Sunday, 29 August 2010

let it go

Bam be lam!
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
   Whoa Black Betty
Bam be lam

let it go ‐ the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go it
was sworn to

let them go ‐ the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers ‐ you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go ‐ the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things ‐ let all go

so comes love

   The cat’s in the well
The wolf is looking down
The cat’s in the well
The wolf is looking down
He got a big bushy tail
Dragging all over the ground

The cat’s in the well
The gentle lady is asleep
The cat’s in the well
The gentle lady is asleep
She ain’t hearing a thing
The silence is stickin’ her deep

The cat’s in the well
And grief is showing its face
The world’s being slaughtered
It’s such a bloody disgrace

The cat’s in the well
The horse is going bumpety bump
The cat’s in the well
And the horse is going bumpety bump
Back Alley Sally
Is doing the American jump

The cat’s in the well
And Papa is reading the news
His hair’s falling out
And all of his daughters need shoes

The cat’s in the well
And the barn is full of the bull
The cat’s in the well
And the barn is full of the bull
The night is so long
And the table is oh so full

The cat’s in the well
And the servant is at the door
The drinks are ready
And the dogs are going to war

The cat’s in the well
The leaves are starting to fall
The cat’s in the well
Leaves are starting to fall
Goodnight my love
May the Lord have mercy on us all

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple
[They will say: 'But how his arms and legs are thin!']
   Black Betty had a baby
Bam be lam
Damn thing gone blind

Adoration of the Magi, Balthazar detail, Hieronymus BoschAll this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

I do not like this cummings' poem, it is lame, unpoetic, stupid even (I mean, 'so comes love' ? give me a break, puh-leeze), and I considered leaving off the last two lines which would about half fix it, but I didn't, respect for the dead I suppose,

and you know, they make Eliot out to be such an intellectual (and he was certainly) but there are touches ... the pause you see here before 'pin' and twice before 'This' are in the typography of the 1940/1968 Faber & Faber edition I hold in my hands tonight though they are not always shown on Internet versions, so, not 'entirely' intellectual then ...

dawn is coming, the racoons are hissing and scrapping in the parking lot, rabid I wonder? the first gull sits on his lamp-post shouting out so shrilly, "It's all about ME!"

ok, just for the Halibut, here's another bit of bum-boy comic relief from Paul Krugman ... and Johnny Cash with the Orange Blossom Special to take us right on outta here.

And I ain't comin' back 'till I don't have to. I don't care if I do die do die do die do die do. :-)how long can I do without this Internet shit I wonder? probably not long ... have to find out the hard way I guess ... be well gentle reader.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

   The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uh, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
  Oh the baby had blue eyes
Well it must have been the captain's
Whoa Black Betty
Bam be lam


nothing I have seen on the Internet, however, not the porn certainly, is as daemonic as HTML, a syntax so arbitrary & arcane has to be the work of the Devil doesn't it? and can anyone who knows it really think properly about anything else? the revenge of the know-nothing self-serving nerds, and just when you have learned enough to survive comes another wrinkle, another layer, CSS? one has to laugh]

SockeyeSpencer Tunick, Big ChillMyfi BaronMyfi Baron
Spencer Tunick's latest at the Big Chill festival in England is apparently on a global warming theme, and the first image I saw of it was the one above, black two shades of blue & white, and I thought, "oh, colour! he's branching out," and then when it seemed the black arms & hands were somehow beseeching, "ahh that's it, he's getting at the racial aspect," (which is central to me f'rinstance), but if you Google for more images you will see pink & yellow as well ... so, I have no idea what he's on about, (and neither, I think, does he) ...
Tuira Kayapo 2009Get Out of Belo Monte - Altamira 2010The last rays of sunset shining on my tree.Sockeye

Theo Colborn's admin flunky, Chris Ribbens, don't take no shit from the hoi polloi, Nosiree Bob! ... maybe they are just getting old and cranky, I can't say ... ask a simple question and get stonewall incomprehension & bafflegab, whatever ... fuck 'em then!

