Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hold the Gravy, Pass Me My Credit Card

 Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for Nov 29, 12

Once again, the wringing of hands, the brow-wrinkling concern, the dire prognosticators decrying stores that opened their doors on Thanksgiving night.  Outrageous! thunders The Church-of-TV-Punditry-Gasbags.  We’re destroying our American Values, we’re being overtaken by soul-eating commercialism!  Halloween’s barely over, the Kandy Korn is still stuck in our teeth, and here come the Christmas decorations and Big Sale door-busters! Is nothing sacred anymore?

Ah, but we Americans do love our fake nostalgia.  In all our heads we carry the dream of The Great American Tradition – The Perfect Thanksgiving, straight out of Hollywood and a Norman Rockwell magazine cover, the family gathered around the huge white linen-covered table, Granny bringing in the perfect turkey.  The warm sun is pouring into the dining room through lace curtains.  Uncle Fred and Aunt Sarah and Mom and Dad are there.  Little Timmy and Tammy are all brushed up, their unruly cowlicks laying flat, nice and clean in their Sunday best and are gathered around, eyes on the turkey, tummies rumbling with anticipation. 

Soon, the feast will begin, the soft voices of a family sharing stories and decorous laughter rising above the clink of silverware on china.  And when all are replete, the family will retire to the parlor to spend the rest of the lazy Autumn day chatting or playing board games while the men folk doze in the big armchairs and the women folk share gossip and do the washing up.  Later, the kids will go out to play some touch football on the lawn. And towards evening, everyone will take a few moments to think about what a great country they live in and how important it is to spend family time together, and how much they all have to be thankful for. 


In the real world, the busy family stopped eating together years ago.  It’s been food-on-the-fly for ages, and if they were forced to sit at table together for more than 10 minutes, everyone would consider that to be a cruel torture.  At some point, even Granny stopped cooking on the holidays years ago (“I did Thanksgiving for 30 years and I’m not doing it anymore.”), the family’s gone vegan and that’s a Tofurky on the table. Uncle Fred’s fallen off the wagon and is now face down in the mashed potatoes.  Aunt Sarah is hissing at him (“I could have married a doctor years ago, but Nooo, I had to go and marry you!”). Timmy and Tammy are sullenly slouched down in their chairs, their noses buried in their iPhones and furiously texting their friends, wishing to God they were somewhere – anywhere else than here (“OMG! This sucks! What R U doing?”), while Dad has escaped to the living room with his buddies and they’re parked in front of the big screen TV watching football and drinking beer.

In short, dinner’s over in a flash and the family is bored silly and desperate to get away from each other as fast as possible.  And what better way to do that but head to the mall?

It’s the perfect combination: The atomized family, adrift from old fashioned tradition and rigid social restraints, desperate for constant stimulation and entertainment, all gleefully swimming in the vast American Sea of Mass Consumption.  

So starting the new tradition of a Mall ThanksChristgiving seems like a winner.  No need to spend boring time with one another, there’s plenty of excitement and novelty for everyone, tons of instant gratification provided by credit cards, and if anyone misses the thrill of violence formerly provided by football games, consider the recent WalMart/BestBuy riots, the wonderful real-time thrill of dangerous crowd crush, head-butts, elbow-slams, and even gunshots from armed shoppers.   

So I say to the gasbag decriers of the death of tradition:  Zip it.  Americans are always re-inventing their traditions.  It’s what we do. Norman Rockwell’s dead. Get over it. Time for a new holiday: The Great Winter Buy-A-Thon.

That’s when, on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, Americans of all ages, will gather together, credit cards securely tucked into their pockets right next to the Glock and their smart phones, a backpack full of turkey sandwiches slung over their shoulders, (O Pioneers!) and head with their fellow Americans to the Malls of America for one of two glorious days of shopping and shooting togetherness, a spectacular blow-out of happily harvesting vast quantities of  unnecessary crap that will end up in the landfill come January 1st.

Can you think of anything more American than that?     

