Sunday, 28 August 2011


Good for nothing? or Inescapable? or Both? or Not.
Up, Down.

¡Ya basta!"O governo falseia a realidade", afirma dom Erwin Kräutler (see here).

Eu também.

Disobey.It has been long & difficult & fruitless meditation (tagged problematique) on 'worthless existence'. What could they have meant? What could they mean?

Arriving at a dim memory of my complete misunderstanding of In Watermelon Sugar - it was 1968, I liked thinking of sex with Pauline. Just now discovering the dark & hopeless story of what happens when the salt really does lose its savour - an exemplar, a paradigm (see Matthew, & the complete text of In Watermelon Sugar here).

A comprehensive website around Richard Brautigan gives me, "[He] reminds us that a worse thing than violence and death could be a life without pity or joy."

Disliking Derrick Jensen - but accepting the signs & blazes in his premiss on Hope if not agreeing with all of his points. Hobbits and Muggles oh my! One Ring to find them and in the darkness bind them.

Mideo Cruz - Christ.Mideo Cruz, a Filipino artist, and his colleague Racquel De Loyola. And a Brazilian cartoonist, a gaúcho, Allan Sieber, who writes, "Fé em Jesus é um beijo no apêndice."

Erwin Kräutler.Erwin Kräutler.Erwin Kräutler.The 'teu sonho' / 'your dream' in the photograph at the right refers to Sister Dorothy. That Erwin Kräutler fellow is no slouch now, is he? Look at the smile on 'im. And again, below with one arm around Tuíra Kayapó. Look carefully at these smiles. Somehow he has threaded the needle. Not one of those wily Jesuits but a missionary of the precious blood (whatever that is).

Does anyone doubt for a moment that the government has falsified reality? That they do little else? Could anyone possibly be so lost & twisted as not to see light shining in this man? (Light y'unnerstan' ... not 'the' light or any such tosh.)

Erwin Kräutler with Tuíra Kayapó & friends.Disliking Bill McKibben and the milquetoast k-k-Canadian activists ... but ... (still) (maybe) ... getting on a bus early Tuesday morning to go to Washington and join the protest (if I get there & if they'll have me). And later on, next month (maybe), in Ottawa.

Or not.
If my health allows. If my fears allow. If I feel like it. If my feet allow or even in spite of my feet. If ...

She says, "pity or joy" you see, not faith & hope, not 'Faith Hope & Charity and the greatest of these ...'

(not, as our Jack's ghost squeaks & gibbers at us from beyond the grave in his perfected & sentimental suicide note, adjuring us: "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." Precious stuff. Sententious stuff. Stuff & nonsense. ... More like: Be afraid. Be terrified. Be angry. Despair. Grasp at love if you will but abandon hope. Grieve. But do not die. Though you will change nothing, go and strengthen what you can find of what remains.)

Typically when we say 'contingent' we mean: Liable to happen or not; of uncertain occurrence or incidence; by chance; not determined by necessity in regard to action or existence; free. (Free?) But in a literal sense, from the meaning of the Latin contingere it is: Touching each other, in contact - and a host of related, even geometric (tangential) allusions.

Here we are again. :-)Bringing me full circle (as it were) (yet again) to the good samaritan being touched in his guts.

Be well gentle reader.

Two stories / Dois contos:
Herbert de Souza, O Betinho: O Beija-flor / The Hummingbird

 Houve um incêndio na floresta e enquanto todos os bichos corriam apavorados, um pequeno beija-flor ia do rio para o incêndio levando gotinhas de água em seu bico. O leão, vendo aquilo, perguntou para o beija-flor: "Ó beija-flor, você acha que vai conseguir apagar o incêndio sozinho?" E o beija-flor respondeu: "Eu não sei se vou conseguir, mas estou fazendo a minha parte". There was a fire in the forest and while all the animals ran in fear, a little hummingbird went from the river to the fire carrying drops of water in her beak. The lion, seeing this, asked the hummingbird, "O Hummingbird, do you think you will succeed in putting out the fire all by yourself?" And the hummingbird replied, "O Lion, I do not know if I will succeed or not, but I am doing my part."
Amos Oz: The Order of the Teaspoon / A Ordem da Colher de Chá

