Friday, February 24, 2012

The Center Cannot Hold

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

--W.B. Yeats

Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter Snooze

We are into that part of the winter-- it happens to me every year at some point-- where I feel like nothing so much as just sacking out on the sofa beneath my wool Indian blanket, lying there and woolgathering, or websurfing, or mostly just woolgathering, and staring off lazily into space... or maybe just settling down and taking a nap.

Something about winter rubs me this way every year at some point. I've gotten much farther through this winter before it hit me, perhaps because this winter has been unusually mild. Here we are, I feel like lazing around and taking a snooze... and in just another month we'll be heading into the milder weather. Spring won't be here, winter won't be at an end: in these parts winter hangs on into April, and last year we had a major blizzard with only about a week of April remaining. But give it another month, and the beginning of the end will be upon us, and the end of the blasted deep freeze will be in sight.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Odds and Ends to End January

This January has been an odd month.

The best thing so far this winter? The new bird feeder, outside my kitchen window. Yes, the birds go through the birdseed at an astonishing rate, but it's worth it. Mostly goldfinches, a few juncos, a few sparrows, and twice a cardinal. It provides them with food, and it helps preserve my sanity in this often cabin-feverish remote rural setting.

The worst thing so far this winter? The accident, totalled my old Jeep, and I'm surprised I walked away from the crash in one piece. On an otherwise clear road, a sudden patch of black ice, or frost coming out of the ground, or whatever... my Jeep ended up smashed to smithereens, lying on its side far out into a field. I crawled out through the front window and walked away unscathed-- quite surprisingly, after going off the road, down a 20 foot embankment, through a barbed wire fence, and rolling more than once as I slid and pitched and careened across the field. Thank God for seatbelts, or I wouldn't be here.

The most unexpected thing so far this winter? The new Jeep. Well, "new" Jeep. 2004 Grand Cherokee, found at a car dealership in town. I was planning on a newer vehicle in the spring anyhow, so I only had to move my plans up by a few months. Though I'm still adjusting to all the technological novelties of a 2004 model. The old Jeep was a '92; yes, that's right, no airbags. Hope I'll never have to test out the airbags on the new Jeep.

Other bits and pieces to January, too. But, you know, this has been an odd month. One thing I discover in this remote rural corner of the country is how readily and quickly friends and neighbors come to your aid when you're in a tough spot. From the friend who spotted the new Jeep for me, to the neighbor who loaned me a car for two weeks, to all the folks who expressed their concern-- and, yes, news does travel. I keep running into people who heard.

Meanwhile, I find quiet satisfaction in watching the birds at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window.

Google's New Privacy Whatever

Yeah. Starting March 1. Another month to go. No way to opt out. I haven't quite decided what to do about this. Blogger, you know, is also one of Google's services. I haven't decided yet whether I'll continue this blog, or whether I'll let it go inactive.

On the one hand, I'm sure Google has already gathered quite enough intelligence on me as it is, and this blog is a place where I can vent. On the other hand, no need to feed them with yet another source of intelligence once their privacy policy shifts modes into "one ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them"...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

About That Constitution...

So, you've heard about the TSA detaining Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) at an airport while he was on his way to Washington. Quite predictably, our crotch-groping overlords have little use for the clear and explicit text of the Constitution:
The Senators and Representatives... shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same... (United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 6)
Like I say, welcome to the police state.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January Cold

Five below zero this morning. And here I sit, indoors, beneath a warm wool blanket, with a cup of hot coffee at hand. Furnace is running. And I don't believe on this frigid subzero day in the dead of winter that I will have any reason or need to go outside today. Refilled the bird feeder late yesterday afternoon, while the temperature was still in the single digits above zero.

Yesterday a friend who grew up in these parts, and who is only a couple of years older than me, told me that he grew up in a house (same house he still lives in today) where there was no indoor plumbing until he was in third or fourth grade. This was early 1960s. He remembers having to go out and use the outhouse when there was frost on the toilet seat.

Go back a generation earlier than that, and people would've been heating their homes on those subzero days by burning wood in a cast iron stove. Come to think of it, there are still several people around here who burn wood to heat their homes. Me, I'm enough of a city boy that I'd be stuck if I had to do more than just fiddle with the thermostat. But there are a good many folks around here who are not far removed from the roots of their pioneer ancestors.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome to the Police State

Well, so Congress has passed, and President Obama has signed, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which among other things deals a mortal blow to the right of habeas corpus. Now if a US citizen is suspected of sympathizing with terrorism, the US military can apprehend them, on American soil or anywhere around the world, and hold them indefinitely... without charges, without trial, without legal recourse. As Senator Lindsey Graham infamously put it, "And when they say, 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them, 'Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.'"

Gee, what could possibly go wrong?

I remember here in my neck of the words, there was a stretch of several years following 9/11 when any time you read the court records in the local paper, it seemed at least half the cases at the county courthouse included a peculiar criminal charge: "making terroristic threats." It didn't matter what the person had initially been arrested for, this additional charge would be tacked on. Resisting an officer and making terroristic threats. Causing a domestic disturbance and making terroristic threats. Disorderly conduct and making terroristic threats.

Obviously a law initially passed for use against terrorism was now being applied to any staggering drunk who bellowed at the police, "You get your hands off me or I'll knock your block off!"

Righto: public intoxication and making terroristic threats.

And once the NDAA starts getting applied with similar elasticity, when the bellicose drunk or the political protester or the person who wrote an angry letter to the editor says "I want my lawyer," you tell them, "Shut up, you don't get a lawyer."

Public intoxication and sympathizing with terrorism. Taking part in a protest march and sympathizing with terrorism. Writing an angry letter to the editor and sympathizing with terrorism. As the quotable Senator Graham put it, "The homeland is part of the battlefield and people can be held without trial whether an American citizen or not."