Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Justinian and Sporting Events

One of the Eastern Roman Emperors called Justinian the First got himself into terrible trouble following a chariot race, which in those days was a sporting event. The two teams were called The Blues and The Greens. Supporters of each team got totally carried away, and on this festive and often bloody occasion there was already disgruntlement within the Eastern Empire about the new legal code which had caused particular outrage within the populace for new rules around enforcing the tax code. One thing led to another and soon enough the city was burning, it was all the emperors fault, and rioters were preparing to install a new and more understanding Emperor.

In history the event is referred to as the Nika Riots. And while rioters were getting ready to declare a new emperor, never an easy thing to do, just far too many opinions, Justinian decided he was going to quietly leave the city and leave them all to it. It was his wife who put her foot down, she was rather fond of being an empress, she told him to man up gather his soldiers, who cost the empire a fortune to maintain, go in there and behave like an emperor instead of messing around like a gentle legal scholar obsessing on getting a grip on the empire's finances, and reforming the legal system so that it better reflected the fifth century and whole bunch of artsy-artsy stuff. Justinian decided to follow his wife's advice, and lo he's remembered in history as Justinian The Great, one of the best. Either way, however traditional it might be it's a sad day when it's down to a sporting event to determine the direction of a Nation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Myth Makers

Tolkien finished the Lord of the Rings after the second world war. The Hobbit was finished before the second world war. He was an academic man, his area of study included Anglo Saxon, and knew a whole lot about the Norse Sagas, and one of the things that really got on his nerves was the use to which the Norse Saga's had been put by the myth makers of Hitler's Germany as they went about building an account of the Aryan super race that was wholly entitled to rule the world in any way they chose to.

Inevitably people have read a great deal into Tolkien's work. By one interpretation the Lord of the Rings was about Stalin, which was another thing that got on Tolkien's nerves. He wasn't a big fan of Stalin by the Lord of the Rings had absolutely nothing to do with Stalin. It was a sequel to the Hobbit, which he'd written for his children and which had become popular with the wider society, grownups and children. And indeed today when devious people are looking around for myths to support particularly odious political positions it's as well we have academics.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Dictators at War

Hitler had an uncomfortable suspicion about his regular army military leaders. He'd been a corporal in the army, he'd been homeless after the war and he was Austrian. German regular army military leaders were wealthy Prussian aristocrats many of whom had a long family tradition of military service an esprit that considered war the highest calling. So on the one hand Hitler kind of felt in awe of them and on the other hand he felt inferior to them, not feeling good enough is an awkward combination of emotions for one prone to paranoia which results in a ludicrous contrariness that you don't really want to find in commander in chief. One characteristic of the Prussian military was the extent to which they held fast to the idea that will, and often will alone, won battles. As a result they kind of thought themselves as far too important to concern themselves with the logistics of military operations, that work was the responsibility of someone else. It was combination of hubris and arrogance they had.

Nonetheless throughout the second world war the Prussian military leaders did what was asked of them by their dear leader, even though many of their dear leader's decisions were, shall we say very flawed. This obedience was to the German state as personified by Hitler, and while some military leaders had severe doubts, very few did anything about those doubts, they carried on even though by around 1943 they knew that ultimate victory, or victory of any kind at all, was no loner possible and they knew their commander in chief had devolved, lost his genius or whatever. So mental balance was more a question of reverting to will, hubris and arrogance in military matters and especially so when the commander in chief was less and less receptive to differing opinions. In prison, after the war, the conversations of captured high end Prussian officers were secretly recorded. "......and we ended up no better than shoe-shine boys."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ladybirds' Flock

Not much joy this time of year, the festive season  has sent out its half baked circus clowns, fluffy things, and glitter, its prefecture no longer trouble themselves with subtlety of invitations, they just polish their sabers, drag out the same old "You Will Have Fun," and you know damn well that years ago Jesus stopped inviting the totally out of touch bubble dwelling Magi to his birthday party. Can't wait for the peace and mental tranquility of the second week in January, yet moments of wonder remain and today the Ladybirds flocked, a mass of them, some of whom will find their way to the room where I sleep and there we'll share hours quarreling around the glue pot, getting all excited when the bedside light is turned on, yarning around the victories and defeats in the 2019 vegetable garden and generally reacquainting ourselves with the sense of community that is winter projects.

And this year the person part of the relationship has what he hopes is a Ladybird proof keyboard, so there'll be non of this idling away the winter in puerile entertainments such as sending in the weaker minds to jam up the F key and blaming it on the users careless eating habits at his lunch time. Sticky stuff peanut butter, but so is Ladybird goo, and if in doubt, I'll take the back of the keyboard off and fair warning if it's not peanut butter, then out comes the vacuum cleaner, which none of us like, especially the Girl Cat who struggles with some kind of delirium tremens at the very sight of it. Must have been something in her kitten-hood, just wish to goodness her traumatic reaction to the idea of a vacuum cleaner included an equally adverse reaction to the idea of biting the heads off rodents, but it doesn't. '

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Meaning, Probabilities, Possibilities and the Slope

It was from within the ranks of the existentialists in their attempt to get a sense of what consciousness might be, there emerged the idea that we people as possessors of consciousness are creatures that make meaning. Creative Is, we can't help ourselves, things out there have to make sense, and the processes by which those things makes sense don't have to reflect anything that might be real. As well in the 1960's from these same ranks there emerged the idea of possibilities, that we people look for possibilities. Oddly the quantum computer is not based on the yes and no of the capacities within a device to switch on and off an electric charge and direct that charge at the speed of light through a series of logical steps, the conclusion to which can take several hours and upwards toward 10,000 years to achieve.