 Let us conclude with my story of the Order of the Teaspoon. I believe that if one person is watching a huge calamity - let's say a conflagration - there are always three principal options. Option 1: Run away, as far away and as fast as you can, and let those who cannot run burn. Option 2: Write a very angry letter to the editor of your paper demanding that the responsible people be removed from office in disgrace. Or for that matter, launch a demonstration. Option 3: Bring a bucket of water and throw it on the fire, and if you don't have a bucket, bring a glass, and if you don't have a glass, use a teaspoon - everyone has a teaspoon. And yes, I know a teaspoon is little and the fire is huge, but there are millions of us and each one of us has a teaspoon. Now I would like to establish the Order of the Teaspoon. People who share my attitude - not the run-away attitude, or the letter attitude, but the teaspoon attitude - I would like them to walk around wearing a little teaspoon on the lapel of their jackets, so that we know we are in the same movement, in the same brotherhood, in the same order, the Order of the Teaspoon. This is my philosophy in a nutshell - or in a teaspoon, if you wish. Vamos concluir com a minha história de Ordem da Colher de Chá. Eu creio que se uma pessoa está olhando uma grand calamidade - quer dizer uma conflagração - estão sempre três opções principais. Opção 1: Fugir, tanto longe e tanto rapido possível, e deixa eles que não podem correr para queimar. Opção 2: Escreve uma carta bem zangada para o editor de seu jornal mandando que as pessoas responsiveis sejam despedidos no defavor. Ou seja montar uma demonstração. Opção 3: Traz um balde de agua e joga no fogo, e se você não tem balde, traze um copo, e se você não tem copo, usa uma colher de chá - todo mundo tem uma colher de chá. E sim, eu sei que uma colher de chá é pequena e o fogo é imenso, mas nos somos milhões e cada um de nos tem colher de chá. Então eu gostaria estabelecer a Ordem da Colher de Chá. A gente que participam a minha atitude - não a atitude de fugir, nem a atitude da carta, mas a atitude de colher de chá - eu gostaria que eles usar uma pequena colher de chá na lapela de seus casacos, ate que sabemos que estamos no mesmo movimento, no mesmo fraternidade, na mesma irmandade, na mesma ordem, a Ordem da Colher de Chá. Isso é a minha filosofia resumidamente - ou mesmo numa colher de chá.
Betinho.Betinho & Maria Nakano.Betinho.Betinho.Betinho & Daniel.Betinho.Betinho.Betinho.If you don't know of these guys, it probably wouldn't hurt to find out a bit about 'em.

Betinho said of himself, "Eu nasci para o desastre, porém com sorte." / "I was born to disaster - but with luck." Just look at the way he smiles beside his son Daniel. And - he was a dancin' man, yeah. It took more than haemophilia, tuberculosis, AIDS, to get this guy down. There is an album of photographs here.

Amos Oz.Amos Oz.Amos Oz.Amos Oz.Amos Oz.Amos Oz & Nily.Amos Oz & Nily.Amos Oz.There is lots of stuff on the Internet and in the library.

Amos Oz fought in the Six Day War and was a founder of Peace Now. In particular I recommend his little book How to Cure a Fanatic.


