Trenz Pruca as a Young Mole Rat.
“Beware of women who do not sing and men who do not weep.”
Happy St. Joseph’s Day to me! Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Happy Easter.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
The sun has finally broken through the black and gray sky. Mushroom flocked lawns glisten green while formerly dry gullies shelter white-water torrents. I swam for two hours today in the cold air beneath cerulean skies dotted with drifting cotton-candy clouds. It was glorious.
Now that the recent rains have filled our reservoirs to overflowing, we are immediately barraged by calls to lift water saving rules notwithstanding the drought having demonstrated that water is a limited resource. This confirms once again that we humans seem incapable of resisting the urge to devour all available resources until they disappear and so do we. Living within our means does not appear to be part of our genetic code.
The dark cloud has packed her bags and flown across the Pacific allowing sunlight back into the house.
Today a woman showed up at the health club pool. She wore a metallic mini-bikini held together with silver dollar sized metal rings. I wondered how could she swim with all that metal. Thankfully she did not go into the water. Instead, she strutted around and sun bathed briefly. Some of the men puffed themselves up and also swaggered about. I felt as though I was watching a Quail mating ceremony. Since it seems about all I can puff up these days is my belly and my jowls, I did not join the party.
The health club cafe has a new owner, Cheyenne Rauda, a recent UC Davis graduate. She explained to me how she was going to change the place. It seems she intends to convert it into a more gourmet affair. Why would a second rate health club need gourmet food? I guess, like most alters, I’m beginning to find change unsettling. I asked her if she would agree to continue serving my favorite Tuscan Turkey sandwich. She agreed. I felt better.
A few more days of rain and then the sun returned from holiday somewhere. HRM began his spring vacation. We await Nikki’s arrival. He plans to take HRM to Lake Tahoe for a few days. I may go along if I can be back before Easter Sunday. I plan to drive into the City to spend the day with my mother and sister and whichever other relatives choose to join us.
HRM, Nikki and I went off to Lake Tahoe for four days of skiing. The first morning, on our way to Heavenly, at HRM’s insistence we stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. As we sat down, I heard from the booth behind us someone shout, “Papa Joe.” It was my grandson, Anthony. He was in Tahoe to give skiing lessons to a client. The next day he took HRM along with him on the slopes and managed to train him up from the bunny slopes to black diamond.
After returning to EDH, I left for SF on Easter Sunday. My first stop in the City was for coffee with Peter followed by an Easter Egg hunt in his back yard.
Then it was off to visit my 99-year-old mom followed by stops at the homes of several grandchildren and a return to EDH.
B. Book Report:
On March 17, while roaming through the Amazon website, I came across a book by Frank Delaney entitled “Ireland: A Novel” about Irish stories and storytelling.
My memories Ireland have always been magical ever since that day many years ago when I was sitting in a pub somewhere in Kerry drinking a half and half. Beside me, a man slept slumped over the bar. He suddenly woke up and turned to me — hair wild, sticking out here and there like shards of glass, face red and lumpy, watery grey-blue eyes and missing a few teeth behind a stubbled jaw.
“De ye know how d’Irish lost da battle o d’Boyne?” he said to me in a brogue so thick I could barely understand him. He then launched into an hour-long tale of King Billy with his shining armor and King Jimmy who ran away — about the last minute fording of the river by the English cavalry preventing the out manned and out gunned Irish from achieving a stunning victory and changing history. I was enthralled.
Weeks later, standing on the hill at Newgrange overlooking that same Boyne winding through the green far below, I could, in my mind, see the wounded King Billy riding off after being shot by the Irish gunners, rallying his troops to victory and the silver river turning red with blood.
I turned from that scene and entered Newgrange, the massive 6000-year-old structure older than the Pyramids, older than Stonehenge (no one claimed it was built by aliens either). Bending low, I followed the long dark tunnel (people could freely enter then) to the large room in the center where no light penetrated.
On the longest night of the year, the winter Solstice, whoever it was that may have worshiped there so long ago gathered and awaited the dawn. Upon the sun’s first breasting of the horizon, a shaft of light would flash through a passage above the tunnel and illuminate the chamber in a brilliant magical glow. How wonderful, I thought, it must have been for those from a society bereft of movies, social media, books and the like to gather here once a year and experience such splendor.
Anyway, that and my fondness for storytelling prompted me to order the book and begin reading it on my Kindle. As strange as it may seem, it was not until later that I realized that it was also Saint Patricks Day.
I found the novel delightful. It contains a series of tales told by an itinerant storyteller. The stories about Ireland include The Architect of Newgrange, King Connor’s Comeuppance, Saint Patrick Drives the Snakes along with the Devil from Ireland, Brendan Discovers America, and Finn McCool’s Wedding.
“THE GREAT IRISH WARRIOR, FINN MACCOOL, had the longest arms and the fastest legs and the fairest hair and the bluest eyes and the broadest shoulders and the soundest digestion of any man ever living. He was a god, a leader, a warrior, a hunter, and a thinker. And he was a poet.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 152). HarperCollins.
(Hmm, by “soundest digestion” did the storyteller mean the ability to eat everything from rusty nails to spoiled meat or was he focused on the other end of the digestive tract, stools, neither watery nor hard as rocks?)
All these tales were linked in the novel by the account of a young man’s obsession with stories and storytelling and his long search for the itinerant storyteller who he had met in 1951 when he was still a child. Although the storyteller relates most of the tales, the young man does also, including an appealing story about Brian Boru.
