Archive for December, 2010

Farewell to Canada’s Squanderland™

By David Parkinson

Early morning at the mall. Eerily quiet until the canned music kicks in and human life fills the echoing space with noise.

I don’t want to escape from reality;
I want reality to escape from me.
(Pearls Before Swine (1969), “Sail Away”)

I write this in anticipation of traveling tomorrow from the suburban outskirts of my hometown Toronto back to the relative sanity of Powell River. For the last two weeks and then some, I’ve been out here visiting my father, family, and friends, doing the Christmas-holidays thing, and occasionally finding moments of actual rest and relaxation. I don’t want to go on at great length in a topic that others — notably James Howard Kunstler — have covered so eloquently; but my main sensation from having spent this time here is that this suburban explosion is a terrible mess that won’t evolve gracefully, if at all.

Yesterday I walked around the ‘neighbourhood’ for something to do. Where I am now is on the edge of some extremely rich little pockets of houses which it seems to be a mistake to call homes. Some of these are absolutely gigantic and overwhelming constructions, often in the style of a French château or English manor, with three- or four-car garages as standard equipment. One after another, they stand well back from the street, many behind pretty secure-looking gates with intercoms. (The rumour is that there is a lot of Russian mafia up this way, and the overall look and feel of the neighbourhoods nearby certainly suggest nothing so much as ill-gotten gains and a bad conscience.) Some have garages under the house. Many have three and even four floors, and the detailing is of the type you get when you can say “Spare no expense” and really mean it. Many, many of these houses have no visible signs of current occupation: window shades are drawn against the outside world; no cars sit out front; certainly there is no homeowner shoveling the driveway or arriving home with groceries. Of children there is no sign. I’ve walked around this neighbourhood many times during previous visits, at various times of the year, and the lasting impression is one of isolation, loneliness, and sterility. If there are children in these houses, and if they play together, it probably is not spontaneous and unsupervised. There are parks they can walk to and play in, but I never see anyone there except for dog-walkers. (Say what you like about dogs — they seem to be the prime force for promoting physical fitness in our many sprawling suburban enclaves.)

These pockets of extreme wealth and opulence are surrounded by streets upon streets of architecturally bland houses on much smaller lots, usually thrusting their two-car garages out from the façade, creating a streetscape in servitude to the automobile. These houses are almost entirely devoid of architectural interest, and it is uncommon that the owners have done much to overcome this lack with landscaping, paint, or any other attempt to make the house look like the dwelling-place of unique human beings. One after another, different yet uniform, they line a street or cul-de-sac with blank windows, garage doors, and unusuably small front lawns. Throw in some greying snow and a louring winter sky and the overall effect is one of desperation and depression.

No matter whether you happen to live in one of the cookie-cutter mini-mansions or in one of the grandiose real ones, you’re living in a place where almost everything requires the use of a car. My father can no longer drive, so much of my time out here has been spent as a pedestrian in a place not built for pedestrians. It’s not good. A few days ago, for lack of anything better to do, I walked northward up the main arterial until I had had enough. I was hoping I could find a decent indie coffee shop or café, a non-chain or used bookstore, a public space like a library or community centre, or anything out of the ordinary that you might not find on any other large street. Apart from a handful of holdouts against the relentless expansion and sprawl — an old burger joint or mom-and-pop mini-mart — it was one long string of mani-pedi outfits, nail salons, driving schools, tax consultants, chain pizzerias and other fast-food dispensaries, muffler/transmission repair shops, strip malls, mini-malls, mega-malls, and all the other requisites of a society on the move. This mix of commercial services extends for many miles in all directions, becoming sparser moving north and denser moving south towards the city. Further out, it’s almost all housing in huge expanses of highways, arterials, and residential roads; out there the shops and other services can be very far away and there are no parks or public spaces whatsoever. If you want to get some exercise or interface with other humanoids, you can just hop in the car and select the entertainment modality of your choice.

