Archive for my butt

A Note on Butts in Seats

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by spinoza1111

It is fashionable in some circles to decry “Structuralism” as French nonsense under the general meme “I have a Master’s degree”,

“I have a Master’s Degree. In Science!” – Ask Mister Science, Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater

“but I don’t understand it.”

However, structuralism by any name is an excellent way of understanding power, which is why, I believe, elite opinion is so selectively anti-intellectual.

For example, there is the abstraction of the specific coexistence, in South Africa, of high-minded ideals in its modern Constitution, with the deliberate use of almost all successful politicians even centrists like Zuma with mobocratic tirades against women and gays, as documented in the New Yorker (28 May), in “Violated Hopes”, by Charlayne Hunter-Galt.

Smart people notice a correspondence, an isomorphism, between two manifestations of this collision, for example in universities in which the faculty are paid to mouth human rights and diversity while their students, regurgitating these ideals on examinations, form covens promoting identity politics which deny certain human rights and diversity often using, as self-protectve coloration, identity politics.

The structure is the gradual “post-modernism”, not what’s normally meant by “post modernism”, but a demotic and demonic variant, where you narrate your “religion” as a going-back-to-basics under hyper-modernization.

Now, this used to be, in Picasso’s, Stravinsky’s and TS Eliot’s time, a rarefied and aesthetic gesture, itself a Modernism in what Adorno, at the beginning of his rib-tickling magnum opus Aesthetic Theory, calls “the vortex of the newly taboo.”

The permission to artistically innovate in a vortex generates economic competition among artists, especially male artists that escapes non market facilities such as Salons. Now, it is very, very hard to create something new. Jackson Pollock ripped art a new asshole by single-mindedly pursuing a vision at the cost of his life, dancing before the world. In dancing improvisationally one feels stupid at first which is why you need that trance music, very simplified music that lets you cover up your mistakes.

But one form of innovation can be brilliant in the hands of genius and that is essentially nothing more than pastiche, whether it’s Picasso’s 1920s classicism, Stravinsky’s “Classical Symphony”, or Eliot’s Four Quartets. But in general it avoids the basic problem of encountering one’s Self as an Artist. It is the adoption of the false (Fundamentalist) persona. And it has steadily decayed to become the Dadaism of today’s Republican politics: for example, a recently proposed North Carolina law decreed that sea levels at coastal resorts are to be extrapolated only using linear, and not exponential formulae, for the scientific conclusions destroy the value of riparian real estate, and I am not making this up.

Neoclassicism is the thesis, Fundamentalism is not so much the antithesis as folk neoclassicism even as in Max Weber, Erasmus was the thesis and Luther the folk response. The South African “rainbow” the thesis, Zuma and earlier Buthelezi the folk response.

But the folk response, while claiming a connection with the past, lacks this. It is an affair of a generation disconnected from actual folk-ways.

Today, the homeboys in Africa calling women witches, engaging in “corrective rape” to “cure” lesbians, and killing their girlfriends, or the good old boys in Montana beating up sissies, never really knew the Christianity, Islam or animism of their grandfathers…any more than even Picasso could claim to have been an ancient Greek, Stravinsky “really” a tonal composer of the 19th century, or Eliot a Lancelot Andrewes.

But politicians today, who can never criticize or try to teach the people, find it useful to address these neo-saved because it tells them that the problems of modernization are caused by sorcerers. It’s not your fault is the message of Fascism and Fundamentalism. Its core constituency is not an enumeration of We the People, unlike the US Constitution, which has no predefined notion of what They the People think, but literally enumerates them every ten years in our Census.

The Republican or African demagogue preconceives a description of right thinking usually cribbed from religion as a time-saver. This description is crudely described as “vote for me or you’re a fag” because it pre-describes right thinking.

Picasso got tired of competing with Braque, in many ways a better painter. Stravinsky needed to put butts on seats and Schonberg’s severe adherence to the 12-tone system sent butts off seats in search of a stiff drink.

The greatest of these men (for I don’t question their greatness), Thomas Stearns Eliot, was competing largely with himself. Fortunately for all of us, the Waste Land wasn’t the last word in his case, and the Four Quartets were his answer to the fragmentation in the former work. But, same as me, he had to use an element of pastiche, swiping two ideas from Dante in the Four Quartets: *terza rima* and the idea of the ghostly reappearance of a dead mentor, a Mantuan, “o anime cortese Mantoana”.