Sunday, 21 August 2011


Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript. 
¡Ya basta!Blessings abounding, here's:
'Vantage #5: It's not just failing memory - it's failing eyesight too, and trembling fingers. Synergistic effects.Ahh Synergy! :-) Not being able to depend on used-to-be-taken-for-granted capabilities can make you careful (but not necessarily timid) - and this can a good thing because it slows you down. As long as you don't let it become a frustrating distraction.
When I read this sentence a few minutes ago (here): "He fantasized aloud about the 'ugly' justice that Texans might administer to the Federal Reserve chairman, whom I’d advise to connect through Chicago instead of Dallas for the time being;" the 'd' on "I’d advise" slipped over and I read "I advised." So for a moment I thought the author must be one of Bernanke's flunkies - which didn't make sense. Slowed me right down. (Which might not be bad advice for Rick Perry either.)
A-and 'Vantage #6: The slowness will spread to other behaviours if you let it. Christians like to say, "what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Well, you can drop the 'Lord' and the 'require' and the 'God' and gain considerably. And how do the humble walk do you think? I would say ... slowly.
Anna Hazare has funked it I think. A masterstroke to refuse to leave prison the other day once they had arrested him, but agreeing to a 15 day limit on his hunger strike, not so much. Oh well, I didn't like the public floggings he organized anyway - he's a zero-tolerance kind'a guy and not that humble.

Anna Hazare.Anna Hazare.Anna Hazare.Anna Hazare.What he did show is how quickly it can happen. So many years of preparation - 35 more-or-less since 1978 when he really started - but when the right time comes people can stand up in no-time, in a heartbeat. Some are saying it is mostly 'the young' but of course, Indian demographics being what they are, there are simply more of them around.

And it shows how stupid the powerful & corrupt can be when you least expect it - could be a saving grace for all of us in that.

Early reports are that the limited hunger strike is working ... too soon to tell yet. 
Election coming up in Ontario - October 6. Candidates (in no particular order) in the Beaches-East York riding:

Chris Menary PC.Chris Menary PC.Helen Burstyn Liberal.Helen Burstyn Liberal.Michael Prue NDP.Michael Prue NDP.Shawn Ali Green.Not much to recommend any of them. None is likely to do anything useful as far as I can see. I don't really want to engage them even - maybe there will be an all-candidates meeting.

Chris Menary, PC: businessman 'Security Expert' - fed at the G-20 trough apparently.
No email revealed - just this contact form on his website.


Helen Burstyn, Liberal: some kind of charity organizer & busy body, shlatten shammes, a grandmother (which makes her the best of a bad lot so far).
Email & website.


Michael Prue, NDP: bureaucrat & career politician.
Email & email & website.


Shawn Ali, Green: store manager for Toys R Us - makes me wonder what he thinks about consumerism.
Email & website.


Recent elections: (details here)
72,170 voters, 55% turnout
       NDP 24% - (from 2003)
       Lib 14% -
       PC   9% -
       Grn  7% +
69,080 voters, 60% turnout
       NDP 31% + (from 1999)
       Lib 15% +
       PC  12% -
       Grn  3% +
July poll.July poll.
Who knows about polls? They seem to tell a story but ... look at the line representing the Green Party - it starts at zero in 2008? Doh!? So ...

The idea that it matters if Harper will "complete a rare true-blue Toronto-Queen’s Park-Ottawa trifecta" seems to interest the pundits - I don't get it, it doesn't interest me. Well, that's not quite true, I probably do get it - the pundits have to make a living too and nobody wants to hear that there really is a sabre-toothed tiger at the door that is simply going to eat us all up because ... (?) ... well, it's all about serving yourself first isn't it? 
The GOP (Grand Old Party) aka Republican presidential hopefuls on climate change:

Michele Bachmann on climate change.Mitt Romney on climate change.Rick Perry on climate change.Tim Pawlenty on climate change.Mitt Romney comes off looking like the best of a bad lot - but there's not really very much to choose between them.

Mitt is his real name - a reference to a second cousin football-player named Milton. He has also said publicly, "Corporations are people," ... patently false, but (unfairly) taken out of context eh?

I don't think any of them is likely to do anything very useful either.

