Saturday, May 21, 2016

Out on a ramble in Sabino Canyon today I chose a desert arroyo I hadn’t walked in a few weeks, and a desert tortoise wasn’t worried about me being there and taking photos.  Such a treat, I usually only see one or two per year, and mainly during monsoon time.  Good vibrations, munchie


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Thursday, May 2, 2013

A startling surprise at the relaxing Cottage Inn

I took a short retreat at a relaxing Country Inn at the far edge of a sleepy Idaho town. I was looking for a place to calm my frazzled nerves, do some light reading, and engage in some healthy conversations with folks I had not yet met.
* Everything was flowing peacefully well above the steep Canyon the first two days, however; through some observations, I sensed that this crossroad sometimes attracted chaos and mayhem.
* There were three nights where it became especially noisy. The first was after midnight, and involved a weary traveler who was obviously going through a challenging time. He yelled viciously at the top of his aqua-lungs with a supernatural energy, even going so far as to chant strange languages, including Ancient Greek and Cherokee. This wild man of the Borneo dragged the facilitators up and down the hall, waking every living soul with a fright from their bed. Even the mice dashed back into their holes, though they had barely started nibbling at the cheese bar.
* Seven burly Peace Officers were summoned in to quash the pandemonium. But even after they held him down with all their mighty strength, and gave him a strong tranquilizer shot, the officers still were having trouble subduing the untamed man. This continued for hours.
* I glanced out from my humble room and saw that not only were the long row of house guests visibly upset, but so were many of the facilitators. One of the leaders came into my room and we helped each other chill, all the while to the background cacophony of a one man band making the unsettling noise of ten.
* A week later I realized that while this troubled soul was exorcising some of his personal demons, I was reflecting on some of my own, and trying hard to become a better man, although in a quieter manner. You could even say that the uninhibited stranger was speaking for me in some way.
The next morning the managers of the house held a short debriefing for the forced insomniacs. The leaders declared that the matters of the previous night should not concern us, as it had nothing to do with any of us. However, intense Twilight-ish Zone episodes like these do concern me, and I have written at great length about such things before, regarding the dispossessed and the poor homeless. On top of that, I suppose that I had recently grown accustomed to drifting off to sleep with some light peaceful music in the late evenings and not a madman ranting and raving and stomping around for hours. It was a nice reality check and makes me appreciate the comfortable part of my life that I am privileged to have and have worked hard to retain.
~ There is more to this story regarding further interruptions at the Country Inn; However, glancing forward at my notes they pale in comparison to the meat of the story above, so I will stop here for now.

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Friday, February 15, 2013
Where wild things are
Endless Conversation

Express Staff Writer
Someone put a large tropical bird in the monkey house at the Boise zoo. It squawks loudly from time to time, sending the family of gibbons next door leaping through the ropes and tree limbs of their dwelling. 

Zookeepers call this “enrichment,” activities that stimulate animals in ways that imitate life in the wild.
There are a great many other creatures great and small at Zoo Boise, from legless lizards and Komodo dragons, to the native squirrels and geese that roam the grounds, teasing the snow leopards and bobcats into stalking mode. Each animal has a role in nature.
When things calm down at the Monkey House, young Li Bao, a female gibbon who was born at the zoo, once again tussles with her parents, who loll about a lot more than the youngster. 
It is easy to become emotionally attached to this troupe of primates, to wonder what they are thinking and how similar their feelings must be to ours. 
Li Bao’s mother abandoned her for a period of time when she was born. Because the mother had never seen a Gibbon raised in the wild, she simply did not know what to do.  
Zoos are no longer the private menageries of the rich and famous. They serve an important role in captive breeding programs, and serve to educate young people about the many animal species that thrive around the world. Zoos also inspire youngsters to become involved in wildlife habitat conservation efforts around the world. 
Last year, the Boise zoo hosted the birth of a liter of serval kittens—long-legged, big-eared felines that hunt the grasslands of Africa. At the zoo, they live near a pride of lions. The old scarred male sends out a roar from time to time just to let everyone know who is in charge on the savanna. I stared him down through the thick glass one day last year and he walked over and took a swipe at my face. Now I know what drove my ancestors to get busy making all those spear points.
Watching the 18-foot-tall giraffes lumbering about, so specialized for grazing high branches, one has to wonder how they have escaped extinction all these years. Likewise, for the nearby copper top tamarins, hand-size arboreal primates who rank as one of the 25 most endangered species in the world. 
These tamarins have been extensively studied for their high level of cooperative care, as well as altruistic and spiteful behaviors. Only dominant couples have young.
Zoo Boise has come a long way in recent years, providing richer environments for its animals, thanks to funding from a long list of Homo sapien donors who see value in preserving portions of the earth for other species. 
We can thank Ketchum resident Greg Carr for funding parts of the African exhibits, which draw attention to his environmental conservation efforts at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
We can also thank big-cat scientist Maurice Hornocker, who lives on Broadford Road in Bellevue, for his years of field research among the Siberian tigers. 
Hornocker’s work to preserve these magnificent cats from destruction is celebrated at Zoo Boise’s Siberian cat exhibit. The exhibit inspires others to provide donations for his continued work.
All the animals at Zoo Boise have stories. Thankfully, they also all have human friends who have cultivated their altruistic behavior enough to help make room in the world for all of us. Maybe this is what humans were put here to do.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Old post from the Anthropik network

