Monday, November 21, 2016

Secret desires and nocturnal emissions

In America, anyone can become president. That's the problem.
(George Carlin)

White House home shopping network

I thought a colleague of mine was putting me on recently when he told me that the Trump family had been peddling products and advertising their family businesses on a dot gov web site. Ivanka herself was marketing her $10,000 bracelet. I discovered it was true. The site came down after a few days. I guess someone realized it was not a subtle way to begin the four year scam.

This is a family of rich grifters … and that's why they're liked by so many Americans. It doesn't matter if the Donald is a billionaire (thanks to daddy) along with numerous conflicts of interest, deadbeat morality and totally unqualified to be town dog catcher let alone the President of the United States.

America he's ours—certainly for a large percentage of white people--and we want to believe he's revenge on the “ruling class,” which ruling class of course depends on your point of view. Donald is going to make America “great again.” I may be wrong but did anyone among our corporate info-entertainers over this past dismal year ask him “when” America was great? But hell, who cares. Right?

The rational worldview

People I know have told me I need to be patient. After all, Trump did win the presidency fair and square. Let's wait and see what he does before we react. We need to bring the country together in order to move forward. The opposition needs to accept this fact. Unless you have demonstrable proof that the election was “stolen” get it line and support America. Forget the blather about Hillary having more of the popular vote than Trump; Mr. Trump clearly won within the current system.

I refuse to participate in this process of organized amnesia, to cooperate in normalizing a man who stands for everything America should not.
(Leonard Pitts Jr., journalist)

The Lord of Mordor

I've been following a particular social media site very much in opposition to Donald Trump. I've read with interest a lengthy thread dealing with trolls, insulting remarks and how best to handle individuals who do this.

What struck me while reading many of the comments was the naivete of so many, well meaning and committed individuals who are against Trump. Nasty individuals, however, mocking liberals is the least of our worries. Steve Bannon, the Donald's Rasputin in the new White House, has little interest in what you think about damn near anything. It will likely get so much worse and we have no time for a lengthy learning curve or being shocked or upset by troglodytes.

Less we forget, the Cult controls Congress. The list is long. Characters like Paul Ryan think their libertarian college boy dream can soon become a reality. You gonna stop it? In addition to the ACA they're coming after Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the environment, which includes national parks and wildlife. Women your place is in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. Hell, some 53% of white women voted for Donald. What happened to the last forty years or so? Trickle down economics is back with a vengeance. Oh yes, tax cuts for the parasite class is the wave of the future. After all, they're clearly your betters and struggle is good for you. Serfdom has some good aspects because you'll know what to do day after day after day. You just do what you're told. First amendment, well, we may have to cut back a bit in order to make America great. Now the “other” people, you know who you are. You've got to understand who runs this country, and realize who is on top of the dung heap, sort of like the natural order of things. Best of all we're going to have guns and more guns everywhere—hospitals, schools, churches and conveniently you'll be able to buy them in a Quick Trip or maybe a 7Eleven, hell, Hobby Lobby possibly, who knows and no waiting time. An educated citizenry? Well, there is too much thinking going on in this country. A well run country can't really have educated citizens. And there is so much more. I bet Russia could be our closest ally because we'll have so much in common. Imagine, we could give a select group of angry white people brown and black shirts and they could earn merit badges and move up in the ranks. I know, it's an old idea, but we could reduce unemployment to zero and have a lot of torchlight parades and be proud Americans again. Be happy, don't worry citizens, you're not in a dream....

I'm going to a restaurant tonight. It's owned by Muslims. Last week white nationalist Orcs smashed some windows and wrote graffiti on the walls. This approaching Kristallnacht we better not ignore or worry that we might upset the Cult. We can apologize profusely and promise to work together if Trump and company do not turn out to be a collection of ignorant, undemocratic thugs that want to turn the clock back to some mythical and exclusive white boy paradise.

This is not going to be a gentle struggle or a weekend beating of drums, chants and inspiring folk music. The thread for how we got here goes back to the very beginning of this country founded on slavery, racism, genocide, predatory capitalism, Social Darwinism, total disrespect for the natural world and “I got mine.” Now the monsters have been unleashed. Be grateful for what you have and realize and understand what and why you have it and be clear that you're not alone or powerless. Make this Thanksgiving a time to commit to a much better country.

And suddenly the mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness....
(Frodo seeing Sauron, in the Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Let us come together ... uh, huh

Democracy is beautiful in theory, in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day.
(Benito Mussolini, leader of National Fascist Party, 1922-1943)

I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher folks … I'd like to punch him in the face.
(Donald Trump, discussing a protester this past February being dragged out of a Trump rally)

The 60's redux

I remember in graduate school writing a paper on the late Mario Savio, the leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964. My professor, an Englishman who had fought the Nazis at Dunkirk, thought the paper was “well written” but its premise naive. It was certainly naive, in the sense that soaring rhetoric, lofty idealism and mere protests would quickly cause the “establishment”-any establishment—to crumble before our eyes. Of course, positive change did eventually occur in a great many areas, but over time through a lot of hard work, a lot of creative thinking, a lot of sacrifice ... and a lot of pain.

The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.
(Adolf Hitler)

What it is for the moment

It was by definition Populism, a mixed picture in American history. (See The globalboneyard.) Whether or not Donald Trump has the slightest idea what Populism is, he talked about change, creating jobs and “throwing out the rascals.” These slogans have worked in America for over 200 years.

