Thursday, January 1, 2015

Clean Slate Again

We have the black-eyed peas soaking, and will start that pot after a while. Put in some country ham, some bit of greens (I'll probably use spinach or epinards as the bag calls them), but mustard greens might be perfect, one small can of tomatoes, plenty of black pepper. After a while the pot will be ready--when the peas are soft basically. What deliciousness to start the year. We should also make corn bread, but I'm not sure that'll actually happen.

The tragic (or something) homicide in Idaho, of a young mother shot by her 2-year-old son when he reached into her bag whilst sitting in her shopping cart in a Walmart at 10:30 AM in a very small town, and found her loaded pistol, is most of all a symptom of the great problem we have trying to manage being a democracy. The millions of people who have fallen entirely into the religion of the gun, which is pretty much exactly like the religion of Baal, and driven by exactly the same fears, is a symptom of a feature of human psychology which seems entirely unchanging when we look at our silly, stumbling species from any historical perspective at all. The crafty and craven, of whom we always have aplenty (another trait of the species one might say), understand both consciously and unconsciously how to exploit fear. For some of them, the invisible levers are always in plain view. Let anything untoward occur, be it a surprising green comet never before seen in our tiny history but an object which was last nearby at the very start of the world as we know it today, a world free of its ice sheet; or a new outbreak of a virus which occurs almost entirely among humans too poor to make a market for a scientifically achievable vaccine, immediately the crafty and craven will stir panic and fear amongst all those susceptible, a pool of millions.

Even without the manipulators, people will do a pretty good job of letting fear drive their behavior. What's a tragic problem for our species is the way this trait is never noticed in the moment. The maw of death spurred by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand seems to mean nothing at all to us when airplanes crash into our skyscrapers. In Idaho, the husband of the deceased mother, whose little son will carry with him through his whole life that terrible fact that he shot and killed his mother, asserts that "she did nothing wrong." Certainly the little boy did nothing wrong either, but who will convince him of that. For the believers of Baal, their faith carries all. Everything else is at fault. The solution is more guns. The deceased mother's gun was in a new handbag, a Christmas present, with a special compartment just for the pistol. Some entrepreneur saw an obvious market. I'll bet that bag is for sale in my county, at the boutique gun shops which have sprung up this late past year to tend to the distaff trade, ladies pistols for the ladies who fear a 10 AM stroll in our Walmarts. Common sense would not allow a raccoon near such a handbag, much less a little boy.

It is this way of thinking... err "thinking"... which leads us to a Congress such as what we are now cursed with (or an NC Legislature, for that matter). These representatives, selected by millions of voters in the thrall of fear stoked to a blue flame by the hard work of so-called news organizations which are in fact propagandists, not to mention the politicians themselves, either driven by the same fear or bought and paid for by the manipulators, are then supposed to solve the weighty problems which do in fact confront us all. Thus it is that Senator James Inhofe (R,OK) becomes the new chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee when the new Congress convenes. His goal is less "government regulation" and more military spending.

I looked for the green comet last night. It's supposed to be somewheres around Orion, which was wonderfully visible, as was I believe Saturn, coming up in the east whilst Orion hung at more or less eleven o'clock in the southern sky. The moon was too bright I believe. It's supposed to gain in brightness well into January, this comet Lovejoy, named after the Aussie who spotted it back in August. In ancient times Mr. Lovejoy would sit at the side of kings, and whisper in their ears, and corn would be planted according to his notions, and goats sacrificed.

Boy oh boy it's a pretty day outside, January 1, 2015.

[Lovejoy photo from NBC News]

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