At the quantum level the variables are such that you're talking probability rather than therefore. This means that the logic produced by yes and no can be side stepped in favor of probability, rather than having to wander through all the possibilities before producing a conclusion of some sort, the result, the argument goes, is a device that can perform a calculation that might once have taken say ten years, can be done in seconds, or minutes. The issue is to determine the language of the internal dynamics of the quantum level which in many respects appears wholly random, a flood of possibilities. In his own understanding of consciousness your correspondent has struggle with a slope in the random place, and he's asserted that all matter has this slope, which means all matter contains consciousness. Oh sure, some collections of matter manipulate the slope, or speak quantum, better than others, we people are a fragile example.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Meritocracy, Egalitarianism and Meritorious

In the general theories about how we are and how we might improve, there are two ideas which often arise. One is Meritocracy and the other is Egalitarianism. They are in my view very distinct from each other. Easier to think of meritocracy as the idea that suggests a good society is built upon allowing everyone to have an even chance to rise in the social ranks through process of competing with each other. It's nice and it's pretty. And easier to think of egalitarianism as giving everyone a chance to do their best and be rewarded by society for doing their best. It's also nice and pretty. One of the problems with meritocracy is the extent to which the opportunity to rise to the top means a winner take all type competition, and to win individuals have to devoted themselves to the activities of winning to such a degree that much of the world and its wonder is lost to them as they crawl their way upwards. Whether it's meritorious or not, one result to society is elites that possess a blinkered single mindedness of purpose that trickles down, kind of like mustard gas.

So in a meritocracy everyone gets their chance, and the question is to do what? The answer to the question, is they get their chance to devote their being to a competition that rewards winners, and even in sporting activities you'll find that quite often winners will, shall we say cheat, which means in a good society, and I'll repeat that, in a good society, one that values uprightness and decency, they don't actually deserve to get to the top of their calling. One of the problems with egalitarianism is that by rewarding and valuing people for doing their best, there's always a suspicion that this or that person is only pretending to do their best and this is especially apparent  within the employment relationship, where employers have discovered that in the interest of profitability less powerful people can always be made to devote themselves more fully to particularly blinkered single mindedness of purpose or lose their value to society. Indeed, I'd argue that cream rises to the top, if it scratches and claws its way to the top it's not really cream.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Talking Points

Being just a tad on the obsessive side and on the verge of becoming a full blown conspiracy theorist your correspondent has begun to preen himself not so much upon what is said, but the patterns within the way it is said. Got a note book and everything. And in this very fast paced world, these patterns are easier to take notice of, they repeat more regularly, they kind of stick out. My assumption is that somewhere there is an organizing body, or a series of organizing bodies, that sends out a sort of positioning memo which essentially informs the receivers how to position themselves with respect to this or that issue rather than letting them decide. I believe these memos are called Talking Points. And you kind of know your reading a talking point in the utterances of the political class rather than that person's considered opinion, when a number of different people start using exactly the same short phrases. Currently, in the last couple of days, the underlined word in the memo seems to be "Process" which I can only assume means "Unfair." On the other side the longer lasting underlined word is "Sad," which I can only assume means "We got the bastard."

Meanwhile in all this there's a third source of memos that anyone remotely familiar with sources of information from the Kremlin will be familiar with, and yet the receivers charged with reinforcing the underlined words in the memos from this third source too often appear to also include surviving representatives of the White House. A Kremlin talking point is that Soviet invasion of Afghanistan proved to be too expensive. Not true, in ten years they were defeated by a loose leafed insurgency that included the Taliban and Al Qaeda funded by CIA and Pakistan. The Kremlin talking point that the Kurds in northern Syria and Southern Turkey are a bunch of terrorists depends a little on how you define terrorist. There are around 35 million Kurds, that's like the population of Tennessee down to Louisiana, 12 million have communities in Turkey,  and Turkey wants them thoroughly pacified. The former Kurdish allies of the US had attempted to create for themselves a democratic secular society as the mainspring of their cohesion, they were having some success, something both the Kremlin and Istanbul and Isis are very nervous around when it's anywhere near them. The Kremlin talking point that Ukraine interfered with the US 2016 election....and it just goes on.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Delusional

Feels like Monday, but it's Tuesday. The feels like part is a minor detail, so probably best not to insist that because it feels like Monday therefore it is Monday. Whatever your opinion of the calendar this should be clear.

