Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wash your mind after reading this posting


When did this obsession with hand washing start? Grocery stores offer some kind of disinfectant to spray on your dainty paws. Every public restroom now seems to have a sign reminding you to purify yourself. They're like World War II posters, "Loose lips sink ships." Dirty fingers are where disease lingers!
Not just after using the toilet, mind, but on divers occasions. Yesterday I saw a notice urging the ritual under half a dozen circumstances -- when you've sneezed, when someone else has sneezed, coughed, &c. Finally, so help me, "After touching a doorknob."

[Knock, knock.]

"Come in."

"Ah, Jarvis. At ease, corporal. I have a little job for you -- "

"Pardon me, sir, with respect, I need to go wash my hands. Nothing personal, sir, just trying to stop disease in your tracks, I mean in its tracks. Don't mind if I leave the door ajar, do you, sir? Just be a minute."

How about a poster for theater restrooms:

"Listen up, folks! If you murder someone, wash your hands again and again! Lady Macbeth here, with a word to the wise."

At a public library I frequent, not only is there The Sign of the Wash, there's another asking patrons to throw used paper towels (of which there are none; this is an advanced, Green, blow-drying facility) in the "receptacle," not on the floor.

What kind of library patron needs to be told not to throw used paper towels on the floor?

Most of these health propaganda posters surely are required by law, and their content devised by government (local, state, federal or all three) health offices. Somewhere there are cubicle farms of public servants whose job is to warn the public of disease hazards lurking everywhere. 

Like all bureaucratic organizations, they must expand or die -- and they never die. So it won't do just to tell the punters to wash up after using the restroom. New threats must be regularly identified and warned of, and hosannas sung to the glories of prophylaxis.

Could it be that this hygienic busybody industry has something to do with our masters' campaign of population replacement? Our new vibrancy surely includes many hard-working family-valued legal and stealth immigrants who failed Hand Washing 101 in their native environments. I understand certain "developing" world airlines play videos that not only instruct passengers in the finer points of seat belts, oxygen masks, and evacuation, but also explain how to use the toilet.

Diversity is our strength. Now, go have a wash.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Philip Roth's plot against America


I've read a shocking novel by Philip Roth. "So what else is new?" Hasn't he been the literary enfant terrrible at least since Portnoy's Complaint? So he has, but The Plot Against America (published in 2004) shocked me for a reason I never would have expected: it's bad. Really.

As anyone who has followed Roth's writing career probably knows, Plot has a big "concept" (often a sign of a writer who's stuck). Set in the early 1940s, it's fictional alternative history. Charles A. Lindbergh is drafted by the Republicans to run for president in 1940 ... and wins. That's when serious trouble starts for the narrator, a nine-year-old named (wait for it) Philip Roth. His previously more or less normal youth and his family's life in the Jewish neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, is turned upside down.


Lindbergh, you see, is a terrible anti-Semite. So is his vice president, Burton K. Wheeler (an actual U.S. senator of the period). Lindbergh and Adolph Hitler reach an understanding -- Hitler can have free rein to gather Europe, including England, into the Third Reich in exchange for leaving America neutral and at peace.

Roth describes the growing persecution of American Jews. It starts fairly innocently, with a program through which young Jews are temporarily resettled in the American heartland, the better to be assimilated. Philip's -- the character's -- older brother goes off for a stint with a Kentucky farm family. He returns as a Lindbergh spokesman, to the horror of his relatives.

As things develop, pogroms erupt in a dozen American cities, and it's touch-and-go whether Newark will be among them. On October 15, 1942:
Just before dawn Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf [a Lindbergh supporter, married to Philip's aunt] is taken into custody by the FBI under suspicion of being "among the ringleaders of the Jewish conspiratorial plot against America." ... Others arrested in the early-morning roundup include Governor Lehman, Bernard Baruch, Justice Frankfurter, Franfurter protege and Roosevelt administrator David Lilienthal, New Deal advisers Adolf Berle and Sam Rosenman, labor leaders David Dubinsky and Sidney Hillman, economist Isador Lubin, leftist journalists I.F. Stone and James Wechsler, and socialist Louis Waldman.
Walter Winchell, the gossip columnist turned Lindbergh basher, is assassinated. Martial law is declared throughout the country. "Under martial law, America remains calm, though the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the leaders of the American Nazi Party have jointly called upon the acting president 'to implement extreme measures to protect America from a Jewish coup d'état.'" And so on.


