Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Infestations

After reading Julie Zickefoose's excellent post describing how the bolas spider whacks the wily and delectable moth with a glob of silk, I got to thinking about the sun, and how there's nothing new under it. No matter what bizarre thing you can think of, Nature's probably already come up with the prototype. And so observing Nature carefully can help us understand otherwise incomprehensible things.

Take the scale infestation on my lemon tree. What looks like inert scales on my lemon tree are actually live insects that have crawled to an advantageous spot, grown prodigious mouth parts, and inserted them into the lemony flesh, where they slowly suck the life out of the plant. And then the insects lose their legs. They've got everything they want right where they are and don't need to go anywhere. It seems on the surface to be a life plan without parallel, but it would be very familiar to anyone still providing shelter to a thirty-year-old child. Or anyone in a nation being sucked dry by a tiny plutocracy.

It doesn't take many insects to suck the life out of the plant. And it doesn't take long, once the mouth parts are in place, but it's still gradual enough that the plant doesn't see it coming. Likewise, it didn't take long for the wealthiest 1% in America to control 40% of the wealth, up from 33% twenty-five years ago. The wealthiest 1% average 225 times the wealth of the median household, the largest disparity ever.

Where did all that money the 1% have come from? Well, they didn't print it. It used to be ours. You can only earn so much money, and then you have to start taking it. So they took it. Beauty part is, it isn't even considered stealing, once you get the rules changed to make stealing legal. Which you can do with the politicians you purchase fair and square.

Changes in the bankruptcy laws encouraged great risk-taking in corporations, and a whole financial industry was built up to service the dismantling of companies and the transfer of good manufacturing jobs offshore. Lawyers and financial wizards that produced nothing profited handsomely off the destruction of the middle class. Slurp, slurp. Pension funds were raided for executive bonuses until they were no longer viable and then they were discontinued altogether.

Then came the rollback of taxes on the wealthy. This looked to be a difficult sell, politically, but the less the wealthy contributed to the revenue pie, the more the rest of us had to pick up the slack, with a fee here, a user-tax there, surtaxes that used to come out of the general fund; and suddenly the idea that taxes were the problem--rather than the redistribution of the tax burden--gained credence. So the whole heist can be explained by a combination of propaganda and inattention. What really puzzles the mind, though, is how so many people who  had been fleeced so thoroughly by the wealthy were willing to stand up and demand that the rich be left alone with their wealth, that used to be our wealth.

But trust Nature to have already visited the conundrum! It turns out that a certain cat parasite has come up with a plan to keep itself going forever by finding its way to other cat hosts. It lives and reproduces in the gut of the cat, who then lays a dookie in my garden; and there is sits until a rat gets wind of it and puts it on the old rat menu. It's not what you or I would eat, but we are not here to judge. Now the cat parasite is inside the rat, but it would really like to get back into another cat. So the parasite gets into the rat's brain and discombobulates it such that the rat is now fatally attracted to cat pee. This is not a sensible rat position; this is a derangement. And the rat seeks out cat pee, which, often as not, is near cats, and it gets pounced on and et. And bingo, now the parasite is back in another cat.

So that must be what's happened. Somehow the plutocracy has managed to derange the minds of the 99% such that they beg to be chewed on further. I don't know exactly how they did it, but something definitely stinks around here.

There's some hope for the lemon tree, though. Now that most of the leaves have fallen off the plant, the tiny sucking insects have been exposed. And they have no legs. All we have to do is notice them, and they can be squished.

74 comments:

  1. I've just posted about my aphids! Well, I mention a couple of birds, too.
    Our newly-elected State Premier is, as I feared, a kind of sucker. He's cut funding from the arts to give it to "other services." Somehow, I can't see the money from the Premier's Literary Award being enough moolah to fund the Police Department...

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    1. You just made me realize we're all suckers. Just different kinds.

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  2. You have a brilliant and dangerous mind, Murr.
    There is another parasite that gets into the brain of a grasshopper (?) and makes it climb to the top of a plant where it will be eaten by a cow or sheep, keeping the cycle going. I think you have well explained the 1% having somehow entered the brains of at least half of the 99% and are forcing them into servitude against their own survival.

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    1. Whoa. The grasshopper parasite! Exactly the same idea! Now, what has gotten into (half) our brains? Whatever it is, it's probably in mine too, but (like everything else) it can't get a purchase.