According to the polls (for all that means), the voters had pretty much made up their minds by September and Trump had a very, very good chance of becoming president, although Clinton and the Democratic strategists, in hindsight, remained largely clueless, in itself a reason to gut the Democratic party or turn it inside out.

At the moment the Democrats control virtually nothing. We know what has happened at the national level but how many of us know that the majority of state legislatures and governorships are controlled by the Cult. We are knee deep in the effluent—meaning “crap.” It matters a great deal ultimately what we end up doing, from the town council on up to the presidency. What we do have are many of the cities and that matters a great deal, an article unto itself.

You got 9 weeks

For the time being we have to take the Donald mostly at his word. No, I don't think all the nonsense that Trump uttered during the campaign is going to get implemented and become law, but in the short-term America is going to become coarser, uglier, less democratic and increasingly unpleasant for perhaps a majority of Americans.

For many Americans, their real education is about to begin. Presidents have significant power in issuing Executive Orders, requiring no advice and consent of Congress. As well, they have the power to undo Executive Orders implemented by their predecessor, in this case President Obama. But there is so much more being talked about already in the Cult-controlled Congress.

Make no mistake; they are going for everything as fast as possible. The unspoken belief is that the Cult really can take us back to the “good old days.” Best be aware and best be prepared for what is to come. Wisdom, intelligence, discipline and awareness will, in a few weeks, be worth all the money in the U.S. Treasury. Pull up your bootstraps America and get ready to listen to your “betters.”

We have basically nine weeks to create the beginning of an organization, at the national level as well as at the state and local level. A good place to start is learning how government works at all levels and how ideas become laws. We could begin by talking to those politicians that actually make the laws. It is much more than anger and righteous indignation that will bring about the changes we want.

The good news is that the wailing and gnashing of teeth appears to be short lived; therefore, we can get on with the business at hand. Some 59 million people voted for Trump. We have millions of potential customers if we learn how to close the deal. How much incentive do you need?

Economic America: A delusion wrapped in an illusion

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Dumpster Diving in America

An American Fencepost

 While stitching a cut on the hand of a 75 year old farmer, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Donald Trump... and his role as the Republican Nominee for President. The old farmer said, " Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a 'Post Tortoise'.'' Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post tortoise' was. The old farmer said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that's a post tortoise." The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with."

Monday, October 24, 2016

How to suck the oxygen out of everything

A silent prologue

Last week I attended a seminar on urban heat islands, the speaker being a staff scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mitigation strategies to lower temperatures in urban regions will become increasingly important as half the world's population now lives in cities of one size or another and climate change is raising global temperatures. This is what we call facts. We can verify these facts, anyone can for that matter.

Can't catch my breath

Even though 2016 is not unique, it does seem that we have a higher collection of world leaders at the present time that run the gamut from sociopath, to gangster to merely authoritarian. Democratic values are not winning the popularity contest at the moment.

You would have to be half mad to dream me up.
(Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland)

In the United States Donald Trump, the profoundly ignorant, deeply narcissistic and repulsive man-child, for the past year or so, has overwhelmed our political and cultural lives, which in and of itself says something about our present (ideally short-lived) dysfunction.

In a sort of “best of all possible worlds,” the Donald will vanish into the trash can of history along with the White People's Cult, formerly known as the Republican party. But you would have to be “half mad” to believe it's going to be that easy.

Now, to resume our discussion on urban heat islands.... but first make sure you vote and overwhelm ignorance.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who runs the tribe

The current clown scare is a result of two rising forces in the U.S: social media, and a fear of otherness, whether it arrives in a white Mercedes or a refugee boat.
(Robert Bartholomew, sociologist, Botany College, New Zealand)

I was about to write something on capitalism and “geocide” but a colleague emailed me an interesting article and survey on climate change, not about the science of global warming but about how we “think” about it—or not. Then I came across a video, both disturbing and depressing, but tied indirectly to climate change.

The political spectacle

Reporters for the NYT followed Donald Trump for a year at his various presidential rallies throughout the United States. While this video is about the 2016 election, it could be a rally of a particular kind you might attend in far to many countries today. In fact, it conjures up scenes from the early 1930s in Europe.

Making America Really, Really Not So Great Again

Climate and beliefs

The survey shows that (1) overall opinions about climate are split along (not surprisingly to many) partisan lines and have hardly changed at all, (2) scientific knowledge does not change the opinions of climate deniers, (3) the increase of scientific “literacy” appears to change the views of Democrats but not Republicans, (4) climate beliefs are more about “tribal” beliefs, (5) most people have no organized ideology and firm opinion on issues, (6) elite views are the most important operator on public opinion, (7) tribal attachment is the most important influence not issue attachment and (8) BUT, regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, everyone likes renewable energy such as wind and solar. Go to Climate Survey to read the details.

Nature, nurture and genopolitics

Two to three years ago the word Genopolitics appeared with increasing frequency. Did genes influence political behavior? Could genetics tell us whether or not we would be on the Left or Right politically? Would it be easier to gauge if we were inclined to be Liberal or Conservative?

There was some interesting scientific research going on. Neuroscience had made some remarkable breakthrough in the last ten years or so and several tantalizing ideas spread beyond brain research. Certainly some political scientists thought they could be nearing the point where predictable patterns of behavior might be understood in light of what neuro-science had uncovered.

We know a good deal, for example, about how hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies influence behavior. The levels of serotonin in our system might affect our self confidence and sense of worth and intensity of aggression. Some researchers believe that the release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” might have something to do with increases in generosity and trust.

