Posted: Fri – November 26, 2004 at 06:14 PM
Been a while. Going to be a while again, real soon.
I’m anything but an expert on the Ukraine, and least qualified of anyone I know to comment on the goings-on there. But somehow I suspect that things aren’t going very well for the regime types when this sort of thing breaks out:
Journalists on Ukraine’s state-owned channel – which had previously given unswerving support to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych – have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of “telling the government’s lies”.
Journalists on another strongly pro-government TV station have also promised an end to the bias in their reporting. The turnaround in news coverage, after years of toeing the government line, is a big setback for Mr Yanukovych.
I believe it’s clear that the outgoing government pulled out all stops, ethical and otherwise, to ensure their favored, pro-Moscow son was elected. The question I have is, what next? Ukraine under Kuchma gained a reputation for corrupt government. That starts in the political branch, but once it spreads to the bureaucracy (see also, U.N. ) it’s pretty hard to arrest the cancer just with a change of government. And it’s in no one’s interest to see a bloodbath – at this point the only remaining question is what side the security services will come down on. In the short term.
In the long term, I wonder what this will mean in Putin’s Russia , which appears to have at the very least lost momentum towards a more thoroughgoing spread of what we in the West understand as a healthy democratic system.
I don’t have any notion how any of this is going to end. Neither, I think, do the Ukrainians.
Tired of that? Me too…
Wednesday I took the bike to work. It had been a while, and the weather has gotten cooler here in San Diego. Gearing up for the morning commute meant finding the liner for my jacket, etc. Still, once I got on the bike, the ride was great – it felt wonderful to be on a motorcycle again. In a car, you see the world pass by you as though it were on a television screen. You are a mere spectator, looking out through your glass and steel frame.
Not so on a bike. When you turn your head to check for traffic for a lane change on a bike, the cold lash of the November air whips across the newly exposed flesh on your neck, reminding you that are alive. Crossing the Coronado Bay Bridge, I have discovered that there is a bakery hidden somewhere beneath the cloverleaf – I have never seen it, but I smell it every morning I ride the bike to work. The smell of baking bread and pastry evokes the memory of every bakery there was. On a bike, you are a part of the environment through which you move in a way that car drivers (even those driving convertibles) never will be. You are in the moment.
I hit the apex of the bridge span, and there was the lovely little village of Coronado opening up before me like a sparkling emerald floating on the bay. Looking down from the bridge’s elevation, the city looks strangely greener than it really ought to – most of the houses and businesses are hidden from plain sight behind the trees, affording only peeking glimpses that the island is inhabited. On the southwestern shore, the Hotel Del Coronado thrusts itself from the verge, with it’s quaint towers and minarets. To the right, the nuclear powered aircraft carriers are a dark smudge along the shoreline, a backdrop for the fleet of sailboats in the inner harbor, all lined up like good soldiers to the prevailing wind and tide. In the far distance and across the channel is the thrusting peninsula of Point Loma, pointing the way out to sea like some hoary, speechless mariner of old. It is utterly charming tableau viewed from this vantage point.
Once you have descended through the old toll plaza however, you are in the city itself and you are struck by nothing more than all the signs telling you which way you may not turn, depending upon the time of day. Tens of thousands of Sailors cross the bridge ever day, heading to work on the ships and staffs at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California. They couldn’t possible afford to live here, so they commute. And every block has a no right (or left) turn sign to keep them all on the main arteries. Away from the citizens. Away from the taxpayers.
And then on the last possible street before going on base, a street far and away from the normal hubble-bubble of the hoi-polloi, trafficked only by the Navy types, your humble scribe performed a wee bit of a “California stop,” running, as he was, a trifle late for work. And saw the police cruiser parked in a perfect position to observe him.
So I got my ticket from a painfully young patrolman, backed up by his more senior mentor. Who clearly took his job, and himself, very seriously. I was very polite, and as cheerful as I could be. In spite of the fact that his ambush position was clearly designed to target servicemen, those who were only moments from being on base. I wanted to thank him for supporting the troops, but it wouldn’t have been the right thing to say.
