The Weekly Eccentric: My Failed Wild Garden Experiment

Or: How I Spotted My Inner Utopian

My wild garden idea is a bust.

The idea was simple and based on U.S. foreign policy over the past 75 years.

There’s a war in every garden: good plants versus weeds. I figured I just needed to let the two battle it out, with me getting involved as little as possible. So, even though I wanted the good plants to win, I’d let them fight the weeds, with me offering help as necessary. . . but not doing the actual fighting.

I’d let the good plants (lettuces, cilantro, basil, mustards, and kale) reach full maturation: sprouting fluffy heads of seeds, which would then float all over the garden like parachuters. Meanwhile, I’d ruthlessly cut down any weed before it produced seeds. I’d keep areas of ground uncovered to receive the vegetable seed parachuters.

Eventually, I figured I’d have a lawn-like spread of good green vegetables, with the weeds choked out.

No mulching. No rows. No spacing. No planting by hand. No buying new seeds every year. No need to harvest seeds every fall (because they’d be reseeding themselves and growing the following spring).

It’d be paradise on my little plot of earth. It was among the best-laid plans.

The Results

It went well at first. In early July, I nodded sagely at the progress. Weeds gone; mustards and kale already gone to seed and releasing parachuters.

I … Read the rest

Newest Candidate in Minas Tirith City Council Election Stirring Debate

Anfalas Times

Fourth Age 165

MINAS TIRITH – Saul Khand’s entry into the City Council race against incumbent Jack Imrahil has a lot of people excited.

“I think it’s great that a black man is finally breaking the white patriarchy in Gondor,” says supporter Lucy Fell.

Others agree.

“Gondor has long celebrated maleness and whiteness,” says Sal Nurn, Professor of Anti-Binary Studies at Eastfold University. “Khand’s viable entry into the Council race is a breath of fresh air.”

Conservatives, though, disagree, pointing out that Khand immigrated from Harad, which relatively recently was the sworn enemy of Gondor. Many of its leaders fought to the death after the Battle of Pelennor Fields rather than peacefully surrendering.

“We don’t,” says Imrahil, “need a naturalized citizen from Harad in a position of power, especially one who is rumored to belong to a Sauronist party.”

Others dismiss the Sauronist party rumors.

“There is no Sauronist Party,” says Fell. “There’s not even a Sauron. It’s time to move beyond logocentric-driven binary thinking that asserts a ‘Sauron’ to elevate the idea of a white patriarchal Valar. And it’s certainly time to dismiss such things in a modern political election.”

The election is next month, on Blotmath 3rd (by the Shire Reckoning). Poll watchers expect a tight race.… Read the rest

Welcome to the Weekend of Melancholy

Ah, Labor Day weekend. The most melancholy holiday weekend of the year. Another summer and its promises and excitements close. You’re poignantly conscious that another year of your life has done the same.

I’m excited about this weekend, though. I’ve had a blistering August schedule. My four August weekends: out of town with tons of driving, 20 people in my house, host large office party that took strenuous effort in extreme heat/humidity, host more guests and my granddaughter’s baptism party.  

I’m so excited about the prospects of an unmolested weekend, I jumped the gun last night and drank three Moscow Mules before attending my local high school home opener football game and watch my two youngest in the marching band. I have a mild hangover this morning, nothing that couldn’t be squelched with two aspirin and caffeine, but I have a huge blood test at 8:00 this morning so I can’t take anything. I’m really bumming.

The blood test is for InsideTracker. My doctor says my blood tests are very good, but I don’t like what I see. I think I may have early-onset diabetes. My doctor agrees my numbers indicate that, but my blood sugar is very good so I don’t. I’m not so sure. I told Marie awhile back, “I wish I could find a good nutritionist who could review my blood work and give me holistic nutrition and exercise advice.”

Enter … Read the rest

Take a Walk

Another Reason We Should be Getting Those 10,000 Steps . . . Outside

You don’t often see links to Salon pieces at TDE, but I’m a big fan of walking and so is this guy. Much of it meshes with Barbara Ueland’s artistic observations in If You Want to Write.

“The brain is always active. Even when we lay motionless in bed thinking of nothing, billions of neurons in our brain are firing. Yet, in almost a hundred years of research, scientists still can’t find the cause or consequences of this activity. Spontaneous fluctuations are like the dark matter or “junk” DNA of the brain. They make up the vast majority of brain activity but are shrouded in mystery.

“Yet, what little we have recently discovered about them is already profoundly shifting our models of consciousness. Moreover, we now know that this flux is not just present when we are inactive but is involved in all brain functioning. It even eats up two-thirds of the brain’s total energy supply. That’s a big deal. . .

“The most interesting positive finding we have so far is that these spontaneous fluctuations are neither random nor deterministic, but have an unpredictable “fractal” structure. A fractal is a pattern that roughly repeats across scales — like a tree whose few big branches have many smaller branches with even more leaves that look like … Read the rest

One Mean Chick? Or Just an Unfortunate Alignment of Facial Features?

