Monday, April 30, 2012

Thomas Paine, Environmentalist?

Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason is one of those books that you can’t stop thinking about, and one that I wish I’d read years ago.  The polymath’s rapier wit, beautiful language, and passionate defence of religion against Christianity make it a stirring read.

One question that arose for me after I put the book down was this: Was Thomas Paine an environmentalist?  Of course the answer is no, in the most basic sense.  I don’t think that environmentalism took its place among the world’s –isms until the second half of the twentieth century.  But it is a movement and a philosophy (or more accurately, perhaps, a collection of movements and philosophies) which had a variety of historical antecedents, and in some way I think you could use Paine’s treatise on religion as a point of departure for one particular way of thinking about people and their environments in a fashion that might today make one an environmentalist, or enable one to think of oneself as an environmentalist in a way that many current approaches to religion do not.

Paine was not an atheist.  In his chapter ‘The Author’s Profession of Faith’ he sets out where he stands:  “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.  I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy”. 

Paine was a deist, and his religious belief in a creator was accompanied by a visceral contempt for the world’s various established churches.  “I do not”, he declared, “believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of.  My own mind”, he continued in perhaps one of the simplest and most elegant statements of humanism ever written, “is my own church”. 

In his repudiation of what he considered the lying, self-interested, and fundamentally dishonest machinations of Christian leaders,  Paine remarked, “I totally disbelieve that the Almighty ever did communicate any thing to man, by any mode of speech, in any language, or by any kind of vision, or appearance, or by any means which our senses are capable of receiving, other than by the universal display of himself in the works of the creation, and by that repugnance we feel in ourselves to bad actions, and disposition to good ones”.  Much of The Age of Reason is given over to a brutal, painstaking , and convincing dismantling of the Old and New Testaments, and Paine wrote acerbically, “I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything it in that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system” (chapter XIII).

For Paine, the natural world was a far more telling and honest testament to the existence of a creator than any of the religious documents which he regarded as so many compilations of lies and forgeries (“The word of God is the Creation we behold”, chapter IX).  And in that world, he saw a clarion call beckoning humans to use their powers of reasoning and logic, to embrace scientific and moral inquiry, and to reserve to themselves, on the basis of reasoning, logic and rigorous inquiry, the right to determine what was true of the world and what was not.

There was nothing, Paine believed, so injurious as “mental lying”, whereby “a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believed”.  In so doing, Paine believed, “[man] has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime” (chapter I).  In Paine’s view, no person should take the word of another person on matters of such fundamental importance as morality and spirituality, and Christianity, together with other religious systems, entraps people through a series of myths little different to those imagined by their Greek and Roman predecessors (except, he asserted with characteristic wit, in the total absence of literary merit or imagination that had characterised their ‘pagan’ predecessors). 

But to return to Paine’s view of the natural world...  This world, he believed, had been created especially to inform man of the workings of great natural forces, of universal laws, of principles of geometry, of natural hydraulics.  And as a text, unlike those of religious systems, it was democratic: “[creation] is an ever existing original, which every man can read.  It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed.  It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the we want to contemplate his power?  We see it in the immensity of the creation.  Do we want to contemplate his wisdom?  We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed.  Do we want to contemplate his munificence?  We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth...” (chapter IX).

Paine took on the Christian critique of science, and wondered at the temerity of Christian leadership in “[calling] the sciences ‘human inventions’ would be ignorance, or something worse, to say that the scientific principles, by the aid of which man is enabled to calculate and foreknow when an eclipse will take place, are an human invention.  Man cannot invent any thing that is eternal and immutable” (chapter XI). 

The attack of the Church on Galileo was a manifestation of its dishonesty, and attack on the “true theology”, that is, “the structure of the universe that has taught this knowledge to man”.  This structure, to Paine, was “an ever-existing exhibition of every principle upon which every part of mathematical science is founded” (chapter XI, XII), and to turn their back on it was a reprehensible display of malice and stupidity on the part of Christians. 

