Archive for June, 2020

Hot Day On The River

27 June 2020

Today I sat at a picnic table with this inscription on it. It was hot, I had sweated a lot on the trail, and I didn’t really have enough water. But with the help of some grapes I bought at the store, I made it home.

I could not piece together Jessica’s story from the internet. Her husband was a Process Engineer, then around 10 years ago he went to Med School at UC Davis and became a doctor. She has a Facebook page under her maiden name “Kam” but the posts end in 2018. The profile picture looks like maybe she was undergoing chemotherapy.

I didn’t make my usual bike trip post last week; other things were on my mind. So this post includes photos from this week and last week. I continued to have difficulty with some closeups, as the camera does auto-focus for those, and it doesn’t always guess right, or there would be even more pictures in this post.

Summer advances quickly

Folsom blackberries

The huge wall of blackberries along the Folsom bike path are already in the process of ripening and drying out. I’m wondering if these plants can maintain all their fruit without more rain.

Queen Anne's Lace

I think of Queen Anne’s Lace as a late summer flower, but here was a patch in full bloom. Another umbellifer, wild fennel, is also blooming now, but the cow parsnip is already beginning to dry up.

The lavender by the parking lots has been blooming heavily. The bees really like this.

milkweed with bee on it

I also found a bee on the milkweed plant, but it ran away while I tried to photograph it. This week the milkweed is almost done flowering.

star thistles

Star thistles now dominate the open meadows. This is considered a weed here. You can see how spiny the base of the flowers is, so not easy for animals to eat.


The everlasting flowers are now totally dry. They will probably stay this way for the rest of the season.

black walnut fruit

The black walnut trees are fruiting. The nuts are not that great for humans, but okay for some animals; the husks are very bitter. When I was young, I made a brown dye with them; they are full of tannin.

wild rose

Further down the trail, some wild roses were hanging on beneath the electric transmission lines. I’m not sure why I see them there and seldom anywhere else.

bug on grass

And speaking of hanging on, this is a true bug hugging onto a spike of tall grass. I have no idea what it was doing there.

bald eagle

Along the trail, the crows were making a big fuss. I looked up and saw this guy. We rarely see bald eagles here. Very unusual. Maybe he knew July 4th was coming up and decided to drop by.

scene on the river

And this is about what he (she?) was looking out on. I have never seen so many rafts on the river! Bikes on the trail are actually decreasing now that the weather is so hot. This is now the preferred recreation.

deer behind tree branch

The usual wild animals are still around, but keeping their distance…the local jackrabbit also made a brief appearance last week:

jackrabbit showing its ears

Someday…(maybe)…I’ll get a good shot of this guy.

turkey hen and chick

I almost passed these turkeys by, but I noticed there were young ones, so I went back.

magnolia flower

Back in town, I stopped at the Capitol Mall to photograph the magnolia flowers. This tree was full of them. They are often difficult for me to get good pictures of, as the flowers tend to be higher up in the tree, but this had some lower ones. The magnolia flower is unusual, as it produces a fruiting body resembling a pine cone, but with the seeds more exposed. Magnolia-like plants have been found in the fossil record dating back 95 million years. It is believed they are adapted to be pollinated by beetles, as the modern bee-like animals appear in the fossil record later than that. The flower structure, therefore, is considered “primitive.”

While at the Mall, I heard music in the distance. Moving towards it, I found this little Christian gathering. The music was soft and soothing, but a little hypnotic. From my point of view, at least they are trying.

Christian event at the Capitol Mall

I begin and end on a reflective note. No one wants to get sick from this new disease. But everyone has to “catch” it eventually, either naturally or from some sort of vaccination, to proof up our immune systems against it. If it is like colds and flu, then the immunity won’t be lasting, and we will have to live with it forever. Or, maybe not.

What Happened in the 1980s?

25 June 2020
prime rate historical graph
Prime Bank Loan Rate – historical

I hope the sites I took these images from don’t mind me using them.

The above graph is the one I looked at, years ago, that made be ask the question that is the title of this post.

Now, I know people have secrets. And I know people can “conveniently ignore” certain facts. So, I figured that I might never find out for sure why this graph looks like this.

This graph is not just a peak that temporarily interrupts a trend. This graph is a mountain that has never been repeated – and looks like it never will repeat – in a time span amounting to approximately one hundred years.

Sci Fi break

I will start by telling you what I think happened. So you don’t need to read the rest if you don’t want to.

I think the greatest superpower on Earth decided that it had to do something about E.T. So it opened the money floodgates and secretly funded the biggest joint military research project this planet has ever seen. And possibly, something came of it. But probably all it managed to achieve was a kind of standoff. And so our leaders still can’t tell us about it, because they don’t yet feel very much in control of the situation.

That’s what I think happened.

Financial explanations

What the graph itself shows is that the Fed (Federal Reserve System) was trying to stave off inflation from an economy that was growing too fast. They did this by raising the prime rate to encourage savings and discourage borrowing. That is a standard method for reducing the money supply.

However, this policy strained the Savings & Loan system to its breaking point. It couldn’t pay higher interest on savings without getting higher interest payments on the mortgages it held. But those were fixed-rate mortgages. So the S&L system broke down and a lot of banks went out of business – at least a thousand by the time it was all over. Now you can’t earn any interest by saving money, not even at a Credit Union.

The Fed gave up on this policy and opened the floodgates to easy money and no savings. People who could afford it became investors instead of savers, and people who couldn’t afford it lost their assets. The average “poor” person today has about $4,000 worth of assets. The average “wealthy” person today has at least 1/2 a million. And the economy runs, basically, on debt.

U.S. Farm real estate values.

Here is a graph that shows the ’80s as a blip in a trend. Many financial graphs look like this. The price, or “value” of many assets has gone through the roof. This is an indication of the wealthier players jockeying to own more and more. To an extent, it may reflect population pressures. The amount of agricultural land hasn’t changed that much, yet prices indicate it is getting “scarcer and scarcer.”

U.S. income tax rates, historical.

The government, for its part, had expanded incredibly through the war years with very high tax rates until the end of the Vietnam War. The the wealthy started pushing for a decrease at the high end. And finally Reagan got in and pushed the high end way down. You see how these two lines follow each other most of the time. One is the highest income tax rate, the other the lowest. But you can see there’s a place where they don’t. The high side falls while the low side increases. That’s 1985 to 1987. Reagan had practically equalized tax rates over the entire range of taxable incomes. And they have stayed that way ever since, indicating that the wealthy have managed to have their way.

And so, growth or no growth, money has stayed cheap since the 1980s. The only ones who can really afford to borrow are the wealthy. But almost everyone else has to borrow anyway, just to keep going, or to “maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to.”

