Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Take Me to the Mountains

People are beginning to fill up this mountain town.

Many come here to pray to St Francis.

They walk on their knees with candles in their hands.

They will ask the Patron Saint to heal someone they love.

The oiled wood floor below them has hatches

to the remains

Of those who have passed.

Others come here because it is high.

It is high in the mountains at 9,000 feet.

It is high because it is the holy land of the Huichole.

It is high because you can live here without the monster.

You can live here without the monster of fear.

You can live here without the monster of greed.

You can live here without the monster of vanity.

There is no War on Terrorism here.

And the people are not afraid of an attack.

They are more afraid of the people who insist on invading others.

Last night, I saw three old men talking in a small stone room.

The walls were bare and there was only a bare light bulb.

It hung from the ceiling on two wires, an inspector’s delight.

They, by all standards of western wealth, are poor.

They, by the standards of those in Mexico City, are underprivileged.

And, in many ways they are.

But they are privileged to talk of their days,

And to walk in their world view,

With just a little dignity and a dash of grace.

And they will not feel the fear of an American President,

Or his own Vice.

They will be the last to know of their machinations,

And the first to not be effected.

For they live in a poverty of wealth.

While we live in a wealth of poverty.

Back in the early days of the Music Capital of the World,

there was a band called Shiva's Head Band.

They sang a song called,

Take Me to the Mountains.

Some of us have.



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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Nuestro Suenos

art courtesy of maria's children

Nuestro Sueno

I heard these words in a song while I was eating breakfast.

There should be a little thing over the "n",

but I don't have a spanish teclado or wiziwig.

What are they?

What do we want out of this life?

What do we want

from our world,

our government,

our technology,

our institutions,

our friends,

our neighbors,

our family,

our lovers?

I'm not sure we know.

Or perhaps, we do.

So, let me try, without sounding like a Coca Cola commercial.

I want a world where the great pillars of civil society,

Justice and Freedom,

are constantly tugging on each other.

I want a world where the rich don't exploit the poor.

where the old don't exploit the young or the unborn,

where the smart don't exploit everyone else too badly.

I want a world where I am free to think,

and free to move about the whole of the earth,

or space for that matter.

I want a world where the little children are safe

to run in our green spaces and parks,

Where old men walk late at night.

And young girls giggle on the square.

I want a world where I am free to talk or write

without the listening ears of those who have power.

I want a world where energy is for everyone,

just like the universe itself.

I want a world where food is like water,

water is like air,

and the air is pure and free.

I want a world where to pollute any of these

would be unthinkable and a crime.

I want a world where war is as unheard of

as slavery,

And colonial slavery is uncultured and immoral.

I want a world run on pure energy,

free of the burning ways of the past,

and free of the political dilemma it brings.

I want a world where energy is not conserved,

it is spread and multiplied.

I want a world where knowledge is understood,

and not worshipped.

I want a world where each of us knows ourselves,

deeply, honestly, and with humor.

I want a world where we bring that knowledge

to the supper table of our shared experience,

the blood of our existence,

and the sacred fire of our lives.


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Oz note: and a world of possessive pronoun noun agreement

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Deluge

art courtesy of yellow fox

There wasn’t even a breath of air.

Everything was standing still. Even those little yellow flowers that sit on the almost impossibly thin stalks were not swaying the slightest.

I looked over at Janelle.

She was quietly looking at the horizon.

If there was a song bird in range, it was hiding.

I grabbed her hand and we headed down the mountain. It was the first day we had been out of our mountain top place in weeks.

It all began with the normal stuff. A cold front was coming down and it was going to stall. In the meantime a warm front that was pregnant with moisture was finding its way up from the Gulf.

The weather service said it would rain.

It did.

On the first day we welcomed the broad and sometimes quite heavy showers. It had been pretty dry through out the winter and some good spring rains would do us all some good.

On the second day, the rains continued. Early in the day, I checked my gauge and I had to empty it. That meant we had already received 6 or 7 inches from the previous day. By now, everything was soaked. More rain didn’t have anywhere to go but into the creeks and streams. The creek that always does get too high, did. But, then the other one that runs through downtown began to overflow its banks. The businesses around those creeks closed and did what they always do when the really big downfalls come.

By now, the town was pretty much shut down. The buses were still running but not on all routes. A lot of people in the country were officially marooned by the rising rivers. That night I told several friends that this rain was as a determined a rain as I had ever seen.

By nightfall, my gauge was full again.

Sometime during the early morning the surrounding soils just gave up and water began to just sit. Soon, it was beginning to trickle into my basement. In an hour, that trickle turned into waterfall. Not to worry though, I have a sump pump that will handle most of it.

“Max, how long is this going to go on?”

“I don’t know Janelle, the two fronts are stalled on top of us, plus they say another tropical wave is headed our way.”

“In May?”

Well, we knew things would get weird when the arctic ice melted, allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more sunlight. That created a 10 degree change in Anchorage in less than a season. And we knew that the melting permafrost would add a lot more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and speed up the warming even more. And we knew that the bacteria in the soil was getting more active and converting more carbon in the soil thus making even more carbon dioxide. And we knew that this year the amount of carbon in the air had increased by 5 parts per million. Just 10 years ago, carbon dioxide increased annually by just over 1 part per million.

