Destroying illegal liquor.  Reuters photo, via HindustanTimes (fair use)

Churchmen and politicians seem to be slow learners.  When they attempt to modify human behavior the result is : full prisons, underworld vendors replacing taxpaying businesses, and blood on their hands for those who consumed toxic homemade booze.  Prohibiting transactions which people want is simply not effective.  Yet the beer can gets kicked down the road, and the problems grow.  “Forbidden fruit” has not been successfully removed since “the beginning”.  And yet authorities still think they can do so by writing laws and arresting people? Yes, slow learners.

Jesus knew better.  He advised that the weeds and the wheat should be allowed to grow together, rather than attempting to uproot them prematurely.  (English version.)

Ten countries around the globe have decriminalized drugs. (Alcohol is a drug.)  Those ten have enjoyed significant social improvements, and savings, by recognizing that desire for contraban is never removed by legislation.  And yet prohibitions of many vices still continue to fail in many ways, in many places, because authorities think they are wiser and more powerful than Jesus.

 : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :


   : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :

~ some thoughts about prophecy ~

Device to Root Out Evil installation by Dennis Oppenheimer 1997  ~ photo from WikiArt~

 (I wonder if a patent has been granted?)

Many decades ago I studied in a graduate program at a nondenominational divinity school, but left before finishing.  Back then, I thought that what America needed was a better sense of business ethics.  After dropping out, I began a business career, and eventually partnered to start a business, from which I later retired.  Along the way, I made over 500 visits behind bars on Saturdays, volunteering as a nondenominational prison minister at two prisons (one, of maximum security) conducting what I term a “biblically-based stealth-ethics ministry”.  None of this has made me ethical, but it was a good workout, both commercially and, especially, with the prisoners.  They taught me much.  I was able to look into their eyes, their souls, and (I hope) help them understand their stories.  Perhaps I’ve learned something about temptation, bad choices, and criminal behavior.

Looking back, what perplexes me today is the leadership choices Americans have made lately. Why has a diverse community of  “believers” elected such self-dealing, selfish, leaders?  How can values voters be so easily duped?  (Yes, our federal and state election systems have been severely gamed and gerrymandered to suppress honest results.)  Yet I want to believe that the wisdom of crowds should be able to surmount such deception. Nevertheless, “he who snoozes, loses.”  By electing many of our current leaders, has America swallowed the “prosperity gospel” which suggests that “success” is proof of God’s favor?  (Was Jesus initially seen to be successful, on the cross?)  Even Malcolm Forbes poked fun at himself saying he who dies with the most toys wins. 

Well, I went looking for a history of the oldest deceiver ever, and may have learned something useful.  (My sense is that many believers don’t want to know anything about this topic, preferring rather to whistle past the graveyard, and the hoodlums hanging out there.)  

The flipside of Know thyself  is  Know thine enemy.  My gleanings from the book below persuade me that satan (which I refuse to capitalize) is not so much an entity or force, as a story told to explain “the other” in human communities. (We could call it tribalism, or fear of otherness: xenophobia.)

Yet Jesus himself ministered to whores and debt collectors, all the while skewering the preacher boys who ran the national temple/ government/ treasury.  What don’t we get about his example?  He didn’t flinch at criticizing high-end thievery and power-politics, even while knowing the cost, bluntly telling us that the tree is known by its fruit.  And yet we’ve elected a brash-talking, “pussy-grabbing”, casino-owning liar as our leader.  What’s wrong with this picture?  What’s wrong with “the church” in its many iterations, that it would support such allegiance?  What don’t we get about recognizing satanic behavior?  Have we allowed ourselves to be charmed by an entertainer, a false talker?

Author, historian, and scholar, Elaine Pagels, is a superb storyteller who is very accessible for the reading public.  If you’re troubled about the condition of spiritual studies today, especially on this topic, you will be gently introduced to how we got where we are regarding satan, in this excellent volume.  (Another author, M.Scott Peck, wrote People of the Lie, which might be helpful at detecting our dark side).

