The Palimpsest of Sawbones Surio

Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will

Life in Pictures – II

with 4 comments

Another weekend comes and goes… Actually, I am not in the best of spirits, but still decided to post something here. Thoughts that follow may not make for funny or thoughtful reading. There, you’ve been warned!

Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation I had tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair I fell into a brown study. Suddenly my companion’s voice broke in upon my thoughts:
“You are right, Watson,” said he. “It does seem a most preposterous way of settling a dispute.”
“Most preposterous!” I exclaimed, and then suddenly realizing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and stared at him in blank amazement. […]
“Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my features?”
“Your features and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself recall how your reverie commenced?”
“No, I cannot.”
“Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which was the action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a minute with a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your newly framed picture of General Gordon, and I saw by the alteration in your face that a train of thought had been started. […]
You were recalling the incidents of Beecher’s career. I was well aware that you could not do this without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember your expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about it that I knew you could not think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clenched I was positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand stole towards your own old wound and a smile quivered on your lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous and was glad to find that all my deductions had been correct.”

–– Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box


An excellent piece to demonstrate, how there’s no controlling how the mind jumps through hoops, or switches gear instantaneously. You may read the full conversation in the link provided. This conversation occurs right at the beginning of the story. So, my train of thought went somewhat like that in the last few days:

First there was this excellent post on Monevator about inflation that I read! Some highlights (emphasis mine):

If you could know with any degree of certainty that high inflation is on the way (or, equally, that it’s definitely not) then you could capitalize on it by buying or shorting government bonds.
For that very reason, tens of trillions of dollars is wagered in the government bond market worldwide, utterly dwarfing the equity market. This bond market sucks up the brainpower of thousands of smart people who are paid a small fortune to guess the direction of interest rates.

If you think you know better than this vast voting machine because, for example, you read on a blog that Mexicans are having a stand-off due to a tortilla shortage, then please get over yourself(*).
Fears of high inflation can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as workers push for higher wages and consumers and companies start stockpiling.

Alternatively, the prospect of higher interest rates to come to tame the inflation can curb spending and borrowing, and stop companies investing in expansion – even before rates have moved by very much.
UK QE can be blamed for the weaker pound, but it hasn’t driven the oil price. And for its part the US has so far seen very little domestic inflation, despite its own massive QE operations and super-low interest rates.

History, as ever, remembers the winners. Still, that’s more than most bloggers, who seem to remember neither the winners nor the losers, but rather just that morning’s headlines.

Instead of being a hawk or a dove on inflation, as private investors we should play chicken to protect our wealth. This means having a healthy fear of the consequences of inflation, but not going crazy at every headline (that just makes you a headless chicken).

(*) That would be me most of the times! 😦
Thank you, “The Investor” I said, and thought no more about it. As (bad) luck would have it, in the next few days most discussions I had on the ERE forums seemed to highlight the fact that inflation was present in the US (also pushed up petrol prices, as I recall from the conversation), and was a noticeable enough phenomenon! Over here, inflation has been a bug bear over the last 4-6 monts, and shows no signs of abating. The latest Govt. pastime seems to be unloading one scam after another over for the World’s entertainment! Our stock market had some prolonged ups and downs lately (yes, yes, ordinarily the market tends to do that, but inflation and poor governance are not ordinary events!), which has provided enough grist to the mill for the damned media. One main reason was the FII pullout due to the instability of inflation and governance combined (That’s one theory – many more abound, but that one’s found more traction). I had held my peace over inflation for several months (as Monevator says good bloggers ought to) before raising it on my blog lately. And then the things that I (or for that matter, Monevator) hadn’t accounted for, like the US inflation with oil included in the upswing, and the sudden see-saw on the Indian market is highlighted to you rather sharply (Now with this new info, go back and re-read Monevator’s post and re-assurances – you’ll be a tad worried (just a tad, mind you), just like me).

It set me wondering, when was the last time these combinations went into freefall, Surio? Not so far off, the answer came: Remember the Argentine economic crisis brought about by inflation and poor governance? And don’t forget that capital flight was part of that equation too! And it seems it hasn’t left them completely either! (Sorry, Monevator, but I hope this doesn’t count as latest headlines :-()
And there’s more Surio, said another tiny voice, now warming up (Damn you, voices!!! :x)! Don’t forget Zimbabwe too! And that was a prime case of bad governance! Hoo Boy. That slipped my mood down a few notches.