Toles.And just to put the debt ceiling fiasco into perspective:
   Revenue:  $2,170,000,000,000
   Budget:   $3,820,000,000,000
   Deficit:  $1,650,000,000,000
   Debt:    $14,271,000,000,000
   Cut:         $21,000,000,000
So, take eight zeroes off each number and pretend it is a family budget:
   Income:       $21,700
   Spending:     $38,200
   Credit Card:  $16,500
   Balance:     $142,710
   Cut:             $210
Who imagines that a spending cut of $210 will fix such a problem?

This is what they accomplished after months of hyperbolically dramatic ructions? Doh!?

As Clifford Orwin says here: "A Republican president, then, in 2012? Rick Perry? Mitt Romney? Michele Bachmann? The harder you look, the less electable each seems. The election looms as a classic contest of a peculiarly lacklustre kind. Remember, you read it here first. On Nov. 6, 2012, resistible Republican force will meet movable Democratic object. 
O ministro da Agricultura, Wagner Rossi.O ministro da Agricultura, Wagner Rossi.O ministro da Agricultura do Brasil, Wagner Rossi: "O novo Código Florestal é muito equilibrado. O ganho foi imenso." / The Minister of Agriculture of Brazil, Wagner Rossi: "The new Forest Law is very balanced. The improvement is immense."

The pattern of holes in the leaves in Bosco's cartoon is repeated in the clearcuts around Grande Cache below.

João Bosco.João Bosco.João Bosco.As for Brazil & Amazônia? Yes, the rate of deforestation has been decreasing: from ~27,500 km2 in 2004 to ~12,000 km2 in 2008 and to ~6,500 km2 in 2010 - but I'd still say the Amazon forests are done for - good from far but far from good. Prince Edward Island is not quite 6,000 km2.

João Bosco.Alberto Benett.Alberto Benett.Okokokokok - It's agreed, it's admitted categorically: I have become more-and-more negative around here. So ... go figgure it out for yourself then! Can you remove 25% of the material in a masonry arch without it falls down? Can you cut the keystone out of it and still have an arch? I fucking damm well doubt it.

Rats and caterpillars and pigs and locusts - and not just in Brazil by any means.

(Links: João Bosco Jacó de Azevedo, Alberto Benett, o Ministério da Agricultura do Brasil.) 
Clare Demers.I would say, skip what follows and just read: Ottawa faces crucial test in the fight against coal from Clare Demerse at the Pembina Institute. She lays the story out clearly and provides links to the main documents. Andrew Leach's July 8 blog post: The AUC and Maxim Power: No steps forward, 3 steps back is good too. And Mark Jaccard: 'A coal-fired plant and the lie of the land' which I have included below.

The long and the short is that the scumbag sleveens Stephen Harper & Peter Kent, and their shit-heel cronies in the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) (more of them here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and ...), are setting out to build another coal-fired generating plant in Grande Cache, Alberta - just in time to get under the wire of their own so called 'emissions regulations'. Bollocks!

It looks like the Pembina Institute is taking the AUC to law over it - you could make a donation and help them out.

For me it's a trip down memory lane ... When I worked out there in the 60's there was no Grande Cache, closest thing to a town was the indian community at Muskeg River. I was a surveyor, laying out slope stakes, computing volumes on rock borrow-pits. Rod man actually - that's how they played the game: the rod men ran instruments, there was one actual sub-foreman 'instrument man' and a foreman who was a real surveyor when they needed a signature.

The story went that the Alberta Resources Railroad was to take coal to the coast somehow and ship it to China. It was an adventure - I was 18 or so - Yee Haw!

Alberta Resources Railroad map.This map is large-ish - 8 megs - best is to download it (right-click and 'Save Link As') and open with a photo viewer. For some reason it is turned on its side so North is not at the top. (Say wha!? Alberta? Where North is East and West is North and never the twain shall meet?) There is a website at the University of Alberta that puts an interactive interface around it, but it really doesn't work that well.

It's not just coal. Check out Weyerhaeuser & Ainsworth & Tolko - pious & perfectly correct words all over their Sustainable Forest Management Plan of 2009. But waitaminit! Weyerhaeuser bought into Grande Cache in 1992, closed the mill in 2003, and sold out of it in 2005. That's what sustainable means to them I think. And that next image of patchwork clearcuts is sustainable too, right?

