Wednesday, November 24, 2021


         It is that time. 
     Tradition is we begin with gratitude. Celebrations ensue and we are to be festive. We then end the year with hope, light, and peace. 
      Nothing is as it was, still we remain children of star dust, all of us, siblings on a planet.
      I am one of those who find pleasure, maybe retreat, in just looking around. 
      The day, the light, the scene, the nuance and all paint for me a mood. We live in Atmospheres.
       Here, at the changing of the season, the beginning of Holiday, are some tones and moods of place of my California.

    We are people of mood, affected by so much. So, the last two frames,  Lana's blooming "Thanksgiving Cactus" and a promise of the future bring us to a thought. 
     The scene directly above is the launch of the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The reusable Falcon rocket is riding a plume of fire that ignited our southern sky. Vandenberg Space Base is 83 miles from my upper deck where I watched the rocket with its tongue of fire soar into space and take me into the future.
     It is the future we count on. In less than a year, October of 2022, DART will demonstrate it's "kinetic impactor" technique when it strikes a non threatening asteroid named Dimorphos, to see if it is effective in protecting earth from asteroid hits. Dimorphos, Greek for "having two forms," is the smaller planet moon of a synchronous binary system where the larger asteroid is Didymous. 
      DART is 1,200 pounds and the size of a refrigerator. It will pass around the sun and then stalk and hit a space rock at 15,000 miles per hour. 
       This thing about "having two forms," is interesting. Divided though we are over truth, and reality, while some respect science and others dwell in lunacy and lies it is, none-the-less, exhilarating to think what we star children can do in space, when we are our better form.
       It all gives us hope, that the season of light will someday bring us to an understanding of what we should and can do on earth to propagate peace.
       Let our better instincts, our higher aspirations, create for you an atmosphere to surround your times at the end of the year. May you see your world for the beauty it holds. 

        See you down the trail. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Defusing the Bomb

        Talk of war, cultural or otherwise, is dangerous, emotionally precipitous and enables forces that strangle rationality.

      There is no shortage of bad actors in this destructive detour of the American experience. We'll take a closer look after first some good news and diversion.

        The numbers are up, some 3,500% at the Pismo Beach Monarch butterfly grove.

        The Monarchs fly some 1500 hundred miles to winter on the California Central coast. The numbers had been in decline.

        Scholars say the habitat they seek, in which to cluster, is being destroyed for development. Pesticides, and changing climate patterns have also taken a toll.

        The increase this year at the grove is encouraging as people on the central coast have been planting milkweed which attracts the butterflies.


        As a kid I was fascinated by shadows and shadow play. The other day I noticed our new kitten "discover" his shadow. It surprised him. 
        Shadows make for fascinating photos. 

        Please permit these shots to offer you a visual rest, as we dive into the bad blood being stirred by shadow warriors.
        Those who know war and war zones are not those who are exciting the strife. 
        War is an act of desperation. It means that diplomacy, rationality and problem solving has failed. It means we have failed as human beings. 

        The more that media instigators, Twitter and Facebook combatants, and the under educated amp up the rhetoric, the more they foreclose on understanding, settlement  and their own enlightenment. The more they divide us!

        There is a large and unhealthy dose of delusional thinking in the nation. Those who buy into the big lie should sue the right wing cable networks and social media outlets for mental abuse. Propaganda has gotten us to this point. We are on edge.

          Both the the right and left claim guilty players. 

on the right

        The blitz on the credibility of the election, a fully delusional and dishonest effort is none-the-less believed by an misinformed mass. It's testament to the power of brainwashing. Tragically, it is compounded by the majority of the Republican party in Washington.
        Republicans try to ignore the January 6th Insurrection and attack. If they were to summon honesty and candor, it would go a long way to lesson the impact of the blood thirsty right wing lunatics fomenting for "war." Party complicity speeds destruction of our belief in democratic principles. 
        The American Republic is being undone by Republican collusion with lies and authoritarianism. 