Meanwhile the technical device has somehow ignored this wisdom and will continue to insist that it has it's existence in Central Time. I can either accept this, or throw the technical device out of the window.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Edging

Your gardener can't quite recall why he chose to dramatically increase the size of the accordion bed in the vegetable garden. The bed's an odd shape, so odd, its 16 degree angle along the fence side can grate the nerves of someone who might be burdened by the sort of anal retentive characteristics that cling to the solidity and solace that can be found in right angles. More likely the initial whimsical sunhat and secateurs impetus behind the decision began with a slight suggestion rather than anything well considered, and lo the spring was wound tight and out came the hand tools along with that devil's kiss "this should be fairly straight forward."

Nor did I fully appreciate the dogged workmanship that once came from me when installing edging. Clearly the accordion bed edging wasn't designed to be molested in any way, it was meant to stand in place through the sands of time and see its own way through the valley of the shadow of death. Which, when a gardener is irrationally wound up and determined to reuse the edging, means resorting to an array of iron bars, crowbars, post hole digging bars, levers, hammers and all the implements of torture are there, dust free and glittering from use. Epitaph-wise, a good chance we're talking "He died doing something in his garden, but no one could work out what."

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fall of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had Administrative Units, political officials of which were chosen in Istanbul and who relied upon Istanbul for a good income, with pension and the kind of territorial protection that gave them authority and through this authority the officials were able to settle disputes through court systems. Some of those Administrative Units contained  denominations of Christians, Muslims and Jews. The mix of these different sets of beliefs varied from place to place, yet no matter the passions, it was generally reckoned that you didn't go up against the authority of Istanbul, because if you did you'd lose. The Ottoman Empire controlled Jerusalem and Mecca. To the East of Ottoman Turkey, was Iran and Russia, to the North East was Armenia. These eastern and northern Administrative Units were populated by Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and in the Turkey part of the Ottoman Empire there were communities of Greeks.

When the Ottoman Empire fell the integrity of the eastern and northern Administrative Units where challenged by the Russian Empire, which was undergoing its own series of changes, and by movements within the Armenian, Assyrian and Kurdish communities which reacted to instability by giving serious consideration to the possibilities of living in an independent sates. Istanbul chose to prevent further deterioration to the integrity of its Eastern border. Playing one community against another had been a good long tradition. And when it came to the Armenians, Assyrians and Kurds, Istanbul with the help of the Kurds conducted a pogrom against the Assyrians, and rather than rewarding the Kurds, Istanbul turned its attention against the Kurds, who retreated into British controlled territories where the British had no intention of giving them a homeland. With respect to the Armenian communities, without much help from anyone Istanbul decided just to get rid of the Armenian and Greek communities on their North Eastern borders. Nations, as we all well know, don't like to admit to ever, ever having been responsible for a genocide.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Cracked Pot

A crack-up was an expression used in the early days of aviation to describe a plane crash. It was this sense of crack-up, of structural failure, that came to be used to describe mental break down. There you are flying your airplane and suddenly things aren't right. Kind of enjoy the relationship between a plane crash and a mind going nuts. In its origins the word crack is associated with a sharp sound, as in you can hear ice cracking. There's a use of the word crack that refers to a warm friendly chat, and there's a wise crack, "They crack me up!" There's a nut cracker, and it goes on. And the question: is there a crack in the Republican Party or is it something else? It's a question that appears regularly within the community of pundits.

Rather than mess with this hole finger in the dyke nonsense, my own view would suggest that the expression Crack-Pot sums what remains of the Republican Party nicely, and has done so for at east ten years. For those in doubt, a crack-pot is an expression that's used to describe an unstable person, as in "Don't have anything to do with him, he's a crack-pot!" It's also true that people will sometimes say "He's a lot of fun, he's a crack-pot!" It's an entertaining quality, a populist, but not for everyday. The point being that a crack-pot can suddenly go full blown crack-up, or it could struggle eccentrically on for year after year. The other thing about a cracked-pot, it has even less overall tensile strength than an un-cracked-pot. This means a tiny little tap on just the right spot, there's a terrible noise and everything stops because you got a kitchen floor to tidy up. Then the issue is whether or not the shards are worth gluing together again.

Friday, October 18, 2019

1001 and Ode to a Camel

"One Thousand and One cleans a big, big carpet in less than half an hour." It's from one of those jingles on an advert for cleaning products. Infuriating, it had a quality to it that caught hold of the ear, wormed its way into your frontal cortex and bounced around like an insane gymnast, or possibly a brain tumor. The fact that I can still remember the words of this jingle from the 1960's is a sure sign of just how much lasting damage has been done by the advertising industry to what few memory cells that remain to me. Oddly, yesterday was day 1001 of the current administration assuming power and paving the way for Putin-style oligarchy.

