Saturday, November 17, 2018

Obvious Answers

Toward the end of the 18th Century the British Army was engaged in the Spanish Peninsular supporting the Portuguese in attempting to keep the French from winning influence over the Spanish. The English King at that time was probably certifiably nuts, but let's just call him so highly eccentric his courtiers preferred to keep him entertained and safely shut away in one or other of his many palaces. One of his great pleasures was to summon a military man so that he could hear accounts of daring-do on a far away battle fields. As the story progressed he'd begin to believe that he himself had participated in the action, and by the time the story was over his exaggerations were such that to all the world he'd pretty much won the battle single handedly.

 At the same time the King was only too ready to offer his opinions on a wide range issues, and half baked though his opinions usually were courtiers soon learned not to take them too seriously. A suggestion such as the solution to forest fires was to rake up all the leaves in England would have been treated with the respect due a king, and as a rule by the time the practicalities were fully realized the King himself would have forgotten all about his first solution to the problem of for example forest fires and would have come up with another idea. In the 18th Century the English still struggled with the role of their king, a great many of them loved the idea of a no nonsense absolute monarchy but it was having something like a series of highly eccentric and potentially disastrous kings that helped secure the power of an elected Parliament.

Friday, November 16, 2018

 Difficult to diligently categorize the Silver Spoon Crowd. Certainly within their circle there's a wide range of "subsets" a word that can produce allergic reactions in those of us whose math education was so brutally interrupted by the New Math and still shudder a little at the sight of the name Venn. And at the same time it's possible to think that wealth however acquired exacerbates all attributes of personality, and there's one less savory attribute that does stick out like Whirling Dervish in the imagination of those of us who are still trying to maintain a level headedness in our course through daily life without searching for solace in the possibility of being around for the End of Days.

 There will be some who could still be constrained by political correctness and who might take exception to my use of the words Whirling Dervish, but here I am using Whirling Dervish as it's variously defined in the Urban Dictionaries, that repository of language that presents us with a tragic vision of our mindless future, and in no way do I refer to the proud Sufi Sect who like me were and might still be prone to interpretive dance in the practice of their devotions. And I'll paraphrase a collection of Urban Dictionary entries titled Whirling Dervish: ...behavior that resembles a rapid, spinning object.... often spastic fidgeting and incessant babbling..... irritating and annoying, often exhausting to other people.... "Nuff said." Is I believe the correct response.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ancestors, Komodo Lizards and Parrot Fish

Much rain, a little sleet, a little freezing rain, a little snow and some kind of bone chilling breeze that turns the nose red and dribbling. Nothing too terribly unfamiliar but a horrible reminder of why it is our species should never have left the tropics. Me, I've no intention of of even attempting to do anything useful outside until at least March of next year. Which does mean the possibility of a physical atrophy that could well interfere with this aging gardener's capacities to maintain a relationship with his shovel so he can turn  beds, broadcast compost and all those increasingly unpleasant physical activities necessary for a successful growing season.

 Last couple of winters, to keep atrophy at bay, after the daily now cast I've engaged in almost ten generous minutes of interpretive dance on the front porch almost every morning, it's the north side of the domicile, has splendid views of leafless vine drenched trees, ghostly in the morning light and there's absolutely no shortage of fresh air out there. So much so in fact that when engrossed a dancer soon forgets the possibility of distant neighbors with high power binoculars having a little chuckle and marking me down for deportation. This year the primary motivation while bending the mind to the morning entertainment will engage the errors of ancestors, the Komodo Lizard and Parrot Fish, all of them creatures of the equatorial regions. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Napoleon of N Scale

With respect to an appetite for rampant Imperialism your N Scale Hobbyist is big time guilty. There's no amount of well reasoned propaganda that will convince him otherwise. Fortunately for the rest of world alterations to the structure of the room in which his N Scale dwells in an attempt to widen curves for the Karoo Class are out of the question at this time of the year, far too cold and there's the large problem of a massive Wasp Nest in the roof which could well result in entirely unfair Cossack type defensive actions on their part.

Besides the whole thing could quickly devolve into a horrible unrest from outraged domestic pets and their primary caregiver. Classically when Napoleon was first sent into exile on the small Island of Elba he badly aggravated the 12,000 residents throughout the course of his 300 day visit by messing with their incredibly unfair social structure by endeavoring to drag them out of the Medieval Period and making them build roads so that he could parade his bodyguard around. Tourism officials insist he did a lot for the Island, my own current instincts suggest the Islanders were delighted to be rid of him.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lest We Forget

The acronym MAIN should never be allowed to get boring. The M is militarism, and if you want to argue about what militarism means my contribution is, "When the leaders of a nation chose to maintain and use military might as a primary expression of national will." The A is for alliances which can be thought of as an agreement between nations to mutually support each other. The I is for imperialism, which is about extending a nations power through diplomatic and military means so as to take over and dominate poorer or weaker nations. The N is for nationalism which basically is a root belief that one nation is better than any another nation. "The English, the English, the English are best, I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest." Substitute your ethnicity as defined by your primary language, color of your skin or whatever and unless you are a nationalist you get the eegit nature of the concept.

