My faith is a work in progress. Religion doesn’t dictate what I believe. Neither science nor religion make me. Practice of science and worship of God make life bearable for most but the “faithful” fail to see that God is not the point of the universe. We exist with or without God. Life is merely the result of entropy – what the universe creates in order to dissipate energy.
Guernica in lower Manhattan.
“THE INSIDE INFORMATION THAT COULD HAVE STOPPED 9/11”
Clarke found it odd that when CIA Director George Tenet came to an emergency White House meeting with Black and Blee on July 10, 2001, “they never mentioned that already two Al-Qaeda terrorists…had entered the United States.”
“So you ask yourself, Why not?” he added. The “only conceivable reason that I’ve been able to come up with” is that they were running an illegal domestic operation to recruit al-Mihdhar or al-Hazmi. And they didn’t want the FBI to barge in on it.
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The Repúblican party has been operating on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. So chaos has become their tool to take back control: the theory being that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. They count on people to surrender freedom willingly, using security at the expense of liberty, undermining the very values that our government is meant to protect.
Last Visit to Schengen
I’ve taken to writing in the last couple of years, but funny enough not by choice but almost out of necessity. The necessity to write stems not from the physical inability to speak but more by imposition from a force outside myself – I know that sounds like I live in tyrannical society, and perhaps I do live in tyranny. Tyranny can take many forms, in my case it is where and perhaps with whom I commune – so I write. I write as a form of release until the day I excuse myself from the commune, or God frees me.
As always the most tolerable city we frequent.
Just got to Venice and the cruise ship culture is kicking my ***.
We were in Barcelona for two days, much larger area than Venice and way better equipped to deal with obnoxious cruisers trying to get their bucket list checked off. The shear size of Barcelona insulates us from the bucket list checkers. In addition the work ethic of Catalonians is far superior to any in region of Italy or France. Everyone works, everyone has a job and is happy to have theirs job. As a visitor I am elated by the fact that the people I deal with in their economy are happy to deal with me.
By comparison the attitude of Italians or French toward western visitors be it U.S. or U.K. is one of envy. They paint all westerners with the same brush. Yankee or Brit they see someone they dispise simply because the they feel like it – petty, like “piccoli il Duce” young Mussolinis they see what they want and not what they can handle. Italians (the 20th century ones) discovered during WWII that they’re role in the world is a supporting role.
In Venice every time a cruise ship shows up the city sinks. Really – the sheer number of people mixed with the displacement of the water from the ships against ancient pilings and 15th-17th century structures is making this master piece of a city, VENICE, sink.
Traveling to Verona today on a local train. Funny thing about local trains, you can get on and not be checked for tickets until three or four stops have occurred subjecting people who actually paid for a ticket to those who didn’t. It’s not the fact that no ticket was purchased that bothers me but more the fact that a conductor would eventually come around and be haggled with by the seat thief. Lately with the mass influx of refugees from Southern Hemispheres the problem has grown from the occasional grandma hitching a ride to visit her sister to a costly epidemic. On the bright side for Trenitalia it’s a good sales pitch, for €18 more you can go on a faster train where no seat thieves will dare stowaway.
Arriving in the center of Verona after a brief city bus ride we encounter what seems to make this beautiful city Darker. This African invasion is seriously malignant. The city archways are littered with African refugees
Some thoughts should never be in writing and I won’t express those here, but it may be sufficient to say that my outlook is typically more positive, environment makes a difference at times; Slight inconveniences have never really bothered me but, allegorically speaking, the comforts and reality of my 21st century life tend do make the tiniest set backs seem unbearable.
Of course there’s always lots to say about a big city like Milan a very typical city with secular traditions and wonderful fun pagan activities that do not demean the human spirit. But try walking in to the cathedral for Mass and prepare to be demoralized for showing the skin on your shoulders (made by God) or knees (also made by God). Yet it’s ok for the “Church” to sell billboard time on the side of the same Cathedral.
The back of the Milan duomo looks like time square. The other side of this “House of God” is an enormous ticket office with employees who stand in front of it and the church telling you that you must purchase a ticket but not if your going to Mass – however there is a guy by the pews in Mass telling you you are not allowed to look at the ceilings because only paying customers can do that. Need less to say I put up with their hypocrisy for love the of Jesus but when the Eucharist is handed out by hypocrites it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
On the way to my favorite stop – Florence. My accommodations provider is obviously not Florentine because he’s an amorphous twit, but that’s seems to be an epidemic here in Italy. However there are a few rays of hope. Our taxi driver in Milano was a young man smart enough to understand the economy and smart enough to live in the suburbs like us back home. Believe me when I tell you that there are few people like this left in Italy. Both he and I agreed that the Italy of the 1990s is long gone but the same goes for the United States. While the middle class is shrinking in the U.S. in Italy it has virtually disappeared. Few places hav a thriving middle class in Italy – manufacturing jobs are nonexistent the entire economy is one of service. Even for the United States take South Florida for example – the economy is mostly service driven with a small portion in manufacturing (mostly homes at that) and places like Miami Dade are untouchably expensive even in the suburbs. Service economies cannot keep up with inflation the likes of what’s taken place in the last ten years. So traveling through 21st century Italy I see the stark differences in culture rather than similarities – the familial Italy is almost completely gone. Yet inspire of the disfigured present of Europe I travel here – more as a political act than than for R & R; an act of defiance against an establishment that tells me its dangerous here (yet our children are being shot in our schools), to show that moron who scoffed at me once saying “don’t you think it’s a little dangerous” the same guy who said he won’t go anywhere without his gun (DIP SHIT!). The world is bigger than the back yard you drink the proverbial Cool-Aide from. At risk of trite redundancy I say again – Slight inconveniences have never really bothered me but, allegorically speaking the comforts of my 21st century life tend do make the tiniest set backs unbearable.
