Saturday 23 June 2012

A Perfect Moral Storm: [III]

("O Futuro que preparam na Rio+20 vai nos levar ao abismo." / 'The future they are preparing at Rio+20 will lead us to the abyss.' Leonardo Boff.)
Up, Down, Clues, One More. 
[Ha ha ha! That's funny - Chapter 11 Section VII Conclusion is not the end of the book at all :-) Thus adding a touch of versimilitude to the story.]
Contents: Justice, K-k-k-Canada, Kant, Three heroines, Lame, Ad Hominem. 
Justice:   [What looks good on a lawyer? Two dobermans.]

The only legitimate, believable, plausible (what you will) ... let's say 'positive' note (I have seen) coming out of Rio+20 is this, from the Guardian: Why the supreme courts can make Rio+20 a success.

There is an IISD bulletin on the lawyer's meeting: Highlights for Wednesday, 20 June 2012; and here (as a pdf): UNEP World Congress Bulletin Volume 203, Number 1, Friday, 22 June 2012 'A Summary Report of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability'; and the document coming out of it is here (.pdf): 'Rio+20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability'.

World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability participants.The spin the Guardian puts on it is more optimistic than anything I get from reading the 'declaration' itself. A bunch of lawyers in suits (and one woman not in a suit), and a table full of lilies is what I see. ... And I wonder what 'IVS' stands for? (I think I know this building, down beside Praça 15; there is a group of statues there I think, larger-than-life bronze people in chains and blindfolds.)

Dan Wasserman: Show me the money!The notion that the legal system can do something in this impossible situation is current - you hear of it now and then. It is also good to be reminded that there are more supreme courts in the world than the one in the U.S. (which seems to be securely in the pockets of the status quo).

And the preamble to their three (somewhat lame & self-serving) declarations shows clearly that they do not have their heads in the sand - given the eminent positions they occupy in their respective societies this is good, this is more than might have been expected.

The use of the term 'non-regressive' could be important (a lawyer friend tells me). Here is the term Non Regression Principle more-or-less defined.

Pitter patter, let's get at 'er boys and girls - because this Rule of Law you ultimately depend upon might be an early casualty of the climate wars if you don't.

Ecocide: (essential to have at least a minimal grasp of International law and Rome Statute I thinks - and no, there is nothing about ecocide in the lawyer's Rio declaration)

When this ecocide notion came on the scene a few years ago I just thought, "Oh fuck! Another leftard splinter & vegepap issue," and filed it away with aroma therapy. And anyway, everyone hates lawyers. Then last week the Guardian Pollyanna (mentioned above) softened me up a trifle. Now Gywnne Dyer is on about it - and as he sometimes does (except on the subjects of nuclear power & geoengineering), he seems to make sense. His pre-Rio rant, Rio+20 and mass extinction, on June 8 left me cold - I put it down to depression & despair.

But his 'after' last Sunday caught me, firmly: Rio+20: Vengeance Too Long Delayed, June 24.

Being a sucker for symmetry - with a black hole in my brain around the Holocaust ... so. And resonating (as old men do, old women to no doubt) with Dyer's hints of aging and mortality ... double so. And knowing how water level determines the shapes of islands and promontories - when you drain the bath and find unexpected landscapes emerging, knees and toes, washrags, sunken toys - so the erosion of any vestigial hope that humans will get their collective thumbs out does reveal whatever is left standing, or even lying down in low relief. ... triple so, trifecta!

Ecocide: There is no economy on a dead planet.Louise Kulbicki from Eradicating Ecocide in Canada was there in Rio and Mangaratiba. She reveals (in this article: Insight into decision-making at Rio and here) that UNEP/DELC (United Nations Environment Programme Division of Environmental Law and Conventions) is every bit as permanently constipated as the rest of the UN. You can get a look at (and a listen to) Louise here (and maybe she is not from the Canadian wing after all, can't say).

Polly Higgins is unfortunately not quite convincing to me (very close but no cigar); watch these two videos and determine for yourself: here (11 minutes), and here (17 minutes).

And I am led (to go instead) looking for details of Richard Posner's hubris quibble (mentioned in Ole Pedersen's review of 'A Perfect Moral Storm').

