Monday 25 February 2013

A Chicken Little kinda guy.

or: Wolf! WOLF!! There's a wolf among the sheep!                         Up, Down.     Little Famine Moon 
Contents: Ron Plain, Fairy Tales:(Chicken Little, Walt Disney, Emily Dickinson), Internet:(Darn Google!  Spammers), Manic:(Joe Oliver, Resonance, Dissecting Live Frogs), Standstill, Belo Sun again, Barach Obama - a Freudian typo, Fracking Maps, Bucket Toilets, Two articles:(Will Braun, Brendan Smith), Lately, Cosmic Wrapup, Beyond the Zero.

Musak® this time is The Kinks from 1965 and Tired of Waiting, and Ride On, Ride On In Majesty - the tune was going through my head for a week before I called someone to ask if they could remember what it is. It's the four rising notes at the beginning of the third line, 'thy hum-ble beast', that almost seem to be in a different key and had me captivated. Easter's comin'. Imagine!
The MOFOs are going after Ron Plain!   (!!!)
[and I have cooled down somewhat since I heard about it a few days ago]

Judge David Brown.
Judge David Brown: conservative1; urbane2; anti-abortion3; ex- Bay Street lawyer and erstwhile candidate for the Supreme Court4; having undersigned dangerous police toys 5; having refused the occupiers of St. James' park6; and having seen his injunction on the blockade of CN in Aamjiwnaang ignored by several honest (and senior) policemen7,8 and a (duly elected) mayor9; and being maybe a little too well connected with CN10; is now pursuing Ron Plain for Contempt of Court11.    (¿!)
Ron Plain & Elizabeth May.Ron Plain.The potential penalties are severe: indefinite jail time, an unspecified fine, and CN’s estimated $180-200,000 legal fees as well as his own. You can help him here.

All of those on the blockade and Ron Plain deserve honour for their courage and fortitude not disrespect and ridiculous charges. They are heroes. If Mr. Brown must be a bully and needs someone to persecute then why doesn't he pick on someone his own size? OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis say, or Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson or Mayor Mike Bradley? ... Or me. He will certainly find contempt in this house, for himself and any court he runs.

1 All rise for David Brown, National Post, October 2 2006.
2 Occupy Toronto judge a student of Chinese and the Civil War, Toronto Star, November 17 2011.
3 Catholic lawyer appointed to the Ontario bench, Canadian Catholic News, October 2 2006.
4 Two Ontario judges frontrunners for Supreme Court vacancies, Globe, Wednesday June 8 2011.
5 No injunction against LRAD, Toronto Police Service, June 25 2010.
6 Batty v. City of Toronto, 2011 ONSC 6862 / 11439487-0000, Superior Court of Ontario, November 21 2011.
7 A police commissioner Canadians can be proud of, Globe, January 18, on OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis.
8 Police chief, protesters in court, London Free Press, Wednesday January 2, on Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson.
9 Sarnia police & mayor will not shut it down, APTN, December 24 2012, on Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.
10 Judge in Aamjiwnaang blockade didn’t disclose past work for CN, Sarnia This Week, Friday February 22.
11 Legal defense fund to support Ron Plain, February 18. 
¡Ya basta!Here are two versions of Chicken Little, Henny Penny, the end of the world, The Sky Is Falling! ... there are many. Walt Disney (1901-1966) made a cartoon of it in 1943 which is quite good. You can watch it on YouTube (8 minutes). If you want to take a bearing on how far Hollywood has devolved since then watch the 2005 version by 'Disney Studios' - you can download it from IsoHunt.

Chicken Little denouement.The 1943 version may be referring to Edward Bernays' 1928 book Propaganda. (Bernays was Sigmund Freud's nephew. I am sure I have mentioned this book here before but I can't find where! Anyway, there is an on-line pdf.) Maslow was coming on strong in the early 40s, maybe it's him?    In any event it does end with a satisfyingly consistent Ragnarök burp.