Clearcuts around Grande Cache.In fact there are maps up the yin-yang but all of it piecemeal, nothing integrated:

Wikimapia: Not sure if it defaults to satellite image - you can use the 'Map Type' menu and select 'Satellite + Old Places'; then, as you mouse-over the drawn-on features you can see a little more of what went on and is going on.


Google My Maps: Just something I started to try to show the railway and the highway and the river at once - doesn't though.

Milner Generating Station, Grande Cache Alberta.Open pit mine, up behind.Milner Generating Station, Grande Cache Alberta.Map of Alberta.This whole brouhaha is entirely transparent. The AUC is explicitly and publicly making an endrun on the (lame anyway) regulations. Peter Kent hasn't even got the balls to make a peep. Some of the AUC guys & gals must live in Stephen Harper's riding - don't you think? And this horse-cock has to go to law for resolution? Doh!? And suppose a bunch of old nutters like me do pony up the cash for the legal bullshit and somehow the decision goes against the rapists? How long will that take to accomplish? Years? Anything like justice for Robert Dziekanski?

Too fucking long!

Uncle Mort.We have until about 2015 to turn CO2 and equivalent emissions around or we are collectively cooked. (Watch this, listen carefully, and weep.)

Uncle Mort.Two ways out: A. a massive human die-off, engineered or otherwise (see here); or B. economic collapse (with a concommitant measure of A.). So the economy has to go. Can it be ramped down sufficiently before we have irretrievably passed major climate tipping points? Who knows? (The Pope?)

There is also a political solution, C. - but I can't see any sign of it.

Can you? 
Thomas Pynchon had some good words about cognitive dissonance in this 2003 essay on Orwell's 1984:
       We recognise this "sort of schizophrenic manner of thinking" as a source for one of the great achievements of this novel, one which has entered the everyday language of political discourse - the identification and analysis of doublethink. ... doublethink is a form of mental discipline whose goal, desirable and necessary to all party members, is to be able to believe two contradictory truths at the same time. This is nothing new, of course. We all do it. In social psychology it has long been known as "cognitive dissonance." Others like to call it "compartmentalisation." Some, famously F Scott Fitzgerald, have considered it evidence of genius. For Walt Whitman ("Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself") it was being large and containing multitudes, for American aphorist Yogi Berra it was coming to a fork in the road and taking it, for Schrödinger's cat, it was the quantum paradox of being alive and dead at the same time.
       Doublethink also lies behind the names of the superministries which run things in Oceania - the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth tells lies, the Ministry of Love tortures and eventually kills anybody whom it deems a threat. If this seems unreasonably perverse, recall that in the present-day United States, few have any problem with a war-making apparatus named "the department of defence," any more than we have saying "department of justice" with a straight face, despite well-documented abuses of human and constitutional rights by its most formidable arm, the FBI. Our nominally free news media are required to present "balanced" coverage, in which every "truth" is immediately neutered by an equal and opposite one. Every day public opinion is the target of rewritten history, official amnesia and outright lying, all of which is benevolently termed "spin," as if it were no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round. We know better than what they tell us, yet hope otherwise. We believe and doubt at the same time - it seems a condition of political thought in a modern superstate to be permanently of at least two minds on most issues. Needless to say, this is of inestimable use to those in power who wish to remain there, preferably forever.
That's another of the lessons I can still remember - at a young age, maybe six years old, asking my father - Q: Why can't you believe two opposite things at once? A: Because they cancel each other out and you have nothing. Right. This made sense to me. He was an accountant - this is an accountant's definition, arithmetic - and it has served me well (or turned me into an unpleasant pedantic niggler after contradictions).

Now I am looking at it as two separate statements of effect: A. They cancel each other out; and B. You have nothing.

Sure enough.

