Saturday, May 23, 2009

Meanderings: Not Again!

Part of the spotty posting lately is the result of the overlap between mourning my mother's death and impending nuptials of the daughter, known affectionately since her infancy as "La Nana." It was in this last context that I found myself once again on the 75 hurtling toward Tampa to retrieve the aforementioned offspring.

The last time I made the same trek, I wound up fish-tailing across three lanes of an interstate with nary a scratch. My psyche, however, was scarred. I no longer trust my midlife crisis car and would have traded it in if it weren't for the aforesaid wedding. So this time, I decided that to be safe I would take Mom's sedate Chevy. Although I haven't been able to change the registration and such, the insurance is up to date. The way I figured it, safety trumped legal nicety.

So I get on the highway. The car is riding a bit rough, but I figure it's the pavement. After all the front tires are new, right? But since I'm traumatized anyway, I'm going pretty slow, to the chagrin of the drivers behind me. Still, it don't feel quite right, so I decide I'll get out at the rest stop by the Skyway Bridge and check it out. Just about that time, I hit something on the road. Correction: it feels like I hit something on the road because there is nothing on the road. The car starts swerving. Fortunately I'm in the right lane this time and going slow. Unfortunately, I'm also in the middle of a substantially large bridge over the Manatee River with a four foot wide shoulder. All the time, I'm automatically wrestling the car into submission, my brain is saying, "This can't be happening again!" Alas, it was. Climbing over the shift, preferable to getting my door blown off, I scoot out the passenger side. There is essentially no right front tire. All that remains is a rubbery fringe around the rim. Yessiree.

Now I'm thinking, "What am I going to do?" I have no cell phone, refusing to carry one. The Little One is at the airport. She won't know what happened. The registration and insurance is at home with the packet of stuff for Motor Vehicles. The wind is battering me; traffic is fast and furious; my perch, narrow and precarious. I debate whether I should leave the car and walk off the bridge. It does seem the only way to get help, but I have visions of a codger seeing me on the edge of the road and following his line of vision with his motor vehicle. Then a huge, and I mean huge, flatbed pulls onto the shoulder about a block in front of me and proceeds to back up. Salvation or serial killer, I wonder?

This incredibly wonderful human being in a blue uniform with an Irish lilt to his speech and Irish gold in his heart proceeds to change my tire. Incredible that there are still such people. Despite some trouble with my newfangled jack which I unearthed from all the Mom memorabilia in the trunk, he did it one-two-three. Miraculously, I actually have cash in the pocketbook. I try to give him a present, because nothing can repay what the man just did for me, but he will not take a penny. His only request that I do someone else a favor. Reminds me of a country song.

I make it to the airport almost in time. My first words: "Next time fly to Sarasota. I don't care how much it costs." Amen.

Truth Be Told Updated

From Babalu comes this well-reasoned and informed NPR piece via NRO online. In reference to the embargo lifting, Duncan Currie nails it. Of particular note is his treatment of the Democratizing-Cuba-one-mojito-at-a-time rationale. I'll leave you with a snippet:

As for tourism, European and Canadian tourists have been enjoying Cuba's beaches and hotels for years. Has this sparked internal reforms? "European and Canadian governments would like to make that case, but I don't believe there is any evidence to support it," Peter Orr, a retired Foreign Service officer who served as Cuba coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under President Clinton, told me in an e-mail. No surprise there: The Cuban tourism industry is dominated by the armed forces, and foreign tourists are generally isolated from ordinary Cubans. Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer, a shrewd observer of Cuban and Latin American affairs, dismisses the "U.S. tourists will bring democracy" claim as "wishful thinking." He writes that the millions of European, Canadian, and Latin American tourists who have come to Cuba during the past decade have not had "any visible impact on the island's totalitarian system."

Update: I was researching Mr. Currie when I stumbled onto this he wrote about the ALA and their improbable stance on Cuban censorship as an intern in 2003.

Cheney's Remarks: You Go

Although I didn't agree with some of his reputed foreign policy views, I am one of the five people who actually liked the former VP. Anyway, the Republican Party sent me a link to the full text of his foreign policy speech, really more of a defense. Trust me, it's worthy of a read. Bravo!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clearing Out The Cobwebs

From my personal closet of journalistic curiosities...

Another George Will column over at the Washington Post makes the cut this week. Mr. Will points out the obvious here: the administration is acting as if it is above the law. He cites arm twisting of states, threats to corporate financing, and breaches of contract law. Besides, Will actually uses the word ukase in a sentence. After reading the general treatment he affords the Chrysler situation, turn to a letter from the American Thinker cited at Babalu in which one unfortunate dealer makes clear just what devils lurk in the details of this deal. This is America? Unconscionable.

Here's another gov't disgrace. In an ironic twist, AFP informs us via BreitBart that the US Attorney and the FBI are investigating insider trading at the SEC. You know, the guys who prosecute everyone else for financial malfeasance in the market. You gotta be kidding me.

According to this report over at Foxnews the happiest people are old, male, and Republican. Of course, I could have told you that the ill-mannered shrillness of the left indicated very unhappy people with unresolved issues from adolescence. But, heck, I'm no expert, being middle-aged, female, and Republican. Actually, I have grossly oversimplified the Pew Research. Read it for yourself.

In another peripherally related CBS report, it seems you really can die of a broken heart, of Broken Heart Syndrome, to be exact. Seems the stress of emotional upheaval, sudden fear and the like really can give you a heart attack. Whoddathunkit?

Finally, I'll share a rather puzzling report from the UK's Times Online, via How Green. Seems there is no global honeybee crisis after all. Still the report lacks a bit of clarity. What is going on in the States? Is it the two syndromes cited or that people don't keep bees? And what about the demand? I'm confoosed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Graduation is no Place for Tantrums or Catholics have Manners

The commencement speaker at my daughter's graduation from Boston College a few years ago was Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. For weeks prior to the event, controversy raged across the campus. On the appointed day, much to our relief, there was little evidence of the same. Of course, some of the faculty did stand and give her their backs to her while she spoke. This feeble and ill-mannered demonstration, however, was more than countered by the warm welcome and rousing response of the crowd.

This week at Notre Dame, the other side was afforded a similar treatment. Despite the attendant hoopla, when the President spoke, he was welcomed heartily. This was as it should be. I do not agree with the man on many things, but I do believe that as a guest of the school, he was due the hospitality of the entire place. There is never an excuse for bad manners... almost never anyway.

It stikes me that these people, whether the professors at BC or the odd heckler at Notre Dame, share in the notion that their views trump those of the assembled multitudes. Graduation is not about the speaker, or the administration, or even them. Graduation is a celebration of the hard work of students and parents, a milestone in the development of young minds. Who are they to impose their will?

The beef, if any, is not with the speaker but with those who invited him or her. The speaker also bears the burden of not prosletyzing about his or her own brand of politics. In my experience, most are cognizant of the same and present a pretty catholic message. Anyway, we have reached a pretty sad state of affairs when we cannot listen to each other, when we cannot at least pretend to be gracious. Upshot: save your tantrums for your parents or spouses. You have no right to inflict them on us. There is a time and a place for disagreements of all stripes. Graduation is not it.