Sunday, November 12, 2017

Squid Logic

It doesn’t seem to occur to most people that evolution is a process of life, so that so long as something is alive, it will evolve. Some animals evolved slowly compared to others, like the squid, because there has not been the sort of changes in the environment of the squid which caused the form of the squid to change. They lost their long spiral shell in some cases. We have no way to know what in their minds have evolved. Consider this: IF the mind is a product of the brain/body, AND the brain/body changes over time (evolves), THEN the mind will evolve over time. If there is more radiation coming through the layers of gas which encircle the globe, some animals may darken their skins to avoid cancers. Some may start to live in other environs. Some may simply die off.  But dying off is a sort of change.
If, on the other hand, the mind is not a product of the brain/body, but is a separate field of energy connected with the body through the brain, then as the body changes over time, the connection will also be changed and so the mind will apparently change. A metaphor for this might be the communication systems we humans use. We could call to one another and in some cases we can make that call reach out fairly great distances. We cannot, however, pack much information into the sorts of calls which do this. So, we can use a telephone, and the old “licorice stick” enabled us to speak to another person to convey fairly complex ideas, although it would, from time to time, drop the call. Then we have the ubiquitous cell phone. Small enough to slip into a pocket or strap to your wrist, and powerful enough to have served nicely as the brains of a university of the 1960’s. This device allows you to speak to someone, and while speaking to them you might be showing them something, or sending them a document. As societal needs change the device has also changed, and previous versions do not always vanish but they might change their uses. A clunky old television might be the display for a modern fast moving video game.  A blacksmith becomes a sword maker for people who like to wear costumes from the Middle Ages. Things change over time. People are things. Therefor people change over time.
Change is not linear by virtue of being different. A ball will roll east until the base changes and then it might roll west, but there is no reason that five changes down the line it will not be rolling east again. If a society changes from a monarchy to a democratic republic it might change into a personality cult evolving into a dictatorship, and from that to a socialist republic, a military dictatorship, or even a democracy is possible, all of which are determined not so much by what has been, but what is right now. There is no reason why a society based on intolerance and violence should abandon those virtues even if they are redefined into their opposites, as in “intolerance” becomes “protectionism, nationalism, patriotism” and “violence” becomes “defense”, so that the Department of War can be renamed the Department of Defense, even though it has never defended the nation, only attacked other nations. These attacks are always explained by changing the terms, evolving the message.
When we are told by our parent that we may not stay up late and watch a bloody monster movie, we ask “why?” and we are told, “Because...”, which begs the question to be repeated: “why?” and to which we are given the Final Answer: “Because I say so.” and the matter is closed, assuming we are smart enough. Some things are just Given. We are the way we are because, just because.
Having shed their mouths for beaks and increased the extent of their feathery covering, the animals who lived happily in the Jurassic Period continue to live here and now as happy as an animal can be whose domain is changing more rapidly than it can. Some of them have been changed by People, and we will likely continue to keep their forms until we can build a machine to produce something equivalent to their flesh to provide protein for our own bodies. We like fried chicken, and if we have to make the meat look like chicken when it comes out of the machine, then we will. Otherwise we will evolve to confess that we enjoy “fried chicken” and have no interest in it’s origins. In our own past we ate a great number of birds and fish and our floors were littered with these bones. Some of us learned to make whistles from bird bones and we would call out to the birds in their own language. When they came to investigate, we killed them and ate them. We learned a new way to lie. Calling in victims to kill them is very common nowadays, whistles are blowing constantly and people are leaping up and flying into the nets.
Squids kill whales. Whales have speech, size, experience, and still fall prey to 8 arms and a large beak. We find sores on whales showing how they fought back and won the battle against a squid. Some whales eat squid, and we empty their stomachs to find hundreds of 8 armed bodies. This relationship has been going on unchanged since before the meteor took out the last of the dinosaurs.
There is no reason to change that which works. There is no reason to retain that which no longer works. When a system no longer fits the situation, it must change in order to be retained. Lizards become snakes, large land animals become whales, and apes become human.
Change over time is what evolution means, and all living things change over time. To understand this, you need first to understand the limits of the time period involved. In the last one million years whales have been swimming along, singing and raising their young, but if we take in several million years we see that the animals on the shore who look like hippos are spending more time in the water to avoid predators than they spend out on land. To be able to swim better and faster they change over time the shape of their tail, they lose their arms and legs and develop a taste for plankton. The reason to change was to survive. When the meteor struck and the earth was shrouded in mist and smoke for months, the hippo-whales were under the waters eating plankton. They changed as the oceans changed, but for them the changes were minor. They got bigger, some grew longer teeth and began to eat bigger prey. On the surface of the earth small mammals become large mammals and little apes become larger, spear chucking predators. In time they throw their spears from boats to kill whales who dive to the bottom and come up when it is safe or their air is exhausted. The men wait in boats while the whales suddenly surge upwards from the waters, tossing men and boats into the air. As whales learned to eat squid, so whales have learned to attack men in boats. Meanwhile, on land, men in cars and trains are changing the living atmosphere of the planet to a form which will kill most of the life on the planet. Man is the only animal capable of such destruction. Take away man’s technology, leaving them with simple tools such as most animals use, and man becomes another ape, smaller than some and incapable of climbing trees using a tail. Monkeys have tails, apes have not.