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't Make Me Get The Flying Monkeys

Run.  No, better yet, fly down to the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, CPA (  ), at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria to catch their Holiday presentation of "The Wizard of Oz," now playing until Dec 26. 

I have never seen a bad performance at PCPA and their holiday presentations are always something even more special.  This year is no exception.  All your favorite Ozian characters are here, including the original music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. And even better, (and what could be more suitable to the Ozian material?), they've added the most amazing puppets (including Toto) designed by Emily DeCola of New York's Puppet Kitchen.  She also created the puppets designs that were so beautifully utiltzed in PCPA's  "My Fairytale," an original musical about Hans Christian Anderson's life that was presented a few years ago.

 There is something so utterly magical about puppets in a theatre piece.  The audience must push the "willing suspension of disbelief" even further into the realm of magic and childlike delight. As Ms. DeCola noted, "There is a co-creation that takes place whenever you ring a puppet on stage, wherein, the audience and performer are both 'believing' something into existence.  As an audience, it's rewarding because puppetry ups the ante in terms of asking the audience to become more creatively involved in the work taking place on stage." Add in the always clever, often astonishing set decoration and incredibly skillful lighting and costumes, and you've got an absolutely enchanting piece of theatre.

So, do yourself a favor, give yourself a real Christmas gift, and don't miss this one.  It's fantastic.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This lovely piece is by Pulitzer Prize winner, Carl Dennis from his collection, "New and Selected poems; 1974-2004"


In the fading photograph of the pleasure boat
The pleasure-seekers, dressed in their Sunday best,
Crowd all three decks, women in sun hats
Pausing to chat with bearded men in derbies
Who lean on the rail, listening to the band.

On shore, the quiet farms slide by.  Here and there
A cluster of low houses, a river town.  The sun
Shines overhead.  Everyone looks willing to be interested,
Pointing to the inlets and islands, recalling their names,
Though many have boarded the boat nudged by a friend,
By a promise to a child, though the children are already lost,
Crying with their dolls in the passageways.

It's only because they're long dead
That they all look sad.  But some must be happy.
Some must refuse to envy the boats in front
Or look back on the boats behind and sigh.
The ride is no empty promise to them
of a better ride to come, and no omen of a worse.
Whatever they expected to be shown is here.

Whatever lies behind the water, the sun, the air,
The uniforms of the band, is too imperfect to be be seen,
Unfinished, still composing its face in the dark,
Waiting, as this moment waited, below deck
Till the Sunday comes when it's ready to appear.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks Giving

A few days ago, while I was in the garage, I heard some fluttering noises. It was a hummingbird.  He had gotten himself lost in the garage and was desperately and futilely trying to escape through the little window panes in the roll-up garage door.

The dogs had alerted to the sound and their noses were pointing up at the little windows in full hunting mode.  Since Zuri, the Sloughi, is a fierce hunter and a pretty good jumper when motivated, I quickly hustled all the dogs into the house, opened the door to the garage, turned off the lights and got a broom to try to shoo the little guy out the door.

No such luck.  He zoomed up into the dusty rafters and hid, ignoring the open door and my waving broom.  So I gave up, rolled down the garage door, opened the back door (which is how he got in) and let him be and went back into the house.

A short time later I heard the fluttering again, this time at the front living room windows.  Once again, hustled the dogs out the door, turned out all the lights, opened the front door and got out the broom, but the hummer was having none of it and flew around the room several times before crashing into the kitchen window and slumping down to the sink.

I quickly grabbed a tea towel, crept up, tossed it over him and gently scooped him up, fearful he'd bolt out and start the desperate chase all over again.  But he was totally spent, his tiny feet tangled in sticky cobwebs and dust, exhausted.  Since I had no idea how long he had been trapped, it's likely he hadn't eaten for some time and his reserves were probably on zero.

I gently carried him outside, still clutched in the towel, and started peeling away the cobwebs from his exquisite little clawed feet. When I had gotten enough of the stuff off, I pulled the towel away from his head.  He lay there, his jeweled throat glowing magenta, but made no move to leave.

