Friday, April 10, 2009


  • It must be Spring, because I'm desiring more and more to leave The Beach these days. Time to return to the waves, hoping not to be molested by waterborne economic terrorists. Although I trust the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and its alumni to keep me safe there.
  • I am afraid that some wife-beater-wearing mouth-breather might accuse me of being wealthy, which is what the wretched boors and goons around here allege is the affliction of the well-mannered around here. The knuckle-draggers are trying to light their misbegotten ClassWar!™ fires once again.
  • If there is any one thing that my politically-disposed family taught me as I grew up, it's that politics is a social science at its heart.
  • I was immersed in that community by people who took to it rather easily and seemed to enjoy it. So, much like the kid whose dad turns the boat over to teach him how to swim, I was thrown into the world of "times" and parties and glad-handing and back-slapping and "haw-haw-haws" and "whoa-HOs" with little ceremony or thought as to how a kid might flail about until he manages to get his head above water.
  • Thirty-five years later, how do you apologize to some Fall River politician that you told to "Shut up and go home!" when he was yelling at your bedroom door at two in the morning because he thought that it was the bathroom? And how do you handle the politician who admits -- on the air -- to a crush on a member of your family? Or the one who wags a finger and says, "Oh. Yeah. I remember you."
  • Ultimately, it's about being sociable. It's about considering others, their needs, opinions, and feeling. Whether you like, agree with, or care about them.
  • The vigilant political mind does not say, "Ignore them, they'll go away." The discerning political mind does not ever say, "I don't need them." The considerate political mind cannot afford to insult anyone. And doesn't.
  • Even in small-town antediluvian irrelevancies like a seat on a masquerade representative body like Town Meeting. Since the anachronism is still there, Dartmouth has to people it with busy-bodies and know-it-alls who are sure that they know what's best for the town.
  • Town Meeting, though, does make everyone in Dartmouth think that they can make some difference in the town. This turned out very badly a few years back when some self-important bonehead insisted that the town should split itself in half in as indecorous and ignoble fashion as possible over -- what else? -- taxes.
  • Like the people who think that "free speech" means foul language, some people think that democracy means imposing selfishness, even on those of us who would rather be democratic and not be selfish.
  • I was taught that involvement in politics requires a certain amount of familiarity with and goodwill toward your constituents and fellow residents. You know: get out, mingle with the common or uncommon folk who also have a stake in your community. You might even want to mention your candidacy to the neighbors. Drop a note in their mailbox, or maybe wave or be in some way pleasant or... neighborly.
  • Unless, of course, there is some political machine or special club or "interest" that ensures that you get the votes. Which begs a whole new list of questions.
  • Certainly, an informed citizenry must seek answers in order to be informed, but scratching for facts by hunting out arcane sources and rooting around in obscure places is absurd and hampers the process. I mean, I'm not sure I really want you representing me if you're so presumptuous as to think that I'll vote for you just because you've always been there or because you live on my street without so much as a "how do you do."
  • Of course, if you're just looking for your name in the paper or trying to garner attention for yourself, you could always become a flasher.
  • Like the "environmental activists" in New Bedford who changed the name of their effective neighborhood group to something more generic and then started a half-hearted ClassWar!™ by blaming "non-profits" for the problems of "the poor."
  • Unfortunately, the specific "poor" mentioned don't do anything but hold out their grimy paws, stamp their little feet, make uninformed calls to talk radio, and give themselves prizes for their own misconceived "citizenship" and "activism."
  • (One of the characters in the above-linked story is one of the same guys who mouthed off at me, incorrectly thinking that he paid my salary since it said "New Bedford" on the door of the museum where I worked. I mentioned them here. So I may be apt to pre-judge.)
  • My advice to these would-be also-rans (besides "learn what a 4-way stop is" and that "uh-huh" is not the correct response to "thank you" ) : Learn about the positive effects of correctly-administered politics. And become intelligently involved with the people and politics in your town without becoming a menace and nuisance to the people and politics of your town.
Also: Town Meeting Member

Dartmouth: The neighbor's trailer shows solidarity with the Maersk Alabama


bigsam27 said...

you wrote:
and that "uh-huh" is not the correct response to "thank you".

another incorrect response is no problem.

It just KILLS me when I hear that... but then maybe I'm just getting old and bitter.

/get off my damn lawn!

ThirdMate said...

Let's say you're, oh, fifty feet above the deck, trying to free a tangled knotted gasket on the topsail yard.

You'd left your marlinspike below, but you notice that your mate a few feet to port on the yard has his. You ask to borrow it, and he passes it to you, saying "Here." You grasp the tool, say "Thank you" and he releases the tool, saying "You're welcome."

It's a code, you see? "Thank you" means "I've got it" and "You're welcome" means "I'm letting go of it."
A marlinspike or knife or any other couple of pounds of pointy metal, dropped from that height can cause some serious damage.

So: yes, an audible "You're Welcome" is an essential part of the exchange.

(Although I'm sure that on French ships they say pas de problem and Spanish, de nada which are like "no problem," but I've never crewed on a galleon or grand voilier.)

chuck said...

Sorry bigsam27. I don't know you but if you like PJ you can't be all bad. I'm a "no problem" child. Maybe it's because the snarkier of my gen tend to use "your welcome" as a jab, but I feel better answering someone's thank you with the assurance that what I'd done wasn't a bother. Of course in formal attire "your welcome" is used.

ThirdMate said...

You're both good hands. Some say "larboard" while others say "port."

At a favorite Mexican restaurant, the waitstaff always mutters "d'nada" ("it's nothing") anytime I say gracias. Because it's an answer, a social response. Better than a grunt or nothing at all. And snark is never the intent.

Anyone who is so socially insecure that they turn "you're welcome" into a "jab" has serious issues. Better rethink that one before coming aboard, I say to them.