Now apes in the form of man have traveled to the moon and left garbage and bags of feces. Those feces are riddled with life, bacteria and such. Left in the cold vacuum of the lunar landscape these life forms must either evolve or die. In time we may see the moon’s surface change color as bacteria adapt to almost no air, starkly cold and with no organic materials to consume. Our moon might change to red as the bacteria adapt to use silica rather than carbon, or some other unique adaptation. When we went to the moon and decided to leave our shit behind we assumed that nothing could live there, as we certainly could not. But one celled bacteria have different needs than humans, so there is really no logical reason to assume those bags of shit could not expand and populate the moon. It simply has not happened yet in our experiences, and that is because we did not have the capacity to travel to the moon. There is talk of firing our radioactive waste into the sun, because we assume such small amounts will have no impact. Yet history tells us how often we assume something to be true which is patently not. So we could cause the star which gives us life to change and that change could be unfriendly to our form of life, in which case things will change. Small additions can trigger large changes. A small spark can trigger a hydrogen bomb, which itself is a small spark when compared to the sun.
When man had hair all over its body and there were no cities or houses, as equals in a world of equals we changed very little over millions of years. We lost some hair and got slightly larger, probably from changing our diet to include more meat. Now as different apes we have little hair so we make clothes, we have no claws nor fangs, so we pick up sticks and throw stones. We build homes and live among groups of humans. We tell ourselves stories, like the whales, and lull ourselves into complacency in the quite mistaken belief that we are essentially different from the other apes and animals, somehow smarter, better and slated for success. This works in our present climate, but when the ice melts and the oceans rise we will have obvious evidence of our capacity for massive stupidity and a complete lack of understanding of the basic truths about life. What we have experienced in our own short lifetimes is believed to be the pattern from antiquity forwards into the foreseeable future. This is an error in logic. It assumes that which is not proven. Consider:
Bacteria are the dominant species on the planet. They have occupied the planet since the beginning of time and have evolved complex mechanisms to support their civilization.  Over many generations the bacteria developed colonies containing billions of their kind, each adapted to their special duties. These colonies are mobile in order to seek more energy supplies and raw materials to maintain the colony. When two similar colonies meet they may briefly merge and one will develop a smaller colony which will grow in size until it must break away from the mother colony. Bacteria live in a state of conflict as other tribes of bacteria direct their colony to an assault on weaker colonies. The interesting thing to consider here is that these colonies have primitive self awareness and believe themselves to be sentient beings, not complex colonies of sentient beings. Since this mistaken understanding of the situation does no great harm normally to the bacteria, they allow it while they go about their business, growing and distributing chemicals and material around the colony. Occasionally the colony will “go bad” or become ill, and the bacteria may rampage the colony, destroying by changing the environment to that which is not conducive to bacterial life. Ambient conditions change and to this end bacteria must change or die. In most cases the colony will recover balance and the bacteria will continue, but eventually all colonies break up and disband, distributing the individual members throughout the immediate environment. Eventually some may find their way into a new colony and live there.
We, humans, like to think of ourselves as being unique and separate from the rest of the universe, as if there were an impenetrable barrier between ourselves and the universe. In actuality the best we have is a lacy substance which covers our colony: skin. Full of holes, pores and tears, our skin is not a barrier so much as a first stop. If we look deeper at the molecular level we see vast regions of empty space with the occasional flicker of substance in the form of atomic particles. Mostly we are fields of energy like much of what surrounds us. Life, therefore, is energy, and energy changes over time. The universe was once, we are told, a field of plasma and super charged electrons, quarks and bosons. It still is, but now it is colder and much of the energy has slowed down enough to quantum down into “matter”. We are some of this matter.
If I toss a rock into a pool of water a series of ripples will expand out in 3 dimensions, 4 dimensions and maybe even 5 or more. Actions have consequences. If I toss a piece of matter into a universe of energy small ripples of multi-dimensional energy move out into the universes. Existence has consequences. When waves of energy meet, they combine their amplitudes and energy begets energy. When matter meets matter in a full on impact some of the matter returns to energy and some of the matter changes form. When the energy that is a nation meets another nation’s energy, forms change and energy is converted. Consequences have consequences.
The whale was once a water rat big as a house. With few predators whales were able to swim out and around and tell their stories through thousands of miles of water. As it swam deeper the whales began to meet form unchanged through time: squid. The battle for supremacy of the deep waters has been going on for millions of years, and the squids have remained unchanged while the whales grew bigger, meaner or swam even further away. And while all this was going on, what were the plankton thinking?
For millions of years they have been taking in sunlight and exhaling oxygen, changing the atmosphere into something certain bacteria cannot abide. Now whales scoop them up by the billions, converting them into whale meat which attracts the squid and eventually mankind. The bones of the whales killed for their meat sit at the bottom of the deep waters and serve as housing and food for bacteria which moved to the bottom to avoid the deadly oxygen scourge.