Although the novel is explicitly the drama of a family under the shadow of persecution, large patches of it read like a history book, at times like an old newspaper.

I was waiting for Roth to let us in on the joke. Surely he had something up his sleeve. He must be planning to kayo us with irony. If any irony was there, it was too subtle for me. Roth seems to have meant for us to take his American Jewish Hell literally.

How could the great Philip Roth have sunk to this?

I mean great. I admire Roth's work tremendously, even though some of it is uncomfortable to read. He's a superb stylist -- not in the whiz-bang colorful manner of Updike or Nabokov, but elegantly spare. He simply has the right word for every purpose. Often the words are plain, sometimes slangy, but they convey exactly what he wants to convey, with what overtones, in what mood.


Roth's detractors say he's always writing about the Jews. Well, Dickens wrote a lot of novels about the English. But part of what makes Roth's books -- his other books -- so entertaining is that his central characters are ambivalent about their religious culture. His Jews carry on their ghetto mentality in the United States where there are no Jewish ghettos, just neighborhoods. They are alienated from the goyim, yet want to be part of the gentile smart set.

This can result in terrific dialogue, of the kind Roth is famous for, between Jews with opposing views of secularism, Israel, assimilation, anything Jews can debate (which is anything). I don't know that Roth would agree with it, but he'd probably appreciate one of G.K. Chesterton's typically paradoxical quips: "It is strange that the Jews should be so anxious for international agreements. For one of the few really international agreements is a suspicion of the Jews."

The Plot Against America includes some of Roth's choice language and moments of lovely empathy. It contains a few brief arguments -- father vs. older son, principally -- about "President" Lindbergh. But compared to the intellectually rambunctious verbal fencing matches in, if I remember right, The Counterlife and Operation Shylock, those in Plot are perfunctory remnants. Roth's heart isn't in them.


Only a few years after the publication of the masterly, psychologically acute American Pastoral, Roth has devolved into something very like paranoia. He's so serious about the U.S., of the 1940s anyway, as a seething pit of anti-Semitism that he actually includes several appendixes citing what he thinks is evidence.

I'm not that familiar with all the details of Lindbergh's life, but he showed bad judgment in allowing himself to accept awards from the Nazi German hierarchy, for which he was something of an apologist (before World War II). Having your only child kidnapped and murdered can perhaps cloud your perceptions for you. Roth includes in the appendix as exhibit A for the prosecution Lindbergh's (actual) speech to the America First Committee, dedicated to keeping the country out of the European war, in September 1941. Here's the money quote from Lindbergh's address:
It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make them bitter enemies of any race.

No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy, both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. ...

[The Jews'] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government. I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people [whom he also accused of luring the U.S. into the war]. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.
In hindsight this seems mistaken, of course. "Both races, I admire" is disingenuous, not to mention incorrect in its use of "race." For all that, it seems to me essentially a political argument, and within the realm of legitimate discourse in its own time. It is hardly a call for anti-Semitic frenzy of the kind Roth describes in the "Lindbergh" administration and the following "Wheeler" administration.

I read -- once again, this is from real, not "alternative," history -- about an American army unit that liberated the few survivors of a Nazi concentration camp (whose inmates were mostly Jews) in 1945. That same American army had doubtless suffered many casualties as it fought its way through Germany. General Eisenhower ordered every man, woman, and child in the next-door German village to march through the concentration camp and view the corpses and emaciated victims. That act, by Philip Roth's reckoning, was performed by the army of a country that wanted to kill its own Jews.

Roth remains on my short list of brilliant contemporary novelists, for what he produced before Plot and probably later (I haven't read anything more recent from him). So this is written more in distaste than anger. But a little anger, yes.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


In other fields, when bridges do not stand, when aircraft do not fly, when machines do not work, when treatments do not cure, despite all conscientious efforts on the part of many persons to make them do so, one begins to question the basic assumptions, principles, theories, and hypotheses that guide one's efforts.

