Saturday, June 28, 2014


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Lots of Infuriating Stupid Parentheses :-)
[So many digressions, equivocations, brackets of varying intensity - this is beginnin' t'look like a fricken' LISP program; not to mention quite crazy, silly. Mad as a box of frogs.]

¿por qué estamos indignados?

"This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need."
How To Tell The Awful Truth
Without Driving Them Either Away Or Mad?

Reading people like Paul Kingsnorth & Derrick Jensen, even Mark Lynas, is necessary due diligence and good exercise to boot, good 'practice'. Some are better than others. The common denominator seems to be: write (earn) breed, and do nothing substantive.

I was on the way to reproducing the first chapter of Paul Kingsnorth's 'One No, Many Yeses' which is a moving description of his visit with the Zapatistas in Chiapas in 2006 or so; but ... it got to be too much like work (sorry, you'll have to go find it in the library). He has now apparently gone off to some remote & low-budget village in Ireland ... exactly right, I just wish I could do the same in Pará (see René Girard for notions of mimetic desire, envy, jealousy &c.).

"On the right wall had been written:   I believe in everything; nothing is sacred.
And on the left wall:   I believe in nothing; everything is sacred."
(Tom Robbins, 'Even Gowgirls Get The Blues')

"Scuse me, while I kiss the sky."
(Jimi Hendrix)

"Could I have a little Yin with that Yang?"
(Pad Byrne)

Collapse of time - two examples:
Final stanza of Little Gidding:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Spiral: Ou vai ou racha  It's make or break.
Spiral: Ou vai ou racha  It's make or break.
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty.
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty.
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty.
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty.
The very last stanza of the final section of T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets' (1943); 'Little Gidding' part V. If people know the poem at all this is probably the verse they know best; regularly quoted in films (like 'The Magus') when bourgeois transcendence is called for. It comes from towards the end of Eliot's poetry though he lived for another twenty years or more. This poem of his is also full of parentheses - one of which sets is marked by the chirrups of birds.

We could profitably consider 'Four Quartets' beside the final paragraph of Northrop Frye's 'The Double Vision' chapter 4 'The Double Vision of God':

"Reverting to our remark about the God of promises, all our conditioning is rooted in our temporal existence and in the anxiety that appears in the present as the passing of time and in the future as death. If death is the last enemy to be destroyed, as Paul tells us, the last metaphor to be transcended is that of the future tense, or God in the form of Beckett's Godot, who never comes but will maybe come tomorrow. The omnipresence of time gives some strange distortions to our double vision. We are born on a certain date, live a continuous identity until death on another date; then we move into an 'after'-life or 'next' world where something like an ego survives indefinitely in something like a time and place. But we are not continuous identities; we have had many identities, as babies, as boys and girls, and so on through life, and when we pass through or 'outgrow' these identities they return to their source. Assuming, that is, some law of conservation in the spiritual as well as the physical world exists. There is nothing so unique about death as such, where we may be too distracted by illness or sunk in senility to have much identity at all. In the double vision of a spiritual and a physical world simultaneously present, every moment we have lived through we have also died out of into another order. Our life in the resurrection, then, is already here, and waiting to be recognized."
(my emphasis)
If you didn't know better you might think I had this girl in mind all along.   :-)

Indeed: One day during 2003 Carnaval there's a bloco on the Ipanema beach led by two tall black women wearing nothing but golden spirals around their breasts and some kind of clip-on golden g-strings and I get a solid smack from the girl I'm with for staring open-mouthed as they samba past.

Samba merits a few words (more than a few). I have seen women samba themselves to orgasm (or what certainly looked like orgasms to me). Powerful stuff.

This ain't samba, but ... sorta:
from Miss Jodie's blog.
If you didn't know better ... :-)
You may take this as (yet another) opportunity, gentle reader, to dismiss all you find here as nonsense. If such an opportunity is even necessary anymore.