On land the big mammals march along, led by a huge female and traveling to a place they cannot see but of which they have faith is still there and still has food and water. They follow their Great Mother in the way humanity did when it was traversing the savanna looking for water and food. When elephants walk past the bones of a dead elephant they stroke the bones lovingly with their trunks. They moan softly and perhaps remember better times. When a human walks past the bones of a dead human they become frightened and run away, terrified the bones might attack them, even the bones of their own mother, dead for years but there they are… Humans fear their dead and resent their young. Elephants revere their dead and adore their young. At no time will an elephant be tempted to kill a human and decorate their home with the body parts. At no time will humanity evolve the ability to swim to the deeper depths of the waters. The biggest squid have no fear of humanity and in spite of their opposable thumbs humans cannot match the squid for manipulation skills or deep thoughts. Squid have been pondering Life and the Universe since the whales were giant beavers and the elephants were tiny rodents. The fact that we do not speak their language is the result of our inability to understand very much about the universe. We know how to breed, we know how to kill, but we cannot speak to other beasts unless they learn to speak our language. Humanity resembles Americans in some ways. Only a tiny minority of Americans can speak more than one language. Change comes slowly to some.
When an octopus is captured great care must be taken to see that it does not escape. They can squeeze through tiny little holes since they have no bones, and then they seem to have the ability to know where to go, in which direction is the ocean. Leave the lid slightly tipped and suddenly you’re following a wet trail to the toilet and down the sewer. Put a human in a jar, even with the lid loose, and they tend to sit there and ponder their fate. Our bones hold us up and hold us back. As a result we grew better able to think ahead and plan things. Octopi may have already been down that road and made the choice to stay in the water and take life more easily. Squid try to keep a low profile since humanity learned they are tasty and there are millions of them down there. Like the whale hunters, fishermen never consider the concept that their prey may actually be more advanced intellectually than hunters. Like those who live near tigers and poisonous snakes, creatures in the sea have come to grips with the fact that there are predators and prey and sometimes one becomes the other. As any squid could tell you, nothing in this universe is forever, things always change over time. When giant monsters roamed the oceans the squid swam around inside long, hard shells shaped like cones. It was difficult to eat something inside a shell so that worked out. When the meteor knocked out much of the planet’s animal life the oceans down deep were the best place to hide while things returned. Near the black stacks there was heat and food. Once the big sea monsters were dead the squid dropped their shells and became the form with which we are familiar. Shrews on land grew up and out and larger, modifying forms and function over millions of years, eventually to become primates and humans. Meanwhile the squid and the whales continued to war and the world continued to change over time.
If we back up a little bit to get some distance between ourselves and the whole picture. We know that living things change over time, that species change over time, the planet changes over time, so everything we can witness is alive in some way and evolving. We are a part of this great change as living creatures and so we must somehow step aside from ourselves to be able to see the rest of the  system. A metaphor might be the oceans: when you swim in the oceans you see the surface and a few cms beneath, but unless the light is right you don’t see too many of the creatures swimming beneath your feet. If you snorkel or scuba dive you see more, but the myriad of particles and diatoms and plankton simply block your view of what is beyond. You cannot see the sea for the sea creatures in the sea. It is exactly the same as our planet swimming through the galaxy: we see a portion of our system most of the time but when we look out too far we see very little but “empty space”, which is swarming with energy and mass and even Things that we cannot see. The squid live in the ocean and there they hunt their prey, but how do they see? They do that by evolving some of the best eyes we have ever seen. They grew the tools they needed. They also grew sensitive skin and other specialized means of sensing what is out there in the dark. The whales developed a form of speech that can be heard hundreds of miles away, or at least before humans invented submarines, sonar, and diesel engines. Now you can’t hear very much down there at all but a low hum. The Earth has developed tinnitus.
We think collectively of our Galaxy, our cosmic neighbors, as a Thing, but it is a mass, a region of space-time, a complex of energies swirling in a less dense sea of energies and we ride the tide on a tiny speck of slow moving energies thinking we know what we are doing. But we do not know what is being done to us by the rest of Existence because we cannot see half of it. Many years ago, perhaps, and maybe even now, some could see spirit, could see the non-substantial in living forms. Most evolved out of that skill set while we pounded rocks together to make axes and harpoons. We lost the skill to listen. The rest of Existence, however, never lost the skill of speaking. We have recently re-realized that trees communicate with each other, as do pretty much any living species we get around to examining. We simply cannot hear them. That is, of course, part of the problem: we are listening with our ears.
The colony of cells which grows today eventually will break apart and the cells will disband their alliances. Some of them will disband their corporal existence and return the parts to the Earth. The Earth, itself a giant entity, takes in the reformed beings, mulls them over and redeposits them back into life in some new form. Everything changes, nothing remains the same. This pattern must work in exactly the same manner when thinking about consciousness. Mind breaks down the same way matter does. As energy slows down it becomes matter, as matter speeds up it becomes energy. Throughout this dance we have consciousness weaving a complex pattern of growth, understanding, fading away… not unlike the patterns in swirling smoke lit by a shaft of sun. We see the beautiful swirling motes when they pass through the light, but all around is a great swarm of smoke that is not lit up. Since our eyes see only a tiny window, we see only a tiny fraction of the dance. Is it any wonder we misunderstand the whole picture? We hear the drum, but not the guitar. We see the dancer’s right arm every few seconds but the legs are in shadow. We can be forgiven for misunderstanding.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Summertime and the Living are Uneasy

