Thursday, 28 March 2013

Occupy the Spirit (pre-face).

Beneath contempt is ... laziness & indifference.                                      Up, Down.    Maundy Thursday 

Contents: The Gist, Details:(I, II, III), Plus More:(I, II, III), Sermon.
I recommend (urge even) a musical warm-up with Jimmie Rodgers.

[The photograph is by Jon Sullivan, his website is worth a visit. Click on the image for a higher resolution view.]
Honeybee foraging Jon Sullivan.Honeybee foraging Jon Sullivan.Honeybee foraging Jon Sullivan.
Honeybees (again again):    Two additional scientific reports (links below) getting at the mechanism by which pesticides are weakening and killing off honeybees.

The thing about this photograph is that you can see individual grains of pollen. I compute (below) that one of these grains represents ~1 ppm of the weight of an average honeybee, and a thousandth of that ~1 ppb (doh!) which values bracket the range of sub-lethal toxicity in these reports. I have mentioned again and again that <5 ppb of BPA in their water stops brown trout reproduction (see here. This article is in BookSC.)

So how much of this shit does it take to impair human memory then I wonder? Human reproduction? How much of it is around? (My guesses: not much, not much, and lots.) Probably only matters until you are say, 20 or 25 years old. Don't matter much to me then; but it adds a certain dimension to my closing salutation eh?                             Be well. 

1) Pesticide makes bees forget the scent for food, new study finds.


2) Common pesticides disrupt brain functioning in bees.


3) Pesticide combination affects bees' ability to learn.


4) Cholinergic pesticides cause mushroom body neuronal inactivation in honeybees:
Here, using recordings from mushroom body Kenyon cells in acutely isolated honeybee brain, we show that the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and clothianidin, and the organophosphate miticide coumaphos oxon, cause a depolarization-block of neuronal firing and inhibit nicotinic responses. These effects are observed at concentrations that are encountered by foraging honeybees and within the hive, and are additive with combined application. Our findings demonstrate a neuronal mechanism that may account for the cognitive impairments caused by neonicotinoids, and predict that exposure to multiple pesticides that target cholinergic signalling will cause enhanced toxicity to pollinators.


5) Exposure to multiple cholinergic pesticides impairs olfactory learning and memory in honeybees:
The experiments reported here show that prolonged exposure to field-realistic concentrations of the neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, and the organophosphate acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, coumaphos, and their combination impairs olfactory learning and memory formation in the honeybee. Both imidacloprid, coumaphos and a combination of the two compounds impaired the bees' ability to differentiate the conditioned odour from a novel odour during the memory test. Our results demonstrate that exposure to sublethal doses of combined cholinergic pesticides significantly impairs important behaviors involved in foraging, implying that pollinator population decline could be the result of a failure of neural function of bees exposed to pesticides in agricultural landscapes.


Keep in mind: a milligram (mg) is 1 thousandth of a gram, 10-3; a microgram (µg or mcg) is 1 millionth of a gram, 10-6; a nanogram (ng) is 1 billionth, 10-9. That much is easy enough - delving into molar concentration (or trying to) not so much.   :-) And there is the complex business of relating doses and length of exposure ...

Average weight of a grain of pollen? See here: looks like 125-250 x 10-9 g per grain; other reports say 30 x 10-9; so let's say 100 billionths of a gram, 100 nanograms per pollen grain. An average honeybee (determined previously) is ~100 milligrams, 1/10th of a gram or so.

Honeybee concentrations for memory loss.I cannot access the articles, but from the diagram at the right I glean that doses in the range between 1 ppm & 1 ppb do the deed memory-wise on honeybees. That puts it somewhere between 1 pollen grain for a 1 ppm dose and 1,000 times smaller than a pollen grain.

[At the time I wrote this I could not access the articles. Since then the authors have kindly provided copies which I have read as I am able to.]

But ... a serious caveat: I'm a knucklehead, no scientist and possibly entering the Zone of Alz' (at least it sure feels like it); so re-calculate these numbers for yourself, tell me I'm off by an order of magnitude or two.

And if I am mistaken, please to tell me gentle reader - it will be appreciated.

The object of the exercise is to somehow make the tiny amounts involved real, provide some objective correlative which can shoehorn these facts into the social imaginary. 
Robert Frost - A Considerable Speck

A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When somethmg strange about it made me think.
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclmations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn't want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the moderm world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet wIth it in any guise.
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.
Two good things I found at Monga Bay in addition to the article mentioned above:   1) A journal: Tropical Conservation Science running back to 2008 and with no pay-wall to access individual articles; and,   2) Recent (meaning since APP's promises of a moratorium) photographs from Indonesia showing deforestation in aid of palm-oil plantations.

