Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Milk and Honey

The wreckers have moved in, a whole new schematic for the North End of N Scale and without beating about a rotting fish head enthusiasm is super high. It all happened around two o'clock this morning. I was washing down a teaspoon of honey with a little milk and the Girl Cat, who is always great deal more curious in the hours of darkness, stared up at me and maybe one of us might be a little sleep deprived but I heard her say "why not?"  It's also true that her advice wasn't so much vocalized as it was sublimely  communicated and possibly it was directed more at that new wave of thinking that insists milk is bad for Cats than it was at her secondary caregiver's ludicrous preoccupations most of which are really not worth sharing with anything other than something like a Tortoise.

 I think it was Bertrand Russell in an essay titled Mysticism and Logic concluded that some areas of the mind will make leaps into territories that really can't be subjected to logical analysis and while a great majority of these leaps should be totally ignored some leaps have proved remarkably accurate. It might well be the case that while I have been considering the tenets of the Anarchists as a solution to the problem of wide curves, I think my reluctance to just go ahead and start ripping things up, had something to do with basic idleness. I wanted something straightforward that didn't require the constant presence of an active vacuum cleaner. In Russell's essay, if I remember, he reckoned the leap deemed mystical by some was usually sparked by an interaction with something else and just because you couldn't place the something else didn't mean it was a gift from an invisible or unworldly plane. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ladybird Roosting

 Ladybird roosting season is upon us. They're pottering around, staring at this and that, climbing, consulting the genetic memory, drawing maps for those in their number who may have feasted too well and in the process retired the odd brain cell. When I give thought to that map it plots a number of the more traditional routes to the room where as the year changes I increasingly spend the majority of my time. They're all welcome, just a few rules. Don't get all excited around light bulbs at night, it's un-neighborly, stay away from the keyboard, keep out of the clothing and for goodness sake stay away from the glue pot, it's a slow, horrible and grizzly way to end a worldly sojourn.

If my own memory contains any accuracy, I recall that last winter I kept fresh water in one of those shallow plastic tops from a commercial edible on the work table. The theory being that a Ladybird was drawn to the glue pot in a search for a little liquid refreshment. Vaguely remember it wasn't very successful. The Kitten's winter habit of leaping onto the work surface in the middle of night resulted in several unfortunate spills and some alarm. Nothing she finds more maddening than a wet paw, it upsets her and she can react poorly which in turn can lead to rather precious and sometimes sharply pointed supplies being knocked onto the floor.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Herky-Jerky or Whatever

One description of an Ovenbird describes it as "walking with a herky-jerky wandering stroll." Not sure what that is. So basically it's the insidious Beast of the Forest that is nationalism, the rather pointless yet pleasantly absorbing frustration of wide curves for a Karoo class locomotive, or Ovenbirds. If you're interested the Ovenbird earns it's name from its nest, which some might insist looks like a Dutch Oven. The nest is woven with a top part, the entrance is covered with leaves to hide eggs, no resemblance in the least to a Dutch Oven. My own view, the description of the Ovenbird's walk are the words of a loving and dear heart. The bird's name, on the other hand is very far from apt.

The French language titles the Ovenbird as the Crowned Warbler. When it comes to English titles for Warblers, there are a great many different kinds of Crowned Warblers, Grey Crowned, Orange Crowned, Golden Crowned and it goes on and on. At the same time Warblers are both difficult to catch a good glimpse of and once glimpsed usually harder to tell apart. The Spanish gives an Ovenbird the title Hornet Warbler, and here I'm afraid with its wide little shiny black eyes, a delightfully speckled breast, a chipper and kind of reclusive attitude it's very difficult to think of an Ovenbird as Hornet anything. Not to labor the point, but if it sounds a little like a House Wren, if it has a herky-jerky wandering stroll, whether it lowers the flag to half mast or not, it's an Ovenbird.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


