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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Jesus Likeness

Remind me, the next time I see that intriguing and relentless Jehovah's Witnesses lady who decided some time ago that nothing will do but that I must not waste a minute more in joining their ranks so that, after having been around for just a few months short now of eight decades, I can finally be sufficiently educated, most likely by her, the large-eyed mother of three grown sons, with her ever-present little textbook, the Bible, in her cute little hand, to ask her why every picture of Jesus Christ that they show in their literature has him looking like a certified Nordic Euro -- an Englishman, an Irishman, or maybe a Norwegian -- instead of somebody from the Middle East, a small section of which, if we are to believe the accounts, the Son of God never left. Judging by the people there now, and who have never left throughout the ages, I strongly suspect that the real Jesus looked a lot more like Yasser Arafat than he did somebody like Brad Pitt or Colin Firth. Yet, in all their other illustrations, the Witnesses go to great lengths to emphasize that their religion takes in people of all hues and ethnic origins.

I don't get it.

On the other hand, I will probably continue to keep mum to the endlessly devout and devoted L. about this matter, as I already have about quite a few other issues. It would be different if she was alone, but the Witnesses have it all figured out in always appearing at least in pairs and sometimes in a small gang. They learned from the first, I guess, that protection is always needed, and against impertinent and potentially embarrassing questions more than because of anything else. This is even though I believe that L. is completely prepared for questions of any kind. After all, she usually carries around all the answers. They've been written.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On Your Own

A few hours after I posted my recent entry about state spending on mental health care, mostly with regard to Texas, I got to thinking that I might have added one of my all-time favorite quotes, from the monolog with which the late, great character actor, M. Emmet Walsh, opens the  Coen Brothers film, "Blood Simple."   Off the top of my head it goes:

"In Russia people stick together and help each other.   That's the idea anyway.  But what I know is Texas, and in Texas you're on your own."

This seems to give a rationale, then, for spending so little on mental health care in the Lone Star state.   It's the nature of things there.   But then I got to asking myself, how far is that from the way I feel about things?   And I realized that it's not  far, which is maybe why that Walsh line always resonates so strongly.

Isn't that one of the main reasons why I moved myself and my family from the city to the country so many years ago?   As much as anything, I wanted to be strictly on my own.   I wanted to live in a house that I had designed and built with my own two hands (and some big C-clamps), and I did that.   I wanted to be my own fuel company, and until this year I was.   I wanted to be my own water company, and I did that.   I wanted to be my own electric company, but I could not get myself together enough to do that.  I wanted to be my own grocery but found it surprising how many little things kept getting in the way of that.  And I dreamed of conducting myself so that I would never need health care outside of my own devices.  I wanted to believe that that was possible.

But the truth is that the longer you keep on living, the less possible that becomes, and the chances are that sooner or later you have to ask for help, like going to a hospital.  Thus, when I developed a hernia six or seven years ago, taking care of it at home, largely by ignoring it, my favorite method of self-treatment, was not an option, because the growing bulge of a section of one's intestines as it tries to push right through the abdominal wall is way too visible for comfort, and it is even life-threatening.

Shelter, fuel, water, food, and all those other things are one thing, but a person's health is so crucial that it always has the last word, and in today's world keeping it in commission can get very expensive and complicated, including quickly jumping beyond the ordinary person's means.

That's why it's wrong to cut aid to treat for aberrations of the mind, which is a health condition as dire as situations involving the heart, the lungs, the liver, and any other organ, maybe even more so because often it involves the well-being of other people.    And meanwhile government is not a venue for small-minded people to set their biases into action, in regard to any kind of health care.   But people don't take that in consideration nearly enough, as long as they themselves are healthy.

And that is also why Texas, for one, is running the real risk of being seen, sooner or later, as being a state full of crazy people.

Sad at the BBC

As a certain day approaches, things are getting so bad at BBC News that it is getting almost unreadable.   They are going bonkers over the imminent uniting in matrimony of a couple of people whose names, William and Kate, after weeks of a slow, steady build-up to this imminent point, still have never rung any bells for anything remarkable.   But I guess the BBC has to go along with something as trifling as this, for fear of being branded by the monarchists and neo-imperialists as being anti-English and maybe even being escorted in chains to a long stay on a diet of chips and water in the London Tower.