That meant that all the critical time estimates by the scientists could be accelerated fivefold.

On the third day, the basements had about a foot of water in them. That meant that the hot water heater pilot light was now officially extinguished.

Since it wasn’t really cool, the hot water didn’t seem necessary at first.

But it was.

On the fourth day, the electricity went down. I figured it would go back up in a few minutes, but it didn’t. By now, I wasn’t even checking the rain gauge. It was more than full every 12 hours or so now. That meant that we were getting close to our annual average rainfall in just four days.

On the fifth day, water was everywhere. Streets were full. Basements were full. Gardens were underwater.

On the sixth day, food was becoming an issue. And, the ultimate loss of utility occurred. The sewage began to back up. That did help with the hunger though.

On the eve of the night, I made the decision.

We would leave our home and go to our mountain cabin. It had solar panels and we had some food there. Plus, the garden there was well drained. I also knew the sewer would work. I carefully drew our route on the road map, carefully avoiding any low spots and water crossings.

We traveled in our 20 year old work truck. It didn’t have any electronics on it, so it was not effected by the general ban on travel. I siphoned gas out of our two other vehicles for the truck and the generator at the cabin. We took what food and water we had and we left late in the evening.

“Are we doing the right thing Max”


I have never been one to get ambiguous in a disaster.

We arrived early the next morning.

It was wet, but not inundated.

The garden was OK, and the food in the freezer was good. Even our water pump was working. The rain water tanks were obviously full. The high efficiency lights powered from the solar panels were working fine and the new lithium ion batteries were fully charged.

Of course, with only a weeks worth of storage, we would need to be very careful in our energy budgeting.

We read and meditated and loved one another for three days.

Then we heard the news.

The great dam that provided water and power for the city was finally overtopped by the constant rain. The river authority was helpless in the management of the flows.

I understand that when the dam failed, that you could hear the boom of it for miles around...that it shook the ground as it moved from its moorings.

The wall of water, apparently 75 feet in height and 30 miles long, did an amazing job of erasing the landscape of everything made, by God or man.

Janelle just stared over at the horizon.

The drenched fields sparkled in the rays of the sun.

It had been a full fortnight of rain.

Climate Change finally burst into our lives.

We weren’t the first.

And we wouldn’t be the last.

art courtesy of theberge2


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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

A friend sent this.

It's pretty fun.

Merry Christmas

and Happy Hannukah

later this evening.

It's actually pretty rare when they are both

the same day.

This is what the day might mean

...... some day.


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*art courtesy of Dave Barnhouse

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Eve of Construction

It may not be the season to be jolly,

but it might be the season to be cautiously non pessimistic.

Here is some merriment from Stephan Colbert.

And for some true merriment, go here,

And scroll down to the IS BUSH DRINKING.

Totally Hilarious.

To make the evening even more joyous,

Barron's has brought the I word into the world

of conservative thinking.

Next week, you can look for something else

under the Christmas Tree,

in another Fitzmass.

Today, the sky is blue like the blue in your dreams.

It speaks in a voice that I remember as a child.

It wraps its grandeur around you like a giant stagelight.

It is full of song and bells and the occassional hoof clop,

It presents itself in its full measure of grace.

Tonight, I will watch children and friends,

as they eat and drink and open their futures,

with laughter and care,

in the best of our hearts.

I will wonder with candor,

how so much good in this world,

can be trampled by the fears,

and the lies of surely not so many.

I will imagine a time,

when our love on this night,

begins to fall on us all,

each day and each night,

like a winter soft snow,

covering all we have known,

reflecting the light,

making it white,

and true.


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Friday, December 23, 2005

Gifts of our Time


Our Time

Robert Frost wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
in the middle of a searing hot July.

Maybe he needed a chill, the silence
of frozen trees, to keep the air moving

in his mind. So many readers have considered
his two roads of another poem,

but maybe sweating Mr. Frost invoking frost,
his secret quirky inversion, matters more.

We grew up proud of our country.
Forests of wonderful words to wander through --

freedom indivisible,
Now my horse is lost in a sheen of lies.

The world is lovely, dark, and deep.
We honor others as they sleep.

As they wake and as they sleep.


To move
Needing to be
nowhere else.
wanting nothing
from any store.
To lift something
you already had
and set it down in
a new place.
Awakened eye
seeing freshly.
What does that do to
the old blood moving through
its channels.

©Naomi Shihab Nye 2005

Naomi Shihab Nye is San Antonio's most celebrated poetess. She was selected by Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the "20 most impressive, intriguing and influential Texans" for 1998. Recently, her poetry has attracted the attention of Bill Moyers, whose PBS segment on living American poets featured Nye reading some of her poems. In 2002 Moyers interviewed her on his PBS program NOW and had her read his favorite poem of hers, "The Art of Disappearing."

I start the waxing sun

with hope and love,

and the deep knowing,

that peace is our nature,

and that the gift of time

is the true sacred mystery.

SB will be back after the holidays.

Art courtesy of Helmut Barnett


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Longest Night

Yesterday was the shortest day and last night was the longest night.

With the POTUS violating the constitution and bragging about it,

I guess it is no surprise.

Meanwhile, here is Jon Stewart with this week in God.

And here are the origins of all this holiness.

"The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5º tilt of the earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, it points in a fixed direction continuously -- towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere.

