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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. – Frederic Bastiat

tgLife happens, and mine has been busy. I could be blogging about all that’s going on, but frankly I’m not in the mood.

I did share a bit a couple of months back, but haven’t felt the need to blab much lately. Yes, on a personal level life is grand; it’s in general, which includes everyone else (those not within my sphere, or spinning away over on the periphery) that has me hunkering down here on PP and instead popping off regularly in 140 characters like  screaming goats at a curry protest.

It’s Trump. Of course it’s Trump! But, then again, it’s so much more than SoCalledPOTUS Tangerine Skidmark Shit-Gibbon. He is vile, and that’s for sure. He’s also insane, stupid, glaringly shallow, ugly, insipid, avaricious, acquisitive, covetous, grasping, materialistic, mercenary, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing, self- possessed, and … OH! … how I could go on, but a rather new, yet keen awareness of how quickly 140 characters flow by has tempered my use of descriptive adjectives. (You’re welcome.)

So actually it isn’t Trump that set me to raising my hand and my voice and my hackles in outrage at the world we live in now. Nope. It’s the people who allowed this blathering turd to take charge of the United States of America. Voted for him? You are complicit. Vote 3rd party? You are complicit. Didn’t bother to vote? You are complicit. Work in news or any sort of communication or information providing, yet did not bother to drag him down? You are complicit. GOP party faithful letting him slide? You are complicit. Politician of any stripe covering your own ass? You are complicit.

Yep. Anyone who is pulling a punch is helping the setup that has set us ALL up.

As a student of history, and now old enough to have a slice of it under my belt, perspective might have a chance of offering some comfort … if anything like this had ever happened in my lifetime.

But it hasn’t, so when my 30-something friend was disheartened and desperate and terrified of a future that no longer seemed assured to be at least reasonably reasonable asked, “Is this what it felt like back in the ’60s and ’70s?”, I was forced to pull that tiny shred of hopeful rug out from under his feet and admit that, no, putting an end to the Vietnam War and removing Richard Nixon from the Oval Office was NOTHING like what is going on today.

Robert Redford summed this reality up well when he said recently after being asked to equate the “All the President’s Men” days with what is happening today:

… while watching archival footage of the Senate grilling former White House Counsel John Dean in the Watergate Hearings, he had “a realization that made me sad, about something being lost having to do with our country.”

Continued Redford: “What I saw was the panel was made up precisely of both sides, both Democrats and Republicans, all acting as one, trying to get to the truth, and that hit me like a ton of bricks when I revisited. I said, ‘Oh, so there was a time.’

So … not in my time, and not in my place, which is NOT to say this hadn’t happened before.

Cue the DVD of the 1959 film “The Diary of Anne Frank“.

WWII ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945, so 14 years before the release of this film, and I was I was eight-years-old when the movie came out.

I’d read Anne’s book before seeing the film and been deeply touched and totally terrified by the knowledge that something as horrible as the holocaust not only could happen, but DID happen in a place not long ago and not all that far away, so the movie served to underline the fact that humanity was not to be trusted.

I watched the film again this afternoon. Everyone should watch it. Everyone’s kids children should watch it. Everyone should hear the sound of jackboots pounding the pavement just outside the hiding place of two families while the knowledge that the 13-year-old girl portrayed died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp along with her mother and sister and thousands of others because … well … Jewish.

It is fact that more than 6 million people were killed because other people lined up behind a lunatic and his insane hatred. They turned their backs to blatant bigotry, let stupidity run rampant, clucked sympathetically when losers laid blame by color or status or favored books, let their attention be diverted by cheap and trivial shiny things, and allowed themselves to be amused through various versions of perceived intellectual superiority to the idiot shouting catch phrases ad nauseam.

And here we are again.

Who made up the Gestapo? The SS? Commanded the death camps? Turned in their neighbors? Were those we now see as a hideously evil faction within the Third Reich somehow manufactured for the events?

Of course not. They were neighbors and school chums, buddies from church and the PTA, the harmless nutcase next door, the crazy uncle who creates trouble every holiday. And they didn’t do it just for the hats or the boots or the preferred parking, although all those things did convey a sense of being somehow special.

They gassed children, raped and killed, stole every bit of everything from anyone who fit the profile because it made them feel good about themselves. They suddenly belonged and life had meaning. Well, THEIR lives had meaning.

This massive festering blight on the history of our species did not begin with gas chambers, but with lies and diversions and divisions and insanity that it was not polite or profitable to address.

This is the world we live in now.

