Sunday, 31 July 2011

Limited in sex, they dare

to push fake morals, insult and stare, while money doesn’t talk, it swears. Obscenity, who really cares?
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Debt Limit? Default?¡Ya basta!This NYT Editorial seems like it's trying to be the 'soul of reason' (?) or are they portraying themselves as 'the honest witness' trying to make it clear? trying to make it plain? ... I can't make it out.

The denial among (most of? many of?) the rich around climate change and our broken environment is equally matched by the denial among relatively comfortable liberals of the need for décroissance. You can see it in their phrases: "... to be implemented as the economy recovers," and "The country has more pressing problems to deal with." Twaddle.

Debt Limit? Default?These are games for the beach: drawing lines in the sand, circle tag, 'Fox & Hounds'. Or playing 'Marco Polo' in the swimming pool.

A friend sent this along as 'political analysis': The Mikado (revisited), Gilbert & Sullivan.

Or maybe you want to believe the official nonsense from one side: Barack Obama of Illinois; or the other: John Boehner of Ohio. I guess that would make Indiana 'The Great Divide' - except that we know both of 'em are in Washington D.C. eh? (Which is about as far as you can go to the right of Kansas.)

Aislin, Vox populi.At first it seemed as if Barack Obama would really stand up and tell it like it is. That's all he had to do. Anytime in his first two years as president would have been OK. Even now, maybe. Let's see what he does about the Keystone XL permit.

Then there is Noam Chomsky and clear analysis of what the Democracy Deficit is, and where it came from (design), and how it is maintained (suasion, coercion, violence). Imperial ideology masquerading as educational standards. Theft & soft-core Genocide.

Boldly going where no one has gone before.Even to understanding the kind of box that executives at every level and position find themselves in.

There is some optimistic news: the Globe reported on Friday that the Canadian economy flat-lined in April and shrank in May, by 0.3% - and since the Globe does not like to report such things (which might make their masters look bad) I expect that the real shrinkage is more than what is stated.

And the 'Great Recession' was worse than reported as well - see here: "From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent."

Ho hum.

Last year Rob Ford and his brother Doug won the Toronto mayoral election handily.

Rob Ford.Doug & Rob Ford.Rob & Doug Ford.No more than a couple of small-time (if over-weight) entrepreneurs, but with a clear mandate to cut costs (which everyone except a few naive socialists knows are over the top). So why would they cast themselves so unequivocally as bullies, churls, & stupid louts?

Taking cheap shots at earnest little old ladies like Margaret Attwood? Doh!? Caught in traffic talking on a cell phone a few weeks after the police blitz on the issue, admitting it, and then swanning off like some grotesque prima donna? The Mayor is above the law? In his own mind, sure, understood; but in full public view?

Threatening to close libraries "In a heartbeat!" What kind of shit-head trailer-trash talk is that? Makin' 'imself out a right arsehole.

An odd sort of smokescreen isn't it? What you see is what you get - Dumb & Dumber - is that it? Except that these guys are definitely not stupid. They must have figgured out that stopping the entrenched & entitled gravy train is beyond them - and they are setting themselves up for a fall.

Tim DeChristopher, Utah."I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more Toto." Well, no, it's Utah actually ... second on the left from Kansas (map).

Prosecutor John Huber.Judge Dee Benson.Tim DeChristopher's statement to the court is eloquent, clear, cool. The sleveens, Judge Dee Benson and prosecutor John Huber, not so much.

On (approximately) the spur of the moment, as Bidder 70 at a 2008 BLM auction, Tim successfully bid on some oil lease parcels roughly indicated on this map. His statement explains it pretty well. And you can watch this video interview done in May 2011.

He is a director of Peaceful Uprising.

Dome Plateau (I think), Utah.We are all Bidder 70.Bidder 70 + 26.Dome Plateau (I think), Utah.Their donate page doesn't seem to work, for Canadians at least, but I am guessing that cheques sent to:

Peaceful Uprising
PO Box 521011
Salt Lake City
Utah, USA
UT 84152-1011

will be received. We have to make sure that they have enough, and well more than enough, to see to supporting him, possibly for as long as two years (either in Davis County Jail in Farmington, Utah, or federal prison in Littleton, Colorado - to be determined).

