Tuesday, 24 July 2012

People can always tell.

(No, they can't.)
Up, Down, A bit more ... 
Contents: Drought/FAO/Climate Dice, Tiny Stories, Grant Hadwin, Marten Scheffer, 20 Trillion, Ovid/Phaeton.

Doonesbury, July 18.Fact is, things can be faked up pretty well, quite convincingly.

And there is a wide range of techniques - Photoshop is just one among many. A better statement might be, "Sometimes people can tell if they care to," but even in those marginal cases confidence is reduced, even for those who were actually 'there'. Memory is mutable too.

Somewhere Bob Dylan said ... yeah, here it is: "technology to wipe out truth is now available. not everybody can afford it but it's available."

[World Gone Wrong liner notes on the 'Discover' tab here. Instructive to read the whole thing carefully and see more of how his mind works - as if (for example) this technology he mentions were directed at or destined for a mass market, or as if ability to pay were a factor in its uptake. Threading the needle in a sense.] 
There is drought in the American midwest, and closer to home in Southern Ontario too, and the corn farmers (ask yourself to what degree they are farmers, even ®-®-Roundup-Ready™ corn needs rain) are crying (to their crop insurers).

A few years ago I began to follow the FAO Food Price Index - it seemed like a natural, and the UN agency that makes it up, that is one guy in that agency, Abdolreza Abbassian, seemed credible. At the time you could put your name on an email list and be informed as the numbers were updated.

There seems to have been some bureaucratic turbulence in the meantime. Now the best images you can scrape up (here) are what I am showing (and no more emails, you go grab 'em on your own nickle):
FAO Food Price Index.FAO Food Price Index.FAO Food Price Index.

That tiny text at the bottom of the graph says, "The real price index is the nominal price index deflated by the World Bank Manufactures Unit Value Index (MUV)." So, the first curve is that 'nominal' means real, and 'real' means cooked, OK. But looking into what this MUV is gets complicated. One view (from Andrew Dorward, here) is that, "The use of such price indices leads to historically low global estimates of current real food prices when the latter are not, in fact, low in historical terms for lower-income groups in low-income countries."

There is even a questioning apparently of the fact that food prices are rising at all (?) in 'real' terms that is. Maybe I am not smart enough to figgure these numbers out, but if people are starving and migrating in their millions then by some measure or other food prices are going up.

Anyway, I am kinda expecting the gradual decline since February 2011 to soon reverse, possibly dramatically, possibly in the next few months. (If I am still doing this I will report ... if I remember.) The pundits seem to agree: US corn belt crisis threatens to drive up global inflation, and Lester Brown: The world is closer to a food crisis than most people realise..

There is a kind of perspective in headlines,
1974: In Midwest, Drought Worsens.
1988: Drought Causing Worry in Midwest and Southeast.
2005: Drought Threatens Crops & Shuts River in Midwest.
2012: Widespread Drought Is Likely to Worsen.
But headlines are misleading - at best they relate to a limited time spectrum and of course they are intended to be sold so they are trumped up.

Reto Ruedy.Makiko Sato.For real perspective you have to go to statistics & probablilities (interpreted by someone you trust): Perceptions of Climate Change: The New Climate Dice by James Hansen (whom I trust), Makiko Sato, and Reto Ruedy. The report is undated but recent, 2012, April or May looks like. And it is difficult stuff to read, even more difficult to understand, you probably will not take the time ...

Don't trust Paul Krugman (because he continues to shill for growth) but on this he seems to have it right: Loading the Climate Dice.
Malvados: Are you going out Zaza? / I'm going on a protest march against sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. / Young people ...Malvados: Are you going out Zaza? / I'm going on a protest march against sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. / Young people ...

[It is humbling to be of no use or ornament, not to children, not to loved ones & friends, not to any possible action to jam up the environmental thing.

Bizarro.There is the standard bourgeois guff: "... it is the cycle of life. Children grow up and are ungrateful. They in turn have children who grow up and are ungrateful. On and on it goes," (this from an Ann Landers kinda guy, David Eddie, in the Globe). Bollocks of course.

But nevermind, humility is good however you come by it. (Easy for me to say eh?) So I went looking for perspective - for details on eskimo old folks just wandering off onto the ice floes - but, after going through several anthropological works that claimed to know ... it could be an urban myth for all I learned. Too bad, I am sure my friend Shaumiga knew but I never asked him and now he's gone.