I’ve spent the better part of today dodging gelatinous bucket list checkers. These fucking people really piss me off because they have absolutely no intention of involving themselves with the local culture, they come in like locusts off their cruise ship and wreak havoc of the UNESCO cities as they were in Las Vegas or Ibiza, or Macao. June in Italy is an absolute mess of myopic assholes.
All that is left of the economy here is everyone looking for theirs own scam as if it were a niche.
The middle class is struggling to survive out of only one industry – tourism. So what happens when an industry gets saturated with help – scammers arise. With that we are off to the city with the largest populous of scammers.
On to Rome
Ahhh Roma!!! I like only one thing about Rome and one thing only – a restaurant called La Vitoria, and that’s it. Romans and everyone south of Rome are slime balls in a sea of puss. Having once been the frontier of civilization it’s sad to see them at the bottom of the barrel, the Eternal City is eternally a piece of shit.
I’ve saved the following observation for the end of Italy because it’s my one word to describe the economy as a whole in Italy. I reduced the description to one word because to drag it out would simply sound like a rant. My one word description for business as usual in Italy is RACKETEERING.
On the way to Paris
On a Veuling flight again – typically pleasant save for the whinny sound of prepubescent Italian. I have four kids and they all stay quite on planes. Why the fuck can’t others manage to keep their kids silent on a plane? If there’s any place where silence is golden it’s on a plane. So if you’re traveling with young children please be aware of other passengers who enjoy the white noise of the air plane engine and don’t want to hear the incessant clamor of your snot nose brat.
I’m not very exited about Paris it’s probably the one I find the least tolerable.
For me Barcelona is, of all the European cities I’ve visited, the most tolerable. In my opinion they have it together. At the top of my list so far is Barcelona, and I have no doubt that other Catalonian areas even in South of France I find tolerable.
Paris – let me begin by saying – IT’S FUCKING HOT!!!! Whats worse the frogs that own the apartment we rented never installed an AC and had no intention of cooling of the unit – so we had to move to a hotel for the night. The Hotel Bedford was nice enough to put the 6 of us up for the night. Most definitely we will always intend to stay here when in Paris but I don’t intend to return for a very very long time. In the last 4 years this city has gotten dirtier. Overflowing trash receptacles, monuments now eyesores because of fencing and military personnel staged around them trying to “thwart” terrorism. Without making it seem like a direct comparison but 21st century Paris is looking a little like Nazi occupied Paris except no is sterling the artwork, and innocent people aren’t being marched off to concentration camps or gas chambers.
Merry o’le England (London, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon)
My Catalonian Experience? Positively spiritual. Catalonia and Barcelona – the economic power house of Spain, is inspiring because to see the people happy at theirs job is a lesson in entrepreneurship. Every one takes ownership of their position from the street sweeper to the executive no job is too menial to take for granted. Catalonian people have been labeled by Spaniards as cranky but the reality is that they take their 40 hr work week seriously and have their priorities placed in their respective boxes; time for God, time for family and time for work.
Catalonians seem to have a deep connection to the Pyrenees. On our visit to The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France we came upon many Catalonians who either worked in the hospital there or were volunteers and even, to my surprise, French Catalonians. They showed their Catalonian pride sporting lapel pined red and yellow striped Catalonian flags. When I struck up a conversation with some they were very standoffish at first but once I introduced my self and they’d crack a smile and ask questions like which one of my relatives was Catalonian- how did our family arrive in the United States etc., they became just as intrigued with me as I was with them. One older gentleman told me “we (Catalonians) are the keepers of the Pyrenees and of Our Lady”…
Catalonians speak their native tongue first. In Barcelona we met a Student of Education in the local university that explained she had to learn Catalonian to get a job teaching in the local school system as the children are taught in Catalonian. Remarkable how they take pride in this – my kids don’t even speak Spanish. But maybe it’s not too late for all of us to learn Catalonian and for the kids to speak Spanish. The Catalans and Basq are a thriving community, it seems the central Spanish government is propt up by them.