Tuesday, June 19, 2018


A member of my extensive parental side had a story about Crows. It was wartime, he'd escaped prison, he was on the run, food and shelter harder and harder to find. One isolated farmhouse became almost like a home, it was high in a valley, and as the night came he'd return from foraging for his own contribution to the warm kitchen table and he could hide in the hills look down at the farm house, check to see whether soldiers were visiting, which they'd do sometimes in their search for partisans, escapees, whatever they could find. The farmhouse had three resident Crows, but a good chance they were Ravens. The birds were fit, well feathered, agile in the sky, they were usually content and they roosted in the farm's ancient stone barn. The farmer was long gone, he'd been killed in the war, the farmer's children, both boys, had grown and were gone to know one knew where, but their elderly mother still managed the farm as she waited for her children to return, and she was pretty good at hiding food and livestock from occupation soldiers who were always hungry, well armed and entitled.

One evening, looking down at the farmhouse, there was no sign of soldiers and the coast looked clear. But the Crows were absent from their evening chatter on the barn roof. Maybe they'd had already settled in for the night. There was a chance with spring on its way they'd set their minds to wandering. Possibly they'd all fallen to a shotgun. There were easy answers. And yet, he remained where he was, cold in the chill and damp just two thousand yards from shelter. In the morning, there was glint of sun on the barn, the farmhouse kitchen door opened, cigarette butts casually tossed to see if the farmer's wife would pick them up, save them from the dew so she could smoke them in her pipe. Then a military vehicle which had been hiding inside the barn fired up it's engine. Off they went so as to be in time for breakfast at their barracks, the Crows circling and silent in the sky above them. And the thing about it was, soon after his escape he'd once been rescued from starvation by a little girl who'd given him a European Robin to eat. Shown him how to cook it, insides and all, nothing wasted. European Robin is about the size of a Sparrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Divide and Rule

Well, well, well, it's give him a Power Tool and Feed Him Meat Products Sunday! In the late Seventies, I guess, Warren Zevon at the end of his Album "Excitable Boy" had a song titled "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money."  If I remember the song was about an American Boy who insisted he was an innocent bystander but had got himself in trouble with a waitress, who might have been a Russian, down in Havana and had somehow ended up in Honduras, and he wanted his Dad to save him from his sorry fate. It was a song about rich innocent boys for whom the world beyond the suburbs was not a playground, unless they had lawyers, guns and money. With song writers it's difficult to know, but lawyers interpret the law, guns enforce the law, and rich Daddies can afford lawyers. Stranger still, on this day in 1885 a ship called Isere, named after a river, docked in New York. In the ship's hold was the Statue of Liberty, all 350 pieces of it packed in 214 crates, a gift of friendship from Les gens de France.

Then you got John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son." Vietnam and the draft. The story goes that President Eisenhower's grandson, David Eisenhower, received a deferment. Our song writer did not, he was off to war without knowing why and he sat on his bed and he cried out,  "It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son!"  "Some folks inherit star spangled eyes... and when you ask them 'How much should we give?' .... They only answer 'More, more, more.'" Mind you not many top of the pops songs tried to hit the big time on the subject of how many thousands and thousands, millions, of families were ripped apart by slavery. Another "Trail of Tears." Sadly, some subjects would be far too much of a downer for our delicate and "Excitable Boys." Me, I celebrated the day through intimate Interpretive Dance, my partner was a Snapping Turtle, our subject was Moral Compass, the music as I led the waltz toward the river was Waterloo by Abba. A truly bonding experience, and there could even be Snapping Turtle eggs safe in the Compost Piles.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Road for Carts

Saul of Tarsus, like Engels, was from a well heeled family of property owning business people. But unlike Engels Saul of Tarsus began his career persecuting ideas that threatened his understanding of the Old Testament. Engels for his part was also restless, he saw his world and reckoned the future could be made better. What happened to Engels is that he discovered Karl Marx. Saul of Tarsus, while on his way to Damascus had a bonk on the head and God, apparently, had a few words with him. Both Saul and Engels were bossy, both men inclined toward pragmatic editing, and to the extent that both men wanted to be shepherds rather than sheep, they might both have been little power hungry. Neither man was self centered to the point of doing something like burning down Rome to improve the view from their domicile. (If you're in doubt about Engels, he enjoyed the English version of Fox Hunting, he had the little outfits and everything.) And, both men had a powerful influence on the movements of mind which spread idea. Engels as Marx and Engels, Saul of Tarsus as Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, and current rising star in the warped world of white nationalist interpretations. With us people, what we are has less to do with the real, more to do with explanations of the real. And in the long run it's a very rich, sometimes apparently deceitful and often uncomfortable, deeply depressing tapestry of possible answers.

Which is why a gardener will sometimes wonder what it might have been like to have been employed by Isaac Newton. It must have been an early bearing Apple tree something like a Beauty of Bath, because the image of Newton is of him enjoying a sit in the sunshine, he might even have been having a cup of cider and a Cucumber sandwich when he saw an Apple fall from his Apple tree. Quite clearly his first reaction was to seek an explanation from his gardener, who was probably doing a little light weeding, maybe a little trimming in an attempt to look politely engaged. His gardener would have patiently explained that unless there's something seriously wrong with them, Apples always fall from their trees and a fall can bruise an Apple which means the Apple might not keep as well, and there'd be a whole set of ideas about the best time to get the ladders out and actually pick Apples to keep them safe from harm. Then when Newton became all excited about having seen an Apple fall down to earth, instead of falling upwards or sideways, Newton's gardener who would have been dour and reserved, kept his thoughts around mental anomalies, alcoholic refreshments in the afternoon and the devil to himself. It was a good job he had in the garden, few prospects but it was regular pay so why risk bruising his employer by pointing out the blatantly obvious. Yes indeed, to make sense of it all, worth remembering the word Career comes to us from the Latin, "a road for carts."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Utter Cads and Liars.