And then, there was an impressively titled report from the WWF with much fanfare. Are they living in this same planet as the rest of us? Are they aware the kind of uphill struggle humankind is up against in this switch to renewables. Here’s a some quick visuals for the time challenged (Yes, the title of that post is also impressive! :-|) That was just the science part of it. Then as another commenter (impressive title there too, notice a trend here? :-?) had already taken note that there was a pronounced use of the “Imperial We” throughout the report. Sample these:

“We must introduce legally binding minimum efficiency standards world-wide”

“We need strict energy-efficiency criteria for all new buildings.”

“Developing countries must phase-out the inefficient uses of traditional biomass.”

“We need to massively expand our capacity for generating electricity from renewable resources.”

“We need urgent investment into smart grids.”

“We also need efficient grid management.”

“We need to consider the rights of communities and indigenous people.”

“We need to carefully analyze, country by country, what land and water is available for bioenergy.”

“We should limit growth in areas that depend on liquid fuels.”

One needn’t have more than a rudimentary understanding of European and American colonialism and its legions of missionaries, technocrats, investors, philosophers, explorers, and engineers who have in the past carried out the latest fantasy of world improvement in order to see where this might all be going. Despite the emphasis on equity, the belief that “a sustainable energy future must be a fair one, in which the equal right of every person to benefit from the world’s energy resources is recognized” (56), what is imagined in The Scenario is in fact an expansion of European and American globalism to an unprecedented level of design specification. We might refer to it as hyper-globalism, Plan B on steroids in which “we” provide the central intelligence needed to make “country by country” analyses, or to provide the “efficient grid management.” Indeed the report looks forward to a time in which not only is electricity shared within the world’s 10 regions, but eventually between them (150, note 32)

Yes, that’s all we need…. 😐 More puppet strings on everyone, everywhere! And then just when I didn’t need more bad news about collective myopia, this piece of slightly old news floats past me!

Bill Gates’ inane comments were just a little bit too much (I had tried hard to forget it, but this week’s mood just got me wound up straight away!). How about telling Americans to use only as much energy as an average European, Mr. Gates? And while we are there, how about telling the Europeans to use only as much energy as the average Asian, Mr. Gates…. Sheesh, that “Imperial We” again! Our ways are the aspirational ones, so naturally there’s no “reverse gear”, right? (Tony Blair’s an old pro on reverse gears Bill; ask him for pointers! :-()

OK, all things said, I’ve come to the topic of this weekend’s cartoon strip! This strip reflects how I am feeling right about now!


Bill Watterson just about nailed it here. Assumed fair use. Leave a comment if you want it removed.



Actually, I am sorry if this was all very drippy and negative. I sometimes wish I had a Blackadder streak in me…

(Blackadder enters the room and kicks the cat right off the floor.)
Baldrick: Oh sir, poor little Mildred the cat, what’s she ever done to you?
Blackadder: It is the way of the world Baldrick, the abused always kick downwards: I’m annoyed, and so I kick the cat, the cat (mouse squeaks) pounces on the mouse, and finally the mouse…
Baldrick: Ahhhh!
Blackadder: …bites you on the behind.
Baldrick: And what do I do?
Blackadder: Nothing, you are last in God’s great chain Baldrick. Unless of course there’s an earwig around here that you’d like to victimize.

That would be so easy. Step one: Find a cat! Step two: All is well! Hrm… Perhaps, I am Baldrick, and I don’t realise it still! 😐 And just to reassure you all, I swear I wasn’t doing something like this strip either!

assumed fair use...etc....


Ironically, that Holmes story ends with this rather grim soliloquy:

“What is the meaning of it, Watson?” said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. “What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever.”

Indeed! What is the meaning of it all, folks? — GDP/GOP/ROI/PPP/TLA/TLA/TLA!

You know what? I’m Sorry! Just close this tab/window and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Let’s hope I shake off the blues by next week. I hope!

PS:Stop press!

And bless my dear DW! She reminds me that Valentine’s day is upon us. So, here’s a bonus strip that shares that thought, to say goodbyeeeee from me!

Fair use...etc.... See Last Panel. Nuff said! Happy Valentine's day to everyone!

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Written by Surio

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4 Responses

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  1. Sorry your feelin’ rough matey! I do, however to your benefit, have a cure for you.

    We will need a few pints–(piants) (said with a British Drawl) of NewCastle Pale Ale, chilled so cold it will crack the enamel on our teeth. Also, a good warm, Oak or Maple woody paneled pub with some lovely “birds” as servers, and rousing occasional uproar of genuine jovial laughter in the background.
    After the first two or three crocks of NewCastle (brown or pale, your choice) we will entertain a well done pepper steak and a pile of pomfrits with dippings. Yeah, two more pints “during the meal”.
    By this time all the evil spirits have left, and the smiles or cockeyed happiness can arrive. Finishing, we will say all is hell, isn’t it? but at the “end of the daaay” all can be well —all can be well.
    “God bless us all–everyone” Tiny Tim.