The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, predicts war in heaven and on earth in a final contest between God and His angels of light, and the angels of darkness, led by God’s adversary, ha satan, (Hebrew: “the accuser”).  Does God have an opposite?  Have you ever found it necessary to push darkness out of a room after turning on the light?  

We become what we love – or, what we love to hate.  Choose carefully.

Jesus told of false christs and false prophets that would be arising (see v.24). But when?  He told followers that neither he nor the angels knew when (see especially v.32, here).  Yet the visions and predictions of John of Patmos were canonized into that final book of the New Testament, after much controversy (see Pagels);  meanwhile moderns continue to speculate.

When?  Well, don’t expect me to tell you!   People love to read ahead, peering into the final chapters, especially when tribulation arrives on the world stage.  End times can be a tail chase, as anyone might notice.  Why would we want to know what even Jesus says he could not know?

    : 42 :    Prediction    : 42 :

But If you believe in literalism and its approach to prophecy, you might want to take a look at this prediction from Revelation 13:5, which involves the number 42.  Come July or August, roughly 42 months from January 21, 2016 (inauguration day) we might learn something about prophecy.  Mark your calendar!  (No, I do not believe that Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.)  But history repeats itself, as encountered in this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:15 : That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

The accuser says we’re a mess.  What can we do about this? The challenge of understanding prophecy is vexing.  The empirical mind has long wanted to reject the very idea of prophecy.  Yet, as moderns, we’ve all had premonitions that surprised us when they came to pass.  Even physicists are today recognizing this skillset as worthy of scientific research.  We’ve spent much of human history trying to guess what is in the other guy’s head.  Have we acquired some skill to see into the future?

“Am I ok for the next ten minutes?” (Seriously, ask yourself that powerful question, in the first person, often; it can help quiet the mind.)   ¿Does tomorrow even exist? ~Jesus.

“But” you say, “aren’t we supposed to be alert?”  Good question, as alertness might commonly seem to require thought.  Yet, believers seem wary of rigorous thought, preferring stories and dogma over research. Well, curb your dogma, maybe!  Awareness of now can displace regret for yesterday and stress about tomorrow, (which doesn’t exist). 

Good detectives notice patterns – “m.o.’s” [modi operandi] – modes of operations, thru studied attention.  Behavior is but an extension of thought put into action, by choosing, some say.  While others, the “determinists,” like Richard Dawkins, insist that we have no choice, no free will at all – everything is genetic brain-chemistry, and is pre-determined.

Careful readers should recognize the importance of reading between the lines, rather than taking every word literally.  Indeed, literalism can be a curse which interferes with disciplined observation. (I had an epiphany in early 2003 which persuades me that literalism is the great red dragon of Revelation.)

Of course, satan is a famous Biblical character.  But this character is a late import into the text, not arriving in the Bible or Hebrew theology until well after the exodus from Egypt.  “Nah” you say, “my pastor told me satan was present in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent.”  Well then, I guess God created the devil, and we’re all utterly jammed.  Literalism!  Writing 2+2=5 on the chalkboard does not make it so.

If you swallowed that bait, serpent = satan, you’ve clearly attended a literalist Bible study, declining to do your own thinking, preferring pastor-priest-rabbi-or-immam ‘s ‘“voice of authority” rather than showing up for a one-on-one tutorial with the Holy Spirit.  (Arguments from authority are notoriously weak, which we noticed as children, answering back at our parents, why should I? — because I said so.)  

God is the Teacher!  Literalism and authoritarianism are tools of mind control, famous even in early Christianity. “Don’t think; don’t question; just have faith.”  ¿Perhaps you’ve been thumped on the head with a Bible by a cleric, professor, or fellow student, more than once?  (The Divine Teacher never does that, but is patient with those who show up for their tutorial with honest questions, yearning to listen, inquire, and learn.)  

