Royale with Cheese

So, we have just enjoyed (or endured) a three-day-weekend-ful of Royale with Cheese.  One overly-enthusiastic BBC World Service reporter exclaimed last night that the world (yes, the world) has been “captivated” by the Royal Wedding.  If by captivated she meant held hostage then I would agree.  Nothing like a Royal Wedding to turn news reporting organizations into fawning spinoffs of Entertainment Tonight.

That said, over our morning coffee we partook in an hour or so of the televised festivities.  My favorite moments were the performance of “Stand By Me” by a London gospel choir and the beautiful cello pieces by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, although I felt the song selections were a bit somber for the occasion.

So much had to come together to put on this spectacle.  So many talented people, from florists to choir directors to horse handlers to the printers of the large-print programs, gave their best to make this event a superlative one, worthy of a possibly-future king.

And then, like all wedding celebrations, it ended the day it started.

You know what other famous Brit inspired a lot of talented people to get together for an event featuring outstanding musical performances?  Hint: the year was 1971 and the Brit was a former Beatle, who would be snubbed for knighthood by this same Royal Family.  The Concert for Bangladesh organized and headlined by George Harrison is credited for raising $12 million for Bangladesh relief.  (That would be $45 million in 2018 dollars.)

By contrast, the Royal Wedding was estimated to cost $43 million, most of which was paid for security.  So George Harrison and his generous musical friends outspent the Royals on something that really mattered, and there was no carriage ride for them afterwards, only the satisfaction of having done something important.


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Thoughts @ Large: 55

° A friend recently shared an article about the number of times that six U.S. Presidents (current and former) have been alive.   This was the case in 1861-1862, 1993-1994 and 2001-2004.   I have heard some people say it has also been the case since January 2017, but I have yet to see the evidence.

° Another friend recently wrote an excellent blog post about our (human) future in space.  It led me to conclude that, yes, all those crazy granite planets out there in the solar system should be exploited for human use, to the extent possible.  Why not?  For whom, exactly, are we preserving Titan and Europa?  For never-to-be-encountered galactic overlords who will be faux-grateful to us for our conservancy?  I say, let’s fly our capitalist asses out there and start mining the dickensite out of those rocks.

However!  As long as we’re here, why not exploit Earth?  Much easier pickings!  Fact is, we do exploit Earth.  And we have to, unless we want to go back to the Wood Age.  The key to successful exploitation is to do what the rest of the animal kingdom learned long ago, via natural selection, which is to not shit in our own nests.  Let us not “unselect” ourselves.

° Along those lines, let’s fast-forward to the day when humans actually set up a colony on Mars or some other habitable place.  I ask, under what circumstances would we Earthlings ever decide to abandon ship?  Will it be because forward-thinking fellow humans paved the way for the rest of us to follow?  Nah, says the cynic in me.  My first prediction is that nations will get serious about inhabiting other worlds only when life on Earth becomes intolerable and untenable, and by then it will be too late for almost everyone.  Which leads to my second prediction: only the very well-to-do will have the means to ship out to Mars when the time comes.  They will be Elon Musk’s and Richard Branson’s and Jeff Bezos’s and Charles Koch’s great-whatever-grandchildren.  They will name their planetary outpost Teslavirgazon-Fil-A — and Mars-Prime members will have guaranteed two-year delivery.

° Back to Earth.  I offer The Collins Delivery Law: No matter how wide your driveway is, delivery trucks will find a way to run over your plants.

° Before we get all excited how our madman out-madmanned the North Korean madman, keep this in mind: any nut riding a merry-go-round pointing an automatic weapon into the crowd is likely to shoot some stray bad guy before the ride ends.

° One day when I was a pre-teen doing dishes with my mom, listening to the aqua AM/FM radio on the kitchen counter, I heard some man ranting about things I didn’t understand, but I did remember the ranting.  Mom told me his name was Joe Pyne and he was just a crackpot.  I immediately understood what a crackpot was: an expert self-important fool.  It’s a shame that this clear, self-evident term has fallen into disuse.  It certainly deserves a revival, as so many crackpots still inhabit our streets and airwaves and government offices.

° I recently retired from participation in the Facebook ecosystem.  I still have an account, so our family can share photos and videos and so I can play Scrabble with friends.  But I must say, the feeling is (as of now) liberating.  No more “news” feeds manipulated by algorithms designed by the minions of Mark Zuckerberg for the ultimate benefit of Mr. Z.  No more reluctant acceptance of Facebook as my unresponsive publicity agent.  I trust that there are other means to keep in touch with folks — and this is one of them.  More to come on this topic in a future post.

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It’s a Boy

[Originally published July 22, 2013 – reposted April 23, 2018]

A boy was born today, a very special boy.  He was born to no fanfare save that of his father celebrating in a Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, hospital.  He was born hours ago, but we still do not know his name.  Why?  Where are the news media?

What a royal future this boy has.  He can expect to live to be 54 years old.  And according to this U.S. State Department report, he may encounter a few problems along the way.  “The Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for children, men, and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of children trafficked within the country migrate from rural to urban areas to serve as domestic workers for relatives or family friends. Some child trafficking victims are also subjected to forced labor in stone quarries, bakeries, and the fishing and agricultural sectors, including in cocoa fields in the Sangha Department.”

Should he survive his childhood, and if he is quite thrifty (the annual spending per person in Republic of Congo is $558), this Congolese man may be able to travel to Great Britain someday, to meet the King who shares his birthday.  If he happens to be there when it is the King’s birthday, he may be lucky enough to hear the bells of Westminster Abbey ring, and he can pretend that they are ringing for him.

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