The Crux Crew Mini-Interview

Ah, a welcome switch from the political and conspiracies… this is the direction I’m looking into at the moment, and my focus may well sharpen over the next months. Enjoy this, and if you buy the anthology, well aww, golly, gee, I got one o’ mah own short stories tuck in there too… not going to give it away, you’ll have to find it, and it is one I never published on this blog, so it ain’t here! Enjoy.

Rachael Ritchey

I couldn’t help reblogging this entertaining and interesting interview (more of a conversation between three authors we get to sit it on) between host author Joy E. Rancatore, R. J. Rodda, and Audrey Driscoll. 

To enjoy the interview in its entirety, head to Joy’s website by clicking this link:

http://www.joyerancatore.com/2018/11/15/the-crux-crew-mini-interview/

Following is a snippet, but don’t miss out on the rest. These ladies are smart, and their conversation is one we can all enjoy. 

~ Rachael Ritchey

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The Crux Crew Mini-Interview

Is it tea time where you are? Are you sipping your morning coffee? Even if it’s neither, I invite you to pour yourself a cuppa and join me, Joy E. Rancatore(JER) and authors R J Rodda (RJR) and Audrey Driscoll (AD) as we have a little chat about writing, stories and the release of The Crux Anthology. We are proud to be part of…

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A Very Long Walk

[a short story by Sha’Tara]

It was another cool, crisp and clear late Autumn afternoon, the kind Krista loved to go walking in. She followed the riding trail down to the edge of the Maskua river as it meandered through the low lying lands of this agricultural community. As she walked she noticed the oaks and maples had less leaves on them and the colours were reluctantly fading. Denuded tops allowed lopsided windows into a pale, clear, blue sky.

Many thoughts flowed through her mind. She knew she had it good as her home-based business only required a few hours a day to keep going and she enjoyed it. The two children, Toby, now thirteen, was in Middle school and Trina was finishing her high school. Both children were quiet as a rule and caused her little problems. Both were somewhat introverted and had few close friends, something she did not mind at all.

Her thoughts turned to her husband Dan on his last year of duty in Afghanistan. One short moment of trepidation, then she reasserted herself. He would be coming back, of that she was certain. She had vowed to herself never to dwell on the possibility that he could become a casualty of war. ‘Not in my reality’ she said often with total conviction. ‘Do you still love him?’ a small, nasty little inner voice taunted. ‘With all my heart and soul’ she replied truthfully. Krista, though still very attractive and not without admirers and opportunities, was the completely faithful partner. She would never stray.

She carefully skirted the muddy pools that remained in the trail all winter in the shadier spots and kept walking. She heard crows cawing but not using the excited voices when discovering a sleepy great horned owl or a red-tailed hawk. She heard ducks and geese on the river but could not sight the stream yet. There was much brush where she passed and one more little rise before she could see the meandering river reflecting the blue sky from shore to shore.

She saw a page from a note book crumpled and stuck in some blackberry brambles. She thought of reaching for it but decided against it. ‘Whatever is written on there, none of my business,’ she said to herself and kept walking. You could say she was observant but not overly curious.

She saw something else in another tangle, a grey and blue baseball cap. ‘That’s a team cap from Trina’s high school! Must have flown off a rider’s head or been brushed off by a low-lying branch and the owner chose not to come back for it. Oh well… her or his loss. Maybe they’ll come back for it later.’

She had topped the rise then and saw the river. She stopped to admire it – her favourite place in the entire walk. She had had many a good mother to daughter talk with Trina on this spot. The current was sluggish now and reflections of dark spruce and bare poplars cast mesmerizing shadows in the waters of the far bank. She moved her head slowly to the movements of the inverted tree dance trying to find a tune in her head to go with it.

Something unusual brought her to look closer to her side of the river. There was a piece of cloth floating down there, of blue and white coloration. It looked like it was caught on a branch. This time her curiosity was aroused and she worked her way to the edge of the water for a better look.