so tonight I am thankful for the press, a 2007 Guardian article eventually led me to an international organization, AMAP - Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, and to a US government one, NIEHS - National Institute of Environmental Health Science, and their journal, EHP - Environmental Health Perspectives, and a substantive update on the subject since Theo Colborn's Our Stolen Future in 1995/6:

Declines in Sex Ratio at Birth and Fetal Deaths in Japan, and in U.S. Whites but Not African Americans, EHP, July 2006.

and some direct downloads from AMAP (you have to download 'em to read 'em): 2009 Human Health Report & Arctic Pollution 2009, and there are others of interest on the Assessment Results sidebar at their site.

this looked interesting too - especially since it is so recent, the abstract says that the excess of girls in the North, or Greenland at least, has now swung to an excess of boys - but this Arctic Institute of North America is a k-k-Canadian outfit and they keep their articles well locked up ... at least they are more-or-less apologetic about it.

and last thing of all, and the best thing of all, here's a bright ray of hope coming from Christine, a 15 minute video, Coalition of the Willing from a group of UK filmmakers that sums things up very well indeed.

(they have hosted it on Vimeo which is not the best, pause it while it loads, or, if that doesn't work - use KeepVid under IE, right-click and 'Save Target As' for a local copy you can view on whatever you use)

1. Man-made chemicals blamed as many more girls than boys are born in Arctic, Paul Brown, September 12 2007.
2. Population, Sex Ratios and Development in Greenland, Hamilton & Rasmussen, March 2010.
3. This Is Not a Recovery, Paul Krugman, August 26 2010.

Man-made chemicals blamed as many more girls than boys are born in Arctic, Paul Brown, September 12 2007.

· High levels can change sex of child during pregnancy
· Survey of Greenland and east Russia puts ratio at 2:1

Twice as many girls as boys are being born in some Arctic villages because of high levels of man-made chemicals in the blood of pregnant women, according to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Amap).

The scientists, who say the findings could explain the recent excess of girl babies across much of the northern hemisphere, are widening their investigation across the most acutely affected communities in Russia, Greenland and Canada to try to discover the size of the imbalance in Inuit communities of the far north.

In the communities of Greenland and eastern Russia monitored so far, the ratio was found to be two girls to one boy. In one village in Greenland only girls have been born.

The scientists measured the man-made chemicals in women's blood that mimic human hormones and concluded that they were capable of triggering changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestation. The chemicals are carried in the mother's bloodstream through the placenta to the foetus, switching hormones to create girl children.

Lars-Otto Reierson, executive secretary for Amap, said: "We knew that the levels of man-made chemicals were accumulating in the food chain, and that seals, whales and particularly polar bears were getting a dose a million times higher than that existing in plankton, and that this could be toxic to humans who ate these higher animals. What was shocking was that they were also able to change the sex of children before birth."

The sex balance of the human race - historically a slight excess of boys over girls - has recently begun to change. A paper published in the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences earlier this year said that in Japan and the US there were 250,000 boys fewer than would have been expected had the sex ratio existing in 1970 remained unchanged. The paper was unable to pin down a cause for the new excess of girls over boys.

The Arctic scientists have discovered that many of the babies born in Russia are premature and the boys are far smaller than girls. Possible links between the pollutants and high infant mortality in the first year of life is also being investigated.

Scientists believe a number of man-made chemicals used in electrical equipment from generators, televisions and computers that mimic human hormones are implicated. They are carried by winds and rivers to the Arctic where they accumulate in the food chain and in the bloodstreams of the largely meat- and fish-eating Inuit communities.

The first results of the survey were disclosed at a symposium of religious, scientific and environmental leaders in Greenland's capital, Nuuk, yesterday, organised by the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, which is looking at the effects of environmental pollution on the Arctic.

Dr Reierson said the accumulation of DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants and other endocrine disrupters has been known for some time and young women had been advised to avoid eating some Arctic animals to avoid excess contamination and possible damage to their unborn children.

Dr Reierson, said blood samples from pregnant women were subsequently matched with the sex of their baby. Women with elevated levels of PCBs in their blood above two to four micrograms per litre and upwards were checked in three northern peninsula's in Russia's far east - the Kola, Taimyr and Chukotka - plus the Pechora River Basin.

