Saturday, June 30, 2012

DENIERS conquer Brazil - and it is only going to get worse - much worse

So - in just one year - and after just one half hour airing on a popular comedy show - Brazil has gone from being the nation least likely to have its mainstream media deny climate change to one of the bad guys.

Perhaps the best known denier-tracking journalist , Chris Mooney, credits - or blames - popular TV comic Jo Soares and his invitation to denier & geography prof RA Felicio to babble on for half an hour, for turning Brazil into a place hospitable to the denier classes.

I am not surprised - I have said all along the deniers are not a mere fringe of nutters but about 60% of us - the majority of us.

Oh sure most of us don't deny human-caused climate change ---- we simply deny its a problem.

"Surely people of good will and top engineering skills can come together and terraform the problem away - under some tropical carpet perhaps ?"

Its the gospel according to REX (Rex Tillerson, new CEO of Exxon-Mobil) : don't worry, be happy and we'll soon have this ship off the iceberg : engineers-are-on-their-way.

(But if you are a Canadian of a certain age you might recognize this as the so called "NFB gambit", "we have problems, yes, but we acknowledge them and are currently working on solving them.")

We live in post-hegemonic times : no one worldview rules the world .

Both green visions and good old fashioned concrete and steel visions will have to duke it out.

Skygods vs Earthlings : not yet with guns, just words so far.

But a civil war within an entire global species makes it a world war ,as well as a civil war, doesn't it ......

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mike of WATCHING THE DENIERS writes in the spirit of Cobbett and Twain

If you don't read the Ozzie blog WATCHING THE DENIERS you really must.

Mike writes in the style of the William Cobbett taking on the British government over its ill-treatment of troops at Ely (an article that got him two years at Newgate for sedition .... and made him forever famous as a defender of the ordinary people).

He writes in the style of the Mark Twain who took on the American government for the genocide at the Moro Crater.

Both of these articles crackle with wit, energy, bile, sarcasm and will still delight and outrage you despite the fact that the government claims demolished in both have long ago been forgotten.

I use both, daily, as a model for my writing.

Mike probably doesn't - but he has channelled their spirit none the less -- just read him ripping into his favourite bete noire among the many Ozzie denier organs - enjoy !

why me and not some academic writing up Henry Dawson's discoveries ?

Good question : one I get asked many times.

One answer is that if an academic is ever going to do a thesis on Henry Dawson, I want it done before I am dead,  so I can read it too.

I mean the man made the significant breakthrough in DNA almost 85 years ago, the significant breakthrough in penicillin almost 75 years ago - so why aren't thesis supervisors beating at his family's door, looking for personal and professional papers ?

I think I know why.

I am a longtime DIYer and I instantly recognized a kindred "go it alone" spirit in Dawson's tiny little makeshift penicillin project, something I was sure that "Big Academia's collegiality won't be able to fathom.

Modern day academics seem uncomfortable proceeding on a offbeat project without some sort of successful grant-offering process to support it and to validate it in their colleagues' eyes.

Dawson had the spirit of Punk and DIY and low postmodernity burned into his DNA and they, largely, do not.

They believe that the God of Academia is on the side of the big battalions like Florey and the OSRD , not hole-in-the-wall science efforts that never sought a grant - "not seeking a grant - why that is practically treason - does that man Dawson actually want us to go back to the bad old days ?"

Actually there has been one thesis cum book * on Dawson's "go it alone" effort - it is by an academic (David Parrish Adams) and in it,  Adams predictably pans Dawson mercilessly and sticks up for Vannevar Bush's OSRD .

I suspect his thesis supervisor said something like "there is at least 50 linear feet on the penicillin efforts of the NAS and OSRD in the National Archives - easily enough for an in-and-out thesis" and as usual, the PhD history candidate quickly got 'captured' by his sources.

When only the rich and powerful can afford fulsome archives, a study based only on archival sources only tells the story from the viewpoint of the rich and powerful.....

* Truth be told, I am largely writing up Dawson's life as a long , spirited, rebuttal to Adams' book "The Greatest Good to the Greatest Number" --- which I nevertheless fully enjoyed, because it gave me some insights into what Dawson's opponents - then and now - were saying about him.

Rex Tillerson Poster Boy for the Church of Latter Day Modernity

"One step forward, a zillion steps back, smile at the camera and you're doin' The Exxon-Mobil  Jack".

Yessiree Bob, as I could have predicted*, the new boss of Exxon-Mobil has accepted that climate change is happening .

But (a) he says that worries about it are well and truly overblown and (b) he also says it will all be quickly,quietly, cheaply, efficiently engineered right back out of existence.

Rex Tillerson was expected to be a decisive change from the last CEO of Exxon-Mobil, the lanterned-jawed Lee Raymond.

But after he beat back a pitch from the Rockefeller family to have the Exxon gang spend a little more on alternative fuels, he confirmed he was at least the mettle of his former, ultra-combative, boss.

Tillerson is born in Wichita Falls Texas (not to be confused with Wichita Kansas, birther spawning grounds of the Denier Movement but close enough for most green people.)

 He is an engineer, a Presbyterian and a Eagle Scout's sort of Eagle Scout.

He is a baby boomer, just a spot over 60 in age.

Postmodern in age, modernist in mindset.

On Wednesday ( June 27th 2012) he told the Council on Foreign Relations that climate change was an engineering problem with an engineering solution.

Keep on burning fossil fuel to help the poor move out of poverty, he pleads before the council in his best Al Jolson stance.

And when farms get dry and coasts get flooded as a result?

Move the poor out of those areas too.

Its all a matter of social engineering.

Great Howard Scott , Bat Boy :  1930s era "Technocracy Incorporated" lives !

To a hammer everything is a nail - to an engineer, there are no rights or wrongs - its all just engineering "problems" demanding engineering "solutions".

Final  solutions .......

*  er, as I  did  predict, just a few hours ago

the fragments of a dialectic enlightenment :Adorno & Horkheimer as PUNK DIYers ...

If one of your dear, dear friends gave you as a christmas present, late in December, over 300 pages of turgid prose, written in fragmentary style, and mimeographed to ensure ultra low quality readability and then stuck it all between two dull brown covers, you might be forgiven if you waited until January before you began a token,polite, skim through it.

That would be January....... 1945.

1945 ! : post-hegemony's annus mirabilis.

And what a way to usher in the postmodern era but with a punk-DIY un-book, as principle author Adorno reminded his co-conspiractor, Horkheimer on the latter's 50th birthday.

Adorno felt that hardcover,professionally printed books brought in the Modernist era - so why not a humble mimeograph to do the honors for the new age ?

So 500 years of Modernity laid low in an instance by a ZINE, for crikes sake !

Well, that and a little help from Modernity itself, during that most modernist of wars : WWII ....

I know nothing - I hope - about academic post-hegemony

I find reading academic works on post-hegemony feels like being fracked in the butt by a sociology thesis - the jargon will tear your insides out like nothing else can.

All I believe is that something very important happened in 1945, after 500 years of stability.

Modernity didn't die but it was wounded, its hegemony assailed - one could fancy you could even heard its last breaths.

Post-modernity didn't replace modernity, but it was birthed that year and one could almost hear its faint first yelps.

So, nope, no shiny brand new hegemony dominating the high ground, replacing the earlier hegemony.

That is a very modernist notion and feels almost quaint to say in 2012.

Instead we see competing hegemonies occupying different parts of that high ground - an concept that itself is typically post-modernist and 2012-up-to-dated.

So I am saying that pre-1945 Modernity survived almost unchanged,  but limited to areas such as politics, business, some applied sciences, among wealthy retirees - call them all 'the denier classes', from their position on climate change.

But they really deny any and all thought that there can ever be biological or material limits on man's will to do whatever he wants ---- and to correct quickly any mistakes he might very occasionally make.

They see themselves as Pierre-Simon LaPlace would - as skygods - high above Nature.

Post-1945 thinkers are usually but not always younger - they accept that there are limits to what Humanity can hope to do.

They accept we humans are deeply embedded in the web of life and that we must be global commensalists and share the Earth, because it is the only lifeboat in the Universe that Life has got.

Think of them as earthlings - particularly in relationship to their polar opposites - the skygods.

The earthlings dominate in areas like the life sciences, among greens and environmentalists - and among some of the young.

That is enough for you to know about post-hegemony as I see it.

I might attempt to describe hegemony of course - good luck !

It can be thought of  as when sincere opponents to a system of government or society nevertheless coach their opposition in terms that the government or society's elite have provided - the day in day out total emersion bath of schooling, media, political talk etc.

Successful hegemony isn't seen as an ideology - but as pure common sense and even as 'the way of nature' - unchangeable even if we wanted to change it.

DEXTER best Modernist govt NS ever had --- just too bad we live in postmodernist times...

If postmodernist times believe in de-centralization, the local, small is beautiful, DIY/PUNK and Off-the-Grid , modernity * just as surely worships megaprojects and the idea that ever bigger is ever better.

