A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 :::
More Lying From Washington...Ugly British Fashions...Italian Teens Renew Old Tradition in Flirting...

Al Gore, Where Are You When We Need You. A Mind That Suits has a favorite moment from the 2000 Presidential Debates, and it was not whatever was the one-sigh-too-many that turned the public off to Al Gore in the first debate. It was when Jim Lehrer asked what the two nominees would do with...well, if I use the word, you will fall asleep. Promise you'll keep reading, and I'll tell you. Awake? Ok, read on...

Jim Lehrer asked the two nominees what they would do with the budget surplus. Ah, ah--stay awake, you promised. What was so funny about it was that the money had already been spent. There was no budget surplus, except in the press releases of the rapidly expiring Clinton administration. A Mind That Suits has been a dedicated Journal and Post man for over 20 years, and both papers were full of news about how both parties in Congress were falling all over themselves spending the surplus to win points with the voters. Apparently the Democrats out spent the Republicans by a hair, if you remember how close that congressional election was. The funny thing is that both Mr. Lehrer and Mr. Gore came out of the debate with their reputations for knowing the facts and figures intact. Mr. Bush is not good in debates, and he couldn't very well have said, "That's a stupid question. My party and my opponent's party have spent it all." But wouldn't it have been nice?

Of course, there never was a budget surplus, anyway. The real --really grim--figures were outlined in today's brutal lead editorial in the Journal. The total figure is somewhere around $15 trillion (with Social Security providing the lion's share of that), although the official figure is "only" 6.4 trillion. In other words, the books are being cooked, and were throughout the '90's. Wait a minute! Clinton lied about something? How could that possibly have happene?

It's easy to make jokes, but somebody has to pay that money, and it will not be funny finding out who does.

En-ga-land Swings Like a Pendulum Do. London has been Europe's hippest city for a very long time. Burberry, the once boring maker of trench coats for the elite, underwent a makeover several years ago, and now provides the Look of England for a younger generation. Only the clothes they make look exactly like the Carnaby Street fashions of the mid-1960's, when the song quoted above was popular. A Mind That Suits saw a bunch of it in this morning's Journal, and was reminded that the Carnaby Street Look was really ugly.

The Benefits of 500-year-old Pajamas. Yesterday, 37 young men, most of them Italian Swiss, took their oath as Swiss Guards, the Pope's honor Guard for nearly 500 years. You always see pictures of them in stories about the Vatican. The comprise the majority of the very few legal "residents" of the Vatican City State. On official occasions, they get to wear metal breastplates and pointy helmets with plumes . On normal duty, they get to wear berets and multi-colored pajamas, uh, I mean uniforms, which are much cooler. Best, from their perspective, is when it is cold, or at least as cold as Rome gets, because they have these really dashing gray capes with yellow trim that set off the uniforms quite nicely.

Why "from their perspective"? The fact of the matter is, they don't do much of anything. The Vatican has a modern, professional police force that wears sharp but modern navy blue uniforms and does all the work. The Guard gets to stand around looking cool. Since most of them are really boys in their late teens, they think this is just fine Looking good in a uniform is even one of the requirements, just as it is for all honor guards the world over. For recruits, surely, one of the attractions--on top of fulfilling mandatory military service in a much warmer climate--is that this is just a wonderful way to meet girls.

An example: The arch that leads to interior buildings and famous garden of the Vatican is "guarded" by two of them, one standing at attention with a halberb leaning out in front of him (like this kid), the other answering questions from tourists. No doubt, the area is covered with cameras, as is any modern bank, and A Mind That Suits has even fewer doubts that just around the bend past the arch there lies a proper guard house staffed by grown men with thorough training, guns, and maybe one or two small armored vehicles. What the public sees is two jaunty lads with snazzy get-ups and Italian charm.

One winter, just before Christmas, A Mind That Suits came down the steps from St. Peter's to find a Swiss Guard, one hand on his hip to pull back the cape for just the right effect, telling a bunch of young ladies where some site or other was. As they walked away, he pretended to report back to his companion, but with the hand away from the public he pulled down on his cheekbone with his index finger, the gesture used throughout the Mediterranean world to mean, "d'ya get a look at that babe?"

Now, the young men must be religiously observant (which, in today's Europe, makes it hard to find recruits), but the Catholic Church, at least its Latin part, has always smiled on the youthfulness of the young. A little flirting on "duty" is only to be expected. In fact, as these are Italian teenagers we are talking about, they themselves no doubt feel it is their God-given right.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:51 AM



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