Monday, March 3, 2014


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March is the month for suicides (they say) - the days are getting longer but not quickly enough for some. Not me (unfortunately, I would be happy enough for it to end but suicide is not in my bag of tricks as I have discovered), no - appearances to the contrary I am one of those hippies who take every day and end up being glad in it. Nonetheless, can't help meditating on what looks to me like H. (lemming) sapiens heading for the collective cliff.

Forgive us our platitudes as we forgive those who cliché against us.            
John Thaw in an episode of 'Kavanagh QC'.
Two good summaries recently of what's going on in Canada: From Climate Action News; and Peter Sale. Both are well done, comprehensive, with references, no typos that I noticed; but they share a major deficit: viz. no (real) prescription for action beyond wringing your hands or making a donation to or both.

Time is running out. Even conservative estimates say CO2 emissions must stop by 2020. I hold with Jim Hansen and some others that the final drop dead date for actions towards a +2° world is 2015. (Some others, credible people too, say it has already passed.)
Tom Toles.
[Dali's 1931 painting is called 'La persistencia de la memoria' / The Persistence of Memory. Some bumph at Wikipedia.]

Daquiri: Is there anyone in there?I have been saying for years now that the way to figgure out what to do is sit down and discuss what it would actually take to stop greenhouse gas emissions and go from there. Not a single person has wanted to have that discussion either with me (which is understandable since I am a fat & perverted old freak) or otherwise (as far as I can see on the Internet - maybe there are cries & whispers in closets somewhere).

What is the important lesson to be taken from the Holocaust? Having spent most of a lifetime musing on this one way and another way I'll tell you what I think:

Humans have it in themselves to do such things, and reasons (though maybe not good ones) for doing them. It is standard H. sapiens equipment: genocide (f'rinstance) is a textbook tactic when dealing with certain obstructions to progress. Baggage from our evolutionary survival. Though not, some archeological antropologists opine, part of H. neanderthalensis's toolkit - they didn't survive of course.

I remember a poem, something about Adolf Eichmann neither drooling nor having two heads - I thought it was Leonard Cohen but I can't seem to find it with Google.

Last time I quoted Steven Mithen who says it in another way: "... the capacity of modern humans to act without recourse to empathy, mind reading or any other feature of social intelligence is a key defining feature of the modern mind."

Oh sure, every single last representative of the powers-that-be will stoutly maintain that any comparison of anything to the Holocaust is disgusting, revolting, shameful, appalling; and that the perpetrators were psychopaths, monsters.

OK (smartypants!) what would you call the possibility of wilful human extinction? It would be have to be a word even worse than Holocaust or Shoah wouldn't it? Worse than ... anything. There would be no word strong enough because when all of the speakers of all human languages are gone ...
... what word is left?

Is this extinction possible? Is it probable? Is it in the cards? Is it inevitable if humanity carries on as it's going? Is it happening already?

Look around you. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The answers are all yes.

What about the likes of Pascal Bruckner, the french faux intellectual who notes a superficial symmetry between the word 'apocalypse' & Revelations and so discredits the whole shebang because it's religious? And yet still figgures that a technological 'miracle' will turn it around.

This is different (you fricken' knob-head Crétin!). It is not religious at all. It is a factual, rational, and well-established risk - a challenge and a kind of challenge never before encountered. And it is unlikely that the shovel we used to dig the hole will dig us out of it again.

Can it be stopped? Is there a way to turn it around? Also yes. Not through the discovery or development of new and magic technology that will let us have it both ways - we already have what technology we need - but through, let's say, deploying what we have with some sensible combination of ingenuity, continence, compassion and ... good humour.   :-)

As mentioned before, the best evidence I have seen that anyone is doing anything, in Canada at least, is The Garden Party.


Get over it!



One aspect, possibly comforting to certain temperaments, is that 'normal' is a very gradually moving target. Future generations born into the kinds of hardships which are almost certainly coming will hardly notice - particularly as stories about a golden age in the past are discredited, and indeed, as the very telling of these stories becomes difficult and problematic.

Adão Iturrusgarai.

Listen to the voice of your conscience ... "If I catch you at that, look out."
Listen to what your heart says ... "I give you the sun and the sea ... You are a flash of yearning, a comet of passion ..."
So are you certain? "Yes. I want my ears removed."
Ben Sargent.

Tom Toles.

What will it take to get humanity to pull its collective thumb out of its ass?
H. neanderthalensis did survive for 300,000 years or so in artless obscurity. No one knows what satisfactions they may have experienced. Since H. sapiens is a mere ten thousand years from the invention of farming, and probably won't make it to eleven, one would have to think that neanderthal is the clear winner by several orders of magnitude.

[The 'ander' in neanderthal could be misleading - Neanderthal is simply the name of a place in Europe where someone found some bones in 1856 and the place was named before whoever he was came along.]

And yes, Holocaust and Shoah are such loaded references, poor taste to flog them for effect. Perhaps the Great Chinese Famine of 1958-1961 in which somewhere between fifteen and fifty million people seemed to ... 'disappear' would be a better exemplar d'you think? Ever heard of it?
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  1. A stimulating mix of ideas, and the comics are nice. John (your trolley companion).

  2. damned with faint praise? it's ok ... nevermind.