Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mind the Gap

We made our way down from Soho to Knightsbridge today.
Oxford Street was packed,
so we walked down Piccadilly instead.
When we got to Green Park,
we strolled in the low bright sun,
even though it was just barely after one.

London green space goes from St. James
to Green to Hyde to Kensington,
an area of miles, not blocks.
But even on this rare sunny day in December,
the crowds are in the stores.

At Harrods, they were having a sale,
and according to the advertising,
there is "only One sale".
And I think a large part of the City believed it.

Inside was a torrent of well dressed style seekers.
No, not a torrent,
a flood of shoppers,
as if it was the final sporting event of the season.

We eyed the 25 dollar 2.2 pound French chicken

in the gourmet food section.
But is wasn't even cooked.

We slipped through the crush of furs and prams,
gladly thanking the well dressed security man,
for opening the door to the brisk air outside,
and the New York rush hour sidewalk crowds.

There were a few just outside of the tube station,
who were holding signs
and handing out tracts
about the furs for sale inside.
But they were but drops in this sea of sales.

We found the Cafe Rouge,
and ate our Croquet Monseur
and our Filo Pastry of spinach and mushrooms.
With the two Vin de Pays house wines,
we enjoyed our first meal for under 100 dollars.

All the prices on the menus look a little high,
except that they are in pounds.

A Cheeseburger at TGIF was 23 dollars.

We made our way back in the tubes.
First the green line to Embankment,
then the blue line to Goodge Street.
We were back in our Hotel in 25 minutes.

When the tube train doors open
You are reminded to
"mind the gap".

Internet here in the Hotel is 30 dollars a day,
but it is free in most of the coffee shops.

We're going to the Theatre in a bit.
The History Boys.

Plenty of that here you know.

Plenty of future here too.

More on that later.


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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Iraqi Poet: Mohammed Mazloom


Mohammed Mazloom*

The ancient, tired, barbarians were defeated
but too much death remained after their fall.
They crossed into the shadows without
a pavement or a guide!

They were defeated —
flags were colored by the bleeding eyes of their armies,
their own eyes blurred like the eyes of those killed,
a deviation of massacre.

They planted their sky with trees, like a forest of swords
which gleam at sunset
but do not pray for eclipse.

And so the sky was for them abandoned,
like the sands of Ur or like feasts
after the invited guests have fled,
and strangers fed in their place.

But the exhausted barbarians had gone,
shall we then end our story?

Newcomers follow a sleeping
old map, are awakened by the didactic
of its story.

The barbarians I knew had already passed
over the old maps, over ruin here, there!

And they scattered, their profiles hidden
in a paradise of debris.

And death commenced to menstruate
out of them, while they gathered to erase
their personal histories —
as the next oncoming hoard gestated.

And I saw Cavafy alone
awaiting their arrival to sew in his exile
a sky of barbarians,
and one great bird spreading out a tale
about our most recent chaos,
about the ancient sky,
about people who come down
to Mesopotamia (the land of blackness)
and collect their map of rains,
so the new invaders can cleanse holiness
with the water of their killed people,
where dwarfs have a shadow, where trees
and flags are embroidered
with the vast hunger of my people.
What was the difference if they stayed,
these Pharos of the oasis,
or if they fell —
fertile solutions in the memory,
if they erected nations from oblivion
or if they dwelt in passing shadows?
What was the difference
if the invaders lost their way -
to those who lived here before they arrived,
who hesitated before disaster?
They were gathered for poison, in nights of memories -
what if they remained, wild against assault,
refusing to scatter
while the barbarians hovered at
the border, threatening!

I am among them.
The mirrors see what they see.
To what buffoon will the voyage
be widened?
The great fire occurs
and Rome vanishes
its wreckage gleams in the dark anew:
freedom and barbarians.

*Anabasis means a military campaign on the march inland from the sea.

Translated by
Soheil Najm
Poetic editing in English by Susan Bright

*Mohammed Mazloom: Born in Baghdad in 1963.
Published books: Commissions-Never to be stipulated, Beirut 1992;
The Delayed-Passing through the mirrors of suspicions, Beirut 1994;
The Sleeper and his autobiography of wars, Beirut 1998.