That’s when she realized she wasn’t looking at a piece of cloth but at the body of a drowned person. She saw long hair floating off from the submerged head and a white hand bobbing in and out from the surface. She gave a gasp, but instead of screaming as she wanted to do, she plunged into the stream and waded in the freezing water that came to her breasts by the time she reached the body of a young woman.

She tugged and pulled and finally untangled the body and dragged it to the shore, turning it over to look into its face…

“Oh God, Trina! What have you done? I told you he wasn’t worth it! You promised me it was over.”

Re-Blog from George Monbiot: An Electrifying Idea

Taking the liberty to post a copy and paste of a most excellent article by George Monbiot. There are a lot of complaints about the way things are, and are going, and I’m certainly as guilty of that as anyone else and it is to me happiness and relief to be able to post about a revolutionary technological idea that could change our world.  Remember how we were taught in high school that agriculture changed everything for man; how we began a new civilization from that idea?  Well, here’s an idea that goes beyond agriculture and could make agriculture and fishing obsolete. 

Whichever side of the ideological fence we are on, religion or technocracy, we are all basically hoping and waiting for some “miracle” to move us off an unsustainable path as a species and civilization.  Could this be it? Could we do this and avoid the inexorable “die back” to result from our obsession with the maintenance of our old and obsolete ways?  Have a read, it’s quite short.

An Electrifying Idea

Posted: 06 Nov 2018 06:16 AM PST

What if we abandoned photosynthesis as the means of producing food, and released most of the world’s surface from agriculture?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 31st October 2018

It’s not about “them”, it’s about us. The horrific rate of biological annihilation reported this week – 60% of the Earth’s vertebrate wildlife gone since 1970 – is driven primarily by the food industry. Farming and fishing are the major causes of the collapse of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Meat – consumed in greater quantities by the rich than by the poor – is the strongest cause of all. We might shake our heads in horror at the clearance of forests, the drainage of wetlands, the slaughter of predators and the massacre of sharks and turtles by fishing fleets, but it is done at our behest.

As the Guardian’s recent report from Argentina reveals, the huge forests of the Gran Chaco are heading towards extermination, as they are replaced by deserts of soya beans, almost all of which are used to produce animal feed, particularly for Europe. With Jair Bolsonaro in power in Brazil, deforestation in the Amazon is likely to accelerate, much of it driven by the beef lobby that helped bring him to power. The great forests of Indonesia and West Papua are being felled and burnt for oil palm at devastating speed.

The most important environmental action we can take is to reduce the area of land and sea used by farming and fishing. This means, above all, switching to a plant-based diet: research published in the journal Science shows that cutting out animal products would reduce the global requirement for farmland by 76%. It would also give us a fair chance of feeding the world. Grazing is no answer to the ecocide caused by grain-fed livestock: it is an astonishingly wasteful use of vast tracts of land that would otherwise support wildlife and wild ecosystems.

The same action is essential to prevent climate breakdown. Because governments, bowing to the demands of capital, have left it so late, it is almost impossible to see how we can stop more than 1.5° of global warming without drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The only way of doing it that has been demonstrated at scale is to allow trees to return to deforested land.

But could we go beyond even a plant-based diet? Could we go beyond agriculture itself? What if, instead of producing food from soil, we were to produce it from air? What if, instead of basing our nutrition on photosynthesis, we were to use electricity, to fuel a process whose conversion of sunlight into food is ten times more efficient?

This sounds like science fiction, but it is already approaching commercialisation. For the past year, a group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. Their only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The food they have produced is 50 to 60% protein, the rest is carbohydrate and fat. They have started a company (Solar Foods), which seeks to open its first factory in 2021. This week it was selected as an incubation project by the European Space Agency.

They use electricity from solar panels to electrolyse water, producing hydrogen, that feeds bacteria (which turn it back into water). Unlike other forms of microbial protein (such as Quorn), it requires no carbohydrate feedstock – in other words, no plants.

