Objects for Comparison – Part 1

Doing some reading.

Came across the “Corner Stone” Speech given by Alexander H. Stephens in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1961.  Alexander Stephens was the vice president of the Confederacy throughout the Civil War.  In this speech, he lays out a number of differences between the “new constitution” of the Confederacy and the old constitution of the Union.  These differences were improvements, “great improvements” in fact.

Working through the speech, Stephens finally cuts to the chase and puts the question of African slavery to rest once and for all.

And this is where things start to get nuts. Unless you are Richard Spencer. Or David Bannon. Or, I’d venture, Jeff Sessions.

The old constitution, in Stephens’ opinion, was composed by the “leading statesmen” of the time who saw slavery as a “violation of the laws of nature.” Jefferson, he states, I’m assuming Thomas, predicted that slavery would be the “rock upon which the old Union would split,” and in this, Stevens admits, Thomas Jefferson was right.  BUT, the reason Jefferson got it right was wrong, fundamentally so. It was wrong because it rested upon the assumption of “equality of the races.”


The new government, Stephens states, is founded upon the exactly opposite idea, the idea that “the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”  Furthermore, that the new government is “the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

And  H-O-L-Y  S-H-I-T he’s just getting started.

You know those crybaby liberal fanatcs in the North with their whacked out ideas about equality?  Yeah, they were just that, fanatics…crazy people!   They were suffering, the poor souls, from “an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is (the fanatic) a species of insanity.” And this insanity, or one of the distinctions of this insanity, was forming conclusions deemed correct with “fancied or erroneous premises.”  Erroneous premise numero uno being that “the negro is equal,” and “entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man.”

Science says so, basically. And basic logic says so too, since any conclusion drawn from an incorrect or illogical premise is likewise incorrect.  So there.

And he seemed, at least in this speech, to be pretty confident in “the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.” People will eventually come around to white supremacy, he says, in the same way that folks eventually came around to Galileo, Adam Smith, and some guy named Harvey.

To Stevens, this stuff was gospel, and he preaches –  bringing God, Nature, Providence, the whole crew into it.  Not only does science support the subjugation of the African slave and bolster one of the central tenants of their new constitution, but this shit’s in line with the laws of nature.  Anyone who thinks otherwise, or any system that deems otherwise, is in violation to these laws of nature.  Period.

And you know why, in case you were wondering, in case you’re still not convinced, it’s because God said so.  That’s right, God.  All this he says, is “in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator.”  Ordinances, apparently, that we are not to question or inquire into.  Humanity is thus served by accepting God’s law on the matter and founding all principles and institutions on said law. Period to that too.

By this point I’m just exhausted by the whole thing.  He keeps going on about subjugation this, eternal principles that, and being true to ourselves, triumphing over all those nonbelievers, etc., etc, yadda, yadda.  Oh yeah, and the Curse of Canaan, which apparently translates into some guy saw his father or somebody’s father naked and somebody got cursed and the later generations, Canaanites, are all slaves because they deserve it.

And we all know how the story ends.  There was that business with Plessy, and Jim Crow, but then there was Brown, so the good guys win, and nobody thinks like that anymore.

Nobody with power or influence anyways.

Unless you happen to be the head of the National Policy Institute.

Sheezus, the mind reels, and I can’t even go there right now.  But, it seems that, in some circles, not a lot has changed since 1851.




Slime molds should not be compared to Steve Bannon and this is why:

I would like to extend an apology to all slime molds to whom I may have given offense with my acerbic and insensitive comparison to Steve Bannon.  This was wrong.  And I am sorry.

Slime molds deserve to be recognized for their service, their beauty, and their strangeness, all of which are characteristics completely lacking in the caricature of man(un)kind that is Steve Bannon.

Without slime molds and their kin, the world as we know it would cease to function.  The dead would cease to decay, and the refuse of centuries would accumulate.  We’d be up to our ears in dead varmints and old fruits and vegetables.  Our soil would be barren, the diversity of life would come undone.

To this end, slime molds have nothing in common with Banno.

