria, and why are the Israeli settlers on the West Bank moving so much in the spirit of the German guards on the numerous prison trains that headed for Theresienstadt (what a beautiful place name for such dreadful events), Sobibor, and Auschwitz in the 1940's? And above all, to cite the biggest issue of today's time, why is it that economics, which should be easy to fathom, has been made so complicated that now even the best minds of any hue are unable to untangle the stupendous financial mess that has been hanging over the whole world's head for close to a decade now and still threatens to strangle, or at least starve, everybody where they stand, except, naturally, for the affluents?

Though they rate highly as a form of video game, it's been clear for a long while that IQ tests actually don't measure anything worth measuring, and instead it has always seemed to me that SQ's -- slob quotients -- matter much more in the long run.

In the late 1940's a Democratic President, Harry S. Truman, made a fatal mistake when it came to upholding a concept that even he may have once believed in deeply, and that was "white supremacy." He integrated the U.S. Armed Forces, and a few years later I was inducted into one of those arms, the Air Force. And in there, after having spent the first two decades of my life living and being educated in almost entirely so-called "black" and therefore widely considered to be inferior settings, I got a good look at what turned out to be merely the first in a series of massively so-called "white" and therefore supposedly superior settings. And limited though those observations may still have been, I feel that I can still truthfully report one thing.

The slob quotients of those two groups are exactly the same. Not "close to" or "approximately," but exactly the same, and that likewise goes for the several representatives of all the other groups that I also have had chances to observe, fewer though they might have been -- and that is where the likes of A. Sullivan should be looking, though I doubt that they will be nearly as enamored -- if they are not too far gone -- of what they will see.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What You See -- an Observation on Newt G.

With physical beauty being such a subjective concept when it comes to human beings, by being "in the eye of the beholder," the usefulness of it, aside from aiding in sexual attractiveness (purely for reproductive purposes, of course!) is always up in the air when it comes to drawing any solid conclusions.

Nevertheless it's easy to think that the things that Newt Gingrich's mirror have to say about him are going to weigh heavily against his denying B. Obama a second term as President -- or at least they should -- should the Republicans wallow their way into offering up the Ging Thing as their candidate.

Whether we want to accept it or not, the perception of a country is heavily influenced by the various external aspects of its chief executive, since those are the handiest and often the only indicators that are generally available to us. But it's not unlikely that those outer features can be taken as true manifestations of a person's inner workings. So would Newt Gingrich supply the kind of picture by which Americans might want their country to be perceived first and foremost?

I don't see how it can be denied that one of the main reasons that B. Obama gained the approval of a majority of the voters in the 2008 elections was the sleek, smooth, affable, and relatively young picture that he presented and thus transferred to the nation as a whole, with not one unnecessary pound or other feature on him. He seemed almost machine-tooled to create the greatest air of optimism, and that must've been at the heart of why the Norwegians so quickly handed him the Nobel Peace Prize. This, after all, is a world in which believable optimism is in very short supply, and therefore it has a value all its own. And despite the determined subsequent Repub efforts to grind him down by whatever means possible, Obama still presents that same aspect, though he is slightly grayer and he looks a little thinner around the jaws.

Here was a man who didn't have the foolish and congenitally uninformed look of GWBush, nor did he exhibit the puffy, eternally put-upon biliousness of J. McCain. And McCain knew that the personal contrast between him and Obama was striking , and it was in his way, and that was why he leaned so heavily in the other direction and for his running mate chose a piece of pure eye candy, of a vintage that was just right for her to be especially appreciated by older men -- a 44-year-old woman named Palin, though it turned out that just past her exceptional looks was a sheer, deep drop to a state in which nothing she said deserved even a fraction of the constant sparkle of her smile.

In contrast Gingrich looks like exactly what he is: a piece of puffy, paunchy, crusty, rusty, and dusty, waddling bad old news. The abiding meanness of his spirit and the numerous sins of his past are testified to by the inwardly collapsing, "black hole" structure of his face and by the bleak narrowness of his eyes. Even before he opens his mouth (which offers just endless torrents of the same), he doesn't at all reflect a vibrant America that is still in its early years and is eager to accept change and to move forward with the rest of the world in the advance of civilization. Instead he presents the sourness of a longtime prison guard who is dead certain that the inmates have still not been punished enough, and he feels that he's just the man to inflict more and more painful injustices upon them, regardless of whether they are innocent or guilty.

What a great day it would be for the U.S. if his campaign -- and indeed those of all the other Republican candidates -- could go the way of Herman Cain's effort and be suspended. And while we 're at it, that would go many times over for that party itself. That development would offer the best chances we have to avoid meeting something close to the unspeakable fate that the Germans swallowed whole, seventy-odd years ago.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Unusual Phobias

Health Central, an internet health site, offers an interesting review of unusual phobias, and because I have always known that I have several phobias, I couldn't resist clicking to see if my two biggest are on that list -- fear of heights and the fear of leaving home. They weren't, so that must mean that they're usual instead, and that's the bad news.

The list started with fear of being touched -- aphenphosmphobia. Actually I have a touch of this one, though it doesn't stem from any traumatic childhood experience, unless, of course, you include Jim Crow. It comes more from the cold-blooded idea that since others might not want to be touched by me, I feel that it's only proper to be averse to being touched by them.

