March 31, 2012

The Four or Five Funny Books

1. The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life (translation of An Béal Bocht) by Myles na gCopaleen (Brian O’Nolan a.k.a. Flann O’Brien)

2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

3. Fisher’s Hornpipe by Todd McEwen

4. Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna

5. Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson

6. Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

7. The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W. E. Bowman

March 28, 2012

The Arrogance of Industry

The state of New South Wales in Australia has drawn up draft guidelines to regulate further construction of "wind farms". Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Australia duly submitted comments to decry them and denounce those supporting them. (The alleged latter, however, do not find the guidelines to be very good, either: see here, here, and here.)

Ken McAlpine, Director of Policy and Government Relations, writes:
Vestas opposes the Draft Guidelines, primarily because of the sheer number of new and additional requirements and barriers that would be placed in front of the wind energy industry without any clear evidence, justification or demonstrated need for this additional regulation.

The Draft Guidelines appear to be in conflict with the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s own renewable energy policies and seem to be primarily motivated by an attempt to appease anti-wind protest groups.
In other words, after removing requirements and barriers facing development of previously protected land and instituting favorable regulations and tax breaks and other financial benefits to make our industry profitable, without any clear evidence, justification or demonstrated need, and seemingly motivated primarily by an attempt to appease pro-industry investors, how dare you consider anyone else's concerns or wishes, let alone the people you pretend to represent!

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

March 23, 2012

Judy Callens: Good Riddance!

A friend writes:

The principal (no "pal" of mine!) of Hartland Elementary School, Judy Callens, is retiring at the end of this academic year (because her contract was not renewed?). We have therefore been subjected to a barrage of encomia for her devotion to learning and her inspirational leadership.

In fact, her vision is limited to producing little soldiers. She is obsessed with disciplinary trivialities and eager to punish anyone who does not fall in with her rigid program of indoctrination. Her paeans to "community" in a weekly newsletter were no more than self-aggrandizing assertions of her school as defining the limits of that community. She epitomizes the reasons that so many people are not just dissatisfied with their public schools, but flee them in horror.

When we reached out to the teachers to help us through a bad patch in our son's academics, asking them to warn us earlier than at grade-reporting of any problems, to suggest extra work that might be helpful, etc., we were met almost entirely with silence. The guidance counselor who further brought it up on our behalf was met with defensive anger. Finally, Judy Callens, with our son in her office to inform him of her latest punishment for poor grades, told him that his teachers have no responsibility to communicate (same root as "community"!) with us beyond entering grade data into the online "Powerschool" program.

She even prefaced her comment to this child with a sarcastic "With all due respect". Too cowardly to face his parents, she revealed her true lack of respect for, even hatred of, children. And that attitude characterized the entire school. Her "leadership" encouraged a blithe laziness among the teachers, an environment that expected respect to flow one way only, especially when not deserved.

The community of Judy Callens' vision is a narrow one indeed. It is entirely shaped by her own personality: mean, resentful, small. It is defined by deference to authority above all else, perversely tested by giving every reason to disdain it. Hers is the logic of an abusive parent: ensuring the very disrespect she demands in a vicious spiral of violence and failure.

Spring came early with the announcement of her departure. Let us hope that Hartland Elementary will do much better with her replacement.

I wish Ms. Callens all the misery and misfortune she deserves for the violence she has done to the many young lives entrusted to her.

School Choice Vermont!

March 21, 2012

Security Threat — Stand Your Ground

Are George Zimmerman and Robert Bales very different from Barack Obama?

George Zimmerman was protecting his gated community — and in the evening of February 26 shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, because he didn't recognize him.

Barack Obama was protecting his country — and bombed and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (and nine others) on October 14, 2011, because his father had said mean words against U.S. arrogance (and who (along with three others) had already been killed for it on September 30, 2011). Although their murders would be inexcusable no matter their country of origin or residence, both al-Awlakis were U.S. citizens. But Obama did not recognize them as part of his community and considered that to be justification for murder.

American soldier Robert Bales "snapped" in Afghanistan and, allegedly alone, methodically killed 16 people and injured five in the dark morning hours of March 11. In one house, he killed a woman, four girls aged 2-6, four boys aged 8-12, and two other relatives. He then set their bodies on fire. In another house, he killed a 55-year-old man. In another village, he killed four members of another family, including another child. [Click here for their names.]

Bales had quit his career as a stockbroker to sign up with the Army after the hijacked airplane attacks on September 11, 2001. His fortunes as a capitalist were obviously not going well, and now he had something to blame. Eradicate that eternal enemy and his honor and prosperity would be restored, the latter at least in the expanded war market.

"Restoring America" — implying attainment of the personal "success" every citizen/consumer feels entitled to, somehow never wondering how everyone can triumph over everyone else — is the normal cry of every election in the U.S.A. That means that social and economic breakdown is the normal situation. It's as if politicians and every other huckster (the only people that do in fact "make it") want it that way! They market fear so they can sell you redemption.

It is the eradicating of an enemy — any enemy — that promises honor and profit. Without that enemy, where are you?

The message is the same from all of these killers: Stand your ground, America. It's never your fault. You have good reason to be scared, because other people aren't like you. Don't ever change! Don't ask questions! Shoot first! You're not a failure if you can kill! Your readiness to kill proves you're right!

[Ten years later: “Warshington Warlords]

March 18, 2012

All that remains

From "Going, Going" by Philip Larkin:

And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.

Most things are never meant.
This won't be, most likely; but greeds
And garbage are too thick-strewn
To be swept up now, or invent
Excuses that make them all needs.
I just think it will happen, soon.

environment, environmentalism

March 17, 2012

Into the tumbril!

