Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indian Summer and the Berlin Wall

You may recall that I prophesied a long Indian Summer in my September 30 and October 18 postings. I think the current stretch of nice weather has lasted long enough that I can pat myself on the back and say I was right. If that sounds vainglorious, too bad. I don't get to be right very many times, and I'm going to revel in this one.

The Farmers' Almanac called for stormy weather this week in "Ontario," although I'm not sure they know what Ontario is. Not many people do. If you tell someone from Maine (Farmers' Almanac land) that you're from Ontario, they'll say, "Oh, you live near Niagara Falls," and (if you're from Upsala) you'll say, "Yep, it's only about a 22 hour drive from my house." It doesn't make that much difference unless you are trying to lump us together in the same weather forecast. Regardless of who lives where, and in spite of the Farmers' Almanac, Upsala is getting another week of nice, sunny Indian Summer weather. (Niagara Falls is too, by the way).

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. No, it has nothing to do with firefighting or Northwestern Ontario, but a significant event nonetheless. Here is a site that talks about it. Also, an interview with Gorbachev, who was another key player in that drama.

The love of money may be the root of all evil, but the love of control is the root of all misery. Humans have a natural inclination toward totalitarianism. It starts with peer pressure on the playground ("if you want to be part of this club, you can't wear those dorky shoes"), and ends with ridiculous extremes like the Berlin Wall ("our communist Utopia is so wonderful that we will shoot you if you try to leave.")

Ridiculous regimes didn't end in 1989 with the Cold War. I've been following a blog by Yoani Sanchez, a clandestine Cuban blogger that is regularly persecuted for speaking her mind in a land that hates non-conformist opinions. Her most recent entry left me stunned that there are still such totalitarian dinosaurs hanging on in the western hemisphere.

It really doesn't matter what label you use - Communism, Fascism, Religion - total control is the enemy of healthy development.

Come to think of it, there is a connection between the Berlin Wall and Northwestern Ontario. People move to places like Upsala because they want to live free-style, with a minimum of governmental rules to cramp their activities. But people don't always know what's good for them. Even a freedom lover like me believes in the benefit of a few governmental rules . . . . so I tell people to maintain their smoke alarms and build safe buildings . . . and suddenly I'm the evil despot. There's got to be a balance somewhere.

The weather is one thing that humans haven't figured out how to control, thank goodness. I don't like blizzards and -40 degree weather, but imagine the potential chaos of Castro or Harper or Obama trying to manage the balance of nature. They can't even balance the budget on most days.

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