Cash-Eating Termites in India

The BBC reports a couple of cases in India where termites in something called "strongrooms" have eaten through enough paper money to bring real tears.   Are things done so much on the humble even in banks in India that some money is not stored in metal vaults?   The article doesn't say, helpfully.

Can you believe that the highly underrated American poet, Stephen Vincent Benet, foresaw this exact situation back in the 1930's, in his poem, "Metropolitan Nightmare."   Its last lines are:

"Oh, they've quit eating wood," he said in a casual voice.
I thought everybody knew that."  And, reaching down,
he pried from the insect jaws the bright crumb of steel.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spending for Mental Health Care

While reading an article in the Houston Chronicle on how a LaNina last fall is the cause of the long-lasting drought and the resulting epidemic of wild fires that is now causing big problems for Texans, my eye was caught by one of those links of a kind that are so popular because they read from a headline that is cut short at just the right place where you are forced to hit the link or forgo ever knowing what kind of important thing you might've learned.   This link read, "Texas jails fear influx of--"   But influx of what?   It is well known that Texas not only has a lot of jails but also they are thought to be some especially fearsome places even for jails in general. 

It turned out that the Texas jails fear being inundated by people who have mental problems, due to the latest round of cuts by the state legislature in state-funded health care in places outside the jails, and so, having no other place to go for treatment, those so afflicted wind up in a jail.  The headline reads as if this is something that has not yet happened, when in reality it already is happening, and has been for quite a long time, and not only in Texas.

This happens when government budgets get tight and the legislators don't raise taxes because that would hurt their reelection chances, a consideration that donald trumps everything else, and so instead of doing what is so necessary  for maintaining a decent civilization, they go for the indecent choices, and they start seeing who they can chop into with the most impunity.   The first place they look with their knives is anything to do with the arts, followed closely by others who most likely didn't vote for them.   Included are the mentally ill.   Those people don't have too much of a lobby, and they're not likely to protest, so urgent are their troubles.

A Texas official gave a great analogy to this mental health care situation, by likening it to a car owner who, thinking that oil has gotten too expensive, starts putting little or none of it in his car engine, and then a little later he wonders what happened when the crankshaft or something breaks and he has to spend thousands of dollars getting his engine repaired.

I remember that in my home town, D.C., this process started happening 30 or 40 years ago, when the use of mental institutions began to be phased out.  How completely this was done I don't know, but the press reported that the care of the mentally ill became mainly the responsibility of the D.C. Jail and other places of incarceration.

The chief of those institutions closed down, St. Elizabeth's, was known locally as the "crazy house," and, much to my puzzlement, it was a source of great entertainment.   During my childhood I heard people talk of how they had spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon peering through the fences and laughing at the antics of the patients held within.  I never saw any of this and still don't even know exactly where St. Elizabeth is or was, except that it was somewhere in the far Southeast, a part of town where I rarely ventured.

The Houston article said that Texas was near the bottom of the states in per capital spending on mental health care.   But just paragraphs later it said that Texas is 49th in the country on that spending.   But I would say that any time there is only one state farther down on a big pole than you are, you are not near, you are at the bottom, period.

Wondering who was lower than Texas on that list, though I had a good idea of the usual suspects, I did a google on this spending.   According to the first site that Google offered, based on info supplied by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute, Texas is actually at the bottom all by itself, by spending only $36 per capita on mental health care.   The states closest to it and spending less than $50 are Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Idaho. 

But there are a couple of surprises.  Arizona, which has otherwise been trying so hard lately to think like the Deep South of old, is, by shelling out $173, one of the more advanced states in this matter, and another surprise is that North Carolina with $198 is far ahead of its former mates in the Confederacy.
Also guess what?   The town where I am from, D.C., spends more money on mental health care than any other place in the country, a cool $381.   The U.S. average is $121.