Paine described with awe the “immensity of worlds revolving in the oceans of space”.  Even here he saw the natural world as a kind of scripture.  “Of what use is it”, he wrote, “unless it be to teach man something, that his eye is endowed with the power beholding, to an incomprehensible distance, an immensity of worlds revolving in the oceans of space?  Or of what use is it that this immensity of worlds is visible to man?  What has man to do with the Pleiades, with Orion, with Sirius, with the star he calls the north star, with the moving orbs he has named Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury, if not uses are to follow from their being visible?  A less power of vision would have been sufficient for man, if the immensity he now possesses were given only to waste itself, as it were, on an immense desert of space glittering with shows.  It is only by contemplating what he calls the starry heavens, as the book and school of science, that he discovers any use in their being visible to him, or any advantage resulting from his immensity of vision.  But when he contemplates the subject in this light, he sees an additional motive for saying, that nothing was made in vain; for in vain would be this power of vision if it taught man nothing” (chapter XI).


I quote Paine, and describe some of his ideas about the significance of the natural world not because I agree with his philosophy, but because his is a strikingly different way of approaching our physical surroundings from a religious standpoint from that adopted by religious figures in the United States today.  Paine’s philosophy is not environmentalism, nor, I think, even a proto-environmentalism.  But it is a view of the world that would be easily reconciled with care for the planet and concern over its health.

On the one hand, some Christians in the U.S. today almost totally repudiate the applicability of science.  This has been a creeping occurrence, which started in a ferocious opposition to evolution (which Paine would likely view as simply one more manifestation of a creator’s hand, one which could hold many lessons for human society).  At Foothill High School, a public school, most of the biology teachers took it upon themselves to leave evolution out of the curriculum (and we wonder why our educational standards are debased when compared to those of other nations).  This opposition has been transformed, as the application of reason now questions relentless growth and consumption, into an opposition to their use in the fields of climate change and energy development.  It would be one thing for Christian hacks (I’d call them philosophers, but none of them today merit the descriptor) to engage with the moral questions scientific inquiry is raising, but by and large they answer the challenge with recourse to the “You can’t say that” formula, invoking a rigid, man-made doctrine two thousand years old.

But Christianity in some of its forms, through this bizarre rigidity, has not only begun to question science, but to position itself “against” the environment or, more specifically, against its protection.  Proponents of this logically bankrupt approach subscribe to the belief that because (and here they are with Paine) the world was created, and because it was created for human beings, those human beings have not only the right but the obligation to use its resources as carelessly, as greedily, and as unsustainably as possible, thereby fulfilling some hazily-articulated divine wish carried down over the years by that frailest of communicatory methods, word of mouth, in a kind of epic generational ‘telephone game’.

I think you can see where proponents of this view depart from Paine, who believed that the world comprises a series of “objects for gratitude and admiration” rather than waste and destruction (chapter VI).  This kind of wanton consumption, in Paine’s book, is a violation of the canvas which was painted as a kind of instruction manual to the world, to human society and morality, to life. 

When he penned his tract in 1793, Paine believed that humankind was entering into an Age of Reason, in which superstition would give way to logic and where the cheap immorality of the world’s religious systems would be usurped by the exercise of man’s own mind in the service of humankind’s needs.  Humanism may have been in the ascendancy then, but it has since encountered many obstacles, few more substantial than the calculatedly dishonest use of one religious creed or another to sanction the seemingly inexorable destruction of our planet’s resources.  Paine’s The Age of Reason provides one illustration of why there is no real reason other than human selfishness that science and religion need stand in opposition to one another, and for that reason alone, is worth reading and also thinking about.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whither the University of California?

I’ve been somewhat out of the UC loop this last year, and so was surprised to read in the Record Searchlight that system President Mark Yudof was on the road and made a stop in Redding. 

I won’t pretend to be a fan of Yudof, who won notoriety throughout the University of California when, in the course of an insultingly flippant interview with the New York Times he likened his role to managing a cemetery, and said of his role, “I smile, I shake hands, I tell jokes” (and on campus, he looks like one).  He and the campus Chancellors were reprehensibly relaxed for far too long about the crisis higher education faces in California.  Their solution has been to move too quickly towards a pay-to-play system (and they’ve been helped by the system’s governing body, the Regents, who count amongst their number the likes of Richard Blum, our own Senator Feinstein’s husband, and a man who has invested in for-profit education).

