March 25th, 2010


What Conservatives Are Doing Wrong

This was billed as an open letter to conservatives.  I doubt they'd want to read it, though.  It's really just a laundry list of things the conservative movement has done that offend and infuriate liberals (and sometimes other conservatives).  My opinion of liberal politicians is marginally higher, because while they don't follow their ideals much better, more of their ideals are at least in the right place.  On the whole, I am disgusted by politics.

Compare to this piece about how conservatives are evil.  I don't think all conservatives are evil; I have some conservative friends, who are decent folks, who sometimes have brilliant ideas that I never would have thought of.  However, I am alarmed by the direction of the broader conservative movement these days.  I find many of its beliefs repugnant, and its actions are leading to many evil effects.  For instance, letting people suffer and die because you want to take their money and they don't have any -- that's evil, as in "The love of money is the root of all evil."  In the most fundamental sense, what promotes life and happiness is good; what promotes death and suffering is evil.  There may be some good apples in the barrel, but there are a lot of rotten ones in there, and it reeks.

Think about what parts of the world you consider to be sucking.  Think about why they are that way.  Watch who supports the suck and who tries to fix it.  You may disagree with my conclusions; that's fine.  Just do the thinking.

Mother Nature says ...

"If you kids can't quit fighting over that, I'm going to take it away!"

I had a weird imagination even as a small child.  One of things I did when taking a bath was imagine myself as a land mass.  I would slowly lower the islands of my knees into the water, imagining hordes of islanders crowding onto the shrinking mountaintops as the water rose.  At the time, I thought it was great entertainment.

Not so funny anymore.  I hope Gaia doesn't have the sense of humor that I did at that age.

Feeding Your Bugs

ursulav talks about the importance of native plants for feeding insects, which feed birds, and generally help the ecosystem.

I like native plants.  Our butterfly meadow is mostly prairie grasses and a few flowers.  What gets eaten the most?  The milkweed.  I also make a point of putting out some food plants for caterpillars, as many of these plants are enjoyed by other beneficial insects.  When I plant parsley, I always designate some for the baby butterflies, as this is a favored food source of swallowtails.  Wild honeybees nest in a tree, busily visiting flowers.

Last year, my black raspberry patch turned into a waist-high jungle just crawling  with bugs.  The funny thing was, they ate each other.  The berries were almost untouched, the leaves only a bit nibbled.  There were dozens of bugs in a food web clearly several layers deep, with many cross-connections.  I'm sure the birds ate their share of the bugs, too.  But mostly the bugs just seethed over a voluminously healthy berry patch.  I hope it happens again this year, now that I'm borrowing a camera that can do closeups.

Today natasiakith and I planted a blueberry bush.  (It's one of four.  Very tiring work.)  We shoveled up a lot of compost and bark mulch, full of worms, sowbugs, and dozens of fast-moving orange-red centipedes.  That's the detritus ecosystem down there, breaking down chunks of dead stuff into lovely fluffy soil rich in organic compounds.

Life is lively.  My yard is full of live things.  I only swat them if they attack me or look like they're going to attack me, or if they come into the house and annoy us.  Outside, it's their world too and I prefer to share it with them.  I am not comfortable in "outdoor" places where nothing is alive but the paint-green "lawn."  It's like being in air that's too thin.  I want an ecosystem around me, or at least as much of one as I can assemble.  My detritus piles are full of happy little crawlers.  My patch of meadow may not be a "real" prairie but it works tolerably well and is slowly improving.  (There's someone a few miles from here who has what looks to be approaching a conservation-grade prairie patch.)  My trees are full of birds: seed-eaters, insect-eaters, flesh-eaters, omnivores.  There are snakes, mice, voles, skunks, possums, raccoons, foxes, and deer in the vicinity.  A few days ago we heard courting coyotes squealing nearby.  It makes me happy to hear and see things moving around outside.  Around the yard is a near-wasteland of monocrops, but here is an island of prairie, savannah, forest ... life.