Thursday, October 23, 2014

Groasis update

The first bare root choke cherries I planted were in May 2013. 

Most of these were eaten by deer but one has survived.

Two summers of growth without irrigation- not too bad.

I replaced the choke cherries which the deer had eaten with smaller seedlings. 
These are smaller than what Groasis recommends since they don't come above the edge of the box.

And this is what they look like in October 2014

Still growing and still deep inside the box.

I added more bare root choke cherries this spring (2014)

Once protected from the deer they seem to be hanging on.

If you do a search for "Groasis" on the blog you'll see more detailed entries.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brain Candy

What does James Madison have to do with Richard II? Let's do a little stretching without a yoga matt.

The Aspen Institute has a local community seminar series called "Athens to Aspen". This year's offering is The Enlightenment, Shakespeare and the American Democratic Experiment.

Leaping right into the deep end with Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments… and then plunging right into the mother lode "Wealth of Nations" ... followed by Benjamin Franklin's Principles of Trade "It is in vain imagination that we exist only for ourselves…. "

Which led me straight to Matt Ridley's TED talk "When Ideas Have Sex"

What a tempting thought, the Darwinian Free Market … turning Adam Smith's trickle down into a global bottoms up with the aid of the internet. It's still elitist- you just need a smart phone.

...but is prosperity Justice and is Justice something which humans need to survive? How enlightened is Self Interest?  Can you legislate morality? Do we ever legislate anything other than morality? Does our moral compass change over time? The morality of 17th century Europe would have burned me as a witch. Does the moral compass change due to Culture? The morality of ISIL wouldn't be great for me either.

We're snapped back with reading #3 The Angostura Address by Simón Bolivar and the timeless "A corrupt people can indeed attain freedom but lose it at once." followed by Rousseau's "Freedom is a succulent food but hard to digest" How well Rousseau would have recognized the Arab Spring and how well Robespierre would have recognized ISIL.  Bolivar sets his sights on "the practice of justice is the practice of freedom" and how exactly do we insure Justice? Is Bolivar's Hereditary Senate a college of Cardinals? Do we put Jesuits in charge?  Is an educated bureaucrat the salvation of our souls?  Pope Francis seems to be doing a better job than many of his predecessors. That's a whole different take on "laissez-faire" it's let the synod argue but make the debate transparent- publish the names and let them stand up in a strong wind.

Which leads us nicely into Madison and the Federalist Papers where Madison outlines how to keep Justice in the Republic by distributing power into the hands of the many. The more power is chopped up into small bits and in different hands the more those hands will have to cooperate to achieve a common goal.  It's a nice turn on a core principle of monarchy- keep the Barons poor and occupied and you'll keep the power. It's great until those Barons cooperate and write up a Magna Carta.

Madison is a fascinating character. Jeff Rosen gave a great lecture on the Constitutional Convention at this year's Aspen Ideas:

Back to divide and conquer…a more modern riff on this is Elizabeth Pisani's Indonesia where local "democratic sultanates" keep their autonomy. They keep autonomy because, according to Pisani, they don't have constant oversight from "big government" in Jakarta.  This also echoes back to Bolivar's caution about culture our virtues may be cross cultural but the way we get there certainly has a distinct flavor. 

Can the altruism at the core of Eastern philosophy translate into localized democracy? Damn, that's about as Utopian as you can get in 2014. 

What does Laissez-Faire have to do with Justice? Who's willing to run that experiment .. wait… maybe we are in the middle of that experiment right now.

What does Madison have to do with Richard II? Oh, so much, so very very much. For desert we have a treat.

This is definitely more fun than washing dishes.

The seminar is moderated by Todd Breyfogle, Alexis Diaz, and Stephen Holley.