"I noticed, when she delivered the plate of fruit, that my Balian hostess was also balancing a tray containing many little green bowls-small, boatshaped platters, each of them woven neatly from a freshly cut section of palm frond. The platters were two or three inches long, and within each was a small mound of white rice. After handing me my breakfast, the woman and the tray disappeared from view behind the other buildings, and when she came by some minutes later to pick up my empty plate, the tray was empty as well.

On the second morning, when I saw the array of tiny rice platters, I asked my hostess what they were for. Patiently, she explained to me that they were offerings for the household spirits. When I inquired about the Balinese term that she used for "spirit," she repeated the explanation in Indonesian, saying that these were gifts for the spirits of the family compound, and I saw that I had understood her correctly. She handed me a bowl of sliced papaya and mango and slipped around the corner of the building. I pondered for a minute, then set down the bowl, stepped to the side of my hut, and peered through the trees. I caught sight of her crouched low beside the corner of one of the other buildings, carefully setting what I presumed was one of the offerings on the ground. Then she stood up with the tray, walked back to the other corner, and set down another offering. I returned to my bowl of fruit and finished my breakfast.
That afternoon, when the rest of the household was busy, I walked back behind the building where I had seen her set down two of the offerings. There were the green platters resting neatly at the two rear corners of the hut. But the little mounds of rice within them were gone.
The next morning I finished the sliced fruit, waited for my hostess to come by and take the empty bowl, then quietly beaded back behind the buildings. Two fresh palm leaf offerings sat at the same spots where the others had been the day before. These were filled with rice. Yet as I gazed at one of them, I suddenly noticed, with a shudder, that one of the kernels of rice was moving. Only when I knelt down to look more closely did I see a tiny line of black ants winding through the dirt to the palm leaf. Peering still closer, I saw that two ants had already climbed onto the offering and were struggling with the uppermost kernel of rice; as I watched, one of them dragged the kernel down and off the leaf, then set off with it back along the advancing line of ants. The second ant took another kernel and climbed down the mound of rice, dragging and pushing, and fell over the edge of the leaf; then a third climbed onto the offering. The column of ants emerged from a thick clump of grass around a nearby palm tree. I walked over to the other offering and discovered another column of tiny ants dragging away the rice kernels. There was an offering on the ground behind my building as well, and a nearly identical line of ants. I walked back to my room chuckling to myself. The balian and his wife had gone to so much trouble to daily placate the household spirits with gifts; only to have them stolen by little six-legged thieves. What a waste! But then a strange thought dawned within me. What if the ants themselves were the "household spirits" to whom the offerings were being made?
The idea became less strange as I pondered the matter. The family compound, like most on this tropical island, had been constructed in the vicinity of several ant colonies. Since a great deal of household cooking took place in the compound, and also the preparation of elaborate offerings of foodstuffs for various rituals and festivals, the grounds and the buildings were vulnerable to infestations by the ant population. Such invasions could range from rare nuisances to a periodic or even constant siege. It became apparent that the daily palm-frond offerings served to preclude such an attack by the natural forces that surrounded (and underlay) the family's land. The daily gifts of rice kept the ant colonies occupied and, presumably, satisfied. Placed in regular, repeated locations at the corners of various structures around the compound, the offerings seemed to establish certain boundaries between the human and ant communities; by honoring this boundary with gifts, the humans apparently hoped to persuade the insects to respect the boundary and not enter the buildings.
The maintenance of such boundaries is the essence of magic, but our civilization has lost its magic, and we have violated every boundary. We've been as short-sighted as the man who hated frogs. Could it ever be as simple as just asking the frog to come back to our stream?"

