In Which Our Hero Explores the Depths of European Discontent…

I decided to ask a French colleauge about the unrest in their homeland. Being a very subtle and considerate sort I began with: “So are y’all about to have another revolution?” Fortunately this colleague knows me pretty well. They began “Well it’s not that bad….” in the tone they reserve for trying to knock dumb ideas out of my head.

I quickly explained that while the foreign media is probably intentionally not clarifying what the anger is about I’d been trying to read up and now understand the latest fuel tax was just the final straw and that as far as I can tell I’m probably on the side of the yellow jackets.

The new enemy of the elite

This began a long tirade of how terrible Macron is and how much everybody hates him now (colleague included) with lots of specifics I hadn’t known including points about pensions and retirement ages (which the media are carefully not talking about).

“It’s like they’re trying to get right wing people into power!” they concluded winding down.

I then volunteered my theory as to why Macron wants an EU army – to put down domestic unrest if and when the French army doesn’t want to shoot French citizens.

“Oh no… they would have to get approval from.(mumbled name of some European institution) I don’t think they would do that….” in an increasingly uncertain voice.

I decided to test the water further and volunteered my prediction about widespread citizen revolt in western Europe unless there were policy changes (which have not yet occurred).

“It’s already started!”

I’ve had similar interactions over the last seven or eight years with people from different western European countries. There is tremendous anger among everyday European citizens who are not remotely right wing nor populist but who are progressive and cosmopolitan (within some limits). It’s just below the surface and they have to feel they’re safe in expressing it for it to come out, but once they start….

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Suicide by Noble Sauvage

Often my mind doesn’t work fast enough to say interesting things in real time. I need to think about things a short time and then let them shift down into my sub-conscious where they stew and then I finally can put things together that might seem very obvious in hindsight.

The story of the disturbed young man who died in an attempt to bring Christianity where it wasn’t wanted is a case in point. I read a story or two and googled a few minutes and it seemed like a waste of a young life and I put it away behind issues of first contact and the great physical danger he must have known he posed to the natives.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania primitive warfare

The Welcome Wagon….

Then I realized what might have been going on. He had a death wish but his religion made conventional suicide a mortal sin (or whatever his evangelical equivalent of that was). Described as an ‘adventurer’ or ‘explorer’ there was a pattern of what seemed like reckless and foolhardiness that seemed counter to valuing one’s own life.

So the reason he wasn’t worried about contaminating the natives was that he was counting on not being a danger to them. They probably didn’t want to kill him if they didn’t have to which is why they first aimed at his bible but he wouldn’t stay away and so they did what he had to know they would do.

I’m not sure if this was all consciously worked or if it was subconscious but if I’m right it was a win-win situation for him. He ended the life that had been vexing him in the service of his religion and escaping the no suicide clause of the salvation contract. Yeah, I could be wrong but I don’t think I am. Just don’t ask me to bet my life on it….

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In Which Our Hero Comes to a Chilling Conclusion….

I was thinking of writing about Macron’s nationalism vs patriotism rant but couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. Then I saw this and realized “That’s right! I have no idea what riots in France are about and no English language source is telling me”. The Polish media is a little better in giving an idea of the scale of the unrest but no better in describing why it’s happening beyond “lez crazy Fronch and zeir strikes!” The media is treating this is another example of people doing things for no particular reason…

Podobny obraz

We are ze Fronsh, we like ze cheese, ze Jerry Lewis and ze riots for no raison…

I went to a site that specifically supposed to give information about goings on in France and it was no use. I went to youtube and there was nothing explanatory except if you put in French riots 2018 you find there have been riots going on various parts of the country several times in the last year.

Then I realized what Macron meant about patriotism vs nationalism and why he wants an EU army. Distinguishing nationalism and patriotism doens’t make much sense to most English speakers (especially Americans) as the modern meaning has mutated into a synonym for ‘country’. I’m assuming in French that it still has the meaning ‘group of people with a shared history, language, culture’ (something like ‘ethnic group’ but more important). So Macron’s vision is about a Europe where people express loyalty to political rather than national/ethnic institutions and to current leaders (comme Macron même) rather than historical legacy.

It also made me suspect why he’s now talking up an “EUArmy”. A couple of years ago I suggested that if western European leaders don’t change course they could be facing open rebellion from the citizenry within two to five years and…. they’re not changing course.

In short, I think Macron wants an EU army because he’s afraid that civil unrest in France is not going to go away by itself and that at some point he won’t be able to count on the French army to put down a rebellion by French citizens… so he wants an integrated EU force to do it.

