(N.B., This and the preceding entry first appeared in my other blog)
Today is a state-mandated holiday where I am. Everything is closed, there is no mail, and I am effectively shut in. And since my to-do list is too long for me to contemplate even looking at, I am going to put to cyberspace-page a few things I have been bottling up for months now, plus a couple of less vituperative missives on more recent developments.
1) Let me start by the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. “Embarrassment” begins to describe my feelings to it, but only just so. What.The.Motherfuck. is similarly not entirely adequate to describe the rebar-melting bile that came up my throat when I was forced to watch this fucking abortion of an…event. First, you had Catherine O’Hara—who has come a long and not altogether flattering way since she portrayed the mother in the Home Alone franchise—talking about how wonderful it was that part of Canadian culture was the tradition of urinating in the snow…with a powerpoint exhibition of exemplars of this lovely tradition as if anyone above the age of seven could not visualise this all by themselves. In
Of course, the Russians, who will be hosting the next Winter Olympics, also had a show at the closing ceremonies. It was short and to the point. It showcased icons of Russian culture, like Tchaikovsky, the Bolshoi and images of the Kremlin.
Then, there was Neil Young, long past his prime strumming some barely melodious platitude as is his wont. Neil Young, despite his vintage, is still younger than the Russian conductor who was leading
But that was not what really pissed me off about Neil Young. Twenty-some years ago, you see, Young came out with this admittedly sonorific anti-homelessness anthem called “Keep On Rockin’ In the Free World.” Young did not sing this at the closing ceremonies. He did not sing “Keep On Rockin’In The Free World” despite the fact that homeless people in
That is one thing one can say about Republicans and conservatives. Unlike Neil Young, they never pretended to be friends of the homeless and the poor. But it does not end there.
2) Circa the closing ceremonies, I became aware of a book and a blog called Waiter Rant. I became aware of them through the Canadian newsmagazine Macleans.
An aside here. Scroll down an entry or two to the one titled “Journalism Position Available: No Brains Needed” for an extensive treatise of Macleans and what I think of it. Long story short, while Der Spiegel is hefty enough to make a field expedient paper weight and covers trivial items such as the Sparpaket and its impact on the Bundswehr, the costs and use of Hartz V and Wolfgang Schäuble’s physical and political fight for survival, Macleans is an excellent gauge of amoebic fibre intake and devotes its attention to weighty matters of the order of who is the most popular parliamentarian of the year, and the dissection of the anatomy of Jonah Hill’s stardom. Macleans is basically Paris Match with none of the charm. Not that this is particularly unusual for Canadian media as a whole. This week, on state television, the story of the week was the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (roughly equivalent to MI-5 or the Direction centrale du renseignment intérieur, only bereft of the ability to incorporate contact sports as part of their SOP) pronouncing that foreign intelligence agencies now control some provincial cabinet ministers and civil servants. Canadian state television, a pirated plywood version of the British Broadcasting Corporation that has morphed into Andreson Cooper, Don Lemon, Rick Sanchez and Katie Couric with funny accents, thought it was a discovery of the order of The Origin of a Species that the Director of CSIS said what was essentially a reiteration of the passage in General Washington’s Farewell Address about “Permanent, Inveterate Antipathies towards some nations and Passionate Attachments to others.” Way to re-invent the rock, guys!
So, Waiter Rant. This is put out by a
That being said, the very same waitstaff fall within the same circle as do people these days in the Venn diagram of life. They are no exception when it comes to the behaviours decried in Waiter Rant. I am not what anyone would describe as a difficult patron. My order is given precisely, clearly and in short clipped phrases that even an inebriated Wookie could understand, and it is given, 90% of the time, before my hindquarters hits the seat. No dithering, no occupying a table endlessly without the prospect of ordering. Just here is my order, and off you go, and everyone gets on with their lives, with a generous tip. Admittedly, my tips tend to be higher if the server is a female with a nice caboose, but that is another matter.