Does this tell us any more beyond the fact that there was some sort of basic shift in monetary policy because the old policy wasn’t working? No, that’s about all it tells us.


Can a timeline of events give us any insight into this? (The answer is not much, as there are likely secret events that will never see the light of day.) Let’s see:

I used a lot of sites to obtain this list. It’s not complete of course. I tried to include the more significant events of the period, along with some cultural and tech milestones to help keep readers oriented.

Dates are written yyyymmdd as is customary in databases.

1980 Rubik’s Cube widely released as a toy. Ronald Reagan elected president later in the year.

19800331 President Carter signs act to “deregulate” Savings & Loans.

19800518 Mount St. Helens erupts.

19800522 Pac-Man video game released in arcades.

19800601 launch of CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network.

19801208 John Lennon killed.

19801224-28 Rendlesham Forest incident. This was a UFO sighting incident.

19801229 Cash-Landrum incident. Another UFO incident, similar to the one depicted in Close Encounters.

19810202 CIA Director says, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration.

Barbara Honegger, Nov 25, 2014.

19810330 John Hinckley Jr. attacks President Reagan, almost killing him.

19810518 First cases of HIV/AIDS reported.

19810812 First IBM PC released, running the first personal operating system, DOS.

19811006 Anwar Sadat (Egypt) assassinated.

1982 L.Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth is published.

19820402 Faulklands War starts…

19820502 The Argentinian ship Belgrano is sunk.

sinking of ARA General Belgrano

19820611 Spielberg’s E.T. premieres.

1983 to 1985 Famine in Ethiopia.

19830101 Internet is born on ARPAnet.

19830120 MIDI is demonstrated at the NAMM show in Anaheim.

MIDI demonstration at NAMM in January 1983.

19830228 TV show “MASH” ends.

19830307 Time magazine reports on Senate hearing on military over-spending. This became a big issue and continues to be.

19830618 Second Challenger flight carries first female astronaut.

19830901 Soviet fighter jet accidentally shoots down KAL-007 passenger jet.

19830926 Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that a missile had been launched from the United States, followed by up to five more. Petrov judged the reports to be a false alarm, and decided to disobey orders (against Soviet military protocol). This action is credited with preventing an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in a large-scale nuclear war.

19831023 US barracks in Beirut Lebanon bombed, killing 241 soldiers.

19831114 Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video released.

19840101 Bell System telephone network broken up.

19840503 Columnist Jack Anderson exposes CIA’s remote viewing project.

19840815 Lake Monoun outgassing kills 37 in the Cameroon.

19841031 Indira Gandhi (India) assassinated.

19841203 Poison gas leaks from a pesticide plant in Bhopal. It affected over 1/2 million people. Overall death toll about 20,000.

19850128 “We Are The World” is released to raise money for starving Africans.

19850311 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of U.S.S.R.

19850623 Terrorists destroy Air India Flight 847.

19851119 Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Geneva.

1986 to 1988 One hundred B1 bombers are built by Boeing and delivered to the Air Force at a cost of $415million (2018 dollars) per plane. New ballistic missiles were also developed during this time, at a similar cost per missile, but never really deployed.

B-1B-bomber over pacific - USAF - public domain
U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

1986 to 1989 Three hundred Savings & Loans were closed.

19860124 L.Ron Hubbard dies.

19860128 Challenger explodes soon after takeoff.

19860314 Microsoft goes public.

19860426 Chernobyl disaster occurs in Ukraine.

19860821 Lake Nyos outgassing kills 1,746 in the Cameroon.

19860908 Oprah Winfrey Show goes national.

19861117 JAL flight 1628 incident. A UFO sighting.

19870511 Ex-Nazi Klaus Barbie tried in Lyon France.

19870817 Ex-Nazi Rudolph Hess commits suicide in prison.

19871208 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed. This was a treaty between the U.S. and Russia limiting nuclear missiles.

19880703 Iran Airlines 655 shot down by accident by US Navy.

19881108 George H.W. Bush elected President.

19881221 Pan Am flight 103 explodes over Scotland, killing all aboard.

19890324 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

19890418 Tienanmen Square protests take place.

19891109 Berlin Wall opened, later torn down.

19891202 Bush and Gorbachev “bury” Cold War at Malta Summit.

Bush and Gorbachev in Malta
Courtesy RIA Novosti via Wikimedia Commons

Notice anything?

It’s not really easy to see any particular patterns here. Obviously, a lot was going on, considering the U.S. was not participating in any hot wars at the time. Reagan felt the need to cut taxes while building up military spending, then made peace with the U.S.S.R. and saw many of his Cold War weapon systems dismantled. So…why the military buildup?

Meanwhile, many major technical mishaps occur – one almost leading to World War III. We are learning that our technologies have limitations, but doing little with those lessons.

The U.S. and really the whole planet was sliding into a “post-industrial” era, when computer networks and surveillance would become more and more important, while hot wars became more and more unthinkable and limited. Manufacturing begins moving offshore to Asia, and more Asians are able to afford high-tech gadgets that were originally all exported to the West. The internet started and expanded enormously. Real computer music got started and the “great bands” of the ’60s and ’70s faded away, replaced by disco, electronica and hip-hop.

The drug epidemic in the West got worse. And society – as people – became more and more out of touch with the realities of life on Earth. Environmental problems were set aside, as if something else was more important. But what was more important? Well, what about those UFO sightings?

We have confirmation from several fairly good quality, and rather unpretentious, sources that the E.T. problem was considered real by many world leaders. I see the 1980s as a kind of retreat in the face of a superior power that no one knew how to handle, and that no one except “conspiracy theorists” wanted to talk about.

Your considered opinions, or additional data, are appreciated.

Grim Confirmation

23 June 2020
my pencil sketch titled "cold"

In a recent fit of impertinent curiosity, I decided to visit an old site that I had not been to in years to see what it had to say about COVID-19.

For now, I will leave the name of this site unmentioned. Suffice it to say that this source began to publish information in the 1970s, including warnings about the “ozone hole” growing in our atmosphere, being caused by “halocarbons,” a wide variety of manufactured chemicals. Scientific awareness of this problem led to the banning from use of halocarbons in forms that could become easily airborne, and a phase-out of their production, starting in the 1980s.

This source, generally speaking, is a bit “down” on Mankind and it’s ability to handle the future challenges it faces, which seems to me like a poor attitude to take. However, this attitude is not without supporting evidence, which should be obvious to most.

The Virus

My unanswered question has been: How concerned should I really be about this virus? We already know that getting infected seems to be a bit of a coin-toss. The results seem to go all the way from being “asymptomatic” to death. Strange.