Ou vai ou racha & Spiral Jetty (originals, sort of):
Ou vai ou racha. / It's make or break.Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty, 1970, Great Salt Lake, Utah.Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty, 1970, Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Wiebo Ludwig (1941-2012) is gone:
Wiebo Ludwig.
Subcomandante Marcos has left the building:
The Scarlet Pimpernel.Subcomandante Marcos.Subcomandante Marcos.
Crowbird is still on the go:
Chickweed.Chickweed.Louis Lesosky.Generations have trod.
["Generations have trod, have trod, have trod." (Gerard Manley Hopkins)]
Benett: Luz no fim du túnel.
Look there Astolpho, a light at the end of the tunnel!         Turn off that rubbish!

Benett: Optimists Inc.
Optimists Inc: Stay calm. It'll still get worse!!!
Benett: Pessimists Inc.
Pessimists Inc: ditto.
Garfield: Today's my lucky day.
Today is gonna be my lucky day.                                                     That's OK, it's early yet.

Paul Kingsnorth: to open a crack in history.
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Climate Emergency Countdown (?)

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It's done & dusted.     Let's remember, review & reflect.   (Or not.)
Click for details at EcoSanity: Climate Emergency Countdown, June 22, Toronto.
Postscript:   Some nasty crazy old fuck comes along and shits upon the effort. You can see it that way if you want to. And I know, since most of you don't 'read' anymore, especially such dreck as appears on the Internet and arrives via e-mail, that nuances can easily be missed. After a week of thinking more about it I wonder if this will get through:

There is only one question worth asking.
Fat old guy among the moon & stars (from Laerte: D. Ruth e o Novo Mundo #8 14-04-02).What actions can conceivably stop CO2 emissions in the very few years left to accomplish that absolutely essential step?

The answer is not: "There are no such actions." Even a crazed & cracked pot knows that much (along with other, more credible witnesses such as Jim Hansen). The best I have seen comes from Naomi Klein: "Not until we have a plan to heal the planet that also heals our broken selves and our broken communities do we have a hope."

Healing begins (as Stephen describes in his story of the fall of the Berlin wall) when we talk honestly with one another. How else?

So ... even if she's wrong ...
... she's right.
Lucy & Charlie Brown, Annual Innings.
See also: Eco Sanity, GreenHeart Education, Compassionate Climate Action, & Bill McKibben.

She says, "New York to Lima to Paris, or bust!"
        Special UN Climate Summit in New York City, September 23rd 2014;
        UNFCCC COP20 - in Lima, Peru, December 1-12 2014;
        UNFCCC COP21 - in Paris (Le Bourget), 30 November - 11 December 2015.

Actually ... the Bonn Climate Change Conference - June 4-15 2014 - ends a week ago with:
        vanishingly little to report (except, one presumes, 10,000 air flights & expense accounts).

Birds on a wire:
Bonn Climate Change Conference closing plenary June 15 2014.

The reason I take this on:   A few years ago I find a website that, according to the name of it, offers promise - Compassionate Climate Action - so I begin to contribute (via the comments). After a while I discover that it is a refined and soi distant kind of compassion she is serving up which involves no real conversation - and I withdraw, retire from the scene. But I guess she keeps my email on file somewhere because three weeks aqo comes a personal notification of the Climate Emergency Countdown with a request to "pass it on". And despite serious misgivings about the efficacy of global negotiations ... I do.

It is about the first time in five (long) years that anyone has asked me directly to do anything (beyond make an on-line donation or sign a petition or write my MP &c.) and there is just enough left in here for me to say ... OK. (Which is, for the record, what I do whenever I am asked for something in my power to perform, including the '&c.' already mentioned ... and street beggars.)

Also, two questions have been nagging me and I think I might be able to take them along on a Sunday afternoon outing and possibly shed some light there.


1) What about Cuba?

