Yesterday: charming couple from New Brunswick (Canada), their first trip to New York, "but we can't wait to come again. We've never done so much walking. And the people are so friendly!" We do tricks for spare change too.
I recommended, as I usually do, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting the Cloisters.
They'd read some commentator or other who said Britain's future, thanks to global warming, would have to include, within the next fifty years, defensive measures against - what two nations? (I was asked to guess, and couldn't.) Spain and Italy - because both are semi-arid and will soon lose what ability to feed their populations they possess. Their people will go abroad in droves, heading for the greener pastures of dank Albion.
No time to refute them there (the Cup Room), so I'll do it here. First, Spain and Italy have the lowest birth rates on earth; their rural regions are depopulating even faster than they are dehydrating; Spain is importing scads of Romanian and Bulgarian peasantry to fill up their emptying landscape (where resident males cannot find females willing to marry them and live in the countryside anyway, per Int'l Herald-Trib). Romanians, it was thought, whose language is not all that different from Spanish would be a better bet than Egyptians or Moroccans as capable of being absorbed into the Spanish fabric. But Romanians are, after all, Romanian - a lady from Barcelona was telling me the other day that crime in that city has reached epidemic proportions since the policy went into effect. (Egyptians would be far more law-abiding, I think. Moroccans ... perhaps not.)
Italy, which I visited in April 2006, is now primarily inhabited by Chinese, Indians, sub-Saharan Africans, North African Arabs, Poles and Croats anyway. Those Italians who have not taken jobs in Germany are living at home with Mom and not getting married or reproducing.
As for Britain - its subContinental influx is only daunted by the enormous breakin of Poles who make up most of the crowds in rush hour London these days (November 2006 visit). (A Pole has regretted this to me: he says the young and liberal are leaving for the West and the old and conservative keep right-wing parties in power back home.)
So who's left to keep a finger in the dyke?
Today I had a tooth filled, and my dentist assured me that the world will have ceased to depend on oil before we run out of it, that only big moneyed interests is preventing the technology of post-petroleum from sweeping the world even as we speak. (And he was doing the talking; my mouth was otherwise engaged.) "They won't get away with it this time," he assured me - we were both expecting oil to fade away thirty years ago. His conspiracy theories are more optimistic than mine.
Slogan for a T-shirt: What would Jeeves do?
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