The problem is that human behavior is complicated and not easy to describe on a flow chart. Some people have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism but never become alcoholics because of environmental factors. A psychiatrist and well respected authority on serial killers, in the course of his research, discovered he himself had the genetic makeup of a sociopath but it was the environmental factor (home life, family) that triggered a full blown monster. At some point there is a good chance we will get beyond merely uncovering “interesting” connections in human behavior and be able to identify cause and effect and replicate it over and over again.

Nevertheless, understanding human behavior, it seems to me, cannot be merely left to brain researchers and various policy wonks but all of us … if we want to succeed. If as this particular climate survey indicates, the one thing we all seem to agree upon is the value of renewable energy. Then what ought we to be doing, if fifty percent of us believe climate change is an existential threat to all of us? Who is thwarting the effort?

While Clinton's emails and Trumps' behavior may be the current American distraction (along with scary clowns), on November 9, 2016, we will be back to dealing with human behavior, which needs some serious hormonal alteration and rewiring.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Coal miners of the world unite and take back the 20th century

Critical thinking still breathing

The most recent issue of Nature Conservancy magazine is devoted to climate change in the U.S. One of the articles discusses the varied strategies taking place across the United States, which often reflects the makeup of the state be it politically, economically, socially and so forth. For example, in Iowa more than one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture. The focus here is educating farmers on soil management and fertilizer reduction and working closely with the state's “decision makers.”

In New York state the emphasis is on overhauling the electrical grid system, decentralizing power generation and encouraging more solar and wind energy. In Louisiana reforestation is seen as an important goal, while in Libertarian-inclined New Hampshire energy independence, self-sufficiency and clean energy is attractive across the political spectrum.

The point of all these examples is that there are many different KNOWN strategies to confront climate change, the overriding goal being to keep global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius. Something like one-third of greenhouse gas emission reductions can be accomplished by the protection and restoration of nature. Ultimately, the strategy for global success is both mitigation and adaptation to climate change and a lot of creative thinking.

What ought not to be considered in the U.S. and across the globe is the increase of fossil fuel production, coal in particular. In the recent vice-presidential “debate,” nominee Mike Pence spoke about the unemployed coal miners and that his party would restore coal production and presumably put the miners back to work.

It's almost irrelevant whether it is ignorance or merely electioneering blather, but coal production needs to vanish, much, much sooner than later. Mountain top restoration of coal mines, among other things, is a better acknowledgment of 21st century reality.

What coal miners and others need is the unvarnished truth about economic change, along with programs that actually provide serious retraining, financial support and a first world education system for their children. Once again, the electorate has considerable responsibility in making this happen, and not merely complaining about what is not happening. Yes, the automobile put the buggy whip manufacturers out of business.

Cigarettes don't cause cancer

A lot of folks remember the iconic photograph of cigarette executives in 1994 raising their hands before a Congressional committee promising to tell the truth about their product. Well, that “truth” proved elusive back then, but in the minds of many people the cigarette industry is nothing more than a criminal enterprise, which is apparently still thriving today in many third world countries.

In 2016 we have the fossil fuel industry, which will potentially have a far greater impact than the tobacco industry ever had. EXXON, in particular, has spent some $31 million dollars funding climate denial campaigns, yet at the same time—unlike the tobacco industry—has conducted genuine climate change studies undertaken by real climate scientists, who clearly state that human caused climate change is very real. It is well worth reading, Two-Faced Exxon: the Misinformation Campaign Against its OwnScientists and Sir Robert Watson, British Climate Expert.

An existential threat is a terrific reason to become involved and become informed about how to make changes that matter to more than merely the comfortable.

Additional reading:


Yes I too watched the presidential “debate” last night. Clearly Donald Trump and depressingly a large number of his supporters prefer the dankness of the sewer rather than fresh air and blue skies. Hillary Clinton managed to utter the words Climate Change at the very end of the evening when an audience member asked a question about energy. While my heart is well to the left of Clinton my head says more than ever she deserves my support. That's where the organizing can take place, in a world where climate change must take center stage.

NEXT: Does Capitalism and “Geocide” Go Together?

Monday, October 03, 2016

Ha, just keep 'em watching the bouncing ball

Climate change is happening now and much faster than anticipated.
(Sir Robert Watson, former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

The Arctic is a principal, global driver of the climate system and is undergoing an unprecedented rate of change with consequences far beyond its boundaries.
(David Grimes, President of World Meteorological Organization)

So the American voter wants change?

Possibly one of the world's largest ice avalanches, which contained some 100 million cubic meters of ice and rock, occurred in western Tibet this past July. Glaciologists are not yet certain why an entire “glacier tongue” would collapse so quickly and violently. The glaciers of Central and South Asia, including Tibet, have the largest reserves of glacier ice outside of Antarctica, Greenland and Canada.

As mentioned previously, an international climate goal is to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. The current reality is, however, that the Arctic, which makes up 4 percent of the earth's surface has already risen some 4 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists believe that if we don't take far more serious measures, temperatures will certainly rise to 1.5 degrees C by 2030 and quite conceivably 2 degrees C by 2050.

Yes, stuff could happen—in our lifetime. Permafrost could melt in the tundra (where it used to be cold all the time) releasing more carbon dioxide—and methane—making what we call feedback loops an unpleasant reality. Ocean currents could change and weather patterns might begin to vary a lot, with extreme weather events becoming the new reality.

