Monday, January 29, 2018

South Seas

The year was 1711. Britain was meddling in several wars. The War of Spanish Succession. And there was a big quarrel between the Czar of Russia and Sweden which in those days had a king, ambitions for world domination and a colony in Delaware. And, for the Brits, there were the never ending traditional disputes with the French about pretty much everything. Meanwhile, George I of England was anxious to participate more fully in continental family maneuvering, a victory here, a victory there, but he was informed that his treasury was nine million pounds in debt. A truly ridiculous amount of money back then. A couple of bright sparks from Treadneedle Street, which was, and maybe still is, the financial district in the City of London came up with a scheme to solve the problem. A public private partnership. The private sector would sell shares in what they called the South Sea Company and raise money to help fill the national treasury. And the thing about the War of Spanish Succession was what might happen to the South Seas, a part of the world we now days call South America and which many years previously the Pope had given to Spain.

In 1711 a person who had resources to spare could buy shares in the South Seas Company. And many who did so kind of reckoned that in due course the British Government and the South Seas Company would pull itself together and do to South America what the British Government and the East India Company monopoly had done to the far east. There'd be fortunes to be made, dreams of Country Houses staffed by butlers, downstairs maids and probably Fox Hunting. All a person had to do was risk everything, sit back and wait, and if necessary borrow more money to invest in this new South Seas Company. Well, as Daniel Defoe, the trader, writer, pamphleteer and English Speaking spy pointed out, because Spaniards were quarrelling about who was the rightful heir to the Spanish Peninsular and what with everything else going on in the world, including north American English Speaking colonists fighting the indigenous peoples of the Carolinas, Spain had it's own financial interests and they weren't going to just give up on their monopoly of South America. Either way, 1711 is one of those few dates a person finds easier and easier to remember.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

God and Stuff

For years and years I labored under the Episcopalian illusion that a Mulligan was an Irish last orders cocktail of such a combination that when downed it granted an oblivion beyond the eight pint minimum. The professional would stagger homeward and probably awake in a ditch to the chorus of birds, look up at the sky and smile, then curse his throbbing head as he searched in vain for a familiar landmark that might tell him where he was. Hear the bells of the Sunday Church and know there'd be hell to pay at home. Happy days, they were, and for those interested it's the Wrens of island hedgerows that first raise the morning spirits to outrage, turn the Nightingale's poppycock songs into Owl Pellets, good enough only for lovers and the mawkish prose of the saccharine sweet. Yes indeed, Keats wanted escape from the real by becoming one with the earth, he was from Hampstead, so what do you expect. He died when he was twenty five.

More recently I have discovered that a Mulligan is a term used by Old Testament Christianity and is an indulgence that modernist Luther himself would have riled against as a total, complete and utter misunderstanding of the New Testament message. Luther had his charms of course, a tad extreme and probably would have died hungry had his marriage vows to an ex-nun not produced a partnership the better half of which had the acumen to put food on his table. At the same time a person can leap to ready conclusions which is why the gift of diligence remains a stalwart to any understanding. Mulligan Stew derives from the hobo camps, the homeless looking for food will eat anything, and if it's cooked even more delicious. And then there's golf, the rules to which are incomprehensible and probably pointless, but if I was an Old Testament God I would cast down bolts of lightening at any one found in possession of a golf stick and earthquakes would devour all golf carts and golf caddies. Sadly we more Episcopalian minded rely on The Beatitudes to keep the hereafter demon free. Can anyone still say Reformation without turning into a Pillar of Salt. Damn right there's a war on Christmas.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Rabbit Fencing Season forces the reluctant into the outdoors. They'll be having their puppies soon enough, adorable little, soft eared creatures, bumbling around in that innocent way, but absolutely ruthless when it comes to nibbling and soon enough they'll be scattered amongst the undergrowth looking for gaps in fences. It must be a game they play, Find the Gap and Win an Egg.

Nor was it just the outdoors in January that turned Rabbit fencing season ugly.  I wasn't able to approach the task in the certain knowledge that a little light exercise, checking the knees to see if they still worked, would all combine to produce that sense of purpose that enables a body and mind to prepare for Digging Season. My sole comfort, it wasn't a wall.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Absolutely I blame the Republicans. And I'll give you a hint. He cheats at golf.

 Alternatively, Democrats stopped dreaming of crumbs and found their inner McConnell. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Toddler Theory

Those who spend their professional hours delving into the mysteries of our species have observed that if you put a bunch of four year olds in a room you risk being on the receiving end of toddler outrage if everyone doesn't get the same number of stickers as a reward for tasks attempted.

 The argument is that our more basic understanding of equity is a part of our being. Then things change. Quite why they do can be understood by applying the reasoning part of our minds to justifications for the victims of inequity. As we grow we absorb these justifications or risk being ostracized, sent to the corners.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


In the more traditional sense the word "Reactionary" is used to quickly describe those who bend toward an opposition to progress. The assumption being that "Progress" is a steady improvement rather than the ceremonial journey that some one like Catherine the Great might have made through her realm so that she might judge for herself the condition of her subjects.

 And for those interested during Catherine's progress through her new territory of The Crimea there's a rumor that a Prince called Potemkin built mobile villages that could be moved overnight to new locations along Catherine's progress so that she could feel a little bit more confident about the condition of her subjects.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Thank goodness for the snow. Three degrees Fahrenheit tonight and No Dentist tomorrow. These are the sort of things that make Winter worth waiting for. Red rosy cheeks, touch of frostbite on the ears, and a good chance I might never feel my toes again, they've always been an unnecessary burden what with the nails needing cutting and the terrible damage they do to socks.

I just love it and so do the Domestic Pets, I'm quite certain they'll soon be out there in the outdoors prowling around like miniature Snow Leopards. Probably just gearing up at the moment for their great adventure. And I'll certainly be joining them, I'll pretend to be a giant Bunny Rabbit so they can chase me around. Uncharacteristic! Maybe, but we can all live in hope.