Bannon and his kin are unnatural.  They are refuse.  Death that refuses to decay.  All wrapped up as the alt-right or white nationalists, they portend to have a righteous claim to legitimacy.  Wrong.  They are Twinkies that refuse to rot, empty calories eschewed by decomposers more sensible, that would rather consume shit.  Life springs again from shit.  Not Twinkies. 

Slime molds know better. 

Steven Bannon and the alt-right he empowers are nothing more than reconstituted tribalists fueled by vicious memes and internet anonymity, peddling tripe disguised as intellectual discourse.

I’ll admit, I know little about slime molds.  I actually thought they were are a type of fungi, which I know a little something about, but apparently they’re not.  They’re something different entirely.  Something strange and unique.

And so maybe this is the point I’m looking for – the world thrives on diversity, on the strange and peculiar.  The rich system of bacteria, mycorrhizae, and countless invertebrates is the life of soil.  Otherwise it is dead, useless.  Nothing will grow, nothing will thrive.

Any fight against diversity is a fight against nature.  And nature will always win.   Bannon and the alt-right think they are winning.  They are wrong.

Steve Bannon loves kittens, sunsets over the sea, white-supremacists, and fascism.

Oh sigh – to bring this lowly slime mold into my once pristine blog-o-space.  I apologize to the slime mold.  The slime mold has an important, critical place in the ebb and flow of time and decay.  The slime mold does a nice job for nice reasons.

Steve Bannon, as far as I can tell, is a big ball of excrement.  I imagine his presence similar to the ball of feces rolled around by the dung beetle, but large.  Much, much larger.  For example, if you took Veruca Salt when she blew up into a big purple ball, but then transferred that big purple ball of Veruca Salt as a big ball of poo right smack into the middle of my living room, stinking like all hell, and doing nothing worth anything other than mucking up the place, making a godawful mess and attracting diseases, that’d be Steve Bannon.  In my opinion.  Sorry Veruca, but I needed something for scale.

Steve Bannon snuggles up to the alt-right, which means that he empowers white supremacists and pseudo-fascists, justifies their atavistic ideologies and provides an outlet to hate speech and vile dispositions.  That’s enough for me.  I think he also devours kittens.  I mean, why not?  I’ve done enough research on him that I can’t find any reason to think otherwise.

What will emerge from this vile, stinking ball of poo that is being ushered into the White House by the pucker faced tangerine that we’ve (who us?!? not me!) elected to run this big constipated mass of dysfunction, only time will tell.  Only time will tell, but if we’re going to hire racists and fascists to tear down the Washington elite that we, apparently, so abhor, I can only imagine the festering larva that will emerge from this shit show.



Shared Fears and Empathy as Priority

I know that many people who have been friends and formative figures in my life likely voted for Donald Trump.  That’s their business, and I get it, I really do.  My more liberal-intellectual friends may take issue with this statement, but fear and anger and feelings of being left out and cheated abound regardless of who you are, or where you live.  This fear and anger is legitimate.  The world appears to have changed, and there are communities and families throughout the country whose livelihoods have been diminished because of these changes.

And there are those of us who are shocked and disgusted by the results of this election and stand now incredulous.  Who failed to listen.  Who failed to empathize.  Who failed to understand that there are other voices, voices thought unimportant, voices disdained for lack of education, or sophistication.  There are those of us who considered ourselves enlightened, our ideals at the forefront of all ideals, or that the system would take care of itself.  This is part of the how and why we’re where we are today. 

There are also many of us who don’t get what this election has unleashed.  I accept that many people who voted for Donald Trump overlooked his statements and campaign rhetoric as part of an act, and they voted for reasons specific to their own circumstances.  But to too many others, it was not an act, it was truth.  It was validation of hate.  It was validation of white supremacy and domination of female bodies and minds.  It was validation of discrimination and prejudice towards anyone who falls outside of white heterosexual norms.  And it was an endorsement of violence.  Make no mistake about it.