During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime and low in the sky during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the day with the greatest number of daylight hours.

This is called the summer solstice, and is typically on JUN-21 in the Northern Hempisphere -- the first day of summer. "Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere," to cause to stand still.

The lowest elevation occurs about DEC-21 and is the winter solstice -- the first day of winter, when the night time hours are maximum.

In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold.

After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice.

The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -- perhaps by


Consequently, celebrations were often timed for about the 25th. "

If you are planning to build a solar house or addition, today and tomorrow are great days for marking the points of the sun's setting and rising.

Because it is close to the third quarter, the moon, which will be rising around 2:00 A M, will be in the place of the sun during the equinox. You can therefore use it to help with your placements in the mornings today and tomorrow.

Take today to feel the earth turning.

Take the time to find yourself in the creation.

Take measured comfort that out of all of this political darkness,

An awakening may come.

And a new spring of life.

For the Earthfamily.



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* art courtesy of peirre pothron

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Peacemakers

Rarely do the followers of religions actually follow their teachings.

The practicalities of the world... war, greed, self defense, national pride, require us to lay down the teachings as we cavalierly embrace the mundane aspects of the belief system.

This piece by Wendell Berry says it very well.

It was sent to me by a friend.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Any observer would have to say that Christianity is fashionable at present in the United States. This might be a good thing, except that the observer, observing more closely, would have to conclude that, to the extent that Christianity is fashionable, it is loosely fashionable. It seems to have remarkably little to do with the things that Jesus Christ actually taught.
Especially among Christians in positions of great wealth and power, the idea of reading the Gospels and keeping Jesus' commandments as stated therein has been replaced by a curious process of logic.

According to this process, people first declare themselves to be followers of Christ, and then they assume that whatever they say or do merits the adjective "Christian." (For don't we know that everybody named Rose smells like a rose?)

This process appears to have been dominant among Christian heads of state ever since Christianity became politically respectable. From this accommodation has proceeded a monstrous history of Christian violence.

War after war has been prosecuted by bloodthirsty Christians, and to the profit of greedy Christians, as if Christ had never been born and the Gospels never written.

I may have missed something, but I know of no Christian nation and no Christian leader from whose conduct the teachings of Christ could be inferred.

One cannot be aware both of the history of Christian war and of the contents of the Gospels without feeling that something is amiss. One may feel that, in the name of honesty, Christians ought either to quit fighting or quit calling themselves Christians. One way to see how far belligerent Christians have strayed from the words of Christ is to make a list of the Gospel passages in which Christ addresses explicitly the issues of human strife, forgiveness, compassion, and peacemaking.

They have justified their disobedience on the grounds of the impracticality of obedience, though we have little proof of the practicality of disobedience, and precious few examples of obedience.

The implication invariably has been that for a few feckless worshippers of God to obey Christ's commandments may be all right, but in practical matters such as war and preparation for war we will obey Caesar.

The Christian followers of Caesar have thus committed themselves to an absurdity that they can neither resolve nor escape: the proposition that war can be made to serve peace; that you can make friends for love by hating and killing the enemies of love. This has never succeeded, and its failure is never acknowledged, which is a further absurdity.

The world's survival, so far, of this absurdity is explainable by the relative smallness, until recently, of the scale of war, and by the relative controllability, until now, of the most destructive weaponry.

But now the scales of practicality have come to be differently weighted. The official terrorism of the Cold War and the doctrine of "mutual assured destruction" have already made us familiar with the ultimate absurdity: that we (or some other "we" equally devout and patriotic) may have to destroy the world in order to defend ourselves.

To the surprise of some, no doubt, it is possible to look upon such an eventuality as impractical.

To avoid it, we are going to need a better recourse than Caesar's.

If we ever should become sane enough to reject total destruction as a means of victory, then, as my friend Wes Jackson once said to me, our evolutionary biologists will have to reckon how we could have received the best instruction for our survival two thousand years before it was most desperately needed.

Christ told us how to survive when He answered the question, Who is my neighbor?

In the tenth chapter of Luke, He tells the story of a Samaritan who cared for a Jew who had been badly wounded by thieves. As we know from the preceding chapter, in which the Disciples suggest in effect the firebombing of a Samaritan village, the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies.

To modernize the story, then, and so to understand Christ's answer, we may substitute any other pair of enemies: fundamentalist Christian and fundamentalist Muslim, Palestinian and Israeli, captor and prisoner.

The answer: Your neighbor is any sufferer who needs your help."

If humankind is to walk through this coming time,

with compassion and grace,

we will need for the followers of our great teachers,

to actually follow.



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Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I noticed a commercial the other day for Honda and their new small jets.

As the commercial ended, it closed with the rhetorical question of

Why do you think we've always had wings?

With this announcement, the question is even more provocative.

Honda’s new business venture: solar power

Carmaker had been testing,
even as way to produce hydrogen for fuel cells
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Dec. 19, 2005

TOKYO - Describing itself as “the first automaker to enter into solar cell business,” Honda Motor Co. said on Monday it plans to start mass-producing solar cells in 2007, eyeing growing demand for environmentally friendly energy sources.

Japan’s third-biggest automaker said in a statement it would build a new factory for thin-film solar cells on the site of a car plant in Kumamoto prefecture, on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu.

