Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Here We Go Again With Liberal Malaise

There really is a reason for the Six Year Itch.  After six years of a president even his supporters can begin to see that he's a fool and a charlatan.

So it was with Bush, so it is with Obama. So it wasn't with Clinton because the Republicans, in moving to impeach Clinton for crimes that would have sunk a Nixon, riled up the Clinton partisans for one more assault on the breach.

With a Democrat in the White House the Six Year Itch at the midterm election in a president's second term inspires the liberal pundits to civilizational exhaustion. The job is just too big for one man, they said after only three years of Carter.  But for Roger Cohen in the New York Times it's "The Great Unraveling." No, Roger, it isn't. It's just another routine failure of liberalism. But I get why it would feel that way to a liberal.

Beheadings? Yes, that's what you get when small insurgencies are on the loose because the big boys can't get their act together.

Aggression? Yes, that's what happens when you get fools talking about the importance of "soft" power over "hard" power.

Breakup? Yes, that's what happens when you weaken the national myth in the minds of the people with the cultural Marxist the multicultural myth.

And so on.

So the liberals are demoralized.  So their ideas are failing wherever they are tried. So what?

The problem is that we have nothing to replace liberalism.

Oh, sure; modern conservatism is better all round for America and the world.  But nobody is excited about it. There is no militant movement that is mobilizing a new generation to flush out the old order and replace it with something new. Instead the kids are all riled up about pot legalization and gay marriage.  Squirrel!

It's déjà vu all over again.

Thirty-five years ago in the Carter malaise liberals were telling us that America was ungovernable.  That we were entering a period of decline.  That there was nothing we could do about it.

Then along came Ronald Reagan. He showed that we could revive the economy, could govern America, could win the Cold War.

But what he couldn't do was move the needle on entitlements. So here we are 35 years later and the entitlements are eating us alive, but still nobody dares suggest reform.  The Elizabeth Warren Democrats are even calling for Social Security benefit increases!

If you look back at the great social/religious movements, starting with the Reformation, they were driven by young people, folks like Martin Luther rebelling against their royal official fathers. Young punks like Marx rebelling against their hauts bourgeois fathers. Young punks like the Sixties radicals pretending to rebel against their liberal fathers.

That is what is missing today.  There are no young punks planning revolution.  There are just the dumb-as-posts Occupy guys that are the drugged-up dupes of the ruling class.

Ten years ago and more liberals like Robert William Fogel were worried stiff that the evangelical Christians were building a Fourth Great Awakening that would take out liberalism and its beloved egalitarianism. So much for that fear.

No.  I suspect we must wait for the moment when African Americans and Hispanics start to become "haves" and start to want freedom and responsible individualism and start to rebel against their liberal masters and say "leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities." I don't want your stinkin' free stuff. That quote is from Eric Hoffer.

Meanwhile my work is to think through what the charismatic leader of this future movement will want to know and say.  And I think it starts with the fact that the payroll taxes that fund the entitlement programs are monstrously unjust to a responsible individual who says "leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities."

That's because the welfare state is based on the proposition that the workers give their savings to the government in payroll taxes and the government decides when and how to give it back to them.

Only a person unfit for freedom could tolerate such a system. Give my money to the politicians so they can buy votes for 30 years until it's time for me to retire?  You must be joking!

But that's the attitude it will take if we are ever to reform the current cruel, corrupt, unjust, wasteful and deluded system.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marxism, Power and Freedom

Eric Hoffer writes that when the "scribes" are in, working for the ruling class, they are happy to do its bidding and order the lower orders around.  But when the scribes are out, meaning that the government can't afford them after a societal collapse, then the scribes decide to represent the "people" and enter a phase where they critique the ruling class.

In our day, I suppose, the scribes do both.  Our educated elite critiques the ruling class on behalf of the traditionally marginalized and it also delights in expert-ology, commissioning like-minded experts to boost its social theories and create government programs to implement them.

What the educated want, says Hoffer, is "power, lordship, and opportunities for imposing action."

That is why the educated fell in love with Marxism.  It said: the workers are being horribly exploited by capitalism.  Therefore we should give absolute political power, lordship, and opportunities to run things to the educated elite to liberate the workers from their slavery.

In fact the opposite happened.  Wherever Marxism was tried the workers got oppressed and exploited worse than before.

