Monthly Archives: April 2013

MURDER!

Mrs. N. had no intention what so ever of writing anything more here until her triumphant return from her visit to various dystopian European countries that, although they may have magnificent gardens, happy populations, and 21st century mass transportation systems…. are, my government informs me, misguided Hell Holes of Socialism tottering on the brink of collapse.  All that changed this morning.

As the sun rose I armed myself with rake, bucket and weed puller and headed out to crawl around my extensive perennial beds intent upon ridding them of weeds.  Engaging in active meditation if you will.  All was better than well as I noticed that so very many of my favorite perennials had self seeded themselves in dozens and dozens of new places, as if by some magical intention.  I was busy happily crawling around from shrub to shrub, plant to plant, popping out dandelions, stray grasses and weeds, picking up the odd fallen magnolia leaf when I came upon it.

There was no mistaking what happened here.  It was clearly cold blooded murder of an entire family of children.  Lives, barely begun, snuffed out by some evil heartless fiend who cared not for the suffering his actions had wrought.  I asked myself… “Who could have done this?… Who could have so little regard for the lives of others?…  I had no answers, only theories.  It could have been the evil serpent, the black snake who I permit to live unmolested in my giant mulch pile of magnolia leaves.  (Am I to blame?)  It could have been the raccoon who, so different from you or I, prefers to venture forth at night, wearing his mask, and praying with his little hands to what Gods I know not.  (Should I have shot him as my neighbors do?)  I don’t think I will ever know the answers to any of these questions, but, even if I did, it would do nothing to bring back the tender little lives that were ended so abruptly, and so brutally.

I thought about the endless news coverage of the bombing in Boston and its aftermath.  Hour after hour, day after day of coverage of every angle, every nit picking detail of everything and everybody involved.  Interview after interview, witness after witness, expert after expert…. and it made me ill to think that such a promising species should end up so hideously deranged.  This morning it was all talk of the Death Penalty.  Yesterday it was all talk of ending the quest to write a decent set of laws to deal with immigrants because, after all, the Boston bombers were immigrants.  The day before that it was all talk of the defeat of legislation to make firearms less easily available to the mentally ill and to people with criminal records.  Earlier today I read that two studies now point to a rather dramatic increase in autism in mothers who consumed drugs like Prozac to “balance” their “unbalanced” brain chemicals.  Who could have possibly guessed that taking drugs to alter the functioning of your brain could fuck up the developing brain of your unborn child?

Sometimes, times like this, times when there doesn’t seem to be any corner of sanity to crawl into with my blanket to suck my thumb and mumble to myself…  things oddly start to clear.  I find myself laughing at something stupid, and rejoice, in my heart, that I am somehow, or, some way, wired to appreciate the stupid (rather than ballet, or, liver pate).   That I cannot only see that it’s all the game of black and white, but, understand that for either side to win would be truly monstrous.   For either side to win would ruin it all.   For either side to win would be the end.

Before I came in from the garden today I decided to do a little patching of some bare spots in the lawn.  Anyone who follows my musings here knows full well the “problems” I had last year with moles turning my manicured lawn into swiss cheese.   Rather than poison, trap or otherwise end their little lives last year through murder I turned for council to the one place that has never failed me.

I watched The Godfather once again and, as usual the way to move forward became instantly clear.  It was after Sonny was hit at the causeway and it fell to Tom Hagen to tell his Godfather what everyone else seemed to already know.  He informed him that his oldest son had been murdered.  Upon hearing the terrible news Don Corleone said this…

“I want no inquiries made. I want no acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.”

Instantly I knew what to do.  I left the moles in peace and met with the shrubs, flowers, trees, insects and birds… and a grand peace was made between us all.   This spring all the moles are gone.  It was when I was spreading some nice soil around the bare spots left by the mole tunnels and raking in some grass seed that it came to me.  I realized that I was getting out of the country just at the right time.  That I was removing myself from the endless blather of the talking heads on television who will continue to go on and on about the Boston Bombing until…. the natural end comes to the story.

What will the natural end be?”  you ask….

Remember the coverage of the police firing hundreds and hundreds of rounds of bullets into the fishing boat the fugitive 19 year old brother had taken refuge in, in some guys back yard?  You will know that the end has arrived when you hear on television that the owner of the boat has shown up at the police station with this question.