¡Ya basta!The judge seemed to think that a harsh sentence would deter others from getting involved or taking a similar path. He didn't get that right according to the twenty-six who were arrested immediately following his judgement for blocking the entrances to the court building (picture above) and the light-rail line on a nearby street (which included Chris Myers, a town councillor from Telluride).

I may have to rethink going to Washington next month - and at the very least express some kind of concrete solidarity either in Ottawa or even here in Toronto. Ottawa is set up well for it, with the American Consulate facing the parliament buildings across Wellington Street - two birds with one stone so to speak. (Please understand that I mean 'stone' only as a figure of speech.)

The photograph is by Ryan McGinley. Back in the day ... as an adolescent in the Toronto of the 50's, one had to shoplift magazines from the corner store to get a peek at 'full frontal nudity' as it was called. Maybe that's part of the reason we never grew up. There is vestigial wreckage of such viewpoints still lingering in odd corners - even on the Internet, right here at Blogger, your gush can be nominated by the thought police to be accessible only after a 'Content Warning.' I am grateful that this blog has not received one. Risky.

Metamorphosis, Ryan McGinley.Metamorphosis, Ryan McGinley.
Hannah Arendt is reported (only here that I can find) to have said in her first book, "Visit to Germany," (?) in 1949: "One feels smothered by a general public stupidity, which one cannot trust to correctly judge even the most elementary things ..."

Elsewhere (speaking of stupidity) I found this: "Hannah Arendt was famously resistant to both psychoanalysis and feminism. Nonetheless, psychoanalytic feminist theory can offer a new interpretive strategy for deconstructing her equally famous opposition ..."

WTFK? (Who The Fuck Knows) Not me, that's for sure.

I find this essay to be poignant and deeply revealing of these two women: Hannah Arendt & Isak Dinesen. If you are interested you can read it carefully and maybe you will see what I mean, or not.

A few clues: in the Wikipedia entries for Hannah Arendt & Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen aka Karen von Blixen-Finecke. Three films: Orson Welles' Une histoire immortelle / The Immortal Story in 1968, Out of Africa more-or-less from the book (with carnal & venereal incidents emphasized) in 1985 (downloadable), and Babettes gæstebud / Babette's Feast in 1987 (also downloadable). Reference: in case you didn't remember all the the details of the Scheherazade/Shahrazad story (as I didn't). One Thousand and One Nights at Wikipedia, and a remarkable on-line collection (in Canada yet!) The Thousand Nights and a Night. Here is the bit you need to resolve forgetting what "they produced three male children" might refer to.

Hannah Arendt.Hannah Arendt.Hannah Arendt.Hannah Arendt.Hannah Arendt.The point at which I decided to post all of this came when I read, "Only when she had been expelled from the land that for seventeen long years, supported by the money of her family, had permitted her to be Queen, Queen of fairies, did the truth dawn upon her," (on the one hand) and the end of the same paragraph, "In a way, that is how one feels when one reads on page after page about her 'successes' in later life and how she enjoyed them, magnifying them out of all proportion ..." (on the other).

Objective correlatives you see, brief glimpses of light into the murk, and of a certain comforting commonalty. Even if the prose itself is sometimes murky: why "seventeen long years"? What is the 'long' about exactly?

Karen Blixen.Karen Blixen.Karen Blixen.Karen Blixen with Marilyn Monroe & Carson McCullers.Karen Blixen.The process - of a story make an essence; of the essence make an elixir; and with the elixir begin once more to compound the story (with the caveat that "life itself is neither essence nor elixir") - seems to me to be common to the two of them, and to some other storytellers I have known.

When my mother died, the officiating United Church minister, who knew her only in the later stages of Alzheimer's, gave a brief eulogy in which she called my mother a 'feminist.' Such categories are, except in cases of utter mediocrity, entirely unnecessary - so I felt obliged to stand up and give a proper eulogy, after which I fell out with the United Church minister and sent her off.

The other impetus, and the reason I included the film references above, was having seen Out of Africa with one of my sisters, in a theatre and all ... quite some years ago, but I remember that we disagreed about it afterwards. A key to another realm which will not likely ever be turned. Oh well.

This is a story about Kenya remember. Hugh Cholmondeley, 3rd Baron Delamere, figures in it. His great grandson, 'The Honourable' Thomas Cholmondeley, is the one who killed Robert Njoya Mbugua in 2006 (see here and here).