That might be reaching a bit, but it’s a hypothesis that fits the facts (as I understand them). As always I welcome counter arguments and/or more information on what’s going on in France…

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New Header Picture: Dancing Spanish Schoolgirl Edition

Nothing too creepy, honest. But I was in the Parque de Malaga, next to the port and these girls were practicing some kind of dance number in anime-ish costumes. The were in a building across the road so the music was inaudible but I thought it was an interesting visual through the fence, even though it’s pretty blurry.


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Strategic Saudi Killing Games…

No one’s especially asked about what my opinion on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, almost certainly on the orders of the current Saudi monarch, but here it is: Sorry, I don’t much care. I’ve thought about it…. and just cannot work up any special outrage. I’ll just move on because there’s nothing for me to see.

Yes, it’s a terrible way to die and nasty and brutal and almost anything bad you can say about it is probably true, but…. he’s not the hill I want to die on (to misuse a metaphor). He was a member of the completely awful Muslim brotherhood and his supposed forward looking views sounded tinny and thin next to his history of embracing extreme political Islam (as failed policy as socialism – it’s been tested many times and it never works). There’s also something obscene about the ghoulish Erdogan trying to cash in on this death when he’s one of the biggest enemies of secular press freedom in the world today.

But the biggest reason is that this stinks of royal intrigue that I don’t begin to know enough about to comment on. In terms of political culture Saudi Arabia is roughly like Europe 1000 years ago with feuds running between and within clans and constant royal intrigue with no real peace just temporary cessations of hostility. The current king (or whatever they call him) is probably a terrible human being but his policy seems to be roughly headed in one good direction away from religious fundamentalism and slowly a little bit toward the modern world.

This killing was terrible but Khashoggi was an enthusiastic player in the very dangerous games of Saudi intrigue so it’s not like he was a real reformer or dissident or anything. If anyone has any more accurate info I’d be glad to hear it.

So…. I’m sick of hearing about it and it should play no great role in US policy towards Saudi Arabia.

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My Mexican Border Policy

Thinking about the caravans of today (and the many more caravans of the future) I decided to sketch the outline of a comprehensive policy for the US-Mexican border. You are welcome. These are the broad outlines, of course the details would need to be worked out.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania crowd at us mexican border

Only crazy people think this is sustainable….

*Asylum cannot be applied for at the border, or by anyone who enters the country in an irregular fashion.

*Those in the country illegally who apply for asylum are held in non-punitive but monitored detention centers until their cases are decided. Yes, camps, family friendly but camps that they cannot leave.

*Consulates are set up in some border (and internal) cities in Mexico for processing asylum claims.

*A large number of short and medium work visas (6 month to 2 years) not tied to specific employers are made available for citizens of Mexico (and other Latin American countries). These are not immigration visas. Should a person with such a visa wish to immigrate (even though marriage) they have to return to their country of origin and apply. A visa can be extended a finite number of times. Anyone caught overstaying their visa is immediately deported.

*Birthright citizenship is ended.

*Enforcement of existing labor laws is enhanced. When violations are found employers are heavily fined and laborers are immediately deported.

*Dreamers (with no violent criminal records) receive citizenship but their parents do not.

I’m only interested in constructive criticism, don’t point out problems with this policy unless you have a better alternative that is not ‘open borders’ in disguise.

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Pictures of my Food: Central European Salsa Edition

Leczo was one of the foods that helped me adapt to food in Central Europe. Originally Hungarian (lecsó) it spread to neighboring countries (German: letscho, Czech: lečo). It tends to be different in different places but the version I first got to know was as a sauce sold in jars, one of the few prepared foods in immediate post-communist Poland that was more than just edible but enjoyable. It reminded me a lot of salsa but without the heat (in the region only Hungary goes in for hot spiceyness).


I sometimes had it with pasta or just bread. I remember panicking once as I was having leczo with ‘borowiki‘ and I became alarmed at the borowiki (a word I couldn’t find in my dictionary). The meaty flavor and spongy texture had me imagining some organ I didn’t want to be eating but eventually found out that borowiki are bolete mushrooms.

While in some countries it tends towards being a sauce in Poland it’s also used as a kind of thick vegetable stew. I make my version once every couple of weeks and it tends toward the soupier end of the spectrum. My basic version is potatoes, carrots, onion, paprika and tomato and zucchini but depending on what is at hand might also have champignons, eggplant, celery or other vegetables added. Some people make it with sausage though I don’t (at least not on the first day).

To make it a bit more filling I might poach a couple of eggs in it just before serving or put some hummus in the bottom of the bowl before adding the leczo. This picture is with hummus in the bowl.

While usually my tastes tend, like the needle on a compass, to point to true N (not healthy) this always feels not only healthy but good tasting which is kind of an innovation for me. A bonus is that the leftovers lend themselves to fiddling around with which is good cause I always make way too much for a single (or sometimes two) dinners.

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