Monday, April 30, 2012

why global commensality is/isn't ROMANTICISM

   In a commensal world ,humanity dines with reality - not upon it.
   Hitler cherry-picked much from the Romantic Era - above all he saw that humanity could, be sheer force of will , create vast mental universes.

   But is was his great error was to imagine he - or anyone - could successfully impose these mental universes upon the physical universe (or universes).
   Romantics saw the physical universe, Nature, as endlessly dynamic , a constantly changing kaleidoscope of possibilities.
   They imagined the human individual was also a kaleidoscope of mental possibilities.
   The Modernists, such as Hitler and Einstein,  had a great weakness .
   It was to presume there was something they could drag into this Romantic Era from earlier (Plato to the Enlightenment) ages.
   They envisioned that one could fully know this natural kaleidoscope, fully know it to the point of freezing it and then re-molding it in your own mind-created kaleidoscope.
   They saw all of Nature's unceasing variety as a mere rococo surface, a showiness, because deep underneath, fundamentally, Nature was made up of a few knowable laws.
   Compared to the human mental universe, the physical universe they saw as much simpler.
   Now commensality agrees with the modernists that a single human mind might not just be able to convince itself, but all humanity, that cherry trees bloom year around on the top of Mount Everest.
   Virtual Reality behold yourself !
   But commensality argues that the physical reality remains equally successful in insisting that that no cherry tree ever blooms on the top of Mount Everest.
  Our mental universes are as free as the Romantics  and their foes, the Modernists,said they were, but they remain in, horizontal with, the physical universe, not superior to it.....

DENIERS are liberals, DOOMERS are conservative, n'est ce pas ?

   Wrong, wrong, wrong.
   Totally wrong : this oddball idea that DENIERS are conservatives.

   Only the Liberal mind holds that reality is totally knowable and totally perfectible with the application of enough human willpower.
   So we hear the Liberal mind at work when we hear the Denier proclaim: "If there is too much carbon pollution in the atmosphere, we will find the technology to sequester it back into the ground, cheaply, easily and safely."
    And : "Let us not impede the ever upward pace of progress by all these alarmist doubts and fears."
   By contrast, it is the Conservative mind that doubts that humanity is perfectible, it is the conservative who, in a theological sense, believes that all of us are sinners.
   If they further believe that Jesus - strictly according to the Bible, seems to have liked having sinners at His dining table - then they end up at one with GCR :
    If all are sinners, and sinners end up at the big table, then we all dine at the big table : global commensality in a nutshell.
   Doomers doubt that perfect solutions exist to safely allow ever-increasing HCP (human carbon pollution) of the atmosphere - or that they are easily and cheaply obtained .
   They worry the actions of a few excessive-carbon diners will spoil the dinners of all, carbon-diners or not - a highly conservative viewpoint, by any standard.
   Funny old world, ain't it ?

DENIERS & DOOMERS : please read Stephan Lewandowsky

   Stephan Lewandowky is an Australian professor and author in the area of cognative science, specializing in the role of skepticism.
   Perhaps this is why he has become so focused on the debate between the DOOMERS and the DENIERS over the importance of HCP (Human Carbon Pollution) in the atmosphere.

   Skepticism is clearly radiates from the very bones of every Denier, but what is perhaps less obvious is that it also there among the Doomers as well.
  It should be obvious why GCR admires Lewandowsky : like this journal, and unlike almost every other commentator, he takes the debate between the two sides seriously.
   In particular, he views it as a serious debate between people with
differing assessments on the matter of risk, fueled by the fact that what behavior either side view as risky and what they do not, is dominated by that side's world view and ideology.
  All his research in cognitive processes suggests that world views and ideologies are not easily moved by any amounts of 'new evidence', as that evidence is only viewed through the prism of each viewer's existing ideology.
   Doomers are convinced that our existing and ever increasing carbon polluting of the atmosphere severely threatens the long term human economy.
   They thus believe that the short term pain and risk of a severe (but temporary) hit to our national and personal incomes through a steep tax on carbon, will actually be cheaper to the global economy over the long run.
  In public anyway, Deniers rebut their skeptical doubts that there is too much carbon pollution in the atmosphere, but in any event claim a carbon tax would be a fatal risk to impose upon carbon-extracting and carbon-using industries, when we can't be 100% sure Mother Nature isn't causing this supposed increase in carbon pollution.
   In rebuttal, Doomers tend to be skeptic that the economic sky would fall upon us like a ton of coal, if carbon-burning does becomes a smaller and smaller part of the human economy.
   But back to Lewandowsky and here GRC  (may) differ with him just a little.
  This journal feels that most Deniers do secretly agree with Doomers, agreeing that there is altogether too much HCP flying about.
   However because of their ultra-religious faith that a high tech solution to any problems human progress throws up (like carbon pollution) will always be easily and quickly found, they feel there is no need to shut carbon industries prematurely.
  Lewandowsky quotes well known carbon pollution-denier, Australian Senator Nick Minchin, who notes (as does
 GCR) the highly suggestive coincidence of certain events of the period around epochal year of 1989.
   His thesis is that The Fall of Communism was a disaster for the left and led them to seek a new weapon to beat up the free marketeers with - and that was climate change.
  It is true at that time, two - not just one - history-making events occurred.
  Obviously the 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall, signaling the end of communism and in some sense, signaling the lack of traction in the old, old verities of good versus evil, in the tales that socialists tell about the capitalists.
  The second event was less obvious, but just as epoch-making: the long simmering pot of climate worries suddenly became front page news world wide and has stayed there ever since.
   Awkwardly for the Senator's theory, the rise of climate change
worries on front pages proceeded, not followed, the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
  And it was led by an icon of the Right, not by wild-eyed treehuggers.
  Most people credit the rise to a September 27th 1988 Speech to the Royal Society ,on the dangers of climate change, by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
   (She had actually intended the speech to promote what to her was the safer alternative energy of nuclear plants over was to her the highly strike-prone coal mines.)
   However it ended up being reported in the world's flaccid oldstream media as 'if even Thatcher takes this climate story seriously, we johnny-come-latelies-to-every-party-journalists must rush to play catch-up as well'.
  GCR thus half agrees with Senator Minchin.
  The green climate change question 'is the ever-growing global economic pie actually making us all sicker not healthier?' did replace the red versus white fight over how to divide that ever-expanding global economic pie.
   But it was not the reds leading this charge: the greens are merely replacing the reds slowly ,but surely, among the new generations of the young and the green concerns are thus rising among mass concerns.
   But the majority of the world population - in particular the older and hence powerholding majority - is still white and red, not green.
   This white and red majority is a little worried about climate change killing their grandchildren's futures.
 But not enough to make grandmother or grandfather seriously willing to reduce their personal comfort today via some effective  (ie heavy) carbon tax.
   The inside-the-scientific-peer-reviewed-beltway debate over the existence of dire amounts of human carbon pollution (HCP) in the atmosphere is long over.
   However, the debate in the much bigger world of Popular Science has just begun....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Professionalization is the ANTIDOTE to "Untutored Genius"

   Romanticism's finest rebuttal to the hubris of the Enlightenment Project was its counter-claim that 'there will always be dark mysterious unknowable regions, outside in Nature and inside the human brain'.
   This was best illustrated by The Age of Romanticism's most original idea: untutored, unfettered, un-peer-reviewed, genius. The genius, as it were, of  genius.