Suddenly he must have gotten oriented and leaped from my hands and fluttered clumsily into the nearest bush, his left wing akimbo.  Suddenly sick at heart, I thought he might have broken his wing.  But after a minute, he fluffed and shook himself and his wing fell into place.  He then looked around and made a bee line for the feeder, landed on the perch -- belly up to the bar -- and proceeded to stand there and suck down that life-saving nectar.

Then, in all his fierce, fragile beauty, he flew off to the huge coyote bush, safe once again in his territory, focused once again on the business of living.

On this day, my list of things to be thankful for will be a long, long list.  And right at the top will be the memory of the sudden, life-claiming flight of that determined little bird who burst out from a dark, scary place into the bright light of day. 

There is craft in this smallest insect,
With strands of web spinning out his thoughts;
In his tiny body finding rest,
And with the wind lightly turning.
Before the eaves he stakes out his broad earth;
For a moment on the fence top lives through his life.
When you know that all beings are even thus,
You will know what creation is made of.
                         Sugaware no Michizane

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Really? Bruce Too II?

Awww, ya gotta be kidding me.  Tuesday Tribune headlines:  "County mulls a code of behavior," and states,  "In the wake of an affair between county Supervisor Bruce Gibson and his legislative aide, a pair of key county officials say it is time to develop a code of conduct that would regulate such behavior."

Gee, ya think? 

Let's consider:  Two years ago, Supervisor Gibson had a front row seat when he presided over and voted to fire County Administrator Dave Edge for his e-mail involvement in the Gail Wilcox Hot Mess mess.  Up close and personal, he read the investigator's expensive, tax-payer financed report, with all the juicy details that ensue when people start Walking While Stupid, none of which involved Edge sleeping with anyone not his wife, by the way.  Furthermore, the Tribune notes that Gibson is "chairman of CSAC's [County Supervisors Association of California] government and operations policy committee, which deals with, among other things, employee relations. (emphasis mine.) I know of no government office that officially approves of a boss sleeping with his employee.  Indeed, it's generally understood that that's a really, really bad idea and is universally cautioned against.  Yet none of these things stopped Supervisor Gibson from sleeping with the legislative aide he hired.

Which means 1) Supervisor Gibson feels he is above any and all behavior norms, codes of conduct, or even common sense.  Or 2) Supervisor Gibson is incapable of learning anything from context and so is greatly in need of a list of clearly spelled out rules, such as, "Do Not Stick A Pencil In Your Eye," "Do Not Step Into The Open Door Of An Empty Elevator Shaft,"and "Do Not Have Sex With Your Subordinates."

So, yes, Board of Supervisors, please do let's get a Code.  It's too late to stop this particular horse's ass from bolting from the barn, but maybe it'll help other context-challenged Supervisors and/or employees.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Really? Bruce, too?

Oh Lord, it must be something in the water.  General Pretaeus all over the news for committing adultery and now our very own 2nd District County Supervisor, Bruce Gibson, turned out to be another middle-aged egotistical fool who carried on a secret affair with a woman who was not his wife, but was his legislative aide, a woman he interviewed and then hired and then slept with for a good long while, and when the secret was about to get out, he finally got around to telling his wife, then went public to claim it was all a matter of the heart and claim, with that typical smothering Gibsonian cascade of oleoagineous words, that he was chagrined most of all by the “breach of trust that [he] caused to occur with my constituents,”  and because this “relationship and my concealment of it will cause people to question my integrity.”

Bruce Gibson’s constituents trust him and believe he has integrity?  Really?