One thing about sleepless nights is they provide a 'to hell with it' level of exhaustion. It's also true that in the grand scheme an obsession with wide curves for a Karoo Class locomotive with working headlamp might not be worthy of a sleepless night. On the other side why not get up in the early morning hours to make absolutely certain that an arch of one inch and five eighths above the rail bed is sufficient to permit a Karoo Class locomotive and it's train of carriages comfortable passage. The worthless answer, "It depends on how you measure the rail bed." Counting the number of arches  also required tip-toeing into N Scales domain, not so much once, maybe four or five times. The bleary eyed upshot was probably used by the builders of the very first pyramid, "we'll approach this organically, bit by bit, and keep it to yourself but who this side of Pharaoh's end time actually knows."

Mervyn Peake, author of Gormenghast and an illustrator who died in 1968 of dementia at the age of 57 had a capacity to describe a structure of Gothic decay, it was so huge a rambling castle that no one person knew it all, each obsessed with his or her own little part of it. The stories had a tone that reveled in the formal intricacies of procedures and behavior and how easily each one of them was so quickly manipulated by the usurper, one who seizes for use with no care for the structure itself. Peake had been a soldier in World War II and had probably noticed how easily the formalities can lose their hold on an ambitious scoundrel. Very tempted to go with Gormenghast as a guiding light for the future of the North End of N Scale and when it comes to the matter of keeping the railway lines clean enough for the smooth electric contact that enables trains to actually move around I'm just going to have to be flexible. Not at all easy for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

N Scale

N Scale has mushroomed in this season of often unpleasant changes. The alternatives are wet leaf raking, denigrating one end of the Political Class for it's spineless and idiot shortsightedness, staring at a random brick wall, and there's always heavy drinking or Bob Dylan songs. Trouble is recent considerations of N Scale have resulted in some fairly dramatic ideas some of which will require high degrees of destruction, an incredibly dusty, noisy mess which will distress the domestic pets, a new beginning if you will, in short the sort of thing anarchists dream of. More of a collectivist myself which unfortunately means compromise. One solution is something like a cityscape for those territories to the north of the rural stagnation and pettiness that is Saint Barbara and in that cityscape it might be possible to finally forge a new rail line that'll somehow or other incorporate the wide curves so necessary for the kind of substantial rolling stock a Karoo Class Locomotive with working headlamp rightly deserves.

One of the problems with this truly brilliant idea is the Kitten. She does have a fascination for N Scale, and there's no way her secondary caregiver can close the door to the N Scale domain. Any attempt to do so results in nothing like polite acceptance from her. And, without casting blame, I do suspect the invisible specter that will on occasion run rough shod through N Scale when no one is looking, the result of a tornado the destruction can appear, might have four legs and a capacity to purr. A cityscape, and this is a well known fact, is prime for untoward behaviors whether they be natural phenomena or unnatural. Solutions include improved building codes, none of this flimsy balsa wood, nothing but granite and steel, hardened bunkers for rolling stock and locomotives, and for good measure an electric fence along with the services of a reliable exorcist who has a well documented record of success. Either way 'that long black train is coming down, feel like knock, knock, knocking on heavens door,' so might as well 'hang around the ink well.'

Friday, October 26, 2018

Remember, Remember

There must be something in the psychology departments deep in the fever swamps that could cast light on the proclivity of some to go right ahead and blame the victim. Guilty of it myself, when something like a hurricane hits somewhere like Florida. A jumble deep inside us some might claim, possibly along the lines of that feeble excuse "It must be hardwired into us, we just can't help ourselves." The more eccentric of us might hold the view that those prone to blaming the victim like nothing better than to define themselves as victims and by so doing find reasons for their own disgraceful lack of anything like the couth that's been developed over the generations to inhibit those passions that result in Baboon or possibly Muskrat type behaviors. I think it was Max Weber who after a lifetime of attempting to unearth rationality in our species just gave up, shrugged his shoulders and suggested that we people do not succumb to rational analysis. Weber died in Munich in 1920, he was one of the founding father's of sociology, and possibly the most boring person who ever lived, right up there with the School of American Functionalists whose lack of imagination defies description in its absolute dedication to the destruction of all hope that resulted in Management Studies, or How to Maintain Servitude as it's been called.