At first these tiny stories seemed to be a way forward, or just a way ... of being, but they are increasingly difficult. Oh Well.

So ... second verse about the same as the first, version 2:]
Keeping Faith:    They arrive for an unexpected visit. He is busy with school and young children, other things. She is beyond control already. At 3AM they are there together, pinning her to the mattress, laughing. She is smiling quizzically, an old lady with no idea who these two men are holding her in bed. Getting into his car to leave the next day his father looks a question at him. He does not want to understand and so, doesn't.

His friend, blood brother, is dying in a hospital somewhere far away. He calls on the telephone, begging him to come for a last visit. He is on his way to court over the kids. He doesn't have rent money. He says no and hangs up. He understands very well. He re-reads the letter, "If I had a ladder that would reach into the hole you are in I would climb down it to help you."

His father dies just before his birthday. He calls the day before, and again on the day - no answer - he must be down with the family for a party. A week or so later he is found in his bed, badly decomposed but peacefully arranged (according to reports). They only find him when they do because he is scheduled into a detox and a secretary calls when he doesn't show up. Someone talks him out of viewing the body at the morgue - "It is quite unpleasant. A very hot time of year." - callous dissembling upon mistakes (which are no mistake) and there is no end to it.

Carnal:    A few of the sweet brown girls still write sometimes, even regularly. Maybe he did something right then because it has been years since he sent any money. Maybe he still is. Something he can only guess at may be going on.

Não sou de Ninguém, in the São José do Norte harbour, 2008.Mixed with formal need, jeopardy and tragedy, there is a bit of news, a fact or two, snapshots, births, marriages. Maybe they love as well as they are able. 'Ninguém pertence pra ninguém' (no one belongs to anyone) they say with a smile, and show such kindness in the face of it. Naturally he tries to imagine it is better than 'able', more. Sometimes he almost succeeds.

His mother often waits up for him when he is out late, wanting to talk. She believes an odd kind of metaphysics, connections that can not possibly break simply because they are carnal, happened - not ever. A country girl.

It is 45°, summertime in the tropics. Mango juice and sweat drips from their elbows and chins. They make moqueca de peixe and some of the mango goes into it along with coconut milk, onions, hot red peppers, tomatoes. The samba radio plays loud. Kids run around. Teenagers are sent out for more cold beer. Old ladies, not so old, are smiling and giggling. Everyone is happy.

Speaking of Photoshop - that first one is suspect eh?

The obvious question which no one answers (to my satisfaction) is, "How does it grow if it is not green?" I think the answer is that it is not 'golden' at all but yellowish-green, and there are yellowish-green chlorophyll pigments that support photosynthesis.
Golden Spruce.Golden Spruce.Golden Spruce.Golden Spruce.Golden Spruce.Golden Spruce.

A discussion here (except that biochemistry is not mentioned).

So, Picea sitchensis 'Bentham's Sunlight' or Picea sitchensis 'Aurea' as you like. And Grant Hadwin was off his meds, paranoid schizophrenic etc., mad, a 'madman', a 'tree murderer' - which I can not quite believe: the action was rational enough, well executed, just not how most people wanted to see, and he certainly appears to have been on his way back to face the music.

Grant Hadwin, 1997.Grant Hadwin, 1997.John Vaillant knows pretty well who he is: a journalist supporting his family. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed is superficial and exaggerated but it is competently researched (Bella Coola does indeed line up with the tip of Haida Gwaii, I didn't think so), boring, tedious, quite often downright silly. Not my cup-of-tea then - it risked being flung at the wall a number of times - but I hope he made a pant-full on it sure I do, though I may pass on the next one.

He does discuss the biology, even referring to Grant Scott's thesis on the subject (which I doubt he laid eyes on) - but in such a way as explains very little to me (my fault I'm sure).

About the same time, mid-1990's, I go up onto the mid coast, Ocean Falls, build a kayak intending to paddle off into the sunset, and then chicken out and become Fire Chief instead. Go figgure.

The next fall, or maybe two years later, a younger guy 35 or so shows up in a kayak from Bella Coola. In the spring he chickens out too and disappears back to the lower mainland. Not a movement then, but an eddy perhaps.