Perhaps you are horrified by this prospect. Certainly, there’s nothing beautiful about it. It would be hard to write a pastoral poem about bacteria grazing on hydrogen. But this is part of the problem. We have allowed a mythical aesthetic to blind us to the ugly realities of industrial agriculture. Instilled with an image of farming that begins in infancy, as about half the books for very small children involve a rosy-cheeked farmer with one cow, one horse, one pig and one chicken, living in bucolic harmony, we fail to see the amazing cruelty of large-scale animal farming, the blood and gore, filth and pollution. We fail to apprehend the mass clearance of land required to feed us, the Insectageddon caused by pesticides, the drying up of rivers, the loss of soil, the reduction of the magnificent diversity of life on Earth to a homogeneous grey waste.

The compound the Finnish researchers have produced from air, water and electricity is most likely to be used as a bulk ingredient in processed food. But (though this goes well beyond the company’s current plans) is there any reason why, with modifications of the process, it could not start to deliver the proteins required to make cultured meat, or the oils that could render palm plantations redundant? Is there any reason why it should not eventually replace much of what we eat?

According to the researchers’ estimates, 20,000 times less land is required for their factories than to produce the same amount of food by growing soya. Cultivating all the protein the world now eats with their technique would require an area smaller than Ohio. The best places to do it are deserts, where solar energy is most abundant. When electricity can be generated at €15 per megawatt hour (a few years hence), their process becomes cost-competitive with the cheapest source of soya.

Could a similar technique also be used to produce cellulose and lignin, eventually replacing the need for commercial forestry? Is there any inherent reason why the hydrogen pathway could not create as many products as photosynthesis does today? Could it help to change our entire relationship with the natural world, reducing our footprint to a fraction of its current size?

There are plenty of questions to be answered, plenty of possible hurdles and constraints. But think of the possibilities. Agricultural commodities, currently using almost all the Earth’s fertile land area, could be shrunk into a few small pockets of infertile land. The potential for ecological restoration is astonishing. The potential for feeding the world, a question that has literally been keeping me awake at night, is just as electrifying.

None of this means we can afford to relax and wait for an infant technology to save us. In the meantime, as urgent intermediate steps, we should switch to a plant-based diet and mobilise against the destruction of the living planet. You could start by joining the Extinction Rebellion that launches today [Wednesday].

But if this works, it could help, alongside political mobilisation, to change almost everything. Places which have become agricultural deserts, trashed by giant corporations, could be reforested, drawing carbon dioxide from the air on a vast scale. The ecosystems of land and sea could recover, not just in pockets but across great tracts of the planet. A new age of global hunger becomes less likely.

Crude and destructive technologies got us into this mess. Refined technologies can help get us out of it. The struggle to save every possible species and ecosystem from the current wave of destruction is worthwhile. One day, perhaps within our lifetimes, they could repopulate a thriving world.

http://www.monbiot.com

Subject: Co-Evolution

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Begin with a simple vision of a past long lost to your DNA, unthinkable to your history.  A past when certain intelligences moved away from their worlds, scattering in the infinity of space and time.  Some cross a great barrier and find themselves in this universe, a very young and strange place full of chaos and rage.  The wandering space travelers are now the ancients on the scene.  They attract precocious, hungry, predatory life-forms.  These young energies infest the ancients’ minds and a symbiotic relationship ensues.  In exchange for their wisdom, the young ones give the ancients new energy.

A new being develops in this co-evolution.  And the great galaxies; Magellanic Clouds and nebulae continue to be born and in turn to give birth to lesser systems, some swarming with incoherent, chaotic, life.  Truly, some parts of this universe are nothing if not one great big Saturday night party that is so much fun no one wants to go home…

The new being observes the cooling of worlds and the settling of new life forms.  It discovers and uses mitosis to become many. It follows its instincts and chooses a variety of new worlds to inhabit.  There is another Diaspora and most lose track of others.

Uncountable years later…

In the Sol system a small world is birthed from the death of another, a water world that soon teems with life.  The new being comes hither and observes.  “I will leave my seed on this world,”  it states.  And it does so.