The scene in the movie in which Denys is twitting Karen about turning african children into 'little British boys' in her school is a lame echo of the realpolitik.

And even so there is comfort to be found in Hannah's little book ...

Pol Pot.Chan Kim Srun, one victim out of millions.Pol Pot, family man.Khieu Ponnary.Pol Pot.The 2nd & 3rd photographs come from an enigmatic blog I discovered along the way: The Eyes of the Pineapple. (There is an approximate Brazilian term 'descascar o abacaxi' / peel the pineapple, meaning solution of a difficult problem.)

Not that I didn't dissect live frogs as a boy to see if it was really true that their legs would still kick after death if you touched their exposed spinal cord with the tip of your pen-knife. Not that in addition to horror and revulsion there isn't a certain uncomfortable frisson when I imagine what went on in Hitler's ovens, in the killing fields of Cambodia, on the streets of Kigali, at Robert Picton's farm ... and so on.

"Things too sickening to relate" are part of the human equipment, part of our 'human potential,' and unquestionably included in the repertoire of the third chimpanzee from the sun - and consequently they are, obviously, part of me.

Pol Pot set about systematically exterminating 'enemies of the people,' - the ideologically tainted and unfit. It is not so difficult to imagine a future in which, after the last tipping point has been passed and human extinction is inevitable, 'environmental degenerates' are hunted down and exterminated in a similar way. Chilling to consider.

I don't happen to think God will save us, either from the effects of our trashing of the planet or from ourselves. I could be wrong. Who can speak surely of such things? The Pope?

A-and the only counterforce I can come up with is crystalized in (here it comes again!) Ivan Illich's take on the story of the Good Samaritan as recounted by Charles Taylor (here). Not the 'Rule of Law' or 'ought' or 'should be' but the rule of the noblest piece of our guts - the heart.

Malvados - ter coração é risco.Malvados - ter coração é risco.Malvados - Comics of the 10's: I found a heart in the trainee's desk. / He knows it's prohibited to bring your heart to work. / He's still just a boy, Gilberto. / But it's putting the bitterness of the older ones at risk.

That's it. Be well.

(... Kick my legs to crash it off, say OK, I've had enough. What else can you show me?)


I can't make this out either:

Official: Suspension unrelated to polar bear paper and an immediate spate of silly headlines such as "Science Throws More Cold Water on Man-Made Global Warming Fantasies."

Source documents (all pdf's):

Potential effects of diminished sea ice on open-water swimming, mortality, and distribution of polar bears during fall in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, Charles Monnett & Jeffrey S. Gleason & Lisa M. Rotterman, for MMS aka BOEMRE, December 2005.

Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, Charles Monnett & Jeffrey S. Gleason, in Polar Biology, January 2006.

Interview of Charles Monnett by Special Agent Eric May, Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General, February 23 2011.

Nor this:
Some Heartland Institute flunkies cook this up: On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance, Roy W. Spencer & William D. Braswell in Remote Sensing 25 July 2011; and then use the tried & trusted 'echo technique' of media manipulation to give it credibility including this: New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism from James Taylor (another Heartland flunky, not the 60's folk singer), among others.

Peter Finocchiaro at Salon asks the reasonable question (watch out for the pop-ups): Why is a questionable study from a controversial researcher overshadowing actual science?. Other more-or-less rational voices tune in: Climate models make too hot forecasts of global warming; right on up to the eminent & estimable Nature with Heart of the matter (keeping in mind that Graham Greene's novel of that name is not particularly apropos, yet); and the cool headed Canadian blogger, Alan Burke.

Ding Dong the witch is dead!Last word goes to the scientists at Real Climate and their last word which is: "The bottom line is that there is NO merit whatsoever in this paper. It turns out that Spencer and Braswell have an almost perfect title for their paper: 'the misdiagnosis of surface temperature feedbacks from variations in the Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance' (leaving out the 'On')"
I am totally mystified by it all, and my question is ... WTF?! ... How can this kind of transparently ridiculous nonsense still be current?

In the movie version the arch-villan will be discovered carrying a Heartland Institute membership card and executed on the spot - his fate to dissolve into green slime à la Wicked Witch of the West (clip from The Wizard of Oz) along with the self-serving editors of the journals who printed the heartland shit as credible science (unless in the humour section along with flat-earthers and such like).

