• Liberal Arts, their necessity

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Gabe and Ruth. Beau Jo’s. Pizza. Cool nights. 22 degree difference: Lakewood to Shadow Mountain, 92-70. Abert’s Squirrel and Red Squirrels running. Chipmunks. Rabbits. Marmots. Fishers. Pikas. Prairie Dogs. Mice. Ravens. Crows. Magpies. Corvids.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Family

    One brief shining: Outside along the fence, there, peripheral vision alerted me, found it, a hopping form, bushy tail, then another, Red Squirrels, smaller all black pointy ears, running between the Lodgepoles, an Abert’s Squirrel, a very squirrely morning.

     

    Excited. I got a new translation of Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Plan to read it through as part of Herme’s Pilgrimage. Stephanie McCarter from the University of the South. Not as ground breaking as the new Iliad and Odyssey by Emily Wilson, but fresh eyes and a woman’s perspective. Looking forward to grounding myself again in Ovid’s world of epic poetry, shapes changed into bodies, metamorphosis.

    You could call me a classicist. Not in the academic sense, I don’t have the languages, but religious and ancient classical texts do have a gravitational pull for me. In translation I’ve read and returned to the Bible, Homer, Chinese literary classics like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Greek philosophy, the Talmud, Roman and Greek playwrights and poets like Ovid, Beowulf, the Norse sagas, Dante.

    When I say I’ve returned to them, I mean I will read them more than once. Which I don’t tend to do with more modern works. Say after the Renaissance.

    You could call me, too, conservative. I also keep returning to religious institutions and religious life. There’s a strong part of my inner journey that’s fed by books like the Torah, the New Testament, Tao Te Ching, Chado: the Way of Tea. Even the Great Wheel emerges from the long ago past.

    The vast deposit of human literature allows us to hop into a Jules Verne’s contraption of the mind, find long ago cultures like the Zhou Dynasty, Renaissance Florence, the Shogunate in Japan, village life in the old Celtic world, and for a time live in them, seeing the sights, considering the patterns of thought, the imaginative creations of other ways for being human.

    The wonder and magic of reading.

    Our era has begun to focus education away from the liberal arts which introduce us to philosophy, history, literature ancient and modern, languages, music and theater, poetry. We have a science and business tropism, a tendency to bend our institutions toward technology, toward business, toward matters concerning the practical arts like engineering, medicine, corporate agriculture.

    Of course those practical paths undergird our day to day lives. Necessary to us all. Yes. But, and here’s where the classical world, the conservative nature of the liberal arts and religion comes into play, to what end do we sustain human life? For what purpose do we earn profits? What is a humane approach to political economy?

    Without poetry and chamber music, without the voyage of Odysseus, without the journey of Dante, without the often ancient debates over the purpose of community, of nationhood, of war, of humanity itself, without Lao Tze and Confucius, without Zen and animist faiths like Shintoism and Western paganism we have no compass points to guide our white coated brethren, our C-suite compatriots, our decisions between a Trump and a Biden.

    Aimlessness leads to corruption, mendacity, and general rot. We are, right now, reaping the whirlwind of this shift in basic education.


  • Fool’s journeys

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Ruth and Gabe. 202 Thai. Maximalist decor. Going off to college with all its attendant worries and excitements. All first year students everywhere. Apical dominance. Phytochromes. New translation of Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth

    One brief shining: She sat on the William Morris reupholstery fabric she had helped me pick out, alert and sensitive as we talked of her upcoming time in Boulder at the University of Colorado, my heart lifted up and up as she spoke of duvets, meal plans, registration, the three person dorm room in Willville, anxiety and excitement mixing in that stew of I want to be on my own but I’d prefer it be at home.

     

    Ruth and Gabe have come up to the Mountains for three days. Cooler here. 102 in Denver on Friday. Ouch! 9 plus years they’ve come up to this house on Shadow Mountain. They both love it here. Lots of memories. Thanksgivings. Hanukahs. Birthdays. Overnights. Dogs. Grandma. Their Dad. Now time with me and the Mountain, the Mountains.

    This time has a different feel for several reasons. The most obvious being Ruth’s impending matriculation at UofC Boulder. She will no longer be down the Hill in Denver on Galena after August 20th. She moves to a dorm room in Williams Village East. Here’s a promo look. Oh, the anticipation.

