Wednesday 1 May 2013


"... pettiness that plays so rough ..."                                                                     Up, Down.                           May Day 

Krishna & Radha, Holi, Amritsar.Contents: Certainties, Uncertainties, Complicity, The Public Square, How To Live? Dysfunctional Stories, Yoni Yum, Misgivings, Raisg Amazônia GIS.

Nothing here but megrims gentle reader, somewhat bitter & confused, best left shut unless you are piqued at 'yoni-yum' or appreciate the boobage presented as an example of dysfunction. I'm sorry. This is what's left: bottom of the barrel, dregs, 'swish' the old lads call it; now sold as Screech & the NLC make money & bogus myth out of it. London Dock is the real rum, or was. 

Certainties:   "Nothing is certain but death & taxes," they say. Maybe it's more like "eating shitting death & taxes," or even "eating shitting fucking and death," (knowing how easily the rich avoid taxes anyway).

Northrop Frye mentions primary and secondary concerns in 'Double Vision (Chapter 1):
Primary concerns are such things as food, sex, property, and freedom of movement: concerns that we share with animals on a physical level. Secondary concerns include our political, religious, and other ideological loyalties.
He rolls in property - 'place' might have been better; and freedom - of a kind and to a degree, but it has been well proven experimentally that slaves do not die from lack of freedom per se, stories of animals gnawing off their limbs to escape traps notwithstanding; food & sex in the same order at least ... He goes on:
We want to live and love, but we go to war; we want freedom, but depend on the exploiting of other peoples, of the natural environment, even of ourselves. In the twentieth century, with a pollution that threatens the supply of air to breathe and water to drink, it is obvious that we cannot afford the supremacy of ideological concerns any more. The need to eat, love, own property, and move about freely must come first, and such needs require peace, good will, and a caring and responsible attitude to nature. A continuing of ideological conflict, a reckless exploiting of the environment, a persistence in believing, with Mao Tse-Tung, that power comes out of the barrel of a gun, would mean, quite simply, that the human race cannot be long for this world.
If you read it carefully you may see some ... holes in the secondary part, but you may also see why I remember the paragraph.

'Would' mean that the human race cannot be long for this world? There's no 'would' about it sir. It is CERTAINLY  happening already. WAKE UP CANADA! 
Uncertainties:   The latest Greenspiration newsletter mentions a documentary to be shown by Cinema Politica at UofT at the end of the month about the Weather Underground; which I download from IsoHunt and watch (can't wait for a whole month!) and which segues nicely into ongoing meditations about where to draw the line between say, Michael Brune, Tim Dechristopher, and such as the Weather Underground & Earth Liberation Front ... since ... you know ... something has to be done eh?

Revolution becomes increasingly unrealistic and meaningless to me - relative to a planetary population of seven-plus billion humans more-and-more of whom are spending more-and-more of their time & energy with the 'eating' primary concern.

Resistance not so much; and distinguishing violence & non-violence, if only in terms of some relatively short-lived legacy. How will one be remembered by whatever generations follow? Even given that most are convinced the problem can only be realistically approached globally, top-down through political leaders (whose legacies will be the only ones remembered anyway) it is still worth considering (or seems to be) the ethical continuum from passive non-violence, up through monkey-wrenching and property damage, to the degrees of risk of injuring someone, or many, and how badly ... and so on.

If I were CSIS I would have a web robot and AI tool (designed perhaps by my friend Martin) sifting email & blog posts to distinguish individuals at risk of going off the rails anytime soon. So let me say that despite a lack of Quaker or Amish roots I am firmly at the non-violent end of this continuum - and anyway I can hardly walk anymore nor lift anything much; a feeble feckless & lame old fart idly speculating. (Please don't hurt me!)

"Do not go gentle into that good night," says our Dylan Thomas - and he doesn't - but it gives me no comfort in the night I am looking at. Thinking of Bokonon on a mountain top giving God the finger does; and more comes to me lately from a contemplation of humility, equanimity, mindful Buddhist equanimity even.
[Surprised to find myself saying this.] 
Complicity:   Someone gave me a mouse-pad with "Punk Billionaire Genius" and a picture of Mark Zuckerberg. I rejected Facebook years ago for other reasons. Last week he let slip his support for Keystone & drill-baby-drill - you can follow that story here (in the order I found it):   1) Report;   2) Report;   3) The source (apparently); 4) FWD.US funded by Zuckerberg; 5) Subsidiary ACD and their YouTube ad for Lindsey Graham; 6) Another subsidiary CAJG and their YouTube ad for Mark Begich; and, 7) The only defence I could find, on a blog (but it doesn't wash to me).

