Things I Don’t Really Want to Write About

Subject A

Subject A

It is difficult for me not to write about certain subjects, especially when I am so upset about them. But then, I have to think about you, my readers. However strong I feel about certain things, what if I really don’t have anything to add about what has already been said?

Anyhow, on to the list, in no particular ordure [SIC]:

  1. Presidential Elections. Let’s face it: Even the pundits whose job it is to opine on the political scene either have nothing new to say, or else they are in the business of influencing opinions.
  2. Donald Trump. You know what I think about the Cheeto-haired beast. ’Nuff said!
  3. Awards. Whether it’s the Oscars or the Nobel Prize for Literature, it’s all about politics, usually who hates whom.
  4. American Conservatism. It seems to be segueing into National Socialism (Nazism).
  5. Police Violence. Black lives do matter! All Americans matter!
  6. Terrorism. Everything we do emboldens the terrorists, so let’s just get on with our lives.
  7. Guns. Since when does a “well-regulated Militia” mean that crazy people get to play with Bushmasters?
  8. Ecology. Even if the Earth is on the point of being irretrievably poisoned, we gotta dig coal and chop down trees, no?

There are probably a handful of other subjects which aren’t worth ranting about, mostly because of the seemingly irresolvable split between the Union and the Confederacy. Occasionally, I will still blab out a post when I know I should keep my mouth shut. Please forgive me in advance!

A Global Threat

Reprinted from The New Yorker, May 2015

Reprinted from The New Yorker, May 2015

I don’t do this very often, but I am reprinting in its entirety the Borowitz Report from The New Yorker.  When I first saw it, I laughed so hard that I am still looking for some internal organs that I spewed all over my office.

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

The New Normal

Transitioning to—What?

Transitioning to—What?

As Zadie Smith writes in The New York Review of Books in an April 3, 2014 article entitled “Elegy for a Country’s Seasons”:

Sing an elegy for the washed away! For the cycles of life, for the saltwater marshes, the houses, the humans—whole islands of humans. Going, going, gone!

There is little doubt that our earth is changing, such that the next generation may not recognize the patterns that make for our own daily existence. Glaciers will be all but gone. Tornadoes, polar vortexes, hurricanes, typhoons, and giant storm cells will cover new parts of the globe. I for one will not say authoritatively that we are at fault or that we can prevent or even mitigate it, but I will try to do my part as if we can.

I do not profess to understand the psyche of climate change deniers. Suffice it to say that they will change their minds soon or die wrapped in a veil of profoundest ignorance. This actually has nothing to do with politics: It’s about the Earth, Our Mother. She’s entering a menopausal phase that will affect virtually everyone on the planet.

Zadie Smith continues:

Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem to be able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. That is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved.

Have we as a species ever turned our back on a powerful new technology? I can think of only a single example: When 16th Century Portuguese traders tried to sell the Japanese rifles, the Samurai opted to stick instead with their swords. Their whole military culture was predicated on the blade and their knowledge of how to wield it.

Maybe we should have stuck with the horse.



Destroying the Amazon for Cash

Illegal Mining Machinery To Be Wrecked by the Peruvians

Illegal Mining Machinery To Be Wrecked by the Peruvians

When we think of the Amazon being destroyed by greedy miners, we usually point the finger of blame at the governments involved. What I was surprised to hear is that illegal mining is a major problem in the jungles of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—to the extent that the three countries have met for a conference in Quito, Ecuador, to deal with the problem. Just to give you an idea of the extent of the problem, Peru This Week has come out strong against the practice:

Illegal mining and has proven itself to be one of the dirtiest businesses in Peru. It is estimated to have bigger earning than drug-dealing, placing itself as the biggest illegal trade in the country. For some, it is the only available means of survival, but for others it is only about the money. Exploitation of natural resources are rapidly increasing in the Amazon rainforest and Andean highlands; government officials have not done much to stop the extraction of these minerals, and local authorities are not doing enough to stop the people who now rule these resourceful lands. Special military squads have now started to confiscate mining equipment. The miners have responded with force.

During the last months there have been protests, conducted by the illegal miners, towards the government. The miners are asking the government to stop forces from confiscating their illegal mining camps. Protesters have violently targeted police forces in large protests all around the country’s main cities. Many police officers have been severely injured yet the violence hasn’t stopped.

How is this possible? Illegal mining in many cases is run by organized crime. This means that there are powerful people behind the miners making big profits. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers representative, Daniel Uresti, states that this business moves over 1 billion dollars per year, and that illegal mining is bonded with organized crime. With this amount of money at risk, illegal miners are going to do whatever it takes stop the government from taking down mining camps, even if that includes violence like the one seen on the protests. Analysts say that long term consequences for illegal mining can reach lead to the union of the two most feared organizations in Peru, the deadly drug cartel and the growing terrorist groups. If Peru lets illegal mining grow, it will only be time until an escalation of events leads the country into more conflict.

When the illegal miners are strong enough to protest openly against the government they are robbing, it’s clearly time to shut them down. In Peru, a nationwide ban against illegal mining has been in effect since April 19, and the Peruvian army is now moving to confiscate and wreck the equipment that is being used.

We all breathe the air that comes from the headwaters of the Amazon. My feeling is that the United Nations should also get involved.

Tarnmoor’s Iron-Clad Rule #1: Ecology

Dinosaur Skeleton at L.A.’s Natural History Museum

Dinosaur Skeleton at L.A.’s Natural History Museum

This is the start of a new series on what I perceive to be iron-clad rules based on my perceptions of human psychology, science, and other factors. I will start with ecology.

Most of us would like to do what we can to save the environment. I certainly do. But I am only one person, and there are several billion refractory individuals who refuse to be influenced by me. People who mine coal, cut down redwoods, and manufacture Soylent Green in bulk will wish to continue to do so. They need the job and don’t give a flying petoot what some tree-hugging pansy-assed Liberal wants. No, they don’t care about Whooping Cranes, the California Condor, or any number of endangered amphibians or insects. To hell with ’em: Let ’em all get extincticated.

Even I am conflicted: I love to travel, but most of the places I want to visit involve an airline flight, often for long distances. A pogo stick or skateboard will just not get me to Argentina.

So here is Tarnmoor’s Iron-Clad Rule #1: People who have a vested interest in things continuing as they are will not move a muscle to help the environment. And that includes both Progressives and Conservatives in great numbers.

Whatever the rule may state, I will continue to do what I can, in my own small way, to help slow down what appears to be the coming extinction of the human race by its own accumulated garbage. (Though I won’t stop traveling while I can.)

Eventually, things will reach such a pass that there won’t be a choice. I think that the major cities of China are fast reaching that point with their abysmal air quality. The potential collapse of the ground over drained-out aquifers in the United States may be coming soon. And that’s not to mention such catastrophic game-changers as the asteroid that caused the Cretaceous Extinction.