She always bats 1.000

As Rob Watson, one of my favorite environmental teachers, likes to remind people: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.”

You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot manipulate her. And you certainly cannot tell her, “Mother Nature, stop ruining my beautiful stock market.”

No, no, no. Mother Nature will always and only do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last,” says Watson, “and she always bats 1.000.”

Do not mess with Mother Nature.

Thomas L. FriedmanWith the Coronavirus, It’s Again Trump vs. Mother Nature  (NY Times, March 31, 2020)


Photo: Economic Times

One Tiny Beautiful Thing

Paying attention to what is happening in Washington is a form of self-torment so reality altering that it should be regulated as a Schedule IV drug. I pay attention because that’s what responsible people do, but I sometimes wonder how much longer I can continue to follow the national news and not descend into a kind of despair that might as well be called madness. Already there are days when I’m one click away from becoming Lear on the heath, raging into the storm. There are days when it feels like the apocalypse is already here.

Except it isn’t, not really. Not yet. One day when the relentless rains let up for a bit, I went to the park an hour before sunset to walk on the muddy trails and take a break from the bad news. The woods were as lovely as they ever are after a rain: the creeks full of rushing water, the gray bark of the fallen trees slick with moss. Above the trail, the limbs of the living trees creaked in the rising wind, the kind of sound that makes your heart ache for reasons too far beyond words to explain. Though the forest understory is already beginning to green up, weeks too soon, the towhees scratching for insects stirring in what’s left of last fall’s leaves were not in any way sorry about the early arrival of spring.

A few hundred yards on, my eyes caught on a tree I hadn’t noticed when I was walking in the other direction. About seven feet up the trunk was a knothole, a place where a limb had long ago broken off and let water in to rot the wood. Perhaps a woodpecker had helped to deepen it, too, and given the water more purchase over time. The hole was small, a dark grotto in the thickly grooved bark of the stalwart oak, a hiding place that reached far into the mass of that old tree, and the failing light deepened its darkness. Who knows how many miniature woodland creatures have crept into its crevice over the years to nest, to shelter from the wind and rain, to hide from predators — or to wait for prey.

But a creature lurking inside it is not what singled this knothole out among the hundreds, even thousands, I had passed on the path as night came on. What caught my eye was a cluster of tiny seedlings colored the bright new green of springtime, so bright it seemed to glow in the gloaming. The tender plants were growing in the loam inside the knothole. Far above the ground, a hole made by decay in a living tree had become a cold frame, a natural greenhouse that lets in light and keeps out frost. Life in death in life…

Instead of giving up something for Lent, I’m planning to make a heartfelt offering. In times like these, it makes more sense to seek out daily causes for praise than daily reminders of lack. So here is my resolution: to find as many ordinary miracles as a waterlogged winter can put forth, as many resurrections as an eerily early springtime will allow. Tiny beautiful things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world, and I am going to keep looking every single day until I find one.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “One Tiny Beautiful Thing” (NY Times, Feb 23, 2020)


Photo: Mohan Bhat

Driving I-95 S. Tethered to Nothing?

5:15 a.m. Traffic flowing. 16 minutes to the office.

Long day yesterday.  Whaddya remember? What Stuck?

In bed. 9:40 pm.

ZzzQuil slow drips.

Mind whirring, but in slower revolutions.

Right ear bud pumping in “The Daily Podcast” with “The Anatomy of a Warren Rally.”

Words drift in and out, sleep meds seeping deeper. And then Mind stops, and locks on. [Read more…]

About right.

Is this verbal violence, then, simply incompetence? Is it the verbal equivalent of someone who has not learned the piano sitting down and trying to play Rachmaninov’s Third? The rudeness of these public figures gives pleasure and relief, it is clear, to their audiences. Perhaps what they experience is not the possibility of actual violence but a sort of intellectual unbuttoning, a freedom from the constraint of language. Perhaps they have lived lives in which they have been continually outplayed in the field of articulation, but of this new skill – rudeness – they find that they are the masters.

~ Rachel Cusk, from “On Rudeness” in Coventry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. September 16, 2019)


Notes:

Truth


Source: m_d_n_f

Flying AA 1263 DFW to LGA. Over all Walls, Barriers and Fences.

