Sunday 10 February 2013

Trying to nail down a blob of mercury; Clutching at straws; Whatever.

or: Wha ... ?    said Jack the lad.                                                                         Up, Down.           Year of the Snake 

¡Ya basta!I'm sorry gentle reader ... It's a bust. I blew it! Lucky '13 nothin'! (Joking, sort of :-) Sliding back into a familiar holding pattern. My son thinks I am (just) waiting to die. This is not the case, but yes, I am waiting ("Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" ... "No sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.") and it has almost always been this way, separated by episodes of extreme good luck.    Theme music from our Lennie I guess: 'Light As The Breeze' (out of context of course) and sung this time by Billy Joel (or himself if you prefer).

[A-and, yes, there is a man somewhere here beneath this resplendent chemise. The only false line I can find in it is "I've lived too long on my knees," not exactly 'false' either, off, out of place? in the wrong song? whatever ...]

¡Ya basta!The process of psychotherapy was once explained to me as undoing a snarl one loop at a time (answer: as long as it takes). "You got to pick up every stitch." ... Al Kooper or Joan Jett, Julie Driscoll, Savannah Grace, Lou Rawls ... whatever ... you can run but you can't hide. This is a door, like Kafka's, made only for you and it will be right there waiting.

In broad strokes what I am setting out to do here is ... Uh Oh! ... Can't remember! For a moment there it all seemed to fit into a sort of pattern ... now it's gone. Maybe it'll be back? 
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), I watched it with my kids. There was a small 'extra' on one of the CDs with a sequence about the evils of acquisitiveness among the women which I have never been able to find again - something about a sewing kit and a trunk? I have gone on here before about N!xau, the star of that movie: in 2006 and again in 2009. This time it is a (slightly more realistic) film: The Great Dance (2000) by South Africans Craig and Damon Foster. At one point (luck being frequently in the front part of the brain these days) someone says 'good luck'; here is a tiny clip of it: K'waa. (There is also the moment when someone says of a hunter who has had success, "His wife will like him tonight," which captures my imagination. :-)

Oupa Dawid Kruiper (1935-2012) and some of his family:
Oupa Dawid Kruiper 1935-2012.Oupa Dawid Kruiper 1935-2012.Oupa Dawid Kruiper w grandson Dawid.Daughter Kalai Kruiper.
This k'waa/luck is in the click language, called N|u or N|uu or Nǁng or =Khomani, nearly extinct. (This turns out to be incorrect, there are more languages among the bushmen than these. See below.)

In the process of trying to spell 'k'waa' properly (the anal retentive phase kickin' in) I am brought (through the kindness of an Internet correspondent) to Bradford Keeney and several books of his on Khomani San spirituality:
         1999 Kalahari Bushmen Healers,
         2003 Ropes to God: Experiencing the Bushman Spiritual Universe, and,
         2010 The bushman way of tracking God. 
I am suspicious of Keeney; he is too California-handsome; the books, even second-hand at Abe's, are too expensive for my current situation; BUT his early work, Aesthetics of Change (1983) is avaliable on-line; and in Chapter 1 the Introduction, is this nugget:
       During this time I taught a course in a small midwestern college on Carlos Castaneda. My first lecture presented material that 'proved' the authenticity of Castaneda's anthropological work. I reminded the class that Castaneda had received an MA and PhD from the Department of Anthropology at UCLA for his field research. All skeptical questions from the students were met with "convincing evidence" drawn from several books about the Castaneda phenomena (de Mille, 1976. 1980; Noel, 1976). The class session ended and stunned faces left the room wondering what it would mean to accept the proposition that such an alternative world of experience could be encountered.
       The second session began with an apology: I asked the students to forgive me for playing a trick on them. I announced that the Castaneda books were a hoax and that my aim in the previous session had been to show the class how easily they could be persuaded by 'authoritative' statements to accept an irrational story. Other evidence that I now introduced clearly "proved" the falseness of Castaneda's account and suggested that he had borrowed ideas for his invented account from the psilocybic visions of the botanist Robert Gordon Wasson. I added that Castaneda had on numerous occasions admitted making up the whole thing. The class then discussed how they had been tricked into believing in the authenticity of the stories.
       A week later I apologized again. This time I confessed to having previously deceived them by presenting a one·sided argument against Castaneda's work in the same way I had earlier argued for its authenticity. I explained that it was necessary to set them up as I had so that we could reach a point where more profound questions could be articulated. Several problematic issues were now apparent: What criteria for distinguishing fact from fiction are inherent in particular contexts? Does the fiction-nonfiction dichotomy itself arise from a particular world view? How real is real?
[Having noted on the very flyleaf a mis-quote of ee cummings. ... Well, we are all bunglers eh? The guy he mentions, Gordon Wasson, is worth looking up in Wikipedia, the 'discoverer' of silly-sibes apparently. More to come on Mr. Keeney (maybe) when I have had a chance to read some of his books.] 
Ouma Anna Swarts.
So ... this mental landscape becomes a palimpsest where romantic & sentimental notions, simple mistakes, intentional & self-serving (psychologically or economically or both) obfuscation, are step-by-step reduced to something more like essentials. A long process unlooping snags - but a Bahá'í might say a successful conclusion is ... inevitable?