It seems natural to me to be thinking about doublethink and the Holocaust at this time when a comparable moral inertia is preventing obvious solutions to the environmental crises we are facing:
       Albert Schweitzer's letter on The Deputy, 1963.
       The Deputy, Guilt by Silence?, Hannah Arendt, 1964.
       Auschwitz on Trial, Hannah Arendt, 1966.

Then there is Pope John Paul II during Lent in 2000: "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant," Rome, March 12 2000; and: "How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he had reached the point of contempt for God," Yad Vashem, March 23 2000.

All good, except that it doesn't wash - for me it does not wash - even true words seem to me to be soiled by association with a Pope.
(Opa Davi, que coisa!?)

And for those of us who know it all - the last paragraph of Hannah Arendt's Auschwitz on Trial is worth re-reading a few times:
       Finally, there is the woman witness who had come to Frankfurt from Miami because she had read the papers and seen the name of Dr. Lucas: "the man who murdered my mother and family, interests me." She tells how it happened. She had arrived from Hungary in May 1944. "I held a baby in my arms. They said that mothers could stay with their children, and therefore my mother gave me the baby and dressed me so as to make me look older. [The mother held a third child by the hand.] When Dr. Lucas saw me he probably realized that the baby was not mine. He took it from me and threw it to my mother." The court immediately knows the truth. "Did you perhaps have the courage to save the witness?" Lucas, after a pause, denies everything. And the woman, apparently still ignorant of the rules of Auschwitz — where all mothers with children were gassed upon arrival — leaves the courtroom, unaware that she who had sought out the murderer of her family had faced the savior of her own life. This is what happens when men decide to stand the world on its head.
Here you can find videos of Hannah Arendt talking to Roger Errera in 1973 - two years before her death. And the stupid bungling incompetents have voiced over her talking! Not all of it - it is extremely frustrating to watch but if you can contain your rage there are snippets of her voice. I have searched high and low for an un-dubbed copy but it is nowhere to be found.

Can someone please contact Madame Defarge and ask her to add the names of everyone connected with this travesty to her scarf.

Be well. 

Girl on the highway by William Springfield.Girl on the highway by William Springfield.
Girl on the highway by William Springfield.Girl on the highway by William Springfield.
I think the photographer is putting together a coffee table book of some kind - or a 'coffeetable book' as he says. You can see more of it here but no more of this girl and no name for her.

My guess is the semi blew its air horn and made her laugh - admirable reactions on all sides. Bit of a story in these photographs - looks like fun.

Here's Neil with Bound For Glory.

Why do I keep posting pictures of beautiful black women? Because in my life it has been black women who treated me kindly. Not perverse; not a mystery; just a small ... accident. 
¡Ya basta!I followed some of the control structures (up in the section on the Maxim plant in Grande Cache) to determine 'the complicit ones': here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. It got to be a long list, but I began compiling a database of pictures and email addresses and mailing addresses - 'going to and fro in the Internet, and walking up and down in it' - I thought I would do a letter writing campaign.

I may still, but not this week.

11-08-19 Keystone Action training.Bill McKibben started his Washington demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline yesterday. Looks like about 70 trained and about 70 arrested - very efficient.

I passed by the American Consulate General here in Toronto around noon on Saturday to see if there was anything going on there in the way of solidarity - nope, nothing - I meant to carry on and buy a decent pair of pants to go with my suit jacket just in case, but the day ended with bad feet and I barely made it home with clean shorts.

11-08-20 Keystone Action at the White House.11-08-20 Keystone Action at the White House.What happens now that the main man is in jail? Surely there's a condition of release that you won't go back and do it again (?). The problem for me is that once I have lost faith in someone's integrity then ... it's gone. There could be a reconciliation - I take my kids up and they me from time to time and we talk it out and move ahead - but it has to be explicit and I'm not that important to reconcile with for someone like Bill McKibben.

Still, there are details I might have quibbled over that might have worked out better. Can't say yet.

