Oct 18

Ah,Youthful Rebellion! Ah, Elderly Curmudgeoning! Both are Glorious

After their first decade young people seem enter a phase of rebellion, which seems to be naturally built into us so we can more easily fly the nest, and also because it helps social evolution. The skepticism of the teen or young adult leads to innovation and some of it is good, which in turn leads to a sociobiological benefit, advancing the chances of species survival. When we consider the innovations of youth, that last bit, the benefit, may be hard to believe. But it’s to be taken in context of social evolution, which like biological evolution sheds many failed experiments… Some mutation is good, much just falls by the wayside. Social evolution (and art) then benefits from the rebellion and innovation of the young, and that innovation benefits from the critique and advice of curmudgeonly seniors.

Oct 18

You Are Too, Too Sensitive? Oh, I Am Too! In fact…

I am very sensitive indeed…I have a very, very delicate sensibility… It’s so delicate that if a gnat flies by without smiling I’m depressed for hours… I saw someone blow a kiss toward a hummingbird, and I think they ruined the perfect rhythm of its wing-stroke. I wept. . .Before I eat cornflakes, I think of the little shoots of cornstalks coming from the ground, and the cruel harvesting process, and the little kernels, so lonely and afraid, on the conveyor belt into the place where they’ll be chopped up. And I whisper, I’m sorry, my green and yellow friends. And I weep…I sometimes catch a snowflake on a dandelion puff, and hold it up into the wind, so that it can exist an hour longer. Last time I got frostbite and lost the tip of my nose…. I heard someone saying harsh words, recently, and I had to cover my ears. How can anyone just say, “What kind of crap is the dang hardware store buyin’ from the Chinese now”…and even now, repeating it here, I go dizzy…I must lay down in a quiet, dark place now, and listen to the cries of dust motes striking the floor, and pray for them…

Oct 18

Paranoia? Not When it Comes to Today’s GOP

So, the whole “Democrats are a mob” thing, the whole “Liberals are threatening us with violence” thing, that particular slanderous right-wing spin follows the appearance, in some cases, of guys in masks claiming to be antifa engaging in acts of violence at demonstrations. Sometimes the other demonstrators know who they are–or who they say they are–and sometimes they don’t. Does no one remember the simple, oft-used stratagem of employing provocateurs? “Provocateur: An undercover agent who incites suspected persons to partake in or commit criminal acts.” When we consider what the right was willing to do to shoehorn Kavanaugh into SCOTUS, and their general willingness to engage in flat out deception, we realize that hired provocateurs may indeed be at work.

Sep 18


When you get into your sixties, your street address, and sometimes your phone #, makes its way into lists of older people sold to marketers. So you get some truly annoying come-ons from funeral homes–for YOUR funeral–and from people who want to reduce your body to ashes for you.

But you also routinely get some really dishonest shit in the mail. Often they try to make the junk mail look official, hinting that you must open it our you could be in trouble. This should be regarded as criminal fraud but for some reason it’s tolerated. I just got one I opened only out of curiosity because I was taken aback at the extreme of dishonesty on the envelope. “PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL” it says and then “MORTGAGE NOTICE”. Now, claiming its a mortgage notice is especially crooked–because it ain’t one and because it tries to scare you by suggesting that you’ve gotten behind on your mortgage. In a little box on the envelope it says “DELIVER DIRECTLY TO ADDRESSEE: SEE TITLE 18 SEC 1702 US CODE.” Presumably that’s the US code that suggests postal workers have a responsibility to deliver ALL mail in their care. But these people are hinting that it means The Government is a-coming after you. Inside is a letter on official looking green paper, headed “IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED”. Again, an implication you’re in trouble if you don’t response. Then it turns out to be a pitch to get me in deep debt through a Home Equity Line of Credit.

All this targets seniors because they assume that seniors are all dotty and muddled and not up to date and scared. Some are, I suppose. They’re preying on naive older people. It bothers me that this is accepted as a normal way of doing business.