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil, by JooHee Yoon.I trust the parallels with the environmental apocalypse do not have to be spelled out.

Then there is 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'; and The Snow Queen, Vonnegut's Ice-9 in Cat's Cradle, Narnia ... and so on. Threads into and out of the Cone of Silence abound.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.All good things, but particularly education, come from the bourgeoisie. These fables point the way into a thicket, a tangle in the collective internal landscape causing near universal (but approximately polite) refusal to see hear or speak, nevermind act. This inertia (stoppage?) which may well prove terminal, afflicts the 'environmental movement' too (except such as Michael Brune,¡Ya basta! the Tar Sands Blockade, the Unist'ot'en Camp ... there are points of light here and there, yes there are).

Bring on the mineral oil! (That's what my mother used on me.) 
Given that it was Walt himself who came up with 'imagineering' in 1952, we know that he was with the program - and since his death The Walt Disney Company, The Walt Disney Studios, and so on have carried it to a sort of logical (if daemonic) epitome. There is room here to get into the devolution of imaginative fiction within corporate culture ... maybe another time.

Traces of 'the sky is falling' obviously run through notions such as the death of God; as well as more personal (but perhaps about equivalent) psychological states: despair & anhedonia (DSM 311), loss of identity (DSM 313.82 not a disorder but a 'focus') and the like; with or without coding schemas. 
 Emily Dickinson #340:

I felt a funeral in my brain,
         And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
         That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
         A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
         My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
         And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead,
         Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
         And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
         Wrecked, solitary, here.

And then a plank in reason, broke,
         And I dropped down and down—
And hit a world at every plunge,
         And finished knowing—then—
Hmmm ... let's have it without. Maybe I'm not interested in disorders. Is birth a disorder? Middle age? Death? What about inspiration, joy, grief? Making categories is fine with me - as long as you have your axioms well understood and firmly in hand (but it's not a science and they don't).

And the trace of the trajectory that brought me here went like this: from a remark by a muse; to identifying 'The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English ...' by Paul Legault (Canadian?) in 2012; to a review; and then to the poem on the right (accepting the controversy over the last stanza and absent Legault altogether).

Is there irony in 'breaking through'? Must be, given the 'boots of lead' later on. And since she did not insist on that last stanza, is the exquisite ambiguity of that final line ... warranted? intentional even? 
Darn Google!   The pesky feckers have changed the image upload interface again - effectively reducing the maximum dimension of images from 400 pixels to 320. And now the images come up in no consistent order at all - I guess one way of dealing with the inability to write a proper loop is not to use 'em.

A-and the HTML thought police are at it to an increasing degree every week - capitalized tags are no longer permitted, capitalized closing tags are still left alone but it's a matter of time. I like to see the HTML in CAPS so I can sort it out of the actual text more easily. You know, the 'actual text' - what you came there to say.

/TABLE, /P, & /DIV tags now automatically eat up following blank lines, one blank line disappears each time you save until you stabilize it with non-breaking blanks. The problem with these techie nerds is that they never actually DO anything with any of this stuff. That goes for their search engine too I think. I guess their masters are either totally wrapped up in HR gobbledegook (stroking the aphids) or fixated on the stock price.

Any real HTML errors get you a pop-up message - but not to identify where the error is anymore, just that there is one, somewhere. Fifty ways to engender creative paranoia among users.

Oh well ... It's wet and it's warm and it's free eh? 
Spammers on the other hand, seem to be getting cleverer. There are fewer messages from them - down to 150 from 250 a month on average for me since New Year's - but some really do look real. There must be increasing numbers of people getting fooled. There are still clues in the URLs - "\embolism\index.html" doesn't make the cut as an address for a Verizon invoice - otherwise, if I had a Verizon acccount I might be tempted. Generally fewer obvious typos too; not so much of the "your Co-operatvie bank Online account" kind of thing.