Not a statistically significant sample for the Data Kings, but good enough for me. Here’s a driver profile summary for my last 5 Uber rides in Dallas:

“Egber”
Descent: Kurdish, 1st generation arrived in U.S. age 1
Car: Hyundai Elantra (spotless inside)
Music Playing: Country
Uber Rating: 4.88
My Rating: 5.0

“Fouad”
Descent: Egypt (1st Gen)
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical
Uber Rating: 4.82
My Rating: 5.0

“Rafat”
Descent: Jordan.
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical (soft)
Uber Rating: 4.88.
My Rating: 5.0

“Bennie”
Descent: U.S. Lake Providence, Louisiana. African American. “Retired Grandpa of 5. Love People.”
Car: Lexus ES. (Spotless)
Music Playing: Jazz
Uber Rating: 4.94
My Rating: 5.0

“Jason”
Descent: Jamaica (1st Gen)
Car: Nissan Maxima (Spotless)
Music Playing: Pop
Uber Rating: 4.91
My Rating: 5.0

This Rider (DK)
Descent: Canada (1st Gen). Green Card Resident.
My Uber Rating: 4.92

Punch line:

God Bless America.

I love this country.


Photo: (via me-poppins)

Increasing awfulness from rock-bottom bad

I’d brought my computer, but maybe I could actually just not turn it on, and the dreary growth of little obligations that overran my screen would just disappear; maybe the news, which—like a magic substance in a fairy tale—was producing perpetually increasing awfulness from rock-bottom bad, would just disappear.

~ Deborah Eisenberg, Your Duck is My Duck: Stories (Ecco, September 25, 2018)


Notes:

It’s Been A Long Day

It’s a been a long day. You’ve turned on the tube and flip to a cable news channel. Any news channel will do. MSBC. CNN. Fox.

You expect a deluge of the following:

Amarosa. Secret Tapes. Hush Money. Collusion. Russia. Manafort. Cohen. Yanking Security Clearances. Secret tapes. Rigged Witch Hunt. Michael Avenati. Stormy Daniels. Putin. Cover-ups. Tariffs. Trump Tower Meeting. Lies. Fake News.

Instead, you sit mesmerized watching the media and Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Daily Press Briefing in a back and forth exchange:

  • Media A: “Sarah: Can you tell us about the President’s plans to improve the math, science and english scores for all of our children?”
  • Media B: “Sarah: Can you tell us what the government is doing to return the 450 migrant children who have been separated from their parents?”
  • Media C: “Sarah: Can you tell us what the Government is doing to prevent the spread of red tide and the killing of hundreds of species of sea life in Florida? And what we’re doing to prevent this from happening again?”
  • Media D: “Sarah: Can you tell us about the President’s plans on improving the state of our nation’s airports, highways, subways and railways?”
  • Media E: “Sarah: Can you tell us what we are doing to stop the spread of the California wildfires?”
  • Media F: “Sarah: Can you tell us what we are doing to protect our children from gun attacks in our schools?”
  • Media G: “Sarah: Can you tell us what we are doing to prosecute the 300 priests who molested 1000’s of children in Pennsylvania over the last 70 years?”

 


Photo: Washington Post

Walking. O say can you see by the dawn’s early light.

Olson_4_little_boy_border_agent

Dallas, TX.

Wednesday. 4:05 am. Pre-Dawn.

It’s sticky, the air is heavy, rain showers are imminent.

I’m walking from an outbuilding to the lobby to pick up an Uber to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I’m on the first flight back to New York.

Two bodies are framed in their silhouettes. They stand under a street lamp filling a work cart with garden tools. They stop talking, watch me approach and offer a “Good morning Sir” with full smiles and broken English.

Of Mexican origin.

I approach the front desk. Martina is the tag on her lapel. “How was your stay Sir?” She doesn’t break eye contact. Customer Service coach whispering in her ear during orientation, be confident, you belong.

Of Haitian or DR origin. [Read more…]

A Few Honest Words (Please)

If you’re gonna lead my country
If your’e gonna say it’s free
I’m gonna need a little honesty

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words is all I need

I don’t need no handshake
No firm look in the eye
Don’t tell me what you think I ought to hear…

~ Ben Sollee, from “A Few Honest Words.”

The tune was the opening track in his 2008 debut titled “Learning to Bend” which was an open letter to political leaders in the U.S. that perfectly captures what we’ve all been pleading for in a year of national turmoil: the truth. “I try to never be too specific,” Sollee says. “I’m trying to agitate the idea of what is happening. [“A Few Honest Words”] is not directed at one politician, but the culture of politics. (From Team JamBase: A Few Honest Words with Ben Sollee, November 5, 2008)

Ben Sollee, 34, is an American cellist, singer-songwriter, and composer known for his political activism. His music incorporates banjo, guitar, and mandolin along with percussion and unusual cello techniques. His songs exhibit a mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz, and R&B elements. Sollee has also composed longer instrumental pieces for dance ensembles and for film. And don’t miss the video:


Photo of the White House: by kenziemoney15

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