This time you might want to stop living in flood plains and do not expect the government to bail you out citizen. Massive die offs of plant and animal life could occur, along with water wars, forced migration of millions of people across the globe, famines and no more exotic vacations for the privileged and the wealthy … get the idea?

My fellow Americans, ignorance is not bliss, right here in “River City”

Watching the recent presidential debate, I was surprised by the amount of revulsion I felt toward Donald Trump, in my opinion the most unqualified presidential candidate in modern history, but I do not consider him merely an ignorant, narcissistic carnival barker. History offers far too many examples of seeming buffoons and charlatans seducing the citizenry, taking power and then wreaking havoc.

We are being told by assorted pundits that the demographic group designated “millennials,” some 75 million souls, ages 18 to 34 dislike or are uneasy about voting for Hillary Clinton and she could lose the election if she does not get their support.

If you are a 34 year old millennial right now, in 2050 you will be 68 years old and some of you will presumably have children and grandchildren. If you are 25 years old you will be only 59 in 2050. Donald, Hillary and a great many of us will be long gone 34 years from now.

You forget the Greens and the Libertarians

I'm doing my best to definitely forget about Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, the nominees for the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. It is a wasted protest vote. Jill Stein appears to live in a world of illusion and seems to have little understanding of political reality, how the political system actually works and how people actually make decisions.

Then there is Gary Johnson, a seemingly nice guy who needs to brush up on world events before running for the presidency of the United States. But perhaps even more important in a diverse, continental sized country with more than 300 million people, libertarian, free market claptrap is the last thing we need in a world with climate change, demographic increases, global trade, nuclear weapons and a host of grown up issues requiring collective action.

Wishing is hardly enough

My personal wish list includes such things as universal health care, the repeal of Citizen's United, national gun legislation that reflects a 21st century world, criminal justice reform, reducing livestock farming (a global warming disaster), free college education, a genuine progressive income tax, intelligent cuts in the bloated defense budget, increasing funding for our national parks (one of the greatest public policy successes in our history), a large scale infrastructure program and above all, an actual commitment to fighting climate change.

I'm going to vote for Hillary Clinton without reservation, not because she ignites my passion or guarantees my wish list, but because she is capable of the “change” so many Americans claim that they want. Of course the change comes when we who profess the need for that change actually organize, educate and vote at all levels all the time over the long term.

Finally, there is the definition of what “change” means. I have a pretty good idea of what Donald Trump's most passionate supporters mean by change. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Climate vs weather: delusion vs illusion

So far we simply have not been prepared to accept the revolutionary implications of our own findings, and even when we do we are reluctant to voice such thoughts openly … many are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.
(Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, Manchester, England)

Destructive children

One number in particular always stands out for me. That number is 0.00004. It represents the time we humans have existed on our planet compared to Earth's total age. Earth is 4.543 billion years old.

Modern humans have been around for approximately 200,000 years. Perhaps 6 or 7 million years ago our distant ancestors, possibly in what is present day Chad, and the chimpanzee separated from our common ancestor Sahelanthropus Tchandensis (see “Remembering uncle sah,” May 7,2013).

Only 92 elements make up ALL of life on this planet. We humans today are quite likely breathing the same air that the dinosaurs breathed 100 million years ago. Scientists believe, in a general sense, that any given species of plant and animal, vertebrate or invertebrate on average lasts around 10 million years. We Homo sapiens (sapiens) are animal vertebrates. How long do you think humankind will manage to hang on? How much misery and destruction to all life are we capable of leaving in our wake?

Brief Explanation of Weather and Climate

The numbers but which ones

The number of importance at the moment for government policy makers and climate scientist is 2 degrees Celsius.

While it may be of more significance politically than scientifically, it is a serious marker that the international community has set as a temperature standard in an attempt to avoid a global warming disaster, which in the worst case scenario could conceivably result in human extinction, possibly sooner than what was previously imagined. The objective is to keep global warming increases under 2 degrees Celsius. (A temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Several years ago the number 400 ppm was well known to policy makers and climate scientists. It represented parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The objective was to keep CO2 emissions in the atmosphere under 400 ppm.

The last monitoring station that crossed the threshold occurred in the Antarctic on May 23 of this year. What happens in Beijing, New York or Paris doesn't stay there. This is the first time in 4 million years that carbon emissions have risen above 400 ppm and remained there.

Since the beginning of the Neolithic era, which began some 10,000 years ago global temperatures fluctuated only about 1 degree Celsius. This is the period when human civilization got underway, beginning with human settlements, agriculture and what we call culture. We are now moving into the unknown. Since the 1800s we have warmed 1 degree Celsius.

All the truth and only the truth so help me....

Kevin Anderson, a respected climate scientist, believes many scientists are indulging in a form of self-censorship; in other words, they are producing reports that are “politically” acceptable, because the reality may be far worse than government policy makers, corporations and the public want to hear at the present time.

The first video clip is a short interview with Anderson at the climate talks in Paris in December 2015 and the second video is a lecture that Anderson gave in September 2015. It is very much about the numbers and the possible consequences.

NEXT: U.S. election, climate change and protest votes

Monday, September 19, 2016

Searching for deplorables

Credo Quia Absurdum Est
translation: I believe it because it is absurd
(Tertullian, influential early Christian author, 155-240 A.D.

I live in Kansas City, Missouri at the present time, an increasingly vibrant and diverse medium-sized city in the middle of the United States. Unfortunately, my fair city is in Missouri, a state whose heart seems to reside in the Old Confederacy and the OK Corral rather than the 21st century.