To check the results the survey was widened and further communities, including those on Commodore Island, were investigated. The results were now in for 480 families and the ratio remained the same.

He said full results for the widening of the survey would not be published until next year but preliminary results for Greenland showed the same 2:1 ratio in the north.

Aqqaluk Lynge, the former chairman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference who hails from Greenland, said: "This is a disaster, especially for some 1,500 people who make up the Inuit nations in the far north east of Russia.

"Here in the north of Greenland, in the villages near the Thule American base, only girl babies are being born to Inuit families.

"The problem is acute in the north and east of Greenland where people still have the traditional diet.

"This has become a critical question of people's survival but few governments want to talk about the problem of hormone mimickers because it means thinking about the chemicals you use.

"I think they need to be tested much more stringently before they are allowed on the market."


The Inuit are nomadic in nature, having survived for thousands of years using formidable hunting skills to seek out the bowhead whale, seal, caribou and walrus. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), an international body, was founded in 1977 to represent the rights of the approximately 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). With relatively low levels of educational attainment and few opportunities, violence, alcohol and drug dependency are a growing problem as the Inuit try to safeguard its traditions.

Population, Sex Ratios and Development in Greenland, Hamilton & Rasmussen, March 2010.


During the 20th century, Greenland society experienced a dramatic transformation from scattered settlements based on hunting, with mostly turf dwellings, to an urbanizing post-industrial economy. This transformation compressed socioeconomic development that took centuries to millennia elsewhere into a few generations. The incomplete demographic transition that accompanied this development broadly followed the classical pattern, but with distinctive variations relating to Greenland’s Arctic environment, sparse population, and historical interactions between two cultures: an indigenous Inuit majority and an influential Danish minority. One heritage from Danish colonial administration, and continued more recently under Greenland Home Rule, has been the maintenance of population statistics. Time series of demographic indicators, some going back into the 18th century, provide a uniquely detailed view of the rapid hunting-to-post-industrial transition. Changing sex ratios—an early excess of females, shifting more recently to an excess of males—reflect differential impacts of social, economic, and technological developments.

This Is Not a Recovery, Paul Krugman, August 26 2010.

What will Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, say in his big speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.? Will he hint at new steps to boost the economy? Stay tuned.

But we can safely predict what he and other officials will say about where we are right now: that the economy is continuing to recover, albeit more slowly than they would like. Unfortunately, that’s not true: this isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policy makers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.

The small sliver of truth in claims of continuing recovery is the fact that G.D.P. is still rising: we’re not in a classic recession, in which everything goes down. But so what?

The important question is whether growth is fast enough to bring down sky-high unemployment. We need about 2.5 percent growth just to keep unemployment from rising, and much faster growth to bring it significantly down. Yet growth is currently running somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, with a good chance that it will slow even further in the months ahead. Will the economy actually enter a double dip, with G.D.P. shrinking? Who cares? If unemployment rises for the rest of this year, which seems likely, it won’t matter whether the G.D.P. numbers are slightly positive or slightly negative.

All of this is obvious. Yet policy makers are in denial.

After its last monetary policy meeting, the Fed released a statement declaring that it “anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization” — Fedspeak for falling unemployment. Nothing in the data supports that kind of optimism. Meanwhile, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, says that “we’re on the road to recovery.” No, we aren’t.

Why are people who know better sugar-coating economic reality? The answer, I’m sorry to say, is that it’s all about evading responsibility.

In the case of the Fed, admitting that the economy isn’t recovering would put the institution under pressure to do more. And so far, at least, the Fed seems more afraid of the possible loss of face if it tries to help the economy and fails than it is of the costs to the American people if it does nothing, and settles for a recovery that isn’t.

In the case of the Obama administration, officials seem loath to admit that the original stimulus was too small. True, it was enough to limit the depth of the slump — a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says unemployment would probably be well into double digits now without the stimulus — but it wasn’t big enough to bring unemployment down significantly.