What I really can't understand is why it hasn't happened yet?


Greene's 1948 novel maybe not, but Nevil Shute's 1957 On The Beach definitely. There was a movie - I will try to post the coordinates later. Just to continue the line y'unnerstan', hinted at last week, anchored in the Psalms, on up through Brecht & Auden in 1939, and so on. I'll see yer fuckin' Harry Potter an' raise ya!

I did find the movie, two versions: one in 1959 with Gregory Peck & Ava Gardner & Fred Astaire & Anthony Perkins - download - and one in 2000 with Armand Assante & Bryan Brown & Rachel Ward & an actress who kept reminding me of some other actress I couldn't remember (?) - download.

Neither of them really worth watching. Nevil Shute was a competent journeyman writer, and this book of his ... well, you should read it, lots of cheap copies at Abe's. Here's the way it ends: On the Beach last page.


1. The Reid Plan vs. the Boehner Plan, NYT Editorial, July 26 2011.

2. Official: Suspension unrelated to polar bear paper, Becky Bohrer, July 30 2011.

3. On the Beach last page, Nevil Shute, 1957.

The Reid Plan vs. the Boehner Plan, NYT Editorial, July 26 2011.

With only days to go before the deadline to raise the debt limit or face national default, there are two plans on the table: the Reid plan endorsed by President Obama; and the Boehner plan, which Mr. Obama has suggested he would veto if it ever reaches his desk.

The plans each call for cutting federal spending by trillions of dollars over the next 10 years without bringing in any additional revenue. They are a choice between bad and worse. Americans will inevitably be harmed as government programs are cut sooner than they should be in this weak economy and far deeper than they need to be because of the Republicans’ refusal to accept any tax increases — even on the wealthiest Americans.

If this debate were really about fixing the deficit, Congress would start over. What the country needs to get its fiscal house in order, without stalling the fragile recovery, is increased relief-and-recovery spending in the near term, coupled with a credible plan for deficit reduction — including spending cuts and tax increases in equal measure — to be implemented as the economy recovers.

Unfortunately, that is not where Congress is heading. If the country is going to avoid default, Congress and the White House are going to have to agree on a plan that does the least possible harm. Here is a look at the choices:

THE REID PLAN This is the less objectionable of the two mainly because it would extend the debt limit through 2012, avoiding a replay of brinkmanship next year. It at least holds out the possibility of future tax increases.

It would cut the deficit by $2.7 trillion over the next 10 years, with spending cuts alone: $1.2 trillion from reductions in discretionary programs; $1 trillion from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the rest from interest savings and other measures.

The Democrats’ decision to abandon their demand for a balance of spending cuts and new revenues means that middle-class and low-income Americans — who benefit more from spending programs — would bear a disproportionate burden. By locking in spending cuts upfront, it relieves pressure on Republicans to agree to tax increases in future budget negotiations.

The Reid plan does not call for spending cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and other entitlements. That’s a fair political trade-off given that Republicans have refused to accept tax increases. But until both sides are able to put tax increases and entitlements on the table, there will be no lasting deficit reduction.

THE BOEHNER PLAN This one is irredeemably awful. It calls for cutting $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending over 10 years and would only raise the debt limit until early next year. Then it calls for a second round of spending cuts, $1.8 trillion, which must be enacted before the debt limit is raised again.

Because the first round of cuts would eviscerate discretionary programs — and because the plan does not count the anticipated $1 trillion in war savings — the second round of cuts would need to come from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other safety-net programs. To get cuts that deep in 10 years would require cutting the benefits of current retirees and beneficiaries or gutting health care reform, or savaging the safety net for low-income Americans, or some combination of the three. But even all that would not be enough for some House Republicans, who were threatening as of Tuesday night to reject the plan.

There is no good compromise between bad and worse, but there is still scope for damage control. With both sides asking nothing from high-income taxpayers, they should both be willing to explicitly shield programs that serve the most vulnerable Americans. With the two sides both calling for big discretionary cuts, they should consent to phase them in gradually. And they must extend the debt limit through 2012. The country has more pressing problems to deal with.

Official: Suspension unrelated to polar bear paper, Becky Bohrer, July 30 2011.

The recent suspension of Alaska wildlife biologist Charles Monnett is unrelated both to an article that he wrote about presumably drowned Arctic polar bears and to his scientific work, a federal official said Friday.

