Friday, August 21, 2015

Oh,     .....     Onions!

Beautiful, maieutic onions! Eutrapely!
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Inflation in Brazil: Onions up by 145.53% this year.
Bosco: Onions up by 145.53% this year.
It so happens I (may) have knowledge about onions in Brazil.

But first, a précis and a processional ...

Précis:   (for busy executives with no time to spare)
Australia: Coal.Wiley Miller: The First Selfie.Mongolia: (Peabody) Coal.
Half-baked Hysteria:   Proceeding from the vestry to the chancel at the opening of this service with three vignettes.

1) Andrew Nikiforuk presents an 'elegant metaphor': The Earth's Battery Is Running Low (Source: PNAS, abstract & full pdf.) He says, "[It] gives ordinary people an elegant metaphor to understand the globe's stagnating economic and political systems and their close relatives: collapsing ecosystems." Call me a curmudgeon but it don't shed any light for me, rather the opposite.

2) I expected better from Peter Sale: Bonfires and Vanities - How changing attitudes to climate and privilege signal the revolution has started. He says, "As an ecologist, I knew ... that if the Harp Seal population was not managed, the cod fishery would likely decline." There is a Plexus & a Nexus of nonsense expressed in this single sentence (worthy of Henry Miller himself). Second only to a few paragraphs later when he says, "It’s ameliorated by our growing separation from nature, and our consequent lack of awareness of our need to kill animals for animal food or other products. This is not logic. It’s emotion, pure and simple. But it leads somewhere potentially good – the beginnings of a new respect for non-human life."

So ... the collapse of the cod is down to seals, and stupidity will save us. Wowzers!

3) Wazizname ... Mulcair, is in favour of sustainable oil sands development. The oxymoron in the headline is echoed and re-echoed in the text. Read it and weep. If they keep it up, Stephen Harper will split these fools from stem to gudgeon pintle-pin, leave 'em to flail & founder, and go for the gold (black gold that is), again.

One further aside:   I also weep to see the silly Greens trying to make Elizabeth May into a sex object as evidenced by her ridiculous coached performance in the Macleans debate. She won anyway of course.

There's turbulence in the Zeitgeist (I guess), call it 'The Chicken Little Syndrome': when the pressure of reality comes on and otherwise thoughtful people lose all discernment. If my brain were equal to the task I would draw a detailed map comparing and contrasting the letter from Jorge/Francis - a substantive reference point - with this wretched dreck fit only to frighten, flatter, and entertain urban know-nothing muggles.

If, as Peter fatuously opines, a revolution is really to begin, the muggles must first undergo a (highly unlikely) conversion - not to Catholicism, but to thinking - or it will not be a revolution at all but most brutal chaos - what the good bourgeois burghers imagine as 'anarchy'.

Jorge/Francis (for all I vehemently disagree with him on so many things) is keeping his eye on the ball with a timely: World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1. Toronto Catholics are all on vacation of course, busy damning Laudato Si' with faint praise and inattention, so don't expect any official organization for September 1 in Toronto The Good.

I don't think this Jorge/Francis fellow's a dilletante either (unlike Alan Rusbridger) - I bet single malt he keeps at it 'til he drops. I could be wrong.

... and now back to regularly scheduled programming:

I wake singing in the morning almost every day. The last week or so it's been Neil Young:
See the lonely boy
out on the weekend
tryin' to make it pay.
Can't relate to joy he
tries to speak and
can't begin to say.
One of my sons, a most competent critic of the pop, complains that our Neil is so whiny; and after a week I do agree, but the tune still sticks.

So ... onions ...
Mar Grosso.
Mar Grosso.Down towards the southernmost regions of Brasil are Rio Grande, São José do Norte, Pelotas, small cities, towns. Very flat country, and low - most of it sand dunes just a few metres above sea level.

They used to grow a lot of onions here. Then the government made a trade deal and now, even in local supermarkets the onions come from China, some investment group in Porto Alegre gets rich, and onion farms lie fallow.

One can fall in love with the horizon; and, because flat can mean windy, with the wind - an old man needs lots of gears on his bicycle. It should have been easy enough to buy a defunct onion farm. Not so. Gringos attract the heat. Almost found a place out on Ilha dos Marinheiros but the government already knows it's going underwater and there's a plan in place with regulations to prevent speculation, especially by estrangeiros.
Map: Rio Grande, Brazil.I tried everything I knew but nothing washed. I said to my sweet beloved, "Vamos virar fazendeiros de cebolas," and she, not quite understanding, said, "Sou preta mas não sou escrava meu amor."

RS-101 runs north from São José do Norte, is called 'The Devil's Highway' and eats tractor trailers whole. The beach goes alongside it for 100 miles or so. The other way, south from Cassino is about the same but with no highway. Hard sand, easy to cycle on as long as you're going with the wind. Inside are Lagoa dos Patos, Lagoa Mirim, and Lagoa Mangueira. They're very shallow. There's a local flat-bottomed sail boat, much like a Newfie dory, that people use to get around them but when I go to visit the boat-maker he's out (twice) and I need an easy win at that point.

Enough stories of failure and round-tuits to fill a bin. I'll spare you except to say something happened and I still don't know exactly what it was, something existential but I can't seem to see the bottom of it. I did see Orion one night in July from my balcony in Ipanema. What a surprise! I thought, "You're a long way from home," but it was nothing of the kind.
Mar Grosso, January 2008.Mar Grosso, January 2008.Mar Grosso, January 2008.Mar Grosso, January 2008.Rio Grande airport, January 2008.
Humans generally don't (can't) communicate, cooperate, work in common, et cætera; but very occasionally they do. [Oh look! Et cætera, a diphthong; and here's another comin' up with an accent an' all ...]