I wish they could simply put links to articles they mention, for example: Cargill to boost investment in Indonesian oil palm plantations refers to this in the Wall Street Journal - Cargill Expanding Palm-Oil Plantations in Indonesia. Why not include a link?And in order to comment you must be on Facebook. Limiting.
Cargill Logo.
Honeybee concentrations for death.Honeybee concentrations for death.Honeybee concentrations for death.
I found this chart in a 2012 'State of the Science' report by Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).

US government sued over use of pesticides linked to bee harm; and details here. Videos by two of the plaintiffs are worth watching: Steve Ellis and Tom Theobald (beginning 1:30 in).

This remarkably equivocal report appeared today in The New York Times: Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms; I guess this is what comes after dismantling their environment desk. A beekeeper who otherwise appears to be very actively involved in dealing with the issue, and who has suffered huge losses, is quoted saying, “I would have been insulted if you had called me that [an environmentalist] a few years ago. But ... a light comes on, and you think, ‘These guys really have something. Maybe they were just ahead of the bell curve.’” A backhanded bit of rhetoric wouldn't you say? What's up with the NYT?

It's in the language: something twigged when I saw cholinergic, but the penny didn't drop until the authors of 4) & 5) (above) kindly sent me copies and I made the connection with Acetylcholine. 
Two videos: Silence of the Bees in 2007, and Vanishing of the Bees in 2009. They are both available for download on IsoHunt: Silence (~2 gigs), and Vanishing (~1 gig).

No silver bullet:    Maybe it's the Alz' but these films are informative and thought provoking rather than knee-jerk ideology (to me). With the exception of the lame suggestions for action at the end of Vanishing of the Bees; but maybe such optimism & hope were still currency in 2009? I can't remember.

Symmetry with the overall environmental catastrophe:    A case where microcosm & macrocosm align: effects distanced from causes - only by 6 months instead of 5-10 years; the inertia of business-as-usual, bureaucracy; lagging social imaginary.

Not entirely: here there at least appears to be moral high-ground on all sides - how do you choose between a billion people and honeybees?

One well made point is that yields from organic farms are about equivalent to farming with oil. But in practice (for an old geezer who walks where he's going) there are no real organic alternatives, in Toronto anyway. A chain of Rowe Farms outlets is appearing, but the quality is not there - and I don't mean spotted fruit; I mean very expensive food which is ... simply not very good: chickens gone bad, potatoes & onions dried out ... and so on. I tried, a number of times, but I just can't do it. 
How can these motherfuckers keep up the denial patter? I ain't no saint. I am hurt and angry and I want someone to blame gawdammit!

Jay Vroom of their trade association sits there holding a copy of Silent Spring; Bayer Bee Care Tour Launches in Corn Belt States; Syngenta and Bayer CropScience propose a comprehensive action plan to help unlock EU stalemate on bee health.

Norman Borlaug, Our Daily Bread.Norman Borlaug, The Man Who Saved a Billion People, 2004.The architect - well, not architect exactly, maybe engineer and poster boy, 'How hard it is to keep from being King when it’s in you and in the situation.' - of the Green Revolution, monoculture dominance, input-intensive agriculture ... He saved a billion people! Except maybe a few thousand Indian farmers, suicide-by-pesticide (in several dimensions).

Mustn't speak ill of the dead. A tool then, of a social imaginary skewed by many forces over many centuries.

Some of the honeybee poisoners: (What else can you call them?)
Bayer, Marijn Dekkers.Bayer, Rüdiger Scheitza.Syngenta, Martin Taylor.Syngenta, Michael Mack.Croplife, Jay Vroom.Croplife, Jay Vroom.EPA, Lisa Jackson.
I would have liked to include an EPA bureaucrat but they are (of course) nameless, faceless etc., Lisa Jackson maybe. Just a small sample from a very large group. 
Norman Borlaug is a hero to these people. That he is no hero to me, rather the opposite, means only that nothing I say will be listened to - obviously crazy! Oh well, all good.

