Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ants

The Ant Menace has gone from the room opposite. It was a little alarming, they were engaged in some kind of festival of movement and dance all around the window, and some of them had little wings, but they weren't Termites. Tried everything within reason, and my own suspicion is that next year they will return to their festivent which they really should hold in the outdoors so that those of them who had wings could fly off to conquer pastures new.

The other Ant Menace is far from over. It trickles around the synapses, a whole body type of thing, and the only real cure for it is to go without access to the newspapers until at least December of this year. If I hear one more person call anyone stupid, or ignorant, or uneducated, or lumpen, or unwashed, I'm going to have to invest in a device called a Defibrillator. It comes in convenient vest form apparently and is available online from Costco.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Beans

Bean sprout has been excellent, a sure sign that a gardener has spent his year in the embrace of goodness, tolerance and a moderation verging on saintliness. The one Bean casualty was probably to a Dove, who are always easy to blame and easier to forgive. Dove are ground feeders, they don't cling to the stalks in the seas of longer grasses like pirates to feast upon seed in the way that Bunting can. Dove have to waddle about and they have to wait for the seed to fall, until this happens the shell-less cotyledons of the bean are a very understandable temptation. However, there is one other potential Bean casualty, and here the culprit will go un-forgiven into eternity, on downward through the spirals of hell, where saintly gardeners from the high reaches of heaven poke them with sticks for the entertainment of Satan. The thing about this particular row of beans, I'd strategically placed it to avoid the longer term Mole run, and at the same time I was possessed by the well known fact that Moles spend most of their thinking hours in a devious strategy the end purpose of which is to deny us gardeners any hope of serenity this side of the depths of winter just before the catalogues arrive, and I could go on but I do have the fate of next year's Beans to consider.

I guess if you're a little nuts you can get too involved in the Bean, might worry a little about whether a Bean's sprout from the cotyledon before it becomes the first true leaves can be given the wonderful title of Plumule.  But one thing's for certain that part of the Bean sprout  that heads downwards will in my heart always be called A Radicle. On she travels, into the dark domain, well aware that she is a root upon which all Beans depend, and around here she has to be quick to spread her tips and laterals find both grip and moisture before the earth moves to the heave of Mole-kind. The Bean cotyledon that rises at her sky-bound end hastens her progress by turning from white to green and is able to contribute to photosynthesis. Meanwhile in the earth A Radicle makes a safe home for the parts of soil that fix nitrogen, a glorious bacteria of the compost pile. Some argue that this home might look a little like a prison sentence, others might think of it as a fence to ward off neighbors, but whatever it is, the process a Bean goes through to cause these homes to happen is called Nodulation. A pensioner asleep on his arm chair, it's an old joke amongst those of us gardeners whose Beans are well on their way to a second pair of true leaves. Halleluiah!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cats, Education, Physics and Charm

It's adventurous to go to an alien place in the search for simplification. An attempt to go to Zoroaster to find that alien place is less alien than perhaps Mars or Interpretive Dance, but it's far enough away to offer a person an insight into the enterprise of being human. And the point, if there is one, would be to see in us people a quality of something like charm that's worth preserving, always liked that Zoroaster might have been a shoe maker. I think it was Hegel who mentioned in a rather endless manner those relationships within the body which he called mind that enabled our being to live long and prosper. Education he might have claimed was solace around which morality adhered, but his wording was very, very different to mine. Hegel was a more positive teacher, his wording was more like "Education is the Art of Making us Ethical." Art is not Craft. There's songs about it, and those songs go back a bit to the time before plenty was threatened, a time when assumptions could be made with less fear of regress, or the circle, or incantations, those repetitions that are supposed to touch the unknown so it might look kindly down upon us and no wonder so few of us grasp something like Schrödinger's Cat when there's actually no need to this side of an examination hall.

 I remember long ago reading a story about a wealthy woman and her three children who lost a bread winner, fell into hard times and had to sell stuff. Their lot did not improve, but under no circumstances would she agree to her young, hard working daughter's suggestion that they should sell the silver knives and forks they never used, so they could buy coal for their winter. At the time I shared her daughters reaction. Silly old person, what difference would it make. Well I'm older now, and I wonder about things I might not once have thought about too much, it's a luxury certainly. But in a world where we don't truly know what's valuable this side of the banks and the bookkeepers, some things are worth keeping. Not sure there's any argument about that, but my own question, Does education help in deciding what to keep? The answer doesn't depend upon the many charm-less definitions of "education," it's more like Gandhi's "learn as though you were going to live for ever." I guess too, charm touches the emotions before it goes anywhere near the intellect, if there is such a beast. And the stranger thing is, if you can see both sides of a problem as two things in the same state, you're more arty than you are crafty, and you're bound to piss off somebody.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Glitch in the Final Arrangements.

 There's a 1919 argument that suggests Zoroaster in his hymns preached to Cattle people who occasionally enjoyed a little casual vegetable gardening and maybe in the dull end of civilization, sheep. His object was to put cattle at the center of  his religion, and he was firm in his belief that his people could unite around the care and the defense of cattle against the enemies of cattle, rather than just sit around, drink the milk, hold the odd barbecue, tell stories about high adventure, and one has to believe, engage in a long tradition among Cattle people which is to passionately indulge in Cattle Raiding. Zoroaster was a Saint, some would call him a prophet, he was a monotheist, he believed that One God created the world he lived in, and like so many, his idea of harmony included an understanding of how we people should behave toward each other. "Truth is the best of all that is good and the desire for truth is the truth from him who represents the best truth." It's a very clumsy paraphrase of a line or two in one of the Zoroastrian hymns, and it precedes a suggestion that there's a distinction between intellect and thought. Thought was an idea, intellect was that part of mind that determines whether a thought was a good idea or not which suggest truth is unknown, it's like a straight line that travels endlessly and it does so gently or wisely if allowed to. An analogy with today is too obvious to point out, all the same worth bearing in mind that Zoroaster was  possible preaching the word some three thousand years ago, he was most likely a shoe maker by trade and he might well have been murdered by a follower of another religion. A schism if you like.