Invisible Children are now flogging handbags and cheap jewellery for Mother's Day. I guess W got through to them. I'm sure glad I figgured my way out of that one by another route before this showed up in my inbox. Sure, they're doing their best, I know they are - they have good Republican friends like Senator Inhofe and they think we can shop our way out of this problem? - but (like my own) their efforts are ... lame. Sorry.

And then there are the vast complacent multitudes (remember, I live in North America not Nigeria) who go along as if this environmental apocalypse were either: "It's a done deal (which it's not). Let's Party Hearty!"; or "They'll figgure something out (which they won't). So Let's Party Hearty!". And the senseless celebration of greed & power does us in.

I have found these two clues:
"We must love one another or die."     [W.H. Auden in 'September 1, 1939']
"Not until we have a plan to heal the planet that also heals our broken selves and our broken communities do we have a hope."     [Naomi Klein at Powershift 2012]
That's it. That's all I am saying (repeating, whatever). 
This Internet thing is now the public square:   but the feedback loop is broken somehow; the messages don't get through and the glue don't stick.

It's like the posties, bus and streetcar drivers, librarians, even police, who once knew who you were as you knew them - but now they are union workers with Internet tools who don't need to know anyone but their shop steward and don't listen or care or answer, nor do their masters. They are all good consumers. But ... identity is a two-way street.

May Day? You must be jokin'! More like Mayday! Mayday!

I mentioned Nicholas Carr's essay from 2008 and his 2011 book The Shallows a short while ago - the TPL got it for me quick as a wink. It doesn't take long to read either. When he dispenses with Marshall McLuhan in a few facile paragraphs up front you know more-or-less what you're in for. Indeed, there are ample clues in the Atlantic essay already. The Shallows is about perfectly symmetrical.

Too many books making too good a living for too many mediocre authors. And nobody reading the worthwhile ones cuz they're too hard? Is that it? Someone must be reading them or they would not be available. So where are the conversations happening?

'Paradigm' & 'zeitgeist', even 'hierarchy'; words I learned long ago, now turned on their heads, co-opted & devalued by (Internet?) knuckleheads - some 75¢ words are just to show off with: 'egregious', 'exegesis'; but the first three there are essential tools. Aren't they?

When I question a consultant colleague (years back) about his pocket handkerchief he says, "It's for show not blow."

[I warned you up front gentle reader. Maudlin nonsense. Best to let it slide right on by.] 

How to live at all?   Still wondering at the Buddhist youngsters (previously) who vote with their feet and simply ... check out. That certainly irritates the political masters. Why does China hate Tibet? Because their power, vast and overwhelming as it is, is not complete - some (numbers of) Tibetans would rather die than submit. And their deaths are witnessed:
Tsesung Kyab.Tsesung Kyab.Tsesung Kyab.
Not necessarily noble neither: my (very) limited & tentative & dilettante experience makes it seem more of a constitutional issue like ... an allergy or being constipated - one simply must deal with it.

There are of course the long shots: the canny drunks who continue to evade the road blocks and drive decade after decade undetected; or the victims who resist (say, gun crime as in the NYT a few days ago) and are miraculously spared.

Who knows? 
Dysfunctional stories:   It may not be clear that TV stories don't work unless you watch 'em as I do: download a whole series and take the lot, back-to-back, in one go. You can see the creative juices wane & dry up (on purpose?) til there is nothing left and it stops. Boardwalk Empire, Wire in the Blood, Homeland, even David Simon's The Wire - they all start as good as they get and slide into ... dreck. It's not just in the US either - some similarly popular European series follow the same path - Engrenages, Broen-Bron, Forbrydelsen.

Even porn is (almost entirely) less than even skin deep:
I find the image above. An embodied yin-yang! Wowzers! And erotic! So I grope about and come up with a series of about 30 photographs of what is supposed to be a tryst; but looking (closely :-) it begins to seem complete fakery - no desire, no connection, nothing - just an interesting arrangement of bodies and limbs. As the fakery comes to the fore the yin-yang ... recedes, and I think: if I really wanted to do this these are the perfect models and setting but ... something is missing in the execution, neither the girls nor the yin-yang quite comes off. (Though of course, I could have it all wrong.)

Intentional? Who knows. An object lesson in Internet passive-agressive correctitude? A tiny window into the realities of actresses & photographic production? The epitome of hollow sexual exploitation? Or, 'Look! This is how cold it can get'?

