‘Another mass shooting, this time by an 18 year old killing 19 fourth graders and two adults in an elementary school in a small border town in Texas. Only a week after a massacre in a grocery store in Buffalo, killing ten innocent shoppers. How can anybody think this is not about guns?’ Camp said, looking sad and upset.

            ‘Yes, only in the USA is this possible. Both killers were teenagers wielding military grade assault rifles, the kind used in wars, as in the Ukraine.’

            ‘How can teenagers be allowed to purchase and own such destructive weapons and tactical assault gear? It defies any kind of reason and common sense.’

            ‘And yet, politicians like Ted Cruz want more guns in the hands of Americans, even teachers, in order to protect themselves. If guns make everybody safer, the US would be the safest country on earth. I never heard of these protection rifles. They’re called assault rifles,’ I said.

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New Old World

            Looking out at the world from our small community on the edge of the pacific, we are insignificant in the big picture but yet we have all we need for a good, comfortable life. We also have a big, panoramic window to the world which comes across in non-ionizing radiation in the form of RF waves for cellphones and computers and variable frequencies for TV signals. Great inventions, which connect the people on this planet and also lets us look far beyond our solar system and galaxy. But there is a hitch and it happens to be one of Camp’s major peeves which he willingly shared over a fresh pint at our watering hole.

            ‘Thanks to the profit driven social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, U-Tube and TikTok, lies, conspiracy theories, propaganda and fake news are proliferating to a point where those four platforms alone elected president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the Philippines. His infamous parents stole billions from their people, imprisoned and killed thousands and have been tried and condemned for human rights abuses as well as exiled from their homeland. Much of their ill-begotten wealth is still tied up in litigation and sits in bank accounts from Switzerland to Hawaii. Marcos Junior does not acknowledge his parents kleptocracy but instead wants his paws on their money. Under the guise of ‘freedom of information and speech’ those platforms have become the voice and the ballot box for fringe movements, radical crackpots, and populist politicians like Trump, Orban or Marcos.’   

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Proceeds of Crime

            Spring has bypassed the Westcoast and it feels more like October and November: Mayvember Clare calls it. ‘I have yet to see any bees in the garden,’ she said. Maybe we just forget and cannot wait for summer to arrive. It’s the middle of May and the temperature creeps barely into the double digits. La Niña. No matter, I love the long days and the fact that it’s light until 9PM. 

            Camp is back this week, already waiting for me at our usual table, glumly staring out at the grey, wet world. Before I had a chance to properly settle myself, he let me have the good news. 

            ‘According to a recent article in the Economist, it seems that Russia’s economy is back on its feet, defying predictions of collapse. The Ruble is now more valuable than before the invasion of Ukraine and they’re keeping up payments on their foreign currency bonds, much different than Ukraine’s economy.’

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Change or Perish

            I knew Camp had something on his mind that couldn’t wait to be spilled out and I was not wrong, but not quite ready for the intensity of his lament and soliloquy and it had nothing to do with the current war in Europe or China’s latest failing experiment in social engineering.

‘I’ve come across a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist from the 19thcentury,’ Camp said as soon as he plunked into his chair by the window. ‘It’s still relevant for our times. It goes something like this: You must change your life’ in order to have a better life. My modern interpretation is that we all must change our lives, in other words, stop the spread of rampant capitalism, stop with the exploitation of the third world, stop with the manic consumer orgy, the over production of goods and waste, stop the excesses of the modern world. ‘

‘Except that none of us are willing to give up our luxuries that we consider necessities like cars, fridges, air travel, laundry machines, closets full of clothes and shoes, pre-packaged groceries, air conditioning, heating, cooking and kitchen equipment and all other manner of energy consuming gadgets,’ I said.

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