The serpent, nachash in Hebrew, whispers : psst,  hacking its voice into our think-er, in the first person  :   “I’m ignorant”   “I’m insecure”   “I’m lonely // s-he’s cute”, while satan is a brash talker, a blasphemer, a bully, a liar: the accuser.  Notice that this hacker steals God’s name: I AM !!!  — the very first instance of identity theft!

Pastors and priests are taught that literalism is an electrified “third rail”, potentially causing the loss of jobs or even careers.  Questioning the text is risky, like a politician proposing to modify social security > >  X CHURCH  FIGHT AHEAD X !   Some Bible students don’t want to fight, but want to contemplate at the feet of the Teacher. Thus we have the social movement toward “spirituality” and away from “religion”.   Dare to listen for that still small voice!  Our ability to recognize voices is sublime.  Read John 10, if you distrust your abilities — also considering that satan’s voice is always accusatory, gruff, rude, angry.  Tone is telling.  Yes, this path may seem lonely and rugged.  But we are assured of God-with-us !  Immanuel.

God has faith in us, in our ability to discern divine love, divine guidance, divine government.   Got appetite?



FAKE LEADERSHIP : : with a degree and commission from Trump University !!!

I am the very model of a modern Major-General  ~Don, the Con’

    The item excerpted below, written by David Frum, former GOP speech-writer for President George W. Bush,  offers a brisk recounting of the timeline of Trump’s slow-motion disaster, titled  THIS IS TRUMP’S FAULT
“I don’t take responsibility at all,” said President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden on March 13. Those words will probably end up as the epitaph of his presidency, the single sentence that sums it all up.
     Trump now fancies himself a “wartime president.” How is his war going? By the end of March, the coronavirus had killed more Americans than the 9/11 attacks. By the first weekend in April, the virus had killed more Americans than any single battle of the Civil War. By Easter, it may have killed more Americans than the Korean War. On the present trajectory, it will kill, by late April, more Americans than Vietnam. Having earlier promised that casualties could be held near zero, Trump now claims he will have done a “very good job” if the toll is held below 200,000 dead.
     That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault. The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault. The loss of stockpiled respirators to breakage because the federal government let maintenance contracts lapse in 2018 is Trump’s fault. The failure to store sufficient protective medical gear in the national arsenal is Trump’s fault. That states are bidding against other states for equipment, paying many multiples of the pre-crisis price for ventilators, is Trump’s fault. Air travelers summoned home and forced to stand for hours in dense airport crowds alongside infected people? That was Trump’s fault too. Ten weeks of insisting that the coronavirus is a harmless flu that would miraculously go away on its own? Trump’s fault again.  [. . . more. . . ]   SOURCE : The Atlantic
SEE ALSO, a detailed timeline article at NYTimes, excerpted far below.
BUT MAYBE, just maybe, it’s our fault for electing someone so incompetent, to lead us.  Yes, we’ve hired  Fake leadership !!!   Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.
Beneath the cartoon are illustrations from Trump’s leadership logic, and his past.

At his Tuesday circus-like press briefing, ostensibly about the coronavirus crisis, a reporter pressed him on his opposition to voting by mail. While he declared categorically that voting by mail is bad, the reporter pointed out that he, in fact, votes by mail.

Trump had no coherent response.

“But you voted by mail in Florida’s election last month, didn’t you?” a reporter asked.

“Sure! I can vote by mail,” Trump said, refusing to recognize his contradiction.

“How do you reconcile that?” the reporter responded.

“Because I’m allowed to!” Trump shot back. Of course, the whole question at issue is whether everyone should be allowed to vote by mail.  [. . . more. . .]

SOURCE : Alternet

Excerpt > > from Nick Kristof  (NYT)   on Blowhard Contagion :

[In 2009] Donald Trump called into Fox News and dismissed concern about the swine flu, telling host Neil Cavuto that “it’s going to go away.” Trump also cautioned that “the vaccines can be very dangerous.”