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Jim Dee’s sunny power line suggestion

My three closest blog followers remarked that I’ve been quiet recently and wondered if I had nothing to write. I replied that I’ve been trying to get outside in the sun more, which reminded me of my friend Jim Dee’s solar power suggestion:

Two years ago, I stumbled onto Mr.’s Dee’s unique proposal. And with recent improvements in solar power efficiency, and a President who actually reads ten U.S. citizen letters handpicked by his staff each day, Mr. Dee’s suggestion is now more feasible than ever.

Here is the jist of it, which; with his permission, I have paraphrased from his blog:

"I had a moment of insight this morning and wanted to share. It does nothing less than solve the entire American/Mexican border issue in a true bipartisan way. Here's the deal:

We take the entire length of the U.S./Mexican border, at a width of a good quarter mile wide or so, and privatize it -- sell it to the highest qualified bidder. And, by "qualified bidder," I mean Power Generation Company.

What no other political commentator (to my knowledge) has seemingly noticed is that the border in question, besides being the source of exhaustive political debate, is also located in a particularly bright, sunny patch of the country. Because that area's so ridiculously bathed in sunshine, it lends itself particularly well to ... wait for it ... solar power development! (Yeah, it was an "aha!" moment for me, too.)

Anyway, our high bidding Power Company purchases the land, with the sole stipulation that it must develop a solar array spanning pretty much the entire length of the U.S./Mexican border. Along either side of the array, the company would also have to construct a large security wall to serve the primary purpose of keeping out vandals (from both sides); as a bonus, it would also naturally keep anyone from entering the U.S. illegally.

Here's an additional bonus: Part of the power generated by the array could be diverted to the fence itself -- because, let's face it; an electric fence is much more efficient! The rest of the power would be sold, as normal, to nearby communities, thus (1) improving air quality from fewer coal-fired plants; (2) boosting economic development; and (3) furthering solar technology in general.

Since the power company would have their income/profitability at stake, it would be in their best interest to hire armed security patrols. Let's face it: Unlike government-run initiatives, when there are private/stockholder earnings on the line, stuff gets done. (It used to get done poorly, I'll admit. But, hopefully Sarbanes-Oxley fixes some of that.)

It's an elegant bipartisan solution, don't you think? The right gets a Jurassic Park-esque electric fence, the left gets solar power out the wazoo!”

Thank you Mr. Dee!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

This Difficult Individual Eustace Mullins — and the Remarkable Ezra Pound

by Beatrice Mott

Authors wishing to quote Eustace's books in their own writing make themselves an easy target for reasonable critics or hate organizations like the ADL. In this way, Mr. Mullins has done more harm to the movement than good.

I learned this the long way. Having read Secrets, I drove down to Staunton, VA in the summer of 2006 and spent an afternoon talking with Mr. Mullins. My goal was to find the origin of several stories and statements which I could not reference from the text. Mr. Mullins was an elderly gentleman and he couldn't remember where he had found any of the material I was interested in. He simply replied: “It's all in the Library of Congress. Back then they would let me wander the stacks.”

So I moved to D.C., a few blocks from the library and spent the better part of two years trying to retrace Mr. Mullins' footsteps. Prior to this I had had several years' experience as a researcher and was used to trying to find the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” They wouldn't let me wander around the book storage facility (the stacks), but I scoured the catalog for anything that might contain the source for Mr. Mullins' statements. I couldn't verify any of the information in question.

Sadly, I realized that it would never be good practice to quote Mr. Mullins. But I hadn't wasted the time. I know more about the Federal Reserve now than most people who work there and I learned about the fantastic Mr. Pound.

Ezra Pound is among the most remarkable men of the last 120 years. He made his name as a poet and guided W. B. Yeats, T.S. Elliot and E. Hemingway on their way to the Nobel Prize (back when it meant something). He is the most brilliant founder of Modernism — a movement which sought to create art in a more precise and succinct form. Modernism can be seen as a natural reaction to the florid, heavy Victorian sensibility — it is not the meaningless abstractions we are assaulted with today.

