Wild Green Yonder
Sunday, March 30, 2003
Buffalo Commons, Anyone?
Largest wind farm to rise in Iowa:
"DES MOINES, Iowa, March 26 — A power company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Tuesday it plans to build the largest land-based wind farm in the world across 200 acres of Iowa farm fields. The $323 million, 310-megawatt project, to be built by MidAmerican Energy Co., would have 180 to 200 turbines with the capacity to generate electricity for 85,000 homes on completion, which is expected in 2006."
Thursday, March 20, 2003
War is Bad for Living Things, part XXXVII
New Scientist is reporting that the potential for an eco-catastrophe in Iraq is significant. Other sources are reporting worries that burning oil wells, oil spills, the release of raw sewage and industrial pollutants and the explosion of military ordinance could all cause real harm, especially to Iraq's fragile (and extremely damaged) marshes, which UNEP regards as vital to the health of the Persian Gulf.
It's worth noting that things are already pretty bad there - and largely because of actions the Baathist regime has taken (draining swamps to deny "marsh Arabs" cover, industry almost completely without environmental regulation, poor agricultural practices resulting in massive soil salination, etc.). This war is unlikely to make any of that better.
The reconstruction will have to be in part an effort of environmental restoration.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
There's some pretty crazy shit going on at CITRIS: Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society: unicomp being used to create super-energy-efficient buildings, monitor nesting seabirds (a use which gave me a jolt of present shock, being eerily reminiscent of the Ecosystem Game I speculated on in a Viridian Note a few years back), check buildings for hidden earthquake damage, and a mess of other trippy aps.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Thought these pieces might interest some of you:
"The U.S. has already lost the prewar battle over Iraq, whatever the outcome of a further U.N. vote. Even if it wins a fig-leaf majority vote in the Security Council, America will be entering its first preemptive war faced with opposition from nearly all of its allies and much of the rest of the planet. A world that rallied to America's side in unprecedented demonstrations of support after September 11 increasingly perceives the U.S. itself as a great danger to peace. How did things come to this? The failure of the Bush Administration to manage its diplomacy is staggering, and the price paid, even if the war ends quickly, could be higher than anyone now anticipates.
"The political effect of this foreign policy imbroglio is already obvious. It can be measured in tattered alliances and global tensions, eroding support for President George W. Bush, and big changes throughout the Middle East. What remains unclear are the economic consequences. In the end, they may be far more significant."
"Over the past few weeks there has been an epidemic of epiphanies. There's a long list of pundits who previously supported Bush's policy on Iraq but have publicly changed their minds. None of them quarrel with the goal; who wouldn't want to see Saddam Hussein overthrown? But they are finally realizing that Mr. Bush is the wrong man to do the job. And more people than you would think — including a fair number of people in the Treasury Department, the State Department and, yes, the Pentagon — don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality."
"One can hardly say enough about the courageous action of the U.S. House Administration Committee in renaming French fries "Freedom Fries" at the House cafeteria. In these critical times, it's good to know we can count on House Republicans. They'll teach those cheese-eating surrender monkeys a thing or two. (Guys, did you really have to just hand the French this one? That has to be the slowest pitch on record.)
"This was in addition to Republicans trading tasteless anti-French jokes publicly during a hearing with Colin Powell. Just for the record, there are 6,000 French troops currently serving as peacekeepers in Afghanistan and the Balkans. As they keep watch in places they'd rather not be, I'm sure they all appreciate your gestures. Likewise, the Germans -- described by Rumsfeld as a "pariah state" -- have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and the Balkans.
Have you ever seen such amazing arrogance wedded to such awesome incompetence?"
"So let's take stock of how our invasion of Iraq is going. The Western alliance is ferociously strained, NATO is paralyzed, America is resented by millions, the United Nations is in crisis, U.S. pals like Tony Blair are being skewered at home, North Korea has exploited our distraction to crank up plutonium production, oil prices have surged, and the world financial markets have sagged."