There has been speculation that this virus has been tampered with by humans, in other words, is not really natural. This source confirms that.

There has been speculation that the Chinese government knew all along about these dangerous experiments. This source says that they did not.

This source says that the experimentation was carried on by criminal actors, in secret, and that the release was an accident. These criminals involve both Americans and Chinese.

This source started talking about this problem on 30 Nov 2019, a full month before China announced publicly that it had a problem with a new disease.

Further, because this virus is “novel” this source considers it should be taken very seriously, as its modes of infection and avoiding our immune defenses are not fully known to us and could continue to cause us problems for some time.

Distancing procedures

This has been a huge problem for me and my group, as the distancing recommendations prevent us from auditing each other (except within family groups already living together).

However, my group has recommended full compliance with CDC and WHO recommendations, particularly when they are legalized through some sort of State Of Emergency process. We have published very detailed guidelines concerning masks, distancing, and sanitation as a way to tell people that there is “something you can do about it.” To me, these procedures seem horribly over-cautious to the point where I don’t feel I can really follow them well. This source, however, says that they are basically a good idea, and that the mask requirements, if anything, are lax.

But it also says that people should keep working. You cannot starve to death from unemployment in order to protect yourself from disease!

I should also mention that this source is pro-population control.

And so, as depicted in my old drawing from when I was in high school, I feel stuck in a sort of clingy transparent enclosure, unable to really live yet afraid of death. A grim confirmation of the human condition!

Freedom Versus Security – Another Look

18 June 2020

I will start with a quote from a statement that was released today:

Some of the core values, which have shaped our history and defined who we are as a nation, have been put on trial in 2020 because we are paralyzed by fear of a virus that doctors say could be hiding in the breath of every person who comes near us and contaminate everything we touch. Often described in military and apocalyptic terms as a war for human survival against an “invisible enemy,” the authoritarian lockdown approach by governments to the coronavirus pandemic has been framed as a choice between safety and liberty.

In horror, we watched the coronavirus pandemic unfold in February 2020 with Chinese officials either chasing citizens suspected of being infected with the virus into the streets and dragging them away to quarantine camps, or using hammers, nails and blocks of wood to barricade families into their apartments. Then, after scientists and U.S. public health officials used mathematical models to warn lawmakers to lock down the U.S. or prepare for between 1.7 and 2.2 million Americans to die of COVID-19, we were filled with an uncommon fear and uncertainty that continues to haunt our lives.

The Fear of Entering Public Spaces and Getting Too Close to Each Other

As most states emerge from months of quarantining people in their homes and shuttering businesses, many Americans are still afraid to enter a public space because we are warned over and over again that the invisible enemy will kill us if we don’t stay six feet away from each other at all times, even outdoors. Parents have been urged not to hug their children if a member in their family has been exposed to the virus. In one city, government officials told residents to take photos and report fellow citizens who violate social distancing rules by getting too close to each other outside…

I wanted to quote at length from this statement to give you the flavor of it, and because I thought it was very carefully worded. It also is footnoted beyond all need. Every piece of news mentioned in it is referenced in a separate long document.

This is excerpted from a statement spoken (and I assume written) by Barbara Loe Fisher. It took her about half an hour to read the entire statement for a video. From her bio on her website:

Her oldest son suffered a convulsion, collapse and brain inflammation within hours of his fourth DPT shot in 1980 when he was two and a half years old. He was left with multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder and was confined to a special education classroom throughout his public school education.

Because of the above incident, Barbara become a “vaccine rights” activist. She wants vaccine makers to take more care in producing and testing their products. She wants medicine to look more deeply into adverse effects. And she wants government to protect parents’ rights to not have their children vaccinated.

And now we are being told (by some) that we must wait for a vaccine to be developed before things can “return to normal.” And so she wrote and read her statement. Her focus is still on vaccines. But she framed her talk in the context of traditional American values including the long-lived preference for freedom over absolute “safety.” The argument against her view is usually worded around the concept of the “common good.”

Things never were normal

Though the current lockdown is unprecedented in the history of this planet, I wish to assure readers that Earth has never been a “normal” planet.

Need I belabor the point?

What most people want, at minimum, is a return to the precarious life-and-death balance that we were experiencing before the lockdown. For many here in the U.S., this has been a “better” balance than it has for many others.

Though people and groups who measure such things seem reluctant to present their figures with much conviction about accuracy, it appears that about half of the world’s population is poor, with 10 percent extremely poor.

In the U.S. the “social safety net” is quite thick, yet an estimated 15% or so seem to be quite poor. For those people, life is definitely out-of-balance and will likely remain so. There is also another section of the population, maybe again about 15%, that are out-of-balance in the other direction, though they have other things to worry about (funny how that works).

What are the doctors thinking?

It’s not really fair to just say “the doctors.” There have been a lot of MDs speaking out about how much this sucks, that it’s stupid, totally overboard and so on and so forth.

I once wrote a post on what some of the other doctors seemed to be thinking. It might be a bit over-the-top. But maybe not. It depends, I suppose, on which side of the fence you live on. Are you a sociopath or a social personality? If you are criminally insane, or leaning that way, this “lockdown” probably makes good sense to you…”should have implemented it a long time ago! Look at how much air pollution has reduced! Ha-ha!”

I don’t know what “doctors” are thinking. I don’t even know if I can “blame” this on “doctors.” Maybe we should just take responsibility for the fact that it happened, and work out what we can do – each one of us – to reduce the chance that it will ever happen again.

It appears, though, that someone out there, someone with a quiet voice, with lots of “important” connections, and totally insane but appearing rational, feels threatened by life on this planet. By children laughing and crying, by adults dancing and working, by old folks telling stories and planting gardens. And we have the job of making that man’s sniveling and cowardly “advice” to our leaders become totally null and void.

How do we do it? Start figuring it out!

Pseudoscience and Fake News

17 June 2020

OK. I’m going to attack two gnarly subjects in one post! Can I do it?

In searching for a way that would communicate to reconcile the intellectual warfare that goes on in the name of “rational debate,” I ran across this:

When therapeutic entrepreneurs make claims on behalf of their interventions, we should not waste our time to determine whether their interventions qualify as pseudoscientific. Rather, we should ask them: How do you know that your intervention works? What is your evidence?

From article: “The Demise of Pseudoscience” Richard J. McNally, Department of Psychology, Harvard University.

This is the way a professor of psychology (at Harvard, no less!) chooses to communicate a saner approach to the problem of conflicting data. My teacher would have said (a bit cryptically) “Look, don’t think!”