[I have no idea if this is enough for you to see what I am trying to get at: trying to describe a therapy, a way forward involving neither palliative nor any Christian evolution towards human perfection; trying ... but the returning silence is that absolute; someone took me into a zero-echo room at a sound studio one time, that level of silence is what I get back from this blog.]

It is a similar, comparable, energy that drives ideologies such as the politically correct insistence on accentuating the positive, or the vicious downward spiral devolution of some relativisms, or inverted dismissiveness of anything even remotely ad hominem; leading respectively to superficial idiocy, total paralysis, and refusal to see human beings eating, shitting, fucking and so on.   Similar, comparable, but not the same, no.

Judgement Day - May 21, 2011.Does it reduce the story of The Good Samaritan in any way to excise it from pious scriptural reverence? Is the delight I take in snowstorms any less because I am no longer 100% convinced that either the storm or this universe is driven by God?

There are many pitfalls, and in this culture of mirrors not enough of them influence reproduction (and consequently evolution - see The Darwin Awards). 
February 2011: Snowmageddon!February 2013: Nemo.There was a snowstorm recently here in Toronto. Delightful! Not a lot of snow, a few inches - maybe 10 over a couple of days; still, it was the biggest of the year so far. It is being compared with a storm in 2011 which got christened 'Snowmageddon' - which wasn't much either, the name turned out to be ironic. This one is unofficially 'Nemo' (meaning 'no one'). Not a whit less beautiful for any of that.

The one that finally stops food getting into the city one day in a not too hypothetical future and reduces the city's life expectancy to single digit days probably won't even have a name.

Ah ... forgot to finish about k'waa - turns out it is not =Khomani at all, maybe Khoekhoe or !Xoon. Someone who understands these languages tells me that it maybe sounds more like, "This is hard man!" or, "I am sick and tired of doing this." Probably felt like a good idea at the time for the directors to embellish.

And that was not the only adjustment of perception for the sake of good film. Louis Liebenberg who seems to be some kind of tracker/anthropologist had his name taken off the credits (see: Persistence Hunting by Modern Hunter-Gatherers, 2006).

Just imagine for a moment that we went about telling each other what was actually happening? Even approximately.

A footnote on notions of progress from Gwynne Dyer: Tyrants are still with us, but we’re making progress, Friday February 8 (also at Georgia Strait). 
Equivocating with the FAO:    For several years I have been watching the Global Food Price Index (FPI) - a useful tool. It used to come to me monthly in a .pdf attached to an email newsletter. Then the newsletter got dropped and the helpful little graph got buried on the website with nothing directing you there unless you know where it is (or none that I can find). Here: World Food Situation / FAO Food Price Index.

FAO Food Price Index to January.So naturally I wondered about this? If you follow later entries to the FAO tag on this blog you can see some of that wondering.

I do still have residual faith in this Abdolreza Abbassian fellow, so eventually I sent him a polite email asking. I had an answer from a functionary, apparently annoyed at the question, denying that such a thing was happening at all. Evidence is evidence but you'll never get a straight answer from a bureaucrat unless you've got him pinned (and who can be bothered anymore).