Now, it’s arguable that even in early 2009, when President Obama was at the peak of his popularity, he couldn’t have gotten a bigger plan through the Senate. And he certainly couldn’t pass a supplemental stimulus now. So officials could, with considerable justification, place the onus for the non-recovery on Republican obstructionism. But they’ve chosen, instead, to draw smiley faces on a grim picture, convincing nobody. And the likely result in November — big gains for the obstructionists — will paralyze policy for years to come.

So what should officials be doing, aside from telling the truth about the economy?

The Fed has a number of options. It can buy more long-term and private debt; it can push down long-term interest rates by announcing its intention to keep short-term rates low; it can raise its medium-term target for inflation, making it less attractive for businesses to simply sit on their cash. Nobody can be sure how well these measures would work, but it’s better to try something that might not work than to make excuses while workers suffer.

The administration has less freedom of action, since it can’t get legislation past the Republican blockade. But it still has options. It can revamp its deeply unsuccessful attempt to aid troubled homeowners. It can use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders, to engineer mortgage refinancing that puts money in the hands of American families — yes, Republicans will howl, but they’re doing that anyway. It can finally get serious about confronting China over its currency manipulation: how many times do the Chinese have to promise to change their policies, then renege, before the administration decides that it’s time to act?

Which of these options should policy makers pursue? If I had my way, all of them.

I know what some players both at the Fed and in the administration will say: they’ll warn about the risks of doing anything unconventional. But we’ve already seen the consequences of playing it safe, and waiting for recovery to happen all by itself: it’s landed us in what looks increasingly like a permanent state of stagnation and high unemployment. It’s time to admit that what we have now isn’t a recovery, and do whatever we can to change that situation.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

southern sudroun Southron.

Kepand na sudroun bot our awin langage, and speikis as I lernit quhen I was page. (a Scottish bishop in 1515 or so)
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' cat.yes, there were Southrons in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings too - but that's not it, and the OED is just talking about distinguishing Englishmen from Scots (and Geordies) demonstrating that petty parochialism is everywhere alive and active and has been, but I am thinking of the southern United States tonight, the word I learned as a boy for them was Southron,

my grandfather came from Maryland (which my aunt understood as the source of our generosity & graciousness), not quite deep south maybe but beyond the Mason-Dixon line at least, Pennsylvania to the north but with Virginia on the warm southern side,

so, though I was strongly attracted to Pynchon's Mason & Dixon - I imagined that it might have to do with Slothrop's reintegration (it at least several senses), I was not able to read it, the capitalized proper nouns did me in, I tried several times but it stopped me cold, still, there is an echo of the infamous subject/object split that lingers around the phrase Mason-Dixon, before Charles Taylor turned 'authenticity' on its head I used to take some comfort in imagining Southrons as less infected by distances in their internal landscape (yes, plural 'distances' and singular 'landscape' - collective maybe - objective correlative and alla' that) ... gone forever, oh well.

Aida Muluneh went to high school in Calgary she says - you can tell by the way she talks, and as with Fiona Lowry last week, the ideology puts me off, still, there is some quality ... "A kernel of truth in a bushel of vicious nonsense," as Northrop Frye put it in The Double Vision ... much more than a kernel here certainly, and there is even a Cuba connection (yep! gotta learn Spanish!), I had to laugh at 'Flamingo' dancers, and she has some uncertainty about the 'i' before 'e' rule - good to see the Calgary standard is no higher than in the ROC (these snippets of images expand if you click on them):
Aida MulunehAida MulunehAida Muluneh, Woman in doorway.Aida Muluneh, Spirit of sisterhood.Aida Muluneh, untitled.Aida Muluneh, Meeting at the window.Aida Muluneh, Priest standing in the door way of his church.Aida Muluneh, Woman sitting in a room.Aida Muluneh, Praying by the church gate.Aida Muluneh, Guy walking near old Havana.Aida Muluneh, A couple going for a ride after their wedding ceremony.Aida Muluneh, Flamingo dancers at a local bar.
more at Tadias & her film The Unhealing Wound (nowhere available for viewing that I could find, on-line or otherwise) & her collection at Photo Shelter (which site seems now to be defunct?).

it all reminds me of Jesse Winchester singin' Nothing But A Breeze one night in Peterborough long ago but there is nothing to play for you at YouTube, oh well.