Note: Here's the poem by Constantine Cavafy referenced above.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

By Constantine Cavafy, 1864-1933, Translated by Edmund Keely.


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Friday, December 28, 2007

Iraqi poet: Faliha Hassan

Girl in a Water Taxi, Basra, IraqAlan Pogue © 1998

At The Margin of The War

"Those are stars,"
says the child,
as airplanes distort the face of the sky.
"I used to rest my head,”
his sister says, "upon his kind arms.
I don't remember how we
found the bones of the murdered one
who was my Daddy who
was defending us on this mirage-earth,
asking a shadow; how did this begin?"

The ash women cry,
"These are the portents of those lost
in the darkness of the prisons."
One of them calls for help,
"I didn't find him.
He left without a helmet,
and nothing distinguishes him
but his heart.
He was like my country
too great to bear.
They returned many corpses
but not his."
"These are the marks of a faded morning,"
says the woman who, still
tidying the bed blankets,
dreams he may come in one longing night,
lights a match,
holds back grief.

"These are the memories of past years,"
says one who has just come.
"To whom has my age been sold as wood fire
for a fire that has raged for twenty-three years
without ending?
These are mirrors for my hollow life.”

Birds cry as they follow an Apache squadron,
"Where are the windows?
Where are the windows?
We want air!"

Translated by: Soheil Najm
Poetic editing in English: Susan Bright

Faliha Hassan, born in Najaf (Middle of Iraq) 1978. Published books of poetry: Because I Am a Girl, A Visit to the Museum of the Shadow, Five Addresses for the Friend of the Sea and Even after a While.

To read Medea Benjamin's tribute to Benazir Bhutto, click here.
For more of Alan Pogue's photographs from Iraq click here.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

See the Same Way

Generally by now, I am in my little pueblito in Mexico enjoying the vivid blue skys and the escape from the Christmas rush. But this year, instead of going south, we're going East. Not the Far East mind you, but across the pond.

As an energy guy and lover of all things train, I'm looking forward to crossing under the Channel in the "Chunnel" and making the trip from London to Paris in just over 2 hours.

There is so much that we all must begin to grapple with in our society. But in another sense, there is a great deal that we as a civilization do rather well. Much of that is in Paris. And I am looking forward to seeing my good friend Jim Haynes on New Years Eve at the Swan Bar.

And I look forward to meeting and enjoying the company of folks who share many of the same values and philosophies of my good friends in Real de Catorce.

Jim Haynes was one of the first global citizens I ever met. His little book called "Workman of the World Unite and Stop Working" was an eye opener for me.
In his web site, under "plans", Jim says:

"How to make the gods laugh: tell them your plans. Nevertheless I hope the future includes my continuing to live here in my Paris atelier, travelling to see friends, writing newsletters and books, hosting friends, organizing the Sunday dinners, and enjoying every minute of life.

For me, happiness is an intellectual concept, and I decided years ago to be happy. In spite of (and because of) everything, I love life. It has been good to me, and I hope that I have been good to it."

My son asked me yesterday if Jim would be a friend if he didn't live in Paris. It was a fair question.

But the answer can be found in Julie Pecheur's piece the The Paris Times,
Nov .11, Sept 2006,

"To some people, life is great. Fun. Wonderful. Every day. Every minute. These people read the newspapers and see the same clouds as everyone else, but to them, humans are not selfish, arrogant jerks, but rather a constant source of wonder, an excuse to share, the possibility of love.

They admit to a few obstacles along the way, but they think of them as gifts, mere steps to an even better and happier life. Jim Haynes is one of these people. "That's the way I am," he explains, "I've always been optimistic and incredibly happy."

So the answer son, is "yes".

In the face of climate change, resource depletion, the rise of authoritariansim, and the corporate takover of our culture, I still believe that we can come together, and craft a plan, and implement a strategy for the betterment of humankind and ourselves.

Maybe that's why I'm going back to Paris.

Because there is a guy there

who sees the same way.