When it became clear that economic Marxism wasn't working, because despite Marx's prophecy of worker "immiseration" the workers were doing better, the Frankfurt School universalized the oppression paradigm into cultural Marxism or multiculturalism. Now any social group could be identified as oppressed and exploited.  Therefore we should give absolute political power, lordship and the power to name and shame to the educated elite to liberate the marginalized from their oppression.

I am not saying here that the educated elite -- the "scribes" -- are cynics.  They are just attracted to political power, and instinctively look and find occasion for political power.  They see the suffering workers and say "there oughta be a law." They look at blacks and women and gays and want to do something about it.  But the only thing they know to do, or want to do, involves politics. And government. And force.

I have been studying individualism over the past year or two, and I keep getting impressed by the radicalism of it. Responsible individualism says: hey fellas, relax! As long as people are trustworthy and obey the law we can dial down the amount of government and just let people get on with getting and spending, producin' and consumin'. Because invisible hand and comparative advantage and man-as-social-animal.

Opposed to this is the eternal human experience that the dawn raid might be tomorrow! We can see this in the current flap over ISIS. People see a couple of beheadings on TV and are immediately convinced that the US is at risk.  All down the ages humans have had to be on their toes against an attack by the neighboring village, seafaring Vikings, or neighboring princedom. It seems counter-intuitive to be able to trust businessmen, or Jews, or strangers.

Hoffer again.
The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities.
 Right before that he says "people unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it — are hungry for power." Yeah, as in "power to the people!" and "all power to the Soviets!"

Now you can see what the Marxists and the progressives have done.  They have put themselves at the head of people still "unfit for freedom" and led them on a search for power.

But the reality of the last few centuries is that when people are released to freedom, the ones that want it, they get right to work.  And they grow, learn, and realize their capacities.  It is only the people stuck in the ghetto of power worship that fail to benefit from the world of freedom. In fact, as we have seen, the followers of the educated elite have descended into the most horrible social dysfunctions.

The truth in the Marxist canon is that people that believe in power, the people "unfit for freedom" need some sort of solace to relieve their sense of powerlessness. But the real solution to their problem is to grow them into "haves," help them achieve a modest competence, so that they can live in the world with confidence and vote for the freedom that is the gateway to real self-command and peace with the world.

But the identity politics that the left serves up is a dead end for those that give up their birthright for its mess of benefits.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Ordinary Middle Class on the "Golden Princess"

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS IN INSIDE PASSAGE  Cruise passengers, according to John Derbyshire, are predominantly over-50s.  No doubt he's right, and I've been observing these ordinary American middle-class over 50s the last few days as they "come back new" on board the Golden Princess.  I'll tell you what I think.

You don't get to see the ordinary middle class where I live in liberal Seattle.  You only get to see the precious people that drive Subarus and Priuses and Volvos.  Liberal Seattleites are obviously richer and younger and more educated than the Princess cruisers. And I dare say they enjoy more economic security too. Tenure, don't you know.

But you do get to see the ordinary middle class on board the Golden Princess.

It all makes me think how cruelly the ruling class has treated the ordinary middle class these last few years. Yes, things seem hunky-dory in liberal Seattle: house prices are up, tear-downs are starting in every street. But the daughter of an acquaintance outside the magic liberal circle is just getting life restarted after the hell of the Great Recession in which she lost her home.

You look at those folks on the cruise and you wonder how they are doing with savings account interest down at zero. You think of how they probably blame the banks for this. You think of how they are paying much higher health insurance premiums and deductibles.  You think about how these stolid people are coping with the miserable Obama economy.  Can they hope to retire? If they retire will their teacher and health-worker pensions be there when the state and local government financial crisis deepens?

And what happens to them when the Fed starts raising interest rates, probably because the inflationary boom from zero interest rates is causing even Obama officials to worry about the future?

I think that the ruling class should be forced to take a cruise once a year -- incognito, without staff and perquisites -- so they can see and hear what they are doing to the ordinary American middle class.

I don't suppose it will do any good, but it might make them pause in their grand plans for this affordable program or that necessary subsidy.

It's telling that the present Affordable Care Act had a predecessor.  Remember "affordable housing?"  That was the siren song that got us into the Great Recession as all the folks that had borrowed against their houses, desperately trying to ride the real-estate bull, and all the folks that had strained their finances to the utmost to afford their dream house, all those folks went to the wall.