Back in the day as we oldsters apparently say, things were different. It used to be that old forgetful fart would be relying on his memory to assert that "back in the day...." everything was cheaper, doctors gave a shit, things lasted longer and were made in America by union workers.
Interestingly enough, you might notice that all that stuff is true. Things change. Hell, even I change! For instance, I have lost a lot of weight on purpose and by plan, so I am packing less lard. Furthermore, we garden a lot more area now even though both myself and my sweety-pie are finding it hard to bend, kneel or otherwise move like you must in order to work a garden. This must mean I am alive, since as we all know, life changes things, things which change are alive, even if we don't understand how. Mountain ranges change over time, in fact they might have been an ocean floor at some point in the past/future, and being alive, they have changed over time. Changing life over time is evolution and all things evolve which are changing/alive. Nothing stays the same, because Nothing is a One Part quality. Nothing is all that it is.
Our perceptions of the Universe are changing over time as our sense improve. In the same way a baby is half blind at birth, having not needed vision in the womb, as this sense changes over time they are able to perceive a different Universe. Now that we have so many high resolution cameras in orbit, and super powerful computers to process the feed, we are seeing the old Universe in such a new way it has created a New Universe.
We saw before by visible light, photons hitting our retinas and activating chemical changes in our neural net. When a camera sees in much higher or lower frequencies than the human eye can see, objects and conditions appear which change our understanding of "empty" space.
First of all, we got here by basic Newtonian physics. The way things spin is controlled by the simple physics most of us learned in high school. Gravity, ramps, levers, etc. all work well at low speeds and frequencies. Take those cameras in space: they spin around the planet at speeds relative to their altitudes. When you have thousands of satellites flying around the earth at many different heights you need to know where each one is going to be at any one time, and Newton's Laws and equations always do that for us. The trouble began at different speeds and sizes. When you look at things going at the speed of light or so they no longer quite match those predictions based on Newton, and when great masses are involved, like galaxies, light is noticeably bent into a focus, causing very odd artifacts in the eyes of those cameras. What you see is no longer what you get, should you be able to go there and get anything.
Well, when you examine the things orbiting the entire Universe, i.e. the galaxies, it seems the equations don't match the data. Actually, when you examine the problem you can see that some of the "facts" are actually assumptions, like the mass of the known Universe. That changes the gravitational pull on those galaxies and that changes their speed relative to their orbits.
So, they looked in long wavelengths for those dark Things which were adding so much mass but not radiating in the visible light spectrum. They did not see anything. Then they checked the math and the data and what they realized was they did in fact see what it was, but their perception was spoiled by certain assumptions.
Consider what a bacteria sees when it looks out upon your lower intestinal tract. Chances are, we believe, the bacteria does not see a great ape descendant, or a higher being, but more like a landscape, spread out and mindless before it, waiting to be developed by tens of thousands of similar bacteria. We, of course, assume the bacteria within do nothing of the sort because that would be too scary to admit.
We looked out at the Universe and assumed our perfect human eyes saw all there was to see, and our perfect human minds could figure out what exactly it was we did see. Things change.
95% of the Universe is "Black Matter"... stuff that pervades everything you see but is so monstrously huge that it literally staggers the imagination and you must see it as lifeless. This assumption is not backed by any data. 5% of the Universe is matter like you and Mars, stuff that works by either Newtonian or Quantum physics rules and laws. 5% is Black Energy, stuff which does what energy does but does it in a form and frequency that we just can't perceive it except with complex math, split out among many Big Computers.
Now, with the introduction of the concept we can modify our math used to process images and "see" where the dark matter is relative to the "light" matter which we can see with our own eyes and it is like clouds in our coffee, to be expected because the Universe doesn't like the sort of "order" our brains love to impose on things which have no inherent order, like spots on a piece of paper, or stars in the night sky.
Now that we see and perceive the Universe more properly and it now has a math to fit the data, we can begin to work with reality, maybe new realities to go along with the new understanding of how things move the way they do up there. As we do, perhaps we can also reconsider the idea that the Thinking Thing is looking up at the Nonthinking Thing. Perhaps it is the other way around, perhaps a bit of each. Thus we are looking up at a consciousness so great and made up of energies we have just begun to notice, that it may think of us as less interesting than a benign bacteria in the cosmic gut, undoubtedly incapable of thought/consciousness. It's okay, perhaps it is just as well we are not very noticeable.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April Showers