We have an intellectual environment in which many scientific reports are circulated by journals which keep the reports behind high pay-walls (for obvious reasons). The hoi polloi can freely read the abstracts, and a selection of secondary news reports. If the journalists do their job (of disseminating the information rather than promoting themselves and their organizations) then one can imagine that all is well - but they don't. Luckily the authors of the scientific reports are generally good people - it is my experience that if you go to the trouble of finding their email addresses and ask them politely for a copy they almost always come through. Nonetheless there is a stratification of information, particularly on the axis of confidence - that is, the confidence to say something like, "I have looked at the scientific evidence and honeybees are being driven to extinction by corporate greed and short-sightedness," in some forum where you expect to be taken seriously and where the evidence is freely available for inspection.

A grotesque case-in-point is the campaign against wind power undertaken by Root Force and parroted more-or-less verbatim by Earth First (which is where I came upon it). The anonymous author, driven by some kind of misguided false-anarchist idealogy which says 'We must bring the system down and anything that makes the situation worse helps,' refers to a scientific study (which he or she has apparently not read) Geophysical limits to global wind power (via Science Daily); an unspecified and yet to be published study via The Telegraph - an acknowledged leader in environmental reporting; an article by David Keith (who of course has no axe to grind) from IOP again via Science Daily; and other evidence - if you believe that wind turbines kill large numbers of birds you will lap it up no doubt. Doh!

Happily, more and more scientific papers are available at no charge and the influence of rabid and/or misguided journalists & bloggers (such as myself) will perhaps (slowly) abate.
   [Intellectual environment? Who'm I tryin'a kid?] 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Big Famine Moon

                                                                                                                                                                  Up, Down.                        Full Moon 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Modern mind.

(... Mind? ... Modern? ...)                                                                                               Up, Down.                              Equinox 
Contents: Urban Consciousness, Venus de Pedra, Carbon Tax, Connectivity Cost, Updates, Edward Burtynsky, Rhyming Slang, Beyond the Zero.

Did I say 'focus' last time? Idiot!    And it's equinox not solstice you fool! After looking at it for several days, vaguely ... troubled but not aware enough to figgure it out?

If all the world was apple-pie,
And all the sea was ink;
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What could we do for drink?

            Gammer Gurton's Garland
            or, The Nursery Parnassus,
            1774, 1810 ...

If all the world was apple-pie,
And all the sea was ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have for drink?
It's enough to make an old man
Scratch his head and think.

            Harry's Ladder to Learning,
            1849-1850, text at Gutenberg.
"Nobody knows you when you're down and out," sing Bessie Smith and Otis Redding; which takes me back to the summer of ... 1963 in North Bay and (well before this tune came out) Dock of the Bay.

(Would you like some cheese with that whine? :-) 
In Toronto it seems anything but the facts will do, any response but a true one. Sure, some try ... you can hear the anger and frustration of Danny Harvey in this video (which does not seem to play properly?).

In the video last time David Suzuki mentions the demographic shift in Canada from 80-20 rural to 80-20 urban consciousness over a period of less than 100 years. And what do these urban dwellers know anyway? Two or three generations seeing nothing but the sanitized margins of Algonquin Park. I'm just lucky, (like Edward Burtynsky) my father took me into the woods often enough to learn something.

Jerry Van Amerongen, Ballard Street: 'My, but the mountains are wonderful this morning!'Last week I watched two Michael Cimino movies: The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate. Long movies, three hours, proof that the maker had sufficient discretion for full indulgence. But despite scenes of powerful clarity they each end ... in (to me) failure as stories. The Deer Hunter, which effectively completes at the moment in which De Niro does not shoot the deer, dribbles off instead into a tearful rendition of 'God Bless America'. Heaven's Gate (touching on some of the same issues as Pynchon's 'Against the Day') is too unfocussed to comment on, a nonsense.

The currency of urban consciousness is cinematographic stories, but they can't be trusted. A trite conclusion, sorry. 
Balzi Rossi Polichinelle Grimaldi.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Engen.Gagarino.Gagarino.Gagarino.Galgenberg.
Oboy! Oboy! Naked women! Hyeuh, hyeuh, hyeuh ... (Pynchon fans may recognize the dulcet tones of Pig Bodine.) Palæolithic (gotta love those dipthongs); literally 'stone' age, so somewhere between 2½ million and 10,000 years ago - quite a stretch of time, far beyond my imagination. And 'art' so there are enough high-falutin theories on the go (floating around it, like milkweed seeds) to cramp your style if you happen to be trying to, say ... figure-skate on the head of a pin.