Was it really fair or just to subject these ordinary people to all this heavy financial weather? First they got ripped off because they came late to the real-estate party.  Then their nest egg got crushed when the market collapsed.

Of course, the politicians and the activists and their willing accomplices in the media have persuaded everyone that it was all the bankers' fault.  Really, the old saw about patriotism being the last resort of the scoundrel had it completely wrong. Instead we should say that any politician that blames the bankers is a monster. Because the government runs the credit system and has done ever since the Dutch invented central banking.

Yes, I know. The people voted for the scoundrels; they had it coming. But the whole point of the Progressive movement of the late 19th century of which today's liberals are the residual legatees was that the educated experts and their rational policy analysts would be above petty partisan politicking and crude corruption. Liberals insisted then and insist now that they are the evolved ones, the educated ones, the rational ones. That's what gives them the license to blame bankers and businessmen and racists, sexists and homophobes.

Only it's all a lie.  Liberals have lied and lied again; they have blindfolded the American people and turned them around and confused and misled them. And now the American people are screwed.

You only have one life to live. When the politicians go to the Fed to get them out of a jam as they did in 2008 and in all the years since, it means that the American people are getting screwed; it means that the government is going to get in their pockets and relieve them of a good portion of their wages and their savings. All because of promises that should never have been made by the sort of people that liberals claimed to be.  And the American people will never get their money or their lives back.

If there were any justice in the world liberals would be on the run right now like the French aristocrats in 1792. But since there isn't any justice I expect that liberals will get another couple of chances to ruin the nation before the American people rise up in righteous rebellion.

Of course then it will be too late.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Message of Glacier Bay

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS SAILING SOUTH  OK, I spoke too soon. The nice well-spoken park ranger that gave us a commentary on Glacier Bay National Park hardly got into politics at all.

So I was able to enjoy Glacier Bay National Park without having to block my ears to avoid hearing global warming propaganda from a well-paid, well-pensioned government shill.

And Glacier Bay doesn't really help the warmist line that well.  It's a 65 mile long fjord fed by glaciers. According to the Park Service map the entire 65 mile fjord was filled with ice 250 years ago, when European navigators first saw it.  A century later in the middle of the 19th century the ice had retreated 30 miles.  Then, at the furthest retreat in 1925, the ice had retreated another 35 miles, turning the whole of Glacier Bay into a fjord.  By 1966 the ice had advanced a mile, and today's glacier termination is still advanced beyond the 1966 line.  Yay global cooling!

So the National Parks map of the Glacier Bay National Park doesn't really help the warmist line that it's the end of the world unless we act now. Because, according to the record of ice advance and retreat over the last two centuries, there really was a Little Ice Age, whatever Michael E. Mann and his Hockey Stick have to say.  When you cruise down the fjord the main thing you think about is the barrenness of the terrain up towards the northern end and what the whole thing would be like if it were filled up with ice again.  You don't think a twink about global warming; you just think about mountains of ice.

You think, in other words, about ice ages, and how the current climate of the world is ice ages followed by interglacials: 100,000 years of glaciers followed by 10,000 years of warming.

Don't forget, the current interglacial is already 12,000 years old, really long in the tooth for an interglacial.

The temptation for climate deniers like me is to hope for a little cooling, just a little to teach the liberals a lesson.  But then I think, No.  A little cooling would probably not be very good for humans, especially humans in less-developed countries.

Warm climate, the warmth of the interglacial, is what allowed the great human flourishing of the last few millennia. It's all very well to yell and scream and say that a couple degrees warming would mean the end of life as we know it.  But the truth is, we don't know. A couple of degrees would obviously change things; it would make some places wetter, some dryer.  It would make some places hotter, and make other places habitable.  But the truth is, we don't know; more research is needed, and even then we couldn't be sure.

Based on current results, here is what we know. We know that government-sponsored scientists built a bunch of computer climate models based on the notion that more CO2 equals hotter climate because CO2 is a greenhouse gas and they tuned their models to recent temperature trends.  Then they predicted future temperatures and their predictions have turned out wrong. We don't know why the predictions turned out wrong.  It could be that the modelers didn't add in the ocean temperature cycles, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecal Oscillation.  Or it could be that the modelers didn't properly model the Tropical Convergence Zone with its daily convection cycle.  Or it could be something completely different.

