I’m reading Nietzsche at the moment, and put on Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra (1896). No. 1 Son, who had not before heard any of it, except the first movement opening 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), walked by and commented, “That’s a little aggressive.”

Parts of, I think, the third movement remind me of the fanfare from the theme for Star Trek (1966).

Just discarded James Agee’s book 10 pages in. The topic was interesting enough, as were the prefaces, though they were a bit too self-congratulatory and overblown. The book itself? Feh. I suppose some others might like it, but I was repulsed rather than enticed by how he put sentences together.

And while on the topic of famous men, I’ve no idea why either Ezra Pound nor Friedrich Nietzsche are famous. Both are full of themselves and how wonderfully right they are, but write like bloggers who are too tired from reading Twitter all day to finish an argument.

Today, I spent my day in front of a computer, in four hours of meetings about meetings, another few writing a script and updating a spreadsheet, and then some more preparing for some planned work that will start in about four hours, so I should sleep. It’s almost like I’m one of the working class.

A good day, overall.

I did hear that there was some fine eyebrow waggling and an excellent poem. Should check up on that.

I would not have slept if I had not been up most of the previous week, but I did, willingly, after 242 pages, to prepare for today. The best laid plans, they say, of mice and men—in this case I am borrowing from libraries because mine suffers from a shortage of cash money—but I am sorely tempted to add Terra Ignota to my shelves. Posthaste.

And I shall, just as soon as I finish these three from the library, because there is a fourth and I cannot wait. I have not lusted for an unfinished fiction this much in ages.

Do, dear reader, heed the warnings on the title page.

1    On God alone my soul in stillness waits;  ♦
from him comes my salvation.
2    He alone is my rock and my salvation,  ♦
my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken.
3    How long will all of you assail me to destroy me,  ♦
as you would a tottering wall or a leaning fence?
4    They plot only to thrust me down from my place of honour;
lies are their chief delight;  ♦
they bless with their mouth, but in their heart they curse.
5    Wait on God alone in stillness, O my soul;  ♦
for in him is my hope.
6    He alone is my rock and my salvation,  ♦
my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
7    In God is my strength and my glory;  ♦
God is my strong rock; in him is my refuge.
8    Put your trust in him always, my people;  ♦
pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
9  The peoples are but a breath,
the whole human race a deceit;  ♦
on the scales they are altogether lighter than air.
10  Put no trust in oppression; in robbery take no empty pride;  ♦
though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
11  God spoke once, and twice have I heard the same,  ♦
that power belongs to God.
12  Steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord,  ♦
for you repay everyone according to their deeds.

Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, Copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 and published by Church House Publishing.

Who recommended 📚The Samurai’s Garden (1994)? I requested the book from the library and started reading it because I had found the Wikipedia page topmost on a tab I had left open, which means at some point I was intrigued by the book and wanted to know more. But I don’t recall how I got there.

This happens more often than not. All these years since the invention of the web and browsers still do not keep a threaded history. Am I the only one who wants this?

Anyway, whoever you were, thank you.

The Samurai’s Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama

It is the Constitutional responsibility of the Census Bureau to count. That does NOT mean build a website then mail a letter and a postcard, or otherwise advertise the census. Beyond this delegation of their responsibility to the populace, is the extraordinary gall of assuming that everyone in the United States is on the Internet. So, sorry, that means actually going out and counting people.

That could take a while. It will cost a lot. That’s OK. We have a large country.

It seems, as a casual observer, as if someone were trying to pinch pennies and reduce labor costs, by only physically going to those addresses on record for which no form was returned, even before COVID-19. It also seems, again only as a casual observer, as if an arbitrary internal deadline for completion, such as the first Monday in October, is a useful means of avoiding counting everyone.

This is often the problem with measuring things. Sometimes the numbers aren’t the ones we want.

Paul Graham believes a wealth tax would act as a disincentive.

He’s since revised his post several times to remove some indignation. But I’m surprised Mr. Graham left some arithmetic as an exercise for the reader after calculating the cost of a hypothetical wealth tax. Let’s review the case for a wealth tax by looking at the person who would lose the most money to one.

If this hypothetical tax took 95% of Jeff Bezos’s $205,602,264,589 he would only have $10,280,113,229 left, which is not much more than pocket change—barely enough to live on! One can certainly see how hoarding only $10 billion dollars would be a significant disincentive to attempting to monopolize all retail.

I fail to see the difference in incentive between 10 billion and 205 billion.

A more difficult problem is enforcing a wealth tax, since capital is flighty. The wealthy can live anywhere and have no loyalty to any place.

The thing is, currency issuers don’t need to tax in order to spend. One does not need to address vast disparities in wealth to provide for the needs of the people. Those can be separate projects.

But a user of the currency does. And New York might find it should take a larger piece of the action on Wall Street. What’s that saying about gambling? The house always wins?

“It’s a living,” she said.

“It’s not a real living. All this spying. Spying on what? Secret agents discovering what everybody knows already…”

“Or just making it up,” she said. He stopped short, and she went on without a change of voice. “There are lots of other jobs that aren’t real. Designing a new plastic soapbox, making pokerwork jokes for public-houses, writing advertising slogans, being an M. P., talking to UNESCO conferences. But the money’s real. What happens after work is real. I mean, your daughter is real and her seventeenth birthday is real.”

“What do you do after work?”

“Nothing much now, but when I was in love… we went to cinemas and drank coffee in Expresso bars and sat on summer evenings in the Park.”

Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (1958)

Lily is an old cat now: fifteen years. Her littermate brother gone this past year and a half. She eats little and sleeps much. It seems an uncomfortable sleep, troubled by labored breathing and punctuated by the slightest noise. Yet she purrs.

The kittens are too much. They stalk her tail and move too fast–where can a lady rest? No longer in my lap; I stand too often. Outside, then. Or, when my sons are here, in their cave.

Does she sense the end? I see too many parallels with her brother’s final days. I’m selfish: I want to stay with her, to be there when the time comes–she can’t die if she’s not alone. She came and comforted me when I was left in the depths of despair. She wiped away my tears. She reminded me: I have responsibilities still.

Again tomorrow I will set out food and water, and change the litter box.

Lily, Sleeping

‪I heard Cerys Matthews first on the audiobook edition of Robert McFarlane’s The Lost Words: A Spell Book (2017) 📚, and needed to hear her voice more, so I’ve been listening to her show on BBC Radio6. Every week she brings forth a wonderful world of discoveries: music, and poetry, and interviews. I love it. It’s hard to pull out highlights from her playlists; they flow.

Apparently she’s famous. Who knew? I just like the way she reads poetry.

Global changes to the climate haven’t stopped. But you can stop watering your lawn and plant drought-resistant species: if grass drinks the aquifer, you can’t. You can stop enabling water theft from the public by Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and others: don’t buy bottled drinks. You can be damned sure that they know fresh water is at risk.