    Williams houses first year students and returning engineering majors. Gee. How bout that Tom. Bill. Helen. Veronica. Ruth with all the budding builders of bridges, designers of safer propane tanks, forensic investigators of all sorts. Not to mention rocket scientists and managers of nuclear energy plants.

    Ruth and I share a trauma. Both of us had to leave home, make that big transition without one of our parents. Their deaths still fresh in memory. Unresolved issues with the parent at home. The dead parent the one who supported us, loved our uniqueness.

    I still remember the nightmares, the wobbly self-esteem, the feeling of working the trapeze without a net. I was not alone, Dad, Mary, and Mark came to see me. Reassure me. But my lived experience was of abandonment.

    Too, though, I also remember the first philosophy class, J. Harry Cotton smoking his paper wrapped plug of tobacco in a curved pipe. My mind undergoing the peculiar dismantling that only a good philosophy professor can enable. I fell in love with philosophy, a discipline that has, more than any other, defined my approach to life and thought.

    And Contemporary Civilization, or C.C. as it was widely known. A required course for all freshman. Yes, freshman remains correct. All male Wabash. In C.C. the broad sweep of history, well, to be fair, Western history, came alive. Though I would never be a history major, from that point on I took critical thinking and historical context as essential to good decision making, to life.

    What I’m saying here is that life is always polyvalent. Yes, I was in deep psychic pain around Mom’s death, about arguments with Dad, about my now muddled future. Yes, I found the life of the mind, a love affair that continues to this day. It was the beginning of a Fool’s journey.


  • Killer Robots

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Kristie. Orgovyx. National Geographic, October 2009. Learning basic botany. Harder than I thought. Resilience. Zen. Chan. Tibetan. Vedanta. Avatars. Shiva. Brahma. Vishnu. Ganesha. Lakshmi. Zoroaster. Lao Tze. The old man. Zhuangzi. Exoplanets. Exudates. Exdates. Today’s date. This July 5th, 2024 life. Great Sol. All planets.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Periodic Table

    One brief shining: Cancer has the same flavor as the tale of the Scorpion and Frog, your own cells growing growing growing until they sink along with the rest of you.

     

    PSA cell

    N.B.: Yesterday I referenced castration resistant prostate cancer. Castration resistant is a metric, no longer part of the treatment. That is, the standard of androgen deprivation therapy-a very, very low amount of androgens, male hormones, in the body-is the amount equivalent to that of a castrated man. In fact, even for sex offenders chemical castration, which is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) used off book, is the norm. If prostate cancer grows in spite of ADT, then you are said to have castration resistant prostate cancer. It requires new treatment.

    Wanted to make that clear. And, I do not have it.

     

     

    Taking a basic botany class on Coursera, as I mentioned. Only the second class session and I’m in over my head. This session focuses on how plants see. Turns out plants see more than we do, more of the electromagnetic spectrum. How a plant grows, when it germinates from a seed, when it stops growing, when it folds up for the night or opens up for the day, all controlled by phytochromes in the photochromic receptor system.

    I’m used to taking a class, then a test, and doing better than well. In this case I took the test right after the session. I did not do close to well. Thought I understood when I obviously did not. So today I plan to study before I retake the test. You have multiple tries to better your score.

    Not a big surprise, really. This is science and it has right and wrong answers. I’m more of a big picture, relativistic, let’s consider the opposing perspective guy. In case you just said, wait a minute, science insists on the opposing perspective through the experimental process. Well, ok. Not quite the same, but similar.

    Madras Courier

    Just a moment: Here’s how we end ourselves. The Era of Killer Robots is Here. NYT, The Daily, July 9, 2024. Guess a dystopian writer got this part first. Imagine a technologically advanced but smaller nation confronting a brutal, much larger rival who is fine with using its citizens as cannon fodder. Imagine that smaller nation loses access to sophisticated weaponry already designed and under manufacture. What does it do?

    Yes. The Ukraine has tapped its significant technology sector to automate its weaponry and create new weapons using drones and other high tech, easily available machines. That, in and of itself, is not the problem since a lot of weapons have high tech components.