I suppose that anyone can come up with good reasons for that D.C. figure, including some based on aspects of yours truly.   But the explanation that seems most logical to me is that it is the place to which the rest of the U.S. funnels and dumps for  stays of various amounts of time their most mentally disturbed and disturbing citizens.

Check out the U.S. Capitol building, for instance, which contains the pit-fighting arenas of close to 700 of these denizens.  That still is another popular place of some questionable "entertainment," inside of which I also don't think I ever set foot, though on the clear days you couldn't miss seeing it from the outside.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

People who Live on Little Islands

It's a peculiar thing to look back now and realize that out of all the interesting foreign countries in the world, including even one or two in Africa, I should have chosen to devote by far the lion's share of my attention to just one, Japan, a very difficult place to understand that couldn't be more distant, especially in the matter of ancestral ties.   On the face of it this looks like a huge omission that I should be trying hard to rectify, but somehow that is turning out to be a matter of the lowest urgency.

Yet what is a foreign country?    I have driven over a great deal of the geography of Canada, but only that, and otherwise I have spent little to no time in any of its communities, large or small.  But because of political and social considerations Canada has never struck me as being a foreign country anyway.    On the other hand, though I was born, raised, educated, and all the other stuff here and have been quite happy to seldom venture outside its borders, and though I have spent widely varying amounts of time in all but six of its 50 states, large parts of the U.S. itself are still essentially a foreign country to me.

But to get back to the Japanese, they have always struck me as being some eminently sensible people.   All that I know and have seen of them, including three short stays there, have convinced me of that.   Yet, it's been so strange to see how capable they are, now and then, of going completely off their rockers -- and staying there come hell or high water.  I can cite three glaring examples.

The first and most obvious was the series of December 1941 attacks on places where the U.S. had a lot of troops and ships and what-not, especially at Pearl Harbor.   Even a lot of the Japanese at that time knew that that move was bound to work out badly, to put it mildly, and in not that long a time either.  The Japanese, on their four little main islands, didn't have nearly the resources to compete with the U.S. in any way, except in the willingness to throw away the lives of their young men, who had, with the samurai heritage, been more thoroughly brainwashed than the usual run of young men who are traditionally used and used up in warfare.

Another such folly is the Japanese willingness to empty the world's oceans of fish and everything else edible or otherwise useful in the seas.   In every campaign you see that shows how, one after another, the stocks of fish are growing short and need to be protected, the Japanese are usually in the forefront of resisting these efforts, though you would think they would see keeping the sea stocks in good health as being to their own best interests.

A third instance is being highlighted now, by the difficulties of the nuclear power plant reactors at Fukushima, which were badly damaged by the recent big earthquake and even more by the ensuring tsunami.   That situation is still cooking badly and not yet resolved.

When, years ago, I heard of how the Japanese were building a large number of nuclear power plants, I wondered whether they had it all figured out.   During the crisis at Three Mile Island, in 1979 in Pennsylvania, we were told that a meltdown at a nuclear power plant could result in an area the size of Pennsylvania being rendered basically uninhabitable for a great many years.   The U.S. is a big place, but even there such a loss would be a devastating blow.   How much worse it would be in a small place like Japan.   Yet, no matter how much people trying to make a lot of money would claim otherwise, certain laws of happenstance can't ever be avoided.   And sure enough, just a few years after Three Mile, something even worse happened at Chernobyl, and now it's unfolding at Fukushima, where the reactors were even placed right on the sea coast where the tsunamis could get at them most easily.

I guess the Japanese felt that they had no choice, and it was just a gamble that they had to take, if they were going to have energy enabling them to carry on their world class economy, just as they probably think it's all right to chop the fish and whales right down to near extinction, because the stocks can always be brought back even though it takes time, and just as they might have bought into the myth of the invincibility of their army, which had fought off such mighty forces as the would-be Mongol invaders and later the Russian empire.

But I think the Clint Eastwood character, at the end of the film Magnum Force, put his finger on something important when he said, "A man should always know his limitations."   It looks as if similarly people who live on little islands should know theirs.   Even the British eventually learned that, though at this late date they still like to act as if they never have.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bad Talking, All for Naught

Last night I kept waking up from a series of inter-related bad, bizarre dreams, causing me to have a bad morning that was climaxed when the real nightmare actually happened -- I dropped and broke a large, intricately-shaped piece of beautiful purple stained glass meant to be a petal for my "Iris Window," that had taken me a good long while to cut and grind till it fit just right.