The seed becomes known as human, though it is but pseudo-human.  The new seed being having yet to give meaning to its existence sees its world as a place to control, subdue, conquer.  It chooses to be a predator and to fight for its right to exist on its chosen world.  Over time it discovers it has no serious challenger among the many predators of its new world except for its own species, disease and death.  It beats out the odds against these through the use of its female counterpart as a birth mother.  She gives birth without restraint and population increases exponentially.  All is well.

Not really.  The pseudo-human can’t seem to adapt to his new world.  Whereas nature tells him of balance he chooses to set himself up as ruler above nature.  He chooses an artificial lifestyle to sustain himself.  Except for small vulnerable groups who made the effort to adapt themselves to their environment, “man” as he has come to think of himself, refuses to do so.  Those who adapted are enslaved, poisoned, killed and their way of life destroyed.

It’s history, at least the last part unavoidably so.

However much I tried (I remember quite a few “tries” I call past lives) I’ve never been able to fit in “your” world.  Your thoughts are not mine; neither are your ways.  I despise your values (or lack thereof) and equally despise how easily you are mind-enslaved by individuals less intelligent than yourself.

Your rulers; your leaders; your bosses; your healers; your teachers: all of them, almost without exception, are exploiters.  All of them lie to you.  Teachers do not teach: at best, they instruct; at worse they indoctrinate. Those who would teach are not allowed.  Your religious gurus are in it for the money and the glory.  Your politicians, ditto.  Your legal interpreters, well, is there another lawyer joke out there waiting to be constructed?  Your money launderers you call bankers: what role do they play but to enslave you further to their artificially created and maintained global debt load?  What about your great corporate businesses?  Surely, based on their commercials they have your best interest at heart? (Sarcasm!).

Conclusion: you are not of this world.  You never adapted to its ways and are moving further and further from such an adaptation.  Sadly, you have no other world to go to either.  Heaven and Hell (as options) are just mirror images of Earth — as below, so above (and so further below!).  What else is there?  If you are but body, you end up in the flames of the crematorium or rot in an underground box.   Death is the one predator you cannot conquer, not ever. May as well have never existed that those billions you destroyed in your egotistical greedy madness to conquer absolutely nothing could have had the life you denied them.

Co-evolution ensured your survival but it did not prepare you to adapt to any particular world.  How others like yourselves have fared on other worlds, in other galaxies and other universes, I won’t say because it would be meaningless without your own willing participation in such explorations and your acceptance of what your “visions” and “dreams” would tell you.  Knowledge comes from information and experience.  I can give you information.  I cannot give you experience. Information without experience is poison.

If you would know who you are (as a species and sub-species) I suggest you look at yourself using a mental scalpel.  Open yourself under your own microscope as you interact with others like you and with your environment in general.  Watch how you think about “others”.  Watch what you say.  What you do.  What you buy.  What you use.  What you eat.  What you wear and why.  What you use as shelter.  Watch carefully who it is that speaks through your mind: is it you, or is it someone, something, you trust/fear more than yourself?  Are you the product of someone else’s thoughts and ideas?  Watch carefully.  Decide then if what you observe is what you really choose to be — and you would not be anyone or anything else no matter what — or if you wish to become something else.  If so, what else?

You are the product of co-evolution.  Your past is so deep and distant; so full of weirdness that you would be scared to death to see what you used to be.  To arrive here you have mutated, changed and changed.  Now you can easily see you were never prepared to live on this small world.  You don’t have a clue how it functions in relation to the real you.  You don’t really know what to do with yourself when confronted with Earth.  But you know how to exploit. You know how to forcefully take and you revel in destruction and killing. You express yourself for the most part in mindless rage.

Imagine you wake up one morning alone and naked in some Earthian wilderness.  You realize it’s your city’s exact location before there was any human being there.  You’ve lived here, as an alien, all of your life surrounded by all the artifacts that make your puny, meaningless consumer life possible.  Now there’s just the naked physical you and the real world: nature.  What about you will determine whether you live or die?  The alien part, that which has never tried to adapt, will be helpless here. What natural part of you can you awaken that may save you in this scenario?

