Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Morning Coming Down. Or Going Up. Or Whatever.

Happy November 1st!

Another Halloween has come and gone, with the smallest number of trick or treaters in memory. It was a warm night, but raining and miserable, which may have helped keep the traffic down. Once again Agnes and I will be eating a lot of leftover candy, unless I can get it to the office before everyone else with leftover candy brings theirs in, hoping that someone else will eat it.

I appear to have, with the help of a nice lady at the Apple Store Genius Bar, successfully gotten my iMac up and running (albeit from a newly-formatted external drive), and restored my files from the running backup disk. Now I'm backing up the backups. Sometimes I hate computers...unfortunately, we're sort of like victims of the Borg from the Star Trek adventures - we've been assimilated, and resistance is futile.

One of the "advantages" of business travel is that I usually have a lot of free time in the evenings and while stuck in airports and on planes, and I can think of interesting things to blog about. Well, interesting to me, anyhow. This past week's trip was no exception, even though my evenings were largely spent with my son Matt. Here is the first of the interesting things I came up with while on the trip...

I'm now reading A Quiet Flame, the latest Bernie Gunther mystery novel by Philip Kerr. Bernie Gunther is a detective on the Berlin police force in the years leading up to World War II, and the novels paint a fascinating and detailed picture of life in the German capital during that interesting and frightening time. This particular story takes place in 1950, with the settings switching back and forth between postwar Argentina (home of thousands of unrepentant Nazis) and pre-war Berlin as Gunther is enlisted to solve the disappearance of a young German woman whose case seems to relate to a gruesome murder he had been unable to solve back in Germany.

The story itself is atmospheric, exciting, and strongly recommended if you enjoy mysteries rooted in actual historical events. But that's not what I wanted to write about...

It's said that history repeats itself. I don't think there's anyone on earth who isn't familiar with Santayana's maxim that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. There's an interesting passage in A Quiet Flame in which Bernie Gunther is reflecting on why the German people followed Adolf Hitler into the horrifying disaster of the Third Reich and the Second World War, and it struck me that the same thing could apply today. Here's the passage:

"I didn't blame those who believed him (Hitler). Not really. Most Germans just wanted to have something to hope for in the future. A job. A bank that stayed solvent. A government that could govern. Good schools. Streets that were safe to walk on. A few honest cops."

I suppose that if you think about it, that's what we all still want in the America of 2009. Banks that stay solvent, jobs, schools in which children can learn without fear of violence and intimidation, and safe streets. We're certainly not as bad off as the Germans of the Weimar era were, but - on a lesser level - we're motivated by the same things.

It would just be nice if the government would govern.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



KKTSews said...

Does this mean you are leaning towards agreeing with the comparison of Obama to Hitler??

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

(typo fixed)

"that's what we all still want in the America of 2009"

That's pretty much what everybody has always wanted. Except the extreme right wing that wants it all to themselves. Life is a contest to them.

I've got a couple of his albums.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You sound like you've been assimilated.

Bilbo said...

Katherine - not at all. It's a stupid comparison. My point is just that people through time always want the same thing...basically, to be able to live their lives.

Mike - what we both just said to Katherine.

Jean-Luc - unfortunately, yes. BTW, I visited the Star Trek Exhibition in Hollywood last'd have liked it.

Anonymous said...

I based an entire theory of counterinsurgency on no more than what you have clearly stated (which I learned the hard way), and when I was able to practice it, it never failed.

People need stability for the big stuff, such as making sure their children will be alive at the end of each day and have a school to go to, and a square meal to sit (or squat) down to. That's all we have to ensure in Afghanistan in order to win, hands down. General McChrystal understands that.

Does Congress?

Eminence Grise