"Some days, you pick up the newspaper and you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Let's see, the prime minister of Serbia just got shot, and if that doesn't seem like a bad omen then you missed the class on World War I. Our strongest ally for war in Iraq is Bulgaria — a country I've always had a soft spot for, because it protected its Jews during World War II, but a country that's been on the losing side of every war in the last 100 years. Congress is renaming French fries "freedom fries." George Bush has managed to lose a global popularity contest to Saddam Hussein, and he's looking to build diplomatic support in Europe by flying to the Azores, a remote archipelago in the Atlantic, to persuade the persuaded leaders of Britain and Spain to stand firm with him. I guess the North Pole wasn't available. I've been to the Azores. It was with Secretary of State James Baker on, as I recall, one of his seven trips around the world to build support for Gulf War I. Mr. Baker used the Azores to refuel."
"The United States is now more isolated from its major allies and more internally divided over foreign policy than at any time since 1945. The strategy of the Bush administration-and not merely its style-is to blame.
"The grand strategy of the Bush administration rests on three axioms: American global hegemony; preventive war; and the so-called “war on terror.” All three axioms are fallacies that inevitably produce counterproductive and misguided policies. What the great French diplomat Talleyrand said of Napoleon’s execution of the Duc d’Enghien applies with equal force to Bush’s grand strategy: “It is worse than a crime; it is a mistake.”
"I have very mixed feelings about Americans disliking the French. I’m English, after all. We have a special relationship with the French: we are in awe of their sophistication, their cuisine and their wines, we think their women are beautiful, we like them as individuals, we badly want to go and live in their country when we retire, while at the same time we are deeply suspicious of them. It’s like having people living next door to you who may be snappier dressers and better cooks, but who, after all, borrowed the lawn mower sometime in the thirteenth century and never gave it back. Anyway, the English dislike the French. We’re really good at it. We’ve been doing it ever since we got up one day and realised that the Norman Conquerors were now, like it or not, Us, and weren’t conquering French people any more. We feel, frankly, that if anyone’s going to dislike the French, it’s going to be us. On the whole we manifest our dislike for them by drinking their wines, buying up their cigarettes, and, despite the fact that all English people can naturally roll their Rs and speak perfect French, declining to do so, and when forced by circumstances to speak French the English do it with an English accent on purpose.
"These are tactics we’ve worked out over the course of hundreds of years, and if carried on long enough, they will bring France to its knees. I’m English. I know these things.
"Changing the name french fries to freedom fries, on the other hand, will just make them laugh at you. "
US Secession From Earth Nearly Complete
"Washington, Tuesday (FA wire) - With today's announcement that the U.S. is willing to release oil reserves independently of its partners in the International Energy Agency, the Bush administration acknowledged that it was fast running out of international agreements to renounce.
"'We're way ahead of schedule,' confided one State Department official, 'If you had told me during the inauguration that by this month we would've already declared our independence from the UN, NATO, the International Criminal Court, missile treaties, Kyoto, international trade agreements, and the IEA, well, I would've called you a crazy dreamer!'"
A good point:
"I have been troubled greatly over the last few days by the following thought; although it is obvious that the USA has an incredible advantage over Iraq in terms of men and materiel, you have to admit that if you were picking a team of leaders to lose this war, you wouldn't be able to do much better than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Ignorance - check; Hubris - check; Ability to alienate allies - check; Tendency to ignore unfavourable information - check. It's like having Saddam Hussein's fucking fantasy football team in the top job."
"Balking Hawk; someone who would basically be in favour of war in Iraq, but who has been pushed onto the anti side because they don't trust the Bush administration not to fuck it up."
