Easter Week

I picked, I shared, I covered, I played, I cooked, and I laughed! Poor Garfield should have kept on his snow gear and I shouldn’t have changed out the silver snowflakes for raindrops. April Showers have been a bit elusive so far this month, although it didn’t matter to the daffodils! Many of those early bloomers went and bloomed in spite of what was going on around them. Because I was looking at the forecast that was NOT only a couple of flakes, I went and cut many blossoms out of the gardens. Then, I gave away several dozen and had quite a few left to keep inside to brighten the kitchen with spring colors. Little Bear was startled those ‘bells on a stick‘ had such a strong scent. (hyacinth)

(Odd, that squirrel has lost its face and some of the flowers are missing!!! And those picture ratios are off. Piffle!!) Hoping those are fixed when this is done being edited…Blogging does have some odd quirks. Kind of like our weather this last week!! As noted above, I did cover the remaining flowers and some of those didn’t make it. The tarps were too heavy with the snow and then the water from melting snow, some tarps were black and made tiny greenhouses that cooked the tulips touching the tarps, while others did just fine under their covers! The hyacinth and daffodils are gone, but the tulips are starting to really show off. The parrot tulips, which are surprisingly fragile, are coming along nicely. I’ll share tulips next time! Below are a snow covered ‘Basket of Gold’, a hyacinth I didn’t pick, pear blossoms, my earliest tulips (I picked many, but not all of them), and an almost invasive plant called Snow on the Mountain.

The squirrel had discovered where the window feeder was moved to and annoyed Mittens as she stalked back in forth in front of the window. On Sunday evening, it was moved up a bit, Monday, the tree rat managed to leap for it! The critter is one determined squirrel!!! I also made a snowperson that lasted all of Saturday before melting away on Easter Sunday. Actually, there was a tiny white blob left in the yard when I was outside this Tuesday morning! I used spent daffodils for the eyes and nose and purple strawflower for the mouth. The ‘hair’ is lemon sedum (also rather invasive!).

Ripped, but mendable

I finished the book by Barbra Walter and there is just so much in it, I’m not sure where to continue my thoughts. There is a lot of math within this book (I was never a person who thrilled at graphs and stats and percentages), I managed to understand a portion of it. One of the key points she wanted to make clear was how close the USA is to a civil war.

There was a system created to show a country’s stability. “There are four factors the polity project uses to assess democracy: how free elections are from government control, how constrained the executive branch is, how open and institutionalized political cooperation is, and how competitive the recruitment for president is.” (138) This score consists of numbers that go from positive 10 to negative 10 and used those graphs. She writes that in Jan 2021, America’s score dropped from a +7 to a +5. That doesn’t seem like much (It fell in the 70’s, Nixon’s resignation brought it back to +10 and in ‘16, it dropped to +8), but now, for the first time since 1880, the United States is now an autocracy instead of a democracy. 

Ms. Walter writes about how this happened. Parties diverging on identity used media and social media to pump up their followers. Ethnic factionalism. (This was another graph or chart thing,) Factionalism is based on a 5 point scale. 5 is the least and 1 at the most. Today, we are at a 3. Where we were before the civil war and in the mid 60’s. Today, one party is behaving like a predatory faction in pursuit of winner take all. (p. 141) James Madison and Alexander Hamilton said that “if democracy were to die, it would happen at the hands of a faction.” There is a great deal more she wrote in this part of her book, but the part that struck me hard was about social media. 

I used to hang out on FB all the time, I’d craft witty or thoughtful comments, post quotes from my favorite books (yes, all of them!), and was almost one of those FoMO folks (Fear of Missing Out). While I was up north, I would contact people, sell things, and ask for help all through the social media. I had a few other accounts, besides FB, but those were pretty much fluff. (Except for WP. This is a social media network I constantly use, for help, as a book box, and to cry.) Social media is a great way to organize people. You can gather folks to help restore someplace, plan marches, and drop powder kegs into society. Media platforms help give people fuel to fix problems in both a positive way and in a violent way. With world politics, it is often the  latter. It offers an unregulated environment and multiple platforms. Previously, a candidate had to go through party leaders, major networks, and newspapers. (p. 116) Today a candidate can hit those ‘like’ triggers of fear and engagement to boost their agenda. A complete underdog can become an elected official using social media. (This happened in a country and I cannot remember where I wrote the name down!!!) 

Social media heightens the divisions in peoples, creating those factions mentioned earlier. Ethic entrepreneurs take these divisions and use different media forms to craft stories people can get behind, shaping their views, and crowding the wide tunnel of the rabbit hole. (p. 121) In her book, there was another quote I should have written down. It was by a creator of YouTube, I think. He said something like, ‘If you want it shared,  you have to go crazy town.’ If a post is shocking or a trigger for anger, it will get reshared faster and further than any fuzzy kitten sleeping with a bulldog puppy. “Indignant agreement is very popular.” (p 111) Because people want things changed and getting it spread means more people know about it and maybe something will be done. Unfortunately, often people also don’t check and misinformation spreads like dandelion seed on an organic golf course. There are hundreds of groups in the US alone that believe the country needs a major conflict to right itself. To inflict some kind of pain against others until relief is demanded and the government gives in (As with Russia in Ukraine, 9/11, and Hamas in Tel Aviv and Haifa.). People don’t actually WANT war, yet people will fight if attacked. Justified violence. (p188) A terrifying see saw, where one side is too heavy and the other side rallies more to their cause to join against the common enemy in self defense, law and order, and authoritarian government. 

There is an entire section I’ve not touched upon about the 10 steps of genocide by Gregory Stanton. A step of which the US is between 5 and 6, at the writing of this book. There is also a lot more about those factions.

She does say there is hope for the US. In 1989, South Africa was on the verge of civil war and a new president was elected. A leader who changed things around so dramatically, their country survived. A third world country we should pay attention to. 

I honestly think this is a book everyone should read. Granted, it is political non fiction, but it is fascinating and a good portion of it is citations for the information within. The author goes all over the world to support her findings. One FB friend felt the author was biased. I didn’t see that. Ms. Walter seemed just as likely to bite one side as the other! Besides, if you read it, you can credibly argue with me!!!

Quick Update

These last weeks the internet has been down. Spotty, but otherwise unreliable. I did finish the most excellent book and will add a concluding post soon. Spring has finally arrived in a gentle showing of a few early flowers and small leaves appearing on the trees. I picked some hyacinth for the kitchen window and would really like a stalk of pussy willow. Although, with the odd warm days and chilly nights, those may have already been bloomed out! I adore willow catkins. Our days have hovered in the mid 60’s to drop into the low 30’s. The daffodils have not recovered from the crazy frost snow we had when they were just starting to show themselves. Some of those stems are now two inch tall blackened stalks poking from the ground. Horribly sad! The bees are having fun in the hyacinth and the narcissus that are shyly entering the garden bower. I really like those flowers, but they really would look much nicer if they held their heads up high!

The local drive in opens tonight and it is a Tom Holland showing. Both Uncharted and Spider Man’s No Way Home will be playing. Fun fun fun!!! Hoping I’ll get to go. Little Bear is absolutely NOT on board with the idea. The Craftsman says we should, but hasn’t decided what day would be best. I may not be a gaming person (the first movie), or fond of spiders, but I adore Tom Holland. Neat kid.

So, until my next political post, that is all from this sector of blooms and buds!