   Genius's biggest, darkest, deepest mystery, to a world raised for  centuries on the belief that one excelled only by learning the rules of one's elders and predecessors, was how exactly did they get all that caramel genius into that little chocolate-dark head, without 25 years of highly expensive schooling ?
   Genius's overwhelming superiority to both the ordinary and the highly educated individual posed the gravest threat yet to the ideology of Classical Enlightenment.
   Because beneath all of  Classical Enlightenment's brave talk of  'the democracy of thought' was its belief in a natural (aka Nature-authorized) aristocracy.
   Pre-Darwin social darwinism as it were.
   It was based ,ultimately,upon superior force and violence: might makes right, survival of the most violent and the biggest.
   The aristocracy, already in decline as its land-seized-through-violence-wealth dimmed in comparison to the new wealth obtainable through new ideas and new inventions, had to quickly reinvent itself, if its children and their children's children were to remain at the wealthy top of society.
   Hyper-professionalization, based on Scientism, would be the answer.
   Now to get to the top of the world of professionals - the tenured professor of basic research in a top-ranked university - would first require 25 years of the best formal and informal schooling that money could buy.
   Only the wealthiest and best connected of society could hope to  easily enter into such any expensive conversion of present day wealth and power into future wealth and power.
    So let the rare genius slip into popular prominence, virtually untutored - they could only do so as entrepreneurs.
 Because ultimate knowledge (public/aka formally peer-reviewed and published in a top-cited journal) would have been successfully re-defined as only something someone with a superior university position could present to the world.
   Academic genius failing to pass through this secular eye of the needle could and would be simply ignored.
   Hear them sing today : "If what he claims is true (Russia was at least as much as Germany to blame for WWI)  why isn't Sean McMeekin a tenured full professor at some university we have at least heard of like, Oxford or Columbia, eh ?"
   Steve Jobs can be a genius then - like Satchmo - as long as he agrees to go no nearer to a university than to write it an endowment cheque.
   Professionalization is an attempt to erect a filmy gauze of order and rules and proper procedures, over a Reality that knows of no such thing.
   Mental floss for those psychologies unable to handle uncertainty and loss of total control....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

PEER-reviewed in the heyday of the EDINBURGH REVIEW

   In the 1830s, the heyday of the dreaded QUARTERLY REVIEWS, before the removal of Stamp Taxes on printed matter and before the Reform Acts, any new ideas - ideas of any sort, not just scientific ideas - were first peer-reviewed before reaching the reading public.
  No, make that PEER-reviewed. As in reviewed by members of the Peerage, members of the House of Lords.

   Real Peers, lords and such,  were the actual writers behind the semi-anonymous review-essays from all the powerful journals, such as the famous Edinburgh Review.
   The Reviews were so powerful in forming opinion it was said they caused the deaths of poets and others they did not like.
   This is true : it is well known from private letters and public comments that many of the educated people in Britain and its Empire placed these Reviews just behind the Word of God in the Bible for reliability.
   The Reviews divided the world in half - Tory versus Liberal - and customers bought the review that supported their world view.
   Bought them because while the reviews simply repeated their customers' existing opinions, they amplified them in such a witty and biting way that the reader got not just new ammunition and education out of them , but entertainment as well.
   Bile mostly - but such amusing bile !
   (Rather like ourselves entertaining and informing ourselves by reading just DENIER or DOOMER blogs.)
   So in this shiny new democratic Age of Romanticism, Peers still told Commoners what to think and how to act, in the best approved manner of the Classical Age.
   These Reviews were the start of the Counter Romantic Reaction.
  This reaction was against the threat to 'the aristocracy of rules and norms ' of the untutored, un-peer-reviewed  Genius, as thrown up by the Romantic theory.
   The Counter/Contra reaction that we now like to think of as the Age of Modernity.
  When it was actually the exact opposite : the 18th century in reprise, disguised in 20th century clothes .....

why small capital loves BIG CITIES

   It's a big lie, a BIG LIE in the Joseph Goebbels' sense of that phrase, to keep repeating that lots of capital is needed to be a successful entrepreneur of ideas (discoveries and inventions) in the biggest of the big cities: cities like London, Paris and New York.
   The reverse is true : which is why so many creative people, like Northern Irish writer Charlotte Riddell, have always flocked to global cities ----- and always will .

  Where you DO need lots of money is if you wish to transmit your signal into every small town across a vast nation like America: hence the capital needed to set up and run the NBC-TV network is immense.
   But the densely built up, wealthy and varied population of the metropolitan area of a 'world city' overs two advantages to the person long on new ideas and short on capital.
   One can rise from one's own bed, take inexpensive public transit, reach anyone of 10 million potential customers and return to one's own bed by nightfall.
   That will give you a bare living while you are waiting, let us say, for a big gallery to take on your paintings downtown.
   In world cities there are lots of national and international institutions and media all competing intensely for the next big thing.
   Their individual desire and ability to 'gatekeep out' any unwanted newcomer's radical new ideas is gravely weakened by the fear that a competitor - strictly for commercial, competitive reasons - will promote this unwashed radical and where then would you be ?
   Another hot exclusive lost.
   Meanwhile our lucky young radical has not just a metropolitan audience now - global city media has a national and international audience.
   Today's review by the art critic from the New York Times who luckily stumbles on some little gallery opening in Flatbush Brooklyn, will tomorrow be read in Des Moines and in Delhi India and all points beyond.
   Gatekeeping works best when governments set the rules: only the BBC has access to the airwaves, only Oxford and Cambridge grant degrees, we only consult fellows of the Royal Society in matters of science, etc. We will run your plays and movie films pass our censor board before anyone sees it.
   But newspapers, magazines and books are published by anyone who can pay one of a hundred highly competitive printers ---- and haven't really been heavily censored for centuries in most democracies.
   Gatekeeping works hard to prevent Private knowledge from becoming effectively Public, in my sense of those words.
   The best gatekeepers in the world can't stop a scientist from publishing in some obscure new journal, but they can gatekeep him out of the widely-read, widely cited, journals like NATURE.
   His new knowledge is effectively stillborn.
   But preventing that obscure article from now going POPULAR is something beyond the best gatekeepers - if for some reason HARPERS magazine decide to run a 3500 word article on the scientist.
   The best chance for that to happen -oh say, ' well connected New York freelancer's Utah-based sister-in-law just happens to edit that obscure journal and just happens to be in the Big Apple to see the new baby' - is still most likely to happen in big global cities....

DOOMERS versus DENIERS : they're already killing each other

   Any reader of the media can't help but notice the increasing number of fatal collisions between tiny compact cars and great big pickup trucks.
   We do need pickup trucks filled with tools and supplies to make our economy run - but how many of these like-shiny-brand-new 5 year old pickups are bought just to drive the He-man of the family to and from his desk job ?

   Many of us have friends (we'll call them DOOMERS) who are convinced that carbon pollution is fouling the atmosphere and killing the planet ---- but they still keep on driving a carbon-spewing car instead of walking or taking a bus  --- but to make amends, they buy a car as small as possible.
   Other of our friends (they, we will call DENIERS) are 'scientific libertarians' ---- loudly denying the setting of any limits or restraints on their personal and economic behavior ---- they have responded to the looming carbon pollution disaster by deliberately buying the biggest, heaviest, highest pickup truck they can afford.
   Thumbing their two ton noses at the DOOMERS.
   Unfortunately this means that car accidents, when they occur, are more likely to be fatal - at least to the DOOMERS - the DENIERS usually get away with scratches.
   How many lives would be saved, how many won't lead miserable and expensive lives in a wheelchair the rest of their lives, if only more of us gave up on cars ?
   Does Christianity and Cars ever mix ? Ditto for other ethical religions.
   One car wonder what pickup truck St Luke the Physician drives...

Friday, April 27, 2012

AstroTurfing the upcoming HOLOCAUST

   Front Organizations, Fellow Travelers , Duped Journalists : it is all beginning to sound familiar, in a vaguely 1940s sort of way.