Some might say that’s fine, particularly when, as Yudof remarked in his interview with the Searchlight, the system remains capable of providing significant financial aid for students.  But to the $4,400 average figure for tuition he quotes, you should add around $15,000 in living expenses.  Students are looking at around $80,000 across four years.  And the $4,400 figure is an average, so there are some who are paying more.  And you might say, ‘Well, they fall in the top income bracket, so their parents can afford it’.  But high fees, even if they’re just on paper, remain a barrier particularly to students who are the first in their families to attend university.  They often attend schools without adequate counselling staff and so, without the supportive and knowledgeable network which can reassure them of the affordability of university, they are less likely to apply.  And even those who are likely to benefit from financial aid might well stop and wonder how long such aid will be available given the financial uncertainty that plagues UC thanks to Californians’ disinvestment from what is probably the state’s most successful institution.

My bigger trouble with all of this is that, as Yudof points out, UC benefits the state as a whole, and it used to be a genuinely public institution.  It remains so in name, which is important, but in financial terms, it is nearing privatisation, for very little of its funding comes from the state.  California’s disinvestment has prompted Berkeley’s Chancellor to suggest that the flagship campus might look at going its own way, or at doing a deal with the federal government.  Berkeley and UCLA might be able to make this transition by trading on their better-established reputations, but both they and the state would be much the poorer for it.  By shifting the financial burden away from the community which benefits from UC, and squarely onto the shoulders of students and their parents, we are turning education into a service, primarily concerned with the relationship between service-provider and customer, rather than a moral and social endeavour between a society and the individuals which comprise it.  People are thrown back on their own resources, and the mission of the university is diminished as it is forced to abandon its commitment to public service.   

Dire economic straits haven’t stopped UC administrators from launching various cost-cutting programs (Berkeley’s is called Operation Excellence, and the misnomer is so obvious that it’s a laughingstock on campus).  This essentially means that large numbers of consultants are paid six figures, and the administrators multiply like rabbits while lecturers are sacked, departments and divisions are cut, and classes are axed.  People often rail against the supposed fat at UC.  There certainly is some.  But it’s not in the academic sphere, and it is not supported by professors, students or staff.

Jenny Espino pointed out that Yudof sees an era of retrenchment ahead for UC “even as Chancellors tell him as many as 40,000 potential students could be served statewide”.  And the state needs those graduates.  Read the following from the enlightening document, A Portrait of California, published in 2011:

“Educational attainment is a key driver of earnings, more so today than in the past.  In 2009, workers with graduate degrees had median incomes of $73,000, and workers with bachelor’s degrees had median incomes of $52,000; by contrast, high school graduates had incomes of about $27,000, and those without high school diplomas roughly $18,500.  The United States is not producing enough highly skilled workers to meet labor market demand, and the earnings of such workers are thus increasing sharply in comparison to the wages of people with less education.  The problem is acute in California.  The Public Policy Institute of California forecasts that if current trends continue, by 2025, California will have 1 million fewer college graduates than its labor market will demand; about a third of working-age adults will have bachelor’s degrees, but the economy will need four in ten workers to have them” (117).

So now, in other words, is not the time to be jabbering about the ‘elitism’ of higher education as a former presidential candidate was just last month.  Upping the number of college graduates won’t just mean more jobs for our citizens, more innovation for our state and society, and a more balanced economy for California; it also means greater equality, for it would check the growing income gap (and the concomitant gap in access to services and a decent living standard that such an income gap presages) referred to above. 

You could make a philosophical argument for UC, but beyond that, all the evidence suggests that it’s simply a very sensible investment for the public.  We’ll all benefit from greater income equality; from innovation in the fields of science, technology and medicine; from the training of people to think and act critically in the context of our enfeebled political discourse; and from the contributions that skilled members of the workforce will make to our collective economic endeavour.

But there will be no UC Redding, because in the for-profit model of education towards which California is drifting, there is no money in building new campuses…only the potential to do a lot of social and economic good for the region and the state.  As little respect as many of us at UC have for our system and campus leadership, these people ultimately don’t have much say about UC’s funding.  That fault lies with the legislature (most governors have supported UC, Schwarzenegger more successfully than Brown), and with the voters who stand behind them.  And because of state disinvestment from higher education, UC is turning towards a for-profit model. 

