Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ship of Fools.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
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Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna, Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod, Signal Hill, Thursday July 16 2015.
If only they each had two heads, carried pitchforks and sported fiery daemonic horns and tails, or drooled uncontrollably.

Read it and weep: Canadian Energy Strategy, July 2015.

The Redford Rah Rah engine is out: before and after. Not much serious criticism. No howls of rage. The Editorial Board at the Globe register mild dismay. David Suzuki is in the Times Colonist and repeated on Huffington; but he is too polite by well more than half.

With apologies to Joep Bertrams.Jeff Rubin is not so polite and hits it right on the mark: Canada needs an energy strategy, but not one focused on pipelines.

I am moved to go looking for metaphors; fossicking about and stumble over/remember one from many years ago in Philosophy 101: Plato/Socrates in The Republic (section VI) - The Ship of Fools.

Just as I'm thinking about all this I read Peter Sale's latest post: Dark Truths; which leads me to revisit Hannah Arendt's 'Men in Dark Times' - one of the few home-remedies for overwhelming despair I have found - and then to look again at some scientific papers on the necessary timing of carbon emission reductions if our civilization and ourselves are going to make it through.

Here's a liberated copy of Meinshausen's 2009 paper. At that time a reasonable drop-dead date to achieve a flat Keeling Curve looks like 2024. Not any more.

By 2012 Joeri Rogelj (Nature Climate Change: 2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2°C, Joeri Rogelj, David McCollum, Brian O’Neill, & Keywan Riahi, December 2012) is putting it between 2015-2020. There are no liberated copies of this - I got one from the (gracious) author.

Various good evidence (including previous papers by James Hansen) and my own proclivities lead me to settle on 2015.

In James Hansen's latest: 2°C global warming is highly dangerous (120 pages is daunting, the abstract and conclusions not so much) I don't find any such estimates. Instead it's "Emergency!"

When an old Iowa farmer yells "Emergency!" I listen, figguring he means "Now!".

There is no shortage of scientific evidence that humanity must stop carbon emissions soonest if we are to survive
and the idiot premiers are still planning for pipelines.   DOH!

Thirteen crows on a wire: (With apologies to Wallace Stevens.)
Thirteen birds on a wire.
(Mail, telephone and email coordinates for the thirteen sleveens pictured here can be found below.)

Dear Premiers,

That was your big chance - and you blew it.

I suppose you're happy, relieved that with the exception of some polite criticism from David Suzuki the 'media' appear to be letting you get away with your ridiculous 'Canadian Energy Strategy'. In the same way that most of the Roman Catholic bureaucracy, in Canada at least, have let Laudato Si' slide into yesterday's news, your bad joke sinks into the murk almost without a bubble. You may even be congratulating yourselves that you did not stand up to be counted as Jorge Bergoglio/Pope Francis did since his encycical has so far "forked no lightning" (to use an image from Dylan Thomas). Be careful though, you may be taken by surprise: consider the athiests who publicly endorse Laudato Si' and are strengthened and emboldened by it; and consider this silly half-baked 'strategy' of yours which places you unequivocally among the do-nothing deniers.

You have faithfully followed the lame example of your colleagues Wynne & Couillard and their bogus carbon trading scheme, in presenting politically resonant but useless policies as you play to all sides on the issue.

You won't believe me I know, but once upon a time I too made 300+ a year and I fully appreciate the seductiveness of it, the tendency towards insulated & mediated perceptions of what's going on - including inside one's own skin. I understand the happy smiling faces you show for photographs.

But one or two generations hence - it won't be long - if your names are remembered at all it may be by your own grandchildren if you have any, who will curse you for not acting to stop climate change and the related environmental ... What do we call it? 'Crisis'? 'Armageddon'? 'End'? ... when it was "in you and in the situation," to do the right thing and you took the easy way out.

I know you will not read this yourselves, but perhaps the functionary assigned to scan your correspondence who does look at it will ... understand, and will then just get up and walk away to join the Unis'tot'en Camp - that would be a good start.

Be well.
Hieronimus Bosch: Ship of Fools, 1495.Albrecht Dürer: Ship of Fools.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes Hosanna cry;
Thine humble beast pursues his road
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die!
O Christ! Thy triumph now begin
Over captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
The wingèd squadrons of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father, on His sapphire throne,
Awaits His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy power, and reign.

The 4-note rising scale at the beginning of the second part never fails to thrill me. The sound in this YouTube rendition is not very good, muddy, but you can get a general idea. Choral music is so moving because it is one of the few truly cooperative human activities, and is also difficult to either fake or effectively coerce.

In the myth, Christ does not sail into Jerusalem, he rides a donkey; but it is easy enough to mentally hear Leonard Cohen's "Sail on! Sail on! O mighty Ship of State," overlayed.

I trust the complexities of a (full-ish, please) 'Compare&Contrast' exercise between the christian crucifixion story and the annihilation of H. sapiens if not all planetary life (including soul as well as body when one annihiates the OED informs me) are not beyond you gentle reader.

Lest you be tempted to underestimate the task:
Paul Anderson: Inherent Vice (the movie) 2014.
Consider this screen grab from the movie version of Tomas Pynchon's 'Inherent Vice' - using the facade of a California mental hospital to evoke Auschwitz, Arbeit macht frei - savouring the horrid and oh so 'inappropriate' comparison, while keeping in mind that American exceptionalism is as invisibly strong in Thomas Pynchon as it is in Bob Dylan ... and John McCain for that matter.

Koordinaten der Scheiße Köpfe: (von West nach Ost und Nord nach Süd)
Premier Darrell Pasloski:

Yukon Government Administration Building
2071 Second Avenue, PO Box 2703
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Y1A 2C6

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Northwest Territories
Premier Bob McLeod:

PO Box 1320
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, X1A 2L9

and in Wikipedia

Premier Peter Taptuna:

Government of Nunavut
PO Box 1000 Station 200
Iqaluit, Nunavut, X0A 0H0

867-975-6000, 1-877-212-6438 (toll free)
and a blurb in Wikipedia

British Columbia
Premier Christy Clark:

PO Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 9E1

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Rachel Notley:

307 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 2B6

780 427-2251
and the blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Brad Wall:

2405 Legislative Drive, Room 226
Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 0B3

bradwallmla@sasktel.net & premier@gov.sk.ca
and the blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Greg Selinger:

204 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0V8

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Kathleen Wynne:

Queen's Park, Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1A1

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Philippe Couillard:

Édifice Honoré-Mercier
835, boulevard René-Lévesque Est, 3e étage
Québec, G1A 1B4

418-643-5321, 514-873-3411
email interface
and the blurb in Wikipedia

New Brunswick
Premier Brian Gallant:

Centennial Building, PO Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5H1

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Prince Edward Island
Premier Wade MacLauchlan:

Fifth Floor South, Shaw Building
95 Rochford Street, PO Box 2000,
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A 7N8

and the blurb in Wikipedia

Nova Scotia
Premier Stephen McNeil:

7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 1X5

and a blurb in Wikipedia

Premier Paul Davis:

Confederation Building, East Block
PO Box 8700
St. John's, Newfoundland, A1B 4J6

and in Wikipedia
 Ballard Street: Shelley's about to swallow his toothpick.
(You know this is Stevie not Shelley right?)
David Parkins: Exactly!
David Parkins: Pie for everyone.
Greg Perry: Stay the course.
Greg Perry: Steady hand on the wheel.
I also trust that anyone looking at this already knows that 'the economy' is the reddest of red herrings and is presented for entertainment value only.
Tom Toles: Prepare to be corrected.
Bill Reid: The Spirit of Haida Gwaii on 2011 Canadian 20$ bill.
I know I'll never be forgiven for suggesting any connection between Bill Reid and a Ship of Fools, and yet ...

Sitting on a bench in the park:   One is not permitted to smoke in the Toronto Public Library, so when I'm working there I retire to a nearby park-bench once in a while; and sometimes another smoker comes by and asks for a light. It happened today.

An older gent walking his dog stopped, and when he was lit we had a short conversation. He began with a back-handed joke about smoking. I replied that harsh judgements on smokers are disproportionate when one considers the evils of climate change and potential extinction of our species due to fossil fuel addiction. He said, "Oh no, technology will find a solution for all that." I said I'd looked into it and found that the technological remedies don't wash. He said, "But they've discovered other earth-like planets close by. We'll just move over there." I asked how we would ever travel even 100 light-years of distance en masse? We laughed. His dog began to chase another that was passing and off he went.

Not long after at the bank I noticed that the teller had henna designs on her hands. I said, "I think it must be delightful to have someone painting such lovely, fine, things on one's hands." She looked at me and smiled: "Yes," she said, "It is."

Were any of Arendt, Milman, or Reid able to concretely, seriously, imagine a final end of H. sapiens I wonder? As an intellectual exercise maybe - the proposition for a university debate - but not, I don't think, to savour emotionally. (I don't really mean 'able to', gentle reader, because they might, would probably &c., have accomplished it had it occurred to them.) While Pynchon & Dylan live full on in that space and 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'

        Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,
        From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.
        Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth.
        You're an idiot, babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
        Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves.
        We're idiots, babe. It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.
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