Tenther limits

Apparently, the 10th Amendment Sovereignty Movement is all well and good until it begins to effect air pollution requirements:

Because of California’s historical air pollution problems, the federal Clean Air Act gives California the right to establish stricter guidelines than the federal government — so long as it gets a waiver from the EPA. The Obama administration granted the state such a waiver on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, although the state and federal governments wound up agreeing on a joint plan to reduce carbon emissions by about 30 percent by 2025.

Almost from the day he took office, though, Trump has vowed to roll back the Obama standards, and laid plans to revoke California’s waiver.

That prompted California in July to engineer a major coup: Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen cut a deal with Newsom and the California Air Resources Board to reduce carbon emissions at a far swifter rate than the Trump administration wants. The deal represents a compromise on the original Obama standards by giving the automakers an extra year, until 2026, to meet the climate change targets.

Newsom later announced that Mercedes Benz is on the verge of agreeing to the same standards as the other four companies.

The announcement reportedly infuriated Trump. Earlier this month, lawyers for the EPA and the federal Department of Transportation sent a letter to Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols, saying the deal with the automakers appears to be “unlawful and invalid.” Separately, numerous media reported that the U.S. Justice Department had launched an antitrust investigation into the four carmakers’ participation in the deal.

Let’s make sure to stipulate just what we’re talking about here – the ability of the nation’s largest state to reduce carbon emissions. Civil right, gun control, healthcare, and voting standards must all be subservient to the wishes of purity-driven state governments.

Reducing carbon emissions and protecting people, the environment, companies and the Clean Air Act itself is a bridge too far.

Building a Staircase

They call this a WWIII propaganda poster. Okay. So if it’s a how-to kind of day, plus it being summer and the height of the vacation season, maybe we turn to the Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader. This one is How to Buy a House, from Bitter Lemons, 1957.

SABRI TAHIR’S OFFICE IN THE TURKISH QUARTER of the Kyrenia bore a sun-blistered legend describing him as a valuer and estate agent, but his activities had proliferated since the board was painted and he was clearly many things besides. The centre of the cobweb was a dark cool godown perched stategically upopn a junction of streets, facing the little Turkish shrine of some saint or warrior whose identity had vanished from the record, but whose stone tomb was still an object of veneration and pilgrimage for the faithful. It stood under a dusty and desiccated pepper tree, and one could always find an ex voto or two hanging beside it.

Beyond was a featureless empty field of nettles in which stood a couple of shacks full of disembodied pieces of machinery and huhe heaps if uncut carob and olive, mingled with old railway sleepers and the carcasses of buses which turned up her at the end of the trail, as if to some Elephants’ Graveyard, to be turned into fuel. Sabri’s empire was still in an embryonic stage, though ti was quite clear that he was speculating wisely. A circular saw moaned and gnashed all day in one of the shacks under the ministrations of two handsome Turkish youths with green headbands and dilapidated clothes; a machine for making cement blocks performed its slow but punctual evacuations, accompanied by a seductive crunch.

Sabri could watch all these diverse activities from the darkness of his shop…

On that first morning when I stepped into the shadows of his shop, the headquarters of the empire, he was sitting dreamily at his desk mending a faulty cigarette-lighter. His good morning was civil, though preoccupied and indifferent; but as I approached he paused for one instant to snap finger and thumb and a chair materialized from the shadows behind him. I sat down. He abandoned his task and sat silent and unwinking before me. ‘Mr. Sabri,’ I said, ‘I need your help. I have been making inquiries in Kyrenia and on all sides I am told that you are the most untrustworthy man of business in the place – in fact, the biggest rogue.’

He did not find the idea offensive so much as merely interesting. His shrewd eye sharpened a trifle, however, and he lowered his head to scan me more gravely. I went on. ‘Now knowing the Levant as I do, I know that a reputation for being a rogue means one thing and one thing only. it means that one is cleverer than other people.’ I accompanied this with an appropriate gesture – for cleverness in the hand-language is indicated by placing the forefinger of the right hand slowly and portentiouusly on the temple: tapping slightly, as one might tap a breakfast-egg. (Incidentally, one has to be careful, as if one turns the finger in the manner of turning a bolt in a thread, the significance is quite different: it means to be ‘soft in the head’ or to ‘have a screw loose’.) I tapped my skull softly. “Cleverer than other people,’ I repeated. ‘So clever that the stupid are envious of one.’

