Madness

A couple of definitions here. Paradise is the land, the waters, the mountains … the amazing natural wonders citizens see every day they walk out their front door here in the Grand Valley. But Paradise is presently suffering from an under-abundance of rainfall, and while the natural scientists reassure us that this drought probably won’t last more than another several hundred years, it is easy to worry a bit, especially if your occupation is water-dependent.

I will introduce a new word here today, Pandemia. That is the community of people inhabiting Paradise. A community of which I am, willy-nilly, a member. We are a problematic bunch of citizenry indeed. Pandemia was largely brought into focus by a mischievous virus whose name I will not dignify by mentioning it here, but I will call it La Peste. It passes easily from person to person if you let it, but any sensible person would try to limit their exposure. Because you could just die from it.

The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.

H.L. Mencken

There are four basic principles involved in protecting yourself against La Peste. Principles that under normal circumstances would not even be argued because they are based on facts, science, common sense, and our accumulated knowledge of the behavior of infectious diseases. These four are:

  • Wear a mask
  • Keep a respectable distance between you and your neighbor
  • Don’t go out into large crowds
  • Get vaccinated

Pretty simple, no? Half of the citizens of Pandemia followed these guidelines and have done so from the beginning of this story. When the vaccines became available, they lined up in droves, glad to finally have a material way to strike back against La Peste. The other half of our neighbors have ignored all of the principles from Day 1 right up to the present, with a variety of reasons given that are sometimes laughable and sometimes just make you want to tear your hair out … or their hair, even better.

No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.

H.L. Mencken

Part of the problem was our leadership. We had very little of it, at least at the local level. Not from the mayor, nor the city council, nor our medical community. Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference, trying to educate these folks, many of whom believe that Hilary Clinton runs a chain of pizza parlors where children are captured and farmed out to pedophiles around the nation. Or who are breathlessly waiting for the day that ex-POTUS Cluck will rise from the politically dead in (3, 7, 30, 100, ???? days) and go on to lead the faithful to victory over gays and godless Democrats.

The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. 

H.L. Mencken

It appears that there are a substantial number of people who are unreachable through information. Many refuse to learn even from the most powerful experience, as in the case of those who perish from La Peste while denying its existence with their last breaths.

I will work in a word or two about myself here. I can speak with the authority of age, which along with a dollar and a half might get you a cup of coffee from a convenience store. Over time I have succumbed to self-delusion more than once. There was my infatuation with Marjorie Heath in the second grade and my abject misery when I learned that not only did she not return my affections, but didn’t even know I was in her class.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

H.L. Mencken

Then there was the hope that sprung in my breast when John Kennedy was elected president. Because I knew that he would bring our country further along the highway to perfection. And it didn’t hurt that he and his wife were the perfect handsome fronts for our ever- renewing and shining democracy. Learning after his passing that he might have achieved a lot more had he spent less time in the intimate company of women other than his wife and more time at the conference tables was not a tonic for yours truly. Not a tonic at all.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.

H.L. Mencken

More recently, there was my derisive laughter when a certain Mr. Cluck was nominated to run for the office of president the first time. I thought “Well, here’s a gift for the Democrats, with Cluck running they could nominate an armadillo and win in a landslide.” That delusion lasted right up to late in the evening of election day.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken

As you can see, I have had my problems with keeping my feet on the ground from time to time, and I have swallowed a version of The Kool-Aid more than once. Trying to keep your wits together when so many around you have lost theirs is a full-time job. A person can only hope that they are up to the task.

[My thanks to H.L. Mencken, a delightfully sarcastic dude if there ever was one, for his help in writing this post. He is hands down my favorite codger.]

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On Thursday the NYTimes did a really interesting piece on the movie “The Godfather.” Apparently the original prints are decaying and the costly restoration process is well underway. The article includes an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, the movie’s director. Although I have seen the film several times, what I still remember most is the feeling when I walked out of the theater after that first viewing. That the makers of that film had taken characters who were very, very bad men indeed and made me care about what happened to them. Had made them sympathetic. It was an epiphany of sorts.

I realized that I had been hornswoggled and gained more respect for what a powerful tool movies could be, both for good and not so good.

I also realized that I was definitely a susceptible and had better watch myself in the future, lest I be led seriously astray one day.

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This past Tuesday we finally received a welcome dose of moisture in the form of beautiful snow. Several inches in the valley … much more in the mountains.

South of Montrose about 40 miles, the DOT had to close Red Mountain Pass because of what you see in the photograph. Now this is the road that I wouldn’t drive on for the first year we lived in Paradise because of its hazards (and my acrophobia).

What is not obvious in the picture’s frame is that about ten feet to the right of what you see here is a cliff that goes straight down with your eternal reward waiting for you at the bottom. Looking at pictures like this, I ask myself: for all the money in the world, would I pilot that snowplow?

It’s a rhetorical question.

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Former pres. Cluck thinks that Mr. Putin, Russia’s psychopath-in-chief, is a hell of a guy and wouldn’t it be nice if more countries had such strong leadership?

He is “pretty smart,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday at a Florida fund-raiser, assessing the impending invasion like a real estate deal. “He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” he said, “taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people — and just walking right in.”

NYTImes February 24, 2022

Whatta guy. Just when you think he’s already at the bottom of history’s latrine trench, Putin hands him a fresh shovel and he goes right to work and digs even deeper.

So we have another example of political failures in front of us in the present invasion of the Ukraine. The world’s leaders puff and strut, armies are set in motion, and the suffering begins in a new location. That old African proverb about the elephants fighting has unfortunately never ceased to be relevant.

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. This ancient proverb of the Kikuyu people, a tribal group in Kenya, Africa, is as true today as when the words were first spoken, perhaps thousands of years ago. Its essence is simplicity—when the large fight, it is the small who suffer most. And when it comes to war, the smallest, the most vulnerable, are the children.

Orca Books.com

It’s all madness.

War, by Edwin Starr
And I Am Still Searching, by Pete Seeger

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