“Hey… Who the fuck is gunna pay for all the fucking holes in my boat?”

At the beginning of Chapter One of “The Denial of Death” Ernest Becker writes…

 “In times such as ours there is great pressure to come up with concepts that help men understand their dilemma; there is an urge toward vital ideas, toward a simplification of needless intellectual complexity.  Sometimes this makes for big lies that resolve tensions and make it easy for action to move forward with just the rationalizations that people need.  But it also makes for the slow disengagement of truths that help men get a grip on what is happening to them, that tell them where their problems really are.”

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

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Mrs. N. (goes on tour)

Mrs. N. is busy packing her suitcase for her upcoming European tour.  In a little over a week it’s off to The Netherlands for the Spring Tulip Festival and a visit to Keukenhof Park, the worlds largest flower garden.  Anyone who has read anything on this blog knows full well how Mrs. N. feels about her flowers.  If we have time, since we are in the area anyway, we will try to make a short visit to Holland.

Mrs. N. chose to begin her “Tour of the Absurd” in The Netherlands because it was the home of “Tulip Mania”.  Back in 1637,  a single tulip bulb sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.  You have to wonder what they were thinking.  It is generally considered to be the first recorded speculative bubble.  The Dutch, it appears, had never heard the phrase… “What goes up must come down.”  They have that in common with Wall Street Bankers.

The people of The Netherlands are known to be an unfriendly people.  They are also known for their “Coffee Shops” that openly sell dozens of different kinds of marijuana, hashish and hallucinogenic mushrooms.  Mrs. N. is having a very hard time understanding how a population of people could simultaneously be unfriendly AND be enjoying the benefits of inhabiting what should be a perpetual Woodstock.  Something is amiss.  Even the popular phrase… (“You know what they say about the Dutch… they don’t amount to much.”)  doesn’t explain this curious phenomena.  Mrs. N. intends to get to the bottom of this no matter how many “Coffee Shops” she has to visit, or, how long the research takes.

From there it will be off to Heidelberg, Germany to visit the childhood home of the greatest epistemologist of all time.

René Descartes in an early example of the internalist approach to justification wrote, because the only method by which we perceive the external world is through our senses, and that, because the senses are not infallible, we should not consider our concept of knowledge to be infallible.   Sergeant Hans Schultz, going one critical step further, fully recognized the fallibility of our senses and stated the obvious.  He is widely considered today to be the Father of the Anti-evolutionary Psychology Movement.  It is also believed that Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “The Denial of Death” was but the culmination of work originally begun by Hans Schultz.  Both men were known to be avid bowlers.

After paying our respects to the work and memory of Professor Schultz it will be on to Dusseldorf and the Neanderthal Museum.  Neanderthals had something called an occipital bun.  An occipital bun is a prominent bulge, or projection, of the occipital bone at the back of the skull. Occipital buns are important in scientific descriptions of classic Neanderthal crania.

When Mrs. N. was a teenager she knew a person with an occipital bun.  He, lets call him Rudy, was 18 years old while the rest of us were younger.  18 was the magic age for purchasing beer and hard liquor in New York State.  New York State was 3 miles away at the time.   Rudy, occipital bun and all, became a very valuable person in spite of his curiously shaped head.  Indeed children can be cruel to those who don’t quite fit in, and jokes like… “Hey, do you have to get an estimate before you get a haircut?” must have stung.   But, that’s life when you come into the world with a head that looks like a watermelon, I guess.  Unfortunately for Rudy the rest of us eventually turned 18 too and he found himself in the same position the tulip speculators did when the market went bust.  My visit to the Neanderthal Museum in Dusseldorf will be a way of paying my respects to an unfortunate individual who provided me and my teenage comrades with beer and hard liquor during our formative years.  I was thoroughly snookered on alcohol he procured for us the night I met my mate of going on 45 years.  If it were not for the liquid courage he provided I might never have made that first move that resulted in a wonderful marriage.  In return for his kindness he was made fun of.  There was no justice.  No one was equal then.  No one is equal today.  No one will be equal tomorrow.

Rousseau tells us…  “The one who sang or danced the best, the handsomest, the strongest, the most adroit, or the most eloquent became the most highly considered; and that was the first step toward inequality…. Social imbalances occur because of differences in personal merit and the recognition of that merit by others.”

