Wednesday 27 March 2013

Big Famine Moon

                                                                                                                                                                  Up, Down.                        Full Moon 

Big Famine Moon will be full at 5am; aka Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon, Death Moon, Worm Moon, Lenten Moon; & for Hindus, Holi.

Doonesbury, Harmonic Convergence 1987.Doonesbury, Harmonic Convergence 1987.
A simple confluence of two cosmic events, one solar and one lunar - spring equinox & the full moon ... one really, since every cosmic event has a full moon somewhere within a few weeks - and what do we get? (Another year older and deeper in debt.) Myths of death defeated and life renewed; some in anticipation: Tibetan New Year, Chinese New Year, Bahá'í annual fast and New Year ... (a long list ... Nowruz); some on the date: Holi ... and Easter of course, spanning the zone (or trying to put it in parentheses).

And a confluence of tendencies too: religious co-opting of human physiobiology - the bone-deep flavour of certain irrefutable psychology in our intimate relations with Terra spliced into (essentially Fascist) doctrine. A veritable harmonic convergence!

     Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear
     That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—

     O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
     That monthly changes in her circled orb,
     Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.

                                                                        Act II scene 2.
The music is Outlaw Blues; and then (another one from early days) Sixteen Tons: Merle Travis in the mid 50s, and again in the 70s or 80s (he died in 83); and by Tennessee Ernie Ford. 
[Some things do come clear in the murk, often too late to do any good - I should have followed through on Ryerson's system courses while I could still do them.   :-)   I let that silly woman put me off. ... Oh well.]

A friend mentioned Philip Wylie, two books: The Disappearance and Generation of Vipers; and I wanted to follow it up and ... Lo and Behold! Google steered me to BookOS. Two million books including most of Thomas Pynchon, Charles Taylor's 'A Secular Age', Stephen Gardiner's 'A Perfect Moral Storm', some Northrop Frye ... The interface has some limits - you can't search for all by a specific author easily f'rinstance - but the 'direction' of the interface seems right: towards simplicity, good pop-up window management, language support.

BookOS The world's largest ebook library.This ranks for me with Wikipedia. It almost makes me hold my breath waiting for the copyright bullies & tyrants to attack it.

And a companion site BookSC (not so much, see below for a test).

It doesn't do to try to read things electronically, just doesn't - those people with e-readers on streetcars busses and trains are ... only pretending to read, and if anyone cared and measured comprehension we could all know this; but electronic copies make some of the very important secondary activity around reading orders of magnitude easier. Particularly quoting accurately during discussions; but also, for (possible) Alz' sufferers, a quick way to verify that some notion actually did come from some book. 
Caveat I: (Good from far but far from good.)    As I was writing this I took a break and came across something in the NYT: Iceland Baffled by Chinese Plan for Golf Resort. Didn't baffle me: aside from the obvious oil & other commercial alignments, playing golf at the edge of an active volcano, or at least with a volcano in sight, makes perfect sense. I remembered Douglas Adams' 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' but unfortunately these books are no longer on my shelf so ... naturally, I went looking for it in BookOS. Here's some of what I found:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the_Galaxy ~page 1.The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ~page 1.Life, the Universe and Everything ~page 1.Life, the Universe and Everything ~page 1.So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish ~page 1.Mostly Harmless ~page 1.Mostly Harmless ~page 1.
That's the thing about pdfs - the severe conversion problems - and provenance. Not one of these BookOS offerings looks like it was scanned - they were all (almost certainly) converted from some other format, more-or-less successfully. So I thought ... Google Books! - they use scans surely. Here are comparable pages in some of what I found:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the_Galaxy ~page 1.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the_Galaxy ~page 1.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the_Galaxy ~page 1.The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ~page 1.Life, the Universe and Everything ~page 1.So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish ~page 1.So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish ~page 1.So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish ~page 1.
Same schtick. There are no gross mistakes in what I have shown here - but trust me, you inevitably find fragmentary HTML showing up, usually in the vicinity of missing sentences, paragraphs ... who knows? Sometimes it works the other way too - you buy a 'print on demand' and find mistakes created by scanning software. And it is nothing new - there are lots of typos, some quite serious, in the KJV.                         So what. 
And Open Source:

I have always disliked Adobe. Never quite on spec, difficult to Copy&Paste from, difficult to search, very expensive to modify ... In the experience with BookOS I came across several new formats - open formats with open readers to accompany. So I downloaded a few and played around with them.