And I do not send things back à la the patrons of Hell’s Kitchen. You see, unlike a critical mass of the patrons described in Waiter Rant, I have this insight, which appears to be unique, but which, to me, is obvious…painfully obvious, as in to the point that I cannot understand why otherwise intelligent people completely fail to perceive of it, much less grasp it.
This insight? It is summed by a simple phrase. “Keine Wehrmacht ist da.” (“This is not the Wehrmacht.”) Order and efficiency practiced in the highest, purest forms are something that last saw the light of day over seven and a half decades ago. I do not expect a waiter, a cook, a store clerk, a customer service representative, a service provider or a politician of today to exhibit even the most microscopic or nanometric vestiges of the superb discipline and well-oiled professionalism of the old field-grey. It is simply not in their nature. I do not expect a job well-done, I expect only a job that meets the possible criteria. I do not expect the high quality of
This enables me to accept the way it is and move on. Many people see and interpret this as me being nice, mild-mannered and “not difficult,” when my interpersonal behaviour is actually a highly efficient energy-saving mechanism. Of course, if they heard me comment out loud “Keine Wehrmacht is da,” their outlook might be different, but this assumes that that have mental faculties sufficient to understand what “Keine Wehrmacht ist da” means. This, in turn, requires at its most rudimentary level the full comphrension of the fact that the word Wehrmacht is not pronounced “Worm-Act,” and the majority of the population has a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics than of understanding this basic concept.
So, me not being a difficult patron, I expect, not the Wehrmacht, but at least a degree of reciprocity from waitstaff, as modest as that may be. I expect “Yes, Sir, Thank you, Sir,” and my meal and bill delivered promptly. I do not expect, or want, conversation, jokes, or to “be friends” with waitstaff, and I have been forced into that position on a couple of occasions. Not most of the time I dine out, but enough to be annoying. There was even one arrogant little bliksem who insisted on shaking hands with me. What the fuck did this little asshole think he was? A potential business partner about to discuss a contract? Jay Leno exclaims “How FAT are we becoming!” every time a restaurant introduces a new supercaloric, über-saline/lipid dish. I exclaim “How entitled are we becoming!” when waitstaff think I am patronizing their establishment because I want to be their fucking friend. Today’s waistaff will, indeed, never be confused with the Wehrmacht. But I hold them, and all the other service industry personnel whose job it is to serve me, to the, to my mind not very difficult and entirely easy to master, standard of P.G. Wodehouse’s famous and much-beloved Jeeves. Yes, Jeeves has class while the phylum that mostly occupies the service positions of today will never have class, but they, to my way of thinking, can at least aspire to self-improvement.
The force behind the waiter rant, in the course of responding to an admonition not to wear excessive makeup or personal jewelry ( a standard of long duration in the military and in the police forces, by the way) in a 6, November 2009 entry, snaps back, his cursor dripping with sarcasm, “You are a soulless automation without a personality. Don’t forget that.” Well, when I go to a restaurant, I am not going there, and I am not paying to see your personality. I am going there for food prepared with a modicum of competence and served as rapidly and smoothly as possible. Jeeves has been described by some as an “automaton,” but no one can say that he is “soulless or without personality.” If you do not measure to the standard of Jeeves, perhaps your energy would be better spent on perfecting yourself into becoming more like Jeeves rather than engaging in an orgy of your self-indulgent sense of entitlement, which only serves to further lower waitstaff in my esteem.
Not to mention that NYPD officers face dangers several orders of magnitude greater than that of even the average NYC waitstaff, while only making 25K per annum. Not to mention that waitstaff get to sleep eight hours between clean sheets, have regular meals, and live without concern over IED’s, which is a vast improvement over the lot of military personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. And yet they still find room to complain. How entitled are we becoming?
But there is more.