The reason for all this is that for the last two weeks I've been struggling against a cold featuring a lot of sniffling and coughing.   So I had taken a couple of swigs of a cherry-flavored cough medicine called "Nighttime."   This helped with the coughing and all and also with my sleep, but as regards the latter, I think the effects went too far and therefore the nightmares.

Then, just a few minutes ago I was taking yet another nap when I had a dream that was quite different.

I was in some building built of both my high school and my college, except that it was really huge and I was trying to find my way out of it but couldn't because there were too many things going on in it.   Sometimes it was a barracks, sometimes it was a jail, sometimes it was a hospital, sometimes it was the Library of Congress. 

Finally I found a big room in which people were rehearsing a Christmas play, and just off of it was a smaller room in which I saw two guys sitting in the midst of some clutter, looking suspiciously as if they were engaged in a game of chess, and even using a chess clock!

I rolled over there and with the most supercilious look and tone I could muster, especially after the dismissive way they looked up at me, I said, "What are you guys doing?"

"What does it look like we're doing?" one answered.

"Looks like chess," I said, "though I can tell you don't know what you're doing."

I sat down while fully aware that all their attention had switched from the board to me.

I couldn't make out the position on the board because they were playing with a set of men that appeared to be a badly mismatched set of Christmas candles.

"Nice men," I said.   "Not the kind chess players use, but they look nice."   Actually I thought those chessmen were hideous.

Suddenly one guy jumped up and ran off as fast he could.

"I'll bet he won't be able to find a real set of chess men anywhere in this building," I told the second guy.   And then that guy, too, jumped up and ran off even faster.

And then, even though there was a third guy there who would have made an excellent gallery because he just knew that I was about to be punished badly for my impudence, I woke up, grinning to beat the band over all the "bad talking" of my long ago youth that I had done.

A second later it came to me, and I wanted to hit myself in the unconscious.

Drat!   I had wanted that dream to keep going, for a change!   But now, I lamented, those guys will come back with a nice set of Staunton style men, and I won't be there to see just what they knew about the game, especially if they didn't insist on playing speed chess.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Ol' Massuh in the Jet Age?

In a very interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post, titled "Five Myths About Why the South Seceded," a sociologist named James Loewen makes good cases about some commonly heard reasons about why the South seceded.   At least he does in the first four of the five he explores.

All the same, I don't understand how there can still be much mystification about why it happened.  I don't think it was any mystery to any American in 1860 or that it has ever been to any competent historian of the Civil War, say, one on the order of Bruce Catton (check out the first chapters in "The Coming Fury," the first of the trilogy of histories he wrote for the centennial of the Civil War), unless they have some sort of propagandist ax to grind, especially the ever-active one of giving the South's motivations more respectability in this later era than they ever actually had, except in their own minds.

The Confederate states seceded because, 80 years after the ringing pronouncements about freedom and liberty in the Declaration of Independence, too many people in the North were starting to get their backs up about the wisdom of having a large part of the country still clinging so tightly to such a cruel institution as slavery, and especially in a changing world.   The Southern planters and political heads resented that kind of thinking and the attacks it implied on their "good thing," and when they saw that they weren't going to continue to get their way on not only continuing but even expanding slavery, they decided to pick up all their marbles and swoop, and thereby teach the North a lesson.

That's the whole answer to why those states seceded, in a nutshell.   Nothing difficult to understand there.

Loewen does a good job of disposing of the first four of what he calls "myths" about the matter.  But then he falls flat on his face when it comes to the fifth and last, titled "The South couldn't have made it long as a slave society."

This opens the always very interesting question of what kind of country the Confederacy would have been if they had been allowed to go their merry way with a system based solely on gross injustice, and in trying to demolish that final myth as well as he had done with the others, Loewens says:

To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure.