An often repeated notion is that we humans are conducting an experiment of uncertain outcome, very possibly involving collective life-or-death, with the only planet we happen to inhabit. What about the SUCCESSFUL experiment which actually took place in Cuba? For a few years during the Special Period there was no oil - yet there were no mass deaths, and resilience sprang up like Topsy. Why is this not talked about? Everywhere?

The closest I can get (as to why it is so studiously ignored) is that Americans (still) fear & detest Cuba. Like Bob says in 'Talking WW III Blues', "He screamed a bit an' away he flew - must'a thought I was a Comm-u-nist."

Or another way of putting it:

The answer is simple - stop emitting CO2. A-and we still have two, maybe three years, five at the outside to do it and keep ourselves more-or-less comfortably at +1.5°C or less. See:
        'Assessing Dangerous Climate Change: Required Reduction
                of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature'
                by James Hansen et al., December 2013 at PlosOne;
        '2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2°C'
                by Joeri Rogelj et al., December 2012 in 'Nature Climate Change'; and,
        'Why Global Warming Will Cross a Dangerous Threshold in 2036'
                by Michael Mann in the March 2014 Scientific American.

Or: Why are so many talking about adapting when there is still enough time to stop?
Or: Why are we focussed on global UN negotiations (or 'un-negotiations' which have repeatedly failed over twenty years and more) when effective actions to stop are necessarily at smaller more local scales?

Or (more generally): Why are we dithering instead of acting? Why is 'the movement' not moving?

2) Why use a 69¢ word like 'mitigate' to mean 'stop emissions'?

If you look it up in the OED you will find 'mitigate' linked with 'appeasement' & 'palliative' - not confidence-inspiring associations. Why was it chosen? Which (fat & overpaid) bureaucrat chose it? Maybe historian Naomi Oreskes will write a paper on it sometime.

Eddie (my boss at Halliburton) used 'mitigate' when the chips were down and the straws were all getting short; and he always (it was the Barracuda FPSO and they were losing a cool billion dollars so the chips were often down) smiled seraphically when he said it - knowing that it sailed straight over the heads of most of his audience who either didn't know what it means or had just enough of a glimmering to be mystified. The OED associations served his purpose - to confuse rivals. They don't serve us.

[69¢ words are quite different from 75¢ words as the consultants among you will know already. 'Eisegesis' is an example of the latter, as distinct from 'exegesis' of the former.]

Maybe it's simply because 'STOP' is a four letter word. Is that it?

Glenn MacIntosh.Stephen Leahy.Peter Carter.Julie Johnston.If I see something advertised as a 'speaking event' again I'll give it a miss unless the speaker is, say, Jim Hansen or someone of that calibre (of whom there are few, so I don't expect to be going out again anytime soon).

It is less and less of a surprise to me that when he did come to Toronto a few years ago they turned the lights out on him before he was finished.

Thirty people show up. The speaking takes up the entire 5+ hours so there is very little time left over to talk to anyone. No grace period has been provided in the room booking.

The high point is hearing Stephen Leahy's story of how the Berlin wall came down - "people began to talk with one another," he says (a lesson that might have been useful closer to home).

Peter Carter talks a bit about the RCP2.6 scenario from IPCC's AR5. (Please stop for a moment and consider the amount of inscrutable code in that sentence.) I will find a diagram or two and post them here (maybe). In the meantime all 1,500+ pages of AR5 are available for download here.

The Marshall Plan is presented as an exemplar ... but something tainted whispers in my memory around the Marshall Plan - I'll follow that up too (maybe).

Otherwise the speaking is superficial and uninformed, even thoughtless. Dilettantes. No one has read Naomi Oreskes, or if they have are keeping mum.

Frank is there, and being an ex-senior bureaucrat he knows how to say that it is more-or-less a waste of time in a diplomatic manner which generates no immediate offence. [Oh my. I am truly sorry to be so ... negative ... and ... I am right upon the divine fulcrum of saying no more.]