Saturday, March 15, 2003
This is pretty stunning. A Business Week editorial on BWThe High Price of Bad Diplomacy which makes many of the same points that many of us have been making about the dangers of the Bush Doctrine and unilateralism:
"The U.S. has already lost the prewar battle over Iraq, whatever the outcome of a further U.N. vote. Even if it wins a fig-leaf majority vote in the Security Council, America will be entering its first preemptive war faced with opposition from nearly all of its allies and much of the rest of the planet. A world that rallied to America's side in unprecedented demonstrations of support after September 11 increasingly perceives the U.S. itself as a great danger to peace. How did things come to this? The failure of the Bush Administration to manage its diplomacy is staggering, and the price paid, even if the war ends quickly, could be higher than anyone now anticipates. "
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
A great NY Times piece on biotechnology, and how, while the pace is definitely quickening, we have to remember that the overall context is poorly understood:
...no cell ever grows from scratch from DNA in a test tube. Every cell that has ever existed arose from a cell that preceded it. Every cell on earth is part of a line of ancestry that traces from the very first primordial cell.
"People like to look at DNA content as bytes of information," he said. "What they are neglecting is the pre-existing structure. If you think about how much information it would take to make the pre-existing structure, it's astronomical. You can't make it unless you've got it."
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
This is the kind of shit that makes me think we should secede
House cafeterias change names for 'french fries' and 'french toast' to 'feedom' fries and toast.
And Toxic Sludge is Still Good for You
Disinfopedia is a collaborative, distributed, wiki-based, open-source-fueled encyclopedia of propaganda and disinformation, launched by John Stauber of PR watch. Cool.
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Charlie Stross makes some great comparisons between Thatcher and Bush II, warning that he has the capacity to permanently change the nature of American Democracy:
The leader comes from the major right-wing political party, but represents a right-wing faction within it rather than the party mainstream.
The leader and their coterie form a tightly-knit community, bound together by a shared ideological outlook and suspicion of outsiders. They don't trust fellow members of their own party who don't fully subscribe to the clique's world-view.
They have a set of policies determined by their ideological outlook, and they appear to be pursuing these policies without any interest in the public response to them. They know they're right and they're not interested in protests: proceeding by consensus is seen as weak.
They have made specific electoral calculations about their key constituencies and they are actively carrying out policies that will cement their support in those groups (notably high earners) at the expense of citizens who they don't believe will ever vote for them.
The in-group have strong links to key industrial sectors and their policies promote the well-being of those sectors at the expense of others.
They're willing to employ legislation to make an end-run around regulations that hamper the industrial sectors they favour.
There is a revolving door between senior members of this group and the boardrooms of the largest companies in the industrial sectors they favour.
The major private media organisations (notably Rupert Murdoch's News International) loves them. And say so repeatedly, through all their radio, TV and newspaper channels.
They're willing to use strategic tax cuts, even if they're unsustainable, to buy popularity just before an election.
They're socially conservative with a protestant christian religious background, opposed to minority rights, non-traditional gender relationships, gay rights, sex education, quotas, affirmative action, and so on.
They take a dualistic black/white view of foreign affairs -- either you're on their side, or you're sleeping with the enemy.
As a corollary, they behave publicly as if they believe their domestic political opposition are disloyal -- traitors or stooges of the enemy, or just plaint corrupt and evil -- rather than acting out of principle on the basis of beliefs they don't share with the administration. (They do not believe in the democratic myth of the "loyal opposition".)
The leader has a reputation for being personally charming and affable, but wields the big stick ruthlessly when dealing with any sign of dissent within their party but outside their inner circle. Within the inner circle, it's hard to tell -- they're pathologically secretive about their inner workings, eagerly passing legislation to tighten up control over leaks and official secrets.
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
My new place has a very nice backyard which leads down to a tree-shaded stream. It's peaceful, green and quiet. It could use some color, though. So today I made my first gardening purchase - a packet of California Poppy seeds.
Monday, March 03, 2003
Speaks for Itself
U.S. Secession From Earth Nearly Complete. (from Electrolite)