He did not assent or dissent from the proposition. He simply sat and considered me as one might a piece of machinery if one were uncertain of its use. But the expression in his eyes shifted slightly in a manner suggesting the faintest, most tenuous admiration. ‘I am hee,’ I went on, convinced by this time that his English was good, for he had followed me unerringly so far, to judge by his face, ‘I am here as a comparatively poor man to ask you a favour, not to make you a business proposition. There is no money to be made out of me. But I want you to let me use your brains and experience. I’m trying to find a cheap village house in which to settle for a year or two – perhaps forever if I like it enough here. I can see now that you I was not wrong; far from being a rogue you are obviously a Turkish gentleman, and I feel I can confide myself entirely to your care – if you will accept such a thing. I have nothing to offer except gratitude and friendship. I ask you as a Turkish gentleman to assit me.’

Sabri’s colour had changed slowly throughout this harrangue and when I ended he was blushing warmly. I could see that I had scored a diplomatic stroke in throwing myself completely upon the iron law of hospitality which underpins all relations in the Levant. More than this, I think the magic word ‘gentleman’ turned the trick in my favor for it accorded him an unaccustomed place in the consideration of strangers which he certainly merited, and which he henceforward lived up to in his dealings with me. By a single tactful speech I had made a true friend.

The negotiations continue from there, but you get the idea. I had to look it up but a godown is a kind of warehouse or other storage place. Which completely makes sense. Once again, knowledge wins!

Miller – Durrell letters

Henry Miller was one of the great letter writers of all time, both in prodigious volume and majesterial exposition. But in English novelist Lawrence Durrell, Miller had met his match. Miller and Durrell carried on a correspondence from the time just after they lived in Paris in the ’30’s to well into the 1960’s. Many of the letters have been published; the following is from the ill-titled Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller A Private Correspondence.

Spring 1944, Alexandria, Egypt

Dear Henry,

Yes, I got your letters…

Here we are sweltering in an atmosphere that demands a toast – great passions, short lives. Everything is worn thin as eggshell; it’s the fifth year now and the nervous breakdown is coming out into the open. Old women, ginger dons, nursing sisters begin to behave like bacchantes; they are moving in and out of nursing homes with a steady impetus. meanwhile we are crippled here by an anemia and an apathy and a censorship which prevents the least trace of the human voice – of any calibre. We exist on a machine-made diet of gun bomb and tank – backed up by the slogan.

The atmosphere in this delta is crackling like a Leyden jar. You see, in normal times all the local inhabitants spend six months in Europe a year, so they are as stale and beaten thin as the poor white collar man. The poetry I exude these days is dark grey and streaky, like bad bacon. But the atmosphere of sex and death is staggering in its intensity. Meanwhile the big shots come and go, seeing nothing, feeling nothing, in a money daydream; there is still butter and whisky and cafe viennois. A kind of diseased fat spreads over the faces and buttocks of the local populations, who have skimmed the grease off the war efforts in contracts and profiteering. No, I don’t think you would like it. First the steaming humid flatness – not a hill or mound anywhere – choked to bursting point with bones and crummy deposits of wiped out cultures. Then this smashed up broken down shabby Neapolitan town, with its Levantine mounds of houses peeling in the sun. A sea flat, dirty brown and waveless rubbing the port. Arabic, Coptic, Greek, Levant French; no music, no art, no real gaiety. A saturated middle European boredom laced with drink and Packards and beach-cabins. NO SUBJECT OF CONVERSATION EXCEPT MONEY. Even love is thought of in money terms. “You are getting on with her? She has ten thousand a year of her own.” Six hundred greaseball millionaires sweating in ther tarbushes and waiting for the next shot of root-hashish. And the shrieking personal unhappiness and loneliness showing in every face. No, if one could write a single line of anything that had a human smell to it here, one would be a genius. Add to all this a sort of maggot-dance of minor officual place hunting, a Florentine atmosphere of throat slitting and distrust, and you will have some idea of what anyone with a voice or tongue is up against. I am hoping the war will be over soon so I can quit; I’m glad of this little death for all the material it’s put in my way about people and affairs in general. But I’m worn thin with arse-licking and having my grammar corrected by sub-editors from the Bush Times in South America. Here in Alexandria though, I have my own office and almost no interference; so I can run things the way I like. You always used to laugh when I said I was an executive man, but I was right; my office runs like a top; and the people working for me LIKE it. The basic principe is that of the old blind pianist in Paris – remeber? Edgar’s friend Thibaud or some such name. ” Anything that needs effort to do is being done from the wrong centres; it is not worth doing.” Sometime I’ll tell you how I applied that to the running of an effortless speed organization.

How about a year in Poros now – baked hard rock and glittering sea; followed by autumn in Athens…? No more writing but lying about and taking a long myopic and unbiased view of the universe. Or do you prefer Savings Bonds, Maximum Employment, better plumbing and a prefabricated spiritual life in tune with the Stock Exchange graphs?

If you somehow haven’t read Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, you should be ashamed. And as always, love your neighbor, read your Miller.