But it really focuses the mind to cruise down the middle of Glacier Bay, with a thousand feet of milky water beneath you and the glacier-scarred mountains on either side of you.  It makes you think that a degree or two in temperature fluctuation may not be The Big One.  It makes you think that what we should be doing is thinking about adaptation.  How would be adapt if the climate heats up suddenly?  How would be adapt if the climate cooled down suddenly?

Oh yeah. Adaptation. Survival. Natural Selection. Evolution. Darwin. Science, and all that.

Generally speaking, governments are the worst things in the world to predict the future.  The only thing that governments are good at is gathering everyone together in response to an emergency.  But then people do that instinctively because humans are social animals.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Old Age is Dying; A New Age is Coming

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS IN GLACIER BAY I know I should be all excited about sailing into Glacier Bay National Park and go and listen to an over-paid over-pensioned park ranger talk about the wonders of global warming.  Because glacial retreat! But I'm not.

Instead I want to talk about nailing theses up on the church door.  That's because I'm reading a book about the Reformation and Martin Luther and the Huguenots in France in the 16th century. It's called The Beginnings of Ideology: Consciousness and society in the French Reformation by Donald R. Kelley.  The Big Idea is that Martin Luther was the First Ideologue, the first modern that mounted a revolutionary critique of the ruling class and swept the whole of society into an ideological fervor.

Luther achieved this because of the "German art of printing." It became possible for the first time to print and distribute millions of pieces of writing, as pamphlets, placards, propaganda: to touch a nerve in the body politic with the written word.  Since then, of course, we have seen nothing but an unending avalanche of ideological propaganda. Only now it's worse. Because the internet.

Luther's genius, like the genius of the Puritans, the preachers of the Great Awakening, the Marxians, the Fascists, the Environmentalists, was to propagate at the right moment when the world was ready for his message.  An old world was overripe, decayed, corrupt, and a new world was ready to be born.

That is why I come today to write about the old world, the world of the overripe liberal ruling class that we know because of its cruelty, its corruption, its injustice, its waste, its delusion, the old world that is dying.  And I write to prophesy a new world, the new world a-borning.

A ruling class that deserves to rule must do five things.

A ruling class must defend society from the predators and celebrate those who defend us from predation.  But liberals too often excuse the predators and denigrate the defenders.  That is the meaning of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Rotherham.  Liberals leaped to blame the police, the neighborhood watch volunteer, and in Britain the underage lower-class white girls.  Meanwhile they defended thug teenagers and their "rap" subculture and excused the "Asian males" that preyed upon young girls that didn't have their married biological fathers to defend them.  Then there is national defense.  Liberals wavered in the fight against communism, have been absent in the fight against Islamism.  Meanwhile they make war in the US on bankers, businessmen, and Christian enthusiasts. Because elections.

A ruling class must celebrate the workers and stigmatize the freeloaders.  By that, I mean that our rulers should celebrate the people that go to work every day without expecting or demanding economic justice or special favors through economic legislation.  And the rulers should sneer at the freeloaders that ask "what's in it for me" before they start the day's work.  Needless to say, liberals have spent the last century excusing freeloaders as victims and plundering workers of their wages so they can hand out loot to their supporters.

A ruling class must be merciful to the unfortunate and those who are heavy laden.  And it must quietly assist those who minister to the wretched of the earth.  But liberals have turned this work of charity into a burlesque, turning the relief of the poor into a racket for its supporters, and stripping many of the unfortunate of their dignity, or even basic protection, as in the violence-torn inner cities of the US and the preyed-upon underage "tarts" of Rotherham.  And those that minister to the unfortunate find that they must bend to the political agenda of their liberal masters or find that the government makes their work difficult or impossible.

A ruling class must defend virtue and the mainstream of life and sneer at vice and its suffocations.  But liberals have attacked virtue with the cult of the anti-hero, and they celebrate all kinds of marginal culture: I mean everything from the anti-social "rap" culture to the foolish enthusiasms of educated youth ranging from the cult of creativity to pot to the follies of LGBTQ.

A ruling class must be just, ruling with a light hand, moderating its own enthusiasms and tolerating the enthusiasms of others.  Liberals, we know, do just the opposite; they encourage enthusiasms in their activist believers to the utmost and actively persecute the enthusiasts of all other sects. And woe to those that fail to bow to the liberal household gods.