 In time, the religion Zoroaster founded served a people who had become increasingly dependent upon agriculture, so it wasn't just cattle the religion had to serve for the benefit of stability and the social cohesion of an economic order often united by external attack. You couldn't have cows paddling about in the cabbage patch even if the cows were somehow more important than cabbages. It was long after Zoroaster had gone from this earth, passages of his hymns were modified to include the notion that the earth rejoiced when her soil was tilled to grow corn and she mourned because she missed her vocation when the earth remained sterile, or unproductive to people. Wilderness was the domain of devils, it was a duty to render the wilderness fertile, and indeed adherents were obliged to ceaselessly engage in agriculture no more and no less than in other healthy activities. And if you have a mind to read a translation of the sacred hymns you'll find that they have a lot to do with enlightenment or better ways of being and there's an ambiguity in the poetry that lends itself to a struggle between good and evil, that doesn't have something like a rustic Ten Commandments, and yet at the same time retains that nagging doubt that the texts were essentially an early attempt at a Human Resource Manual. For my part the issue has long been how might I join with The Great Randomness when my own mortal coil has wound it's last utterance. The Zoroastrian solution to the End Times has always summed it well for me. And it's great sadness to discover that there's a good chance that the Prophet Zoroaster might not actually have held firm to the idea that upon death a body should be raised up onto a high place where it might achieve oneness with the elements by contributing to the diet of omnivores who can climb and the Princes of Our Air, the Turkey Vultures. It's a horrible thought, but probably I'm doomed to contribute to the coffers of a Funeral Home that's owned by a Hedge Fund.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cats

One argument has for a long time suggested that a species has an essential nature and because a species has an essential nature it is unable to act outside of its nature. The Cat is a prime example, but a Cat will bring a small, living, furry four legged creature in from outside, release it and so long as the creature remains inside the domicile The Cat will take no further notice of it, consider it a nervous house guest. For my part, I don't share The Cat's idea of hospitality, and I have to wonder whether this discordance between my idea of hospitality and The Cat's idea of hospitality might have something to do with who introduced the small furry four legged creature into the house. Had I done so there's a strong chance The Cat would be all fur and tail rushing around the living areas attempting to dispatch the new house guest.

It's the case that when it comes to Cats your correspondent has always been very low on the Totem Pole. I remember the Ice Cream Cat, he wouldn't let me enjoy an ice cream in the comfort of my own chair unless I shared at least half of it with him, he was particularly fond of Vanilla. And too, there's always been a sense amongst Cats, a part of their world view I guess, which requires them to deny me any title to sit on my own chair. All very well saying "Just pull yourself together and move The Cat" but that's a huge mistake for us lower beings. The more successful strategy is to find another chair to sit upon, pretend to be blissfully comfortable, totally content, not in the least upset and wait a Cat out. The point being if you make too much fuss about your own chair, it becomes a battle of wills, and when it comes to a battle of wills Cats win.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Human

The most recent technical device is constantly asking whether its User wishes to download an App or search the World Wide Web for an App. Frankly I've got no clue what an App is, nor do I really want to know what an App is. It doesn't sound in the least healthy or useful and I see yet another uncontrollable can of worms that will further collapse my sense of calm. And true there are occasions when I'm taken by a Luddite Preacher who whispers, "Throw the thing out of the window." At heart I am tempted to reckon this technical device is to me like a Shovel or a pair of Scissors or a Briggs and Stratton L Head, but the truer picture, it's not.

 One way to understand the technical device would be to think of it as a different kind of tool. Like a telephone, perhaps.  It doesn't exist in isolation in the way that a Pitchfork might. I could have a telephone, artfully arranged, paint it pink and if I unplugged it, it wouldn't ring. Then if I unplugged the technical device from the Internet it would become more like a shovel. The question I guess is why can't I do that, get it over with, sever  the cord. The answer, either I have an addiction to the laziness the technical device offers to avoid thinking for myself, or I'd be lonely. Of the two possibilities, I think addiction is closer to the mark. It's an addiction to the community. Means I'm human.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beans

Anytime now Eggplant and Green Pepper are going to perk up. Spinach, or what there is of it, is going to run to seed. In the grand scheme these are minor issues, and short of a plague these issues are predictable, but the moment of Bean Sprout might not be. The reason for this Bean Angst is fairly well summed up by the question "Who planted them." And it's true there are people, hard working, diligent, perfectly respectable people who because they might have made the odd derogatory or negative remark in moments of extreme passion have been surrounded by some kind of aura that causes seeds, particularly Bean Seeds, to just reckon on the effort not being worthwhile.

Some people might say that four days isn't really long enough to make these sort of wild-eyed judgments. A Bean, they'll argue, even under optimal sprouting conditions can take up to ten days to sprout, if not longer. The trouble is those optimal conditions depend upon soil temperature and moisture, and while it's certainly warm enough, humidity is low and the ground is drying fast. Some might argue that the hosepipe was invented for exactly this sort of problem. Last year I agreed with that argument and at least fifty percent of Beans chose to rot. The year before that was just as bad and it goes back a bit into the mists of time. So it's a little tense wondering how I've behaved in the past twelve months.

Monday, May 23, 2016

May

The month of May around here is beginning to pull itself together, it's no longer shy, it always knew what it was supposed to do, and for some of us it's something of a relief that May has decided to behave like May. And without entering yet another contest of will, I'd like to suggest that the Masculine and the Feminine can be applied to months of the year.

Worth noting that all months of the year in French are Masculine which doesn't seem sufficiently spirited or adventurous to make any sense whatsoever. And I'd argue that so far this year, May has been a a sort of teenage boy May. Any other year, May would have been female and she would have worn a tiara and we'd all have had plenty of time to prepare for the Summer Solstice which is only twenty nine days from now.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sorel, Best Sellers and Fascists

Long paragraphs on a difficult background, you betcha! So let's go. One of the problem areas for a person who writes is the idea of a best seller. The trouble is, and you can call it cynical if you want, best sellers are either brilliantly promoted flukes or they emerge from a detailed analysis of the demand in a market comprised of people who buy books and are written to satisfy that demand. Another way of looking at a best seller, is in terms of a "A Pat on The Back" a "Jolly Good Show Old Chap" and all the hoopla associated with "Success" a reward so temporal in its nature even The Saints might occasionally fall prey to, or victim of. Our own true hero has a misguided grandfather who is currently running in that direction, he's headed for the Vestry of Monnow, a judgment, which as it so happens occurs in a Lunatic Asylum, but that's another story which currently hinges on your writer of pulp's ability to grasp a character our hero is currently sharing a cell with, an Irishman who speaks Welsh.  But Georges Sorel did actually write a best seller, it was called "Reflections on Violence" and it was translated into many different languages which included English. Sorel's market for this book was the world of turmoil in the decade leading up to the First World War. And while Proudhon, of yesterday's ramblings, didn't like violence, he'd seen it, he got no adrenalin rush from it, it was a waste of resource and it was the antitheses of the sort of reasonable behavior one might expect from a fellow revolutionary, it was Sorel who suggested that much of the motivation behind what people did when they were upset, wanted to be inspired, or just woke up in the morning could be thought of as myth. Perhaps to explain it a little better, consider "The American Dream" "Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George" "We will have our Freedom" and put all that beside Hillary, the conqueror of Everest's and possibly the other Hillary's, incredibly insipid  "Because it was there." Sounds more like detention than a struggle worth getting excited about. Sorel essentially said that the myth of violence was useful, and here, for the queasy, worth considering the furthest possible ends of the continuum between Harmony and the End Times, the notion of "Mutually Assured Destruction," call it a myth if you want to, it hasn't yet happened, but it might. In a less extreme way, to change the arrangements and traditions of societies, the least powerful amongst us had to have muscle. One element of muscle was violence. And I can almost see Gandhi in tears as his weaponless peasants dreamed of spinning their own cotton while facing down the rifles of the British Soldiers. Call it irony. "The end of the world is easier to conceive of than the end of capital." A quote from a politician called Tom Watson.

Sorel worked hard to achieve the status of a Chief Public Works Engineer. He was awarded the Legion de Honneur. On his retirement, Sorel moved to near Paris, a city that's often in turmoil and he wrote books on things like Hydrology, Architecture, Physics, Secular Religion and Political History so he wasn't actually a man running around the streets with a knife in his teeth. Of his many books, "An Introduction to Modern Economics" and "Contribution to Secular Bible Study" didn't ring the bell for many, but his book "Reflections on Violence" rang that bell and so did Sorel's "Illusions of Progress" both written in 1908. In the 1970's you could pick up thumbed, secondhand paperback copies of both books, and if you had money that wasn't already pledged to the Public Bar you could buy them. One of Sorel's things was this, people who write stuff tend toward exploring ideas rather than actually wanting to have anything to do with them. They prefer to sit around in clubs smoking cigars well under the illusion that progress has been made, so time for another celebration with a Chablis. It's the more political people who raise the flag of the engineer, and Sorel's "Reflections of Violence" offered such people a contemplation on violence into which they could read what they wanted to. Some will argue that Sorel's thoughts justified violence by encouraging acts of violence that would serve to further the myth of violence which in turn would enhance the bargaining position of the less powerful, and this argument is all very well if you're shivering in the trench, terrified at the barricade or at the frontline. And in the hands of some, the myth of violence took on a life of it's own. It became rebirth, it was renewal, it was a forging a unity of will on an anvil, it was "Cry God for Harry let's achieve Nirvana by invading other countries," all of which found expression in the fascist movements of the Twentieth Century. But not for Sorel, Sorel's point can be understood from the thoughts of a German called Michels in a 1911 book called "The Iron Law of Oligarchies." Political parties no matter their origin, can't help but become oligarchies, and for Sorel it was through something like the Myth of Violence, or the Myth of the General Strike, something destructive, that the less powerful can keep their representatives in some kind of line, voting was almost an irrelevance. The thing about myths is when they're called threats they're not myths.  So it's tricky, but as the engineer Sorel liked to point out, science is an act of imagination, it's not the real thing.  "Abstractions to avoid the chaos of reality." Aristotle or Sorel, your choice to know the difference between pedants, realists, violence and the myth of violence, Ayn Rand and Proudhon. It's an interesting armchair area for us old farts who aren't yet empiricists.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rand, Proudhon and The Anarchists


When you hear the word "Anarchism" and your mind leads you to understand it as chaos, it's possible you are subject to myth.  Well I've got a list, it's a long list, it's not like a top fifty list, it's not a particularly well tutored list, it's not a Cathedral list and maybe it's just me, but given the current apparent influence of Rand, near the top of that list would be the question "Is it worth considering Proudhon as one of Ayn Rand's  mentors?" She of course only ever admitted to having one influence in her thinking and that was Aristotle, a bold claim on her part and it's a claim no one should really ever boast about. It makes them sound just a little narcissistic, I'd argue.  But why connect Rand to the Anarchist and Revolutionary Proudhon, I hear the cry of outrage and shock. And possibly too, some might be aware that Proudhon is quotably quoted as the man who said, "Property is Theft." Not a popular position except amongst the angry, even if it were true in the sense that many might understand the sound bite "Property is Theft" outside of the context Proudhon gave to it. In my understanding, misaligned as it often is, Proudhon was big into property. His claim was that men were entitled to property so long as that property was conceived of as a product of their own work and not ownership of the land or the work of others though capital. Hence his idea that "Property is Freedom." And to this end Proudhon did his best to establish a People's Bank, it was like a credit union. It didn't work because not enough people signed up, and back then labor was also in the maw of the power the Merchant Class had over a politics which had to constantly resort to its military paid for by taxes, a demand side economics that predates Keynes by five, maybe twenty thousand years, it's put food on the table of many a poor man, given them opportunity, but it's never built a bridge or a road in a National Park except perhaps in China.  


An interesting man Proudhon. The son of a craftsman, he trained as a printer and through chance, misfortune and reading he won a bursary that enabled him to feed his family while he studied ideas at a school in the town of Bresancon, it's over there near Switzerland and there's an accent under the C in Bresancon which I don't know how to do on a technical device. Proudhon had quarreled with materialism, the historical and predictable inevitability of a mechanical future, Proudhon insisted that Hegel hadn't been all wrong, and Marx had naturally stopped talking to him. But Proudhon reckoned that society didn't actually have to be changed, it had a top and bottom probably always would, but it just had to understand itself in a more useful, more egalitarian, less destructive and more revolutionary ways. The problem of course was how might such a revolution happen. He had answers, he went into politics through journalism and activism. In 1848 Proudhon was engaged in organizing make work projects for the unemployed, he regarded it as sort of charity but it was better than the alternative, which was abject poverty. When the make work projects lost their funding the streets ran to rioting, all the same the Revolution of 1848 came as a big surprise to Proudhon, he witnessed the blood, the gore, the ferocity of the state and of the angry, and he was quickly arrested for insulting Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew who was the new Emperor of the Second Republic, a man who'd been put there by the conservatives. Proudhon was sent to jail, and when he came out of jail he had to go into exile until the Second Republic fell. Proudhon died in Passy, a part of Paris where a good few years before, fellow printer Benjamin Franklin had lived for a while.  By Anarchism Proudhon simply meant - without a master or sovereign and how such a society might function to the benefit of the many. Worth noting Democracy has been one attempt to answer that question. Tomorrow, if it doesn't stop raining, I'm going to try to talk about another Frenchman called George Sorel. And you're right this is a most interesting list, it includes De Tocqueville, Mussolini and the working gangs who dug the network of canals in the British Isles. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Behold the Man

Bean planting. Briefly the ground was dry enough to fluff into a semblance of tilth, temperatures soared toward 70 degrees of Fahrenheit with brisk winds and fair sky. So it was all very exciting, if you like that kind of thing. There was positivity, a jauntiness, a rakish angle to the sun hat, just the one tick, a Mockingbird sighting, and with a forecast of two, maybe three inches of rain, no need to struggle with the hosepipe. However, the "internal dialogue," if I might borrow a phrase, has been a tad on the wild side for more than a few weeks. I blame this very firmly on Election 2016, and the primary source of my complaint is a suspicion that History is repeating itself. One answer is to follow the example of the Sage Elberry and ignore the "internal dialogue," tell it go away by practicing the songs of Harmony through movement and dance. A reeducation, a spell in the gulag.

Fortunately the "internal dialogue" has a multiplicity of discussions as it wanders the Cathedrals. It talks to Political Classes, it talks to the Jihadists as often as it talks to the Erudite and Learned, it talks to the ghosts of men and women long dead, it spends a lot of time with angels and saints as it walks sneering through world of finance where it holds the banner "I was actually looking for the Free Market." But more import to balance, the "internal dialogue" does have a few things to say about grammar, spelling and punctuation, all three of them areas where it holds positions that might even be flawed. The thing about history repeating itself is that it redefines, and by so doing it redefines us. In other words, what might once have been impossible to contemplate becomes possible. Or in another way, I might have to dismiss the "internal dialogue" by joining a Cathedral. Ecce Homo, I guess.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Harmony

If The Cat were a Fighter Pilot, she'd have four "confirmed" and several "possible." I would use the word "Kills" after "Confirmed" and "Possible" but her ground crew have dredged themselves in a Military Handbook that does not use the word "Kill." We consider it an unlucky word.

Meanwhile there's a Girl Tanager at the window who seems to have taken exception to her reflection and will not go away. She's very noisy. And because this is my peaceful time, a moment or two in which to contemplate Harmony, I might have to reintroduce the word "Kill."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Touch, Slime Molds, Art and Compost Piles

I've long held the idea that we multi-cellular creatures would do well to pause in the progress of our understanding so that we might imagine our past. Specifically that moment when single cells combined, a union that proved useful, and the question is How did we do it? One answer is to contemplate the Slime Mold. A Slime Mold is a single celled Amoeba type creature that under certain circumstances will combine with other Slime Molds to form a structure that is capable of movement, is better able to find food and these structures are also how Slime Molds reproduce. There are a great many kinds of Slime Mold, the one that lurks near the Compost Piles is currently blissfully happy as each of it's tiny parts wander lonely as a little clouds feasting merrily, but soon these conditions of plenty will fall to a famine and this Slime Mold will raise the flag, it will come together, briefly conference, determine its options and proceed accordingly. Usually it wanders very slowly as a yellowish group, a few remaining communal meals and then it decides to bloom.

If you think of our bodies, we have sight, we have hearing, we have a mind that calculates, we have a system of emotions that often determines our choices and we can feel things through touch. And there's whole area of activity, occupation, ingenuity, getting up in the morning that sometimes we celebrate through Art. Music entertains through ears. Painting, sculpture and so on entertains through the eyes, but what is it that entertains the mind through touch. Leave aside the important relationships between emotion, eyes, hearing, touch and our own blooming I think you'll find that pretty much everything we do employs touch of one kind or another and yet touch has no art. The argument I truly enjoy is that because there is no Art of Touch, we as creatures are the Art form of Touch and everything else we do is a reflection of touch. It's not an idea that falls easily on a mind that calculates, demands a definition of Touch, so I'm looking forward to a change in the weather so I might again say hello to my friend down there amongst the compost piles

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Election 1964 and Girls

The year was 1964. Your correspondent was a cheerful, carefree schoolboy without a single attitude problem, and it was sort of summer with green wet grass, constant showers, kind of like today, blue knee temperature no heating, and he'd not lived long enough in the rural idyll of an East Sussex Boarding School to have fully grasped the relationship the more northern parts of the planet has with daylight. It didn't really seem to get dark until something like midnight, and going to bed before dark was a constant reminder of yet another eccentric characteristic of his new home which included many a happy afternoon in detention. Meanwhile on the west side of the Atlantic there was Election 1964, the candidates Johnson and Goldwater. It's a long story, but it all began, as I understand it with a television advert called the Daisy Advert. A little freckled three year old clumsily counting petals as she plucked them from a daisy, and then in the background a male voice began to count backwards in that authoritative, National Geographic Daddy kind of way. When the little girl looked up the male voice reach zero and the blast of atomic bombs filled the screen.

The advert was designed to suggest that of the two candidates for President, Johnson would be less likely to cause the end of the world by pressing a button. Supporters of Johnson's opponent, Goldwater, a hang them high, duck and cover kind of person, had an interesting reaction to the Daisy Advert. They encouraged slightly more nubile girls to dress up as though ready for the corn field, gingham, clutching daisies, smile and look sweet, a sort of Oklahoma musical carrying banners that supported Goldwater. It was a visual that presented the obvious solution to a world rife with slugs, snails and puppy dog's tails that if allowed to combine would reduce sugar and spice and all things nice into a sort of New Deal Paradise so gutless in it's understandings that no white girl would ever be safe again from the wiles of alien influence to stay home like the good fairy, do the shopping and mothering. I guess for the girls who fell for the excitement of dressing up for the photograph, or the parade, they were far too young and imbued by a sense of the inevitability of their own future to think much of it. But, as I understand it, they did become known as Goldwater Girls.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lenin, Saints, Sporting Events.

The temptation to take another turn in the Election 2016 Hamster Wheel is way up there on the list of desires. It's the case also that those of us prone to Angst of the Gentler kind might prefer to explore the phenomenon of mind, it's thoughts in relation to those emotions spat out by the limbic system, the sense of touch, the idea of presence in the world, the universality of our relationships with the other, through something far, far away from the adventure and stress of a political process. It might also be the case that your correspondent would be wise to chose a Sporting Event to get all worked up about. Some team of men, or women engaged in a form of battle that has a cut and dried end point, with anther chance for glory and wild celebration next season, and if not next season, the season after that. A chance to bond with fellow supporters, curse the linesman, consider the teams victory a personal triumph, and spend good money on the sleeveless tee shirt, or beaky hat.

It's a sound enough theory, but I'd rather think about Lenin. There was a dedicated man, single minded in his often ruthless pursuit of turning an idea of himself and us into something more manageable. He's been dead for 92 years, his body preserved and still on display, and according to reports he actually looks better today than he did when he died. I'm told there was a poll recently conducted the outcome of which suggested a good majority of the Russian people thought Lenin should be removed from his mausoleum and buried so the significant resources used to maintain him might be put to other uses. I mention this because the current Russian Emperor set aside the will of the majority, he suggested that many Orthodox Saints, or some part of them, had been preserved for centuries in churches and that Lenin should be thought of as a Saint. A kind of unusual thing to get excited about, but on this I do find myself in agreement with the Czar. Naturally I'll tag this personal reaction as emotional dependence, so in a way it is a Sporting Event.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vainglory

Despite the amazing heroism of your gardener, who having listened to the False Prophets, did battle with tarpaulin, sheet and row cover in the failing light of yesterday, it was The Lord who did his bit for the Vegetable Garden and righteousness, but I have to think he might not have chosen to oblige had I not shown willing to assist him by nobly braving the elements in the way that I did without once complaining or gnashing teeth. This morning there was no suggestion of frost, the keen eyed might have seen the potential, the dew was little dewdrops not big dewdrops. I was naturally resting peacefully during the critical hours prior to 8am but The Artist recorded a temperature at the low point of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, on the off chance The Lord is a believer in Celsius, 4.4444 on into eternity.

Often, too often, a gardener does fall for the sin of Vainglory. The sin has an odd definition, and many years ago following an encyclical Vainglory was removed from the list of Cardinal Sins because it sounded like Pride, and for unknown reason Glory had become a Virtue. And I think it was the same Pope who messed around with the calendar. Yet some of us might be a little old fashioned and still think of Vainglory as one of the big time Cardinal Sins that has the added benefit of sounding rather wonderful. And if you want to know what my definition is, best to think of Vainglory as "Futile Boasting." You can spot it all over the place if you start looking for it, entire industries are built upon it, so no wonder Vainglory is no longer a sin once you step outside the purity of the Vegetable Garden with its consistency of teaching.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Psalms 15 and 3

The Psalms of David spring to mind on a day like this. Psalm 15, is about the happiness to be had from the holy. And in this psalm, David's "holy" is better thought of as "being associated with a divine power" rather than messing around with challenging the wisdom of the divine. Another thing to remember about David is that he arranged for the murder of Uriah the Hittite so that he might possess Uriah's wife, a woman David later added to his collection of wives, their boy child was Solomon. It was a terrible thing to do, and several of David's psalms are all about how sorry he was, which must have made life just a little bit difficult for Solomon's mother. Yet another thing to remember about David is that he was right up there with the leaders of men. So it's kind of good news to hear that he found happiness in the holy.

Now whether you want to think of the question in Psalm 15 as "Lord, who shall dwell in they tabernacle? Who shall rest in thine holy mountain?" or from one of the more recent translations "Oh Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?" David's answers were all about walking upright, speaking the truth, not lying about your neighbors for personal gain, having something good to say about anyone who feared the lord no matter what horrible thing it was they might have done and there was a mention of never charging interest on a loan or taking advantage of the innocent. Meanwhile here on earth there's a chance of patchy frost tonight. The gist of David's Psalm 3, I find helpful: Lord arise! Help me -Thou hast smitten mine enemies on the cheekbone, though hast broken the teeth of the wicked in the past - I'll do my bit, I'll try to be as holy as possible -but in the long run it's up to you to do the right thing.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tomato Angst

The forecasted period of chill and rain should it transpire, as it probably will, means a hardship for Tomato. They kind of get stuck when they shiver and when they get stuck they're unable to outgrow those more invisible Poxes that find damp and chill invigorating. Another theory is never put out the Tomato until something like the middle of June. A third theory involves indoor/outdoor carpeting, gravel, exotic concrete statuary and an investment in herbicides. A fifth theory is to find another habitable planet to live upon, which as I understand it is a high hope in some quarters, apparently there are billions of them out there, all of them like Eden, and many of them ideal for Tomato, clockwork seasons and totally devoid of any kind of Tomato Pox.

The more sensitive synapses might recognize an ennui and might worry a little about the kind of mental imbalance that leads to random acts in the vague hope that somethin might work. The sort of lunatic behavior that involves digging up the Tomato, repotting them, finding a warm dry space in the kitchen so they might spend their Sunday and Monday morning in some degree of comfort. Mind you, many years ago when I still had eight good hours a day in my body, I had suggested I dig a four foot deep and five foot wide Mole barrier all the way around the Vegetable Garden. It was a brilliant idea and had I not fallen to a shyness around the eyebrows raised by the idea's detractors, Snow Peas might be in better fettle.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hayek, Kemp and Ryan

I once met Paul Ryan's mentor. Not Ayn Rand's book, or Hayek, or Reagan, the other one. A man called Jack Kemp. It wasn't like a formal introduction with handshaking and napkins. I was delivering flowers to the kitchen entrance of a large country house, the old mansion type with stone and the oh so inviting portcullis, a white gravel driveway, Boxwood, Azalea's of the South, a massive lawn that needed attention, a uniformed staff, and a "Sold" banner across the "For Sale" sign. The note on the flower arrangement read "Welcome." Nor was I delivering flowers from a fancy white van with a happy plant on its flanks and some kind of suitable logo offering the correct suggestion of subservience. It was a green pickup with the kind of dents in it that tell of a hard working vehicle, it's bed contained the shovels, the wheelbarrows, the flotsam from a dead stand of Dogwood, and I hadn't shaved for a bit. It was hot, my neck red from the sun, no front tooth and a whole range of easy assumptions could have been made about me.

On the way back down the long driveway, I had to relieve myself. It's the sort of thing that does happen and spotting a very dense Star Magnolia I leapt at the opportunity. Then, while returning to my weary steed a very smart Detroit type car with air conditioning and the electric windows pulled up the driveway. An energetic looking, large older male with military hair, a long sleeved white shirt, a red tie, and a most defensive attitude that suggested he was the new owner of an expensive country property that may or may not have had horse stables.  His question "What are you doing?" might have been easier to answer had he not got out of his vehicle. My answer "What are you doing?" didn't really help. A moment like that does stay with a person and more recently I have come to the conclusion that Jack Kemp might have persuaded himself I was a potential supporter of supply side economics. And it's just as well the political class are more interested in power than anything else, otherwise the land would be awash with bodies turning in graves, it would be scary, instead of polite rows of dutiful crosses were the prayers are said and the tears are shed. All the same, Jack Kemp had a bigger heart than Ayn Rand could fit in her pocket book.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Eggplant and Other Stuff

It's the Eggplant a person worries about with a Sunday morning forecast of 43 Fahrenheit. The Eggplant considers that a chill, and he'll raise his leaves as though to protect himself. It looks like the arms up of a surrendering platoon, and it calls out for the sort of "pull yourselves together" attitude a Gardener usually reserves for his own weaker moments. And of course there's always that "why did I let this happen to you" sense of guilt that lingers, so it's probably just as well that Eggplants have yet to learn how to throw eggs, chant while carrying banners and say things like "F--- You!" But after hail it's a different story, a Gardener can ramble on about "it's not my fault" and become all convoluted around "it's an Act of God," blame exuberant consumption for yet another obvious example of Climate Change.

I heard the hail, I didn't actually see the hail, my sins are such that my own preference during any suspicion of an Act of God is to hide, but a reliable witness suggested our hail wasn't as big as it might have been, which was comforting. Then on the radio there were reports of what's charmingly referred to as "Golf Ball Sized Hail." It was a little south of here and in the morning there were pictures of it on the internet. It's the kind of sight that really makes a person understand why they're all so weird in Kansas. Fortunately here where I live our sins must have been minor infringements, a cruel word or two rather than something like drunkenness while robbing a bank. The Eggplants, along with everyone else in the Vegetable Garden have a bad case of Holy Leaf but there's been no actual call to the hereafter from something like a golf ball.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Cat

The Cat has had several names. Gilbort Frank has been one of them, and with respect to the name "Gilbort" the spelling is an approximation of the sound rather than a name a person might find in the Cathedral of Names. It's possible that the less obsessed might not know that when a Cat is first introduced to a Vet, a file is opened. I've been told that after the niceties of address and telephone number the Cat is asked for her name. And as I understand it, it's all very jolly-jolly with pet type people and their assortment of pets all over the place, so saying something like "It's a cat" doesn't really cut the mustard in a Vet's waiting room. Apparently the name Gilbort Frank did raise an eyebrow, so The Artist explained the dilemma by saying "grandchild." It's the sort of straight to the point detail that puts a purr into the hardest heart. Yes of course, aren't grandchildren wonderful, they come up with the strangest names and god bless them you just can't say no. Following this first visit to the vet, The Artist and your correspondent addressed the name Gilbort Frank, and we both agreed that The Cat, despite the power of grandchild, just doesn't look or feel like a Gilbort Frank.

 For my part I was kind of resigned to the name, took comfort from the idea that even a Gilbort Frank would soon enough get lost in the jumble and come away as something like "Have you seen The Cat." By the second visit to the Vet, routines had become a little more settled, and The Artist took her opportunity to bravely explain to the Vet's Assistant that henceforth Gilbort Frank would be known as "There" the cat formerly known as "Gilbort Frank." The Vet's Assistant was understanding, she might have been a Prince Fan, and she explained to The Artist that cat people do come up with what she called the "best names." It's the sort of remark that puts feather in the backbone and we all felt rather pleased with ourselves. Currently, following her breakfast and a little run around outside, "There" is asleep on a comfortable chair while Giant Voles, sneakier and sneakier Rabbits and Harvesting Chipmunks have free range of the outdoors. Mind you there has been a suggestion that the addition of a "Here" and an "Everywhere" might result in a galvanizing of the more primal raw in tooth and claw type urges that cats are supposed to exhibit during their relatively few hours of wakefulness.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Potato Festival

It's a beautiful thing when the Potato bloom, a whole range of different colors, Yukon Gold are shades of violet, some red potatoes bloom white and some potato decide not to bloom at all, they just admire the bloom of other Potato, they probably feel shy, so there's no actual rule about the bloom of Potato, it's a festival. But a gardener knows that when a Potato does bloom it means tubers are forming, and in the end the tubers are why many of us plant Potato in Potato patches instead of as an Annual in the Perennial Border. And too when the Potatoes bloom odds are there's a gathering of the host that feed upon Potato.

Oddly these creatures tend not be Deer, or Rabbit. Rather the Feast of Potato is celebrated by Beetle, Leaf Hoppers, Aphids and a little fly that has white wings. Downstairs where the roots are there's Wireworms and Cutworms, there's a Nematode called Stubby Root Nematode. And that's not even the beginning of a list that includes the sooty poxes of fungus and the virus lifecycles that include somebody's mouthpart. Then when the bloom of Potato is at it's end, the plant begins to fall into a satisfaction, it's task done and the last gasp is to fill it's tubers so that rodents might burrow and nibble which again gives the Gardener his opportunity to learn humility. Rotation helps.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chartists, Voles and Oddfellows

The Rabbit of Usk is always fond of donning his Deerstalker, firing up his briar pipe and exploring the possibilities however improbable, and there's a mystery in the Vegetable Garden. Someone ate the Parsley. Not just a polite nibble, but the entire plant. Nor was the Parsley something like a seedling, it was maturing, healthy, happy Parsley about the size of two fists. It's cruel and it's selfish and it's very mean, and without beating about the bush it's the sort of behavior that calls down fire and brimstone followed by some kind of public execution such as hanging, drawing and quartering. In short I know exactly how Chief Justice Tindal, Sir James Parke and Sir John Williams felt when they sentenced The Chartists and John Frost in particular. All the same, I  believe it was Sir John Williams who may have also sat on the bench of justice at the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, whose leader was a Methodist preacher called George Lovelass, author of a Union Hymn, "..speak a Tyrant faction's doom, we will, we will, we will be free." He was on his way to a penal colony in place called Australia when he wrote the poem.

Granted passions here are high, the Parsley root stock is still intact and has been relocated to an undisclosed location where exhortations are being made to the Great Oneness to grant some kind of full recovery so the world might walk on as it was and as it should be for ever more, amen. Meanwhile there is a hunt for the culprit, it's more of a mental hunt than it is an active rushing about with lethal weapons hunt, but nonetheless it's a hunt. Of the many possibilities, two spring to mind immediately. The Vole and the Bunny Rabbit. My own judgment falls in favor of the Community of Vole as guilty party, they're kind of hungry for particular fresh greens at the moment and they're breeding like flies which calls upon their reserves of trace elements which Parsley contains a wide variety of. But it must have been a nerve-rackingly large Vole with vitamin deficiency to have done such damage. Possible too there's a Friendly Society of Voles, a Combination, a Union of Voles, but good to know that if there is such a phenomena, Voles are in my book agricultural workers which would make them Oddfellows, and it could be that Parsley is the mead of their Oddfellows' Lodge. Yes indeed, "..we come our county's rights to save."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Varmints, Vets and Grass

Typical glorious day in May and a body verging on revolt, it's the sinews and other agues that catch up to a person, slaps him in the face, reminds him to just go ahead start digging his own grave, but The Artist's Tomatoes are planted and staked in sensible groupings with stuff like well secured old fencing to climb upon should they feel like it. Have to say also that I've really fallen down on my responsibilities as an Uncle. I was under the impression when she joined our little community that she was maybe a couple of months old. But she wasn't, and proud to say following some remarkable peculiar and somewhat alarming behaviors The Niece is doing very well, she had a little operation, seems to have no emotional trauma associated with several visits to the vet, and has fully recovered. Indeed, she set a wonderful example to those of us who are shall we say bat-like and Attic Dwelling.

The greater excitement was the venturing forth into the outdoors. Not an easy moment for me. I thought perhaps we should wait considerably longer, a year perhaps, but The Artist was bold and The Niece took those first tentative steps onto the back porch. She behaved with great courage, a light breeze troubled her not in the least, she sniffed anything she could find to sniff, and soon enough she was thinking seriously about advancing onto the concrete path toward the habitats of the Predatory Chipmunk and the Satanic Vole. An Uncle can't expect much in these early stages from a young serial killer, can't expect her to ever know the difference between good and bad, if it moves it's fair game. It was, however, just a little disappointing when it became apparent The Niece had some kind of problem with walking on the grass. A number of theories, not dry enough, maybe it was too long for her, or improperly scented. But certainly she has an Olympic Standard leap when confronted by unsavory obstacles.

Friday, May 6, 2016

February 1970 something

Our hero is locked in a garden shed. Long story, he was caught stealing a turnip by an older lady, she was tough, long grey hair and whiskers. Don't get me wrong there was no man handling involved, rather it was the arrival of the older lady's daughter which put a shock in the circumstance, and it was the older lady's suggestion he hide in the garden shed. He obliged, she closed the shed door and she latched it.

I guess there are several ways to introduce our hero to the Welsh Language. It always sounds beautiful, made for the mists and the poet, and the older lady's daughter did have sharp words for her mother who was outside in her dressing gown, no shoes on her feet, frigid morning at the end of February. Not a word of the younger woman's crystal language did our hero understand, but the reply was in English, "I'm eighty two and I'll wear shoes when I want to."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cinco de Mayo

The Thirty Year's War changed power structures between interest groups in Europe. Three hundred and nine years later The Treaty of Paris in 1957 resurrected an idea of European Unity. And thirty years of living peacefully in the United States has clearly changed me because I am shy around expressing an opinion on the coming referendum in the United Kingdom about whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union.

And I get a little pissed off when anyone from the United Kingdom expresses any kind of an opinion on the current political excitements here in the United States. It makes no sense, it's foolish to the point of being idiotic, but I can't help it.  It's the kind of thing that creeps up on a person, catches them unawares, and it's something to be very wary of because it's not good for our world. So here goes. Leicester City's win was an inspiring anomaly but The UK should remain in the EU.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Accidental Immigrant

Your correspondent has actually been what could possible be called an immigrant on maybe three, possibly five or six separate occasions. It would be nice to think he'd had some sort of plan, or ambition, but it would be completely false to think that. Neither plans nor dreams nor ambitions have greatly influenced him through the course of his life and in this respect he does have some vague, very distant resemblance to our heroic hero. I guess too there's an argument for the idea of an "Accidental Immigrant." He or she is a good distance from a Refugee, whose only interest, despite rumor to the contrary, is to secure a meal and a place to sleep, some kind of stability. And an Accidental Immigrant is about a million miles from the sort of Immigrant that hopes through starting a new life they might one day own something like a swimming pool, three car garage and all the hoopla that many of the sadder dreams are made of.

