Random points on Sunday afternoon.

It’s a cold, lazy Sunday.  I’m really doing a lot of nothing today, except for research on our upcoming vacation trip, one that I wish was going about a month later because I’d have much more of a budget for it given that work has been quite productive lately, I just won’t be able to cash in on it until later in August.

It’s almost August.  We made the move to Nova Scotia in January and it’s almost August.

But I’m glad overall we came.

Last night, my father and I were sitting on the deck in the twilight, he’s been reading Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People, and I’m reading Diamond’s fascinating Collapse.  As we sat out, I was watching my neighbours, a Sikh couple – or rather my neighbour and his father-in-law lighting some kind of fire.  I realized eventually that it was a small charcoal barbecue and they were trying to get it going, presumable to make themselves some dinner.  It was not going very well for them.   So, as good neighbours, we wandered over, and started trying to get it going.  They hadn’t used any sort of starter fluid or much for kindling, but eventually I managed to get it going for them.  It turned out that they had made the food already, and just wanted to finish it on the barbecue, and we joked that at the rate they were going they’d be waiting until breakfast.

I wound up sitting and talking with them for at least an hour – I had had a few beers earlier on in the day and they insisted on sharing a bottle of Nicaragua’s finest (Flor de Cana rum) with me, so it’s possible I didn’t sound as smart as I thought, but we had quite an interesting discussion about India, the history of the Sikh people, about Indian food, and all sorts of things, it was really a great way to spend a warm evening under a nearly full moon, around a fire, just talking about all sorts of things.

And getting a couple of pieces of tandoori chicken out of the deal is nothing to scoff at.  I think I’ll have to cater the next lesson on barbecue, but we’ll get them straightened out on how to do it, without the normal starter that is apparently traditionally used in India – cow dung!

It’s amazing how easy it is to get along with almost anyone in such a setting, and I have to wonder if there was some way that more people could do that sort of thing – sit around a communal meal and realize that we aren’t really all that different.  I’ve heard anecdotes from many friends in Afghanistan that the best bonding opportunities they had with the locals and the ANSF people they worked with was over food, when they’d get sick of Army food and go out and trade with the locals for more interesting meals.  That’s some sort of primal bond amongst people I think – it’s sort of the key to a lot of things.  What made me think of that over the conversation last night was the concept in Sikhism of the gurdwara in a temple – a communal kitchen which feeds everyone who comes to the temple – they won’t let you go away hungry basically.

So what else, then, to write about?  I’ve been paying more attention to work than anything else, but was fascinated by the shitshow started when blogger/idiot Andrew Breitbart released an edited, out of context video of a woman who worked for the US Department of Agriculture making a speech to the NAACP in which she appeared to admit to being a racist.  Except, as we all know, the clip was cut and she was actually talking about how she came to realize that perpetuating or reciprocating racism doesn’t help anything.  If you aren’t familiar with this story, you probably shouldn’t be reading this.

Breitbart is a disturbing fool.  This of course is not the first time he’s done something like this, and he’s tried to spin this as him being the victim, then tried to claim the attack was on the response to the story (before the “redemption” part), that it “proves” the NAACP is racist and thus has no business condemning that rather bizarre Tea Party movement in the USA.  None of this actually holds up to scrutiny if you watch the tape, though.  And this ain’t Breitbart’s first “discredited video” rodeo, either.  He does, however, reveal a deluded sense of his own importance, as apparently, and I haven’t see the tape, he claimed his “journalism” was … well, it doesn’t matter what he claimed it was, that isn’t the point.  He’s not a journalist to begin with.  Then he tried to claim he’s “public enemy number one” because of his “journalism”.  Please.  Mr. Breitbart, you’re a piece of shit hack artist that no one of any real importance cares too much about – and I hope you find yourself on the receiving end of a significant lawsuit for the shit you’ve pulled here.

I think I’m just continually staggered that things like this can happen in a country that is supposed to be so advanced as the USA.  The fact that people like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul can have any sort of influence on politics like they do just astounds me.  It’s as though on the right at least stupidity is revered as some sort of necessary quality of a politician.  It’s almost as though they think that if they elect the inept that they can’t do much harm.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen that is anything but the case, all you have to do is look at the Lost Decade under Bush – surplus squandered, goodwill squandered, two wars, etc etc.  I think that doesn’t bode well for a country whose trajectory for the last little while has borne some discernable resemblances to the empires of Rome and Britain before they were finished.

Even if Obama, who seems to have gotten more done as POTUS in a year than his predecessors did their whole time in office, is a miracle worker, I often wonder if, as someone on Twitter I saw put it, he just volunteered to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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