“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Heartwarming Stories and Warnings from the Ether

In 1986, Mike Membre was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Membre approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Membre worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Membre stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Membre never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Membre was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Membre and his son Cantri were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Membre, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.

The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Membre couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Membre summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Membre's legs and raised him high into the air and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.


On a serious note, here's a 'heads up' for those men who may be regular Home Depot customers.
Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends.

Here's how the scam works:
Two seriously good-looking 20-21 year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look.

When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say 'No' and instead ask you for a ride to another Home Depot. You agree and they get in the backseat. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you while the other one steals your wallet.

I had my wallet stolen September 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, & 24th. Also October 1st, 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th, 30th, three times last Saturday and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

So tell your friends to be careful.


  1. dam if the same thing didnt happen to me...

  2. Glenn Beck is raising hell about the Democrats gutting of the double border fence. He asked Duncan Hunter who is standing in the way. Hunter says Pelosi and the Texas Senators along with Democrat Leadership in the House. He also says Chertoff never wanted the double border fence.

    I am fuming speechless.

  3. And of course, Hunter said that the President never wanted a fence in Texas either.

    Government is increasingly unresponsive to the people. The country is moving in a bad direction.

  4. BTW - Trish, if you see this before you leave, we want to thank you for being a part of this wild and wacky place. We also wish you well and hope that you will return at your first opportunity. We'll miss you and that librarian sensibility which you bring to the table.

    Vaya con Dios...

  5. Trish is leaving?

    More wallets for me.

  6. I second Whit's sentiments, Trish.

  7. Geez, how much is a wallet? At least there's no need for the bottles of beer you'd normally have to buy the ladies.