Debate all you want about evolution versus creation.  But the only thing that matters is, can you adapt to this world before you push it beyond its ability to support you, even should you choose to meet it at its natural level?

If you are annoyed by my use of the pronoun “you” in speaking of Earthians, I want you to know that I am not one of you.  I can interact with you quasi-normally (according to YOUR rules, not mine) though you have certainly pushed me to my limits and beyond many times, but I cannot join with you through any of your recognized, legalized, accepted relationships, beliefs and performances.  I won’t play possum with my mind and allow it to atrophy as a trophy to some Power, whatever you wish to call such.

I come from cosmic infinity and to the Cosmos I return.  The stars of your galaxy, of northern and southern hemispheres are but dandelion and buttercup flowers in my current life’s front and back yards.

How Republics Die: William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic” and its Relevance Today

As “The Secular Jurist” says, this is a must read. I don’t think I need to add anything to that, it’s all too obvious and self explanatory.

Padre Steve's World: Resist the Beginning, Consider the End

Friends of Padre Steve’s Word,

As most of my readers know I am a historian who specializes in both the American Civil War as well as the years between the First World War and the end of the Second World War. On of my favorite authors whose works specialize in the latter is the late William Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Berlin Diary, The Nightmare Years, and maybe most importantly for Americans and Western Europeans today, The Collapse of he Third Republic: an Inquiry into the Fall of France 1940. 

The book is very pertinent for our time. Today, the American Republic faces a crisis that will determine if it will survive without becoming a totalitarian state in which the legislative and judicial branches are subordinated to the executive branch and an imperial presidency, and the overwhelming power of an elite oligarchy of industrialists…

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The Tale of King Demarth

A short story,  by Sha’Tara

The old woman looked intently at the young girl at her knee as she sat by the smoldering fire of the hearth. Outside the wind blew and scraped branches against the stone of the cottage.

“Did I ever tell you the story of King Demarth of Ulmn?”

“No, you have not.”

“It is a very good story. Now I have to think for a minute or two, just to remember some of the details. You see, it’s an old story, handed down many generations in our family. So many generations…” she goes silent and sighs.

“Yes, now I can begin:

“Once upon a time, in a land far away there was a king called Demarth who lived in a mighty castle. He had many men-at-arms and over the years his father and he conquered the surrounding kingdoms and added them to their domain called Ulmn.

The king, therefore, becamd powerful and very rich. He was also a man who loved adventure. Often he’d go out into the countryside with only a couple of retainers, and sometimes he’d even go alone.

On one of his lonely rides one day he strayed farther than usual and found himself in a strange part of the land. He was no longer certain if this part belonged to his kingdom or not. As he pondered which way to go, his horse, a tall black war-horse, snorted and angled his ears forward toward what looked like an orchard. The king urged the horse forward and was suddenly hit in the head with a well-aimed green apple.

“Ho,” he cried. “Who is it dares to throw apples at the king?”

A young woman climbed down from a loaded apple tree and stared at the king and his horse. Then she slipped to her knees and bent her head.

“My lord – I thought thieves were in our land again. I have grievously offended you, take my life.”

The king bade her rise and he looked her over. She was indeed very beautiful, though dressed almost in rags and her red hair was unkempt and wild about her head.

“What is your name, girl?”

“Alnya” my lord, she replied.

“Do you have parents?” he asked her.

“My father was killed in the king’s wars before I was born. My mother lives in our cottage. I have two brothers much older than I. They work in the fields.”

“Take me to your mother, then – how far is it?”

“About a mile, my lord.”

He brought the great war horse near her, grabbed her and swept her in front of him on the horse. She gasped as they galloped to the cottage. Once there, the king asked for water, drank, then gave the peasant woman a purse filled with gold coins in exchange for her hospitality and her daughter to take back to the castle.

For you see the king had fallen madly in love with the beautiful and daring peasant girl and had decided to make her his bride. This he confided to her as they rode back to the castle beyond the great stone wall. She wept at the news but he did not understand nor did he enquire of the reason. Tears are affairs of women he’d been taught – best left alone.

