The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Living Graffiti

    Under the cover of the ubiquitous San Francisco fog, the Guerrilla Grafters strike, grafting fruit tree branches onto fruitless trees and bringing pears and plums and cherries to working class neighborhoods. 

     San Francisco, you see has long banned the planting of fruit-bearing trees for fear of messy sidewalks and messy law suits. Tara Hui thinks that is silly and, with a small cadre of cohorts has set out to do something about it. Then group only grafts onto trees that have been selected by a neighborhood steward who promises to care for it. Likewise they only graft onto similar species: apples to apple trees, for example.

     For more about this delightful project see The L.A. Times.

     Be seeing you.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's A Dirty Job, But...

   Peter Houison Craufurd, 28th Laird of Craufurdland Castle, and Washer of The Sovereign's Hands, has died at the age of 82. For years he has awaited the pleasure of Her Majesty with a with a silver ewer, bowl and salver holding a linen towel on permanent standby. 

     “We used to have to write to Buckingham Palace to offer to wash the monarch’s hands every time they were in residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse,” said Houison Craufurd.

    The eldest son in the family line has held the position at court ever since one of his ancestors saved James V  from a pair of murderous thugs. In gratitude the family was given a farm on the condition that his family always be ready with water and towels to wash the hands of the monarch.

    For more see: telegraph

    Be seeing you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vikings Land In Australia

     Police and local rangers on Elcho Island in the Northern Territories of Australia were somewhat surprised when the received reports of a Viking longboat off shore. 

     "With swords drawn, it was established the Viking vessel was a replica, crewed by six Russians who had sailed from Europe," Watch Commander Gary Smith said.

     The ship had traveled from Europe, through Africa to Thailand before passing their island on the way to Sydney. The boat had a top speed of eight knots.

     For more:

     Be seeing you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Different Kind of "Privatization"

     Five months ago a public library was closed in north London as part of a cost-cutting measure. Now a remarkable thing has happened. A group of squatters composed of artists, students and a former librarian have moved into the library and are planning on re-opening it and running it themselves.

     One of the squatters, a Hungarian previously involved in the occupation of a courthouse, states that they are trying to save the building from demolition.

     He said: “Libraries are cultural hubs, there are lots of reasons why people need them. People need to read books — even in the age of the internet, libraries are really crucial.”

     They plan to keep the library open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.

     They have already acquired 400 books and have started lending them out. Dan said: “Some friends of ours got in and realised this place was important, so they got in contact with us and our friends.
“For us it was about opening up the library. We saw it was really important for local people. They have been trying for 18 months with protests and petitions and have been hitting brick walls, so we thought some direct action could build a bridge with the council.”

     There have been a lot of libraries closed in America the last few years. If anyone from the Occupy movement is reading this...?

     Be seeing you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Financial Rapine of Our Healthcare System

    The following is cross-posted from tywkiwdbi with a few small additions. It is my favorite blog. You should visit it often.

My aunt, aged 94, died last week. In and of itself, there is nothing remarkable in this statement, except for the fact that she died a pauper and on medical assistance as a ward of the state of Minnesota.
How did she arrive in this sorry state? Did she lead a profligate life, go on expensive vacations and squander her resources? Quite the contrary.
My aunt and her husband, who died in 1985, were hardworking Americans. The children of Polish immigrants, they tried to live by the rules. Combined, they worked for a total of 80 years in a variety of low-level, white-collar jobs. If they collectively earned $30,000 in any given year, that would have been a lot.
Yet, somehow, my aunt managed to save more than $250,000. She also received small pensions from the Teamsters Union and the state of California, along with Social Security and a tiny private annuity. In the last decade of her life, her monthly income amounted to about $1,500.
While that was not a lot of money, it was enough, along with her savings to see her through. Or, it would have been enough, if she had not committed one grievous sin. She became sick. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
At first she managed to cope, living on her paltry income and leaving her savings untouched. But when she fell ill and had to be placed in assisted living, and finally in a nursing home, her financial fate was sealed.
Although she had Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance, neither of these covered the costs of long-term care. Her savings were now at risk, at a rate of $60,000 a year. Why did she not have long-term care insurance, you might ask?
Well, with a monthly income of $1,500 and at her age, she simply could not afford the annual premiums of more than $3,000. In the end, she spent everything she had to qualify for Medicaid in Minnesota, which she was on for the last year of her life. This diligent, responsible American woman was pauperized simply because she had the indecency to get terminally ill.
No other industrialized country in the Western world penalizes its middle class in such a way. No other civilized nation demands that people who work hard, act financially responsible and save what they can -- in my aunt's case, an inordinate amount, given her income -- must eventually turn over a lifetime of earnings and accomplishment to the health care industry, if they get seriously ill and require long-term care.
Though I have not been able to find statistics on the subject, I am certain that there will be a massive transfer of wealth over the next two or three decades, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars or more, from people just like my aunt to health insurers and health care providers.
  Just before my aunt died, she asked me if I would be sure to execute her will as stipulated. She had wanted a small amount of her life savings to go to various nieces and nephews as a small token in remembrance of her.
I did not have the heart to tell her that she was impoverished and that not even a nickel would go to those whom she loved so dearly. It would have crushed her to realize that she was poor and had worked all her life for nothing. She did not deserve to know that this was the legacy left to her by the country she loved so much.