"They crouched by the arte-brakes, the hunters, and sort to win a safe prey, but she outran their shafts and pursuing hounds." It's not a product of a slimy back room boy in somewhere like Madison Avenue, it's a wonderful mind picture that comes from a translation of a 6th or 7th Century Arab love poem called An Ode to a Camel. And you have to wonder about whose side you're on, the hunters or the beautiful creature that outran them. My usual preference would be the beautiful creature that outran the hunters, off into the yonder. Inevitably there are debates around what a beautiful creature might be.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Trails of the Abwehr

Military Intelligence is a discipline, and like all proud disciplines it does require dedication and training, and it's reputation is judged by it's relationship with informed perspectives that are supported by available evidence. Intelligence officers are like the scientists of weather forecasting, and woe unto he who relies on the Farmers Almanac. Abwehr is the German word for Defense. The Abwehr was the name for a military intelligence service formed in 1920 contrary to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty within the agreed to Reich Ministry that was to be solely devoted to military matters, a limited army, a very limited navy, and hardly any air force. In the 1930's political interests within the new Germany had a few secrets of their own, and in 1937 these political interests raided the offices of the Abwehr to destroy files that reflected a truth that might have damaged their own carefully crafted reputations. They assumed that the Abwehr was also political player in the developing political circumstances within Germany. It was a quality of intense distrust within the upper levels of the new German hierarchy many of whom were close to feral and equally as short-sighted as many appear to be here in the USA in the year 2019. And no accident that a dictator is or was their head of state.

What happened was this, Stalin and Hitler had a dictator head of state kind of relationship, it's a sort of  homo-erotic bro-mance only between power lusting boy Porcupines, and Hitler kindly offered Stalin information, that would be provided by his Abwehr, about suspect individuals within the Red Army's officer corps.  Stalin accepted, and Hitler uncertain of the loyalties within the German officer corps thought it best to keep his arrangement, or deal, with Stalin secret. The suspicion was that because of relationships that had developed between the German and Soviet officer corps toward the end of the First World War, German officers might warn their counterparts, who might then escape the labor camps. Stalin conducted a very successful purge of his officer corps, the result was a win for Hitler, the effectiveness and capacities of the Red Army was very badly damaged and it was a win for Stalin who was more interested in his own survival through absolute personal loyalty than he was in his country's military effectiveness. Meanwhile in Germany political interests were very nervous of the Abwehr's information gathering, and had no inclination to believe that the information within the Abwehr's possession wouldn't be used for personal political gain by the Chief of the Abwehr, who at the time believed that his country had done so badly in the First World War as a result of a failure in the mission of military intelligence. I think it was Nietzsche who added his voice to the view that with us people the same events twist on an axis, turn endlessly, nothing really changes.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tangled Webs, Ale Conners, Lord Marmion and Walter Scott

Not sure whether Bo Peep was a good or bad shepherd. Maybe shepherds lose their Sheep all the time, maybe it's just the less experienced shepherd who panics quickly when the odd Sheep goes missing, unaware that sooner or later they return to the fold dragging their tails behind them. A lot of disagreement around who Bo Peep might have been, and probably the truer understandings revolve around Victorian Nurseries rather than some long convoluted account that starts with Medieval Ale Conners who were charged with checking the quality of ale served by publicans, who being devious would employ youths to let them know when an Ale Conner was in the vicinity. These lookouts were called Bo Beeps. And I guess those who gave consideration to framing the occasional nursery rhyme thought Bo Peep kind of a neat name for a little girl shepherd, images of whom never suggest she was possessed of the Paleolithic character little boys tend towards. But best not to get too involved in the debate, let the passion pass into the distance, so that the mind might concentrate on one of Walter Scott's longer poems called Marmion, where the immortal words "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive" were penned.  In the poem, Marmion was a lord, up there amongst the landed gentleman in the years prior to the Battle of Flodden, when a disagreement between English and Scottish interests met to settle a dispute. The year of the battle was 1513, and Scott's poem was published around 1808. Not sure how to describe any of Walter Scott's poems, but they're kind of ripping yarns if you don't take yourself too seriously, inclined to sneer at the "Sound of Music" but very much liked the musical South Pacific. "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair, and send him on his way." And that haunting song by Lieutenant Gable "You've go to be carefully taught."

Lord Marmion had a desire to increase his land holdings by seducing a very wealthy heiress called Clara de Clare. Oddly Lord Marmion plotted with his mistress Constance de Beverly to ruin the reputation of Clara de Clare's fiancée and the love of her life, a man called Sir Ralph de Wilton. You might wonder why Constance de Beverly, Marmion's mistress, would wish to assist Marmion. Well Constance was a nun who had slightly gone off the rails and she thought that by assisting Marmion she would get back into Marmion's good favor. Then while attempting to defend his honor against Marmion's wholly made up accusations Sir Ralph de Wilton challenged Marmion to a duel, which in those days (1500's) was how gentlemen proved their honesty in the court of public opinion. Sir Ralph de Wilton lost the duel and he was so ashamed he went into exile. Clara de Clare was heart broken, she decided to become a nun rather than risk having to deal with Marmion's odious character flaws and equally odious seduction techniques. Nor did it work out for Constance, she was tried, found guilty of being a bad nun and she was walled up, literally she was built into a wall of a nunnery. But in her trail she had managed to gain a few possibilities in the afterlife by giving her panel of judges documents that would prove Sir Ralph de Wilton was innocent of Lord Marmion's outrageous and totally made up accusations. And lo, with documentation of his innocence Sir Ralph was accepted back into the community of gentlemen where he was able to do his bit at the Battle of Flodden during which he was acclaimed a hero, his lands were returned to him and he was able to marry Clara de Clare who'd not yet gone full blown nun. And in that same battle Lord Marmion was killed, happenstance that King James IV of Scotland was also killed. As The World Turns (which lasted 54 years, he's 73 if you need reminding) webs of deceit become tangled but never, ever a shortage of plot twists.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sausage and Home Again.