   Your parents might recall all those spontaneous grassroots organizations that grew up overnight like crabgrass, the Popular Front for this or that, but which always turned out to be secretly funded and organized by those "who dare not speak their name".
   The Potemkin Villages set up for easily duped reporters, where everyone was happy, everyone was always smiling.
   Well it's back ---- different whines of course, but in surprisingly old bottles.
   It's the DFHs , the dreaded DENIERS-FOR-HIRES and the LFHs (LIARS-FOR-HIRE).
   And it's all those artificial grassroots (aka astroTurfed) organizations.
   Set up by those who, in popular science terms, are furious someone might deny them their right to deny any possible curbs or limits on their desire to terraform the world and the universe for profit and glory.
   Who says that the WHITES can't learn from the REDS ?
   Massive propaganda campaigns preceded both Hitler and Stalin's efforts to kill tens of millions of their imagined enemies.
   The propaganda stakes are just as high in this century's war, still as yet, Thank God, a shouting war only.
    Citizens who accept that there are limits to humanity's powers over reality will soon be facing off against those citizens who see a technical fix for every problem that they themselves create.
   When the false majority of humanity who say "we believe that human carbon is polluting our atmosphere" starts breaking down ------after seeing the stiff new taxes on carbon required to reduce that "carbon pollution" ---- you can expect to see the emotional debate heat up faster than the atmosphere is ...

(Houses of) PEER REVIEW

   The House of Lords is a chamber of sober second thoughts, where men and women (Peers) (aged in visage and grey in hair) review proposed new ideas, from the vantage point of honored expertise and authority.
   This sounds a lot like the National Academy of Science (America's NAS)
which is a perpetually self-appointing/self-anointing body of aged scientists, much honored for their expertise and authority, pronouncing upon the gravest scientific questions facing the nation.
   Britain's Royal Society does much the same and most of the world's prominent scientific nations employ a similar model.
   "Peer" is such an ambiguous word.
   One is judged by a jury of one's peers, for example : bog-ordinary citizens like yourself, with no occupational or professional interest in crime or justice.
   But the aristocracy are Peers, peers with a capital "P" , and they are presumed to be anything but ordinary, in fact the very antithesis of ordinary.
   A scientist's proposed journal article, grant request or application for tenure is judged by "peer-review".
   In theory, it is via a jury of people very much like the scientist. In practice the jury is often made up of Peers - scientists much superior in ranking to the supplicant scientist.
   Top scientists, and the world's top professionals, are not just the aristocracy of their world.
   They are the aristocracy of our world : the aristocracy of the world's successful response to the trauma of the 1832 Reform Act and similar legislation.
    And to the rise of the Romantic Era, with its threat of the untutored,un-peer-reviewed, Genius and un-peer-reviewed self-made entrepreneur/celebrity....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BIOLOGISTS' "commensalism" births horrors of AUSCHWITZ & AKTION T4

   Make no mistake about it: the horrors of Hitler's AUSCHWITZ and AKTION T4 and der HUNGERPLAN were all birthed about the same time as Hitler himself: in the 1870s and 1880s as Social Darwinism captured the new science of BIOLOGY.

   Nothing better captures how Hitler's gang regarded the small and weak, the useless mouths he sought to kill off to free up resources to defend the worthy from the evil, than the biological abortion-of-a-term, commensal.
   The Communists and the Jews Hitler called germs, pathogens, parasites.
   Notice the biological term used : parasite. Bad guys: fear.
   Hitler called forth his Ayran race of Germans to be the hosts of  New Order Europe. Good Guys, admire.
   Another biological term.
   But Romas, Poles, the handicapped : useless, neither helpful or harmful.
   Useless one way or other: eliminate.
   He did : tens of millions of them......

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


   You've heard of commensalism, no matter how vaguely.
   It was born in 1874 , about the time some natural historians/ naturalists re-birthed themselves as biologists ----- so it is very much part of the sacred dogma in the Church of Biology.

   I'll define it this way (hopefully in a way that most biologists would approve): you are peacefully eating your dinner and minding your own business, and I come up and start eating your food, without as much as a 'by your leave' or 'I beg your pardon' - and if I neither pay you or shot you after I finish eating, then I am a commensal and I practice commensalism.
   Ugh ! Sounds pretty attractive, doesn't it ?
   Wait, wait , it gets worse ---- in this definition, albeit unofficially, all commensals are weak and tiny and stupid while their forgiving hosts are big and strong and smart.
   And kind, very kind.
   Is this stuff real or what ? Are biologists drinking their own koolaid or what ?
   Well ,if you view reality from a top of an Ivory Tower like a sort of Professorial Harry Lime, all lifeforms beneath you are nothing but dots, and yes you can view commensality (the other word) in this severely deranged fashion.
   Commensality, both the word and the concept, are thousands of years old - which is to say, thousands of years older that the 1874 neologism of commensalism.
   Today's concept of commensalism remains perhaps the best prism we have, into the soul of 19th century Social Darwinism, Eugenics and that biologist manque chappie, A. Hitler.
   It's mean, it's heartless and it's totally inaccurate.
   Commensality can be mean and heartless too.
   If it is closed commensality, it means only your kinda people ever get invited to dine with you on $16 orange juice --- if the rest have no food and starve, that's tough --- am  I supposed to be my Chadian sister's keeper?
   Ie, the caste system as practiced in India or at any golf and country club here, is closed commensality.
   Canada's food aid policy under the heartless Harper's conservative party is closed commensality too - the only food aid he intends to voluntarily give out, is to nations that do not really need it.
   Jesus - no word if he was ever a biologist , or a conservative , and I sure hope not - practiced open commensality.
   You remember - Him inviting civic servants (tax collectors) and HOs ( ladies of that oh so fertile crescent) to break communion with him - the nerve !
   Global commensality - my 2012 neologism - is different yet again, yet strangely related to Jesus and  to the biologists.
   Like Jesus's vision, it is very open - only open, this time, to all life on the planet.
   Not an open invite commensality though - more like "we're all stuck in this together, get over it, suck it up, adapt" type of globally-open commensality.
   Like the biologists' vision, it still involves the very big and the very small in commensal relationships.
   Yes, some of  the small do still sponge off the big - but in turn all of the big sponge off all the small.
   More accurately, most of the very small could survive very well if the big never existed --- but all the big would die in months if none of the very small ceased to exist.
   So, global commensality is this blog's name ---- and its game.
   Modernity - the science of humanity in the 150 years between the Reform Act of 1832 and the Diversity legislation of the early 1980s  - saw all life other than AWGs as mere dots, in Harry Lime's sense of that word.
   Man - and I do mean man not woman - viewed reality from the top of a horn of ivory, as in a dream.
   Man was a sky god, above and outside Nature.
   Think of modernist science as limit-DENIERS, and you won't go far wrong.
   By contrast, our post-modern world increasingly accepts humanity is embedded fully into nature at the ground level, with this planet our only lifeboat - and with us depending on all other life for our continued survival.
   This blog is on the side of this new science and these new scientists.....

What is "THE TET FAMINE OF 1945" ?

It is a neologism, a made-up word or phrase, one I just made up yesterday.

I had noticed that this unjustly invisible Vietnamese famine, one that killed 2 million people just as the western world was celebrating VE Day, was at its worst during the Tet Season , the Vietnamese New Year and the start of their  Spring.

TET/FAMINE : Death, at a time of hope and renewal.

It seems so doubly ironic, n'est ce pas ?

At least, I thought so.