The collapse of the American Empire is unfolding before our eyes. Bridges are no longer being repaired, we just put up signs warning heavy trucks to stay off. Schools are closing and villages are merging with towns and counties to save costs. One of the great things about the Internet is that people of like minds can find one another and share views. One of the bad things about the Internet is that people of like minds can find one another and share ideas. So, while we get solutions to problems we also get the rise of the Fascists. The damage the Party has done to the election industry is being felt as a compulsive liar and reality show host is presented as the best of the Right and a power hungry compulsive liar is the darling of the so-called Left. I suppose being Left of Right counts, but since the Right in question is so far to the right it wears a swastika a left leaning person could still be a fascist police state advocate.

Then we have Bernie Sanders.

The Powers in charge misunderstood just how pissed off the People are over the decades of lies, the up-flow of all wealth to the .1%, and the costs of getting their children an education compared to every other civilized nation. So while they teased us allowing Bernie to run as a "Democrat" they pt all their power and money towards a Hilary for President. They can't just put her up as the candidate and still call themselves "Democrats", in reference to the concept of "democracy", so they just do what they can to sabotage his campaign. The heavy-handedness with which they have approached their self-made "problem" is so obvious even Democrats can see it. The vocabulary used to cover the stories is glow-in-the-dark clear: Hilary crushes her opponent whereas Bernie only wins or takes votes.... but whenever they can scrape off votes he earned and give them to Hillary, they do. Not exactly rigged per se, but certainly very little is left to chance or democratic principles.

I often wonder what a society would look like as a democracy. If People could write laws and present them to the People for review, comments and votes, what laws would exist, what kinds of regulations? Now we can have a single person with wealth and power send up a Bill which financially benefits them and their business partners, post it at midnight and weasel enough votes by dawn that it becomes law, once the trained President is allowed to sign it. In a democracy I could draw up a Bill using forms online and present it to the voters for several weeks of comments and perhaps revision before the entire population is allowed to cast a vote and upon winning the majority of the votes, my Bill would become law! At the moment it is against the law for people to write their own laws and vote on them in a general election, this being New York, one of the most corrupt and fascist of states. Furthermore it should be that in a democracy we have Bills which are written on a single subject, no additional unrelated sub-bills allowed. In this way we don't get a Bill to finance the government with an "Easter egg" of concealed perks for a few businessmen.

Most people have been trained to accept any small portion of democracy permitted by the fascists, primarily harmless Bills which declare today to be national bullshit day or some such thing. It brings in extra cash to be part of a committee looking over these useless laws, so our lawmakers like to have plenty of them. It has been observed by the great philosopher Fred Brighton that when all the good and necessary laws have been written we should stop writing new laws, but Congress gets paid both by salary and by number of laws passed, so we then start getting absurd and sometimes even illegal laws passed, which then make lawyers tons of money while they go to the Supreme Republican Court for a Party declared correction. We have "corrected" the Bill of Rights to include the Right of a President to murder American citizens remotely or by proxy so long as they first declare the victim to be a "bad guy". Anyone standing near the victim will also be blown apart but that is what we call, "incidental collateral damage to structures".

