A Proposition

Candidate Amethyst Rock Replacement

Dear beach bums—I have a proposition for you. I propose that we substitute the old Amethyst Rock down at the Doelle end of the beach, with the above bauble. You can’t really tell by the photo, but they are about the same size. Now I understand that in its current form, it would be a bit difficult to stand on, at least barefoot. Its sharp crystals would surely hurt, but hear me out. We can leave the original Amethyst Rock where it is and you, “traditionalists”, can continue to march down the beach and commune with it, as you always have. In the meantime, we’ll just set this new one up in front of the cabin. I figure that in a few years, wind, wave and water will smooth its exterior to the smoothest finish of purple beach glass that you have ever seen. And because it will be right in front of the cabin, when were all old and doddering, it will still be accessible, as they say. Are you on board with this plan? Good!

Now there is just one little teensy-weensy other thing. This Amethyst Rock is currently located in the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, in its Minerals and Gems gallery. Woah there, it’s not like it is in the same room as the Hope Diamond, so don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I’m sure that it’s not that well-guarded. With your help, I’m sure that we could pull this little caper off. I know what you are thinking. He goes off to DC, without any adult supervision and this is what he comes up with. While that may be true, it is not entirely my own idea. Before I went to Natural History, I was in the National Archive. Have you ever seen the movie, National Treasure?

In this movie, Nichols Cage steals the Declaration on Independence. It is all part of an elaborate scavenger hunt. He is trying to find the treasure of the Knights Templar, who the Founding Fathers hid, because they were all Free Masons. Clear? Anyway, he has to steal the Declaration on Independence, because the next set of clues are secretly written on its back. Once stolen, he then has to Q-tip lemon juice on to it to make the invisible ink reappear. I guess by now, I should have told you to suspend your disbelief at the door. Anyway, it all works out, he finds the treasure, get the girl and the document in question is not too worse for wear. Except when I viewed it today, it looked horrible. About all that you could still read is, “In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776”, “The unanimous Declaration […] States of America,” and “John Hancock”. I don’t think Nick Cage is all that responsible for this deterioration.

As I was waiting in line to get in, I got to eavesdrop on the spiel of a private tour guide that the family in line before me had hired. He was good and apparently our forefathers were not. Or at least they were none too kind to the Declaration on Independence. In 1823 President John Quincy Adams ordered 200 copies of the document to be printed. The printer used a wet-ink transfer process, where the surface of the document was moistened, and some of the original ink transferred to the surface of a copper plate, which was then etched so that copies could be run off the plate on a press. Then for 35 years the original document was displayed on a wall in the Patent Office, where it was exposed to sunlight and Washington’s horridly humid summers. If faded badly and now is unreadable, as are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So, it’s no wonder that Trump behaves as if there is no Constitution—Now, where was I going again?

Big Lift’s Happy River

Big Lift’s Happy River

NPR has been tracking retail prices, to gauge the effects of tariffs on consumer costs. They picked a particular Walmart in Georgia and compiled a shopping list of a 100 items. Items selected to run the gamut of all the many different things that Americans regularly buy. They published an article that compares the prices from a year ago to now. Here is a link to their article. Cod and cabbage lead the list with the largest jump in price, but these price increases have more to do with bad weather than with tariffs. While garlic, with the third largest price jump is a good example of the effects of tariffs. What got me interested in this subject, was the higher price of toilet paper that I had already noticed. Apparently, this price increase is not tariff related either, but is because of higher transportation costs for its raw material, wood pulp. Some things on their shopping list have gone down in price, but unfortunately I had failed for the most part to notice these changes. This is because for the most part I don’t but those items often enough to notice the changes. China’s reverse tariffs have forced down the price on some seafood items like shrimp and lobster. Even though Saint Louis is as landlocked as you can get, I’ll have to have to start shopping for more shellfish. Most of the items on the NPR list did not change in price.

The pictured salty is not likely to carry any of the shopping items on the NPR list. With its larger than normal cranes, it is designed to carry outsized cargos. A popular example of this type of cargo are wind turbine blades. With this ship’s name, Happy River, I leapt to the conclusion that it was of Chinese origin, but now I am not so sure. It was built in the Netherlands and was likely deadheading back down, after dropping off turbine blades that usually come from Germany.

I think that the protectionist trade policy that the current administration has adopted is horribly misguided. Trade wars are not easy to win. Especially, when you try to go mano a mano and all alone against a command economy. The latest round of US tariffs have been delayed until after the rush of this year’s holiday shopping season. That means that the real bite from tariffs won’t be felt until next year, which also happens to be an election year. We’ll see how happy voters are about getting a huge sales tax, just in time for next year’s election.