Ad Hoc Authority

0

May 26, 2020-

I began reading the National Geographic, for the month of June, whilst doing my laundry, this afternoon. One of the opinion pieces, about the effect of satire and humour, in getting people to understand science, contained the curious statement that “most scientists” agree the GMO-foods are safe to eat-and that Jimmy Kimmel says they’re safe to eat, as well.

I have never heard Mr. Kimmel speak, about anything. When people talk about dietary or nutritional matters, their main frames of reference are: Their dietary needs and preferences; their investments (GMO foods are lucrative) and their aversion to what they see as lapses in efficiency (Small farms and organic methods are often cited as being “inefficient.”)

I also have a problem with “most…….”. It reminds me of the phrase, “They’re all doing it”. Not being a lemming, or a sheep, I have to weigh trends in my mind, before followong along. Nebulous citations, or quoting lay people, who may or may not be authoritative, or articulate, are not altogether convincing.

Many of the problems into which we have fallen, today, are the results of having followed the words of the loudest voice in the room. Ad hoc authority figures have risen up, at various levels of national life-and in other countries, as well. They set policy by feeling their way. I have to caution my readers, to revert back to conducting scrutiny, to the best of your ability, and not taking anything at face value.

Things that may, or may not, be safe, are not ascertained by saying “The scientists say it’s so!” What scientists? Working for whom? Where are their studies, and the peer reviews, published?

The Silence

4

May 25, 2020-

The silence, today, was truly deafening.

There were few speeches,

anywhere in the nation.

There were no mass gatherings

of Scouts, Gold Star families,

Scottish Piper Regiments,

and surviving veterans.

all placing flags,

at gravesites.

There were several picnics

and barbecues,

people in boats,

people in swimsuits,

people wishing one another,

“Happy” Memorial Day.

It’s de rigeur, anymore.

I recall the Memorial Days

of my childhood,

watching a parade,

then going to place flowers

at the gravesites

of my grandfathers

and Grama.

There was a quiet,

the rest of the day,

and I recall reflecting,

sometimes worrying about

mortality.

I’m not sure when

things started to change.

Maybe it was the

unpopularity

of our involvements

in the wars that came

after Korea.

There will always be that debate,

but this remains:

Those who went,

and did not come back

alive,

did not make policy.

They deserve better,

than “Happy Memorial Day”.

All gave some;

some gave all.

InCel

2

May 24, 2020-

The relative calm, that has accompanied our state’s lifting of a stay-at-home order, was broken last Wednesday evening. In the Metro Phoenix city of Glendale, a disgruntled young man decided he’d “had enough of being bullied” and went to the large Westgate entertainment district, equipped with firepower. He used that firepower to disrupt the lives of 3 victims, all of whom have survived, and of countless other frightened diners and shoppers. He told police that he was InCel- an involuntary celibate.

In 2014, a similarly “aggrieved” individual went on an even deadlier rampage, in Isla Vista, CA, near Santa Barbara. That person’s plaint was the same-He felt he was forced to be celibate, because of snobby women. My own reaction to this, was that his complaint was balderdash-prompting one of his apologists to scold me and say that I should clean up my own backyard.

Life has shown that I did have some self-work to do, though not what the critic assumed. It has been nearly four decades, since I wallowed in self-pity, about my status in the dating field. Never once, though, did it occur to me that FORCE was the answer-to any social difficulty. Time brought Penny, along with my improved self-concept, greater respect for women as human beings and a realistic ethic , regarding friendships of all sorts. Our marriage lasted until her passing, and would still be extant, had she lived.

I happen to believe in celibacy, outside of marriage, so the concept that one is saddled with it, in an involuntary manner, does not wash, in my view. There will need, for a long time to come, be cause for parents to pay close attention to how their adolescent-and young adult-children are faring socially. There will need, for a long time to come, for society (police, social workers, teachers, weapons safety advocates and groups) to notice those who might be loners, misfits and mentally unstable. Those people do not need access to weapons, and to argue otherwise is a perversion of the right to bear arms.