So, the rich get richer (and complacency creeps in) and the hungry get hungry enough to begin to think about what they are doing. 
Manic Moment:   An email buddy mentions David Suzuki's latest on CBC: The Nature of Things: Shattered Ground (first aired February 7th, you can watch it on-line if you can stomach the ads). About the same time I trip over Joe Oliver's "you'll be able to drink from them," quote (such outrageous arrogance!), also at CBC. There is a vague impropriety in 'Frack No!' which appeals. I go looking for images and suddenly ... There is a connection! So I cobble Joe Oliver's name into an image and whip up an email:

Frack No!Frack No!
Minister [Joe Oliver] says tailings ponds will be so clean 'you'll be able to drink from them', you can see him say it here: [~~url~~].

Watch this (put up with the ads) and get informed. The Nature of Things: Shattered Ground, aired Thursday February 7 on CBC-TV, available on-line at

Oh sure, fracking is not the same as mining the tar sands. You think?

And not every fracking well spoils their neighbours' water - only about 15% of 'em. So ... would you cross the street with a 15% chance that you would not get to the other side? But EVERY fracking well makes climate change and global warming FASTER and WORSE! (other things being equal).

This is 2013. In the history books it will be known as "Lucky '13 - The year we turned it around!" - so, send this on to 13 friends and just see if your luck doesn't change. :-)

Or, if you think it's nonsense, please tell me why?

(In respectful and honouring memory of Wiebo Ludwig 1941-2012.)

and send it off to the top 13 email contacts in my address book I think might actually read it. 
Resonance? Some, not much.

[Hey! Waidaminit! When did I cop to this 'manic' thing, anyway?! Nothing very Buddhist about that.]

Alberto Benett: Olha, achei o meu traço! ... / Look, I found my line! ...Alberto Benett: Olha, achei o meu traço! ... / Look, I found my line! ...
I am on the phone soon after with my sister. She is off to Cuba or somewhere south & warm but not too far and my voice is rising. I say, "Don't you know that we have to stop all this flying about?!" And she says, "I can't be taking care of the planet. It's too much!" Her voice is rising too. ... I try to laugh it off but the damage is done - on both sides.

Leo Jung in the NYT, smoke.Leo Jung in the NYT, smoke.
And then I get an email back from an activist, or someone I met at a demonstration at least, someone I respect, considerably; and she tells me that she believes Joe Oliver. Yes, "The land will be brought back to its original state," and yes, "You'll be able to drink from them [the tailings ponds]," and there are a few links to news articles from the Calgary Herald to prove it.

I am shocked, stunned to silence. I shut up for an hour or so before answering, very politely (being as she is one of the few who answer my emails at all), but I guess the strength of my feeling gets through somehow and it ends in equivocation, yes and no together. Silence. Oh my.

My son answers too - his is the 14th because I know he does not open group emails. He is asking why I keep on with this? Why indeed? Nothing else to do is the short answer. I'll do it again no doubt but with less enthusiasm; or maybe I won't, maybe that was the last. 
When I was a boy we caught frogs and cut them up alive. I don't think it was pathological but maybe it was - I don't remember knowing that it was wrong - we all did it. Someone showed me that if you touch the exposed spinal cord with the tip of the knife the legs will kick sometimes - even when the frog is well dead, gutless, headless. We all carried pocket knives and knew how to keep them sharp, knew not to cut towards yourself; and we didn't know it was wrong to do such things to frogs.

So, that is something that I know. With the aid of 20/20 hindsight I also know that it was cruel, wrong. When my children got to the stage of chasing cats and tormenting them I would put a stop to it.

A friend of mine thought the bark on birch trees re-grows when it is stripped off for, say, use in canoes. And he didn't want to believe me when I told him otherwise. Knowledge and authority. I was in a boy's choir and was not abused so I know that not all choirboys are abused; nor is every one who attends an English boarding school either (I imagine) ...