I manage to ask the question about Cuba but (as is more and more usual) the destroyed interior landscape asserts itself dominantly and my voice rises into incoherence till I stop in embarrassment (having forgotten the punch line whatever it was).

There are other low points: Jim Hansen is disparaged for no longer occupying his pulpit at NASA (by someone who obviously has not been following what he is doing); the purpose of the exercise is explained as an excuse to get videos of their excellent presentations (including I guess the half-baked Powerpoint prepared by a tyro the night before); 18 months is revealed as the maximum length of time (any) one can reasonably commit to the initiative.

Ahhh but it's nothing; just sour grapes gentle reader; or perhaps Briar Rose's birthday party ("Now there were thirteen Magi in the kingdom; but the King and Queen had only twelve golden dishes for them to eat out of ..."). The Toronto cognoscenti rescue Glenn when he runs off the rails and they don't notice me. It could be that easy to understand. As it happens I offer him praise, encouragement, and support on several occasions at the time he's crashing but it must be too late or possibly in a language he doesn't understand because ... he doesn't respond.

We could say there is a law of conservation of compassion at work, a Boyle's Law of the heart. ... Or is it a zero sum game I'm thinking of? I can't remember.

As I look around the room, recognizing many of the few who are there - knowing something of some of their stories after five years among 'em - I wonder how many more are at the end of their strings? And beyond ... because each time there are fewer. (And still, Naomi Klein's prescription goes begging.)

I am in another half-empty room the last time I go out: a month or so ago to hear Elizabeth May; to be the first to stand up and applaud when she appears on stage. (But cringeing when she praises the turnout, calling the room 'full'.)

I have no idea what the Christians mean by "the truth shall set you free". The reverse (I imagine) of Blake's little poem 'The Poison Tree' - also known as 'Christian Forbearance'. There are more dimensions of denial here "Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (See also Naomi Oreskes' ESLD 'erring on the side of least drama'.)

"Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), 1791.

Unfortunately for humanity we still have more than a fortnight to go.

Caetano Veloso, Terra

[There are several versions on YouTube; none is very well edited (that I have seen) so I recommend getting the album 'Muito' on which it appears. The translation which follows is mine - not very good. I may have the wrong tense on 'forget'. It was the first thing I translated when I was learning. I will look at it and make a few changes (maybe, soon).]

quando eu me encontrava preso
na cela de uma cadeia
foi que eu vi pela primeira vez
as tais fotografias
em que apareces inteira
porém lá não estavas nua
e sim coberta de nuvens
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria

ninguém supõe a morena
dentro da estrela azulada
na vertigem do cinema
manda um abraço pra te, pequenina
como se eu fosse o saudoso poeta
e fosses a Paraíba
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria

eu estou apaixonado por uma menina
Terra, signo de elemento terra
do mar se diz
terra à vista
Terra, para o pé firmeza,
Terra, para a mão carícia
outros astros lhe são guia
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria

eu sou um leão de fogo
sem ti me consumiria
a mim mesmo eternamente
e de nada valeria
acontecer de eu ser gente
e gente é outra alegria
diferente das estrelas
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria

de onde nem tempo nem espaço
que a força mande coragem
pra gente te dar carinho
durante toda a viagem
que realizas no nada
através do qual carregas
o nome da tua carne
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria

nas sacadas dos sobrados
da velha São Salvador
há lembranças de donzelas
do tempo do Imperador
tudo, tudo na Bahia
faz a gente querer bem,
a Bahia tem um jeito
Terra, terra
por mais distante
o errante navegante
quem jamais te esqueceria
when I found myself locked up
in the cell of a prison
it happened that I saw for the first time
those photographs
in which you appear complete
however, where you are not naked
but wearing clouds
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you

who would expect a dark girl
inside a blue star
above the abyss of the cinema
I send an embrace to you, little one
as if I was a lonely poet
and you were (the province of) Paraiba
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you

I am mad for a girl
Terra, sign of the elemental earth
on the sea one says
'land in sight'
Terra, firm to my foot
Terra, a caress to my hand
other stars are guiding you
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you

I am a fiery lion
without you I would burn up
myself even forever
and it would be worth nothing
I happen to be a person
and a person is another happiness
different from the stars
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you

from beyond time and space
(pray) that strength brings the courage
for us to give you caresses
during the whole journey
that you make through the void
across which you carry
the name of (all) your flesh
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you

from the second floor verandahs
of old San Salvador
there are memories of virgin girls
from the time of the Emperor
everything in Bahia
makes us wish for the best
in Bahia we have a way
Terra, terra
no matter how far
the wanderer may stray
who could ever forget you
It's the day after the day after the longest day of the year; they are getting shorter (again). Already the birds begin their morning songs a few minutes later. I come home on the 501 streetcar feeling low and mean and sit all night taking comfort from Caetano, trying to make sense of it ... allowing myself to weep ...

Fat old guy among the moon & stars (from Laerte: D. Ruth e o Novo Mundo #8 14-04-02.Caetano is clever as well as handsome - he puts a naked woman in the first stanza to get your attention - in a figure so far from anything pornographic that you really do listen to the end.

[That is something like what I mean with 'boobage' gentle reader. Caetano's figure works and my conceit doesn't. It's all good.]

As I finish off in the dawn light the sound track switches unexpectedly to Jane Sibbery 'Calling All Angels' confused & somehow mingled with the chorus of 'Lukey's Boat': "catch a-hold this one catch a-hold that one, diddle dum this one diddle dum dee".

Very odd, no telling.

[After a week of feeling badly about being such an asshole curmudgeon, I compose a Postscript, and put it, naturally, at the top.]
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Oh Africa.

and ...    The Earth is NOT our mother!
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TOMORROW!    An IMPORTANT event in Toronto.
Click for details at EcoSanity: Climate Emergency Countdown, June 22, Toronto.
See also: Eco Sanity, GreenHeart Education, Compassionate Climate Action, & Bill McKibben.

There's a dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Dead skunk in the middle of the road.
There's a dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Stinkin' to high heaven.

Take a whiff on me; that ain't no rose.

(Loudon Wainright III)
Something about the phrase 'cooperation framework' suggests a rip off. Don't you think? Or a jail. For the cynics and conspiracy believers among us that's enough eh?

'The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition' (NAFSN) is linguistically / semantically / rhetorically suspicious through and through: What is 'food security' exactly? Why is it coupled with 'nutrition'?

Even 'new' ... new? Isn't this just more Norman Borlaug rah-rah-industry Green Revolution fol-de-rol?

The way it is interwoven with sexual statistics stinks too; and the way the GMO aspects are so present and yet so soft-pedalled. Nobody believes this bureaucratic shit but billions (and more) live and (will) die with it.

Does anyone imagine that Cargill and the rest of these corporations give a rat's ass for any advancement of women's rights? Or equality in any sense beyond viewing humans as production & consumption units?

They like to see women in identical green uniforms smiling as they work an assembly line. That's Cargill; that's Kraft; that's 'the government'.

Consider some of this official USAID bumph-by-the-bushel (baffle their brains with bullshit):
        Cooperation Framework to support 'NAFSN' in Senegal;
        Mozambique: 2011–2015 Multi-Year Strategy;
        Cooperation Framework to support 'NAFSN' in Mozambique;
        2014 Feed the Future Progress Report;

and then consider:
        The Great Land Heist: How the world is paving the way for corporate land grabs.

Fintrac Inc. likes 'em dressed all the same and in rows.
Cover of Feed The Future Progress Report 2014.Modern Girl #20.

Senegal: Agrophytex, Agroseed, CCMN (Comptoir Commercial Mandiaye Ndiaye), CODERIZ, Coumba Nor Thiam (CNT), Générale Alimentaire Africaine (GAA), Laiterie du Berger, La Pirogue Bleue, Grands Moulins de Dakar (GMD), Nouvelle Minoterie Africaine (NMA), NEGODIS, PATISEN, SEDIMA, Sentenac Group (Moulins Sentenac & Socas), SHAM Senegal, SODEFITEX, SOPASEN, Suneor SA, Teylium Group Sa (& Continental Foods Company), TROPICASEM, Vital Agro-Industries, Zena Exotic Fruits.

Three out of 24 (1/8th) of the Senegalese companies were in for less than a million: ETS Adiou SENE, Mamelles Jaboot, and Société Générale d’Investissement et de Commerce (GIC).

Mozambique: ENICA, JFS Holding Khulima Púnguè Agricultura e Serviços Lozane Farms Rei do Agro Sunshine Nut Company.

Multinational: AfricaGraines (Agreenoval), Compagnie de Filature et de Sacherie (COFISAC) (Filtisac), Export Trading Group (ETG), Hortis (La Société Horticulture du Sénégal) (Green Seed), Novel Group SA, Copéol Senegal (Sofiproteol & Group Castel), Soldive Senegal (Soldive group), African Cashew Initiative ACi (Intersnack Group GmbH & Co. KG, Kraft Foods Inc., Olam International, SAP AG) AGCO, Cargill, Competetive African Cotton Iniative COMPACI (Cargill, Dunavant, Industrial Promotion Services West-Africa, and Plexus Ltd.), Corvus Investment International CII, Itochu, Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. JISL, Nippon Biodiesel Fuel co. ltd.(NBF), SABMiller (Tanzania Breweries, Accra Brewery Ltd ABL) Sumitomo Corporation, Toyo Engineering Corporation TOYO, United Phosphorous Limited UPL, Vodafone, General Mills, Royal DSM, Bühler, Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation Ltd, AgroWays Ltd.

Norman Borlaug - The man who saved a billion people (NOT!).James Lovelock & Gaia & Bittersweet.Once again I find myself asking: Who's in charge - the metaph-or or the metaph-ee? Mother Earth?! That fricken rocket scientist, James Lovelock - his vege-pap Gaia crap-O-la has really taken hold eh? An intellectual root-kit virus and sepsis is settin' in.

The Fibonacci series and the resulting infinite fraction, Tau; the fascinating and endlessly non-repeating spirals generated by face-joined tetrahedra; plots of the Mandelbrot set and infinite aperiodic tilings (Penrose and others) ... Man! I know (better than most) and love all of these beautiful mysteries BUT (as Donald Coxeter himself once explained to me in a letter) it can be categorically proven that the tetrahelix does NOT repeat, and as he explained elsewhere - the divine proportion is a tendency not a rule.

The earth is not our mother. Physics will not wipe our arse. How can otherwise intelligent people not get this? Those who use this ridiculous phrase either do not know their mothers very well, know very little about planet Earth, or haven't really thought about it.

As a beginning in the search for an antidote:

Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland.

And a suite of reports in The Guardian:

        Corporate stranglehold of farmland a risk to world food security; and,
        World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs

There's a dead skunk in the middle of the road, 
Dead skunk in the middle of the road.
There's a dead skunk in the middle of the road,
Stinkin' to high heaven.

You don't havet'a look and you don't havet'a see 
Cause you can feel it in your olfactory.

(Loudon Wainright III)

A reasonable question might be:
Why a dead skunk?
I'll leave that one with you.

Gado: GMO or Organic?

Another interesting question:

I found this cartoon image some time ago and went looking for a higher-resolution copy - couldn't find one so here it is.

The cartoonist might be making fun of those who quibble while people starve to death - it works at that level.

But stepping back a bit a number of other questions pop up and I have to wonder.

Maybe you wonder too.
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