Why do people prefer thinking over looking?

It becomes obvious that a lot of accusations of fakery are not based on better data, but only on an offended sense of “what must be correct.” And on the other hand, both bizarre and subtle lies have been blindly accepted because of who spoke them of where they were printed. Too many are thinking without looking.

I am currently studying a lecture series addressing this problem. It consists of 70 lectures and I have listened to 60 of them. If any answer has emerged so far, perhaps it could be summed up in the phrase: “it’s easier to think.”

The price of looking

How much does it cost to “look” at an atom? It costs at least $100,000 to accelerate ions with a cyclotron. The cloud chamber or similar detector needed to see particles resulting from the collision of an energetic beam against a target would cost another few hundred dollars (minimum).

The annual budget for the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) was $383 million in 2017. The Large Hadron Collider cost about 4 billion Swiss francs to build.

A good optical microscope costs about $500 (though I got one once at a thrift shop for $50). A desktop electron microscope might cost around $50,000. Oscilloscopes to see electronic waveforms start in the hundreds of dollars.

You can also learn to communicate with animals, essentially by looking at the thoughts they send to you. Almost any sort of spiritual growth involves some sort of training along these lines. It takes time, it takes practice, like learning to play the piano.

So when it seems too hard to just look and “see” the answer, a lot of people prefer to think instead. It’s got a lower price tag. That’s my best explanation, anyway.

So, refusals to look are basically just confessions of laziness or poverty.

If you want to find answers to difficult questions, answers that work, you have to look for them.

Looking via the Internet

Tim Berners-Lee was working at CERN when he developed the communication protocol that led to the World Wide Web. He did this so that scientists in different countries could share their research results.

Today, a lot of research resides behind “paywalls.” That means that you have to subscribe to a site just to look at its content. Although I guess this makes economic sense to the companies that publish research papers on the web, it can be a problem for some of us, particularly if one paper costs $30 or one year costs $300.

Some governments, institutions and organizations are either required or prefer to publish their findings openly. Although this is great for a person like me who wants to find out what’s going on without going broke, the results can be daunting. For example, the CIA has released thousands of its documents to the public. So: How do I know which ones might be interesting? They aren’t going to tell me!

Well, some near-lunatic (maybe) might decide to spend three months of his life just looking through every CIA document that has been released. Then he’ll re-publish, or post links to, the ones that he thinks are important. But that guy’s a lunatic, right? Well, how else am I supposed to get data? I can’t do all that looking myself.

Dr. Mercola

This guy’s an MD. He sells supplements, mostly, and has used his business earnings to create a team that posts usually several documented articles on his site every day. But because he has picked up on the fact that some vaccines are causing problems, along with garnering criticism from vested interests that don’t like his nutrition push, he has become interested in trying to find out what’s in back of all this noise. His poking around and talking with various critics has ended up with him being pushed off Google, YouTube and Facebook, at least partially.

Search, social media and crimes in high places

Although it has been alleged that the CIA was deeply involved in the development of Google and social media for purposes of domestic espionage, that could just be someone’s idea. (However, look at some of the crazy things that the CIA is documented to have been involved with!) Thus, the fact that those platforms have bumped Mercola, Alex Jones, and many others could be seen as “censorship.” However, it is more likely that those companies are just trying to stay out of trouble and make lots of money. So they prefer to avoid controversy. Of course, this means that they will avoid any content that is deemed “controversial” while admitting any content that is deemed “non-controversial” or “mainstream.” In so doing, they exit the stage as platforms where you might be able to find true data that the people in power don’t want you to find. They become little more than entertainment platforms.

In so doing, the big players on the internet tend to align themselves with some shady people who would prefer that the general public not find out what they are really up to. It’s not that the companies are in knowing collusion, necessarily. It’s just that corporate timidity tends to make it look that way. Now it’s just harder to tell what’s true by looking.

The new Merchants of Chaos

In the “old days” there were some newspapers – in fact, most newspapers – who liked to make the environment look chaotic because it “sold more papers.” At one point, some of these papers were referred to as the “yellow press” or “yellow journalism.” Regardless of the exact true goals of those particular papers, they assisted greatly in moving public opinion over to favoring the Spanish-American War (1898), widely considered to be a war that never needed to be fought.

Of course, modern journalism sees itself as above all that now. For a while, some news departments at some TV networks were given editorial control over their own content, as a matter of personal integrity on the part of senior executives. (I have read this but can’t confirm it on Wikipedia). But now it seems fairly obvious that News has become just another form of entertainment, and that various networks, for one reason or another, are taking sides in the political arena. For someone who watched TV news in the 1960s and 1970s, this seems really strange.

The tendency in TV and on the internet to favor “news” stories of emotion, intrigue and opinion could be seen as just a symptom of the insanity that is the human condition. But it makes it very difficult to look at things as they really are using the internet. We all try. And while we may become quite intrigued, in the end we are usually disappointed. The internet seems to be no friend to the truth.

Example: Learning Styles

I can search for “learning styles” and get many many articles on the subject. Only Wikipedia (with a few others) contains the sobering truth that “learning styles” is a poor interpretation of a questionable theory and has never proven out when subjected to rigorous test.

Thus, we have a kind of “pseudoscience” living on the tongues of so many pedagogues yet empty of real meaning or applicability. It has become one of many socially-accepted falsehoods. “You only live once.” “You think with your brain.” Do you recognize these as pseudoscience? If not, why not? They are, you know!

If the people who wish to control public perceptions of what is true decide that a popular concept should not die, even though it is false, they have many tools by which they can pursue this goal. One way is to label any scientific data challenging that concept as “pseudoscience.”


It is easy to label certain subjects as “pseudoscience.” These are subjects that have never entered the scientific literature as we know it, though they claim to be “scientific.” This has been the fate of the subject I have devoted a lot of my time and attention to, as well as a host of “speculative” subjects that, while taken seriously by their proponents, did not in fact rely on scientific methodologies for their development, and basically consist of story telling.