The company said it aims to generate annual sales of $40 million to $70 million from solar cells once the factory’s output reaches full annual capacity of 27.5 megawatts, enough to power about 8,000 households.

Honda will be competing with major solar cell manufacturers such as Kyocera, Sharp and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

Solar for hydrogen?

Honda has been testing the thin-film solar cells at 13 facilities, most in Japan but also in Thailand and Torrance, Calif., where its North American operations are headquartered.

The U.S. project uses solar power to get hydrogen from water, thereby powering vehicles that run on fuel cells. The technology is still prohibitively expensive, but researchers have lowered costs significantly in recent years.

A Honda spokeswoman did not say when the factory would hit full capacity and declined to disclose the size of the investment, which the Nihon Keizai business daily estimated would be just short of $100 million.

Less CO2 in production

Honda said its solar cells would be composed of non-silicon compound materials, consuming half as much energy and generating 50 percent less carbon dioxide during production when compared with conventional solar cells made from silicon.

Many scientists tie manmade carbon dioxide emissions to global warming. The company aims to sell the solar cells for both residential and industrial use.

It will initially target the Japanese market."

By using thin film made from a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), Honda’s next-generation solar cell achieved a major reduction in energy consumed during the manufacturing process to approximately 50% of that required by conventional crystal silicon solar cells.

Honda claims further that this solar cell has achieved the highest level of photoelectric transfer efficiency to date for a thin film solar cell, almost equivalent to the conventional crystal silicon solar cell.

The mass production of Honda’s thin film solar cell became possible with a new mass production process developed by Honda Engineering – a production engineering company that has long developed production equipment and technologies for Honda’s various products.

This commitement from Honda shows the remarkable difference between Japanese and American auto makers.

Can you imagine Ford making such an announcement?

Makes you wonder who won the war.

And who will win the next one.

Those who believe it will be won with boots on the ground?

Or those who know we must open our wings,

And make war no more.



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Spherically Perverse

eaning, as my old friend Amory would say,

"It makes no sense no matter which way you look at it!"

Here is a news bit that reports the layoff

of 100 employees - or 11% - of the staff

of the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Cuz we need them more than ever?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Monday, December 19, 2005


Over the weekend, I was speaking with a friend in the medical community about the notion of perverse mechanisms. The dictionary does not quite get the right definition for my use of the word. I do not mean "marked by immorality; deviating from what is considered right or proper or good". Nor do I mean "resistant to guidance or discipline". "Marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict " perhaps gets a little closer.

The definition of perverse that fits this use is "negative or unhealthy".

Perverse Mechanisms provide the foundation for the concept, propounded by some social scientists and philosophers, that many of the underlying causes of non sustainable and seemingly irrational civil behavior do not come from some dark greed zone or from some firery hell where evil designers lurk in the underworld and work overtime to devise our undoing.

No, these social thinkers argue that many of our truly bad ways of doing things come from something a little less easy to moralize on, and in many ways, a lot easier to fix.

I'm not sure who first brought the issue up, but the idea is fairly simple.

Many of the things that we do as a culture that lead towards "ends" that range from "catastrophic" to "just plain old dumb" come from the way we have structured ourselves, our business relationships, and our daily lives.

For example, with my friend in the medical community, I mentioned how health care in the eastern tradition of acapuncture is actually based on health. Quite simply, the patient, or in this case the client, pays the doctor to keep them healthy. If they fall sick, payments stop.

The mechanism that is in place today of course is just the opposite. We pay our medical professionals when we become ill.

The more ill we become, the more money we must pay. The system, no matter how moral and self regulated it may be, contains a perverse mechanism at its foundation which will eventually bring the system or the society it serves into ruin.

The mechanism is perverse, not evil.

And without an equal mechanism to produce health, it will produce bad results.

Perverse Mechanisms abound in our society.

When we hire an architect to build our house, his payment is often based on a percentage of the cost of the house. No matter how great a guy or gal he or she may be, it will be in their best economic interest to build your house in such a way as to maximize their fee. They will choose the most expensive materials, the most expensive flooring, and they will oversize your appliances, just in case you need the extra capacity. The result is an inefficient home with an AC system that is over sized and a not-so- gracious portion of almost everything else.

The client pays at the beginning. And he pays throughout the term of his life in that house for the extra energy required to service the oversizing that the perverse mechanism created.

If the architect's fee was based on how little energy the house used, the mechanism would no longer be so perverse.

Non perverse business relationships would do a lot to make our economic system more efficient and less wasteful.

Why should your stock broker be paid by the total amount of stocks you buy?

Why should he not be paid based on your profits or gains in the market?

Why should you pay for your car, if it not running?

If it stops running, you should simply return it to the dealer and tell him you will buy from another dealer if he can't provide a car that is more reliable. True competition would then incent very reliable cars. If the car dealer or manufacturer is making a tidy sum fixing their own product, there is a perverse mechanism in place that invites mechanical mediocrity.

Restaurants are a good example of where perverse mechanisms are kept to a minimum. If you like the food, you pay for it. If it doesn't make you sick, you come back.

