Xmas and New Years blog No 6

1 01 2009

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The Hands. Summer of Thankfullness

As we all leave my snowy home in the forest I am rounding up our visit with a photo of my sculpture.The two hands represent Giving and Receiving (Inbreath and Outbreath, Diastole and Systole) and thus the process of life itself.And so, on to a new year and the reason this greeting is so late is that here in Asia the vaunted promise of easy connection via the wireless capacity of my new laptop simply isn’t happening. The majority of wireless systems are locked and require $$ and permission etc and the legendary ‘hot spots ‘ seem to be cool and small. It is because of this that I am so tardy with our correspondence. Please be patient. i am here writing, but the technology is confusing and inhibiting. I will get through, dont give up checking the site. The next blog will talk about the wonders of markets in Thailand. In the interim………..

A merry one to all of you. I managed to get my act together,got everything packed  then repacked because it was too bulky, and then repacked another time to make sure that I had everything I needed, and even then forgot my little 250 volt water heater that I can drop in my tin mug for making my morning coffee. Lesson . Priorities. Get your vital drugs sorted out first. Leaving home is total madness .Because the winters are so cold everything that contains water is frozen and, in the process, destroyed. So my haywire plumbing has to  have all the pipes cleared by little drains situated at the low spots and the toilet and tank and all the S bends  of sinks etc protected with antifreeze. The fridge has to be emptied, some of its contents transferred to a freezer and the rest put in boxes to give to friends. I have to have two sets of clothing—one for Canada  and another for Asia. Tools and portable valuables have to be left in the care of friends as do the house plants. C.D.’s hidden, the gas turned off and on and on and on. It was rapidly getting colder and my paranoia about  travelling the Coquahilla pass in winter increased daily on the square of the falling mercury. Even in seemingly good weather the pass is Arctic. But, Grace a Dieu, I made it just ahead of the terrible storms that covered the North West of  America and the rest of the North American continent. Then there were a few wonderful days with my kids and friends Carey and Li in Vancouver, my little old car had to be stashed in the parking lot of a friend’s friend and I was ready to go. But it was no-go because the Bangkok airport was locked up in a demonstration to rid the country of  an unwanted powerful politician. So, more time with friends like my kids Krish and Alisoun and Chris and Melissa and Daryl and , of course  Sarah,Bradley and his crew at the media2om.ca and all the rest of the Solstice gang I could make contact with during what turned out to be a busy-busy time.A plus-plus. Then it was time for Alisoun to run me to the airport and I was trying to explain to obdurate security personnel that my nail clippers with their quarter inch tweezers were not a safety hazard. When that was all over I was on the plane and we were taking off. Once past the security I was given a meal with a four inch stainless steel knife which, I felt, was a touching token of the airline’s trust in me now I was clipperless. It is nice to know that good minds are involved in the work of our communal safety.And of course, as a reliable Trusty i surrendered the knife after eating and didn’t murder anyone.

As far as planes are concerned I am still a child.I cannot dispel my sense of absolute wonder at the whole process, the incredible brilliance of the plane , its vast weight, its cargo, its hundreds of passengers—all airborn, the land dwindling below as we wheel and bank and establish our directions. I am lulled by the liquid rushing sound of the motors and the way they seem to drop into silence as we approach landing  and the planes weight and mine appears to lift and become weightless. The endless fluffy cloudland below us invites some heady trampolining should the crew be kind enough to allow me out to bounce on it for awhile. But no. Instead I will have to be a good boy and sit in my seat .But I may have another beer or two and drop instead into a light sleep. And all this happening because I gave them a handful of those bits of grubby paper at the travel office. Art truly is powerful! Amazing! My Grandad would not have believed me.And then to be there with my own private T.V.,and to be sitting  in comfort until a pretty hostess brings me a meal of good hot food with whatever beverage I might demand—“ A  cognac and Japanese beer chaser ,Sir? Certainly sir. It’s all included in the price.” Its all really too incredible  to believe. I am filled with wonder, excitement and gratitude and cannot for the life of me find how to react to it with the blasé expectations that seems to be the fashion.It is WONDERFUL to be moving at 918 kilometers  an hour at thirty five thousand feet and being treated in this beautiful JAL plane in a way that the world’s greatest monarch of the past could never even imagine. I must be a God among Gods. Now how could I possibly decry the capitalist system that amassed enough funding to make all that happen? I will instead have to be it’s thoughtful critic and see if we can all find some way to distribute the goodies a bit more. I am uncomfortable with human suffering. We all live in a single room and cannot isolate ourselves from other peoples discomfort though we may have the illusion that we can. Still, I like Chomsky’s description of the present economic problems as “Socialism bailing out Capitalism.