But let’s look at some of the subjects in Wikipedia’s list of pseudosciences:

  • Free Energy. This must be false because it violates the science law of conservation of energy. However, the extremely long-lived state of matter (which is a form of energy per E=Mc^2) remains unexplained. As does the existence of mental energy.
  • Astrology. This is one of the most widely-used psychical practices in modern times. I don’t know that it ever pretended to be a science. I have no data on its efficacy.
  • Biodynamics and Homeopathy. These are listed though there are numerous scientific papers concerning both of these related subjects.
  • Polygraphy. This widely used technique for detecting truthfulness has been found in scientific studies to be totally unreliable.
  • Reincarnation. Here is a subject that is commonly considered to be religious only. However, it has been seriously studied by scientists for about 50 years now. “Skeptics” simply refuse to take it seriously because it’s implications are too upsetting. From my point of view it is a proven fact. End of story.
  • Chiropractic. This is a long-practiced healing technology that has its own schools. It is rejected by mainstream medicine because of its spiritualist origins, not because it doesn’t work.
  • Scientific Racism and Eugenics. These were “sciences” in word and in practice until it became obvious that they were actually well-worded propaganda designed for political ends. What other modern “sciences” might someday end with a similar fate?
  • Paranormal and ufology. Totally dismissed with one broad sweep, here is another group of subjects, where, as with reincarnation, the implications are just too upsetting. These are only pseudosciences to the degree that “science” refuses to study them. Who is this “science” anyway?

Fake News

Accusing someone of “fake news” is another way of discrediting data that is embarrassing, inconvenient, or threatening. Of course, many news stories are in fact fake. But we are just as likely, these days, of seeing a news outlet report a fake story one day, and accuse some other source of doing the same thing the next day.

Then there is the related matter of choosing what stories to bring forward, and which ones to neglect. To the extent that those choices influence the bottom line, who can say that we are getting a fair and unbiased view of the world through any commercial news enterprise?

But fake news is also used by various groups to influence public opinion and force political decisions that otherwise would be considered unpalatable or in fact unethical or illegal.

As gone over, the New York dailies of the late 1890s helped push the U.S. into an unpopular war through made-up stories of Spanish atrocities.

From an article on the subject: In 1803 news of a political settlement in France reached the British stock exchange, inflating prices. The news was not true. In 1835 a British newspaper ran a series of stories about the discovery of life on the moon. They were a hoax calculated to raise circulation. In 1897, a newspaper reported that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) had died in London. The actual sick person was someone else.

During World War One, European newspapers were full of fake anti-German propaganda. As it turned out, Military Intelligence branch 7 had reportedly hired 25 writers to dream up horrific stories about what was going on in Germany. The Germans were doing the same thing in papers they controlled. However, there is no mention of this in the Wikipedia article about MI7.

The U.S. government lied about what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 to get the country more involved in the Vietnam War.

This all gives us an unsettling picture of how information can be manipulated or fabricated for various sensational, economic, or political ends. If this all seems a bit goofy, I assure you that is it. We exist in a state of considerable goofiness, and that is for sure.

Waiting for the dust to clear

It did not come out until this century, almost 40 years after it happened, that the 4 August Gulf of Tonkin “engagement” had been fabricated.

That the CIA was involved in various secret research programs involving dangerous drugs and other questionable practices between 1953 and 1973 was not brought to light until the Church Committee uncovered it in 1975. There are numerous individual accounts from people who fell victim to these projects.

That JFK was shot dead by a sharpshooter stationed at the “grassy knoll” and not by Lee Harvey Oswald has been the finding of every serious investigator who has looked into the assassination since the day it happened in 1963. This finding is still denied by officials and Wikipedia continues to report that Oswald was the only shooter.

Thus, we can see that it might not be enough to wait until the truth comes out. It might never come.

Our only viable strategy, in situations where it seems to really matter (and I think it does in the case of the JFK assassination) is to find other ways to discern who is lying and who is telling the truth.

It has been my practice, besides using human evaluation tools like the Tone Scale and the book Science of Survival, to read as much as I can stand to read from a wide variety of different sources in order to get as big a picture of a subject as I can tolerate to look at.

The Warren Commission was put together by Johnson to gather evidence about the assassination. It included Dulles, former CIA director, who had presided over such atrocities as MK-Ultra and the Bay of Pigs and who had been sacked by the now dead man for his foolish escapades. Roughly 40 different authors (going by one list of books) wrote about the event. As far as I know, none of them agreed with the Warren Commission’s findings. There were maybe five, or less, really serious researchers, and they are all very dismissive of the Commission’s conclusions.

What is obvious to me is that JFK died in a context. The people on the Warren Commission, as well as the new President (Johnson) were all part of that context. Many of them had deep and abiding motives. And there is a huge amount of evidence that the Commission’s report was incomplete and in some technical respects totally unbelievable. In the bigger picture, it is so possible that the Warren Commission lied or misled that it’s a nearly inescapable conclusion. And that means that it happened some other way. This is an example of an event that will be very difficult to ever get right. However, if we got some other things right, perhaps getting this one wrong wouldn’t matter so much.

Key breakthroughs are needed

In the end it may be that I will just have to wait patiently for the human race to realize certain things about itself that it would prefer not to admit.

But I’m not ready to be that patient. I just got finished listening to a lecture that talks about this. And it gave me the idea that maybe I should be proud that I belong to a “pseudoscience” in the same way that people of color decided they would be proud to call themselves “black.” The lecture made the point that in some ways, these higher-level truths don’t belong in the realm of science, because science has defined itself as a study of the physical, and we are dealing with things beyond the physical, with true causation. And though this subject is accepted as a religion, most other faiths cannot really abide by our teachings. Neither Christianity nor Islam believe in reincarnation. That’s fully half of the world’s people. They don’t believe in it, they aren’t taught it. And that includes some of the the best-organized churches. And yet reincarnation is a central truth of human existence. It is in some ways the most observable truth. Many other important truths can be derived from it. But if you would rather think than look, you will never discover it.


13 June 2020

In my trip home from Folsom this Saturday, the only thing that caught my eye enough to stop and photograph it was a solitary milkweed plant growing under a lone oak tree.

milkweed plant

Monarch Butterflies

What may be the most-known thing about the milkweed is that it is the sole food source of Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. Most species of milkweed are full of a poisonous substance which this caterpillar (and a few other animals) has learned to incorporate into its biology as a survival strategy. The plant itself uses the same strategy: If eating you makes the eater so sick that it nearly dies or does die, then that kind of eater might learn to avoid eating things that look like you.

People who want Monarchs in their neighborhoods or gardens will often plant milkweeds to attract them.

Monarchs are not good at pollinating milkweeds, but the plant is a good source of nectar for butterflies and many other insects, many of which are much better pollinators.


milkweed flowers

The milkweed has one of the most bizarre flowers in the plant kingdom, along with plants like orchids.

I had to rely on Helen Smith’s notes in her book Michigan Wildflowers to inform me that most plants in this family are tropical (as are orchids).

This flower does not emit pollen the way most flowers do. Instead, an insect feeding on the nectar must stumble into the spaces between the five pointed nectar wells and accidentally get hooked onto a pair of pollination sacs which it then pulls out of the flower when in moves to another flower.