There is a wonderful lecture by the fictitious but delightful history professor T. Bartlett Ryle, who loved Spenser’s poetry but hated his harsh treatment of his beloved Irish. The lecture given at his first class with his new students may be one of the most amusing expositions of what the story of history is and is not. It begins:
“THE MOST DISGRACEFULLY NEGLECTED PERIOD of Irish history stretches from the year seven-ninety-five to the year eleven-seventy. Those dates are in what many people call the Dark Ages. I am not one of those people. And I sincerely doubt that any of your teachers has clearly defined the centuries of the Dark Ages, so let us strap them down here and now. Most of the stuff that’s spoken about that era is good enough to grow roses in.”
“I dislike the term Dark Ages. Day by day, ancient texts, and archaeology’s finds are brightening those centuries, and it may well prove to be the case that one day the Ages won’t deserve to be called Dark anymore. The word you should be searching for is medieval. In my lectures you’ll hear only the terms early medieval, high medieval, and late medieval. Let me see nothing else in your essays. You may write about the sexing of chickens—there’s deep sympathy around here for that sort of thing. You may write about the effect of drought upon a toper. You may write about the fate of maiden ladies who work in bishops’ houses. But you may not write about the Dark Ages.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 229). HarperCollins.
He goes on:
“So: old Irish, Vikings, and Normans—three people on one island; my purpose here is to pick a way for you through that mixture and give you a teaching our history since the Normans that’ll render you fit to go forth, marry decently, raise a family, live to a ripe old age, evacuate your bowels no more than once daily, cultivate your garden, or if you prefer, spend your life in low dives, gambling on two flies climbing up a wall while drinking cheap liquor imported from Rumania. I hope you’re still with me—in spirit if not in spite.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 232). HarperCollins.
Santayana’s statement that “Those who do not remember history are forced to repeat it” is partially true. We humans, singly or collectively, seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. We also suffer from our common tendency to concentrate on the minutia we understand and avoid where we can the difficult complexities. For example, the introduction of the steel plow, the internal combustion engine or the transistor may have changed everything but we still went about our lives and politics obsessed with the same things we have always been obsessed with, among which is how to control and ultimately consume all the resources necessary for us live and our species to survive.
“When politicians and those who observe them consider matters, they frequently fall into the trap of assuming—hopefully, or desperately, depending which side they’re on—that a status quo may last forever. They forget what changes things—events. That’s what all politics are changed by—events.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 234). HarperCollins.
The young man, Ronan by name, goes on to become a storyteller himself wandering the byways, homes and pubs of the country where, in return for shelter food and some Guinness and Irish whisky, he told stories of old Ireland, of its heroes and its villains, its suffering and triumphs even about Kings Billy and Jimmy at the famous Battle of the Boyne.
“We merge our myths with our facts according to our feelings, we tell ourselves our own story. And no matter what we are told, we choose what we believe. All “truths” are only our truths because we bring to the “facts” our feelings, our experiences, our wishes. Thus, storytelling—from wherever it comes—forms a layer in the foundation of the world; and glinting in it we see the trace elements of every tribe on earth.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel. HarperCollins.
Pookie says, “Check it out.”
It is a fundamental aspect of Economic Democracy, that there be ready availability of critical fundamental information about a nation’s economy and its distribution. It is simple, wealth, like military might, and for that matter religious ideology should not be permitted to manipulate the public well-being for its own purposes because its purposes are inconsistent with that of democracy. The founders of this nation recognized the danger to a free society posed by militarism and religious sectarianism and attempted to address it in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other fundamental documents of this country that make up our social contract. Those protections are now under intense attack and must be resisted.
Also, it is time to further that work by establishing additional rights to protect the individual from what Teddy Roosevelt called the “Malefactors of Great Wealth”. Just as it allows the free exercise of religion and the implied ability to protect ourselves from militarily imposed tyranny from within and without, our fundamental declaration of rights must include the protection of the individual and the social contract from those individuals and institutions of great wealth and political power whose interests are not consistent with the liberty of the individual citizen. Abolishing our ability to take collective action through government as proposed by the Libertarians is as antithetical to Liberty as would be surrendering our right to a common defense against those who would otherwise impose their will on us.
With in mind, one of the statistics often relied upon by the media, government, and often economists to show the size of a nation’s economy,the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of similar measures, troubles me. It is often used to compare national economies as well as to demonstrate an economy’s growth over a period of time. Among the many reason for its inadequacy, one seems to me especially appropriate. GDP is a gross number that includes the cumulative effects of population growth. Since in most advanced economies population growth has stagnated or is even declining, it would be better, I believe, for purposes of comparison and growth to show the GDP per person in an economy along with its relative distribution.
In this way, policymakers can concentrate on, or be forced by the public informed by these figures, to concentrate on distribution and individual economic growth.
Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.
(If the above is true, then it is normal human behavior to consider oneself a fraudulent dip-shit. Similarly, we can now safely assume that those who appear supremely confident are likely suffering from a significant personality disorder.)
A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
On the Meaning of Words:
Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah even with numbers.
B. Today’s Poem:
I Held A Shelley Manuscript by Gregory Corso
My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into Death and tightened!
O sovereign was my touch
upon the tan-inks’ fragile page!
Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
sought for smell for dust for lace
for dry hair!
I would have taken the page
breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams–
yet what triumph is there in private credence?
Often, in some steep ancestral book,
when I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
and torched-skin mushrooms,
my cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
and I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
pour secrecy upon the dying page.
(Did you know that Shelley (Percy B.) used to stand by the side of the road and toss copies of his poems through the open windows of the carriages as they drove by? Corso (Nunzio G.), on the other hand, liked mushrooms.)
“In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.”
The beginning of the successful rebellion by the Irish against England, Easter Monday morning April the Twenty-Fourth, 1916
Interestingly, both the IRA and the Provos were terrorist organizations that killed many innocent people (even, I believe, in the US) and engaged in a long protracted war against a trusted ally for 80 years or more. I do not recall any calls for a war against Christians or for a halt to immigration from Europe because those immigrants might include terrorists.