-- Professor Arthur Jensen, psychologist and psychometrician

Theories about genetic intelligence differences and economics have this in common: when they don't work according to the prevailing ideology, practitioners aren't inclined to question the theory. They just act on the idea that what hasn't worked before will work if tried again, because, well, the alternative is out of bounds.

As I write this, the markets are in a ghastly sell-off largely because the quacks controlling the U.S. government economic policy can't help repeating themselves. IBD says:
After meeting for two days to discuss the economy, the Fed announced it would "twist" long-term rates relative to shorter ones. That entails buying $400 billion in 6-year to 30-year Treasuries by June 2012, while selling $400 billion of Treasuries maturing in three years or less. This would be the Fed's third major bond-buying program in less than three years. This program is similar to the "Operation Twist" that the central bank undertook in the early 1960s.

"Further aggressive moves are likely. The Fed is likely to expand its balance sheet again later this year, in another round of quantitative easing," wrote Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody's Analytics, in a note. "The central bank could even move beyond purchasing Treasuries, to purchasing corporate debt and even equities. It could also reduce the interest rate on reserves in an effort to encourage bank lending."
Since the 2008 debacle, the Fed has pursued an almost uninterrupted policy of pumping "liquidity" into the market while keeping interest rates so low that they are effectively less than zero when inflation is factored in. All that pumping seems only to have flooded the carburetor. Liquidity may have been a problem in 2008, but the system is today full of money (albeit much of it created ex nihilo by the Treasury); it just isn't being used by the private sector for what the government wants it used for, making loans and hiring people.


Ben Bernanke is famously a student of the Great Depression and has "learned" one thing from it: the crisis was caused by money supply drying up. It's possible that if he stepped into a time machine and went back to 1932, he might have succeeded in stopping the bleeding. But this isn't 1932. It's a different world and a different kind of financial rout. That doesn't stop him from doing the only dance steps he knows.

A downside of the zero-interest-rate religious belief is that it leaves savers high and dry. People who've worked and invested to make money over the years, and would now like to protect its purchasing power, have no riskless option left. Treasury bonds won't lose their nominal value if held to maturity, but they aren't earning any significant yield meanwhile and their real-world value is liable to be trashed by inflation.


But that's par for the course. The Fed and the Treasury have convinced themselves that the world will end if any large institutions, particularly banks, fail regardless of how worm-eaten they are. If conservative investors, especially those who are retired and who can only earn from their savings, get whacked -- too bad, collateral damage.

Our "leaders" are trapped in a tape loop. Endless minor variations on the same theme. I can't stand to listen to Obama's speeches, but from what I read of them, each is a cut-and-paste job, a new slant on his basic idea that "the rich" (anyone with an income of more than $200,000) is robbing the poor box. (Lest you think this is self-serving, I can assure you that I make well under $200,000 a year.) Bernanke and Geithner have only a Pavlovian response that the worse things get, the more government intervention is called for.


I'm no apologist for corporations; they have plenty to answer for, and reasonable regulations (such as those for worker safety and environmental responsibility) are, well, reasonable. But they aren't hiring, and in some cases actually moving operations out of the country, because they are over-regulated, know not what loony government law will hit them next, and above all, they understand that they have an enemy in the White House. The Fed and the Treasury may not be their enemies, but they deeply believe in central control of the economy. They're trying to stimulate the economy while micro-managing it. To return to the automobile metaphor, it's like flooring the gas pedal while keeping a heavy foot on the brake.

When treatments don't cure, can't any of our economic mad scientists acknowledge that the assumptions behind them might be wrong?


Monday, September 19, 2011

100 percent off-topic

Everything in this posting is off-topic. Because there is no topic. Just random observations. (But in the absence of a topic, does that mean everything is on-topic?)

The background: Last week I went to visit my mother, who is recovering from surgery. She lives in a retirement community in a town in the deep South that happens also to be the home of the state university.


Airports. Surprisingly, at both the outgoing and return airports -- major ones -- the TSA was neither using the radiation backscatter machines nor visibly searching anyone physically. Just the walk-through metal detector and the X-ray for the carry-on baggage. It might have been 1990.

