1. The roses are blooming. You may not think of Paris as a great rose “site” but that would be wrong. There are two very fantastic rose gardens in Paris, as good as or better than anything in the UK: the Roseraie du Val-de-Marne (Roseraie de L’Haÿ) in southeastern Paris, and the Bagatelle Garden in the Bois de Boulogne, a large wooded area on the west side of Paris. But both are f-ing difficult to get to, so bring your walking shoes. For the first of these, you take the metro to wherever you can connect to the RER C line. Take it to the Gare de Chemin d’Antony and then walk about a kilometer and a half, somewhat uphill, on the same road (Rue de Chaillais) heading north east from the station. The garden is just roses, it’s about four acres, and it’s delightful at this time of year. Climbers, hybrid teas, floribundas, etc. No other distractions, no perennials and not even much grass, just roses and paths.
He seems an unlikely giant killer. He’s five foot seven, one sixty-five pounds, has a distinct southern accent and is not an Olympic athlete. And yet, by any count, he has stopped the construction or shut down the operations of more nuclear plants in the United States than any other person, living or dead.
It’s always good to start with something boring, then come back with the more interesting stuff. Short summary: Southern Africa is a very long way away from San Diego. Map research will validate this, if you don’t believe me.
“Affordable housing” is a difficult social and economic problem. Many of us lucky enough to live in Encinitas would in theory like “affordable housing” to exist so that our grandparents and our children would have some inexpensive place to live. But no one wants more density next door. The last attempt at an affordable housing policy to meet state law, “Measure T” on the ballot, was a significant failure. 18,000 people voted it down. And this was after 150 community meetings, much analysis and a 232-page thick education document sent to all voters. Continue reading
The recent reports about a “restricted” Facebook page which featured pictures of female marines, clothed and unclothed, frequently with salacious or worse comments attached, is disgusting or depressing. If I were a female Marine, I would be infuriated. As a male military veteran of another service (airborne infantry and special forces) I am merely horrified.
As soon as Rick Perry is confirmed as the new Secretary of Energy and finds out where his office is, he will be deluged with requests—for policy changes or new policies, requests to hire somebody’s friend, to have a meeting with every interest group in town, to make speeches at conventions, to testify before various House and Senate committees, and on and on. He will be very surprised at how many new good friends he has, people he may never even have met. Mostly he will get requests to spend money, the government’s money, really your money and my money. Everyone loves you when you spend money. It’s the easiest thing in the government to do. And everyone who asks for money will have a justification that’s not laughable as to why spending this particular amount of money on this particular worthy cause is in fact worthy. Nobody comes to you and says, “Please spend money on this, even though it’s really worthless, and benefits no one but me.” Continue reading
In November of 1973, as a consequence of the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur war, OPEC, the association of Arab oil providers in the middle east, instituted an oil embargo against the US and most western countries in Europe, all of whom were considered major allies of Israel. The US was supremely unprepared for this. Long lines at gasoline stations and endless suggestions of policy changes in Washington ensued. The president, Richard Nixon, declared a goal of energy independence for the country. Continue reading
I: Three days in Thailand
It’s not so good to have your international flight delayed out of LAX for three hours. Because we were connecting to Bangkok by going through Guangzhou in China, this caused the need for rebooking (line standing time: one hour), and sitting around at the airport for an extra three hours in the morning after getting up at five and driving two hours to get to the airport.
It’s hard to catalog all the issue silliness that seems to pervade the public arena, which means things that show up in the newspapers or that lead to campaigns to make governments or businesses or normal people change their practices or even their preferences. There are a lot of good things, of course, such as forcing the British Open to stop playing its matches at courses like Muirfield, which don’t admit women. Jeez, are there still such institutions in 2016? Well, yes, the eating clubs at Harvard have the same problem except for the golf part. And I am particularly fascinated by the campaign to Save the Vaquita. I had to look this up to find out that it was a small porpoise found only in the norther reaches of the Gulf of Mexico and which is being exterminated by Mexican fishermen using gill nets. I can’t find a good t-shirt to buy to support them, however. Marketing is everything.
For better or worse, there will be a new administration on or about 20 January of next year, and the scramble for jobs working in the new administration has already begun. In Washington this is politely called “transition planning,” and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have already formed teams to engage in this recruiting and placement fair. Governor Christie leads the Republican team and Clinton’s is chaired by Ken Salazar, currently a Washington lobbyist but formerly a Senator from Colorado and Secretary of the Interior. Continue reading