Some would say I have decorative feet, what with my rococo toenails and the delicate aroma of a fine Camembert, but this one belongs to an outdoor table at Fairgrounds Coffee. Just immersing myself in the Ghent ambience. Speaking of which, I went to two Naro flicks this weekend, The Good German and Children of Men, both of them heavy with gloom, literally, visually, and both with pessimistic views of human behavior. Pessimism seems like the only appropriate response to the shenanigans of humans. Not that I'm taking my cues from movies--there was plenty of documentation on Sunday's talk shows and reports from Iraq. We Merkans have come to demand so little of ourselves--and understand, I put myself at the forefront of the underdemanders. Our sphere of concern has shrunk so there's barely room for anyone else but ourselves. The more affluent you become, the more you come to feel you deserve it, that you've earned it somehow, and that those who are underneath you are there for a reason. The most generous people I've come across are barely a hair's breadth from those they're helping. For those of us with more resources, helping others is more of an abstraction, something that's carried out by mechanisms that we donate to, with as little disruption of our lives as possible. Because after all there are organizations set up to help that schizophrenic bum on the corner...aren't there?