 Those who might have spent time with sociology may have preferred to come away with the idea that the movements and habits of social groups are best understood through those practices observed within the disciplines of weather forecasting. It's basically about the hard work of accurately measuring thousands and thousands of patterns. A little flutter in this pattern, a growl of two in that pattern and soon enough there's a prediction for straight line winds flattening buildings in Kansas. It's the sort of rough and tumble that challenges the bold. It's also true that when theory falls the other side of a growl and the wrong side of a flutter forecasting of any kind can become very tricky business indeed. But necessary in understanding is to maintain as accurate a grasp of ourselves as we possible can, certainly there'll be a thousand often lazy fictions, such as individualism and freedom, within that understanding and many errors but when you know it's a fiction and find reasons to nonetheless persist, it becomes kind of a desperately unstable and depressing pattern, and here we're talking 98.5% chance of the wind flattened buildings in Kansas being swallowed by ground splitting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. So we've all got that to look forward to on November 6th of this year. Which is the day after Guy Fawkes day, a man whose cultural disagreements were such he joined a plot to blow up the English Parliament, he was hanged on the last day of January 1606.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Patron Saint of Thieves

The Patron Saint of Thieves. It was back in the 1930's, not that long ago, the means of production had again fallen foul of ebullient stock markets, the bubble had burst and the great minds were saying stuff like "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." A truth so dear it can break the heart. But I guess it was the Devil who had other ideas. It was poets who took on the scent of fear, described it as a yearning for violence, the dream of an ultimate conclusion, an end to all problems. "Gosh!" I hear the plaintive call. "I thought Saint Nicholas was the Patron Saint of Repentant Thieves." Not so in Sartre's 1952 essay in which he anointed the writer and poet Jean Genet as the Patron Saint of Thieves, not of repentant thieves, but of thieves and why not.

Genet's Journal of a Thief, as Sartre read the account of one man's experiences the 1930's, described how an act of thievery pretty much required a preparation worthy of any monk in pursuit of a higher calling. The reward, a silk handkerchief for the thief, was followed by the adulation of his peers, and in the meanwhile the victim left desolate, abused, frightened and probably angry, vengeful. In the tale it was Jean's lot to fall in love with the most violent of thieves, his love seemed to have less thought for the consequence of failure which for Jean was the threat of years in a crowded Napoleonic dungeon with nothing to write on except toilet paper. But the soul of a person, the possibility for redemption, is what a person is prepared not to do for a silk handkerchief. Sartre of course was engaged in exploring the entrails of authentic, and at least for some Genet's book had put a bit of a hole in Sartre's thesis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mobs and Stuff

Fairly safe to say that a mob doesn't exist on it's own rather it's created by the observer.  And although it's a total pain in the neck, the word mob does indeed come from the Latin, Mobile Vulgus. Could be a description of a cell phone user in a dentists waiting room, but the mobile part means excitable, and sadly, vulgus is what the Romans meant when they referenced the unwashed crowd. For my part as an observer, I'm prepared to argue that some excitable crowds are far less vulgar than other excitable crowds, and still other excitable crowds are very clearly deranged, on the edge of running rampart and ultimately destroying the world as we know it, but that's just me. It's also true that when in a mob a person begins to lose their inhibitions as they imbibe in what is effectively a wonderful sense of freedom, a moment to express, let loose and experience joyousness, shout stuff that makes no sense, do stuff they might regret. And worth recalling psychologists spend far too much of their time discouraging inhibitions.