All good ... and if you have nothing else to do, or if your energies are consistently directed at learning new (arcane & eminently forgettable) details, then ... even better. 
Caveat II:    A corollary of Caveat I possibly, or concommitant ... intimately connected let's say.

The advantage of a standard, even a de-facto one like pdf, is that you get to know it and don't have to re-learn it repeatedly. Efficient use of time and all that.

So, a tradeoff then: many open-source replacements, each with advantages - smaller file size etc. - but each with bugs and quirks and shortcomings too. 
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                                                                          Isaiah 53:6.
It begs an addendum to the background Musak® for this post: 'All We Like Sheep' from Handel's Messiah; a version on Vimeo, and one on YouTube showing the choir & orchestra.

Messiah, Knox Presbyterian church.[And on the strength of that I go out to The Messiah for Easter at Knox Presbyterian church over on Spadina. It is always thrilling to witness a choir and orchestra working together more-or-less humbly - and indeed, there are some sublime moments in this performance. Unfortunately the music and KJV texts are not enough for the leaders of the gig, Rev. Reinders and the choirmaster Roger Bergs. They have to interrupt with commentary throughout, paraphrasing and recapitulating - redundant sententious nonsense. Trying to understand why they are doing such a thing the best I can imagine is a hard-core Presbyterian fear of any un-certified aesthetic transcendence. (There is worse but I'll spare you.) But really - second guessing Handel & Lancelot Andrewes? Doh! No wonder these churches are empty and being recycled into condos.] 

(Still) trying to find simple (minded) rules of thumb around ppm & ppb:

Wikipedia gives a 'drop', and says, "in medicine, IV drips deliver 10, 15, or 20 drops per mL for macrodrip, 60 per mL for microdrip." A simple average makes it 25 drops/mL.

A million drops then is 40,000 mL, 40 litres, ~10 US gallons: so ... one drop in ten US gallons is ~1 part per million (ppm). And a billion drops is ~10,500 US gallons: so ... 3 drops in a tank car is ~1 part per billion (ppb). (A tank car is ~35,000 US gallons according to 49 CFR 179.13 in the US Code of Federal Regulations on tank car capacity.)

Another way to go after it is time: 1 million seconds is ~11½ days, call it two weeks: so a second a week is ~2 ppm, or a second a month ~½ ppm. 1 billion seconds is about 32 years: so ... two seconds in a lifetime is something like 1 ppb.

Or how many molecules of H2O in a drop? Goes by weight. The density of water is 1g/mL so a drop is .04g. Take the molar mass, 18g/mol for water and compute .04g/18g = .0022 moles in a drop; multiplied by Avogadro's number (6.022x1023 molecules per mole) to get 1.32x1021 molecules. 1 ppm is then 1.32x1015 - many, a lot, too many to count; and 1 ppb is 1.32x1012; not intuitively useful numbers.

What about drops in a human body? An average human is 70 kg/150 pounds, close to the density of water makes it 1¾ million drops: so 2 drops is ~1 ppm and 1/500th of a drop ~1 ppb.

Getting there ... tiny amounts but very many molecules in 'em (and we have come full circle). I hope exercises like this are being done in high-school physics courses; probably not.
[If I told you how often I re-calculated these numbers to get even vaguely confident in them ... I won't. But don't trust me, do the sums yourself; and then consider that <5 ppb BPA in their water stops reproduction in trout. (This article is in BookSC.)] 

Honey Bee vs Neonicotinoid (again):    Last year it was news. In March a Guardian article Pesticides linked to honeybee decline, referring to two (then) recent studies:
1) Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees:
Nonlethal exposure of honey bees to thiamethoxam (neonicotinoid systemic pesticide) causes high mortality due to homing failure at levels that could put a colony at risk of collapse. Simulated exposure events on free-ranging foragers labeled with a radio-frequency identification tag suggest that homing is impaired by thiamethoxam intoxication. These experiments offer new insights into the consequences of common neonicotinoid pesticides used worldwide.
2) Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production:
We exposed colonies of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris in the laboratory to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, then allowed them to develop naturally under field conditions. Treated colonies had a significantly reduced growth rate and suffered an 85% reduction in production of new queens compared with control colonies.
And again in October: Evidence of pesticide harm to bees is now overwhelming, referring to an article in Nature:
3) Combined pesticide exposure severely affects ... traits in bees:
Here we show that chronic exposure of bumblebees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behaviour and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success. We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.
BookSC was not much help in finding the source documents. 1) is there; 2) seems to be there but the download gives something else; and, 3) is not there at all. So ... one in three. ... It may improve with use. 
I eventually found them elsewhere: 2) Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production, and, 3) Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees.