Immanual Kant wrote…  “From the crooked wood of which man is made, nothing quite straight can be built.”…

Sigmund Freud wrote…  “The tragedy of evolution is that it created a limited animal with unlimited horizons.”…

There remain a few days before my departure.  Should any of my readers have suggestions with regard to my itinerary, please feel free to comment.  …And NO, I won’t bring you back any seeds.

Because I don’t want to end up here

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

 

 

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“I believe that everything happens for a reason.”

Snow on cherry tree March 24th.

Blossoms on same cherry tree, April 9th.

Whenever I hear someone say… “I believe that everything happens for a reason”, I usually think to myself… “What an idiot”.   Don’t get me wrong.  It’s nowhere near as idiotic as saying… “Well, they are in a better place now”,  upon hearing the news of someone’s untimely demise, but, what I have noticed is both phrases are usually uttered by the same kind of people.   I won’t call them ass holes because that would be unkind.  Lets just call them magical thinkers… or, we can just stick with idiots if you like.

Together those phrases can tell you a lot about the way the person using them sees reality.  The first one is stating that reality isn’t like a game of pool, where the point is to get as many balls in the holes as you can, even by accident.  It’s stating that it’s more like a game of eight ball, where all the shots are deliberate and called in advance.  It’s stating that someone, or, something very powerful is calling all those shots.   Like God is playing eight ball with the universe.  It’s saying, about yourself, that you are the kind of a person who could never accept that the universe couldn’t give a shit about you, or, anything else.   It’s admitting that you would be terrified to think you had no significance.

The second one… the one about dead people being in a “better place” is classical.  It’s Magical Thinking at its finest.  Whenever I hear someone say it I always think to myself…. “Then why don’t you go kill yourself, and then you can both be in a better place?”

Now, how the hell does bird shit fit into this little diatribe.   As a reader you probably find this confusing.  You probably have confused looks on your faces, and you can’t help asking yourself… Where is the connection Mrs N.?

Mrs. N. will be happy to tell you.

I went outside at the crack of dawn this morning.  I planted 5 Leyland Cypress trees along the border between my tenant house next door and the neighbors who pissed me off many years ago.  It’s a long story.  The trees grow at a rate of 3 to 5 feet a year and will soon totally obscure any trace of a neighbor from my view.

When I finished doing that I cleaned out the gutters.  Then I pulled all the weeds in the flower beds and cut the lawn.  It was such a magnificent day that I decided I would do one of my favorite gardening things.  I edged.  I’m known for my edges and I confess that I take great pride in keeping them straight and sharp.  It is not at all uncommon for guests viewing my magnificent perennial beds to remark to each other… “My goodness, those edges are so sharp I could shave myself with them.”  It’s true, and I admit that whenever I overhear such a remark my chest swells with pride, naturally.

I had just finished edging the last bed over at the tenant house when it happened.  I felt it and heard it simultaneously.  I knew immediately what it was.  A bird shit on my head.

The material in question landed dead center, as if there must have been some sort of aiming involved.  Bulls eye!.. On a cranium denuded of hair and exposed to the endless sky for what must be 25 years now, at least.   Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street, as they say, and the avian excrement was easily wiped away with my left hand.  It was dark brown and white, as bird shit customarily is.  I immediately looked skyward, but, saw no bird of any kind.  It was hard to know what to make of that.

After I had finished my gardening for the day I showered and changed into a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.  It’s 83.3 degrees here, as I write, in central Virginia, up against the side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I’m drinking a cold beer.  Out of curiosity I looked up on Google what it means when a bird shits on your head.  In ancient Greece it was considered to be just about the luckiest thing that could happen to a person.  It meant you were blessed by the Gods.  In China it means that a magnificent fortune is coming your way.  Every culture, it seems, views having a bird shit on your head as an exceptionally lucky thing to have happen to you.  So…. I got that going for me…. which is nice.

I mentioned earlier that the bird shit was dark brown and white.  I wonder if my readers know… what the white stuff in bird shit is?  

That question, and another one…. Did you ever notice,  when you see a large formation of Canadian Geese migrating in the shape of a giant “V” in the sky,  the two sides of the “V” are NEVER the same length?   AND, do you know why that is?...

Not being the kind of person who enjoys keeping people in suspense, I will answer both questions for you right now.

