Wednesday, February 07, 2018

“Open Borders” keep wages down

Neil Munro writes at Breitbart:

... The push for a DACA amnesty is largely powered by the alliance of business interests and Democrats who want more imported workers to help keep Americans’ wages from rising, and to eventually vote for Democratic candidates. The push is strongly supported by establishment journalists, even though business groups also want to cut their white-collar wages. Multiple establishment columnists are also eager to replace Americans with immigrants.

Companies want more imported workers because the nation’s formal unemployment rate is low. Without a reserve army of unemployed people, companies are forced to compete for new workers by offering higher wages, bonuses and training opportunities. For example, a new chart shows that annual wage growth (including inflation) rises above 2 percent once the “prime age non-employment rate” drops below 23 percent.


The January wage-rise was cited by several economists as a reason for the sudden drop in stock prices because a year of rising wages means lower profits for investors.

But there are also millions of sidelined Americans who have not worked for years, largely because wages have been lowered by mass immigration. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed this month that 74 percent of college-trained Americans hold jobs — but only 57.5 percent of high-school graduates and only 45 percent of high-school dropouts are working. However, employers don’t want to employ these sidelined Americans. Some lack workplace skills or training, some are living in rural areas far from immigrant-fueled economic hotspots, and some have drug problems amid the national opioid epidemic.

Those millions of disadvantaged Americans are the people that Democratic Sen. Carper wants to discard in favor of illegal immigrants. He told MSNBC:
A lot of people on our side and others as well, they look at the dreamers and say the morally right thing to do here — these are kids who came over here, they were young, didn’t come by their own volition, their parents brought them, they grew up here, they were educated here, work here in many cases, and we have a moral responsibility to them, that’s all true.

Having said that, actually, there is an economic imperative here as well. Today, when folks want to work in this country, there is still 2 to 3 million jobs unfilled. Unfilled! Nobody is there to do the jobs, they don’t have the education, the work skills, the work ethic, they can’t pass a drug test, and one of the reasons why I think the stock market is gyrating around is because we are at full employment. And at a time when we have all these jobs to fill, are we going to send 700-800,00 people back home to the countries where they were born? They are perfectly capable of doing these jobs, they can pass a drug test, why would we do that?

It is economic insanity and I think the business community is saying that to the administration.They are certainly saying that to those of us in the Congress, and we should focus on that economic, economic side as well … Doing a deal with the dreamers is as much about – as I said earlier — is about making sure we have the folks who can go to work tomorrow.
Carper is not the only D.C. politician who wants to discard Americans. Numerous other Senators are urging an amnesty even though millions of Americans are sidelined, while wages and salaries have been stuck since 2000, so allowing the stock market to grow rapidly.

Nearly all Democratic Senators, plus a few Republicans — including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner – support the DREAM Act which would allow up to 3.25 million illegals to replace sidelined Americans.

GOP Sens. Thom Tillis and James Lankford have proposed an amnesty for roughly 2 million illegals to help employers.

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has publicly backed a plan to import 500,000 workers per year, allowing companies to replace swaths of their American workforces. ...

Four million Americans turn 18 each year and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.

But the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting roughly 1.1 million new legal immigrants, by providing work-permits to roughly 3 million resident foreigners, and by doing little to block the employment of roughly 8 million illegal immigrants.

The Washington-imposed economic policy of economic growth via mass-immigration floods the market with foreign labor, spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate prices, widens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.


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More articles by Neil Munro:
Tech Firms’ Immigration Bill Targets College-Grad Salaries
CEOs to Congress: Import More Cheap Labor

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The catharsis of a witch hunt

Some interesting exchanges on Twitter regarding the hounding out of Wayne Pacelle from the Humane Society ...

Carol J. Adams @_CarolJAdams
Feb 3

Here I helped #WaynePacelle with his letter to the #HSUS staff upon resigning from the #HumaneSocietyoftheUnitedStates. #TimesUp #TimesUpAR


El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 3

I never thought that much of HSUS, and @_CarolJAdams has always been one of my guiding lights. But this is distasteful and infantile. @VINEsanctuary

solo‏ @OezlemSandra
Feb 3

How so? Because children tend to be direct and tell the truth?

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 3

If @_CarolJAdams is telling the truth, then she ought to present actual evidence, not anonymous allegations and innuendo. Without that, this looks like mere vindictive character assassination.

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 5

"Believe the children" was the mantra of the day-care satanism witch hunts of the 1980s. Children are actually adroit liars. As are adults, both men and women.

