America’s Ridiculous War on Agenda 21

America – the mentally impoverished land… Resulting in a directly increasingly impoverished land, with little social support for the people. It is unbelievable to me that due to lack of funding there were only three people working at the tax office when I went (and only for a couple of hours in the morning) while a long line of people waited outside. The long lines at the DMV. The lack of funding for libraries and teacher’s salaries at schools. The lack of convenient public transportation. Yet, without limitations corporate heads get huge salaries, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies make unbelievable amounts of money off of an increasingly taxed people, and the list goes on.
It is amazing to me how Americans still haven’t figured out they are being duped, and instead support conspiracy theories in their fear. It is time that Agenda 21 was taken out of the damn closet.
America, get your act together and look around at the other successful countries in the world, or you are going to be left in the dust because you didn’t take care of yourself. Just like someone who doesn’t take a shower or brush their teeth, buy new underwear when needed, and eat properly, America is not doing the basics to maintain what is necessary for a healthy economy. Instead, like an internet gamer waking up, eating junk food and spending hours watching TV and playing video games rather than working towards getting a job, the efforts are badly placed and will ultimately result in a negative balance for the country.

Living in Japan, I have seen some things that make me really reconsider moving back. There is funding support for government entities. Not that they are wallowing in it; the buildings are old but clean. That being said, there are always people to help you at the Japanese DMV, the city hall, and all other branches I have visited. Almost never a long line, and if so people really complain indignantly. There is funding for teachers, not only administrators, and for libraries to buy books. There is a cap on salaries, so most who would make $700k+ in the States don’t make more than $150k to $200k, and all jobs are respected because it is a job and someone is working hard every day. The government has a working health insurance system, and the payment is based on how much money one makes, so no one is left without health insurance and can afford their medicine. The list goes on. In Europe, my friend just posted that he saw 11 different political parties in Denmark discussing how to deal with their problems, not just two parties pretending to deal with problems while making an easy road for their friends in the back room. Denmark, by the way, is 2nd in the Happiness Index.

In the US, people of course want to live in beautiful places where there are good schools and infrastructure. But sadly, I don’t see it on a whole, and it is not the government’s fault; it is the people themselves who do not see how their decisions are creating problems. Here are my recommendations.

Encourage bike lanes. It isn’t bad to have bicycles, and it is dangerous for people riding them. Encourage public transportation. Encourage putting money into your DMV and your schools, so that you don’t waste time in line, and your children grow up healthy in body and mind.
It’s time for America to grow into America The Beautiful from America on crutches.
Please read this Wikipedia article on Agenda 21 and find out where America stands, and why you should care

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

Finnish Ed & Humanizing Math

https://medium.com/@sunilsingh_42118/you-really-want-to-rehumanize-math-education-build-a-new-ship-8aa6fe6b43d0

Had this hopeful future been the case when I was in school, I might have become a physicist.

But because my ability in math was based on time, not actual ability, I was even derided by the teacher in my precalculus class.

That being said, the Fractal of Life, in all its complexity and confusion has led me here, and actually anywhere is really okay. It is the journey, and feeling it, that matters.

At some point maybe the world education system will realize that there is a reason Finland’s education system (wherein children are not given homework and are allowed freedom after only three hours of school) has been top-rated worldwide. Maybe they will see that rather than trying to control and test what has been literally crammed into delicate grey matter, it is ultimately better to allow our infinitely more-intelligent-than-us yet extremely naive children to explore their world. After all it is theirs, and they will all tell you their concerns for the future, which are very real… Actually, there may be a correlation with the education system and the fact that Finland is also famous for its social support and peace in its society. It is consistently rated one of the top happiest countries on Earth according to the Happiness Index.

But it may take destroying all we have for reasons included in the Seven Deadly Sins (there is a reason they are called that), before we change our idiotic ways from control and fear of the unknown, to trusting and allowing guided growth. In that healthy future, people might choose very different careers. They might choose happiness instead of money, an in doing so really be alright financially.

