Opinions, porcupines and politics

Taking over?  Solomon's Seal

Peaking through.  German Iris about to bloom. hellebore to the right.  White flower is Candytuft.

I completed the Sean McMeekin’s Russian Origins of WWI, which I read with great interest, mostly because David’s dad was an officer with the US Expeditionary Forces in WWI, and served in Russia (how he met David’s mom in Irkutsk). Occasionally, I read bits of the book to David, which put him to sleep.  In fairness to the author, I have a nice reading voice, and David falls asleep easily.

Nevertheless, this is not light reading unless you are a political scientist or military historian which I am not. Actually, this is more about the machinations of the politicians than anything else, but McMeekin does have some sections of interest to me about the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign and the Kurdish and Armenian uprisings.  Also, the book does a good job of identifying and describing what has been an ongoing crises in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. I won’t use the word “origins” because the origins of the conflicts are much older.


I was thinking last night that opinions are like porcupine needles, prickly and plentiful.  I certainly have a few and like to think I have informed opinions.  I read an essay once about “the right to an opinion.”  Everyone has one, the author said, but do you have a right to an opinion if it is ignorant and ill-informed?  Of course I can hear you thinking, “by who’s standard?”

Because we can’t be informed about everything all the time, most of us rely on gurus…someone who’s opinion we think we can trust.  But gurus are fallible, and they make mistakes.  Besides, what criteria do you use when you select a guru?

I’m old enough now to have formed an informed opinion or two, but I mostly shy away from offering them, NOT because I don’t care, but because I have discovered it’s not worth a arguing with some one with a “I’ve got my own opinion and I’ve made up my mind,” who regurgitates talking points.

I got into a horrific argument with some of my relatives over Gore vs Bush and made myself sick.  Not worth it and I won’t go there again.

My conservative friends (those I have left) know I was a rabid progressive in those days.  After reading Al’s several books, I lost sleep many a night worrying about Global Warming. It wasn’t worth it. US pollution levels have improved to 1992 readings thanks to changes in American automobile usage and regulations on auto emissions (let’s get gas-powered riding mowers and leaf blowers next).

Meanwhile China, India and other countries, playing economic catch up, have a greater role in environmental distress. But can anyone in good conscience criticize the “poor starving children in China?”

All I can do is be the best human I can be, composting, recycling, catching rainwater in barrels and distributing it amongst my potted plants, feeding the birds in winter (and rats and mice too), and so forth.

I’m still not a Conservative unless it involves “real” conservation, but I no longer suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome.  Nor Obama Derangement Syndrome. Nor any kind of seeing the world in black and white terms.  Social scientists call this seeing back and white, dualistic thinking.

Every fairy tale needs a villain.

Which brings me back to the tragedy of WWI.  McMeekin is a revisionist historian, who makes a case for seeing Russia was a major cause of WWI. Russia was only one of the players in my opinion.  Blaming Germany for everything was cowardly. And, Russia was no victim.

After reading four books on WWI in four months, I am suspending my reading of books on WWI for a while (there goes another New Year’s resolution).  The war lasted four years, and we will experience many remembrance ceremonies for the next several years. So I am going to pace myself and read a good garden book while I can.

Global warming or not, gardening is forever.  That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

12 thoughts on “Opinions, porcupines and politics

  1. Gardening is for you not me. I did it in the sixties while I did everything else. Now days I struggle to remember to water the plants I still have. Now all are Bonsai.


  2. I feel so sorry for the people in China. Why won’t they do something about this? Like now.

    I stay out of political discourse because I think both sides are corrupt. I believe in personal responsibility, but also mercy for disadvantaged souls. Guess I’m somewhere in the middle.


  3. I hope places like China can get a handle on their air pollution. Their people must have dreadful respiratory problems because of it. I remember smog in England where I grew up. A very industrialized area at the time. I don’t believe there is any smog there now but then it’s been 20 years since I was back there.


    • The Chinese seem to be making a bigger effort to deal with the problem, and their economy reflects this. London looked fine the last time I visited. Of course, much of the industry has moved on to other places in recent decades. LA was a mess in the 60’s, then one day the air inversions hit the East Coast. Mostly it was auto pollution in LA. Our East Coast suffered from both auto emissions and the air from the coal fired power plants in the Midwest. Industry was a source of pollution in the ‘rust belt’. Now we have unemployment. Always a trade off I fear.


  4. You are right about China being a major contributor to global pollution. When we were in Hong Kong, we drove up to Victoria’s Peak. We had our photo taken with Hong Kong in the background. Boy, we could really see the smog, which came from factories in mainland China.


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