Ezra Pound

Born in Idaho, Pound left the United States for Europe in 1908. In London he found an audience of educated people who appreciated his poetry. He married Dorothy Shakespear, a descendant of the playwright.1 Pound also befriended some of the most brilliant artists of the time and watched them butchered in the First World War.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, a sculptor and one of Ezra's best friends, was one of these sacrifices. The Great War changed Pound's outlook on life — no longer content with his artistic endeavors alone, he wanted to find out why that war happened.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

The answer he got bought him 12 years as a political prisoner in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Anacostia, just across the river from the Capitol in Washington D.C. Pound was never put on trial but was branded a traitor by the post-war American media.

What answer did Pound find? Our wars begin and end at the instigation of the international financial houses. The bankers make money on fighting and rebuilding by controlling credit. They colonize nations and have no loyalty to their host countries' youth or culture. No sacrifice is too great for their profit.

Much of Pound's work chronicles the effect of this parasitic financial class on societies: from ancient China to modern-day Europe. Pound was a polyglot and scoured numerous (well-documented) sources for historical background. The education that Mullins' work promises is delivered by the truckload in Pound's writing. Pound often lists his sources at the end of his work — and they always check out.

Eustace Mullins got to know Pound during the poet's time as a political prisoner. He was introduced to Pound by an art professor from Washington's Institute of Contemporary Arts which, in Mullins' words, “housed the sad remnants of the 'avant-garde' in America.”

According to Mr. Mullins, Pound took to him and commissioned Eustace to carry on his work investigating the international financial system. Pound gave Eustace an American dollar bill and asked him to find out what “Federal Reserve” printed across its top meant. Secrets, many derivative books, and thousands of conspiracy websites have sprung from that federal reserve note.

And here is where the story goes sour. Pound was a feared political prisoner incarcerated because of what he said in Italy about America's involvement with the international bankers and warmongering. Pound was watched twenty four hours a day and was under the supervision of Dr. Winfred Overholser, the superintendent of the hospital.

Overholser was employed by the Office of Strategic Services (the CIA's forerunner) to test drugs for the personality-profiling program, what would be called MK-ULTRA. (See John Marks' The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control.) Personality profiling was St. Elizabeth's bread and butter: The asylum was a natural ally to the agency.

Overholser was also a distinguished professor in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department of George Washington University. This department provided students as test patients for the Frankfurt Schools' personality profiling work, which the CIA was very interested in. Prophets of Deceit, first written by Leo Löwenthal and Norbert Guterman in 1948, reads like a clumsy smear against Pound.

It does seem odd that a nationalist student would be allowed to continue the work of the dangerously brilliant Pound right under Winny's nose. The story gets even stranger, as Mr. Mullins describes his stay in Washington during this time. He was housed at the Library of Congress — apparently he lived in one of the disused rooms in the Jefferson building and became good friends with Elizabeth Bishop.

Ezra Pound

Bishop was the Library of Congress' “Consultant in Poetry” — quite a plum position. She was also identified by Frances Stonor Saunders as working with Nicolas Nabokov in Rio de Janeiro. Nabokov was paid by the CIA to handle South American-focused anti-Stalinist writers. (See The Cultural Cold War.) If what Saunders says is true, then it puts Eustace in strange company at that time of his life.

According to the CIA's in-house historians, the Library was also a central focus for intelligence gathering after the war, so it is doubly unlikely that just anybody would be allowed to poke around there after hours.

Whatever the motivation for letting Mullins in to see Pound was, the result has been that confusion, misinformation and unverifiable literature have clouded Pound's message about the financial industry's role in war. Fortunately Pound did plenty of his own writing.

According to Eustace, his relations with Pound's relatives were strained after Pound's release from prison. Pound moved back to Italy where he died in 1972. He was never the same after his stay with Overholser in St. E's. The St. Elizabeth's building is slated to become the new headquarters of the Department for Homeland Security.

Eustace went on to write many, many books about the abuses of government, big business and organized religion. They are very entertaining and are often insightful, but are arsenic from a researcher's point of view. A book that contains interesting information without saying where the information came from is worse than no book at all.

While lackadaisical about references in his own writing, Mr. Mullins could be extremely perceptive and critical of the writing of others. I once told him how much respect I had for George Orwell's daring to write 1984 — to which he sharply replied: “It's a great piece of pro-government propaganda — they win in the end.” Mr. Mullins is of course right: Orwell's Big Brother is always one step ahead, almost omniscient — and therefore invincible.