Let’s see if I can bring this mess together. The truly traditional is well and truly gone, Flintstone. It is that scene in Alex Haley’s Roots of the raising of the boy child to the gods of the sky and forest because it is a boy. Brought back it becomes demonic, the girl being genitally mutilated and that murderous clown in Norway, Breivik, maddened by You Tube videos, killing girls and the philosophy of my old school-fellow, Ted Nugent.

And from a neoconservative text itself emerges this terrible warning: TS Eliot writes in the Four quartets that we cannot revive old policies or follow an antique drum.

But if I continue in this vein my butt will start hurting, NOT because thinking is bad for me. No. Sitting on my arse is bad for me.


Godard might get a Prize? No way!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2010 by spinoza1111

The Zionists are going rigid and drumming their heels and turning blue over the possibility of Jean-luc Godard, he who makes all those films which they saw when coked up in the Seventies and can’t remember, winning a Prize.

Godard was right on Schindler’s List: had that movie’s images of Auschwitz been made by a non-Jew it would have been banned. But the whole point of art, to me, is universality: see the poem below this post.

Tribalism in art is the idea that you can’t make art that tells the tribe’s story unless you’re a member. This is a popular meme, applied even in the borderline case (like that of my marriage) where the tribe or Other you have re-presented has a meaningful relation with you or (in the case of the Palestinians) your friends.

Part of the victimization system is the Victimizer’s lie: that there is really no intimate relation between the Victimizer and the Victim.

My former wife was my Victim when, long ago, I was abusive. Based on this, she now is Victimizer in that she wishes to erase the six years of our marriage from her memory; it appears that she no longer uses the email which I used to communicate with her, primarily about the kids, up to 2005, and this email is now sending me junk about Viagra (!) since it’s been colonized by a spambot.

I need a meaningful relationship with my grown children, if only to have a place in addition to Facebook to tell what Borges calls “the true story of your own death”. But having been raised by my former wife, the kids follow her lead, and if she ignores my existence so do they. This makes me the Victim, as if (as is logically possible) the Allies had, in 1946, allowed the Jews to return to Germany legally enabled to be a master race, and this had gotten out of hand, resulting in a Holocaust of Germans at the hands of vengeful (Old Testament) Jews in 1975.

“Who is the slayer? Who is the victim? Speak.” – Sophocles

It is different for me to write about a former spouse than it would for me to write, say, about a Hollywood star with whom I’ve never had a relationship.

But what does Godard have to do with Israel’s victims, the Palestinians? Well, plenty, because their victimization set perhaps the first post-Holocaust precedent that a person or people may still be selected for brutalization, their cries ignored, their claims disregarded, and this makes life difficult and dangerous for all of us…except for the Jews, whose lives remain endangered and made difficult by anti-Semitism but not by post-Holocaust neo-bullying: today’s pattern of finding friendless groups (Palestinians, older heterosexual divorced men, Catholic priests who happen not to be child molestors) and kicking the shit out of them pour encourager and as a safety valve for one’s free-floating rage.

“Thou shalt not cathect”. Post-holocaust Judaism has regressed into a Law that cannot be obeyed unless you’re Jewish, making it impossible for anyone, including Jews, to follow the Kantian imperative (to act so that your action can be recommended as a universal moral law). Zionists are asking me to support the IDF’s sending an SMS (“hey, we’re going to bomb your neighborhood) and then bombing the ‘hood as “humanity and justice” which is tragedy and farce, and asks me, in fact, not to be an autonomous moral being.

To sympathize with a people with unattractive characteristics (their Islamic beliefs as so little understood by Westerners) purely because they have been treated unfairly-unjustly is not tribal enough for many Jewish thought leaders who would like us to economize on altruism. It is considered a cheap fashion statement like one of those very cool motorbikes you see many Parisiennes use to scoot around Paris.

Hmm. Well, last March I took the side, at work, of a Malaysian-British gentleman whom the putative manager of English department seemed to have disliked in a motiveless and narcissistic way. My reward at a company where I knew damned well that solidarity was a threat to management was to be terminated with one hour’s notice. I am now humping around Hong Kong to interesting and poorer neighborhoods as a temp teacher, and just got my first call from a collections department…I won’t make my Visa payment until 20 Nov. Yippee, here we go again: I’ve been there before, so hopefully I can survive better.

