The Twitterverse

I recently signed on to Twitter. For years I avoided the temptation, but retirement and the Trump Comedy Show gave me time and motive to participate in the world of social media exchanges.

I began to appreciate the precision of a 140 character statement when trying to get just the right combination of intelligence and sarcasm into a Tweet. For example, whatever Trump was thinking when he told the Saudi royals “Drive them (the terrorists) out!” it wasn’t based on reality. My tweet was short and cryptic for some, so here is a brief history of why “driving them out” would banish 5 million extremist males from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Qatar to metastasize throughout the world. While these extremists account for less than 1% of the the world’s Muslim population, they are the proverbial “one bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.”

The Royal House of Saud has declared that Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s teachings are the official, Saudi state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam. Wahhabism, an ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam, was recently identified by the European Parliament as the main source of global terrorism. This is the extreme interpretation of Islam that inspired the ideology of ISIL, preaches sharia law, and teaches that non-believers are heathens and enemies. So, the followers of purist Salafism, or Wahhabism, the state approved religion of Saudi Arabia, have just been told by the President of the United States of America that they are going to be “Driven Out!” of their homeland.

Yesterday I had a visit from Arab acquaintance from Egypt, a Coptic Christian now living in Canada shared his views with me when I mentioned Trump’s visit to Riyadh. He had no love for the House of Saud, nor for their fundamentalist Islam:

The West has it all wrong. You have to be able to read in Arabic, to read the Koran. Then you will see their true philosophy – if you convert, you are my brother, if not, you are a heathen, my enemy, and I will kill you.” He spoke passionately about the Coptic Christian churches burned and the murders of worshippers. “That is what they do. They kill.

Did The Donald forget that the Saudi terror mastermind, Osama Bin Laden, financed his team for 911 from Saudi Arabian coffers? That fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Wahhabist Saudi citizens? To where did the President want the Wahhabi population of Saudi Arabia driven? Libya? Europe? The United States?

While the total ignorance of this man is remarkable, even more remarkable is his inability to perceive the reality of his global audience. He thinks he is being seen as clothed in ermine robes with a shaft of holy sunlight illuminating his blonde wave. The rest of the world sees a naked fool. This Emperor wannabe has no clothes, his story has no plot, and his legacy will be announced not with a bang, but a whimper.

I avoided Twitter because of the early morning rantings of this delusional megalomaniac. Then I decided to Tweet back. Will it make a difference? No idea, but the number of “followers”, “re-tweeters” and “likers” is encouraging – only one “hater” so far … I’ll have to work on that … you can only tell if you’re really flushing the sewers when all the rats come out.

And we know there is a mischief of rats out there, as the results of last night’s Montana “special” election proved. Time to call in the Pied Tweeter and pay the Piper.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

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Henry and Harry Take a Hike

One day Harry felt like going for a hike. He missed his parent’s farm and woodlot trails, but he knew a friend who had a farm nearby. He called his friend.

“Johanna,” said Harry, “I need to go on a hike.”

“Well,” answered Johanna, “My young son Henry is just getting home from school. He would be a great guide for a hike.”

“Done,” said Harry. He jumped in his car and drove over to the farm. Henry had just arrived home. His dogs, big Burke and little Bruno met Harry in the driveway.

Big Burke normally ate visitors to the farm, but she liked Harry. She licked his ear and he rubbed her head and they were ready to go.

Henry knew all of the trails on his farm. With Burke leading the way, Henry and Harry made their way past the horses and the chickens and the goat and headed into the forest. There were trilliums and trout lilies blooming everywhere. Spring was finally really here!

“You have to watch out for the arrows,” said Henry, casually.

“What?” exclaimed Harry, getting ready to duck.

“Before we moved here, they used to do archery,” explained Henry. “Sometimes I find arrows in the forest. You have to look for the yellow ends.”

“Ahh,” replied Harry, relaxing. “So old arrows on the ground with yellow nocks. I get it,” said Harry. “You know, Henry, I have bow collection of my own.”

“Really?!” said Henry.

“Yes indeedy. All wood, old school – I used to pretend I was Robin Hood on my farm. I’ll bring them over next time.”

“When I find the arrows, I fix them up,” said Henry.

“Then we’ll have to call you Henry Fletcher,” laughed Harry. “A fletcher is a person who fixes arrows.”

They walked and talked for quite a while, and then Henry said, “There’s a big old house back here, near the toboggan hill. It’s abandoned.”

“Seriously,” asked Harry.