Waiter Rant is not the only 3) book that has induced sphincter-clenching of late. Ex-psychiatrist Theodor Dalrymple, known to his parents as Anthony Daniels, recently put out a tome yclept: The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender To Barbarism. Long story short (and in the hopes of sparing you, dear reader, the money and time you would have otherwise spent on this book), The New Vichy Syndrome is just the umpteenth permutation of the latter day Book of Lamentations about how we in the West (particularly Europe) are in irreparable moral decline while our opponents, who do not share our hedonism, grow stronger. There is not much here that Melanie Phillips, Mark Steyn, George Weigel, Bill Donohue and Chris Hedges (in his delusional hate-packed Empire of Illusions) or Ralph Peters have not reiterated already. Of course, Anyone who read Patrick J. Buchanan’s Death of the West and/or the late, great Professor Sam Huntington’s Who Are We not only already knew this, but they were also treated to something rather original and far better written than any of the tomes of the aforementioned Johnny-come-Latelies. But, people as whole tend not to read these days, so I am sure that there were masses stampeding to buy Dalrymple’s book, as if it were the new I(diot)Phone or I(Commode)Pad, when it came out.
So, why am I steaming at the ears over The New Vichy Syndrome. Well, in this rather anemic volume (whose thinness might cause it to be confused with The Velveteen Rabbit by those of limited visual acuity), Dalrymple unoriginally mouths the usual party line about the
Palm.Forehead. “SMACK!”Groan. This little comment on the part of Dalrymple indicates that either a) he does not speak French (in which case he is not the best person to say much of anything at all about France or French history), or b) he wrote this book because he was, at the time, done with The Great American Bathroom Book omnibus, but still in need of diversion for a long period of time. If Dalrymple had bothered to read Pour La France,the first volume of General Aussaresses’ memoirs—as opposed to the second volume which made Aussaresses a household name—he would have known that, up until Operation Torch, Aussaresses, like a good number of French, was an attentist, someone who had not yet committed to either side of this Franco-French civil war. He was neither a major figure nor a vociferous supporter of
But it has plenty of company. The next floater in my little shit-parade of recently published books is The Third Reich In the Ivory Tower by Stephen H. Norwood. This book, inter alia, chronicles how university presidents and faculty at schools such as Haah-vud,
“Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community - however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.”
So, yeah…Pius XI was not the fan of Hitler Norwood would have us believe that he was. But
Yet, anyone who is familiar with the history of
In his latest tome Confronting The Chaos: A Rogue Military Historian Returns to
But what really sent me through the roof about Confronting the Chaos was Maloney’s profane, obscene, almost blasphemous exploitation of a quotation from Otto Graf von Bismarck. That quote goes “An appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts.” What Maloney overlooks or is ignoring is the fact that all of
I have seen your map of
In contrast to Maloney, former US Army officer Stephen L. Melton is openly critical of Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith et al. in The Clausewitz Delusion: How The American Army Screwed Up The Wars in
Unfortunately, Melton could not resist the urge to take a stab at the Prussian Army (the one in which Clausewitz served) and its successors, the Imperial German Army and the Reichswehr. In essence, he attributes the German defeat in the Second World War to an unthinking, hidebound adherence to Clausewitz. Melton failed to notice that the Prussian Army was an eternally evolving one. After the defeat of Tilsit, the Prussians engaged in a massive self-critique that allowed them to form an army that contributed to their liberation and the ultimate allied defeat of Napoleon. They had no compunction about abandoning the traditions of
It looks like Melton did not read Corum. My head is going to as-PLODE! Melton wrote an otherwise excellent, reflective book that proposes alternatives for the way we do things wrong now. It was going great…until he had to piss in the punch bowl by overdoing his point about Clausewitz to the extent that he strayed into inaccuracy and historical indefensibility, a fault that the type of people who tend to read books like Melton’s have a way of picking up on…and shaking their heads as a result.
Wow! That was a mouthful! I feel good. Do you?