    So, what is the problem? Ukraine has lost many of its fighting age citizens and faces a shortage of soldiers. In that situation and willing to do whatever it takes to fend off the Russian Bear, it was inevitable that they would produce weapons that not only have high tech killing potential, but weapons that can make the decision to fire on their own.

    That’s SkyNet territory. Without a human mediator it’s all about the algorithm and the sensors. The deeper ethical concerns get set aside when survival is at stake. Understandable, but very dangerous. For us all.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • Living. While dying. All of us

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Durango’s Animas River chocolates. Mary down under. Mark in Phnom Penh. Seoah and my son in Songtan. Diane in the Mission. Me on Shadow Mountain. Here comes the Sun. Great Sol feeding us all. Vanquishing the night. Warming us. The Beatles. Led Zepplin. The Doors. Buffalo Springfield. Bob Dylan. The Who. Jefferson Airplane.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Wide World

    One brief shining: Slipping into a favorite chair, a book nearby with its flap marking forward progress, turning on the reading light, finding a pair of glasses, I open the book to the spot behind Jupiter where the Bunker World has taken up residence, and travel the last few centuries with the strange world of the Three Body Problem.

     

    Full transparency. Cancer worries. Not following Kate’s advice. Been reading research again. Metastases. Castration resistant prostate cancer. Lethal. Readying myself for those words: there is no more we can do. Opening my heart to the final days. How will I react? With grace and good humor is my intention. Then. Full stop! No. Today is the life of July 8th, 2024 and the only life I have. Live it.

    O.K. But first. I’ll run a time limited check on that research. Just in the last year. Ah. Many more options available now. Extending life. Better outcomes. Yes.

    Mind. I don’t have castration resistant prostate cancer yet. I’m just trying to wreck my day to day composure with imagining that it’s coming. Even so I did calm myself by learning that there are other treatments beyond androgen deprivation therapy.

    It’s a delicate balance between living the life of this day, this brand new wakin’ up mornin’ life granted to me, and staying in touch with the cancer, staying alert to what my treatment demands. Denial and suppression are not workable strategies for me. Yet, neither are depression and despair.

    So I go weeks without paying much attention to this fell beast living in my body, then a few days of reading research, prepping myself for what may never happen. Though cancer is an obvious candidate it may well be something else that carries me off to the surprise after life.

    And on that cheery note, I’ll just ask: How was the play?

     

    Just a moment: The flipside. Herme’s Pilgrimage. Herme took a Wildwood World Tree reading yesterday and found, again, that the cards show a positive, strong context for his journey.

    The tarot itself is part of the pilgrimage. A way to move past stuckness, to gain energy, to foresee challenges and strengths. So as Herme works into his soul for the meaning behind, within, and adjacent to Trees, he feels buoyed up, supported.

    Here’s a poem Bill Schmidt found. It resonates.

     

    When I am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver

     

    When I am among the trees,

    especially the willows and the honey locust,

    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

    they give off such hints of gladness.

    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

     

    I am so distant from the hope of myself,

    in which I have goodness, and discernment,

    and never hurry through the world

    but walk slowly, and bow often.

     

    Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”

    The light flows from their branches.

     

    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come

    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”


  • The Jurupa Oak

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Churros and xocolate. Ham and creamed cheese. Mandarin oranges. The Mediterranean diet. Aspirational. Coffee. Bunn High Altitude Coffee Maker. Espresso roast beans. Veronica’s bat mitzvah party. Rabbi Jamie. Parsha Korach. Numbers. Aviva Zornberg’s Bewilderment. Reading. Plant hormones: cytokinin, auxin, gibberellin.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Evolution

    One brief shining: Pulled back the blue wrapper on the bar of xocolate from La Tienda, put chunks from it in a small pan with some milk after I placed the churros in my toaster oven, hit the induction button and pressed it up to six slowly stirring with a fork as the milk turned first light brown, then a deep chocolate as it thickened, the churros finished with an appliance ding, I poured the xocalate in a wide coffee cup and began dipping the churros.

     

    One thing tasted like I hoped. Churros and melted chocolate. Definitely an only on rare occasions treat. But yum. The Spanish serve it at breakfast and as a dessert. This is something that will stay on my broad menu. Though I admit it doesn’t bring me closer to the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish my inner dietitian recommends.

