What does it mean that George W Bush, a man who has demonstrated little ability for reflection, who is known to read no newspapers and whose headlong charge into disaster after cataclysm has shown a complete ignorance of history, who wants to throw out centuries of scientific learning and replace it with mythical mumbo-jumbo that he mistakenly calls religion, who preaches Christianity but seems to have never read the teachings of the great anti-war activist, Jesus Christ, is now spending his vacation reading my book, Salt: A World History?FYI: One of the books that Mr. Bush is allegedly reading this month, "Alexander II : The Last Great Tsar," will not be released until October 25, 2005.
Reading the White House propaganda about what a serious reader he is, choosing books of depth rather than beach reads, it occurred to me that this may be an entirely staff-manufactured hoax, designed to give the president the appearance of having an intellectual depth he clearly lacks. But Warren Vieth, a White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, who, bored to the brink of madness in Crawford, Texas where the president was vacationing while the world exploded, interviewed me last week. He assured me that Bush reads books and discusses them in a way that makes clear he has truly read them.
So why was Bush reading Salt, and what could he get out of it? Perhaps, if he did pick it himself, it was because he was once in the Texas oil business that began in 1901 when Patillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas ignored the advice of geologists and drilled around a Texas salt dome called Spindletop.
In many ways, oil replaced salt. Before the age of petroleum, geology was largely dedicated to understanding and locating salt. The technology of drilling rigs and wells was primarily about salt. Because only salted food could be traded, it was the basis of economies. Because armies and navies needed it for provisions and to maintain horses and it was the only known way to cauterise a wound, it was considered strategic. Alliances were formed and wars were fought over it. Several revolutions erupted in part over excessive salt taxes. Queen Elizabeth I had warned England of its dangerous dependence on foreign sea salt.
All of this furore over common salt seems a little silly today. I hope Bush, with his interest in history, will realise that, in time, the fights over oil will look equally foolish. Could this lead to his abandoning his Texas cronies, realising oil is not worth hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq, and that government has the ability to foster research and develop existing technology to move the world away from oil?
Doubtless, after this happens the political leaders of the world will be ready to kill for the next big thing. So maybe he should put my book down, walk outside and talk to the grieving mothers of the American youth he wasted, who are camped in front of the ranch.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
THE PRESIDENTIAL BOOK CLUB
Mark Kurlansky, the author of one of the big-boy books that Mr. Bush is "reading" on the longest presidential vacation in decades, writes in the Guardian (UK):
- ► 2008 (244)
- ► 2007 (349)
- ► 2006 (418)
- NEW ORLEANS LOOTERS IDENTIFIED
- RED CROSS CASH FOR A BLUE CRESCENT CITY
- TEST OF LOGIC
- GOD BLESS THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
- CITIZEN SOLDIERS
- OUR "POPULAR" PRESIDENT, OUR "STRONG" ECONOMY
- "Corruption is just part of our culture"
- START HELPING RIGHT NOW
- WILL ILLINOIS FEEL THE EFFECTS OF HURRICANE KATRIN...
- GOOD LUCK NEW ORLEANS
- LaHOOD: PRESIDENT IS BUSH LEAGUE
- BUSH'S AMERICA
- BATTY PAT
- FALSE DICHOTOMY
- "I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustr...
- “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies......
- BRING FOR ME TOO...
- "You just don't get over that."
- THE PRESIDENTIAL BOOK CLUB
- THE DANGER OF RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
- Christine Cegelis: "Speak out, be bold and have a ...
- SOME PHOTOS FROM CINDY SHEEHAN PEACE VIGIL IN GLEN...
- PRESIDENTIAL COUNTERFACTUALS
- DuPAGE PEACE VIGIL
- AMERICA NEEDS MORE COWBELL!
- "If I no-show tomorrow, would you still remember m...
- SWEET LOOK AT THE "STRONG, BIG-TIME" CEGELIS CAMPA...
- HALF-NAKED JENNIFER ANISTON
- BUSH PROTEST AT CAT PLANT
- DEATH BY VIDEO GAME
- FITZ TO BE TIED?
- SOME FREE ADVICE:
- nothing nice to say
- "Wait, Wait... Happy Birthday"
- "Denny boy"?
- TWO AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS IS NOTHING TO SNEEZ...
- WAR PIGS -- UP 284 PERCENT
- FUNGI CRIBS FUN-GUY
- FUN FACTS!
- ▼ August (39)