I won’t bore you with the details of making this peasant girl into a courtesan, but she learned fast. She had her brothers brought to the castle to train for knighthood, and her mother came to live there as well. The farm was rented and kept in the family by the king’s law.

The gist of the story, my girl, is that Alnya had a lover before she met the king. She tried to forget him but one day he came even to the castle looking for her. They saw each other and she contrived to meet him. They swore love to each other and she promised to find a way to be reunited with him. Then she made him leave so that, should things turn sour, he would not be discovered. Despite their love, great was the fear in each of them.

Alnya decided to risk all. She went to the king and declared that she had a lover and wanted to return to him to be married to him, despite the certainty of poverty, or worse.

The king became very angry. You see, he too loved Alnya. And he had the power of his law to force her to marry him. He could even have the peasant lover thrown into his dungeons for life, or killed. He ordered Alnya away to her chambers and took his great horse out for a ride.

As he rode, he made a point of noticing everything that moved. The birds, animals and the people at their work or children at play. He stopped on a high, bare hill, dismounted and thought about his situation. His anger was abated now. He watched an eagle soaring high in the sky, then come down, lower and lower, suddenly swooping into tall grass and coming back up with a rodent in its talons.

How like that eagle I am, thought the mighty king. How easy it is for me, so high, to pounce down and just take what I want. Perhaps too easy. Perhaps I must suffer shame and defeat again, as I did when my wife the queen died in childbirth and I was left alone. Perhaps the happiness of others is of more importance to the mighty than their own. What is our purpose but to ensure the weaker are protected from injustice as well as from physical harm? How much the more from any injustice I myself would inflict upon them?

The great king mounted his horse and rode through the forest in silence, coming upon Alnya’s village. He enquired after a young apprentice smith he was interested in for the castle forge, so he said. He found the boy at the forge, working the bellows.

“Ah, my lord the king,” said the smith. “Please come in. Is there something wrong with your horse, a loose or missing shoe perhaps?”

“No my good man,” said the king. “I wish a word with your apprentice, Garthain.”

So the king walked a ways with Garthain, Alnya’s lover. Suddenly the king turned upon Garthain and pulling his long double handed knight’s sword from its diamond-studded sheath, said, “Kneel, knave, for you crave the king’s own betrothed and I must challenge you.”

Trembling, the young man kneeled. But he looked the king in the eyes and said, “I love Alnya. I always have. We were lovers when you took her away. You took my heart and desire to live when you took her then. So take that sword in your hand and strike me dead. May my head be the trophy you bring to her wedding bed.”

The king help up the sword and brought it down… gently upon Garthain’s shoulder.

“I knight thee in the name of God and the Kingdom. If it suits you now, find a horse and ride back with me to the castle. Indeed there will be a wedding this week, and indeed it will be that of the fair Alnya. But let it be said by all that she marries, not of duress or fear, but of love. When you are married, you may choose to live here in the village – with my blessings and gold for help, or you may join my knights at the castle, though I warn you it is a harsh life there.”

And so it came to pass that the king rose to be mighty and had peace in his land for as long as he lived. And though he did not have a love of his own, he had the love of an entire kingdom, to his dying day, and he was mourned greatly for he had been the best king anyone had ever known.

And thus, it was said long ago, should all the mighty behave towards those over whom they reign or rule.

And now this story is yours and in turn you must tell it to your children. Do not forget it, ever.

In Honour of the Great Pumpkin

[totally off the wall, by Sha’Tara]

Forget everything you know… or think you know, and follow, follow, follow… the Great Pumpkin as SheHeIt rises out of the pumpkin patch and rolls merrily down the street, spewing out GMO candies for all the obese little boys and girls. The Great Pumpkin, akin to all gods, likes to see those over whom he rules and drools, resemble herhimitself.

Ideas from quotes found wherever and other sources too numerous to enumerate. Some of them could even have evolved from my own vale of imagining-making. Let’s not be sickly sweet truthful or honest.