    HSpencer

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    • Hello ‘Unc’ Spence,
      Yes, ‘feelin rough’ sounds an appropriate description of me today! What a “beatific” description of the pub and the ambience :-)! You’ve taken me back to that pub with its crackling/roaring wood fire and company of good friends. As a teetotaling lacto-vegan (what a wet-blanket, right?) I would join them with ginger beer and veggie-nachos and ooh yes please some chips and dips would be “lubbly jubbly” and end up out-ruckusing the most raucous ones in the pub. They’d be imagining a priggish prude first, and come away all pleased at the evening’s outcome – and no they didn’t spike my drink either

      DW was a saint though! Like yourself, She too was informing me about the need for food and drink to “fortify the spirits”. She’ll know! She’s seen me get progressively blue and ratty over the course of the week. She took me out for breakfast and treated me to local “soul-food”. Venn Pongal with all you can eat Vadai

      Thank you for that last line. I agree God’s blessed us all, but I think we’re just squandering the blessings away, every single day! :cry:!

      Thank you for the wishes. Yes, I have to admit; reading that reply made me kind of feeling less misanthropic than before. 🙂

      Surio

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  2. The Venn Pongal and Vadai appear to be excellent side dishes, whilst one was awaiting a main course. I would most likely enjoy both of those. I am one who tends to snack and talk at the same time, and a package of either Saltine Crackers or a more upscale “Townhouse” cracker would serve here nicely.

    In closing, I will tell you (I realiz(s)e (Oxford) this is an unsolicited story, but if you keep reading, your certain to be pelted with it:

    For my recent 66th birthday, I was taken by DW and family to my favorite Varsity Grill, on Garrison Avenue, by the river walk. Although we don’t live in London, we do call it the “West End”. Knowing you not into bovine steaks, I will ask you to humor me as I tell you of my Birthday dinner:

    The Varsity specializes in what is called a “Blackjack Cheeseburger”. This is 1/2 pound of ground chuck steak done very well over charcoal. Just prior to the removal of the steak, a couple pieces of Monterey Jack Cheese slices are dropped on top and melted. The home-made roll is specially made and toasted on top of the grill. A whole potato (you choose red or white) is diagonally sliced and deep fried with batterings and steak drippings. The whole affair is served on a metal plate which looks like some kind of lid for a cream can, circa 1920″s.
    An extremely crisp salad of fresh leafy lettuce and chopped tomatoes and carrots and celery is served, topped with bacon bits and diced toast, and my favourite dressing is Paul’s Oil and Vinegar. The entire meal is served by jovial waitstaff and on one’s birthday, the happy birthday is sung to you, and your really involved in an embarrassing, yet happy moment. The other guests stand and applaud you (for living that long?) LOL and they watch as the Varsity Waitstaff bring balloons and favors to you.
    I was accompanied by my DW, daughter, son in law and two grandchildren, and then in comes the invited friends and close associates DW had asked to attend.

    The coup de’ grace was the (oh oh) “Mississippi Mud” Cake with decadent Chocolate frosting! All the above is washed down with Foster’s on draught, which is my favourite drink with the Blackjack Cheeseburger.

    If you ever in the area—-.

    HSpencer

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    • Ha Ha! :-D!
      That’s my brother’s take on those two dishes… Snacks before something more substantial, but then again, he’s more padded than I am! And ever since EREing, I’ve consciously reduced on my calorific intake (on and off, though).

      You know, how uncanny! I’ve had a similar birthday party once in India and once in UK too , thanks to good friends :-). It was a Greek restaurant in London (so there are more vegetarian choices for the Birthday “boy”, very thoughtful of them Blighters) and the waiters rendered a throaty “Happy Birthday to you” in Greek joined by the patrons and the maitre’d on the guitar, and they smashed a few plates, gave me a special dish “on the house” and Oh Boy! “Embarrassing, yet happy” nails the sentiment. :-D. Thanks for the memory jog!

      Oh, and Vegetarian or not, oh it was a very evocative description there. The spirit of that happy evening descended there before my eyes!

      If I am ever in that area, you bet I’ll call on friends!

      P.S: Yes, my spelling’s very British English, seems you noticed. 😛

      P.P.S: You can be darned sure I was pelted with that one, Sir!

      Surio

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