     

    Spent shabbat reading and watching TV. Napping. Relaxing after a rigorous workout week. Eating good food. At least good tasting food. Tarot cards. Working the subconscious through Woodland Guardians and the Wildwood deck. Reading parsha Korach and Aviva Zornberg’s commentary. Which also works the subconscious.

    The inner world equivalent of those deep submersibles. Scrunching myself up in the five of vessels, diving with the archetype of a dancing anima holding a Baccahanalian thysrus, twirling among candles. How low can I go? Or following the lost generation of Jews and their trust/distrust of the power that led them out of Egypt only to wander in the desert. The bee and the pomegranate taking me back to the Andover bee hives, the evenings with seeds encased in red. Thinking of Persephone.

    Shabbat. Friends. Food. Learning. Relaxing. Reinforcing my Jewish identity.

     

    iNature page on the Jurupa Oak

    Just a moment: the Jurupa Oak*. I’d never heard of it until cousin Diane sent me an article about it. This tree has lived for 13,000 years. California’s housing crisis could doom it. WP, July 5, Shannon Osaka.

    It is a clonal colony like the more well known Pando, a colony of Aspen in Utah, estimated to be 14,000 years old.

    Trees and their lives. Bristlecones and Sequoias and Coastal Redwoods and Lodgepoles and Aspen. Maples. Oaks. Wollemi Pines. Dogwood. Ash. Elm. Ironwood. Willows. Ponderosa. Douglas Fir. Colorado Blue Spruce.

    We live such short lives though we may travel far. The Tree stays rooted, lets the world travel around it, dancing and reaching for the Sky.

     

    *The Jurupa Oak, or Hurungna Oak,[1][2] is a clonal colony of Quercus palmeri (Palmer’s oak) trees in the Jurupa Mountains in Crestmore Heights, Riverside County, California. The colony has survived an estimated 13,000 years through clonal reproduction,[3][4][5] making it one of the world’s oldest living trees.[5] Wiki

     


  • Transitioned

    Summer and the Mountain Summer Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Lengthening nights. Warm days. Spanish food for the Fourth. Judy Sherman. Kate. All those who suffer, yet are strong. Resilience. Workout yesterday. Joanne. Responsibility. Seeing, being responsive. Kavod. Honor. Teshuvah. Botany. Cambium. Phloem and xylem. Heartwood. Photosynthesis. Carbon Dioxide in. Oxygen out. Creating food for us all.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Energy into matter

    One brief shining: Got a thick cardboard box, heavy, filled first with crenelated paper, opened the larger box inside and removed the slices of acorn fed Iberian Jamon ham, of chorizo, of other ham slices, churros and xocalate, then the smaller box which contained Olives, grilled Peppers, nuts greeting my Fourth of July feast.

     

    Every once in a bit. I’ll see some food offering. In a grocery store, especially one like Tony’s. Or, online, maybe Wild Alaska or at the Spanish food site, La Tienda. The Store. My imagination gets caught by the marketer’s guile and visions of a scrumptious meal dance before my inner eye. Not real often. But on occasion.

    Less often, my eye’s dance, my inner tongue tastes the delicacies on offer and I reach for my money. The anticipation never matches the reality. Oh, if it only could. Sure the Jamon ham is tasty, but not in a lift off, send me to the moon way. The Olives are good as are the Peppers. Good, not amazing. I know. You’d think at 77 I would have learned. And mostly I have. But on occasion…

     

    Still no word from Rocky Mountain Cancer Care. Not sure why getting in to see these radiation oncologists is taking so long. Kristie put me on the Orgovyx to tamp down the cancer while I wait to get in, but it’s been almost three weeks and I don’t even have an appointment. I’ve jiggled Kristie and Rocky Mountain. Nada. I’m a bit frustrated. Ready to have these metastases radiated.

    I’m assertive about my care. In general and especially so with cancer, yet moving medical bureaucracies is no easier than moving corporate or governmental bureaucracies. Sometimes you have to wait.