Walked down an aisles in the grocery store that your reluctant shopper has never been down before. You don't get maps, instead you got these little signs high above the aisles you need binoculars to read. The store was busy, shopping cart jams all over the place, coffee clutches with louder than necessary conversation and little old lady eavesdroppers doing nothing to aid the flow of traffic, inadequately trained big people on those motorized hazards that aimlessly zip around, not sure whether all children these days are an inch or two on the other side of special  but let's put it this way a snowflake in good standing does sometimes gain insights into the motivations behind the odious phenomenon of the eugenics movement. Then I saw an opportunity to collect my thoughts in what looked like a peacefully deserted aisle and ducked into it. The aisle contained yards and yards of Dog Treats, each variety of dog treat with images of so called adorable dogs that yap and if you tell them to shut up they bite you. To hell with it, I decided, "I'm going to buy a sausage."

Nor was "sausage" on my list, but arguably because three items on my list were, shall we say, so specially written I couldn't decode them, the sad fact is "sausage" could have well been on my list. It's also true that on a Saturday morning the meat products area in the Grocery store is a dithering place for those in our number who may have lost the physical capacity to touch their own toes and presumably some besotted life partner manages their foot care for them. The other thing about wanting to buy a sausage is that when put beside the mind blowing number of varieties of dog treats, sausage choice is very limited and, even more aggravating, at a minimum you have to buy 5 sausages for getting on 5 dollars. Then if you look further into prices, there's this whole reduced price per sausage if you buy two 5 packs of sausages. I guess it's all designed to sell pedicure kits to besotted life partners. Sadly, I spotted a little yellow lonely circle, the design of which might well have been culled from a Munch scribble just prior to his painting The Scream, so I got 5 suspect sausages for 99 cents. This time tomorrow I could be dead, structural change gone from consideration.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Volfefe Index

Stock Market traders like what they call indexes. If an index moves it suggests future possibilities for profit or loss. The Consumer Confidence Index. I'm told there's something called the Volfefe Index. This index has developed around information on how Stock Markets respond to the current President's Tweets. Doesn't matter whether information in the tweet is accurate or just something made up. This index simply responds to what happens to stocks when the tweet is about subject A, or B and so on.

Currently international trade is struggling with disagreements between United States and particularly China. Any tweet that suggests positive news in this area of trade between the US and China, whether it's true or not, whether it's political or simply a whim, results in stocks rising in value. In the course of tweet storm a trader can buy and sell, come away with a profit. Volfefe! Named after the famine horseman of the apocalypse? Could well be this time next week, but currently the rumor is it was inspired by a mysterious word, possibly a nuclear code, in one of the President's tweets which was "covfefe," the "vol" part in volfefe stands for volatility. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Kurdish Diaspora and Normandy

Feel a little confident that there might well have been Kurds on the Beaches of Normandy. They have a wide Diaspora. The first identifiable Kurds to arrive in the USA did so following the First World War. Back then Woodrow Wilson was all about self determination, and in the Middle East the US policy was that the Kurds who were finally free of the Ottomans should be allowed their homeland. The British and the French had other ideas. In the early 1920's Iraq revolted against British occupation and the Kurds saw their chance at a homeland, they too took up arms against the British. There were two Kurdish rebellions, both of which were put down rather brutally and in the aftermath some Kurds found their way to the United States.

Not good at math but you have to reckon with the enlistments in the USA that followed the USA's belated entrance into the Second World War, the Pearl Harbor incident in the December of 1941, some Kurds might have received their draft notice, along with German Americans, Japanese Americans, Austrian Americans, Andaman Islander Americans.. It's a long list. And I'm aware that during the Second World War the US had a fully fledged and well institutionalized segregation, the military was no exception. But if you're a whitey-white person and you met a Kurd in the streets of Nashville you'd think he or she was as whitey-white  as you, only with a very much better complexion.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Glop

Not easy to forget the Pickled Pepper fiasco of a couple of years ago. They were possibly the single most disgusting result of your gardener's short canning career. Yet the problem of a surplus of Peppers remains. Next year there will be fewer Pepper plants in the garden. Vaguely remember deciding that before. This year the excess of Peppers seems worse than ever, and this year some of the excess has found its way into a glop, which doesn't appear in the dictionary as a culinary expression but does kind of well describe anything that begins the cooking process with a cup of vinegar and a cup of sugar and ends up in a sealed glass jar.