Up to that moment ,I had only known the word Tet as part of  the phrase ,THE TET OFFENSIVE OF 1968 , a neologism that most all of us have heard of ----- I had forgotten it actually had a separate meaning apart from this phrase.

My mental ear caught the similarity between o ----- ffensive
and famine and the neologism was done.

I hope now that when your ear and eye catches the phrase "THE TET FAMINE OF 1945", it clashes and jars them.

So much so that you end up saying to yourself - "I know that phrase, but it's not exactly that - its offensive isn't it - not famine , and surely its 1968 , not 1945?"

Why ? Why go all this effort to coin a neologism?

It comes out of the main reason I write this blog: I am interested (and concerned) about the consequences for our planet when knowledge becomes distorted when moving from being private to being public to being popular.

Knowledge of the Vietnamese Famine of 1945 is certainly not private, rather it is public - it is has been researched and reviewed in many peer-reviewed articles.

Its bare facts are thus on the public record - much disputed around the edges 'facts' - but public for any and all to see - if they even know those articles exist.

They mostly don't - don't know either that the famine happened or that there is a wealth of information on it.

I would like to see that this famine moves from being public but effectively invisible, to being Popularly known and lamented - and above all, learned from.

Famine and famine deaths are happening know and they are only going to explode in importance as the titanic Global Warming meets the iceberg of soaring human populations and human greeds.

The Vietnamese famine was but yet another example where humanity had enough food power to feed a group of people, at least enough to keep all alive until better times returned, but lacked enough moral power to see the job done right.

If on this matter of the TET FAMINE OF 1945  I can resume my familiar role of being a gadfly, ready to prod the body politic with a little nip, I will be pleased.

I agree with Professor Geoffrey Gunn of Nagaski University that this famine needs to be fully aired in a process of truth and reconciliation .

Vietnam will never be at ease with Japan, France and America until all three have fully acknowledged their parts in causing this famine and making it worse.

A useful byproduct of this four nation process would be its impact on decision makers the world over as they ponder how they would handle a big famine, say in Chad, on their watch.

Because, believe me, it is only a matter of "when" not "if ".....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

to "THE COMMENSALIST", civilization's JOB ONE is a warm meal for all ....

Michael Marshall
After civilization does that - if it ever does that - then it can put a Man on Mars and a Woman on Venus.

That's our job as civilized humanity, as I see it: to give everyone, from grandma to granddaughter, a nice warm meal and a nice warm, dry, safe bed to sleep on.

When you fail to provide that bare minimum , as both the 1940s Germans and Japanese failed to do for their shiny new utopian empires, you lose - you lose the potential support of your new subjects - you lose the war - you lose everything.

And finally, and most soberingly, modern science lost.

The 'smartest people in the Universe', the people who claimed they could make synthetic food out of coal tar, air and water, (and who claimed they were able to put a bomb in a pickle barrel from 25,000 feet) totally failed to put a good old fashioned meal on the tables of people who really needed it.

But we'd rather talk about what science did do during WWII , rather than what it totally failed to do, don't we dear fellow historians ?

So ---- lots of books on the Axis and Allied bombing campaigns of the war, right up to the final dropping of the A-bombs.

But what 99.99% of humanity has never heard of, from all the wordage published over WWII,  is of the 2 million people who died in Vietnam's TET FAMINE of  1945 .

And because a severe famine is the gift that goes on giving, many of the 'lucky' survivors died or had shortened, saddened, lives after the famine was over.

In fact, so do many of their children and their children's children, rebuking Darwinian dogma in the process.

That is what famine does to humanity. Ten seconds after the bomb blast , 90% of the people that are going to die, are dead.

It makes for great photos though.

By contrast, famine is often nearly invisible, but horribly worse because it kills over such long extended time periods.

There was no absolute shortage of rice to lead up to those two million dead people, even with the Japanese extracting a huge amount of rice for their war needs.

Like most severe famines on a national or regional scale, it takes governments - not Nature - to " frack-up "  this bad.

So lots of rice was stockpiled here but not transported there to where it was really needed, not because there was no transport available, but because the humans in charge failed to care enough about their human charges to 'bust a gut' to do things right.

They acted as if they were not their siblings' keeper.

Who (or what)was to blame ?

Not Nature, at least not this time.

 The French who ran the local government, under an overall firm Japanese thumb, did a good job keeping this normal predator at bay.

Credit them with something.

The Japanese?

 Yes they deserve at least 80% of the blame.

They started the war, after all, and then took most of the rice crop and made locals divert food lands to produce for their war's machines.

Literally - jute for bags and rope (what despot ever has enough rope ?) . Rice made into alcohol to run machines in lieu of petroleum.

Ten percent blame to the French, Vichy as it happens, for not pushing back harder against Japanese demands, on behalf of the local Vietnamese.

Ten percent as well to the American bomber commanders who sunk rice boats and busted dikes and bridges knowing full well, at the time, that it would create massive food shortages and death for the totally innocent occupied nation below their wings.

Why only ten percent for each of France and America ?

Because they didn't start the war , the war that led to both of them doing, admittedly, very callous things.

Now I mention this little known famine this month because it was at its worst exactly 67 years ago.

And because the deaths here, in this one brief but intense six month famine in one little part of a big world war, outnumbered all of the deaths caused by all of the aerial bombs (A-Bombs included) dropped by Axis and Allies alike in 6 years of war.

People - historians - this is a famine to 'which attention, attention,  must be paid' .....

Kanao Inouye : victim & victimizer : the CULTURE OF ENTITLEMENT

Michael Marshall
Life, real life, is real complex.

Before WWII, all Japanese-Canadians were daily subject to subtle and not-so-subtle racial discrimination.

As well as random acts of kindness from some in the white majority.

Usually the Japanese-Canadians bore this hostility in silence, but that does not mean they forgot.

Finally all , from grandmothers to babies, were 'interned' - most, at least for a time, inside barbed wire camps - but all were interned informally, in the sense their freedoms were gravely restricted.

What happened to them all was broadly similar but interestingly, their reactions were as individual as all humans are.

Some like David Suzuki felt the sting of oppression and of being a 'victim' and swore they'd try their darnest to see no one else ever felt that too.

Others like Kanao Inouye , the Kamloops Kid, kept their cool - while in Canada .

 Kanao even felt racial discrimination from the authorities in Japan,  because they did not fully trust this semi-westernized individual.

But when Kanao was forced to be a Japanese conscript, though a Canadian citizen, he morally chose to fully enter into his new role.

His other choice was to do as little as possible to harm those under his care and later plead he only acted under extreme duress.

Instead, he became infamous for sadistically mistreating Canadians and Europeans generally, letting them know this was payback time for his life back in Canada.

He become a full time, professional, victim and now he was going to dive into the profitable Culture of Entitlement , full tilt.

His country and his fellow citizens owed him for all those years of abuse.

They couldn't give him money or a formal apology - but by God, they'd  give him their blood.

Yes he was a victim, but even those who freely acknowledged this had little sympathy for Kanao,because he had simply gone far too deep into his cult of Entitlement and Redress.

Finally, in 1947, he was hung in Hong Kong, the only Canadian* hung for treason.

*(Louis Riel, (like Lord Haw Haw) was also hung for treason in a trial that still leaves most legal scholars very uncomfortable. They have strong doubts whether or not he could be charged with treason, if he wasn't truly a subject of Canada.

 Inouye's case was so clear cut, because of his repeated claims that he was a Canadian, such that no lawyer has ever objected to his conviction, only his sentence.)

If you are going to make a career of being a victim - be it in journalism or in politics - please be a victim - show sympathy for others who also suffer - please don't become a victimizer and a bully instead ...