Missouri brings to mind the line from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial published in 1925: “It's only because of their stupidity that they're able to be so sure of themselves.”

The Missouri state legislature, overriding the governor's veto, has recently approved a bill, which expands our “concealed carry” law. Now, no gun permit is required, no criminal background check needed and no firearms training deemed necessary. We're just all lusty, red-blooded yeomen, you know, like Thomas Jefferson praised in the 18th century.

Of course Missouri is as well a major contributor to the expanding dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, because of unregulated farming pollution runoff in the Mississippi river. Welcome to Missouri. Give us your tired and your deplorables.

Speaking of those “deplorables,” Hillary Clinton supposedly made a political mistake when she spoke of the Trump's supporters. Okay, 50% might be high. Let's say it's only 45 percent that are kind of deplorable, even though some polls have claimed that something like 60 percent of the White People's Cult believe that President Obama is a Muslim or not born in the U.S. or the founder of Isis—well whatever. Time to buy my gun(s) and protect my castle.

From Missouri with love

For a glimpse of white gun culture in America, see The Guardian video 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The global boneyard, chinless dildos and glimmers of light (2)

The twenty-first century is not characterized by the search for new-ness, but by the proliferations of nostalgias.
(Svetlana Boym, late Russian-American philologist)

In the charged atmosphere of the populist insurgency, spectacle lynchings sent a message: Stay out of any politics that would divide whites and weaken white supremacy.
(Age of Betrayal 1865-1890, by Jack Beatty)

Why has it seemed so improbable to so many people that Donald Trump, the repulsive, narcissistic buffoon, could very well become the next president of the United States? Trump might well be the inevitable outcome—the poster child--of a country desperate to fail.

It's called American history

No, it's not new at all, regardless of whether or not assorted politicians and info-entertainers on television today purport to be presenting some fresh insight to an oftentimes uninformed electorate. The election year 2016 in the United States is depressingly familiar. We can, however, still make an attempt not to—once again—do the same stupid.

The Populist movement of the 1880s and 1890s had many themes familiar to us today, including the demands for economic fairness, equality and the end of political corruption. The movement exploded across the mid-west and the south in the 1880s brought on, as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan recalled, by a “deep feeling of unrest.”

Small farmers and the relatively poor were especially hard hit by economic forces they had little control over and by decisions made in New York and Washington that more often than not had virtually nothing to do with the needs of the American people as a whole.

But by fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which started out in a remote part of Texas, the Populist movement became arguably the greatest mass movement in American history. By 1891 they were a powerful political force, quite capable of challenging the oligarchy, the status quo and possibly capturing the White House. By 1900, however, the Populist movement was virtually finished.

White racism, the sickness that was built into the founding of the United States, was certainly a major reason for the eventual collapse of the Populist movement. White Southerners especially were ultimately incapable of getting beyond their, uh, “cultural” heritage. The year 1892, when the Populist movement was at its pinnacle, was also the worst year for lynchings since 1868.

Once again white people, especially the rural poor and the powerless in the south, responded to the various “dog whistles,” employed so skillfully by the likes of the robber baron Jay Gould in New York or by some wealthy, politically connected plantation owner in Dixie.

The W.P.C., aka the white people's cult aka formerly known as the Republican party

The comedian Samantha Bee once referred to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “chinless dildo.” While McConnell can easily claim the mantel of mediocrity, he reflects reasonably well the cult, of which he is a leading member, and which the Donald, for the time being, is also an “honored” member.

The Karl Marx coloring book

In fairness to Karl Marx, Susan Sarandon and many of my Progressive friends, the times they are most certainly changing. WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! Er, which workers might that be? There are the self-employed. Not all of them are rich lawyers and doctors that have set up their single-person corporation. And what about the growing number of temporary employees? They're workers. And yes, the monster under the bed. It's called automation and likely to grow.

The not-so-secret observation is that probably a majority of these “lost” jobs are never going to come back, here or from anywhere else, with or without Bernie Sanders, or the return of Malcolm X or Leon Trotsky.

Susan Sarandon, the well known actress, said a few months back that a Donald Trump presidency would likely speed up the “revolution.” Yes, we workers will all unite and storm the Winter Palace. We could though most definitely get noticeable change, but it will not be the kind that we want, and the majority of us will not be able to ride out the storm on the island of Majorca.

It's so hard and unfair

Yes, yes we did not get Bernie, we don't like Hillary, even though she's not remotely the devil incarnate that our 21st century Jay Goulds want Americans to believe. And once again the so-called white working class is mad because they've been duped and manipulated for, er ... well ... since the beginning of our republic, but Trump tells it like it is, and what about and so forth … imagine not standing for the National Anthem … what's climate change....

The original Populists got it right in the beginning: they knew it was about fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which was a full-time job with dignity. It's unfortunate we're having difficulty understanding this in 2016.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Global boneyard, chinless dildos and glimmers of light (1)

Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.
(John Muir, environmentalist, preservationist and known in the U.S. as the “Father of the National Parks,” 1838-1914)

In the beginning

At the present time, with 7.2 billion self-absorbed humans wandering around on the Earth, we're probably at least 4 billion over the carrying capacity of the planet to support all life, sustain itself and insure a viable ecosystem. Simply put, our technology has easily outstripped our evolutionary development. We Homo-sapiens have just barely climbed down from the trees and begun our cautious journey across the savanna.

