Ride boldly, Lad, fear not the
spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson)
I'm not the man I used to think I was.
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)
For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for
the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.
|New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
|Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Adrift in Paris
7:52 am mdt
We have been here in Paris for about two weeks, and I still enjoy myself immensely, even though I speak not
one word (recognizable word) of French. Each morning I stroll across Boulevarde Menilmontant to the Petit Bateau (Little
Boat) Brasserie for a cup of coffee. The counter man there, a very large man who appears to be Algerian, greets me with a
cheery "Bon Jour!" and immediately sets about making me a cup of strong black coffee, similar to what we know as
an "Americano." He and I have no common language, so our social intercourse is limited to merci, bonjour, au revoir,
interspersed with nods, smiles, and animated eyebrows. Yesterday, in response to my feigned interest in a pair of heads on
television, apparently discussing politics or economics, he offered that "France---Kaput!" This he followed with flurried hand gestures and another "Kaput!"
got the gist. It once again comes jolting to one such as I that inability to speak or read the language is worse than
illiteracy alone. At least the unlettered have the luxury of being able to ask questions or receive directions and instructions.
I am quite like a rudderless ship, drifting around without much direction. I arm myself with a map, and it is priceless,
because even though I cannot say the words, I can see them on paper and transfer them to street signs, and more importantly,
ride the Metro, going about the city as easily as locals. it is not at all unusual to see Parisians (I suppose they are not
all tourists) consulting Metro maps, or looking anxiously at the progress of their particular Metro train, seeking
assurance that they are 1) on the right one, or 2) going in the right direction. If not, no matter, you just exit at the next
stop and follow the signs to get to the one you want, going in your direction. I don't think there is ever a wait of
more than five minutes for next train. It is quite an amazing system. There are 14 lines that criss-cross the city, and the
traveler is never more than a few hundred meters (yards are close enough) from a Metro Station. A few days ago I exited
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery by an unfamiliar portal, and having failed that afternoon to be map-equipped, soon became quite
lost. But with the knowledge that I could always fall back on the Metro, I proceeded to wander about for a couple of hours,
stopping occasionally at a Metro guide located at every Metro surface entrance, re-orienting myself.
I should modify my remark about not being able to speak the language being worse than being
illiterate. I meant in the sense that one can converse with no one, and is reduced to pointing and grunting when making purchases,
such as morning croissants or the necessary evening baguette. The example of the coffee man is a case in point. I would have loved to have a conversation with him as to how he feels about the whole EEC situation,
and the Euro and the like. But, we just looked and nodded, flexing our eyebrows meaningfully.
Speaking of Pere Lachaise, should you ever venture to The City Of Lights,
or if you have been here and never done so, I implore you to take it in. It is a pure delight, something one might not expect
from a cemetery. This one is over two hundred years old, and contains the remains of many, many famous and not-so-famous people,
including Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Simone Signoret, Maria Callas, Isadora Duncan, Delacroix,
Yves Montand, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Chopin, and Richard Wright, to name but a few.
Begun in 1804, it was
initially for burial out of the main part of town. A huge cemetery in Les Halles had intruded into the large public market
there, and there was a need for more burial plots away from the populated areas, due to disease leaking from the tombs into
sensitive areas. Pere Lachaise is 110 acres, built on a sloping hill, with many wonderful tombs, cobblestone streets, a plethora
of leafy green trees, and an ambiance of quiet and tranquility in the midst of what is now a populated and busy city. There
are monuments to the dead of World War I and II, the Algerian War, The Holocaust, The dead of the Third Republic (Maybe not
the Third), Auchwitz, Malthausen, Ravensbruk, and others. It is a solemn place, yet not dreary. I cannot recommend it highly
We are staying in a studio apartment we rented in the 11th Arrondissement, only a couple of long blocks
from the above mentioned site. This is a working class neighborhood, heavily populated with emigrees from Norh Africa,
and we find it most pleasant. We are a few steps from a nice boulangerie (bakery), restaurants, brasseries, the Metro, and
multitudes of people of all shapes, colors, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and lives. Menilmontant Boulevarde is divided,
with a wide center strip lined with trees. There is a public market on Tuesdays and Fridays, where one can see fruits, vegetables,
clothing, meats, condiments, fish, cheeses, and electronics, as well as junque and stuff. It is very colorful and pleasant;
Saturday, May 11, 2013
2:38 am mdt
2:36 am mdt
Life Goes On
2:31 am mdt
Paris, France. May 11, 2013
So the gun debate was once again won by the forces of misdirection and misinformation.
No gun legislation was passed, and the carnage continues. How long will it take for sanity to prevail? My cynicism says never,
yet my Spring of Eternal Hope struggles against that and says that it could happen. It could come to pass that some regulation
slips through the maze of intrigue, politics, and self interest that we call congress and gives us something that mitigates
the slaughter we Americans commit annually against ourselves.
No, universal background checks would not stop gun suicides
or homicides. It would not bring an end to accidental gun deaths. But it might reduce them. It might cause less misery from
the barrel of guns.
A ban on so-called assault rifles and large magazine capacity would not stop so-called mass murders
by firearms. But it could be a factor in reducing their numbers. The paranoia of the gun crowd regarding the alleged government
agenda to take away all of our guns is quite stunning. There is this irrational "certainty" afoot that we are on
the verge of being bereft of our Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms. The National Rifle Association and their most
fervent members, along with the shadowy support of gun and ammunition manufacturers have successfully once again stoked the
flames of fear among the faithful that any regulation whatsoever is contra-Second Amendment, and must be stopped. The argument
is that nothing can be done to stop all gun injuries and death, and therefore nothing should be done to even try to
Politicians are fearful that any acquiescence on their part toward any gun regulation will result in their
removal from office by voter reprisal. It happened in Australia following their draconian removal of guns nearly twenty years
ago. And they can see that it is a definite possibility here, should regulation pass. So we continue a rate of 30,000 gun
deaths a year in the USA, land of the free, home of the brave, where the slaughter of twenty babies by a teen-aged madman
goes unanswered. Check that. The implicit answer from the Gunnies is that that is the price we accept for freedom---freedom
as they define it. That freedom is to own as many of any type of weapon that can in any way be described as "arms"
for any purpose they wish without "infringement." Forget the opening words of the Second that say "A
well regulated militia..."
One of their arguments is that gun regulation will never stop gun deaths, therefore
there should be no laws (read: regulation) controlling guns. As John Oliver said the other night, "that means, since
anti-drug laws will never rid us of all drug abuse, there should be no laws regulating drugs." Following that line
of "reasoning," we should not have traffic laws, because there will always be drivers who fail to observe stop signs,
who speed, and who drive on the wrong side of the street. Can't stop violations, so scrap the law as useless. These kinds
of slippery slope arguments have their limitations in reasoned discourse, but no matter, when it comes to guns, reason flies
and emotion---the emotion of paranoid fear---takes hold. You cannot dispel fear by intelligent discussion because fear negates
intelligent reflection. When you have skillful practitioners of fear-mongering, you cease reasonable discourse and impasse
results, to the clear satisfaction of those who profit therefrom.
To quote Kurt Vonnetug, "And so it goes..."
For future use