I have a feeling I'll be back. A few links that may be useful:

Eradicating Ecocide (international I guess), and Eradicating Ecocide in Canada.


Polly Higgins' website; and her books: Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Stop the Destruction of the Planet, 2010; and, Earth is our Business, (possibly 2012 - How can the publisher, Shepheard-Walwyn, not type in the year of publication?); and a review of Earth is our Business in the Guardian.


A recent article by Lachie McKenzie, 'Can Lawyers Save the Planet?': here and here.


Toxic Canada.
         Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.
Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness,
And, being help'd, inhabits there.
Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act IV, Scene 2.
In the same way that Richard Nixon was exactly the epitome of the America he led; so Stephen Harper is Canada.

He did not get to be Prime Minister by accident (whatever you may say about our first-past-the-post electoral system). He and the style and content of his government are more-or-less what most Canadians want.

What will the streets of Canadian cities look like when the shit hits the fan? It might not be as pretty as that same 'most Canadians' assumes and expects.

Following along on Steve Gardiner's inventory of easily characterised and ethically analysable situations I had a look at a Mexican Standoff, and came across this: Canadian standoff (a situation where the parties are overly polite and unwilling to let themselves gain at another's expense). Another way to consider it might be as the passive-aggressive aspect of the psychology of the un-dead. (Please see if you can't slide the word 'pathological' into that sentence somehow.) And keep in mind that this Canadian standoff is a total sham - a thrice-inverted inversion; what it is really is nothing more than "pettiness that plays so rough".

Bottom line that afternoon was to fetch up on the memory of a late-80's movie, Miracle Mile (downloadable at isoHunt - though probably not for long). Here's a little (30 second) clip for y'all: Just your basic old fashioned girl (unrelated to any point or other - except that Mare Winningham is not Canadian).

[I was surprised to find that one of my children actually read as far as "What to do? (be warned up front gentle reader - I have no idea)," in the last post. Imagine! I think she was disappointed that I didn't know what to do. Who would have thought she still believed in me to that extent?
     In fact, I do have two ideas (suitable for tiny gray text):
     1. Vote with your feet and leave Canada, emigrate - Brasil, Denmark & the Falkland Islands are places I have considered, also Botswana. Not all peoples in the world are as fundamentally constipated (that is, having a big fat knot in their 0'th chakra) & terminally complacent as k-k-Canadians.
     2. Establish a primary residence in some city if you need to do that, but also provide yourself with a place as far off the beaten track as feasible - somewhere to settle when the bottom falls out. Make it humble and unostentatious - but entirely self sufficient. Maintain solid relations with any neighbours (but reserved - don't lie, dissemble). Keep (well hidden) guns there.
     If I still had the resources to accomplish it I would be there now and you and yours could come and visit ... or stay. Oh well.]
A veritable blizzard of misinformation from IISD & ECO (ECO maybe not quite so much). It's all "wasted words, proof to warn".

Peter Peter pumpkin eater.Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had the Earth and wouldn't keep her!
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he let her go to hell!

While IISD just reports (so sweetly): "Peter Kent, Minister of Environment, Canada, outlined his country’s continuing support to the Rio Conventions. Noting the world has changed significantly since 1992, he urged all stakeholders to overcome binary divisions and focus instead on actions that will make the biggest difference."

It feels like it needs a second verse, ending: "Oh! What a good boy am I!" 
Different strokes for different folks:

Snagging a fingernail in a silk stocking. Who even remembers silk?

'At university' one naturally takes up Kant - resounding categorical constructs an' all. Indeed, I remember winning an argument (with a Dutchman yet!) about not shooting obvious rapists carrying weapons as they smash through your families' front door - about not even providing yourself with the means to shoot them.

Of course who knew a damned thing about Kant? Not me; beyond some connection with the Golden Rule (but not quite, according to Kant himself - and that should have been a clue gentle reader). Precious hippies! Didn't know anything about rapists (still don't); didn't have any children ...

So Gardiner's bringing it up (on p380 & 382) ... resonated. The first hit slowed me right down, but the second one stopped me in my tracks. He says, "Now, most people do not find Kant's position compelling in this case. But we should be wary of simply rejecting it out of hand." (A lesson here for authors perhaps.) A snag! A hitch! And then, oh sweet Denial! (is a river in Egypt).