Choices, choices: I do not know what, or how, to decide my next move. But am I asking you for help or direction? No, so relax while I digress.

Sometimes, out of the blue and for no particular reason, I smile. Please do not interrupt me when I am thus so rarely occupied.

Out there, in the far distant distance, behind some trees and a small muddy river, hidden by rising clumps of blackberries and red elderberry bushes a cow mooed. Not just once, but many times. No one answered. I’m assuming that’s OK with the cow. I’m assuming it didn’t expect any answer. I didn’t answer: my bullshit analyzer and mooing translator was dead; I’d forgot to put it on the charger when last at the barn. I also realized I wasn’t up to the embarrassment if I mooed the wrong message and called up a load of bullshit.

This shady suburban area collects cats and squirrels. Squirrels are destructive rodents, I do not like them. Cats are rodent killers, but do I like that better? I’ll leave that answer blank, the STTTPCTDA* might take exception to whatever answer I give. Honestly I think it’s a trick question.

The advantage of self-empowerment over self-delusion is, you don’t have to ponder rhetorical questions: they ponder themselves into senselessness. (I thought I’d throw that in while the lid was open.)

There’s a giant box store just out of town. It’s full of stuff it’s convinced people they can’t live without. House sparrows make their homes in the rafters and girders. I like that. If the business of selling crap isn’t too loud (or noisy if you prefer), you can even hear them chirp in those heavenly highs. Brave little guys, living up there in their chosen heaven, inhaling all those fumes from Chinese plastic wrap. Box Store House Sparrows are known to have short life-spans. It’s in the Threatened Species book, no, not last years’, the new one published last month.  They sell copies at the box store.

They have a freeway out here. It isn’t free and it’s over fifty years old. It’s obsolete – two lanes each way when three would barely accommodate commuter and long weekend traffic. Doesn’t matter, weekenders have lemming brains. (Sorry, lemmings and I hope the STTTPCTDA doesn’t read this part.) Necessary or not, tell them it’s a long weekend and they have to be on that freeway with all the claptrap of an imploding middle class of two-day tourism to rented cabins and over-crowded campsites on unwashed lakes. Do they care that they’ll be wasting ten or more hours of their lives commuting to those places and back? Of course not. Caring implies intelligence; please don’t spoil the weekend.

Feel free to browse, she said with a commercial smile. Was she telling me how I should feel? How presumptuous. I left the store, crossed the street, walked over the raised railway track and stared at the sea. The fog was lifting. I wondered what it would be like to feel free? Neither the fog nor the pale sun had any answer.  I was on my own here.

You can’t “feel” free said the Darwinist scientist. Freedom doesn’t exist; it’s a mental concept, and the mind only exists as brain, so you are mindless, he said. And I thought, what does that make you, you insipid idiot? I didn’t say it out loud though I itched to do it.  Sometimes I think it’s good to be proprietary, or do I mean simply proper?

Here’s a short list of the types I don’t like. My “like” or “don’t like” aren’t arbitrary. I spent an entire lifetime (up to now, that is) deciding which professions I liked and didn’t like. Here it is, in “don’t like” order: doctors, lawyers (liars), judges, every sort of academic twat, psychiatrists (shrinks), counselors, preachers (without exceptions, should have put them in with the lawyers), bankers (in with the lawyers you go, now!) politicians (without exceptions also – in you go, into the lawyer tank!), lobbyists, evolution-pushing Darwinists, professional entertainers, sports figures, military types (any military type), commentators, TV anchor people drones and talking heads, CEO’s (disliking those who don’t even know they’ll become one- I can always tell, there’s a smell about them), gods, born-again Jesus peddlers and newspaper editors.  OK, don’t go away mad… just go away.

Did I miss anyone important, impotent? As I said, it’s a short list, a very sort list. Don’t feel bad if your profession is mentioned, I don’t know you and that means you remain redeemable, even if you are a god or a gynecologist. People have been known to come back from the dead. Even if they didn’t remember being dead that takes nothing from their accomplishment.

