Musings

Today

Today.
Woke up with Dmitri.
After breakfast, the ruins of Rome.
Post lunch, the Colosseum.
(Roman sport, man wrestles beast.
Really?).
Siesta.
Pre-dinner Prosecco.
Dinner with Francois and Yetta.
Conversation: life, love, philosophy, culture.
Antipasti, Primi, Vini Rossi.
Is there a meaning to life?
Secondi, Dolci, Vini Rossi.
Is meaning absolute, relative or imagined?
Bill, Taxi.
It’s been a long day.
And I am thankful for a lovely Easter.
(But being neither catholic nor christian
who or what could I thank?). And why?
Twilight. Head on pillow.
Today.

Culture, Musings

The Sheer Silliness Of It All

In the middle of Rome, probably the most monumental city ever built, is probably the most farcical city ever known, the Vatican City. A city run by a professional homosexual clergy to whom one billion straight catholics defer, cross their hearts and bow piously. The same catholics who, in secular mode, are quick to denounce homosexuals. I do ponder the sheer silliness of it all.

PS Raphael’s paintings in the Raphael Stanze and Michaelangelo’s in the Sistine Chapel are awe-mazing.

PPS Despite the clear signs in the Sistine Chapel not to take photos, flashlights went off continuously. I guess catholics are used to ignoring the Holy See.

Musings, Politics

Honestly

“Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue” – Billy Joel

The western press is really making hay while the sun is not shining on Vladimir Putin. How incompetent his election officials are! After the stuffing of funfzig hundert tausend ballot boxes they still couldn’t win 50% of the vote. My, this would not have happened in Stalin’s time. How many people would have disappeared by now! Putin, such a softie. United Russia could have learned from America’s 2004 electronic voting machine fiasco and then improved upon it. But the Russians are done learning from the Americans. Nashi rules.

Electoral fraud is not new. If we board a time machine and head back over 5000 years to Athens, the birthplace of our democracy, we’ll find voter fraud there. It was not uncommon for voters to be bribed. Republican Rome was notorious for voter fraud. High office was frequently the door to serious wealth if you wanted it and to get there you needed money. Lots of it. Enter the money merchants. The historians tell us that in Cicero’s time, Crassus was the wealthiest man in town and he bought his way to power alongside Pompey and Julius Caesar. Today, power is bought by lobbyists and the men in blue from the corporate world. A political contribution here, a free stay in my villa for the PM there and soon contracts are rolling in like you don’t know if Fortuna just woke up on the right side of your bed. Here in the UK, our government recently denied being unduly influenced by lobbyists. At least they are not denying being influenced, just unduly. Thank God for some honesty.

Solon wrote that while good men are often poor, many bad men are rich which leads me to this clumsy logical fallacy: politicians need rich men, bad men are rich, voters elect politicians, voters are bad. But we don’t easily accept our badness. We can’t tell the truth even to ourselves. We are collectively bad and individually from Lake Wobegone. Cognitive dissonance rules. In this world, one may well, like Diogenes of Sinope, go looking for an honest man with a lantern.