This way of life is a hallucination. What is going to happen as the hallucination starts to crack and fall apart? We have at least one full generation of people raised in this sort of isolation: trained neither to expect nor desire constant interaction with other people for any sustained period of time; able to satisfy their needs at a whim, by getting in the car and driving to the right place no matter how far away; immersed in a home life where everyone has private inviolable space and gadgets to fill the long hours; surrounded by a denatured natural world and doing their part to fill it with ever more toxic waste. I want to be clear that I don’t assign all responsibility to those who live in this way; but we have collectively engineered and supported a system of transportation and housing which satisfies superficial needs and desires while disregarding the natural world and human physical and psychic well-being. The consequences are becoming extreme. Living in a collective hallucination, each person atomized and apart from the community, can only give rise to all kinds of disorders, such as the gamut of psychological and mental illnesses that characterize city living now: ADHD, depression, eating disorders, road rage, excessive alcohol and drug use, and on it goes. It’s obvious that a huge amount of obesity, diabetes, and all other kinds of systemic and immune-system disorders are likewise linked to a lifestyle which reduces the time spent outside, preparing and cooking healthy food with loved ones, or otherwise occupying — as more than casual and careless tenants — the bodies we have inherited from generations of ancestors.

The hallucination, though, is of such vigour and verisimilitude as to leave little time for reflections such as these. It will continue in full force until it stops continuing. When it breaks up what’s next?


By David Parkinson

Truer words were never spoken.

… the artist, as a definite creative individual, uses the art-form that he finds ready to his hand in order express a something personal; this personal must therefore be somehow connected with the prevailing artistic or cultural ideology, since otherwise he could not make use of them, but it must also differ, since otherwise he would not need to use them to produce something of his own. […] But the general ideology of the culture, which determines its religion, morality, and society as well as its art, is again only the expression of the human types of the age, and of this the artist and the creative personality generally are the most definite crystallization.
(Otto Rank, Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development, pp. 6-7)

The deadliest traps are disguised as safe havens; and the worst mistake is to take even the safest of them for granted. Although it’s hard to make headway when constantly questioning the ground we stand on, we’d better start wising up and learning how to be skeptical of everything. This kind of radical skepticism is easily dismissed as cynicism, but cynicism is at its worst when it dolls itself up as a weary acceptance of every shortfall or outrage — the attitude that nothing is to be done anyway, so we might as well dig in and get our cut of the action. Skepticism has its costs too, and the main one is that we find ourselves biting our tongues rather than rain on someone’s parade. It’s an attitude that thrives best underground, reaching out tentatively to find the like-minded who aren’t afraid to undermine good sense or good taste; skepticism can and should have a core of deep optimism that behind the easy non-answers, once they’re knocked out of the way, are harder answers to tougher questions — and that we’re better off asking these questions and having to live with the answers we give them.

An insistence on pushing our understanding as far as it will go, though, tends to take us far from safe and easy opinions and into areas out on the fringes of acceptable discourse. It’s lonely out there, and that’s one reason not to go. Every society devotes considerable energy to rewarding people who amplify the core messages that constitute that society’s belief system, while isolating or ridiculing those who try to step outside and look inward more than is comfortable. This does not happen as the result of some unspoken conspiracy, but is one of the things we mean when we talk about a society. A society which did not defend its constituting stories and create spaces not to be explored would not be a society at all.

What hold true on the macro scale holds equally, although with greater variability, at smaller scales. You put some humans together and get them working together on anything, no matter how mundane, and an orthodoxy will very quickly emerge. Orthodoxy is a social condition in which the gravitational forces of human interaction begin to form a core of shared values or beliefs out of a cloud of individual ones; in so doing, the no-go fringe areas also emerge along with penalties for exploring these darker regions. As this cloud condenses into a fixed constellation — a process usually sped along by the stronger or more convincing members of the group exerting the force of their personality — some people find themselves on the fringes of good opinion. They may unconsciously migrate closer to the centre or do so tactically, unwilling to hold out against the pull of received thought. Either way, this results in a diminishing of possibilities and the warping of the group’s potential.

The emergent shared belief system of a group of individuals represents the best overall solution to the problem of finding a consensus common to those individuals, but it will often be a solution which does not coincide very closely with any one of these people’s actual felt beliefs or desires. The smaller the group, the more likely the ‘best’ solution is to satisfy no one. It may happen to be the preferred position of the most persuasive or powerful member of the group, with no accompanying guarantee that this person will have the will or ability to corral the others into cooperation. Instead, anyone who held a different position from the outset will likely surrender quickly, pretend to get on board with the prescription, and then disconnect from the rest of the conversation. If this sort of thing happens enough, the result is cynicism in its worst form: lip service and sham allegiance.