Has the widespread negative publicity about virtual strip teases and pat-downs encouraged the TSA to back off? Highly unlikely. The TSA is a government bureaucracy, like all the rest indifferent to the preferences of mere citizens, its loyalty strictly to political string pullers. Turning airport security over to an equivalent of the post office wasn't the stupidest thing Jorge W. Bush-Gonzales did, but it's on the short list.

Every time I go to an airport it's bigger than the last time. Charlotte, an intermediate stop, is now enormous. Not, probably, because so many people want to go to (or get away from) Charlotte, but because it's a beneficiary or victim of the hub-and-spoke routing system.


That airports are now shopping malls with associated runways has its benefits and drawbacks. Of course if you are unfortunate enough to have a layover of several hours, it's easier to pass the time in stores and restaurants. But the re-tail now seems to be wagging the aviation dog. All those stores take up real estate, which means the distance between terminals and gates expands farther and farther. Even with moving walkways it can take 20 minutes to get from some gates to others, which can make tight connections nerve-wracking. And there seems always to be at least one stretch where there is no moving walkway or intra-airport train, and you walk and walk.

The South. It's still different.

The second Yankee invasion has been going on for years, and I suppose the biggest cities like Atlanta are less regional than they used to be. In the college town where my mother lives, you hear northern accents (and of course the multi-cult has left its footprint, although it appears not nearly as evident as in semi-foreign colonies elsewhere).

But oil and water still don't mix. Southern speech seems not to have been diluted in the slightest; as far as I can tell, the native accent is as strong as ever. I find that encouraging.


In Yankee circles, whenever the South comes up, the first observation is about how church-oriented the region is. That is correct. And of course it grates on many people who are not part of the southern life. To most English people -- or Californians, for that matter -- the very idea of a religious culture is beyond ridiculous, a barbarous throwback. I myself am not entirely comfortable with it. At the same time it's refreshing that there is one part of the country that professes, and I suspect on the whole genuinely aspires toward, values that transcend the material and financial. Take what works for you and leave the rest (which doubtless many southern Christians would object to).

The other southern religion is sports, especially football. The sports obsession would send me mad if I had to be immersed in it full-time.


Southern women are still different. They may be steel magnolias and manipulative and all that, but based on what I observe they continue to cultivate femininity and charm.

At the discount store where I bought a couple of shirts, the young woman cashier engaged in a little mild flirtation. I'm not such a fool as to imagine it had anything to do with her being attracted to me. It was just a habit, but a pleasant one that we both enjoyed. I hope this tradition never dies.

Golden youth. With my mother's blessing, my wife and I went out on the town looking for a decent restaurant dinner (my mother temporarily not up to accompanying us because of her recuperation). If you want to eat at somewhere other than Cracker Barrel or Chick-fil-A, about your only options are in the university neighborhood. Luck was with us and we enjoyed a good meal in a pleasant environment (except for it being too noisy, but aren't all restaurants these days) across the street from the university.


We sat by the window and watched the passing parade of students; saw others in an after-dinner stroll. The guys came in two species: (1) "Cool" -- shaved heads, baggy threads (isn't that look passé by now?); (2) frat boys, looking like frat boys have always looked. 

The young women were almost without exception smartly dolled up as if for a cocktail party, drooping necklines, off-the-shoulder blouses, all manner of jewelry. I don't want to sound ancient, but when I was an undergraduate, both sexes of college kids just looked ordinary tending to the slobbish. Now they seem to be self-consciously on show every minute. 


Certainly the women at that tender age looked glowing, healthy, chic (aided by the stratagems of southern femininity). And those fashions didn't come from Goodwill. Were the students offspring of rich families? Could be. From what I read, state colleges are now as expensive as Ivy League schools were not so long ago. 

These young people seemed chipper, confident, happy. No care lines on any faces. I don't begrudge them their time inside the charmed circle. It will end soon enough, and it may go harder for them than it did for many of us in earlier generations, with the economic and social iceberg toward which our ship of state is steaming.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Drachma queen


Athens and its allies clobbered the Persians in the fifth century BC. I'm not sure, but that may have been the last war Greece won if you don't count Macedonia and Alexander. But the Greek people haven't lost their pride. They're willing to go to war against their government, as well as the European Union that was foolish enough to invite them in. The country that came to dinner. And stayed. And dined off its host's largesse.