"Difficult to accept"?   Is it?  "For the foreseeable future," all the way into the mid 20th century?   Did I read that right?    Or is this man as little acquainted as the slaveowners were with the well-established dictum that the future is already here?

Is he saying that, had the secession succeeded, 90 years later, in the U.S.'s  southern neighbor -- not Mexico but the Confederacy -- the plantation moguls, who of course would still be running everything in the Grand Old South, would still be buying, selling, and inflicting every sort of mistreatment and pain on darker-skinned human beings that the human mind has ever conceived?  In the mid 20th century, with the ages of radio and flying machines already old hat and with the atomic and television ages heating up, and the computer age almost at hand, were the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy still going to hold regular slave auctions in downtown Richmond, Memphis, and New Orleans, right next to all the fast food eateries?

Though the defeat of the South in the Civil War was a ringing victory of Good over sheer Evil, and an absolute necessity in not letting humankind be any worse than it already was, sometimes I wish the South had been able to make good its split-off anyway -- though in a parallel universe, never in this one.   Besides the obvious good it would've done for the current character of the United States, by making the country more like Canada and a lot less like Oklahoma, I would also have liked to have seen just what those Confederate misconceives thought they could do to slow down the world so that they could finish pissing and pooping on themselves and on everybody else around -- a world  that in any case would have kept speeding up exponentially and left them as little better than a sort of yellow-colonnaded, tobacco-stained wasteland, with only like minds in distant places with names like Bibi, Avi, and Zipi in a mood to share their moonshine, distilled in lead.

Friday, April 08, 2011

An Anti-Obama Something

The lengths to which some people will bend over backwards to find something, anything, with which to attack President Obama means that when he finishes his terms, this nation is going to find itself with a lot of people displaying some very peculiarly distorted spinal columns.  I mean no one is supposed to go around with the back of his head a foot or two closer to the ground than his belly button.

A recent instance of this is a news item that was published online by a shaky-looking outfit called "Press TV," which I must've happened across on Google News, which is itself not the most perceptive and balanced site when it comes to showing reputable news sources.   The item was written by someone who claimed to have been told by some "African-American activists" that Obama has lost his African-American fan base by having launched "the U.S.'s first military attack on an African country," meaning Libya.

This is all total poppycock, on a whole bunch of counts.

First, where was the poll or other evidence that said that?

Secondly, Obama and the U.S. didn't launch that attack.  N.A.T.O. did, with full U.N. permission, and they're still following it up, though Obama has lessened the U.S. role a notch or two..

But even without all that, I would say that Libya will rarely jump into the minds of Rainbows when one speaks of "African countries" or a "mother country."   Geographically it is in North Africa but Africa is widely and actually catastrophically split in two by the Sahara Desert, and the strip of countries north of there are all in the Arab world and therefore are lumped in much more with the places in the Middle East, while it is the countries south of the Sahara that are mainly what one thinks of when "Africa" is mentioned.

Few and I would even say no Rainbow or so-called "black" American had ancestors that in the slave days came from Libya or anywhere else on that northern or what used to be called the "Barbary Coast."   In fact, they didn't even come from the same side of Africa as Obama's paternal ancestry, the eastern territories bordered by the Indian Ocean.   Instead they all came by the shortest route by far, the same one used by so many of the hurricanes that we get, from places on the West African coast, like Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, the Cameroons, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and the rest.  Therefore Obama's fan base is very unlikely to relate to Libya as a place of origin or for any other reason.

Furthermore that fan base ought to be given credit for knowing that Gaddafi has not only been around for way too long but also he has long been known to have a whole warehouse full of screws loose, and the truth is that he would never be missed

It shows the general anti-Obama conservative ignorance to say that this is the first time the U.S. has drawn a bead on an African country.   It hasn't been too long ago that the U.S. landed troops on Somalia, killed thousands of people there but lost 18 of their own in one day and promptly washed their hands clean of the whole business and left.   And this isn't even the first time that the U.S., all on its own, has hit Gaddafi and Libya where it hurts.   Don't I remember that R. Reagan sent some aircraft over that bombed one of Gaddafi's private dwellings and killed his little daughter?

Yes, I believe I do.

