Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Quotes and rhymes and climate change. And a great git-twit!


'The Spring has sprung, the grass is rizz, I wonder where the boidie is' - words often wrongly attributed to Ogden Nash; instead penned by the more prolific writer, Anonymous. 

How do you judge when Spring has sprung?

For me, it is stepping outside and the surprise, after a winter of damp, earthy smells, of breathing in warm, green air. 

And the jostling, yellow gatherings, bursting above the grass. Or as Wordsworth rather more eloquently put it 
"All at once I saw a crowd,
A host of yellow daffodils,
... fluttering and dancing in the breeze"

I neither flutter nor dance in breezes. Nor do Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins. They do however like a spot of lazing in the Spring sun. Particularly when that lazing involves watching me; gardening.

Garden watching is all very well and companionably pleasing even if motivated by we-know-there-are-dog-biscuits-in-one-of-those-gardening-jacket-pockets-so-we'll-sit-here-keeping-you-company-for-as-long-as-it-takes. But every Spring they observe an activity that perplexes them 

... daffodil clumps are soft and cushiony ... perfect for dog bottoms.

... So why then, after being shoo-ed off a flattened clump - the clump being so precious n'all - are the daffodil heads chopped off and plonked in glass vases? It's like a Mediaeval execution with the severed heads on display to deter others. It doesn't take a dog to conclude that the daffodils, if asked, would prefer being bent and en-cushioned rather than decapitated. 

I like Spring. It's a season overflowing with a delicious state of anticipation (A Chekhov); when so much arrives and changes in such a short time that it can't be drawn in one picture (D Hockney). And when as each night passes and Spring gets closer, Hope traverses the earth and leaves each morning brighter traces of her steps (C Bronte). 

One of my favourite quotes about Spring is this from Robin Williams

'Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'

I imagine him belting out 'Let's Paa-rrrr-tay!' in 'Good Morning Vietnam!' style. A rousing call to wake and start afresh; a time of plans and projects (L Tolstoy). Which noisy shouting would probably scare these deer ...

... which, given the absence of lambs hereabouts, are in my mind another sign of Spring. 

I wish with all this energetic, Tigger-ish Springing, and fluttering and dancing, that I could believe Robert Browning when he says

'The year's at the Spring
... All's right with the world!'

Because it isn't. One day, rather than coming earlier year on year, the Spring may fail to come at all.

Then these words of Hemingway will seem rather prophetic

'When the cold rains kept on and killed the Spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.'

Which is a pretty bleak and frankly shocking warning to protect what we have and lest we sleep-walk into a killing of Spring, is a stark endorsement of climate change science.
WARNING: procrasti-rambling procrasti-rant ahead. 
To deny the facts underpinning the science of Climate Change and to refute the aims of the Paris Agreement - as some who ought to know better appear to have done this week - risks killing not one young person for no reason but many hundreds of thousands of people, young and old. Good climate science creates good climate policy and cuts greenhouse gases protecting physical and ecological systems for the future and ensuring the arrival of Spring year after year after year. Bad science risks creating bad policy which threatens all our futures.

Calling into question the long established, much debated, considerably researched and proven role of carbon dioxide as a pollutant is bad science. And, if unchallenged, will result in more heat waves; more floods; more fires; more droughts; more disruption of water supplies; more migration and more suffering.

Where am I going with this? If you read the papers, with your fake news filter on, you will probably have guessed. If not, here's a short story -

Once upon a time there was a King. He was a bit orange so he might have been a sun king but that's not important to this story. What is important is that he was a new King and when he surveyed his Kingdom he saw that it was mostly good. But he wanted it all to be good. 
He wanted it to be richer. 
He wanted it to be free.
Above all, he wanted the changes he wanted to happen quickly. 
And he wanted the bit that wasn't in the mostly good part to stop pointing out the obvious and to quieten down a lot. Because that bit was being Exceedingly Inconvenient. And exceedingly inconvenient things would get in the way of his plans. 

His plans were all about making people think he was right about everything and getting the job done as fast as possible. The plans were called Get Rich Quick and Short Term Gain. If he got these out of the way, he would have more time to watch television and to concentrate on building a big wall to keep everyone undesirable out of his kingdom.

He wasn't too bothered about warnings that his plans could turn bad. If they did, it wouldn't matter much to him, because by then, he would be retired and living in a golden palace far, far away; the mess he'd left his kingdom in would be someone else's problem. 
He was bothered, however, by the Exceedingly Inconvenient part of his kingdom. But he knew how to deal with it. He made proclamations that the Exceedingly Inconvenient part was wrong. He said that perhaps it broke the law. And when he had done with laughing at it and publicly making it look ridiculous, he made one of his best friends the chief of the Exceedingly Inconvenient part. And his friend set about slashing its budget and altering its laws and claiming that it had no right to say all the inconvenient stuff it had been saying in the first place.

Huh! I hope I haven't lost you. Far fetched? Sadly not. Back to Spring ... and politics -

Spring has sprung, earth breathes again,
through open windows view it.
Memorise earth's custom change;
a season's growth and woo it.
Garden lore and planting plans
seeds and instinct; your intuit.
The life you breathe and share with friends, 
at Spring you can renew it.
Hope and faith in the earth being well
with science coursing through it
A belief that Spring will never fail
it's struck 
by ....