But as hope springs eternal in the minds of us humans, there are a few faint signs for cautious optimism in a handful of locations on the planet. There are indications that where there is good governance and control of corruption there is some decrease in environmental pressures. As well, regions of high urbanization may have positive effects in that housing and infrastructure needs are not spread across the larger landscape. This is the good news.

The bad news is that at the present time more than 70 percent of Earth's eco-regions have shown a large increase in their human footprint. For those interested in some of the specifics a good place to begin is a study in NatureCommunications.

Being anything you want to be

Of course it's in the realm of possibility that a Silicon Valley billionaire will come up with a product to save all of us in the nick of time or some software engineer in Mumbai, India will create the "miracle code or maybe an obscure scientist in Shanghai, China will transform the primitive Limbic system in the brain, allowing us to make a “quantum leap” into the 21st century.

Last but most certainly not least the Kurzweillian-phantasmagorical-transhuman-cum-cyborg, brought to us by the futurist Ray Kurzweil, could arrive at the last possible moment and save the planet.

More than likely, however, there will be no techno-fix, no Libertarian John Gault galloping in on his unicorn, and most assuredly no bronze-age invisible sky god that will make the bad things go away.

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.
(From The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot)

The world is this way

Excluding the Syrian apocalypse of course at the present time … well, possibly Somalia, maybe Sudan, and yes Libya, and how can we forget Iraq … actually most of the Arab world in general to be fair. Then there is Afghanistan maybe Pakistan in South and Central Asia, the former Soviet republics and those island nations sinking beneath the sea because of rising sea levels, and....

Asia is where the action is today. In Southeast Asia Indonesia is destroying its rainforests as fast as possible to create more and more palm oil plantations, the ingredient that's used by the snack manufacturers and personal care products and cosmetics, among others. Greed, corruption and human ignorance make everything that much easier of course—anywhere.

Moving up to Northeast Asia, Japan's aging population is continuing to practice its cultural cuisine. It's a sideshow in the global scheme of things but a telling commentary on humankind. In addition to the hunting of whales for, er, scientific purposes, there is the annual bloodbath festival that may have been going on for a thousand years. Dolphins are rounded up in a cove, the “prettiest” sold to aquariums and the rest clubbed to death for the meat.

Zhonggou—The Middle Kingdom

China right now, with its rapidly increasing economic and military might and strict authoritarianism, has perhaps become the tarnished gold standard for much of the world. Its overriding historical imperative, in addition to the reinvention of some modern day Middle Kingdom, seems to be the creation of a vast global plantation, sort of an updated 16th and 17th century European mercantilism. Africa and South America are its current targets and the ends are sure to justify any possible means for the billionaire technocrats who run the “peoples republic.”

One of the grand Chinese proposals is to build a 3,300 mile-long railway line through the Amazon rainforest to access soya plantations and mining regions, a potential environmental disaster of monumental proportions. *

China single-handedly may be responsible for the extinction of numerous wildlife throughout the world, perhaps the best known example being the elephant, a keystone species, hunted for its ivory and other body parts including its feet that are cut off and used for stools by the wealthy in every sink hole across the planet.

This is the way the world ends. But perhaps not.

NEXT: Chasing the carnival in the U.S., 2016

* Amazon's forests hold approximately 90-140 tons of carbon, around 9-14 years of current global, annual human induced carbon emissions.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reverence for the natural world

This video with biologist Janine Benyus is worth revisiting periodically in order to inspire and get us to think about how to solve problems no matter how seemingly intractable. While we humans have been around for only about 200,000 years, planet Earth has existed for more than 3 billion years.

The Biomimicry Network Effect

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's the cows, baby

It is the monster in the room but we're very, very afraid to talk about it, including all the traditional, well known and well established environmental organizations: Animal agriculture is the primary cause of environmental devastation on this planet and leading us to extinction--period! 
Everything else is largely an exercise in denial.

Cowspiracy The Sustainability Secret


Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Inspiring

Yellowstone Northern Range

Can we humans get beyond our miserable narcissism?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

May humans be kept out forever

The result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 in the old Soviet Union was that humans could not live in the region. This is a story of nature without the influence of Homo-sapiens. This film first appeared in 2014.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (7)

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.
(Ansel Adams)

We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well—for we will not fight to save what we do not love.
(Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist)

Being that change

I read a recent National Geographic article (Feb. 2016) about the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, a preserve of some 6 million acres, a breathtaking area that is visited by 500,000 people a year. In additional to the astonishing pictures that the magazine has always been noted for, the article itself, in my opinion, provides a glimpse of the land use conflicts, the views of wildlife and the natural world in general that is occurring throughout the country today.

They come here to snap a few pictures and get some bragging rights about being 50 feet from a grizzly. In the course of experiencing this natural drama, something clicks. They go away wanting to protect places like this.
(Park Superintendent Don Striker)

Regarding wolf culls and removal of Denali's buffer zones: It's the state standing up to an overreaching federal government and libtard environmentalists.
(Coke Wallace, trapper and hunting guide)

Don't feel like it, not in the mood

The Washington Post conducted a survey that attempted to find out why Americans do not vote. It turned out that the primary reason was because they were “to busy” or they “lacked” interest. Yeah, they weren't motivated to vote.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that only 41.9 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2014 congressional election, a record low. The percentage of voters increase during presidential years but is still only about 62 percent. Overall, Americans don't vote. Well, not exactly true. Those making over $150,000 manage to make the effort and do a little better. They want their benefits.