And yet… one of those unquestioned or rarely questioned orthodoxies is the idea that we ought to impose consensus on our group activities. The device by which this happens is the core-periphery distinction within the group, which corresponds to the membership-board relationship when formalized in the context of a not-for-profit organization, to the in-group-vs.-out-group relationship when less formal, and sometimes to the relationship between the dominant group member and the other or others in a small group or duo. It’s obvious that we do this to maximize our ability to act with unified collective force, but I can’t help wondering whether it impedes progress as much as aids it. My impression from watching all kinds of groups try to engage with complex challenges is that they converge too quickly on a single solution, find consensus with very little constructive debate or consideration of alternatives, and then proceed to implement the chosen solution as though it has the complete support of everyone concerned. This may be the only way to move forward. Often, though, it results in the weak endorsement of a poorly-thought-through approach which eventually fizzles out (to everyone’s surprise).

One of the problems here comes from thinking about consensus as a destination to get to as quickly as possible via the path of least resistance, when we need to think of consensus as a process which allows for — or even encourages — dissent and debate. Typically, the rules of consensus decision-making allow for a participant to block, stand aside, or support the eventual decision. I haven’t used consensus enough in tricky cases to be sure, but I strongly suspect that people will choose to stand aside when they would rather block what they see as a bad decision; or support a decision they would rather stand aside from or block. Getting to consensus is so seemingly important a goal that it shortens the conversation from which the most interesting insights will emerge. The outcome is a decision that satisfies everyone but inspires no one. And these disgruntled and disempowered decision-makers, frustrated in their ability to block or stand aside from a bad decision during its planning, can more easily block or stand aside from its implementation. After all, nothing comes easier to us than silently but effectively dragging our heels and mysteriously failing to succeed.

All this to say that we need to take a long hard look at these and other processes we engage in and engage others in. There is no sense banging our heads against the same predictable walls over and over while expecting different outcomes. Instead, we need to find ways to let dissent and criticism enter the picture; not for their own sakes, but because counterfeit consensus is likely to stall a group project even more than open dissensus: the latter, at least, will highlight points of disagreement and lead to conversations that allow everyone to see the terrain more clearly. I know that nothing drives me crazy quicker than being in a room of people rushing headlong towards a conclusion — any conclusion — so long as it puts an end to a phony discussion with a predictable endpoint.

It now looks to me as though we need to, whenever possible, instigate every organization as though it is a platform for collective efforts spearheaded by individual champions. (The ability to do this depends on the nature of the work that the organization intends to accomplish; sometimes this needs to be kept under tight central control, but this is the case far less often than it is assumed to be so.) Platform meaning that it’s the responsibility of the group steering the organization to put the pieces in place that allow members and inspired individuals to step up and quickly grok the rules and boundaries around action in that context.  Anything made possible by and not ruled out by those rules and boundaries should be fair game, and the larger group needs to make every effort to bring people in and get them working on their areas of interest.

A good example here is Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, whose board (of whom I am a member) is currently putting the finishing touches on a working version of a project proposal form and accompanying processes which will empower its members to move from idea to working project with the support of the board and membership. The overarching goal is to create a large array of working projects all of which contribute to increasing food security and community connection in the region, rather than making the board responsible for devising and implementing a small number of high-stakes projects chosen via the standard consensus model.

Another example is CJMP FM, which has begun to invite people in the region to submit program proposals in order that its programming schedule will be as diverse as possible. This is the usual way of doing things in community radio, but it’s new to CJMP, whose previous modus operandi was more along the lines of designing a board-approved programming strategy and then find programmers willing to conform to this plan. This might have worked better in an area with a population large enough to supply would-be programmers for whom this centralized plan matched their passion; but otherwise it only shuts out the majority who have their own idiosyncratic and brilliant notion of what radio should be and do.