Canada's der HUNGERPLAN 2012: Oda to starving Chads : 'let'em drink $16 orange juice'

Michael Marshall
If  Bev "The Odious" Oda had been in that glass box in Jerusalem  fifty years ago, Hannah Arendt might have instead termed her famous book "THE BANALITY OF EGO".

Mrs Oda likes to present a grandmotherly figure at international aid conferences .

Her 'backgrounder' is always widely circulated to remind delegates from other nations that her family was interned during WWII for simply having her grandparents born in Japan, so that she knows the hardship of war and strife firsthand.

Forget the kindly old grandmother act.

In fact, Mrs Oda has turned her taxpayer-thickened backside on the starving poor of sub Saharan Africa.

Instead she has directed the greatest proportion of Canada's ever shrinking aid money to countries so well able to feed themselves that they have become tempting targets to the Harper government's drive to secure free trade agreements with middle income nations world wide.

Foreign aid from Canada is now less something we should gratefully do as a moral duty 'to be our siblings' keeper'  (as the mission statement of  THE COMMENSALIST reminds us) and more a grudging weapon of seduction in a ballet of free trade negotiations.

Worse, Canada has never given as big a percentage of its GDP to foreign aid as have many countries from Europe, who themselves experienced WWII hunger (and post WWII food aid from abroad).

Our excuse was that our economy wasn't in good shape, but that when it was, we'd up our share.

But in fact, while Prime Minister Harper boasts to the world that Canada's economy is the best in the world, at the same time he cuts, not ups, our foreign aid.

It is the struggling countries of Europe that have maintained or upped their foreign aid.

It burns the conscience of anyone with a heart, instead of a limitless expense account and a limitless ego, to see pictures of the hundreds of babies from Chad starving to death each day.

But Bev Oda, Canada's minister to the world's starving poor, instead morally chooses to Donald Trump her way through a conspicuously extravagant lifestyle ---- at the taxpayers' expense.

The "$16 glass of orange juice scandal" is just the latest
in a long list of unbelievable expense account rampages - and they are just the ones we have been lucky enough to find out about.

By way of contrast to Oda's behavior, David Suzuki's family was also interned,  also at the Canadian taxpayers' expense, during WWII .

 But he hasn't spent his life taking his revenge on Canada's taxpayers, but instead has spent his life doing good, here at home and abroad.

Why can't his fellow internee and fellow sansei, Bev Oda, take a page from David and learn to 'turn the other cheek' on what the Canadian taxpayers did to her family , 70 years ago ?

Instead of kicking and slapping her way through the Canadian Treasury, like some latter day Kamloops Kid .....

Monday, April 23, 2012

SPOIL your child and raise a DENIER

Michael Marshall
DENIERS are not 'Anti-Science'.

Tens of thousands of my friends in the world of POPULAR SCIENCE all think so, all say so.

Over and over.

But they are all wrong.

Deniers love science - their kinda science.

It is just yours and my kind of science they loathe.

The kind of Science that says to them: "NO", "YOU CAN'T" .


The kind of science they like is not "CAN'T" science , but "CAN" science.



Spoil your child, dote on your child, folks, and I will guarantee that
you will raise yourself a DENIER, someone who thinks the whole world-  Hell, the whole Universe - is theirs on a platter.

Woe to any bunch of jumped-up scientists who dares deny these spoiled adults their right to despoil the Earth and then move onto new planets and asteroids to clearcut and stripmine.

These tantrum-trained mental two years olds are merely denying your right to deny them their rights to do what ever they want, when ever they want, where ever they want....

Please send our newest billionaires lots of flags and diseased blankets - they've got ASTEROIDS to conquer

Michael Marshall
Who owns the asteroids the billionaires are planning to mine ?

Who owns the planets they are planning to terraform?

OMG !!!!! - what if there actually  is  intelligent life out there after all ?

Relax, we AWGs (angry white guys) have all been through this before, starting about 1492.

Our intrepid space explorers will need a lot of flags and flagpoles to plant.

That is Part "A" of your plan to conquer new worlds.

But please don't forget the gifts of diseased blankets (Part "B") - that is for the intelligent-but-oh-so-gullible natives.

Lawyers here back on Earth, salivating at  fees as big as the universe itself, have already spoken on the correct legal process, as they see it: just "Name it and Claim it"  and have us file the paperwork.

That's all there is to it ---- its all there in the Prosperity Pentecostal Bible : name it and claim it, become like 'little gods' .

The 1% is not burying its head in the sand over our troubled world - they are burying their well coiffured heads in spaceships, heading far far away from here, leaving the rest of us , the 99%, to our fates.

Yep, the 1% is leaving us and going away - far,far away - forever.

Hooray !!!!!!

But like politicians, you just can't trust the 1% to keep their promises --- they will soon be back when their money runs out, lobbying our politicians for lots of our taxpayer money.

After they've paid for a few election campaigns, you just know they'll get it too.

Earthlings, you have been forewarned......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

PROGRESS and DENIAL : the whiggish climate changers

Michael Marshall
We need to look for patterns in the subjects that ordinary (lay) climate deniers are in favor of and those they oppose.

I suspect the patterns are as visible in them as in the best known and most studied DENIERS.

They will probably turn out to be, to insta-coin a phrase ,"scientific libertarians" : people who resent any restraints on the inevitable path of progress - whether that comes from the hands of nature or from the hands of their fellow citizens.

In fact ,blaming your fellow earthlings when Nature doesn't let you do what you want is going to look like an increasingly attractive option to our frustrated denier majority.

Scientific Progress ,at the ground level, for the majority of us who are deniers, is ever increasing income, house size, car size, vacations, toys.

"No gas for my guzzler?"  "It's them frackin' Greens again !! "

"Problems ?" "Sure we have problems, but get the Greens out of the roadway and let Science fix it, as it always has - and always will - if only we let it."

"Unleash Chiang !"   "--- Dr Chiang,PhD ..."

Hitler lost his war when he ignored the possibility of early Autumn rain and mud and then of an early, cold ,winter of 1941 Russia - but his Plan B was ready ---- blame it on the Jews.

And the more he lost the war, the more Hitler sought to blame --- and kill ---- Jews.

We who oppose the deniers might yet face their wrath in a more physical manner than just a blog rant....

why aren't there more FEMALE deniers ?

Michael Marshall
Heavens knows the entry level to mint good coin 'denying' is absurdly low.

I very carefully checked the database that desmogblog  maintains of people prominent in the climate denying industry, looking for female deniers.

I found but four female deniers and then noticed that one of them, Joanne Nova, only had a BSc.

 Despite this, the denier industry obviously found her credentials (or her telegenic face) sufficient to let her be both well-quoted and well paid.

Her face just may be it - that and the relative lack of any sort of female deniers generally.

I am not alone in feeling that many of right wing's female TV-ready pundits definitely have a consistent look about them : in their thirties or forties, good looking in a countryclub set sort of way , attractive (but yet non-threatening) for conservative males over the age of 50.

Sarah Palin or Danielle Smith : yes it is the haircut !

But back down here in realityland, relatively few women, even in right wing circles, are truly active in climate denial ,even at a political level.

They'll stick up for the team, if pushed, but they have no bile to their bite.

It's men who are the most strident in the claim that Man has 'no limits' to what he can do.

I can help but feel that for women, even just the potential to bear and raise children, really does reduce this mania to
play God with Nature.....

count me in among the anti-deniers: albeit, anti the LIMIT-deniers ...

Michael Marshall
The DENIERS swept the WEBLOG Awards (The BLOGGIES).

They should be congratulated for their efforts - just as we un-deniers, non-deniers,anti-deniers need to be told to do better and pull up our socks.