No shortage of examples through history of Mobs Gone Wild. And I hate to again raise the subject of the First Saint Timothy, but his martyrdom and ascension to the Host of Saints might well have been a result of a mob gone wild. One of the stranger examples of a mob was here in the USA. For some reason a whole bunch of college student, probably future opticians and accountants briefly engaged in Liberal Studies, descended on a small town in rural Midwest fully intending to enjoy a weekend of music and other pop festival type entertainments before growing up and joining middle management in a corporate enterprise. It was a place called Zap in North Dakota, the year 1969. Trouble was the town ran out of beer, everyone got a little out of hand, the town was destroyed and the Governor of North Dakota sent in the National Guard. The other thing about Mobile Vulgus it's alive and well on the internet, there's no National Guard and some of us might think we're in the process of inhibiting the fun parts of it.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Bricolage is a wonderfully expressive word. It could mean anything from a gasp of wonder, through crackpot to a fully fledged oath. It's a French word. It has two meanings. Le Bricolage means Do It Yourself. There are Bricolage stores all over the place, hammers, nails, planks of wood. yours for the asking price. Bricolage also means makeshift, to cobble together in a most unprofessional manner. When struggling with the recent uses of the English word tribal, the duality in the meaning of French word Bricolage is sometimes useful. It's in the eye of the beholder sort of thing. For some, Do It Yourself is a source of great satisfaction even if the shed does blow over in the first stiff breeze causing the toddler sheltering inside to be rushed to the emergency room.

There are some who might suggest that tribal is primitive and they'll use the word in pejorative way. They'll argue, for example, that current events are a fine example of a retreat into naked tribalism. However tribes are about territory and more traditionally about who holds sway over an area of land. Less traditionally perhaps, tribes are about who holds sway over political power. There's nothing wrong with moaning, but when a person moans about partisanship in politics, it begins to sound more like a professional carpenter grumbling about hardware stores catering to the unskilled than it is about a yearning to advance the cause of civilization, or whatever you want to call an endless endeavor to define a useful future. Either way, Bricolage pretty much sums us all up at the moment.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

October Freeze

When your gardener finally made it to the downstairs this morning temperatures were hovering around the freezing point in a manner he can only describe as blatantly flirtatious. In my own mind I realized a dilemma, a part of it wanted to get the entire thing over with and just for goodness sake freeze, bring on the Shivering Naraka and get the thing done. Another part of my mind struggled with the awesome possibility of it not freezing, let the year linger it argued, Monarchs are still around, a potted Cherry Tomato has yet to be confined to the fires of hell and everyone knows the slow, horrible, agonizing death a freeze offers a Moon Flower Vine. Well, all I can say is so much for a Loving God, gentle, meek and mild. More like a bad tempered, vengeful old narcissist with smelly feet and a drinking problem. But I will say this for him, he understands propaganda.

Years ago, on the North American Continent, back when there was a Frog in the Moon instead of a Man made of cheese, there was a tale for us children. Consider the Sandhill Crane that come to our lake in the Spring and depart in the Autumn. One year, a younger Crane heard the older Cranes discussing the changes in the weather, they'd sniff the air, look wise and he heard them all agreeing that soon now they'd have to fly south before it got cold. The younger Crane, an independent and free spirit, thought this nonsense, he had no intention of going anywhere, there was nothing wrong with the lake and the idea of flying for thousands of miles struck him as being absurd, a long way from anything like a so called exciting adventure. "I don't care! I'm staying!" Soon he was alone, cold, frost and his lake froze. An ugly realization for him, but the thing is, without the others of his clan, he didn't know how to fly south.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mole Hero

Asclepius, the rumor goes, was the offspring of a God and a mortal, which made him a demi-god. His mother was ashamed of her son's illegitimacy and chose to abandon him. Apparently the boy child might have been raised by a Goat and a Dog. Zeus was nursed by a Goat, and it was a Dog who guarded the entrance to Hades to stop dead people from leaving. Back in the 1940's a scholar of language concluded that the etymology of Asclepius could be found in the early Greek for Mole Hero. A bold move on the scholar's part and I can understand anyone who might have a bit of an obsession with Moles, but for many a modern mind, despite the supernatural origins of medicine, it was tad on the weird side to give the father of the Snake entwined staff still used to represent the medical profession the title Mole Hero.