A ruling class must limit its power.  Power corrupts, and all systems -- especially government systems -- amount to domination.  We humans are social animals, and that means cooperating wherever possible as equals in trusting and intersubjective discourse.  We know that liberals utterly fail in this, as they succumb endlessly to the temptations of power and reduce all societal activity to the dominatory hell of bureaucratic system.

It's time to rise up and throw off the unjust rule of the venal liberal dynasty.  Because the old age is dying, corrupted by its power and its narcissistic self-worship, and a new age is dawning.  The old age of power and privilege, of dishonesty and dishonor, is shriveling before our eyes just like the ever-diminishing Obama presidency, completely demoralized and vitiated by its internal contradictions and its sophomoric delusions.

The new age is dawning, an age of fraternal equality, of freedom, of cooperation, of tolerance.  It will be dedicated above all to the proposition that power, particularly political power, is a dead end of sterility and inhumanity.  The point, the whole point of the human project is the space between the individual and the organs of government and political power.  It is the realm of civil society, where people meet and cooperate and work and dialog and trust as equals.  The catchphrase of the new age is give and exchange, utterly opposed to the liberal era's addiction to force and change.

The great problem of the new age, as in any age, will be dealing with the arc of folly, already perceived by Martin Luther, that young men are obsessed with pretty girls, that 30-year-olds are obsessed by money, 40-year-olds by honor and glory, and 60-year-olds by their own piety. Wisdom is the path of fidelity, of giving before taking, of humility before pride, trusting in knowledge of our hypocrisy and impiety to dissolve our conceit in our imagined piety.

This we believe: in defending against predators, in marginalizing freeloaders, in helping the helpless, in respecting virtue, in limiting power. These we honor: the defenders against the predators, the people that work and strive, the folk that give to the poor, the virtuous that do good when no one is looking, the exemplars that resist the siren call of power.

The time is now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Security on the Cruising Frontier

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS, SKAGWAY, AK  Hey, John Derbyshire!  You have a problem with five cruise ships docked at the bustling metropolis of Juneau, Alaska, population 33,000?  How about four ships docked at Skagway, Alaska, population 800?

Yesterday in Juneau there were two Holland America, one Princess, and one Celebrity boats; today in Skagway we have one Holland America, two Princess, and one Celebrity.

Imagine!  Skagway has docking facilities for four or more thoroughly modern cruise ships.  Think of a little place like that having thoroughly modern docks like that! Somehow, I reckon that I paid for those docks, courtesy of Uncle Sam and his cute little tax collector at the IRS, Lois Lerner.

Anyway, we had a great time at Juneau yesterday.  In the morning we went out to watch the whales in a nice little tender sporting three 250 HP outboards.  Yep, with that kind of power you can get the tourists out to the feeding humpback whales in half an hour at a healthy 30 knots.  That's fast enough to do four 2-hour whalewatching trips per day.  The guide for our trip, Brian, was a photojournalist that gave us a quick digital camera lesson while we were in the bus traveling from the cruise terminal to the whale-watching marina.  You'd be surprised how few of his students had ever shifted their digital cameras out of Auto.

And were those whales hard at it. Feeding on herring, I mean.  And I'm glad to say that they were ably assisted by a bunch of Stella's sea lions.

You may know that our national government's whale enforcement officers have decreed that our nation's whale-watching boats should not approach closer than 100 yards to a whale: a sensible and thoughtful environmental regulation.  You can imagine our consternation when a whale or two carelessly approached our whale-boat well within the legally prescribed limit.  Oh no!  Would the local whale-watching enforcement SWAT team swoop down in a cigarette boat with a 0.5 in machine gun locked and loaded on the foredeck?  It was nip and tuck for a moment, but fortunately nothing happened.  I imagine that the whale-watching enforcement SWAT team was on a break during the fateful minutes when our boat was in violation of the national whale-watching enforcement regulations.  Or maybe the whale enforcement interagency security evaluation team had met that morning and decreed that we were only at WHALESEC0, which does not require the whale-watching SWAT teams to leave their ready room back in Juneau.

Still, it was good to get our cruise cards checked by a security officer sitting next to a MARSEC1 sign. He seemed in the last stages of personal disintegration.

