Blanket Gravity

Humor or less

I just had a revelation this morning! Sometimes the hour when you first wake up can provide a moment of lucidity. Like being able to remember an old childhood song you used to sing with friends that ended with “… and threw her out the window.” Or finally thinking of that clever answer to a cutting remark someone made yesterday, finding just the one you should have said. Yeah. That would’ve been good.

Well this morning in the midst of my dreamy-eyed transition to wakefulness I had a revelation. It happened as I tugged on my blankets one more time to adjust the ideal temperature zone beneath those blankets, attempting to reconstitute “comfy.” I realized in a flash the answer to something that had puzzled humanity for eons. The solution to a problem so intractable and puzzling that the centuries had until now held it in rank obscurity. These things are known to appear like a flash of light to minds that have laid the diligent groundwork, or to those who just got a good night’s sleep. I will now share with you this insight which will finally answer the riddle, wrapped in enigma, and smothered in secret sauce.

Why do blankets move during the night towards the foot of the bed?

Is it restless feet pushing them down? Or, as my wife suggests…”a group of invisible blanket gnomes situated just off the foot of the bed turning tiny transparent cranks.” Or is it “Just the way it is, eat your breakfast!” These theories are each worthy as plausible conjectures. Each one creates their own path to new hypotheses and suggest fresh methods for creating tests that will either confirm or reject those hypotheses. Well, except the ones involving the gnomes and the breakfast. But my revelation this morning might just serve to detonate those steamships of postulation into tiny bits of flotsam.

I propose: Blanket gravity.

Simply put, I propose a force that runs counter to normal gravity which creates movement at right angles to it. The mere presence of the human body between the mattress and the blankets releases this force which was previously latent. This force is local and has no bearing on objects outside the blankets. It is in effect only as long as the body remains on the mattress, under the blankets, in comfy repose. At this time, and under these specific circumstances, the blankets are compelled to move, in longitudinal fashion along the axis of the body and always from head to foot.

This force is undeniable. It is irresistible. It is universal. It is, after all, a blanket theory of gravity.

As further supporting evidence, I look to the understanding of centrifugal force, known to physicists as a “fictional” force because it does not force the object in motion directly away from the central axis, but instead acts like a series of forces that are tangential to the circle created by the spinning object.

So, if you are on that amusement park ride where you join a group of strangers inside a huge tin can while the floor drops away and you are pinned to the wall with no visible means of support (remember, you payed to do this), you imagine that centrifugal force is pushing you back. You are mistaken. And you should probably be riding the Tilt-a-Whirl.

I drew this picture to show how it works, along with my arrogant declaration about its meaning. I’m sure you will forgive my enthusiasm but the coffee was strong. The next step is peer review of course.


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Reclaiming Government

Politics as unusual

There are two power centers in our American culture, business and government. But before we can proceed with an analysis, let’s look at what we think of when we hear the term “government.” We imagine “government” as being out there somewhere; corrupt, ineffectual, and against our interests. But this is a manufactured image of externalized government which is presented as real by the other power center. We have largely accepted this definition and fall prey to the perception that we are its victim.

Unless we are on board with the attempt to reclaim the term ‘government’ as representing all of us, unless we are focused with putting “We the People” back in the position of power, none of the following will make any sense.

Maybe you think this analysis is shallow and that business has dominated and corrupted government so thoroughly as to make government pointless, at best enfeebled. Or that they are both the same thing. Well then business interests have certainly prevailed because they rely crucially on this transference of the impression of “corruption” to the political sphere. They also count on the impression that you are now powerless to counter their maneuvers.

This gives birth to the premise that “government is the problem”. Again, if you operate from this premise then business interests have won their fight. I hear a lot about how “government should get out of the way”. A very important principle in how society is structured is; There is no such thing as a vacuum. When you hear phrases like these remember that government never disappears. Even narrow interests of the existing power structure require an arbitrator. The goal of this ideology is not some libertarian or anarchist Eden. The goal is to diminish or even remove the power of the voting public.

If we move to deny government its legitimacy (i.e.: the legitimate power of the vote) then sensible regulatory efforts that can benefit us all will no longer occur. Policy decisions that maintain the benefits of the existing power structure become the purview of business related lobbyists. By making “government” the bogeyman the beneficiary is not “the people” but instead, business.
Today we have a seemingly clean split between right and left. But both sides share the deeply held impression that we are caught in a corrupt system. How does this play out to create these diametrically opposed systems of analysis and solutions? The transference of our impression of corruption to the political sphere is the key. The Tea Party right sees government and “those Washington bureaucrats” as the problem. The Occupy left follows the money to analyze the source of corruption in the system. The moneyed interests rely on their ability to use political front men as a smoke screen. If our frustrations with the current state of America can be focused on the overreach of government then we will never see the true power behind the screen. Big business loves the foibles of Washington. The more we are impressed that the Federal government is inept the more leeway Big Money has to operate unhindered.
But wait… we are the government. We can’t permit ourselves to forget that.
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Humor or less, Philosophy with a tan

We’ve come back around to the season of gratitude. My favorite time of year. This year we have the option to click on a Facebook app which assembles a photo montage to pay tribute to a friend and that’s just fine I guess. But something in the “easy” is awkward. Like giving or receiving an electronic “Thank-you” card that was done with just a click or two. It works from that low level position of minimal effort because hey, don’t we all know that inarticulate and time-pressed feeling? And sometimes it’s nice to be able to send a quick feel good message because it’s one of many other things demanding our attention. But we are still capable of real attention, right?

