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Let them freeze cake.
Author: TriSec    Date: 02/20/2021 12:41:24

Good Morning.

It has dawned dreary and overcast here in Greater Boston, with two or three inches of new snow on the ground. I'm surprised to find it to be a near-balmy 30 degrees on my back deck.

Looking around - well, my lights are on. Water is running. (Hot and cold). I have heat, internet, and a refrigerator full of non-spoiled food.

Definitely not Texas.

Volumes have been written this week about the collapse of the Lone Star State. Decades of their own foibles got them to where we are, and now the rest of the United States is expected to bail them out. We will of course. That's what "United States" means. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for some Texans, but the likely answer is no.

There's no help from their Congressional delegation. Tone-deaf senator Ted Cruz decamped for Mexico at the first sign of any trouble. I actually had some trouble coming up with an immediate metaphor for this - I thought of Ben Guggenheim on the Titanic, drinking brandy with his valet as the end approached, but that's not correct. It's more like White Star Line President J. Bruce Ismay climbing aboard one of the last lifeboats at the last minute.

But then - a headline struck me, and the proper analogy is of course Marie Antoinette. But like most historical anecdotes, it likely never happened.

The phrase was first attributed to Marie Antoinette in 1789, supposedly having been uttered during one of the famines in France during the reign of her husband, King Louis XVI.

Although anti-monarchists never cited the anecdote during the French Revolution, it acquired great symbolic importance in subsequent historical accounts when pro-revolutionary commentators employed the phrase to denounce the upper classes of the Ancien Régime as oblivious and rapacious. As one biographer of the Queen notes, it was a particularly powerful phrase because "the staple food of the French peasantry and the working class was bread, absorbing 50 percent of their income, as opposed to 5 percent on fuel; the whole topic of bread was therefore the result of obsessional national interest."

The phrase appears in book six of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, whose first six books were written in 1765, when Marie Antoinette was nine years of age, and published in 1782. In the book, Rousseau recounts an episode in which he was seeking bread to accompany some wine he had stolen. Feeling too elegantly dressed to go into an ordinary bakery, he recalled the words of a "great princess":

At length I remembered the last resort of a great princess who, when told that the peasants had no bread, replied: "Then let them eat brioches."

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions
Rousseau does not name the "great princess" and he may have invented the anecdote, as the Confessions is not considered entirely factual.

At least there is photographic proof of the Cruz family cavorting on the beach while their constituents turn to blocks of ice.


3 comments (Latest Comment: 02/22/2021 14:50:07 by BobR)
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