People, both men and women, should retain the freedom of choice-in any relationship.

Nuance

2

May 23, 2020

One of the major pitfalls of viewing life strictly through a digital lens is that three of the five physical senses are left hanging-thus depriving the sixth sense, intuition, of what it needs to be validated. Lack of touch, taste and smell deprives the mind of nuance, which is intuition’s best friend.

So, we have the minor spectacles of the “Karens” and “Nervous Nellies”, on both Right and Left, making and passing judgments about events in places far from their abodes-even places to which they’ve never been, about people whom they’ve never met.

Of course, we’ve probably all done it, at one time or another. I have expressed loud disapproval of cruel acts committed against children and animals, or the depredations of sex traffickers and overzealous abortionists. My only defense is that I have spoken on behalf of innocents.

COVID-19 has brought this phenomenon to a boil. People in small towns and cities, relatively unaffected by the pandemic, in terms of actual infection rates, can make the case for THEIR communities to not adopt the same regimens as large cities-or close-knit rural areas, such as the Navajo Nation or the Amish communities, where large families share living space.

Likewise, those large urban areas and large family groups do well to take stringent measures, in combating infection. They do not need to take, to heart, the objections of people in less densely populated areas, to those measures.

In this time of trial, and of restricted travel, chances are that neither really, deep-down, comprehends what the other is enduring. Rural people feel the bite of a slowed down economy, in ways that that people in larger communities do not- and vice versa. We have each been hit by a different sack of bricks.

People like the Navajo, their neighbours-the Hopi, Zuni, Southern Paiute and Ute, as well as countless other First Nations tribes, the aformentioned Amish, Appalachian Whites and Blacks in the rural South tend to get the worst of both situations-geographic isolation AND no safe harbour from living in close-quarters.

Those in densely-populated cities in the East and Midwest, as well as the major urban areas of the West and South, are enduring real-time catastrophes, in ways that those in the rural Midwest and West can barely comprehend. The converse is also true. Those who feel the fright of dealing with a loss of income, due to a pandemic which has otherwise scarcely affected their communities, are right to voice that fright.

I feel it is time for one and all to take stock of the other’s situation, knowing that we can not have a full-on understanding of that experience. With that knowledge, let us set our emotional reactions to what we see and hear, about far-off events, aside. Take several deep breaths. How long, and to what measure, New York, Los Angeles and the Navajo Nation are in lockdown should not be the target of the objections of people in the Great Plains and non-Indian Mountain West. Neither should the reopening of Arizona, Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan be grist for the anguish of those in communities that are still struggling with COVID-so long as people from reopened areas don’t descend on the war zones, or vice-versa.

Only grasping the nuance of the other person’s experience can bring understanding.

Discombobulation

14

May 22, 2020

Discombobulation was a term used by one of the more effective teachers, in my junior high days, to describe the constant shifting of one’s physical or social situation, without allowing for a reasonable explanation or period of adjustment.

The notion that change is a constant is widely understood. What does not seem to be as well understood are the notions that opinions can evolve and that people can’t be typecast by their ethnicities, genders, generations or even prior stances on issues.

Much is being made about the constantly changing positions of the president, some members of Congress, some state governors and some medical authorities, with respect to COVID19. I attribute most of that clamouring to fear of the unknown and a desire for some measure of consistency, that people may deal successfully with the disease, in their own spheres.

The public state of affairs caused by the pandemic, as well as the virus itself, are evolving, continuously. Thus, people, including those in positions of authority, need to be afforded some measure of flexibility, in their public pronouncements and in their assessments of the situation. This virus has variously presented us with a clearcut roadmap for flattening the curve of infections and hospitalizations, followed by what appears to be an insidious game of Whack-A-Mole.