Then some time in the 1970's and 1980's someone pointed out that it was entirely possible that finding the origin of the name Asclepius in the very early Greek for Mole Hero was possibly an act of intense wishful thinking. The error, pedants went on. was to assume that the early Greeks in their written language had settled on a winning formula for giving a letter to a wide range of all consonants. So the whole Mole Hero thing had resulted from ancient spelling mistakes. Not to mention the eccentricity implicit in associating the name Mole Hero with a  demi-god who'd fathered the Goddess of Hygiene and the Goddess of Recuperation from Illness. Either way you can think of Asclepius as meaning Well Being if it makes you feel better. I'm sticking with Mole Hero.

Friday, October 19, 2018

As I Suspected, Watson

"Well, well, well!" In the days of black and white TV the phrase was used at least once a week when DCI Barlow of the Newton Constabulary collared a miscreant in a malicious act of wanton malfeasance. The villain, a lovely word that comes from the old French for 'rustic,' would shrug, he'd say something like "it's a fair cop, Governor" and he'd be off to do his time in porridge without for one second considering changing his lifestyle. No one expected him to, there was no social warrior lurking in the wings or evangelist hunting down hearts and minds, why mess with anyone's choice of career or complicate the plot.

I guess it must have been color TV that introduced nuance. Some villains knew they were doing wrong and rather than admit to it would insist upon their innocence, an additional complexity that meant stuff like forensic evidence, finger prints, lab coats, cyber security experts and stuff. In the process Villains became downright biblically evil. More recently of course the whole business of right and wrong has hit some kind of wall as our species increasingly grapples with purpose in a world that's changing far too quickly for most of us. And yet "Well, well, well" still has value, there's something "Go figure" comforting about it, much better than the accusations contained in the anti-democratic "I told you so."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Who to Blame

A long way from catching up with the year, next couple of weeks if the weather holds resignation might be better settled for the ordeal of the shorter days. More than likely previous years have been exactly the same which has never stopped a gardener from casting around for something to blame for what is in effect his idleness. Naturally he who shall not be mentioned and his misogynistic spineless coterie that now passes for a major political party is right up there at the top of the long list of idleness producing phenomenon, it's a very close second to lunch.

Both are fundamentally depressing, soul destroying and both seem to be ever present in the dwindling years. I nearly missed lunch today, I realized it was noon, and my purer instinct was to go without lunch, briefly I felt free as the air, liberated, and then around 1.30 I found myself struggling with a collection of randomly sparking brain cells, a most disorienting experience and most likely symptomatic of a dementia that will require me to any day now hang a label around my neck, name, address, purpose of existence since date of birth. One things for absolutely certain I will not be voting for anyone over the age forty five.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Vote

Bolsheviks were not the only political interest group seeking advantage during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The general opinion, or at least it's mine, suggests that Bolsheviks were the better disciplined around the idea of absolute and total control. Inevitably this reduced anything like an overview of the range of possibilities confronting the revolutionaries, and one of the results of this narrowing of vision was an increasing dependence by the Bolsheviks on those organs of state that make life easier by arresting, locking up or simply doing away with the more wishy-washy and squeamish. A power hungry character like Stalin was pretty much an inevitable consequence, an opportunity for him to industrialize Siberia using slave labor.

Yes indeed, the independence of and interactions between a society's institutions, such as practicing voting, remain a fundamental of liberal democracies where the shining light has always been to keep the wolves from dragging the sheep into that cage which guarantees bloodshed. Those of us who might not know this or believe in the magic of ideal or a constitution stand on a cliff almost yearning to jump into the abyss of the limbic system where there is more solace in fighting each other than reasoning with each other. It's a, shall we call it primitive rather than constructive, reaction to uncertainty. Worth remembering that one of the many juices produced by an anxious adrenal gland is the hormone testosterone, too much of which despite rumors to the contrary can render both males and females infertile.

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


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


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


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.