Far-right members of Congress like Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Republicans from Georgia, scorned the flu as a case of “panic” and “hysteria” and denounced government plans for spending money on a vaccine for it.

[In 2020] “We’re going very substantially down, not up,” Trump said on Feb. 26 of the number of infections. This was completely incorrect, and he piled on more narcissism: “We have it so well under control. I mean, we really have done a very good job.”  < end excerpt, NYT >

NEWS FLASH  (cnn) :  Trump has just re-tweeted somebody’s call to fire one of the few scientific thinkers in his inner circle, Dr Anthony Fauci, cleary not a “yes man”.  Yep, FAKE LEADERSHIP.  No expertise allowed.


Handling Plague: Passover (Pesach) and the Blood of a Lamb

Wikimedia photo by Donald Macleaod, Stomoway Scotland

I’m a heretic, and also a daily student of the Bible.  I raised a few sheep for many years.  (They taught me much.) I don’t sit in pews anymore, except as a courtesy during celebration or bereavement.  I’m not a literalist, instead, choosing to read  between the lines of the text.  (My Tutor reveals lessons to me gradually, as I grow.)  May these words I now share comfort you, lessen your fear, and deliver you safely from every darkness and confusion.  (My prayer is simply to be a blessing today.)  And may the sun of righteousness arise with healing, to enlighten us all.  (Nothing can obstruct this bright, shining realization of God-with-us-and-in-us, forever.)  amen.

MOSES got an assignment: Go to Pharaoh (or Washington, or Wuhan, or Seoul, or London, or Madrid) and demand that My children be allowed to worship freely.  But he doubted :  “I’m not a showman, Lord.  I’m shy; I mumble.”   You know I-AM with you, Mo’.  Now go.

Nine times he went to his old home to plead with the ruler of the kingdom, warning them on behalf of the land where he grew up – but he was rejected, with plagues then befalling that nation – locusts, and frogs, and mosquitos, and maybe even  >fast forward >  air pollution, hurricanes and melting glaciers.  But the leaders still wouldn’t listen.

Sweet daddy Pharaoh, you’re not gonna like this next one, a cast which includes the angel of death, and all the firstborn sons of Egypt, but it will surely get your attention, (we hope) !  

ASIDE:  ¿ Does God like Jews and Christians better than Egyptians, Hindoos, Chinese, or atheists ?  Many believers think there is only one correct way (their way!) to worship, but I doubt this.  Daddy-God (“Abba”) loves all his children equally, and doesn’t give a rip about human institutions where people are taught to beat each other over their heads with their holy texts!

Long ago an angel renamed a man, a twin who clung to firstborn Esau’s heel, from Jacob (“Takeover-artist, or Wrestler“) to Israel, a name intended to remind believers that God is in charge, lest we forget.  This new name is both both complicated and simple.   “The Shama” – the central teaching of the Hebrew bible, (in my own mini-hip translation) says Remember, O Israel, you who call yourselves God’s-in-chargeI-AM is God.  I-AM is One.   (Consciousness!  Logos!  Awareness!   Reasonableness!)

Now, ONE is a thorny problem, a dilemma.   ¿ If All is One, is then God the author of plagues?  >>  ¿ Also, did you know that a virus is neither dead nor alive, sorta like a mousetrap? Hmm, not alive; can this be?  (If you still believe in the boogeyman, is it real?)  Well, if we spring that trap, or wisely avoid it, it’s no longer dangerous.    And that word, virus, in antique English, derives from Latin, meaning “the venom of a serpent”.  More hmm, which might remind us of the very first (nondual) commandment, with emphasis on the words good AND evil.  Don’t touch it!  (But will God really kick me out of paradise if I do?)  This question hints at the distinction between allegory and history.  And that awful man, Augustine, insisted that eternal undying hell was reserved for those who refused to recover from that first mistake, disobedience (or was it merely curiosity?) — seeing to it that any fellow theologians, differing with his views, were excommunicated, and their letters destroyed. (See Pelagius, and Origen, for examples.)

