Today is the 800th anniversary of the signing sealing of the Magna Carta. Good article on things we mostly don’t know about it and why it still matters.
ADDED: Here’s Bovard’s take on it. (Never trust a king, even after you think you’ve beaten him.)
I’m sort of getting used to having neither a functional vehicle nor functional legs. There are still moments I want to weep. Like on Friday when a mechanic told me the Xterra was all fixed, running perfectly, even got the service-engine light to go out — and I got in it, found the light back on, and had to limp back home after driving the mere half mile to town.
Hastert may be a criminal. But other feds are worse. (Never mind that Hastert and his ilk made them worse.)
I admit it. Maeve Binchy, the mega-selling Irish author of simple domestic tales, is one of my guilty girly pleasures. Binchy died in 2012 of heart problems. While looking for something completely unrelated to her health, I stumbled upon this nice article about how she made the best of her initial diagnosis. Inspiring.
The fedgov has recently made it 5x more expensive to do. But Americans are again surrendering their citizenship in small but record-setting numbers. (Tip o’ hat to MJR)
In the pre-apocalypse vacation cabins are the first to go. Kind of a dumb lefty article, but still interesting.
How one doctor blew the whistle on horrendous medical fraud and malpractice. This doctor had nothing personally to gain; just integrity. Even after he put himself at risk, it appears the government followed up only minimally, doing little to investigate what must have been an entire empire of torment for patients.
Thanks to a recent WSJ editorial, the world seems to have awakened to the fact that social “science” is little more than an intellectual justification of liberalism. Big debate now going on. Cameron of The Passive Habit agrees, but calls it unintentional.
Kind of strange. This whole business with the unfixable vehicle has got me feeling absurdly vulnerable.
Rationally, this makes no sense. Even with the car business coming on top of the broken ankle (and on top of $500 worth of car repairs in April), it doesn’t put me at any real risk. I’ve got neighbors who’ll pick up my mail or give me a lift to the post office. I’ve got friends who’ll get me to the grocery store. It’s not like I’m going to be stranded in a blizzard by the roadside and get eaten by passing Bengal tigers.
Yet I have to remind myself, “Calm down, Claire. You’re not doooooomed.” What’s really worrisome is the sensation of being lost in a strange world and helpless to do much about it. Of being out of control.
There was a time — not really that long ago — when an ordinary woman or man knew pretty much everything they needed to deal with an average day. Their lives might have been nasty, brutish, short, but they could fix a broken whatever or build a vital thig-a-ma-jig. If they couldn’t do it, their neighbors or tribespeople could, perhaps as a joint effort.
Oh yes, they lived in a world full of unsolved mysteries and random attacks by angry gods. But most could dismiss all that via a few rote rituals and accompanying mythology. No worries. An earthquake knocks the village down? God did it because … oh, you tolerated witches or something. Kill the witches, problem solved.
Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy. But ordinary people knew all the ins and outs of the technology (if you could call it that) that they lived with. Then they filled in the gaps in their knowledge of the wider world with beliefs and myths. Their answers may have been wrong, but they had confortable certainties in places where we have only questions. We know more but (except for the devoutly religious among us) we have no easy defenses against what we don’t know.
Commentariat old-timers bemoan the loss of the good old carbureted Chevy. But even in those days, we were already on our way to complexity beyond the capabilities of Ordinary Joe or Josephine.
It’s far, far, far from original to note that as life got better, individuals became more specialized and now we are to the point of being improved to where we often know nothing. Nothing about the technologies our lives depend on. That’s just a given.
What’s said less often is how alarming that lack of knowledge can be even without the proverbial S hitting the proverbial F.
Yet the alarm is still often nonsense. So my Plan A (vehicle) and my Plan B (walking if vehicle dies) both got knocked out at once. Big deal. I’ve got a Plan C and Plan D. C and D get me closer to my neighbors and friends, inconvenience me and them only slightly, and aren’t bad at all. You, the Commentariat, have already done your bit in Plan C, thank you.