I don't at all suffer from cacophobia -- fear of ugliness. In fact, you might say I go maybe excessively in the other direction, so that, for instance, I have often thought that I have never seen a 100% ugly woman, because they always have at least one redeeming feature somewhere on them. But I've never gotten the chance to say that, nor, so far as I know, have I ever said to anybody that I have seen people who were so ugly that they were beautiful.

I never got the chance to develop a fear of stepmothers -- novercaphobia -- because I never had a stepmother. I don't fear stepfathers either, though I did have one of those. But because of that I am a little suspicious of them.

Also I have the complete opposite of vestiophobia -- fear of clothes . Instead I believe wholeheartedly in always wearing clothes, even though I am completely indifferent to styles, appearance, and so forth. One reason is that I don't like being cold, and this makes me wonder, from the pictures I see in such profusion, why half the women in the world, or at least this country, aren't going around perpetually shivering. I also don't like being naked, and I don't get anything out of seeing other people naked. I know where that came from. The senior high school that I attended, in D.C., while supposedly a good school, at least on the Rainbow ("black") scale of things, had a swimming pool, and swimming was a required part of physical ed. But unfortunately, for reasons that I don't fully know to this day, we had to take those classes buck naked -- separated by gender naturally -- and I didn't at all care for being naked among a bunch of other naked anybodies of any description.

Selenophobia is just ridiculous. I love the Moon, and the Sun, too. In fact I guess I worship them. Where would we be without either one, and in fact those two celestial bodies hanging in our sky are directly responsibile for the great majority of the beauty that we see in the world.

Obviously I don't have a fear of long words either -- hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. I mention this one only out of the thrill of typing that name -- though actually I cut and pasted it instead. Didn't trust my memory to hold that word long enough, you understand, or even to ingest it in the first place.

Pteronophobia, the fear of feathers, is understandable only if you have a job being a chicken-plucker.

I don't have a fear of clowns - - coulrophobia -- either, though I never thought they were funny even while I was deepest in the throes of childhood. The only people I ever saw who looked good with their faces completely coated with snow white stuff were the makos -- the geisha-type women -- that I saw in person once in the inn in Miyajima, Japan, where I stayed during one of the most idyllic periods of my life, in 1959.

I also am not afflicted at all by the 10th and last unusual fear covered by the Health Central slideshow, panophobia -- the fear of everything. From everything that I've seen, heard, or read, my sense is that this is a disorder that is experienced much more by those in this country whose ancestors came primarily from Europe than it is by those whose forebears hearkened principally from Africa.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Venturing into the Eurozone

I've been trying to pay closer attention to the financial difficulties now being experienced by the European Union, those 17 or so countries that have come together in a loose confederation, and, among other mutualities, are users of the currency called the Euro. We are told quite often that these guys need to get their act together with the Euro, not least because if they don't, it will be a disaster for the U.S. economy as well. It seems that, like the U.S., deficits among some of its members are collectively beating the EU over its head.

Affairs of high finance are usually far outside my normal range of interests, and therefore the ins and outs of this mess are not easy for me to understand. Yet I don't feel bad or inferior about it, because if they were easy to understand, since we are also given to understand that there is so much extra brain power among the Europeans when compared to all the other ethnicities in the world, they would have gotten their money matters straightened out a long time ago, or better yet, they wouldn't have gotten into such trouble in the first place.

To find out what's happening with the euro, what one learns out from U.S. news reports is practically useless, because our media pays as little attention as possible to what happens beyond our shores, and also they wouldn't know what's going on with the financial stuff anyway. Instead it's necessary to keep company with a site like the BBC News. And also it turns out that probably the best and most interesting way to get a handle on the Eurozone stuff is precisely to take sightings over the English gunbarrel.

That is because though the UK is a part of the EU, the British retain a touch too much of the colossal arrogance that at one time led them to go out and claim sovereignty over the majority of the world, and they haven't integrated themselves as much into this newly unified Europe as most of the other countries, of which their failure to use the euro and drop the pound is the most obvious sign. Yet the European bloc is their biggest trading partner, which means they are forced to pay close attention to its fortunes.

A day or two ago, all the countries in the EU except the UK but including as many as 10 other countries that aren't even in the EU agreed to have a treaty that would commit them to tighten up their financial practices, in the hope that this would, for one thing, help them to get past their current debt crisis. But after trying to get some exceptions drafted into the treaty that were specific to British interests and failing in that, the British decided to pick up all their marbles and go home. It is thought that the current British Prime Minister, a conservative named David Cameron, did this to satisfy the Europhobes in his party.

Some, like Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast, say that Cameron did exactly the right thing, but, like a member of the British Labour Party, I don't see it that way. So allow me to be so bold as to ask how that bid for isolation can possibly be a good move . Have the British decided that, like Israel, to depend on being in the U.S. camp even more, to keep up the illusion of being independent even though it only amounts to them having all the appearance of being boils on America's behind?

Britain, despite that huge empire that it had no so long ago, is still just a small country that isn't even attached to Europe or anything else, because it's on a small island. You would think it would behoove them to join forces with their nearest neighbors, a couple of whom, France and especially Germany, are bigger and stronger in important respects than the UK is, and that is not to mention the rest of the EU, which, even with its currently weak sisters, like Greece, Spain, and Italy, is, taken together, still a powerful force in world affairs.

Tents come in handy, when it comes to pissing times, as Lyndon B. Johnson said in so many words, a while ago.