On the other issue he said, "With regard to the drought in the United States last year, the crop which suffered most from this was maize (corn), which is just one of the 55 commodities which make up the FAO Food Price Index ..." He may be right, probably is, certainly is. The problem that remains for me is that he has not demonstrated his points in terms of the questions asked. If diverting some portion of this crop to ethanol production has such an effect, how can the drought not?

I guess I have to add more salt to the news. But something in all of this leaves me uneasy. ... I don't trust bureaucrats - though I like some of them. 
Spurious Clues:    Maybe it's the clues and maybe it's the hope engendered by them. Which is worse I wonder?   (Ah, that's interesting, 'spurious' refers primarily to illegitimate children - I thought it was places marked on maps which don't exist, or only exist sometimes.)

Anyway, what went before was setting (or trying to set) the stage for somehow finding a more balanced view of Idle No More, Teresa Spence et al. ... (Barack Obama too but I'll wait until the State of the Union coming up on Tuesday; then there will be three recent speeches to consider.)

Let's put Theresa Spence to bed up front:   The thing about guys like Ezra Levant is obvious right? They use cherry-picked and approximately true statements in a fugue of inuendo and exaggerated conclusions. Bullshit, but it works. The same happens on the other side: I sat in a lecture hall at UofT about a year ago and listened to Ron Plain tell the "Why do Natives hate snow?" joke (Because it's white and it's on their land).

There is a rich and misleading mythology in this zone: that Natives have a more profound relationship with nature; that there was a golden age represented in such as The Gods Must Be Crazy; that Residential Schools were unmitigated evil; ... the list goes on.

When I heard about Theresa Spence's hunger strike I thought there was a light showing at the end of the tunnel and went for it. When I saw that I could go up to Dundas Square on January 1st New Year's Day and somehow participate, I expected ten thousand and showed up on my useless old feet just to see 'em; and when the dance began in the middle of the intersection I thought, "Yehp! This is the real stuff!"

It wasn't. They soon moved - and I followed - onto the un-shoveled square itself. Other, more serious disillusionments arrived on schedule. 
I have excerpted a few sentences from this news report from Montreal which sum up the situation for me:
       The protesters, many wearing the red square associated with the student movement, said they are opposed to plans for new mining projects in northern Quebec.
       Marie Lys, a 25-year-old from Montreal, said the demonstrations are in solidarity with the Idle No More movement.
       “We want to keep our resources and protect the environment and the resources that we have belong first and foremost to aboriginal people,” she said.
All good, but Idle No More doesn't want to stop mining development. Nor does Theresa Spence - witness her involvement in ending the blockade of the diamond miner's winter road. None of them quite manage to put the environment on the front burner; because the force is mostly for getting what the unions have already got (and are trying desperately to hang onto), viz a share of the increasingly nightmarish Canadian dream. Not that they don’t deserve it. And labour, the large ally of the left, on the street in numbers, 15,000 or so in Toronto recently, some say 30,000 (maybe it was 10,000, I was there), and ... well ... OK. No one wants to see anyone either not get the toys they want or lose the ones they've got. (I'm sorry kids, but the toybox really is closing.)

An alliance between any of these groups (and such individuals as Theresa Spence and Raymond Robinson) and the environmental movement is ... problematic.

Here's another nail in the coffin: First nations carving out an energy bridge to the B.C. coast.

Frustrating! Whatever ... They did set a good example of how to go about it. They opened a door. 
Belo Sun Mining Corp., Canada (BSX:CN).A small & probably temporary victory - Belo Sun stock losing value:

News came through about the MPF evaluation of Belo Sun's Volta Grande project: from Amigos da Terra, Globo, Jornal Fatos Regionais (blog), and WD Notícias.

The source documents from Ministério Público Federal / Procuradoria da República no Pará are dated in January - I guess they were not released until they had been processed somehow:
     Recomendação Nº 001/2013/GAB1, January 14, and
     Recomendação Nº 002/2013/GAB1, January 21.

