Thursday, November 03, 2005


My grandfather, Arthur Colchester, was born in 1875. I remember as a child of 8 or so playing with him in our home in Florida, in about 1955. He must then have been 80. Just think what he lived through. In 1875, Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States. The Civil War had only been over for a decade. Queen Victoria still had more than a quarter of a century to reign over the British Empire. The Declaration of Independence had been signed only 99 years before. The Constitution had been in effect for 86 years. The telephone would not be invented until the next year. Marconi was only a year old, although Tesla was already 19. Their dispute about who invented the radio would not be resolved for more than sixty years. General George Armstrong Custer still had a year to live, although the Indian Wars were in full spate. San Francisco was experiencing the first Tong War. The first Kentucky Derby ran in May. William Backhouse Astor, the richest man in the United States, died in 1875. He had been born in 1792. If my grandfather had, at the age of 8 in 1883, had a chat with his 83-year old grandfather, he would have been talking to a man born in the eighteenth century.

Practical automobiles were not to be invented for another ten years or so. Henry Ford was twelve years old. Neither of the Wright brothers was ten yet. Kitty Hawk lay 28 years in the future. Railroads had only been prevalent for thirty years. My grandfather, in his twenties, worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad as it was extended across Canada. His job was shooting mountain lions that threatened the railroad workers.

In 1875, Tchaikovsky was still working on Swan Lake. Bizet's Carmen was first performed. Gaslight was the new miracle technology. The transAtlantic telegraph cable had been operating for nine years, Most people got from place to place by foot, or horse if they were lucky. Only in the most heavily populated places were trolleys and horse-drawn busses available. Life was nasty, brutish and short to a degree that most of the people alive today, even in the poorest countries, could barely imagine. But in the most forward-thinking lands, it seemed like the best time ever. Because it was. Medicine, industry, transport, food production and research were entering an era of unbelievably rapid progress.
Full life

It struck me this morning: If I were to die now, at the age of 57, people would say, "He had children, a marriage, a career of sorts, some experiences, but still what a shame he had to die so young." But if I survive thirty more years and die at 87, they would say, "Well, he had a full life." The fulness of life lies ahead.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cui bono?

A Samizdata quote from P.J. O'Rourke sends me drifting back in time to Greenfield, Massachusetts, where I started my not-particularly-successful career in government jobbery:
Starting a job as a welfare "financial assistance social worker" decades ago in Massachusetts, I was challenged to consider "who was really on welfare?" the recipients or the workers? Certainly the workers got more benefits from the system. And the workers were overwhelmingly liberal college graduates. They did, of course, have to show up every day and at least pretend to work. All the recipients had to do was whine convincingly. No, wait a minute, that's right. The workers whined, too. And certainly the money spent on the system went mostly to administration, not to paying benefits. Years later a program was started to give recipients jobs handing out benefits. It was universally noted that the ex-recipients were much harder on new recipients than the college kids ever had been.
Osama bin Libby!

Lileks hits the bullseye again:

Letter-writer talking points: The above was a transparent attempt to shift attention away from Scooter. Because that's really the biggest problem the nation has faced in the last five years. Osama bin Libby.
Kaus gets curious

Mickey Kaus starts wondering about some of the same things that struck me yesterday:
Would Libby really have been dumb enough to contradict his own notes (which the prosecutor has had from the start) under oath?
He even has a link to info about the Marc Rich/Clinton/Libby connection. He hasn't stumbled on Sailer yet, though. Maybe in a couple of weeks everyone will be in the same ballpark with me, or I'll be exposed as just another blognut. More here. And a mention of Chandra Levy!? Could Vince Foster be tied in next?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Curiouser and curiouser

Who is "Scooter" Libby? And why does he still use a sixth-grade nickname at the age of 55? Anyway, after reading this more than troubling information from Steve Sailer, I am beginning to think that Mr. Libby's recent activities could use even more scrutiny than Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald gave them. Why did Dick Cheney hire Marc Rich's lawyer? Most of all, why did Scooter lie so unconvincingly and amateurishly to the investigators and the grand jury, if the indictment is true? Why in the world would a professional politician and high-stakes Washington lawyer do something like that? Why would Scooter get involved, even tangentially, with a reporter like Judith Miller? What kind of game is he playing? Maybe I'm nuts, but it sure looks like he's some sort of agent provocateur or mole. What did he mean in that silly (?) note to Judith Miller about "the aspens are all quaking together this time of year because they're all connected at the roots."? Was Scooter setting a petard in the office of the VP and was he hoist by it because Fitzgerald wouldn't go along with the game? If it starts coming out that Scooter and Joe Wilson were seen having mint tea together in Niger, I'm really going to start freaking!