It's so hard

Agriculture is probably the one most environmentally destructive human activity we have established.

Instead of forcing nature to give us what we think we want, we ask nature what it is producing and then turn it in to something valuable and delicious to eat.
(Fred Kirschenmann, farmer and educator)

The following is a video worth watching. Even if you live in the middle of a city and have never seen a real farm, learn about your role in changing our food system in any way you can.

Not to worry, the climate changes slowly

Hm-m. Perhaps not. Even the climatologists were surprised. We just had, globally, the hottest winter ever. The month of February was really warm and, yes, the conclusion was that is was primarily caused by humans. But the good news, sort of, is that the latest Gallup poll determined that 41 percent of Americans now believe global warming will be a “serious threat” in their lifetimes.

Yes, climate change, it could mean more rain or less rain for different parts of the planet. Food supplies could be in jeopardy and don't count on industrial agriculture to keep your stomachs full. Of course, mosquito-borne diseases will likely increase, millions of people might attempt to migrate to other locations in search of food and jobs, and political instability … beware of political “guarantees.” The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization said recently that, “The future is happening now.”

Improving the numbers

Interview with activist Tim DeChristophrer

Both facts and passion required

While these seven articles have been primarily focused on public lands, their history and wildlife in America, we could have created a laundry list of issues the United States will have to face one way or the other, likely sooner than many of us would like to think about.

The national park idea goes back to the early decades of the 19th century and some of its supporters included George Catlin, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Senator John Conners of California and many others. Areas were set aside as public lands and to protect the wildlife in the 19th century, but it was President Theodore Roosevelt, a man of supreme contradiction regarding the environment, at the turn of the 20th century, who got legislation passed to establish a national park system. It is arguably one of the finest examples of public policy that this country ever established.

There is a great deal we can all do; it is not obscure or requires years of specialized training. The first thing is knowing the basic actual facts and the basic actual history of public lands in the United States. Then we can begin to separate the truth from the myths regarding wildlife, along with all the “freedom” and “liberty” buffoonery that is uttered. We're now ready to make more and more people understand the importance of public space and public lands, their value and their legacy at both the state and national level.

Some people may be able to demonstrate why a person in Brooklyn, New York ought to care about a national sanctuary in an isolated corner of Oregon. Or, for that matter, a hiker in the American Southwest being able to grasp the importance of clean air in Detroit, Michigan. It's the connections that have to be established across the entire country to diverse groups of people.

Now we can talk about political corruption, the ignorance regarding wildlife, and the outdated mentality that sees nature as a mere commodity, to be bought and sold and with little regard for the consequences. The last basic step is that we must find, encourage and support individuals who will represent us and stand firm in defending public lands and wildlife. Then we go out and vote at every level all the time.

In 2016 we have an actual chance to be part of the change, a change that does not exclude nor destroy nor take a future away. The change is all of us, not some shining knight appearing over the horizon to make things better.

Additional Information

Knowing your opponents is important. Ultimately we have to know who they are at the national, state and local level. The following are some of the key players in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their goal is to starve public lands by taking away the funds to maintain them. Their real objective is to privatize all public lands and turn them over to corporate interests. Help end the political careers of the following members of Congress: Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR; Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT; Rep. Scott Tipton, R-CO; Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM; Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV; Rep. Cynthis Lummis, R-WY, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID



Climate Change:


The Politics:

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's where I live

Continue to contaminate your own bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
(Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, Suqwamish and Duwamish)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (6)

After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.
(James G. Watt, Interior Secretary under President Ronald Reagan)

The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.
(President Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921)

A bunch of cowboys camping
(Michele Fiore, Nevada Assemblywoman, and self-appointed defender of white terrorists who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon)

The short explanation continued

D. It's called the Wise Use doctrine (mentioned in “The problem with America is...”) and has been around for some 30 years. It's anything but “wise.” It is part and parcel of Libertarian philosophy. The central tenant is that private ownership is always better than public ownership.

The white terrorists who occupied the Malheur Refuge claimed that they believed in the Wise Use doctrine. The livestock industry, oil and gas and various developers will often profess to be supporters of Wise Use, but it would not be overly cynical to think that philosophical doctrine is not what guides many of these bottom feeders.

For the Wise Use true believer, land is worth only what people will pay for it. If you can't make a buck in some way it has no value. The private market by its very nature exists to commodify natural resources and turn them into consumer goods. Most important, it attempts to externalize expenses.

By some estimates, if the world's largest corporations were actually responsible for their costs of pollution and other damages to the environment, something like one-third of their profits would disappear. Another study estimated that the combined world damage to the environment in 2008 was something like $22 trillion!

Land management in the U.S. is important and in need of intelligent changes and modifications that reflects a 21st century reality, but the Wise Use movement is largely another dreary American hustle that has the stench of the 19th century and the Gilded Age. A number of years ago I wrote a series of articles about one of America's best scams, entitled America's Turf Terror (I). Time to put a stake in the heart of the Wise Use scam.

E. Even though meat consumption in the United States has decreased, it is increasing in the developing world because of rising standards of living. It has been devastating to the planet's rainforests and wildlife.

If one were to take the agricultural business in general in the U.S., billions of dollars is subsidies go exclusively to corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, much of which ends up feeding animals. Western ranchers are one of the largest recipients of federal welfare programs. Something like $500 million in taxpayer money in 2014 went to ranchers getting below-market value leases to graze their cattle on public lands.