Solidarity is a luxury good today, and we’re expected to do without it below a certain level; only the super gazillionaire like Bill Gates is thought to have the luxury to finally get around to eleemosynary detour and frolic.

But the paradox of advice in a fuck-you, devil take the hindmost society is that the advice itself becomes a competitive move in the game. I was told in the 1970s to loosen up and go out with the guys in the office for a drink and not work so hard, because I was making the guys in the office look bad, and the function of drinking-groups remains the search for and eradication of the member who thinks she’s special, whether she jumps to her death from Princeton’s chapel or is filmed having an orgasm for Internet posting. Therefore we need not respect the injunction not to take a stand since the advice is intended to destroy us.

To be anti-Israel based on Israel’s dismal track record has always had real consequences for celebrities, who undergo stress owing to death threats and the paparazzi (who brought Diana down), and who retain consulting firms to try to ensure their security.

And as Zionism continues to regress from what it was under Herzl to the infantile rage of a David Horowitz, one cannot help but notice how these shitstorms are triggered by the concept of the “prize”.

When we were kids, if a kid had a birthday party, we all had Mom buy some cheap junky but cool toy at Woolworth’s for the birthday girl or boy, and went to the party. What we got was Betty Crocker cake, never chocolate alas, usually white on white: mothers of the 1950s had a racist horror of their children being chocolate smeared.

But I noticed in the early 1980s that my younger son’s taking offence at his elder brother’s receiving any kind of special recognition (even his goddamn birthday) was pandered to by my former wife. If my elder son got a present, my younger son had to get a present, and I was working in far-away California, unable to put the boot in. Had I done so, probably, I would have been dismissed in this matriarchal system, which is why I left in the first place.

I have learned from Mamas on Lamma Island that this pot-latch is now spinning out of control. Tai Tais and wealthy Gweipos (Euro-Mamas) both expect, when they bring their children to birthday parties, not only a present for their child. They expect a fancy and expensive “gift bag” and, for the Gweipos, no end of expensive booze.

The birthday boy or girl if at all unpopular is often openly bullied at these parties. The message is that no-one is special except a Big Other.

Likewise, modern Zionists are enraged by the idea of a pro-Palestinian winning a prize. Part of their regression is (so clearly in the trajectory of David Horowitz) a complete lack of inner balance or a super-ego, and this creates an unfillable need for external affirmation…that is seen to be a feature of the psychology of the ancient world.

The “anger of Achilles” is infantile for it is primarily about what other heroes will think of him. You distinguished yourself in the ancient world and as recently as the Napoleonic wars, since life expectancy was low, by Fame constituted solely in the recognition of your mates: there was no such thing as second place or “knowing in your heart that you are right”: Napoleon knew this at Marengo.

Paradoxically, a “Jewish” thinker (Spinoza) pioneered the very idea of inner-directedness and autonomy and Ecclessiastes reminds us when praising famous men that men can be great but unknown. The idea of justice, its link to fairness, and then the idea that the autonomous person might take a stand for tax collectors, slaves, ho-bags and Palestinians, all originated in the seedbed of Torah.

But alongside is the complete lack of justice-as-fairness also seen in Torah: the punishment of Onan and Ham, and God’s smug response to Job, a book somewhat reminiscent of Mao’s “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom”: Job is encouraged to speak up and then bitch-slapped.

The whole point for the Godard haters is that Israel won the Six Day War by guile and trickery as well as force and that after this, we must never give a prize to an anti-zionist lest the collective wrath of online Zionism unleash millions of emails. Justice, to be Justice, must be unjust in the sense that it must feel like injustice to its targets. The Palestinians must find a way to hew wood and draw water on Shabboz happily for the Jews and their girls must learn to dance nude in clubs, or else.

Godard needs to learn how to make fun and entertaining films like Schindler’s List about fun and entertaining company managers who do their darnedest to save the Jews. I mean, come on. I can’t stand his films myself, because I have little time for movies except when exhausted and when you’re exhausted you want to watch something like Idiocracy, Dodgeball, The Hangover or Schindler’s List. That is because you are too tired to laugh or cry, and the machinery of the film does it for you. You’re on life support, being fed intraveiniously.