Theo ColbornTheo ColbornTheo ColbornTheo Colbornhere's Theo Colborn, some links that I posted a few weeks ago: herself at Wikipedia, & her book Our Stolen Future (which I have now read most of), her project, TEDX - The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, and a video The Male Predicament (35 min.),

it turns out that the generic human is female and that males are custom jobs, imagine!

the book (there are some cheap copies at Abe Books) is properly compared with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and if it doesn't scare the shit right out of you then I don't know what would ... luckily she has a sense of humour, a lot of the discussion is about penises and vaginas and such and in an effort (I think) not to repeat herself she uses all sorts of entertaining euphemistic synonyms, "plumbing" & "machinery" and so forth,

what I have not found yet is demographic statistics indicating male/female birth ratios which would seem to me to be the bottom line & conclusive argument, you can follow the 'Aamjiwnaang' keyword in the index (in the sidebar to the left of the screen) for the story of what is going on there, a place where the statistics are a macabre reiteration of a line from the Beach Boys' hit Surf City ... "Two Girls For Every Boy!"
in one of Theo's stories she is looking out the window of some hotel or apartment condo in Washington DC, I imagined that she was looking south, hence the Mason-Dixon connection.

Brian McMullanBrian McMullanBrian McMullanthe St. Catharines City Council eventually passed a resolution to support the coal phase-out in Ontario as reported in The Star, they didn't quite go willingly, luckily Angela Bischoff from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance - OCAA, and who also runs Greenspiration, got wind of their recalcitrance and organized an email campaign which seems to have been effective, municipal politics is murky ... in a nutshell - page 38 of the Agenda indicated a cop out: "That the report from Transportation and Environmental Services Department dated June 23, 2010, regarding The Ontario Clean Air Alliance' s Resolution Regarding Coal Phase Out, be received for information purposes. FORTHWITH." but page 40 of the Minutes shows a significantly strengthened resolve: "That the report from Transportation and Environmental Services Department dated June 23, 2010, regarding The Ontario Clean Air Alliance's Resolution Regarding Coal Phase Out, be received for information purposes; AND that the City of St. Catharines request the Government of Ontario to direct Ontario Power Generation to put its coal plants on standby reserve and only operate them if they are absolutely needed to meet our Province's electricity needs. FORTHWITH."

when the smoke cleared (so to speak) I began to see this Mayor and his Councillors (Mayor Brian McMullan, Councillors Jeff Burch, Dawn Dodge, Mark Elliott, Heather Foss, Bill Phillips, Peter Secord, Len Stack, Jennifer Stevens, Greg Washuta, Bruce Williamson; Absent: Councillors Andrew Gill, Joseph Kushner) as adults, did they just read the writing on the wall and knuckle under? or did they really change their minds? that I can't say, but they did stand up and be counted, this is good, we need fewer politicians and more adults.

Comics From The 10s:
Come here Frederick.
You are old enough now to know the joys of adult life.
What's in the box Dad?

In the &^%$# Globe?! No telling where they'll turn up I guess :-)speaking of adults, here's one standing up and showing his face in Friday's Globe (of all places),

the hoi polloi are not particularly mindful, easily swayed, and it would be also be easy to infer a small-minded Canadian mentality from a few reports I have seen of western radio talk-shows calling for these Tamils to be expelled, what on earth do these people think is going to happen when there are not 500 refugees but millions?! if we had leaders with heart it could just as easily go the other way and probably will even without the leaders, and in fact seems to be.