Sep 18

Kavanaugh and the Rant of the Closet Queen

“Graham unleashes his fury on Democrats in Kavanaugh hearing” says headline. Grandstanding, melodrama–like a weeping mama all upset. The rant–quite planned, scripted in his mind–of a person who deep down wishes they’d gone into the theater…But really, it’s just an angry closet queen. Girl, I say to Lindsey, don’t be throwin’ shade. It was a sickening performance on that committee but girl it was shady. You ain’t gonna turn the party like that. That’s all shade no T. Uh uh, bitch, I don’t play that. Bye Felicia.

Sep 18


In addition to these new accusations by *more* women against Kavanaugh, we should remember the original objections from other standpoints, even before Prof. Ford came forward, each of which is a valid reason for opposing him:  1) Due to his judicial philosophy of giving Presidents immunity from indictment, he’s inappropriate as a candidate when it looks like the sitting President who nominated him may well be indicted. He’d be prejudicial. 2) He’s anti-abortion and there are new challenges to Roe v Wade coming to SCOTUS. He’d be prejudicial. 3) Brett Kavanaugh was shown to have perjured himself before Congress in 2006, and there is evidence he was deceptive in testimony more recently. 4) He supports racial profiling which is clearly unconstitutional.

Combine all that with strong indications of bad character, and reported criminal activity regarding women (including promoting gang rape), along with the attempts by Republican Senators to hide his past and intimidate a witness, and we can clearly see a stunning, shamless lack of simple decency in the GOP’s attempt to force Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Sep 18

the most valuable vintage items of all.

Vintage. It’s all the rage. Vintage clothes, vintage furniture, even “vintage” can openers. People value it. It’s a bit more than a fad, part of our culture now. Like antiquing but…vintage. Antique Roadshow, American Pickers. “Look, it’s vintage, how adorable!”

Well, few people appreciate vintage human beings. Not many do, and not much. There are exceptions, but usually no one but other vintage human beings appreciate vintage human beings. Seniors are the best kind of vintage. They have class, their own style, associated with the culture they were born into and the cultures they’ve lived through; they’re imprinted by what they’ve lived through, what they rejoiced in, and what brought them sorrow. They are “distressed” – like the distressed new clothing that is sold. They are often repositories of wisdom.

But rarely are they appreciated for it. The most important “vintage” is often abandoned to a lonely end.

“What do you want me to do, buy an elderly person and put them in a cabinet?” That’s the way people think. They can’t think of any other kind of appreciation…But senior citizens are interactive. They won’t just sit on a shelf and gather dust. They’ll talk back. They’ll tell stories. They can impart skills and meaningful memories…

Now, that’s some valuable Vintage.

Sep 18


Trump and his endless rallies. How much time does each one take? Who pays for it? How expensive is it? He seems to do them in clusters when he’s under pressure.

My main question is, how much Presidential work time is Trump squandering with the trips to the rallies, the playing out of the rallies themselves–and then the trips from the rallies? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s asked this. But why isn’t he challenged on this issue by Congressional Democrats? Or the GAO, say? Even if the costs of rally spaces and lighting and bunting and staff and enthusiastic clappers are covered  privately by supporters somehow, his transportation and protection is all on the taxpayer’s dime. And the *time* Trump wastes on these incoherent amplifications of his engorged vanity has monetary value to taxpayers as well.

All Presidents travel about, meet people, give speeches from time to time, but this stadium sized national embarrassment is beyond the pale. I say we send Trump an invoice.

Sep 18

The Speed of Time

Older people feel that time passes faster as they age. But time isn’t going faster for them–except subjectively. This unpleasant sense of being rushed through life can be relieved; we can adjust our perceptions so that time “passes slowly” for us again.

