Friday 8 March 2019


My Dad was a naval officer. Sailors have a long strong tradition in being able to make and mend. An essential part of any sailor's kit is his housewife [pronounced hussif  in the British navy] in the same contracted way that forecastle is fo'c'sle] - a roll of cloth containing needles, thread and a couple of spare buttons; a bit of wool for darning the socks etc. The young gentlemen from Dartmouth Naval Training College were expected to be able to clean, iron and repair their own clothes, make their own bed [to exacting standards], clean their living quarters and wash dishes. On other respects they were extremely privileged but they had to deal with their own shite.

Rutger Bregman went viral because he went to the World Economic Forum in Davos and spoke the truth to power - by suggesting that the rich nobs who hang out together in Davos could pay some [more] taxes. But he also identified the irony that a meeting billed as addressing climate change  had been a magnet for 1500 private jets. Being 1%-rich allows you to insulate yourself from having to rub shoulders with poor smelly untermensch who might ask you for the price of a cup of coffee. It would take a particularly persistent and needy pan-handler to approach you in your Learjet at 30,000ft.

What do you do if you are super-rich when you're not in the board room or flying to visit in someone else's board room? I mean after the gold-plated taps, and the yacht and the Bollinger bubbly [R $60/btl]. There's a certain class of rich person who has a bucket-list which is grander and more exclusive my bucket-list. My bucket-list owes much to Louis Agassiz - just let me find one four-leafed clover in the back-garden. There are a helluva lot of people who are among the 1% richest (about 70 million) but far fewer people (N=~4,000) have stood on the top of Everest. It only costs about as much as a car for the privilege and it's rumored that the poor bloody infantry sherpas will more or less carry you up as you've paid for the privilege. There's a recent MeFi thread asking what happens to the all shit that these experiential tourists produce: say, 30kg over the 2 months that they spend in Nepal or Tibet between the bracketing flights in the Learjet. Some bright spark has suggested that this year's 14 tonnes (!!) should be composted for biogas. Multiple sardonic comments from the MeFi community.

When I spend the night in Tramore to see The Beloved and hang out one evening a week with Pat the Salt her aged progenitor, we often take the dog for a walk through the darkened streets of the town . . . with a plastic bag for any dog-turds that might result from the exercise. Baggies are a very welcome change in the dog-owning community there: my boots are much cleaner that they used to be after an urban perambulation. Even rich dog owners do this - I doubt there are any 1%ers living in Tramore who would employ a dog-walker to exercise the dog and clear up the mess. In that sense dog-owners are like naval officers - although I suspect that only a minority could darn a sock.

In 2004 I walked the Camino Frances P2P - from the Portuguese border to the Pyrenees via Santiago de Compostella. It was quite democratic: all the pilgrims - both secular and religious - carried their own kit in a bag because that was part of the pilgrimage process. There were people on The Way who sent their luggage on ahead from bed to bed; but <judgemental> they weren't pilgrims, they were tourists </judgemental>. It's not about the money: it really didn't cost much for this service. It's just that IF you thus unload your physical luggage THEN it is doubtful if you are dealing with your psychological baggage in a productive way.

Michel de Montaigne [prev] had something to say about this: Il faut voyager pour frotter et limer sa cervelle contre celle d'autrui.  Bob-transl = Travel is necessary to scrub and abrade your mind against [the certainties] of others.  A Learjet is just a gas-guzzling echo-chamber.
There, The Blob has spoken.

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