Larga de ser um algoz Stephen Harper!

but ok, what about the Canadian Senate? any adults in there do you think?

their priority is obvious - they delayed their vacations marginally to pass a money bill and then went gaily off without passing C-311, in a choice between The Economy and The Future of the Planet We Live On they picked The Economy, "Can't stand in the way of progress eh?" and then this week their committee endorsed offshore drilling, and this with the connivance of Grant Mitchell the Liberal 'champion' of C-311 in the Senate ... doh?! so I sent him an email calling his vacation undeserved and his organization ridiculous, he didn't like that and we exchanged views, but what else can you call it?

a close look at the Globe article shows you how far out of the loop they are, the picture shows jack-up rigs, which are not used in deep water, and the Beaufort Sea and Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait are deep as deep can be as I understand it, even Lancaster Sound is 500-800 metres, and they placed Mr. Mitchell in Newfoundland instead of Alberta where he comes from ... making it very clear just exactly how important this all is to Gloria Galloway & to the Globe and Mail (k-k-Canada's National Newspaper), that's to say 'not at all.'

I grew up believing the guff I was given, the members of the Senate hold their seats for life, and this is good because it provides for a sober second look at things before they become law ... and so forth, and I still believed it when I was banging in lawn signs for Preston Manning's Reform Party (even though he didn't), but the House of Commons passed C-311 and now it looks as if the Senate's selfish stalling will scuttle it (okokok - C-311 doesn't go far enough anyway, ok? I know that, but it was at least something! ok?) and it is clear they just don't get it on offshore drilling either ... these things are IMPORTANT, so what else can you do? they're not elected, the only suasion you can apply is that you will support the ending of their institution, it would be a fine joke if the one thing that Stephen Harper did with his (ridiculous) ideology that corresponded even vaguely with reality was to chip away at the Senate,

here, you can watch Grant Mitchell for yourself talking about Bill C-311, I have to wonder why he uses the word perhaps? make up your own mind,

he tells me that I have been brainwashed into being overly critical of the government and that this plays into Harper's hand, I don't know ... we have until 2015 to turn around CO2 & equivalent emissions and I just don't see our government (or any government) doing what it takes to accomplish that turn around in time ...

Argyle SweaterI wish I did but I don't. I wish someone would convince me otherwise but they haven't, and I don't really want to think about it anymore - it is just too fucking depressing ...

The last (and possibly only) defence of an idiot is a grin. :-)but then, I just so happen to have a sort-of a built-in defence against depression, OEM equipment so to speak,

my father took from those Maryland ancestors I was talking about before a deep & wide sense of humour, (he also took their racism but that's another story and he did so get over it in the end), he had a great big laugh and he could make my mother laugh too when he let it out, he said my grandfather was the same - first page he looked at in the paper was the comics, and by luck or by genetics or by training & example & imitation or by the hormonal influences of the hottest horseradish I have ever tasted, I got some of it too God bless 'im.

And the IQ is long-gone anyway. :-)have to check it out with Theo Colborn and see if that endocrine disruption thing works on your sense of humour as well as your IQ?

as for the Southrons ... well, they lost the war, didn't they?

Be well.

Frisbee the Cat.Frisbee the Cat.Frisbee the Cat.


My garden.My garden.oops, almost forgot the garden,

the yam is still going ape-shit Jack In The Beanstalk, even the puniest of the original sprouts is climbing and climbing, and here's something - there must be some kinn'a endocrine disruption goin' on in here because one of the leading yam tips has split in two, probably that damned Lake Ontario water (see Waterlife)

the ginger grows like a swan, or like someone doing the breast-stroke, or two tandem side-strokes ... in that aerial internal camera ... and indeed, another ginger sprout has poked up striving, makes me think of Wyatt's sonnet ... "With naked foot, stalking in my chamber," (also here)

and ahh, the aloevera/babosa always reminds me of sweet Brasil,

in the south-facing window (which was too hot for the aloevera in the winter direct sun last year) are desert herbs, sage & rosemary so far, thyme to come, trite as trite can be eh?

FRADES have re-established the orphanage in a new location, there are numerous photographs here (if you can survive the diabolical Kodak software), there is a story, and then there are layers upon layers of understory in these photographs, you could pull a Chomsky and test for 'It's all about ME!' by counting the protagonists, you could study hand gestures & facial expression & body language carefully, there is even an architectural understory (how close is the well to the outhouse?)

