Animal news: did I mention cicadas?

I did. But only in passing through the poisonous caterpillars. So, this, from Harper’s Weekly Review:

A White House press corps flight to the summit was delayed because one of the plane’s engines was filled with cicadas. “We apologize to our charter customers,” read a statement from Delta, “for this rarest of entomological delays.”

…”this rarest of entomological delays…” So sweet, so brilliant.

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Animal news of the not-so-good kind

Poisonous caterpillars. In Maine. Ugh.

Be warned:

While parts of the country deal with swarms of cicadas this summer, Maine is struggling with an infestation of an invasive species of caterpillar with poisonous hairs that can cause people to develop painful rashes and even breathing problems.

The caterpillars, known as browntail moths, are about 1.5 inches long and have white dashes down their sides and two red dots on their backs.

Sorry, no, I don’t care how pretty and colorful you are, guys. I have a chronic bronchial condition and I am getting nowhere near you.

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NetFlix and infrastructure

I hear you asking, “What does NetFlix have to do with infrastructure?”

And I’m here to answer that question. Least I could do since, in truth, I asked it.

I’m new to NetFlix and it’s been a time of psychological adjustment. As I told you, I feared I’d gotten stuck in a cave of assassin movies and would never get out again.

I got out. And into a genre I enjoy and am experienced with: international TV cop series. My experience came from MhZ, a streaming service I once gobbled up like a gourmand at an expansive bat mitzvah buffet. There was so much to love.

So now I’m enveloped in NetFlix’s variety of crime series. And I’m learning a lot. For instance, did you know Luxembourg has its own language? Yep, it’s called Luxembourgish, and is a combo of a bunch of languages some of which my ear can’t pick up.

So anyway, I’ve been through Capitani, the Luxembourg series, and can report Luxembourg has at least one moderately attractive town and a whole lot of forest. Beyond that, I dragged out my atlas to pin down where exactly Luxembourg is. I found it; it’s on a page with a number of other countries and is about the size of my thumbnail. It is smaller than Rhode Island.

It is also very very rich. From the part of my brain where peripheral and questionable  information may be stored, I recall Luxembourg is a major tax haven, i.e., it’s where billionaires keep their money.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to discuss.

In Capitani, there are many helicopter or drone shots of cars traveling along roads, through that forest. The same is true for Le Forêt, a French cop TV series. Well, of course, you’ve noted: Le Forêt means the Forest, so it figures there’d be a number of shots of forests.

Around the third episode or so, I found myself saying out loud, “What a gorgeous road!” And it was gorgeous: a perfect dark surface bisected with white lane lines so flawless, so clean they glowed. Actually, there were three white lines; besides the center divider, two equally thick ones ran along each side, presumably to warn drivers not to swerve into the forest.

I had the same reaction to Le Forêt. Throughout its many, many episodes (I learned to take a leisurely approach to these series, which continue sort of forever), my attention was grabbed by the perfection of the roads. And whenever there were bridges, which there were, the bridges were beautiful, too. No rust, no crumble. The modern bridges were structurally sculptural, as if artists as well as engineers had devoted time to their design and construction.

But it wasn’t only France and Luxembourg with perfect roads. Among the series (and languages) I was watching were cop shows in Finland, Iceland and Germany. And again, the roads and bridges were beautiful. The German autobahn is a work of art.

The Scandinavian crime shows, of course, also involved boats and marinas. Although the marinas were not stunning (for one thing, all the marina locations I recall were filmed at night, or what passes for night in Scandinavian countries, and it’s hard to see the condition of marinas in limited film lights), they were intact. Not so one of our New York marinas, the one at 79th Street on the Hudson. Today, West Side Rag reported the marina is in such rotten shape, it has to be shut down entirely to be reconstructed.

So pretty quickly my wonder at the infrastructure of Europe and Scandinavia wandered to ours in the U.S.A. I have never in this country seen anything like those roads and bridges. Never. And I worked at it, calling up my visual memory of roads I’ve driven throughout the country and, of course, my own city and surroundings.

I just looked out of my window onto West End Avenue. Compared to the TV roads, it could be running through a third world city. And the white lines? Spotty and faded.

It pains me to have written that.

But it renews my enthusiasm for Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans, under the rubric Build Back Better.

Aside from everything I’ve loved about that plan, thanks to NetFlix I’m now yearning for roads and bridges like European and Scandinavian countries. I want to look out of my window in a couple of years and see bright white lane markers and smooth consistent asphalt, and imagine all the roads in the U.S. looking like that in helicopter shots. And no bridges collapsing into the water beneath them.

Not too much to desire, is it?






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