Golden Spruce.Grant Hadwin's escapades are a topic of conversation in the town - mostly a sort of grim red-neck gladness that he has done the decent thing and died.

I wish I'd known him. His bugaboo was 'university-trained professionals' mine is bureaucrats ... same difference.

There is not much source material to be easily found on the Internet, only the two photographs I have shown. John Vaillant & Sacha Snow (there are lots of images of these guys everywhere) substitute their brands for Hadwin's - a palimpsest as Pynchon might call it - and whoever Grant Hadwin actually was becomes more and more obscured. 
Here, this is interesting: Searching for Clues to Calamity.    'Clues' - I like the sound of that.

Clue #1: Marten Scheffer at Wageningen University (in the Netherlands), and a 2009 book Critical Transitions in Nature and Society published by Princeton. $60, too rich for my budget, and no take-out-able copies at the library.

An impressive Table of Contents, and a (very spotty) .pdf of Chapter 1 Introduction (a VERY spotty .pdf indeed, I will transfer it after a while).

Clue #2: A-and Tim Lenton at University of Exeter, but his 2°C or not 2°C? That is the climate question in Nature (2011) after considerable hedgeing, doesn't get around to answering the question ... so mark him down as a potential supporter of geoengineering and move on. He foresaw the collapse of the Indian summer monsoon within a year in 2008 and it is not quite gone yet is it?

One out of two ain't bad. Ai ai ai, even the second-hand copies at Abe's are forty bucks ... maybe I will pony up, feels like a place to go after Jared Diamond & Joseph Tainter.

1968:  The Magus.I have a little bell hanging in the open window (arranged not to ring too often). The sound of it is sweet but often just reminds me how long I have been stuck here in this Magus' waiting room ...

Be well.
£13tn (20+tn$US at today's rate) says the Guardian on Saturday, mebbe more!

James Henry.James Henry.Nothing in Wikipedia on James S. Henry (yet) but this from a blurb for his book: "... is an economist, lawyer, and investigative journalist who has published in the New Republic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, the Nation, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. Henry is an honors graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School. He was one of the original 'Nader's Raiders' and has also worked for McKinsey & Co. (chief economist) and IBM/Lotus Development (vice president of strategy). He has two children. He lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, NY." By 1990 he was already out of McKinsey & Company according to this from the NYT of that time.

The Blood Bankers.The book, The Blood Bankers: tales from the global underground economy, 2003, is at the library, one copy, but not in circulation, and no cheap copies at Abe's - I may have to make a trip to the reference library.

One on-line crit tells me it is 'haphazard, badly organized, and poorly edited' (?) so ... Ah! Here it is at Google Books, the whole introduction (less diagrams), it doesn't seem haphazard or poorly edited to me (?).

The Tax Justice Network (website here) advertises the report here, but all I can get is this press release or summary or whatever it is. The haphazard & poorly edited criticism sticks this time. The Guardian report says "released exclusively to the Observer." so maybe that's it

Nothing much in the big business papers that I can see yet either.

John Whiting.John Whiting.On Sunday the BBC (I guess it was released exclusively to them as well) present John Whiting, the Tax Director for the UK government's Office of Tax Simplification (good thing his name isn't Simon), and he expresses some lame & predictable quibbles.

But I am quite sure it is all true. We've been VOIKed! When I was a consultant it was a rite of passage to earn enough to be able to hire an accountant and a lawyer (both of them sleazy) to help you hide it from the tax man. The government squandered it just as effectively, but it was more fun to squander it yourself.

Occupy Wall Street is on the case.
Ad for 1932 Buick Phaeton.Ad for 1932 Buick Phaeton.

Ovid's Metamorphoses are a rich vein indeed. The line I quoted before, "Foole, thou thy Mother trusts in things vnknowne; and of a Father boasts that's not thy owne," is directed at Phaeton, towards the end of Book I before his catastrophic run as sun.

There are as many translators as feathers on a duck, and no really legible copies anywhere that I can find. I know this thoughtless current well: "I want it upon my shelf, but read it? To the point of knowing its flow? Not likely." I used to buy books and just walk around with them under my arm. And now that I finally begin to read - it should come as no surprise that the tools have been devalued and devolved.