... hmmm ... do I want to use his name? Naming him makes this about him when it's about so much more. I could call him Pooh-it, if that wasn't so insulting to my favourite ecologically friendly bear. Aw, hang! I'll name him. Remember though it's not who he is but what he's saying and allegedly trying to do that matters ... And it really does matter, to all who call earth home

... so ...


Pruitt who tried to C-O-two-it
and mire Paris 2016 in claims that misconstrue it.
Pruitt who takes Environment Protection and tries to chew it.
To slash its funds, revoke its laws and thereby aim to ruin it.
There aren't many more rhymes for Pruitt
Apart from cool it; yes cool it!
That 2 degree cap, don't undo it.
If you subdue it, and we survive to write a history of Pruitt
The global decimation will blame you 
And name you the CO-two- ... I don't wish to be libellous, so how about a new nonsense word? ... - git-twit!

A thousand apologies for that terrible poem. But I don't apologise for the sentiment. Perhaps I should redo it. Or write it again and re-debut it. Or tear it up and strew it across a flower bed as mulch. Maybe it's time I withdrew it. Or stopped finding rhymes for Pruitt. No matter how silly I feel, I find I can't juggle words sufficiently to include cruet (hmm ... salt and pepper, diversity ... probably the wrong politician, anyway). Maybe you'll comment and prove it that inserting cruet can be done. And if I attempt to call that someone stupit, you'll take a blade, remove the t, write a d on a piece of paper and glue it. That's it - I really am out of rhyming words now.

As Bertie Baggins watched the sun set on the first full day that felt like Spring,

I watched - and weeded - the greening of the garden. 

And despite worries of global warming, I smiled - does anyone else have a dog who watches the setting sun?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pedantry; on being Littlest no more; belief and discombobulation

Discombobulation is fast becoming one of my favourite words; not least after someone who should have known better, asked a little sardonically "Discombobulation isn't a real word, is it?" and Littlest erupted in defence of one of her favourite words. She likes to utter it in full Blackadder fashion, with heavy emphasis on the central bob. And, before any doubters ask, she knows exactly what it means.

Sadly, I think I may, soon, have to stop referring to her as Littlest. Unless, unless, ... unless I do continue, simply because she occupies that position in this family, but with the caveat that in age, if not stature, she is not particularly little any more and indeed, understands more than her affectionate moniker might suggest. There then lies the end of an era, perhaps, if childhood can be an era and is not too short to be era-worthy. I suspect (correctly as it turns out) she may appreciate the irony of being called Littlest. So until she asks me not to, she will for now remain Littlest in this blog. She is however, increasingly, a knowing and wise Littlest ... she's liking this procrasti-ramble ... and like Peter Pan she wants to remain Littlest. But she also likes the wise and knowing part. I however, find these two features, blossoming in my youngest child, a little discombobulating - where did the years go; at what point did she grow up and I trip over into middle age; when did I start looking at the short skirts in my wardrobe and find myself thinking 'Nah'; where did the pain in my back come from; and why about once every couple of months do I discover an eye-brow hair that's several centimetres long?

Discombobulation however, isn't all funny, or peculiar, or a little sad. No, no, no ... it is sometimes downright maddening. Rant warning ahead ...!

Newspapers disseminate news. Don't they? But what is news?

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the news I read is not always the news I want to read. Nor is it the news I want to trust. Or should trust. Instead, it is someone else's version of the news. Which may in fact not be proper news at all. What we too often get, dressed up as news, is a veiled form of propaganda. This is DISCOMBOBULATING in the extreme. What do we or should we believe? I have no idea anymore. And it is turning me into a sceptic. I have grown up questioning everything - faith, medicine, science? I work (when I have to) in medicine, so I know to question evidence, to look at research and to be suspect of anything that offers itself as 100% certain. Voltaire and Neitzche were both good on this ...

"Doubt is an uncomfortable condition but certainty is a ridiculous one."

"If you strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you want to be a devotee of truth, then inquire."

I want peace of soul and pleasure without being made to feel ridiculous. Inquiring after the truth though is hard. And it is becoming harder.

I feel we live in a time where little that we once thought concrete is not in danger of crumbling into dust. I am learning to trust nothing. News! What news? Do you know which version of the truth to believe? I usually know which I want to believe, but I don't know that I can fully trust that belief and as Voltaire said, doubt is uncomfortable. I'd go further and say it is corrosive. It discombobulates utterly.

Take a look at what you know to be true - about Brexit, America, Trump, climate change, religion, politics, science. Then ask yourself how you know those beliefs are true. Where did you get your information from? Are the sources for your facts genuinely good, or are they bad and very clever manipulators of the truth? Our convictions are every day hammered by the fake news that we read and by fear. So called truths that manipulate us are wrong. They makes us all fools. Beliefs that make us better people collectively, are difficult to find. I fear that hunting for them is only going to get harder.

For now, I will breathe and embrace the discomfort of doubt and keep looking for the truth.

Another thing that discombobulates me, mightily - throwing me into a wobbly world alien to this procrastinating pedant - is grammar. I know mine is far from perfect ... I frequently split infinitives and use '...' far too often (or is it too frequently?). But the hiccup when reading a their where it should be there or a too when it should be to or a like when no like is like needed, is dwarfed by the tsunami when I stumble across should of or could of or must of. Yes, it sounds like that when spoken - try it ... should've or could've or must've - but the contraction is from have. The wrong writing of of makes no sense. At all. Grr!

Rant over.

Time for some calm: gardening with helpers

handsome helpers

and un-helpers who have a knack of standing or sitting exactly where I wish to weed or prune