1.   The white stuff in bird shit is bird shit too.

2.  There are more fucking geese on that side.

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

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Crazy Business

There was a very interesting article in the New York TIMES this morning on a subject that isn’t news anymore.

…”LAST year, more active-duty soldiers committed suicide than died in battle. This fact has been reported so often that it has almost lost its jolting force. Almost.”…

It’s six o’clock on sunday morning here on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and I’m watering my orchids as I always do, come sunday morning.  The sun isn’t up yet, but the birds are singing.  My orchid room faces east and off in that direction, sharp as a scythe, sits a thin crescent moon.  The cherry trees out there in the dark are lit to bloom like the main fuse on the biggest mat of firecrackers you ever seen.  Today, april 7th, will be the big day.   That’s what I figure the birds are singing about.  I’m singing about something else I read in that TIMES article…

…”Tricare Management Activity, the division of the Department of Defense that manages health care services for the military, shows that there has been a giant, 682 percent increase in the number of psychoactive drugs — antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood stabilizers — prescribed to our troops between 2005 and 2011. That’s right. A nearly 700 percent increase — despite a steady reduction in combat troop levels since 2008…”

Nice kids I’ve watched grow up out here in the proverbial sticks sign up for the military in high school.  Boredom, lack of imagination, scarcity of employment…  for those who grew up in a culture where suspicion of science and disdain for liberal elitism go hand in hand with not caring much for school, it’s a ticket out of town.  It’s a free pass into the meat grinder disguised as the Big Top.  Some kind of traveling circus of heroism and high adventure.  They come back, if they come back at all, broken in body and fucked up in the head.

…”The data suggest that military doctors may prescribe psychoactive drugs for off-label use as sedatives, possibly so as to enable soldiers to function better in stressful combat situations. Capt. Michael Colston, a psychiatrist and program director for mental health policy in the Department of Defense, confirmed this possibility.”…

No shit?  Lets see… they are drugging the crap out of these naive kids and playing with them as if they were pieces in a board game.  “Another day of target practice boys & girls…up, and at-um!”  Then, when and if they come home, Law Enforcement, the only growth industry around here, can put them in jail for smoking a joint out back of the Wal-mart, which happens to be the only place hiring, part time of course.

I never stop finding it interesting to note how much people like to take advice from famous military characters.  You know the characters I’m talking about.  Shined shoes and a chest that’s so covered with ribbons, buttons, pins, stars and lanyards that it would make an Eagle Scout think that’s what heaven must be like.  “Leaders of Men” who can’t manage to stop acting like having the power to piss away enormous fortunes and the lives of what are, essentially, children, somehow, endows them with wisdom.  It doesn’t and that’s clear.  Keeping their pants on when their wives ain’t looking, long enough to fill their pockets with perks seems to be the biggest battle they ever face, on purpose anyway.  My favorite is John McCain.  He’s my hero because he thought dropping giant bombs on women and children, who never did a damn thing to harm him, from way up high in the sky where nobody could see him was what he was born to do.  My Hero…..

Then there is this douche bag.  Just look at him.  Has his own private jet, billions of dollars worth of cool equipment to fuck around with, the lives of tens of thousands of kids to play with as if they were little plastic army men… break-um and throw them away.. and what does he do?  He gets caught by his old lady storming the WRONG beach…. AGAIN.  Turns out he has the morals of a tomcat and the brains of an adolescent all hopped up on puberty.  Just look at him!  All dressed up like the dogs dinner.  Him and the rest of the military ass holes who have played their part in bankrupting the most powerful nation in the history of the world.  Fucked up ANOTHER generation of kids!  Killed another million people who asked nothing more than the opportunity to live out their miserable lives in peace.  They was foreigners don’t ya know?

But, the owners of America are smiling boys and girls.  The Stock Market is booming, taxes are low and the peasants are running around with their heads cut off over gay marriage, Obama’s plan to confiscate all the firearms and what ever today’s flavor of terror happens to be.  The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer and the young will get really fucked over.  As the lyrics to the song say… “I was born in the land of plenty, now there ain’t enough.”…

There isn’t much I can do about all this nonsense.  I can lay low.  I can comment now and again.  I can rage against the embarrassment of it all.  I can point out that a creature with the astounding ability to understand that it is made up of chemicals that, somehow, came to realize that they ARE chemicals… realizing that they are chemicals….  OYE!