Anyway, here’s hoping I never lose that ability altogether. And here’s the list of what I’m grateful for. I wrote it the other day. Today I wrote the second part of each one because the first part seemed way too corny.

I am grateful to be a warm blooded person on this planet. Try cold-blooded sometime. Makes you grateful real quick.

I am grateful for friends in my neighborhood who genuinely care enough to listen as I try to express what is important to me. And if you’re just pretending you’re doing it very, very well.

I am grateful that I still have an urge to find a way to give more than I have given. That’s a nice way of saying I’m a slug in this department.

I am grateful that my eyes are not dimmed by age to the point where I no longer see the intense wonder that my youth taught me. Now if my youth would just quit going on sabbatical.

I am grateful that I know one person who joins with me in a promise to stand by and elevate every moment together as a demonstration of shared love. And for not thinking this is all sentimental bullshit.

I am grateful for the wisdom of my body when it knows what is enough. Most of the time.

I am grateful for glorious, unexpected elation that comes when I stop demanding it. But I was really hoping for last Tuesday at three.

I am grateful for the ability to work on something that faith tells me is possible. And for the ability to stop working on something when it all goes to hell.

I am grateful for the quiet peace of a lazy afternoon. Because then I can just space out… I mean “be creative.”

I am grateful because being grateful builds a stronger heart. And I should quit here because I just used “grateful” twice in one sentence.







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Blown Trees

Nature nurtures

blownI look up at the trees each fall and try to understand how the leaves hold on. Is there a particular sap that makes each leaf stick to each branch? Some kind of glue manufactured that’s known only to that tree? And when does each one find the moment of release?

I see certain trees giving them up early. The first week of real chill sets certain trees off into a flurry of leaf shedding. Others hold out. Oaks in particular. They don’t turn autumn color until late in the process. They don’t give up the fall of their leaves until hard and persistent cold settles in. Even so they need the wind.

My sycamore waits a good long stretch into the turn of cold before it gives them up, these shells of once-green leaves that shaded my front porch all summer. I watch the progress. Other trees blow off early. My sycamore holds on tight to the leaves through these early winds. Until sub-zero temperatures force them to curve and loose color. Spells of higher winds early in the season take care of the easier pickings on softer wooded trees. These other trees are easily blown.

After a good five inches of snow and three days of temperatures in the twenties, my sycamore looks like its about ready to cave. The leaves are withered and brown now. All the chlorophyll has been sucked down the stem back into the root and the remnant husk hangs curled and vulnerable on the twig.

Now we wait for the next wind. An approaching season of winter has a live memory in me and I know it is not far off. The next curve of a front from the north will bring the wind with it. The winter wind will do the task where autumns winds only tell prophetic stories. The next wind is sure to make mine a blown tree.

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Humor or less, Philosophy with a tan

cloudscropWe have this need to tell people we know just the way it is. No matter our limited scope of experience or our incomplete knowledge of the subject, we’ve just got to let the world know we’ve got a handle on it.

I came to a crisis point in my Facebook discussion with one particular antagonist. When the posting stopped for a few days (for reasons you will soon discover) I fell into dire panic. My dearly beloved social media outlet looked so pale; flower gardens and funny cat videos, public declarations of love between participants in a fresh romance, humorous and twisted graphics, none of these were enough. I CRAVED conflict. And the sense of loss over its absence was pervasive.

Here’s how it began. I was reading inflammatory posts from this guy and they had no argumentative position, just random assertions. I decided at some point that enough was enough and someone needed to speak out and counter the BS and that someone was me. I had no illusions of convincing him. My goal was to have him see me as the real live complex counterpart of his straw man, and I knew it was somehow healthy for me to see that behind the annoying statements was another fully valid human being that was becoming a caricature. In other words, to engage in civil dialog.

My sister warned me that this would only end badly. I insisted (with some real evidence) that we were not at each other’s throats but bonded by some higher love, even if I don’t particularly ‘like’ him at certain moments.

So, fast forward to present; I got so steamed at a post of his that I briefly fantasized physical violence against him. All my notions of civil discussion were dispelled and I saw my sister’s warning as truly prescient. Another family member made a pointed remark on the same post about how disturbing she found it all and I was done with it.

I stopped cold and for a time so did he. What followed for me were days of reckoning with the gnawing realization that our philosophical tussle was feeding on some pathological energy. Like a drug addict I started referring to it as “juice.” What was truly upsetting was that in the process of going at it tooth and claw on Facebook we had been disturbing others near and dear to us. So I’m trying to reform. In the future I intend to be more temperate and pick and choose when to participate. Some of my counterpart’s posts require being challenged in the arena and other demand only the echo chamber of silence.

What drives us to this? I call it “prognosturbation” and define it as follows: The powerful need to obsessively pleasure yourself by telling the world what is and what will be.”

I want to live in a different world. The world I want is a world where I learn the most because I admit that I don’t quite get it. It is a world that is suggestive and incomplete in such a tantalizing way that it acts to draw me out.

As a child, we experience the world of adults as a fascinating mystery. I have a memory of listening to the rhythm of adult conversation at a party from my perch on the upstairs landing. I could hear the muffled sounds of many voices rippling back and forth. But then it was a single voice only, and then a pause, and then the delivery of some key opaque phrase, then the laughter. Even though I couldn’t understand the words there was something there that I wanted. It was in the rhythm and in the energy. As children, we start from a place of not getting it. I think that remains the healthy place to be. Not clueless. But listening, curious, engaged, and circumspect.

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