This means I have a Pear Glop and a Green Tomato Glop, both of which have Peppers as a major ingredient, and we're talking around 20% of volume. The other thing about us less recipe directed cooks, after spending what feels like a lifetime processing a Glop, you feel obliged to offer the result of your labors a much higher rather than a lower grade. Only later do you develop a more objective view of the contents of the larder, and far too often there are major  disappointments. Either way that's it for the canning and freezing season of 2019, it's been exhausting and it could well take getting on a week to get the smell of vinegar and the flutter of Fruit Flies out of the kitchen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Union of Corruption and Hypocrisy

 "The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform..." Is kind of standard definition of hypocrisy. But if I said to you, "I'm a bit ruppy." And you happened to know Sanskrit, somewhere along the line you might come up with, "I'm sorry you have a stomachache, but I think you'll find that the correct English language spelling of the Sanskrit for stomach ailment is rupya." Leaving aside the warm feeling pompous asses get when they meet each other, and the possibilities of extended debate, the point is that through the generations of language the "rup" part of "corrupt" generally means turning good to bad. Rupture and disrupt are other examples of the meanings in the "rup" part. If something is corrupted, that something is spoiled. Its value, if you like, has changed from the perspective that it was good and within the same perspective is now bad.  "I'm glad you're feeling ruppy, I've just poisoned you, which is bad for you and good for me." In time, corrupt came to mean debasement of character, to destroy, seduce, bribe and so on, and no doubt the wide range of meanings of a corrupted stomach is fairly clear, it's a whole thing, can be deliberate, accidental, it may be a result of ignorance and so on. And the word is used for disobedient computer codes.

Corrupting is something A does to B. "These eggs are corrupt." "Who corrupted them?" "Salmonella." Then being a gentle sort of person you can say "Salmonella can't help himself, it's just what he does in the course of his day, such a pity so many people had to die to give Salmonella an opportunity to thrive." All of which is why Corrupt has in its two meanings the idea of dishonest behaviors for personal gain, as well as infection, depraved, perverted, putrid, ugh, and it's a rather long, sometimes passionate list. The dilemma is how to get a hold of the idea of a corrupt person investigating corruption. Presumably he breaks something already broken for personal gain. Tricky area indeed, especially if the corruptor gets a little vague around whether the something is broken or not, which, safe to assume is how corruption spreads as an infection and becomes like a new set of perspectives, as for example insisting climate change is a hoax for no better reason than personal gain. A perspective that may or may not survive. Or possibly corrupt is better grasped in terms of Salmonella and the Eggs. Salmonella can't help himself, has no grand scheme, we're not talking the cunning of a Fox, Salmonella just doesn't know what the "rup" part even means. All of which means the shortsightedness of corrupt hypocrites is problematic for us people.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Machiavelli, Franklin, Jung and Others on Hypocrisy

"The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform..." Several arguments. All of them fascinating. So let's start with Machiavelli. His point was that we people "..are often touched more nearly by appearances than by reality." In the 1980's in a study subtitled Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect of Monkeys, Apes and Humans, agreed when they titled their study Machiavellian Intelligence. It's easier to seem fair than to actually be fair, and because laziness is deeply ingrained in human nature, humans more often choose appearance over reality. Then if you think about this in terms of yourself, unless like me you're an unrecognized Saint, you can grasp the soundness of this position. And you got Benjamin Franklin who said something like "..a convenient thing to be a reasonable creature, it allows you to make a reason for anything you have a mind to." And here laziness gets in the way of the hard work of trying to find accurate evidence to support your position and easier still to pick and chose what evidence best suits your position. The truly challenged by reality of course just make stuff up, then allow the theoretical underpinnings to become increasingly divorced from reality rather than accept the possibility of being in error. 

Philosophers have tried to work out whether or not Hypocrisy is good or bad. Philosophers worth their salt never have answers, but they love a good argument. Generally in moral terms Philosophers see it in terms of "pretending to be activated by a motive other than your own motive." This comes under deceit and lying which may or may not be a good thing. Philosophers also suggest that a "hypocritical lack of moral seriousness" can very much depend upon certain assumptions about the extent and make up of a moral framework within society, and so, they go on, best to think of the "No-Hypocrisy" position in terms of the right to blame and the value of blaming to the more constructive processes worth encouraging within a good society. There's also the idea that hypocrisy is a disposition in some to blame others and at the same time an unwillingness to accept blame from others or to blame ourselves. Realists more often just come out and say that being a moral person is a huge struggle in which most of us fail, so accept the flaws, we're all sinners, for god's sake everyone realize this, so get on with it and compromise. Karl Jung, who really did feel sorry for us people attempted to improve our lot by suggesting that under all circumstances lying to ourselves was very, very unhealthy, we had to know who and what we are and as we decided what we wanted to be, otherwise we all end up nutty. For Jung, I'd like to think, the west is enjoying yet another endless therapy session.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Seasons