So much for a forgiving God!  You slow learners should now drop dead, as only the quick and bright will be saved.  (Pascal, a math wiz who is known as the father of the insurance industry, urged the praying of the sinner’s prayer, also known as Pascal’s Wager, “just in case”.)

Back to that dilemma,  ¿ This One – is S/He an absentee LandLORD off on vacation at the edge of the Cosmos, on a cruise liner with Zeus and numerous other subDivines, none of whom are afflicted ?    “Those kids back on planet Earth will get by with help from their elected babysitters” shrugs S/He.   (Well, that’s faith!)  Is there a third horn to this dilemma (trilemma)?

Let’s cut to the chase scene :  ¿ Can lamb’s blood really deliver us from terror?   ¿ Among all the world’s fundamentalists / literalists, do you know of anyone who has ever painted lamb’s blood on their doorframe?  (Not to be sacrilegious nor superstitious, but why not nail up a horseshoe, too, just in case it might scare away tigers, con artists, and other predators?)  Well, kids, that blood used by Moses and their crowd is meant as a reminder, not a magical repellent!  Besides, anyone who has ever walked past dried blood will confirm that it smells of death.  >  “Welcome to our home!  Do come in.  Pay no attention to that dreadful aroma”.

What was our earliest maximum fear?  No, not death, but rather, seeing mom and dad put on their overcoats – uh-oh, there goes my meal ticket!  (We could call this a belief of “separation”.)  ¿ So, what to conclude ?  >  grow up and quit with this ridiculous belief, already!)

Saint Paul said I die daily .  And along with the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, here’s an excerpt from a famous stoic and politician, named Seneca, on how to die gracefully:  (sorry, I couldn’t find Letter 24 to Lucilius, online, but this gives the idea :  Caligula, upon a dispute with Canius Julius; “Do not flatter yourself,” says he, “for I have given orders to put you to death.”   “I thank your most gracious Majesty for it,” says Canius, giving to understand, perhaps, that under his government death was a mercy: for he knew that Caligula seldom failed of being as good as his word in that case. He was at play when the officer carried him away to his execution, and beckoning to the centurion, “Pray,” says he, “will you bear me witness, when I am dead and gone, that I had the better of the game?” He was a man exceedingly beloved and lamented, and, for a farewell, after he had preached moderation to his friends; “You,” says he, “are here disputing about the immortality of the soul, and I am now going to learn the truth of it.”

OK, we’re all in summer camp now, or maybe it feels more like remedial summer-school, but God believes in us, and is a Patient Teacher.  We’re here to learn, but we need to admit that we’re just passing thru — as pilgrims.  Yeah, maybe just barely passing, but S/He believes we’ve got spiritual aptitude.  So let’s pay attention – maybe even pray attention.  “Desire is prayer” said one wise woman (chapter 1:9).  Prayer, which may be mostly intent-listening rather than pleading, can import some vital lessons from this human experience, enjoying them daily in the meantime — but they’re portable and perhaps exportable, writable in consciousness and on the heart, if we welcome them.  We may forget the lyrics of a favorite tune during our brief exit, but latching onto a few verses of scripture for the journey will nourish and comfort us daily, on our way past (or even thru!)  the graveyard.  Here are a few of my favorites :  Psm 27:4, John 14:26Rom 8:38,39 (already encountered, above), 1John 1:5 and Psalm 91 (no plague!).

Blessings are ours today, if we will have them.



© Dave Granlund.com — Political Cartoons.com (“fair use”)

“You go into a pandemic with the president you have, not the president you wish you had.”
~Paul Krugman, NYTimes


Why did Trump and his team deny and delay? All the evidence suggests that he didn’t want to do or say anything that might drive down stock prices, which he seems to regard as the key measure of his success. That’s presumably why as late as Feb. 25 Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist, declared that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus, and that the economy was “holding up nicely.”