Darrell Dexter's NDP government here in Nova Scotia isn't bad  (ie isn't corrupt) and is giving us the kind of competent "modern" government we can only wish we had had in the 1970s and 1980s.

The problem is that we are living in the 21st century and in postmodernist times.

Mr Dexter's worship of the sort of large scale industrial projects his father worked at when Darrell was a child is almost admirable, in  an act-of-filial-piety-sort-of-way , but it is not good for the long term overall economy of Nova Scotia - an economy that includes our friends the birds, bugs and bees as well as us.

Old fashioned open cage fish farms are a disaster - he knows that - but their proponent is promising a big factory building with 400 unionized jobs of the sort we haven't seen since Dexter's childhood in the Fifties and Sixties.

So he takes the bait ----- and the hook.

An older hook was cast by our PM, Stephen Harper : billions to build ships in Halifax.

Dexter staked his party's fate on getting that contract. Now it is being held up and any pip from Dexter on anything that might point fingers at Harper could delay and delay those shipbuilding megaproject jobs.

So when Harper cut the Confederation-promised rail link between Nova Scotia and "Canada" , don't expect Dexter to lead the charge to the Supreme Court to restore the rail link.

I call this a postmodernist era, because that is the academic consensus : but I personally see it more as a transitional period, post-hegemonic, where moderns (skygods) war it out with postmodernist commensalists ( earthlings).

Darrell Dexter's fiercest critics are within his own party, within the postmodernist section of it.

The battle between skygods vs earthlings could ultimately tear the NS NDP apart into two separate parties.

I doubt whether Dexter will be NS's last NDP premier but my bet is he could be the last Modernist NDP premier of this "small is beautiful" oriented province.

Remember Elizabeth May birthed the SMALL PARTY here 30 years ago ....

* modernity is pre-1945 style thinking ; postmodernity is post-1945 type thinking .....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

97% consensus of climate scientists OPPOSED good evidence of climate change in 1892,1902,1922,1942 etc

If today's climate scientists are united in accepting evidence of climate change it is NOT because the evidence has changed that way.

It is because the scientists themselves have changed - no longer living in (and promoting) High Modernity with its rarified/reified views of the unlimited potential of Man to quickly solve any little problem He himself might create.

Now they live in post-hegemonic times and while most of the population still lives off the values of High Modernity, most scientists in the non-applied physical sciences now reflect the values of low postmodernity and global commensality, with their much more cautious assessment of what Humanity can do to reverse the problems it itself creates.

One can confidently claim that if the case for human climate change via excess carbon pollution of the atmosphere had been put forth forcefully,repeatedly and publicly by a determined but small body of climate scientists during the heyday of High Modernity, it would have been shot down with the same sort of mechanisms that today's modernist , denier, scientists are still using.

Inadequate sets of data, uncertainty of cause versus effect, contaminated data sets - on and on.

If worrying about being able to reverse carbon pollution in time is a pecularily postmodernist concern - and I hold that it is - then we can see how other postmodernist style concerns and beliefs were in fact harshly dealt with, back  in the salad days of High Modernity.

The Missoula Floods, Tectonic Plates, bacteria in extreme environments like deep down oil wells, bacterial horizontal gene transfer /  biofilms /  molecular mimicry / quorum sensing. Bacterial Endosymbiosis leading to the development of all multi-celled life including humans.

All these were introduced by good scientists, using good evidence, to the general scientific world in the 1920s and shot down and often the scientist involved were hounded out of any chance of future advancement.

Later on, in the post-modern era and using the same evidence as was available in the 1920s, their theories were accepted into the general consensus ---- in fact forming the very foundation of it !

All had suffered scientific death earlier, because they crossed a forbidden line in the modernist sand : Modernity's core axiom : that the small building blocks of Reality were simple and stable at the bottom and got ever more complex and ever more unstable at they got bigger.

If I can switch from biology to physics, I need only add that holding that view today would get you thrown out of all grad seminars in any physics department world wide, thanks to the overwhelming experimental support for all the various quantum theories.

And need I add that the quantum theories were at best half-accepted in the 1920s on onward (half accepted until that white knight, Einstein, would return surely proving them wrong).

In any case, they were silently ignored in daily physics work, all through the apogee of High Modernity Science.

Today the modernists are no longer hegemonic dictators but mere 'deniers' and have been pushed into the vast, but academically less powerful worlds of applied and popular science.....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dr Dawson a FIFTH COLUMN of low postmodernity , inside the Citadel of High Modernity?

The term "FIFTH COLUMN" is now more than 75 years old.

 It was first used in a radio address in 1936, by a right wing (Nationalist) general named Emilio Mola , during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, to describe his efforts to take left wing (Republican) Madrid .

 He unwisely claimed he had four visible columns of troops and tanks and planes advancing upon the capital but a secret hidden fifth column of sympathizers inside the city, awaiting to sow mayhem.

 Thousands of the semi-innocent were quickly murdered in Madrid, out of fear that Mola had been telling the truth (and not merely trying to evoke panic).

But already by the mid 1940s, 70 years ago, the phrase had lost it literal, real world, meaning because the people claiming to see fifth columnists had "cried wolf" once too often.

 It had been reduced to a metaphor, in fact a pejorative word, in the Cold War to semi-seriously describe others as hidden, secret communists or fascists.

Today, few are alive and active that can recall it's use as a word conveying real terror.

Maybe, then I can use it to describe the activities of Martin Henry Dawson's tiny team of DIY cum PUNK scientists inventing "GP" penicillin in that Citadel of High Modernity and Big Science, the Columbia University of the Manhattan Project.

He didn't see himself as a postmodernist because the term hadn't yet been invented : that was happening , about the same time as GP penicillin and the A-Bomb, in yet another part of Columbia University housing the social scientists Adorno and Horkheimer !

Dawson was a modest man (with much to be modest about) but he was also in his quietly defiant way, a true "Inside Agitator" (to mis-adapt that phrase much used by the Jesse Helms & Strom Thurmond generation of southern racists.

His small science , DIY Punk approach to inventing GP penicillin was in its way, as typical of what we today call low postmodernity as the Manhattan Project's bigness in creating the A-bomb was of High Modernity......

Monday, June 25, 2012

Doubting Reality : (Koch's red slippers) birthing DENIAL in a Mayberry sort of town

"Denying Life after the 1950s"  (birthing DENIAL in a Mayberry sort of time & town)
Growing up in a Mayberry sort of town, a little place on the prairie , is just the sort of thing that might make a feller want to doubt reality: current reality anyway.

So it can hardly be unexpected that Charlie-Koch-from-Wichita turned out the way he has : spending his vast fortune in trying to turn the whole world back to a time and place long gone ---- the heyday of high Modernity and Scientism in the early 1950s ----- in a small city in rural Middle America.

So it is not surprising to discover that Mr Koch and all the front organizations he funds are not really into denying climate change and science as such.

They are more into denying the changes in the physical world, in society - and yes in science - that allowed us to even notice that the climate was changing and in fact had been changing, ever since the birth of Scientism in the 1870s.

A collective set of changes that we call the Post-Modern World and even "the Age of Global Commensality" .

The process of man-made climate change is so tied to the period of High Modernity & Scientism (1875-1965) the period that Koch and hundreds of millions of others regard as the high point of humanity, that to accept the first is to deny the worth of the second.

This they can not and will not do.....

To misquote the late Ian MacDonald : "revolution OUTSIDE the head"

Forget denying climate change - it is the mere tiniest iceberg tip of the denying classes' overall brief against the world.

What they are really denying is the existence of the real revolution that has happened, in the physical world, outside their heads.

To the extent that AWGs can be thought of as aging hippies (acid-droppers and pot-smokers from way back 40 years ago) then the real surprise is that Beatles-lover, Ian MacDonald, was so badly wrong: the real revolution did not, in fact, occur 'in our heads', but rather outside our heads.

Virtual worlds conjured up by dropping tabs just weigh virtually nothing set against the weight of real atmospheric warming and real rising sea levels.

Call it the actual, post-modern, world while we  - at least inside our addled heads - think it is still a modern world.

So we need ask ourselves : are the Deniers' claims against human-induced carbon pollution of the atmosphere really bad 'science' --- or merely 'bad acid' ............

SVE's "awkward" sub-title is no accident

Why does  SVE 's sub-title run so 'trippingly-not'  off the tongue?

Moderns versus Post-Modernity indeed - why not moderns versus post-moderns or Modernity versus Post-Modernity ?

I constructed it that way because I have come to believe that while our world has decisively and permanently changed (ie is clearly post-modern in its structure) --- we haven't.

Or at least 80% of us haven't - a clear majority in anybody's books.

Our world has changed - bringing forth real biological and material restraints for us to butt our heads against.

However, inside those heads, inside our still-Modern heads,  our wills have not changed or accepted those restraints as real.