on the left

        No less an unlikely alliance than Linguistic scholar and author John McWhorter and political strategist James Carville precisely describe the progressive left's destructive impact-"Wokeness."
      Carville says it's "faculty lounge foolishness" and it's killing Democrat's appeal. McWhorter's new book "Woke Racism:How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America" makes the case that Woke is in fact racist. He says it is a kind of intellectual suicide as well. 
       It is typical of far left ideology. No matter how well intended a new "social moralism" or idea may be, it can often be elitist, out of touch, and without "real world" grounding. Far left ideas can be as ill hatched and damaging as far right fear mongering and racism. 
        "Cancel Culture" is fascism. Those who engage in it are foolish, and enemies of free speech and thought. 

right wing fear

        There are historic principles at work behind this conflict of values and attitudes. 
        Conservative politics has always been fueled in part by fear. There is the fear of changing the norm, or the status quo as a bedrock. Conservatives have seen "socialism" or "marxism" like some see the boogeyman. It was there in trying to stop the union movement, in the civil rights movement, in welfare or child care or medical relief legislation. It's like Henny Penny and the "sky is falling." 
         Critical Theory, an intellectual discipline for study, a tool for understanding, is in the minds of conservative strategists and polemicists a communist or marxist plan to dismantle the Republic. Never mind free thought, the freedom that comes with challenging a premise or intellectuality. Now mobs are storming school boards fomenting about CRT when it is likely the majority of them never took a class in legal theory, philosophy, criticism, or civil rights. But it's red meat and rally's the base.

effetely left

        There is often an arrogance in liberal certitude. So sure that virtue is on their side when it comes to extending liberties, or using government as a tool to aid and assist, they too quickly dismiss those who disagree as being racist, ignorant or unbathed.
        Brian Williams refers to that wing of the Democrat party as the Whole Food's wing. Smug, self confident, and out of touch with the most of America.

there is no same as it ever was

       Progressives have been leavening in the loaf of American politics. Our founders were progressive thinkers, in fact they were radicals even revolutionaries. 
       Progressive thought is in the DNA of America. They seed ideas about progress, and reform. They are a good counter punch to the monied oligarchs who own a kind of wealthy selfishness/stinginess that has driven Republican business worship. It is "the rich take care of the rich" politics of the last century. Please recall that it took a turn coat elite Republican to bust his party when they got too much of their way in the gilded age. Teddy Roosevelt busted the trusts, brought regulation, standards for food and drugs, giving the average citizen a break after they had been savaged by the wealthy, and robber barons. Republicans look out for business and wealth. 

        Democratic compassionates have tried to bend the levers of government to uplift the downtrodden, level it out, bring equality to the table and make government service for the public a reality. Democrats reason those services are needed and taxes are a way to pay for it. They think the wealthy should pay a fair rate. 
        The wealthy, corporations, and bankers of course bristle at the idea of a large government providing for child care, family leaves, public assistance and keeping up roads and bridges especially if it means they need to pay taxes or that government tries to penetrate their off shore veil and tax shelters. Republicans are their representatives. 
        More or less this has been the battle-line, and historically it worked its way to finding legislation and governance through compromise or a middle ground. It has rewarded both views periodically, pendulum like. 
    A point I've tried insert is that over the years liberals and conservatives, Democrat and Republicans and have swapped positions, changed views, morphed, helix like. Case in point, Democrats were once the racists, Republicans were the racial progressives.

        This mutability underscores the insanity of this angry time in America. We have been on a slide to this moment of division for some time. To understand that, one needs a sense of history, a knowledge of government, a long view and an understanding of driving forces. One must also believe in a commonweal, or common good. There is little of that now!
        We've become fractured, with short attention spans, easily diverted and manipulated, media has become shallow, politics has become a profession, elections are a business, too many of the players are egoists, zealots or racketeers. Newt Gingrich was the modern virus that killed off collegiality, compromise, negotiation, and truthful legislative government. 
The Republican party allowed itself to taken over by thugs more interested in themselves than national consensus or good.