Reached for the indoor long trousers this morning. Stared at them, they probably need to be washed, and the ethers are alive with that set of adverts that suggest the approach of the festive season, an appalling violation on a Sunday Morning. "Are we ready to do this Peloton!" It's a girl voice and she sounds very determined in an unnaturally excited way, somewhere between le climax and le concours, if you'll excuse the French. Dread to think who or what Peloton might be, but fairly convinced he, she or it is entirely unnecessary. Last Fall is mostly gone from my own memory, but I do recall raking leaves and being driven to such distraction by "Are we ready to do this Peloton!" that I had to switch off the technical device, which for those of us who have the addiction isn't easy to do. Then in March or May of this year, a long winter it was, "Are we ready to do this Peloton!" finally disappeared and I have known a degree of  inner peace for getting on six months.

It might be easier if I just went ahead and found out what or who Peloton is, but I'd call that an abject surrender. The whole point about "Are you ready for this Peloton!" is to drag you into Hades, down deep into the machinations of the Devil's own, where you creep around staring at last year's food stains on your indoor trousers wondering whether Peloton washes clothes as you slowly become an imbecile. "Harsh?" of course it's harsh, very harsh indeed, it needs to be, we're not talking Karoo Class Locomotives and milk chocolate bars, we're talking Peloton, a canoe ride down the Styx River, it's the contract with its promise that devours your soul leaves you wretched and drowning. Zeus swore an oath on the River Styx that one of his lovers would have everything she ever wanted, too late Zeus realized his oath would result in her death. Triumph and Disaster, "treat these two impostors the same," Kipling wisely quoted Shakespeare in his poem "If."

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A Settlement With Mill

A "solid ungulate quadruped of the horse kind, but shorter with long ears and a short mane." The Ass, is a native of Southwest Asia.  Southwest Asia includes Turkey, Iran, the Arabian Peninsular, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and in some minds, not mine, it includes Egypt. There are two species of Wild Ass both of them struggling for existence in Africa, the Somali Wild Ass and the Nubian Wild Ass. Strictly speaking the Donkey is an Ass which has over the years been domesticated, tamed and bred for servitude. Pompous comes from the Latin for 'stately' and all those high end dressing up, self important and funny hat behaviors associated with the more ceremonial side of stateliness. And as a Pompous Ass myself, I'd like to share with these pages my own moment of induction into the community of Pompous Asses.

The year was sometime in the late 1960's or there about and in discussion I did happen to say, "If you actually read the chapter you'll discover that you couldn't be more wrong." All I can accurately recall is the response and the tone of the response, which was "Oh belt up you pompous ass." It was a classic from a total loser who was entirely at sea within the framework of his thoroughly dumb ass, one sided opinions. I felt entirely vindicated, I'd never known what a Pompous Ass was and I began to realize that I was indeed a Pompous Ass, I embraced the title, and I think I got a D minus in the essay, which served only to reinforce my understanding that I was right and Mr. whatever his name was, was wrong to the point of idiocy. Back then of course we didn't have stuff like twitter. So welcome to our extraordinarily diverse community Senator Romney, we use first names so I'll call you "Settlement with Mill" or Milton for short.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Affective, Effective and Drought

"Affective" means causing emotional feelings. "Effective" means sensibly producing the desired result, assuming you know what that result is. Took me almost 60 years to grasp the distinction long enough to retain it for more than three and half minutes. Affective in the title "Reducing Affective Partisan Polarization" means reducing the level of emotion, or hostility, in partisan polarization. The subtitle of the study is the question "Warm Group Relations or Policy Compromise?" One argument as to why everyone seems to hate each other has to do with policy differences, and it's these policy differences that cause the sets of emotions that lead to hostility and an angry partisan divide that doesn't respond well to, let's call it discourse.

The other argument suggests that policy differences are fairly eternal and goes on to suggest that emotions that lead to hostility over policy differences are much ameliorated when leaders are seen to get along with each other, express comradeship in a warm and friendly kind of way without too much hugging and kissing, but certainly not shouting at each other, getting red in the face and saying things like 'what goes around comes around.' In other words, at heart, we're still more like Chimpanzees. The whole study makes huge sense to a gardener affectively struggling with his winter ground covers, weed seeds in his compost, rock hard ground, drought and the physical capacities of what effectively might just as well be a 900 year old Octopus lubbering around on land.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

How to Distract Dictators, The Goebbels and Hess example.