We still expect "The Spirit of Scientism" to pull yet another rabbit out of the hat at the last minute to save our bacon.

(Quite a post-hegemonic mixing of metaphors there - no ?)

So what do we  - the 20% - do about this crisis ?

We must strive to reconcile humanity to the fact that the physical world, outside their minds, has changed for good and that they must re-calibrate their dreams, hopes, illusions, delusions, to match......

Sun-hegemony in a post-hegemonic world

It is a very very brave - and rare - reader of the TORONTO SUN who publicly dares to define the group hegemony among its readers.

But recently, 6% of those readers defied the SUN Hegemony that there is no change in the Climate.

 No word as yet if other modern readers of this most modernist of Canadian newspapers headed out, cane & walker at hand, to torch the offending six percent's retirement homes and extended care villas.

The Toronto Sun planted a news story entitled "Green Drivel Exposed" ---- exposed by journalist Lorrie Goldstein as a suitable cue, in case readers were still unsure how to vote in the poll below the story that asked  " Do you think global warming is a real threat ?"

Now in the good old days, back in Albania or Alberta, you could be sure that 99.87% would answer correctly , with the other .13% presently 'recovering from their injuries' in police custody.

But in this post-wildrose-spring, things are much freer now and while 6 % said "yes" ---  mysteriously 91% answered "no" and only 3% gave the correct answer  which was "it won't be my problem" .

I don't know if you have seen a recent photo of the moderns en masse --- the white hair , the knobby knees, the walkers , the canes, the oxygen assists - it is a sight to behold.

Most have lost a lot of weight from their heyday back in the 1950s, and are down to about ninety pounds of skin, bones and bile.

I really think bile must be the only biological substance that goes up in production as we age.

Now if the same question was asked at ,ehem, the greenbloggers website, I have a feel that 91% would have given the correct answer for its editors : "yes we believe in global warming" .

We're in a post-hegemonic world and the varying hegemonies will have to war it out for control of the collective political consensus, if it still can be re-consituted , while the skies above get ever hotter and the planet below watches its biodiversity flatline.

The effort to save the earth should be a race against aging as much as it is against Time.

However, with the aging moderns getting fresh new supporters among the millions of young "Spacers", as starry-eyed about Mars Colonies as they are about saving the rainbow-blowing LGBT-friendly whales, this battle will go on for a very long,long time - a longer time than the planet has to right itself......

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Climate Debate's "Included Middle" and excluded edges

When I claim you can't simultaneously be an environmentalist and a supporter of Mars colonies, I really mean you shouldn't be both.

Because obviously many of us - perhaps most of us - feel we can have our environmental cake and eat a little Mars bar as well.

We like to be both Modern and Post-Modern : we just feel richer by settling for both, without letting our sense of consistency keep us up nights.

In that sense, what is excluded from the Climate Change debate is the 'excluded ends' - those hard core earthlings-only and  the hardcore skygods-only   - because right now the included middle holds the wishy-washy, foot in both camps, majority.

Its not a situation that Aristotle would have predicted when he developed his system of Logic , but hey - it happens.

My job is to 'lift and separate' that included middle until it splits and divides into its two polar opposite positions.

Then both sides conduct their appeal to reason and their appeal to emotion and then they collectively do a headcount.

Heads the Earth lives ! We work together to save it. Tails the Earth dies ! Then a few of us (a few rich "us") move on to Mars, the new Earth 2.0, while the rest boils up, like the rest of the planet  .....

Are we living in a Post-Modern Age or have we got it all badly wrong?

    Until recently I accepted the general consensus unquestioningly that 1945 marked the shift from the Age of Modernity to the Age of Post-Modernity.
   But what, oh what, what if we all got it very badly wrong?

   After all, the very notion of a shift from one age to another, from Classicalism to Romanticism to Modernity in a smooth linear fashion is itself the very embodiment of Modernist thinking.
   Surely in a true Post-Modern Age ,won't we see Modernity and its hegemony simply shattering into slivers of many many little "local" hegemonies (if one can imagine the concept of hegemony itself surviving its public questioning, implicit in a "many-worlds" of  hegemony).
   Perhaps then we do not live in a Post-Modern World as much as we live in a Post-Hegemony World ?
   I won't have thought so, as I say, if I hadn't recently divided deep into the cancer-inducing Tar Ponds of online comments from those who call themselves "skeptics" but who are generally better - and more accurately - known as "deniers" .
   First one notes the sheer strength of their bile - hardly coming from the depressed remnant of an aged & dying life form. Then you note their numbers - usually well hidden, as most deniers only unburden their true feelings in safe company.
    Then if one moves on to examine the actual content of  all those comments and blogs and mainstream media headlines and one sees - can it really be ? - yes it can ! - the sturdy roots and stems of 1875-1965 Scientism & High Modernity, albeit clothed in modern up-to-date Libertarianism.
   Libertarianism, you may or may not choose to recall , first slouched into rough being around 1945 and so itself might be best seen as a Counter-Post-Modernist reaction rather than from the Age of Scientism itself.
   Seen through this prism, we might better understand our current Climate Wars in a new light and will be better placed to accept that it will display an extraordinary ferocity before it all ends (or the World itself all ends,  in the awesome hellfires of Global Warming) ....

Paul Shreenan: trying to be GREEN in big metro

    Paul Shreenan is a true renaissance man.
    He has been a geography and urban planning prof , a two time GPC candidate, a very successful urban food gardener,a father, an avid cyclist and lately a bus driver.
   He tries very hard to live green and use as few resources as possible.
   So he doesn't own a car ,for example.
   But Paul can't take a bus to get to his work, because he is one of the bus drivers arriving at the bus garage while it is still dark to drive the early morning buses we use to get to work.
  A bit catch-22.

  So most bus drivers drive back and forth to their early morning shifts - often over great gas-consuming distances.
   A mantra of centralization means all buses for a city 400 kn across sit in one big garage.
   Paul's solution, as he told me last night at his house-warming party (shout out to all the other attendees for helping make it a great do !) is to buy a heavy ,sturdy, cheap ,one-speeder bike (aka a beater to biking fans) and cycle for 30 minutes up and down Dartmouth's notorious hills to reach the bus barn.
   Luckily it has showers, because it is heavy sledding er biking.
   Sure it helps kees Paul slim and fit but most of us aren't that fit or committed ----- simply can't walk or bike to work.
   Work is here , in this corner of metro Halifax-Dartmouth, and homes are there - many miles away.
   By way of contrast, both my granddads walked to their jobs at car plants in Windsor Ontario - because factories were built next to people in the GOOD old days.....

The only true ALIEN in the world of SF writers is ROI and it scares the bejesus outa them

    The only obscene vulgarity a writer can perpetrate in the world of SF is talk about money, the money trail , the ROI : 'oh the horror ! the horror !

   A public invention is not just something that is technically do-able, that forte of the non-fisically oriented SF writer.
   No, to become truly public it must also be affordable and in some sense, profitable for the society that creates it.
   All great SF 'inventions' (as fruitful the SF writers have all been) remain forever private inventions - great in theory but costing so much money that they are impossible to develop in practise.
   Not "so much money" as meaning 'greater than the combined GDP of the world circa 2012'.
     Rather, instead,  as in 'costing so much money that there is too  little left to feed and shelter us earthlings and so no government (elected or otherwise) can survive in power' type of money amounts.
   This is SF viewed through the doubting eyes of a political scientists, my eyes.
    That cold ,hard eyes of "the authoritative allocation of scarce resources" type of thinker : whose first thought, every time, is
"how are we going to find the tax dollars to pay for this - and who will then oppose us enough to surely defeat us at the polls ?"
   Substitute shareholders and 'the stock market' for  voters and election ballot boxes and the result comes out the same.
   But for a right wing CEO hoping to make money on a hair-brained scheme by feeding off taxpayers money, the key to getting at that tax cash cow is (surprise !)  our friendly left wing SF writer or equally naff science journalist-cum-cheerleader, both who will open the wallets of the public by performing the necessary charm invasions first.
   Films, plays, books, albums all have their critics.
   So why don't proposed technological inventions also have their critics?
    Yes,  gentle critics with forensic audit like claws and the kindly eyes of actuaries in hot pursuit of a flaw ......

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Water will follow the Probe" : criminally stupid in 19th, globecidally stupid in 21st century

   You'd think the denier classes would learn something from the mess they made of the 19th century.
   Remember all their boosterish talk about "the rainfall following the plow" ?
   In fact, what little moisture that was held by the Great Plains & Prairies'  original grass and bush cover was released and lost into the atmosphere once industrial scale deep plowing was undertaken : cue the shots of the resulting Dust Bowl.