Identity - this art is me. Projection - maybe I can fly; maybe this art can fly too. Introjection - "When a child envelops representational images of his absent parents into himself, simultaneously infusing them with his own personality," (says Wikipedia approximately). Or as a defence mechanism; presumably assuming, "You won't hurt me - I'm you!"

[Nope, (close but) not quite like any of that.] 
Hohle Fels.Hohle Fels.Laussel.Laussel.Kostienki.Kostienki.Kostienki.
It all started in the free section at the London Review of Books (LRB): Lucky Hunter-Gatherers; which captivated me from the first paragraph - something credible about it. This despite more than the usual full-fallible quota of slip-ups from Internet bad habits. I assumed early on (f'rinstance) that T.J. Clark is female. When I eventually saw my mistake I went back to try to see where it came from - and couldn't. And later on, trying to fit luck into it - and again, couldn't; until I meticulously re-read up to "‘Work’ was far from being a stable category, and certainly wasn’t an all-determining one. Lucky hunter-gatherers, at least in this respect," about half-way through.     So, not to trust anything your read in this blog eh?

He praises "Jill Cook’s marvellous catalogue" which is available for purchase (pricey though) here. I trolled for the images presented here using this list at Wikipedia.
Mal'ta.Mal'ta.Mal'ta.Monruz.Moravany.Rombo Losange.Rombo Losange.Savignano.
[I might just as easily have reflected on it for a moment, thought "Yeah, like carrying a rabbit's foot ... and about the same size too!" and taken it no further (and nearly did).] 
Rodrigo Chaves.
Anyway, bullshitting began with the first man:
"You know the hottie who lives in that cave?"
"The other day I was passing by and ..."

[The original carries a somewhat different message, but I like the play of 'contos de foda' (bullshitting) and 'contos de fada' (fairy-tales).]

So ... the authors: Tim & Jill (went up the hill?). He is important enough to have a potted bio on Wikipedia: T.J. (Timothy James) Clark; and both are readily available to see and hear something of how they think: Jill Cook interview at the Bradshaw Foundation website, and TJ Clark talking about Picasso (there is lots more, these are just the ones that seemed best to me).
TJ Clark.TJ Clark.TJ Clark.Jill+Cook.Jill+Cook.Jill+Cook.
So ... what have they got that moves me to all this enthusiasm?

Mus' be that quality without a name thang agin. D'you think? Edward Burtynsky same kinna way. (Slippin' into a hill-billy lisp to mask the obvious.)

[Everyone knows the word 'Stonehenge'. 'Henge' is a word in its own right too. First, there are other places called henges: Dowth Henge, Monknewtown Henge, etc. - old, roughly circular, made of stone. And it's always worth plumbing the OED, in this case for a list of (generally obsolete) meanings: the ‘pluck’ of an animal; hanging, suspended, articulated ... stones; a hinge.] 
Tom Toles.Carbon Tax:    Thomas Friedman says It’s Lose-Lose vs. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win.

Taxes go where? Well ... they go somewhere between: a) nowhere; b) a rich-man's pocket (or a rich woman's); c) a bureaucrat's pittance; d) a nonsense program; e) a minor benefit of some kind; and, f) back into the hands of the payer.

Friedman doesn't seem to understand the distinction (I'm an American! I don't have to be subtle!) - but give him credit, any sort of carbon tax is preferrable to none. Others, the left-lib hand-wringers like Paul Krugman prefer d) & e). Even though there is an inevitable vigorish fraction of c) involved in f) - entropy, perpetual motion machines and all that - I presume most tax payers would prefer it. That is if they could see it as a possibility and accept the notion that, yes, something revenue-neutral can have an effect.

Jim Hansen makes the case here for revenue-neutral Fee & Dividend carbon taxation schemes: An Honest Effective Path. Quite convincing ...

... but the last time I mentioned this topic, the pundits at The Guardian didn't even list it as an option. Doh?! 
The cost of being cool in k-k-Canada: (as compared with, say, Iceland.)
Cellphone Downloading Charges.Cellphone Downloading Charges.Cellphone Downloading Charges when Roaming.Cellphone Downloading Charges when Roaming.
A 2011 report from the OECD: International Mobile Data Roaming; and a recent post by Michael Geist: Canadian Wireless Reality Check.