I’ve outlined some concerns about what this means elsewhere in more detail, but in broad terms this will eventually mean educating a smaller, more economically-select group of students from within California together with more international and out-of-state students, marking a deviation from the public mission of the system (Yudof and Berkeley’s out-going Chancellor Robert Birgeneau have been eager to recruit more students particularly from East Asia at the expense of Californians).  It might mean specialised campuses in which students might not have access to the full spectrum of degrees, something which would not only impoverish the content of a university education, but which would play havoc with funding models such as ‘eligibility in the local context’.  It might mean a tightening of the breadth of a UC education, a breadth which is the great strength of higher education in the U.S.  It would mean an orientation, in terms of scientific and technological research, towards the short-term goals of industries (the English university system, having been basically privatised overnight by David Cameron’s government, is already moving in this direction to the great dismay of researchers, many of whom have begun flocking to the U.S. and Canada where cuts and the extent of privatisation have been less severe), which has the effect of stifling real innovation, free-thinking, and would likely have precluded many of the breakthroughs in recent decades in such fields. 

It also means that fields like history, philosophy, literature, politics, and anthropology—all of those fields which are instrumental to the fostering of critical, humanistic thought—are being left out in the cold.  It will be harder and harder for graduate students to get funding in these fields because they aren’t seeing as providing a financial return on the investment (Newt Gingrich’s claims aside, most of us aren’t going to be ‘historians’ for Fannie and Freddie).  But worse still, it means that undergraduates will be discouraged from pursuing such degrees because all the emphasis is on marketable skills.

Retrenchment in higher education is bad for California as a whole.  But it’s particularly sad for a place like Redding which, as both the editorial and Tiffany Felicienne point out, could benefit hugely from a UC or CSU campus. 

Think about these statistics (from A Portrait of California): 12.4% of Shasta County residents have less than a high school degree.  19.9% have at least a Bachelor’s degree.  6.5% have a graduate or professional degree.  School enrolment is 86.5%, and median earnings are $25,627.  The life expectancy at birth is 76.

Now turn to Irvine, near the top of the HD* scale in California:  3.7% have less than a high school degree.  64.6% have at least a Bachelor’s degree.  27.3% have a graduate or professional degree, and school enrolment stands at 100%.  Median earnings are $49,180, and the life expectancy is 85.5.  Of course the cost of living is higher in a place like Irvine, which can partially explain the wage difference, but a higher cost of living tends to bring with it a higher quality of services and greater investment in social infrastructure which contributes to well-being.  And cost of living alone cannot explain the difference in educational attainment (and accessibility) or the nearly ten extra years of life the city’s residents can expect. 

Unfortunately, I’m sure that Yudof is right in predicting that no new campuses will be built for a long time, if ever.  Because California seems to have lost the knack of looking farther than the next budget down the road.  Its political structure, and the mentality of too many voters means that the kind of investment that has made UC the finest education system in the world—one which continues to attract top students from many, many other countries—is no longer possible.  Neither idealism nor economic necessity appear to be enough to spur us to the realisation that a small financial sacrifice today will pay big social and economic dividends tomorrow, particularly for places like Redding, which did not benefit from the first big round of investment in higher education. 

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last eight years of my life as a UC student, and I can say very certainly that despite the unfair knocks the system has been taking recently, it remains an unbelievably invigorating environment, characterised in equal measure by academic rigour and free-thinking, and is probably the greatest engine for economic growth and social equality in California.  We should think twice about disinvesting, and long and hard about how a place like Redding stands to benefit from the renewed investment that a commitment to higher education would bring.


* The Human Development Index is a holistic measurement used as an alternative to GDP when measuring quality of life.  A Portrait of California remarks that “the human development approach allows for the exploration of interlocking factors that fuel advantage and disadvantage, create opportunities, and pattern life chances” (6).  Its three broad areas of measurement are health, education and income.

Kampala--Dangers and Annoyances*

Earlier this week, I got tear-gassed.