The insect must then accidentally step into another similar place on another plant and be lucky enough to insert one or two pollination sacs into their proper position. Only then can the ovaries further down in the flower be pollinated. Those pollinated ovaries then might turn into a seed pod.

This means that of all the flowers you see in these photos, it will be lucky if one or two end up bearing seed.

This plant was growing alone under a tree. It must have been brought there by a bird or squirrel – maybe the wind. But from where? Perhaps from a garden. I have seen no other wild milkweeds in all my trips down this trail.

Seed Pods

In botany, the seed pods are called “follicles.” I saw many when I used to roam across Michigan. I have never seen one in California.

According to articles I read about this plant, the germination rate of the seeds is very low. This is partly because North American milkweed seeds need to get cold (winter over) before they will germinate. Other articles talk about other uses for the seed pods, such as using the thread-like tufts for cushioning or to make certain kinds of absorbent materials.

Whatever ends up happening to the pods, they are quite a site while they are still on the plant. They normally manage to grow upright instead of hanging as so many heavier fruit must do. And once mature and dry, they can burst open in most unusual ways.

I had to rely again on Helen Smith, this time through the Michigan Botanical Club which she worked hard to keep going while she was alive. They published a little book in 1973 called Winter Wildflowers, containing numerous black-and-white photos of plants as they look in winter. Here, the milkweed:

milkweed pods bursting open

2021 Update!

The milkweed plant depicted above is gone this year. But…I found another one much further up the bike trail near Folsom. And this plant has some pods on it! Though autofocus got the best of me in this shot, those yellow blobs on the pod are aphids. Will this plant survive to see another summer? Only time will tell.

By late June, the entire area had already endured days of extremely hot weather and a few small grass fires.

The milkweed plant featured in the main article returned, but in a much diminished form:

Early June.

Within a month, it was covered with aphids and its few flowers had wilted:

Early July.

The Human Condition

12 June 2020

I’m reading too much.

The main thing that bothers me about it is that when I read I tend to eat more. When I work on electronics projects I don’t eat as much.

But I thought it was important to get an idea of what is on the minds of the thinkers and dreamers of the world, and so I read.

Writers of the Future Online Workshop

In an attempt to keep the momentum going for the Writers (and Illustrators) of the Future Contest, the contest organizers decided to create an online version of the workshop that they give to the (mostly) young writers who usually (but not this year) participate in the annual awards ceremony in Hollywood in April.

I know someone connected with the contest and they told me about the free workshop, so I took it. Today I “graduated” the workshop.

It’s a somewhat unsettling story, should you choose to read it. Very short, and not framed as a real story, but as a one-way conversation.

New Ideas, Old Ideas

The various articles and videos I read and watched today started with a “google” search (I don’t use Google, currently using SwissCows) for some subject that was bothering me the day before.

One of the first videos I came up with was set in a little county library auditorium in Minnesota full of retired white people being lectured to by a black woman from nearby Macalester College about the impact of integration on educational outcomes for people of color.

The next video I watched (don’t hold me to this exact sequence) was given years earlier to a group of very educated people at the University of California Berkeley by a woman named Nell Painter about the long and convoluted history of the word “Caucasian.” The Caucasians were a light-skinned group of people used as sex slaves in both Europe and Persia until political changes gradually closed those trade routes around the 1700s.

After watching that, I was attracted to a paid add on YouTube’s website about “understanding the human condition.” This led me to a recently-crafted website out of Australia featuring a biologist by the name of Jeremy Griffith who has been working on promoting his theory since 1983. To be brief, Griffith believes that the development of consciousness in Man made possible by a greatly enhanced nervous system, led people to question the validity of their inherited instincts. This, he said, has led to a psychological pathology (psychosis) that can only be resolved through new understandings brought to us by recent research in the field of biology.

It is an enormously hopeful viewpoint, and in many ways quite true, though various theoretical details, clearly, are incorrect. Griffith looks forward to a future in which the current political clashes between the Left and the Right will resolve, and people will begin to live in peace and harmony, free of the psychosis that they had to endure in order to become civilized animals.

Next, after doing some cooking and checking my emails, I found a wide variety of articles being suggested to me by Pocket (a kind of news service used by the Firefox browser) of interest.

Foreign Policy magazine was writing about a new type of multinational corporation that is successfully evading Western attempts to prevent corporate abuse of power in the developing world (where corrupt practices are often endemic).

A whole series of writings was offered on the subject of “abolition,” in this case, the abolition of the prison system of “crime prevention.” Of course, I am painfully aware (I had a pen pal who was a prisoner when I was a teenager in high school) that prisons are not there to prevent crime. Neither are the police. They are there to keep the poor in their place, for lack of a kinder way to state it. They should be there to deter real crime. But real crime is too crazy for most police or justice systems to confront.

These articles included a review of what happened in Camden New Jersey after they disbanded and then re-created their police department in 2013. I am currently studying a lecture series given by Mr. Hubbard in Camden in 1953. We also have a very strong Truth About Drugs activist, Michael DeLeon, who grew up in Camden. (Camden is directly across from Philadelphia.)

Then I stopped by an article from The Atlantic about how we started measuring everything we did as humans using money (or “cost”) around the time of the Civil War. It didn’t attach this trend to the sudden increase of influence in the U.S. of foreign bankers (and their accounting systems) around that time. But I do. It was described as the creeping advance of capitalism in America, which is the Left’s way to say the same thing.

Then I read an article by science writer Tim Requarth entitled: Why Do So Many Researchers Still Treat Race as a Scientific Concept? It is essentially a review of a recent book by journalist Angela Saini. In the book and the article, it went over certain fundamentals of “race” that I would summarize this way: The human genome has something on the order of 50,000 genes, depending on exactly how you count them. Of these, 4 or 5 were recently found to be involved with the shape of the nose. Probably that many, or fewer, determine skin pigmentation. Humans are 99.5% genetically identical, and out of the genes that are different, only a handful have anything to do with outward appearance. Therefore, there is absolutely no valid scientific reason to connect race (outward appearance) with genetics, biology or medical outcomes.

The only valid-sounding exception I have ever heard involves the fact that the rate of Vitamin D production in the body is somewhat related to density of skin pigmentation. But you can’t tell that by asking for a “race” label. You have to look at the individual. There is also the example of sickle cell diseases. However, you have to get tested for it. Though it seems to have been an adaptation to survive malaria in Africa, it could be passed on to anyone through genetics.

Though many interesting “disorders” have been linked to gene expression, most of them are quite rare.

What really makes people sick

In my acquired understanding of the human condition, sickness exists as a spectrum of disorders starting just below the level of perfect, radiant health all the way down to, and including, death. You can even postulate human conditions lower than death, since the personality survives death, and thus can get some very strange ideas about “life.”