There is, almost as a sideshow, the spectacle of the presumptive Democratic candidate for president making what he now says is an offhand remark, regarding the qualifications for being “black”. Whitesplaining is odious, in any context, and introducing a measure of cognitive dissonance, into the lives of African-Americans who have conservative political views, makes it even more so. I’ve pointed out, in a different context, that there are liberals, conservatives and all point in between, in every given community.

We each have our opinions, on just about everything. The fact that we have them, or that we feel strongly about them, doesn’t make them right. The fact that we are free to change these opinions, hopefully in light of new information, doesn’t mean that we are suddenly either in grievous error-or imbued with wisdome from on high.

Change is ever a constant.

Dreams Not Deferred

5

May 21, 2020-

After visiting the newly reopened American Legion Post 6 and stopping by Bill’s Pizza for a couple of slices, which I then enjoyed at a park bench, in Courthouse Square, I headed along North Cortez Street, and made note of more places re-opening, this coming weekend.

It was another of life’s sublime pleasures, to see a fairly good cross section of our area’s graduating high school seniors, lining up in their vehicles-sedans, trucks, SUVs and Jeeps, preparing for a motorcade through downtown, after which they would go to Pioneer Park, on the north side, for a group celebration. I stayed around and cheered all of the grads, as they drove by my perch on the outside of a long-defunct Chinese restaurant.

This group has been challenged to complete their course of study, in ways not seen since World War II. People of my parents’ generation may well identify, yet at least they got to finish school in their buildings. This spring semester, at all schools, has been an intense swirl of innovation-much of it accomplished on the spur of the moment. The best of it has relied on inquiry and discussion, followed by students coming up with solid new ways to accomplish things that had relied on formula, for far too long.

I had little to do with the achievements of this class of seniors, but I did cheer one young lady, a special needs person, who learned the value of setting personal boundaries and safeguarding herself, without, thankfully, having to undergo trauma. She can now take her place among those pursuing, and realizing, their dreams-hers being to work as a cosmetologist.

May each of these remarkable souls make their mark, not waylaid by any future misfortune-either greater or lesser than the one that interrupted, but did not dismantle, their last year of high school.

Altogether Fitting and Proper

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May 20, 2020-

I woke today, feeling the power that comes with a day which may be written as 05-20-20, and which is the midpoint of the twentieth week of 2020.  Being Wednesday, I found myself in two consecutive Zoom calls, for two different reasons, this afternoon.

After those were finished, it was time for a regenerative cat nap-THEN came the urge to finally take the first of four directional walks.  So, on went the sneakers, sunglasses and ballcap-and east I went.

Today was the last of a series of mild, rather breezy days, so walking was a veritable pleasure.  My eastward route took me as far as the still-shuttered Planet Fitness franchise, in a shopping center called Frontier Village.  This was a 1 1/2 mile-one-way jaunt, and relatively easy.

The way back led me along the edge of Prescott VA Cemetery, resting place of many military veterans, and a place where I usually join a large group of volunteers, placing American flags at gravesites, on Memorial Day weekend.  I’ve heard nothing about that, this year, so am thinking it’s another casualty of COVID19.  I stopped and read Abraham Lincoln’s “Address at Gettysburg Memorial Cemetery”, thinking about what, today, is “altogether fitting and proper”.

There are three things that come immediately to mind:

  1.  Treat all citizens, especially those with whom one disagrees, as worthy of respect.

2.  Honour those who may need us to make small adjustments in our daily conduct- i.e. people who might be immunocompromised, and need those around them, in public places, to wear face masks.

3.  Continue thinking for self-and that means THINKING, not following the loudest voices in the room, on the Internet or in the streets.

These are altogether fitting and proper, nearly 157 years after our nation’s 16th President dedicated a military cemetery, receiving the remains of those who fought in one of our nation’s bloodiest, and most divisive, conflicts.