Its quite a battle out there: for every GREENIE WATCH there is a WATCHING THE DENIERS.

(Both blogs as it just so happens, are from Australia.)

My stance on denial is a little off the mainline, IMHO , because it is a little deeper, a little bit more fundamental.

I am after the WHIGGISH majority among the scientists operating in the world of Popular Science (science outside the Beltway of Peer-review) : which at some time or other includes almost all scientists, however defined.

Limit-deniers: sunnily dismissing any belief that ultimately humanity might never know everything there is to know about reality.


Today they deny that man's efforts to change the climate could ever go 'out-of-control' (ie , of the control of Man and into the control of Mother Nature).

Tomorrow they will deny that it makes more sense to recycle the refined common metals we already use here on Earth than it is to mine them from asteroids.

Their denials of limits or restraint upon Man's abilities are , characteristically, limitless.....

the kindergarten arithmetic of asteroid IRON mining ...

Michael Marshall
Its not the higher mathematics so many of our scientists have trouble with - its primary school arithmetic.

For decades many scientists have been seriously talking, out in the POPULAR SCIENCE world, about mining asteroids for IRON , and all the other scientists have let them get away with it.

Oh, they would be severely shellacked for saying the same thing inside an article they wanted a peer-reviewed journal to publish.

But as long as you just say it to 6 billion civilians , instead of to 6000 fellow scientists, well that is alright then.

"Mustn't slight a fellow colleague, no matter how asinine, in public - lowers the tone, lowers our pay packet."

Well it isn't alright.

As the NRA is wont to say, "Public Science (science inside the hothouse of the peer-reviewed Beltway) doesn't kill people, Popular Science (day-to-day science) kills people".

Our world has real problems - but mining distant asteroids for iron isn't the solution - it is a senseless,hare-brained, diversion.

Iron is so abundant on the Earth's surface - still, after 10,000 years of use - that it remains cheap. Even now, our sloppy recycling efforts does a pretty good job about recycling most big bits of iron.

God would have to wing asteroid iron on the backs of celestial angels to beat the current - and future - price of iron on Earth.

Put a penny on this side of the classroom and pour a million pennies on that side of the classroom (representing the delivered cost of a gram of iron, from future earth sources versus future asteroid iron) and ask a four year old which pile is bigger.

Then ask the PhDs of the limit-denying asteroid mining lobby the same question and watch them waffle....

My job isn't "inside the BELTWAY" ...

Michael Marshall
My job, as I see it , isn't "inside the BELTWAY" of peer-reviewed science.

Whenever I do peer inside that Beltway (ie when reading the articles in our leading science journals) I see little to complain about.

And I am a great one for complaining.

Instead I see provisional results, I see uncertainty, doubts, probabilities, possibilities, unknowns.

I see, in other words, scientists admitting that there are limits and restraints on what we can know and what we can do vis a vis the physical world.

(I am not naive and I know that these admissions are themselves frequently only provisional, necessitated by the need to be accepted into peer-reviewed journals.)

No, my concern is the science of our day-to-day world (POPULAR rather than PUBLIC science in my definition of those terms) and here I see big, literally "Life-Threatening", problems.

Most of us pick up what little notions of science's potential and methods we retain, from textbook teaching in high school or from a few undergraduate intro courses.

We supplement this with the occasional news item  and magazine article, perhaps even with that best-seller book from that famous scientist we've seen on the telly.

Out here in the real world, the science we get is still mostly Whiggish Science, Newtonian Science , a science that sunnily dismisses any possibility of limits to Man's knowledge of reality (given enough time and money thrown at the scientists' labs).

(Let me give you a mild example, from an article I recently read with admiration, until this short passage jarred me into alarm ; it's
from STEVEN WEINBERG, Nobel prize winner and a key architect of The Standard Model of physics:

"...I think that we'll get to the point where there are no puzzles of this sort. And that will be quite a remarkable turning point in the intellectual history of the human race."

To his credit, Dr Weinberg didn't quite say the physicists' equivalent of the medical doctors' "we can close the book on infectious disease", but in his quiet, cautious way, he came damn close.)

Most other examples are far more blatant.

And I see all this hot air hubris as what is driving our world to meet its Climate-Changed-Doom.

Not so oddly enough (given my previously stated lack of naivety) most of this Blue Sky Science wind is generated by the same chappies as what wrote those carefully constipated peer-reviewed articles: Drs Hyde & Jeckel, PhD,FRS .

My job then is to expose split-personality scientists and ask the real one to stand up: either stand up and admit they really see no limits to what Man can do or stand up and reaffirm that Reality will always be a bit of a mirage forever slightly beyond our grasp.

That is, I only want our scientists to be consistent: to say outside the Beltway of peer-reviewed journals what they say inside it.

Is that too much to ask ?

And once our Stevensonian pair have made their admissions , we will then be better forearmed as how to trust their handling of the Climate Change brief....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Asteroid miners DENY 'global commensality'

Michael Marshall
Is planet earth our best, most attractive, our least expensive (& only) lifeboat ?

Will we humans survive best by living within limits, the limits set by the need for us to accept that other life on earth has a right to be there too - in part because they keep us alive ?

Do we humans not live, in effect, on microbe poop - just as they in turn live, in part, off human poop ?

Does not all life on earth survive by living off each other's poop - dining together at one table,  via 'global commensality' in fact ?

Asteroid miners deny all this.

All that humans really need to survive and flourish in their minds  is 'minerals and mental agility' .

Mineral & Mental Autarky.

Listen up lower-archy, here is what the higher-archy is planning:

Wealthy DENIERS aren't putting their heads in the sands over our ecological crisis: they are busy putting them into spaceships, aimed far far away from our messy problems.

The 1% is busy abandoning the 99% to  our fates....

DENYING humans need other life for our survival

Michael Marshall
Taking on those who denying global warming is small change - they are hardly worth refuting.

The source of their specific example of denial ---  the ultimate DENIAL --- "the father of all denial" , is denying that we humans are totally dependent on other life for our continuing survival.

This highly popular, highly respectable,  form of DENIALISM is found everywhere.

For but one example --- it is found among the leading elements of our new economy --- the executives of the  biggest firms of the internet.

Top executives from corporations like Google, Amazon, Microsoft are leading the non-government charge into space --- and away from all the Earth's messy problems.

The latest delusion is that we can continue to consume (but not recycle) the world's limited surface supplies of minerals, because a new source will open up when we mine asteroids.

Success will look like all those pre-war sci fi covers, with all of us living inside plastic domes, on the barren poisoned surface of some planet ( maybe even our own) and surviving by converting minerals into food and air and water and all else a civilization needs.

In fact, we here on Earth lack no resources - not even energy - if we learn to recycle what we already have.

Sorry, I meant we lack no natural resources , because of course we lack lots of common sense.

Particularly among the ranks of science, among the people we should be trusting to expose quasi-scientific nonsense.

Oh, and they do -- if the object of their public scorn is somebody powerless touting non-science oriented nonsense -- ie someone, above all, who could not be seen as a fellow scientist.

But they are very reluctant to lower the tone of science debate by
publicly taking on science-oriented nonsense.

It is almost as bizarre as if a fact-finding group of  well-respected
Jewish scientists had visited Doctor Mengele at Auschwitz in 1943 and now had to release a public report, but were torn between being horrified and yet reluctant to publicly scorn a fellow scientist in public.

Bigger than the fate of any one ethnic group are now at stake --- the 'DENIERS of LIMITS' are threatening the fate of all the human race --- yet they fail to face public criticism from the those scientists who claim that they believe humanity must learn to live within limits.

This is where I feel this blog must come in.

I will try not to attack the DENIERS too much - they are the broad side of the barn on this issue.

