Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What the community wants

I went to a meeting of the revived Wailuku Community Association Monday evening. Community is an exaggeration. Of about 20 people there, all but 5 or 6 were on the county payroll.

Of the private citizens, all were business owners. No one who lives in Wailuku was present.

The featured speaker was Marc Fenton, who said that by reducing parking and making streets narrower, our mobility and quality of life would improve. Business would perk up.

Dunno who he meant. Not my family. 

My mother is 92; she has balance problems and walks with a cane. She is not going to be bicycling to the store.

I walk and could bicycle if I wanted to, but my wife requires bottled oxygen and cannot walk far. We are not going to be bicycling to the store.

My daughter is 34 and runs marathons. She could ride a bicycle, but she has children ages 6, 4 and 2. They will not be bicycling to the store.

So who does Marc Fenton want to tear up our streets, parking lots and zoning ordinances in favor of?  Well-to-do, unattached, healthy young people. Special Snowflakes.

He made another presentation to the planners and council today. I did not go but I've been to 4 or 5 of these bj's before. No doubt he was petted and praised, as he was Monday night. And no doubt nothing will happen, because the grown-ups will (again) recognize this for the specious nonsense it has always been.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Colonial American women in burqas

Philip Fithian was a recent graduate of Princeton in 1774 when he took a job as tutor at Nomini Hall, home of one of the richest families in Virginia. His journal is an important source for information about daily life in colonial America during the time of poltical agitation just before the Revolution, at least among the1%.

In a letter of August 1774, he advised his replacement about the odd (to a Jersey Presbyterian) customs of the locals:

The Balls, the Fish-Feasts, the Dancing-Schools, the christnings, the Cock fights, the Horse-Races, the Chariots, the Ladies [go] Masked, for it is a custom among the Westmorland Ladies whenever they go from home, to muffle up their heads, & Necks, leaving only a narrow passage for the Eyes, in Cotton or silk handkerchiefs; I was in distress for them when I first came into the Colony, for every Woman that I saw abroad, I looked upon as ill either with the Mumps or Toothache!

From "Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian: A Plantation Tutor in the Old Dominion 1773-1774," University Press of Virginia

Sunday, September 4, 2016

An evil saint

I was aware, from a short passage in "Hitch-22," that Christopher Hitchens considered Mother Theresa a fraud and an inhuman proponent of mutiplied human suffering; but I never inquired further, as I know plenty already about the Catholic church and its despicable record regarding the poor.

However, today, on the occasion of her canonization I watched his full indictment made over 20 years ago. I had no idea what an evil woman she was.


As I watched the Hitchens expose, little of it surprised me, but one incident shocked me: when Theresa laid flowers on the tomb of Hoxha. There was a stalinist murderer that even other stalinists could not stand. Out of 7 billion people in the world, only one could be found to give him flowers.

And then I thought further about the hospices that Theresa founded in Calcutta, where the poor die alone and untended on the streets. Or do they?

Visitors are shocked by the poor workers sleeping in culverts and on the streets in Calcutta and they are right to be appalled by the way the Indian economy works, but to some extent the sleeping on the streets is customary. It is a way for migrants from the countryside to save more money to send home. A local custom, you could call it, and not impractical in a place as hot as Calcutta, at least in the dry months.

It is not necessarily the case, either, that the poor are dying alone. Their situation is miserable but poor people in cities have their own networks, hard for a passerby to detect. I will bet that, in some cases at least, the squalid sick are being visited by neighbors with water and a chapatty or two.

Dying, as living, on the streets is a way of life.

So what does Theresa do? Carries the sick away from their homes to die alone and untended in bleak warehouses. They get water and a little food and, obviously, no other nursing or medical care to speak of.

How do I know this, who have never been to Calcutta? Because in the video all the dying people are wearing brown clothes. The garments of a poor Bengali are white. The poor wear brown because their garments have not been washed.

It would cost nothing, but sympathy and work, to bathe the dying and wash their garments. A bit of delousing would cost little more in trouble or money but would ease the discomfort of the dying considerably. One of the things that First World people tend not to realize is how irritated poor people are by the parasites, vermin and skin diseases they spend their lives with. 

If Theresa and her pious friends really cared even a little about the sick, they would not dump them in a warehouse to die but would, at least, wash and tend them and perhaps bring a little dignity to the last days of people who were accorded none of that during their working years.

Finally, something was nagging at the back of my head while watching the videos of Theresa hobnobbing with people who  were notoriously uninterested in the state of poor people, like the Reagans. Later I realized what it was; Theresa acted just like that other pious fraud from India, Gandhi.

Real problems, unreal solutions.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Is Trump's physician Jewish?

Yes, according to The Forward, which ought to know.

And why would we care? I don't, but this is Restating the Obvious, and while there was much comment from the antiTrumpeters about his alleged antisemitism,  I didn't notice any of those people noticing that his personal physician is Jewish. It isn't obvious that he is, but Harold ben Jacob Bornstein, from New York City -- it's an obvious hint he might be.

Any real reporter would have checked.

Does having a Jewish physician clear Trump of charges of antisemitism? Not necessarily. 

In the weird minds of bigots strange things occur. No one doubts that Hermann Goering was a Jew-hater and Jew-murderer. But he was also a feverish art collector whose favorite dealer was a Jew.

When some daring Nazi challenged Goering with breaking the Nuremburg Laws, which as police-president of Prussia he had helped create, he answered, "I will decide who is a Jew."