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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003 :::
Ahh, the modern economy. It is 6:30 or so on New Year's Eve, at the very point where the "New" Economy was born, to whit, the south edge of Stanford Campus, just between Stanford Avenue and the campus of Hewlett-Packard, which used to be the world's most exciting corporation, when it was run by old people who have now passed away. It is now run by young people, and produces printers.

But the Revolution started right here, right then, and A Mind That Suits remembers when.

One kid who was right at the front of it all is now a perfectly respectable Princeton University professor, and still, after all these years, a good friend. But the old neighborhood has soared the heights, and taken a beating, and it all shows, just like the lines on an old actor's face. Lots of beauty, lots of tragedy, all of it right here. Just like life, just like the economy, throughout the ages, because the only thing new about the "New" Economy is the products it produces and trades.

And what are people on the Cutting Edge of Tomorrow Doing. Well, A Mind That Suits is chilling after three days of archive sorting, not his strong suit, and tiring work. And kinkajou--in many ways, the corporation that points the way to the future--is full of people trying to grab the edge of the skirts of tomorrow, and more power to them. But at 6:45 on New Year's Eve?

kinkajou, by the way, is being bought by feeds, or so reports this morning's indispensable Wall Street Journal. Years ago, IBM ran a series of commercials in which people engaged in traditional labor--such as fishing in Greece--were using their PC laptops to chart their business. A very -PC and partially uneducated housemate at the time complained that it was somehow condescending, but in fact it was an accurate picture of what was happening--tons of average schlubs the world over were finding freedom from their local bullies, and still are. Go, internet.

Lots of tragedy? As reported by the very same Journal some time ago, the Silicon Valley--so named when A Mind That Suits was just a lad and in school here--has a tremendous population of "tech temps," who move from start-up to start-up. The collapse of the tech bubble, brought on in part by the European Union pumping billions and billions into telecom nonsense, hit them hard. The other night, while this writer was smoothing the edges off a very low-tech translation he is doing, a largish man sighed deeply and stared at the ground angrily, two suitcases lying open at his feet. A street guy? No. The suitcases were immaculate, and immaculately organized, and full of folders and files and tech business. One of those temps, still waiting for the "jobless recovery" to provide a full-time job, and doing his best to make it all work. Dear Lord in Heaven, human beings are such amazing creatures. Go, tech temp.

You can tell people who took only English classes: they think that your average Gambian folk do not have the "cultural capital" to realize what the global economy means to them, and they (the English majors) moan the loss of an older system in which the average schlub knew his place, and got you fish for dinner. Go, average schlubs.

And go, P.T. Bauer, a now forgotten economist who pointed this all out 30 years ago.

Ok, California. 87 Spanish language channels. Do ALL of them have to suck?

Speaking of California, regular readers know that A Mind That Suits, while a Southern Boy, cannot get enough of the breathtaking beauty of Northern California. Two days ago, he described the striking beauty of the electric green grass against which dark, dormant trees stand out in somber brilliance. Indeed, today saw a special glory of that peculiar limited palette of California colors: bright green and reddish-brown, in all their amazing hues. What he forgot to mention was that the whole thing is wrapped in the diffuse light of hazy, foggy, mist. Last night, he walked into Palo Alto from campus just as the sun was setting, and the temperature hit the dew point. A family of kids was playing frisbee in the mist, with only their upper bodies visible, the rest shrouded in the vapors of the earth.

Did anyone ever tell you that the Ewok planet, in Star Wars Vi (The Return of the Jedi), is just Northern California in the winter? George Lucas must have just said, "I don't want to go on location--point the cameras out the door." That's how beautiful it is, and it knows no limits.

There has been lots on the mind while traipsing around the clay and mud puddles, but that can wait until later.

He will remind his regular readers that, among the things he was thankful for on Thanksgiving Day was that he got to read things by Allen Drury that have not been seen for a long time, or ever at all, by others, and that is what he is spending this two weeks doing. It is not the same as talking to him for a half hour every night for 15 years, but that is what happened, more or less, in the years between the time that A Mind That Suits left school, and dear old Uncle Al left this world behind. After years of never mentioning him, his nephew now mentions him a lot, but perhaps too much. He begs his readers' indulgence. He is now rereading The Two Towers, and is struck that one of the things that J.R.R. Tolkein was exhorting his readers to do was look for Gandalf, and A Mind That Suits found him, and he misses him more and more as the eight weeks of labor required to tame the dragon of his archive--eight weeks over the last two years--draw to an end.

Have a blessed New Year. For Catholics, it is the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin, so hitthee to Mass. For the rest of you, Happy New Year!

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 9:39 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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