Almost no one carries a pocket knife anymore - they set off metal detectors and are hard to explain. You can get into serious trouble in an airport. If you remember to pack it in your checked baggage it's OK; but I got away from checked baggage in the last years I was flying; and anyway, who can remember? Too fussy ... easier just to let pocket knives go.

"Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Probably not an exaggeration, here. Now they imagine that taking the guns away will lower suicide rates - and maybe it will - but if you really want to lower suicide rates, well, promoting straight talk between individuals might accomplish more. And anyway, your life is your own - it does not belong to anyone else not even the government (though they would like that I think). 

Jim Hansen of NASA/NOAA announces a report: Global Temperature Update Through 2012, J. Hansen, M. Sato, R. Ruedy, 15th of January (and here).

Within a few days the deniers and their adherents leap all over it: James Hansen Admits Global Temperature Standstill Is Real from David Whitehouse of Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF); and, Nota Bene: Hansen admits warming standstill is real from the Financial Post.

At the same time there are developments on the aerosol front: Black carbon causes twice as much global warming than previously thought, referring to 'Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system; A scientific assessment' which you can find here: abstract & the complete paper (250+ pages).

Some background on the issue from last year: 'Aerosols implicated as a prime driver of twentieth-century North Atlantic climate variability' Ben Booth et al. in Nature; an open copy on someone's blog; or the very expensive original.

And more from 2005, also in Nature: A commentary - Pollutants ward off global warming, study finds; and the paper itself 'Global estimate of aerosol direct radiative forcing from satellite measurements' Nicolas Bellouin et al.; an open copy at NASA; or the very expensive original. 

"The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade," says Hansen. Maybe it's aerosols he muses (which is why I went back and brushed up on them a bit). If I remember right there was a time when black soot was pegged for the snow loss on Mount Kilimanjaro, heating things up by reducing albedo. Turns out its role is more complicated, like clouds; effects cutting both ways, possibly balancing, who knows? (You mean that air from Beijing goes ... everywhere?)

Tom Toles: 'You can't get there from here' (as the Eskimo said to the Scotsman.In Geometry you can learn the Axioms & Theorems and go ahead proving Propositions one on top of the other quite confident in each QED, even if the exact details of some of the underlying proofs get to be hazy. I used to be able to do Pythagoras three different ways drunk or sober - not so anymore. This is where not being a scientist AND not having much of a memory left smarts.

If the temperature record were the only evidence then a flat decade on the curve would be very troubling. It is anyway, but temperature is not the only evidence. Ocean acidifiction, disappearance of polar ice, migration of the Sahel southwards, methane bubbling up from the permafrost & the Arctic Ocean ... and so many consequences of unbridled human greed and complacency: extinction of every species touched by an economy, pollution (aside from CO2), distortions in the Phosphorous cycle ... and the moral knowledge that the welfare of future generations is not being considered, at all, not even lip service, indeed the welfare of anyone beyond immediate protagonists ignored, patently venal and self-serving politics & bureaucracy at a global scale (and exclusively for the benefit of the exclusive), economists sooo unwilling to include 'externalities' on their balance sheets, absense of any ...

... well, you can see what I mean. 
Belo Sun Mining Corp., Canada (BSX:CN).A very little bit more about Stan Bharti & Belo Sun:

An interview with Stan Bharti himself: Top Mining Minds: Stan Bharti, Forbes & Manhattan by Kirk Exner on February 12. Now, MiningFeedsTM is the (self proclaimed) "internet's #1 financial website featuring information news and editorial focused on mining." So how can it be that in this interview, well after the news has leaked out on what the MPF thinks of Belo Sun's Volta Grande, there is nary a mention of of it?

Kirk Exner of MiningFeeds.Exner does reiterate Stan's opinion that "Forbes & Manhattan [is] one of the preeminent mining merchant banking organizations in Canada." Another mining blog is more forthcoming: Why (oh why) is Stan Bharti's Belo Sun ( down 14.5% this year?

