A Book Review : : THE OVERSTORY, (trees as a metaphor for life itself)

Photo, PBS.org (fair use)

For those who haven’t read this novel, The Overstory, (about trees as metaphor and reality) you are missing a new classic. (The chapter titled Patricia Westerford, a forest research botanist who discovers that trees communicate with each other, alone is worth the price of the entire volume.)  NYTimes author interview.  (Winner, Pulitzer Prize.)

The theme of the novel is a grand tapestry, perhaps detectable in this short excerpt:  

No one sees trees.  We see fruit, we see nuts, we see shade.  We see ornaments or pretty fall foliage.  Obstacles blocking the road or wrecking the ski slope.  Dark, threatening places that must be cleared.  We see branches about to crush our roof.  We see a cash crop.  But tress—trees are invisible.  

The book is long and the prose is vibrant.  The story is told thru its characters, and the early chapters are named after them.  Pay attention.  Make a crib sheet, even — a cast of characters with a thumbnail of their backstories.  These characters will reappear further into the account. Their accounts are gripping and the lessons instructive.  If you care about your home you will be glad you encountered this masterwork.

NASA photo by Reid Wiseman



Dust jacket quote from Margaret Atwood:

“If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century, which writer would he be?  He’d  probably be Herman Melville of Moby Dick.  His picture is that big.”

Senatorial KoolAid

Senators who believe that “Trump did nothing wrong” likely also believe that lying, cheating on a spouse, stealing, and murder are also ok, as this is the logical extension of their position.

Are we a nation of laws, or of fifty powerful Senators without moral conscience, and a nation of peons who will buy any slippery dodge of an excuse ? ? ? ?   Many of our Senators are disrespecting us, folks.  They are fearful toadies who simple want to retain their powerful positions, putting our entire system at risk of being run by mafiosos who swear there are no rules, but merely raw power. Many of these same Senators spoke against Trump’s nomination, but now cower when he looks in their direction.

This is a danger zone for Americans of every sort.  (Less than 20% of current Senators have served in our military; but the majority seem to serve themselves quite well.)   Don’t drink this KoolAid !!!  :  If you want to live in a country were there are no rules, and no recourse to recall those who believe there are no rules, then keep these bums in office.

Photo credit : Chris Favero, Wikimedia Commons

The Case for Conviction

Kangaroo court of the U.S. Senate

photo credit : anonhq.com



ROW-ROW-ROW graphic from wikipedia


CLICK  : “ Greta and George” :  “best short video of 2019”

Friends, I wouldn’t term myself “a survivalist” — and yet my genes, my DNA have flourished on this planet since near the beginning.  (I’m grateful to my ancestors for their wise choices!)  Yes, we’re all survivors – – – until we aren’t.  

The video urges us to PROTECT,  RESTORE, FUND . . . and


for people who defend nature


Thanks for sharing this link, sez Froggie !!!



An entire German family is murdered in a gang robbery.  The head of the family, severely injured, survives by playing dead.  He seeks forgiveness for the robbers, and starts a new family, living in the same house where it happened, by dire necessity.   He petitions the state for the release of those who had not touched the two guns used.  ¶  He and the family are pestered by reporters, not wanting to revisit those events.  He writes a manuscript and eventually publishes the account as a little book in 1960.  A grandaughter reads it and shares this account of deep, radical forgiveness.   (Clear writing and reporting by the grandaughter.)
                                                    Lilli Heinemann’s grandfather with his first wife and three of their children, all of whom were murdered in 1945

My grandfather’s whole family were murdered – but he found a way to forgive the killers

After 12 of his relatives were killed in a single night, where was his anger and pain? And what does his refusal to permit himself these feelings mean for me?

don’t know when I first heard my grandfather’s story. But I do remember the little green book with the white cross on it. The book was kept in a black steel cabinet in our living room, one that was usually locked, its contents mysterious. There must be important things in there, I thought, that were not for me to see.

My paternal grandparents were part of my childhood; my sister and I called them Oma and Opa and paid them regular visits, but we knew very little about our mother’s parents.  [Continued here.] repaired link


Film Review : : The GREAT HACK

Academic, David Carroll sued for return of his personal data (IMDB fair use)


Michelangelo’s David.  Photo by Yair Haklai, Wikimedia Commons


Sometimes life imitates art.  Such is arguably the case in The Great Hack, (youtube link to preview) — a documentary film featuring a modern-day hero – a mild-mannered academic named David Carroll – an American  digital rights philosopher who took on a billionaire’s empire.

In the Biblical epic, little David slew giant Goliath.  Today, our modern David brought down a powerful firm which was diverting the personal information of 87 million Facebook users, among others, for political targeting of “persuadables” in that group by suing for the return of his personal information.  And David Carroll did exactly that, at court in UK. 

In this socially-disruptive Netflix documentary, we learn about how thousands of our data points, which “THEY” know about each of us, are used to seduce us.  (No longer are we private citizens; we’re all naked, on the auction block.)  We’ve been identified, defined, profiled, and made ready for sale to buyers, for what they bet is our persuadability.  We have no say in what they will show us online, based on our deepest psychological secrets — which has been designed to appeal to our known vulnerabilities, histories, weaknesses, fears, and longings.

 According to the film, the firm Cambridge Analytica deployed  “weapons-grade communications tactics” in elections which had been developed by governments for psy-ops in digital warfare.   Persuading as few as 70,000 voters to change their minds was enough to sway elections in four US States, in 2016, according to the film.  

Netflix has done a superb job of following real participants around with video cameras while interviewing these whistleblowers, journalists for The Guardian, and former executives of the firm.  

NOTE:  Be sure to turn on subtitles, as there are challenging accents coming from some of the British participants. (However, much of the action follows several American individuals caught up in this frightening theft of elections.)  This real life drama makes “reality tv” into a yawn!