            They've become anti democracy fascists in the grip of a mob boss mentality. The Democrats with no real majority are being held hostage by an internal fight between progressives and moderates while two selfish outliers see how much they can get for themselves. At its best the system is sick, and the America body politic needs emergency triage.
        We are shouting at each other, behaving horribly, and not interested in holding the center. Idiots want to provoke a fight, or secede, and sadly, tragically a huge percentage are being roiled up in a giant and malignant fantasy.
        Scholarship and the work of historians will look upon this time in America as the nadir. We have failed as human beings, we have failed as citizens. We have failed to think for ourselves and we have become angry and frequently stupid mobs.

        If people put national interests over their clique lust,
if a few Republicans would act with honor, a transformative and long overdue infusion of investment in our people, our very essence, and our national bones would energize commerce and spirit and would rapidly marginalize the lies, the liars, the fringe, and make all of the culture war/civil war talk so much hot air.
        81 Million voters, the largest vote ever, cast their ballots to depose and dispose of a malignant force. The will of the majority of us is being stymied by selfishness, ignorance and cowardice that allows the basest, most villainous, venal and contemptible behavior to become common place. 
        If we don't lower the volume, and begin to listen, truly listen, open our minds and reclaim our national soul of aspiration we will indeed become the wretched and dissolute states of America.
        It is time for reason and cool heads. Time to honor the idea of civil debate, not war. Time to understand the radiating power and good that comes in compromise. It is time for an age of reconciliation.

        There is probably something in this that angered you.
Will this make a difference or cause even one of you to widen your view? I suspect the answer is no.
      So to Addie and Henry, my grandchildren, I hope that when you read this, your world will be less strident and that we humans treat each other with more decency and respect.
       Regardless of your reality, please know no one is always right, that all ideas are the work of mere humans and subject to all the foibles that make us the complicated, confounding and wonderful beings that we are. We are all children of creation, imperfect but we share the planet, and we share a future, and each life, each one of us is sacred. Our destiny should not be to divide and to make war, but rather to work for peace and understanding. Truth matters. In the end truth rules.
        In the end there are no shadows. Everything comes into the light.


        See you down the trail. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Promoting A General Welfare...


        Autumn comes as a time of reflection.

    It used to be the season to prepare for winter by putting in storm windows, Hatteras or winter shutters, turning the garden, digging out the winter clothing, going long on research or projects, putting up firewood and the other tasks that fall to those days of shortening light. 

    There is less call for those labors now, but the pensive urge of autumn remains. Amidst a few local fall scenes, we'll reflect.


        Hearing the dental hygienist, a single mother of two, recount her maternal concerns in this age of pandemic was tender but also affirming. She is but one of the working Americans with earnest values, practical sense, and with hopes their government cares about and can be supportive of them.
    Millions are hard at work to make ends meet and to provide enriching and aspirational lives for their children. The hygienist spoke lovingly and supportively of her dyslexic son, who struggles with learning. She says much depends on the sensitivity and training of individual teachers as to how supportive they are. Some are good, some are not. It was her expense for a diagnosis. 
    Medical and emotional needs of American families, transportation and day care costs, housing, groceries, and other expenses are crushing.

        It is an era of working multiple jobs and still struggling to pay all of the bills. Recent graduates begin life with a mountain of debt. These American citizens are hammered, through no fault of their own. 
            The stock market, corporate value, and high income wealth soars. America's standard of living and ranking in quality of life, health care, longevity and happiness declines. In key categories we are way out of the top ten.
        Changes, big changes are due. The well of support is deep and runs across the political spectrum, far left to far right and the majority in between. That is public support. The legislative arena is more complicated and out of synch with 70 to 80% of Americans.

living rough

           A homeless encampment on the beach north of San Simeon represents labor to establish shelter, but poses risks.

        I mistakenly took the structure to be a surf or beach party hut. Closer in I noticed clothing and personal belongings. Someone shelters here. Fire pits were recently used.

        Nearby, in a less elaborate structure, a more dangerous placement of a fire pit....

 the area of the pit was directly under scrub brush.
        The area bore evidence of habitation and waste.

        People are pressed to survive. The crisis of homelessness requires more from "us" than "we the people" are doing.  

a parting shot

The cool cats.
Hemingway and his new "brother" Sunny.
Joy had no time in her schedule to post for a shot.

        Like these guys, stay cool.
        See you down the trail.