     

    Back to the tarot deck. Pulling cards each day. Tarot tickles my inner compass, puts a probe down below my consciousness. Yesterday from the Wildwood Deck I turned over a five of vessels for the second time in three days. Ecstasy. Happiness. Realization of a dream. And from the Woodland Guardian deck, the Bee and the Pomegranate. Productivity. Hard work.

    Herme’s Pilgrimage has legs. Learning botany basics in a Coursera class from Tel Aviv University. Finished the Tree communication class from the New York Botanical Garden. Am reading my way through a book on Tree myths and one on old growth forests. Did a Google arts and culture search on Trees and got thousands of hits. This pilgrimage has a wandering path with Trees as a lodestar. For now. Plants, too.

    I have transitioned from the days of learning for my conversion and bar mitzvah to a new field of knowledge.

     

     

     

     


  • Frailty

    Summer and the Mountain Summer Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Irv and Paul and me. Tom. David. Roxann. Veronica’s Bat Mitzvah party. MVP. Responsibility. Achariyut. La Tienda. Tastes of Spain. Leo back with his dad. Diane. The 4th of July. Our country, right and wrong. Joe Biden. Aging. He of the flappy suits and the too long ties. Democracy. Its frailties. Its strengths. Our flag. Which belongs to no camp of our politics.


                                                                     Sparks of Joy and Awe

    One brief shining: Picked chicken wings at the GQcue Barbecue in Lakewood, Green Beans and Barbecue Beans, went to a booth with my standing number-12-and sat waiting on Alan to get his brisket and Turkey, outside cars went by on Alaska Avenue in this suburban neighborhood of three story newer apartment buildings with exposed brick and lots of metal, the heat of another 4th of July rising from the asphalt, making the Trees welcome purveyors of shade, celebrating a holiday with a friend. Yes.

     

    Mountain nights. Cool down into the mid-fifties, often the high forties. Important reason that Kate felt she was always on vacation here. Mountain Summers.

    The Mountains suited both of us. Scenic. Neighbors spread out and views around every corner. Cool nights in the Summer and lots of Snow in the Winter. Spectacular gold and green Autumns. Wild neighbors swinging by every once in a while. Quiet. Dog friendly. No sidewalks. Little traffic.

    And, it turned out, Jews. Mountain Jews. Kate’s life complete as she lived a Jewish life at Congregation Beth Evergreen. What a blessing for her. For me.

     

    The after debate debate. Will he leave on his own? Or, will he be forced out? I read an interesting article by a geriatrician in the NYT yesterday. She talked about frailty*, about how it can slip up on us as we age, rendering us more vulnerable to illness, trauma, exhaustion. She never says Biden is frail, but she implied it by writing the article.

    At 77 I’m only three and a half years from my 81st birthday. Gives me a certain perspective. It’s important to note that frailty does not equal diminished mental capacity. It’s about resilience, about stamina. I can only imagine the strain working the long hours of a Presidency might do to me. I wonder, from time to time, if I’m still up to managing this house. A far, far cry from a nation. Especially a nation in as fraught a time as ours.

    Of course, the one who would wreck our country is 78. He also has the rambles and the teeters. What might we do with him if he dies or becomes disabled in office? Let Bannon or Miller seize the reins like Woodrow Wilson’s wife did after his stroke?

    We’re at a very unusual moment in our national history, trying to sort out on the fly what age has to do with capacity to lead. We may have to find out. I hope not.

     

     

    *”“Frailty” is not just a colloquial term; it’s a measurable clinical syndrome, first characterized by the geriatrician and public health expert Dr. Linda Fried, that describes a generalized decrease in physiological resilience to stress, injury and illness…

    Dr. Patricia Cantley has written about a useful analogy that she offers to frail patients and their loved ones to explain what’s going on: A beautiful, skillfully assembled paper boat sailing on a pond may look great and sail without difficulty as long as the water is calm and the sun is shining. But should a gust of wind or a wave come up unexpectedly, the paper boat is vulnerable to damage, may tip over easily and is unlikely to be righted and sail as well as before.”