When you get out of the big city you really get to appreciate the exquisite care that our national government takes to ensure our safety.  On the approach to Juneau we were escorted by two US Coastguard cutters, one on the port and one on the starboard, each with a helmeted gunner on the foredeck attending a 0.5 in machine gun.  And that was only for MARSEC1. While sailing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca we encountered a Trident missile submarine on its way to the open ocean. The ineragency nuclear threat evaluation team must have decreed NUCSEC2 that day because there were four US Coastguard cutters accompanying the submarine, one up ahead, one astern, and one on each side of the sub.  (I am assuming here that you can tell how many US Coastguard cutters are needed to escort vulnerable and/or valuable US assets by dividing the SEC number by two).  And you can be sure that there was a skilled Alaskan gunner on the foredeck of each cutter with his hands on the locked and loaded 0.5 in machine gun.  Just in case.

Yes. It's comforting to know that while we sleep peacefully each night in our teeming cities our national government has arranged this robustly planned and executed national security theater performance for our protection.

If only the regular foreign and national security policy establishment that deals with ordinary Islamist proto-states and eternal thug dictators were as robustly organized and executed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

At Sea aboard the Golden Princess

ON BOARD THE GOLDEN PRINCESS 8:00AM MONDAY Here we are sailing eastward through the Frederick Sound into Juneau, Alaska and the humpback whales are spouting.  There are a couple on the port bow, and wow, there are six, no ten whales, no twenty whales spouting on the starboard bow!  Most unusual, says the steward delivering breakfast to our stateroom down in the bowels of the ship on Deck 5. Hey, when the salmon are running we whales gotta get our brekkers before the little monsters escape up the rivers for sex, sex, sex.

Meanwhile up on Deck 15 they are crowded along the rail, with gigantic telephoto lenses ranged alongside smartphones, with everyone snapping away.  But nobody seems to be taking selfies with the whales.

Lady Marjorie and I are sailing on an Alaska cruise out of Seattle with a group doing Argentine tango.  We do a "practica" in the afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 at the Wheelhouse bar and dance in the Vista Lounge from 10:00 to midnight.  That's early, of course.  In Argentina they start their milongas at midnight, dance till 3:00 or 4:00 am and then go to work at 9:00am.

Yeah.  Now you know what's wrong with Argentina's economy.

Music?  No problem.  We just plug an iPod or a smartphone into the room's sound system.

It's the first cruise for Ordinary Seaman Lady Marjorie and Admiral Chris, so we'll be deciding whether we want to do it again.  Admiral Chris is a veteran sailor, with years of sailing boats from 14 ft sailing dinghies to 30 ft sloops. I've been doing a bit of guerrilla navigation with my smartphone, and I can report that the captain navigated safely from Seattle out through the Strait of San de Fuca and up the west side of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands.  Really, these young chaps don't need to know nuttin'.  Just flick out the smarthphone and start up your GoPilot GPS.

The Golden Princess is rather like a vertical Mall.  There is lots of shopping, an atrium, shops, and bars and restaurants.  100,000 tons of it with 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew. On Deck 14 are the swimming pools, the all-you-can-eat buffets and the outdoor Movies Under the Stars® screen where football fans can watch the NFL on Sunday while reclining on beach loungers all muffled up in parkas and blankets.

After a couple of days we've decided that we really want to eat in the dining rooms.  The food is "free" either way, but the buffets up on Deck 14 are something of a crowd scene, rather like the free breakfast "bunfight" at a US motel.  It's a little undignified for educated class folks like you and me.

We are having a great time at the Argentine tango.  Lady Marjorie and I met at a tango ball, and we did a lot of tango dancing in our early years together.  But now we have to get it together quickly to deserve to dance with the serious dancers -- like Irene the Russian who dances tango five nights a week and displays the most exquisite ornamentation with her flashing feet.  But there are also the rank beginners, like the young couple from Phoenix that just happened to be in the Wheelhouse bar when we started our practica on Sunday.  We soon had them in the hands of experts, showing them a move or two and getting them eager to Google "Phoenix Argentine tango" when they got home.

The thing about dancing is that, for men, it's all about cherchez la femme. But women of every age absolutely love dancing.  Really, guys.  You should do it.  Not for the children, but for the ladies.