[cf. Bret Stephens, N.Y. Times, Feb 9 ‘But it’s precisely because Dylan [Farrow]’s account plays to our existing biases that we need to treat it with added skepticism. Most parents know that young children are imaginative and suggestible and innocently prone to making things up. The misuse of children’s memories by ambitious prosecutors against day-care center operators in the 1980s led to some of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent U.S. history. You don’t have to doubt Farrow’s honesty to doubt her version of events.’]

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Carol J. Adams @_CarolJAdams
Feb 3
Carol J. Adams Retweeted El Rucio

If @_CarolJAdams is telling the truth, then she ought to present actual evidence, not anonymous allegations and innuendo. Without that, this looks like mere vindictive character assassination.
Read the papers, please. See the New York Times on Pacelle's sexual assault of a woman in his office, WaPo and Politico have covered Pacelle too. Women have spoken on the record. There is no innuendo. There is, on the other hand, a refusal to believe women by many. Is that you?

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 4

Women are capable of lying. Why not believe Pacelle's denial, which is no less uncorroborated than the allegations.

Carol J. Adams‏ @_CarolJAdams
Feb 4

Because I have talked to numerous of his victims who did not know each other. I really have to ask why you are willing to believe him. And stop insulting me and everyone else. Read all the material.

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 5

I respect your judgement, but it is after all just YOUR judgement.
And I read all the material, so please stop insulting me with the assumption that I haven't.
Finally, again, why should I believe Pacelle any less than I believe his accusers?

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Guy Scotton @GuyScotton
Feb 2
Guy Scotton Retweeted VINE Sanctuary

Time's up!

VINE Sanctuary Retweeted The Humane Society of the United States
Today, the Humane Society of the United States accepted the resignation of President and CEO, Wayne Pacelle. Read more: http://bit.ly/2nxqgEp
Time's up for Wayne Pacelle - a case that should be read in the context of the many testimonials of male entitlement, exploitation, and predation within the movement: https://www.canhad.org/read-testimonials/ … A systemic scourge calls for systemic change in the policies and priorities of such orgs.

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 3

Are you implying that all of those testimonies are about Wayne Pacelle? Or that Pacelle has been sacrificed because we don't know who those testimonies are about (let alone their context)?

Guy Scotton @GuyScotton
Feb 3

Oh, neither, apologies if unclear. I meant that both illustrate a systemic failing in the expectations, policies, and priorities of animal advocacy. As some articles have noted, something like Tofurky's giving policy might be indicative going forward: http://tofurky.com/discrimination/

El Rucio @ElRucioDos
Feb 3

As inherently lawless, the power of the mob is even more dangerous than the power of well paid executives. So yes, discrimination and harassment policies are apparently needed to remedy abuses in both directions.

Guy Scotton @GuyScotton
Feb 3

Begone. [blocked]

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Update:  Carol Adams seems to be very pleased with her new crusade (she posted her alteration of Pacelle’s letter of resignation on Instagram and Facebook as well as Twitter). Now she is demanding that all men should probably have to apologize and even specifies what they should say. As El Rucio already said, this continues to appear vindictive and childish. It is also dangerous, evoking kangaroo courts, public shaming, and reeducation camps in its heedless witch-hunting righteousness.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

State of the Union, January 30, 2018

Donald Trump’s January 30, 2018, State of the Union address to Congress (excerpted):

... Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit. ...

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing — a small business in Ohio. They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. ...

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is "in God we trust." ...

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government. ...

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people. ...

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.

We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the "right to try."

One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.

America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our Nation’s wealth.

The era of economic surrender is over.

From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.

And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.

As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year — is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit. ...

We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.

We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.

As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.

As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.

Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives. ...

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too. ...

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package.

In recent months, my Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise — one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.

Here are the four pillars of our plan:

The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.

The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of "catch and release."

The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.

It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: "You will do it — because you can." He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca: You embody the goodness of our Nation. Thank you, and congratulations. ...

Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated. ...

[F]reedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.

A people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us — defending hope, pride, and the American way.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.

But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again. ...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Shortsighted and dangerous

Olaf Errwigge writes in The Commons in response to Michael Bosworth, “Which price do we pay? Keeping additional industrial-scale wind power out of our region is shortsighted and dangerous. Is there any middle ground?”:

Bosworth’s earnest appeal first requires that his premises be examined. Is wind energy actually “economically efficient” or “acutely needed”? Is the price actually just “some soil disturbance, some bird mortality”? Does it actually bring “significant benefits”?