In both of these cases and others that come to mind, the only way to move forward and engage the energy and passion of a large number of people is to give them as much freedom as possible in conjunction with reasonable and transparent constraints on this freedom. It should be the job of the core group to maintain and expand this freedom; to ensure that participants understand, respect, and observe the constraints; and to cast a wide net of recruitment for new participants. Micromanagement and phony consensus give the illusion of control by driving away all refractory individuals and defining huge areas of imagination and action as out of bounds; so the core group can imagine it’s getting more done by focusing its energy on a small number of tasks and not having to worry about the human capacity to invent new problems and surprising solutions. The cost of that approach might well be stagnation and an inability to understand why the group is making so little progress — or, worse, mistaking failure for success and wandering right off the edge of the map. The trap of micromanagement is so deadly because the people who form core groups within collective efforts tend to be believers in control and rigidity. All the more reason to make an explicit and deliberate effort to minimize needless control over the activities and members of the group.

We need to learn not to be afraid of what might happen if we consciously design social systems for unified action that maximize freedom and autonomy for participants willing to play by the rules. Better yet would be to put those rules under the management of the participants, so as to create a proper feedback loop between participants and rules of action within the micro-world they are collectively creating and populating. Rules shape action, and action shapes rules in an endless and productive cycle of complex interaction. We’re looking to release energy outward in all directions but hold it together through a shared vision and some constraints; having done that we should be as hands-off as possible (and then some), sit back, and enjoy the spectacle of an emergent rich ecology of intertwined efforts feeding into and off one another and producing higher-level patterns. There’s no way to predict the outcome, nor should we want to.

Everything I’ve seen needs rearranging

By David Parkinson

Warp and weft working at cross purposes to bring about a higher-level order.

If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whose hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.
(Julian Assange, 2007)

We’re into the time of year when the year’s-best lists come out and we all engage in acts of reflection on the past year and preparation for the coming year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t really think that I’m rested and distanced enough to have anything useful to say about the reflection part — except to say that the last month and a half of 2010 was a pretty riotous time, what with our community radio station suddenly kicking it up about twenty-three notches of activity. As I have told a few people, in the four years and a bit since we arrived in Powell River I have not seen such an outpouring of positive energy and creativity. I think that CJMP FM is going to be a game-changer for the region, and 2011 will be the year when we get to see what that might mean. If you’re in the region and have always harboured thoughts of being involved with community radio, check out the website and find a way to be part of this effort.

But that’s getting us into preparation for the coming year. What does 2011 hold in store? I don’t consider myself much of a prognosticator, but it feels as though 2011 will see even more failures among the institutions which make up the world we think we live in. 2010 saw the Deepwater Horizon spill, massive bank fraud, Wikileaks’ revelations shedding light on dark corners of the world of diplomacy and war, and a hundred other occasions to feel unhappy about having to continue relying on huge unaccountable opaque organizations with hidden agendas.

It takes a long time for faith to wear away. But we seem to be in the early stages of a widespread crisis of faith in all of these institutions. Fewer people affiliate themselves with the traditional political parties; fewer people vote; fewer people believe that government can — or even cares to — solve the problems they face. Closer to home, the gap between the public will and the intentions of our municipal government appears to grow wider and wider; we’ll have a chance to see how wide that gap is when we come to the municipal election in November 2011.

But it’s dangerous for people to lose faith in traditional authority without having something else to switch their allegiance to. This really worries me. People with nothing to believe in and governments and other authorities with no mandate to serve the population are a deadly combination. Once you get to that point you get irrational and dangerous populist movements contending with the arbitrary exercise of unaccountable power in the service of insane and obsolete ends. We can expect useful solutions from neither faction, only a hardening of their positions.

Meanwhile, prices will continue to rise and jobs will become scarcer. Social programs will dwindle and disappear (in the name of austerity) while corporate profits will continue to be skimmed for the benefit of those needing the least. Eventually, when there is nothing left to rob the government will declare a new golden age of personal responsibility. And we’ll be on our own.

I wish I had more reason to think that the irrationalism sweeping through society will burn itself out before things become desperate. But I think that this gigantic machine is just going to shake itself into pieces and there’s very little we can do to stop it. It’s simply too enormous and our points of access into it are tiny and closing fast. Closing our eyes and refusing to make sensible preparations are no longer acceptable. Personal responsibility might be being thrust upon us once again, after a few decades of glorious irresponsibility. This will be a tough transition, but I really see many reasons for optimism out there (and I hope that this blog conveys a sense of that, despite the occasional dips into the gloom).