In fact, people would be much happier because they would have been training since a young age to follow their interests instead of what they are force-fed to think is what they have to do. In this, the overall quality of everything, from furniture to management would improve, because only those who thought that they were good at something would pursue it, and they would know it from their elementary education. 

I was once told by Dr. Fujii, the Japanese traditional garden specialist, that the reason Japanese garden trees have changed so much is this. In ancient Japan, the trees were pruned for the way they wanted to grow. This style of pruning can still be seen in Kyoto, and the most beautiful example I have ever seen is the tiny private garden in the imperial palace there.

Now they are pruned to force them into what is considered the proper form, or what is most convenient for the space. They are caricatures of what they could be, and the gardens suffer for it visually.

The trees, like the children, are being stunted, forced to fit into a mold, and not allowed to become the greatest they could be.

Grazing that Stimulates Growth

I was taught as a bio major that certain grazers feeding on plants stimulate them to grow more.

I never suspected that it could extend into the insect family!!

ススメガの幼虫がクチナシを食べる。 Sphyngidae “Hawk Moth” feeding on gardenia

For several years, I have been growing two gardenias. They are native to Japan, but due to my lack of fertilization, perhaps, they have been scraggly since sprouting about four years ago.

This year I found a cute little caterpillar near my plants. And another one. I tried to see which ones they would eat by putting them on different plants, because, you see, caterpillars turn into beautiful flying creatures that pollinate our flowers and fruits. So I didn’t want them to die. I found that they liked my gardenias, and knowing it was early spring and they would grow their few leaves back, I put the little guys to graze on them. They chose only the tenderest sprouting greens, and we’re quite picky… They turned out to be SuzumeGa (Hawk Moth, or Sphyngidae, Larvae), who eat pretty much only gardenias. They are lovely, huge moths with a shape like an arrow that hover while sipping nectar from flower to flower. I hope they survived because I haven’t seen many gardenias around here.

The Hawk Moth baby likes only the tenderest leaves… That will soon grow back much fuller!
The gardenia before consumption on the far right in the tall pot. Isn’t it scraggly? I think I could probably count the leaves on it, and they are evergreens!
A Hawk Moth in the Sphyngidae family. I didn’t take this amazing photo (I got it from the free pile) but I wish I had!

Gardenias, by the way, come in two types. The horticultural variety, with many petals, and the native to Japan, with only five. That being said, the one with only five petals, also called Kuchinashi (meaning “No Mouth”) produces an orange, almost flavorless fruit. This fruit is used as a natural coloring agent, and rather than using carcinogenic Yellow Five, the Japanese use Kuchinashi to color everything edible from candy to everyday packaged foods.

Where did the petals go? Rather, where did the seeds go… The seeds were turned into petals over time, as in many flowers, by gardeners who wanted more elaborate flowers. And the seeds disappeared, meaning that all of those plants have to be propagated vegetatively by cuttings, and cannot have their own babies. They can flower but not fruit. So of we plant them rather than the ones that can seed, they can never make their own… Well, that’s another story for another time.

Gardenia, the many-petaled Kuchinashi
Kuchinashi – the Gardenia that fruits

Anyway, lo and behold two months later, the places that were chomped on my Kuchinashis by those colorful babies are now full of leaves!! The moths, I believe, stimulated the leaves to produce more in response. Maybe it is similar to the technique that is being studied for stimulating crop production (see one of my earlier posts); bumblebees bite leaves to stimulate flowering earlier than normal. Anyway, food for thought. Don’t let your friends kill the caterpillars! Especially the cool-looking ones!!

Yuzu Seedlings

Today I tried to find places to plant my yuzu seedlings around my neighborhood. There was so much concrete, or weed-killed areas, that it was really difficult to find any places where they might survive. When they grow, some people might enjoy them, while others will tear them out of the ground, and that is their right. To me, it is a little gift that I can give back to the world. I hope that many years from now, if someone wants a yuzu fruit and can’t find one at the store, they can take a walk and pick one from a wild tree.