And that’s usually the way life works. A lot of bad things are really no more than inconveniences, and a lot of “bad” things actually turn out to have great, creative aspects. (Also a given.)
I think the scariest thing is realizing how little even the supposed “specialists” know now. The times are beginning to remind me of C.M. Kornbluth’s classic story “The Little Black Bag.”
This one’s weird. Turns out there could be a correlation — no known causation, but an enormous correlation — between using painkillers and committing homicide. Even ordinary OTC products like ibuprofen (Gotta be some anomaly in that study. Gotta be.)
Sacred Rage. “It would be foolish indeed for a government that has lost a string of wars in “backward” foreign lands to think, even with its military and police power and surveillance apparatus, that it could suppress an eruption among a substantial portion of its own well-armed and technologically enfranchised citizenry.” (H/T LS)
Congress goes on a vote-a-thon to protect the burgeoning cannabis industry and slap the DEA. (Much though I fear that the sudden fed enthusiasm for Demon Weed is just part of the bread and circuses effort, I still have to say I like and am amazed by it.)
Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook. Her husband died a month ago in a freak accident while they were vacationing. She writes: “Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged.”
Well, not a shop, per se. It’s under a shade-tree mechanic’s carport.
Well, not a mechanic, per se. He’s actually the guy who cuts my lawn.
But he also buys old beater cars, restores, and sells them. So I’m figuring he knows what he’s doing. Works cheap, too. And one thing’s for sure: he’s not going to robotically tell me, “Well, the computer code says …” like the other two mechanics who’ve had their mitts on my precious transport.
But I worry. The idle’s been getting rougher and rougher. Dying at stop signs sometimes. Then yesterday the Xterra added something new to its repertoire of troubles. It died while I was driving up the hill to my house. No coughs, no sputters, no jerks, no jolts, no fuss, no muss. The engine just shut off.
Started right up again, but now I regard my transport with a jaundiced eye.
I sent the mechanic off with the whole list of Commentariat recommendations, from checking for vacuum leaks and cleaning the mass air-flow sensor to changing spark plug wires. Added a few more based on yesterday’s problem and some StartPage research. Something wrong with the crankshaft position sensor? Clean the throttle body? Be sure to doublecheck that mass air-flow sensor.
He tolerates my lists. And me. Whether he heeds them, that’s another thing.
I trust him. I tell myself that. I do.
But the problems have been so intermittant that even if he brings it back running like … oh, a brand-new Tesla, I’ll still be nervous about what’ll happen tomorrow. Or the next day. Dying while cruising along the road doesn’t inspire confidence. You wouldn’t hurt me, Xterra, would you?
April was a demanding month. Good, but very demanding. I started May with a vow of simplicity. I’d keep everything low-key and low cost.
Fool. The gods just love it when you make pledges like that.
Along came the Xterra with its coughs and bumps. The broken ankle. New vet visits for every member of the fur family (including an emergency for the cat). I’m probably forgetting a few things.
No big deals. Just a month of nuisances from start to finish. Everybody survived intact. I had a lot of help from my friends on everything from cars to the best way to heal that ankle.
I opened a fortune cookie the other day. It informed me I’d see a miracle. Very soon.
I’ll settle for a nice, incredibly boring month, thank you.
The ankle and the critters are doing great, BTW. And the mechanic just pulled into the driveway. So we shall see …
The TSA failed 95% of the tests to find explosives. But not to worry. They reliably found 95% of breasts, crotches, prosthetic limbs, knitting needles, and sippy cups. (H/T LA)
Soooo, while we’re all rejoicing over the momentary illusion that the NSA will no longer be scooping up all our edata, the FBI steps flies to the fore. (And where do they get all these Orwellian names? USA Freedom Act? Because it orders the phone companies to do all the collecting on behalf of the uber-government? Who do they think they’re fooling?)
This month is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Not just a piece of paper, but the first time people (even if aristocrats) placed themselves, by both force and law, above a king.
Your very much non-awwww dog story for the day. (Warning: sickening photos, though the dog has now been saved from the very worst.) Whoever did this to Caitlyn the dog should have the same thing done to them.