[I am still confused about the dates on those MPF recommendations? January 14th & 21st, both Mondays - but how is it that people who really are watching like Amigos da Terra didn't pick it up before February 5th? And giving as their source the MPF itself? I don't get it.]

The stock continues to bounce around. A report from MarketWire circulates widely, and is repeated in the Globe: "Belo Sun Mining Corp. (TSX:BSX) confirms that the environmental licensing process for the company's Volta Grande Project (the 'Project') continues in the ordinary course. To correct recent media reports, Belo Sun confirms that its licensing application has not been rejected," which could be called ... dissembling.

Meanwhile: Falling bullion prices: For gold, all the good news is bad, and the rejection gets recognized and handed around: Monga Bay and Amazon Watch catch up with the story. 
Barach Obama, a Freudian typo:    I came across a typo on a website: 'Barach Obama'. They've probably fixed it by now (... nope, still there as of now). I thought I remembered the word from some other when and looked it up. 'Barach' (not 'baruch' which is a blessing) is transliterated Hebrew for ‘to go through, flee’ according to Strong's. Apt, because the last time this kind of pressure came on he refocussed (fled?) into health reform and more smoke than heat or light came out of it. This time it looks like immigration. Not that these issues ain’t important y’unnerstan’ [but when she says at 10:55, "My dad wants me home by 11," you already know it has nothing to do with the time]. There's a Freudian term for this kind of behaviour (Barack Obama, not the girl), one of the 'defence mechanisms' is it? ... Sublimation? Displacement? Introjection even (from the Republicans)?

I have seen reports that Keystone will be decided by a State Department environmental review due April 1st (also apt, timing-wise, if the reports are correct). But what (read WTF!) has an environmental review, presumably limited to Oklahoma, got to do with it? It's GLOBAL! I understand that this may be a difficult concept for some Americans to grasp.

And 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 ain't enough anyway is it? Just something for the pundits to jizz about: Barack Obama 'cannot cut emissions without decisive new actions'; and, Can The U.S. Get There From Here? (the report is available for download here).

Like the cartoonist Tom Toles (above) they are using that phrase 'get there from here'. "'You can't get there from here' said the Eskimo to the Scotsman" should be on par with "Said the actress to the bishop" by my lights. 
At the Keystone protest Robert Kennedy Jr. was saying, "I think he [President Obama] has a strong moral core and I think John Kerry does too and I think ultmately he would not do something that is this catastrophic and irresponsible and reckless." That seems optimistic to me, overly optimistic given Obama's record on moral issues: Guantanamo, drone strikes ... whatever. But Michael Brune does get to the high ground. He wants to "show the President that we've got his back." This provides for the positive without the necessity of deciding what the level of Obama's morality is or is not. Michael's ten minute speech at the rally on the 17th is here.

[Ah! It just came to me how he will skirt this issue - he will throw John Kerry under the bus!]

Some people believe the climate ultimatum in his State of the Union speech - but it looks like a shell game to me. You can watch the full hour (7,000 words), or the three minutes (500 words) on the climate issue; less than 10% on climate either way. If he were serious about it and sincere then the entire thing would have been quite different.

Less guff about natural gas for one thing. It was not quite as over-the-top as it was last year when he said, "We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years." Here, watch & listen to him: short clip of the 2012 State of the Union (~1 minute). And "without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk" too. Or watch the 2012 speech in in Cushing, Oklahoma as part of his 'All Of The Above' tour. Bollocks! There is natural gas comin' outa his mouth and you don't have to frack to get at it. 
An idea of the density of wells.An idea of the scale in the US.Misinformation like this from such a height makes me so ... angry sometimes, frustrated, speechless. It is flat-out lies, and people believe them!