You're looking at a picture
I'm looking at it too
Do you see what I see today
Let's talk about the difference
Find out what's in the way
Open our eyes, see the same
See the same way

One man saw a healer doing such good, good things
One man saw a sinner by the Holy Sea
Well Jesus and the Pharisees didn't see eye to eye
But the man on the shore saw so clearly

You're looking at a picture
I'm looking at it too
Do you see what I see today
Let's talk about the difference
Find out what's in the way
Open our eyes, see the same
See the same way

I want to be at the meeting,
I want to be in that number
When we all see, see the same,
see the same way

B Hornsby


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Monday, December 24, 2007

The Moon in Mars

Last night, I looked up at the clear bright full moon and saw it just above a really bright object. It's so bright, it must be Jupiter I thought without thinking.

I mentioned that it looked like the moon would actually block it or occlude it. It didn't. But in the time it took to drive to the grocery store, it was beside it, and by the time we got out, it was below it. But that bright planet was not Jupiter. It is Mars.

And it is as bright as you will ever see it. Look for it tonight as the earth moves exactly in between the Sun and one of our closest celestial neighbors.

Astrologically, this conjuction places" aggression and emotions" together. So, if over the weekend, you were the recipient or the imparter of some weird aggressive behavior, just let it go. I know of one story where two friends were walking their dogs in the park, and apparently didn't respond fast enough to the cheery chingy bell sounds behind them. Suddenly they found themselves in the emotional orbit of a psycho biker who felt obliged to pelt the two with a barrage of name calling and other various insults.

When they tried to walk the other away, psycho biker came back for one more attack of Lunar-Martian behavior. We also ran into an angry lunatic who pushed our grocery cart rather abruptly just as the conjunction was at its closest.

Of course you say, there is no connection between the Moon and Mars and the way we behave.

How could there be?

In the Oneness,

How could there not be?

In just a little bit, Christmas will be in full swing. We'll go to a brunch at noon. In the early afternoon, my son and I will go visit my mother, who is all but gone these days. Tomorrow I'll get up early enough to put the leg of lamb in. I'll cover it with lamb rub and that wonderful garlic paste.

Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers will gather and we will eat, and we will share our time and our lives for a while.

And we will give each other gifts.

The children will be amped up on pie and cookies and toys.

And the adults will be satiated from earth's bounty.

And up above, the heavens will shimmer,

and the planets will continue their march through time.

The bright early waning Moon will rise after sunset,

and Mars will be perched above it.

But in the days and years that come,
Peace on this earth will only be on Christmas post cards, and

the Moon will remain in Mars,

until the Sun comes.


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas In Prison

It's the solstice. And the full moon approaches.

That means the moon will rise this evening where the sun will rise next summer when the summer solstice occurs. Although this is the shortest day, it is all also helpful to think of it as the beginning of the waxing sun. Starting tomorrow, the days will grow longer, even as the winter officially begins.

There is a brisk, almost mighty wind today. Yet, it is unseasonably warm. I hear my wind chime breaking through the cacophony of the moving branches, the leaves, and the workman next door. My new Boston Accoustics radio is playing John Prine singing of Christmas in Prison.

This Christmas season, as I drive through the crowds on the freeway blocked up by thousands waiting to take their turn in the Festival of Lights, or whatever it is, it occurs to me that we are all spending Christmas in prison.

The most holy holiday of the sect that arose from Jerusalem to ultimately conquer the world with its culture, its customs, and its morals, has been completely commercialized to the point that it is now the primary bulwark of the capitalist economy against any dangerous slowdown in consumer consumption.

Even though I did give some Carbon offset credits to some friends this year, I certainly have done my part to bolster the continued raping of our planet. And except for a brief period a couple of days ago, I have been able to maintain a reasonable temper while doing so.

Yet, deep in my bones, I know that the Christmas that we will celebrate in the next few days runs directly into the strong wind of destiny that we as a people have made for ourselves. For as we endulge ourselves with the so called riches of seemingly cheap energy, we sow the seeds of our own undoing.

As we fight the traffic, and the lines, and the busy credit card processors, few of us will notice this story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune this week.

World food stocks dwindling rapidly, UN warns

In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agriculture official of the United Nations warned Monday.

