Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talking to the non-elites

(Monday evening, Jan. 12, 2009)

I’m watching the last press conference of President George W. Bush. That God - his less press conference. He’s answering a question about the moral standing of the United States. He says that the moral standing isn’t damaged. It’s just a matter of the opinions of “elites.”

Wow. I don’t talk to elites. I talk to taxi drivers and fellow passengers in trains or to people I meet in tea houses. I talk to people selling vegetables. I don’t think these people are members of an elite part of society. And they talk about the moral standing of the United States. Not in those terms, but they talk about the stupid war, for example. They talk about the unconditional support for Israel. And it seems to them that the United States is weaker, not stronger, than it was a decade ago.

Speaking of conversations in trains, I had an interesting one this morning. I was talking with a middle-aged man who shared the sleeping compartment with me. (I took the train down to Lenkoran on Sunday night.) Two young men also were there - but they didn’t speak Russian.

For some reason, we started talking about medicine, and how doctors don’t always know best. We agreed on this point. He had some personal experience to share. His wife had some sort of rheumatism in her neck, leaving her stuck in a stoop. The doctor prescribed fistfuls of pills, but she didn’t take them. Instead, he applied honey to her neck and all down her spine. He then covered the area with Scotch tape and let it sit overnight. The next day he ripped the tape off (ouch!) and her neck was all better.

The doctor was amazed.

Perhaps it was a matter of curing a headache by banging on your toe with a hammer.

(By the way, Paul Krugman has some good comments about Bush's job creation claims. The link is on the right.)