[I saw a chart of the chakras once that identified the proper 'healthy' opening of the 7th as acceptance and the unhealthy as anger; nonsense of course, if you get there (which very few accomplish) I imagine there is neither anger nor acceptance but ... How would I know?    What was that brag on coal? Enough to last 500 years? So the natural gas brag is just 100 years?! Chump change. Anyway ...]

Here are several reports to refute this particular nonsense:
       100 years worth of natural gas? Not likely and no thanks, pdf here.
       Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a New Era of Energy Abundance?
                            pdf here. [Short answer: No.]
And a few resources to get a better idea of the scale and intensity of it:
       FracTracker display the continental US (with an ESRI tool, probably pricey).
       Post Carbon - you must use their buttons to get to the map, (from DI Desktop).

Worldwide Shale Gas Resources.Keep in mind that the world is not the continental U.S. of A. The gray parts of that map to the left there indicate 'no information' not 'no shale gas'. I can't find maps of what is going on in Great Britain and elsewhere, but you can bet it is going on like Gangbusters!

Interesting ... Some of the images in David Hughes' report (above) obviously come from Google Maps, but I can't find where they cooked them up; nor even how how to do such things with Google Maps. It's a conspiracy eh? GIS systems are such powerful communication tools that they keep 'em safely out of the hands of the hoi polloi. :-) 
Toilets again:    Bucket toilets: The lingering shame of Mangaung, Greg Marinovich, with photographs by his wife Leonie. The pictures were taken in MK, an 'informal settlement' in Mangaung township, which is in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality population ~700,000 (which includes the small city of Bloemfontein population ~300,000), which is in central South Africa. Wikipedia tells me Bloemfontein is known as 'the city of roses'. OK. This practice goes on in other places; Hennenman is mentioned, which is not far (about 100 miles) from Bloemfontein. Probably it goes on in many places, and not just in South Africa.

Bucket Toilet in Mangaung.Bucket Toilet in Mangaung.The idea is you shit into a bucket and the bucket is collected by a truck, a nagkar or night car, actually a tractor and trailer. You empty your own bucket into whatever is on the trailer, and it is taken somewhere. (?) Dumped in the river? To a functioning sewage treatment plant? To a non-functioning one? To a composting facility? What?

By 'shame' Greg apparently means that the government is not doing its job and properly disposing of sewage. There is the risk of spreading disease (from the practice? or from poorly executing it?); also, it is appalling and undignified; he says, "The danger of the bucket system cannot be underestimated. Many a child has fallen into the reeking bucket when using the toilet unsupervised." Very small children, very large buckets, OK.

If this hand-wringing motivates some politico to do something (which I assume is Greg & his wife's intention) it will just be to make the problem disappear - build a sewage treatment plant if extorted $ permit (which, if sufficiently mis-managed will direct the sewage into a convenient river, if there is one). But the problem is waaaay bigger than that. I have mentioned the phosphorous cycle here before (there is a Tag). ... It's a long story. In this case I don't think ramping up shame will contribute much to finding sustainable solutions. In fact, given the issue (shitting) the opposite is needed. 
A thoughtful piece on pipelines:

David & Naomi Wenger.Crossing the (pipe) line by Will Braun in the Canadian Mennonite Magazine. He mentions The Hermitage in Three Rivers, Michigan (on this map).

I used to sell windmill parts to the Amish in southern Ontario & northern New York state and I got to like them very much. Recently Canadian Mennonite Magazine came onto my radar; and I started reading this particular article several times but got turned off - it seemed sentimental, hand-wringing - but eventually I read all of it and found I had been mistaken. A minor quibble - he takes McKibben at his word on having written the 'first' book etc., but OK.

Will Braun.Will Braun.Very importantly, he grasps the connection - not just of university investments, but of pension plans and personal portfolios - to the construction of these pipelines and to the oil industry in general. This is crucial to establishing a clear moral basis for action, and understanding complicity among the multitudes (and consequently some of the inertia).

And he brings into focus the kinds of struggles & difficulties that people of (truely) good conscience experience around this business. Not black & white and I recommend it.