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  3. What I want to know is why the lot of us that know what's happening, don't educate the rest and revolt and take back what is ours, and change those pick pocket jerks up on the hill's way of thinking? Too easy maybe???

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    1. It's not easy enough. Haven't we been trying?

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  4. The natural world is almost as scary as politics, Murr. Almost.

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    1. And you, you brave soul, go right out in it, all the time.

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  5. It's very discouraging. Not only did I post about how misguided that tax break was at the time it was proposed, I am also aware that the limit of the amount of money is about actual currency. You don't have to print more if you just keep charging everything. In all likelihood, the honest vendors will never get paid.

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    1. But wait! I thought honest work was always rewarded! Ha ha ha ha!

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  6. This whole topic is just so aggravating. You nailed it when you said we've gotten distracted from the real problem, redistribution of tax burden, and perceive it to be about taxes in any form. Grrr.

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    1. Maybe it's because I'm a damn liberal, but I've never had a problem with paying my taxes. I had a decent middle-class wage and could well afford it. I had what I needed and probably a bit more, and I could spare some for the pot. Why people who have obscene amounts of money seem to want to keep it all is something I really don't understand.

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    2. Because the obscene amounts of wealth prove how smart they are. People don't want to appear less smart than they are.

      And how are you going to the fund politicians who will support your way of life if you aren't rolling in cash?

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  7. Wait until enough of those legless wonders are in one place all together, pull off the leaf and throw it into the fire...sounds vicious but dangerous times require dangerous action.

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    1. I'm putting you in charge of figuring out where that one place is, because I like that idea.

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  8. Owww! Owwwwwww! You're making me think. Owww! It hurts. The parasite in my brain is punishing me. Owwwww!

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  9. How did you get so damn smart? Nobody writes about this stuff in a more entertaining way than you do. Yes, people vote against their own interests all the time. They actually believe that crap that Mitch Daniels recently said about us being a nation of "Haves and soon to have," like upward mobility is even still possible. But people buy it. Another wonderful piece of writing, my friend.

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    1. I got so damn smart because of my socialist public education. Don't tell anyone.

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  10. There is little I can add to what has already been said, so I won't. I DO raise a glass to your elequent, witty and wonderful summation of how it is that things now stand, and thank you for this sharp, entertaining, and depressingly acurate and well-written post!

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    1. I always respond to a glass being raised! Cheers!

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  11. I think you are right on the money, so to speak. Squishing time is near or here.

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  12. Good grief Murr! I'm not going outside again. Indigo

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    1. Aw, honey, was it the spider? As Julie points out, the other really cool thing about it is that it looks just like bird poop, and no one wants to eat bird poop. More than once.

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  13. I'm afraid to watch the video :) At least nature seems to have some purpose in these things ...

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    1. The video is beyond cool. Do not be afraid.

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    2. I took your advice and watched it in spite of my squeamishness, and - hey, you're right! Sort of like watching a cowboy with a lasso - very impressive.

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  14. Murr, this is brilliant. An absolutely wonderful depiction of how we got to this situation.

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    1. Great--another potential squisher lined up!

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  15. Thank you for putting into words what I am always thinking but not as succinctly as you have written here.

    I would like to squish a few bugs myself!

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    1. Squish 'em right in the money. That's what will hurt them the most.

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  16. Hmm. This explains how things got to suck so badly. Thanks for the humorous insights. I hope you save your lemon tree. Mother Nature is all new under the sun here on the mountain and it just takes my breath away. A great distraction from things political.

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    1. I saw your pictures, Vicki, and it brought me back to my childhood, rompin' with my Dad in the good ole Blue Ridge mountains.

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  17. Murr:

    On the scale front, you can spray the tree with Windex or your other favorite window cleaner that contains ammonia, put it out in the sun for about an hour and then hose it off. The plant will be bleached, but survive, while the scale insects will die.

    Not sure what the solution is to the other parasites...

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    1. YAY BRUCE! I'll try it! It's really hard for one person to do all that squishing. I don't think it will work on the plutocracy but a good ammonia bath might be fun to watch.

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    2. Drat- my scale-attacked plants are shade lovers and not mobile, unlike the scale. And the squishing is shiver inducing, not in a good way. Maybe if I aim a mirror just right....