Rudolph Hess was a bit of an occultist, he had home remedies for everything, and he was Adolph Hitler's functional equivalent of Mike Pence. Hess' title was Deputy Fuhrer. Trouble was, while Hess had studied the theoretical underpinnings of the Third Reich, he believed in "living space" for the superior race, he had all the trappings, the uniform, the whole kit and caboodle, and he'd make perfect speeches praising the Dear Leader, but it was the war strategy that troubled him. He'd been wounded as an infantry man in the trenches of the First World War, struggled on became a fighter pilot just before the war ended, as opposed to a behind the lines courier, and he thought another two front war an error for Germany and soon enough he became DFINO, or Deputy Fuhrer In Name Only. In 1941 as the German Forces prepared to move into France, he flew a two engine Messerschmitt to Scotland where he hoped to meet a British bigwig who he understood to be anti-war and pro-Germany. Hess' intention was to talk peace between Britain and Germany. On the trip he took with him 28 different medicines, one of them was glucose, which is sometimes called blood sugar. It hadn't been an easy flight, he had to use landmarks to find his way and he had to avoid gung-ho British defense forces and by the time he got close to the bigwig's estate he ran out of fuel which forced him to take to his parachute.

He was arrested, spent the rest of his life in one jail or another, ending up in Spandau Jail where he killed himself in the August of 1987. He was 93 and by all accounts perfectly sane. Before he left on his trip to Scotland he hadn't actually told his Dear Leader what he was planning to do, but he had written a letter to Hitler laying out the details of his peace with the Anglo Saxons plan. It was a tense time for Hitler, what with an invasion of France about to happen, and when Hitler got the letter he had a bit of a conniption fit, yelled very loudly at everyone and he leapt to the conclusion that it was all part of an inner circle putsch to get rid of their Dear Leader. There was scurrying around, everyone was nervous for the longevity of their important careers. The plan Hitler came up with was to get it to the press in Germany and around the world, that there was nothing to worry about because Hess was totally nuts. Others suggested it just didn't look good under any circumstances to have your Deputy Fuhrer turn out to be a nut case even if he was totally nuts. It was Goebbels, who had his own propaganda problems with the loyalty of occultists, the whole higher power idea kind of undermined his stable genius argument that supported the often erratic Dear Leader, who, according to Goebbels, Germans were supposed to worship. So Goebbels took his chance to distract from the inner circle putsch idea by pointing out to Hitler that Hess was an admirer of the Occult, possible a practitioner, unsurprisingly with the world going insane occultists were popping everywhere. And soon enough all around Germany, any one suspected of occultism was being rounded up and made to disappear. Not sure what it is, but there's a moral for all of us here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Coop De Tat

Both a golpe de estado and a putsch are pretty good words for a "blow against the state" and oddly enough if the état part is capitalized then it's a blow against the "sovereign."  The coup part is not often pronounced coop, more often it's pronounced coo as in what Doves say and that's also rather cool for us English speakers who currently live in a constitutional democracy. Strictly speaking the coup d'état is an unconstitutional seizure of the state by a dictator or a military. So yes, it's an attempted coup and disparate organs of the state are currently bravely attempting to preserve the US Constitution which for getting on two centuries has been a shining a star around the world for many an idealist yearning for a just, fair and equal, open society in which to pursue the complexities of living a life on earth.

The five hundred years of the Roman Republic, another guiding light for many an idealist, fell when Roman senators forgot the essential principles of their own founders as their state gained territory along with slaves who knew how to build and farm, producing unbelievable wealth for the chosen few who slowly lost the enthusiasms of innocence. According to some, Caesar already had political ambitions before he crossed the Rubicon River, which is little more than a shallow fifty miles, was reluctant to assume power, but the Roman Senate was divided to the point of incompetent impasse, some senators were encouraging him to just go ahead and he kind of felt that it was his duty to preserve the integrity of Roman Rule over the vast wealth from so large an area of secured land which at the end of the Roman Republic was over a million square miles. The Roman Empire, for its part, became even larger until it split apart.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Price of Dignity

The whole thing is both fascinating and incredibly depressing, as well as tragic. Yet as one who spent a majority of his formative years in the murky waters of girl free boarding schools for boys my comrades and I learned a thing or two about getting into trouble, which is why with some confidence I can offer pointers to boys who might find themselves in trouble. Imperative to survival is the understanding that just because you don't think this or that activity or behavior is wrong doesn't mean you're right. Think otherwise, and you're pretty much being laughed at by Pontius Pilate, in which case history may or probably not, remember you fondly.  At the same time constantly saying how sorry you are for this or that activity or behavior is just wimpy, gives you a poor reputation as an entirely icky and pathetic human being who'll probably end up in a peaceful monastery or aggressive bible thumping on a street corner or selling exercise equipment.

Nor does it make any sense at all to claim that everyone does it, it gets you nowhere much beyond presenting yourself and your comrades with a splendid opportunity to be turned into exemplars of the consequences of poor behavior, dire consequences ensue as the great and the good, all of them guilty of something, gang up on you to unsully their reputations of your appalling and outrageous accusations. Avoid lying, it enables you to comfortably admit to the lesser crime, reduces your punishment and permits you to keep your dignity. Lie and it just goes on endlessly. Mind you, in my formative years the functionally unstable were as a rule fairly easily identified, they did a lot of sniveling, they whined constantly, everything was unfair, they were a pain in the neck to be around, they complained about their food at meal times, and the only reason to have anything to do with them was they usually had pocket money and would pay you to write a B minus essay for them, then pay you even more to keep quiet about their finest hour.