Well, it all just seems to magnificent to just mindlessly fuck up like this.  Far to beautiful to permit people to piss on like they do.

The sun is fully up.  I’m going out to play in the garden and watch the cherry trees explode.  What did you expect?

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

 

 

 

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Going Mental

Take a good look at the table of elements.  I bet some of the people reading this remember the table from seeing it stuck up on a wall in high school chemistry class.  Others, who work in the sciences, no doubt have a more intimate working knowledge of it and a deeper familiarity with its intricacies and aspects.  But, for most people, it’s just a list.  It’s the big list of all the different kind of bricks they have down at the cosmic brick yard.

Everything in the universe is made up of these elements, these bricks if you will, that are found in the table of elements.  That’s all there is because there ain’t no more.  Not that we know of anyway.  Stars, galaxies, glasses of beer, you and me… we are all made up of elements found on that list.  Everything there is in the whole universe is made up of elements found on that list.  It’s all the same stuff put together in different ways, individually, or, in combination.  Have we all got that straight so far?

OK… look at the Table of Elements again and try to answer these questions.  What is there in or about that table, that list of different kinds of bricks, that would lead you to conclude that… one day… they would, or could, become aware of their own existence?  How does matter assume a form that can become self-consciousness and capable of formulating universal laws that encompass its own existence?

That’s what happened folks, clearly, and that is what we are.  Matter went Mental and we have no idea how or why.

Hamburgers, Hondas and half-pints of beer  are ALL made out of the same sorts of elementary particles and there is absolutely no explanation of how consciousness arises and awareness becomes a characteristic of some objects, but, not others.  It’s a characteristic of us… to lesser or greater degrees depending upon who we are discussing, and it has traditionally been determined to “happen”, or, take place between our ears.  In the brain.  But, we don’t know how.

Now Mrs. N. is going to come to the point of this little essay.

We don’t know Jack-Shit about how the elementary particles listed in the Periodic Table above became conscious of themselves and we sure as hell don’t know how that lump of folded, weird looking tissue we call a brain adds up to, or produces that wondrous thing we call a mind.  We are told that our brains are like computers that “evolved” to process information and that because our brains are bigger than the brains of other creatures, like our cousins the chimpanzees, humans jumped over the line from dumb animals to sentient, self-aware non-animals… with a mind.

That’s Bullshit.  The largest computer on the face of the earth is no more self aware and has no more of a “mind” than the smallest, most primitive hand held calculator.  Size isn’t the answer.  The truth is we simply don’t know what the mind is, or, where the mind is.  We have no explanation of what “is working” when this thing, or this activity we call a mind is working.  Sure, we know some stuff, maybe a lot of stuff about the brain.  The long history of observation and the  study of injuries to the brains of unfortunate individuals has taught us a great deal about its functional anatomy.  But the mind? … No… that’s another kettle of fish entirely.

Realizing this, coming to grips with this conundrum if you will, has caused Mrs. N. to pause for a few moments on her never ending quest to discover all she can about just what it means to be human.  The more she thinks about it the more it feels like a punch in the gut.  A “stops you in your tracks and buckles you over” hit to the solar plexus that puts everything else out of your head… except getting your breath back.  Wondering, at least at the time, if you ever will.  In one way at least I hope I don’t.

I hope I don’t lose sight of the fact that there are an army of people out there, doctors of various stripes, and religious leaders of a thousand denominations who ALL would like you to believe that they have the answers to the big questions.

They are full of shit, even if they don’t realize it.  At best they have shitty little answers to shitty little questions that usually boil down to attempts to increase their power and prestige and decrease your power and bank balance.  Maybe, for one reason or another, that’s the best we can do.  I sure hope not.

As it is we can’t even imagine an answer to how it is that the bricks that make up the Periodic Table of Elements above happened to arrange themselves (or became arranged) in a way that is sitting here, sipping a cup of Joe, and typing out this essay.  The tools we have are outrageously inefficient and clearly not up to the task.  Our theories don’t cut the mustard.  Our imagination… even our imagination seems to fall short of “The Right Stuff”.

I can only close with this quote from “Aping Mankind” a wonderful read, by Raymond Tallis.

…”And imagining the brain, a material object subject to the laws of physics, as a place where the products of the blind laws of physics discover those laws and utilize them to shape the material world must drive us to think harder about ourselves…”

Good Luck with that

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

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