Gerald BattiyeGerald BattiyePatricia BackPatricia BackRachelle ElienRachelle Elien
(but I only saw a few real laughs)

Christ! I can't believe it! I went down to the Green Party's national convention on Friday, bad enough they brought in a foul-mouthed and stupid (either quality by itself would be ok y'unnerstan') and approximately female comic from The Royal Canadian Air Farce to entertain after dinner, Jessica Holmes, she was followed by Don Drummond, ex economic mucky-muck & Pooh Bah of the TD bank, to tell the assembled multitudes about the inevitability of growth (!) ... I just left ... for good I think, more next week.

1. King coal’s Ontario decline, Peter Gorrie, August 13 2010.
2. Rob Ford and the ding of truth, Rick Salutin, August 20 2010.
3. Senate gives thumbs up to offshore drilling, Gloria Galloway, August 18 2010.

King coal’s Ontario decline, Peter Gorrie, August 13 2010.

St. Catharines’ city council recently voted in favour of shutting Ontario’s remaining coal-fired generating stations earlier than the promised Dec. 31, 2014.

Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener and Toronto’s Board of Health have also called on the province to advance coal-freedom day by at least a couple of years.

Two advocacy groups — the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment — encouraged the votes as part of their campaign to reduce the health impacts of the four power plants.

The common impression is that the coal-fuelled stations, which a few years ago produced one-quarter of Ontario’s electricity, will continue at that rate until, all of a sudden four years from now, they’re mothballed.

In fact, the plants — the two small northern stations near Thunder Bay and Atikokan, the larger Lambton facility at Sarnia and North America’s biggest, Nanticoke, on Lake Erie’s north shore — already account for less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s electricity generation. Last year’s figure was 7 per cent. It will likely higher this summer, since temperatures and demand are up, and low water levels have cut the output from hydroelectric stations by about 20 per cent.

At their current production, based on a 2005 study, the coal plants are responsible for 123,000 cases per year of asthma and minor lung ailments, as well as 246 deaths across Ontario, says the clean air alliance’s Jack Gibbons.

An apparently simple change could cut the death toll by more than 200, the groups say.

Today hydropower and nuclear are called on first to meet electricity demands, usually followed by coal, then natural gas. Coal is favoured over gas for cost reasons. If the order were reversed, the coal plants would generate, on average over a year, less than 1 per cent of the province’s power — a virtual shutdown.

Compared with coal, gas plants spew 98 per cent less of the chemicals that cause lung ailments and 60 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The change could save 1,000 lives over the next four years, says Gideon Forman, who heads the doctors’ association.

Our air would still be polluted, especially on hot, muggy days when we’re sweltering in air that has passed over the American Midwest and its dozens of coal-burning power plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to clean up those plants, but lawsuits and political backlash are bound to delay that effort, probably by years.

But it is significant that despite this summer’s heat, we’ve had fewer smog alerts. The gradual reduction of coal generation, particularly from Nanticoke, is clearly making a difference.

Those in charge insist they’re weaning us off coal as quickly as possible. There are barriers:

* The gas plants can’t yet ramp up into full production as quickly as coal to meet peaks in demand. Improvements are a year away, says Terry Young of the Independent Electricity System Operation, which manages the system.

* There are no alternatives to the two northern plants.

* Nanticoke will still be needed occasionally when construction of new transmission lines reduces the flow of power from the nuclear plants and wind farms near Lake Huron.

* Coal plants must keep burning a bit of fuel when they’re on standby; otherwise, they can’t power up quickly.

Forman has been rebuffed by Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, greeted cautiously by the NDP’s Andrea Horvath and is to meet next month with Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid.

It’s great that we’re using so much less coal. A policy of gas first whenever technically possible would be even better. It might not lower the dirty fuel’s contribution all the way to 1 per cent, but anything to hasten its demise would be a positive step.

Rob Ford and the ding of truth, Rick Salutin, August 20 2010.

Champlain faced similar immigration conundrums in his time

Americans gripped by immigration and ethnicity issues should glance for perspective at the large print on the base of the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me … Canadians with similar anxieties about immigrants and refugees – categories that were often historically identical – should think about Samuel de Champlain, who founded our country in the early 1600s.