My friend Keith had a theory that humans have become two species. I mocked him for it at the time but maybe he was right. Compassion/altruism is that rare that it could be a genetic sport. If and when they find the gene I bet it's on the Neanderthal side.

Homo grǽdum: from Old English grǽd/greed, greedy, hungry, eager(ly). Worth a look in the OED; and also see Bob Dylan "Gimme a string bean. I'm a hungry man."   VERSUS   H. agapiens: from Greek ἀγάπη/brotherly love (and presumably comprising the sisterly as well).

Unfortunately the H. agapiens purveyors are about all woo-woo space cadets with no stroke: Matthieu Ricard, Thomas Berry; the meek-and-mild side of Jesus Christ and such. Smart guys; it's easy to tell they've got it right - they know anything that is accomplished will be one on one. They're lucid but not inspiring. Of course I wish them well.

See: The great work: our way into the future, Thomas Mary Berry, 1999.
        The sacred universe: earth, spirituality, and religion in the twenty-first century,
                Thomas Mary Berry, 2009 (essays 1972-2001).
        Altruism: the power of compassion to change yourself and the world,
                Matthieu Ricard, 2015 (translated from French).
        The Copernicus complex: our cosmic significance in a universe of planets and probabilities,
                Caleb A. Scharf, 2014. (This last to serve as ballast.)

So Orion goes chasing the Pleiades. And Aristotle's seven moral virtues too eh? Well, who wouldn't?
Elihu Vedder: The Pleiades, 1885.Orion, Taurus, The Pleiades.

This is all beginning to look like fodder for a spelling bee huh?

In 'Treme', the New Orleans 'serial' (mostly no more than tourist tout), John Goodman as Creighton Bernette nonetheless delivers an amazing eight-second monologue. "Fuck you you fucking fucks!" And shortly thereafter commits suicide by ferryboat.

A large digression is called for here (which will not be supplied, just sketched out) to describe the path from certain approximately feminist roots to enforced positive thinking (possibly via 'Waldorf Shortfall'), and thence to virtual fatwa and jihad AND hijra on any display of anger whatsoever, righteous or not. 'Virtual' because outright violence and suicide bombers are replaced by forbearance, shunning, and (as needed) hypocrisy & 'meds'. This can all put a hitch in struggles originating in perceptions of injustice; the most effective end-run becoming non-violent confrontation & civil disobedience. (Sorry for the shorthand.)

So ... not ignoring Jorge/Francis' recent call for conversion in Laudato Si' ...

When it comes to conversion experiences C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton may serve as exemplars: either a sudden change that comes upon one whilst walking up a hill, or a process so gradual it almost seems not to proceed, or ... none of the above.

Atheism (an exception to the 'i before e' rule) comes to me graciously while sitting on a park bench a few years ago listening to and watching the orchestra in the leaves; and the clincher is that it arrives (with a host of antecedents in tow) and does not diminish the beauty of it all by one iota.

A careful distinction needs to be made: atheism is 99 and 44/100ths% at best, more often ⅞ ths (see Richard Dawkins). If a 100-percenter shows up she or he is faking it; a 100%er on either side for that matter, certainty and wisdom being an inimical pair.

And then, just the other day in the park, again sitting on a bench (same park, different bench), another penny drops: The default answer to any question put to a human is "No."

 This too shall pass. :-)Oh yes, the (braggart) optimist wakes singing, most days; but on the occasional midnight a troll hand creeps 'round my ribs from behind and grips my heart. I get up and pace, thinking, "This terror too shall pass," ... and sure enough, it does.

Two flawed & bogus visions of Barack Obama:
Szep: Obama carrying the planet.Danziger: Obama's choice.

Some very good work by Rebecca Hendin:
Rebecca Hendin: Tom Cotton, Dear Ocean.Rebecca Hendin: Koch Brothers select a pet.
Rebecca Hendin: See No Evil. Do No Good.Rebecca Hendin: Barack Obama selling TPP.

And then there's Hillary, who doesn't even need to be bought:
Ted Rall: Hillary Clinton's record.Brian Gable: Hillary Clinton, momentum.Matt Wuerker: Hillary Clinton, lies.Mr Fish: Hillary Clinton, record.Steve Brodner: Hillary Clinton in the choir.Catalino: Hillary Clinton, big game hunter.John Deering: Hillary Clinton, contender.John Darkow: Hillary Clinton as Lucy.

As the internal Musak® modulates to 'Jerusalem' and "green and pleasant land," but in a minor key that makes everything strange and over it I hear 'The Swallow' moving into minor sharps & flats as she cries "Young man! What have ye done?!"

I want to pass this on somehow (silly, fond old fellow - a 'communato' as Keith called it) especially to the grandkids who will bear the brunt; but pass it on without scaring the pants off 'em either; so I cook up this half-hour video. I'm not sure they watch it but my old friend Chris does and tells me later: Yes, it's a poem, and poems are permitted to be subtle.

It's hot & muggy in Toronto and the cicadas are singin'. And there are (still?) a few Monarch butterflies fluttering about.

Shekhar Gurera: Onions.
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