One of them, J.J. Howard, says in his introduction, "The translator confides his attempt to render the beauties of Ovid more accessible to English readers, and to chasten the prurience of his ideas and his language, so as to fit his writings for more general perusal."

Two versions of the end of Europa and the Bull:

Agenor's daughter looks with wondering eye
On the kind beast; nor dares aat first draw nigh
To touch him, though so placid he appears.
But soon emboldened she forgets her fears,
And gives him flowers to taste. Presaging bliss
On her white hands he lays a gentle kiss,
And rapt with pleasure scarcely can endure
To check his onset and mate triumph sure.
Now he desports upon the grassy plain,
And now, returning to the shore again,
He rolls upon the sand and lets her press
Her hands upon him in a soft caress
And round his horns fresh rosy garlands cast,
Until she climbs upon his back at last,
Unwitting whom she rides. Then from the strand
Slowly the god moves out and leaves the land
And soon, the shallows past, speeds on his way
Across deep ocean carrying his prey.
One hand upon his back, one on his horn
She rests and trembling from the land is borne;
While as she leaves her native shore behind
Her filmy tunic flutters in the wind.

Frederick Adam Wright, 1869-1946.
 The beast, Agenor's daughter doth admire,
So wondrous beautifull, so void of ire.
Though such, at first shee his approach did dread,
Yet forthwith toucht; and then with flowres him fed.
The Louer joyes: till he his hopes might feast,
He kist her hands; ah, scarce deferres the rest!
Now, on the springing grasse, he frisks and playes:
His sides now on the golden sands he layes.
Her feare subdu'd, shee strokes his proffered brest:
Her Virgin-hands his hornes with garlands drest.
The royall Maid, who now no courage lackt,
Ascends the Bull, not knowing whom shee backt.
He, to the Sea approaching, by degrees
First dips therein his hoofes, anon his knees;
Then, rushing forward, beares away the prize.
Shee shreeks, and to the shore reuerts her eyes:
One hand his horne, the other held behind;
Her lighter garments swelling with the wind.

George Sandys, 1577-1644.

In Swedish: fin fint, god gott goda, bra - good good, good good good, good. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Hard feelings (Rorschach).

Up, Down. 
[These are very good (20-30 minutes each):
          1. Chris Hedges: Days of Destruction with Mike Finnerty on The Current, July 10.
          2. A backgrounder to the above: Harvest of Shame from 1960 with Ed Murrow.
          3. James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change at TED in March.

It is time, and well past time, to pull out all the stops.]

Skybird, Alexander Calder.Holy shit! Alexander Calder died in 1976 already! He was 78 when it happened so I guess he had a good run.

This Skybird of his (which I call a spiral) is signed, so we know which way he thought of as 'up' for it, and it is on a rectangular piece of paper, so there are three immediate and obvious rotations, three allemande rights (though of course there are more symmetries than that).

Skybird, Alexander Calder, 90° right.I guess I saw an exhibition at the AGO sometime in the early 60', late 50's maybe. There was an articulated lump of steel slag in the narrow hallway that used to run behind the main gallery, and this heavy thing was moving (so gracefully) in the breeze from an open door. It was summertime and I thought the doors had just been left open to cool the place. I thought this particular bit of the show was only for me. Imagine!

There was also a large wire wolf with wooden doorstoppers as teats - an enlightening surprise for a boy in the Toronto of those days.

Alexander Calder.But mostly there were mobiles, a wonderful profusion in primary colours, moving in the air. I went straight home and began to make wire and tissue-paper mobiles of my own. When my parents sold up and moved away from Toronto I was old enough to think of going to the States to beg admission to his studio, sweep floors whatever, but not swift enough to just go ahead and do it. Oh well.

Apparently the efficacy (and easiest thing to measure) in a Rorschach test is the subject's (or object's more like it) willingness to play the game. Simple. Hardest thing about it is confidently spelling 'rorschach'.

I like this global test. It's pretty simple too:
A "... global test for social and political institutions and theories: if either does not respect the claim that failure to address a serious global threat is a criticism of it, and a potentially fatal one, then it is inadequate and must be rejected."

[A Perfect Moral Storm p 217-18. The sentence carries no fewer than three footnotes. Wowzers!]
Alexander Calder.The Keeling curve needs to flatten out by 2015 give or take, and there is no mystery at all about what needs to be done to see that: Stop polluting now!