Both originating with Thaís Santi Cardoso da Silva & Meliza Alves Barbosa, Procuradoras da República; and both asking that SEMA (Secretaria Estadual de Meio Ambiente) not issue licences to Belo Sun until certain conditions are met.

The main SEMA website appears to be hacked so I can't provide links.

Bottom line:    Belo Sun drops 7% as doubts over $1 billion Amazon gold mine creep in, Frik Els, February 7 2013; with a note included that the stock is down 19% over a month. The Globe chart shows it coming back a bit; have to wait and see if SEMA picks up the ball. (?)

No pictures of Thaís Santi or Meliza Barbosa (yes, they are bureaucrats and yes, I am praising them) anywhere that I can find, but their emails are listed here so in a few days you can send them a Valentine's Day card (nevermind it is not celebrated in Brazil in February). 
Cod is a noun referring to a kind of fish; a-and it is also a verb meaning to trick, fool, pull your leg (or push it if you are in Latin America).

I don't spend much time thinking of it anymore, but it turns up. John Crosbie recently posed for these pictures with an old friend of mine; they came to me in the mail, and turning over the ol' compost pile after looking at them I came upon this in the CBC Archives. The ads for cars and cell phones on the CBC piss me off so I put up a (hand-held) copy on YouTube: John Crosbie in Bay Bulls Canada Day 1992.   He says, "Why are you yelling at me? I didn't take the fish from the God damn water! So don't go abusing me!"    Why indeed ...

John Crosbie & Gerry.John Crosbie & Gerry.I wouldn't be so rude as to put this here except that I also watched a fairly recent interview of John Crosbie by Rex Murphy - and the way he still brags, after all this time, about being somehow courageous in confronting his electors that day chokes me. He was deeply culpable, along with most of the fishermen facing him. I think I can legitimately comment here because I did a few shifts in the Newfie inshore fishery - when there was one - and found my colleagues just as well attached to their toys as the OFL folks (not all of ‘em mind you, the guy I fished with being an exception).

It was not God who brought about the end of the cod. Surely by the 1990's Crosbie, as a Minister of the fecking Crown had someone on his staff who told him what James Hansen was saying in Washington in 1988? If not, why not? Lots of people knew, credible people, and said so, and he didn't listen - he was busy building Canada's dragger fleet. Another footnote from Gwynne Dyer: Mackerel wars in the North Atlantic. 
Naomi Klein, changes over time:   (For reference:

1999: World Trade Organization Conference in Seattle, November.
    : No Logo published December.
2000: Interview on TVO with Allan Gregg (25 minutes), January 30.
2001: 9/11.
2004: The Take w English subtitles (9 segments 10 minutes each).
    : Baghdad Year Zero, September 1st in Harper's.
2007: The Shock Doctrine published.
    : Disaster Capitalism, October in Harper's.
    : Charlie Rose Interview (30 minutes), December 28.
2008: panel w Hernando de Soto & Joseph Stiglitz, October 20th (1 hour).
2010: Shout Out at Massey Hall June 25.
    : G20 Toronto June 26–27.
2012: Powershift 2012 in Ottawa (30 minutes), October 27.
    : Interview with Bill Moyers, November 15 (30 minutes).

Waiting now (in anticipation) for her upcoming book - and hoping it is not more of the same blancmange we have just had from Al Gore!    Interesting remark from Halle Lasn about our Naomi in the Globe:
But then, he says with unmasked disdain, “all the lefty luminaries – [Slavoj] Zizek and Naomi Klein and all of those people suddenly sort of appeared there in Zuccotti Park and tried to be part of it.”
Not so in Naomi's case at least - I watched her learning how to use the People's Mic and was impressed - everyone was learning. Never heard of Slavoj Žižek - here he is in Wikipedia. 
Can (Will?) Corporations help?

The curious case of Climate Week's disappearing EDF logo saying, "Campaigners No Dash for Gas claim victory, Climate Week denies it," and asking, "Can corporate sponsorship of green campaigns ever be squared?"

Short answer: No. (Also see: No Dash for Gas – the new, chimney-climbing face of climate direct action in which the sub-text is decreasing interest, raising the question - again - about whether the environmental movement can or will help either?)