     Be seeing you.

    Original source:

No Fake Cocaine Allowed At Oktoberfest

    Beer festival authorities in Munich are opposed to the sale of erzatz-cocaine by barmaids in drindl dresses with deep decolletage. Entrepeneur Wolfgang Stanek says he invented "Weisnkoks"-or festival cocaine-specially for Oktoberfest. The sealed packages contain sugar with a bit of menthol which he claims give a natural high when snorted through the accompanying straw.

    He had planned to sell his product using busty models in tightly-laced bodices for around $9, which would doubtless have been an effective marketing strategy. Organizers contend that allowing his product would make it harder to spot users of real cocaine.

     Auf widersehen.

    Source: arbroath

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Vertical Man Revisited

    "We must honor while we can
     The vertical man
     Though we value none
     But the horizontal one."

     W.H. Auden

     A good friend of mine posted a clip from Make a Wish on facebook this morning. It was one of those wonderful and bittersweet things involving fulfilling the lifelong dream of someone who was fast running out of life. In this case it was an aspiring ballerina who had always wanted to dance with the male lead of a company. It was arranged. Everyone treated her with kindness and graciously. I freely admit that my eyes burned a bit before it was through.

     Such things always arouse two conflicting reactions within me: On the one hand, I am pleased and proud that my fellow men are capable of responding with such acts of compassion to the plight of another. On the other hand I am left wondering why it takes the shadow of imminent death to give us permission to be gentle with one another.

     I have been to two memorial services in as many years. I have been to many more in the course of my life. In every one I have carried regret with me. I suspect such is the case with most of us.

    It would be a far better world if we could learn to show the living the compassion we reserve for the dying.

     Be seeing you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Human-Powered Helicopter

     I don't know what it is about human-powered flight that fascinates me so. Maybe it's because I first heard the legend of Icarus when I was very young. I know that I am not alone in this though, else there would not be things like the Sikorsky Prize. The prize was established in 1980. It offers $250,000 to the first human-powered helicopter to reach an altitude of 3 meters at least once, remain aloft for 60 seconds, and remain within a 10 meter square.

    At long last, it looks like we may have a winner soon in the Gamera II:

     I wish them well.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is It Safe?


     In the nearly eleven years since the events of September eleventh 2001 the United States has embarked upon somewhere between two and seven wars, depending on how one defines one's conflicts in this brave new world. We have created an uberpolitzei in the chillingly named Department of Homeland Security. We have built a detention camp and we have tortured...And then we have contracted mercenaries for the really dirty work.

     During this time the DHS has used its ever-increasing budget to insure that radioactives are not entering our ports, supplied heavy weapons and armor to local police forces, and built a wall along our southern border. Meanwhile, if you feel like travelling anywhere, prepare to be injected, inspected, infected, detected, neglected, and hope you aren't selected. 

     All of this in the name of protecting us from terrorism. They have spent our tax dollars on ensuring the security from terrorist attack of every potential target from Disneyland and the Mall of America to the head office of Albertson's Markets and a senior citizen's center in Utah. Strangely though, there has not been so much as one dime of DHS money spent on protecting the one set of targets that have already been the object of multiple terrorist attacks: abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood offices. There have been over a hundred incidents of arson and bombings at clinics and at least eight murders, making them easily the leading target of terrorist acts in the U.S. Planned Parenthood has also been the repeated target of terrorist assaults, yet neither group has received any federal money to make them safer from violence. In fact, Congress has forbidden either group from receiving any federal money at all.

    Could it be because these terrorists are White?

    During the Bush administration investigations of White Supremacist groups were largely abandoned and the Earth Liberation Front was declared the #1 domestic terror threat. They had, in their entire history as an organization, caused exactly one death. 

     And so it goes.

     And so it goes.



     For more see: priceofperil