[That Steve Gardiner immediately writes off this solution gives me pause.]

The institutions I know of, including (I am very sorry to say it) some, many, of the activist ones, are taking up every lame excuse they can find or invent to do shadow work instead. Or what amounts to shadow work: Let's go build a Great Green Wall across the Sahel in Africa. Yup! Yup! Yup!

I know about this and similar kinds of procrastination and have often used such tactics - but never when I was in front of a moving train. (See Colville.)

In any event the institutions have failed, and continue to fail this global test - most egregiously and grossly and often arrogantly. Does anyone want to argue this? Discuss it? Think of exceptions? Make it a relative thing? A matter of degree? ... O.K. Fill yer boots but it won't wash.

So. There is now no chance of keeping it to 1.5°C, and only the tiniest fraction of a chance remaining for 2°C. Dig it! And the odds are getting shorter every day - with every air flight, car ride, avocado imported from Mexico ...

Alexander Calder.More than 2°C average temperature rise within 100 years is uncharted territory, but what charts there are ... are consistently grim: Homo Grǽdum is cooked, at best a remnant remains within the next half-dozen generations. All of Homo Grǽdum's stuff (the economy, coastal cities, agriculture, law & order, every sort of infrastructure ...) goes first of course, but it doesn't happen over the weekend. (It might be better if it did. Humans deal not so badly with that kind of immediacy and we might actually pull it out. Doesn't matter - not the case.)

Which brings me to the hard feelings:

Some, many, of our descendants will not notice - what they are born into will not be that superior to what they have to live with - the changes will be incremental, gradual, with the occasional tiny step back, and those on the front-lines will tend to vanish and be silent. Whatever is going on will soon seem normal. The educational system will connive. And too, denial will persist as a basic human tactic as long as humans do.

Alexander Calder.But those who do notice will look up and back to curse: their fate, their forebears, their ancestors and progenitors - with feeling, since the situation they will be in will not be of their making. A few clans may not: James Hansen's offspring, Tim DeChristopher's, Tuíra Kayapó's ... but by and large the generations alive in 2012 and some that went before will be deservedly cursed.

Particularly those among the so-called 1% and their flunkeys, and any politician (including those who invented such catchy and impenetrable slogans as 'green shift' and 'dutch disease'), anyone with the least affiliation to the UN ... This will not be quite fair since the 99%, the complacent consumers, deserve a huge slice of the responsibility ...

Skybird, Alexander Calder, and again.But Hey! What's fair got to do with it when it looks like you're going extinct or nearly?

Each of the rotations I was mentioning above makes a different impression - definite bird elements in all of them (the top left is Calder's orientation - clicking on any of them will bring up something like the original).

Skybird, Alexander Calder, and again.This last one looks sort'a like a question mark to me. Or maybe a Guillemot.

Cursed? But who cares eh? There's no magic in curses any more than there is in prayers. But do you care? That's the question.

Tell ya' what - best is not to think about it. Go out tonight and see if you can get your wick wet or your slot packed, stupefy yourself (to the extent that you are not already stupefied) in whatever ways you can imagine and afford.

Tell the man I said it was alright.

Or ... Wake up and DO something! Them's the choices and it is now or never. Maybe I could say, "Get yer feckin' thumbs out!" ... whatever.

Be well. 
This could also be said:    Some individuals in the generations alive in 2012 and before did speak up, and some continue to.

They put their best foot forward, put their bodies in the way and went/go to jail (or worse) and not just for an afternoon, and many of these were and are people of real substance (not property) and good character who laboured and labour conscientiously and with all the skill and energy they possess - to the last gysm - shining and sparkling people, "l'armée des étoiles jetées dans le ciel," and they deserve to be listened to and heard and understood (in their fullness).

If there were a celestial choir we might look forward to joining the likes of Irmã Dorothy, Zé Claudio and his good wife Maria, Chico Mendes ... and no harm in dreaming.

Anyway, just consider that curses could conceivably, possibly, quite reasonably, flow forth as well as back across the generations. It is a dull blade that doesn't cut both ways eh?

Oh I know I know I know, this kind of ranting is strictly verboten, against the laws of correctitude and of the ideology of positivity and all that (guff).