I truely do not understand my failure to make any significant contact with (even one of) the activists here in Toronto. I keep asking my son WTF I could have done so horribly wrong? But he doesn't know. I wonder if they think I am a CSIS agent? I have stopped going to any events - they turn their backs on me, walk away in the middle of conversations ...Ahh Synergy! :-) A lesser man would become cranky and paranoid.

Lots of good pictures here, and a report on the first day's activities.

Patricia Warwick.Patricia Warwick.Patricia Warwick.Patricia Warwick.Patricia Warwick.This report of Sunday's action by Lee-Anne Goodman (who is certainly doing her job) tells us that a Canadian has been arrested: Patricia Warwick of Toronto (pictured at right).

I know people who know her - why didn't one of them put us in touch? It probably would have made the difference between sitting here today watching the power go up and down in quite a dramatic thunder & rainstorm, and being in Washington. Oh well - I can only think that this is not my fate, or destiny, or something ... yet ... (reading Isak Dinesen Anecdotes of Destiny y'unnerstan' but I am not moved by these notions, that's just the way it is). 
The avocadoes and mangoes in the supermarket are too tempting to resist. Flown in to my table from Mexico at great cost to us all. Just-ripe avocado with a thick ginger/garlic/tamari dressing - Yummers! And the mangoes! - I used to go with the girls on Sunday to the market in Copacabana and we would buy a bag of mangoes, bring them back and eat them around the sink - up to our necks & elbows in mango juice and laffin' together. Later on Ana might make a mouqueca de peixe for us in a big iron pot ... ahhh ...

Cheguei aí faminto, marrento, meio fechado, meio durão; elas me deram as suas mangas pra chupar; e o coração virou mais jovens, se tornou quase novo; é renovado sim e mole, mas esquisito. É assim que falam os velhos safados, gordos fedorentos e feios em sua propria solidão.

1. A coal-fired plant and the lie of the land, Mark Jaccard, August 11 2011.


2. Environmentalists sue Alberta Utilities Commission over Milner coal plant expansion, Pembina Institute, August 3 2011.

A coal-fired plant and the lie of the land, Mark Jaccard, August 11 2011.

Mark Jaccard is a professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University.

Stephen Harper can’t allow new coal-fired electricity plants to be built, such as the one Maxim Power is proposing in Alberta, and achieve his promise to reduce Canadian greenhouse-gas emissions 17 per cent by 2020. As a researcher of energy-economy systems, I say this with virtual certainty. I also know that any scholar in my field would agree with me, and that the Prime Minister’s expert advisers would tell him the same thing. The reasons are simple.

Our energy-economy system is currently dominated by the combustion of fossil fuel products made from natural gas, oil, tar sands and coal, a combustion that emits carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change. The use of fossil fuels is linked to long-lived investments in energy supply and use – coal mines, tar sands processing plants, coal-fired electricity plants, oil and gas pipelines, industrial plants, buildings etc. We already have the technologies to use energy more efficiently, to switch to zero-emission sources such as hydropower, wind, solar and biofuels, and to prevent emissions by capturing and storing them.

But these technologies require considerable time to transform our energy-economy system, and it usually only occurs as old facilities are retired and replaced by zero-emission investments. Building a new coal-fired power plant goes in the opposite direction. It puts the lie to claims of significant emissions reduction over the next decade – an extremely short time frame.

History has a funny way of repeating itself. In 1997, Jean Chrétien committed Canada to a 2010 target for greenhouse-gas reduction, under the Kyoto Protocol, but did not implement the policies needed to achieve it – namely, a significant price on emissions and regulations to prohibit new investments that foster the combustion of fossil fuels. But 13 years was a safe distance in politics, and he left office before Canada officially reneged on its Kyoto commitment. One of his policy advisers has since acknowledged that Mr. Chrétien knew his policies would fail.