I used to think that the MCC held a special place among NGOs. I had a vision of an organization functioning directly from grass roots - an upside-down bureaucracy, inverted and .... acceptable. I can't remember where that vision came from; maybe it was the two books they sponsored on the Israel/Palestine troubles in the 70s (which I have lost). Not so of course; an idealistic vision unrealized, as another recent article by him clearly shows. 
And a noteworthy piece on Keystone: Thoughtful? Not so much; but yeah, noteworthy - because while not original work for Rabble, syndicated from elsewhere and all ... it sits first-up on a page dominated by (presumably paid) ads for unions: USW (United Steelworkers), CEP (Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada), CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers), PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada) ... and in the emasculated environment of k-k-Canadian journalism this counts as being ballsy.

Five reasons the Keystone XL pipeline is bad for jobs, as well as the environment, Brendan Smith. Grant you the desperate fear in the anal sphincter of all union honchos - that the membership will lose their (unjustified?) membership in sunchine clubs everywhere and the honchos their SUVs - is not mentioned, OK.

(Some news from France on that front: Quel Brouhaha! A Diatribe on Unions Irks the French. It looks to me like this Grizz person, Morry Taylor of Titan International was doing no more than tell some version of the truth.)

Brendan Smith.Brendan Smith.Brendan Smith.The five reasons cover the ground ... approximately and in no particular order, slap dash. He's a fisherman so he knows something and he is trying to get it out - despite also being a lawyer.

Lawyers tend to be harshly dismissed - with reason much of the time. I have been watching the progress of Climate Justice in the latest round of UN meetings around UNEP in Nairobi. It came into focus for me at the end of Rio+20 when it seemed the only faintly hopeful glimmering to emerge. Sometime soon I will post something ... maybe. The latest I have seen is here. 
Across this table lately:

1) Forgot to put self-immolation on that number line a while ago: As Self-Immolations Near 100, Tibetans Question the Effect. Fits in between Hunger Strike and Insurrection I guess.


2) The toenail curling gang rape and murder of Anene Booysens in South Africa. She lives long enough to identify at least one of the rapists.


3) The arrest and conviction of Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a journalist (who never publishes any story), and an alleged rape victim, Lul Ali Osman, in Somalia. Each report is a little different. Another journalist, Daud Abdi Daud, who speaks out against this travesty of justice is also arrested, as is the husband of the woman and several others apparently.


4) An alleged witch is burnt alive in Papua New Guinea. (Better arrested than burnt.)

[Yes, I know what this looks like. But there is nothing inhuman about any of these stories; brutal, yes, but well covered in the OEM specification and well understood by most.]

5) Hamada Saber is beaten by police at a protest in Egypt, there's a video and all, but the story unravels into uncertainty & equivocation.


6) Two approximately contradictory bits of descriptive text are attached to the same collection of photographs in the NYT: The Luckiest Place on Earth aka In the Belly of the Boom in North Dakota. Is it a surprise that the liberal press tries to play both sides?


7) "The COW met throughout the day and into the night ..." from the UN's Earth Negotiations Bulletin; COW is UN-speak for Committee of the Whole - sometimes there is at least a laugh to be had from it - a sacred cow and very expensive to feed (for no milk). Several thousand (I assume) of them gather in Nairobi at premium rates to discuss the future of UNEP - not if there will be a future but the details of how they will continue to be paid for doing nothing but invent COWs while many starve (to death).


8) Labour troubles are ongoing in South Africa: R105 a day: Farmworkers ... uneasy compromise. R105 is ~12$CDN (ZAR to CAD here), so say, $300 a month (25 days, more than you). The platinum miners had $500 and wanted $1,500, not sure what they got ... up 22% according to this, so $600 or so, not much. But it seems to have broken the plutocrats' back. "Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) ... plans to mothball its Kusuleka and Khomanani shafts in Rustenburg," says this). A salário mínimo in Brazil is now R$671 (~$330CDN). The effective Canadian minimum is ~$1,200 a month based on CPP topped up with welfare.


