Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just An Old War, Not Even A Cold War

This is a real New York Times article dug up from the archives. Someone who is not me did the digging, though this article is on microfilm less than thirty feet from my desk at work. Two days ago, a commenter on Shakesville thought she was tearing me to pieces by saying my personal hindsight was not 20/20 vision. I laughed out loud in my living room. Because I've written my every stray thought since 1971, I know what I foresaw because I can re-read it. For instance, I predicted everything from institutionalized war crimes to Abu Gharaib, messy war expansion and a failing VA. I predicted the out of control administration would make the lives of its constituents worse and our returning soldiers would have a really hard time adjusting to civilian life, if they could at all. I predicted these things not because I'm clairvoyant, need a turban and should wear all-seeing fruit on my head. Nope. These things all happened before and because we as a society forgot, they were certain to happen again.

Last night, Pete made the simplest, most fantastic dinner of a few seared scallops resting in bowls of fresh gazpacho, whole wheat baguette with dipping oil and mixed greens. It was so light and delicious I predict we will eat that way all summer when we can. Further, when we can't, we will pine for it, because immediately after dinner, we made another pilgrimmage to Sears and Home Depot without feeling weighed down. I now possess a Brian Griffin Peanut Butter Jelly Time t-shirt, which may have been predictable but the $4.95 price tag sure wasn't. Unexpected Joy!

A section of my commute across the river has become dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. I've written three letters this morning, notifying people with of this public peril. A director's assistant here at the unnamed university called and was surprised when I wasn't deterred by "I'll relay your concerns." I'll keep writing. I predict nobody will do anything and by the end of the day, I'll be the pin-up crackpot at the Department of Transportation, and all of this is completely foreseeable if you're paying attention - to me, at least. But if I were going to really predict the future, I'd say you should stop what you're doing today, get to a garden store, buy some fruit and vegetable plants, and plan to grow your own food. Think I'm way off-base? Have you been watching the weather maps and the financial news?
The chaos that erupted outside Milwaukee County's main welfare office Monday over disaster-related food aid had more to do with a weak economy and crushing poverty in parts of this community than the devastating floods that swept through the state earlier this month, local government and food relief officials said.

About 3,000 people turned out for the assistance beginning at 3 a.m. Monday, creating a line that stretched several blocks around the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center at 1220 W. Vliet St. At least one woman said she was trampled when a crowd rushed the doors as they opened around 7:30 a.m., and dozens of Milwaukee police officers and sheriff's deputies were called to quell the scene.

"The food crisis in Milwaukee and throughout the United States is worse than many of us have realized," said Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, who with other elected officials called on the community to support local food pantries.

"We expect long lines for free food in Third World countries," Hines said. "We don't expect a line of 2,500 people waiting for food vouchers" in Milwaukee. No one was seriously injured, and there were no arrests Monday, but those in line described the scene as chaotic. Many thought they would receive vouchers immediately, and frustration mounted when some learned that was not the case.

Perhaps you yourself are financially solvent. Good for you! Perhaps you're not. Ah, well. Neither is especially important to this particular bit of prognostication. Food banks are having trouble stocking their shelves. This phenomenon has meaning. The mortgage crisis means more people are moving out of homes and into rental properties. This has meaning. The midwest has been under water and crops have failed. This will resonate throughout the economy and the food supply. The average gas price nationally exceeds $4 per gallon, which will drive up the price of absolutely everything, including food. So: without getting excited or anxious, I predict that you will be much, much happier if you plant tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, mint and basil - vegetables you need and love - everywhere you can find a sunny pile of dirt.


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