But here’s a little bit of history that sheds light on the current economic crisis. It seems it has all happened before. Though the global nature of the present one is different.

 

Curioser and curioser! Paper Money!

When King Louis X1V of France died in Sept 1715, he was succeeded by his 5 year old great grandson Louis XV. Power was vested in a regent, Louis X1V’s nephew, Phillipe, Duke of Orleans, an insecure and impressionable individual who was rapidly seduced by economic theories of the Scottish financier, John Law, a far seeing advocate of paper money, who founded the Banque Generale in April 1716 and soon turned it into a quasi national bank. In August 1717 Law took over the ramshackle Mississippi Company, which held the monopoly on trade with France’s North American Colonies, renamed it the Company of the West ( though the old name somehow refused to go away) and transformed it into a vigorous commercial enterprise with, it soon came to be believed,  such limitless wealth-making possibilities that only a fool would refuse to invest in it.The company’s stock soared in value and soared again as it gradually acquired every other overseas trading monopoly at the regent’s disposal. It was accordingly renamed “The Company of the Indes” (though everybody still called it The Mississippi). In August 1719, Law played his trump card :the conversion of the entire national debt of France (standing at more than One hundred million pounds) into his Mississippi shares. The calculation on which the  scheme was based –that the shares would continue to rise in value-produced a self-fulfilling prophesy, fuelled by by generous installment arrangements for payment and a flood of paper money from Law’s bank( by then the official Bank Royale).  What Law had failed to foresee however, was the resulting hyper inflation, which soon began to dislocate society. In his newly appointed role of Finance Minister Law resorted to ever more Draconian measures to control the beast he had let loose, culminating in 1720 with an edict halving the face value of bank notes and Mississippi shares.Three days of rioting in Paris persuaded the regent to over-rule him.The shares sank like a stone and the bank was besieged by mobs demanding coin for their notes. Want and ruin had suddenly taken the place of glut and prosperity. Not long afterwards plague arrived in Marseille to add to France’s woes. By Nov 20 paper money was dead and the  Banque Royale broken. Law fled the country and a full-scale enquiry was launched into the disaster, the laggardly conclusion of which was , in Oct 1722, that all documents relating to the affair should be  destroyed , by public burning in specially designed cages.The Mississippi Company lived on but its secrets were not permitted to ….The Duke of Orleans also lived on, but only until the following year. He is commemorated by the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, named in his honour. Law died in Venice in 1729 and is commemorated by every colourful chapter of the subsequent history of financial speculation.

From ‘Sea Change’ by Robert Goddart, Corgi Press.

And that, dear World is all for now and I will send this to the publisher if I can surmount my present problems with getting on line with my new little laptop. It seems that the wireless thing is not as practical as it was cracked up to be—that most wireless networks are locked and the legendary hot spots are very small. So far I haven’t managed to get on line here in Asia from where the new blog will be crafted. But, Late or not, it is still timely to wish you all a wonderful new year.Laurie

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One response

6 01 2009
ash

Hey Laurie…..god to see you are in the blogword…..great stuff keep it up..

Happy New year

see you in a couple of weeks for more somtam

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