If you want to follow this trajectory, these may help: Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative; Benjamin Constant (and the other Benjamin Constant, because I lived for a few years on a street of that name in Rio Grande); and finally the argument - On a Supposed Right to Tell Lies from Benevolent Motives, 1785 (had a serious carrot up his arse did that Kant fellow).

This respect of Gardiner's for other points of view is not exaggerated, it is neither a pose nor a put-on. If Juliet's nurse were describing him she might say, "—why, he's a man of wax." (and have it right this time). 
Three of my heroines:
Tuíra Kayapó.
Tuíra Kayapó & Aloysio Guapindaia of Funai.Tuíra Kayapó & Erwin Kräutler with friends.Tuíra Kayapó.
Someone once explained to me that a man I admired had both feet firmly in his culture (while I had each of my four or five rather unsteadily in a different one, none of them mine).

Tuíra ... reminds me of someone I used to know. We could sure use more like her.
Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 1964.Aung San Suu Kyi, 1965.Aung San Suu Kyi, 1995.Aung San Suu Kyi, in Oslo 2012.Aung San Suu Kyi, in Oslo 2012.Aung San Suu Kyi gets a degree.
You can watch and listen to Aung San Suu Kyi's speech in Oslo on June 16 (she speaks from about minute 9:30 to 37:00 and the slider sorta works); and there is a transcript here.

She does spout the standard nonsense bumph around economic growth, "... promote social, political and economic growth that is balanced and sustainable," but she may not have really thought about it.

What comes across consistently though is a (Buddhist?) perspective focussed upon the quotidian, the ordinary; small virtues: kindness, gladness (implicit though she does not use the word).

Bunny Greenhouse.
Bunnatine Greenhouse, 2005.Bunnatine Greenhouse, 2005.Bunnatine Greenhouse, 2005.
"She hadde passed many a straunge strem; ... Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye."

I was not quite finished with Halliburton when she came on the scene. Here is a blog post from that time.

Bittersweet.Though the writing was on the wall when I heard the envy in the voices of KBR up-and-comers around Ken Lay - as we regarded the Enron towers from our window and chatted.

You can watch and listen to her in this video on C-Span. It is 2+ hours but sometimes the slider works - she comes in at about 33 minutes.

I was unaware that she had had a sort of victory until I read this a few days ago: A bittersweet win for a federal whistleblower in the Washington Post, July 26, 2011. 
Our lame ...

Think about this if you will: Japan, population 128 million; 10's of thousands demonstrating every day for a week recently over re-starting the nuclear plants - let's say 30,000 once or 1 in 4,500; 7.5 million signatures on a petition or 1 in 17. Canada, 35 million; 1,500 at rally in Ottawa last year or 1 in 23,000. USA: 314 million; 8,000 circle the White House over TransCanada's Keystone or 1 in 40,000. And the point is that it looking very much like the nuclear plants will re-open, and Keystone (and Gateway) will be built.

Tell me I'm crazy - I really do not mind at all, such an opinion would even be helpful, kind ... B-but folks ... This 'letters & petitions & demonstrations' thing ain't doin' it!

But what destroyed such a complex society? / Foot on fragment of Rio+20 Declaration.But what destroyed such a complex society? / Foot on fragment of Rio+20 Declaration.

Leonardo Boff is reported saying, "O Futuro que preparam na Rio+20 vai nos levar ao abismo." / The future they are preparing at Rio+20 will lead us to the abyss; and on their 'declaration', “É um documento materialista e miserável” / It is a materialist and miserable document.

I like Leonardo Boff. I used to practice my Português translating his editorials in the Jornal do Brasil. So I went looking for the source - never quite found it, long story; but here is some of what I did find:
An article from 2011: The Illusion of a Green Economy, and the (I imagine) original, A ilusão de uma economia verde, November 17 2011 (there is a language bar at the top of the People's Summit site - who looked?);

Leonardo Boff.And this by Evelyn Araripe on his speech at the Cupula dos Povos on June 18th at Aterro do Flamengo: Leonardo Boff critica ONU durante lançamento da Carta da Terra;

And some videos of it (though the audio is not great): Part 1 & Part 2 (25 minutes altogether in Portuguese); and another here (20 minutes in Spanish).
I like David Suzuki too, even when he uses phrases like "It's almost a cliché ..." (when it really is cliché) in his recent hand-wringing exercise: The fundamental failure of environmentalism in May. And his comment on Rio+20? "blah blah blah blah".