If Bernie somehow is allowed to take the White House and if Bernie does not stop the fascist wars we are waging, or does not stop the slaughter by drones, then we can declare America to be a "democracy free zone" and we should quietly begin finding a refuge somewhere else on the planet, assuming they allow us to leave.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A New Year

Now that I have survived yet another year I suppose I should be happy not to be stuck in a hospital bed somewhere or living in fear in Syria, but life is a funny thing when you have it, it seems like it is just like air: you take what you get and exhale the rest.
David Bowie died for our sins, our sins of omission, our sins of neglect, our sins of distraction. He was beloved by millions and will will long be remembered. Almost on the same day a 89 year old lady died in Massachusetts and her family mourns her now, plans her wake and burial and dozens of people mourn her passing. We may agree that when a soul moves on the Earth is diminished and when a new person is born the earth is reborn, thus the heartbeat of the universe is maintained. The pulse of the planet remains strong.
Now the oceans are rising and will do so increasingly as our "Leaders" debate if mankind is worth saving or if we should simply count it as a real estate offering which promises great things. But here's the Thing: when disaster occurs we lose the very young, as they cannot yet adapt. We lose the very old as they have no resources left to recover. The remaining have neither the innocence of youth nor the wisdom that comes with age. The world like a black hole eats the knowledge and spits out random radiation. As islands disappear beneath the waves, as Disney watches it's castles crumbling into sand, as beach side resorts become a scuba divers vacation spot, as the skyscrapers in New York find their foundations crumbling under salt water attack, will we have the intelligence to forget the damn elections for a few years and get started moving the populations away from Death and towards Tomorrow?
Probably not, such a reaction would be unique in our history.
The sun rises and the sun sets. Life flares and then fades. The music has to stop eventually, why not sooner than later? But chances are the last to leave will whistle a little tune as they stride toward the Light. A few eternities later the energies will have created new worlds, new Life, new debates about meaning. The new poets will little suspect they walk on the powdered bones of great thinkers and performers.
But there will never be another David (Jones)Bowie, never another Ziggy Stardust. Grandma will never hold her dear babies in her lap, never brush away their tears again.
But existence and Love cannot be destroyed as this is the basis for life, so things change but they change again later. So someday another child of earth will sing a song nobody has ever heard, in a tune nobody has ever imagined.
The universe tapping it's feet to the tune of the gravity waves washing up on the shore of a black hole, pauses and listens to the thin sounds of a great ape helping her child sleep beneath fading stars.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Summer's End

This is the time of year when what your efforts were worth are displayed on the shelves in your basement if you're lucky enough to have one. Here in the 21st century we can tomatoes from grandmother's saved seeds, we pick up fallen fruit and make sauce, jellies and juices. We start pulling finished plants out of veggie beds and setting things up for next year. And we evaluate how we did.

People sometimes ask me how I manage to be so busy when I am in such pain, but when you are in the garden weeding or harvesting you aren't thinking about pain and your back, you're thinking about jelly and stews and root cellar designs. You're thinking about all those hops you harvested, estimating how many gallons of ale can be made. You're feeling a direct connection between your stomach and the Fecundity of the Earth. You feel the love of the soil. This is worth a little pain, and sometimes it can be worth a lot of pain.

Sometimes I relate to the garden as a newer Eden, testing my ability to learn from the planet, to find a spiritual meaning in life. The Japanese have gardens of sand which never give forth fruit, and this is where they meditate on life. I have gardens of flowers, fruit, veggies....all vibrant and alive most of the year, inviting and supportive of my life in my pain. My ashes will be scattered in this garden.

My parents are dead, my son is dead, my best friends Teddy and Larry are dead... yet the other day I got an email from a man I had been sure was dead! Seems my information was premature. The thing which intrigues me is the concept that maybe in my previous universe he was dead but when I shifted into a different shadow I found one where he was still living. In an infinite universe this is possible. So the thought comes back instantly, "Where would I have to go to get Teddy and Larry back and how would it impact my current family? What about Jon?" Say you knew you could shift universes and somebody you loved was dead, so you shift and now they are alive, maybe they had a little accident but not fatal. But when you look around you find that somebody assassinated the President or your daughter was still born.... what would you do then, go back? How would you find the right universe? Lots of details to consider. Sometimes it is best to let sleeping Universes lie.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