     

     

     


  • Uncle Sam

    Summer and the 2% crescent of the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Irv, Paul, Tom. Rich. Joan. Jamie. Tara. Talking politics under the starlight with Rich. Rescheduling with Joan. Tara today. Driving in the dark. Going to bed really late. This July 4th, 2024 life. Dreams that may come. Joe Biden. The New York Times. Newspapers. Printer’s ink. Justifying the galleys. Linotype machines. Letter presses.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Journalism

    One brief shining: A dull steady drone, quiet yet woeful, persistent, challenges my hearing since I cannot locate the source which increases and decreases according to the position of my head, clamoring for all the attention I would rather devote to writing, in the background yet pushing itself into the foreground. Acchh.

     

    Wednesday. A busy day. Up sticks. Shema. Back exercises. Write Ancientrails. Over to Evergreen Medical for my Prolia shot. Back to Conifer, Aspen Perks for breakfast, pickup flannel shirts at the dry cleaners, ready for storage, back home to Leo. Get Leo’s stuff together for his Dad’s afternoon arrival. Read. Watch a little TV. Shower. Order from Beau Jo’s to pick up on the way to CBE. MVP. Then, a half-hour with Rich on the Supreme Court, Joe Biden and our hapless nation. In the parking lot, a warm Mountain summer night with a clear field of stars. Home around 10:30 pm. 2 hours past my usual bedtime. Oi. A little THC.

    Then up at 7:30. For the life that happens on July 4th, 2024.

    Happy birthday, Uncle Sam! Speech. Speech.

    Thank you. Thank you. No. Really. Thank you. (puts hands out, palms down. In response the crowd quiets.)

    I know. I know. This has not been democracy’s finest year. Anywhere. Except maybe Britain. A bit of a nod to India, too. Otherwise the forces of autocracy and prejudice, of chauvinistic religion have proved ascendant. Yes. I read the newspapers, too. Online of course.

    (crowd laughs)

    So. What to say. A time of peril for our government and its authority granted by the citizens of our nation. Raising the President above the law? That’s not an American idea. Remember King George? The divine right of Kings? No citizen, no matter what their title or station is above the law. I’ve said that over and over since the founding. A hard lesson, one that may seem too hard to some. But to me? Essential. Sine qua non.

    And on that divine right business. Who knows about divinity and what it wants or who it wants to lead? That’s why we established a government of the people, by the people, for the people so help us the non-intrusive god of the Deists who wrote our constitution. Now many of our citizens, in defiance of that bedrock principle, want to put so-called Christian values as superior, as national values. They even want me to preside over a Christian nation.

    No. I will not. I’m agnostic myself. Not to mention the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikh’s, Jains, Taoists, atheists, humanists and who knows how many others. We are a quilt, a tapestry, not a pristine white altar cloth.

    Enough of that. I’m headed to Coney Island for a hot dog and some fireworks. Enjoy the 4th.

     


  • Rise Up from the Grave

    Summer and the waning of the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Shirley Waste. Cool morning. Another quiet day on Shadow Mountain. Prolia for my bones. Leo. Being a Dog. The story of Gilgamesh and the great Cedar Forest.The New York Botanical Garden. Botany. Horticulture. Bees. Honey. Gardens. Andover. My ninja weeder, Kate. Vince. Evergreen Medical Center. Sue Bradshaw. Cancer.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Assertiveness

    One brief shining: Hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, a set of resistance work, another 15 minutes on the treadmill, another set of resistance, 10 minutes on the treadmill, a long and tough session with Leo occasionally hovering over my face, licking it, telling me, what a good boy you are human.

    How bout that Supreme Court, eh? A sudden shift in the substantive matters of our democracy. A strange and unwarranted granting of legal shields for the President. A gutting of the regulatory power of Federal agencies. Validating a cruel Oregon law against the homeless. Saying yes to the NRA in a First Amendment case. And so on.

    Marry that series of rulings with the most important Presidential debate ever. See the confusing fallout from Biden’s performance. Giving aid and comfort to the MAGA camp and their long-tied, short-witted Jim Jones. Try to imagine what’s going to happen now. Hard to do. For me at least. 2024 will be remembered, there is no doubt at all. And it’s only half over. With an election still to come.

    There’s a gospel hymn, Ain’t No Grave*. Some of the lyrics: Ain’t no grave can keep my body down, when that trumpet sounds I will rise up from the ground. I’m beginning to have the same feeling about the death of my America. There ain’t no far-right that can keep my body politic down. When that Anthem plays, we’ll rise up from the ground.