Champlain’s immigration policy was unusual, since he and the settlers he brought from France were the immigrants. In a way, it was the native peoples already here who had the first immigration policy; they welcomed newcomers, in the absence of reasons not to, as if good things were likely to arise from new arrivals. Champlain seemed to admire that.

So his immigration policy was also a policy of conquest, in an era of conquest. Yet, approaches differed. In the Spanish West Indies, he’d seen an empire enslave native peoples and work them to death, literally and collectively, then import new slaves from Africa. He also rejected the British route in Virginia or New England, of keeping apart from native peoples while pushing them off their land. His way was to treat prior inhabitants with individual and national respect: Learn from them, trade and live with them, intermarry. “Henceforth we shall be one people,” he said.

It’s a more creative and humane approach than trying to assimilate the “others” to your own values, which are always a mixed bag. It opens future possibilities. The young men Champlain sent to learn native languages often intermarried, as did French families of high rank into similar native families. Eventually, this process led to the Métis nation, “the only ethnic group created indigenous to this continent,” says Champlain biographer David Hackett Fischer.

I’ve been reading his book this summer up in the region Champlain knew as Huronia, between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario, where he spent a year and got to know a complex agricultural society with many towns, a political structure and enough surplus corn to export to other native peoples. Mr. Fischer says Champlain’s enlightened openness came from having fought during 40 bloody years of religious war in Europe and feeling there had to be a better way. He calls it a “generational phenomenon,” comparable to the Lester Pearson generation of “wise men.” They lived through two world wars and a global depression; they responded with the UN and the welfare state. They make the Stephen Harper generation look callow, but that may just show that hard experience is a better teacher than stiff ideology.

The alternative mindset, now widely on offer, involves escalating exclusion and delegitimization, as if saying: First they came for the refugees, but I wasn’t a refugee. Then they came for the immigrants. Then they came for citizens but ones who weren’t like “us,” such as Muslims in the U.S., who are told to be “more sensitive” when building mosques. But sensitive to whom – “real” Americans? Or you get Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford, who said this week that, in a perfect world, there’d be no immigration here.

Yet, his words have not the ring but a certain ding of truth. He says, “We can’t even take care of our 2.5 million people,” and it’s true – though he doesn’t name the reasons. Policies such as free trade and globalization sent away vast numbers of jobs in small manufacturing and their spinoffs that generations of new immigrants did, whose taxes, in turn, supported decent services. Many of those tut-tutting Rob Ford backed those economic policies and still do, lending them a whiff of hypocrisy discernible to stressed-out voters. He’s hit the mood, though not the essence, of our situation. I imagine Champlain faced similar conundrums in his time.

Senate gives thumbs up to offshore drilling, Gloria Galloway, August 18 2010.

Drilling Rigs in Halifax harbour.A Senate committee says there’s no need to prevent companies from drilling for oil in Canadian coastal waters.

With oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico and Chevron drilling deep off the Atlantic coast, the Senate committee on energy, the environment and natural resources launched a study in May to determine the potential for a similar calamity in Canada.

In particular, the committee looked at whether calls for a moratorium on drilling in Canadian waters were well founded. After hearing from 26 witnesses, the committee concluded in its report released Wednesday that they are not.

"No evidence was adduced to justify any such ban or suspension and the committee is recommending that the said Chevron operation continue as planned, under close scrutiny and supervision by the regulators," the report says.

The bipartisan committee did, however, say there is a need to examine the structure of regulatory boards to determine if there is a "material conflict" between their roles as promoters of development and environmental stewards.

The committee also recommended that the regulators and industry take a hard look at the condition under which relief wells should be drilled. A relief well to take pressure off the BP well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico has taken many months to drill.

But David Angus, the Conservative who chairs the committee, told a news conference Wednesday the senators were satisfied that the safety precautions currently in place are sufficient to prevent a similar disaster in Canada.

Senator Grant Mitchell, a Liberal from Alberta, said the report aimed to balance economic and environmental concerns and pointed out the huge financial benefit to Canadians that flows from allowing companies to drill offshore.