The changes created "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The agency's food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before - a rate that was already unacceptable, he said. New figures show that the total cost of foodstuffs imported by the neediest countries rose 25 percent, to $107 million, in the last year.

At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, FAO records show. World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world's total consumption - much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period.

Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of $100 a barrel oil.

Diouf blamed a confluence of recent supply and demand factors for the crisis, and he predicted that those factors were here to stay. On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed." more

Perhaps in the not too distant future, we will send carbon credits to our rich friends, and we will send food donations to those who are not. Perhaps we will make charitable donations to those organizations that are struggling now to feed and care for those who are in need.

Perhaps we will rebel against the corporate capitalist take over of the Mass that celebrates the birth of Christ and we will free our Christmas in Prison.
But in truth,

"We are like the Spider.

We weave our life and then move along in it.

We are like the dreamer who dreams

and then lives in the dream.

This is true for the entire Universe". Upanishads


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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Good Samaritan

Here's an Xmas piece from the second year of earthfamilyalpha

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 them.

And to be as good as the Samaritan.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manufactured Landscapes

Last night, we watched Manufactured Landscapes. It's out of the theatres already, so we had to rent it.

From the opening truck shot, it is a masterpiece.

For me, it is on the same scale of importance as Coppola's Koyaaniquatsi . And if you thought that Coppola's film with its Phillip Glass music was boring, then rent a Diehard movie instead.

Landscapes is based on the work of Edward Burtynsky, an internationally acclaimed photographer who is known for his large-scale photographs of nature transformed by industry. The award winning director Jennifer Baichwal follows Burtynsky to China as he captures the effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution.

Like Koyaaniquatsi, this film leads us to meditate on human endeavour and its impact on the planet. Many of the scenes are simply too surreal to fully comprehend. The waste, the wreckage, the monumental scope of our impact on our landscape is captured through the lens of this Canadian photographer with a dignity and candor that is rare and powerful.

In looking for reviews, I didn't find any that captured the importance and dark beauty of this superb movie. Perhaps just as well.

Here is the opening scene.

And here is another segment with Burtynsky describing his work.

We're going to watch it again tonight I think.

Watch it when you can.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Planetary Patriot

I got this piece from a friend and reader last night.

The Unassuming Patriot

He was squinting as he looked into the late afternoon sun. Traffic was heavy and mean as he pushed off into the intersection at 1st and Oltorf choosing to live or die based on his skill with the pedal bike he was riding.

At that moment I realized that I had just seen a real hero and real patriot , but one that probably would be utterly astonished to be so named merely because he was riding a bicycle.

Consider however, that he was doing his part to thwart terrorism by helping to free his country of the use of foreign oil. Freeing his country of the need to meddle in mid-eastern affairs and the need to trade blood for oil. He was not being complicit in exporting his country's wealth to the sheiks of the oil producing nations that will take that money and buy huge hunks of the American infrastructure including our largest banks.

No one was going to die as the end product of his patriotism, no enemy soldier would meet their death by the actions of this unassuming hero, yet he is helping to keep us all safe from killer weather patterns that are resulting from too many people going too many miles on too much oil.
He is not contributing the nations debt, deficit or trade imbalance and is doing his part to maintain a healthy body that will not require public funds for his medical care. Nor is he endangering the life or limb of anyone else that otherwise might get injured and end up burdening society in so many ways.

He is not burdening the infrastructure that is in existence nor implicitly making demand for more roads, more cement and less trees, grass and farm land.

And last he is not starving anyone who can no longer afford sustenance because the food they used to eat is now being used to run cars.

I really hope he made it home alive in that traffic

and I wish he knew that he was appreciated." D.C.

Dc's piece does a nice job of highlighting the obvious.

Bikes are a relatively simple, elegant response to the complex issues of our day. And in our town, as in many others, we have a Yellow Bike Project. (one of the best)

The Austin Yellow Bike Project (YBP) is a community supported ALL-VOLUNTEER 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing human-powered transportation for the people of Austin, running a community bike shop, and educating kids and adults.

People-power is a way to limit the traffic congestion of a rapidly growing city. It also provides a sane, inexpensive, and sustainable alternative to the reliance on motor vehicles. Our project promotes cleaner air, land, and water, while encouraging people to meet their transportation needs through an active lifestyle and community participation."

