Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lively Summer Weather


When most people think of summer in Arizona, they think of blistering heat -- which is generally quite true -- and little else.  What you generally have to live here to learn is that the summer is also when we get the Monsoon storms -- and we're getting a bunch of them right now.  It started two days ago with a ferocious windstorm, followed by a dust-storm, followed by rain.  We couldn't follow too well how the rest of the Valley of the Sun was affected because one of the first effects of the windstorm was to knock out the electric power in our neighborhood.  It took the electric company nearly ten hours to get the power back on.  Meanwhile, we were left padding about in the dark with the assistance of flashlights, candles, and the lights on our phones. 

When the power, and the TV, came back on the next day we got an eyeful of flood reports -- yes, floods, in Phoenix!  We were exceedingly grateful that we'd gotten a lot less rain out here to the west in Buckeye.  ...And then we got a clear look at what the windstorm had done. 

A major limb from that damned eucalyptus tree in the front yard had come down, not on either of our cars but right between them, partly blocking Rasty"s Bronco and completely blocking my little rice-burner.  We've spent the last day and more breaking off the lesser branches and stuffing them in the garbage can, and dragging the stripped larger branches out of the driveway.  ...And that work hasn't been easy in the returned clear sky, and therefore 105-degree heat.  It's going to be a long time before I can get my car clear. 

It's also a good thing that we've both recovered from that nagging case of sourceless fatigue which, I'm convinced, was caused by a low-level but persistent flu.  Has anybody else out there noticed anything similar?

Anyway, half an hour's work out in that slaughtering sun is the best either of us can do at a time -- usually followed by an hour spent indoors, in the air-conditioning, with a good pint of ice-water.  As you can guess, the work is going slowly.  The garbage-can is full of twigs and leaves, and we'll have to drag the rest of the branches off to the scrap-wood pile in the back of the yard.  Cutting up those damned branches is going to be more hot work, and the new reciprocating saw works only off batteries;  that means maybe half an hour's work per couple hours' charging.  Oh well, that's excuse enough for getting out of the sun.

The real giggle is that there are more storms due in tonight or tomorrow;  let's hope that the power doesn't go out again.  Oh well, we can always use the rain.  Arizonians will forgive much in exchange for water.  The floods that swept through the central valley yesterday have already sunk into the ground, the reservoirs and the cisterns, much to everyone's relief.  Truth is, if it weren't for the summer Monsoon Season rains -- which come up from the Gulf of Mexico -- the state couldn't survive until the winter rainy season comes in from the Pacific.  It's a gamble which set of storms tend to hit harder, but each of them provides half the water for the year hereabouts: with luck, that's a good four inches of rain in a handful of days. 

Oh yes, the weather hereabouts is definitely extreme! 


--Leslie <;)))>< 
 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

THE FORGOTTEN WORKING ANIMAL


Now for something completely different, concerning our food supply.


Most of us today live in cities, completely artificial surroundings, with no more view of nature than a strip of lawn, a potted plant, or maybe a small pet.  We occasionally go to parks, more rarely to public gardens or zoos.  It’s easy to forget our place in the ecosystem that keeps us alive, and it’s easier to forget the function of various animals in that system.

Those of us who still live in the country, on working farms, have a better sense of the realities of nature.  We know that evolution never stopped, and “survival of the fittest” is still the name of the game.  We know about predators, parasites and plagues – animal, plant and microbe.  We also know about our symbiotes and allies.  We know why there are certain domestic animals that we raise and care for, but do not eat.          

Certain ornamental fish, small birds and small rodents – like hamsters and gerbils – we keep purely as pets, but others we keep because they perform vital work for us.  They help keep us alive, and we must never forget it. 

There are just 9 kinds of animals in the world that can be trained to carry burdens or pull loads for us:  elephants, horses, donkeys, camels, llamas, oxen, large goats, reindeer and large dogs.  Despite the easy availability of machines, these animals are still valued for their work in particular circumstances, especially since many of these animals can be used to grow their own fuel.  There’s an old saying among small farmers: “Farm with horses, and keep more of what you make.”  And ask any Alaskan if sled-dogs are more useful than snowmobiles. 

Dogs also perform many other tasks for us: hunters, guards, guides, and even health-alarms.  Cart-trained goats can also give milk.  Other domestic – or even semi-domestic – animals perform vital services that are harder to see.  Small birds, even wild ones, devour insects and worms which would otherwise harm us or our crops, and some of them – like hummingbirds – pollinate many of our crops, especially fruit-plants;  this is why we make the effort to put out food, water, and shelters for them.  Bees do more than produce honey;  they pollinate most of our food-plants, especially grains, and also protect their territories against invading insects and animals. 

There’s one creature which most people have forgotten is a working animal, think of only as a useless pet, and that is a serious mistake.

That animal is the cat – the common house-cat – and it protects us more than we know.

Think:  the most common, numerous, fertile, and invasive land-mammals on Earth are the Rodents – rats, mice, moles, gophers, ground-squirrels, tree-squirrels, and more.  Most of them eat the same food-plants that we do, and a few of them – like the rat – eat meat, too.   Rats, in particular, are quite willing to eat us if they can. 

The damage rodents do to humans is incredible. The most numerous and invasive species of land-mammal on the planet is the common or house mouse, and the runner-up, by a whisker, is the common rat.  Rats and mice annually destroy 20% of the world’s human food supply, according to the UN – and that’s not counting the damage done by rodents to crops in the field.  That’s also not counting the dozens of rodent-borne diseases – like the Black Plague – that can jump to other species and infect humans.

In the wild, rodents are preyed on by snakes, raptor-birds, bears, weasels, wolves, foxes, coyotes, wild dogs, and especially by the dozens of species of small wild cats.  In human territories such as farms, towns and cities, the only rodent-predators found in any large numbers are domestic (or stray) dogs and cats – and cats are more efficient at it.  House-cats are also much more likely to hang around human habitations rather than wander off into the wild. 

Despite wildly inaccurate claims by admitted cat-haters,* there is no way to tell how many cats there are in the US alone, and likewise no way to tell how many rodents they kill, but we know that there is no shortage of rodents.  We know that communities which restrict the numbers of outdoor cats and dogs tend to suffer from amazing plagues of mice and rats (see “mouse plague”, South Australia and Apopka, Florida, and see also “rat plagues”).  People who earnestly tell you that we have an “overpopulation of cats and dogs” have really no evidence for this except the abundance of stray animals in shelters.  The best solution to that problem is to spay/neuter the strays, try to find homes for them, and if nobody takes them, turn them loose again – hopefully to find their own homes.  You can never tell when a “stray” is actually somebody’s lost pet. 

We can also tell from direct observation, despite the claims of cat-haters and the ignorant, that house-cats very rarely kill birds.  Think: birds small enough for a cat to tackle have faster reactions than cats, can see 300 degrees around them, and can fly.  Only a very sick or injured bird would move slowly enough for a cat to catch.  As for the idea that cats climb trees to get at nests, recall that birds form breeding pairs who stick together to feed and protect their young;  two birds, who can fly, are more than a match for a cat, who must climb – and can’t go further than a branch that will hold his weight.  If anything, the climbing – “roof”, “wharf”, or “ship” – rat has a better chance to steal birds’ eggs than the cat does.  Direct observations by amateur birdwatchers and professional biologists reveal that the biggest predator of birds is… other birds: eagles, hawks, owls, and ravens.  The cat doesn’t even come close.

No, the major prey of small cats is small rodents – and it was from the beginning.  When humans learned how to farm and store food, around the eastern Mediterranean Sea and eastward into Asia, the rodents – particularly rats and mice – saw that they had an easy smorgasbord with humans.  One reason that humans developed pottery, besides carrying water, was to secure their food against rodents – particularly rats and mice – who could gnaw through anything softer.  Rats and mice, in particular, took to hanging around human habitats, waiting for their chance to steal food that humans provided.  Their presence, in turn, provided a feast for the various breeds of Felis Sylvestris – the native wild cat of Africa, Europe, and southern Asia.  

This is how the ancestors of the modern house-cat began hanging around with humans.  Humans soon noted that when the cats moved in the rats and mice thinned out, so they began providing regular favorite foods – tender meat, milk, later cheese – and shelter, to entice the cats to stay.  The cats accepted the deal, and it has lasted to this day.

Neither the arrangement nor the cat has changed much in thousands of years.  Domestic cats – Felis Cattus – are still capable of interbreeding with wild cats, and their offspring are fertile.  The house-cat still preys primarily on rats and mice, with occasional side-dishes of whatever other small rodents, reptiles, or fish it can catch – and whatever it can charm, demand, forage or steal from humans.  Whether as an only-occasionally-hunting pet, a busy farm-cat, or a feral full-time hunter, the cat still destroys the pests that destroy our food.

The cat is a vitally important working animal, whether ignorant cat-haters realize it or not.        

This is why fools who want to exterminate cats – and dogs – need to be recognized as domestic terrorists, and treated accordingly.


--Leslie Fish  <;)))><       

*



Friday, June 22, 2018

"Torn From Their Mothers' Arms..."


Be very careful not to watch "Law and Order" right after your Significant Other has been watching hours of MSNBC, which has been hyping the Border Crisis all day.  It might give you unorthodox ideas.

The story according to the news media is: a bunch of poor-poor refugees, fleeing from Violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, came north to the Texas border, seeking Asylum.  They were greeted by Cruel Immigration Agents of Trump, who promptly arrested the refugees, locked them up, and *Tore The Children From Their Mothers' Arms* and carried them off to hidden prisons all over the country, which the reporters Haven't Been Allowed To See -- and therefore *must* be Abusing the children, possibly even selling them to pedophiles, and in any case isn't keeping very good track of which kid belongs to which adult, so probably won't give them back.  Oooh, Humanitarian Crisis!  Summon the ACLU!  Call in the UN!  Kudos to a firm of lawyers offering to defend for free all government workers who refuse to remove the children for Reasons of Conscience. 

Eventually even Rasty got tired of this, handed over the TV remote-control wand and went off to his studio to deal with his email.  I promptly channel-surfed, seeking something more intelligent, and came across a "Law and Order" re-run.  The story followed the usual pattern: mysterious homicide leads to a white-collar scam perpetrated by rich man whose wife may-or-may-not be in on the scam.  To pressure a confession, the police arrest the wife.  There's a scene where she tries the Weepy Hysteria ploy, wailing: "Who'll take care of the children if I'm in jail?"  A cynical cop replies: "Child Protective Services will pick them up.  We're not going to put them in Rikers with you."

CLICK!!!  Revelation!!

Well, of course US police don't put little kids in adult jails!  CPS takes the kids off to processing centers, and from there the kids get put in foster-homes of various sizes.  Time spent in the processing centers depends on how old the kids are, and what they need.  According to folks who've worked there, the first thing the kids get is identified;  ask their names and parents' names, fingerprint them, nowadays retinal-print and DNA print them.  The kids are usually given cookies and milk during the process.  Next, the kids get washed. 

After that, they get a thorough physical exam -- and clean clothes -- and whatever medical treatment they need.  For Central and South American, African, and Middle-Eastern kids, that usually involves vaccinations, dental treatment, a course of antibiotics, de-lousing, de-fleaing, and worming.  Sometimes it takes more than that, even surgery.  In short, while their parents are in jail, the kids get lots of free healthcare.  There's even an underground system for desperate poor parents of sick kids to visibly 'sneak' across the US border where they know the border patrol is watching, just to get themselves jailed (and whatever healthcare they get there themselves) and get their kids free healthcare from CPS;  even if the lot of them get turned back to wherever they came from, it's often worth the effort just for the medical treatment.  Naturally, the US govt. doesn't want to advertise this arrangement;  it's having enough trouble providing healthcare to its own poor folks.

Once out of the processing centers, the kids usually go to licensed group-homes, usually tax-funded but privately managed households of 20 or fewer residents.  The group-homes are segregated by age and gender, obviously, and the very young children go to specialized "tender age" centers that provide professional care for infants.  For pretty obvious security reasons, the locations of the group-homes and tender-age centers are kept fairly secret -- yes, even from self-righteous, blabbering reporters. 

Needless to add, CPS is always overloaded, overworked, and underfunded.  Yes, the sudden influx of a few thousand kids on the Texas border would have caused amazing stress on the system.  Texas CPS would have had no choice but to send the excess kids to centers in other states.  I seriously doubt, though, that the system would have lost track of the kids -- not even any late-teenagers who might have wanted to run away and get loose in America. 

Another problem which the CPS workers have discovered is that a lot of those kids are not related to the adult "refugees" claiming to be their parents.  The whole "refugee" caper is beginning to look more and more like a set-up, wherein CPS and the border patrol -- and, of course, Trump -- are made to look Terribly Cruel for treating children of "refugee" lawbreakers the same as American citizens.  

So what's the solution, within the restrictions of federal immigration laws -- which, indeed, Trump inherited from Obama?  Especially knowing that, no matter what he does, the media will put the worst possible spin on it?

Well, what he's done is agree, in public, that he won't separate the children from the adult refugees who claim to be their parents anymore.  So far, the best the anti-Trump crowd can do with this is to claim victory for making Trump reverse course on his promised immigration policy.

I suspect that they're celebrating too soon.  If Trump does indeed have the political power to single-handedly suspend parts of the immigration laws and procedures, then he can indeed rejoin the kids to their supposed parents -- and then deport the lot of them, and use the whole incident as leverage to get The Wall built. 

The "refugees" will be shoved back into Mexico, which doesn't want them, so they'll probably be escorted back to the borders of Guatemala.  Guatemala is currently dealing with the aftermath of a 36-year-long war between the government and the Mayan Indians, plus the added crisis of a massive volcanic eruption.  Life in Guatemala isn't very easy right now, but it's definitely possible.  More, with the internal real refugees running from the volcano, there's enough 'confusion' that the returning, failed US-invaders would have no trouble fitting in, even with (now healthy) children in tow.  They wouldn't have to go all the way to Honduras or El Salvador, where the gang-violence is worse. 

The liberal media, of course, will then blame Trump for Sending Children To Certain Death -- but that will focus public attention on those miserable countries to see just why they're "death traps", instead of relying on vague references to "fleeing violence".  The result just might be enough international forces leaning on those wretched countries to finally solve their "violence" problems.  I can see Trump quietly pressuring the involved govt.s to let him send special forces troops into the jungles to hunt up the gangs with spy-drones, and wipe them out with other drones, in practice for going after the Jihadists elsewhere in the world.

Meanwhile, there are already people asking on the Internet just why the media is flapping all this outrage about foreigners, who are basically being treated no differently from Americans who break misdemeanor laws.  I can see the backlash rising already, using the same phrases the media gave everybody: "children torn from their mothers' arms!" 

Whoever put this setup together are not likely to get the results they wanted.


--Leslie <;)))><      



 

   

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Red Tactic


Have you ever heard of the Red Tactic?  I learned about it while working for the IWW back in Chicago, and with its century-and-more history, the IWW should know. 

It's called the Red Tactic because it was invented by the hard-core communists, who wanted to rule the world as devoutly as the Jihadists do.  It consisted of making a social/political/economic system worse in order to make people desperate, so as to drive the people to revolution -- which, of course, their communist manipulators would steer in the proper direction.  The fact that this tactic usually didn't work, revolutions being notoriously difficult to manipulate, didn't stop its devotees from repeatedly trying it.  Possibly the righteous excuse for nasty behavior was irresistible.

The problem is that tactics are neutral, and anyone who understands them can use them -- or elaborate on them -- so that it can become difficult if not impossible to tell just who is using the tactic, and for what ultimate end.  Nonetheless, it's possible to recognize the tactic when you see it.

Looking at the "immigration problem" in Europe right now, I can't see it as anything else.

The European Union was formed in 1993, shortly after the collapse of the USSR, pretty obviously to forge all of Europe into a single country/empire/hegemony to balance the political/economic power of the US.  This implies that our European allies had a rather cynical attitude toward us, and were not necessarily our friends.  This is supported by the interesting tariffs that the EU applied to American goods, while busily reducing tariffs, and unifying currency, among themselves. 

Note particularly what the countries of the EU did next.  Those that didn't already have exceedingly strict gun-control laws, if not outright bans on civilian gun ownership, proceeded to pass them.  Then, after 9/11/2001, the US began conducting its confused and clumsy war on the Arab states.  Various allies in the EU cheered us on at first, but soon lost interest -- probably due to our inability or unwillingness to fight the war to a clear conclusion by conquering the Arab states outright -- and started making their own policy with the Arabs.  Their ultimate purpose is indeed the question.

What they did next was, apparently, to sell out to the Jihadists.  They opened their doors to "Syrian" refugees from all over the middle east and northern Africa, even as US troops were thrashing Jihadist armies in those countries.  Under the excuse of "compassion" and getting more cheap laborers to replace their own aging and shrinking populations, they welcomed in hordes of military-age Muslim males, and a few Muslim families, and a disturbing number of fundamentalist Muslim imams -- making little to no effort to discover which of them had connections to the Jihadist armies, let alone determine which of those "refugees" were willing to "assimilate", or even work for a living.  They did not consult their own populations before taking in these hordes, and -- having been disarmed -- their citizens could do little to effectively complain. 

Anyone who had studied Arab culture or history, or the Koran, could have predicted what would happen.  The refugees didn't assimilate but strove mightily to take over.  They avoided taking any kind of jobs, but demanded extensive amounts of Welfare -- the jizya, you know.  They also demanded that their host countries adapt their cultures to keep from "offending" the invaders.  The crime-rate, particularly rape -- of children as well as women -- skyrocketed, and when the victims identified their attackers as "foreigners", the police deftly avoided making any such "Islamophobic" identifications.  The number of Arab terrorist attacks climbed likewise.  So did public anti-semitism and mainstream-media anti-Israel propaganda.  Neighborhoods and whole cities were taken over by the "refugees", who boast openly that in 20 years they'll take over completely. 

It didn't help that various countries in Europe found their economies collapsing under the burden of excessive Socialistic regulations and taxation, especially with their Welfare systems overloaded by the non-taxpaying/tax-absorbing hordes of refugees. 

Naturally, the native citizens were perturbed by this -- but found no support or sympathy from their own Liberal-to-Socialist governments.  If anything, their governments have ordered the police to silence all complaint, in fact to spend more time hunting out and punishing "Islamophobia" than solving and punishing real crimes. 

Just as naturally, the resistance is growing.  The UK, in the famous "Brexit" vote, withdrew from the EU entirely, though it did nothing about its "refugee problem".  Other countries, notably those to the eastern side of Europe, refused to take in any more "refugees" -- and a few of them have begun efforts to round up and throw out the ones already there.  Others have begun investigating and deporting particularly active imams, closing down proven Jihadist mosques, ordering their police to actively investigate crimes by "refugees" and deporting any convicted. 

Most recently, when the UK government arrested-tried-convicted-and-jailed, in 13 hours flat, a public complainer -- Tommy Robinson -- the public exploded in protests.  22,000 Britons protested in London and clashed noisily with police.  The political party Robinson supports, which the sitting government calls "right-wing", has gained enough followers that they just might win the majority at the next election.

In short, the countries of the EU are turning politically right-wing and anti-Muslim from the roots up, as a result of the incredibly stupid policies of their own -- basically Socialistic -- governments.  It's hard to see how those governments could have been so suicidally stupid...

...Unless they intended this from the beginning.

As I said, one doesn't have to be a Red to use the Red Tactic -- only devoted and patient.

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(                     

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Stuggling Orchard



Sorry I haven’t reported back in so long, but it’s been a really rough spring for my mini-orchard. 

First there was the treacherous weather.  A delightfully mild and wet winter encouraged a lot of growth, but it was followed by an early and devastatingly hot and dry spring.  I’ve had to water all the trees and the grapevines every other day, if not more – and remember that water is expensive here in Arizona.  Our single biggest expenditure of water has been for irrigating the plants.  It doesn’t help that the irrigation system that Bill put in sprang a serious leak and became useless, so I have to water by hand – which wastes a lot of water.

Even so, all the trees suffered, and some of them – and one of the grapevines – died.  The Bears Lime died back almost to the roots, then put up a new sprout – but unfortunately that sprout came from below the graft, which means that it’s going to be a Sour Orange tree.  Oh well, Sour Oranges make great marmalade, from what I’ve heard.  The Pawnee Pecan died well and truly, and the last fig tree seems to be dying to the roots.  If it can’t regenerate, I’m just going to give up on figs and replace it with a new Bearss Lime.  The almond and apricot trees suffered severely, but seem to be making a comeback.  The tangerine is surviving well, but looks squat and dwarfish.  On the other hand, the Moringa tree is growing tall and spindly, putting more effort into growing new seed-pods than leaves.  The Papershell Pecan is surviving, but won’t put out any fruit unless it cross-pollinates with another breed of pecan, so I’m going to have to replace that Pawnee.  The problem is that I can’t replace any trees until after what looks like it’s going to be a brutally hot summer.  *Sigh*

When I do replace them, I’m going to make another stab at planting an American Chestnut and a Macadamia as well as the Pawnee Pecan and the Bearss Lime.  I’m not sure I want to replace the dead Flamme Seedless grapevine, since the Thompson Seedless is doing so well that it’s spread across the top of the front porch trellis and is happily moving in on the section of trellis where the Flamme used to be.  I’m of two minds about it, especially now that the Thompson has begun fruiting.  We didn’t get that fruit ourselves, since the bird-netting we put all over the whole plant didn’t succeed in keeping out the bugs.  I’m just going to have to cut that netting all away and replace it with small netting-bags to wrap over each bunch of fruit as it shows up.  That, and spray like hell with Neem Oil and Pyrethrin.

Other problem: this is the worst year for house-flies that I’ve ever seen here in the valley.  They’ve been coming in through the cat-door, apparently taking advantage of the cats going in and out.  The house is strewn with fly-paper streamers, and Rasty swears that he’s getting more exercise “going on fly-safari” with a fly-swatter than he gets from his Gazelle Walk-Master.  I have no idea why there’s such an overpopulation of flies;  these are house-flies, not horse-flies, so the presence of horses around the corner at the end of the block wouldn’t account for it.  Also, some of the horses have been sold, so their number is fewer.  I can’t figure it out.    

On the other hand, the pomegranates are thriving.  All but the smallest/youngest are putting out fruit already.  Their only problem is that I didn’t get to prune them last winter, so there’s a helluva-lotta scraggly growth.  There’s also the problem of the runaway Bermuda Grass, which of course has gotten the benefit of all that hand-watering.  It’s put out runners six and seven feet long, some of which have climbed up into the pomegranate trees, and trimming it out is going to be a royal mess.  *Sigh* again.

 So why didn’t I get the pruning and mowing done during the winter?  Well, the simple answer is thievery.  Four hired handymen in a row have ripped off both me and Sharan next door.  They’ve stolen power-tools, hand-tools, building materials, tires, wheel-rims, and even a whole septic tank while we were out shopping and Sharan was out at work.  Sharan took the legal route and reported all of them to the cops, besides getting restraining orders on all of them.  I took a more practical road, doing some shooting practice in my yard with homemade targets, and letting all the neighbors see it, so as to spread the word around.  The four handymen have quietly vanished from the neighborhood, and it’s anyone’s guess whose tactics – probably both – were more effective, but the damage was already done.  Among other things, one of them did such an incredibly bad job or repairs on Sharan’s house that she would have fallen through the floor if she’d ventured up onto the second floor.  When our pal Larry visited and looked at the damage, he commented that it looked like a deliberate booby-trap.  Sharan’s had to come out of retirement and go back to work for the county in order to make enough money to repair the mess those so-called handymen left.  Rasty and I managed to replace the stolen hand-tools, but the power-tools are going to cost a bit more.  We’re hoping to have enough cash to get the new mower/weed-whacker this week, but replacing the power-saw is going to take a good bit longer. 

I’m sorry to have to say it, but all of those thieves were Mexican – and of very questionable immigration status.  Though they did make good effort to conceal it, they constantly dropped unconscious clues to their general sexism, racism, ethnocentricity, and self-pitying, self-righteous arrogance;  characteristics too common to all of them to be just individual oddities, but had to be cultural.  Bear in mind that “Mexican” is not a race but a nationality and a culture;  genetically, all Latinos are a mixture of White and Indian, and so are a lot of perfectly good Americans – including me.  It’s that culture that’s the problem, as many an honest historian has noted – though you can’t say even that in public in these days of rampant Political Correctitude.  As I grumbled to Sharan, I never disliked Mexicans until I met some.  Her response was: “I resemble that remark.”

Anyway, I’ve been looking up local licensed general contractors in town, and getting bids on what it will take to fix up our house – after which I’ll refer them to Sharan.  We’re both applying for a USDA grant for a couple thousand bucks to get our houses repaired.  There may or may not be other USDA grants that would cover yard-work for my orchard, on the grounds(!) that I’m trying to preserve rare and endangered species of fruit-plants, but I haven’t been able to find out much about that yet. 

Meanwhile, we’ll get the mower/weed-whacker this week and go after the Bermuda Grass (and the plethora of weeds hiding among them).  By the time we can save up enough to replace the reciprocal power-saw, it just may be late enough in the year to do the pruning.  Ah, well. 

So, all my pals who’ve seen my Go Fund Me site (the one named Rare and Endangered Orchard), I’ll be eternally grateful for any help you can chip in.  Any fans who already have albums and books of mine, let me know what you’ve got already;  for donations of $50 or $100 I’ll send you an album or book, and I’ll want to give you something you don’t already have.

Best wishes to all of you, and Happy Summer Solstice.

--Leslie <;)))><      

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fencing with the Dragon


As I've mentioned before, Rasty loves to watch MSNBC -- for hours per night -- which means that we get most of our TV news from MSNBC, and I swear, if the pundits at MSNBC stepped in dog-shit, they'd swear Trump put it there.  They spend 20 hours out of every 24 denouncing Trump, his cronies, his lawyers, his cronies' lawyers, and everybody remotely connected with him -- and maybe four hours on everything happening in the rest of the world.

So it's not surprising that they spent a good hour denouncing Trump's statement that he was going to back off on sanctions of a Chinese telecom company that had previously been caught trying to spy on the US.  Trump claimed he was doing it in order to "create jobs in China", which sounds rather weird, considering his main purpose of creating jobs in the US, and MSNBC practically bristled with theories about what he was really up to.  The most popular speculation is that the company was hoping to provide communications for an Indonesian theme-park, which would include hotels built and owned by Trump's company.

Only one speaker, briefly, considered that this might have been an indication of some quiet game between Trump and China.  Even that one didn't mention that this deal might have anything to do with North Korea.

Quite separately, the newsies chattered about Kim Young-'Un's latest temper-tantrum, wherein he threatened to cancel the peace-talks with South Korea, and with Trump, about ridding NKorea of nukes, because he suddenly felt offended by the annual US/SKorean military games.  MSNBC seems to think that Kim has played Trump somehow, giving NKorea equal standing the US in Asia.  Not once in their dithering did they mention the name of China.

Now anyone who's studied recent history should know that NKorea, for the past half-century and more, has not really been an independent country;  it's been a front for China.  The Kim family throne has been set in the mouth of a dragon, and that dragon could close its jaws any time it wanted.  A few years back, when Kim II started playing with nukes and actually managed to set off one, China said nothing in public but obviously considered the reactions of the other countries in Asia, particularly Japan, India and South Korea.  A few months after that active nuke-test, Kim II mysteriously died -- of natural causes, everyone insisted -- and Kim Young-'Un hastily gave up his playboy lifestyle and ascended to the throne.  His reign so far has been notable for his amazing bragging, his continuing with the nuclear program, and his assassinating of random officials -- as if he were trying to catch and kill off secret agents who might be in a position to take him out.

His reign has also been notable, among those who think to look for subtleties, for its cooling relationship to China.  When the Chinese govt. announced to the world that, if Kim threw real missiles at the US or any of its allies, China would stay neutral and not defend North Korea, that was a clear signal.  Of course this was paired with a threat to the US as well, should the US hit NKorea first -- which of course the US had no intention of doing.

Meanwhile, the US State Department -- and particularly the Trump administration -- has been quietly and politely dueling with China over matters of trade.  Understand that the Chinese government has long been addicted to economic warfare, even when -- as in the build-up to the Opium Wars -- the result is ruinous for China.  Over the past few decades the US has built up an alarming debt -- a large part of it with China -- but China has also been having employment problems of its own.  This explains its WPA-like building programs, that have put up whole cities out in the boondocks that have no economic reason to exist.  China has always had a problem with overpopulation, and all the troubles that brings.  One of those problems is famine, and North Korea has never been any help with that.  The western nations -- particularly the US, Canada and Australia -- have always been good at producing abundances of food, possibly enough to pay off a multi-trillion-dollar debt.  China will, of course, dicker and duel to get the most advantage out of any deal, but it absolutely does need food and jobs for that excess population.  The State Dept. is aware of economic warfare and how to play it, and so is Trump.

Point is, China is quite willing to dump NKorea -- and it's megalomaniac leader -- in exchange for advantageous deals with the west, particularly the US.  This is why Kim Young-'Un suddenly agreed to stop his nuclear program, end the long-unfinished Korean War, hold negotiations with SKorea for uniting the peninsula and even chat with Trump.  The Chinese dragon began closing its mouth that Kim's throne sits in.  Just what China threatened Kim with is anyone's guess, but it scared him badly.  I suspect that soon enough our spies will report that a lot of people around Kim have been assassinated, as he flailed out trying to catch Chinese agents.  Now he's reversed himself on the negotiations, and is insisting that NKorea will never give up its nukes.  This is not what China wants to hear.  Trump's counter-offer, taking the sanctions off the communications company (with, I think we can be sure, certain guarantees that it can't effectively spy on the US again), is quite enough to make the dragon close its jaws completely.

I predict one of two outcomes;  either Kim quietly reverses himself again and lets the negotiations go ahead, complete with the even quieter arrangement that all his nukes and their supplies go to China, or...  He suffers from a sudden, fatal aneurysm.  Natural causes.

In Asia, at least, nobody gets away with underestimating the dragon.

--Leslie <;)))><   

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Sneaky Flu


Now for something completely different:

Friends and fellow-fans, has anybody else out there noticed this?  For no particular reason, you find yourself being sleepy at odd hours, tired all the time, weak and lacking endurance;  there are no other symptoms, except maybe occasionally aching joints -- but this condition hangs on for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, making it hard to do anything above basic daily maintenance.  It's rather like Mononucleosis, but milder.

I noticed this a few weeks ago myself, and I might have thought it was just getting old, except that Rasty felt it too.  Hmmm.  A few questions revealed that my neighbor Sharan had it too.  Okay, maybe it was a local cold.  Then I got reports from my old pal Chris, who lives in Wisconsin -- a good thousand miles away -- and whom I haven't met in person for years.  Hmmm, indeed.

So I'm conducting my own survey here, to see if the problem is nationwide, or whatever.  Have any of you out there suffered this?  Did you see any doctor about it?  Did you get any tests?  Did they reveal anything? 

I think it's not any bacterial infection, or it would have been noticed.  That leaves some kind of virus, probably airborne.  Now there are no broad-spectrum antivirals known to official (i.e. your insurance will pay for it) medicine, but there are some herbal/folk/naturopathic remedies that have had pretty good successes with virus infections.  These include Vitamin C, fresh raw garlic, fresh raw onions, fresh raw cabbage, and various extractions of Feverfew.  Rasty and I have noticed that the symptoms slack off whenever we eat pico de gallo with lots of raw onions and garlic -- and maybe the chopped raw peppers help too -- but we haven't cast off the infection completely yet.

Obviously more information is needed.  So, everybody out there, check your own health and let me know if you've been suffering from this sneaky flu.  Try eating onion-garlic-cabbage-and-maybe-medium-hot-peppers salad, and see if there's a change.  And let me know, folks.  I think we're hot on the trail of something important here.


--Leslie <;)))><