These past few weeks I have been enjoying picking some of my vegetables from forgotten corners in my neighborhood, and from my willing neighbor’s trees. Wolfberry shoots are bitter but taste so nutritious, and mulberry shoots are delicious and tender. I was told to pick some bamboo shoots… But they are two feet tall now!If we can make more space on our roadsides and unused spaces for wild edible plants, we can raise our resilience levels for times when food might be scarce.

It scares me to think that this could have been MERS instead of CoVid-19. If that had happened, the food system would have collapsed.

If everyone knew what plants are edible, that would be great, but after two weeks or even a few days they would be gone. We need to create a world with more kindness towards other species, plant and animal. Birds spread mulberry seeds. Mulberries can provide not only berries but a nutritious vegetable for your dinner plate. But mulberries often get wacked away. We don’t know the value of the species we are destroying by laying down concrete, either.

When I was doing research in a small town down south, the elderly residents said they hadn’t seen a valued ethnobotanical plant (Ashitaba) for a long time in their neighborhood. I asked them why they thought that was, and they answered that they thought it was because there is too much concrete everywhere.

It seems like it is okay to rip trees and plants out of the ground, destroying other species’ homes, but it isn’t okay for us to defend them. Ask the town office why they overprune the roadside and park trees; it is their right to do that but the tree has no rights. The river by my house, covered and sided up by concrete, also has no rights. It isn’t okay to plant trees where people don’t want them, either. It isn’t okay to try to create a viable world for our grandkids.

I think CoVID-19 is a wake-up call for us to realize that we cannot do ‘business-as-usual’ anymore. We HAVE TO change, or we will fail, big time. But how to change?

Today I found a plant I had never seen before. It had been cut down and was growing out of its stump with the most beautiful leaves. I’m sure whoever hurt it didn’t care, and just wanted to make more room in their unused parking lot. Changing is taking baby steps. Opening our minds to new ways of thinking. Refusing to follow those who tell us that “this is the way we have always done it” or “this is the way business will prosper,” because business will not prosper long term and neither will any of us if we don’t change, NOW. Small actions count!! Let’s begin doing little things, thinking about things differently, and the world will change, one person at a time, one community at a time, one city at a time, one country at a time…

So if I would like to make a little Earth Day Wish, it would be for you, the reader, to do something small this week for the natural world. Whether it be planting some edible tree seeds, making a nest box, labeling some wild plants, stop using weed-killer and weeding (cut them and do mulching, cover them with cardboard and compost and plant species you want instead), de-investing in bad companies, donating to a trusted natural cause, sharing an article, making a bird bath, planting a tree in a parking lot, or destroying some concrete and replacing it with something else, or another warm-hearted action. I hope you can do it for yourself, your children, and the world around you.

Look at the little cow I found in the bathroom!!

I found the cutest tiny cow in the bathroom!! Just kidding! He was a bat, but from the front, he looks just like a little cow to me!!

Bina, my kitty, had been acting funny all evening, looking at the ceiling and pacing, but I couldn’t find anything unusual. Then, as I was getting ready for bed, I went into the bathroom and she jumped on the toilet to try to get to something at the top corner of the window… It was a little bat! I grabbed her, and as I did, it swooped down on us, and then fell on the floor, apparently in deep shock. I put Bina in a room, got a towel, and picked him up ever so gently. He was so light, his little body giving off heat, and breathing heavily. I put him outside in the plants, lightly wrapped for warmth, and went to see what to do about a bat in winter. I found that bats hybernate in the winter. But he had come awake, so I was worried. I tried to make a makeshift bat house for him on the fly, but by the time I got back outside, he had flown off. I hope he’s okay. He was a dear little thing.

Now I have to go out and get some materials to make a bat house. After all the videos and websites I found last night, I realized that they aren’t hard to make, and I already provide water for the birds, so they would have water to drink. With that, and a safe place to put it, where it will get plenty of sun (because they need warmth), the bats will have a nice place to live (not our walls — so that was what we were hearing a month ago all through the house!) and will keep the mosquitoes away in the summer.

How and Why to make a bat house by the National Wildlife Federation