Then and Now-The May Version

4

May 19, 2020-

Change is a constant, even if some hectoring voice uses that bromide as his mantra.  It occurs to me that there was a different me, sometime ago, which is either fading or has disappeared.

Time was, when I was concerned with how people thought of me, how they looked at me, whether I’d be accepted.  Now, I see others as fellow travelers, even if they go on a path that’s different from mine.  We will all end up at the same place; we’ll just be asked different questions, by the Gatekeeper.  I accept myself, and how I look, so it doesn’t matter how others find my appearance. Besides, more and more people are far younger than I am, so they will most likely just see an old man.  As for acceptance-that starts with self-and that horse came back into the barn, a long time ago.

Then, I tended to patronize people-kids, women, old folks.  I thought it the best road to being regarded as “just folks”.  A rough old soldier called me out on the matter, and I began the long road to seeing humans as eyeball-to-eyeball.  I had made a lot of progress, in terms of being genuine, by 2005. Then, my beloved began to really go into decline and I put my self-care, and development, on hold.  After she left, it took three solid years of struggle, some travel and a fair number of mistakes, whilst on the road, to reach my equilibrium again.

Now, it’s 2020-and getting closer to mid-year.  How am I doing?  I’m good, in place, and once the curtain gets lifted, and I am cleared to be on the road again, I probably will hang on around here- to see how the school situation is shaking out, and if I am needed there.  I will also be even more focused, whether at home or on the road, than I was even last year.  There is a five-dimension sense that has taken over my consciousness.  It’ll be a most astonishing seven months ahead, and even more astonishing afterward.

What is Cherished?

11

May 18, 2020-

This post is inspired by Eugenia’s series of prompts: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/60360547/posts/2711101856

I cherish the actions of the heart, above all.

Those efforts that do not seek to elevate one above all others,

but which seek to raise all boats.

I cherish family,

both near biological.

and far extended,

the family of the bloodline

and that of the heart.

I cherish childhood,

that which is given us,

in the first two decades,

or so, of life,

and that which is retained

in spirit, even as the body

and mind take on the

trappings of age and maturity.

I cherish the beauty that

surrounds us,

both the glimmerings

of nature, by day and by night,

and the images conjured

by the mind.

Let all be adored,

which keeps us

and propels us forward.

When “Clean” Becomes Filthy

2

May 17, 2020-

I used to live in central Maine.  On weekends, I would go either north or east, as a rule, exploring the further segments of New England’s largest state.  One area that always impressed me was the North Woods- one of the largest stretches of unbroken forest, east of the Mississippi River.  Even when I lived there, a small group of people, mainly Europeans, who didn’t understand why we “needed” so many trees, were agitating to cut down many of the trees and build something “useful” in the region-like second homes for people from more congested areas.  We would hear how, in Europe, there was not this obsession with keeping the land “empty”. and people were just happy with less wilderness. (I did not get this feeling, when I visited some western European countries , in 2014, but there we are.)

So, it doesn’t surpise me to learn that a Spanish-owned company, Central Maine Power, is going to court, to force a clear-cut of a 53-mile swath, through the North Woods, for the purpose of building a “Clean Energy” transmission line, from the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec, to Massachusetts. The total line would run 145 miles, so a third of it would go through the North Woods.  The width of the cleared path would be 300 feet across.

The Woods are owned by a timber company, which permits a wide variety of recreational uses throughout its property.  The forest products industry stands to lose a fair amount of resource material, through the clear cut-even if CMP’s Spanish parent company pays a decent sum for its trouble.  The loss to the environment would be even greater, with unknown damage to the lakes and rivers of the area.

Thus does another “New Age” company find itself in the position of being inimical to the very environment it purports to protect.  Rather than bull their way through North America’s largest remaining temperate forest, the Spaniards may find it better to explore some truly clean means of providing power to southern New England.

https://environmentmaine.org/feature/mee/protect-north-woods-stop-transmission-line