Does the person who creates an air of discomfort with the RBF have a level of moral culpability?

stylish woman in hat standing on rocky hill
Photo by Dmitriy Ganin on

The RBF: resting bitch face.

An innocent and harmless expression?

Or a culpable and harmful one?

I started wondering about that after reading Jacques Philippe’s observation in Real Mercy that a look can give life or give death. There’s a way of looking at people, says Philippe, that gives goodness, mercy, encouragement, and hope. And there’s a way of looking at people that accuses, closes, judges, and rejects.

If there’s a way of looking at people that is so full of moral implications, is there a way of looking in general that does the same thing?

I used to think, “What I do is between me and my God. I mean no offense to anyone else, so my moods, tempers, and outbursts are my affair.”

Then I read Francis Fernandez’s observation that “gloominess does great harm . . . to those around us.”

Mere gloominess does that?

“Frick,” I remember thinking. “I wonder what throwing the stapler against the wall and referring to a form of prison bonding does to those around us.”

It was an “a-ha” moment, but an embarrassing one. I had become fully conscious of something at age 40 that most people intuit by age 17 and understand by age 22.

So what about the RBF? Is she … Read the rest

Aragorn and the Rangers or Dirty Mike and the Boys?

New York Gazette

August 28, 2021

NEW YORK—Cultural critics have grown outraged by the portrayal of Aragorn in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series.

“It’s pretty clear that Aragorn is homosexual but Tolkien simply refused to admit it,” says Guy Chase, President of the New England Gay Club.

“Aragorn and his Rangers almost certainly vented their sexual needs through homosexual activity when patrolling the northlands after the fall of Arnor,” says Chase.

Some think Tolkien’s Catholicism didn’t allow him to see it.

“I’ll be blunt: Tolkien was a devout Catholic, which is pretty much the same thing as being a Fascist,” says Algernon Roth, literature professor at State College of Newark. “If he weren’t so Catholic, he would’ve realized the characters he created were gay.”

Chase agrees. “All the elements for a booming gay subculture were there. Aragorn and the Rangers congregating at the Prancing Pony? Come on. That’s just one step removed from The Other Guys’ Dirty Mike and the Boys.”

Some expect gay redemption in Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series that revolves around the Second Age of Middle Earth.

“Amazon’s series is going to emphasize Numenor,” says Chase, “which in its developed stages celebrated sexuality. I think it’s going to get fun.”

Photo by Gioele Fazzeri on UnsplashRead the rest

The Weekly Eccentric: Will New York Be the Old Babylon?

Yes, but forecasts of its demise are (probably) premature

Joe Rogan thinks New York is caput. He’s said so a couple of times. Between de Blasio telling police to use a “light touch” in response to the BLM riots through crushing COVID lockdowns to COVID passports, Rogan thinks NYC is on the road to BFE.

I’m exaggerating a bit. His words and inflection reflect uncertainty, but he clearly thinks New York might finally be heading toward Snake Plissken territory.

I think he’s wrong. The place is too big, too important, too central. As long as the United States has a military that can assure that the dollar is the reserve currency, thereby pumping trillions south of Houston Street, New York City will always bounce back. It always bounced back before the Federal Reserve Act; the Federal Reserve will assure it keeps the rubber.

But Rogan’s cynicism puts him in good company. Many people moved to New York in their early twenties with great eagerness and excitement, only to lament New York’s decline in their middle and later years.

Edith Wharton wrote that NYC in her youth (1870s and 1880s) was great, but it was finished by 1906.

Theodore Dreiser said NYC was a colorful place when he arrived in 1906, but it was drab by the early 1920s.

F. Scott Fitzgerald applauded New York’s glamor in the early 1920s, but said … Read the rest

Fat-Shaming Hobbit Banned from Chicago Public Schools

The Chicago Herald

August 22, 2021

CHICAGO – Bombur the Dwarf has caused a big uproar in Chicago Public Schools.

Bombur is the creation of JRR Tolkien in his children’s book, The Hobbit. He is one of the 13 dwarves who go on a quest with hobbit Bilbo to slay a dragon and claim his treasure. He is also, Tolkien makes clear, very fat.

The Chicago School Board finds it unacceptable and has ordered the book removed from classrooms. 

“Throughout the book, Bombur is repeatedly the butt of jokes and referred to as ‘fat,’” says School Board member Alice Bridges. “It’s simply not healthy for our children to read such things.”

Tolkien’s legion of fans is outraged.

“Bombur was fat,” says Alfred Newmyn, President of the Suburban Chicago Shire Club, a group dedicated to celebrating Middle Earth, “but he was courageous and part of the team. It’s not a case of fat-shaming, but simply character development. Each dwarf has his own personality and traits.”

But the School Board isn’t budging.

“Tolkien wrote in a different time, before we moved beyond weight stereotyping,” says Bridges. “We don’t need our children to read about a fat dwarf moving slowly or being less healthy than the other dwarves. It just reinforces negative stereotypes.”

(Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash)… Read the rest