Actually, I would even go so far as to say that, despite so many of the prayers in the opposite direction, Obama's fan base is still in so much of a state of pure ecstasy and amazement that he not only won that election but also that so far he hasn't been shot by someone inspired by the legion of Tea Party harridans, he wouldn't lose much of that base even if for some reason he were to unleash a couple of Tomahawks on 125th Street, in uptown New York City.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Wealth of the Indies

When I was a teenager in the 1940's and making an end run around the limits put by Jim Crow on my getting a high school education, by going to school in Washington D.C. though I lived in Maryland, I spent a lot of time while waiting for a streetcar in front of Union Station looking up at that building's handsome white marble facade.   There was a lot of stuff up there to see, though, because I had no idea that years later I might want to mention it on the Internet, I only remember one feature there clearly.   It was an inscription that contained the very meaty words, "To gain the wealth of the Indies, one must take the wealth of the Indies with him."

In her book on the American Revolution, "The First Salute," Barbara Tuchman tells us of how, as soon as a small fleet of Spanish boats admiraled by an Italian named Columbus stumbled across the islands of the Caribbean, a bunch of inveterate Greedy Gusses from Spain and other European lands spent the centuries afterward racing around and claiming as many of those tropical islands as they could, to the point where a good guard had to be left on whatever was claimed, because if one didn't, as soon as the hurricane season was over, boats, especially those of the English and the French, would happen by and if they saw they could get away with it, the occupants would run up on the beach, plant their flag, claim it for King, Queen, and Country. truck over some slaves from Africa, and start growing there the great cash crop of the times, sugar.  (Ganja must've been a later invention.)  Some of those islands changed hands many times, as a result.

During the American Revolution,  in which the French allied themselves with the Americans, much to the disgust of the British, the English and the French held a truce, in which they divvied up a lot of territory that they had claimed in the New World.   The French gave the British the last rights that they saw themselves as having in Canada, in exchange for the ownership of a bunch of the Caribbean islands.

Tuchman tells us that the British public was outraged.  What!   Their negotiators had given away a chunk of the West Indies, and for what?    A big stretch of cold empty tundra up in Godforsaken Canada, and all to help protect those damnable, impertinent American colonies?   Unspeakable!

To us this might sound instead like a very cagey deal on the part of the English.  I know it does to me.  Though I've never been to the West Indies, I know good and well that there is nothing in the Caribbean that even approaches the splendor of any part of the Canadian Rockies, where I have been.

So what was the appeal of the West Indies to the British of the 1700's?   It certainly wasn't what it is now.   They weren't thinking of going there to dance, sing, swim, fish, drink, swyve, sunbathe, ogle, cavort, get drunk, sunbathe, gorge, imbibe, scubadive, get wasted, and all the other good stuff that the Indies are best known for today.  Even the famously straight-laced Victorian Age hadn't gotten here yet.  Instead they called the Indies the "Sugar Islands," because it was such a great place to make money hand over fist presiding over sugarcane, especially if you had slaves to do all the hard, dirty work. 

Isn't it interesting, the arrogance of colonialism.  Every schoolboy of my age who ever looked at maps or the globe can remember marveling at how of the Earth was colored largely pink, the map color of the numerous British "possessions" of that time, just before the Second World War.   And having noted how small the British Isles themselves were in comparison, I kept wondering how that could be.   I knew it couldn't last and that that game would be shown up for what it was soon enough.   The people in all those huge lands couldn't possibly be all that much that out of it, I thought.

This is why my favorite beginning of a computer game is the one in "Giants."   It shows two Brits riding in a high-speed plane over unexplored territory on some distant planet.  When about to parachute down, one, a man named Paz, gets his hand caught in the exit door and has to call loudly for help.   Finally the pilot hears and pushes a button.   Paz goes into a long unscheduled free fall toward the land below.   Miraculously he's not hurt but he is totally enraged, and he shakes his fist up at the disappearing plane while screaming at the top of his voice, "YOU BLOODY BASTARD!"

  But then his typical English aplomb asserts itself, and Paz grabs a small Union Jack from his backpack and triumphantly thrusts its staff into the sand.   But while he is looking around to see just what he has claimed for Queen and Country, a big pterodactyl-type bird swoops by, snatches up the flag in its beak, and happily flies away with it.