It is exactly what it looks like - a photograph and no more - it's that kind of art. Plug the URL of the expanded image into the Google Images camera icon if you want to follow it up. Too skinny by far these girls. 
Yoni Yum:   Holi, festival of colours, passes recently (March 27), and I am reading 'Ice Age Art' by Jill Cook (source of the first image below), and I find the last one on the right, of Holi in the Philippines, a few years ago (while listening to the Stones She's A Rainbow, "she comes in colours everywhere" etc.) and connect the dots and remember it.
Paleolithic Female Triangle, Ölknitz.Paleolithic Female Triangle.Krishna & Radha, Holi, Amritsar.Holi, Philippines.
The rest is the merest speculation gentle reader around bindis & tilakas - marks on the forehead in the general zone of the pineal eye or the 6th or 7th Kundalini chakra (what you will) - which (to me) represent vulvas & clitorises (what else?).

I followed up on the girls in the yin-yang photograph - just about 99% projection on my part :-) - in other encounters pictured on the web they appear much more enthusiastic. It may still be fakery, and probably is, but they are not quite faking indifference as I imagined. 
I have a distinct urge not to publish this post, misgivings (?) but I can't quite give it up. Have I missed something? Too much nonsense? Half-baked nonsense? Nonsense open to interpretation as prurient? obsessive? misogyny? Is that it? (But the porn doesn't even show nipples.)

If it comes clear I will either explain ... or it may disappear. I'm sorry if it offends in the meantime. (If anyone were talkin' back it might be easier t'know.)

Someone says to me, "It's over," and I say, "No it's not, quite - the global economy could tank tomorrow and save us, planet and all, some of us at least."

Someone else says, "Why do you care? What part of this is worth saving?" and I say, "Dunno ... curiosity? I'm still interested, still glad sometimes." Just before dawn at this time of year the birds begin to sing in the darkness. It was the same in Rio sometimes ... passarinhos.

Musak at the end for you: Chimes of Freedom - "The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder."

Be well gentle reader. 
A detailed GIS of Amazônia!   For a moment there I thought I would get to use the 'Good News' tag again (but it's not quite that good, yet):
Ilha de Marajó Topographic.Ilha de Marajó Raisg view 1.Ilha de Marajó Raisg view 1.
I have complained here before about how GISs (Geographic Information Systems) are so powerful that they must be kept out of the hands of the hoi polloi lest the great unwashed start getting a few correct notions of things above their station. GIS platforms (such as ESRI ArcGIS that this is based on) are big, cumbersome, very expensive computer systems. GIS is taking a long time to reach the Internet. More on that below.

Unfortunately I picked Ilha de Marajó to practice on - not much GIS action happening there even with Belém fairly close by. Should have gone looking for Belo Sun around the Grande Volta on the Xingu river - another day.

Neuroscientific Rat.The New York Times is telling me something related: May-Britt & Edvard Moser, behavioral physiologists, neuroscientists, "speculate that the way the brain records and remembers movement in space may be the basis of all memory." A physiological basis for cognitive maps! ...

The rats are probably, or possibly (depending on technique) much less enthusiastic - maybe the Mosers will expand their research to humans and use bankers & politicians? 
In the Amazônia newsletter it looks like a typo: Atlas Amazônia sob Pressão da Raisg ganha versão em português e inglês / Raisg 'Amazon Under Pressure' Atlas now available in Portuguese and English (source: ISA.) It was released in Spanish last fall.

Raisg turns out to be the acronym for 'Red Amazónica de Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada' / Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information. Their website is mostly in Spanish with some essential bits in English & Portuguese, specifically: an overview page, where you can download a pdf of the English Version of this year's report, and six jpg's of some of the maps - which are ~5,000 pixels square and in focus, approximately legible even, unlike much of the pdf).

There is also an on-line version (which is where the two top-left images come from. The Ilha de Marajó topo comes from Wikipedia (originating at the University of Texas).

So why not Good News then?   The real object of the exercise is to make up-to-date information readily available to non-experts. You can tread on their good will a little, but if the system throws more than a very few curve balls you lose them. Oh sure, eventually it may all get straightened out but in the meantime what you've got is yet another bureaucracy of some 1,000 or so people who must either make it on self-congratulation or lose their positions (and wages).

GIS is particularly difficult because while some of the questions that may be posed are obvious and evident - How much has deforestation progressed? How much of the area is officially native property? Where are the large agribusiness plantations? - some are not. As an example of an end-user try this Monga Bay article from last year.

No. No, I haven't got this right. Haven't thought it through, sorry. Later ... Nonetheless, it is good to see this effort. I will practice with it some more and report again.

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