Corporations unfortunately, have discovered that perverse mechanisms can be very effective ways to create business. If you create a product(cigarettes) that has poisons in it or produces poisoned pollution, the consumer pays and then he gets sick. If you own the drug company that manufactures the antidote for your poisons, the consumer pays you again. If the consumer goes to the hospital and you own the hospital, the consumer or the insurance company pays again. If there is insurance, and the corporation owns the insurance company or underwriter, the consumer pays again. And if the consumer dies,(and that is somewhat certain) and the corporation owns the cemetary, the consumer pays again.

The whole system them becomes one large gigantic perverse mechanism on steriods.

Perhaps the greatest perverse mechanism comes in governance,

Where oftentimes bad leadership brings even more power.

If an incompetent administration fouls up

and allows its people to be attacked,

it is rewarded with high approval ratings when it talks tough.

When the government retaliates for the attack from one country,

by attacking another country,

it is rewarded for it's bold incursion,

because of the national bond and trust

that was strengthened by the attack.

When the response to the attack becomes very expensive,

both in gold and blood,

It is argued that it must be continued,

or the blood that was lost,

would be lost for no good cause.

People's hearts then become manipulated by demagoguery.

Civil liberties are traded for security.

A Free press becomes a subservient press.

Bad information leads to an uniformed electorate.

And the uninformed electorate re-elects

the incompetent government.

And the cycle begins again.

This is a Perversity

of a very low order,

With a very high social cost.


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Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Evening Land

The Guardian is running a story today that is becoming the norm.

The truth about the geographic state of the United States

is most often found from a perch

outside of its artificial borders.

A big exception to that rule of course is Jon Stewart.

Here he is, thanks to One Good Move.

And here is a piece of the Guardian Story,

Reflections in the Evening Land
Harold Bloom
Saturday December 17, 2005
The Guardian

Huey Long, known as "the Kingfish," dominated the state of Louisiana from 1928 until his assassination in 1935, at the age of 42. Simultaneously governor and a United States senator, the canny Kingfish uttered a prophecy that haunts me in this late summer of 2005, 70 years after his violent end: "Of course we will have fascism in America but we will call it democracy!"

I reflected on Huey Long (always mediated for me by his portrait as Willie Stark in Robert Penn Warren's novel, All the King's Men) recently, when I listened to President George W Bush addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was thus benefited by Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV channel, which is the voice of Bushian crusading democracy, very much of the Kingfish's variety.

Even as Bush extolled his Iraq adventure, his regime daily fuses more tightly together elements of oligarchy, plutocracy, and theocracy.

Contemporary America is too dangerous to be laughed away, and I turn to its most powerful writers in order to see if we remain coherent enough for imaginative comprehension. Lawrence was right; Whitman at his very best can sustain momentary comparison with Dante and Shakespeare. Most of what follows will be founded on Whitman, the most American of writers, but first I turn again to Moby-Dick, the national epic of self-destructiveness that almost rivals Leaves of Grass, which is too large and subtle to be judged in terms of self-preservation or apocalyptic destructiveness.

Ahab carries himself and all his crew (except Ishmael) to triumphant catastrophe, while Moby-Dick swims away, being as indestructible as the Book of Job's Leviathan. The obsessed captain's motive ostensibly is revenge, since earlier he was maimed by the white whale, but his truer desire is to strike through the universe's mask, in order to prove that while the visible world might seem to have been formed in love, the invisible spheres were made in fright.

God's rhetorical question to Job: "Can'st thou draw out Leviathan with a hook?" is answered by Ahab's: "I'd strike the sun if it insulted me!"

The driving force of the Bushian-Blairians is greed, but the undersong of their Iraq adventure is something closer to Iago's pyromania.

Our leader, and yours, are firebugs."

And that leads me to this story.

A couple of days ago,

I was sticking my head into the office of one of our strategic planners.

We were visiting about solar credits and tax incentives.

I had reviewed most of the new Energy Policy Act

and asked him what was the most important, least publicized

change in energy policy that occured with the over 1000 page bill.

The answer was this.

The new energy bill creates a deputy assistant secretary of energy

for Nuclear.

New nuclear kwhs will also get the same tax credit benefits

as clean wind and biomass.

Another strategic planner came up.

I said something like,

"We have got to get the message out that

building gigantic centralized poisonous fires

not the answer."

For we can change the world and the firebugs that run it.

As surely as night follows day,

this dark evening can give way to the surrounding light,

In the morning land.


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*art courtesy of Kyle M Stone

Friday, December 16, 2005

Some like it Hot

Dallas Morning News photo
It's not easy to focus on global warming while you are layering your sweaters and worring about natural gas prices and staying warm.

But just in case you had any doubts about whether or not global warming continues to march its changes into our world, the data for 2005 is in.

And it was hot. Here is the story

2005 Continues the Warming Trend

Year's Temperatures Are Among the Highest on Record, Scientists Announce
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; Page A02

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Three studies released yesterday differ slightly, but they all indicate the Earth is rapidly warming. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has concluded 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office call it the second hottest, after 1998. All three groups agree that 2005 is the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average.

Scientists said yesterday that these differences should not detract from their common conclusion that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity.

Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

The Earth has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, with 1 degree of this increase occurring in the past 30 years. This climate change has brought unusually prolonged droughts in some regions and heavy precipitation in others, while the Arctic's sea ice has shrunk to its lowest level since observers started using satellite records in 1979.