I don’t believe that the collapse of major institutions means that the world will come to an end. The weakening of extremist anti-democratic corporate power is nothing to mourn. We should welcome an increase in skepticism and the creation of citizen-led organizations, collectives, cooperatives, tribes, and freewheeling gangs of troublemakers (the good kind). We need to seize the commons back from those who stole and plundered them, so that we can create our own institutions that serve human ends — as we define them in our territory, for our wants and needs, in the service of regenerating the natural world which is the only source of wealth.

Which is all well and good, if a bit grandiose. What to do? Where do we start? What could we do in the next year which would get us closer to a sane world close to home?

Obviously, I don’t have answers to questions this profound. (Although if you do, dear reader, feel free to put them in the comments to this post.) My only real answer is that — if we believe that nothing short of a full-on systemic overhaul is going to do the trick — we need to begin by opening up spaces where collective action will flourish.

Last week at the monthly Kale Force potluck, Ron Berezan talked about Cuba’s transition to organic agriculture in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. What the Cubans accomplished with a high degree of social solidarity and minimal physical infrastructure, we will need to accomplish with a low degree of social solidarity and huge amounts of physical infrastructure. I suspect that the Cubans got the better deal: it’s easier to improvise machinery and tools out of whatever comes to hand than it is to create strong social networks of mutual support and compassion out of a deliberately stupefied and disaffiliated population.

We need to shift from excessive and wasteful private ownership and control of land, tools, vehicles, and other resources to social arrangements reposing on trust and mutual obligation that allow us to share and work together more efficiently. It shouldn’t be that difficult, but until now the systems that favour privatization and individual action have been extremely strong and supported by legal, social, and cultural underpinnings which are only now weakening under attack by internal stresses which can no longer be kept under control: resource depletion, notably the end of cheap petrochemicals; an economy founded on greed and ignorance of natural limits on human action; and the devastation of the natural world.

We who live along this short stretch of the endless coastline of a huge landmass, who find ourselves here because of accidents of geography and history, face impending challenges which are fundamentally the same as many other local populations: how to live within the limits of what the earth, water, and air provide; how to govern ourselves so that these resources are divided equitably; how to work, play, and celebrate together to reduce needless suffering and increase happiness as much as mortal life will allow. To pitch things at such a high level is to make consensus seem deceptively simple; after all, who would not agree that these goals are important ones? The problem comes in moving from extremely vague motherhood statements to the bricks-and-mortar implementation. And here we hit some snags. In the next post I want to talk about one of these roadblocks; namely, what happens when we conceive of consensus as a state rather than a process. I’ll argue that there is a kind of fetishization of consensus that is actually blocking progress and will suggest a way we can unblock our efforts to generate more creative action.

On the margins of the margins

By David Parkinson

Water vapour in the air condenses into fine threads of ice along the surface of a log. How do the crystals know to align themselves to the log's diameter?

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
(Walt Whitman, 1855, from the preface to Leaves of Grass)

Yesterday evening I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Cranberry Community Hall Society, the non-profit organization which owns and manages the Cranberry Community Hall, formerly known as the Unitarian Hall.

I went as an interested observer, not being a resident of that odd little pocket of unconventionality hidden away from the straight line between Saltery Bay, Westview, Townsite, Wildwood, and points north. But as someone who has organized and attended many events at this community hall, I was curious to see what the Society’s plans were.

After disposing of the routine business of an Annual General Meeting, we had a discussion about what the membership would like to see done with the hall. And this was a conversation that was very interesting: almost everyone acknowledged the importance of having an asset like this community hall remain under the control of the people who benefit from it, with barriers to access kept as low as possible. Several people mentioned that we have lost too many of these resources over the past years and we need to work now to bring them back.

It’s still not a mainstream belief that we ought to be preserving these old community buildings and the institutions which own and care for them. I don’t think it’s on most people’s radar that we might be moving into a time when it will be important to live near a neighbourhood hall which could host daycare, art classes, a community kitchen, a library of tools and equipment, not to mention dances, live music, and celebrations of important occasions like births, weddings, and funerals. So many of these activities have been privatized over the last half-century and more that it looks like willful nostalgia to think that we could be doing all of it for ourselves, on a small scale, with limited financial resources — beyond ownership of a hall, of course — but unlimited volunteer labour and support from those who gain the most from the presence of a vibrant common space within walking distance.

