Morning all:

Quote Of The Week:

“The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity.” Winston Churchill

Some amazing sleeping weather this week! The other night Marcia and I were talking with a neighbor and the subject of the previous night’s rain and wind storm came up; they all lay awake during the most intense portion of it—I did not hear a thing! Once my head hits the pillow there is a flash of glee at the thought of my morning coffee, exactly as I am enjoying it right now, then out like a light.

By happenstance I had been taking note of the work of a Victorian era poet, Matthew Arnold, and his most famous poem, Dover Beach. This poem really formed the beginnings of a long period of pessimism during the latter half of the 19th century. The thinking of that period, brought to us through writers such as George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans), Housman, George Gissing, and Hardy all grappled with the societal difficulties occurring during that time. These furiously changing times experienced a period of heavy migration to the cities, which not only caused infrastructure to strain keeping up, but also began to see the beginnings of a crime-ridden sub culture. Furthermore, electricity was introduced, the steam engine was invented, and then like a thunderbolt, Darwin published his On the Origin of Species. Not to forget H.G. Wells dealing with new found concepts in physics using science fiction stories, one about time-travel – 30 million years into the future – only to have the traveler describe the death of our sun—religious and social order had been totally turned upside down.

Turned upside down to such an extent that not only was the word “evolution” entered into everyday vocabulary, but another new word was coined, “devolution”. These writers and thinkers were surmising devolution, not just of a single species, but also were they deeply concerned about the very real possibility of nations experiencing a “societal devolution”.

Finally then, here is the reason for detailing all this background ‘stuff’. This past Thursday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal (May 17, 2007) had a front page article titled: “Land Grab, Farms Are Latest Target in Venezuelan Upheaval”. Since Marcia spent two years in Venezuela as a Peace Corps volunteer and through work I have several friends who are Venezuelans, my interest was immediately tweaked.

The gist of what the article stated, and from what could be gleaned reading between the lines, is that the new Socialist/Marxist strategy instigated by President Chavez has begun a steep downward spiral for Venezuela. Is this what those 19th century writers were talking about, the devolution of a nation? Is this what happened years ago to Nazi Germany, to Cuba, and is currently happening in some of the Middle Eastern countries, Burma, Zimbabwe, and others? And, uncomfortable as it is just to be thinking about such a possibility, are we ourselves poised to embark on such a path? How much would it take to for us reach a tipping point?

It would seem that in place of a continually upwardly growing society all it takes is for a majority to select a leadership that can convince and sway the masses with a warped or self-serving vision. A vision fed possibly by nationalistic or religious fervor, or a vision of “sharing of wealth”, where, individuals are no longer urged to better themselves, but rather through a promise of betterment by outright governmental theft from those who have been chosen as the wrongful “haves” or off cast as that day’s ‘counterrevolutionaries’. The net effect being that such a society while accomplishing less actually reverses—devolution.

Alright, that was a little dark and deep, especially on the start of what promises to be a magnificent and very sunny weekend. But, then, how boring if there isn’t a little variety when rambling.

Last weekend was exactly as this one promises. As a family we drove an hour into Ohio’s Appalachian countryside to a farm festival. Aside from too much pulled pork, live music, and a wonderfully long hay-ride, Marcia got loaded-up with some very nice Mother’s Day plants – including not one but two weeping willow trees for our little swamp.

Make it a great week everyone. Now, before Marcia gets up and the day gets underway I’ll pick up the newspaper and put on the earphones. This morning it will be a half hour enjoying music by 20-year old Japanese ‘phenoms’, the Yoshida Brothers. A vintner would describe their music this way: 1600 years of ancient Japanese instruments infused with jazz, rock overlays, and a hint of new age. I’ll start with their piece “Storm”.

Cheers,
Dirk

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