Austin's Yellow Bike Project is very simple. You find a yellow bike, you ride it to where you need to go, you park it outside for the next person who needs a bike. No locks. A Yellow Bike Liberation Crew prowls around for "incarcerated" bicycles and liberates them.

Starting with just 24 bicycles in 1997, the Yellow Bike Project now has more than 600 bicycles in circulation around Austin. The program, run by the Yellow Bike Collective, has grown solely through donations -- from bike shops but mainly through individuals. Volunteers repair the bikes to safe operating condition, paint them yellow, and put them on the street.

Across the City of Lights, 750 bicycle "stations" have been set up where 10,648 three-speed bicycles, all equipped with electronic locks, can be rented as part of an ambitious scheme designed to draw urbanites from their vehicles.

By January, more than 20,000 bicycles will be available at 1,400 stations.

"The idea for now is really to reduce traffic and also pollution by getting people to use a bicycle," said Celine Lepault, head of the project launched by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. "A long way down the line the idea might be to close off Paris to cars, and this may be a first step."

Of course, the bicycle is a already a major form of transportation in Amsterdam. The bikeways there are an important part of the transportation infrastructure.

Perhaps riding a bicycle is one of the best strategies

we can employ for becoming a Planetary Patriot.

I haven't been on my trusty red cruiser
since it slipped away in the dark one night.

But I've been eyeing that black three speed for half a year now.

And the "season for giving" is upon us.

Now all I need,

is some Patriotic Fervor.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I have been saying for several months now, that the increased understanding of climate change and the increased interest in clean energy would create some blowback from the reactionary segments of the population.

If you don't know the term, here is part of a piece by Chalmers Johnson on "blowback" from the Nation.

"Blowback" is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the US government's international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The CIA's fears that there might ultimately be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs of Iran were well founded.

Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution. The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year. This misguided "covert operation" of the US government helped convince many capable people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy. " more

There is a lot more in this article to read, which remarkably enough was published on Sept 27th, 2001. But I think you get the point. Blowback is what happens when you do stuff. It's the recoil from a fired projectile. It's physics.

And in the case of climate change and clean power, a lot of stuff has been accomplished in the last few months and years. This kind of progress understandably knots up the panties of those who think climate change is bunk and clean energy is for liberal arts majors.

In Texas, the Ranch with a Ford Pickup named after it is doing all it can to stop windpower on the Texas coast so that they can spare the birds, so the owners can kill them for sport. Being tied to oil (Exxon), it should be no surprise why the King Ranch is acting like a bunch of queens.

But out in the Hill Country, the blowback has taken a different form. The City Council of Frederickburg has decided to say"no" to windpower in their neck of the woods. Here is the resolution.


WHEREAS, there have been and there may be other companies in the future who are attempting to enter into lease agreements with landowners in Gillespie County for the purpose of erecting wind turbines (wind farms) on the scenic landscape of our community; and

WHEREAS, the construction of such industrial wind farms will permanently degrade the scenic vistas of our area for long distances; and

WHEREAS, industrial wind farms viewable from Enchanted Rock will forever scar a popular recreational asset of the area; and

WHEREAS, the construction of such industrial wind farms will destroy the peaceful existence of the quality of life the residents of Gillespie County have come to enjoy over the years bey (sic) generating noise from the turbines, creating “shadow, strobe or flicker” effects; and

WHEREAS, industrial wind farms could be detrimental to the environmental integrity and wildlife of our area; and

WHEREAS, it is widely accepted by professional appraisers and members of the real estate community that land values where industrial wind farms are built and the land of the adjoining property owners could be devalued; and

WHEREAS, according to Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the amount of wind generated in this area is designated as being 20th out of 25 potential wind areas in the state of Texas; and


The construction of industrial wind turbines (wind farms) is opposed by the Fredericksburg City Council in the Gillespie County area.

PASSED AND APPROVED this 3rd day of December, 2007.
Jeryl Hoover, Mayor
phone 830.997.4909
City of Fredericksburg

The irony in this is the fact that for the last several years, Fredericksburg has been the site of one of the most successful Renewable Energy Fairs in the country.