Wind is a diffuse, intermittent, and highly variable resource, so there is no way that it can be economically efficient or have only moderate adverse impacts, because massive machines over vast (rural and wild) areas are required to collect any meaningful amount. The Windham Regional Commission Energy Plan clearly notes the unavoidable habitat destruction and fragmentation as well as many other environmental impacts:
“Wind turbine placement can be difficult and controversial because of natural resource impacts, aesthetics, noise, and the need for placement at elevations of 2,500-3,300 feet, locations in Vermont that tend to be sensitive with thin soils and steep slopes. The windiest areas in the region are most often on the higher-elevation ridgelines that are sensitive habitats for plants and wildlife, and are the source of the region’s most pristine headwaters. In areas where road access does not exist, new permanent roads must be built to service the wind facility. Other potentially negative environmental impacts include bird and bat mortality, habitat disruption and fragmentation, erosion, pollution from facility maintenance, turbine noise, and visual flicker.

“Given the nature of utility-scale wind development, which involves considerable blasting, road building, and other permanent alterations of the landscape and surface hydrology, it is deemed to be incompatible with the two aforementioned land use designations [ie, Resource Lands and Productive Rural Lands].”
And benefits? Its intermittency and high variability require that wind be 100% backed up by other sources. Wind serves as only a feel-good add-on to an electrical system that has to be able to work without it anyway, ready to kick in when the wind drops, and standing by to continuously balance its erratic feed. Those other sources do so at a cost to their own efficiency.

In short, the benefits of large-scale wind power are virtually nil, and the adverse impacts are substantial. It is certainly not "shortsighted and dangerous" to recognize that reality and to discourage such a destructive and unhelpful form of energy development.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Old forests are essential to sequestering carbon, logging doubles release

(Burning wood is not carbon neutral.)

From The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, ch. 16:

In a very simple, widely circulated image of natural cycles, trees are poster children for a balanced system. As the photosynthesize, they produce hydrocarbons, which fuel their growth, and over the course of their lives, they store up to 22 tons of carbon dioxide in their trunks, branches, and root systems. When they die, the same exact quantity of greenhouse gases is released a s fungi and bacteria break down the wood, process the carbon dioxide, and breath it out again. The assertion that burning wood is climate neutral is based on this concept. After all, it makes no difference if it’s small organisms reducing pieces of wood to their gaseous components or if the home hearth takes on this task, right? But how a forest works is way more complicated than that. The forest is really a gigantic carbon dioxide vacuum that constantly filters out and stores this component of the air.

It’s true that some of this carbon dioxide does indeed return to the atmosphere after a tree’s death, but most of it remains locked in the ecosystem forever. The crumbling trunk is gradually gnawed nad munched into smaller and smaller pieces and worked, by fractions of inches, more deeply into the soil. The rain takes care of whatever is left, as it flushes organic remnants down into the soil. The farther underground, the cooler it is. And as the temperature falls, life slows down, until it comes almost to a standstill. Adn so it is that carbon dioxide finds its final resting place in the form of humus, which continues to become more concentrated as it ages. ...

Today, ... forests are constantly being cleared, thanks to modern forest management practices (aka logging). As a result, warming rays of sunlight reach the ground and help the species living there kick into high gear. This means they consume humus layers even deep down into the soil, releasing the carbon they contain into the atmosphere as gas. The total quantity of climate-changing gases that escapes is roughly equivalent to the amount of timber that has been felled. For every log you burn in your fire at home, a similar amount of carbon dioxide is being released from the forest floor outside. And so carbon stores in the ground below trees in our latitudes are being depleted as fast as they are being formed. ...

Where is the end of the road for our forests? Will they go on storing carbon until someday there isn’t any left in the air? This, by the way, is no longer a question in search of an answer, thanks to our consumer society, for we have already reversed the trend as we happily empty out the earth’s carbon reservoirs. We are burning oil, gas, and coal as heating materials and fuel, and spewing their carbon reserves out into the air. In terms of climate change, could it perhaps be a blessing that we are liberating greenhouse gases from their underground prisons and setting them free once again? Ah, not so fast. True, there has been a measurable fertilizing effect as the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen. The latest forest inventories document that trees are growing more quickly than they used to. The spreadsheets that estimate lumber production need to be adjusted now that one third more biomass is accruing than a few decades ago. But what was that again? If you are a tree, slow growth is the key to growing old. ... And so the tried and tested rule holds true: less (carbon dioxide) is more (life-span).

When I was a student of forestry, I learned that young trees are more vigorous and grow more quickly than old ones. The doctrine holds to this day, with the result that forests are constantly being rejuvenated. Rejuvenated? That simply means that all the old trees are felled and replaced with newly planted little trees. Only then, according to the current pronouncements of associations of forest owners and representatives of commercial forestry, are forests stable enough to produce adequate amounts of timber to capture carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it. Depending on what tree you are talking about, energy for growth begins to wane from 60 to 120 years of age, and that means it is time to roll out the harvesting machines. Has the ideal of eternal youth, which leads to heated discussions in human society, simply been transferred to the forest? It certainly looks that way, for at 120 years of age, a tree, considered from a human perspective, has barely outgrown its school days.

