All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Great Kale Shortage Of '16

I don't ordinarily write about economics but this month has been exceptional. We have, for some time, been warned of a growing shortage of Kale seeds, leading to a shortage of growing Kale --or was it of growing short Kale? I don't recall exactly, and economists stayed quiet about it, which is ominous and unusual but I was able to find some snippets from the news: 
Medical Daily-Jan, 2016---"Like all superfoods, kale exploded in popularity when nutritionists started to reveal its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory ..."
"... the demand for kale has gotten so huge it's in danger of outstripping its supply – kale farmers are having problems...."---Iowa Now-Mar, 2016., 2016---"...Making up for any shortage of juicy drama was the three-course meal that followed, complete with Tuscan kale salad and sea bass with risotto."

So I consulted one of Norma's seed packets and called "Information":

"Yes, could you connect me with Colonel 'Ragged Jack' Rizada, please?"

"Of course, one moment please."

"Thanks, Poppy."


"Is this Col. Rizada?"


"Sir, I need some information about the worldwide Kale shortage."

"Lo Siento. Creo que usted tiene el número de teléfono incorrecto, señor."

I thanked him but knew I hadn't called the wrong number --his name is right there on the seed packet-- so I called the opposite direction, North!

"Hello, Canada?"


"Ragged Jack says he's at a wrong number!"

"Is this about the Kale Shortage?"


"Thanks, Geo.! It's a crisis then. What should we do?"

"Sell off all your Gold Reserves right away!"

And they DID!!!  (Bank of Canada, March,----"The weekly Reserves data will be posted on the Bank of Canada's Web site ... Gold, 0..".)

I didn't mean to cause this strange chain-reaction. I was only trying to help. There is a difference, I suppose, between deliberate hindrance and no help at all, but only in motive --my intentions were good. I get nervous on the phone and just blurted out something I never thought Canada would do. Ah well, gardeners who give out financial advice to large countries "aft gang agley" (which is how Robert Burns said "Down the hall on the left."). 

I have decided to stop being a Hobbyist-Economist and return to Gardening. Too much danger in economics. There is an old saying among even older gardeners: You can flirt with disaster but it's lousy at returning your affections.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Enigmatic Bitcoin

At this point in history, our position is precarious.

Am I talking about politics? NO...well, maybe...maybe not. Haven't really thought this essay out beyond its opening sentence. If I want to talk politics, people run away just as I do when politics come up --either from someone else or from me when I am not quite myself.  Maybe you have a friend who talks politics with you. Well, I know your friend and he drinks.

I have a friend too. He talked exclusively about politics for many years. Now he spends all his time peeling spots of light off the curtains and stuffing them into his wallet. He calls them Bitcoins. He doesn't drink. He is delusional. I will now post an enigmatic Normaphoto:
We were relaxing in The Metatarsal Bar ,  a club, organized by podiatrists, known for its mixed drinks and pedorthic modifications. Many retired gardeners who, like me, at some point put a pick through one foot or the other, avail themselves of concoctions that reangulate the sagittal plane, and frequent the establishment. Our friend insisted on paying and, as usual, when he gets them out they twinkle like pixie dust and wiggle chuckling out the door. So the photo above shows two Bitcoins streaking into the sky. One seems to have snagged in a eucalyptus tree. However, in a second photo... has untangled itself and followed its fellow into the sky. Are they streaking into nonexistence or en route from this coast to North Korea? Before doubt sets in, let's consider exchange rates.

If only two of a thing exist in political-economic reality, they are rarities and each is worth half the money in the whole world. Just think how their value would rise if only one existed --all the money in the world! Or, if none existed, they'd be worth ALL the money in the Universe by the same ampliative calculus.  So I hope they're headed somewhere that will appreciate them whether they exist or not.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Norma took this Normaphoto today. It is a picture of our side gate, Fishgate.
How is this an enigma? How does it qualify? Consider time, adaptation, consider "Molly On The Shore" by Percy Grainger --Molly running along the sand to meet something,  a boat?

Perhaps there is a fish on that boat that will evolve. Let's look at the gate again.
Yes, it's been there a while, weathering years with a grouchy bluebird of happiness over a little bell. We hear it ring when visitors enter, when cats clamber over the dorsal fin. Where did it begin?
It began before there were new palings nailed, before the posts smoothed, before some plants grew so high and others were removed. Before the walkway bricks sank down and privets  arched in shade. We must go back along the years where Fishgate was first made.

It used to be a fish WITH a bicycle. Then times changed backward and it was a doodle in Geo.'s journal.
That digresses us 28 years, which is quite enough for our sermon. Before that, Fishgate was a blank among other blank pages of possibility.

It is still Sunday, and prayers may or may not be answered --who knows? I am only the substitute pastor-- but I can tell you this with some degree of certainty: in evolution look for modest dreams to come true.