Instead I will focus on "outing" those scientists who privately scorn the DENIERS, but are reluctant to say so clearly in public.....

Friday, April 20, 2012

PROVIDENTIAL science versus PROVISIONAL science

Michael Marshall
Traditionally the popular face of science has always been badly out of sync with the public face of science.

Surprisingly, popular science (science talk for non-scientists or  junior-level scientists) does not primarily come from quickie 800 word news columns from the conventional media's science popularizers.

Instead that science talk originates from the big fat hardcover books ,written by many of science's most respected practitioners.

Unfortunately, in the past, the accurate science in these books -- usually written by major prize-winners well into their dotage --- always tends to be mixed with a great deal of overly-optimistic blue sky imaginings.

Most of the book could never get accepted as articles by any peer-reviewed journal --- but other scientists have generally been reluctant to say as much --- because these are the past or current heroes of their own profession.

Most of these other scientists realize these books are simply crass tools to 'sell science' to a skeptical taxpayer and to tired businessman.

It is Whig Science - triumph piled on top of triumph, ever upward and onward- 'people, can't you just smell the sizzle from them there steaks??'

As all scientists benefit if the general public continues to regard science as well worth the money we spend on it, scientists generally bury their scruples and keep their doubts to themselves.

As a result , the con continues.

And very effectively too, because we readers are disabused from holding doubts about the optimistically windy parts, by the honored name on the cover ---- and by the silence from other scientists.

In turn, those books are read -- and absorbed into their efforts --  by science journalists and the editors of undergraduate textbooks, and by high school science teachers.

Thus it is the only science that most of us non-scientists ever learn.

As such, this science is resolutely old-school 19th century newtonian in tenor, and is portrayed as the one human activity we could rely upon to give reliable, exact answers.

Its Laws of Nature are conveyed as if  Providential and carved as a concise formula onto tablets of stone for all eternity, by whatever or whoever is the atheist equivalent of the Jehovah of Moses.

That was then, this is now.

Thankfully ,the popular face of the newer science is increasingly being cast in the style of the public face of both the old and the science.

 Science, in its public face, (scientists talking to other scientists on their same peer-level) has always been cautious and tentative.

Which is a 'Good-Thing', because that is the reality of reality and so should be the reality of science.

This cautious style can be seen in the style of any article found in science's peer-reviewed  journals.

Here the Laws of Nature are more properly represented as Provisional as yesterday's promises from a politician.

Newer science practitioners are much more willing to reveal the uncertain and tentative public face of science in the popular works they write for the general public and this can only be a good thing.

However there is hundreds of years of the old-school Blue Sky popular science still out there to fight against and this is what leading, more than anything else, to today's 'war between the sciences'.

Many of us can't get our heads around the blunt - but finally honest - messages we are getting from today's working scientist , because we have grown up with 70 or more years of windy optimism from POP Science.

That's where the DENIERS are coming from: they have been lied to for so many decades by science that they can't tell now when it is finally telling the truth.....

the optimistic DOOMERS and the pessimistic DENIERS ...

Michael Marshall
The DENIERS are ever optimistic about their ability to muck about with Man and Nature, wholesale, without ever making too much of a mess of it ---- but they are highly pessimistic about the ability of working class people to be able to string two sentences together about anything important.

DOOMERS are highly pessimistic that Newtonian Man can be trusted to do anything truly complicated without making a total cock up of it, but are very optimistic about the hidden cleverness of Nature's smallest, weakest members.

Optimism and pessimism are not in fact held consistently on all matters by anyone, not even by people we ALL agree seem born prenaturally optimistic or pessimistic.

We humans are in turn, pessimistic or optimistic, depending on the particulars of an issue.

DOOMER and DENIER are fun labels to smear upon others, but they are a dim reflection of the true complexity of  the cumulative
positions we hold over our lifetimes.

But where DENIERS and DOOMERS differ most, is over their  assessments of the ability of civilized humanity to be able to correctly predict the ultimate consequences of its activities upon our entire ecosystem.

In that narrow area alone, the labels DOOMER and DENIER, smear or not, are useful metaphors to describe both groups....

DOOMERS versus DENIERS : the war between the SCIENCES

Michael Marshall
An ideological war really only gains traction when both of its sides garner catchy nicknames.

So we see English Roundheads versus  Cavaliers .Union Grays from the North versus Confederate Blues from the South. The Orange against the Green. Russian or Hungarian Reds versus the Whites. Revolutionary America's Rebels versus Tories (or Loyalists). Spanish Loyalists versus the Nationalists.

Now we have had lots of (verbal) wars in the past involving Science (with a capital "S").

The War between Science and Culture or the Humanities. The supposed War against Science better seen as the scientists' war against religion. The Science Wars between postmodern social science critics and  the hard (physical) science defenders of scientific realism.

The latest war is one being fought within the ranks of hard, physical, science and this makes it new.

It is a war between sciences, a civil war within science itself.

Well, new in the memory of most scientists, which isn't saying a lot.

A more ahistorical bunch is hard to imagine.

But this war did go on, back in the 19th century ----and in varying forms  ----right back to Plato versus Aristotle.

Today its popular nicknames - given by each side to the other side, as is traditional - see the advocates for the newer science being called DOOMERS and the defenders of the older science being labelled DENIERS.

Two hundred or so years ago, the order of new and old would have been reversed.

Then the older science under attack would have been called Catastrophists (instead of Doomers) --- and the rising new science would be called Uniformitarians (rather than Deniers).

But you could say that two hundred years ago, the real battle was the enduring one between Natural Philosophy and Natural History.

(I support this viewpoint myself.)

But whatever, the substance of the disagreement between various kinds of science and scientists remained unchanged beneath all the varying labels.

On a bigger scale,the Catastrophists can be seen as part of the efforts of Romantic Science, itself a subset of the overall Romanticism Movement , to mount an attack on the earlier Classical Science --- and the Classicalism Movement in general.

 Meanwhile in the dark shadows, a new Counter-Romantic Science, (Positivism/Modernity/Scientism) was birthing and preparing to attack in turn.

Think of it as the electoral-cum-rhetorical politics of intellectual ideas, with sequential elections and the tidal flow of the Ins versus the Outs.

With the Ins and Outs publicly claiming to be externally - and eternally - consistent but actually considerably changed on the inside, after each bout of time in  government and in opposition.

The dance of the dialectics......

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The REAL 1% versus 99% debate....

Michael Marshall
Move aside, 'OCCUPY MOVEMENT'.

The rich 1% versus the poorer 99% isn't as critical a debate as this simple biological fact:

Without agriculture (& aquaculture/commercial fishing) , the world ,in the best of climate conditions, can only feed 1% of the current humans upon it.

Hunter-gatherers we might have to become again, in the event of some Man-Made-Disaster like a full nuclear winter.

In a place like Nova Scotia with about a million people, one percent is about 10,000 hunter-gatherers eking out just enough food to  survive at sustenance level.

To confirm this, ask yourself how many aboriginals lived in all of Nova Scotia when white Europeans arrived 500 years ago ?

Ten thousand residents seems about right - even optimistic - but the climate then was harsher than it is now, and many animals and plants hadn't yet returned to the almost-an-island after the last Ice Age.

Nuclear Winter's harsh coldness in summer/lack of sunshine/drought -- all could cripple photosynthesis on land and in the sea, even if it just lasted one season.

(Need we add the post-nuclear-war effects of acid rain, radiation and extreme high loads of deadly UV rays to this disaster for green plants?)

Humans store so little food normally, that during that year without a harvest we would eat what little seed crop we have to merely survive and then be even worse off when the sun arrived back to greet us cheerfully next season.