What I really really REALLY REALLY   do not understand is how most people go on about their lives as if none of this were happening? When I see friends and family getting onto airplanes to go south and get warm - it's not a judgement, I tell you true, but I am shocked, dismayed. As for the politicians and business people, successful ones, admired and respected, who must know what is happening - I am unable to imagine a scenario for them. Their bureaucrats may be driven and confused to stupidity - but Stephen Harper is not stupid; nor Barack Obama; nor these 'honourable' ministers: Peter Kent, Joe Oliver, John Baird; this woman in Alberta - Alison Redford; Rex Tillerson, the Koch brothers David and Charles ...

I can understand some struggle over exactly what to do, how best to tackle this enormous problem of which the honey bees are a small part, sure. But ... short of rekindling a superstitious belief in evil and devils I am stumped. All I can come up with is the possibility of some tipping point within the 'social imaginary' (as Charles Taylor calls it) that may trip in their minds and permit them to begin to think properly. Soon I hope.

Lame I know. ... Some time ago I posted a link to the video of Elizabeth May saying, "Any honest person who has looked at this science should be screaming from the rooftops!"; yet she sits in Ottawa (as I sit here) ... doing busy work.



Toad: Plongée.Back with the 360's & 370's when you tried to divide by zero or multiply a number by a text string you would get an exception and a core dump. Some of us got pretty good at reading hex.

Paul Rose 1971.Dissemblers, hypocrites, thieves, liars, even murderers, rapists, torturers; even the burnt ones with nothing left - I have some idea of how these things work, can work, could work, might work - but this makes so little sense I cannot fathom it. I don't understand kiddie-diddlers either gentle reader. So ...

Maybe Paul Rose understood. D'you think? He died a few weeks ago. Some of the dimwits are trying to lionize him now. You have to laugh.

Here, try the Outlaw Blues again: "Don't ask me nothin' about nothin', I just might tell you the truth." 'Cept in this case I don't know a thing about it.
Be well. 

Beyond the Zero:    A few more words about 'Against the Day'. (I will have to re-read that last chapter again before I write this; hang on a sec ...)

One could expect to find important things in the last chapter - Deuce Kindred was summarily gotten rid of in the previous one, we do not see Lew Basnight again - what I pick out are four: 1) who remains - Merle & Dally, Dally & Kit, Reef & Yashmeen, Frank & Stray, Yashmeen & Stray, Ljubica & Jesse, The Chums of Chance & consorts, Pugnax & Ksenija ... all in pairs more-or-less, except Professor Heino Vanderjuice, an odd person to encounter (and he disappears, a version of the author perhaps); 2) Yashmeen's sexuality; 3) the cover image explained, una picchiata!; and, 4) Stray's (?) notion of 'good unsought and uncompensated'. There are more: simultaneity, technology, vegetarianism, the Inconvenience becoming its own destination ... but these four stand out for me (for various reasons no doubt).

A memorable sentence: "It is no longer a matter of gravity—it is an acceptance of sky." A-and the last paragraph goes like this:
Pugnax and Ksenija’s generations—at least one in every litter will follow a career as a sky-dog—have been joined by those of other dogs, as well as by cats, birds, fish, rodents, and less-terrestrial forms of life. Never sleeping, clamorous as a nonstop feast day, Inconvenience, once a vehicle of sky-pilgrimage, has transformed into its own destination, where any wish that can be made is at least addressed, if not always granted. For every wish to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and un-compensated would have evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us. No one aboard Inconvenience has yet observed any sign of this. They know—Miles is certain—it is there, like an approaching rainstorm, but invisible. Soon they will see the pressure gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on smoked goggles for the glory of what is coming to part the sky. They fly toward grace.
Shekhinah perhaps, שכינה.