Godard-watching is more like cracking a book. It is unlikely that Israeli “settlers” pop Godard into the DVD. Running around shooting innocent children is hard work and takes a toll.

If Godard gets a Prize, the Zionists will have one of those shit fits in which their body goes rigid, like rich kids in Hong Kong who are almost bigger than their Indonesian helpers.

Or something. I need to finish Zizek’s latest book, In Defense of Lost Causes, for sometimes I think he’s too facile and his ease of jumping around infects my style. I need to get over Zizek.

Robert Longo, “Barbara”, lithograph 1998 (saved as GIF and then as JPEG by EGN to remove colour information for best display on a variety of monitors, and to enhance the grain of this image)

Lana Sutton #1, the truth dances

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 28, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Lana Sutton Study #1”, pencil, pen and colored pencil on A4 size paper, 26 Sep 2010

Edward G. Nilges, “Lana Sutton Study #2”, pencil, pen and Gimp modifications on A4 size paper, 28 Sep 2010

Lana Sutton is a political activist, musician, dancer, environmentalist and holy terror in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The media systematically represents populism as Tea Baggery, but she is in no way a Tea Hag. She just feels that the good old boys of her town shouldn’t mess with her for not mowing her lawn, and furthermore that they are a bunch of crooks…who have so deconstructed the line between business and government to make ordinary people spiritless and cynical.

A few days ago, I fired off a letter to the International Herald Tribune. They’d tarred her cause as Tea Baggery since she’s active in the recall of a corrupt mayor, since that’s what they do: if they can’t do their homework, they herd us into a Concept.

She appears to me like a sort of Lola Montez, the Irish adventurer and dancer who fired up German youth in the revolutions of 1848, who somehow knows that the truth exists because she still feels it body and soul.

That is, most of us sit flaccid in front of the TV and the bodily decay that results, results in turn into a negative epistemology, something misnamed “skepticism” which is merely ignorance, and something swept and garnished…all to ready to turn into belief in right-wing malarkey.

So…my next art project, to be narrated here, is a painting celebrating her. In this the first cut, I like the simplicity of the side view, because the way her skirts float reminds me of a Greek vase.

In the green drawing I simulate the method best described in Daniel V. Thompson’s book The Practice of Tempera Painting: white and black chiaroscuro on a middle tone. I simulate it in Gimp by adding a new translucent layer and using the (clumsy) Gimp brush to add the white.

If bone could speak and skin could sing…

“You do things because of the way they look
You do things because they feel good
But I do right”

(Lana Sutton, I Do Right)

That is: us baby boomers lost the very idea that you do something out of what Kant called pure or reinen “duty”…to the extent that in the 1980s I could not even claim to my sophistoe friends that I was trying simply to do right on a job or as regards my kids.

Reaganism explained us as universally self-interested. But one of the unexpected consequences of the claim of universal self-interest is that we’re always doing something for some other reason.

This put the Yuppies on a treadmill named “rationality”. You work at some soulless job to get the money to buy the expensive vacation to recover from the stupid job. Everything is a tight loop (I do A to get B which gets me C which fires me up to do A) or else as it happens to some corporate crook’s benefit, poured out like water on the ground.

“Self-interest” and the whole theodicy of rationality was in fact a massive fraud: check out that negative equity, baby. The saint does what she wants, not what’s in her self-interest.

I was terminated last month from a job as a teacher which I had for five years and loved, mostly because the sight of kids farting around always cheers me up. My specialty was the rambunctious boys such as the Tiger Monk.

The Tiger Monk’s helper should get combat pay since he is never still but ever in motion, questing about the office on a secret mission from God. But I was able to get him to do his work by telling him stories while he swotted away.

The company did so without notice and gives no reason, thinking that they can morph the job into a pure or reinen contract and at-will. By law they were supposed to have given me two months’ notice or pay in lieu, but they’d given me a schedule past the kiss-off date and put me on the Fall bulletin. They even promised parents and kids that “Mr. Edward” would be the children’s teacher; many parents and kids liked me.

This shall not stand. There shall be Kung Fu fighting.

