Saturday, July 4, 2020

Freedom

We decided to celebrate Independence Day with a road trip to see how folks were dealing with “these trying times” as we so frequently hear on television. The answer is that in our part of rural America most people just want to get on with life. Yes, there were masks, there were stores with signs saying, “Closed indefinitely due to COVID-19” and there were people who politely put on their masks when entering a business. The vast majority, however, seemed to be defiant of the “masking” orders. 

Our trip took us on about a 450 mile jaunt that covered parts of three states. We saw red, white and blue colors and we also saw signs of cancelled celebrations. I think there are pockets of the Spirit of 1776 that still live, but the vast majority have surrendered to the Nanny State. Even here in the heart of what the coast-dwellers would call flyover country, it would be a 50-50 proposition if it came to resistance to the powers that be. 

Where have the freedom-loving patriots gone?
The ones who rant on social media
Yet, cower within their caves?

Those who would defy are blue-collar,
Tattooed and struggling,
Yet they yearn most deeply for freedom. 

The Spirit of 1776 lived in those who had most to lose;
Ship owners and Planters and those who held power. 
Today’s analogs are first to bend the knee. 

The next uprising will swell from those who do the work,
Not those who produce nothing yet breathe the air of privilege. 
It’s no wonder dissatisfaction runs rampant among the poor. 

The conditions are ripe.
The seeds are planted, fertilized and watered.
Who will provide direction to the masses?

If patriots would step forward to solve the issues that stir
Deep within the masses, there might yet come salvation for our country;
If not, we will fall to the forces of evil which seek only destruction and enslavement. 

Rise up Patriots. 
Lift up your fellow man. 
Remove his grievances 
Or, fall. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pandemics, Power and People


As a few of you might have noticed, I took a break from posting.  I suppose you could say I have been socially distant in this particular medium.

Social distancing is really nothing new for me; I am perfectly happy where there are few people and far horizons.  I've even been told that I am sometimes socially distant in a crowded room.  Oh, well.

This SARS-CoV-19 global pandemic is something new, but also something old.  Viruses periodically mutate and sometimes move between species (zoonosis).  That is the most likely explanation for what has happened.  It is something we will see more frequently as this old planet fills up with people.  Densely packed populations facilitate the spread of disease.  The answer is social distancing -- spreading apart.

Dense populations -- whether they be temporary or, somewhat permanent -- are also sources of panic behavior.  It's that old "crowd" mentality that causes people to bolt for the door when someone yells "fire!"  In this case, it caused a run on the grocery stores which has temporarily created holes in our amazing system of supply chains which rarely miss a beat.  The massive nature of the shift of consumer demand from "restaurant dining" to eat at home caught the entire system somewhat by surprise.  There is plenty of food -- at least in the developed countries -- it is just in the wrong place, but that is rapidly being corrected.

I'm thankful to live in a small town rather than a city.  Even in our rural setting there are signs of disruption.  We have also had our first case of the disease confirmed.  It will eventually pass through the population of the planet.  It won't infect everyone, but it will touch most of the people in some form or fashion -- from a disease perspective, not just as a disruption to life as we know it.

The biggest fear that I have out of this entire episode of disruption is the amount of power that is being displayed by governmental entities all over the world.  That is a genie that will not be put back in the bottle.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"Group Think" for the Machine


"I'm sure there's a good reason we are all standing here looking at the gate, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it might be!"

That's what I thought when I saw this picture from a few years ago -- that's what's going through at least one of those cow's heads -- or, it would if they could reason.  It brought to mind "group think."

We all know about "group think."  It happens when a bunch get together and someone makes a suggestion.  The next thing you know, everyone is "piling on" to the idea and it gains a life of its own.  Politicians exploit that tendency.  They, or some political operative, plant suggestions and "suddenly" everyone agrees!  Some examples are "meatless Monday," "taco Tuesday," "Epstein killed himself" -- which, by-the-way, I doubt very seriously (did you catch how I inverted that last one?).

It is easier to follow a suggestion than it is to think independently.  We are lazy.  We are trained to "group think" -- it's called public education.  We are indoctrinated from our earliest years to think and behave as part of a group.  We stand at the gate and wait for the government to "give" us benefits which came out of what they extracted from us already in the form of taxes.  In spite of the rhetoric -- especially from one political party which is quickly morphing into socialism -- the wealthy will never pay "their fair share" of taxes.  It is the poor and middle class which carry the tax burden and it is the wealthy who gain the largest benefit -- especially the subset of the wealthy who claim to be the salvation of the poor and downtrodden. 

The whole impeachment debacle almost exposed what is really a "cash cow" for politicians -- foreign aid.  Much of it is funneled through NGO's (non-government organizations) that are supposedly established for charitable purposes.  More of it is sent directly to foreign governments that are filled with corrupt politicians (yes, even more corrupt than our own) who find creative ways to funnel it into their personal bank accounts -- such as state-owned businesses.  Both methods frequently have plenty of siphons stuck in that lead right back to family members, "non-profit" foundations or, corporations owned or, controlled by the very politicians that authorized the aid in the first place. 

