Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Springtime, Sounds and Fury

I heard today that most beautiful sound of spring—the whining and rattling of my snowblower peeling off the gasoline in its tank as it prepared to hibernate until late next fall.

Actually, despite temperatures in the 70s, I was reluctant to store the snowblower. I still believe we might get hit with heavy snow sometime in the next two-three weeks. But I couldn’t resist my wife’s entreaties, so I pulled the ripcord and ran the machine for more than 90 minutes until it drained. I surely hope Gilda was right and I was wrong.

I’m close to admitting defeat. The squirrels will not be denied. Despite raising the feeders higher than a four foot vertical jump, despite the conical shields said to guard against squirrels scampering down from above, the rodents, as Gilda not so lovingly reminds me are what they are, have repeatedly breached my defenses and gorged themselves on birdseed. Today’s attack was airborne. From a distance at least six feet away, a squirrel hurled itself at one of the feeders. Once or twice it bounced off the conical shield, but then managed to land under it, along a tall cylinder feeder. The other day another squirrel pushed the top up on a house-shaped feeder and jumped inside. I’ve stopped that ploy by fastening a bungee cord around the house. But a third squirrel (perhaps it’s the same squirrel; I haven’t been able to mark them) catapulted itself to another feeder and managed to push the top up to reach inside. The birds, not even the large grackles, meanwhile, show no interest in defending their feeding rights.

The media are full of springtime news: brush fires because of the dry winter, tornadoes earlier than normal because of the warm winter, worries about summer droughts because of the shallow snow bank on the mountains, and rising gas prices because Obama is a lousy president. Wait. Do people really think the president has anything to do with the cost of gasoline? Emotionally, for sure they do. Intellectually, probably not. But we’re in no danger in this country of letting our intellect trump our emotions. Heck, that’s why some nutcases supported Donald Trump in his Quixotic quest to be president last year and some still see him as a font of reason and political possibilities.

Getting back to Obama, he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t do something about gasoline prices as his popularity plummets from a month ago. His detractors (mostly Republicans) ingenuously assert drilling for more domestic and off-shore oil would reduce prices. Perhaps, but that’s no short term solution to our current crisis. I do wonder, though, why Republicans have a problem with higher gas prices. Higher prices, after all, are simply a response to market forces (greater demand in China, India and other developing countries, plus oil speculation by financial market profiteers). Doesn’t the GOP endorse a free market? Wouldn’t it be against their laissez-faire principles for government to intervene to artificially lower the price of oil? And even if we drilled for more oil, who’s to say the oil companies wouldn’t export it? Surely Republicans wouldn’t endorse a restraint on their ability to freely trade their oil to the highest bidder?

How tiring it must be for Obama to be blamed for everything. Speaking of being tired, I’m tired of receiving emails that purport to be true and accurate reflections of the thinking or experience of real people. The latest example of misleading and inappropriate material was commentary attributed to Bill Cosby espousing social views so repugnant to what he has always stood for that he had to repudiate it on his personal Web site. Why don’t people check the veracity of these insidious emails before sending them out? It’s easy enough to do. Just pick a few key words, Google them and you’ll probably be directed to Snopes.com or some other Internet site that will authenticate the contents.

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