9) I was going to go on about cotton; save it for later; here's a few teasers (you must learn your 32 x table): Upland and Pima classifications (Egyptian cotton, the gold standard, fits in at the high end of Pima). Why is it that every T-shirt I buy lasts about half as long as the ones I bought last time I wonder? Or give up T-shirts & gauch altogether? How much stuff do you need?

The Standard Model of something.So ... where do you draw the line?

The news came to me first from South Africa via The Daily Maverick's (daily) newsletter:
If you use all the physics that we know now and you do what you think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news. It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable and at some point billions of years from now it's all going to get wiped out.
Joseph Lykken & Keith Ellis.Joseph Lykken.Joseph Lykken.Then from Reuters, the BBC ... and ultimately the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a presentation by Joseph Lykken at their annual meeting (abstract):

If discovered in 2012, the Higgs would represent the first fundamental force to be found for over a century, responsible for the shortest-range interactions of nature, occurring everywhere to give mass to a dozen varieties of elementary particles. A discovery would raise questions that could lead to a more unified description of the quantum world that includes gravity. If the Higgs is excluded, physics would be back to the drawing board.

'If'?! Have we not (even) definitely got one of these Higgs Bosons yet?! 
Joseph Lykken works at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and a recent article in Nature points us to what looks like some of his original work: Have We Observed the Higgs (Imposter)? which clearly suggests it may not be Higgs Boson (nor Higg's nor Higgs') at all. (?) Ach! Those damned media! Nothing going on but a gazillion to one shot that the sky might fall in a gazillion years from now. A-and our Joseph does know how to maximize his profile in an age of sequestration and the like.

Still ... I wonder what João Magueijo thinks about it? (He figured here in 2010.) Ah! He's off ranting about banks: A República das Putas / The Republic of Whores; Google Translate makes a mess of it, maybe I will work on that after a while. 
I woke up today humming Atlantic City;. "Well now everything dies baby that's a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back ..."       Should'a known :-)

It was windy the other day - one of those spirit winds. A man, not a young man but I could not see if he was very old, walked down the alley making bubbles with a bucket of soapy water and some kind of rope thing on a stick. I saw the bubbles first, huge ones floating by. Delightful. For a little while the air was full of 'em. It takes ten minutes to get my socks on and me out the door or I would've gone down and encouraged him. I would have done it out the window but he was gone before I could get it open.

Ah, a late comer, I found this today on Guy McPherson's website: Spreading the horror, with a link to Aerosmith (which in this context could be viewed as an argument against suicide) and this music took me in turn to Caetano Veloso & Terra (translated lyrics here). This tune always touches me deeply (being one of those knuckleheads who sings love songs to snowstorms) ...

Again I apologize that this post is so long. No matter really since I don't know of anyone (except you gentle reader) who bothers with it.

Be well.
[ ... and meet me tonight in Atlantic City. The sky may not fall ... after all. Who knows?] 
Beyond the Zero:    Towards the end of 'Two: Iceland Spar' in Pynchon's Against the Day the prose seems to get a bit uneven, but it picks up again in 'Three: Bilocations'. Being an unrepentant old whoremonger I am attracted to salacious bits and anything with lesbians in especially (no threat you see, and no expectations) so the next part I have excerpted is the story of Yashmeen Halfcourt & Cyprian Latewood in Bilocations part 5.

                         One: The Light Over the Ranges part 5 - Lew Basnight becomes a detective, and
                         Two: Iceland Spar part 12 - Lake Traverse marries Deuce Kindred.

Just about half way now. I skipped and read the very end but it didn't make much sense without the intervening ... so I am back plodding.

I wonder if there is any useful comparison (beyond length & the letter 'P') to be made between Pynchon & Proust? Couldn't read Proust (in translation) so I'll never know. 

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