F. The Ammon Bundy gang that occupied the Oregon wildlife sanctuary this past January could end up costing the taxpayers several millions of dollars. These ignorant thugs, as we've learned, desecrated sacred Native American sites at Malheur, built roads through Paiute Indian grounds, and trenches dug adjacent to sacred ground contained human feces. So much for the professed respect.

Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of this family, whose ranch in Nevada adjoins thousands of acres of public lands, allows his cattle to graze wherever they wish. He lets them run wild until he decides to trap and kill one. He apparently does not vaccinate or treat his cattle for disease and seemingly does not manage or control breeding. Yup, we'll let Cliven Bundy be the poster child for privatization and welfare capitalism.

Oh yes, not discussed is the progress that could be lost between ranchers and environmentalists because of the occupation, possible revenue and job losses to the county and, last, the wildlife itself. The many birds arrive in the spring to breed. Much work still remains to be done in preparation for their arrival.

Which way to the Emerald City

Prohibition in the 1920s was probably one of the worst examples of public policy that the country ever implemented. But, like today, America was undergoing huge changes.

The W.A.S.P. establishment was losing political power, people were moving to urban areas, immigrants were becoming citizens, African-Americans were going north looking for a better life, women had the vote, and a great many Americans were simply frightened and angry at the speed of these changes.

A backlash occurred. The membership of the Ku Klux Klan grew enormously, especially in the north, religious fundamentalism attempted to push back against science and evolution and politicians railed against the “other.” “I want my country back,” and “it's the government's fault” were heard in the 1920s as well.

Yes, we Americans are mad at the present time, even if in some cases we can't actually explain who or what we're mad at. For many Americans, especially a large segment of white America, there is a sense that they've been duped and manipulated for generations. Well, they have. So what's the strategy?

Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?
(Tecumseh, 1768-1813, Shawnee)


Monday, March 07, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (5)

Climate change is real. It is the most urgent threat affecting our species. We need to work together and stop procrastinating.
(Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar winner for best actor, The Revenant, 2016)

Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, though they differ in shape.
(George Washington)

To the Great Plains Indians, nature was the center of our way of life. To whites, nature was the enemy to be conquered.
(Dr. Leo Killsback, citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation)

It ultimately matters a hell of a lot, regardless of whether or not you live in Ferguson, Missouri, rural Idaho or along the Connecticut “gold coast.” They're all connected even if for some it's difficult to grasp that connection. Of course, you don't have to frame it in terms of morality, stewardship of the Earth or the sacredness of all life on the planet, if you're uncomfortable or contemptuous with those terms.

One of the really good post-apocalyptic nightmares is The Road, a novel by Cormac McCarthy. We never really learn how it happened, how it all became the planet of the damned. If you are now of a certain age you will likely pass away remembering blue skies, chirping birds and the possibility of a living future. Your children, on the other hand, could start seeing both small and large occurrences. Now your grandchildren, well, do we really care about them? After all, we're dead.

The short explanation

A. A large number of countries in the world today have “protected areas.” The number of reserves on land amount to approximately 161,000. The number over marine waters globally is around 6,500. In 2015 this represented 15% of the Earth's land area and 2.8% of the planet's ocean area. Is this enough?

Edward O. Wilson, the renown biologist, believes it doesn't come close to being enough. In fact, he thinks one-half of the Earth's surface must be devoted to nature in order to save the life forms that compose it. One of the life forms is us. No it doesn't mean that one-half of Earth is to become a global sanctuary devoid of humans but it does mean that we must learn how to reduce our ecological footprint. Wilson thinks it is possible and believes it is through biology, nanotechnology and robotics that we can learn how.

Large plots of land connected to smaller plots contain more eco-systems and maintain them at sustainable levels. Smaller reserves reduce our diversity and thus our existence. Edward Wilson thinks there are still choices that we can make, but the crucial factor in the life and death of all species is the amount of habitable land we can maintain.

B. Although many still refuse to admit it, more and more of us now understand that we cannot take more out of the eco-system than we put in. The good news is that we're now beginning to be able to put a direct cash value on what has been called “natural capital,” that is what humans do not have to spend on services that nature supplies for free, such as water purification, crop pollination, coastal protection by wetlands, sand banks and reefs and groundwater.

We've heard, for example, about the importance of the honeybee, which in fact generates some $57 billion dollars annually in revenue. But few people probably know that the dung beetle generates some $380 million annually by getting rid of manure that would attract parasites.

The Ogallala Aquifer located in the Great Plains, covering some 8 states, is one of the largest aquifers in the world. Suffice it to say that groundwater depletion is occurring at faster rates and replenishment rates are relatively slow. In fact, the Ogallala provides freshwater for about one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cattle and cotton in the U.S. as well as across the globe.

Scientists can demonstrate that this aquifer could run dry as soon as 2040 if we don't make necessary changes … and we do know right now how to make a lot of these changes. If we wanted to keep the aquifer from going dry beyond 2070, we would have to initiate drastic changes, like a steep reduction in corn and cattle production—heavy users of water. Oh yes, the political decisions can be put off only so long.

C. What has been referred to as “Big Data” has helped us to measure Natural Capital. Computers have accelerated our ability to take action. We are able to measure and quantify huge amounts of data, discover patterns and understand how we humans are participants in a larger system. Yes, marketing people can learn what color boxes toothpaste users like best, but we are now able to decipher really important things that could help our planet survive.
Nearing the end and starting the beginning.