Shoes, Insults, Diamonds
October 18, 2012
It's been some years since I first saw this strange style thing on the main street in smalltown Baldwin Wisconsin. Summertime. Sitting curbside on my hog waiting for friends who were having a hard time leaving the cool confines of a tavern full of bikers.
This old farmer guy in bib overalls comes walking by kind of slow and he's wearing big puffy basketball shoes, Air Jordans, all bright white with the tongue sticking up, big laces. Kid style. I figured he might be wearing his grandson's style statements and at the same time telling the world he don't farm no more.
But it gradually came to be a common sight in small towns, which is where one mostly sees old guys on the street. Maybe they were just cheaper than anything else. We got used to it. And in the passing of time I realized it was from wearing off the natural cushion down there. My own soles got thin and began complaining up to me about it. Went shopping for my own Jordans and got my own air cushions, but in black. None of that flashy zoom junior-high stuff.
That eased things but not completely and last week three pairs of worn shoes that weren't that cushy any more got tossed. Went and found these gel-bottom sneakers that replace your lost sole cartilage and float you off the pavement. Sole implants.
But they didn't have the black ones in size 12. "All I've got left in that model are these," he said, holding out these quintessential zoom-flash heylookatme wowzers.
I'd seen similar shoes on other guys who I thought would have more sense than to wear anything that ridiculous. And it took about two minutes of walking around the store in them that I became a convert. Threw off my dignity that quick.
So now the feet are happy and I'm digging the slippery look and nobody else seems to notice. Not one person has said, "So, new shoes, huh? Gettin' kinda sporty are ya?" I like looking at'em when I walk by reflective glass.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Wandering through this computer and opening old files hauled in from its ancestors yielded up a page titled Insults; opened it and found these bits, delivered from way back when antagonistic discourse had a good deal more class than it has these days. Some edgy examples:
When a member of Parliament said to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease," Disraeli returned: "That depends, sir, whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
"One could sail a schooner through his argument and never scrape against a fact," said David Houston of Wm Jennings Bryan.
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) said of someone, "He uses statistics like a drunken man uses lamp-posts -- for support rather than illumination." Walter Kerr remarked of someone else, "He has delusions of adequacy."
Winston Churchill said of Neville Chamberlain: " An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last."
Irvin S Cobb is quoted, without naming the victim, "I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." Forrest Tucker: "He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." Paul Keating: "He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
Mark Twain: "Reader, suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of Congress--; but I repeat myself."
William Inge: "It was said of Mr Gladstone that he could convince most people of most things, and himself of anything."
George Bernard Shaw: "Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few." Shaw once sent a note to Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." The response: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one."
William Faulkner on Hemingway: "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." (Which seems true of nearly all today's writing, Cormac McCarthy being a notable exception). (Not that yours truly is such an expert either.)
Dorothy Parker: "This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force."
Robert Frost: "A mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy and another woman makes a fool of him in twenty minutes."
Billy Wilder: "He has Von Gogh's ear for music" And Groucho Marx said, "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
And this zinger of zingers, from Mae West: "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
Just a sweet little girl from Brooklyn
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We shall now dance naturally and effortlessly on new shoes from Mae West into diamonds. Fred Weir, a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, wrote this last September 17 that, quote, "Trillions of carats lie below a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile-diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigal Astroblem. The Russians have known about the site since the 1970s." The deposit is apparently large enough to supply the world's needs for 3,000 years.
These are "impact diamonds," super hard, twice the hardness of gemstones, created when a meteor smashes into graphite at high velocity. Perfect for industrial use. They kept it a secret, perhaps to protect their large diamond operations at Mirny in Yakutia, which are already profiting rubles by the bazillion. Scientists at the nearby Novosibirsk Institute of Mineralogy were just now permitted by Moscow to talk to the press.
Their director, Nikolai Pokhilenko, said, "The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popical crypto-explosion structure are by a factor of ten bigger than the world's all known reserves. We are speaking about trillions of karats. By comparison present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats."
A 35 carat diamond called the Beau Sancy and worn by Marie de Medici at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henry IV in France in 1610. It was recently sold at auction in Geneva for $9.7 million by Lily Safra, a billionaire who donated the money to her foundation of 32 charities.
Sensational as that all was, scarcely three weeks later on October 11 Reuters headlined a story by Chris Wickham: "A Diamond Bigger Than Earth?"
It's a planet called '55 Cancri e" orbiting a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer. It has a radius twice that of the earth's, meaning it's four times our size, but it's so dense its mass is eight times greater. And it's fast. Really fast. A year lasts less than one of our days, 18 hours -- it has to be whipping around there about 500 times faster than our earth travels. We run at 67,000 miles an hour around our sun and this guy is going about 32 million miles an hour.
And it's super hot, 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, like an acetyline cutting torch. "So, it's like; dude? Why are we talkin' about it, dude?" "Well, it's because the mass of the planet, dude, is like, one third pure diamond. Meaning just the diamond part is bigger than our entire planet, dude."
And it's only forty light years away. Them Russians better not be getting too uppity. (Hard to imagine us running this thing down, but these are remarkable times). This artist's rendering of it must be when it's just coming over the horizon:
Diamond on the rise.
So driving a truck on smooth pavement at about 70 miles an hour seems, well, let's say mundane. But let's also say that there are worse things than mundane. Mudane's not all that bad sometimes. When it comes to the trucking business mundane can be as good as it's gonna get.
This just in -- since finishing this bit, news comes that citizen scientists from the Planet Hunters program have found and confirmed a planet 5000 light years out there called PH1 that has four suns. Four separate suns. It orbits two of them "locked in a tight embrace" while two other suns orbit farther out, looking on like jealous suitors.
This as we watch a fellow called Fearless Felix who flies free-falling to a fine fair flatness from 24 miles up and exceeds the speed of sound by quite a bit -- 834 mph, or Mach 1.24, while millions watch on television. What a time it is in which we live.
©2012 by Russ Ringsak
r dot ringsak at gmail dot com. Drop a line if you feel like it.