In General Pretaeus’ case, he least had the integrity to resign, but in Gibson’s case, the poor voters have no such luck.  Instead, the County went into a well practiced CYA dance.  Staff spent gazillions of tax-payer-financed hours combing through all of Gibson and Ms.Cherie Aispuro’s emails and travel vouchers to see if they could glean anything that might stick them with a sexual harassment lawsuit.  And then, because the county doesn’t have a written policy prohibiting such boss/employee canoodling, instead of firing Ms. Aispuro for Walking while Stupid (sleeping with your boss and thereby creating a “hostile workplace"), it raced to make sure Ms. Aispuro was given another job in another department at her nice cushy $68,890 salary, again to ward off any possible later lawsuits by Ms. Aispuro who might decide that while Gibson remained untouched in the Cat Bird Seat (no paper bag over the head for him! He's likely getting himself groomed for a run at higher office!), she had just been given the bum’s rush, and now that her reputation and career are permanently in the toilet, she might decide to Call Her Lawyer.
Well, in this county, that’s how it’s done.

As for Gibson, he’ll remain in office, and no doubt spend his last two years boring everyone to death with self-justification whining or slip into his endless stem-winding, Explain-It-All-For-You  Supervisorial from-the- dais lecture a constant stream of defensive references to how much integrity he has, thereby causing everyone within the sound of his voice to roll their eyes and mumble, “Sure,sure, Bruce, sure, whatever you say.”

But the evidence speaks for itself.  Like all Pols, Bruce has been betraying one group of constituents or another from the day he took office -- promise X, deliver Y, then defensively deny or weasle away from the cold-blooded pre-planned switch. The fact that this comes far too easily to Bruce speaks directly to both character and integrity. 

And, as for matters of the heart, a man of integrity cleans up his messy love life before embarking on an affair of the heart .  A man with no integrity double-deals as long as he can get away with it, and only when discovery is nigh does he cover his egotistical, lying ass by exposing his mistress to scorn and hanging his wife out to dry.

Then goes to the local newspaper to speak of “integrity” and “trust.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

One of my favorite poets, Jack Gilbert, died recently.  In a cruel twist of what he likely would see as poetic irony, he died of Alzheimer's,  a cruel, slow erasure for a man whose genius and soul was composed of words.  Luckily, in 2009, Knopf published his "Collected Poems, which gathered his five original collections (some of which were out of print),  plus some new work, so at least his extraordinary voice would not be lost to the world. Gilbert's work had magnitude, and I am grateful for the gift of it to the world.

If you're unfamiliar with his work, please go get a copy of "Refusing Heaven," which is a good place to start and was the Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.  It's out in paperback so is very affordable.  

This poem, one of my all time favorites, says it all. 

A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere.  Slaughter everywhere.  If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else.  With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the morning before summer dawn would not
be made so fine.  The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well.  The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick.  There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight.  Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.  To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island; the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Koff, Koff

Sunday and Monday, Nov. 18 and 19, Ken Burns' new documentary on The Dust Bowl will run on PBS.  It's running in two, two-hour blocks (check your local listings) on both days and will cover the epic disaster as only Ken Burns can.  And if you want to read more about it, try "The Worst Hard Time," by Timothy Egan.

And if you think you already know everything you need to know about the Dust Bowl, trust me;  You don't.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Terminex Time

Calhoun’s Cannons for November 13 2012

Termites.  Zombie termites.  Whack one over the head and you think that’ll take care of the problem but then you turn around and there he is again, softly munching on the door frame.  

Just like Karl Rove, the brain behind George Bush, the genius behind the Super PAC Crossroads GPS, the darling strategist of the Republicans.  It’s election night on Fox News and Karl was just hit over the head with a huge, thick, heavy book full of numbers; polling numbers, voting numbers, actual facts, and outside-the-bubble reality.  Thwock!

And still Karl wasn’t getting it. Clearly, not getting it.  Instead he was denying those numbers, and rattling off other numbers, happier numbers, Republican numbers that would show his client winning.  Until news anchor Megyn Kelly turned to him and said, right out loud, on air, on Fox News, straight from the belly of the Great Republican BS Bubble Machine, “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”

And there it was.  From the mouth of a babe.  Brave, pretty Megyn.  The whole Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly ginned up Republican BS Bubble Machine finally exposed, the Ozian curtain pulled aside to reveal all the termites munching away. “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”

And suddenly, the jig was up, that years-long circle jerk of creepy old very well paid white guys (and several helmet-haired skinny blonds with fierce, rictus smiles) stroking and fueling one another with made up crap, pumped up on faux anger, fake numbers, heating themselves up into a sweaty frenzy of wacko conspiracy theories, racial dog whistle music, and Onanistic misogyny – all those Mexicans! Those Sluts! Those blacks who just want stuff! The moochers are coming! The moochers are coming!