Both Leonardo Boff and David Suzuki know what is going on; and they both know how to say it, get it across. So do these young women:
          Severn Suzuki in Rio, 1992,
          Christina Ora in Copenhagen, 2009,
          Anjali Appadurai in Durban, 2011, and,
          Severn Suzuki, Rio again in 2012.

She says, "Our hope is love. ... We must ... leverage the love ..."
(Leverage the love!? [¿] Say wha?)
I'm sorry darlin'; I think I love as much as the next person but this ... doesn't wash. 
Ad Hominem: Steve Gardiner & 'A Perfect Moral Storm':

[Having completed the first reading there will now be a (possibly extended) hiatus; so this seems like a good place to try to say something ... conclusive.]

This one-sided (but more-or-less uncompelled & linear at least) conversation with books is as much about the reader and the author as it is about any information which may or may not be conveyed. And I've already said more than enough about the reader in this case - must be a boomer thing.

The author, Stephen Mark Gardiner, plays it straight. Does it get any better than that? Yeah I guess - because he knows his stuff, is earnest with both skill and substance, neither manipulates nor proselytizes nor wrings his hands ... All I can do is pour it on ...

Except for that one incongrous bit: The Fairy Tale in Chapter 5; (and, truth be told, a few minor hiccups noted marginally for review on the second pass).

Stephen Gardiner.Stephen Gardiner.Stephen Gardiner.Stephen Gardiner.

He does look a bit like Ralph Nader in that first picture eh?

My only real quibble is with his 2020-2050 timeline, and no footnote. I've read as much of the science as he has (I think) and 2015 looks like the do-or-die drop-dead date to me. Maybe that will get clearer the second time through. Maybe it is a function of age (biology) and inertia and resulting horizons - anyway it's a guess, on both our parts.

One sentence, stumbled into by mistake, accident, "In my view, prominent among these is the task of bearing witness to serious wrongs even when there is little hope of change," made all the difference, like a glance from across the room (see Juliet's nurse below). That's it really.

There is despair (which I am even beginning to enjoy in a way, if only for bragging on the stamina & sense of humour I inherited from my father), and then there is guilt (which I am well used to). I already have toilet paper and a refrigerator, an electric stove ... gave up the car and air flights, red meat and poultry (except very occasionally) ... air-conditioning ... none of which washes either.

And a window.

(I would give up smoking but it's sort of a security blanket, or insurance, or something ...)

Be well.

1. Xingu+23: Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (MXVPS) / Xingu live forever movement

Eu defendo ...Tuíra Kayapó & José Antonio Muniz Lopes, 1989.A bit of history (in English yet): It was at the First Encounter of the Indigenous Nations of the Xingu (Encontro das Nações Indígenas do Xingu), the 1989 'Altamira Gathering', that Tuíra Kayapó cursed Eletronorte' honcho José Antonio Muniz Lopes.

Give the man credit - it doesn't look like he flinched.

I do not and will not celebrate +20 or +40 or +50 years of pricey but useless UN gum-flapping - but I sure do celebrate this! With all my heart. What a woman! Que este espírito viva para sempre, sim!

And Look at the pictures below (if you click on them you will see them larger). Anyone who has ever dug such a ditch through compacted gravel will know that the energy expended here was VERY substantial.
Nos Não Queremos Belo Monte! / We Dont' Want Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!Pare Belo Monte! / Stop Belo Monte!
You can visit MXVPS - O Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (MXVPS) / Xingu live forever movement, and read the Declaração final do Xingu+23 (with English translation).
Eu defendo ...Xingu+23.At a bus stop in Belém.At a bus stop in Belém.Xingu+23: Occupy! This River is OURS!