A Puerto Rican sculptor is one of many featured artists.

The word craft has many layers of cultural meaning.  If you want to enjoy the high end of the spectrum — if you long for inspiration and uplift — I invite you to consider this series, CRAFT in AMERICA.  It’s available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and from many Public Broadcasting Stations.  (The link is to a 2-minute preview at PBS.  Amazon previews are not found by me, and viewing PBS here in Mexico can be tricky, involving use of a VPN – a virtual private network.)  

NOTE: The season/episode numbers are a jumble, being dissimilar  between PBS and other streamers.  For example: at PBS, the item above is Season 11, Episode 2;  but at Amazon the same episode is Season 9, Episode 2.  Season 7, Episode 1 is titled Neighbors at Amazon, and features craft artists from Mexico; but PBS says that particular production is Season 9 Episode 2, so there appears to be no correlation between platforms and numbering.

To find the Identity episode at Amazon, go to Prime Video. Search for Craft in America: Identity.  Individual episodes are $1.99 usd.  Subscriptions are $2.99/month.  Start the new year inspired!


PUT the HAND to the PLOW and HOLD ON

photo by MeridaGOround

Awakening. Woke. Consciousness. Awareness. Mindfulness . . . all these terms are buzzing in the HiveMind these days.  A friend shared an essay with me recently which is worth circulating.  It reminded me of a tune from  my iTunes library which I will now attempt to embed , by Mahalia Jackson, titled,  Put the hand to the plow . . . . > nope, Apple won’t let me, but youtube will.  SKIP AD.

More importantly, here’s the essay.  Blessings, for now.


Copyrighted photo by Matt Molloy, 500 px; fair use claimed by MeridaGOround

This Saturday is winter solstice.  Our star, Sol, The Sun, will appear ever-so-subtly to begin its annual northerly march, delivering longer days and more light and warmth to our hemisphere, and to our lives. The ancient Mayans were astute observers of this phenomenon, ably predicting the event with amazing mathematical accuracy, long before the invention of the telescope brought the heavens visually closer for Europeans to argue that Earth was not the center of the universe.  (“The church” fought this science, spilling blood in its futile resistance to truth – but that’s another story.)  

Let’s think about light as metaphor, setting aside superstitions about a flat Earth at the center of a dying fallen world, and welcome the returning light of learning which ever increases our understanding of our place in creation, if we would grow wiser.  Reading between the lines of scripture can be instructive in this exercise, for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (see v.6).  A flexible approach to reading tends to enlighten.  (In a hurricane the rigid pine tree snaps, while the graceful palm bends and survives and grows more fruitful.)  Yes, rigid literalism is a major problem in discerning truth.

Yesterday I was looking at various translators’ renderings of a popular  Christmas verse: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa 7:14).  Some scholars and Bible students have long favored literalism, insisting that Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, was a virgin — but this word can simply mean a young woman.  This rendering can generate more heat than light!  One scholar, an expert on ancient Bible languages, also a brilliant storyteller, has written a very credible novel titled Rabbi Jesus, arguing that Jesus was viewed in his hometown as born out of wedlock — which I’ve commented on, here.

Such a story might offend many believers, just as evidence that Earth was not central outraged many churchmen in Galileo’s day.  Rather than personally taking a position on something as unprovable as a young girl’s virginity 2000 years ago, I found myself looking for the blessing in this more flexible prophesy.  IF, as Professor Chilton argues, Jesus was born out of wedlock, how might that impact us?  Doesn’t that make him more human?  Could this be “a sign” that God cares deeply about all children?  

The rendering which really grabbed my attention on this is from the Good News translation, which differs significantly from the New International Version (you can compare by using the pull-down menu: GNT, or NIV) by pointing out that the Lord’s sign would arrive through a young woman who was already pregnant.  And, hey, although she didn’t name her child Jesus, but Immanuel (which means God with us) — her kid came to deliver a peace regarding God’s presence which Jesus clearly demonstrated later in life.  He told us we are children of light. We can enter into that peace today.  “The government is upon his shoulders”— a verse sung so powerfully in Handel’s Messiah: Unto us a child is born.  (skip ad to listen)   

Blessings to all readers.

Post Script :   Nowhere in the gospels is the date of Jesus’s birth specified. The first time it’s pinned down to 25 December, or at least to the “Eighth day before the Kalends of January” is the year AD354, in the Roman calendar of Philocalus. The date seems to have been chosen to replace the prior festival, decreed by Aurelian, of the unconquered sun – Sol Invictus. ¶  As a midwinter festival of the sun, the date makes celestial sense. It falls just after the solstice, when the days are perceptibly lengthening.  source.


Robert Reich has produced a punchy video on “electability” to counter propaganda coming from Wall Street, favoring centrists.  He makes some compelling arguments in this six minute clip.  But by failing to endorse either of the two (Warren, or Sanders) he leaves the problem raw, which will cause failure for either of his faves, resulting in his (and my) worst fear: nominating a boring centrist who can’t win. (I addressed this problem boldly, earlier.)

For Dem primary voters who are nervous about charges of “socialism” you might find this history of that issue in USA of interest.  Hey, socialism is who we are as a species, along with ants and bees.  But communism is another critter, and Trump seems to love his commie buddies, Putin and the gang in Russia.  Go figure, America!



by Rob Rogers, copyright Andrews McMeel Syndicate, 2019 (fair use)


by Mike Lukovich, copyright 2019, atc.com, (fair use)


by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News, ©2019,  (fair use)

These cartoons remind me of a favorite childrens book: The Emperor’s New Clothes.

by JD Crowe, Alabama Media Group, (fair use)