Most folks that lead normal lives which include a job and a paycheck don't realize how much money is actually flowing around this planet.  The amounts are astounding.  There is so much money lying around Europe right now that the banks charge customers to hold their deposits.  Yes, that is correct.  It's not just an issue of low interest rates on savings over there, it's a case of the banks charging customers to keep their money.  Oh, yeah, it's in the hands of that top 1% than controls the bulk of the wealth.  The politicians around the globe are quite familiar with that crowd and work closely with them to make sure they get a piece of that wealth for "protecting" it from unfriendly laws while fleecing the citizen taxpayers of their countries in the process.

Yep, I'm making lots of accusations here and not really offering any proof.  If I had the proof and could lay it out I'd probably end up like Epstein.  I'm not too excited about that prospect.  My point is simply this, don't follow the sheep (or, cows) through the gate.  It might just be the loading ramp to the truck on its way to the harvest.  The politicians own and operate the plant in a very efficient manner.  They are the only ones who will profit from the transaction -- oh, and their very wealthy buddies. 

There is a difference between the two political parties in spite of the fact that both have similar goals in mind; the elephants give you a chance to earn your way into the club, but the donkeys just want you to wear chains and pull the plow.  I'd rather have a chance -- no matter how small.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Billionaire Candidates and Agricultural Ignorance


This is from a few years ago and is among my favorite images.  I find it interesting how the curiosity is strong on both sides of the fence.

Agriculture is something that is little appreciated by most people these days.  Social media has been completely crazy with how one of the current Presidential candidates gave a speech a few years ago to a group of highly educated, full-of-themselves individuals, in which he implied that it didn't take much intelligence to be in agriculture.  In fact, that speech (follow the link to see the article which includes the video) was given at about the same time the above image was taken.

The speech has been taken out of context in such a way that everyone in agriculture has gotten angry rather than thought about what was said.  Essentially, he indicated that civilization has evolved through time from what was, for most of history, an agrarian culture to an industrialized economy and now we are in the middle of a technology-based information economy.  He was correct, but his comments leave one wondering if he truly understands the amount of information and technology that are utilized in agriculture today.

Take that bunch of cows in the image above; they were from a registered herd of Angus that have been carefully selected for over 60 years to produce efficient, fertile, highly versatile animals that provide us with some of the highest quality meat in history.  Each animal is carefully measured in many ways, the data collected, collated and compared against their genetic scores which are developed from genomic testing.  They are rigorously selected based on stringent criteria so that only the best animals are allowed to produce breeding stock for future generations.

They are fed protein and mineral supplements that are carefully formulated to meet the nutritional requirements that the animals cannot attain from forage alone.  They are vaccinated to prevent disease.  They are cared for using scientifically-based methods that reduce the amount of stress to which they are subjected.  The forage they eat is also managed based on best scientifically proven practices.

That's just a small part of agriculture -- raising cattle on a ranch.  I won't even address what happens when they head up the production chain to eventual harvest and presentation in the meat case at your local supermarket.  Technology is everywhere.

When you look at farming it gets even crazier.  The tractors are guided by computers to precisely apply the correct amounts of seed, fertilizer, etc. based on satellite images.  The seeds which are planted are frequently the result of advanced breeding techniques -- including genetic manipulation to enhance disease, chemical and pest resistance.  We have more and better quality food than ever before in history -- thanks to the application of technology to agriculture -- and it costs virtually the same as it did 50+ years ago!

The candidate in question mentions the brainpower required to farm vs. work in a factory vs. create the technology which is so pervasive in society today.  I should introduce him to the rocket scientist I know who ranches in Arizona.  He truly is a rocket scientist -- used to work at NASA.  Or, maybe he should meet some of the scientists unraveling the genetic code which determines disease resistance.  Oh, wait, those are scientists.  Yep, I have worked with them most of my career.  They may be able to manipulate a gene, but most of them have no clue how their work impacts the real world.  They are isolated in their cocoon of technology of which they know much, but they don't know what to do with it much of the time.

I think, ultimately, that is the issue.  I call it intellectual snobbery.  It happens in every field of endeavor.  I've seen it in many, many scientific and engineering fields -- and I've seen it in agriculture.  It goes something like this: "If you don't have a PhD in blah, blah, blah, there is no way you can understand it.  You obviously don't have the intelligence to be able to comprehend it, or you would have a PhD in blah, blah, blah."  Sometimes it isn't just a PhD -- with Engineers it is simply a degree in Engineering -- and they have ranks.  I think Aerospace is at the top and Civil is at the bottom.  Each believes if you "aren't one of us, you ain't nothing."