Yah, well. He had me dead to rights. But still.
We don’t live there because we can’t afford to. So we don’t pay taxes there. Except when we do.
Another slice of life was Tuesday! The PRT, of whose pleasures I have already written . Especially the absurd distance of the run. But even better, as I got to work I immediately had a chief petty officer in my face badgering my about a urinalysis, a random drug sweep. Which you get used to, if only grudgingly. Because you have to think that at some point, maybe in your 20th year of service? They’ll think maybe you don’t do drugs.
Lead by example, yeah, yeah, I know.
Thanksgiving was as perfect as such things are allowed to be, on this side of the veil. The Hobbit cooked a wonderful meal (of course), all the progeny were in attendance and the conversation was wonderful. The eldest two held up their end wonderfully, while the Kat for the most part kept her peace. Only later, sated and groggy, as I moved to the couch for a little light reading, did she materialize for more:
No, hun – dad’s a-stuffed. It wouldn’t do to wrestle.
Which was all to the good for her. Courtesies thereby out of the way, she felt liberated to talk. And talk. And talk. About, oh, nothing at all really. But she doesn’t talk that much in front of the other kids, and so when she talks I like to listen. And you can learn the most amazing things about the world, by listening to a ten year old.
Here’s a good read about Thanksgiving, culture, myths and letting things be from David Gelernter . (By the way, these WSJ article links don’t last forever, so read it while you can.)
The First Thanksgiving is one of those heartwarming stories that every child used to know, and some up-to-date teachers take special delight in suppressing. Many teachers approach children nowadays with the absurd presumption that they are triumphalist little bigots who must be taken down a notch and made to grasp that their country has made mistakes. In fact they are little ignoramuses who leave high school believing that their country has made nothing but mistakes, and they never do learn what revisionist history is a revision of.
It is especially sad when children don’t learn the history of Thanksgiving, which is that rarest of anomalies–a religious festival celebrated by many faiths. The story of the first Thanksgiving would inspire and soothe this nation if only we would let it–this nation so deeply divided between Christians and non-Christians or nominal Christians, where Christians are a solid majority on a winning streak and many non-Christians are scared to death, of “Christian fundamentalists” especially.
He’s got something there – there seems to be a lot of fear and loathing in certain parts of the body politic about the whole “fundie” thing. I just don’t get it, really I don’t. I had a bit of an exchange at another blog (I won’t share which, so don’t ask) about whether it wasn’t all just overblown? Something to scare the kids with? “Look out, or John Ashcroft’s ‘Fundies of Amerika’ will come and get you!”
I’m just not that worried about it, myself.
There’s a certain type of atheist/agnostic that not only doesn’t believe, but can’t stand it that anyone does. Not like it’s making the least impact on his or her life. Just doesn’t like it. I can sort of understand agnosticism (far better than I can atheism – hard, physical evidence either way seems pretty inconclusive to me) – I went through a phase of that myself, lasted quite a number of years. In the meantime I’ve take a number of itty-bitty steps in the opposite direction.
I just don’t quite get the anger that some folks have that other folks might be happy in their “cherished illusions.”
Like I said, the politics I don’t worry about. I’m a constitutional constructionist, and I believe we’ve got that covered.
Have you ever noticed that the older you get (and the greater your disposable income) the more expensive are those things that you really want, but can’t afford?
It’s not about needing. It’s about wanting.
And it seems that the wants get just that little bit more expensive with each pay raise. Just, you know – keeping pace. And a bit.
See also: Consumerism. See consumerism run. Run, consumerism, run!
Just that little tid-bit, post-Thanksgiving.
I’m a terrible Christmas shopper (apropos of nothing, nothing at all). Last year I was in one of our major malls on December 24th, living the dream. I felt bad about that, until I saw the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs doing some Christmas shopping in the same mall.
And then I felt better. Because misery doesn’t just love company. It demands it.
All over the map tonight, yah? Well. You get what you pay for.
Have a great weekend!