And because of this, there are many of us feel this fear and anger more acutely.  There are members of our society who are more vulnerable, who will feel the fear and anger that so many others feel, but who will feel it through violence inflicted upon their bodies, and upon their minds.  There are those of us who fear now, more than ever, for their own safety, for the safety of their families, their loved ones.  Make no mistake about it – this is truth.

I reject racism, misogyny, bigotry, and xenophobia, all of which have been brought front and center into our discourse as a nation.  Hatred, intolerance, and oppression of any form should not be tolerated, nor should it be ignored.  

The argument that these things do not exist is not an argument, but a cop-out.  

This could be a place to find a way to help the helpers.

and into the sterling new

It’s been awhile.  And a lot has gone on.  A trip or two and some woods and hikes and fishes and great raging swarms of mosquitoes and in the end I find myself lagging far, far behind in penning my thoughts here, in this forum.  Why, I wonder…and I largely think it’s due to tedium, and maybe having nothing to say..other than what I believe, which seems sometimes better left unsaid.  Or shared only in more quieter, less populous spaces.  And with those you love.

Of course it’s all that, and not that at all, which seems to be the point.  Again and again.

It could also be that life happens.  Life happens, and patterns you’ve put in place for yourself, intentionally or otherwise, either replicate themselves accordingly, carrying you along is a predictable stream, or a variable imports itself and the equation comes undone.  So, I got a new job, and I’ve been busy with that (which is good) and the time I have to spend, when broken down between family and friends and time spent outside in gardens or woods, leaves little for the tap tapping of syllables into the


I’ve been tasked, if you can call it that, with making some serious outdoor learning stuff happen (and algebra).  As serious as can be on a square block that’s mostly concrete with some smatters of trees and green thrown in between.  And then the privilege of field trips to the forest preserves and, I hope, some of the places that I’ve come to enjoy and love over this past year.

The blog’s a year old now, by the way, and I’ve learned a lot this year.  Enough to realize how much more I need to learn.  A lot.  But beside what I’ve learned, and learned that I need to learn, the time that I have dedicated to being out and about, and sitting around, has been transformative.  Not that my life has changed, because it hasn’t; but then, it also has.  I haven’t kept scrupulous records of how much time spent, but with a recent revisit to the Porkies last month, I think I can safely say that I’ve logged at the very least a week and a half of steady nature time all year.  A week an a half meaning 200andsomeodd hours.  That’s not bad, and it could be more.  I really don’t think less, and that’s not including messing around in the garden.  That seems significant.

I’m going to make an effort to keep this up.  It seems worth it.  I walked around the block with 5th and 6th graders last week and asked, “What is nature, really?” as one of my students phrased it.  Wondered if it’s possible to have a healthy environment for human beings, but an unhealthy environment for other beings…meaning, are these environments we consider healthy for ourselves really so, or has our conception of environmental health become so diminished that we can’t even tell the difference?  And then, misunderstanding the word biodiversity, someone came up with the idea of ‘biodiscrimination’, which is fascinating to me.  Think monocultures.

So, that’s that.  Here’s a picture that I like.

LilyPad in the Clouds

LilyPad in the Clouds

Prairie Dock Series in the Breeze with Grasses and Shadows

For a blog about sitting in the woods, I tend to spend a lot of time in prairies; and lately, as I’ve mentioned, I have been spending a lot of my free out-and-about time at Wolf Road Prairie.  Again, this is a great place to visit and a window into the landscape of Illinois and the Midwest in general before..well, before.  There’s only a fraction of a percent (1/100th of 1%) of original prairie left in Illinois, and the health and density of biodiversity of this site is quite startling.  It’s almost a little disorienting I find with the great variety of plant species of all shapes and sizes, the colors, and then the constant movement of it all in even the slightest breeze.  This near perpetual motion also poses a challenge to the picture taking.  The density and variety of textures are what I’ve been more attracted to lately than the colors, though the colors are nice too.  As I was flipping through some of these pictures, there were some that I liked more than others, but then I kinda felt that, taken altogether, they portrayed some semblance of this constant shifting of the landscape which has become a significant aspect of my developing relationship with this area.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.