“Yes. I got in trouble there once. I went hiking over with another kid and we looked in and he threw rocks and we went inside and a can of paint sprayed all over me and when we got back home he blamed me but my dad called his dad and he apologized.”

“Well,” said Harry, “You don’t need friends like that.”

“He wasn’t a friend,” replied Henry, matter of factly, “just a boy visiting.”

Harry smiled. Innocence keeps it all so simple. Then he looked up and saw the house across the field. The toboggan hill loomed off to one side, but there was no mistaking the house, if you could call it that. It looked like a big white monster mansion, not what you’d expect to find in the back forty.

“There it is,” said Henry. “Nothing inside now, they took the insides away. Just some old junk now. And broken stuff.” Harry had his theories about who would build something like this way back here. Being an investigative reporter he was going to do a little “Clark Kent” on this one.

“Henry,” he mused, “How about if you and I take a little closer look next time we go on a hike? Like detectives. With your parent’s permission of course.”

“Sure!” exclaimed Henry.

Harry’s cell phone alarm vibrated. “Henry, we have to head back. Not only do I tell stories, and write the news, and have bows and arrows, but I am also the cook and I have a dinner to prepare.”

“Follow me,” said Henry, and they headed back through the beautiful woods to the farm with Burke leading the way.  Suddenly Henry stopped. “Hey, look at this!”

It was a pile of feathers on the ground. Some bird had been plucked for dinner. “I wonder if it’s coyotes.” said Henry, “They took the head off one of our chickens last night.” He picked up a feather. “I wonder how they put this on an arrow?”

Harry thought the chicken killer was more likely a weasel or a raccoon or even an owl, but he’d keep that for the next hike. “Well, then it’s a good thing we’re hiking with Burke,” he exclaimed, “Don’t want any old coyotes plucking off our heads! And keep that feather – next time I’ll bring over an arrow and you can fletch it.”  Henry smiled.

When they got back to the farm, Henry shook Harry’s hand, and took off to play. Henry’s Mom came over to say goodbye.

“Quite a boy,” said Harry, “Great guide on the trails. I’m going to write down his stories. I’m already looking forward to our next hike. Thank you for sharing.”

“Thank you for caring,” answered Johanna, “Henry will love the story.”

Harry patted Burke and Bruno goodbye and got in his car. “I wonder,” he thought as he drove home, “who owned that big abandoned mansion hidden in the back forty? Curious and curiouser ….” Harry knew exactly what he and Henry were going to do on their next hike.

***

Coming soon: Part 2 – Henry and Harry, fletchers and detectives

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The Perfect Storm

Once upon a time in the twentieth century, we had Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, and Tojo. It was not a great quintet for world peace.

Now, upon our time in the twenty-first century, we have al-Assad, Erdogan, Putin, Ayatollah Khomenei, and Jinping. This bad boy band of dictatorial supreme leaders could be the perfect storm for world chaos once again. Fuel for this fire comes with the rise of far right-wing extremism from France’s Marine Le Pen to the Netherlands Geert Wilders and all across Europe as the golden mean collapses. Fortunately, both Wilders and Le Pen lost the war.

Meanwhile, we have the two megalomaniac, narcissistic man-boys, Donald and Kim, taunting each other with nuclear annihilation. “Oh, yeah! My mother of all bombs is bigger than your mother of all bombs!” This mature level of diplomatic conversation, tweeted in the early morning hours across the Pacific, can only be fanning the winds of the perfect storm.

To add to this chaos theory of world political physics, stir in every extremist alt-right group in the U.S.A. broadcasting their terrorist propaganda from websites like 4chan, 8chan, Alternative Right, and Breitbart and you have the Sailer Strategy for dumbing down the American public and winning elections for the Freedom Caucus fanatics.

The solution?

First, in democracies, stop electing far right-wing governments and ignorant twits as leaders, and change the U.S. second amendment to read “the right to bare arms” ….

Secondly, turn off the black mirrors, remember the breaking news is usually not, stop reading reports from sloppy journalists, get a comfort pet, take long walks in wild places, and hang out with wise people.

Thirdly, learn how to grow food, care for animals, fish and hunt. As hockey legend Eddie Shack used to say, “You never know when they’re going to do it to you.”

Fourthly, love your family, love your partner, love yourself, love Earth and Fire and Wind and Water.

Fifthly, when the perfect storm is coming we had better know how to build the perfect shelter, and protect and feed the inhabitants.

And lastly, learned from the writings of my wellness mentor, legendary Samurai swordmaster, Miyamoto Musashi, (forgive my translation):

Practice your skills every day, a thousand days.