The Ghost in the Machine, or Duality, as those who explore existence often put it. Are we one thing or are we two? Is there a distinction between me and my body? Is there an "I" part of me that exists somewhere above, beyond, inside or outside my body? And if you're brave enough to ask people, some will know straight away, and they can get quite fierce about it, stamp their foot, desperate perhaps, political possibly, and such people can sometimes become a major pain in neck.

 Others will ramble on a little and will often come back with one or other iteration of the idea that concludes something like, "Yes, I think I do go somewhere when I die." In other words they draw a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual without necessary knowing which one of their two parts should be given priority. Me, I still go back to the Palestinian mother who'd just lost her child to a violent exchange. "God is mostly silent," she said. "Yet people do terrible things in his name."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cults and Technical Devices

Very tempting to go on little about the Cult of Personality, draw conclusions from previous examples. For some reason, even though he was a skinny little man, Pol Pot springs to mind. Yet history is awash with those frailties of personality that enable leaders to dominate their followers. I guess too it's a "Great Man" theory which offers purpose through mindless obedience. At the same time, I'm one of those sufficiently obnoxious members of the species who cannot name what might be called a personal hero. Leopards don't count, I'm told. A character flaw possibly, or perhaps far too anxious to spot flaws in others and I am particularly good at spotting flaws in Windows 10. Which this side of the interface does in my view qualify as a Cult of Personality which is right up there with our very own Kara ─łefo, Esperanto for Dear Leader, a stultulo if ever there was one.

The stress of a failed Windows 10 update and one thing and another was finally solved. However the endless, day long and apparently pointless subsequent updates have clearly expressed their intention to turn my life from an exercise in calm into a Running of the Bulls. Then out of nowhere, and without any prompting from me, I got a message. "Aren't you lucky!" it read. "Your device has just got the latest Windows 10 update..important security..find out what's new...etc, etc..." I was never asked if I wanted anything to do with the updates, I don't feel in the least lucky, the whole thing was just foisted upon me, my time, my emotions, and it's quite a long list. My better instinct is to throw the technical device out of the window and be done with it. Instead I find myself kowtowing to it. It's no wonder we're all doomed.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Not the perfect morning to spend hoeing, or hacking, the neighbors Tobacco Rows. High heat factor, and interesting that the two much, much older fools far outlasted the youth of this fair county, which is why the nation is doomed to become a sloppy pale of lard within the next decade or so. All I can say is to hell with liberal values it's time to ban cell phones, television and definitely time to bring back the Draft, let them waddle around for the drill sergeant.

Kind of worrying really. No idea what happened to me. Could well have something to do with getting old, brain processes losing their ability to grasp nuance before heading off into the gullet of decay. Yet I'll insist that pride in useful physical labor and the capacity to endure it cheerfully is a fundamental human value, or should be. And why? Very good question, it's right up there with the meaning of it all.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


I was going to talk about the lessons to be learned about Free Trade from an understanding of the Corn Laws, the Irish Potato Famine, Vested Interest, the Iron Law of Oligarchy, Populism, the current problems facing the Canadian Liberal Party and why facts are the opposite to wishes. It was going to be a long, soothing explanation that would totally defy the classically elitist codswallop of the now redundant US TPP Negotiators who did insist that the proposed Pacific Rim Treaty was a little like Climate Change, too complicated for the man on the street corner to even begin to understand. But suddenly I felt as though I was an Uncle, or maybe a Great Aunt, or at least a God Parent of some sort, conceivably a Hospital Porter. And I'll tell you why. While enduring the morning chores the first Tree Swallow fledged. Engaged as I was with truly sour and possibly elitist thoughts of my own I didn't actually see it fledge, but there he was on the electric line, admiring his wings, wondering when and how large his tail feathers would grow as he waited for his parental side to pop something tasty in his mouth.

"How do you know it was a he?" Simple, with birds I work on the WRT (white republican theory), the first to fledge is the greediest, biggest, whiniest and least attractive, the others just can't wait to get rid of him. And if you don't believe me, through the course of the mid morning three more Tree Swallows fledged and they gently gathered to preen on the electric line, each little creature a sociable distance between them, and all three a good five to six yards away from he who fledged first. A blissful sight for a Sunday. But of lessons learned there's one wish and one sad fact. I wish no matter their personal reasons, Tree Swallows wouldn't fledge in the mid-day. And the sad fact is that I'm still struggling with sun blindness, a few shivers from lack of water and overheating, a bit of a headache, blocked sinus and a general sense of exhaustion which having a late lunch does absolutely nothing to ameliorate. But on the bright side I can say with a degree of confidence that enduring fledging pains however they arise is right and proper, and perfectly natural. Of interest, and a little depressing, when the time comes Girl Swallows are inclined toward pairing with Boy Swallows who have the longest and most glamorous tail feathers.