I was told by a former co-worker that the Tiger Monk, on the day he was supposed to start his fall classes with me, was questing about the office, saying, over and over again in a sad voice, “where is Mr. Nilges?”

I have filed a claim on this matter with Hong Kong’s Labour Relations Department. Oh, this might mean I won’t get a character reference? Well boo hoo: I have CEO references from all over the world, and, I’m a little tired of the corporate treadmill anyway. I refuse to be a 19th century servant and I’m quite aware that there may be consequences.

So, this one’s for you, Lana, and Tiger Monk, and Lola, and Joan of Arc.

The welfare state is now the debtor state

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by spinoza1111

The welfare state has turned into a debtor state, where ordinary people balance their budgets with credit out of necessity, not because of any moral failings whatsoever.

John Maynard Keynes was roundly condemned in sniffish tones by the Right for recommending that the British government employ the unemployed to dig and refill holes in times of deflation.

It is less well known that Milton Friedman recommended (as a logical consequence of his fiscal philosophy in which the money supply would be the only thing under government control) that the rich be somehow beguiled (interest payments) to throw money at the rest of us from helicopters.

Which is precisely what has been done.

Keynes’ proposal, like Friedman’s, was meant as a limiting case, understandable to Cambridge undergraduates but neither to journalists nor the general public. Likewise, Friedman’s.

Nonetheless, it’s better for the soul to spend a day digging a hole in the hot sun with one’s mates…than to look for offers in the mail in a house you don’t deserve.

Friedman is a profoundly immoral philosopher. Governments broke their committment to the savings and sanity of the middle class when they went off the gold standard in 1914, and Ron Paul is the only conservative to see this. His recommendation that we go back is racist and jejune, but two theorists of the Frankfurt School, Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, would agree with him in some part; their future was destroyed by the Weimar republic in direct consequence of the loss of a gold standard.

Above all, people like me (who’s worked hard all his life but doesn’t take shit) need to be rewarded for our input. We should not be given fabricated reasons, plucked from some New Age tome, in “performance reviews” for what, as Marx knew, is systematic theft and, as Zizek knows, is normed violence against which Sep 11 was a clownish (and thereafter easily prevented) stunt.

And I’ll use credit. I used it to support and to maintain contact with my kids. I’ll pay my bills. But the Baby Boom of which I am a member will go down as a collection of selfish bastards at the top, and millions of debt slaves everywhere else.

It appears that South Africa is fixing like Thailand to explode, since the Friedmanite and Randroid playbooks do not work and are evil.

Sophisticated public relations is systematically changing real Left anger into Tea Parties because the rich and upper middle classes are running scared. You seldom encounter a “real” Tea Partier on Facebook, and when you do, they are assholes who harass women and bully men. The people I’ve met are all flaming radicals.

On some Shakespeare Twaddle

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by spinoza1111

This is a note about some pompous twaddle concerning Shakespeare. Scroll down (or as needed, click the orange link above) to the next article to see the Shagspaherian play, “The Well-Hung Election”

“the way in which the content of his verse expressed universal truths by finding magnificently appropriate analogies for them, is what has got him recognized as one of the greatest poet/dramatists of all time.”

ZZZZZZ…Gee, no wonder kids hate Shakespeare.

Where do I begin?

First of all, what would it even mean to be “magnificently appropriate”. When was the corporate foot soldier known to arrive at work, dressed today in Gap monkish style, or in my day, in a suit and tie, to be complimented simultaneously on both the magnificence and appropriateness of his attire? I tried with flash chap ties and failed, since the sober yet elegant ties were not considered appropriate to my station in life. There’s no such thing as being magnificently appropriate.

Second, did S express “universal truths”? Can
we transform his plays into copy book maxims? Let’s try!

