I’m back!

And cold, too. But there are only a few centimeters of snow here, so it’s not all that shocking. Still, going from the sunny tropics to Pleistocene Michigan in a day is still a fairly dramatic transition. All my flights went off more or less on schedule, which by itself almost qualifies as evidence of supernatural powers at work.

My wife and I had a great time in the Caribbean. We visited the island of Saint Barthelemy (St. Barth), which despite its reputation is not only a haven for the Mr. Howells and Tara Reids of the world, but also a wonderful little paradise for simply relaxing and soaking up some harmful ultraviolet radiation. The island is part of France, it hosts no poverty at all, and everything is very clean. The food is fantastic French creole, presented by some of the finest chefs in the world, in pleasantly non-haughty, tropically paradisaical restaurants. The beaches are almost completely undeveloped, and the island entirely lacks high-rise hotels, golf courses, all-inclusive resorts, and hostile locals. St. Barth is almost the diametric opposite in these respects to its neighbor island of St. Martin, which is a nightmarish blight on the face of the world. But that’s a different tale for another time.

I love going to St. Barth because while there I can feel a little bit more free than I do at home in the US. I live in a nation that boasts constantly of being the most “free” in the world, but on St. Barth (as in the rest of Europe) I can order a drink – at the ripe age of 43 – and not be interrogated for my papers by a surly wait-person half my age who is under orders to blindly pretend I might be twelve years old. On St. Barth I can drink wine right there on the beach – have a little picnic – without scowling cops patrolling the strand in vigilant searches to destroy every last drop of alcohol and arrest anyone who appears not to be cowering meekly.

On St. Barth (as in most of Western Europe) my wife and I can walk around at night with essentially zero fear of petty crime, and literally zero fear of being shot. Yes, yes, Second Amendment and all that… I realize the door to a truly peaceful society is closed for America, because everyone simply must have a gun to defend themselves against their government. The last eight years of creeping popular fascism in the US have shown us how well thought-out that particular freedom-defense is…. and as I recall, the wackos at Wako lost.

On St. Barth I can lay around buck naked on the beach, gamely trying to work up a tan, and no one gives a damn or even looks twice. Of course not looking twice at me – perhaps even looking away in stunned, convulsive horror – would be a natural reaction for most people, but my point is that on St. Barth’s one has the freedom to flop around in the sea like an albino walrus and the other people on the beach simply don’t care one way or the other… because it isn’t their business, and their business isn’t mine. How about that for novelty?

One day the US will grow up enough to actually not be lying when it claims superlative freedom and justice for all. But until that day comes, I’m glad to have places like Europe – and little Euro-microcosms like St. Barth – to enjoy therapeutically from time to time. The last election gave me some hope that perhaps we’re not all on a one-way trip back into the Dark Ages, but only time will tell on that score.

Anyway, now I’m back and must catch up on a wealth of news. Please stand by as I initiate the assimilation process.

[clicking, whirring, and mechanical coughing sounds ensue…]

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~ by Planetologist on December 18, 2008.

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