I'm glad I'm not a Greek politician, or any politician. But especially not a Greek one. The poor sods are caught between Scylla and Charybdis (an old Greek metaphor). Zorba wants to keep pouring the ouzo and dancing on the tabletop. Every man and woman their own Force of Nature. Unfortunately, that leaves little time and energy left over for uptight northern concepts like work. 

That, in turn, leaves scant revenue for the state that is expected to provide welfare for the masses. So Greece is in debt up to Athena's eyeballs. To be a member of the EU, you have to agree to certain regulations intended to stop you being a drain on the other EU members. Like not being bankrupt. Greece didn't read the fine print in the contract.


Meanwhile, The Club decided it was time to put a flea in Greece's ear. Get your economic act together and do it last week. Try a new dish: austerity souvlaki. Greek politicians tried to comply. Greeks responded by reading their leaders and the EU the riot act -- no, acting the riot act.

What fettle now?

Said the Toronto Globe and Mail yesterday (you should make allowances for journalistic sensationalism):
With crashing stock markets, a plummeting currency and furious talk of military interventions in the Greek economy, this may be remembered as the Monday when the European crisis turned into an utter cataclysm. ... Greece, pushed to the wall by a sequence of German-led bailouts that have done little more than pile on more debt, announced on Monday that it is nearly out of cash. ...

This has led to desperate measures. On Sunday, Greece announced an emergency property tax of about 50 cents per square foot on all buildings, payable immediately, in an effort to top up government coffers enough to meet bailout conditions. Senior German officials leaked suggestions to the media that Greece be forced out of the 17-country euro zone and returned to the drachma – a move that would likely do terminal damage to German banks, which hold huge shares of euro-denominated Greek debt, and might send Italy and Spain plummeting into default. 
Trying to make up a deficit by taxing Greeks is like trying to squeeze champagne out of a cabbage.

Zorba the Delinquent

Germany, which sees itself as the long-suffering ringmaster of a circus of particularly fractious beasts, isn't having it anymore.
Other German officials stirred up markets and raised long-simmering animosities to a boil by making far more radical, even militaristic, suggestions.

Günther Oettinger, Germany’s representative on the European Commission, said last week that Europe should send United Nations soldiers to Greece to liquidate its assets and force tax collection, according to the Daily Telegraph. This resulted in headlines in Greece denouncing the “Fourth Reich” and “terrorism against the Greeks.” 
Sending UN troops to pillage Hellenic assets is a splendid touch. However, rather than sporting the usual blue helmets, I'd suggest they be kitted out with helmets and uniform patches bearing the logos of Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, UBS, etc. -- institutions said to be holding Greek bonds that have the aroma of fish left out in the sun.

There have been half-serious suggestions that Greece sell of some of its more touristworthy islands.

Well, if the best minds of a dozen countries can't sort this mess out, I'm double sure I can't. A few years ago I visited the Athens Archeological Museum. Some nice pieces there. I'd be prepared to make an offer. What are a few antiquities more or less in a country that has millions of them but can't pay its dry cleaning bill?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept. 11, 2011: A day like any other


 "The End of American Innocence." No, American innocence is alive and well.

Right, it's a different kind of innocence. No longer the naive and ignorant sort. It's an official, dictatorial policy of innocence.

We continue to believe -- all the following is government-defined belief, of course, unlike that of many Americans -- that everyone in the world goes to bed mumbling, "Can't we all just get along?" We believe that Islam is a religion of peace except for a few extremists, and the best way to fight the extremists is to suck up to the Moderate Majority. That's innocence, in the most negative sense.

We innocently believe that terrorism is completely random and equally distributed throughout the population. So 80-year-old airline passengers in wheelchairs must be felt up by convenience store clerks in federal cop uniforms. 

We are so innocent that we know nothing of American history except that it was all racist. We insist that the United States of America is not a country with a European, and particularly English-Scottish, heritage, the English language, and a widely revered set of traditions. Our innocence proclaims that the United States is no more than an "idea" and anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to waltz in and set up colonies so long as they give a perfunctory nod to the "idea."

We are innocent of any knowledge of human biodiversity, to the point that our average innocent-in-the-street has no idea of what the term means.