Can't help it. Sorry.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The grasshopper and the ants.

(A glance at ambivalent & ambiguous morality,
  in the hope of better understanding despair.)

Up, Down, A Bit More. 
One by one the YouTube links are going dead, blinking out ... as if this obsessive concern with copyright is going to somehow motivate people to go out and buy things (?). Burros!

We used to ride up Cousin's Inlet to work in Tony's skiff listening to the Traveling Wilburys' End Of The Line:    "I'm just glad to be here, happy to be alive."

This one always does it to me: Playing for Change - One Love, which is funny in a way coming from a 9944/100% atheist. Here's the original with Bob Marley. 
Another heroine of mine - not much reason for it initially (maybe) beyond her name - Daysi Zapata (surely you can see how it would appeal to an old hippie). She is the vice-president of AIDESEP Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana / Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle.
Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2007?Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2010.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2010.
At the moment she is head to head with Miguel Piovesán, an Episcopalian priest (in the Purús parish) who has been proselytizing over a highway through Amazônia from Puerto Esperanza to Iñapari (which does begin to look very like a nexus in somebody's development wet-dream). Here's a map and here's another map.

Miguel Piovesán.Miguel Piovesán.Miguel Piovesán.From this distance who can say much for certain? Being far away makes it easy to pick up on simplifying characterizations: 1. left-lib feminist ideology, or 2. corrupt kiddie-diddling priests, or 3. Alan García's druthers if he were still president, or 4. eager would-be consumers (see The Walrus and the Carpenter a few weeks ago here) ... and so on.

But ... if I had to bet single malt it would be on Daysi. 
Aesop's The Grasshopper and the Ants:
The ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."
Gutenberg Version #1.   {85}

One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.
       "What!" cried the Ants in surprise, "haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?"
       "I didn't have time to store up any food," whined the Grasshopper; "I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone."
       The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.
       "Making music, were you?" they cried. "Very well; now dance!" And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.
       There's a time for work and a time for play.

Gutenberg Version #2.   {144}

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Proverbs 6:6-8
Easy to see some of the contradictions - self-righteous whatever-ness vs The Golden Rule and so on ... which may explain where some of the alternative endings you find in such purveyors as Disney come from.

What would Kipling's wise and perspicacious Solomon bin Daoud make of it I wonder? (See The Butterfly That Stamped.) 
[Delving into Aesop ... he seemed to understand tiny stories well enough.    I have misgivings about these tiny stories. There has been a gradual increase in text size over the years, and concomitant (or at least contemporaneous) magnification of issues that maybe should be kept private, or that would be if I were not undone; and alongside that, the feeling, the conviction that it is only through the most direct communication that any counterforce can possibly emerge. So. When you ain't got nothin' you ain't got nothin' to lose.    Anyway, here are some more tiny stories with no shellac, or not much:]
Shakti & Woodstock:    Shakti is the kitten in their paradise. They have no kitty litter and things go from bad to worse 'til he chokes her to force her to shit in the box and her intestines fall out. The girl carries the kitten to town where the vet says she can't be saved and puts her down.

He breaks the puppy's leg with his hands, hears it crack, claims he fell into the wood pile. They fix a sort of splint. Then one day when they are forced to leave drop kicks him into the garden like a football. Their only neighbour sees and takes Woodstock to stay with him.

Years later he returns with his children. The neighbour now lives in a tiny shed with a dozen dogs. They do not seem to ressemble Woodstock but he claims they are all descendants. "They are warm in the winter," he says. He gives them tea and tinned milk and sweet cream biscuits. Then they climb the hill and ring the old church bell with a stick that is there.

Sex:    There is no telling when these things begin. He is seven or eight. His mother has gone to the hair-dresser. He must wait on the porch but soon finds himself a block away in the churchyard with two blonde girls, foreign - there is some difficulty with language. They want him to come with them to their back yard to play. He hesitates.

She happens to pass by there on her way home, sees him and orders him to go ahead. He is still laughing and hides behind the pillar to surprise her. She puts him in his room, "Wait there," and goes to the basement looking for something. She comes back with a stick, a piece of lath, strips him and beats him with it.