I'm not going to pick at all the whereases. Certainly a town has the right to say whatever they want to say about whatever. But they clearly have no right or authority to take away the rights of the landowners of the county.

This is Blowback in its most basic form.

There is more and more Blowback on the climate change issue too. Now that only a few diehards are willing to say that it is not a problem, those denizens who do inhabit the margins are filling up the comment sections of stories about dangerous anthropogenic climate change with all kinds of subjective pseudo scientific bunk.

About 25 years ago, I published a bumper sticker that said

"Stop Solar".

It had "a sun" with the universal "no" sign across it.

I still have several hundred of them in my flat file.

"Stop the Wind",

"Stop the Global Warming Hoax",

"Stop putting dents in my tranquility".



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oZ note: this is not an endorsement of R.P.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Live where we live

Rather than spending a lot of time wondering just how long our species can go on without taking some serious left turns from our present hell bent course of destruction, I find that my energy is better invested in actually trying to imagine what a carbon constrained, climate change challenged world might really look like.

And, I'm not talking about the "eve of destruction" stuff that you find in many peak oil sites. No, I'm talking more about the kind of policies and the kind of cultural changes that we will need to make in order to not only dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, but to also begin to mine the carbon that we have placed into the biosphere back into a sequestered place.

As bad as many would have us believe it's going to be, (there will be some convulsions) many of the changes that we will need to make don't sound that bad, and in many ways, they might be downright good for us.

For example, the consumer society as we know it will simply have to be transformed. If a good is made, it will have to be what its name implies... GOOD. No longer will we be able to allow the planned obsolescence mentalilty that currently prevails in the marketplace. If something is made, then it will need to be made in such a way that it lasts or can be easily transformed.

That means everything that we build, our cars, our homes, our tools, will have to be made to persevere, be easily upgraded, or completely recycled. The manufacturing maxims of the "age of waste" will clearly need to be substituted with a new ethic which strangely enough sounds very much like the so called protestant ethic that existed just a half a century ago.

Many of us still remember those times.

Instead of buying closets full of cheap oil based threads, which require energy to make, and will, in time, release their carbon to the environment, we will go back to natural fibers which actually mine the carbon out of the air. Wool and Cotton fabrics will be seen as superior "carbon mining" fabrics. We will save our sweaters, and our shirts, and our wool suits in hopes that they can passed down to our children or grandchildren. I still have and cherish my grandfather's super soft sweater that he gave me 40 years ago.

Virtually nothing should go into our dumps.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we will have to rethink the use of concrete and concrete blocks, and instead move towards building materials that do not have large amounts of carbon based energy embedded in their manufacture. We will need to build homes and offices out of the carbon that is mined from the air, and these structures will need to last for hundreds of years. Tearing down a house would be virtually unthinkable.

Our cars, or whatever we use for personal transporation, will last for 20 years.

Our glassware and our dishware will be made to last for generations.

Silverware will be polished and kept in a special place.

In my view, this all sounds pretty civilized and very much like it used to be before we took that sharp far right turn about 6 decades ago, when we allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked into thinking that we are consumers, instead of humanbeings.

The only problem of course is this.

What do we do with the 12 billion square feet of retail that we have covered the landscape with? (The French have a tenth as much retail per capita as the US does) Perhaps we can turn them into dance studios and indoor gardens.

On the energy side of things,

Our homes and offices will be zero energy structures

Their surfaces will be covered with new age photonic materials,

that have been created from the carbon in our air.

These advanced structures will seemlessly integrate themselves

into the photonic web.

That photonic web, our personal transporation device, (if we have one)

and the entire built environment will meld into a unified whole.

The concept of "fuel" will disappear,

as we learn to power all of our tools, toys, and extensions

with the light of creation.

Polluting the air will be as civilized

as taking a crap on a busy sidewalk.

And just like the other more advanced species,

we will finally reform ourselves from

destroying everyone's habitat,

including our own.

And we will

"Live where we live",

In the Creation.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Learning to Count

Lots of stuff this weekend, here's an oldie but a goodie.

The other night, while having dinner with a friend, I mentioned that I wished that things were not the way they seem.

I wished, that in fact, those few hard core conservatives who still think that climate change is a left wing religion were right.

I wished that the reality of peak oil was in fact not a reality, but just another y2k kind of deal that would go away after a few years, once the promoters had sold their books and the profiters had made their money.

I wished that the corporate hegemony that has overtaken the very soul of the developed nations was just a figment of my rich imagination, and that our lives had not actually been devoured by the love of capital and the philosophy and system that justifies it.

I wished that the rapidly advancing technology around us could be counted on to provide us more freedom and more liberty, instead of becoming an army of oppressive tools for surveillance, tracking, and control.

I told my friend that I wished I was wrong,

That I wished that what we have now, our cars, our homes, our standard of living, our way of living in general, was sustainable.

And then she said,

"But you are not wrong."

There have been many philosophical attempts to describe the folly of running an enonomy or nation system on non-renewable energy sources. There have been attempts try to give shape to the ideas and visions of the visionaries who have seen, and do see, a giant brick wall in our collective future.

Bucky Fuller, in his Utopia or Oblivion, stated that we are currently running the world system on our capital energy not our income energy. Our oil and gas supplies are our collective capital, the money we have in the bank. Whereas, our daily allotment of solar, wind, and other renewable energies is our income energy.

We are like a trust fund baby living on the corpus of the trust with little or no regard for that future day when the trustee gives us the bad news.

The truth is, there is no trustee.

Organizations such as the World Bank, which arguably should act as trustee for the world's finite resources, are actually more like the world's liquidator.

Where any normal accounting system would require a store to make a double entry when an item is sold, the World Bank acts as if the store is so large that accounting for it's inventory is not necessary.

The result is a world accounting system that does not actually account for the liquidation of finite resources. If Venezuela sells a billion dollars (Euros) of oil, its national capital account is not debited. The additional GNP of Venezuela from the sale of oil should be zero, not a billion euros. Sure, perhaps the reserves should be valued at a base price and the profits should be considered, but that simply belabors the point.

The World does not value its resources.

And until this very simple accounting measure is inacted,

The Capitalists will continue to plunder the earth for its riches, be they oil, silver, gold, or timber, as if they have no value at all, at least until after they have been sold.

Such an accounting revision is a very simple solution to a very serious problem and to moving towards a sustainable world.

If we want clean air, we must value it and capitalize it.

If we want a stable climate, we must place a value on it.

If we want finite resources to be available for our children's children,

we must place a fair value on what we consume today.

If we want communities with vitality and life,

we must place a value on their loss

when big box stores destroy our main streets.

Markets cannot work fairly if the accountants are unfairly counting.

A store that does not buy more inventory with its sales,

is destined for bankruptcy.

A World Monetary System that values natural resources

only after they are sold,

Is Rigged

For the same fate.


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Friday, December 14, 2007

It's the Season

My goodness , it's been a good week for the R's. They've successfully watered down the language in the climate change talks and they have successfully fillibustered the renewables out of the energy bill, and saved the tax breaks for the oil companies. And, as a little special christmas gift, the POTUS got to veto expanded health care for children again. He also plans to veto the dreaded anti torture bill that congress just passed.

They still manage to get the MSM to call torture "enhanced interrogation", and when asked for a show of hands during the debate this week on the importance of climate change, they refused to play, and the MSM just let it go, even with the Bali talks in crises.

They may be in the minority in the world, and in this country, but boy do they know how to use their own weapons of mass deconstruction.

And all the while, I don't think I've heard the words "obstruct" or "frustrate" or any such description from any MSM outlet. It's always the Ds who can't seem to get the 60 needed votes.
But all is not perfect over in Pseudo Religion, Fake Science, Greed and Hate Land.

A country bumpkin who may actually be a real christian is now leading the polls. And I don't think he is in the plan. As in other countries, the R's only approve of the democratic process when the results turn out right. Now they will have to elevate their Mormon and smear the Baptist.

Although "turd blossom" and the POTUS's chief of staff have been found in contempt of congress, it doesn't seem to matter much. You see, the metamessage of the R's is simple,"The D's are weak, and we'll take every opportunity we can to prove it."

And, as long as this message continues, the R's really are in the drivers seat.

They run on how ineffective and inefficient government is, and then, when they get in power, they prove it.

They talk about waste in government, even as they shove that "waste" into their own pockets.

They won't allow public stem cell research for moral reasons, thus allowing their private sector pals to do the research and make the money as they get the early patents.

They send our good jobs to other countries so their corporate pals can make more profit, and then they set their media attack dogs loose. Then, they blame the immigrants who do all of the rest of the work. To add insult to injury, their pals then make even more money building useless walls and security stations. (with illegal labor)

Most of todays Republican candidates for president don't believe in evolution or climate change. One believes in using public money to escort his girlfriends to the Hampton cabin. They all profess to be Christian, yet they don't follow Christ's primary commandments. They say they are conservative, yet they are oh so liberal when it comes to more money for war and the military industrial security complex.

If you are itching to have one of these guys have a chance at continuing this kind of madness, tell your friends in Iowa and NH to vote for Clinton, because she runs the worst of the top three Ds against all of them. Edwards runs the best by far. Edwards/Obama will totally rout them.

If she is nominated by the D's, we figured out last night that you could be 53 years old in four years, and never have seen a presidential ballot that didn't have a Bush or a Clinton on it.

I know that sounds unbelievable,

but It's the Season,

of madness.


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

When the Canary Died

Even as the United States delegation continues its assault on the world as it continues to stonewall a global agreement to actually deal with climate change, scientists continue to be amazed just how strong the signs are, while others are perplexed as to just how deaf and blind US leadership has become.

Of course, they are not really blind or deaf.

They are evil villains who should and will be excoriated for their corrupt policies favoring the oily pals that elected them. And I'm trying to be nice. They are actually worse than War Criminals, for they are enabling a human catastrophe of epic scale. History will revile them as butchers who would have led the world to slaughter, had they not been removed from power.

Here is another story about the Arctic melt down from AP that shows just how concerned climate scientists have become:

"Scientists fear global warming has passed an ominous tipping point after new Nasa satellite data showed the already relentless melting of the Arctic increased greatly during the Northern Hemisphere's hot summer months.

One expert even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to Nasa data.

"The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data centre in Colorado.

Just last year, two top scientists surprised colleagues by projecting the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly it could disappear by summer 2040.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, Nasa climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming," said Mr Zwally. "Now, as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines." (clip )

Nasa scientist James Hansen, the researcher called the godfather of global warming, will tell scientists at a meeting in California tomorrow that in some ways Earth has hit one of his so-called tipping points, based on Greenland melt data.

"We have passed that and some other tipping points in the way that I will define them," Hansen said. "We have not passed a point of no return. We can still roll things back in time - but it is going to require a quick turn in direction."

Earlier today, I was visiting with a government affairs guy who follows utility issues. We talked about how the Energy Bill didn't get the 60 votes it needed and how the Republicans managed to get the Ds to strip out the oil and gas language(the tax title) that they could not abide. (note: renewables were stripped out too)

Then we talked about solar policies and about how even the most advanced utilities still worry about the effects of net metering. "We are not getting paid for the transformers and the lines if they get full retail for the energy the send back to us", he argued. "Therefore, there must be some kind of charge to that customer."

Of course, this is all poopy-crock.

If a customer takes advantage of all the energy efficiency measures that the utility has to offer, and reduces his load, we don't punish him for doing it. When you turn off a light, you get paid retail prices to do it. But if a customer installs solar and reduces his load, these guys get all cranky about it.

If we put out an RFP for a central solar plant, we would be delighted to pay the rate that we are paying our customers when they run their meter backwards.

Of course, when a large percent of our customers have solar, our load will drop, and we will have to figure that out. But that's the kind of problem we should welcome. Running a solid state utility where power is coming and going from homes to cars, and home to utility, and utility to cars, is going to be a very different business model from the one that has developed over the last 100 years.

Trying to hold onto the old model will be like holding water in your hand.

You'll end up with just enough water to try to wake yourself up.

And if you do, you might wonder,

When Did the Canary Die?


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