Perfect practice, until the execution of your skills is like breathing.

Then you will be at the centre. Peace, love, and crush your enemies quickly.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Why Donald Likes Andrew

Donald Trump’s view of Andrew Jackson: “He had a big heart.

Quote taken from Salena Zito’s interview with the President on Monday, May 1, 2017. The full transcript of that interview is an addendum at the end of this article.

***

Our North American native peoples, however, had a different view of the seventh President of the United States of America. From the February, 20, 2017 issue of Indian Country Today:

A brief essay on why Andrew Jackson is one of the worst ten Presidents in United States history.

by Gale Courey Toensing • February 20, 2017

Andrew Jackson: A man nicknamed “Indian killer” and “Sharp Knife” surely deserves the top spot on a list of worst U.S. Presidents. Andrew Jackson “was a forceful proponent of Indian removal,” according to PBS. Others have a less genteel way of describing the seventh president of the United States.

“Andrew Jackson was a wealthy slave owner and infamous Indian killer, gaining the nickname ‘Sharp Knife’ from the Cherokee,” writes Amargi on the website Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice. “He was also the founder of the Democratic Party, demonstrating that genocide against indigenous people is a nonpartisan issue. His first effort at Indian fighting was waging a war against the Creeks. President Jefferson had appointed him to appropriate Creek and Cherokee lands. In his brutal military campaigns against Indians, Andrew Jackson recommended that troops systematically kill Indian women and children after massacres in order to complete the extermination. The Creeks lost 23 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama, paving the way for cotton plantation slavery. His frontier warfare and subsequent ‘negotiations’ opened up much of the southeast U.S. to settler colonialism.”

Andrew Jackson was not only a genocidal maniac against the Indigenous Peoples of the southwest, he was also racist against African peoples and a scofflaw who “violated nearly every standard of justice,” according to historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown. As a major general in 1818, Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida chasing fugitive slaves who had escaped with the intent of returning them to their “owners,” and sparked the First Seminole War. During the conflict, Jackson captured two British men, Alexander George Arbuthnot and Robert C. Ambrister, who were living among the Seminoles. The Seminoles had resisted Jackson’s invasion of their land. One of the men had written about his support for the Seminoles’ land and treaty rights in letters found on a boat. Andrew Jackson used the “evidence” to accuse the men of “inciting” the Seminoles to “savage warfare” against the U.S. He convened a “special court martial” tribunal then had the men executed. “His actions were a study in flagrant disobedience, gross inequality and premeditated ruthlessness… he swept through Florida, crushed the Indians, executed Arbuthnot and Ambrister, and violated nearly every standard of justice,” Wyatt-Brown wrote.

In 1830, a year after he became president, Jackson signed a law that he had proposed – the Indian Removal Act – which legalized ethnic cleansing. Within seven years 46,000 indigenous people were removed from their homelands east of the Mississippi. Their removal gave 25 million acres of land “to white settlement and to slavery,” according to PBS. The area was home to the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations. In the Trail of Tears alone, 4,000 Cherokee people died of cold, hunger, and disease on their way to the western lands.

***

Addendum: Salena Zito’s interview with President Donald Trump was aired Monday, May 1, 2017 on Sirius XM radio:

TRUMP: They said my campaign is most like, my campaign and win was most like Andrew Jackson with his campaign. And I said, “When was Andrew Jackson?” It was 1828. That’s a long time ago. That’s Andrew Jackson. And he had a very, very mean and nasty campaign. Because they said this was the meanest and the nastiest. And unfortunately it continues.

ZITO: His wife died.

TRUMP: His wife died. They destroyed his wife and she died. And, you know, he was a swashbuckler. But when his wife died, you know, he visited her grave every day. I visited her grave actually, because I was in Tennessee.

ZITO: Oh, that’s right, you were in Tennessee.

TRUMP: And it was amazing. The people of Tennessee are amazing people. Well, they love Andrew Jackson. They love Andrew Jackson in Tennessee.

ZITO: Yeah, he’s a fascinating —

TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why?

ZITO: Yeah —

TRUMP: People don’t ask that question. But why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

***

Hmmm … Why?

I wonder. As I also wonder about these revisionist historical observations from Mr. Trump at the outset of his remarks at a campaign stop in Buffalo on April 18, 2016:

“I wrote this out, and it’s very close to my heart because I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen down at 711, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down. And I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.”

