Adolescence from the Vantage of Old Age

From the vantage pf 75, adolescence, its mental turbulence and arduoud phase of learning what is real and what isn’t in the world extends far longer than the advent of puberty to the sill of legal adulthood. Rather it is the onset of an age of reason, as defined, of course, by the attitudes which aging imposes.

Thought Crimes

Continuing correspondance …

I don’t really have the energy to get outraged over the rushed nomination to RBG, the idolation of whom is typical of the current state of “liberal” culture. Make that liberal “culture”.

Hypocrisy, such as McConnell’s, is the name of the political game. Did anyone think Trump wouldn’t rush to appoint? But hypocrisy of the ones justifies, in my opinion, the hypocrisy of the others. The GOP will prevail on this Scotus nomination but what will be their eventual cost?  I personally hope that revenge will be sought and obtained — a somewhat different wish than yours for eventual balance and restraint. I don’t know if the Dems will prevail in the White House or the Senate. But all gloves are off, and should be.

For the record, you know already, that I am radically pro-choice, but I am also increasingly anti-woke. Another recent tweet of mine: “How many racists can dance on the the head of a pin?” A turn of thought a little too complex for Twitter, I admit. The Woke Ones probably didn’t get my point.

John remarked in a tweet that he had felt the help of that beer. I think the recording session took place late in the afternoon, so cocktail hour. I remember his personal taste as being more inclined to chardonnay.

Interesting about the Le Monde magazine piece, alas only a snipet available this side of the firewall, though easy to imagine backhanded French dédain therein expressed:

Orwellian dimensions to what is going on, including at Princeton (the nominal home of that imperialist, racist pig Woodrow Wilson). Turns out that some animals are more equal than others. And what people are being charged with is what we used to call “thought-crimes”.

All of this is further proof to me of the incipient chaos of a disintegrating empire, one which will take many down with it. I am even beginning to want to live long enough to see more well-deserved damage on the US body politick. Let the chickens come home, I say, transitioning from Boomer to Doomer.



A Letter in Portuguese

When in Morocco last year, I atruck up a friendship with an young expatriate there from Guinea-Bissau. The instant forging of the bond between us was that I knew something about his native Portuguese creole language and that I cited a proverb from Haitian creole.

he and I were speaking French at the time and, telling him I was hungry, I turned to the Haitian proverb Sak vid pa debou (An empty sack cannot stand  up). There  is apparently an equivalent in Guinea-Bissau Crioulo.

He recently asked me via Instagram if I could write him a letter of invitation for a visit to the US.  Diasporans and the otherwise exiled, refugees economic or not, will know how important that is.

Here is my reasoned response, in rather stilted Portuguese.


É uma época terrível para vir para os EUA.

Por causa de cobiça, provavelmente você ficaria em quarentena por 14 dias às suas custas. Além disso, o período pós-eleitoral aqui será caótico, motins nas ruas, etc.

A minha própria residência nos Estados Unidos é problemática. Eu fui um insoumi durante a guerra no vietnã. Uma carta-convite minha pode não ter nenhum efeito positivo.

Tudo isso para dizer que você deve pensar duas vezes sobre seus planos de viagem.

Por mais difíceis que sejam as coisas em Marrocos, seria melhor ficar lá ou voltar para Guiné-Bissau. Essa é a minha opinião de qualquer maneira.

Melhores votos a Solimão, sua esposa, e ao novo papai.

Memories of a Segregated Youth in Houston 1

My Uncle Jack worked his entire adult life at the Sinclair Refinery on Lawndale Road in the East End of Houston. He was a member and strong supporter of the union, the OCAW (Oil, Chemical and Atomic). He got the job in the early 50s because of his mother, my Granny. She was a single mom during the depression and worked as a secretary-clerk at the refinery. This is what we would now call nepotism. It was also union policy.

On more than one occasion we went to the annual family picnic Sinclair put on at a park nearby there, can’t remember the name or locate it on Goggle Earth. It was, like all the public events of my youth, without Blacks. I was vaguely aware that there was a separate Black picnic. Wasn’t called that, the exact appellation depending on how polite you wanted to be. But I didn’t think too much of it until I worked at the refinery during its summer work project during the summer of 1965. Relatives of union men were hired at what were serious wages for the time, replacing the men who would leave for summer vacation. It was a nontaxable benefit which helped families out. Nepotism again, and I was in fact a nepos, a nephew. But because for various reasons I was last and lowest on the list for that summer I ended up in the least attractive jobs, which meant that I was assigned to railroad crews, boxcars, and during shut-downs and turn-arounds, to the hard cleaning of boilers and tanks. Which meant that I was usually the only white on those work teams. 

This was an educational experience in various ways. 

After Friday paycheck on one occasion I went out drinking with my co-workers, the fresh bottle of cheap bourbon shared out in paper cups. I remember we were driving down Lawndale one evening when they told me to duck down out of sight in the backseat, cup in hand, since they were afraid of some Rednecks who would not take kindly to seeing a long-haired, (even scraggly) bearded white boy with Blacks. 

In fact, someone must have, since the next week I was threatened by a kind of gang or mob for hanging out too much with the N’s. They said they were going to hold me down and “shave off” my beard with pocketknives and grabbed me and did hold me down, but didn’t perform the cut in question. 

When Uncle Jack heard about this, he threw his weight around as union man and the taunting stopped. But the experience was a turning point. I had already inuited that I was going to go to Canada and this, along with an similar experience in 1968 on the NATO base near Leghorn, Italy, where I had been called from Africa for my draft physical, was an annealing event.

Because of my lowly status that summer and I also met and drank after work with Lousiana-born Black Creoles, whose French is related to Haitian creole (in which I am a published scholar — for fun see Creole as opposed to Cajun, whose French derives from Acadia. Now that was a special gas, since I was on my way to France at the end of that summer and they loved hearing me speaking French French, such as I could at that time. As I loved hearing them. It was a pivotal moment in my academic orientation, though I didn’t know it at that time. 

The Problem with Universities

Extract from personal correspondence with PDM.


The inflection of Univ education to techno-bureaucracy is built on top of an institution which is and has always been elitist in its structure and ethos. What has gone wrong, IMHO, is not that there is a coterie of right-minded administrators and their lackeys now running the show, rather that this the meritocratic and elitist nature of the thing has been twisted and captured by a group alien in spirit and mind to the foundations of the academy itself.

 Education (and, yes, science), is anti-democratic and it is the “democratization” (commodification, adulteration etc etc) of it which is reducing the noble calling of this grand feudal institution to mush.

 The vast expansion of public higher education after WW2 may be looked at part of the brief period of social democracy which followed upon the depredations of the war. It was also clearly a desire of the electorate to provide the benefits of education to their children (even in my little lower middle class and working class East End of Houston). But they were sold a bill  of goods. Whatever learning acquired had to be recaptured in the interests of the technocratic and … the neo-liberals. The cost of such being passed over onto the students and their parents themselves, as the State withdrew its support. The banks, which are printing money (what else is debt to a bank?) on the backs of all this, jumped in to capture this “market”.

 The University needs more, not less elitism, and should cost a hell of a lot less than it does. Which should mean less for professors as well as far fewer administrators.

On this point I recently twat: As usual, whistling in the wind.

 I don’t know what I’d do if I were young again but I was always dubious about the expressed goals of universities and ended up there only by chance, I can see in retrospect. Not that I don’t consider myself as part of the natural ruling intellectual elite. Just that I think I belonged to it through my own efforts and starting at an early age, when, for ex, I used to read encyclopedias. For fun.