Until it all came crashing down around the King of the Universe, gut stuck by pretty little Megyn and the mooching voters.  

Now, in a sane world, Karl, Sean, Rush, O’Reilly, et all would put paper bags over their heads and slink away in disgrace.  Mainstream newspapers would return their Op/Eds with a courteous, cool No Thank You.  Viewers would snort through their noses and change the channel.  But we don’t live in a sane world.  We live in a Zombie Termite world and shortly after Karl’s amazing sputter on election night, there he was in the Murdochian Wall Street Journal, holding forth in all his brazen punditry.  No shame.  No paper bag.  And from Right Wing World, not a guffaw, not even the hint of a snigger at these guys or a demand from sane Republicans for somebody to, please God, get them off the stage – they’re killing us!

Nope, not a bit of it. Instead, Hannity went on the air to rail at voters for voting for Obama, Bill O’Reilly whined about a world filled with people who just “wanted stuff,” and Rush Limbaugh simply had a complete meltdown – off the rails and utterly flummoxed by his self-created cognitive dissonance and blubbering at the prospect that his own privately invented Apocalypse was at hand. 

Then all of them started blaming the media.  And from their Poobah Pundit Lips came not a whisper of a horrifying possibility:  That America had heard all that the Great Right Wing Republican BS Machine had to say and politely said, No Thanks. That there just might be another reality that consisted of voters who were finally onto the Great Con that had been run on them for 30 years by those same pundits.  And that now, busted, their economy looted, their country beggared and themselves dispossessed, they finally woke up and pulled aside the curtain.    

But if you think you’ve seen the last of Rove and all the other discredited “talking heads” on the media circuit, well you’re out of luck.  Karl and the rest won’t go away. Like all the other official go-to yakkers on the Sunday Morning News Gab Fests, they’ve become a permanent fixture, an interchangeable troop of well paid character actors who appear weekly to play Discredited Democratic Hack arguing with Discredited Republican Hack, on what pretends to be a “news” show presided over by another actor pretending to be a “journalist, all interspersed by commercials for Depends and Mountain Dew.  And not a paper bag in sight. Or a Terminex guy.

World without end.  Thwock!     

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This by Mary de La Valette, from a lovely anthology: "Life Prayers: 365 Prayers, Blessings and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey," collected from around the world by Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon, who also edited "Earth Prayers."

I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.

Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
the hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.

And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Question, Part II

Calhoun’s Cannons for Nov 7, 2012

Ah, blessed silence.  No more political ads.  No more robocalls.  Silence. 

No, wait.  I spoke too soon.  Can you hear it?  That awful moaning, that eerie muffled shrieking, the boiling, rumbling, growling rage thundering almost, but not quite, out of hearing range. It’s the minions of Rush Limbaugh, old white guys, radical anti-science, anti-modernity, anti-government wing nuts who have hijacked the Republican party, plus the near entirety of the white South (and who said the Confederacy was defeated?).  And I don’t think they’re very happy.

I can certainly understand that fury.  When you live in a Fake Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Frank Luntz/Donald Trump created bubble long enough, pretty soon you get to thinking that’s reality.  Then something like this comes along and it’s all, Woa! You mean the rest of the country doesn’t think President Obama is the Anti-Christ Muslim Kenyan Socialist Hitler who’s going to turn all our children gay, kill all our grannies in his ObamaCare “death panels,” and then declare America to be a colony of surrender-monkey France?

Guess not.  Quel shock.  But Democrats shouldn’t be going all giddy and waving big foam #1 fingers in the air.  Winning an election is one thing.  Governing is quite another.  And there remains one HUGE question to be answered.