This always puts me in a good mood for playing that game.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Small Observation on a Finally Really Warm Day

I do some of my best -- that is, the most nagging -- work when I am supposed to be doing something else.  

Today I hope to do some long delayed work on cleaning the chimneys of the heating stove and also of the cookstove in the house.  But I am coming down -- or up as the case may be -- from a cold that has kept me low on energy for the last few days.  

Still it is a great day to be doing stuff outside.   Spring is the funnest season anyway.   Watching to see how much of all the stuff we've planted here over the years is going to come up again.   Every day a new development, and we are hardly ever disappointed.

I am especially getting off on the bearded irises that I've been transplanting from the ground into the ordinary black plastic  pots.   A few years ago a real explosion in the vole population nearly wiped me out of the irises that I had been accumulating so carefully, and at some expense.   I figured that putting them in 3-gallon pots was the only answer, and it's been working out great.   Naturally I'm not nearly finished with it.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Schemes for White Elephants? -- Aerotropoli

In place of having airports to accommodate cities, plans are being made for having cities to shape themselves instead around gigantic airports of the future called aerotropoli.   This is based on such projections as having 12 billion people riding planes in 2031.   Every year, every month, every week, or even every day?   The video report on BBC's Fast Track doesn't say.

I don't get this at all.   What about the fuel for the planes?   I thought the oil was supposed to start getting short for airliners before the 20 years spoken of here are even up.

But the report is also careful never to speak of oil.

The plan, the projections, the schemes must be the thing, and the jobs that creating those behemoths will furnish -- for a short while.   But just because something is built at great expense doesn't mean that it will ever have to be used for its stated purpose.

The Great Pyramids are long-lasting testaments to that.

But don't mind me.   I haven't ridden on a plane for almost 10 years, and am hoping very much that I never will again.   It's not at all that I'm afraid, of either the possibilities of terror or those of some plane malfunction.  Instead it's all the suspicion, the security stuff.

I only took that quick trip to San Francisco and back in the fall of 2001 because personal circumstances absolutely demanded it.   Otherwise I would never have gone.  Not then anyway.

It was only weeks after 9/11, and my wife and I experienced directly the first demeaning that the response to 9/11 brought to air travel, and all I hear indicates that if anything, the rigors of the security checks have only increased, and the report doesn't make it sound as if that will be any better in the monster airports of tomorrow either.   I didn't think that taking off my shoes and having my luggage very closely checked at "random," and all the rest of it made my time sitting thousands of feet up in the air any safer then, and I'm equally sure that it wouldn't now.

If people want to know what real terror is, albeit at a generally lower level, though for a lifetime, they ought to try being a Rainbow man in this country and actually in most other places in the world as well.  Not just any such person, though.   A thinking one instead.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Inaccessible in Turkey

It is with some remorse that I report that everybody in the mystery-ridden country of Turkey is barred from enjoying the exquisite pleasure of reading this, my weblog.

I didn't do anything to earn this crusher.   Are you disappointed?  Or have you learned long ago that I never do anything to earn much of anything.

I found out about this when Angry Arab said a couple of days ago that one of his readers had told him that his blog is banned in Turkey.    But now he's been informed that he wasn't banned.   It's just that his site is inaccessible in Turkey, and so are all the other sites that use Blogger with the blogspot address, which includes me and probably a great many of you.   It's the fault of some lawsuit that involves copyright infringement.

Angry Arab is probably just as put out as he can be -- not because his site is inaccessible in Turkey or anywhere else, but because he wasn't singled out for banning after all.  He would think that the notoriety that he has worked so long and hard to achieve deserved much better than for him to be simply lumped in with a large bunch of Internet riffraff.

And speaking of me....

I'm aware of how the Internet is all over.   Yet the world keeps growing larger because every day I keep being reminded of how much more of it keeps receding from being within normal walking distance.   And this matter leads me to wonder if anybody in China, or in Israel for that matter, has ever caught even just a fleeting glimpse of these, my ravings.

Just wondering.