Monday, November 2, 2009

End Of Summer

Saturday saw the last regular Midtown Farmers’ market. Barbara was at the East Side Co-op sampling, and I backed Jason up at the market. People were eager to stock up -- nuts for the winter -- and we ran out of Smokies, and made big dents in the other flavors. Sunday Barbara and Jason baked 180 pounds, a record amount.

This was also the last market for Chase Brook Farm, who are packing up and going back east. It gripes my guts that somebody who is trying to do right by the environment and create wealth goes out of business, while idiots who farm from their desks, and foul our nest can ride out an economic storm.

I got a letter from my cousin. Our grandmother had given her a cemetery plot in Chicago as a wedding present -- lets say -- thirty-five years ago. Apparently possession of the title wasn't good enough for the archdiocese, and Marty needed me to go to a notary and sign something that said I didn't care. I don't, and I toddled over to the bank for a little one-man signing ceremony. Marty's letter was formal enough that I was a little put off, and I have an idea that she didn't write it. I'd been doing some design exercises in my sketch book, and worked a note into one page's composition: "I'd forgotten that Grandmother had given you a cemetery plot as a wedding gift. That's a premise for a sitcom episode. I don't think I could have kept a straight face. Still, it's kind of beautiful when I think of it. Use it in good health."

Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the race for the Afghan presidency Sunday, assuring current president Ahmed Karzai’s re-election.

Abdullah is an MD, has been the Afghan Foreign Minister, and was active in resisting Soviet occupation as well as the Taliban. He accuses Karzai of rigging next Saturdays election, and the August 20 preliminary election was tainted with bribery, armed coercion, and ballot stuffing. Even so, Abdullah’s withdrawal seems convenient, and resonates with electoral fraud in next-door Iran, which probably didn’t affect that election’s results, but did galvanize opposition to the sitting government.

Hamid Karzai is Afghanistan’s twelfth president. Like Abdullah, he was active in resitance to the Soviets. He supported the Taliban, then broke with them. He has been president since 2002, and chaired the governing committee between Operation Enduring Freedom’s evicting the Taliban until then. he has a younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, with reputed ties to narcotics smuggling. Hamid refused an offer from the US in 2004 to use herbicides to eradicate the poppy crop because of its importance to Afghanistan’s economy.

I don’t care which of these characters is Afghanimanian president, but I do recognize a historical soap opera when I see one. It makes me think of the coup and assasination of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. Diem had reisted the Japanese occupation, and held colonial positions between the end of WWII and French departure in 1954. In 1955 he prevailed in establishing a republican government in South Vietnam, with himself as president. He was authoritarian, even repressive, with self-immolating Buddhist monks representing resitance to his regime. In 1963 Vientnamese generals removed him from office and executed him.

Which isn’t to say that Karzai is a tyrant, or predict that he will end up shot in the back of a military van. It’s more to point out a parallel instability. Last week the Onion’s headline read, “U. S. Continues Quagmire Building Effort in Afghanistan.” I voted for Barack Obama hoping for an FDR. I think I’m getting an LBJ.

Barbara and I dropped in on Sam's and Marissa's Halloween party Saturday night, and left early so as not to cramp anybody's style. We got to sample the mad Scientist India Pale Ale, and the older Steam Punk Beer. Good stuff.

Tomorrow’s election day. It’s ranked-choice voting’s trial run. We vote for our first, second, and third choices for city office. There’s a mayoral race, as well as City Council, Board of Estimate and Taxation, and Park Board Races, and a proposition to fold the Board of Estimate and Taxation into the City Council.

For mayor (in order): Kolstad, Rybak, Lombard.

For Ninth Ward Council Member (in order): Bicking, Schiff, and no third choice.

For At-Large Park Board Commissioner (in no particular order): Nordyke, Anderson, Fine.

For District 3 Park Board Commissioner: Vreeland.

For Board of Estimate and Taxation (in order): Becker, Townsend, Wheeler.

Should the City Council take over the board of Estimate and Taxation duties? No.

No comments: