Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Raw in Tooth and Claw

Sometime in the 1970's a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in a rousing speech at the annual conference claimed that his party was the "natural party of government." He went on a bit about the relationship between the mechanics of wealth creation and he claimed that his party was the vehicle by which an equitable sharing of that created wealth could be achieved without miring the industries of wealth creation in inefficiencies and pointless quarrels.  "Yawn" I hear the cry. But in the 1970's most UK political leaders had come of age in the Great Depression of the 1930's, their thinking much influenced by the Second World War and its aftermath. Experiences which I'd argue promoted an empathy for the lot of the multitude born of actual experience of hardship rather than high flown theory from the well subsidized fever swamps of the political  and economic sciences. As a youth my own reaction to the speech dwelled mightily on the incredibly ugly idea of a natural party of government. It sounded like a desperate attempt to avoid the onerous task of explaining the ugly details.

At the same time in the City of Cardiff, as I walked to the night shift at a burger joint down town, I could see suspicious devices hanging from the odd lamp post. I was informed the purpose of these devices was to sniff the atmosphere, quantify the particulates, and this way science deduced an unhealthy surfeit of lead in the air, the cause of which was city traffic. Some years later, employed by a Petrol Station to pump the gas, management was all in the air and angry, livid at the prospects of unleaded petrol, an unwarranted intrusion on their business model and yet another example of government incompetence placing burdens upon wealth creators. Back then of course a Prime Minister of the natural party of government could with a straight face say "popularity isn't everything, it isn't the most important thing, the important thing is doing what you believe to be right." Not sure what's happened to the explorations of science over the years, I suspect a wealth creator's concept of wealth has something to do with which of those explorations in science are popular, but I still hold the idea that there is no natural party of government.

Monday, October 15, 2018

North Wind

Pouring with rain, it's a warm rain and soon enough winds will embrace the north which means clearing sky and Patchy Frost followed by possible Widespread Morning Frost, soon there'll be the inevitable freeze, Woolly Bears in the outdoor boots, wet snow, mud and damp, bored cats, the list is long and awful. But it does give a person his opportunity to prepare for the ennui that amongst us normal people lingers for a good six months by offering us a chance to ponder meaning which these days generally results in a preoccupation with an epitaph that might sum up a person's passage through the world, his trials, his tribulations, his coping mechanisms without any of this fake news sugar coating that's currently all the rage.

 "Forbidden a ziggurat he died in vain." Some might think this sounds a little on the depressing side and if they do it means they are wedded to a set of extraordinarily bouncy ideas, cuddly toys and Christmas Jingles. Either way, an alternative epitaph of "Change is Good" falls way short of comforting, far too social media chirpy and the last thing the world needs is a patently wise-ass corpse anywhere messing with the ambience of the end time. I know this from bitter experience, there's a restless and most aggravating being in the barn who as soon as I've found the good hammer will insist on causing the can of nails to totally vanish for weeks on end.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Political Rallies

During a time of uncertainty for his party, Goebbels assured the faithful at one of the big rallies that "if we take the streets we take the state." Suspect it's like that now. Those rallies of the 1920's and 30's had a lot in common with the pomp and ceremony associated with the more authoritarian religious movements. You can kind of see it at something like Easter when the Pope appears on the balcony and everyone goes crazy then when it's down to the communion there's the dressing up, the big hats are donned and the faithful become zombie like in their obedience. No doubt about it there's enthusiasm around a sense of belonging, and at the same time there's a sort of chill that silences dissent. It's a wave and those who aren't surfing don't belong.

A journalist called William Shirer was a witness to an early Nuremberg Rally, he described a moment on the evening before the big event. He was wandering the streets, trying to find his way around, and he found himself in a throng of ten thousand people chanting outside a hotel room. When the great leader appeared the crowd joined in a messianic ecstasy which from Shirer's description might remind the television generation of teenagers greeting a Beatle at an airport. The more recent iteration of a Nuremberg Rally is probably better likened unto a sporting event, something like professional wrestling, an outrageous entertainment for a crowd. As Goebbels suggested, "intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character," which is another way of saying thinking's bad.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

I Sing of Launderers

Dividere et Empera. It's Latin, the most aggravating language our species has ever written, but for some reason it does give provenance to the highfalutin. Most Romans spoke what's called Vulgar Latin, a freewheeling expression of their more rambling thoughts and communications. What's called Classical Latin was mainly used by scholars to precisely record their important ideas for posterity and by administrators to issue death sentences, written instructions, or whatever. People know this today, because the early Roman Playwrights wrote down the words for their talking characters in Vulgar Latin and there's a lot of Roman graffiti scattered around the Mediterranean, most of it ridden with grammatical errors, appalling spelling and some of it is just about incomprehensible.  One beautiful as opposed to vulgar example was on shop door post, "I sing of cloth launderers and an Owl, not of arms and men." I guess the context was the goddess of hardworking launderers, but it makes huge sense to me as a fairly good rule to judge most things and most people by.

The point is Divide and Rule long predates the Romans, the tyrannically minded have been at it since the first garden spade was shoved into the ground by a bright eyed innocent gardener who was hell bent on getting out of the hunter gatherer business and as an unexpected consequence enabled our species to produce a surplus, much of which went to supporting a political class. Over the years there have been rare flashes of brilliance when minds conjoin around the idea of a set of rules in which power thrashes out solutions to the inevitable problems confronting the multitudes surplus has enabled. Generally the consequence of obedience to those rules has resulted in a productive harmony, but invariably productive harmony itself leads to crisis. An unhappy thought indeed. You can blame narcissistic megalomania, avarice, greed, demanding more from the world than you could ever need, call it whatever you want, but far from being ordained in someway, we, like the Dinosaur, remain a species, ever changing or extinct. On a more positive note, worth recalling the little known Latin phrase, "well disciplined like a corpse."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Blind Panic

An experienced resident of a domicile knows fairly quickly when one or other of the domestic pets has introduced an outsider to the wonders, stresses and excitements of indoor living. Between naps and visits to the food bowl, there's a lot of padding around sniffing at stuff, peering under armchairs, unnatural bursts of sudden activity that have no apparent cause and there's a range of snarky attitudes which suggest that something's not quite right with the smooth running of a well ordered functioning household and that someone has to be blamed, at a minimum dismissed from service.

The novice will of course suspect that it might be time for a visit to the vet, enquire about his pets mental health, discuss sedatives and finally coming home with something like a bill for a worm tablet. Another novice error is to blame the clump of grass in the living room on a significant other, and accuse him or her of thoughtlessly sneaking around the dwelling while wearing their outdoor boots. Then for the novice there's the terrifying experience of seeing a young Shrew pottering across the kitchen floor. It looks very much bigger and a great deal more dangerous than it actually is. I'm told it's the mind reacting to what's called blind panic.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Land of Flowers

Difficult to avoid the history of Florida. You hear the quote, "because the Spanish gave the area the name Land of Flowers." Think of the ludicrous Viking name Greenland, I guess. Unfortunately, letters home from the early US garrisons stationed in the territory during the Second Seminole War described a land that was basically a hell hole of insects, heat and disease ridden swamps. In time the indigenous Seminole, and the slaves who'd escaped the more northern plantations or Black Seminoles as they were called. were defeated. Seminoles who survived were relocated East of the Mississippi, Black Seminoles sent back to slavery. By the 1860's the population of Florida was 140,000, 44% of them were slaves working the cotton fields in Northern Florida. Following the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction was particularly unpleasant, freed slaves fled intolerance to places like Michigan to look for work in manufacture. A time that's still called the Great Migration. A reach for freedom the music of which still influences much of our less reactionary world.

Generally Florida was a kingdom of horribleness run by the agricultural interests dominated by the old time Democrats until the 1920's when there was a land boom, money poured in and it all came to a screaming halt  in the 1930's.  And nothing much happen until the military build up of the Second World War. But if you're looking for blame, blame the railway line to Palm Beach which before the air liner gave the wealthy from the North a wintering phase, and then in the 1950's and 1960's there was air conditioning. Today around 21 million people live in Florida, 20% are over 65, the US average for over 65 is 14%, so they're not all as old as you think. If you've ever been there the high point is Britton Hill, 345 feet above sea level, it's up in the panhandle, otherwise Florida is mostly flat, dull as Kansas but with no shortage of flood zones and everyone talks about beaches and paradise. Me, I'm not a big fan of the state, and if you're interested, Plato had much to say about how "beginnings" kind of determine "ends."

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Qualities

Some of us have been a tad delinquent toward their collection of iron disciplines geared to mental balance, order and calm, which could well be why some of us amble into the morning with the sure sense that our head is about to explode. Not the first time, might not be the last time, and I have found that one route out of this limbo is to tidy the room where I spend far too many hours of my day. A room which, as it currently appears, might give the casual observer the distinct impression that your correspondent struggles with what might be politely called the compulsive disorder of hoarding, and which a grandmother might still refer to as an appalling case of bone idle boy-child slovenliness. A wonderful word with its origins in the Flemish for dirty, careless, neglectful and which I'd argue without any traditional evidence probably joined the perversities of the English language following the challenges to the Anglo-Saxon lifestyle that resulted from the Norman invasion of the English part of the British Isles toward the end of the eleventh century, an event that figures up there as a tragedy on a par with the defeat of Carthage by the cheating Romans at the Battle of Zama.

The argument against tidying up is the straightforward suggestion that after the deed is done a person can't find anything, and discovers himself dwelling upon the end time as he wastes valuable energy hunting down his pencil sharpener, last years birthday card, his socks and his important notes. The argument for tidying up is primarily devoted to offhand moments such as "what might others think when confronted by this kind of unhygienic chaos?" And there's always the more cheerful prospect of finding useful things that have been lost and forgotten since the last tidy up. More interesting perhaps, of those who struggle with obsessive compulsive disorders one in four males of our species attempt to conceal the disorder in bone idle slovenly hoarding behaviors. And worth recalling is the recent movement in idea around the word "slovern" which when used in the more youthful vernacular gives a description to boys suggesting behaviors that better resemble the looser loyalties found in an emerging presidential quality which when traditionally applied to girls would earn the title slut. Either way, it's been a long haul, a difficult ride along somewhat suspect paths, but there's absolutely no way I can accept the possibility of admitting to a presidential quality, so I'm pretty sure that any day now I'll be tidying my room.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bivalves

Recent events have served to confirm my argument that there is no ghost in the machine and what we people loosely refer to as thinking or awareness is no more and no less an instinctual activity than say something like a deciduous tree dropping leaves in the fall of the year, or Bivalve Mollusks inadvertently producing pearls.

Nor shall I be remotely magnanimous in my clear and obvious victory. There'll be fizzy drinks of some sort as I dance in the end zone yelling nah-nah-nah. Classically magnanimous comes from the Latin, "Magnus" for great and "Animus" for soul. Pretty idea in the confluence of the two words, probably best reserved for Primroses.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Conflict

Hegel died in 1831. He put idea, what happens in the brain, at the center of his understanding. The more analytical minded, the empriricists, embraced his description of the way in which ideas moved. One thought led to another, and when it hit a brick wall it had to take a step or two back before it could advance, very sensible. The other thing about Hegel that's often quoted goes something like: we learn from history that we don't learn anything from history. I guess too that with Hegel a whole series of strands in thinking set in place the sense that truth was something of a moving feast, a conversation which when reason is withheld comes to a screaming halt. Something like partisanship is reasonable, otherwise ideas do not move. But if partisanship becomes an end in itself, reason steps out the window for a cigarette break and what you got is pretty much the most recent iteration of western society as practiced by our political classes.

As I understand it, Hegel was in a place called Jena in Germany when Napoleon marched his army into the city. He was excited to see the great man, the world was changing, the ancient regime had been swept away, the chaos of the French Revolution was finally over, new and more just forms would soon be in place. Hegel called Napoleon a world soul. Then Napoleon crowned himself as Emperor, and many people like Hegel went off Napoleon, got depressed and started saying things like: people and governments have never learned anything from history, nor have they ever acted on principles deduced from it. It was in his later life, after Napoleon was gone from power, that Hegel settled in to writing his history of philosophy. He came up with stuff like: education is the art of making man ethical. And my own favorite from Hegel: a genuine tragedy is not the conflict between right and wrong, but a conflict between two rights. An off hand remark possibly, but in my view a symptom of a dry sense of humor.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Neurotics

I'd argue Freud's somewhat icky Oedipus Complex is essentially about a person's life long search for potency. By potency I mean being taken seriously, and as a result of being taken seriously feeling secure in the world. This idea's provenance is an adaptation of an adaptation of Freud's theory by a fellow with the fine name of Wilfred Bion. A whole bunch of reasons why someone might hang their hat on what they believe it is to be potent, and my idea of potency might be very different to your idea of potency, pretty certain it is. But when a person's idea of what it is to be potent is severely challenged a person gets aggravated, bent out of shape, angry, increasingly irrational and they find solace in neurotic behaviors. So my theory is a long way from wishy-washy paid by the hour stuff or blubbering protestations of innocence.

I use the word neurotic in the fullest and most wide ranging sense of its meaning, all the way from banjaxed lock them up crazy, through more than worrisome, to mildly eccentric, via a little entertaining. "I was rather hoping for something about cats or fall plantings, or maybe a moment or two with the Compost Piles!" So was I, but sadly your correspondent has been attempting to grasp the emotional mechanics of installing a new Supreme Court Justice and has come away with far too many questions and far too many doubts about his  own potency. On the positive side, there's always Gulliver's Travels, a wonderful journey through the absurdities, cruelties and joys that burden us people. It was a book written by the Irishman Jonathan Swift in 1726.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Plato

The idea of Philosopher Kings goes all the way back to the Ancients. Wouldn't it be nice, the argument went, if the powerful were decent, full hearted, wise people who did right by the population and weren't just out to fill their own cup with self and in the process find reasons for doing so. Plato spent a lifetime on the problem, and while some would disagree, he came away disappointed and he just sort of concluded that there were stages a society goes through, one of which included the emergence of populist tyrants and all societies kind of end up in a huge unfairness which leads to anger and chaos as we people revert to what Walking Stewart called Beasts of the Field.

I first got pissed off with Plato when I understood his attempt to ameliorate the problem of government was to introduce an educated elite, who essentially would be men of gold chosen at a young age for special schooling and then introduced into the top echelons of a society which would be a sort aristocracy. Briefly, very briefly and we're talking probably the last three or four hundred days, I thought maybe Plato had a point. However in the last three or four days I have learned far too much about Yale and George Town Prep School to ever again believe in the possibility of specially educating a special elite. One thing Plato did talk about, and it does seem to me that it's very valuable. He didn't think that you could really write about "what is the form of good," you could only really hold forth on the subject and give it proper consideration through a constant, real time verbal discussions. Then came Twitter, the Internet and Cable News.  So Plato-wise, we're totally doomed!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Current Events

A good chance the more sensitive and generous minded might be having an adverse reaction to an Equinox falling in imminent proximity to a Full Moon. It's an Ides of March for a nut eating mental patient whose keyboard is again losing its legibility. There are three words that sound like imminent. There's immanent, note the a, which means something like inherent, belonging to, without which the widget doesn't work and the world ends. And there's eminent, note the sneaking e, which sounds like propaganda reserved for a know it all nominee to high office, but which comes from the Latin for jutting out, or projecting and has for some reason come to mean important, respected, or up there with the illustrious. "The judge's eminence is imminence to power rather than anything remotely immanent." And there's a whole theory about the shape of a person's mouth, the distance between the eyes, length of the arms, shape of the head, location of ears, but best to avoid the hate mail.

Of our species half are girls. Apart from the magnificent daughters of Aries and Harmonia, who produced a possibly mythical Scythian people, Greek heroes couldn't be heroes unless they'd done battle against a Scythian Amazon Warrior, the great majority of cultures have pursued an understanding of the relationships between boys and girls that reduces the female side of our being to a class of chattel just above Donkey. The question is why? One argument revolves around power relationships. Kind of like boys belong to a union, and the inclusion of girls risks the cohesion of that union which could precipitate the failure of that union and for boys the result would be a loss of eminence, authority and having to do things like washing up and vacuuming. The same argument is used to explain stuff like why don't white people get along with brown people or black people or immigrants with funny accents, and vica versa which is Latin for vice versa. The issue here is the extent to which dominance of a group is immanent to our being and if so are we doomed or can it change. It's Sunday, it's the 21st Century, stop being a sissy, risk hellfire, start with the original fake news, Genesis and Apples.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Why Not

When you're looking for a thingy to keep the top spinning bit from flying off "Frequently Asked Questions" are worse than useless. They serve primarily to remind an anxious repair person how many other things might fail, or blow up or get eaten by mice. I blame Adam Smith for introducing the term widget to public discourse. It's been down hill ever since and no wonder that any day now no one will know anything about anything. The point is the part I am looking for is probably churned out by the hundreds of thousands in somewhere like Ulan Bator, each one costing no more than around 25 cents, and yet you can't look for the part unless you know what it's called and you can't negotiate for the part unless you spend a good $10-15 plus shipping on the entire assembly. "Invisible Hand" my purple foot.

 At the same time worth recalling Dewi Sant and his "be sure to mind the little things." Given the current circumstances an interpretation of his adage might well be that because the big things in the wider world react horrendously with the more gentle psyche, much better to just get all worked up about the little, 25 cent things. Then of course you might hear from a fellow decrepit that he could remember feeding a family, dressing his children to Sunday School and filling his gas tank for 25 cents a week, and enjoying every minute of it. So where is the future? As a general rule, a healthy future, as long as it's not an Historian, laughs at the past. It slaps a knee and says things like "can you believe we used to do stuff like that."  An unhealthy future limps around on prosthetic limbs wishing it had never fallen off something like a ski-lift or a balcony in Cancun. In the end it's all about "Being" as the opposite of "Nothingness."  A pompous-ass way of saying "why not?" 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The I Problem

Very determined to wait until the last couple of days of this month. Otherwise it's little more than a feast to fatten Stinkbug and all who challenge patience as we all prepare for the short days. Probably means there'll be no actual crop of Turnip because chances are the year will avoid a warm, sunny fall and go directly to the Valhalla of winter projects, which gives the body five months to atrophy in plenty of time for March ailments, pulled muscles, broken backs and other such near death experiences. Oddly this time ten years ago I thought I had aged, but I am very confident that this year of 2018 I have indeed age.

And quite frankly I'm rather going off old people. There are far too many of us in charge of our destiny and all of us seem to labor under the illusion we are entirely indispensible. A short sightedness that puts the kybosh on any idea that old people are a depository of wisdom. Finally, on this humid and somehow depressing day I'd like to address the concept of legacy. I'd argue there's a preoccupation with legacy which dominates cultures that obsessively pursue the myth of individualism. It's a cost to our species. When the I and the Me becomes sacred it's a burden on a harmony that includes Stinkbugs. Maybe tomorrow I'll plant Turnips.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

36 BC

On pontificating Sunday always worth thanking the Almighty for the Gutter Press and bringing in the Romans. One of whom, an Historian called Titus Livy, made the suggestion that his people were so gone to the dogs they could no longer live with their sins nor could they live with the cure to their sins. During his time upon earth Roman Senators finally lost their Republic, their passionate dialogues, their dutifully elected Tribunes were all replaced by a series of often very ruthless and usually totally uncouth Emperors who claimed to be related to God or at least on God's guest list. Happy days for Rome were gone, replaced by smash and grab, endless hunts for personal glory, and here we're talking the early September of the year 36 BC, a sea battle that determined the end of an intermittent hundred year long civil war between the idea of a Roman Republic and the impulse toward Roman Tyranny. Depressing I know, it really sucks, and even back then there was money in politics.

My own advice to anyone who might be interested in Roman history is to start around 700BC, fun with wolves, the seven hills city, the ridiculous quarrel between Romulus and Remus. Then enjoy the process that slowly produced the Roman Republic until you come across the name Tiberius Gracchus, it's around 150BC. At that moment you stop your exploration and instead of troubling with the next 2100 odd years you go directly to around the September of 2016AD, where yet again we might begin to find an understanding of what Livy meant with his suggestion that his people could no longer live with their sins nor the cure to their sins. Mind you, not sure that Livy used the word sin, he probably used the word vice, which back then had more to do with things like greed, selfishness, dumb ignorance than anything to do with achieving some kind of pleasant or unpleasant endlessness after death. Nonetheless we remember Livy and we forget Gracchus at our peril.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Machines and Stuff

Ancient machine-wise the tally is two partial successes and one abject failure. The successes run around and rumble but they do so not as lithe young creatures more like terminally ill Gazelle waiting for the Lion and Hyena, which is analogous to my own course through daily life. I do rather envy the two partial successes their absence of the same ghosts that haunt me. They are stoicism personified which is probably why I find myself giving them an admiring pat when I am near them.

The abject failure has been subject to scavenging. Two very fine wheels, a perfectly good mowing deck and a couple of ornamental bits and bobs that just look very neat even if they'll never again belong to sweat, dust and sun. There's a thing called an Intake Valve which has all the qualities of something that can never by consigned to County Amnesty. A single cylinder engine has two of them. They're kind of like the valves of a heart which open and close as the engine runs, allowing fuel into the Cylinder Head and noxious gases out. They'd make fine earrings if you had sturdy ear lobes and a good long neck.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday

A most unsuccessful day, both hot and disorderly with two pointless trips to town!!! One of those days when your correspondent should've just gone back to bed and waited there until the following sunrise.  It's as well I don't have the nuclear codes, otherwise who knows what might have happened.

Yesterday was Thursday, I thought it was Wednesday. Today isn't Thursday it's Friday. Almost missed the Trash Collection, and basically it's been downhill ever since. And let's all hold the sauce a while, of course today could have been a lot worse. I could have drowned in the Pimlico Sound.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Natural Aversions

It's a long way from "Service Above Self" yet news of the East Coast hurricane immediately turned my own thoughts to grass raking and Compost Piles. Certainly I felt far from noble, mealy minded, a republican in waiting so to speak, but I have maintained an opinion that late season grass cuttings make good compost, and hurricanes are late season events. Trouble with the wretched month of September is a person can easily forget that winter is soon. In the morning he pops himself into his shorts, waddles downstairs wondering why it's hot as Hades and still dark.

 On the brighter side it's been a prolific year for Turkey. And here I mean the two legs and feathers kind, not the two legs and red tie kind. It's difficult to move around in the outdoors without upsetting a posse, and like the red tie kind the feathered kind do have that supercilious moment, a "let's not talk to him" minute or two before rapidly departing nose first into the air. Me, I wish they wouldn't treat me like a pariah. No reason we all can't go about our business, nod politely, instead of this fuss and bother. Mind you I do understand that my own species, is not held in high regard by Turkey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Left

"Two left" is very different to "There are two left." "Two left" could mean that two have up and left, or it could mean there are two remaining. And when it comes to moments of intense stress, such as Monarch Butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking to flight, it becomes critical to harmony that a messenger leaves no doubt in the mind of the message receiver. Otherwise confusion reigns and people get blamed.

It was Bertrand Russell, conscience objector, hero of the common man, he wasn't big on God or wedding vows and he was the author of the classic History of Western Philosophy, who briefly encouraged others to seek logic in language. It was later in his life that he came to a conclusion that language was basically without logic so better to pursue an understanding of Precision in Language. Henceforth when around creatures and things that may or may not have left I will endeavor to remember Bertrand Russell.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Memory and Potlatch

"In Croatian the word Dragan translates as Precious." Possible this is entirely made up, but through the course of a person's time upon earth there are things that stick in the mind, and won't go away, which is something of a blow for those of us who'd prefer to stock the memory with useful information like their own zip code, telephone number, and street address instead of wasting space with pointless and possibly incorrect bits of information.

It's the case also that a Potlatch of Vestry of Monnow, a shredding if you prefer, does leave a writer of pulp with appalling memory rather lost for names as he re-climbs the hill toward Pen-y-Fal. Dragan makes a nice name if you know it translates as Precious. He's a poorly behaved son, engaged in smuggling cigarettes from Albania to the socialist republics. Some years ago a good living was to be had in Albania from counterfeiting Winston and Marlboro cigarettes.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Model Numbers

I had to cut the blade off the 6hp 1997 push mower. The shattering noise and shower of sparks gave the kitten a pause for thought. She stared at me for a long time afterwards, it was an accusing sort of look, I felt guilty of something, and as one who is essentially at the bottom of the totem pole I have to admit I did feel a little rakish in the dangerous kind of way, someone to be respected, a little unstable and not to be messed with. Didn't last long, soon enough I was being directed to open a door in which there's a perfectly good cat flap and the perfectly good water in her barn side drinking bowl had to be replaced, it's a whisker friendly bowl, but the water has to be freshly sparkling from the faucet otherwise it doesn't count as water, instead it's an example of neglect verging upon animal cruelty.

One of the things about a replacement engine is getting the correct configuration. To do this the anxious repair person has to know the model number of the elderly machine upon which the new engine is to be fastened. With elderly mowing decks they do get a bit of batter in the long course of their days. Many years ago model numbers were engraved into the metal of mower decks. Then sometime around 1995 a new wave of cost cutting measures must have been  introduced. Model numbers were basically plastic sticky labeled onto a mowing deck, so that a bit of sun, rain and aggravation could wear it off, quickly turn it illegible. It would be OK if I could decipher the model number for the engine, I could go from there, but years ago a boy cat had taken a dislike to the 1997 push mower and as everyone knows boy cat urine can pretty much melt the metal upon which engine numbers are engraved.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Potlatch

In the storm of daily life I have found that once written and tossed into the ether a statement becomes like a tablet down from the mountain. Otherwise it's all just a morass of "Maybe Tomorrow." Which is why I will announce two potlatches. The one is more of a fair warning, and the other is a definite "Will Do." The fair warning has to do with a technical device, it will involve a sledge hammer and a blow torch, and should the technical device again revert to a Bolshevik attitude toward function there will be a berserker moment behind the barn, followed by loud wailing, and the inevitable tears of regret.

The "Will Do" potlatch has to do with A Vestry of Monnow. My own arrogance and hubris will be humbled in the fire. It's more of a delete button, but none the less the flames are no less absolute, the thing will be gone, wiped from the world, off to oblivion, and your writer of pulp will re-climb the hill. This time with a fresh eye, and with luck something like a well thought out plan that results in a comprehensive conclusion, bells, whistles and an idea of "Yes that makes sense." Anyway it's all very exciting and does provide a frail comfort to the often incredibly depressing process of putting a vegetable garden to sleep. I'm certain you'll agree, there's something horrific about ripping out the Tomato.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Outdoors

Without mentioning the continuing struggle with lunch, some of us are coming to the end of our ability to manage the heat. The Chard is doing it's very best against those little black Caterpillar, Sweet Potato prefer to wilt in the afternoon which is probably rodent related and the gardener is giving serious consideration to one of those yearning odes to frost, not many of them written. With the winter poems more often it has more to do with Christmastide and bunch of nonsense about Yule Logs and jingling. And then there's a raft of poems that play winter as an analogy to old age. Why it's called Old Man Winter I've no idea, other than to assume that through the years winter has bumped a lot of us old people off.

The best known poem by Dylan Thomas is the one that contains "Do not go gentle into the night" and it goes on a bit about "rage against the dimming of the light." The thing about that poem is, and far to many people forget this, it was written during second world war and was inspired by the bombing of London. One of the bombs killed a one hundred year old man, and to the poet this just seemed very, very wrong and ratty making. A man who had reached the age of 100, killed by a bomb. Call me a callous swine, but at least it was unexpected and quick. First frost day around here is supposed to be middle of October. What's the betting we don't get a little help with grass mowing and blood sucking insects until well into November.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Felt

Deep Throat, amongst other things, was also the name of an anonymous source. The traditional view that lasted a while was that he was a compilation of anonymous sources all of whom for the sake of anonymity and convenience came under the title of Deep Throat. Then some time in the early part of this century a name emerged. A man called Mark Felt, an agent of the FBI and big fan of J Edgar Hoover. The story goes that when Hoover met his end time, Mark Felt had a poor reaction to the appointment of the new Director of the FBI. The new director was an admiral from the navy, he had little experience of law enforcement, he was an idiot, or perhaps a moron, who had absolutely no understanding of how the FBI was supposed to keep people safe from ne'er do wells, kidnappers, anarchists, pot smoking social activists, the wishy-washy and the list of Hoover's interests was a long and often peculiar one.

Worth noting the origin of the name Deep Throat. The managing editor of the Washington Post is credited with naming the source and it wasn't until the first book about the Watergate Scandal was written that the name reached  public scrutiny. More recently the new iteration of a high level anonymous source has yet to be given a name, but I have seen a suggestion in the news that the title Lodestar might enter the inevitable vocabulary with which the future will surround the current ghastly administration. My own list of contributions to any debate that may or may not be occurring in the back rooms of the nation's free press around the problem of naming the author of the recent anonymous editorial would include the words Sock Puppet, Coffin Sniffer and Queen Nefertiti. Certainly they're all good and catchy names for blood sucking invertebrates, but more to the point ask yourself how on earth did the name Deep Throat every join the party when you've got something like Mark Felt to play with.

All the Choice

The answer is short sentences. Have a peek at the books of the great minds and you'll not find a sentence much shorter than two or maybe four hundred words, a couple of commas and no end of semi-colons. Hegel, Marx, and those with much harder names to spell, clearly had the big head that's capable of containing vast amounts of idea in one breath, and would never consider the possibility that others might get lost in any sentence longer than about twenty five words. Either way, some of us aren't much good at resolutions, but I've been wandering these pages and cannot believe how incomprehensible I've become, which is why I have resolved to seek solace in short, sharp, incredibly meaningful sentences that make total, complete and utter sense. As well, no longer will there be ambling around scattering commas at the written word. In fact I might even avoid commas all together, never really understood them, never quite sure where they're supposed to go, but I do know they're not confetti, and there's a whole set of other confusions which do nothing for overall mental balance.

In the meanwhile there's original intent. My own argument would be yes to the peaceable kingdom, pursuit of happiness, a more perfect union and the equality of all, whether God given or not. At the same time, the original intent here on these pages was to explore the experience of existence, recognize the material nature of being, understand it as limited to the outer reaches of physics, an incline in the fabric of time, no up, no down, no sideways. A straight line in a curved universe that was there before the big bang. And you're right, that sort of wacky-doodle thinking does produce the raised eyebrow from those who want answers. The old joke about three existentialists in bar, and one says... But I'm sure everyone's heard it before, and would rather plumb for hubris and arrogance around grand words like Original Intent and never risk the appalling notion that a straight line goes directly through the curves and grace of Original Intent, leaves it in the tail winds of dying Red Dwarfs. Yes indeed the stars may be laughing at us, yet their time will come and when it does interpretations evaporate leaving us to the poet Alqamah and his Camel. "All the choice is to journey on."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Ball Joints and Spindle Bearings

The trouble with being born a pompous-ass I could go on hour after boring hour on the topic of sycophant motivations and tyranny, and how to attempt an understanding of them without resorting to vulgarities and rude gestures, but that doesn't get me a ball joint for the steering of a venerable riding mower that's been sitting in the maybe pile for a good couple of years. The personality flaw of course is saying something like "It'll be good for parts." The thing is parts fail and usually it's the same parts that fail, so sooner or later a machine runs out of good looking and donatable parts, and the whole thing looks very sad and tragic, kind of like a polio victim. 

The other thing about this mower is the deep affection we share, we've been through hell together and it's my fault the steering failed. Which is yet another personality flaw that's sure to cost more than a couple of cartons of cigarettes and dozens of cans of sweetened condensed milk. All of which means I am doomed to reenter the dark and incredibly frustrating world of Spindle Bearing Repair. The spindles are the bits that allow the deck blades to spin, and I've kind of used a couple of bearings from this mower deck's spindles. It wasn't an easy thing to steal, I felt terrible doing it and even if price-wise new spindle bearings are up there with a well pump, it was kind of a betrayal on my part, one of those shameful feelings that haunt.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Transactions

Being wishy-washy I've always been keen on phenomenological approaches. It's a long word and impossible to spell and it essentially means the stuff that's experienced by the mind. Sounds easy but none of us are able to actually get into someone else's mind, feel what they feel, think in the way they think. Transactional Analysis was a move toward getting a better grasp of the stuff that's experienced by the mind through looking at the more personal social interactions and categorizing them into parent, adult and child ego-states. The reason for choosing these three states is because they're either conflicting or complementary, and can be thought of as transactions between people and within groups of people. A small step in the problem of exploring the experience of others but a big one I think. "Are you treating me like a child?" "Only because I love you." A truly charged verbal interaction that can be explored in terms of both sides wanting something from the other, and it would seem neither one making much progress in the difficult business of getting the other to behave, oblige, go away or whatever. One of the troubles for the practitioners of phenomenological approaches to analysis is they are time consuming, require great patience, they're not usually successful in achieving results like world peace and in the end much cheaper just to medicate the lot of them.

 Either way, transaction, transactional and so on, figure pretty large in the current nightmare. "Oh he's just a day trader!" is thrown around like confetti. There's a whole thing around strategic thinking and how incredibly important it is for long term wellbeing. "When I grow up I want to be an astronaut." "Well you need to be good at math." I agree, it's a very depressing answer enough to put anyone off and so much easier just to have someone take a photograph of me in spaceman outfit so that I can look as though I might be an astronaut, or perhaps I'll just get a tattoo. In the three ego-states the adult is the one who can sort of see both sides, thinks more strategically, and has a basic understanding that hoping for miracles is no substitute for an informed opinion based on a wide, wide range of possibilities, followed by disciplined attempt at objectivity. Something like "you'll end up digging trenches for a living," is a long way from adult behavior, that would be a more parental reaction. But, "I wish you the very best of luck becoming an astronaut," followed by a shrug would be grown up. One thing's for certain anyone who tries to secretly sneak a sun tanning bed into their domicile falls into the category of child. An ego-state that is vulnerable and a real pain in the neck unless in the interpersonal transaction your own ego state is that of parent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Origins of Q

I'd argue the early iterations of Q where in the ideas of Sorel, his myth of the general strike and the role a potential for violence played in sobering up ruling elites to prevent them from becoming totally obnoxious of attitude and appalling in their behaviors toward the common man. No accident that Q emerged sometime in the last half of the last century in Italy, an often divided land where Sorel's book hit a chord amongst the Italian Fascists. This Italian Q, (60's, 70's something like that) was one of those handbooks for politically left leaning activists who when considering the problem of Capital concluded that a myth of some sort would succor the flagging spirits of and reawaken an interest in radical change from the working class by offering a sense that despite all appearances to the contrary, "Things were actually happening." Not just little things, but really big and important things which when the time was deemed right would suddenly come together, all would be revealed, a paradise on earth, or at least affordable health insurance.


 Can't find the handbook, of course, probably have to go to a vault in Moscow, but it was basically a collection of intertwined rumors that these days most would put in the category of a well considered conspiracy theory. The work of the activist was to spread one rumor from the handbook, which as it found its way into a community would meet other rumors from the handbook and it was a like a Bingo moment for the innocent, who in their turn would become believers in the idea that "things were actually happening" and best not to be left out. Not sure the Italian Q had any great success, Italy back then had recently struggled through fascism, it's citizens were still pretty wise around crackpot ideas that contained a ludicrous promise. In the USA there's some debate about Q's reemergence, but I'd guess it was either some venal male of our species from the Alt Right looking to experiment with mayhem in pursuit of his ultimate purity, or a Leftist practical joke designed around the idea of making Trump supporters look idiotic and at the same time make a few more dollars on accessories and t-shirts to sell at Nuremberg style rallies. If you've not been to one, out in the free parking there's a smorgasbord of stalls selling hats and collectables, and naturally for Q memorabilia there's E-trade. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Gaslights

Less than a hundred years ago there was an advert for a brand of lighter which included the expression "a flick and it's lit." A catchy phrase designed by bright young minds to entice an innocent customer into choosing a brand of lighter which I think was called Ronson. "What's this got to do with Q-Anon?" I hear the call. The answer can be found in a word that emerged in the 1960's which took it's cue from a 1930's movie called Gaslight. The movie was about a devious husband who in the course of being up to no good had decided the drive his wife insane by persuading her that she'd lost touch with the real and had become delusional. The word Gaslighting is hard to avoid, you can't really get up in the morning without experiencing an attempt designed to manipulate the way you think, but in the long list of civic horrors Q-Anon stands alone because in a sense we are all adherents to one version or other of it. We all believe something and when our beliefs are challenged we can quickly be persuaded to believe things that cannot be true.  What's the matter with you - just look at symbol for the United Nations, the earth is very obviously flat and if the earth wasn't flat and saucer shaped, you'd fall off it.

All very well getting worked up and over excited around ideas that suggest reality is virtual, that nothing is real outside of quotation marks, it's a mental stage upon which we prance, and yet thinking that way is a luxury best left to the common rooms that serve latte. One view is this. Generations ago we lived in tropical trees, we built well appointed and comfortable nests and we were blissfully happy unless one of our number chose to look beyond our horizon in the search for something else. Usually we'd do the right thing and toss such a character out of the nest, let him or her fall to a horrible death as a warning to others. Then our trees began to die and reality suggested that if our being was to survive we'd have to find new ways of being. It was the horizon that beckoned, an impossible place, flat treeless and without hope. It wasn't a genetic change that permitted us to adapt, it was the confluence of our being confronted by reality, a moment of truth rather than anything that made any sense. Boldly, with just the occasional gnashing of teeth and some grumpiness, we ventured forth into an unknown future. Q-Anon, if you ask them, will tell you everything's under control and going exactly according to the plan that's far too complicated for simple voters to fully comprehend. Me, I'm not convince. Incidentally, the Ronson lighter from a secondhand stall cost six pence, it needed unavailable parts and it never lit, it's a purchase that will live in infamy. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Bull of Heaven

Difficult to avoid contemplating the more dire of future possibilities, ogres abound, the ghost of Governor George Wallace is eagerly knocking on doors and MAGA has become an aesthetic for the truly brick wall puerile. Not a big believer in the 16th century quatrains of Nostradamus, yet interpreting the mystery of the future remains one of those perennials of consciousness, a bugaboo of awareness, which today is as awesome in its majesty as it was back in the day when Gilgamesh having killed the Bull of Heaven had his vision of his dead friend during which his friend went on a bit about what a terrible, terrible place Hell was. Nor did our hero find much solace in the vision, in fact it depressed him mightily. And if you're eyebrows are raised it's Sunday, dress up for church day, think about self in relation to other, and here we're not talking in relation to mechanical devices or Compost Piles. The point being "a shining city on the hill" is so badly tarnished by the machinations of earthly passions the future this side of some kind of painless death looks increasingly grim. And at the same time some of us might still cling to the idea that all things are relative, the Dark Ages weren't totally devoid of happiness, men and women laughed, children played with sticks in the puddles, contentment was defined by a satisfied stomach and Saints did stuff like turn lice into crocodiles so that none of us had to ask science or education to answer the question why? Yes indeed, the Dark Ages were a much simpler time, ignorance the most blissful of opiates, a heavy drinking for any mind searching for an oblivion in the slurry of alternatives states. By George! it used to be fun, rum punch, gin, washed down with Budweiser, a good substitute for Brains Ale still alive and warm from the barrel.

Never been certain why or whether Enkidu, Gilgamesh's friend, was in Hell, but Enkidu was kind of like Esau who biblical scholars will tell you was "an hairy man." A wild outdoor kind of person who hunted and gathered for a living, retained an ill-disciplined purity of understanding which slicky-boys from the more city-like habitats consider very un-cool unless it involved shopping, impressing girls or country music. And if there is one, these genuine wild outdoor type characters do kind of miss the point about civilization, the responsibilities of leadership, regular bathing, stuff like comprehending complex ideas in conjunction with good fashion sense. In short, a successful and good king has to be prepared to embrace the quill and parchment, pour out his heart into something like the Psalms of David as a penance for the sins of high ambition and lust for power, a sadness in his soul. If he's incapable of doing so, insists he's perfect, he's basically the servant of the Devil and should be burnt at the stake or hung from a balcony in an Italian City, and if he dies in his bed history already has the Mark of Cain on his forehead, no shortage of typewriters to remind the world of a reprobates abominable passage through it. When Gilgamesh first came to power he was a veritable scoundrel, cruel, self serving and just very nasty. He died a much wiser man, but his sins could never be forgiven, he'd killed the Bull of Heaven for goodness sake, which is why the account of his life is described by the university types and hangers on as a tragedy. Meanwhile, four and a half thousand years later, it does seem there's a kind of fratricide that's put a Mark of Cain on the Party of Lincoln. Fair warning, tomorrow I'll compare and contrast the Luddite reaction to automated textile equipment toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the DNC from 1992 to the present. To quote the well medicated Elvis, "It will fascinate you."

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Engine Trouble

I think the First World War started in August, so best not to pretend that everyone heads for the book shops or swimming pools, deck chairs, beach outfitters and summer holidays, and that nothing happens in August. Here where I live there's immense tension around a bad tempered and cantankerous small engine that cannot be removed from its mowing blade. The machine has been sitting around for far too long and the cause of tension revolves around the extent to which the engine is worth repairing or whether it joins that thunder cloud of contraptions in the barn that comprise the 99% chance of being dragged off to the twice annual county's amnesty for old bits of metal, appliances, everything else except rusted out fence wire. In the good old days of course citizens would just throw stuff off the cliff, watch it splash into the Green River, and then with a job well done wander on home to bathe in the suavity of their well appointed and entirely functional barn, with plenty of room to maybe play ping-pong, or tenniquoites, or possibly beach bowling or corn-hole without risking tetanus shots or a trip to the emergency room.

 The engine is a 6hp Briggs and Stratton which soon after emerging from its cardboard box somehow in the summer of 1997 or 1998 became permanently bonded to a mowing blade. The machine itself has since been modified so as to enhance its capacity to serve and basically it needs a new pretty much everything. The question is the cost of new parts for an engine, never easy or peaceful staring at the price list, and more often than not following those sort of major tickling experiences an engine is still in a deep sulk and has no intention of doing anything useful, like at least pretending to start. So after long discussion my side of the engine/gardener relationship has offered a new genuine head gasket from the mail order, about $5, none of this stuff that comes in a tube from Big Lots and is impossible to get off but which only cost about a $1.50. As well as all those none metal bits that make up a carburetor will be new from mail order, they all cost about $4.00. And I'm going to go nuts by spending $9.00 on a brand new breather with gasket so the plug doesn't keep fouling and the exhaust doesn't blow black smoke. With slow magazine rate shipping we're talking something like $28.00, which I reminded the engine is dozens and dozens of those Raspberry filled doughnuts!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Current Events

Your correspondent has caught up with several interpretations of current events, a truly painful experience. On the one hand a Russian Mole was recently fraudulently elected to the Office of President of these here Unite States and is successfully plotting the overthrow of Liberal Democracy. On the other hand an anonymous force for good is well entrenched in the state apparatus, their secret plan to turn the United States into a Valhalla on earth for white males is well underway and any minute now all evil people and their children will be taken away in pickup trucks and disposed of quietly. And if you don't believe me this anonymous force is apparently leaving bread crumbs for us all to follow and their crack pot leader may or may not be be making an appearance at a Nuremberg style rally at a sports stadium near you sometime in the next couple of months so that you let off a bit of steam by yelling blasphemies at the Free Press.

A third interpretation includes the even stranger idea that any minute now the earth will open up, horsemen carry phishing rods will emerge from the lower rungs of Silicon Valley and finally put an end to the nightmare of individual consciousness upon earth. Apparently they all have Facebook Pages and factories full of Trolls, and each one of them knows where each one of us lives, so probably best to tread warily around the internet for the foreseeable future incase you get led astray and next Saturday suddenly and through no fault of your own find yourself on the DC metro dressed up as a medieval knight in riot gear preparing to do battle with the forces of chaos. So it's all very exciting out there. Meanwhile there's no way I'll be going to another vigil for the victims where I can pretend to pray and look holy unless the God Thor or perhaps Saint Winifred promises to make an appearance. Each to his own, I guess.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

De Sales

I'd argue that a more recent version of the Cult of Diana or as the Greeks referred to her, Artemis, would be something like a Florida Nuremberg Rally.  In the imagination Diana began her existence as a simple Goddess of Nature, which back then was as much about hunting the woodlands for protein as it was about organic gardening. Soon enough the clouds lifted and in some parts Diana or Artemis became more to do with harnessing the unknown powers of nature by doing things like boiling up Eye of Newt and Toad Tongues. It was and still is a sorcery that relies for its effectiveness upon returning to instinctual fears, lusts and passions as opposed to the logic of someone like Euclid, and I would add Pythagoras to the list of the reasonable, but Pythagoras' own Cult tended to believe that there wasn't much difference between witchcraft and mathematics they were fairly convinced their master could be in two different places at the same time, nor does anyone really believe their conception had anything to do with quantum states rather it was just something they wanted to believe their master capable of. It's quite understandable of them, my own understanding of blockchains is they are mystical and will forever be beyond my understanding and yet apparently they're all over the place.

It's kind of like falling off the wagon of sensibleness, I suppose. You know it's nuts and yet what with one thing and another you're suddenly allowed to think and say and do exactly what you want to because it just feels right, natural and perfectly good. The hard won years of civil discourse and the good diet of politeness are tossed aside, out comes the demon and you suddenly find yourself chasing down and beating to death an eighty year old Bishop of Ephesus, a good and rather bossy man called Saint Timothy, who just happened to think that Diana or Artemis was on the wrong tack and that those who had made a cult out of her were being led badly astray and would probably all end up in a purgatory of their own making where the best they could all do would be to gnash their teeth at each other. Nor can I find any evidence that might suggest that the good Bishop of Ephesus had reached a ripe old age had gone a little barmy from a sense of depression about his world and was ready to hasten his own end time by confronting a procession through the streets of his city in honor of the Goddess of the Hunt. Not sure what sense the Church makes these days, but high five and many cheers to Saint Francis de Sales, a humble man, a great orator and writer who died in the December of 1622 while sleeping in a gardener's hut, worth noting he's the patron Saint of Journalists, not of Pundits.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Banjaxed V Gobsmacked

After very difficult, five day negotiations the least favorite member of the Angelic Host and your correspondent have finally achieved a template for progress that relies primarily on that theory of weather systems that begins with the beautiful suggestion that a Butterfly alighting upon a Lotus bloom in Kyoto will have an effect upon the weather in Los Angeles. A holistic approach that accepts uncertainty and which produces such ideas as a "20% chance of showers." As an example of this template, the Nodding Donkey has been given a 10% chance of ever being anything other than a ridiculously heavy weight which occasionally has to be moved. The furnace has a 2% chance of being useful. Rototillers 7.5% chance. All of which means a useful theory for the Great Barn Tidy Up is developing, and that's at least 80% of the battle.

And for those who may have begun to wonder whether I have been lost to a dementia, consider the alternatives for a reasonably active geriatric who's been pretty much banjaxed since the November of 2016.  Some will insist that gobsmacked is the better expression, but it does seem that a person can only really be gobsmacked maybe ten or fifteen times in a lifetime otherwise it could be that there might be something slightly wrong with a person who's constantly being gobsmacked by one thing or another. Banjaxed, on the other hand, is in many ways a less startled, more enduring word. No surprise you're late to work because the alarm clock was banjaxed.  At the same time ‘Many of the best experiences of life, as well as some of the worst, have come about as a result of being banjaxed.’ Not sure who wrote it, but I kind of know what it means and there's a 52% chance it means what I think it means.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Gibbon and Madison

Always worth wondering where Madison got his aversion to Factions as an obvious means to organize multiple and disparate ideas into constructive, useful, gentlemanly debates. And the answer might have to do with Gibbon's Decline and Fall. At the end of the work Gibbon makes an attempt to tell his reader why the Roman Empire Fell. Like all honest men he explained that he couldn't really think of a hard and fast reason, rather he understood it as a series of failures. One of those failures, and I'll have to paraphrase because it's alluded to throughout the book, was the capacity of powerful people in their single minded pursuit of their own interests to lose touch with the source of their power, which is a vibrant, cooperating society that daily welcomes the future as a wealth of possibilities.

The result of self interest for Rome was a corruption of a shared idea of the Empire, and indeed factions within the empire became so besotted by the possibilities of winning points for their own side they totally forgot that beyond their borders other societies were way more cohesive, a great deal more enthusiastic and not so convinced of their own society's invulnerability. An Eastern Emperor, for example, became so enraged and threatened by the incredible successes and popularity of his much feted admiral who'd won several important battles at sea that instead of rewarding the man for enhancing the Empire, securing it against foreign enemies, the Emperor had the man disposed of. Don't know about you, but I hear echoes of this kind of blinkered selfishness that becomes outright destruction.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pests

Fortunately I spotted a posse harassing the Hosta blooms in the late afternoon yesterday, and like anyone else who struggles with Juveniliustrochilidaphobia my immediate instinct was to remain indoors for the next couple of weeks, but being a bold and often Bolshevik sort of male of our own species this morning I chose instead to dress accordingly. No white, no red, no blue, nothing flashy, and I wore a brown oil stained trousers to protect my peaky white blotchy legs. Luckily the morning was cloudy with showers which is not an ideal condition for the boisterous and out of control, murderous little vandals that pass for the youth of Hummingbird, but unluckily it did mean I was reduced to wrenching some sort of order back into the barn and this meant enduring the ordeal of sharing time with my least favorite member of the Angelic Host, who for some unknown reason decided to remain in residence here rather than get the first bus to Washington DC, he'd be a shoe-in for the current administration.

At issue between us today was the mechanism for a Nodding Donkey, two ancient rototillers, a wheel barrow wheel and a gas furnace with an air conditioner unit which would have been run by a compressor in a heat pump..... I finally came out said "What are these things doing in the barn?" But it's always the same with the Angel of Greed, he declares himself entirely innocent and blames me. "They didn't cost you anything and you never know they could be useful for something." And it's that sort of temptation that often makes me wonder whether the Angel of Greed is one of those fallen Angels who just gloms off others. Then in a somewhat sneering manner he said, "There was a time when you had no problem lifting the Nodding Donkey." "That's exactly my point," I shot back. "It's time to get rid of almost everything in the barn." And we both agreed that I'm looking at some kind of winter project, certainly not something any one in their right mind would even think about doing until something like January, maybe February 2021...

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Very Likely Yes

I guess you actually have to occasionally answer the telephone on the off chance it's one of those surveys that grant an opportunity to combine your opinion with the opinion of others and contribute to an Opinion Poll. It was in the early 1990's when I was last asked to contributed to an Opinion Poll, something about NAFTA. The questions were so simplistic I had a poor reaction to being treated like a halfwit and when the survey taker finally suggested I should just answer the question with a yes or no I was hung up on. For reasons that totally escape me I remember the exchange with a degree of clarity. When I got off the phone, the Artist had suggested I might like to lie down for a bit.

An Opinion Poll I'd wish to participate in would contain no question such as "Do you think NAFTA is a good idea?" with option of either saying yes or no. However, an Opinion Poll which first asked how much I knew about NAFTA, where I got my information about NAFTA from and then suggested I give a rough précis of how NAFTA would work, that's what I call a request for an Opinion. But if today I was asked "Has the former Soviet Union's Comintern finally discovered the honey pot that produced a bridgehead in the United States and is that bridgehead the GOP and can we anticipate another aggressive reach for territory by the Russian State before the USA's November Midterms and will there be a pogrom of suspected US assets within Russian State?" Then the answer is "Very Likely Yes."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Helsinki

In 1943 Stalin officially dissolved the Comintern so as to make nice with his allies Roosevelt and Churchill. The Comintern can politely be thought of as Leninist outreach with strings attached soon followed by a power hungry and pragmatic iron fist. Meanwhile there's Finland, which in 2015 ranked top in the world for Human Capital, education and stuff, and was rated the Most Stable country in the Index of Fragile States for the years 2011-2016, in 2018 the index rewarded the USA with the status of Most Worsened.  So it's a good day to talk about the word Bromance. It's a relatively recent introduction to the English Language. We're talking the 1990's, early 2000's. The definition includes "non-sexual," so it's not about boys banging boys or wrestling in leotards. But the definition does include the word  "homosocial," which means it has to do with some kind of relationships between boys. In the old days, and we're talking the good old days, a bromance was usually referred to as a Romantic Friendship, and in the good old days the word Romantic and Friendship when both were applied to boys raised eyebrows all over the place, made boys blush, and any suggestion that a homosocial relationship between boys was intense and/or emotional resulted in deep dives into sacred texts for suitable punishment, followed by reeducation and possible jail time. My first point would be why invent the word Bromance when Romantic Friendship covers the whole area of discourse perfectly. The obvious answer, we boys are very fragile and we need our own word that doesn't sound sissy when we're conjoined in the task of sighting our AR 15's.

My second point has to do with Tyrants, from the old Greek word meaning an absolute ruler upon whom there are no restrictions. Picture if you will a Romantic Friendship, or a Bromance, between two Tyrants. Not easy to do. Real Tyrants tend toward an attitude that eschews anything that might be tainted by personal weakness, something like trust is out of the question, what Tyrants prefer is complete pathological control over any relationship. To find a better understanding it might be necessary to go to another aspect of the homosocial which has to do with the relationship between Master and Apprentice, more recently framed in the fruitier terms of Mentor and Mentee. Generally in this relationship the Master regards the Apprentice as a hapless idiot but useful, he makes the tea, fetches the wrench, carries the bag and as long as he does so he might learn something about plumbing or delivering milk, or whatever. The Apprentice on the other hand regards the Master in a more adoring manner, not so much a God who must be obeyed, rather an Apprentice's passion is a deep, purring admiration for his master. The other thing to recall is that as far back as the 1920's the Soviet Comintern was very busy in the USA and in Europe endeavoring to undermine the very idea of Democracy. They had big plans for the USA. Back then US industrial unions were deemed unfruitful, too middle class, self interested and dull, it was the founder of the AFL Sam Gompers with his suspicion of politicians and socialism and his acceptance of "the business of business is business" that defined US labor best, still does. So for paradise to happen in the USA it was a Race War the pragmatists in the Comintern wanted. We snowflakes of course would have been sent the Gulags of the Midwest.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Circumstantial Evidence

In some places it's called Tradecraft, and you go to school to learn it. There's homework, books to read, tests, field trips and everything. The art of the Honey Trap is more than likely on the syllabus, and you might even learn that this art is not all about what's politely called a romantic liaison. Rather, honey is better thought of as Temptation, and we people are prone to all sorts of temptation. The secret is little by little, slowly, slowly, insight by insight until all of a sudden there's a hook in the flesh and the subject is pulled into what should be if properly done an invisible net. Call it seduction, if you like. In the end the art of the Honey Trap works on that part of each of us which has to do with cognition, the processes by which we understand ourselves in relationship to the world, a judgment that usually requires a half truth or two to combat dissonance so as to make any one of us feel better about ourselves, believing down right lies can make us feel wonderful. And here, you may have an Asset in your net and your opposite number in Tradecraft will be on the hunt for what has often been called a Traitor, which sadly in a US court of law is an offence that requires a mens rea, the act is not culpable unless intent can be proved.

Once in the net some will flop about, fall prey to doubt. Some might realize the net and try to escape. But early on in the process of developing an Asset you'll learn to recognize signs of anything like integrity in your subject, and in discussions with others of your kind you'll come to a decision about whether the effort and resources spent is worth it. So if you're looking for art here, you'll find it in those first impression of your subject. Does he lie easily? Does he think he's cleverer than others? Does he have an unreasonably high opinion of himself? Is he more creepy than he is slimy, or is he just a maggot head? It's kind of like a really well researched personality test for a total bounder and utter rotter. Old hands of course have the quick and ready eye, they can spot them at the other end of the bar. And if your subject has potential, you make room in the filing cabinet, you open a file, you gather your clan to find out as much as you can. Little by little, slowly, slowly you recruit your volunteer so that one day you might get a pat on the head for having mastered your cynical craft. It's a job, some do it for war, some do it for world peace, most do it because it's more fun than betting on Cockroach Races.

Friday, July 13, 2018

King Lear.

I don't know about King Lear. He was very, very old certainly, he preferred flattery to anything remotely associated with honesty, and he got terribly aggravated when one of his three daughters, the one named Cordelia, instead of flattering him to get her share of his kingdom like his other two daughters, chose to speak the truth when her father asked her to tell him how much she loved him and what a brilliant person he was. And too there was a whole thing with slimy, ambitious boy courtiers plotting, and as the King lost his influence he had nowhere to go. Flatterers were all about flattery and they were entirely unreliable scoundrels who were only interested in their careers. The old fool's last hope was with Cordelia who'd been honest with him, otherwise he was just old, unwanted and dotty, an all round whining pain in the neck with absolutely nothing useful to contribute. Oddly, I feel that way sometimes too, it's the Bean Beetle.

But the thing is, in my view, toward the end of the story Lear began to realize that he might have made a mistake, he died of grief clutching Cordelia's hanged corpse. Not sure our very own King Lear is emotionally capable of that. The point is Shakespeare's King Lear was a story, designed to entertain, tug at the heart strings, teach a lesson, send the audience home nodding their heads wisely. The reality of course is always a little different. In exile Napoleon didn't really think he'd made any mistakes, it was his destiny, he'd been chosen. Herr Hitler, for his part, preferred to believe that his people were just not worthy of his unique variety of extraordinary genius, they had failed him, so it was entirely their fault, not his. Meanwhile for our own King Lear there's still a month or so to go before his courtiers think in terms of adopting "Russia – our sacred state, Russia – our beloved country. A mighty will, a great glory – Yours forever for all time!" as their anthem. There's a line in there somewhere, that goes "From the Southern Seas to the Polar Islands."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Doublethink

 "Air Strip One" was Oceania's name for the British Isles in Orwell's 1984. "It was a nice day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen." Some might recall the story, and the first line of the story. Of the many interpretations of clocks striking thirteen the one that lasts is not that somehow the clocks had been set to military time, rather that something fundamental had changed. Everything that had preceded was suddenly in question and normal was soon to be rewritten.

 Our hero worked in the Ministry of Truth, and there was a moment when he reckoned there was a chance at love, but that was taken from him by deception, and at the end of the story following a very painful visit to the Ministry of Love our hero was reduced to facing his greatest fear, there was no alternative he was in love with Big Brother. Either way, double-think, being able to believe in two contrary things at the same time without being aware of the conflict, is already alive and well. Maybe the clocks are striking thirteen.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Soccer

Your correspondent might not remember where he was when anything important happened like Kennedy and Martin Luther King being shot or the moon landing but for some reason he does remember where he was when the English Soccer Team last won the World Cup. The English Team had defeated Germany. Can't remember the minor details, but I do remember accidently hearing the results of the game in the earpiece of a hand made crystal radio that was sometimes able to receive the BBC World Service so long as the wire mosquito netting that functioned as the radio's aerial was properly located for radio waves and incorrectly located for keeping the Mosquito at bay, a happenstance described as wanton vandalism which under questioning required truly gymnastic explanations from me. I tried everything from blaming others to falling off chairs, without any kind of success and then it hit me. Meekly and with a little foot pointing, I handed over the precious radio and explained that I was listening out for the results of the World Cup Final.

"Who Won?" was the obvious question and reaching into the wealth of English History and tradition with as much pride as I could put into my shinny little eyes I answered "England!" It was a rock of ages moment. With all my faults and desperate flaws I was a patriot doing what patriots do, rooting for the team, hell bent on victory no matter the personal cost. "What was the Score?" At a young age a person gets a reputation and mine was far from fair. "England Four, Germany Two." In my reply I put a slight cross in my eye, an innuendo wrapped up in a sinister suggestion that my inquisitor might not be all in for England, a foreign grandmother, an aunt who married an Italian, possibly a Baptist or a Catholic, a fifth columnist in English ranks. But desperate times require certain often unappealing and sometimes loathsome tactics. Had my inquisitor known I'd been trying to hear if Bob Dylan and the Band singing Rainy Day Woman had made it to the BBC's half hour pop music program when the program was rudely interrupted by an unhealthy wave of nationalistic fever things might have gone poorly for me. Yes indeed, back when I was a callow youth I'd have been prime material for a job as legal advisor to the current administration.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Pindar

I was going to talk about boys dressing up in leotards, embracing each other, grunting and rolling around on rubber mats. I'm sure it's perfectly natural yet I remain of the opinion that it should be an activity reserved for the privacy of a bedroom and not something that requires not only a coach but also locker rooms, community showers, universities and spectators. Fortunately the morning was cool enough for Compost Piles so I was able to discuss the matter with Pindar, the Poet from Thebes, whose odes to the Gods and to Olympian Athletes are difficult to tell apart.

He reminded me that in his day there were no leotards, boys wrestled naked for the edification of older men. The thing about Pindar is his degree of faith in the capacity of us people to achieve a degree of harmony through the grace of the gods. We come into the world as sinners and are free to chose but it's the gods who reward and doing stuff like lying or making things up or not following the facts so as to fool the gods is not only a grave, grave long term error, it's also unsporting. The sad fact is that it's always rather boring when Pindar starts preaching. Some of us had to wait for the Romans before we could do things like toss people into cages full of hungry Lions.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bees

The Celts had high regard for Bees. One of the more soothing understandings had to do with the relationship between Bees and the Other World. There was no escape, you had to tell Bees everything. Most important, if someone died you had to tell the Bees before the funeral otherwise all hell broke loose. It was the Roman occupations and Christian missions which melded many of the old ideas into new ideas. But up there in the higher, harder lands "If you wanted to know what the Druids knew, you asked the Bees." Must have been a secret knowledge. Some of the early Irish Christian saints for purposes of evangelism held to the idea that it was the Bee that carried the soul to heaven. Either way, in them old Celtic days I'd imagine if you died of a Bee sting you'd clearly done something very wrong indeed.

The Other World exists between the ears. The Celts reckoned that through trances you could get closer to it, and here mead was quite useful. The more you lived in the Other World, the more familiar you became with it. Astral Travel, despite its inherent duality, is another way of looking at it. You went to a place and a part of you leaves your body, goes wandering into bold new frontiers, a Star Trek for the more emotional, less reasonable ambitions. From my own perspective this area of contemplation has become a sleep aid. You can stop the spinning mind with a story that takes you to the same place where it finds the same patterns and you do what Mockingbirds do to song, you extemporize the noises of narrative. Nothing too exciting or stressful to the imagination, that does no good. Nor can it be boring or dutiful, because you have to look forward to it and no one looks forward to counting Sheep. Trust me, it gets easier with practice, years and years and years of practice.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Citizen

Those of us who researched their Citizenship Test soon found out that some questions were very frequently answered incorrectly. One such question was "Who makes the laws?" Despite twenty years of living in the United States, reading the news, becoming furious around the subject of rightward leaning politicians, deciding Bill Clinton's Democratic Party was a traitor to the working class, my instincts well tuned to flash-lights instead of torches, gas instead of petrol, my instinct also suggested the answer to this question was, "The Supreme Court." The correct answer to this question however, is "The Congress makes the laws."

Meanwhile there was the issue of "What does the rule of law mean?" An obvious answer, "Depends on the color of your skin, who you know and how rich you are." Then there was, "Why did the Pilgrim father's come to America?" There are a number of obvious answers to this question, but a passing grade requires the answer to have something to do with freedom to practice their own interpretation of the Sacred Texts. All the same, when the youth in the cowboy boots announced that I'd passed my Citizenship Test, I felt kind of pleased with myself, almost as though I'd joined some kind of Secret Society for people who were really good at BS. But, it's the same the whole world over, so love it or leave it I guess.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Birds and Bees

Birds and Bees, a rich tapestry. You got the annual flowers, the likes of Zinnia, Cosmos, Cleome and others with names that go in one ear and out the other to give comfort to the soul and the Butterflies and do right by the pollinators through the hot months. Not so many Honey Bees, but there's the Little Bumble Bee, the solitary Mason Bee and someone else whose tiny legs are so fat with pollen it's a marvel they can fly. Then you got the loitering Goldfinch, a street corner gang, sitting along the garden fence waiting for Tomato blooms to achieve perfection so they can swoop down and rob those blooms of any chance of achieving fruit. I imagine it's a delicacy in their community. Makes a gardener think seriously in terms of something like a Raptor, a pocket Falcon of some sort. I have read that high humidity and still air can also foil the Tomato bloom, if so not sure what to do about that.

And given the current conditions in the outdoors nor is an un-paired boy Summer Tanager any kind of boon to the dour calmness of being which so essential to a functioning  and balanced gardener. Every year it's the same, there's always one. Tanagers are amongst other things Bee Eaters, they have the stubby sharply pointed beak, and if you happen to be an attached boy Summer Tanager with responsibilities you're inclined toward a shady perch from which to keep an eye on the annual blooms. Straight as an arrow you'll dart like a red flash and there'll be one less pollinator in the world. But if you're an un-paired boy Summer Tanager your passion around fruiting becomes such that you'll sit high in the top branches and fill the air with a sound so monotonously grating you can pretty much turn a struggling gardener into a blithering pile of overheated raw nerves. And no good letting off steam by shouting, just seems to encourage them and you can lose the false teeth in your Beans.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Biscuit

Years ago your correspondent was what they call a floater. The more puerile might raise a nostril, but being a floater for Co-Op Milk was noble work. You turned up at 3 am, and if any of the fifteen odd milkmen failed to show, you had to get hold of the milkman's delivery logbook and do their milk round. Once, maybe twice a week, sometimes for weeks on end you'd get a milk round, otherwise your main job was making tea for the supervisor, running the Bedford TK to deliver to schools, canteens and the university, hosing down the milk yard and arranging empty milk crates. One of the problems of being a floater was you never got to learn a milk round with any great intimacy and of the 365 or 366 days in the year the only day you got off was Christmas day. At the same time, more often than not, you'd be on your walk home by around 6 am.

Most milkmen kept the information concerning their milk round in their heads rather than in their logbooks, which meant that most logbooks were pretty much useless except for working out the order of the deliver round. The office had a master list of customers associated with each round, so at least when you left  the milk yard you had rough idea of how many milk bottles went on which doorstep and how many crates went into which corner shop. One much older milkman had a logbook that was entirely devoid of any entries, except for one. The address was a corner shop and news agent in the older part of the city. In large letters the entry read, 'Biscuit.' And Lo it was one of those small overweight harmless looking friendly dogs with a wagging tail and a smile on its tongue that would waddle in your direction, and if you were carrying a crate of milk and if you didn't give it a biscuit it would grab your trouser leg in its jaws and was almost impossible to politely shake off. My own equally unhelpful contribution to that particular logbooks sole entry was '---in bowl on shelf by door.'

Monday, July 2, 2018

Local Gossip

The Kitten was an infinitely better gardening companion when she was a kitten. Fond memories of her sniffing Beetles, she was fascinated by and a little nervous of Grasshoppers, marveled at the Zebra Tail Butterflies on the Coriander blooms. I remember her resting in dappled shade under a Squash leaf, she was panting from the excitement of it all. A most endearing little creature she was. Not these days. It's more like having a Wild Boar in the vegetable garden, no plant, insect or animal is safe from her except, I thought, Moles who appear to delight in raising her ire to the point where in pursuit of them she can pretty much dig up an Asparagus Crown, which is not an easy thing to do without a shovel or opposable thumbs. Certainly a noble cause, but no use explaining to her that many, many generations ago in the good old days when domestic pets where a protein source of last resort the cause against Moles was lost. The Moles and their allies in Madison Avenue won and ever since gardeners have been suckers for a snake oil salesman with a wheelbarrow organizer and life time guarantee on a Mole Trap.

I told the Kitten of a headmaster at one of those English Boarding schools who shared her absurd attitude to our subterranean overlords. In his private garden he had a Croquet Court, and if for one reason or another you're under the impression that Croquet is a frilly laces and cucumber sandwich game, please disabuse yourself. It's a blood sport of some sort with dangerous clubs and colorful wooden cannon balls and an understanding of grass as billiard table perfect. A Mole hill on his Croquet Court, especially on the Friday morning before he hosted the county's Croquet Tournament, would send the headmaster into apoplexy, and those of us who may occasionally and for no good reason have aggravated him just a little bit very quickly found themselves in Latin Detention. Don't know what it is about Latin teachers, my experience of them suggests they're very badly damaged people who should basically be put on a watch list of some sort. The Kitten took no notice of my assassination of her character and as I picked the last Bush Bean of an incredibly hot morning, there in her mouth was a Mole. Not a big Mole, a little smaller than my thumb, but a Mole nonetheless. On my way out of the garden with half a bucket of Beans, I'm pretty sure she called me an homunculus.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Civil Discourse

What do you do when one side chooses obedience to the rules of the game and the other side does not? There are lessons from military history. Agincourt, where the Longbow put an end to Chivalry. There's Chaka Zulu, who it's been argued changed warfare in Southern Africa from "ritualized taunts with minimal loss of life....to.....subjugation by slaughter." There's the First World War, were many a general insisted that "valor and a nation's fighting spirit" would defeat the machinegun, the tank and long range artillery. If there's a lesson, more likely it's a question, "What's winning worth to you?" And there's years and years of stuff about this from the Sufi Poets imploring princes, through the disciple Mark's "what does it gain a man..." and all the way up to a scandal worse than gerrymandering, the Australian cricketers outrageous cheating in their test match just this year against South Africa, no circle in hell low enough for the bowler Cameron Bancroft, one of those moments some of us wished we believed in the power of prayer. But sadly it's only Medieval Saints like Winfred who can get away with asking God to do things like cause the earth to open and swallow a ne'er-do-well. Which is why I'll certainly be wearing a necklace on her Feast Day, November 3rd. You never know it might work.

In the First World War, Lieutenant General Sir Charles Fergusson, commander of II Corps, said this about the German use of poison gas. "It is a cowardly form of warfare which does not commend itself to me or other English soldiers ... We cannot win this war unless we kill or incapacitate more of our enemies than they do of us, and if this can only be done by our copying the enemy in his choice of weapons, we must not refuse to do so." So there's that to contemplate while pondering the direction of civil discourse. Both Plato and Sartre had much to say about the beginning of things, ideas, especially books, bibles and commandments. Their mutual point being that once it was written, odds are it became a tombstone, flaws like worms eating it away. There are those who will say "Go high, when they go low," and then the Vikings sacked Lindisfarne, not for it's knowledge or learning, but for gold, silver and slaves. And always, always worth recalling the Battle of Maldon. A 991 Saxon defeat which for Saxon England heralded Danegeld, but which for Saxon Poets was something else, "There was shouting heaved up, and ravens circling, eagles eager for carrion—an uproar was on the earth." Every Saxon died bravely of course except for two, the Cameron Bancrofts of the Saxon world, Godwin and Godlat both ran away on the same horse..

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ortega y Gasset

"I am I and my circumstances."  Life, existence, from birth until death, whatever you want to call it, Ortega Gasset suggested was a drama on the one side of which was necessity and on the other side was freedom. Ortega was a philosopher and a psychologist. He lived through the first part of the 20th Century, he died in his homeland of Spain in 1955. I guess in a way, for Ortega reality was the sum of all human knowledge and experience, an ecology rich with magic and opportunity. There's always debate of course, but outside the drawing room, I would argue that by 'freedom' Ortega was thinking more in terms of 'possibilities' and as everyone knows 'possibilities' are pretty much limited to the point of being absent when men and women become entrenched in an idea that cannot be challenged. Ortega was a Liberal thinker, a shining light to a bunch of Spanish Poets who either died in jail or were forced into exile by Franco's Fascists. And his view of science was a cold shower for those of us who seek salvation from it, he thought it useful but shallow, a fast food jingle in its grasp of the complexities of existence, his word back then was mediocre or ordinary.

In his 1929 book, Ortega argued that Liberal was an extraordinary and truly remarkable form of generosity in which the majority gives rights to minorities. This determination to share existence with an enemy, even when the enemy was weaker, was so supremely noble and against nature that it was no wonder that we people often did our very best to totally get rid of Liberal. It wasn't elites, it wasn't aristocracy or any of the ocracies, it was a discipline of mind toward "I am I and my circumstances" that preserved the splendor of Liberal. Ortega's book was called Revolt of the Masses. The masses, no matter whose masses they were, crush everything, he suggested. Their banner "To be different is to be indecent."  Ortega's point about the masses was simple: they get their way through violence, so if you're interested in the wealth of possibilities avoid letting the masses get their hands on the state. Classically enough both the temporal Ayn Rand and spiritual Gandhi were influenced by Ortega's writing. Not long afterwards Europe was engulfed by violent attempts to obliterate differences. Nowadays the smooth talkers prefer to quote the Uruguayan, Eduard Galeano, global soccer's preeminent man of letters - "History never says goodbye, rather it says, see you later."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kitty-Kitty

Of the domestic pets, the Girl Cat is innately curious, she's so extremely cautious she might even be a little neurotic, she deeply distrusts heavy rain, both loud and little noises, and when there is thunder within earshot she has the amazing capacity to completely disappear for hours and hours. It's a vanishing act which can on occasion lead to anxious caretakers exhausting themselves, risking injury, crawling around on their hands and knees with a flashlight.  Where the expression "kitty-kitty" came from I've no idea, but like me the Girl Cat obviously finds it derogatory and very patronizing, and rightly takes no notice of it whatsoever. It's the sort of coo-coo, woozy-woozy nonsense that no feline in their right mind would take seriously, kind of like naming a cat "Bernard" or "Hubert."

But sometimes an anxious interim primary caretaker can panic, they'll try anything, and yesterday after the thunder and lightening had left us and in anticipation of a possibility the Artist would return from travelling to find the Girl Cat lost to caretaker carelessness, and no good blaming something like a Coyote, I found myself reduced to "kitty-kitty."  Nor was it just one "kitty-kitty," it was several "kitty-kitties." Some button in me must have been pushed that chose to believe it was the tone and quality of my "kitty-kitty" that lacked sincerity, or resolve, or soothing-ness, indeed my final "kitty-kitty" might even have sounded unnerving. It was pathetic behavior on my part, not lost on the Kitten who having a very low tolerance for any kind of interruption to her routine, glowered at me from her day bed and deliberately yawned whenever I politely requested her assistance.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Discourse and stuff

Godwin's research declared that if you mention Hitler in an internet exchange the conversation is likely to end and everyone retreats behind their stockades where they lick their wounds, eat cheeseburgers and ice cream, kind of like Valhalla. He also suggested that the longer an internet exchange continued the probability of Hitler being mention increased to 1, which is pretty much a hundred percent.

His other point I think was that comparing others to Hitler because you disagree with them, or just find them incredibly creepy, belittles the horror of truly appalling figures in history, so why do it? Apart from the assumption that the future is finally secured against appalling figures, it's safe to say that what might or might not be judged "appalling" in civil discourse is like the word family, very clearly something of a moving feast. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Baby Steps to Fascism

I guess if it looks like a Duck, walks like a Duck, and quacks like a Duck, there's a good chance it's a Duck. And it's an odd thing, you can pretend all you want. But I'll tell you this much if our Republic survives the next few years then it'll definitely be a Duck. If it doesn't then there'll be a picture of a Duck in every Post Office, Martin Luther King Avenues will be renamed Quack-Quack Boulevards, and from sea to shining sea there'll be a dunes of faces wondering what happened to the internet. Well, you don't need me to tell you.

Despite the pleadings of Saint Godwin, an unrecognized saint, one of the problems bureaucracy faced was what to do with so many people. One idea was labor camps. Work will make you free. Another was a more Final Solution which would have been pretty expensive until the best minds came up with the idea of gas chambers and furnaces. And you know something else, it all began with a circle jerk rhetoric at rallies that dehumanized the other in the pursuit of making someone great. Sudetenland was like giving in to the wall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Crows

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.