Eustace Mullins was much more than a writer. He became a political activist and befriended many prominent people in the American nationalist movement. But Mr. Mullins didn't have much faith in American nationalism: It is a movement, he told me, that the government would never let go anywhere.

Beatrice (email her) is a writer and historian living in Burlington, VT.

[1] Dorothy Pound's ancestry does depend on some circumstantial evidence, and readers who are interested in this should see John Tytell's book, Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano. Return to article.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Secret Lives of Meter Readers

If you are looking for a long walk every day with not bad pay, maybe meter reading is the ticket. Generally, you get to spend a lot of peaceful time by yourself, plenty of serene reflecting space, unhindered by a bickering work crew. Simply dedicating yourself to reading meters all day can actually lead to a very ascetic lifestyle.

When a vault into the earth is uncovered, great mysteries lie inside. Neighborhood kids dash over and want to spy. Newts and frogs, snakes, snails and polliwogs are all revealed from these tiny underground arenas. If the meter reader does not watch carefully, he may uncover a hornet's nest. Thus, most workers carry a medicine pouch within their toolkits.

Meter reading routes are hard roads at first; but endurance soon builds up, as the man (or woman) becomes self-reliant. As he walks along, he strengthens his full character, all the way down to his stem cells. Striding along, his breathing becomes natural and he finds himself more plainspoken.

Travelers often pose directions or unusual questions from meter readers. Does the deer turn into elk at the same elevation rattlesnakes stop snapping? On what Idaho road did Hemingway kick the can? Having snappy answers handy makes the job more pleasant.

Dogs are an inherent part of meter reading. Most browsers are friendly and can decipher the meter reader's spirit with a high degree of accuracy. Many dogs will grant you easy access through their gated community to inspect the meter. It's getting out again that presents a problem, as pups craving companionship insist that you stay and play.

Some meter readers get to thinking up fantastic ideas along the trail. They begin to carry a notepad alongside their number recorder and write down musings in a Thoreau-like manner. Even in cities, they see bits of nature, which many motorists blur by too fast to appreciate. Along the glistening stream: some morel mushrooms for their pouch, a storytelling of crows over in that towering tamarack tree, trying to alter a chapter in an owl's life.

Meter readers of various utilities develop an eye for detail and take note of safety concerns that might otherwise go unnoticed: A dead tree branch leaning into a power line. The scent of gas somewhere, or loose manholes in the street. This talent is not lost on Homeland Security officials who sometimes speak of enlisting meter readers to keep "an eye out" for all of us. However, most meter readers are not into this sort of thing. They could draft maps of homes of the stars if they wished, but most prefer to shine as more of a nameless Pale Rider-type of hero. Blending into the background; but emerging with more than speedy serendipity, for the occasional good deed along their way.

Daydreams of meter readers include running a line of electricity up to Pioneer Cabin. Imagine the boss man wondering why only one meter was read this afternoon. Meter readers face harsh conditions in the winter, post-holing through deep snow and truly appreciate your efforts to keep the pathway clear around reading time. Some consumers seem to forget that having a utility company representative freshly familiar with the physical location of the meter is a key aspect for safety, since the utility meter is also the spot for the emergency shut-off valve.

Customers must think that meter readers are as secretive as wolverines, since they are so seldom seen. However, when they are detected, it's nice to give them a high howdy and a thank you for their dedicated service. They will likely remember that for a long time. During my years of meter reading, there were only a handful of times, when someone offered thanks, but it always brightened my week.

Alas, many healthy aspects of meter reading are rapidly transforming, along with much of our world’s unquestioned “progress.” With the advent of the GPS receivers, probing rods and older methods of tie-down measurements are less required to locate meters obscured by leaves or grass. In addition, remote registers and smart-grid telemetry are phasing out some routes. Therefore, if your dog seems a tad more lonesome lately, it could be that he didn't receive his monthly belly rub and a pat on the head from your friendly neighborhood meter reader.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wht Schools Don't Educate

A Sun Magazine classic.

Key Quote:

“But keep in mind that in the United States almost nobody who reads, writes, or does arithmetic gets much respect. We are a land of talkers; we pay talkers the most and admire talkers the most, and so our children talk constantly, following the public models of television and schoolteachers. It is very difficult to teach “the basics” anymore, because they really aren’t basic to the society we’ve made.”

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