Back to agriculture -- "If you try to learn how to ranch after a career in something else, you had better be prepared to fail."  "If you didn't grow up in it you will never be able to master it."  Those are incorrect too.

Getting back to the article:  I don't like the candidate mentioned in the article.  Period.  I think he would be worse for our country than most of the others.  Just look at the problems in his state and you should agree.  We shouldn't blast him for what was said, though.  Instead, we should realize that what he said is a symptom of something deeper.  The average person, or the self-proclaimed intellectual elite has no idea about what is involved in production agriculture.  Most of them don't even know what is necessary to get the food to their table.  Billionaire Presidential candidates probably have large staffs that take care of it for them anyway -- they don't even know their food comes from the grocery store -- let alone what it took to get it to the store.

If you don't like the candidate, talk about why you don't like the candidate; don't just blast him by taking his words out of context and failing to address the real issue -- ignorance.  Yep, brilliant people can be ignorant.  If you don't know about something, you are ignorant of that subject.  It doesn't mean you lack the gray matter to understand it given time and effort.  I wish all of the candidates would apply a little more of their gray matter to learning about food production.  Those in agriculture just don't add up to enough votes for it to make a difference to them -- at least in their mind.  We need to explain why it does matter.  Even billionaires won't live long without food.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Each Day New


As I stand and look on high
To pathways etched against the sky
I know there is yet room to grow
And so much more that I could know.
Although I've traveled many miles
Through years of troubles, tears and trials
There is so much left to do,
As if I've started over new,
Each day, beginning, once again,
No different now than it was when
My years were young and I was strong,
To climb the heights for which I long.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Habits


It seems no matter how you try
To cultivate the fields
There will be things that do take root
And take away from yields.

They come from out of nowhere,
To pop up now and then,
You must be ever vigilant
And clear them out again.

I'm speaking of bad habits
That into your life do creep;
They sink their roots unnoticed
And rob you like a thief.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Fox Squirrel


Way up in the greening trees,
Caressed by a light spring breeze,
The fox squirrel sits upon a branch
As if he was in a deep trance.
My searching lens locks onto him
There upon his lofty limb
With acorn locked between his teeth
And me there on the ground beneath.
He thinks I don't see him there
So still, way up in the air
Behind that tiny little twig
Where, to me, he looks mighty big
Covered with his winter fat;
Just another tree rat.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentines Day


The azaleas aren't blooming yet, but they will be in a few short weeks.  I figured flowers were appropriate for the day though, so I dug out this image from a few years back of some of the azaleas at our home.  We have them along the front and along a section of the back of our house.  They bloom in groups and are quite a sight if you enjoy such.

So, with that I will say, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Roses are red,
These azaleas are pink,
I prefer poems
That make you think.

I never was good
At the mushy stuff,
To me it just seems
Like so much fluff.

It's a corporate scam
That grows by the year,
Selling roses and cards
And sparkly gear.

If you really do care
Then show them each day
In the things that you do
And the words that you say.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Consumed by Flames


If you look closely at the image of the fire you might see the Flame Monster looking off to the right.  That was random, I'll admit, but it just popped out at me when I posted the picture.  Do you see it?

What is it about fire that mesmerizes us?  I can sit and look at a fire for long periods and it is relaxing.  How can something so destructive be relaxing?  I suspect it is a remnant programmed into our DNA from times long past when fire meant safety, food and warmth.

I love a campfire and I enjoy campfire cooking.  There is an art to building a fire that will start quickly, burn brightly and build a bed of coals that will cast warmth for hours long after the flames have died to memory.

As I write I keep thinking there must be some deeper meaning that I can extract from this, but it just isn't happening.  All that comes to mind is the sound of insects and frogs along with the roar and crackle of the fire as I sit and contemplate -- yep, I almost said stare at the fire.  Contemplate conveys purpose and depth whereas "stare" is empty and meaningless.  Maybe that's part of the attraction -- to let the cares be consumed by the flames, allowing the mind to rest and the peacefulness of a spring evening to cleanse us as we become one with the blaze.  Yep, I'm thinking spring again....

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A Loose Grouping?


Sometimes what we think we see is not exactly the reality of the situation.  Take the above image for example; it looks like some loosely grouped arrows in the end of a hay bale.  The reality is that there were 3 ribbons attached by a nail at the top and fluttering in the wind.  Five arrows were shot -- the first 3 at the point where the ribbons were attached and the next two at the loose ends fluttering in the wind.  When you look at it that way, it was some pretty dang good shooting.  Nope, it wasn't me, it was my son about 3 1/2 years ago one day when we were out messing around in the pasture.

I think lots of times when we see things, what we think is clouded by our expectations and we totally miss what is really happening.  I think it especially applies to politics....

That's my thought for the day.  I intentionally left if vague enough for the reader to try and figure out my target.  Posting will be hit-and-miss this week.  Sometimes there just aren't enough days in the hour to get it all done.
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