The director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation, told agency staff in Alaska via email that it instead was the result of new information on a separate subject that was recently brought to officials' attention.

The email, written by Michael Bromwich, was obtained by The Associated Press.

There has been no "`witch hunt' to suppress the work of our many scientists and discourage them from speaking the truth," said Bromwich, addressing assertions made by a group that filed a complaint against the agency on behalf of Monnett.

He added later: "Please be assured that you have my full support and that I look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead."

The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the Monnett was being "persecuted" and that investigators were asking him questions about his observation of the drowned polar bears.

The Anchorage-based Monnett was placed on administrative leave July 18, pending final results of an inspector general's investigation into "integrity issues."

Monnett coordinated much of the agency's research on Arctic wildlife and ecology and had duties that included managing about $50 million worth of studies, according to the complaint filed with the agency.

A memo dated days before July 18, sent to Monnett by contracting officer Celeste H. Rueffert, said that information raised by the investigation "causes us to have concerns about your ability to act as the Contracting Officer's Representative in an impartial and objective manner on the subject contract."

That same day, July 13, a stop-work order was issued for a polar bear tracking study, entitled "Populations and Sources of Recruitment in Polar Bears."

The memo was provided by the activist watchdog group.

A message was left for Monnett on Friday. An agency spokeswoman declined to speak about the stop-work order.

Spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said Thursday that all the scientific contracts previously managed by Monnett are being managed by other agency scientists.

Documents provided by the watchdog group showed questioning by investigators earlier this year focused on the polar bear observations that Monnett and researcher Jeffrey Gleason made in 2004.

But the group's executive director, Jeff Ruch, said investigators have not yet told Monnett of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work.

According to a transcript, provided by Ruch's group, Ruch asked investigator Eric May, during questioning of Monnett in February, for specifics about the allegations. May replied: "well, scientific misconduct, basically, uh, wrong numbers, uh, miscalculations."

"This just gets more curious and curious," Ruch said Friday. He said he'd spoken with Monnett "almost every day," since the situation arose earlier this year, including Friday. He said Monnett had "no ideas" about why he'd been placed on leave.

"We'll keep digging," Ruch added.

Monnett and Gleason were conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales in 2004 when they saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. They detailed their observations in an article published two years later in the journal Polar Biology.

In the peer-reviewed article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of the bears floating dead and presumed drowned while apparently swimming long distances.

Polar bears are considered strong swimmers, they wrote, but long-distance swims may exact a greater metabolic toll than standing or walking on ice in better weather.

They said their observations suggested the bears drowned in rough seas and high winds. They also added that the findings "suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues."

The article and presentations drew broad attention and helped to galvanize the global warming movement.

On the Beach last page, Nevil Shute, 1957.

       The ocean was empty and grey beneath the overcast sky, but away to the east there was a break in the clouds and a shaft of light striking down on to the waters. She parked across the road in full view of the sea, got out of her car, took another drink from her bottle, and scanned the horizon for the submarine. Then as she turned towards the lighthouse on Point Lonsdale and the entrance to Port Phillip Bay she saw the low grey shape appear, barely five miles away and heading south* wards from the Heads.
       She could not see detail but she knew that Dwight was there upon the bridge, taking his ship out on her last cruise. She knew he could not see her and he could not know that she was watching, but she waved to him. Then she got back into the car because the wind was raw and chilly from south polar regions, and she was feeling very ill, and she could watch him just as well when sitting down in shelter.
       She sat there dumbly watching as the low grey shape went forward to the mist on the horizon, holding the bottle on her knee. This was the end of it, the very, very end.
       Presently she could see the submarine no longer; it had vanished in the mist. She looked at her little wrist watch; it showed one minute past ten. Her childhood religion came back to her in those last minutes; one ought to do something about that, she thought. A little alcoholically she murmured die Lord's Prayer.
       Then she took out the red carton from her bag, and opened the vial, and held the tablets in her hand. Another spasm shook her, and she smiled faintly. 'Foxed you this time,' she said.
       She took the cork out of the bottle. It was ten past ten. She said earnestly, 'Dwight, if you're on your way already, wait for me.'
       Then she put the tablets in her mouth and swallowed them down with a mouthful of brandy, sitting behind die wheel of her big car.


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