This interview with Erwin Kräutler by Eliane Brum in Época is good; and finally, a tune by Gilberto Gil: Um Sonho / 'A Dream' (with English subtitles). 
2. Solstice: June 20 23:09

I sat in the park, hoping that the people who celebrated solstice there last year might turn up again. They didn't. At one point a young man I recognized from the adjacent library came out and was picking up trash, so I spoke to him (imagining that he was doing something above-and-beyond). He wasn't. Picking up trash around the library and cleaning the public toilets inside is part of his job description.

So then I had to think of the young woman working in the library who recently commented on a book I was borrowing, "That's a heavy one eh?" Not a comment I expected from a librarian (but because they so rarely speak to me at all I am thankful and smile at her now whenever I see her there).

Next thing I was recognizing (and not for the first time): that although I have been visiting this library at least once a week for more than four years; and although I regularly praise the library staff and the Toronto Public Library in general for being 'the only thing that works in Toronto' (to their faces); and having offered them a crisp red 50 for their Christmas party one year (which was refused); and having supported them in the recent labour dispute with letters and emails to all and sundry; that in spite of all of this I do not know even the first name of a single person who works there.
(!) Uh oh.
The half-dozen times I have tried to start a conversation with one of them on this subject have been unsuccessful - they are too busy to chat.

Soon I was humming Lennie Cone, "And you're weak and you're harmless, and you're sleeping in your harness, and the wind's going wild in the trees, and it ain't exactly prison but you'll never be forgiven for whatever you've done with the keys."

So ... Margaret Atwood (who is old enough to know better and actually hob-nobbed with Northrop Frye back in the day), and Bob&Rob Ford, and Sid Ryan (the nincompoop), Maureen O’Reilly & the whole of CUPE Local 4948 ... you have all got this stick by the wrong end, and ... I am done with you.

Blame it on too much 'lesser evil' meditation too close to the solstice.

Oh tell me honey, what will I do            
When I am hungry and thirsty too?     
Feelin' foolish and that's for sure,         
Just waitin' here at your kitchen door.
[He may not mean 'I don't care' exactly - maybe it is some kind of ... acceptance.]

[Eddie died last year, asbestosis. No one told me - no problem, eventually it came up. I have exactly one picture of him and that's it.] 
One More Clue:

[It was Roger Scruton who turned me on to glances. (Sexual Desire 1986)]

Juliet's nurse!

Perhaps it was more than a silly mistake that led to 11/VII instead of the really last chapter; a fortuitous accident and 'for the best'. Superstitious correspondences are necessary to set the stage - it must always be framed 'as if', even when what it is is 'is'. (If wishes were horses beggars would ride.) A glance then. More than just a pretty face.

We had to read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in high-school, grade 9 or 10; and then they took us to Stratford (Ontar[i-ar]io) to see it. Though it was not as useful as it might have been since we knew so little about anything, nothing in fact, or as close to nothing as they could engineer and still have us walk and talk. At least when Zeffirelli's film came out in '68 the language was not so ... strange. Luhrmann's 1996 version is good too (we were all grown up by then, we thought).

Best is to revisit the text itself - and not on the Internet, in a book you hold in your hot little hands - avoid Zeffirelli playing fast and loose with Paris' death and so on ...

Zeffirelli's nurse was played by Pat Heywood, about 35 at the time. (She seems to be gat-toothed but she is not.)

There is a download at demonoid (beware!) for as long as it lasts.

The nurse's scenes:
       Context firmly in the fundament: 1/3
       Essential purveyor of 'data':
              At the party: 1/5
              In the square: 2/4
              In the orchard: 2/5
       Betrayal 1: 3/2
       Messenger: 3/3
       Betrayal 2: 3/5
       A psychopomp crow ('Nothing is revealed.'): 4/5.

She says one or two things which I have never forgot: "He that can lay hold of her shall have the chinks." (1/5), and, "I'm none of his flirt-gills; I'm none of his skains-mates." (2/4) in particular.

"I dare no longer stay," says the priest (5/3). Got that right.

Coming away with one positive vision: the amazing bed! Superior in many ways to The Great Bed of Ware. I can't find a picture of it anywhere - but I have it in mind.

[The 'Go to' button is working again! These guys are like butterflies; or moths more like it.] 

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