Well, that was a bad bet. Since then, the stock market has more or less given up all its gains under the Trump presidency. More important, the economy is clearly in free-fall. So what should we do now?

I’ll leave health policy to the experts. On economic policy, I’d suggest three principles. First, focus on hardship, not G.D.P. Second, stop worrying about incentives to work. Third, don’t trust Trump.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

The DON, and Mitch Prepare to Give Away the Farm to BIGGIES.

. . . But She’s Watching for Slight-of-Hand, Fighting for Neighbors !

Elizabeth Warren, March 17


1. Companies must maintain their payrolls and use funds to keep people working or on payroll.


2. Companies must provide a $15 minimum wage within one year of the national emergency declaration ending.


3. Companies are permanently prohibited from engaging in share repurchases.


4. Companies are prohibited from paying out dividends or executive bonuses while they are receiving any relief and for three years thereafter.


5. Companies must set aside at least one seat – but potentially two or more, as the amount of relief increases – on the board of directors for representatives elected by workers.


6. Collective bargaining agreements should remain in place and should not be reopened or renegotiated pursuant to this relief program.  

7. Corporations must obtain shareholder and board approval for all political expenditures.


8. CEOs must be required to personally certify a company is in compliance and face criminal penalties for false certifications.

Here’s a quote from Will Bunch, at Philadelphia Inquirer, with a link to Warren’s op-ed at CNN, on the topic of a just bailout for the middle class:

“When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the federal government responded with a bankers’ bailout,” Warren wrote this week in a CNN op-ed, recalling the tempest that put a once obscure academic on a near-miss White House trajectory a dozen years ago. “The rich and powerful got richer and more powerful. We should learn from the past and meet the challenges of this pandemic head-on, this time to deliver meaningful, grassroots relief directly to American families.”

A M E R I C A ,  Y O U   B L E W    I T   !!!

For months I listened (and disagreed) while so many thinking friends said that Elizabeth Warren is sharp, respectable, cares deeply about justice for the middle class, but couldn’t beat Trump.

And then we saw her take down the $60-billion dollar man, Mike Bloomberg, in a NY-minute.  Rarely has there been such a devastating bout on a political stage.  Watch the one-minute segment below, and tell me that she wasn’t the ideal candidate to face Trump, the one-billion dollar blow-hard.

And what are we left with?  Two tired old white guys, one of whom can’t remember what he did in the past (Joe Biden); and the other, Bernie Sanders, who is too polite to confront his old friend, Joe.

So, what was it that caused this failure on the part of American voters?  — “unvarnished sexism” — according to Amanda Marcotti, of Salon.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I wish we would all get real.


FOLK MEDs : Honey, Garlic, Pumpkin Seeds…


Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) ¶ A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight—no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the potency away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff to honey, which seems silly to me, as this is already perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Mayan pumpkins (calabasa)

Next we come to the mineral, zinc. This essential mineral is best consumed as nuts and seeds, instead of as processed supplements. Pumpkin seeds (pepitas; seeds from the cucurbita family) come from locally grown calabasas. (I buy pepitas at Slow Food Market on Saturdays, Reforma at c.33-d; 9am-1pm.) Pepitas are high in zinc, according to Dr Andrew Weil. A fascinating article about the modern discovery of the health import of zinc appeared at npr (National Public Radio). There is some question in my mind about the availability of zinc in Yucatan soils, but I don’t have access to the research article (which US taxpayers likely funded). Walnuts (nueces de castilla)are another healthy source of zinc, offering significant additional benefits (see two-year nurses study).

Homegrown garlic from western NY state.