He is still weeping when his father comes from the office. "What's this?" he says, and then below in the kitchen, roars, "Never! Don't you ever strike my son again." In the weeks after he goes often to the churchyard and down all the lanes behind the neighbouring houses, peering in.

Keeping Faith:    His parents come for an unexpected visit. He is busy with school and young children, other things. She is beyond control already. At 3AM they are there together, pinning her to a mattress on the floor, laughing. The next day as they are leaving his father looks a question at him as he gets into the car. He does not want to understand, and so, doesn't.

His friend, blood brother, is dying in a hospital somewhere far away. He calls on the telephone, begging him to come for a last visit. He is on his way to court over the kids. He doesn't have rent money. He says no and hangs up. He understands very well. He re-reads the letter, "If I had a ladder that would reach into the hole you are in I would climb down to help you."

Old Man:    A few miles away lives a hermit. He went to town they say and tried to rape his young neice, or did rape her, no one knows. Others say she led him on when he was drunk though she is just thirteen. And others, "He's not a Christian." The Mounties come every month or so in their boat to pick him up but he hears them from far and sits up on the hill 'til they go away again.

They walk that way one winter afternoon and decide to stop in. Something wild leaps up at the door from inside when he knocks. It is locked. There is no other answer and they go on, uncertain. Weeks later he is found beside a hole in the ice on one of the ponds. He has taken off his coat and his boots and one sock.


[Ahh, it's not a matter of shellac. Maybe I am simply not permitted. I'm sorry, it looked like a way. I don't seem to be able to even see the lines I am stepping over anymore. Oh well.] 
The Event: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Cairns Australia July 9-13 2012; and, The Outcome: Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reef endorsed by 50 pages of scientists; and,
Roger Bradbury.
One View: A World Without Coral Reefs by Roger Bradbury in the NYT:
It's past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs, the nurseries of tropical coastal fish stocks. They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation.
Peter Sale.And Another View: in the comments to Climate change, Carbon taxes, and Responsible government:
a) how messages are received when they are all doom and gloom, b) the need to keep some optimism within our own community so that people continue to work to make the world better, and c) the immense difficulty of communicating with the movers and shakers who really decide how humanity acts.
None of these documents is very long.

I don't entirely side with either view - there is enough doubtful rationale in each of them - but at least they are relatively clearly put, 'out there', and the facts are more-or-less agreed.

It is, as Steve Gardiner has very clearly shown, a moral quandary in which every position contains tendencies towards corruption, backsliding.

If one accepts the awesome possibility that humankind is well and truely diddled (and the odds are getting shorter every day), then one tends to slide towards some downhill position, which one doesn't really matter (the common interpretation of despair - apathy, or adaptation, or futile technology, or geoengineering, or mitigation, whatever the fuck) when the necessary action remains the same as it has been for 50 years, very simple but unfortunately uphill: Stop polluting! (Doh! Whether you think it will 'work' or not.)

Again, if I had to bet single malt, it would be that truth will do more to sort out despair than any amount of polite & diplomatic discussion within any kind of status quo paradigm. (Untranscended despair being the bottleneck at the moment in my view. The only way to get to it is through it - to paraphrase Stompin' Tom.)

[Lord sufferin' dyin' dancin' ... that oh-so-earnest (k-k-Canadian) dipstick David Keith is at it again: US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon. These odd few mis-spent millions here and there are all double jeopardy eh? They are squandered on shadow nonsense and are not applied to the root problem, so there is a double toll.

A-and reducing wind subsidies in Britain is not enough. I gues they figgure they can really throw a fuck into it if they simultaneously i) threaten subsidy reductions, and ii) dither and dawdle and delay over the quantum (here).

Pity Party:    A way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whingeing endlessly about how crappy your life is. Pity parties can involve one or more people. (from the Urban Library)

Following along on Steve Gardiner's texts involving moral corruption, there's not much better than Oscar Wilde. Particularly his story The Devoted Friend read by Stephen Fry: 1   2   3 (total about 20 minutes) - and the text here; or download a whole CD of six Wilde fairy tales read by Stephen Fry from Demonoid, whatever.

You can hardly read (or listen) to these stories without picking up the crypto-Christian undertones, overtones, themes, and so on ... The idea of a deathbed conversion to Catholicism (?) when it is just possible that meningitis might leave you somewhat non compos mentis - oh well, it was 1900 after all. An interesting crit by Simon Critchley a few years ago in the Guardian: Oscar Wilde's faithless Christianity.