Okay, that makes it sound as though I was the target, and that I got it right where it hurts, and I wasn’t and I didn’t.  The power kept going off at Makerere, which was okay for a while.  But in the afternoon, as the angle of the sun changed, it was getting increasingly difficult to decipher the 1960s newspapers I was scanning anxiously for signs of wildlife, and rather than falsely-document wildlife developments of the period, I decided to head for home.  My early departure was fortuitous as it turned out.  I’d no sooner dropped my bag in my room and begun reading Mark Twain’s Roughing It when the chaos broke out in the streets in front of and behind the place where I’m staying.

It seems that there is a difference of opinion in Uganda’s Muslim community about the election process that is about to unfold, and that this had spilled over into fisticuffs as one group marched towards the Gaddafi mosque to have words with the target of their ire, and were met along the way (just in front of our building, it so happened) by a rival faction.  At the time I had no idea what was going on, and merely heard a great deal of shouting outside.  Moments later, this gave way to shooting, as the chuckleheaded Ugandan police, who looked like they were on their way to a Storm Trooper-themed party, rolled up and began firing live rounds into the air, and apparently into the crowd, since I just heard that they killed one person (though the newspapers haven’t reported this).

I’d had my suspicions about the marksmanship of the police, who swagger around town pointing their guns every which way.  Some of them twirl them around their hands, like you see little kids doing with sticks.  To the inexpert eye, some of the weapons look like they’ve seen better days, perhaps back around 1930.  So when the shooting started, I got a bit jumpy myself.  Unsure of whether the correct procedure was to lie on the floor, flatten myself against the wall, or stand up and yell “I surrender!”, I took the middle path and wandered towards the front of the building to see what all the trouble was about (I’ve got loads of common sense, it’s just sometimes a bit slow to kick in).  The people pummelling each other out on the street apparently realised that they were completely safe so long as the police were trying to hit them, and so they continued their efforts to do each other harm.

I no sooner reached the door and peeked out at the riot (for I cannot, however charitable I’d like to be, characterise it as anything else) than I was forced to beat a hasty retreat when my worst fears about police shooting was confirmed, and tear gas canisters began exploding close enough that I could see the flashes.  Some of them ricocheted around the yard upstairs, and one of the caretakers went by, performing the kind of evasive action you’d presumably have used in World War I trenches during a gas attack.  In no time I was coughing and wheezing, and my eyes were smarting and tearing.  So looking, undoubtedly, like I’d just lost my whole family, I scurried to the bathroom and stuck my head under the shower. 

I was not present at the O.K. Corral, but I imagine spectators at that venerable event must have felt similarly disconcerted.  When I turned off the water, the clouds of tear gas had dissipated.  Either some of the police fire must have accidentally gone home, or else the officers had ordered their men to train their weapons south towards Lake Victoria in the hopes that some of their fire might boomerang about and alight amidst the rioters in Old Kampala.

Gradually, the fighting began to wane, and the shooting was reduced to an odd ‘bang’ here and there.  I sat down and started back in on Roughing It, waiting until someone sounded the all-clear to go back outside.


* Having exhausted my creative powers, I hereby declare my intention to plagiarise all of my titles from Lonely Planet headings.  They can sue me for everything I don’t have.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life on the Edge as a Pedestrian

I expect we’ve all had the internal conversation wherein we ruminate earnestly about what we’d do if we ruled the world for a day, as though there was some probability of our being entrusted, however temporarily, with the reins of global power.  I conducted just such a monologue yesterday, and determined that my first act would be to ban boda bodas (these are the motorcycles/scooters that serve as taxis in Kampala).  It is possible that at another time in another place I might have conceived of an act of world leadership more far-reaching or idealistic (like banning mobile phones), but at that moment my mind was fixed firmly on the wretched machines, for my foot was beneath one, and the strap from my rucksack caught in the spokes of another.

I’ve met some other foreigners who find boda bodas ‘cute’, and ‘authentic’ and ‘African’.  I find them dangerous (to themselves and others—at least five drivers die each day in Kampala alone), disconcerting, and totally disrespectful of road-rules in a way that ordinary vehicles are not—even in Kampala.  I can assure you that I am not alone in my dislike, as I’ve met any number of Ugandans who bear scars from crashes.  Some have given up boda bodas altogether, but for others they remain the only affordable means of transport.