We are innocent of demographics. We cannot understand that Islam doesn't have to knock down buildings to bring the joys of sharia to our shores. We are unable to fathom that the Muslim breed-a-thon will guarantee their dominance after a few decades of assembly-line reproduction.

We are so innocent we turn the education of American's children over to featherbedding union doofs and sing-along Marxists who will indoctrinate yet more generations.

Our national innocence -- the cynical version demanded by our rulers -- is an everyday 9/11.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Talking points for O-jobs

Jobs. You should pass this right away. Warren Buffett. Secretary. Tax cuts and more government spending. Put  people back to work. Jobs. Money in pockets. You should pass this right away. $450 billion. New panel to find budget savings. Jobs.


Stop the political circus and actually do something. Subsidize employment for union, uh, scratch that, young workers. Jobs. Urgent needs of my people, uh, our people and communities. $450 billion package. You should pass this right away. Bridge our differences. Aid for teachers' unions, I mean, unions -- no, teachers, that is. Grand bargain. Jobs. I'm pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. Government can make a difference. Jobs. Specifics next week. You should pass this right away.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Telecom martial arts

Onward to the inevitable triumph of
City Telecom!

City Telecom, a Hong Kong–based company, is taking no prisoners.

Its core purposes include:
"To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors."

"To experience the joy of advancing and applying telecommunications technology for the benefit of the public."

"To fulfill the desire of Self-Actualization and to become everything that one is capable of becoming."
Getting down to brass tacks:
"We will not rest as long as there is a single outstanding unresolved customer service complaint." 
They are the "People's Leader and Pioneer."
"We never give up. We are never afraid. We are ever a group of aggressive youth (spiritually)."
They've gotten rid of those corporate hierarchies that plague so many businesses:
"We encourage direct communication between the bottom and the top. Kill those who intend to block or cover up." 
What a motivational poster that would make for the employee lunch room.

Egalitarianism doesn't seem to have reached Western heights in Hong Kong:
"Human is not the same in every aspect. Some are smarter and more capable at workplace."
City Telecom offers this "vivid description" of itself:
"No one believed we could do a better job than PCCW or HGC. They thought we were just crazy and hopeless. They thought we could at most only survive for a short period of time. Then, we would be forced to sell the Company and assets; and HKBN would disappear in the market. But, we have proved ourselves: they are all wrong! By 2016, our results will prove that, the 10-year investment and business strategy is correct. We shall prove that we are right! ...

"We will be one of the well known telecommunications companies in this region. Our products and services range from network infrastructure to customer's software and hardware implanted in the human body.
"My children would say, 'Dad, I love to have you as my Father.'"
The shares are down 27 percent over the past year. The stock pays a handsome dividend of 7.95 percent. You can buy it as an American Depository Receipt, under the symbol CTEL.

Disclosure: I do not have a position in CTEL. 

Disclaimer: I am not an investment adviser. This is not advice. Pay no attention. Keep this posting out of the hands of young children.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Depressed beauties

To me, depression in a woman makes her more attractive.

Below are some examples of photos illustrating depression, from journalism and advertising.




The women are probably all professional models and not really depressed, but that's beside the point; they're asked to look depressed. And that adds its own strange allure.

Why? For one thing, they're not smiling. Nothing wrong with smiling if it stems from a real emotion, but that isn't behind most of the smiles you see. Usually a smile is a mask. At most, a signal: I'm not going to hurt you. Relax, feel good, buy.

More important, a woman whose face speaks depression is looking inward -- rare in our culture, and not encouraged outside of psychotherapy. She is more in touch not only with sadness, but with the human condition, than the obsessively "positive" role models we see in most adverts.




Depression can be a dreadful experience. But like so much that feels bad, it can help develop humane values, showing the futility of so much that our culture offers us promising to make us happy. Even a partial detachment from the illusive quest for fun and excitement is a step in the right direction. Sometimes depression turns us toward the world of spiritual experience, which ultimately transcends all worldly pain.

I suppose all these ladies would still be lovely laughing their heads off. But I am more drawn to them in their isolation and hurt, as they struggle to build character to fit them for the tempests of this world. A special beauty is in that.