I guess the fear is that complaint is a means of manipulating someone towards a compassion they may not feel. (I trust that the parallels in The Grasshopper and the Ants and The Devoted Friend are obvious to all.) I know I hate it when a panhandler goes to lengths to look truely woebegone.

There is middle ground here. There must be that is, and presumably there is a technique to make the distinction - I just don't happen know that technique except as an emotional quality, a response of the heart.

Not the last word on this ... 
Just a Doukhobor at heart I guess. Grand Forks - I wonder what it's like over there?

Be well.
A Bit More:    I thought of going to Mexico one time and Old Pius said, "Yes, Mexico, that must be over there somewhere on the other side of Montree-hall."

Trouble in Timbuktu:    Radical Islamists go about destroying physical stuff, Bamiyan and now shrines in Timbuktu. "Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture," says Leonard Cohen. "They have a pussy problem," says Captain Beefheart. So what problem have the Islamists got then? Mistaking physical stuff for something else, looks like to me - in the same way that consumers, or, that is Consumers, mistake the stuff they are buying for something else. When it comes to filling up holes, or 'mitigating deficits' I also think of Gabor Maté and his Hungry Ghosts.

Where is the calculus that will give us the precise locus of the root deficit, whatever it is? And if we find it, how long will it take to become just another excuse to bring out the lash? You must be compassionate! And if you are not, we will lash you, or crucify you, or inquisition you. Right.

I was asking a few weeks ago - where are Lewere? Kurchi? Yida? (They are in and around the Nuba Mountains and south towards the South Sudan border, Kurchi I found, and Yida (approximately), they are on this map I made.)

So, another 100,000 in Mbera to go along with the 500,000 in Dadaab. When the 'official' numbers start getting scary, well, you know something's not right eh?

Mali showing Mbera.And where is Mbera? Well, the NYT gives it approximately, but how long will you spend trying to find it more exactly on this useless Internet? And by the time you do find it, and remember that Bamako is indeed the capital of Mali you have forgotten what it was you wanted to know or find out, or maybe that is just the incipient Alzheimer's, dunno.

You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?” and somebody points to you and says, “It’s his,” and you say, “What’s mine?” and somebody else says, “Well what is?” and you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”

Well ... yes, most of the time you are alone. Keith and I used to discuss this but never really got through to it. He called himself an 'isolato' and me a 'communal' (or something).

Of course we are all ultimately alone in some fundamental sense - the interesting question is how strong are the connections that do form in spite of it? Not very strong say I, but ... real, existent, without force or moment but there ... here ...

A quick Geography lesson - Sahel: (now with Cape Verde correctly identified)
Sahel map.Sahel map.Sahel map.
I count parts of eleven countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea. The Guardian counts eleven too (but don't say exactly which ones, and seem to include Djibouti?), Wikipedia only counts eight, leaving out Burkina Faso (which does have a province, right in the zone, named Sahel), Nigeria, and Cameroon. (So don't feel bad if a lot of this is as new to you as it is to me, you are in good company.)

The Sahara desert (3½ million square miles) is on the move as well, southward by that same ~5 miles per year. No surprise that lots of bad news originates in the Sahel these days (Darfur etc.). The concept of a ten-mile wide 'Great Green Wall' being constructed (in the Guardian link just above) looks like more shadow work to me - several billion more World Bank dollars in double jeopardy. King Canute rides again! But hey, looks good on paper and makes you feel good doesn't it eh?

Nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Monday July 16.100,000 people demonstrating in Tokyo on Monday (the organizers say 170,000, the cops say 75,000, either way it is LARGE in a culture of restraint such as you find in Japan).

I guess the real anal retention is going on in North America: k-k-Canada where 500 coming out for an environmental issue is a big number, and the US where the pooh-bahs tell us 1,000 or so will do it all, have already done it - "We won! We Won!" Right. And not hard to figgure why we stay mum either is it?

"Is there a place for those hopeless sinner who hurts all mankind just to save his own?"

Poutine, I should'a called this post 'poutine'.

A side of (ambiguous) boobage with that (ambiguous) poutine?
Cherubim or Seraphim?Cherubim or Seraphim?