Also, there is a pervasive mindset out there, which the coming years will do the hard work of dispelling, that the first solution to every problem is something along the lines of: go find a big pot of funding; hire consultants to put together a study to tell us what we already knew; pay top dollar for the biggest slickest state-of-the-art-est multi-use community complex; and fill it full of well-paid professional service providers. It’s just not sexy enough to slog through the grime and try to retrofit something old and worn-down. I just think we’re coming close to the end of the easy money and were going to have to make do or do without.

I have read enough in the world of peak-oil preparedness, Transition, and food security to know that the creation of collectively-owned and -managed resources like this is one of the main prescriptions for any community which aims to create a soft — or less hard — landing for people who are already starting to feel the pinch from the rising cost of everything paired with stagnant or falling pay (not to mention the deliberate systematic gutting of the social safety net in the name of fiscal responsibility). In his weekly post, James Howard Kunstler, the trickster fool of the collapse scene, writes:

If you want something like gainful employment in the years ahead, don’t rely on the corporations, the government, or anyone with a work station equipped cubicle. Start reading up on gardening and harness repair. Learn how to fix a pair of shoes. Volunteer for EMT duty if you’re already out of a paycheck, and learn how to comfort people in medical distress. Jobs of the future will be hands-on and direct.

And the paths in and through this new rickety economy are going to be good old-fashioned involvement: immersing oneself in the real active life of the community, as close to home and as close to free as can be managed.

(This involvement take place in a double obscurity: most people in the mainstream don’t see any need for special measures to create more resilient communities; and even those who are savvy to this sort of thing don’t see that this work is not always about shiny new projects with an explicit commitment to carbon reduction or local food or what-have-you. These are the margins of the margins for the time being, but probably not for too much longer, as more people realize that we can build amazing things out of the débris of the past.)

What really struck me about the meeting last night was how organic and basic it was. (Also the high amount of crossover between this group and the new crop of active volunteers at CJMP FM.) This was no project with funds casting around for a purpose; no effort led by ‘experts’ looking to ‘create opportunities for key stakeholders to envision a common future’ or some such bureaucratese; and it was not a meeting of the usual enviro-savvy types out to save the planet. Just a gathering of folks out of the neighbourhood and a few from other far-flung parts of the region, doing the boring unglamorous work of preserving a community asset that many may have forgotten even exists. We’re supposed to think of this work as ‘charming’ or ‘quixotic’, in opposition to the hard-nosed reality emanating from the think-tanks and consultancies or the various recipes out there for saving the world. I just can’t see anything of true and lasting value coming from these high-priced sources; as we move into a time of extreme relocalization we’re just going to have to do what we can to stay abreast of the changes coming at us, and there will never be enough experts and one-size-fits-all solutions to make sense on the local scale.

I am pretty sure that the real meaningful changes that happen as the result of people working together will come from the out-of-the-way easily-overlooked places. We live in a time thronging with well-funded and well-intentioned projects to prepare the way for a shiny new future of low-carbon emissions, ecovillages, local currencies, and so on. And usually what these visionary programs omit is what we saw and engaged in last night: getting together in small groups, working to preserve what we already have, taking tiny steps, making simple achievable goals to build from where we are, with no real overarching goal except to hold open a space for community to flow into. A very humble process.

These are the margins. Out on the edge where the population is dispersed and odd notions proliferate. A zone of experimentation where things self-organize or die. The place no one looks for the answers, because the questions lead to where the money, power, and prestige are held. The last stronghold of romantics, fools, and the connoisseurs of hope, who can tell the real thing from the barbarized version dished out by charlatans. The realm of dissensus and the breeding-ground of our failures which teach us more than their successes. Sometimes disguised as a meeting to preserve a community hall.


Regular readers — if such even exist — may have noticed that my posting schedule seems erratic lately. In fact, I am on an eight-day rotation because I feel I should visit the days of the week with impartiality. This way I can always post a day late and still be on time.

Post facto

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