In normal day to day states we “come to” from time to time; we come out of the free-association daydreaming state–”Gosh, it’s three o’clock already!”–and time seems to have gone by very rapidly since the last time we emerged. As we get older, or generally sink into a state of inattentiveness, it’s as if you’ve taken a movie film and removed half the individual frames, and then glued it back together. Watch it that way, and that fragmented movie  passes too fast, and too choppily, because we’re missing key perceptual moments from it.  For various reasons–perhaps associations spawned by memories, or a tendency to withdraw attention to save energy– elderly people in particular tend to be caught up in a subjective state that makes time seem to rush along like a film missing half its frames.

But if we adjust our perceptivity we no longer feel dragged along, passing too rapidly through life.  This re-tuning of our perception of time–and of life itself–can be adjusted through certain forms of meditation. Basic Zen meditation, Vipassana meditation, Gurdjieff’s self-remembering methods,  or the mindfulness  methods of Jon Kabat-Zinn, allow us to exist more fully in the now, constantly returning to what is. Through certain meditative techniques we learn to actively return to the present moment, a process that takes us out of identification with the random churning of the ordinary mind. As we make contact with this wider perception, we’ll notice that time will seem to slow in an agreeable way.  It feels miraculous when it happens, but it’s simply the result of an adjustment of attention. And it doesn’t have to be done sitting in a meditation posture–it can be done while doing housework, or taking a walk. “Walking meditation” is common in Zen and in Tibetan Buddhism.

When I am engaging in a form of mindfulness meditation one second seems to take, perhaps, four seconds to play out, or even more, but in a pleasant way. I don’t feel like “time is dragging”.  Time itself, of course, moves at whatever rate it chooses. I’m simply perceiving more of it. The apparent slowdown happens because in the meditative state I’m not caught up in free-association or daydreams. As such times I’m not on the hamster wheel of the mind; I’m not in the usual ruminative state, which sucks up so much attention. Of course, daydreaming has its uses, and the mind’s ability to free-associate is vital–but the problem is its seductiveness. If we let it take us over entirely it becomes a way to be asleep while walking around only nominally awake.

In the meditative state I take in more information; the sounds around me are heard consciously, one after another, in a consistent stream; the sensation of my body is contemplated in an unbroken continuum with  smells, sights, the feeling of a breeze or just the air on my skin.  It’s all one holistic, unified impression. In this state of active consciousness there is a globular encompassing of everything I experience. When that state is achieved it does not allow for daydreams and mindless free association because there’s no room left for any of that. The mental space usually taken up by the vagaries of free-association is occupied by a total perception of the now. Your mind is fully active but only as a receptor for the present moment. And in that state, time “slows down” because I’m perceiving, cognitively taking in, more of the productions of time.

This process is a great relief. In it–whether for thirty seconds or thirty minutes or more–we are no longer caught up in the cycle of worries, fears, and anxious planning. At such times I’m freed up, and a feeling of refreshment flows over me. Equally important, after repeated meditative efforts, the brain gradually “resets” to take in more information, in a painless, objective way. And by degrees we learn to “slow time” so that life doesn’t pass us by.

Aug 18


Gaia is armed. We humans have guns, and bullets and flamethrowers and polluting factories and bombs. But the totality of Earth’s natural creative force, which some call Gaia, has other weapons to fight with. Gaia, once named “mother nature”, has hurricanes and tornadoes; Gaia has earthquakes and volcanic explosions and torrents of rain and tsunamis and blistering heat and icy nights and rising seas; she has plants that evolve to resist herbicides and insects that evolve to resist pesticides and bacteria that evolve to resist antibiotics.

Gaia has invasive species and expanding zones of toxic algae and northward traveling tropical mosquitoes and killer bees and every form of extreme weather and hot winds sewn with toxins; she has coyotes and bears and cougars and transplanted anacondas that infiltrate cities. She has sharks increasingly crowding our shores, and she has fire ants and secretly germinating viruses.

She has teeth. Never forget–Gaia has teeth. And we have made her very angry.