That's it gentle reader. The effort I put into editing the teasers for presentation in HTML may seem wasted, could be; at least what is there is more easily searched with CTRL-F and grabbed with Copy&Paste ... and I am more intimately acquainted with Pynchon's style - so it was useful in that way. And I did not notice one single typo. (!)

The collection of teasers:
                         One: The Light Over the Ranges part 5 - Lew Basnight becomes a detective,
                         Two: Iceland Spar part 12 - Lake Traverse marries Deuce Kindred.
                         Three: Bilocations part 5 - Yashmeen Halfcourt & Cyprian Latewood.
                         Three: Bilocations part 6 - Kit Traverse on the S.S. Stupendica (short excerpt).
                         Three: Bilocations part 12 - Lew Basnight encounters Lamont Replevin (excerpt).
                         Three: Bilocations part 17 - Kit Traverse's choice (excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 4 - Yashmeen & Auberon Halfcourt (excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 7 - overture and possibility (short excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 11 - A trio (an excerpt some may find salacious).
A-and Entropy. 
Gleanings from the Bin: (Digging about in the oyster-shell midden near the shore.)

* Coast Guard rescuer describes ‘eerie’ scene where Queen of the North sank.
  Karl Lilgert is now on trial for criminal negligence causing death.
  Previously: March 2006, June 2006, May 2007, March 2008.
* Windfarm sickness spreads by word of mouth, Australian study finds (I knew that).
* World Bank told to investigate links to Ethiopia 'villagisation' project (that too).
* Índios e ribeirinhos fazem nova ocupação de canteiro de obra de Belo Monte (source Xingu Vivo).
  Natives and river-side people (fishermen) occupy Belo Monte work sites again. Good on 'em!
- It looks like the cops grabbed one of the demonstrators: PF prende ativista em Belo Monte.
  Seu paradeiro é desconhecido. / His whereabouts are unknown.
- And they are bringing in the army to ensure that this Belo Monte abomination gets built.
  (The Amazônia website is down at the moment - ructions with Cyberbunker apparently - ... link to follow.)
  Força Nacional tenta impedir novas paralisações das obras de Belo Monte, source Agência Brasil.
* This: SA troops killed in Central African Republic: Why, Mr President?, may appear parochial.
  More from Reuters: U.N. chief condemns rebel seizure of power in Central African Republic, and
  NYT: President Is Said to Flee as Rebels Seize Capital of the Central African Republic.
  Another failed state and it has been for quite a while (I didn't know that).
  But nothing on Joseph Kony. What about him? Wasn't he active in Central African Republic?
- The thing about the Daily Maverick newsletter which distinguishes it from all others, puts it in a class by itself,
       is that it includes (up front, at the top) links to other news organizations with relevant stories.
* Even Zimbabwe’s new constitution is waiting for Mugabe to die.
- EU suspends sanctions against most Zimbabwe officials.
- (From 2011 mind you) Marange diamond field: Zimbabwe torture camp discovered.
Riah Phiyega at the Farlam commission.Riah Phiyega at the Farlam commission.Riah Phiyega at the Farlam commission.
* Marikana: Under oath, Phiyega’s bald-faced lie exposed.
- Marikana: Sangoma’s death and Phiyega’s understanding of truth.
* Steve Biko, Mamphela Ramphele, & Andile Mngxitama, and the
  offending piece by Jared Sacks: Biko would not vote for Ramphele.
* Pension Funds Wary as Bankrupt City Goes to Trial,
  (map showing Stocton, California). Bankrupt in one way ...
* ... and bankrupt in another:
  Los Angeles Frets After Low Turnout to Elect Mayor.
  Just 21 percent of registered voters turned out.
* Frank’s feet of Catholic clay. Last mention here of the new Pope I hope.
* Haiti recycles human waste in fight against cholera epidemic,
  and a link to the US NGO Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods SOIL.
* Chinese Solar Panel Giant Is Tainted by Bankruptcy.
And finally, I don't know what to make of this:
  U.S. Example Offers Hope for Cutting Carbon Emissions. (?) 
Coming Up Soon:

Peter Victor - Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster, April 4th 7pm at UofT.

[I wonder if Joseph Kony is 'related' to Séléka? They must know one another, or at least know of one another. What does Michel Djotodia think of Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army? It won't likely be a high priority for his 'government' to go looking for Kony anytime soon. How different are they, Joseph Kony & Michel Djotodia and his allies? How different are any of them from Francois Bozizé?] 

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