One of those graphs is in Gigabytes and one is in Megabytes - there are 1,000 Mb in a Gb so ... it looks to me like downloading while you are roaming is 1,000 times more expensive. I asked Michael Geist if this is a reasonable conclusion - and he answered the email but not the question - so I'm just guessing. PPP figures in the OECD report. It apparently means Point to Point Protocol - but they don't explain how it is relevant.

Bottom line message? "Trust us, we're experts." The good news is that Canadians are being screwed about proportionally to Icelanders (but from a starting point about six times greater).

Kewel! (Or maybe that should be 'Quewel!' And no, I don't have a mobile telephone - gave 'em up when I realized Congolese women were being brutally raped to provide the tantalum.) 
RC Carrington's 1859 sketch.Ken Kesey Sailor Song.
 Updates: (Bakatcha!)

No Dash For Gas: EDF drops lawsuit against environmental activists after backlash.


Fuck the bees: Bee-harming pesticides escape proposed European ban. Oh well. Ralph Nader says one pound of plutonium will do in eight billion (are there even eight billion of us here yet?) but actual results are equivocal.


Cosmic endings: Higgs boson particle: Physicists confident (not really, more equivocation). AND Sun Storm Forecast: Tiny Chance of Havoc; see also Carrington Event & Carrington's report. AND Superbugs!

BUT the only smart guy I know who still talks to me says: Penguins! (Thanks for that Martin.) 
I saw this talk some years ago and thought Edward Burtynsky was already somewhere in this blog - but as usual I can't find it - so:
2008 Breezewood Pennsylvania.1996 Nickel Tailings Sudbury Ontario.1996 Nickel Tailings Sudbury Ontario.1999 Oxford Tire Pile Westley California.1999 Oxford Tire Pile Westley California.2003 Oil Field Belridge California.2004 Recycling E-waste Zeguo Zhejiang China.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.
If he sees this I hope he is not offended by the violence necessary (at my level of skill) to render thumbnails into HTML. He keeps a website. I noted what looks like $10,000 for a print so ... you may understand some of the bourgeois urbanity (I was going to say 'Pollyanna positivity' but didn't) evident in the TED talk.

He gave a presentation recently. Eventually it will turn up and I will try to remember to post a link. 
Rhyming slang, the impenetrable code of figurative language. I spent some years working around Geordies - and eventually I'd catch on when they muttered 'give it a butcher's'. It is a code without a key. As I think about it now I see every phrase spoken or written with a figurative dimension requiring personal history - a modicum of Good Samaritan energy, or at the very least some of Kant's 'good will' and Illich's 'conviviality' - to be ... comprehensible. Mostly not. Takes time.

Human discretion has been hijacked by politicians (and their servants, the bureaucrats), and human spirituality has been hijacked by religions. It was well worth 1,000+ pages of Thomas Pynchon to find myself primed to catch this enlightening thought.

Back in the day, facing final examinations, I decided (instead) to read every word of William Faulkner ... nothing changes very much :-)

Be well.
Beyond the Zero:    (Zermelo?)

I finished 'Against the Day' last week; and not wanting to overstate: Wowzers!                     (!!!)                         (¿¿¿)

Very possible to gush on about secular transcendence, time and times shifting and merging cf. circularity á la 'Finnegan's Wake', etc. so I won't; except to say ... Thomas Pynchon knows about wind, and many of its (nine billion?) names and what they mean and how they blow ... and this is mid-March in some country north of the tropics ... windy weather. Comin' up on Easter too eh? (In case you prefer your transcendence sanctified.)

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

[I thought of including Four: Against the Day part 20 in which Lew Basnight meets Lake Traverse & Deuce Kindred, and the whole of the last chapter, Five: Rue du Départ, which runs through at least several of the modes to be found in 'Anatomy of Criticism', but ... didn't, and won't - though I have them scanned and will gladly share via e-mail for the purposes of discussion with anyone who has a notion.]

First (to me) came 'A Journey into the mind of Watts' ... 1966 (oh look, it's on-line at NYT) - maybe - 'V' was out in 1963 already, 'The Crying of Lot 49' also in 1966, so maybe somebody told me, can't remember - but it is Watts that stands out in my memory. Re-reading it this morning and some of that feeling comes back. 'Entropy' came to me about that time too; another bit of light for a white boy grew up in Toronto where there were no black people visible at that time, 50s; and no idea what a 'lease-breaking party' might be, nor a lease for that matter.

This ain't no hagiography gentle reader, nope.

Ah ... can't find 'Entropy' on-line ... have to remedy that ... here you go: Entropy 1958-59.