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    3. I'll bet all good sucking insects prefer to work in the dark.

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  18. Sigh. Happening here too. A CEO can complain that he only earns $3.5 million a year (before bonuses of course) and expect sympathy. And I would be very, very surprised if he pays taxes on a fraction of that - completely legally. In the meantime we pay his taxes for him. Double sigh.

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  19. So it would appear that Fox, CNN, CBS and all the big media outfits spitting out "news" in 30-second in-depth increments attracts our attention with the same gusto an infected rat brain seeks cat pee. You've COMPLETELY explained it! Long live the mighty 1%!

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  20. The same cure for your plant will also work on society... soap, water, and a good scrubbing.

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  21. The only problem is that the depressive types in the world (like me) read the stuff you're written, and curl up into little balls to die. Or something.

    LIke the Occupy movement, we've got to start educating people about the real world. We need to occupy people's minds, not destroy their minds like a parasite.

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    1. And I can tell, by the COMPLETE absence of negative comments on this site, that I am surrounded by the choir. I can be disarming, with humor, in writing, but in person, I go all batshit crazy on people when they don't see things my way. It's not good.

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  22. BEST. POSTING. EVER.

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  23. Great! In addition to the filthy richI have to fear filthy spiders and rats. Thanks If life hands you scales, make lemonade.

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    1. Never fear! It's just a spider that looks like bird shit. Not actually filthy. And way better than the politicians that are just shit in a suit.

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  24. Plain old rubbing alcohol sprayed on scale kills them and doesn't hurt the plant. Now if only it were that simple to spray the life out of the 1%!

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  25. Great post!! You nailed it and in your usual entertaining fashion!!

    As a kid, I was deputized to hunt down various pesky bugs in our veggie garden. Armed with two flat stones, I'd pick a bug, put it on one stone and smoosh it with the other. Wish we could do something that simple now!!

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    1. Now that you mention it, I used to get a penny for every ten Japanese beetles I put in a jar. I'm not sure what Dad did with the jar of beetles. But you could get candy for a penny.

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  26. It isn't the 99% per se-it's the percentage of us who are politically active. The MSM is constantly pounding the "TAXES BAD!!!" maqntra, without much in the way of effective countering. This, in fact, is a powerful disincentive for those without much hope to participate in a game they instinctively feel has been rigged against them.

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    1. And they're correct to feel it's been rigged against them, but they have the wrong culprits.

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  27. D'ya think there's a spider big enough to cocoon Rush Limbaugh? I'd pay lots of money to watch that!!

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  28. The safe and easy way to get rid of scale can be entertaining.
    Take a old soft tooth brush, make a slightly sudsy pan of water and brush the leaves with the soapy toothbrush, It dislodges them and the detergent damages their scaly bodies. It's better if you pretend your a nurse and are healing your patient. I handled this on several plants. Spay soapy water, if they are moving from one plant to another, on surfaces they can climb on. After the soap bath, spray with tepid water to remove the soap.
    Much harder to remove the pols. But exposing them as you do is a good start!

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    1. Truth: I am almost undone by the act of skooshing bugs. I'm way too tender. I just talk a good game.

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  29. Congrats, Murr! This is a brilliant satirical editorial that would do Michael Moore or even Noam Chomsky proud. Outstanding! And right on.

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. BTW, I'm okay with Chris's two flat stone technique. Especially for biped parasites.

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    2. I wonder if I could get a scale insect's tiny little head on a tiny little pike.

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  31. Brilliant analogy. I have the strong urge to squish something right now.

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    1. Bummer for whoever you're having breakfast with.

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  32. You said "cookie"

    Hi Murr,

    Another one of those awards is flying around, now. I just tagged you with it. Handle it anyway you want. But thank you for being so entertaining. Oh, it's called the Sunshine Award.

    Blessed are the award givers.

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    1. Blessed indeed. I'll keep it in my heart, Bob. Where it's sunny all the time!

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  33. Love your sense of humour -- and you know lots of big words and seem very smart.

    Cheers,

    Sybil in Nova Scotia

    P.S. Bob the water cat sent me.

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    1. I DO know lots of big words! Unless you mean in the sense of knowing what they mean.

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  34. Yup the fat cat and the rat story has a charm. And those pesky parasites! Shame on then.
    Your way with words is truly the best!!

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