Jeffrey St. Clair writes:

The environmental movement has become freighted with more and more deceptive terms. Let’s begin by banishing the tiresome phrase sustainable development. Coined by NGOs in the 1970s, this discreditable term has been used to put a green gloss on everything from mega-dams to rainforest logging. Endless development is a more accurate description.

Next, let us eliminate the Mephistophelean phase win-win solution, a verbal potion of the Clinton era that was used to justify oil drilling in the Arctic, logging in the redwoods, and rollbacks in air pollution standards. In win-win solutions, industry gets what it wants and environmental groups get paid in grants to go along with the deal.

Finally, let us jettison the term holistic, especially when affixed to “ecosystem” or “resource management.” Holistic is a merely a New Age-update of the venerable term “multiple use,” one of the oldest cons in the history of conservation. Multiple use was the ludicrous notion that public lands could be all things to all people (or more properly all industries). In other words, wildlife could peacefully co-exist with mining, logging, livestock and off-road vehicle use. Holistic ecosystem management posits the same battered notion, but escalates the deception by suggesting that logging and grazing are actually beneficial to the long-term health of the ecosystem.

environment, environmentalism

March 14, 2012

A friend writes

Good god, women have enough problems and then to be "defended" by the likes of this Queen of Banality Maureen Dowd. Disgusting and dull as always, a free ad written for the too awful to even adequately describe Hillary Clinton. Maureen Dowd writes this embarrassing, dumb ode to female power, yet more men are mentioned in the column than women, and the only two who qualify to be in this faux-feminist bit of dreariness are military/industrial complex good soldiers Hillary Clinton and Olympia Snowe. O saintly Hillary Clinton, she has "fought for women's rights around the world", she has. And O, the "mass misogyny" of the Republicans! Poor ole Olympia Snowe -- fed up and leaving, and she be a woman! O if ye be female clasp your hands and shake them at the bitter heavens in despair and rage, rage rage at the Republicans, except if they be women.

Hillary should run for President in 2016, opines the ever vulgarian Dowd. Women are beginning to think Obama is not enough -- (surely not!) so, naturally, "they " are turning to Hillary, who as we know is so different from Obama in that she is apparently a female. She writes "If women are so vulnerable, they may need one of their own. Is she inevitable?" Excuse me while I throw up. I am channeling Santorum now. Wow. This monster known as Hillary Clinton is a champion for women's rights, as long as they are in her peer group, and they certainly don't include the women and female children she has consigned to a violent death in her endless war-mongering and support of drone attacks -- was it not she who said she would obliterate Iran? And applauded her vile husband's ending of welfare for poor mothers, and decided that desperate people, many of them undoubtedly women, should not be allowed to declare bankruptcy? How in any way is this charlatan lauded as being for women's rights? Is feminism defined as merely a privileged class of women "taking over", identical in nearly every way to the men who now hold power? How sad and pathetic.

The Republicans are barbarians when it comes to women, there is no doubt. But they have gotten this far in erasing abortion rights because the Democrats never fought back viciously and relentlessly against these deadly thugs. The Dems, including Clinton, (who described abortion as a "tragedy") apologized every fucking step of the way and pathetically tried to seek "common ground" with anti-abortion, anti-women forces, and so they lost this war, and THAT is a tragedy for women.

WHAT IS THE WORST thing is not Dowd's ignorant, trashy chick-lit-style column -- it is that every single commenter agrees with her -- every single one. Not one person not extolling Cinton to the skies, not one person pointing out what a war-mongering piece of shit she is -- opining all over the place that the head of the World bank is the place for her, the Supreme court, the presidency -- oh my god! The place for her is in the dock answering for her war crimes, but as these comments indicate, what passes as the "left" is essentially dead in this country -- they are brain-dead, banal, only think in the lifeless, claustrophobic terms handed to them by the media, can no longer think critically and have become Republicans albeit ones that believe in abortion rights (to a degree) and the difference between the parties has been essentially erased but the team players on both sides are so brainwashed they don't even see it. Now because Repubs hate women, the Dems now LOVE women (except for those women who made the bad decision to be Palestinians or Afghans, Pakistanis, Libyans, Yemeni, Iraqi, Irani, etc etc....) Dems even lauding that vicious creep Snowe, who quit only because she and her corporate sleaze husband are facing a big corruption lawsuit.

I despise the repubs for their hatred of women, but I despise the Dems for the same. I know that women are just as vile as men, and take no comfort in the prospect of seeing "one of my own" as President, unless perhaps it was Green party candidate Jill Stein, which will never happen. The only kind of woman who would be electable in this backwards kind of culture are women like Clinton, who are utterly indistinguishable from the men who run this country -- psychopaths all.

March 3, 2012

Vestas V112 uses less power

A full page ad from Vestas in the March North American Windpower (below, or the part that fit in my scanner) boasts that its 3-MW V112 wind turbine "uses less power", that it has a "unique system that uses the wind's own energy to cool the nacelle and reduce power consumption".

This is interesting because the industry and its apologists have long insisted that power consumption by large wind turbines (which can not operate without power from the grid) is insignificant.

But if it is insignificant, then the energy savings of the Vestas "Cooler Top" design would be insignificant. Yet they devoted a full-page ad to promote it.

Which clearly suggests that energy consumption by wind turbines is indeed substantial.

Update:  The new design may not work so well to prevent overheating, as a model in Germany was destroyed by fire of "undetermined" cause.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines