All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just This

Couldn't let the year end without mentioning this:

Last December I was hunting for a poem to help through the loss of a friend. I decided on Canteloube's "Bailero" (see "Shepherd's Song" Dec.16, 2010, this blog). I wrote to Willie about it and he introduced me into correspondence with his friend and neighbor, Warner Jepson.

It was Warner Jepson who suggested an old Madeleine Grey recording because he thought it had more life in it than the later version I had --by a different singer. He, a master musician and pioneer in modern electronic music, was right of course. One year has passed and, sadly, so has Warner.

This week I received a note from Warner's daughter, Kiira, alerting me to a January gathering in celebration of his life. I'm unable to attend, but thought this clip of him playing a very special composition would serve to express something of why I admired the man. I shall miss our discussions of music, reliable and repairable old cars, music, the vexations of computer blogging...and music.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Conversation With Anonymous #1

[Norma photo]

"We [Anonymous] just happen to be a group of people on the internet who need — just kind of an outlet to do as we wish, that we wouldn't be able to do in regular society. ...That's more or less the point of it. Do as you wish. ... There's a common phrase: 'we are doing it for the lulz (the joy of disrupting).'"
—Trent Peacock. The face of Anonymous, February 7, 2008.

The picture above is of a culture of moss found growing on a rail, here on this property, and I include it because it is the only subject upon which Anonymous has not yet ventured an opinion. This post deals with the general enigma of highly motivated personalities, compelled toward activism, who explain themselves at length but are not about to reveal themselves. They are rather like the moss in propagation, ubiquity and invisibly microscopic origin. Over a period of several months I have assembled a dialog with Anonymous drawn from their increasingly frequent comments on my three blogs. Here is a very small sample:

Anonymous: Dois dias atrás eu entrei Do-Siga Blog depois de ler um artigo postado aqui na Triond. Vimax Estou tão feliz que eu. Vimax Depois de apenas postando apenas alguns links eu ganhei cerca de 100 mais vistas, e elas continuam chegando. Melhor do que eu recebi mais comentários de pessoas fora da comunidade Triond. Vimax, Vimax. VigRX Plus

Geo.: Thanks for your comment on "Gooseboys In Mist" --a poem in "Gardening With Geo." I am happy you have 100 times the traffic on your unnamed site, if that's what you wanted, but I have written poetry for over 50 years and learned this: HARDLY ANYBODY READS POETRY. I don't write it because lots of people read it. I write it because it's what I do. Hope you don't mind my disarming your clickable blue product list --Triond. Vimax, Vimax and VigRX Plus-- as you seem to have neglected to do. It is my sincere hope they help you with your love life, but do see a doctor.

Anonymous:Planujac aranzacje pomieszczenia w meble dla dzieci trzeba skupic uwage na kilka waznych rzeczy, ktore wynikna w przyszlosci w zwiazku z dojrzewaniem naszej pociechy...Przede wszystkim meble dzieciece powinny byc calkowicie bezpieczne. Budowa takich sprzetow powinna byc porzadna.

Geo.: Excuse my radical abridgement of your comment; I couldn't understand how Polish children could need reliable furniture for the dozen reasons you set out. The solution is self-evident. Build better desks. And how'd you get to Poland so quickly? I thought you were somewhere Portuguese-speaking. However, I do commend your insistence upon "decent construction", especially after your first comment which left some outstanding moral questions.

Anonymous: Do you feel that Syria (is) spying on dissidents?

Geo.: My dear boy --or girl-- every country I've ever heard of spies on its dissidents and, although I know of no reason why they should, I also know of no reason why they should not. I do fail to see how your question bears on the poem "Athanor" in "Invalid's Workshop", which really falls outside the parameters of this problem. However, I commend and thank you for writing in English this time --and yet, and yet, I feel a growing sense of anxiety from our correspondence.

Anonymous: Most affordable and most powerful service for web traffic!!!! ...Your post will be published up to 100000 forums worldwide your blog will get instant increase in seo rankings just after few days your site will get targeted long term traffic from search engines. Order now!

Geo.: Thanks for your timely and sympathetic reply! I feel better already, but somehow doubt the miracle you outline, my poetry skittering off in 100,000 directions at once --energetically, like a spilled truckload of apples-- is feasible, nor would it draw much reward if it did fease. Relief that you're recovered from stress over love, Polish furniture and Syrian surveillance is reward enough for me. Best of luck, Anonymous --you've given me many, possibly useful, suggestions. In return I recommend, if you wish to further your excellent cause, that you reveal at least three letters of your name.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ayn Rand: Collective Individualism, Collidualism Or Not?

Every so often, like when I was a kid, then in my thirties, then in my sixties, there is a big buzz about Ayn Rand. It comes from her collective. My friend, Will, recently sent me an article: How Ayn Rand Seduced Generations of Young Men and Helped Make the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation, by Bruce E. Levine --AlterNet, December 15, 2011, Printed on December 17, 2011. I recommend it.

Mr. Levine reports that in the 1950s, Ayn Rand attracted and organized a “Collective” of young individualists. Quite a strong collective by all accounts. One wonders how much individualism is sacrificed to make one. The article furnishes examples of followers: Alan Greenspan, Ronald Reagan, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Christopher Cox and a hive of lesser luminaries.

Then there's Nathan Blumenthal, who was so devoted he became Nathaniel Branden by sticking Rand into his name. Stuff happened, randy stuff. He broke up with her. She cursed him, beat him and banished him in front of the collective. Buzz! Buzz! Afterward, he worried about getting assassinated by Randites. Article caused the following deep guy discussion:

Geo.: Machiavelli cautioned that unless you totally destroy a rival you must always fear revenge. He and Ayn Rand would have got on devastatingly well. What a naughty woman! Did she do bachelor parties?

Al: I don't think she did the bachelor parties... but she did take the Social Security and Medicare.

Barney: The question that enters my...mind is what was so seductive about her. Maybe if I read her book I could find out but ...

Of course, Barney came up with the right question. What indeed was the draw there? I recall my daddy and our neighbor --then an Air Force lieutenant-- discussing "Atlas Shrugged" back in 1959. They talked grownup talk but I got the distinct impression they were troubled by it. And yes, like Barney says, "if I read her book..." , I might understand why the word, "bunk", emerges so plentifully from that old memory. Old memory. Old conversations heard by children. How do they affect us now?

Collectives, we know, are things one joins to spend half one's time wasting the other half. Individualism is advanced by those who consider their consciences subordinate to nobody. They don't have much in common except, as Al said, Social Security and Medicare. But it appears Ms. Rand is being invoked over tea service as good reason to vote against the general welfare and individual self-interest. So I don't know, I guess her seductiveness is iconic --like a religious figure. I have not yet heard of her face appearing on a grilled-cheese sandwich, but we found an excellent likeness in our eaves:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recombinant Construction

[Norma photos]

Recombinant is a word denoting an organism, cell, or genetic material formed by recombination --a geneticist's word reserved for describing living things. I use it to describe my house and detect no conflict in definition. For the past month and a half my wife and I have been repairing, rewiring, rebuilding and painting our house after calculating it was, after many decades, composed mainly of spackle and caulk. House and I share the same birth year, 1949, and some years ago it was found that I too was mainly spackle and caulk and had to be gone over. I'm all better now but it's the house's turn.

When we moved here we were a young family needing space to air out the children. We found an old farmhouse with tumbled walls and rotten roof, so we got to work and made it livable. It was a great ambition, full of light and hope. By and by it more closely resembled a dark passage lit by guttering cressets. Still, a photon is a photon. Photons are quanta of light, tiny violations of matter-energy conservation laws because they have no lower energy limit. Strong ones poop out quick. Weak ones carry information from one end of the universe to the other. They are anomalies, like thought, which must also have no lower energy limit because we thought we could finish the house in a year or two.

Thirty years later, we're still at it. We ran out of money oftener than energy. We'd stop and scavenge, happy to fossick around in other peoples' rubble to find what we needed. Or we'd whittle and embellish what we'd already done. I include photos, some examples of those whittley times, preserved under Norma's fresh paint, to mark our ancient progress like light from distant stars.

Sometimes I look at a huge beam in the barn roof, an added room on the house, or concave route of an underground pipeline and wonder, how the heck did I do that? Oh I know I was younger and full of strength and ingenuity but still, how the heck did I do that? In recombinant inquiry one thinks and feels, designs better ways to do a better job. One prospects for materials, strength and solutions. The same question applies to the mineral prospector who learns geology, engineering and technology. Does he or she have more claim upon success than the merely lucky prospector who just digs a heel into earth and finds gold? Precisely! I don't know either.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Over this essay is a wonderful instrumental provided to YouTube by some kindly person. I suggest you listen --hopefully a little as I did when I first heard it on the radio so long ago-- as an announcement of something magical. A communications satellite was built by Bell Laboratories and launched over the planet. Its purpose was to reflect and direct telephone messages, television broadcasts and the futuristic novelty of faxes across distances previously served by submarine cables ruining in salt. Telstar was the apex of early 1960s technology, but it was only a beginning. Other end of the project is us communicating away 50 years later. The Ventures' recording was familiar to those who were "with-it", as is the digital resource of YouTube old stuff to those who are with-it now.

Certainly those of us who have always spent greater energy upon not being "without-it" find being "with-it" is a most perplexing social enigma. We learned the useful virtue of making do with a well-used minimum. Few things were thrown out. Nothing was discarded while it still served. There was even great public outcry against the idea of disposable ballpoint pens replacing lovely, ubiquitous and unpredictable Shaeffer fountain pens --same pen featured on the reverse of the two-dollar bill, upon which the founding fathers are shown signing the Ten Commandments-- and I remember it. You see, I was not always the silly man I am now; I was once a silly child. But let us digress into outer space.

Precisely 50 years ago I got my first telescope, a little 40x refractor, for my 12th birthday and it was enough to fill me with permanent awe. I had no schooling in astronomy but access to an old planisphere and a couple good books. My favorite one --which I still have, and consult-- is a 1953 paperback of George Gamow's "One Two Three...Infinity". It revised and intensified my childhood idea of outer space by presenting the universe as a coordinate system. In his second chapter, "Unusual Properties Of Space", Gamow furnished some simple mathematical devices by which the cosmos could be imagined. It wasn't long before I understood the universe employed the same geometry to imagine me.

When Edgar Mitchell returned from the moon, convinced the universe was a coordinate system possessed of intelligence, I was in my mid-twenties and glad someone else had noticed. What remained was learning what language the thing spoke --studying nature and interconnected arts. I'm not saying everybody would be awed or narrow-mindedness cured by teaching astronomy in k-12 schools, but it would get telescopes where kids could use them. Telescope sightings are nowhere near as impressive as big pictures on the Internet or in books; what they do is give the observer a sense of motion. You see things move across your field of view, feel yourself moving too. It was the motion of what I saw that got to me.

I no longer use my Shaeffer but, by typing here, tickle electrons into cyberspace. I believe this satisfies an important part of the five components of biological life, irritability, or response to stimuli. The other four are composition of basic units (cells or quanta), organization, metabolism or use of energy for growth and reproduction, finally homeostasis --a balance between maintaining stable conditions without sacrifice of adaptability. By the same criteria with which we identify life on earth, we must conclude the universe itself is alive.

Best definition I ever heard of being with-it: Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whatever you got on, put your chin up, show a half-smile, raise one eyebrow and act like THAT'S the PLACE to BE! Forget where I heard this but assume the universe meant it to stick in mind. Should add, it's a good idea to have a lot of two-dollar bills and higher denominations in one's wallet --mainly for emphasis-- but, if these are in short supply, a slight shrug suffices to complete the effect. Try this at home in front of a mirror, in front of the universe, and you'll see I'm correct.