     It's been a little over a year since Jon died and my life has been somehow hollowed out. Margaret and Jess are still there, even more loving and vital as before, but the longing for hope, the reading obtuse articles looking for hope, for names and places to contact because my son, my boy was in there goddam it and somebody had to listen! Now that's all gone and I have certain knowledge that hundreds of men and women are in their beds in contorted, bizarre positions, thinking about Life, thinking about how unfair and how cruel life can be to those who did no harm. They know that those around them have no faith, that they are considered as less than human, yet deserving of casual attention. Sometimes the nurses call them by name, the way you name a favorite house plant.
Does this seem overly cynical and mean? Well, that is what happens when you tear out a chunk of a man and deny the healing process. I don't want Jon to become a distant memory, a sad blessing. I want my anger at those doctors to continue to burn and nag at me, to cause me to look still for stories and solutions for those poor souls trapped inside their own skin. And as I consider this situation, as I regret to inform myself that in America the unFree nothing is free and nothing is done without a profit made. Hulks of flesh who can think cannot earn a lot of profit for the Board, so research into their situation is very low priority, far below the sex life of wild salmon. If anyone should ever suggest making a census-like effort to determine the health of every man, woman and child, not in that order, so that the sick might be healed and the dying made comfortable, the very next statement will involve "money", that invention of the Sumerians for their accountants who had no texts or literacy. 5,000 years later it is the end-all and be-all of Western civilization, which is rapidly becoming the World civilization. But it's a trick, with it you can visualize people, carts of grain, loaves of bread as little wooden or brass counters, like pieces in a game board. In order for this paradigm to work, that of denying health and comfort to the world, you have to consider the pile of tokens to be supreme in order of importance. Dying children can be dismissed by simply moving beads on a loom and reaching a final figure. No profit there.
One of the greatest minds of the century cannot move enough of his body to communicate, but with wires and expensive devices he teaches, writes, and solves problems that the greatest computers cannot envision. In a totally profit driven society, like much of America today, he would have been abandoned in a nursing home to die in a few years of pneumonia followed by heart failure. The people who would shake their profit driven heads as they denied the young man any special attention are incapable themselves of comprehending the tiniest part of his research nor of understanding the value of pure physics in advancing human civilization. They only know little wooden counters stuck in the sand.
So the anger at so many good people being left trapped in their bodies, many will have gone into a state of learned hopelessness from which there is often no way home, is with me, shall be, and I determine to continue to try to initiate some interest in our fellow human beings. It seems like something Jon would like me to do, as it was something that he was doing even as his van struck that truck and began his slow, sad death.
I like to plan, literally plan things. By drawing a picture to scale I can really see it in 3D and I can start breaking things down to their essential parts, put them in order, prioritize and otherwise do things instead of sitting still. Obviously this condition became sharpened and focussed with Jon in the picture. The stakes were beyond high for me regarding Jon. My son was sometimes more me than I was, taking up more thought and energy than me getting up, getting dressed and driving down to Lake Katrine. Now I get up and plan the garden, I think about ramps for wheelchairs because it occurred to us when Jon was getting better that to visit home would be difficult at best. The doorways were too narrow, the steps to every outside door were rather old so getting them out and putting in a ramp made good sense. Now I am thinking about my own back condition, that they call it "degenerative" for a reason, as Doc Izzo used to say. I may very well someday need those wider doors and ramps leading out to the raised bed gardens.
In a way,trying to prepare for Jon has made me more prepared for me, or maybe even Margaret. It could be anyone, anytime and the way things are going politically it is a wise person who does not plan on the government offering any help to someone who cannot turn a profit for them. Already the corporations can vote in blocks, unlike fleshy humans who are restricted to at best, one vote, and that vote is contingent on certain conditions. For instance, generally the rich are much more likely to be able to cast a vote and have it counted than someone who is penniless and on the street, even though both are citizens, on the barn side it reads: "some citizens have greater rights than others". Libtards continue to resist the sloughing off of the red numbers on the tally sheet. No offense, but they just aren't good for business. Random, wild card voters just muddy up the counting. With redistricting a fine, early art form they only have to have a show of hands in the room to determine who gets to play the part of President and so on.
While they play I plan. I'm pretty sure each door can have a pleasant looking ramp and landing which will allow even 95 year old Will a place in the sun. If we can grow our own foods and meds then we should be better than half-way to being inconspicuous. That is always a good way to be. I remember in Haight Ashbury in 1967 being as quiet as a young man can be with a backpack, walking stick and no visible reason to exist. Thus we avoid the fuzz. It did not always work, but then if it did it's job you might not know it happened anyway. The point is to be on your toes, not someone elses.
It does not fill the hole, this gardening of mine, nor does the photography and website because so many are not around to  admire or critique my efforts. So many of the folk I admire have gone on to better things, leaving me and Margaret with the dross, at least that's how it feels sometimes, especially when things go wrong as they do I miss the wisdom, the comfort, or even the little secret smiles as the obvious is pointed out, deflating a pout or a tantrum. Like when Larry turned the distributor cap around 180 degrees to start the BMW. Or when Jon grabbed our dinner plates and returned with them to the kitchen where he rearranged and redistributed the parts to serve a delightful, lovely meal out of what I had prepared and then just slopped on the plates. It was great learning from people I love. Margaret tries her best, but she does not understand how much I respect her opinion and a lot of times, bless her heart, she clams up as I screw up and then cleans up with only a slight "I could have told you so". sigh.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

New Life

The garden is in full flower now, with the wisteria hanging on the arch that marks the start of the Garden Path. The goldenrods have taken over any ground that does not contain a shrub and I'm not sure if there is enough time before winter to chop them all down so I can see where I need to add more flowers. I wouldn't mind the rods if they just flowered and stayed put, but they always try to take over the entire area and since they grow from the roots each time I cut one down four more sprout up. I have to find some purpose for them, maybe weaving cages for tomatoes... once you need a plant like this it goes away. Contrarywise, when I discovered that valerian worked on my back pain I began to see it growing all over the yard. It all depends on the mind of the plant.