In fact, past scientific assumptions in this area appear to have gotten ahold of the completely wrong end of the stick, as suggested by a study undertaken by an international team of scientists. The researchers looked at about 700,000 trees on every continent around the world. The surprising result: the older the tree, the more quickly it grows. Trees with trunks 3 feet in diameter generated three times as much biomass as trees that were only half as wide. So, in the case of trees, being old doesn’t mean being weak, bowed, and fragile. Quite the opposite, it means being full of energy and highly productive. This means elders are markedly more productive than young whippersnappers, and when it comes to climate change, they are important allies for human beings. Since the publication of this study, the exhortation to rejuvenate forests to revitalize them should at the very least be flagged as misleading. The most that can be said is that as far as marketable lumber is concerned, trees become less valuable after a certain age. In older trees, fungi can lead to rot inside the trunk, but this doesn’t slow future growth one little bit. If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old ....

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Santa’s Chariot of the Sun

Santa carries the sun of the dying year in his reindeer-drawn sled through the sky of the longest night, distributing the lights and gifts with which we kindle the sun of a new year out of the sparks and embers of the old.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Excerpt from La Belle Sauvage, Volume One of The Book of Dust

Excerpt from La Belle Sauvage, Volume One of The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman:

The lawns all sloped gently up to a great palace, glowing at every window, where people (too small to see in detail at that distance) moved about as if at a ball or a reception for important guests. They danced behind the windows, they stood talking on the terrace, they wandered here and there among the fountains and the flowers in the garden. Scraps of a waltz played by a large orchestra drifted down to the travellers on the grass, and scraps of conversation too, from the people who were walking to and fro.

On the other bank of the little river there was . . . nothing to see at all. A thick fog covered everything beyond the edge of the water. From time to time something would make the fog swirl and seem about to part, but it never did. Whether the opposite bank was like this one, cultivated, beautiful, wealthy, or whether it was an empty desert, they couldn’t tell.

[...]

The path to the palace led through the gardens, among the little trees with lights, past the beds of roses and lilies and other flowers, past a fountain with glowing water and then another with water that sparkled and a third that sprayed up not water but something like eau de cologne – and after all that, the travellers seemed not a yard closer to the building on the hill. They could see every window, every column, every one of the steps leading to the great open door and the glowing space inside; they could see people moving about behind the tall windows; they could even hear the sound of music as if a ball was in progress; but they were just as far from the palace as they were when they started.

‘This path must be laid out like a sodding maze,’ said Alice.

‘Let’s go straight across the grass,’ said Malcolm. ‘If we keep it right in front of us we can’t go wrong.’

So they tried that. If they came to a path they crossed it. If they came to a fountain they went round it and carried straight on. If they came to a flower bed they went right through it. And still they were no closer.

[...]

Wandering towards them was a little group of two men and two women. [...] They were young and elegant, dressed for a ball, the women in long gowns that left their arms and shoulders bare, the men in black and white evening dress, and they each carried a glass. They were all laughing and talking in that light happy way that Malcolm had seen lovers doing, and the dæmons, all birds, fluttered around or settled on their shoulders.

‘Excuse me,’ he said as they approached, ‘but . . .’

They ignored him and walked closer. Malcolm stepped right in front of them.

‘Sorry to bother you, but d’you know how we can—’

They took no notice whatsoever. It was as if he didn’t exist except as an obstacle in the path. Two went one side of him, laughing and chatting, and two went the other, hand in hand, murmuring into each other’s ears.

[...]

He found that he could return to the canoe in just a few steps. Somehow that wasn’t surprising.

[...]

[Malcolm climbs a tree for resin to repair his canoe ...] Then he looked out of the tree and across the great lawns and flower beds as far as the terrace and the house beyond it: gracious and comfortable, splendid and generous. He thought that one day he’d come here by right, and be made welcome, and stroll among these gardens with happy companions and feel at ease with life and death.

Then he looked the other way, across the little river. And he was high enough in the tree to see over the top of the fog bank, which only extended upwards for a few feet, as he now discovered; and beyond it he saw a desolation, a wilderness of broken buildings, burned houses, heaps of rubble, crude shanties made of shattered plywood and tar-paper, coils of rusty barbed wire, puddles of filthy water whose surfaces gleamed with the toxic shimmer of chemical waste, where children with sores on their arms and legs were throwing stones at a dog tied to a post.

[...] Bonneville! It’s him!

[...]

‘That’s the place where people go when they forget. You seen the fog on the other side?’

‘Yes. And I saw what was behind it.’

‘That fog’s hiding everything they ought to remember. If it ever cleared away, they’d have to take stock of theirselves, and they wouldn’t be able to stay in the garden no more.’