Though it may be an over-simplification to state that all these disorders are caused, basically, by the same thing, it is a simplification worth considering. That one thing is “suppression.”

Suppression could be defined here as life’s own desire to end its involvement in the game of life.


That’s a sloppy definition but will serve for this discussion.

Suppression has many vectors of attack. One includes pathogens (germs). Another involves self-defeating personal attitudes. And another involves attempts by others to lessen you or your ability to survive.

These can interact. Thus, the ill-wishes of another, acted out in your vicinity, can make you sick. If there is a pathogen in your environment, you become more likely to fall victim to it if you are under suppression. This explains a lot.

This is why I object to the MDs telling me that I can only “stay well” by wearing a mask and gloves. It’s not that this advice is totally ridiculous. It’s only that this broader concept of sickness has been known about since 1950, and was fully backed up by workable technologies (or “treatments”) by 1965. Yet MDs (and most others) continue to talk and act like Hubbard never existed, never discovered what he discovered, never taught his students to use it, and never tried to tell the world about it. He did!

In this way, I share my exasperation with Jeremy Griffith. You can see it in all his videos. He has been roundly reviled in his own country for his utopian dream of a better world. Well, since when was that something to revile people over? Why shouldn’t we all dream for better times? Just because they are hard to attain doesn’t mean they aren’t worth dreaming of.

Likewise, if “the Left” were to embrace the finding that the personality never dies, they would discover behind that some truths that bind all people to each other and to their environments, and to a shared future. They would begin to understand why human rights are so longed-for yet so difficult to make real. They might start to make some wiser decisions and some wiser proposals. We have already tried, I am told, offering our ideas to the Right. Though this may be an ongoing effort, I see no sign of progress, really, at this point.

In the context of the eternal personality, the “importance” of outward appearance dies a swift death. The concept of YOLO becomes painfully hilarious. The theories of psychiatry, of course, completely shatter. And the true range of future possibilities becomes vast. I invite my patient readers to consider the possibility that it could be so…

6 June, 2020

7 June 2020

Got my blown tube replaced at Mike’s Bikes this week, and back on the trail today.

Race is on people’s minds, including mine

It was a very full day. My day started attending the 3rd session of Part 2 of a symposium on the subject of “race-based data.” I had never heard this term before. This is a term used particularly in Canada. It has to do with the fact that Canadian scholarship and politics have discouraged the use of the concept of “race” as a valid way to describe anybody.

However, there is pressure – from somewhere, appears to be the medical or public health sector – to start identifying individuals racially. They claim it is needed to help deliver “better” COVID-19 treatment to minority communities.

Various groups and individuals who have been struggling to end racism in Canada have argued against the need to do this, as race is not a valid medical category. They suspect that this race label will actually be used to further racist actions or monitor their “success.” Their experience with research that incorporates a race label is that it has never resulted in policies or actions that have reduced racism in Canada or bettered the lives of most oppressed communities. They are particularly concerned because it appears this data will be used to assist public health agencies in their contact tracing efforts, which involves police cooperation. These communities don’t trust the police for reasons that should be obvious.

The discussion I heard Saturday morning was one of three live streams I attended, the other two on Thursday and Friday. They were all organized and for the most part facilitated (the action of deciding which questions get asked and who will answer them) by Llana James, a Canadian activist currently working at the University of Toronto and pursuing a doctorate there. She is also leading a project to propose a set of “protocols” for use in designing and operating research studies and data collection that involves oppressed communities. Her knowledge is wide-reaching but hard to say how deep.

She had many panelists (called “discussants”) at the three different sessions. The first session included Naomi Klein, a notable activist mostly working in America. She is Canadian by birth, but – among other things – currently works at Rutgers (New Jersey) as a teacher, though she never quite finished college herself. She is currently considered to be one of the top “public intellectuals” and is known for her involvement in the Occupy Movement and in Climate Change.

Naomi seemed uncomfortable and tongue-tied in this discussion. I don’t blame her. The Canadian intellectual frame of reference is considerably different than what’s found in the U.S., and their language is almost tortuously over-precise, in a style reminding me of the British.

But I patiently followed each discussion. Almost six hours in all. Their main point seemed to be: Adding racial identifications to sociological – or particularly medical – research data was very unlikely to do oppressed communities any good, so why cooperate with it? It sounded like just another Pied Piper game to them. And with the data ending up in the hands of corporate players or police, it was just as likely to be used for more oppression and exploitation.


After getting back from shopping I got back on the computer, and watched (among other things) a TEDx Talk by a guy named Anthony Peterson who is a black man from Hawaii who works in Nashville as a consultant on the subject of “race.” His conviction is that race has no set biological or genetic definition, and thus is basically just a cultural construct. Because it is connected with visible differences of appearance, it continues to attract the attention of people, and to be a part of our experience. But it is not useful as a way to categorize people for research purposes. Apparently the reason it was invented as a concept was to force people into categories for political, not scientific, purposes (that topic I found covered in another article).

All these people are desperately trying to find a solution to, a handling for, racism. Yet the word itself trips them. There are many “races” who have been oppressed, including whites. Does calling this “racism” even make sense?

Now I turn to my dictionary (which most academics refuse to quote, for some reason): It doesn’t help that “race” is a homonym – a word that has two different sets of meanings. In this sense, “race” is related to “ratio” or the idea that different people could contain different proportions of “something.” My dictionary states that earlier anthropological uses have become largely meaningless. More properly, in science, it would refer to genetic differences. But these often don’t manifest in appearance that much. In a related meaning it can refer to ancestry. It can also refer simply to a regional group, an ethnic (language and customs) group, or a nation. More broadly it can apply to any group where any similar characteristics can be discerned. And in the expression “the race” it usually means Mankind (the “human race”), although this usage has been gradually declining in literature over the last 200 years.

Racism comes from the older term “racialism.” That is basically the assertion that one group is superior to another, or that is should be “kept pure” at any cost. This is also known as the “caste system” in India (still very strong there), and the “class system” in the West (now hidden in most countries). These are usually linked to biology, not through genetics, but through the control of who one is allowed to marry; families, in other words. Families can be quite genetically diverse, while helping to maintain “social order.”

In my own look at history and the human condition, I can imagine that at one time there might have been a good reason to keep social positions controlled through family lines. This seems to be an almost natural function of the family. If a child wants to work below his family’s place, he must “break out” of the family, and risk disgracing it. If a child wants to work above the level of his family’s place, he must also break out of the family to find additional resources to help him or her become proficient at the higher level. In the U.S. this has been institutionalized in the process (or ritual) called “going to college.”