Some global-warming skeptics questioned the significance of yesterday's findings. "Saying that 2005 was a near-record is like saying that a plane that landed safely could have crashed," said William O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the George C. Marshall Institute. "It is trying to make news where none exists."

Now, let me see if I can understand Mr. O'Keefe.

If the hottest year on record is a safe landing,

What is the plane crash that he calls news?

Did the year need to miss a week to make news?

Does the earth need to stop turning?

Comments and excuses from Global Climate Change skeptics, like many other recent administration operations, have become particularly tortured, but this one pretty much leaves me truly puzzled.

I guess some just like it hot.

But actually some just like to sell out.

Here is a look at Mr. O'Keefe and the Marshall Institute and their payments from Exxon. There is little surprise here, given that Mr. O'Keefe's bio at the Marshall Institute states that he has been the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Petroleum Institute .

Here is more on the story from Environmental Defense.

So, in calling Mr. O'Keefe a skeptic, the Post got it wrong.

He is a paid professional for the Oil Lobby.

Some might like it hot,

but some just get paid to lie,

So that some might profit,

At the expense of all the rest of us.

And once again,

The Post shows its panties,

Instead of the straightforward reporting we need

from our Fourth Estate.


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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mr. Frosty

Last week, we had a pretty good cold spell come in. It was early for our part of the country. Generally, we don't get cold weather until January.

When I came home in the afternoon, I noticed that my house, which has a really super furnace in the basement, was not really very warm. I looked at the thermostat. It was set for 70, but the house temperature was 60.

So I went down to the basement to check things out. I watched the gas come on for a minute, and then I heard some clicks and then the gas would shut down and the fire would go out. Then, a few seconds later, I would hear some clicks, the gas furnace would reignite and burn like Ms. O Leary's Chicago for a few seconds, and then it would shut down.

I watched this go on for several minutes and decided to dive in and see what was going on.

I took the face plates off and saw that the washable filter was totally rediculous, so I gave it a good cleaning. Since everything was already frozen outside, I had to do this in my kitchen sink, which made a good mess. I reasoned that the temperature sensor in the stack was shutting the system down because of the reduced air flow. That would make the unit think that the blower motor was going out, and it would shut itself down before any real harm occured.

I put it in.

I watched it.

In a few minutes, it started the strange cycling again.

So, I called my trusty AC-Heating company who came out almost immediately. He did his tests, and couldn't really see anything obviously wrong. Then, we decided to see if the gas pressure was right. He took the little tap out on the gas side and attached his pressure gauge.

It was low, about a third of what it should be.

Then, I went upstairs, and turned on the fake fireplace to see what that would do.

That brought the pressure down even lower.

My unit was fine, but the gas pressure coming in was not.

So, I called the gas company and was immediately put into a service phone wait of many minutes. So I called back and asked the dispatcher if he had been receiving low pressure calls.

He said, "Yes, I believe we are having problems maintaining pressure out there."

Now, low gas pressure is a lot like not having water pressure. It is a huge big deal. Low gas pressure shuts down all kinds of things. It's very dangerous, and it's a really unusual thing to happen.

I have been reading about gas supply problems, but they weren't getting much traction in the mainstream press.

Then yesterday, I saw this story.

The Big Chill
US News and World Report
By Marianne Lavelle

Falling gasoline prices make it easy to believe the nation has seen the last of the energy woes that swept in behind this year's Gulf Coast hurricanes. But they don't fool an unemployed woman on the Crow Indian Reservation, using the electric oven to warm her house on increasingly crisp Montana nights because her natural-gas heat has been cut off.

For brickyard workers in Mill Hall, Pa., unemployment looms after the holidays, because it will be too expensive to fire the clay kilns this winter. And one retiree in a mobile home in Millinocket plans to take her asthma medication once daily instead of three times as prescribed, to save money to pay the kerosene bills that will soar in Maine's bitter cold.

With the season's first snowfall hitting the Northeast last week, it is becoming apparent that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did far more to the nation's energy equation than spoil Labor Day vacation drives. The storms upset the already precarious balance of the nation's supply and demand for fuel. So much Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas production remains in disarray that even with a mild winter, Americans face a Big Chill: astronomical heating bills--on average, 38 percent higher than last year's record costs for natural gas and 21 percent higher for oil.

Triple threat. That means hundreds of closed factories and enormous hardship for low-income and working poor families, who can expect scant federal government help. And if bitter cold rides in on Mother Nature's coattails, extraordinary measures will be needed to keep energy flowing, particularly in the Northeast, as natural-gas shortages spill over into oil and electricity supplies. "We pray for warm weather. We have a prayer chain going," says Diane Munns, an Iowa regulator who is president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. "People are talking not just about high prices but actual shortages."

Adds Matthew Simmons, a prominent Houston energy investment banker, who has warned of a new era of scarcity: "We're headed into a winter that could be a real winter of discontent."

In the dark. The second threat is a severe electricity shortage in the Northeast--with possible brownouts or blackouts. Deregulated natural-gas-fired power generators, under no legal obligation to serve customers as the old monopoly electric companies were, can simply stop generating power.

Some plants will be interruptible customers with no backup fuel source. But in other cases, power plants that have firm natural gas contracts will stop generating electricity anyway and sell their fuel at enormous profit. That is precisely what happened during the three-day January 2004 cold snap, when more than 25 percent of New England's generating capacity went off line and the reserve margin was near zero.