“Don’t listen to your parents, marry a hot guy, and commit suicide if
that doesn’t work out” (Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter)

“Kill Caesar but realize you done him wrong” (Julius Caesar)

“Kill your uncle for doin’ all those smelly things with your
Mom” (Hamlet)

“Cause your commanding officer to suspect his wife of infidelity, driving him batshit and getting her killed” (Othello)

“Usurp the usurper. Eventually it’s bound to come out all
right.” (History plays)

“Drink like a fish, steal from honest tradesmen, and sleep on benches until noon. Run from battle. Run from Sir Walter Blunt; pretend to have killed Harry Percy. Cheat a good woman. Promise marriage to two rich women. Everyone will love you and you will be saved.” (Henry IV 1,2: Merry
Wives: Henry V)

“Kill the sons of Tamara, Queen of the Emo Goths. Then when her other sons rape your daughter, cutting off her hands and tongue, you and your darlin’ daughter need to cook those boys into a pie and serve them to Tamara and Aaron. Loads of laughs for the entire family.” (Titus Andronicus)

Houston…we have a problem.

It is that Shakespeare wasn’t a Platonist, interested in “universal”
truths true all the time. Those are the people who express “universal truths” such as “if you fall in love with your son in law, you are a ho-bag whether you like it or not” (Racine, Phedre).

Shakespeare was an Aristotelean, who saw God and the Divine only in the fleshly world. His characters are people enmeshed in flesh. They have no lessons for us, not even cautionary tales, unless we are the sort of people with something of Shakespeare’s gentleness and capacity for “suffering” (a word which was closer to “experience” in Shakespeare’s time, probably because life sucked more). It is only then can we feel empathy for them.

Fashion victim or Fascism victim?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 2, 2010 by spinoza1111

Listen! To the song I quote in this post: it will open in a separate window. I think this post got me fired in August 2010, although I posted it in March of last year. The person in question has her good parts and is not a political conservative but at a deeper level she’s very “American”, which is to say she can always justify it in the end. I suppose I share that same defect of character. I probably ruined a marriage with this habit of always trying to be right.

In an era of “skepticism” (which is often a fashionable self-applied label for ignorance) and irony, it’s believed that the truth cannot be known outside of mathematics and the hard sciences, and a checkpoint has been thrown up by the shock troops of skepto-ignorance, in front of biology, by Creationism.

This means that any attempt to get to truth outside of pure mathematics and physics will offend many people.

Therefore it’s easier to target people with the cruelest of remarks, the more inapplicable the better, since you only have to contend with one person, other people join in on the fun, and if Foucault is to be trusted, you’re doing society’s valuable work of keeping people in line.

Someone dresses neatly for work and even fashionably. Sure, go ahead and post “his fashion sense matches his personality” on the Internet.

Someone can read and even write above a lower bound of complexity which is getting lower according to English profs. Wow, he’s “verbose”, that sounds deep, doesn’t it.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.

And if we call you a micro-Fascist, this is because Fascism is the aestheticization of politics.

“Bernard, I want you to know… that I try. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!”

– Billy Jack

Stanley Fish on motorcycle and Jag-you-are repair and my reply

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 15, 2009 by spinoza1111

Stanley Fish once again displays the haute bourgeois American male’s worship of overpriced and hard to repair machinery and his n-order habits of fetishizing and reification.

My comments are at this writing “awaiting moderation”:

Wow, details at eleven. Liberalism is without core committments, as opposed to conservatism? Give me a break. The problem isn’t that liberalism is without core committments, it’s that people think, unlike Elvis Costello, that peace, love and understanding are amusing and unmentionable as core committments.

I realize, Stanley, that you are not ideological and you don’t fetishize (you would use the word “idolize” in an America where that word is in more common use than “fetishise”). But you wind up fetishizing at a second remove.

You’re a smart guy, therefore I think you’d be the first to admit that for every down-to-earth motorcycle or Jag repair shop operated by a crusty old philosopher who dispenses Deep Wisdom along with craftsmanship, there are small shops operated by crusty old sex perverts and right-wing lunatics from whose bourne no Triumph or Jag-you-are returns undamaged.

You also may realize that those big corporate auto-repair and oil change shops are in many cases the salvation of women rightly intimidated by crusty old men, or indeed any driver without the funds to afford a single bad repair: who doesn’t ride motorcycles or drive Jags for fun, but needs a Hyundai to get to work.

The big shops, like Starbuck’s, guarantee by the book service to the little guy who just needs a repair, or a cup of coffee. And, the majority of their employees are just as dedicated as the denizens of the small shops. They may not themselves be rich enough to be familiar with the charming design quirks of air-conditioning at the high end, but they can repair Ford Escorts, and most of us drive Escorts or take the bus.