#Resist

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boschsevendeadlysins

The Seven Deadly Really Sucky Things

It just so happens that today, the 9th of November in the year 2016, I am rereading Richard Leakey’s  1994 take on how we became what we’ve become, “The Origin of Humankind” . The timing of the read was dictated by nothing more than it being the only hardback book on hand after relocating to Italy, but it all seems somehow prescient upon awakening this morning.

Why?

Donald Trump has been elected to be President of The United States. Wow. Aside from underlining just how good an idea it was to leave the US almost 25 years ago, there are no positive points to this now being the actual reality. (Had it been scripted and edited as ‘reality shows’ actually are, no one would ever have believed this situation even remotely possible … no matter how clever the contrived convolutions.)

The New York Times conveniently compiled a list of The Donald’s tacky snipes , so there’s no reason to dwell on the nasty divisiveness that spews forth from His Orangeness, but it does rub against the grain even more abrasively when juxtaposed aside the anthropological construct that says humanity itself … the very basics of what makes humans human and separates us from apes … began evolutionarily with sharing.

As Leakey states in his 1981 book, “The Making of Mankind”, sharing is THE factor that puts us where we are, “ … the food sharing hypothesis is a strong candidate for explaining what set early humans on the road to modern man.”

The Smithsonian’s Richard Potts notes in “Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai”:

The home-base, food-sharing hypothesis integrates so many aspects of human behavior and social life that are important to anthropologists — reciprocity systems, exchange, kinship, subsistence, division of labor and language.

Yet 1.5 million years later where are we?

We are in a world that just made a lying bigot with zero experience, no integrity, ethics or morals the most powerful man on the planet, not only suggesting democracy is a failed system, but also that evolution has come to naught. Sharing made us human, now not sharing will reduce us to whatever form of cockroach-like scramblers we are destined to become as Earth revolts against perpetual rape and some learn the hard way that avarice is actually one of the seven deadly sins.

And … just FYI …

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“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.” ~ Criss Jami, Killosophy

super_power_islandWatching the world from my veranda can provoke some convoluted contemplation; it’s big/small,  gorgeous/grotesque, unjust in the extreme, yet inherently fair in the grand scheme.

Birds fly, fish swim and the sea has rhythm, yet there is a Donald Trump and The Riders of the Purple Dildo (with 50 gallons of lube on hand … so to speak) in simultaneous existence and I find that mighty confusing some days.

Those are the days I have power: power to get myself out of bed, make coffee, sometimes even shower and dress as well as contemplate convolutedly. Oh … and juice. Those days I have juice.

Juice is vital. It connects me in ways nothing else can. Passion fruit juice connects me to my garden. Grape juice — that’s been sitting around for a while — tethers day to night almost flawlessly. And when current is current, electric juice connects me to the Internet … which connects me to balloon juice, which gives a handle to lunatics … which is funny. (I’m a fan of funny.)

I know some wonder what possible charm a computer screen could have when the view, the peace, the chirping birds as the only sound, are on offer. They ask how I can pull myself away from puffy, white clouds reflected from the surface of the perfect shade of blue that is the Indian Ocean and why I’m not sitting on the shore of said ocean all day, every day. Why would I even think of opening my laptop in such a paradise?

To these people I say two things:

1) Obviously you’ve never lived decades on a rock in the middle of nowhere thousands of miles from anything even close to the real world, and 2) A girl’s got to make a living.

I sit on Facebook for hours every day (Go ahead. Let the thought cross your mind with the sit/face thing if you must.), not because I find it stimulating (Yeah …  okay …go on.), although it often is, but because it’s my job.

Keeping up with friends, family and global events is surely a benefit, and hopping in and out of conversations, arguments, bombastic bullshit, freaky hallucinations, unsubstantiated claims and such keeps me sharp.

Access to information is vital, and thanks to today’s technology I can educate myself on things other than the tide table, the rapid growth of unwanted greenery and the painfully slow decomposition of granite.

My clients expect nothing less than total up-to-date-ness on travel trends, global economic fluctuations, flight interruptions, international conflicts, and sometimes something as obscure as the price of a cup of coffee in Sofia, Bulgaria.

To say I rely on electric juice is an understatement of understated, yet understandable, proportions, given that my livelihood, and no small part of my social life, can only happen when everything can be turned on, because when the power’s out, I can’t do shit.

I can and do write when my wifi squirrel dies, but having no idea when someone might get around to reviving the rodent has me checking battery levels as often as I insert a semi-colon. Outages going on for full days present a stack of work piled up to the virtual rafters, all needing immediate attention 5 hours ago. (That, btw, tends to delay me connecting with my grape juice, thereby sloshing day into night and pissing me off.)

The power was off all day yesterday … again … for something always referred to by the utility company as: Urgent maintenance on the overhead lines. (We apologize for the inconvenience … again … and appreciate your patience. Yeah … right.)

Ah … island life … in Africa; all juicy tales and the undiluted nectar of nature. Or is it sap?

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” ~ Emily Dickinson

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Man is a blind, witless, low brow, anthropocentric clod who inflicts lesions upon the earth. ~ Ian McHarg ~

That's the church ... just there behind all the garbage.

That’s the church … just there behind all the garbage.

It’s a Sunday, which in Seychelles means a large number of people have dressed in their best and wandered off to church. Everyone attending will be spick-and-span in well-laundered and neatly pressed garments, no few carrying a sifon soaked in cologne to fragrantly wipe away any dampness that may arise from the heat. Children will be fresh and tidy, scrubbed and anointed with smell-good powder and hair wrangled into neat dos.

If personal cleanliness is next to godliness, the Seychellois are close neighbors. Most shower at least twice a day and even work clothes are washed and dried and ironed. School children turn up every morning in crisp, clean uniforms toting rucksacks that have been scrubbed clear of dust, dirt and detritus. (Even before electricity was widely in place and washing machines became common household items, Seychellois women were assiduous in their scrubbing, either in streams or at concrete tables on which dirt was lathered, pounded and scraped away.) Gardens are swept. Houses are dusted and mopped and scoured.

It’s a common after-church activity to meet with friends and family for a picnic on a nearby beach. These are no small affairs. We’re not talking a basket with a few sandwiches and some munchables. No. A Seychelles Sunday picnic comes complete with a half-barrel barbecue and grill, tons of food — including at least one ginormous fish — loads of drink and a generator attached to fridge-sized speakers to make sure everyone within a mile gets to ‘enjoy’ the far-too-loud-and-distorted ‘music’ of choice for the day to truly be worthy the title ‘Sunday’.

contrariety that can’t be ignored rises when the Monday morning sun illuminates the beaches and reveals the undeniable fact that the scrubbed, cleaned, spotless, unsoiled, pristine, laundered, squeaky clean, as-clean-as-a-whistle Sunday morning folks’ idea of being in proximity to godliness doesn’t travel and personal responsibility for cleanliness doesn’t stretch beyond the clothes on their backs and the garden gate. When the party is over, the garbage is left where it lies.

Anse Royale

Beside the church at Anse Royale

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use.  And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:  “Look at this Godawful mess.”  ~Art Buchwald

AR2

Where the river meets the sea at Anse Royale ..

Takeaway boxes, bottles, plastic everything, used condoms and syringes … nasty shit of all sorts … litter this beautiful island like oozing carbuncles on a syphilitic. “Embellishment Teams” may sweep the roadsides and blow leaves around, but cleanups of rivers and beaches are left to the one “Clean up the World Day” per year. 

Responsibility: A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

At Anse Royale School. Some lessons are not being learned.

At Anse Royale School. Some lessons are not being learned.

It’s not at all uncommon to see tidily-dressed kids jettison crisp wrappers, plastic bottles and empty tins along the road or chuck them into the bush. It is also common to watch their school teachers do the same as they make their way home.

Rural families often have a special place in the forest to toss their garbage which, of course, mounts up over years of being a depository for everything from dirty nappies to rusted refrigerators, from dead animals to dead batteries.

The contrast between neat and tidy homes occupied by neat and tidy people and the amount of refuse that gathers is as frightening as it is confusing. Did no one read “The Little Prince”?

“It’s a question of discipline,” the little prince told me later on. “When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

After heavy rains, the trash that has collected in rivers, streams, gutters and bush makes its way … where? … to the beach, of course, then into the sea.

We’re treating the oceans like a trash bin: around 80 percent of marine litter originates on land, and most of that is plastic. Plastic that pollutes our oceans and waterways has severe impacts on our environment and our economy. Seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life are eating marine plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal blockage and starvation. Scientists are investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants absorbed, transported, and consumed by fish and other marine life, including the potential effects on human health. ~ National Resources Defense Council ~

Sweet Escott, very near the EU 'project' ...

Sweet Escott, very near the EU ‘project’ …

An EU-funded project completed years ago to provide safe disposal of toxic materials and heavy metals sits behind a well-tended chainlink fence, and although the grass is cut regularly and air conditioning units grace a building on the site not one bit of sea-killing material has ever been deposited there, so all trash that is actually collected … and, yes, we do have a trash collection service that empties the roadside bins regularly … goes to the landfill, a purpose-built porous island on the seafront.

The Native American idea that ‘we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’ seems to be interpreted to mean ‘those leaking batteries our grandfather threw in the bush will do just fine beside the baby’s poopy diapers’.

The magnificence of mountains, the serenity of nature – nothing is safe from the idiot marks of man’s passing.  ~Loudon Wainwright

Photo credits: Karine le Brun

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Source: Dead Refugees: The New Normal

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Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.~ UNHCR ~

Nakba-Palestinian_refugees-nakba-VTYou know those photos appearing everywhere … the ones of dead kids washing up on shores after desperate attempts get a new life? Sorry to break it to you, but you better get used to it. We are fast on our way to this becoming the new normal.

An article on NPR’s website today informs us that more than 300,000 people have headed for Europe so far this year from North Africa and the Middle East. As we learn every day, many don’t make it, dying in droves on the way. (The U.N. puts that number at 2,500 deaths at sea … so far.)

If you want one number to explain the mass movement today, start with 60 million. The U.N. says there are 60 million people displaced worldwide — the most since the U.N. started keeping records and the most since World War II.

The U.N. counts 15 new conflicts in the past five years, and the big one is Syria. More than 11 million Syrians have fled or been driven from their homes in that country’s civil war since it started in 2011.

The U.N., being rather good at counting, compiles numbers for us. Unfortunately, aside from its own PR there isn’t much else the organization does well … or at all. Those 15 new conflicts, for example, didn’t simply materialize instantly to take everyone by surprise. Anyone with an Internet connection saw them coming ages ago, building in bad attitude and weaponry, creepy coalitions and secretive dealings.

As if anything is secret these days! The country members of the United Nations have known exactly what was ahead, but did little to nothing to avoid the crisis that is now making headlines. Of course there are many reasons for the lack of action other than the usual ‘discussion’ mixed in with a bit of halfhearted ‘condemnation’ from time to time: disagreement over tactics; an inability to tell white hats from black hats, usually for self-serving nefarious reasons; lack of motivation mixed with a fear of discovery of their own agenda and so on.

But it’s not only institutions and governments that have neglected the signs of impending doom. More than 11 million Syrians saw it coming, too, and it didn’t pop out a box for them either.1408

The number is much higher than that 11 million, as there are more on their way every day, and aside from children included in the numbers all of them were there for the buildup to their horror getting on with life as they knew it … until they couldn’t.

That’s the way humans do it, isn’t it? Cruise along in their day-to-day right up to the moment they are personally presented with situations that have become unlivable?

Can we take a moment to imagine the impact more than 11 million Syrians might have made on their country and their future had they assumed some responsibility for the mess that was being created before them? Had more than 11 million Syrians dared to stand up, to speak their minds, to demand reason and humanity, to put time and energy into finding ways to make their world better for everyone how much of what is happening wouldn’t have.

Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.  ~Samuel Johnson

It’s a shame our species often sees more courage in pulling up stakes than in preserving and protecting was is dear. We have long made a hobby of fouling our own dens, then seeking greener pastures when the shit hits. That worked well for us when the world was bigger and wide-open spaces were available and accommodating, but those days are over. With the human population at this moment at 7,364,456, 853 and growing by around 166,243 people every single day our planet is congested and infested, a circumstance that creates conflict in and of itself.

But back to the ‘new normal’ idea …

Worldwide Displacement Hits All-time High As War And Persecution Increase

The headline on the U.N’s refugee agency, UNHCR, webpage brings up a worrying and interesting point, and the article underlines it:

Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, according to a new report from the UN refugee agency. UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War said that worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded. It said the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.

You may note that, yes, the number of refugees has increased by more than 8 million people in one year and find that disturbing. What you may have missed, however, is that these almost 60 million are running away from the death and destruction of armed conflict … man-made political and religious fallout resulting in catastrophes that shift borders and pit one side or another against each other.

Imagine not too long into the future when it is a cataclysm of Earth itself.

In the five years between 2008 and 2013 more than 140 million people were displaced by severe weather. Disasters triggered by storms in just 2013 forced 14.2 million people to flee their homes.

And it’s only going to get worse. At this very moment THREE, count ‘em THREE category 4 hurricanes are swirling in the Pacific for the first time in recorded history. Storms are getting bigger, more dangerous, with every increase in global temperature, and those are climbing faster every year. Drought has the western U.S. burning and Papua New Guinea starving. Northern Hemisphere winters get colder and more deadly. Crops are failing or getting blown away all over the planet and coastlines are making beachfront out of what wasn’t.

And what are we humans doing? Cruising along in our day-to-day assuming that when the shit hits we can pick up sticks and move along when the time comes we’re personally presented with a situation that becomes unlivable.

So … about those photos of dead kids: get used to it.

Coward:  One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.  ~Ambrose Bierce “The Devil’s Dictionary”

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