In his concession speech, Governor Romney called on Americans to “pray” for the re-elected President.  While prayers are always nice, what went missing from that speech was the exhortation to his fellow Republicans to stop their mindless stonewalling and get back to the work they were elected to do. 

Which means that there remains One Key Question that this election has still left unanswered:  Will the Republican leadership, Mitch McConnell and the various Young Turks, Paul Ryan, included, once again meet behind closed doors to swear to one another that their one overriding agenda for the next four years is to once again block anything the President and their Democratic colleagues propose? 

In short, will the Republicans in Congress double-down as Rocks in the Road once again or decide to sniff the (real) air, read the (reality-based) tea leaves, and start to engage in the hard, messy work of actually governing?

Which involves compromise, pragmatic hold-your-nose deal-making and, above all, requires that politicians stop believing their own fake PR, made-up wishful thinking, and reality-free ideology. I mean, if hurricane Sandy had one lesson to deliver it was this:  Magical thinking and reality-free ideology doesn’t stop storm surges and howling winds.  

Here in California, there are some signs that reality is modestly returning while Grover Norquists’ blood-oath, evil-grip siren-song (We don’t need to raise taxes to pay for anything.) seems to be lessening.  As of this writing, Governor Brown’s initiative to vote to actually tax ourselves in order to keep our schools from bleeding out looks like it may well pass. Amazing.

And prompts another question: Is it possible that Battered Wife Nation, Suicide Nation, a country that somehow allowed itself to be convinced that it didn’t deserve to live in a decent society, that it was o.k. to gut its middle-class and move its jobs offshore in order to move all that nice profit up to the 1% while leaving the 99% with crumbs, that its kids didn’t deserve a future, that its working poor and most vulnerable should be tossed to the wolves since they were nothing but freeloaders and bums, has suddenly decided that they deserve better after all?

If so, then late being better than never, maybe prayers are in order.  Prayers of thanks

Garage Sale for Doggies

SLO-4-PUPs, the volunteer group that started and maintains the El Chorro Off Leash Dog Park (at El Chorro Park, across from Cuesta College) is having a fund-raising GARAGE SALE.

 Saturday and Sunday, Nov 10 & 11 from 8 a.m. - 3 at 915 Mesa St. in Morro Bay

Loads of great Christmas ornaments, decorations, as well as other wonderful stuff.  So, come early and get some great bargains with the proceeds going to help support the dog park.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

A good day to share a little Wislawa Szymborska, from, "Monologue of a Dog."


I'd have to be really quick
to describe clouds --
a split second's enough
for them to start being something else.

Their trademark:
they don't repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

Unburdened by memory of any kind,
they float easily over the facts.

What on earth could they bear witness to?
They scatter whenever something happens.

Compared to clouds,
life rests on solid ground,
practically permanent, almost eternal.

Next to clouds
even a stone seems like a brother,
someone you can trust,
while they're just distant, flighty cousins.

Let people exist if they want,
and then die, one after another:
clouds simply don't care
what they're up to
down there.

And so their haughty fleet
cruises smoothly over your whole life
and mine, still incomplete.

They aren't obliged to vanish when we're gone.
They don't have to be seen while sailing on.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Question

Calhoun’s Cannons for November 3, 2012

It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
     Upton Sinclair

O.K. Congress, The Question: Is New Jersey wet enough for you?

It’s a fair question for an elective body that is filled with Climate Deniers, including some of whom are serving on, of all things, the science and energy committees. Really?  Science Committees?  Only in America.  

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, already has an answer.  Ditto, New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg and so, I suspect, does Republican New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, who originally stumped for climate-change derider, Mitt Romney.  But now Christie’s standing next to President Obama and no doubt thanking his lucky stars that Mitt Romney didn’t get a chance to defund and privitize FEMA.  Well, of all the governors and mayors in America, who better than these guys to start  coming up with answers to that basic question.

In the great Blizzard of 1888, New York was totally paralyzed and decided that it had better put all its utilities and a good chunk of its transportation underground so as to not get caught again by snow.  So it dug tunnels and subway tubes and criss-crossed its landscape with what are basically huge underground pipes that are now filled up with water.