In a sense none of us really choose our lives, accident of birth, the moment in history, and a whole range of things which tell us what we are supposed to be and as a rule we just say "Yes." And I guess there is in the condition of "Accidental Immigrant" an opportunity to leave behind by starting again. However when joining a newness there is the suggestion that a person should assimilate. Kind of like "When In Rome." I used to think that an assimilation to a new set of normal's took around five years. Actually for some of us more stubborn Accidental Immigrants it can take considerably longer, sometimes around twenty five years and sometimes it just never happens, so best move on. The question is why do I say this? The answer has as much to do with arrangements in the limbic system as it has to do with the flowers and thorns of discipline and thinking. But I will say this, an Accidental Immigrant knows he belongs when he can think of a place irrationally. Call it love if you have to get sloppy. And tomorrow is the 5th of May, or should it be May 5th for me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Holy Roman Empire and the EU

In the Thirty Years' War, with an eye on westward expansion, the Ottoman Sultan supported a Prince of Transylvania's ambitions in a war that saw the end the Holy Roman Empire. It was an outside intervention, a reach for territory, but the Ottoman interference in European affairs got nowhere except to give Transylvania a reputation in the European Imagination of a place where evil and treacherous monsters lurk in gloomy forests. By the end of the Thirty Year's War, most of Europe was bankrupt, people were starving, labor was in short supply except for the Dutch and the Swedes who did quite nicely. Funny thing about war, and about bubonic plague, if a working man survives it, he often gets some kind of pay increase and an improvement in working conditions. During the war the English, who were more like pirates and adventurers back then, sneaked around, took advantage where they could. The war ended in 1648 and for the next three centuries there was no European Empire, just a bunch of nations for whom making war was pretty much a given. Interesting too, the war started because the Emperor wished for a uniformity of religion, he didn't like Protestants who were doing pretty well for themselves money-making-wise and most of them were going to go to hell when they died, and the Protestants didn't like Catholics for being envious, or lazy, or devoted to the Pope, or whatever. Then at The Treaty of Rome in 1957 European Nations reckoned upon a whole new idea for a European Empire. It was to begin as a trade agreement with the hope that one day Europe would be a single Political Entity united by common purpose. This more perfect union was to be called the European Economic Community and despite it's incredibly boring name, it was argued the arrangement would benefit all European nations equally, they'd no longer regularly feel the need to engage in what is a fundamentally barbaric behavior which as time went by was becoming increasingly more and more barbaric and expensive.

With respect to the European Economic Community the English whose own traditions were to dominate the foreigner rather than make any attempt to  understand him or attempt to speak his languge, remained very suspicious of some kind of traditional French Trap until 1972 when the United Kingdom agreed to join the Union of Europe on the understanding that it was a most sensitive issue for the an independent former World Power's psyche which would require a Referendum of Public Opinion just to make sure it was good idea and that everyone was actually onboard and had heard about it. In 1975, during the summer, on the 5th of June, the day before the D-Day celebration of the 1944 English Speaking Landings on the beaches of Normandy, the English had that referendum. 67% of the participants in the referendum thought membership of the EEC was good idea. Turnout was 65%. The cynical will argue that the referendum of 1975 was a sneaky tactic used by the British Government to negotiate the best terms for British interests within the Economic Community. More recently Perfidious Albion, following an understandable restlessness in confronting the new economic realities that have followed from the globalized economy, has arranged for another Referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in what is now the European Union, which is another totally vapid name for a Noble Dream and bold adventure. This new referendum will be held on 23rd June of this year. And naturally enough there has been outside interference in the form of opinions expressed by people like the United States President, the Europeans themselves, some Australians and the Corporate World. One of the things about the English in particular is that if a foreigner tells them what to do, their immediate instinct is to do the exact opposite. It's an Island Story, it's ripping stuff, passions are high, June is a good cheerful month for these sort of get togethers, you can almost wear a tee shirt, you can have a beer in the back garden if you have a back garden, and the referendum polls are pretty much neck and neck. In 1975, I thought it was an excellent idea to join Europe, but this time I'm staying out of it, and I'll try to tell you why sometime on the 5th of May....

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tooth aches and Potato Rains

One of the things about blogs, or whatever you want to call them, their primary role is for the mental health of the blogger or whatever you want to call him or her. We bloggers live in a blogosphere, it's kind of like a Hamster Wheel.

It's a fall from grace to think otherwise. And by the way, if the Potato Rains don't stop soon there's going to be some major falling from grace in this little part of the world. Tomorrow I go to the Dentist, thank goodness.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vestry of Monnow

Our hero yet again finds himself on the borderlands between the English Kings and the Dragons of Wales. And it's true, thanks to the abject disloyalty of a technical device that had some kind of mental breakdown at the prospect of Windows 10 our hero was in exactly the same place some months ago. However, there's a difference. This time our hero is not in possession of a hard back edition of the Collected Works of Dylan Thomas the margins of which had been scribbled upon by an unknown who had totally reasonable obsession with Socrates' death. The cynical might think their writer of pulp had forgotten to include that arc of possibilities in his narrative.

Not so, it's a well known fact that in the Northern Hemisphere Socrates' death is a late Summer through Fall phenomena. The idea of contemplating the Social Contract through the words of Dylan Thomas and the wisest of men's refusal to accept exile, is in the early part of this particular year more than this writer of pulp can handle. In another way, the whole Socrates/Dylan Thomas thing was just too complicated for a genuine hero to have to make sense of in Spring, even if it is ideal for the Sabean Genre and perfectly satisfies the tag Episodic-Discursive-Prolix. In yet another way, your correspondent could well be be shaving his head, wearing sandals, sackcloth and ash in November, voting for the Former First Lady.