Prior to the First World War all the elements of the acronym were thought of as virtues to be nurtured and prized. It wasn't until the end of the Second World War that doubt was expressed, and given the damage, the cost and the intensities of the folly of two world wars some minds did all they could to promote the idea that this collection of MAIN virtues might not be all they were cracked up to be. Alliances certainly, a strong military why not. In 1945 it was the Imperialism and Nationalist part that stuck out like two rabid Wolverines, and they concluded we'd all be much better off if we could achieve mechanisms and structures that nurtured less visceral more cooperative virtues. Either way on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an American Soldier of German descent by the name of Henry Gunther was killed in action one minute before 11am. He was 23 years old when he died, and best to remember him.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Stories

"We don't need to know the way home, all we want is life beyond the Thunderdome." Some of us can get tired of the emotional attachment some grant super stars and saviors. And no doubt while many might remember Tina Turner, a voice so warm with passion it could drill through rocks, few will recall Lyle and Britten who wrote the song. "All the children say, we don't need another hero." The song goes on, "living under the fear until nothing else remains." A dystopian story where the daily game was to give it your all or just give up, and money to be made at the box office. You gave it your all, the song suggests, because one day it could be better or at least different. "Mmm, love and compassion their day is coming." The "Mmm" part sounds like considerable doubt, but I always believe Tina Turner, she could tell me the earth is flat, and I'd answer, "Yes! Of course it is."

Meanwhile there's Little Red Riding Hood rescued by the brave Woodsman. Then there's the story of two weavers who promised their king a new suit of clothes that would be invisible to those unfit, too stupid or too incompetent for their position in court. And there's the story of King Canute whose courtiers suggested he was so powerful he could hold back the tide. Might have been an attempt to cheer the old man up, but he called them on it. Had himself carried down to the beach, his crown, his thrown and all. Thing is, iterations of so many stories go back perhaps to the dawn of language. A version of Little Red Riding Hood was first recorded in the 10th Century. Group Think has been ripe for scandalous con artists, as wells as nefarious weavers since Aesop's Fables. And the Canute story, who knows, but he was a both humble and powerful man, buried in Shaftsbury, Dorset. Call it the Eve of Remembrance Day.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Better Angels

"What is a better angel?" Very difficult to tell, might not even be such a thing, but possibly it depends upon who you think you are. It could be argued that better angels are defined by those who hold political power, or who are granted political power, or take political power, or inherit political power, or find it under a rock somewhere.

  I could go on about how Constantine's deathbed baptism made a mockery of his Treaty of Milan. The result was the theft by the powerful of an idea that gave succor to the poor, the hungry and the disadvantaged. But one things for sure, it's difficult to conceive of a better angel chanting "USA, USA, USA" while beating up on Black People in Tennessee.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Signs and Symptoms

You can get dogmatic when it feels like Limbo. Tie yourself into knots, become like a rabid creature, then you realize the vitally important point you were trying to make was an error. But it's all too late, so you got to start looking around for reasons however mindless to preserve your sense of Pride. Or you can just say "I was wrong, I behaved like a ...." whatever you can manage this side of Blasphemy. And it's securing the distinction between real and unreal that remains critical to what's loosely referred to as progress, or a more harmonious and cheerful discordance. There are facts, but there are also deceits. In the end the difference is motive, what you're trying to prove and more important why. Too proud to admit a mistake, too dumb to, or the always forgivable honest search for enlightenment...

There used to be a Cardinal Sin that was given the name Vainglory. A lovely word, but which as a result of a desire by the holy fathers to simplify the growing number of Cardinal Sins by getting rid of the more obviously appalling examples of truly nasty behavior, Pope Gregory melded Vainglory into Pride. Vainglory is like the very top end of Pride, the gold standard if you will, it's the "I only bathe in Donkey Milk" level. The level is such that no one in their right mind would take the behavior as anything other than highly suspect, unless they saw something they wanted from the behavior and have become seducers and panderers which by Dante's reckoning put's them right down there in the eighth circle of hell where the seducers and panderers take their turn to get poked with sticks for eternity. The lowest circle, the ninth circle, nine is a four and a five, is would you believe, treachery. Oh what a tangled web....