There are so many bits of missing data, large misunderstandings, and blind spots associated with this whole subject that it is very difficult to think clearly about it. My usual choice has been to think of racism as a form of crime. That it also is a useful expedient to keep a society more “orderly” complicates my argument that it’s basically criminal. But it is obvious today that arguments of “race” “class” “caste” and similar systems have been used to justify oppression up to and including genocide. Today we consider such actions to be criminal, and they have been “crimes” on this planet at least since the Laws of Moses.

The basic problem, then, from my viewpoint, is the criminal. What we call “racism” could be considered just one of many criminal practices. The purpose of the criminal is to enslave others, or to make them helpless to disobey by various other means. The criminal fights a losing battle, but fight he does, and often quite cunningly and with a degree of effectiveness. Our great failing in politics, economics and law is to not recognize the criminal for what he is, and to not handle him effectively (which does not involve punishment, regardless of how much it may be begged for, but may involve isolation from society). This is a huge and prolonged failing that has caused a lot of suffering and dismay throughout human history. It is only the beginning of solving the problem, as there are technical reasons why non-criminals tend to fall under the influence of criminals, and those must also be addressed.


Take, for example, the problem of riots. For purposes of this discussion, a “riot” could be considered to be a group meeting that began peacefully and turned violent.

There are several possible sources of criminal behavior in a riot situation. First, there are likely to be some people with criminal leanings, if not criminal intentions, in the crowd. Second, there may be similar individuals among those observing the meeting, but not part of it, such as the police. Third, there may be persons that amount to agitators that may not be present at the meeting at all, but who have spread lies about the various participants – possibly to both “sides” – at some previous time, or even in many previous times which could amount to a torrent of misinformation (such as we sometimes see vomiting out of various media sources).

This third source, in particular, can predispose the participants and onlookers to take violent actions. But also, criminals in the crowd can use the appearance or actions of the observers to incite the crowd to fight the observers, or their environment in general. And likewise, criminals among the observers can use the appearance or actions of the participants to incite the observers to fight the participants.

Without the priming influence of Third Parties (capitalized here because of its specific technical meaning in this context), the transformation of a meeting into a riot would be much less probable or possible. As has been noted, the media can serve in this role – whether that be unintentionally or on purpose (as is often argued).

Most attempts to understand riots focus on the first two elements but ignore the third. It should not be ignored. With Third Parties present and active, a meeting can turn into a riot even when the first two elements (criminals on the ground at the time of the transformation) are absent. It can turn otherwise sane people into combatants, all by itself. This is my own personal message to anyone interested in understanding and controlling destructive violence in a group.


As those outside the city may or may not be aware, there was some rioting that occurred in Sac. Most of it happened a week ago. Then a curfew was put in place and this seemed to handle things for the most part. The curfew has now been lifted. Understand that the days were mostly peaceful, but some nights not so much.

The violence resulted in board-ups, including this one on K street.

a boarded up Sacramento restaurant

This business was among several who wished to communicate their solidarity with the protestors.

On Saturday, more meetings were held. One very peaceful one was held in the morning while I was out grocery shopping. Another held at the Capitol was still ongoing when I returned.

protest meeting at the Capitol

As you can see, this was peaceful, and included people of all colors.

But standing by “just in case” were National Guard soldiers with their vehicles.

National Guard presence at the Capitol

Sorry this image wasn’t sharper.

This concerns me, as it signals a breakdown in communication and a desperateness on the part of government that is regrettable and could be remedied.

Meanwhile, DOCO has begun to return to “normal” as restaurants have been permitted to reopen.

DOCO on Saturday afternoon, 6 June 2020.

Those who choose to remain oblivious

I cannot totally fault anyone who would prefer to remain outside and removed from all this turmoil.

On my way back to Folsom, I saw many and numerous persons preparing their rafts for a fun trip down the river, while others had already made it into the water.

Rafters on the American River.

This image doesn’t really do justice to the numbers involved in this activity. Some of my photos from two weeks ago were more representative in that regard. But you might notice on the right, if you look carefully, geese swimming up to one of the rafts.

The animals, of course, continue to go about their business. Most of them would probably be better off if human beings disappeared from the planet entirely. On the other hand, animals don’t harbor the same degree of concern for their futures as we do, nor the means to alter their futures.

blue bird on its house

The bird with the blue back gave me another opportunity to photograph it. Though I have held on to the idea that this is a bluebird, the large white throat on this specimen does not match the images of bluebirds in the bird book I have. This may be another species that is just displaying some feather iridescence.

quail family with squirrel

Above we see a quail with several chicks pecking around at the bottom of a huge cottonwood while a squirrel looks on.

An old cottonwood is featured as “Poplar” in my story View From The Forest. Even the squirrel makes a momentary appearance. These quail, however, were about a mile further down the river than where I expected to see them. My guess is that human activity in their old neighborhood (surveyors, I think) forced them to move. I wish the image of the chicks was better. They’re cute!


In my story, Poplar looses a branch during a storm, and complains mightily of the pain and discomfort involved. I had the cottonwood lose a branch because that’s the only tree along this river that I have ever seen lose whole branches. Its wood must be a bit softer and weaker than the oaks and walnuts. And on Saturday I saw another example of this, at the table where I usually stop for water and a snack.

fallen cottonwood branch

I did not recall any winds recently that were particularly rough. But something happened to bring this branch down. The cottonwoods in this park are very big (thus, old). It could be this is a sign of their age. But in any case, the tree remains standing, with the great majority of its branches intact and fully functional.

I thought I’d end this post with a series of cottonwood photos. In this first, a tree stands alone, isolated from its brothers and sisters probably due to human actions.

lone cottonwood

It has obviously suffered some breaks, and my thought is that they prefer to live together where they can help protect each other.

In our neighborhood in Ann Arbor Michigan there was a huge cottonwood. It was left standing in front of one of the new houses that was built there.

neighborhood cottonwood summer

The original scan this was taken from was not all that great. And I believe the original photo was black-and-white, though not sure of that. I asked my image editor IrfanView to adjust the colors for me as best it could.

But this is a mighty tree, is it not? That house is, what? about 20 feet tall. So the tree is roughly 80 feet tall. This tree remained straight, strong and intact for the full time I lived there. And every summer it rained down its cotton on the neighborhood.

In the winter it looked like this:

neighborhood cottonwood winter

Winter can be quite beautiful. You have to sort of imagine it here, but can almost see that sun sparkling off the snow. If it stayed real cold, the snow would remain crystalline and sparkly. Seems kind of peaceful, doesn’t it?

I encourage your comments.