In 2007, Mr. Harper committed Canada to a 2020 target for greenhouse-gas reduction but hasn’t implemented policies that would achieve it. Like Mr. Chrétien, Mr. Harper must know his scant policies will fail. Recently released internal government documents show he’s receiving information from civil servants telling him his current policies are not transforming the energy-economy system in the direction he’s promised. Even his hand-picked National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has said this, albeit inadvertently, in its 2009 report, Achieving 2050. The report shows that emissions must be falling already to achieve his 2020 target, which they certainly don’t when you allow new coal-fired electricity plants.

Mr. Harper’s choice of a target 13 years distant, without implementing policies to achieve it, is eerily reminiscent of Mr. Chrétien. Perhaps he sees the wily political master as his model. But there are other models available.

In 2007, then-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell also committed to a 2020 emissions reduction target. But to convince people of his sincerity – especially after two decades of climate policy failure by all Canadian governments at all levels – Mr. Campbell acted very differently. First, he got an independent body to set interim targets for 2012 and 2016, so people would know within a political time frame if he were on track to keep his promise. Second, he asked his advisers what investments needed to happen in 2007, and every year thereafter, to meet the 2020 target. On that basis, he immediately implemented a zero-emission electricity policy, which caused the cancellation of two proposed coal-fired electricity plants that had signed preliminary supply deals with BC Hydro.

BC Hydro abandoned its pursuit of coal and natural gas and switched to renewables such as run-of-river hydro, wind and biomass. If Alberta were not allowed to build another coal-fired plant, it would likewise use more renewables such as wind, biomass, hydropower and perhaps solar. This would slightly increase electricity rates, but not much because of the inertia in the energy-economy system – most electricity in Alberta would continue to be generated by existing low-cost facilities for years to come.

All of this raises an interesting conundrum for Canadians. What do you do when your government knowingly permits investments that prevent it from meeting its promises? Do you simply stand by and watch the construction of a coal plant that contributes great harm to the planet? Or is the only remaining ethical option to use every legal avenue and perhaps even peaceful civil disobedience to try to stop the plant?
Environmentalists sue Alberta Utilities Commission over Milner coal plant expansion, Pembina Institute, August 3 2011.

Environmental groups Ecojustice and the Pembina Institute are taking the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to court over its decision to grant Maxim Power Corp.'s coal plant expansion interim approval without a public hearing.

As the AUC itself made clear, the expedited approval was given in a blatant attempt to beat the federal government's deadline for new greenhouse gas regulations.

Ecojustice, on behalf the Pembina Institute, has filed a motion for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal of Alberta.

"We intend to prove that the AUC made a decision that affects the public interest without reviewing all the evidence," said Barry Robinson, Ecojustice staff lawyer. "We will also show that the AUC was wrong in its decision that skirting pending federal regulations is in the public interest."

In a June 7 letter to the AUC, Maxim asked the commission to forego a hearing and issue an approval by June 30 for a proposed 500 MW supercritical coal generator expansion of its existing Milner facility.

In documents submitted to the AUC, Maxim argued that it had received assurances from the federal Environment Minister that it could avoid being subject to future federal regulations — which will limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity — if it could get its plant into service by July 1, 2015. Maxim said that it could only meet this deadline if the AUC approved the expansion by June 30.

On June 30, the AUC ruled that no public hearing would be held. The regulator also gave the expansion interim approval, noting that Maxim needed the accelerated decision "to address the potential impact of pending federal carbon legislation on this plant."

No new coal plants have been approved in Alberta for a decade.

The last two plants to receive approvals, Genesee 3 and Keephills 3, were only approved by the AUC (then called the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board) after extensive public hearings. These hearings resulted in the regulator imposing environmental conditions on plant operations, including a requirement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 50 per cent during the life of the projects.

If the Milner expansion were required to comply with future federal coal regulations, its greenhouse gas pollution could be nearly cut in half. This translates into preventing 1.5 million tonnes of emissions per year during the project's 45-year lifespan — equivalent to taking 300,000 new vehicles off the road.