"A frozen New Orleans." A winter failure could prove catastrophic, because any extended loss of heat could cause water pipes to burst in residential and commercial buildings alike. Also, the thousands of "traps" where steam escapes (and billows from manhole covers) could freeze and fail, causing distribution pipes to crack or lose pressure. Former Central Intelligence Agency chief Jim Woolsey, now active on energy issues, argues that parts of the city "could resemble a frozen New Orleans."

Whether because of cost or cold, officials are bracing for human suffering across America this winter. "Forces can come together that turn crisis for some into disaster--that's really what I think we could be looking at this winter," says Iowa energy assistance director McKim. "I hate to sound like the voice of doom, but somebody has to say this stuff. It's just like Hurricane Katrina. They knew it was coming, but little was done to prepare an effective response. And the same thing is happening here."

Where I live, our winters are never very cold.

But just that one day with low gas pressure, and my house dropping to 60 degrees, reminded me of the vulnerabilities we all face.

Yesterday, the price of natural gas was almost $15.00 / MCF at the Hub where we buy our gas.

That means that electricity will go up and your heating bill will probably double this year.

That is the good side.

The bad news would be low pressures that turn off your furnace and leave you and your house in the cold as suppliers struggle to keep their systems properly pressurized.

And they cannot do that without product.

In my house in Mexico, I have lots of candles. I mean lots of candles. They burn reasonably safely and they are pretty. They do a remarkably good job of keeping the chill out of the air. They can take a small room and make it warm and pretty.

Besides, it's the Holidays. And who knows? Mr. Frosty may come and sit on your park bench.

So, you might want to have some candles around just in case.

Lots of them.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

He's Making a List . . .

It is a great shame that we cause so much of the global warming problem . . .

But wait, there's more!

Here in the USA, our Pentagon is making a list.

They are counting "threats" to national security.

Like the meeting of Quakers to plan a protest against military recruiting at high schools.

And 1,500 other incidents bearing scrutiny of our warfighters.

Read the story and see the list of "threats" in this piece from MSNBC.

Such a flawed sense of priorities.

Such a glaring lack of leadership.

Such self-inflicted degradation to our honor.

Here is where my Mother would say "Tsk, tsk."


America's Shame

While the networks, the cable channels, NPR, PBS, and the rest of the war stenographers fill your heads with purple fingers and the tall talk of terror, one can appreciate the candor and non-pulled punch of this lead editorial in the NY Times.

America's Shame in Montreal
New York Times
December 13, 2005

"The best that can be said of the recently concluded meeting on climate change in Montreal is that the countries that care about global warming did not allow the United States delegation to blow the whole conference to smithereens.

Washington was intent on making sure that the conferees required no more of the United States than what it is already doing to restrain greenhouse gas emissions, which amounts to virtually nothing.

At least the Americans' shameful foot-dragging did not bring the entire process to a complete halt, and for this the other industrialized countries, chiefly Britain and Canada, deserve considerable praise.

It cannot be easy for America's competitors to move forward with costly steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the United States refuses to carry its share of the load. Nevertheless, the Europeans and other signatories to the 1997 treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions - a treaty the Bush administration has rejected - promised to work toward new and more ambitious targets and timetables when the agreement lapses in 2012.

For its part, the Bush administration deserves only censure. No one expected a miraculous conversion.

But given the steadily mounting evidence of the present and potential consequences of climate change - disappearing glaciers, melting Arctic ice caps, dying coral reefs, threatened coastlines, increasingly violent hurricanes - one would surely have expected America's negotiators to arrive in Montreal willing to discuss alternatives.

They did not.

Instead, the principal negotiators, Paula Dobriansky and Harlan Watson, continued to tout the benefits of an approach that combines voluntary reductions by individual companies with further research into "breakthrough" technologies.

That will not work.

While a few companies may decide to proceed on their own, the private sector as a whole will neither create new technologies nor broadly deploy them unless all countries are required to do their share under a regime that combines agreed-upon targets with strong financial incentives for reaching them.

To believe that companies will spend heavily to reduce emissions while their competitors are not doing the same is to believe in the tooth fairy.

The Europeans are finding solace in the fact that the Americans - after much kicking and screaming, and after public rebukes by Canada's prime minister and a surprise visitor named Bill Clinton - finally agreed to join informal "nonbinding" discussions that will try to entice developing countries like China and India into the process.

It's certainly true that without the developing nations on board, any effort to keep greenhouses gases at manageable levels will be for naught. China, for example, is building coal-fired power plants at a rapid clip and is expected to overtake the United States as the biggest producer of greenhouse gases in 20 years.

But talk is cheap, and nonbinding talk is even cheaper. And talk alone will not get the developing world into the game.

Why should India and China make major sacrifices while the United States, in effect, gets a free ride?

The battle against global warming will never be won

unless America joins it,

urgently and enthusiastically.

Our grandchildren will look back

with anger

and astonishment

if we fail to do so."

All the while,

we give attention to constitutional amendments

that block the marriages of gay men and women,

while the apparently righteous bathe themselves in the moral morass

of the tragic loss of unborn children.

Everyday, our war of strategic aggression

with its sugar coat of democracy,

exacerbates the carnage of the living,

and the injustice of colonial oppression.