The Israelis are working on their "Final Solution" for the Gazans, wiping out every man, woman and child, all the time declaring how precise they are and how careful they are not to hit civilians. It would seem they are either the worst army in the world or the best liars, because some 1500 civilians have died from Israeli missiles and bullets. This demonstrates, I think, how when one obsesses about something, especially an enemy or past insult, you gradually take on the attributes of that enemy. You become a fascist if you worry all the time about Hitler and his boys and if you constantly complain about the horrors of the Death Camps you will be compelled to make one for yourself and fill it full of enemies so you can wipe them out. They haven't pulled up trucks and pumped in exhaust gases, but bombs and missiles look more like a war instead of a genocide.

Meanwhile I am reading about the history of the region, especially the Jews. I want to understand why that area always seems ready to kill some group or another. One thing you notice is the consistency of the events. The Palestinians around Gaza have been taking it in the shorts for thousands of years now, it seems, no matter who it is oppressing them you have to feel sorry for them. Now it's the Israelis again, stepping up to take over and kill them all for the various crimes involved in resisting the takeover/genocide. Israel wants the ocean side. They also want all arable lands in all directions. YHWH promised them and they plan to accept the invitation, after all, it IS the Creator making the offer. Trouble is, even in the Bronze Age they knew it meant killing every one related to all the people they feel are in their way so as long as babies are born and memories remain there will be one war after another until everyone is wiped out.

At the same time you read over the Torah and related texts like the Dead Sea Scrolls, it's important to also read the Quran and Bible. That's a real eye opener! I love my Muslim friends but I must say that like the Old Testament there is a great deal of hatred for one's neighbors if they don't share your faith. It's a curious thing but YHWH has set everyone in the ME at each other as a basic part of their faith. It seems that the Prophet was abused by the Jews, most likely for not being a Jew, but to be fair the other Arabs also abused Him. But as a result of a personal insult He inserted into His revelation the idea that Jews must be converted or killed. The Jews have a different take on it, believing that converts to Judaism are not exactly "Jewish". The constitution of Israel makes it clear that only Jews who have descended from Jews since the Creation can be called Real Jews. The rest are wannabes who may or may not make it into heaven. Christians descend from Jews who believed that the Messiah had arrived and the End Times were upon us. Trouble is, He said it was happening right then and would be completed in their lifetimes. Now, some 2,000 years late they still think nothing is wrong, He's just using that kind of speech where a "lifetime" means "several lifetimes" and "is upon you" means "someday will happen". In other words they are in serious denial. Regardless of the whereabouts of this Messiah they have adopted the zero tolerance philosophy of the Jews and applied it to the Muslims. It seems we have to wipe them out for the Messiah to show His head again. Curious decision coming from the King of Peace, ain't it?

So, while logic dies in the desert along with little girls and boys, the World watches blood flowing from their lawn chairs at CNN, sipping their tea and nibbling on lady fingers. Not their kids, why should they worry? Naturally, those of us who recall the World Trade Center remember that it was our ambivalent attitude toward the killing of innocents which placed a target on the city. Now we happily sell weapons and ammo to the Israelis so they can complete their Final Solution and naturally we will be so surprised if the Arab world sees this as somehow dis-respecting their right to life. The classic response will be to murder as many innocent Americans as they can.

Cat Humor

The cats no longer laugh at my jokes. For a long time I thought it was because most of my jokes are based on puns, and cats only admit to knowing American English as a second or third language. So when you tell them a pun, most of the time they will just stare at you. But I mean the other kinds of jokes, even a pratfall doesn't get a chuckle out of them. Brighton acts as if the mafia were looking for him and Mariah is pretending to be Catwoman, going out at night and victimizing the local rodents. She's above it all. Buddy laughs. He's a good dog and I can count on his support in most things.
It's not like I plan a career as a stand up comedian for critters, but since I spend a great part of my conversations speaking to a cat or dog or chicken, I tend to expect a reaction from my audience. The hens tend to get very literal. They find human humor difficult to fathom. Go ahead, ask a chicken why they crossed the road, they will not look you in the eyes, they will mumble and mention something about greener pastures and all, but they will never say “to get to the other side”. It's just not the way hens think. Cats don't appreciate humor because they tend to be overly sensitive about their own appearances and a pie in the face is just a mess to them. Subtle jokes are impossible to understand in a cat mind, they are not very subtle beasts. But a dog... well, a dog will do most anything to please a human, even laugh at their jokes. For that I thank them.