    You see my heart, my lev knows that the politics of fear and cruelty, of laissez faire attitudes toward the predations of capitalism, of the unholy consolidation of power by far-right ideologues does not reflect either the purpose of our nation or the opinions of most of its citizens. We will be known now by whether we roll over, lay back in the grave or rise up.

    I will not look for land in Costa Rica. I will not stop voting or agitating. I will not retire from the arena. I will not let the course of this change go unchallenged. My voice will be small since my life has Herme’s Pilgrimage as its main focus now, but my voice will never go silent. I will rise up from the grave of the America I once knew and fought for all my life.

    A while back I mentioned the Storm Before the Calm by George Friedman, put in my hand by buddy Tom Crane. His talk of cyclical rather than linear pulses in our national economy and political life sees a vast change starting over the next 4 to 5 years. What’s happening right now has some characteristics of his work. He sees all this as an upheaval leading to a renewed and refreshed American democracy. May it be so.

     

    *

     


  • The Squeeze and the Elevation

    Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Yesterday’s immersion in Herme’s Pilgrimage. Drawing the Queen of Bows and the Cayman with the Poppies. Finishing my Tree Communication course. VOC’s. Volatile Organic Compounds. Released through Stoma. An important mode of Tree messaging. The hundreds of millions year old relationship between Tree Roots and Fungi. A cool Mountain morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Lodgepoles and Aspens of the Arapaho National Forest

    One brief shining: Clicked on the link and Annie Novak of the New York Botanical Garden showed up on Zoom, reminding me of MJ Hedstrom, an old flame of the Grand Marais Hedstrom’s, thin and bright, well spoken, passionate both though Annie had knowledge about Trees and Tree Communication whereas MJ knew Minnesota politics. I learned a lot from both of them.

     

    orgovyx

    A week plus back on Orgovyx. A bit of hot flashes. Not bad. Otherwise ok. Since Orgovyx took me on as a charity case, I don’t have to pay seven hundred and fifty-three dollars a month for it. Though that seemed paltry compared to Paul’s friend who has leukemia and has treatments that cost seventeen thousand. She’s getting money from the Assistance Fund as I did a year or so ago for both Orgovyx and Erleada until the Prostate Cancer wing of that fund drained all of its assets.

    Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? And, of course, when you get that treatment paid for, the one that keeps you alive, your gratitude seems like the least you can offer. Sort of. Until you learn, as I did last year, that the folks who fund the Assistance program are the very pharmaceutical companies charging the exorbitant fees. That means that the Fund is a way to keep the political waters cool by paying off the cohort that would otherwise go screaming to their Congressperson. It is, then, a tradeoff, you help me with my treatment and I have no need to raise the burdensome expense. Because you’ve covered it. Imagine how much money these companies spend on this. A lot. But cheaper I imagine than losing a battle with Congress.

    I admit I’m a little scared to publish this since I may need the Assistance fund again. But this is the sort of bind that a capitalist economy forces on all players. Those of us who are sick need the meds. In these cases just to survive. The pharmaceutical companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their board and shareholders to maximize profits. Congress hears from these companies often. How expensive new drug development is. How it will fall off a cliff if they can’t charge these very high prices. How many people they employee. How much they pay in taxes. And now they have a Supreme Court that is business friendly. Can you feel the squeeze?

     

    Just a moment: And, as the DJ used to say, The hits just keep on coming.* His lawyers, his judges, his arrogance and cowardice have combined to wrench apart the levers of balance in our system, slowly ratcheting the Presidency into rarefied, autocratic air. Soon our Presidents may have a throne in the Oval Office, an eagle-headed scepter, a crown of diamonds, rubies, and sapphire stones forming bunting around the base and a raised Gadsen flag with platinum surround at the peak. All Hail, the one who rules now by divine right. Not constitutional designation of powers!

     

    *”…more than one lower-court opinion addressing novel legal issues raised by Mr. Trump’s norm-breaking behavior observed that presidents are not kings. But suddenly, they do enjoy a kind of monarchical prerogative.” NYT, 7/2/2024