Hold the presses! He may have watched the police and firemen on 911, not to be confused with the 711 convenience store, but if so he watched it unfold on television. He was neither “down there” … he was ensconced in Trump Tower, nor did he bother to correct his 7ll gaff.

At a later Columbus, Ohio rally in November 2016, Trump said he watched the towers fall from his New York City apartment. “Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view — a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center,” Trump said. “And I watched those people jump and I watched the second plane hit … I saw the second plane hit the building and I said, ‘Wow that’s unbelievable.'”

If indeed Mr. Trump saw this event unfolding from his lofty perch in Trump Tower, he must truly have the eyes of the Eagle-in-Chief he imagines himself to be. Trump Tower is fully four miles away from the site of the former World Trade Centre.

He could, however, have watched it unfolding in real time from one of his black mirrors, confusing something he is watching on television with actually being present at the event. It could explain his continuing confusion with thinking that viewing something on his really big screen is the same as experiencing it in reality.

True, he did seem to understand that Jackson came from an earlier era, but couldn’t seem to reconcile the fact that Old Hickory. who was “really angry about what was happening in regard to the Civil War”, had in the ground for sixteen years before the Civil War began. Hard to be angry when you’re decomposing.

Hard to be President when you’re not all there.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Life With the Raven Haired Angel

 

It has been a rejuvenation over the past several months, to have met some of the most wonderful people I will have ever known right here in my own community.  I didn’t have to travel to Tibet for Xanadu meditations. I didn’t have to visit Rome for spiritual enrichment. I didn’t have to climb to Machu Pichu for to understand the brilliance of past civilizations. No, everything I needed to make me laugh, share in community, to make my heart soar like an eagle, to make me feel young again was right here in my own backyard.

Sometimes, just sitting with friends, sharing stories, breaking bread together around a table surrounded by adults and children and dogs and yes, once in a while, even the goat, is all you really need.

This past weekend, in a totally unplanned twist, while I was visiting an old friend’s new property in Caledon, he got an invitation to the home of “The Raven Haired Angel” … “Bring Skid,” she said. The next thing I knew, I was walking past their chickens and cows and horses, and goat, nuzzled by two beautiful dogs, surrounded by a pack of children running, laughing and having fun. The property was a new purchase and a work in progress. It was heaven.

A little background for those readers who think this does not sound like their idea of heaven. My father sold our farm in Northumberland County in the late 70’s. I used to help clear our fields of groundhogs so that Everett Cole could pasture his cattle on our acreage. Dogs and cows and horses and old beaters to repair and barn roofs to cover with a fresh coat of aluminum paint and space to explore. I started teaching in North York in the late sixties, a pretty tough inner city school, and our farm was my escape on the weekends.

As soon as I’d get there on a Friday night, I’d head to the back forty, with our dogs at my side, to a beautiful woodlot, a small pond, and a high point outlook;  the worries of the world would wash away. I ended up taking all of my classes from my that school camping there on the weekends, but that’s another story…

Needless to say, it was special. My parents both passed away in the early nineties and that was the last time I visited the farm. So, it brought back a flood of memories to walk this new landscape with my friend, the Raven Haired Angel. The wooded acreage behind the fields was filled with trilliums and trout lilies just beginning to bloom. Back in heaven.

***

Raven Family Wisdoms:

On watching a whirlwind of children play around her home, the farm fields, the forest trails, unfettered by constant adult leashing:

“I raise free-range children.”

On having a tough day on the job, arriving home exhausted, and discovering the goat standing in your newly finished kitchen:

“It’s a “goat-in-the-kitchen” kind of day.”

On how to judge people, as her French Mastiff licked my ear then put his head between my legs for a good jowls rub:

“Looks like he’s accepted you. Usually he bites people.”

On dealing with the acrid scent of manure drifting across the farm field:

“I have no sense of smell. But we’re still not getting pigs.”

On how to deal with the stress of the job and coming home to children’s enthusiasm and the “work in progress” property:

“Well aged Italian grape juice.”

From the Raven’s spouse on comparing his fabulous beef sausages to venison pepperettes:

“My sausages are better; the venison pepperettes are delicious but they give you those real bad explosive farts the next day.”     Note to self: only go for the venison if you are taking a long hike the next day, and stay at the back.

 ***

Postscript: A Raven Family discussion about pigs:

Spouse: “We are getting those pigs,”  Raven: “We are NOT getting pigs.”   Spouse: “Oh yes we are, we ARE getting those pigs.”

Stay tuned , dear readers; I’m betting that I won’t be seeing pigs there anytime soon. Raven Haired Angels have their ways.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

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