Around Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia.Around Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia.The end run began last year: APP establishes deforestation moratorium in Jambi; greens remain skeptical. Now it's Leading paper firm pledges to halt Indonesian deforestation: "Asia Pulp and Paper will end the clearing of forest across its supply chain by preserving high-carbon stock rainforests." And here: The beginning of the end of deforestation in Indonesia?

Horsecock! Bollocks! The only way APP could do this is by closing shop and getting out of the business they are in, doh; unless they make paper like the tailors in The Emperor's New Clothes (very comparable to David Keith and his bogus CSS story).

Some of the beneficiaries are pictured there to the right - except that the world they are smiling about may turn out to be a living hell by the time they take it over. They're too young to understand that they're being cruelly tricked. 
Remember when pictures of forest rape like that came from k-k-Canada? Nothing has really changed.

Here, check this out: Grande Cache, Alberta, home of the Milner coal generating plant recently coddled by our so-called 'Environment Minister' Peter Mansbridge ... and also home of the Canadian Death Race (symmetry is everywhere at all levels). Those are not all clouds in the upper right there (you may have to turn on 'Satellite' view), they are clearcuts. Oh sure, the 'forest industry' has largely abandoned Grande Cache these days, right. But they left their mark on it eh? And they are hard at it elsewhere.
Grande Cache Alberta from far.Grande Cache Alberta from closer.Grande Cache Alberta from farther.Grande Cache Alberta from some 'then'.
Still, I am sure it seems to the 3,500 or so who live there that the frontier is largely undiminished. And getting these folks to vote against 'development' is a no-brainer non starter. Hell! Getting them out to vote at all!
The Enbridge team.The Enbridge team.
Enbridge CEO 2001-2012 Pat Daniel.Enbridge CEO 2001-2012 Pat Daniel.Enbridge CEO 2001-2012 Pat Daniel.
Enbridge CEO 2012- Al Monaco.Enbridge CEO 2012- Al Monaco.Enbridge CEO 2012- Al Monaco.
A luncheon in Edmonton with the oil barons:

1) The luncheon chat: on the Enbridge website or YouTube, Wednesday January 30 (7 minutes) with some interesting slides.


2) The clock is ticking on proposed pipeline projects: Enbridge CEO. Al Monaco says other nations could beat Canadian producers in the race to supply growing Asian oil market. Uh Oh!


3) After a harsh lesson in crude economics, new pipelines now biggest issue for country, says Enbridge CEO. He says (off camera), “The opposers are now focused on pipelines, but they are trying to stop energy development generally.” Got that right.


The people in that top photograph are: Al Monaco, Patrick D. Daniel, J. Richard Bird, David T. Robottom, Bonnie D. DuPont, Stephen J.J. Letwin, & Stephen J. Wuori. Out of date, a changed team in place now but with the same mentality. 
Real Climate: 2012 Updates to model-observation comparions, Gavin Schmidt, 7 February 2013.

How well did Hansen et al. (1988) do?How well did Hansen et al. (1988) do?
Towards the end he asks, "How well did Hansen et al. (1988) do?" The answer, "... while this simulation was not perfect, it has shown skill in that it has out-performed any reasonable naive hypothesis that people put forward in 1988 (the most obvious being a forecast of no-change)."

Hansen's 1988 paper is available on-line" Global Climate Changes as Forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies Three-Dimensional Model, J. Hansen, I Fung, A. Lacis, D. Rind, S. Lebedeff, R. Ruedy, & G. Russell, August 20 1988. From the abstract (because you need this to understand the graph): "Scenario A assumes continued exponential trace gas growth, scenario B assumes a reduced linear growth of trace gases, and scenario C assumes a rapid curtailment of trace gas emissions such that the net climate forcing ceases to increase after the year 2000."

Gavin Schmidt's bottom line: "The conclusion is the same as in each of the past few years; the models are on the low side of some changes, and on the high side of others, but despite short-term ups and downs, global warming continues much as predicted." 
“Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.” ... Who said that? ... Oh yeah, Wordsworth ... he also wrote, “up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,” a footnote for the environmental movement in that (if a bit out of context).

This went on waaay too long, sorry gentle reader. The devil made me do it.

Be well.

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