Water.  Rain and storm surge from a rising sea level, all of which arrived last week and will continue to arrive with increasingly ferocious regularity.  Unlike their Washington counterparts, Cuomo, and Bloomberg and, I suspect, Christie get it.  And are now finally discussing the obvious – New Jersey has now become our New Normal and we’d better deal with it.

Which is a shocking statement of fact that had a good many conservative Washington Pols twittering nervously.  The House of The Koch Brothers is a flimsy carbon burning structure that stays alive only because of our corrupt and corrupting election processes.  Pols gotta dance with them what bought ‘em and nobody pays better than Big Oil and Coal.  So it’s no wonder that so much of Congress is blind, willfully blind, embarrassingly blind, destructively blind, hiding in the closet with their money and their eyes scrunched shut, thinking the storms won’t find them there.

And now here comes The Guvs and the Mayors, like some kind of modern day Alice in Wonderland pointing out the obvious – Your house, my house, all our houses are nothing but a pack of cards.  They cannot hold. 

The Pentagon figured that out a few years ago.  They’ve been writing White papers for some time detailing exactly how Global Climate Change is a severe national security threat.  The Seabees know about pipes and tunnels and sea surges and high ground.  They’ve been looking at the coasts of America and what they’ve been seeing for some time now is New Jersey, writ large. 

Ditto for the insurance companies.  More quiet samizdat White Papers have been making the rounds: Private insurance companies are realizing that they cannot cover their bets, cannot afford to keep writing paper like they have been, too many “at risk” properties, too many “pre-existing conditions,” too many “New Jerseys” and “fire-stormed” Colorados and “crop-loss” Iowas.  Which means that Americans will soon find that they will no longer be “in safe hands,” and the fine print in their various insurance policies will start getting smaller, more expensive, and more convoluted until translated into the obvious:  Sorry, we no longer cover that . . . whatever it is . . .  and neither does any insurance company in the world.   

Welcome to Climate Change America. Where pivoting seriously to non-carbon burning energy will be expensive while NOT pivoting will be even more expensive, because, one way or the other, Mother Nature will be paid.

And so the Question to Congress. Is New Jersey finally wet enough for you?

Playing Hookey

Spent the last week in Fresno painting my sister’s laundry room a very pale Caribbean lagoon turquoise.  Interesting thing about color; in a room the light bounces from wall to wall picking up and reflecting the color, thereby intensifying it.  When we were done with the job and looked into the room from the kitchen, the whole room looked like an ice locker and I half expected to see clouds of icy fog come rolling out.  A visual phenomenon which might be useful in Fresno in the summer.  Save on air conditioning; just stand in front of your laundry room door and peer in and shiver.

And when we were done, we went to the Chaffey Zoo to feed a giraffe or two, who took the leaves so gently in their great long, long black tongues.

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And then bent low to snorkel around to see if there was more shrubbery available.

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Then it was off to peer into the huge aviary to spot the HUGE Andean condors with their 10 – 12 foot wingspans.  The zoo has a mated pair and ever-hopeful keepers wishing for baby condors.

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But the most spectacular exhibit was the newly installed Sea Lion Cove, a huge salt-water  lagoon complete with underwater viewing station.  There you could sit for hours watching the sea lions swooping, turning, hovering, or dozing in the flickering Caribbean blue pool the exact color of my sister’s laundry room. 

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One of the sea lions was nearly blind, but that didn’t interfere with her ability to swiftly navigate the pool flawlessly, coming without hesitation to within inches of the wall or glass barrier before effortlessly turning.

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And we finished up the tour with a visit to the impatient Malay tiger waiting for his mate to arrive.  The courtship will take some time and involve many nervous zoo personnel standing by and crossing their fingers since tiger matings can be lethal to the female since she deliberately seeks out the most aggressive, strong, healthy male she can find to mate with and the courtship  battle often gets out of hand, alas.  It’s behavior not unknown to some human couples, but one that is worrisome to the endangered tiger population that can’t afford to loose too many of its ladies.

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