Go in peace, especially amid breakables.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Secret of Successful Sub Rosa

Four years ago, I wrote a review of a book about "Success Secrets Of Highly Secretive People". It has now been reissued in a new and revised edition, with the addition of the phrase "Sub Rosa" to the title. I phoned the author:

"Yeah, what?"
"It's me, guy that interviewed you in 2012. Question."
"How come you added "Sub Rosa" to the new edition?"
"Means secret!"
"I know that. "Under the rose" often refers to a carving over confessionals."
"So what're you, Catholic?"
"Portuguese  Panpsychic."
"Close enough. I'll tell ya. Rose was the emblem of the Egyptian god, Horus.
"God of the sky?"
"Yeah, but the Romans thought his name was Harpocrates --Greek god of silence."
"Like Harpo Marx performed mute?"
"Exactly,  Greeks then Romans used Harpo, Horace, or Horus as short for Harpocrates."
"So you get an error in translation?"
"Yeah, an error that runs three thousand years and becomes part of the woodwork."
"Anything else?"
"Nah, just post what you wrote four years ago."

From 2012:
                                          [ Harpocratic Eros, c. 100–50 BCE. (public domain)]

I don't ordinarily do book reviews but will make an exception here because this is an exceptional book. I don't have to tell you how successful it has been over the years in helping us keep ourselves to ourselves in a pressure-cooker of mass disclosure. Nor do I have to tell you how many refinements and editions it has gone through, so I won't because I don't have to and you can't make me.

It is sufficient to say that, unlike other self-help books,  Success Secrets of Highly Secretive People  has undergone enough constructive revision to have cured it of any accidental clarity.

Some books can change your life. I'm not telling whether this one will or not. That is not the job of the reviewer. It is the job of the apologist, and most people think apologists are a pretty sorry bunch. I could tell you that is because many people never crack a dictionary --now there's a life-changing book-- but I won't. Not my job. Nor is it the reviewer's job to fall under the spell of his or her subject even when confronted with great truths like, "Only in the presence of secrecy can blabbing flourish." Of course, that is not a great truth, nor is it in the book. I just made it up. It is flapdoodle-- but could the reverse be true?

If there are answers to this and other important questions -- like who wrote the thing and where can one find it?-- they are not forthcoming. I had the honor of  meeting  the author at a wildly secret book-signing and asked how the subject arose and why it was so fascinating. The author gave me a kindly, earnest, pensive look, thought for a moment and said, "Nosey old thing, aren't you?"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Time Travel Classroom Visit And Return Of Gravel Dance

Teacher: Boys and girls, we have a special visitor in our classroom today.

3rd grade students: He looks funny! Like he's diseased or something!

Teacher: That's because Mr. Geo. is visiting from a long time ago --a hundred years-- when people actually aged physically. In fact, it was Mr. Geo. who invented the interpretive dance that your parents do in reply to questions from Human Resources panels when they apply for their jobs.

Students: Show us! Show us!

Teacher: Very well, watch and learn.
16-second gravel dance

When the clip closed there was silence in the room, except one little girl sobbing.

Teacher: Violet, why are you crying?

Violet: Because Butch@**** told me I was the only kid without a @ in my name.

Butch: That's 'cause her family's in that little religion.

Geo.:  Butch, perhaps you could name the big religions of the world.

Butch: Sure! Regular, Premium and Unleaded.

Teacher: Presidents are always Regular or Premium and Vice Presidents are Unleaded.

Geo.: And how do you feel about this?

Teacher: I took no part in the discussions, not having been born yet. But I hope you don't feel averse to our system.

Geo.: Madam, if you were allowed to age, you would understand I no longer have emotions --I have symptoms.

Violet: Mr. Geo., there are many of us who feel victimized by people like Butch@****. He's a clone and there's a copy of him in every classroom, every grade and age, and they make everybody feel funny about who they are.

Geo.: Thank you all for having me in your classroom a century in my future. Best of luck. Best mainly to you Violet for the strength to create a politically equitable system for everyone.

Teacher: You're going back? But...but...

Butch: Hey! Wait a minute! Who the hell said anything about politics?

Geo. (fading and sparkling into the past): Indeed, who the hell did? 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Who Is Psychology Anyway?

Psychology has come a long way in the past few centuries.  Consider the first draft of Hamlet, Act 5, scene 1. Hamlet runs indoors carrying a skull from the churchyard and yells, "Mom! Hey mom! Look what I found in Yorick's head!"  Four centuries later, we are still trying to refine and augment this discovery.

Despite the fact that psychology rewards empirical investigation, there is still some dispute concerning its legitimacy as a science because it presumes the existence of brains. My first challenge, therefore, is to provide some evidence of this organ. My wife's skill as a photographer and pioneer in the new technology of Digital Atmospheric Neural Graphics (DANG) have furnished the subject with a new and important imaging source. Observe this scan done on a brave volunteer --known only as "G", a man whose teeth I brush:
Obviously there is something in his head. Until finer resolution can be obtained, I believe it is brains. So, where to begin? Here in California, after many years of drought, we have lately got rain. When it rains now, we rush outside and do this:
You may recognize this pose as a physical manifestation of the Greek letter, Psi, which is also the first letter and unofficial symbol of psychology --including, as it does, limbs for Freud's three main parts of the psyche --the ego, the id, the superego.

Id, ego and superego are three parts of Sigmund Freud's model of the mind. Id represents instinct. Ego expresses the desires of the id realistically. Superego plays a moralizing role, can stop one from doing certain things that one's id may like to do --and gets to wear a cape and fly real fast.

Here we have entered the area of Symbols. Symbols and syntax composed in meaningful communication comprise the formal discipline of Semiotics.  However, my part in this contribution to psychological progress is more specific, concerned less with the Semiotic than the Id, or Idiotic --not a formal discipline, but what can you expect from a mind so informally thrown together as mine?