Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spain Notes: "I Came to Shoot Crap,
So Let's Shoot Crap!"

So I'm sitting here in Segovia listening to the thunder and to the wind whipping the canvas awning and what have we learned today, children?  We've learned that the rain in Spain falls  mainly on the old Roman aqueduct, lowering over the city like those ostrich-legged invaders from the old Star Wars movie.  Between thunderclaps, wee got to chatting about aqueducts and ticking off all the places Romans built them: Bulgaria, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and so forth all the way up to Wales.  My friend Ignota asks: I wonder why there are so many?

I think I know the answer to that: the Roman's did it because they could do it, that's why.  Fish swim, birds fly, men drink and squirrels have been squirrels for thousands of years. The boys were whiling away an hour down at the vomitorium when young Jupiter Pluvius piped up and said, I got it guys, let's build a coliseum!  a bath!  A highway network!  An aque, aque--one of those long skinny things that brings water down from the mountains!  Who knows, maybe of our descendants in France two thousand years from now can use it as a highway bridge!  Anyway, it's what we do!

All of which just naturally set me to thinking about the guys at Washington Mutual Savings Bank (i.e., now defunct) and their ilk.  Reading Kirsten Grind's admirable history of a once-great bank, you can't help get the sense that what got these folks into trouble was that buying banks was about the only thing they knew how to do, and so they kept on doing it.  Which kept on being fun until it wasn't fun any more and until it became clear that nobody knew how to make the damn thing work.  Which for the Romans led to a long dark age.  We may prayerfully hope for better fortune.  Meanwhile, travel weather note: stuck in the rain in Spain, I heartily recommend hot chocolate.  One thing those Spaniards do really well.

1 comment:

mike shupp said...

More prosaically, memory says there were malaria-infested swamps south of Th, e City (well, swamps infested with malaria-carrying mosquitos, but I don;t know that the Romans had made that connection), Other words, the local water wasn't safe so importing it far off places made some sense,

And as for the peculiar "geft" that me the Romans aqueduct builders, it was the invention of cement, the same miracle product that allowed them to build so many roads and (relatively) tall buildings in their cities. It may have been the ONLY Roman invention, for that matter -- clever people, the Romans, in many ways, but invention just doesn't seem to have been their forte.