I digress, I know, but I love digressing. You can dress casually when digressing and society doesn’t go into lock-down or fakebook global panic.

Imagine, if you will, a wide sandy beach. The tide is almost completely out; the sea sparkles out there a half a mile away, blue-grey, shining it’s brightest.
Imagine if you will a lone individual walking towards what is about to become a returning tide, purposefully striding away from the safety of the shore.

Imagine if you will that same individual of no discernible gender or vintage, walking naked and unafraid to the open sea, a silhouette of dreams.

Watch carefully as the individual’s stature shrinks steadily with each naked footstep in the wet sands; as the distance separating the individual from the returning tide diminishes, as the water wraps itself hungrily around the feet, ankles, calves, thighs and finally wraps itself entirely around the body, picking it up and casually floating it back towards the shore. 
Imagine… I don’t have to, I’ve done that, many, many times. I can’t explain how wonderful it felt then and still does now.

That’s digressing. Wonderful, isn’t it?

I wrapped up the job, he said as he sat down beside me. (“He” being Dave). We were in a restaurant where we had planned to meet. So far, so good. I wondered, as I’m wont to do when I’m not digressing and trying hard to be in the moment, what you do with a wrapped up job. Do you put it on a shelf? Do you mail it back to yourself, or send it to someone you like, or someone you dislike? Your boss? The customer? Is it like a birthday present? A Christmas present? I wondered what colour of ribbon he used and if he affixed a bow? The bow is always a nice touch, especially if the job was well done. I’ll ask the cook.

Speaking of presents, would you like a job already wrapped? If yes, I’ll need your address, of course. How much does it cost to mail a job? If no, then it doesn’t matter, does it. Of course if you say yes, I’ll have to ask Dave what he did with the wrapped up job. How much insurance do you put on the package? Is it valued in weight or in time? So many questions, so little time.

The waitress came to our table. She looked harassed and haggard. Both. I wondered if she ate there and thought I’d ask Dave if we could go somewhere else to eat. He was ogling the waitress, below her harassed and haggard looks and down her tip-expectant cleavage. Dave isn’t big on discernment. (Take that as an opinion backed by some serious observation.) She had on a short black skirt and heels, both well below the haggard and harassed looks, both also tip-expectant recent purchases. New to the beat, hm.

I sighed, long and deep, with much feeling involved on my part. We were going to stay, order, and he was going to eat. I could hear his thoughts, ‘I’m not about to waste a perfectly delectable waitress.’ Of course he didn’t use the word ‘delectable’, that being way beyond his vocabularian expertise. It’s practically beyond mine!

With so little to do and Dave totally engrossed between steak and lust, I thought I should digress a little. Digression isn’t fattening and I didn’t think it would make me harassed or give me haggard looks. A good digression beats a good digestion any day of the week except maybe after Sunday brunch. It is well behaved, and totally reliable. Besides, I was wearing a turtleneck sweater and slacks. I felt safe from both harassment and haggardness.

Now just in case I come down with something and can’t answer when you ask, “Haggardness” used to be a small town in eastern Scotland. It had two golf courses but it played havoc with their tourist trade so they traded it to Australia, or so I’m told. I don’t, of course, believe everything I’m told, but this particular telling is intriguing, so I am partially believing it. I wonder what they got in exchange? Kangaroos, I’d bet. There are ten zoos in Glasgow, start looking!

… and finally, as I return from plagiarizing my own mind and a wonderfully satisfying digression… a reminder: “The owners of this country know the truth, said George Carlin: its called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

And closing with this one because if you don’t think about it, it has a Halloween touch:
“Trees talk to each other at night.
“All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
“Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
“Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
“If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
“The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
“Everyone knows at least one secret language.
“When nobody is looking, I can fly.
“We are all held together by invisible threads.
“Books get lonely too.
“Sadness can be eaten.
“I will always be there.
— Raul Gutierrez, “Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently,”

( STTTPCTDA: Society To Try To Prevent Cruelty To Dumb Animals)