Monday, August 28, 2017


   I want to talk briefly about itching in what will be a lowfalutin blog post. Itching has been a problem of mine, it seems forever, and has anything but abated in my old age. I’ve always had skin problems of which itching is the one that never gets talked about. So now I’ll break into that silence, though I’ll keep down the volume.
   I’ll start out by saying that it’s annoying to be itching. It’s not on the level of sharp pain, but it competes with the sort of dull pain one tends to call “nagging.” It certainly doesn’t get credit for that; it is even on occasion thought to be a source of humor. Well, that may be true for the little doves I watch on a ledge outside my window, with beaks constantly busy as if they were dealing itching under their feathers.
   Of the itching to which I am subjected, there seem to be too varieties. One is a gentle itch spread over an area of perhaps several inches where you can neither feel or see something on the skin. The other is focused on a quite small area and sports either a low bump or has the skin roughed up to some degree. These are not medical descriptions (I ain’t no doctor no-ways); call the differences (and their labels) phenomenal, for want of a less fancy label.
   Both kinds are annoying or worse, though in my case the latter are by far the greater evil. What makes a lesser or greater evil is a combination of the degrees to which the phenomena are bothersome, a matter that is closely tied to the relative ease or difficulty to which they are relieved, not to mention gotten rid of.
   In my case—I remind the reader that these remarks are not medical talk, but merely a small chunk of autobiography. In my case, the invisible itch that affects a small area of the skin is mostly assuaged, if you can reach the spot, by gentle rubbing—sometimes permanently, with no guarantee that its like won’t show up elsewhere.
   The much tougher type is the pointed bump/roughed skin variety. It needs real scratching or vigorous rubbing; that’s the type that backscratchers are made for. I have often thought of buying such a contraption, but have refrained from doing so, convinced that I would scratch myself bloody on more than one spot on my back.
   As it is, I rub those itches vigorously with a rough towel of Turkish cloth after coming out of the shower. I have some ointment for those Type II itches that I can reach, but haven’t found  it to help very much.

   In short itching will be with me, a condition more or less equivalent to a dull pain, if not as celebrated.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pence the Reactionary

Mike Pence for President?

   I have been writing a lot about President Donald Trump and  hope in future to be able to reduce my comments about that erratic, uninformed nut. In multiple ways, he is unique in the story of America; even I know enough history to assert that. So my thoughts have been, get rid of the nut—somehow.
   But I have changed my mind. Better near-chaos than the wrong kind of order. Remember that order is not what Hitler’s Germany lacked.
  Mike Pence (Michael Richard was the name his parents gave him) is an unalloyed reactionary on any issue you might look at; I’ll let you check that out.

   Pence  would become president. Worse, he would be in tune—or they with him—with Republican members of Congress who call themselves conservatives. Many of them are not that, but reactionaries. But that term has essentially been dropped from use. A pity, because a big difference is being ignored. Conclusion: better a nut than a sane unalloyed reactionary.  I cross my fingers when I say all that. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Decline of Trump?

   This is an expression of an intuition,  with all the hazards pertaining thereto. Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville “unrest”* will be a turning point in his career. No longer will his supporters be able to point unambiguously to the views, however eccentric, of an oddball president. He waffled (how did this baked good get into such bad company?)  It’s not that he has changed his mind; rather that he has come out about the fuzz that is in his mind. Yes, Trump is the president. But that calls only for my attention, but not, unfortunately, for my respect.
   I am not the only person with those views. I only wonder when things get to the point when a majority notes that the Emperor is in his underwear. It will be interesting to see what happens then—if it happens.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Impeach Trump

A Proposal of Preventive Impeachment
   Donald Trump, president of the United States, alas, is now on the way of descending to the level of North Korea. So we have America and North Korea vying for supremacy. What could be more absurd? But the absurd is not necessarily impossible. Will an ill-tempered Tweet pull us into a war? There is no sign that Trump’s sidekicks are willing, not to mention able, to try to reign him in.
   This unprecedented situation calls for a similarly novel solution: Preventive Impeachment. Let the sane Republicans, if there are any, conspire to stop their president from Tweeting us into a devastating war. Prevention is better than a cure, more especially when the possible cure is dubious at best.
Addendum for August 12
   Today I am ninety-and-a-half years old. I don't celebrate half birthdays of course, but for a variety of reasons I always take note of it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

From Book to Book
   I went to lie down after lunch, dividing my time between looking out of the window at the trees I think of as Gipfel and Wipfel and reading Breen’s Washington book. It is short, since he sticks pretty closely to the first president’s two trips early in his presidency, the first to the north the second to the south. So I came to the end fairly soon. The relatively low percentage (the way Kindle tells you where you are, rather than giving page numbers) was misleading, since the text was followed by a whole series of illustrations. (Pictures are not a Kindle strong suit, to say the least.)
   Since I had already decided to read next a very recent biography of Jefferson by John B. Boles, I didn’t bother to get up, clicked to go to the Kindle Store, and conjured the book into my Kindle. I don’t know where it came from, but I was here in Mexico City and the text reached me very quickly. So, within minutes, I went from Washington to Jefferson and started to read the book’s introduction. When, a bit later, I went back to my computer, I found an email that told me what was charged to my credit card for Jefferson’s biography.

   I know that I have orated before about the miracle—as it looks to me—of getting books to this off the beaten past location virtually instantly. But miracle deserve to be praised.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On the Creation of the United States

T.H. Breen’s Washington’s Journey
   I’m now reading a book on a quite different subject. I was prompted to conjure it into my Kindle by a  favorable review of it in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books. But two matters were much more important: the author, T.H. Breen (known as Tim) and I had been colleagues at Northwestern and the book, George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation, is on an important subject about which I was completely, shamefully, ignorant.
   While I am basically an historical ignoramus, I knew a little about the revolutionary war, the fighting that took place free the states of the new world from the rule by Great Britain, located on the European continent three thousand miles away. I knew that the states on the American continent got together in a federation to throw off the British yoke, but I never gave a thought that states who collaborated to accomplish that single goal would have to “come together” in a quite different and considerably more significant way than by agreeing on a constitution—supremely important, to be sure, but only if it were actually adhered to. Washington’s Journey gives an account of an important chapter in the story of how thirteen states became the United States.
   (I might add, parenthetically, the book I am referring to gives an account of an early chapter of this process.  In my view, the final chapter about the unification of the—now 50—states has not yet been written.)