During this holiday season,

our uncivilized torture of our enemies and our own citizens,

horrifies those of us who watch our former moral high ground,

descend into this dark valley of depravity.

There is even a Christmas Tree in a bank nearby

which is decorated Red, White, and Blue.


Our grandchildren will look back

with anger

and astonishment .

If they look back at all.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Alli Alli in Free


We use to yell this out when we were playing hide and seek

or perhaps you used it in another childhood game.

It means that this part of the game is over.

You can come in to home base.

Without being captured.

Without being tagged.

Without being "it".

As I remember, the person who owned the yard,

where you were playing the game,

was able to have certain game naming privileges.


Alli Alli in Free.

We humans are in a unique cross roads in our evolution.

And we are faced with unique and substantial challenges.

For millennia, humankind has been building fires of one size or another,

and we have used these fires,

to drive away animals,

to cook them when we can,

to warm our loved ones,

to drive our machines,

to power our computers,

to destroy our enemies.

This fire has served us very well.

But now, the very atmosphere that we need to burn this fire in,

is saying,

No more.

Conveniently, but not necessarily helpfully,

the sticks that we have been using to fuel our fires,

which now lie farther and farther away from our homes,

are now half way used up,

and becoming more and more difficult to find.

Meanwhile, other growing powerful tribes want these sticks too.

And the forest cannot keep up with the need for more.

Therefore, some would reason,

We must use our bigger sticks to get more burning sticks.

One day,

a very wise man came into camp and he said,

"We have come to the time when we do not burn our sticks."

We can use our sticks to scratch the earth,

so it will bring forth more food.

We can stack our sticks to build great strong structures,

so our children will be warm.

We can point our sticks at the heavens,

so they will receive the energy from the universe.

We can even use our sticks to bring us to unknown new worlds.

But first, we must reshape our most powerful subtle stick.

We must bend it and place a tight string on it.

And launch the arrow of human potential.

We must reform our mind.

We must reshape our thinking.

We must give our positions up.

The old ways of thinking,















Are passe.

At least they should be.

It's my yard.

And it's time for a new game.

Alli Alli in Free.


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Monday, December 12, 2005

Climate Terrorist

If you have been following the Climate Change meeting in Montreal, you know that the US delegation has been a little bit cantankerous at best. Here is the most recent act of diplomatic terror from the delegation representing the corporate polluters that are allowed to hide and set up their corporate terror training camps in the geographic state of the United States.

Breakthrough as US joins climate talks
The Herald
Calum McDonald

American delegates have signed up to talks on long-term measures to tackle global warming in what is seen as a major breakthrough on climate change.The refusal of the US government to accept any deal involving a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions appeared to have killed off any chance of a breakthrough at the summit in Canada over the weekend.

US delegates walked out of the climate change conference in Montreal, but they later returned and agreed to sign up to non-binding talks.

The acceptance of the American government to bow to world pressure and finally take part in multilateral talks on global warming is seen as a breakthrough.

It was welcomed by environmental groups.Bill Hare, of Greenpeace International, said: "The Bush administration blinked. The world should remember that."The U-turn came after years of intransigence and foot-dragging over the issue of pollution and global warming.

Since pulling out four years ago from the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement for cutting pollution which contributes to global warming, the US government has refused to co-operate in multilateral talks.American delegates walked out of the Montreal talks without reaching agreement, but then, according to Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary who led the British delegation, a series of telephone calls between London and Washington resulted in them rejoining the talks.

When they returned, the US delegation agreed to sign up to non-binding talks on long-term measures to tackle global warming.

And then, there is this story in the Financial Times which puts a slightly different spin on the US change of heart.

"The US had hinted it might be prepared to cut a deal from the start of the ministerial talks last Wednesday. Until this summer, Washington argued that to talk about the future of co-operation on climate change under the UN would be "premature".

But Paula Dobriansky, the US under-secretary of state for global affairs, signalled a significant change of direction that could lead to a deal. She said the US would refuse to sign up to "formalised discussions" that were geared towards "a one size fits all approach".

The proposed discussions were expressly framed to sustain a variety of approaches, without resorting to formal negotiations; a series of minor amendments to this effect allowed the US to sign up.

Some environmentalists fear the US may yet use its place at the table to block or stall future progress.

Although this is possible, Richard Kinley, acting head of the UN's Climate Change Secretariat, described the meeting as "one of the most productive UN climate change conferences ever".

I don't know how you feel when you realize that your government is working hard to not only not help in the solution to one of humankind's great issues, but is actively working or possibly coniving to frustrate the rest of the nations from solving the issue too.

It makes me realize that this administration is actively pursuing policies that are very dangerous to the well being of us all.

Here is the POTUS on the issue.

Seriously, it is truly amazing that

the US has become a rogue state,

and all the rest of the world has become our hostage.

We are the climate terrorists.

And we have our demands.

So, the world applauds as "meaningful",

our participation in another nonbinding process,

Even as the earth begins to reach a point of no return.

Last night, in a retort to my positive notions

that humankind has the means and capability to solve our problems,

if we would only apply our very best efforts,

A friend opined that sociopaths and narcissists often come to power,

when times get like this.

He was a doctor.

He knows pathology.

I'm an optimistic futurist,

And I see hope,

in the eschatology.


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