  But no, the spacer division of the denier classes are busy touting that there is water - lots of water - everywhere on our planet and moon neighbours, if only we probe deeper and deeper and deeper.
   Sort of like denying the Peak of conventional oil by pointing out that we are still bringing up quasi-oil-like-substances from 20,000 expensive feet below 5,000 feet of ocean-tossed water.
   Now NASA is licking at the fount of all money ( us the gullible public ) by claiming that there is lots of water is there to be had - under  a crater on the Moon.*
     Deep,deep, deep under the Moon - somewhere - we just know it - trust us: send only cash, no cheques please.
   Believe it, without first engaging your citizen forensic audit skills set - even for just a moment - and you will unconsciously slacken your efforts on the real crisis at hand : saving the only and the best lifeboat we have : Planet Earth.....

* The BUNSEN BURNER claims:
"Scientists estimate there could be as much as 100 gallons of ice inside the two-mile deep crater."
    That much eh ???!!!
    Hey satire is supposed to be my gig -  just back off will ya, you Bunsenites !!!!

A poignant HIT : Science inaction, a love story

    Griffin McInnes's satirical, funny but ultimately touchingly poignant play hasn't officially opened yet but Griffin was lucky enough - through the graces of Situating Science director Gordon McOuat - to hold a performance at the Kings College University Crypt Theatre* last night, before an audience of HOPOS 2012 attendees.

(HOPOS is the academic Society for the international study of the history of the philosophy of science and as this was a gentle satire on the author of the most important books (Laboratory Life) ever on the philosophy of science, Bruno Latour, the audience definitely 'got it '. )
       But while they came for the science, I suspect they stayed for the love story.
      I am not totally sure the poignancy is in the words on the page of Griffin's script, but it definitely there in the physical casting.
     There are only 2 in the cast - unless you count frogs and TVs (many zillions of each) .
    He (the Bruno Latour stand-in) is tall , lithe, handsome, blond and a PhD candidate.
    She, nominally, is 'just' a lab tech and is short, red-haired and 'plump' to boot.
    Bruno,the male part, requires the actor to be a good-looking naive boytoy while the female, Donna, gets a chance to swallow lots of scenery and drive the plot.
    I shall not give away any more of that plot, but if you like your love stories poignant as well as funny , you shouldn't miss WitsEndTheatre's Science inaction when it opens this week at Halifax's Bus Stop Theatre : a hit !
* I know, I know , in these irreligious times, we are supposed to call it "the pit" but it'll always be the "the crypt" to me....

Friday, June 22, 2012

1945 : the climatic Battle over MODERN synthetic penicillin vs POSTMODERN natural penicillin

    If we see Postmodernity as organic and natural, versus High Modernity's love for the synthetic and the man-made (and I think we all do) why then do we focus on 1945's Auschwitz and Hiroshima as the climatic revelations that signal the switch from the Era of Modernity to the Era of post-Modernity ?

    I have been doing a re-think in preparation for a talk I am giving about MH Dawson and his tiny team's approach to inventing "GP" penicillin and in fact their approach to all things weak and small, versus the thinking of his immense (and immense-oriented) opponents.
   It seems to me that we can see in the battle that Dawson and natural penicillin finally won in late 1945 against the forces for synthetic penicillin, led by the OSRD and Vannevar Bush & Newton Richards, the real roots of the Fall of Modernity and the Rise of the Post Modern, Globally Commensal, Age....

The Chosen "ones" : after Peak Earth, after the Gold Rush, children crying , loading, silver seed

     After the 2040s, after Peak Earth, after the Gold Rush, this will be the Neil Young song that all the Silicon Valley billionaires will choose to sing..... after the loading has begun.

    You and I and the rest of the 99% won't be there : but our children will be : crying .
    For this is the Credo of the denier classes : Earths are like condoms : "find 'em, frack 'em and forget 'em"  - de-invest and move on upwards and outwards.....

"It was 60 years ago today" : birthing the UFO craze amongst the Skygods

    Reluctantly we must acknowledge Ken Arnold, the father of the modern UFO, who claimed he saw nine high speed flying saucers from the cockpit of his CallAir C-2 aircraft, while flying past Mount Rainier, Washington, on June 24th 1947.

   De-bunkers of Arnold's story have debated ever since whether what Ken actually saw was just a very ordinary trick of the sky & weather.
   However the original story developed real legs - fueling worldwide conspiracy theories and renewing interest in space travel as a way to avoid having to pick up ones socks and take out ones trash down here on Earth.
   I sort wish Arnold had never been born - 60 years on, his vision is still powering the "cut and runners" of the denier class who use space travel as a way to avoid taking responsibility for having created harmful climate change.....

I have Seen the Future and it is Paula Todd's tiny e-book , not the fading "bricks and mortar media"

   Right now, right today, right this minute, only one book matters in Canada - in both the news media and in the blog-o-sphere.
   It is tiny and it is virtual, the very antithesis of the tradition that a book's newsworthiness could be literally weighed on a set of luggage scales.

   No 1000 page hardcover published by a big name publisher and featured in bricks'n/mortar bookstores, this work is only 46 pages long (or so they say - because on the internet, no one knows you are a page) and being a virtual ebook, is about as massive as the elusive Higgs boson.
   So what is driving the media & blogger frenzy ?
   The old fundamentals : content, content, content.
    Paula Todd's book title, "Finding Karla Homolka" * , would be story enough in Canada, with about 120% of the Canadian population interested in knowing the whereabouts of the notorious serial killer.
   But the kicker is in the subtitle, as Paula finds the ex-con now a mother of three healthy kids.
   Todd discovered the elusive Karla on her own - scooping the big media - something we bloggers can all cheer on.
  It is true Todd was once a reporter with Canada's biggest private media empire (CTV/Bell Media) so she was no lonewolf freelancer, but rather a well-connected freelancer, but still her story does add a certain frisson to all of us working outside "the bricks and mortar media".....

* The ebook is published by Canadian Writers group, which bills itself as a literary agency for freelancers , not as a publisher (!!!!!!!!)

Belters, Lunies, Marties, Venonaults : today's Skygods

   Yesterday's Skygods, the military airplane pilots of the 1910s to the 1950s, are so, well , yesterday.
    Their battles with those old fashioned military leaders still trying to fight static wars of trenches dug deep into the soil, are also so over. So very very  yesterday.
   No, today's Skygods are those among today's billionaires who are obsessed with space exploration, mining and settlement : call them Lunies, Belters, Marties or Venonaults depending upon whether the Moon, the Asteroid Belt, Mars or Venus is their all-consuming interest.

   Think of them (as they think of themselves) as pioneers of the North American West or Alaska, but extended forward in time a century or two and extended vertically a few million miles up into the sky, into the real High Frontier.
   In university English departments, we are customarily taught that cutting edge fiction reflects (and reflects upon) current reality.
   But in the case of today's Skygods, as in the past , exciting fiction leads on mundane reality, like a Greek Siren leads on an ancient sailor.
   But if we have located the new heroes of hardcore SF (denier lit aka denier porn), where and who are the new villains in this potently Manichean mix of bad acid and worse ROI ?
   Actuarially-minded Eastern bankers and rule-prone school marms have been transmuted into environmentally-obsessed earth-pounders, Earthlings stuck in a time warp at the bottom of the gravity well of "The Lower 49".
   If this stuff all stayed in the land of hardcore SF , it would be at worst laughable or annoying, but in fact it is as real as the blue sky headlines in our daily Google News.
   Hold onto your wallets dear taxpayer, because where teenage fiction leads, pre-teen politicians (shout out to Stephen !) with a hand in your pocket are sure to follow ....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small comfort to HOPOS 2012 that they didn't hear Lincoln at Gettysburg either

    The very first science that historians and philosophers of science need to devote themselves to , is the science of microphones and public address systems.

int'l conference philosophy history of science
from all over the world's universities to Halifax 
    The international society of scholars devoted to the history of the philosophy of science has teamed up with, among other partners, Gordon McOuat and the Situating Science crew at Kings College University in Halifax.

      Situating Science  (Situsci) seeks to situate the practise of science into a human, public, context - finding new ways to let scientists and the public interact while avoiding the traditional top down approach of learned scientist to unwashed laity.
   This may be why I - a mere member of the public - managed to avoid a conference fee and yet got to attend a very good lecture by the distinguished scholar Professor Heinrich von Staden from Princeton.
    I went partly because my book ( Dr Martin Henry Dawson and the Invention of "GP" Penicillin) is , by necessity , not a biography of words and theory but rather a biography of deeds and actions.
   Professor von Staden said in his lecture that while Galen and other very early experimental scientists (early as in Before Christ early !) wrote little theory on their experimental approach, we can still discern - 2000 years later -a fair bit of their theory, by looking at their more extensive words about their actual practise.
  I particularly like to hear this, because academics are human-like in their weaknesses and so are rather more inclined to take seriously what a  person said (particularly if it is wrapped in a one nice big book or article) rather than to do the much harder task of seeing what that person actually did in practise.
    But this blog is more about the difficulty I and many other members of the audience in the relatively small Kings Alumni Hall had in clearly hearing the speaker and his questioners.
   I have attended other lectures at the hall (usually put on by Situsci) and can always clearly heard speaker and the audience's questions.
   Von Staden had a great speaking voice and he was miked - but at a level too low  while the questioners did not have a mike stand that they were directed to.
  Most people seemingly have lost the art of pitching their voices  (a combination of volume, an edge to the voice and clear, short logical statements) to fill a small but crowded hall.
    I have no talent in any area of physical activity but I pride myself that from a very young age, you could always hear me clearly ,un-miked, in even big halls.
  The art is gone - fair enough - hence the need for a mike stand in the hall, where speakers must line up to speak at close range into the mike.
   I attend a fair number of philosophy lectures and find a lot of expensive speakers are wasted when they arrive in Halifax and then mumble their way through the lecture.
   This only plays to the impression many of us ( but not I !) already have about the wooliness of philosophers.
   Perhaps it is judged unprofessional philosophically to pitch your speech, use rhetoric and body gestures and speak in polemics - fair enough.
    But please use a mike so every thoughtful nuance is clearly heard.
   True, no one heard Lincoln either at Gettysburg when he gave  probably most famous speech in any language, in the age before microphones.
   It never got any acclaim until newspaper editors saw the text on paper and started re-printing it in their newspapers.
  But HOPOS 2012 is unlikely to have that luxury --- I was probably the only 'media' there......

HELIOS II off on 60 trillion year trip to send a message to Intelligent Life at edge of Universe

     Helios II is the fastest man-made object ever. If it survives, it will act as a sign of other intelligent life in the Universe for some possible Intelligent Life form living at the currently known edge of the Universe ,14 billion light years away.
   But fast as Helios II is, it is only about one four thousandth the speed of light, so it would take at least 60 trillion years to reach that civilization at the bleeding edge of the currently visible universe.

    Only if Intelligent Life is very close indeed , basically existing on the planets orbiting the stars closest to us, we should we care - ours and their civilizations will be long dead - by natural star death alone - long before we reach each other.
   Even without humanity's best current efforts to speed up the process (shout out to the denier classes !) , the Earth's life will be gone in two billion years .
     At Helios II's top speed (not really sustainable, in practise, for very long) that will take our messenger only 1/60,000 of the way across the Universe and back with its response, if it expects to find any humans left to care.
    I don't believe humanity will ever meet and greet other intelligent life - we might find a few invisible, but living viable, bacteria deep down a hole on Mars, at best.
   But we could get HG Wells in reverse - that Martian bacteria could end up killing all us humans rather than earthly bacteria killing all the Martians.
   Maybe its for the best, if we never find other life off Earth 1.0 ....

Scientism's powerful ability to unite the polar opposites of CUT and RUN

     Scientism is the unbreakable faith belief that human mindpower will inevitably triumph over anything mere Nature can throw up.
     While its days of unquestioned total hegemony was only between 1875 and 1965, it still dominates the political and economic classes and is successfully winning back intellectual hegemony among the environmentalist classes, through the back door of hard core SF films and books.

   Scientism currently posed the gravest threat to the survival of intelligent life* on this planet.
   Much of Scientism's (aka High Modernity) power lies in its awesome ability to combine chalk and cheese / water and oil.
   Technological autarky is a static or vertical activity.
    It claims that inside the 1939 borders of The Third Reich ( or of any nation on earth) lies all the elements needed for an utopia to make its people powerful and prosperous.
    Just let the chemists and atomic physicists loose with their powers of fundamental transformation upon the atoms of rock, water and air and they will create synthetic food, metals and even life itself.
   By contrast, Technological imperialism offers up a horizontal and dynamic utopia ---- this, the current Earth 1.0, and all the other Earths in the universe allow us to go on consuming and depleting and destroying local resources and natural habitat willy nilly, without fear of ever killing the Golden Geese that lays these golden eggs.
   One advocates CUT : consuming not just all the biomass but even the rocks of a particular place to satisfy humanity's whims.
   But it hasn't always worked out in practise.
   So the RUN option (after first DENYING) comes to the fore: abandon the failed autarky to try it again in a different virgin frontier - say the wheat and oil lands of the Ukraine and Russia.
  The history of the Third Reich, 1933-1945, shows the Nazis did in fact follow this two step approach of High Modernity - carrying out home-grown autarky and imperial expansion into others lands.
   What united their efforts, without the Nazis suffering from the strain of intellectual inconsistency, was the over-riding Scientism belief in the dynamic and infinitely flexible ability of the human will to triumph against mere Matter by either using CUT techniques or RUN techniques.
   In the winter of 1940-1941, I'd say that the 'Matter' of a Russian Winter settled that hash pretty quickly !
   But unfortunately, the newest denier movement, birthed in that 'Mayberry sort of town', Wichita Kansas, has learned nothing and is repeating all the old Scientism mistakes and disasters that the Nazis inflicted on the world in 1939-1945....

* Admittedly, like the Higgs boson, there is still no actual proof that there  IS  intelligent life on Earth....

RIO+20 celebrate ! Western MINERALS all gone ; Western NATIVES still there

     In the early 1950s, the conventional opinion of the proto-denier class was that the various "western" Frontiers (Alaska, the Canadian and American Wests, Australia, South Africa, Argentina et al) would always have lots of mineral wealth but that their natives/aboriginals were on the inevitable path to total extinction.
   Sixty years on, at the cusp of the disappointing Rio+20 Conference, let us pause in our lamenting to celebrate a small victory over the forces of greed and hubris.

   The best, most profitable, mineral deposits in these various "Wild Wests" are gone and now we're expensively shifting millions of tons of overlay to get at mere tonnes of metals.
   By contrast the natives are not dead and gone - in fact they are well and truly out-breeding the Angry White Guys (AWGs) who predicted (and plotted) their rapid extermination.
   In response, the cut'n'runner AWGs are falling back on Planet "B" --- the latest 'western" Frontier is the Asteroid Belt and Mars & Venus where they claim there is immense mineral wealth (but without providing us any firm ROI figures, of course - these are bull-shit-prone deniers after all.)
   One of the biggest advantages of this latest in a long line of "Big Sky Countries" is the fact that none of these places seem to have any pesky natives - or government taxes and regulations, or school marms and settlers.
   Don't believe the deniers are planning to leave the 99% behind?
   One only has to regularly read Google News to see all over the world private companies talking up their space ventures.
   Soon they will abandon us earthling ground-pounders stuck down in 'the lower 48' at the bottom of Earth's deep gravity well.
  They'll be heading to the utimate in the High Frontier, higher even than Alaska, where one can live a live of libertarian bliss, in a time and space devoid of government regulations but awash in indirect government subsidies.
   Paid for by the tax-dollars of  space-struck environmentalists down here at Base Zero.
  I'd like to say that one can't believe in both Mars Colonies and Environmental efforts to save the Earth but that is not true - billions of people hold both positions - mixing oil and water with chalk and cheese.
   But I will say a true green environmentalist group will purge its membership of all those who hold these views.
   One must decide whether one favours Peter Ward's theory of a possibly unique , truly "RARE EARTH" and thus focus all of your energies on saving the only lifeboat we have got.
    Or you give a little energy to saving the earth but hedge your bets by believing (and funding) Frank Drake's "MANY EARTHS" theory (that there are probably billions of Earths out there we can always move to if and when we deplete this particular Earth of everything profitable).
   This blog is definitely in the first camp, the Earthling camp.
    And it holds that anyone in the second camp is both a proto-denier and a Skygod : because what deniers really deny is not climate change but rather : any limits on the ability of humanity to spoil natural habitats and then move on, care-free, to new natural habitats to spoil.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"The weak shall be strong" : the DIVINE IRONY (in the Chesterton sense) of penicillin, 'the medicine from Muskogee'

      There is nothing more uncool and literally square than  the penicillin drugs, but they have saved more lives - because of their squareness - than 'the hip have had hot dinners'.
    Most North Americans have heard - and understood - the Merle Haggard song "Okie from Muskogee", but readers from the rest of the world might need a little help.

   Driven out of the state by the 1930s Dust Bowl, poverty-stricken rural Oklahoma residents headed to the Golden Land (California) where the equally-Depression-hit locals made the 'Okies' feel about as welcome as Gypsies or Travellers are in most countries even today.
    In 1969, at the height of the counterculture movement and protests against the Viet Nam War, Haggard (whose parents were from small town,rural Muskogee) decided to gently satirize - and yet support - the old fashioned values of small town America in general - and those of the much-joked-upon Okies in particular.
   The song 'made' Haggard, for both good and for bad and remains highly evocative for all North Americans born before about 1955.
   In Haggard's eyes, Muskogee comes across as a Mayberry sort of town, "a place where even squares can have a ball."
   If that is indeed so, then it is the natural hometown for Penicillin and all the other beta lactam antibiotics have have saved literally billions of lives since the early 1940s.
   The beta lactams are an unusually weak organic molecule - you practically only have to look at them the wrong way and they become deactivated and useless.
   It was this quality that led Alexander Fleming, their discoverer, to stop investigating their life-saving properties very far.
   He and the other two Nobel prize winners connected to penicillin's development (Florey & Chain), wasted much precious time and many precious lives, trying to make penicillin more stable.
    It can be done - in fact it is done - all the time .
    By the very bacteria penicillin is designed to kill : who in stabilizing  penicillin also kill themselves in the process.
   The Divine Irony of penicillin - I only wish GK Chesterton could be here to wax about it  - is that it is the very weakness of penicillin and all its other beta lactam cousins that makes them, still, the world's leading lifesavers.
   I'd even go so far as to call them the most Christ-like of the medicines in their 'strength in weakness' nature.
   What makes the (relatively simple) beta lactam core molecule so unusual in the natural world is not that it is a ring-shaped molecule (very common) but that this ring is square - ie, is even sided.
  Now the stability of a molecule is dependent on the angle each atom in makes to the others as it bonds with them.
  Four atoms bonded to form a square makes 90 degree angles to each other, while atoms are much more comfortable (because much less stressed), if their angles are bigger or smaller than that.
   This means that the highly stressed beta lactam molecule takes only a very little effort to break it apart ( thus relieving the stress and rendering it highly stable) but the strength of a giant & a genius to put it back together again in it original, highly unstable form..
   The bacterial enzyme that breaks penicillin apart should really be at work making the bacteria's wall - the wall being secret for the success of the tiny bacteria, the world's oldest and most numerous lifeform by weight.
   But while it is child's play to enter into the penicillin molecule and break the ring, the hapless enzyme finds it  as a result that it is so closely bonded to the new - highly stable - penicillin molecule that it can't break free and do its job.
   The bacteria wall isn't finished and the bacteria bursts and dies ; the patient lives.
   The scientists of High Modernity, at their very apogee in 1939, because they were so adolescently defiant of traditional religious values lacked the intellectual abilities to suspect that something very weak could be successful----- because it was so weak.
   Their unquestioning support for Darwin's law of the jungle view that 'God was on the side of the big and the strong battalions' showed a dire lack of knowledge about the God of the New Testament (Christ), who contradicts this viewpoint on its every page.
    It took Canadian MH Dawson, not a religious man - at least in his own eyes - but someone with an interest in and respect for the weak of all sizes, who first overlooked penicillin's apparent weakness and set it to work to save lives.
    I would give every thing I own to be at God's side at Judgement Day, as he renders a verdict on this avowed non-believer, MH Dawson....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Looking back at 21st Century Fiction : The Cut'n'runners Boys vs the Sustainer Gals

    I will be long dead before the 21st century is over, let alone properly evaluated.
    But I am still willing to stick my neck and foretell what the characteristic fiction of this century will look like --- and what it won't look like.
   Oh sure, there will be plenty of spy cum adventure action dramas that replace battles with Russian communist spies with tales of blue-eyed blondes fighting off dusky Arabs and sinister yellow perils, but really - isn't this all a bit 19th century-ish ?
  No, a truly 21st century genre fiction will deal with the striking events of its own century : and that means denier-wars and global warming / climate change.

  From the Ayn Rand side of things (and let's face it: with the quality of ghost-writers today, Ayn Rand dead might write more readable fiction than Ayn Rand ever wrote alive !), there will be stirring tales of "The Sons of Liberty" fighting off sneak attacks from "Eco-Terrorists" trying to destroy the oil wells that dot the warm blue waters of what was once the icy Arctic.
   But from the quality side of the literature bazaar : say upmarket Atwood, we should expect the same tale of oil wells at the North Pole , but told this time as a century battle between that notorious globe-raping gang, "The Cut'n'Runners Boys"  versus those plucky Eco-PIs, "The Sustainer-Gals" .
   Now - admittedly - we are already 1/8th our way into this century, with no real sign that either type of book has become prominent in what is left of our bricks 'n' mortar bookstores.
  Perhaps there in lies a sterling literary and business opportunity for veteran (and budding) fiction writers all over the world ...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Who, What, Where, When of Climate Change I leave to others : I seek the "Why"

The Climate Wars are but the latest skirmish in an old, old war.

But with the stakes never higher, righteous anger fills both sides, each convinced that the other will lead their planet to rack and ruin.

I am Canadian, but I hate hockey and you will certainly see no climate hockey sticks here - nor any other peer-reviewed science either.

But I am passionately interested in the "Popular Science" of the Climate Change debate ----seeing it as the latest public expression of two wildly different and long-standing world-views/ philosophies/ ideologies/ theologies - call them what you will.

In my view, "all quarrels are about axioms and only about axioms", so I intend to peel back the hidden assumptions that fuel the animus ,found on both sides of the global warming debate.

There are hundreds of blog sites out there that are daily, nay hourly, actively reporting on the climate change front.

I don't share their collective passion for dissecting the details in scientific and quasi-scientific papers and reports, unfortunately.

But as a political science graduate and a long time politician, I feel much more comfortable putting this recent skirmish - maybe, at best, only ten years old - in its historical context.

For these clashing world-views are, at least in my view, as old as the human species itself.....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Closing of the American West" won't truly happen for DENIERS until PONTA DO SOL's labour is too expensive & its natural resources too depleted to profitably keep a factory there

    Where the Bejesus, you might well say, is Ponta do Sol in the American West?
    Well perplexed you surely should be - this tiny place is the only sizable community on the island of  Santo Antao, in the tiny African nation of Cape Verde.
   It just happens to be the most western point in the continent of Africa : the truly western-most spot in the American Western frontier ---- for American business anyway.

      Over the centuries, American greedy SOBs have steadily moved their current factories ever westward.
      First they deny that their factories pollute the environment, deplete natural resources and pay low wages & taxes and THEN  they abruptly close the factory and moving on (westward) to ever-newer 'pastures' .
    They are currently finding that the Far East is far too expensive, as even the red commies demand that their citizens receive living wages and living working conditions, at least anytime the media cameras appear.
   Soon the Greed-is-Good variant of the Denier class will be working their offshore factories through the remaining impoverished dictatorships of Africa.
   But after the Cape Verde, where to go next ?
   They have worked their way steadily westward around the globe - the next landfall is Plymouth Rock and they've already been there: too many unions and too many green activists.
   "The American Frontier for business  (but not for farmers and cowboys - that closed a century ago) is truly closed", they will tell Congress. Time to tax the public ,to subsidize our covered Contetoga wagons trains to Mars*.
   Time to cut our losses on Planet Earth - its played out : time to saddle up and move on out......

* Thus opening the so-called "White Wedge on the Red Planet" , a graphic image beloved by generations of art college Spacers ....

the skygods & earthlings of 1936's "Anti-Bacterial Wars" : synthetic Sulfa versus natural Penicillin

    Rather incredulously, I slowly backed into the poop we call 2012's Climate Change Wars ---- from research I had been conducting on a highly similar war - from more than 75 years ago!
   That war, more a skirmish in its earliest stages, was between the old anti-bacterial agent, natural penicillin and the new anti-bacterial agent, synthetic Sulfa.

   At the July 1936 London meeting that was the Second International Congress on Microbiology, Martin Henry Dawson witnessed that the natural penicillin offered up by its discoverer , Alex Fleming, was winning no takers, not against the new synthetic Sulfa drug , whose life-saving possibilities were rapidly seized upon by keen-eyed researchers like Perrin Long.
   Man-made totally beat nature-made, not unexpectedly in the Mid-Thirties : 1-0 for the Skygods.
   But 7 years later in late 1943, the cart was on the other horse: the Earthlings, led by the hard-charging/rapidly dying  Dr Dawson, had gotten a second wind and were miles ahead of the Skygods.
   When Natural Penicillin beat Made-Made Sulfa ( sulfa what ? sulfa who ?), High Modernity & Scientism was not down and out - not yet - but it was badly wounded.
    Naturally ( and not synthetically) I am very interested in Naomi Oreskes' MERCHANTS OF DOUBT, highlighting earlier corporate campaigns to sow doubt over scientific warnings, starting in the 1950s.
   But I do think the battle raged on even earlier - but not in the area of popular science but inside public (peer-reviewed) science - as I hope my wartime penicillin study will show....

Post 1875-1965 Scientism's "SHATTERED CONSENSUS" : esteem-lowering news for McKitrick & Michaels

    Don't you sometimes wish you could actually meet a "junior" Fellow from one of those long-winded think-tanks?
   Or maybe just a hail-fellow-well-met type of fellow?
    When everyone is a "Senior", no one is a "Senior", my mom used always say.
   Is bluster and bombast just something they mix in the Kool-Aid ?
   Anyway, where was I ?
   Oh yes, crying crocodile tears over the losses in the all-important self esteem department for those two white guys, Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels.

    There is indeed a "Shattered Consensus", or rather a Shattered Hegemony, as we political science types learned to say once we stopped reading with our fingers and breathing through our mouths.
   From about 1975 to about 1965 , by no coincidence about one lifetime for an upper middle class male who never got his hands dirty down on the shop floor, there existed a perfect harmony of hegemonies between those powerful within politics, economics, sciences and the intellectual arts: and they called it "The Cult of Scientism".
   Or sometimes : "The Cult of High Modernity".
   It didn't end exactly in 1945 with Auschwitz and Hiroshima, as is usually advertised, but it was quite wounded.
    Still it gamely hung on until all its generations' Professor Emerituses and Chairman of the Boards finally died - about the same time that all those late Sixties striking grad students got new jobs ----- as 1970s profs.
    I have never found any more faithful followers of the cult of Scientism then those who know nothing about 21st century science.
    I mean economists ,obviously in that dig - all those nobel prize winners recalling their childhood smatterings of of 19th century science, who believe that we can do very nicely without any natural resources at all. (Shout out to good old Robert !)
    It is this longing for the good old days of the untenured giving universal obedience to the dictums of academic Scientism, that I see as the engine behind the Deniers' animus.
    We don't step and fetch like the old days and they don't like it - all this guff about denying climate change is just eyewash : these denier boys really do believe the world is doomed - which is why they're backing free enterprise efforts to move the 1% to Mars.
   Moving to Mars - Mars Colonies - now that is one crack-potted scheme the Deniers never deny.....

Charlie Koch's ruby-red slippers: DENYING his way back to daddy's "Lost Hegemony of Scientism"

    Okay it might not be the sort of book about Kansas and ruby-red slippers that L Frank Baum could write - maybe more in Joseph Conrad's line : "the horror! , the horror!".
    But I seriously think there is a book there , a psychologically-probing examination about "Charlie G" Koch's magnificent obsession over the sad fate of his father Fred's science/scientism.

   Robert Heinlein would do it up right, in a full-bodied, red meat, take-no-prisoners style.
  Bit of pity that he, like Baum,Conrad and Fred, is dead and buried.
   Surely Fox News must know some ghost writers: the DENIER movement would be lost without them (or without the Kochs).
   Chris Mooney, from a different perspective, could also do it up right.
    Ditto Maureen Dowd - she really knows how to get under the skin of her victim and fester there.....

We got the birth certificate , CATO : Denialism was birthed in America, more precisely in Wichita

    DENIERS are busy,busy,busy people, but among  all their other denials, they never hesitate to find time to deny that America could have possibly birthed the current president.
   They seem to feel that he is either the spawn of the Devil or the spawn of darkest Kenya ----and as part of the DENIERS' overall "Southern Strategy", either hallucination will work equally well at the ballot box.
   One thing they will never ever deny (or its bye-bye that life-sustaining greenback oxygen) is that the DENIER Movement was birthed in America - more precisely in Wichita Kansas's Koch-funded CATO INSTITUTE, back in 1974.
   Unfortunately for The-Fate-of -the-Planet, the rest of the world was too busy to notice.

   Too busy witnessing what they thought was the soon-to-be triumphant Environmental Movement, thrown up after the late 1973 spike in Oil Prices marked the end to Modernity and Scientism.
   "Wrong, wrong ,wrong", said the Koch bros.
    America might have temporally have left bucolic Kansas for the seductions of Big City Environmentalism, but they's be back - back to the land of the ruby red slippers.
    The Koch bros decided to devote a lot of their enormous wealth to 'Denying' their way back to "The Lost Hegemony of Scientism".
    Back to the the sort of science their dear old Dad had made his fortune in : HARD Science, Newtonian - Daltonian - Darwinian Science , not all this post-quantum gobbledygook.
    The pity was that the Kochs simply didn't get it : yes the old Scientism Hegemony of 1875-1965 was gone : that perfect harmony between political/economic and intellectual hegemonies.
    But it hadn't been replaced by a new green-looking hegemony.
    In the postmodern world of posthegemony, there was no overall Hegemony anymore.
    Scientism still held all the cards among the politically and economically powerful and among those middle-aged or older while the the new green vision had only captured most of the younger intellectuals and most of the younger scientists but only some of the younger voters.
    It was a sort of stand-off : Scientism was still in charge but its orders no longer went unquestioned.
   Now if there is ANYTHING a denier hates worse than being questioned, well I haven't yet discovered it.
    Spoiled as rotten as only upper middle class WASP male teens can be spoiled, their every whim has always been granted all their lives : from mom to wife to secretary to mistress.
    Their animus at having their thoughts questioned sharply, in public, by young whippersnappers, is - I believe - what fuels the DENIERS' energy and anger.
    And to think that all this global bile was birthed in that little ole sorta Mayberry town of Wichita, Kansas : truth is indeed crazier than fiction.....

Most effective DENIER message isn't a think-tank or a blog : its a song

     Or accurately a song industry: the one that keeps pumping out Nashville's road songs.
     I am thinking particularly of  Tim Nichols' "HEADS CAROLINA, TAILS CALIFORNIA" and "YOU AIN"T IN KANSAS ANYMORE" , as sung by Jo Dee Messina.
    God, how I love those songs: songs so infectious that they'd make a graveyard of old tombstones get up and dance a two-step.
    Yet I know I really shouldn't.

    They might seem innocent enough - just modern day variants of ole Huck Finn's decision to 'lit out for the Territories', keeping well ahead of Grecian aunts bearing Civilization.
    Ultimately though, they're DENIER MUSIC, in much the same way that Western novels and Hard SF are DENIER LIT.
     Unfortunately it is their same spirit that fuels every pollution-denying, wage&tax&safetystandards-moaning greedy SOB's decision to close his factory and head off to newer pastures where there are no unions, laws or taxes.
   When the smallest, poorest nation on Earth gets 'too expensive', too 'regulation-bound', too 'democratic', these greedy SOBS are just going to head off for PLANET B (Mars) --- only this time they'll leave the 99% behind.
    The new workers will all be robots and the planet will be privately owned - sorta like the way KOCH INDUSTRIES is already owned and operated today : only the KOCH BOYS will be running a gated planet, instead of just a gated company.
    I mention the Koch boys not of any particular sense of malice but because their company (seemingly the monetary archangel to every single denier worth funding) was founded in and is still housed in Wichita Kansas.
    "You Ain't In Kansas Anymore" plays off the famous line from Dorothy and "The Wizard of Oz" and off the general sense in America that the NEW YORKER magazine and its sophisticated ilk are precisely edited so as to not appeal to  people from Wichita.
   The addressee in the song tells the singer that he's from Wichita, a kinda 'Mayberry sort of town'.
      The singer already knows this, because after kissing the headlights out of him under the Hollywood sign, she cuddles close and whispers, out here we call it "ronel, not rodeo" : sonny, you're in the big fast megacity of LA - not in Kansas anymore.
   So Wichita has long been set up at the epitome of non-coolness or alternatively, as the home of decent law-abiding,God-fearing, Constitution-worshipping red-blooded Americans.
    The Koch boys see it as the latter, and in 1974 as Environmentalism blossomed after the Oil Spike, they choose this armpit of non-coolness to thumb their nose at what they thought was the NEW green Hegemony ,as they birthed the Cato Institute and the DENIER movement in Wichita.
    We will never ever understand or halt what the Kochs began, until we emotionally understand the power over all of us that Huck Finn and Joe Dee Messina's message has: otherwise as in the film "The Seventh Seal", we will all sing and dance our butts off, while driving happily in our gas-guzzler on an one-way trip into our graves.....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Pandemic Invasion from the DENY-o-sphere"

     Those who deny (and then plan to flee) the mess they've made of this Planet have got themselves a nice home, an echo chamber and cheering section: call it the DENY-o-Sphere.
    Not a permanent home you understand: that's MARS, and they're still pouring the cement foundations  for it out there.
    But for now, they're over here, over-sexed and over-funded by fossil-devouring mega-energy-corps --- squatting down plunk in the middle of our blog-o-sphere ---- uninvited.
   So what have we got, to counter this invasive species ?

   THEY , the slime that climbed out of the modem, are in every nation in the world - are we ?
   Can we prove it?
   Who defend the world from the deniers in Ecuador or in Mali, in Nepal or in Estonia ?
    Anyone know ? I don't.
    Anyone out there maintain any sort of database of denier-busters?
  (I mean, beyond the database-cum-blogrolls  of the well known fighters against Deniergate from the larger nations within the  Anglosphere: nations like America, UK, Australia and Canada.)
   I keep looking for that world-wide database of denier-fighters.
   Maybe only the CIA maintains such a database ---- if so, I bet they aren't talking it up.....

Coming soon : "OFF-PLANETTING" the 99%'s jobs to Martian robots ...

    Let's pretend it all began in 1870.
    Some uppity bunch of employees in New England's pioneering factory mill system now want a fairer share of the money rolling in - as does the town and the state legislators.
    Farmers downstream from the mill complain  that the river water is now making their cows sick and want something done about it.
    In a soon-to-be-classic gambit, the mill owners first deny everything - the existence of profits or pollution.

   Then they 'light out to the Territories', closing the old mill and opening a new mill "Out West" "On the Frontier" - after getting a tremendous bonus voted to them for doing so by the easily bribed territorial government.
   Cue 1905: the Territory is now a State and like New England, its voters too want more revenue and less pollution. The mill owners deny the existence of either, yet again - their lines (lies) well rehearsed.
   They regret that the "Closing of the West" will damage the character of the American people - or at the very least, threaten the autonomy of mill owners to cut'n'run / slash and burn.
    The federal government, they demand, must subsidize the taking up of overseas colonies, so we can open mills, pollute freely, pay low wages and lower taxes.
   The government obliges , moving from subsidizing (with dollars and blood) the Opening of the West, to Opening the Orient.
   Cut to 1950: the Americans have sternly told France and England that directly run colonies are so yesterday ( besides the natives in American direct rule colonies are getting restless and demanding they be treated as if they were subjects of the freedom-loving American people).
   Which they are - awkward that.
    Much better to move to indirect colonies: nominally-free nations run by impoverished dictators eager to sell off their peoples in return for enormous Swiss Bank Accounts.
    We can move our mill there - we will get high profits and his American-supplied guns will ensure no one lives long who dares complain about pollution or low wages and terrible working conditions.
   So it has gone on through the ages - offshoring mills from Boston to Kansas City to Manilla to Laos to Zambia to ????
   Slowly but surely greedy slimy mill owners are running out of countries where people are willing to put up with slave wages in Dickensian hells.
   Where to next, for the newest colony and the newest mills?
    Mars, that is where.
    Only this time the denial and the flee is global,  not on a city by city or nation by nation basis.
   The denials come first: we are not polluting the atmosphere with global-warming carbon / our CEO salaries are not high.
   Meanwhile, secretly, behind the scenes, tax dollars are being handed out to create the newest colonies - this time on Mars.
   "Permanent Mars Colonies by 2023".
   Maybe we could work it so that robots will ship the raw materials in, work them up and ship them back.
   No taxes on Mars - obviously.
   And if you do pollute it - well, frankly, that will only improve its looks.
   Why bother to stay on Earth and why bother to work to heal it ?
    Cutting and running ; denying and then fleeing worked for great-great-granddad and all of his descendants - it should work just as well for me....

20th Century Socialism's BIG LIE : latest example

     The good folks in Atlantic Canada are a bit slow - or a bit sensible - so only now are they enjoying the kind of disappointment most of the rest of the world has already endured.
     They have discovered Socialism's (-in-government) definitely not-green thumb....
    Today I opened a Chronicle Herald and discovered that the (newish) Socialist government in Nova Scotia had destroyed another small business in the renewable resource sector.
  They did so by permitting a private expropriation of its land - to support a big business mega project in the non-renewable sector.
   It was a decision driven by the enternal socialist-capitalist mantra of growth, growth, growth at any cost.
   Sure socialists and capitalists like to squabble : call it 'dishonor among thieves' .
       But they only squabble over how to split the booty between them, after they have jointly robbed,raped and ravished Mother Earth.
    Aussie gold giant, ATLANTIC GOLD , got a very rare 'vesting order' from the socialist government to take over lands owned the the Higgins family who grow Christmas trees.
   The local socialist MLA Gary Burrill was and is environmentally-friendly and he has take the 'career-dooming' step of daring to speak out publicly against Premier Dexter's government decision.
   As in the Canadian capital with Prime Minister Harper's decisions and government MPs, Nova Scotia government MLAs rarely, if ever, question publicly Premier Dexter's positions.
   In both cases, might as well quit right now and return to a quiet life on the farm : your political career is so over.
   I doubt that Premier Dexter and the socialists are losing any sleep over this decision to expropriate a small business's tree farm so a big business can rip up the land for the minerals underneath.
   The unions are on side - far easier to unionize a big outfit than a bunch of tiny family-run farms.
   The capitalists are on side : neither the Liberals or Conservative parties would do any different (-in-government), despite the crocodile tears they will shed in Opposition.
   And the threat to the socialists in Canada from 'the green side of life' ?
   Don't make me laugh - or cry !
   Under the leadership of Nova Scotian Elizabeth May, the federal Green party has zoomed downwards from being 2 points behind the Socialists, to being 30+ points behind them.
  The Socialists lead the national polls and the Greens are at 2%.
   The Nova Scotian Greens ( of which I am definitely not any longer a part of) are even more feckless.
    Many people has at least heard of the federal Greens - and don't like them. Fair enough, I often ( but not always) feel that way about them myself.
   But most Nova Scotians have never heard from their provincial Green party - ever.
    What has gone so badly wrong?
     A huge numbers of environmentally-oriented (but unclear thinking) voters view "Mars colonies by 2023" as a sensible way to prepare for a worsening Earth, people I call "Skygods" or "Spacers".
     Just many voters also earnestly support 'sustainable development' - that oxymoron-from-hell.
   The socialists, world wide, make a convincing case for sustainable development - while in Opposition.
   "Under our stewardship, eat all the cake you want - we will guard that it doesn't make you sick."
   In government, they actually deliver on that promise, sort of : you get to eat all the cake you want but you don't get sick.
   In the short term.
   But behind the scenes, Mother Nature is puking her guts out and if she croaks - so will we.
   Greens have been caught up in being socialists-in-a-hurry, me-tooing socialist attacks on capitalists' sad environmental record while ignoring that this is stating the obvious, even to Fox-News-Viewers.
   They should be focusing all their efforts on the socialists, tying left and right together as growth-promotors and "Mars as Planet-B" touters).
   Meanwhile also positioning themselves as Sustainers and Earthlings, people who will stay and heal the Earth, not those who first deny they are damaging it and then flee it to newer pastures.
   In the case of Mars, that is pastures of ice cold rock under radiation skies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nova Scotia oceans: meet the new (SOCIALIST) boss, same as the old (CAPITALIST) boss

     Growth-oriented governments of the left as well as the right are both equally deadly to Mother Nature.
     Both rape and pillage and deplete the Earth and then deny they are doing so.
     Just take the socialist government of Nova Scotia ----- please take it  !

     Elected for the first time ever, a few years back, it promised rural fishing communities that things would be different on its watch, over such matters as the process of consultation before any more projects of open pen aquaculture were approved.
    In fact the wannabe socialist premier (Darrell Dexter) was filmed, along with local MLA Vicki Conrad, telling a fishing community exactly that - a fishing community in the hometown (Queens County) where he grew up.
   A man won't lie in his own backyard now would he - anymore than a bear would poop in his own backyard now would it ?
    Well I have just been to see the world premiere of a new film on open cage salmon fishing (SALMON WARS) and a whole lot of unhappy voters in the film seem convinced that not only would Dexter lie in his own backyard but that he did just that.
    What happened ????
     I suspect : "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs".
     Oh no, not real jobs, jobs, jobs ---- but promises of jobs, jobs, jobs - hundreds of jobs in one photo-op-friendly location.
     There are lots of sustainable, earth-friendly,  aquaculture alternatives to open cage fish farming of carnivore fish --- alternatives that will provide as many or more jobs .
   But these jobs will be spread out and diffused - not in one great bloody big building labelled " 400 jobs right here folks - vote for me".
   Large mega-projects have always appealed to the ( ahem) less subtle political mind because the benefits are frankly so photo-op-able.
    Easier to sell "SHIPS START HERE" ---- not so easy for a timid premier to condemn open cage salmon fishing by explaining that under the harbour surface, under the beautiful open cage fish farm, "THE SHIT STOPS HERE" and will eventually kill the golden goose (wild lobster fishing in that same harbour) that has fed your family for 400 years.
   This premiere took place in the large auditorium at Halifax's Citadel High and I don't recall such a large Nova Scotian audience for an environmental movie -probably more people there than at some of last week's NDP provincial convention's plenary sessions. (V. Bad News that .)
   But this movie was 21st century digital (written and narrated very effectively by SILVER DONALD CAMERON along with a devastating cast of 100% rural accented folks) and so could be webcast around the world at the same time as it was shown, old style, in the province's capital city.
   In particular, it was simulcast, over the web, at four halls close to where the documentary was filmed - villages where proposed fish farm projects loom before local fisherfolk.
   The film is free and freely available and many people plan to show it over and over in living rooms and fire halls all across the province until every last rural NDP (socialist) voter throws their hands up in disgust and vows to stay home in the next election.
    This digital film will undo all the hitherto successful lobbying efforts of the industrial special interest groups in the big city capital in Halifax -undo it silently but effectively - in one rural kitchen and living room at a time.
    The mills of the rural voter grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine.
   Growth oriented capitalists and growth-oriented socialists should both be afraid - very afraid.....