Garlic bulbs with untrimmed roots, I’m told, indicate that it is locally grown, as the Chinese trim roots severely for shipping. Key to using garlic both as a flavor additive in cooking, and as a treatment, is oxidation, caused by smashing. Use the flat of a large knife, pounding with your fist to crush the garlic tooth; peel, and let it sit for a few minutes to oxidize. If for treatment, slice into slivers to swallow (without chewing)! Garlic is a healthy additive with many surprising benefits as indicated by these numerous mentions at Dr Weil’s blog.

From the same blog, Weil’s colleague, Dr Low Dog (her real name!) offers this excerpt, on respiratory homecare:  “I’d say upper respiratory infections, coughs and sore throats are at the top of the list. For these alone, we spend a fortune on antibiotics, over-the-counter prescriptions and health care visits. Yet there are simple steps you can take at home for pennies. One of the simplest ways to ease a sore throat is to gargle with sage and saltwater, which is both soothing and has wonderful antimicrobial effects. Studies have also shown that a sage and echinacea gargle is as effective as lidocaine for relieving the pain of a sore throat.  ¶  “You may not realize this, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number one illness-related reason for visits to physicians in the U.S. is for cough. There are definitely many herbs that can address this common and annoying problem. My favorite is thyme – an amazing cough suppressant. It tastes delicious, and the science shows it has potent tracheal and laryngeal anti-spasmodic action. Honey is also very good. Honey alone has been shown to be a more effective cough suppressant for children than many over-the-counter medications. When you combine thyme and honey – I show various ways to do that in the book – you end up with a highly effective cough remedy.“ 

Sheep ranching in Yucatan

Naturalist Jim Conrad had several visitors on Monday. Early in the morning a pair of hunters walked past him, within arm’s length, while he sat in his front door, reading. They were carrying shotguns, said hello, apparently oblivious that they were intruding, and kept walking. Later in the day we would learn that another group of hunters, with dogs, were driving deer in their direction.

Around noon, after stopping for a plate of huevos Mexicanos in Teya, I delivered an old friend of Jim’s to the ranch for a site visit, while I engaged in some repairs. A valve, which enables Jim to fill a concrete stock tank providing water for local fauna, had broken. While I was rummaging in the stone hut for parts, Ines, another expected visitor showed up. At about the same time, I heard a male voice outside the hut say Jim’s name, at which point I met Tonio, a neighbor. We all collaborated in the repair, which was fun and successful. Here’s a look at the failed valve, but I never bothered to take a picture of the repair:

The concrete “funnel”directing water to the stocktank could no longer be filled, due to a broken lever.

Once we verified that our repair worked, it was time to walk along Jim’s extended trails, including past some Africanized honeybees, which had given Jim some trouble while working on the trail.

Since we were headed in the direction of Tonio’s ranch, he invited us to come see their operation which includes 27 head of sheep.

Here, a spotted ewe feeds her twins, who will soon be told to chew for themselves, being served notice by a kick in the head. (I know this, recognizing the size of her lambs, as we raised sheep up north for about fifteen years.)

Next, Tonio showed us their melipona honeybees. These bees are tiny, black, about the size of a housefly, and stingless. The honey is said to be medicinal, and is pricey, but rarely found, as the production volume is low.

Below, Ines asks Tonio about his raised-bed gardening, while Jim listens.

Louise peers down the well, which no longer needs a bucket, as they have a submersible pump to lift the water. ¶ Note the lush forage grasses, which Jim will surely write about, as he was fascinated with them. Apparently a clump was transplanted to the ranch, and has thrived during the secia (dry period) much to the appreciation of the sheep.
Softball sized clumps of tree cotton hang on the limbs of one of four varieties of ceiba tree, along the path.

I wish I had been quicker with my camera, as an old guy came around a bend with a huge load of firewood on his back, on our return to Jim’s hut. The path itself was enchanting.

Thus ends another delightful visit to the friendly hermit, Naturalist Jim Conrad, near Tepakán, Yucatan.

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