Allow me to illustrate the perils of walking in Kampala.  Only yesterday I was trundling uphill to work (I’m quite sure that I spend about three quarters of my perambulatory hours in Kampala going this occurs, I don’t know, but I’m convinced) when I had to sprint into the middle of the street to avoid being run down on the sidewalk by a boda boda driver who was wearing eyewear that could have got him a walk-on part in a Star Wars film as some oversized alien insect, and an enormous yellow jacket that might have made Hillary and Tenzig uncomfortably warm on their Everest ascent.

I gained a new appreciation for the ‘deer in the headlights’ expression as I found myself smack in the middle of Bombo Road.  I dodged a police truck which appeared to be filled with Storm Troopers, presumably on their way to arrest some hapless opposition demonstrator, only to have a taxi whiz by behind me and deal my backpack a firm blow, which I feared for a moment had sent my long-suffering laptop on to the great computer playground in the sky (subsequent examination proved otherwise), and I shuddered to think of what would have happened had that been a baby strapped to a woman’s back.  I shook my fist at the rascally taxi driver and thundered, “You witless peon!  Blemish on the Pearl of Africa [For so Uganda is known—chiefly, I’m assuming, by those who have never attempted to do archival research here, for it appears to be an otherwise perfectly lovely place]!” 

Of course, I did no such thing, but only gave a yelp of surprise and muttered some imprecation quietly to myself.  I’d like to be able to suggest that my forbearance was inspired by a profound respect for my fellow man, but it would be more accurate to ascribe it to a keen sense of self-preservation.  I can only guess that most Kampala drivers have rather poor sight and are unable to distinguish between a pedestrian and a speed-bump

‘Banning boda bodas?’ I hear you say, ‘That sounds a bit harsh...what about the unemployment that would result?’  For indeed, boda boda drivers and heavily-armed police officers appear to constitute somewhere in the neighbourhood of 64% of Uganda’s work-force (and probably account for a similar percentage of unnatural fatalities!).  But I have a system in mind.  The drivers would be put to work doing penance for the multitude of sins committed during the course of their illustrious careers, and would be paid to be sidewalk police, ensuring that pedestrians go expeditiously about their business instead of dawdling and zigzagging about.

For on the sidewalk, you’ve not only got to watch out for boda bodas and taxis, but also for your fellow man, as pedestrians in Kampala are not, as a rule, firm believers in the notion of swift and steady forward movement.  There are times when I’m walking home and think that I am moving so slowly that in actuality I must be either standing still or else moving backwards.  Sometimes I can literally feel myself retracing my steps, hear the flutter of files at the library being turned backwards, feel my breakfast coming up...  If I didn’t invariably end up back at Tuhende, I would swear that I was actually defying natural laws.

The numbers are against me here, so I have to stifle my pedestrian-rage, but I occasionally shudder to think of the fate that would befall any Kampalan who was set unexpectedly down in the middle of, for example, San Francisco’s financial district.  The poor soul would be trodden relentlessly down before the unflinching march of a great host of black-suited businessmen and –women, too distracted by the dollar-signs dancing in their heads to notice the unfortunate being trampled beneath their expensive shoes. 

Fortunately, I’m of a fairly placidly bovine temperament, and so when I find myself driven to distraction by the speed of my fellow pedestrians, I simply grumble to myself and think, ‘I’m going to write a blog post about this!’  Alas, I cannot even people-watch from a sidewalk chicken and chips stand without having to constantly stifle the urge to shout encouragement to passers-by, “Go on, you can do it!  Don’t go breaking the sound-barrier or anything!  One foot in front of the other, that’s the ticket!  Don’t stop in the middle of the pavement to a) count your change; b) carry on a half-hour conversation on your phone; c) contemplate the meaning of life!”  I know, I’ve got issues, but as a Berkeley-ite I take my rights as a pedestrian seriously and resent not being able to abuse them shamelessly.

Aha, the boda boda driver has moved his polluting contraption from my foot, so I’d best be going now...