The Laki eruption in Iceland and colder climate of the Little Ice Age combined with France's failure to adopt the potato as a staple crop contributed to widespread famine and malnutrition.
the ball room
When the cupboard runs bare the state should open up granaries, not put further emphasis on the collection of tithes and rents. Similarly the military industrial complex should reduce their spending and transfer that tax money to foreign aid and education. As one commentator put it about Afghanistan, "hearts and minds" lags too far behind the military strategy in the field. I like Michell Obama and admired her on Oprah last night, but American deployments are too many and not always in the right places. You cannot go on bringing equality and democracy only to the places that have immense commercial value, while virtually ignoring the places that don't. As someone else said, NATO involvement in many parts of the world has simply been a breeding ground for the very dedicated terrorists that we justifiably fear. Major Islamic schools should be set up in America and post graduate studies in diplomacy strongly encouraged. The last truly just war was WW2, but it set up too many models about how to defeat a determined enemy. My father worked for NATO from the beginning until he retired. I think he would be dismayed at the military use of NATO within the last few years, even in Kosovo. Going back to the French revolution. The rich and powerful will always be admired and envied and they have to strike a balance between those two feelings. It is not the middle class, which will help them achieve that balance. They must do it themselves.
This beautiful office and warehouse has been abandoned for the ten year's I have worked on that street in downtown Toronto. Last week a film crew was using it for a location. The roof is in in good order and has been shielded where the tiles are absent. There is a long range plan to redevelop the street. I so much hope they will restore it.
My posts have been too serious of late. I do want wars to end and for diplomacy to prevail. It goes back to the way I was educated, although I was no hippy. I was very straight well into my twenties. I had to drive Cathy's new Honda yesterday. Well, it is not as comfortable for a big man as the Intrepid was and with a coat I root around for the clasp for the seat belt. My son had been driving it and it starts off beeping at me furiously. I looked for the handbrake, but could not find it! I had to go back into the house and ask them where it was. It was, needless to say, hidden under my coat and I grumbled that an automatic never needs the handbrake on except on the steepest of hills or in certain rare situations. He disagreed. At twenty four he thinks he know everything about what he uses and he does use his mother's car too much. He wants me to front him seven hundred dollars so that he can repair his own car so that he can sell it. Not likely for a while and meanwhile his car is blocking up our one-car garage. Scallywag. We need the garage for a work-shop for our lovely last born who graduates in jewelry making this April. I have three adult sons and they are still all unemployed in various ways. We can't back them up much longer. The trouble is we had children very late and their troubles would have been easier to help with if, say, we were still in our late thirties or early forties.
I spent all of yesterday and today until eleven reading an account of Pepys's diary from 1660 until 1667/1668, which is when the site publishes his diary day by day in step with our own dates. Often I dipped into the actual diaries, into annotations by other readers, or notes on wikipedia. Before Christmas I donated a small sum to wikipedia and they returned a note to me asking for a contribution month by month. Unfortunately this was made on my old credit card. During the holiday I discovered a payment on that card to what appeared to be a BP gas station in Fort Erie. I reported the suspected fraud to the credit card company, which promptly refunded the payment and cancelled my card. Yesterday I received my new card, but all pre-authorised payments are therefor cancelled too. I don't have a list of whom I have pre-authorised moneys to and have no way of re-contacting wikipedia, unless I make a new payment to them uninvited somehow. Incidentally, it was not a fraud. I had had forgotten a payment to BP magazine for a year's subscription. I don't think of the magazine by its name as I regard it as "the bi-polar" magazine. So I needn't have cancelled my credit card in the first place. Grrr. This blog is reverting to a personal diary. If I do still have any readers, I completely understand if you delete following me. It can only interest myself some time from now, and maybe not even do that.
My son tells me that volcanic ash attracts its own lightning. We both think that this would be a great effect in a Hollywood movie. I am up well before the winter's dawn, again with my persistent toothache. It seems that something is always going wrong with my aging body. Doctors and dentists can usually take care of these ills and thank goodness for provincial health insurance, but it takes time to see the doctors and I must live with some discomfort until I am cured. It was not like this when I was younger, but, on the whole, I prefer the advantages having lived a long and very full life, although not a particularly useful one perhaps. I know this is "begging the question", but it is largely true. I live for myself and my own pleasure. We used to argue that Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale did too, but now I see the error of the argument, however young people should not be particularly exhorted to live a "useful life". Much better they should be encouraged to find a way to be happy and to promulgate "the greatest happiness of the greatest number".