We know this to be a fact as certain as that sun rising in the morning, because that is the way thousands of local and regional famines have worked, or rather not worked, throughout history.

That is the delicate and fragile foundation that our whole great human urban high tech civilization actually rests upon.

Remind me again who is commensal and who is host, down here on planet earth ......

Land a man, ALIVE, on Mars ? No Can Do !

Michael Marshall
Lots of people deny new science's claim that 'Lifeboat Earth' is the best and only livable home of Humanity.

I am not one of them.

But old-school scientists claim we can live on Mars, terraform it into a facsimile of Earth, compound edible food and breathable oxygen out of minerals and lots of human ingenuity.

'Taint so.

Mars does not have enough atmosphere to land humans in
spaceships safely in the manner we do it on Earth.

Nor does it have the tiny atmosphere, tiny gravity and tiny distance from Earth that the Moon has - which also makes it possible to land humans safely upon its surface.

But to make a human-carrying ( ie heavy) spaceship go from
Mach Five speeds to much less than Mach One speeds in less than 90 seconds, without crushing delicate human bodies with massive G-forces, during a live Mars landing isn't yet possible.

Even getting small spacecraft with sturdy equipment safely down on Mars has proven very challenging - ie most have been multi-billion dollar failures.

With human cargoes, the cost of experimenting with failure rises to infinity --- if you value human life as much as I do.

Old-school scientists (a warm shout out to *Newt Gingrich !) say that the 97% percent of world climate scientists who accept the consensus model of dire human-caused global warming is not enough certainty to let them sleep soundly at night.

But  these same old-school scientists, Newt prominent among them , have no problem with the science or economics of a Man on Mars ---despite the science here being about .00097% certain.

A living Man on Mars in my lifetime?

Count me proudly among the DENIERS.....

* Newt Gingrich is best known as a politician and historian. But he also earned his living as university professor in geography and environmental studies - by my definition (see my earlier blog  post on the subject) that definitely makes him a scientist.

ME? An AUTHOR ?! God, I hope not ....

Michael Marshall
As old Sam Johnson once opined long ago, has any author ever authored ---- except for money , for fame, for fortune ?

I suppose ---- a few.

No names spring to mind immediately, though.

I am certainly no 'author' .

How dare you ?

Some have tried to smeared my name .

Called me a pamphleteer.

 I picked up their smears and spread them more generously over my whole body : I am a pamphleteer and I am quite proud of it.

Has any pamphleteer ever pamphleteered, except for passion ?

Maybe, some, can't say I can think of any.

Profit and pamphleteering just don't seem to go together , not in the way that pamphleteering and passion do.

My blog posts are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN , and are designed to be globally commensal.

Like HGT (Horizontal Gene Transfers) I hope they cross fertilize intellectual discussions around dinner tables, the world over.

So if I blog with what seems excess passion, do not expect me to apologize (at least not very often !).

In this century's war of words and deeds between the old and the new science, real worlds are at risk : I believe there can be no neutrals in this war over Life.

Which side are you on ?

I know I have picked mine.....

1946 : Newtonian Science's A-Bombs to DELIBERATELY melt the Ice Caps: HOORAY !!

Michael Marshall
2006: Hydrocarbon-burning power plants , built on Newtonian Science, are found to be emitting enough CO2 to ACCIDENTALLY melt the ice caps : BOO !!

Mainstream science's varying attitudes to melting - or not melting -the arctic ice caps certainly seems inconsistent.

But only at first blush.

In 1946 , the head of the UNITED NATIONS agency UNESCO advocated the dropping of enough A-Bombs in the Arctic region to melt all the ice caps.

Julian Huxley,  who remains one of the most lauded figures in mainstream science, was merely adding his name to a growing chorus suggesting this large scale example of deliberate climate changing and deliberate terraforming (earthshaping).

His proposal certainly doesn't seem to have hurt his career then or his enduring scientific reputation now.

No DENIER denies that Huxley seriously proposed that Man could deliberately melt the ice caps and change the globe's climate dramatically.

By contrast, let me guarantee one certain thing in your grandchildren's highly uncertain lives: they will not see statutes erected to the men who built and operated the power plants that accidentally melted the arctic ice caps.

But in this case,DENIERS do deny that it is possible for Man to accidentally melt ice caps and change climates.

Deniers, deniers, deniers : where is your consistency ???

Just as I endlessly harp on 'that it is not about climate change' or 'its not about frackin earthquakes', let me repeat once again : 'its not about ice caps melting'.

Always, always, always, with old-school scientists it is about control : who is in control : Man or Mother Nature ?

'Out-of-Control' is a codeword for 'out of the control of Man, and in the control of Mother Nature' .

Many men find that terrifying at some deep sub conscious level.

Control freaks. Misogynist control freaks. Misogynist control freak scientists.

Have old-school scientists ever stopped beating up on their wives and mothers, symbolically, through their scientific efforts ?

I wonder .....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Denying the FRACKIN' Earthquakes....

Michael Marshall
Like I said, it is all about control.

If Newtonian Science wants to create earthquakes, it will do so -  but totally on its own terms.

But no way, no sirree bob , will it ever - could it ever - be the cause of out-of-control, unpredictable , earthquakes.

These are scientists - and science - with every hair carefully slicked down in place, every ballpoint pen and its protector neatly in place.

You think that image is just a cliche ? You ever met an old-school scientist in the flesh?  Am I not right ?  Dead right I am.

Even making a profit is not as important to old-school scientists/entrepreneurs as always remaining 'totally in control ' .

Thermonuclear war - not to change the subject in the slightest - was defined for half a century exclusively in terms of blast damage by its promotors and touts.

Not because it was the most important source of ultimate death and destruction but because it could always be measured -and contained - by human actions.

Fallout, smoke-induced nuclear winter, massive fires of urban material -- they could collectively far out-do extremely localized blast damage's impact.

But their effect was unpredictable, dependent on that oh so capricious weather ,well beyond Man's control.

Best not talk about it, best not think about it - must stay calm, must stay calm, must stay cool : al-ways in con-trol, must al-ways re-main in tot-tal con-trol.....

Deniers: it is all about CONTROL not CLIMATE ...

Michael Marshall
No climate denier or skeptic is really claiming that Newtonian Science has no impact upon the physical world.

Newtonian Science's ability to impact the physical world , even the ability to blow it all to pieces, is never seriously denied by the deniers.

Impacting the physical world is the raison d'etre of Newtonian Science, after all.

What they violently deny is the claim that their science could ever become uncontrollable and unpredictable.

Oh, the horror , the horror !!!!!

Newtonian science, please remember, was only secondly a useful tool to better physically control our world.

First and foremost it was a mental health tool, to help some of us better control the scary demons of uncertainty, ambiguity ,mystery and imprecision that haunt the inner recesses of our unconscious.

It promised bromides of certitudes to its addicts and none were more addicted to it than the many scientists who became scientists precisely because Newtonian Science promised a way through an scary uncertain world.

Its never about climate with the deniers, its always about control --- we offend their core being when we say their entire life's work is out of control and destroying us.

They have spent their entire lives fending off the darkness of ambiguity and uncertainty with the nightlight nostrums of Newton and Dalton , and yes even Einstein .

Now in the twilight of their careers, they are terrified that our 'out-of-control' claims just might be right....

Global Referendum on CARBON TAX would give plurality to Deniers

Michael Marshall
I do not believe, in any way, that climate deniers (aka 'skeptics') are limited to a tiny minority of flat earth believers and cranks.

Whenever a seriously effective carbon tax is raised, at elections or in legislatures ,we see the wheels quickly come off the bus of the majority of us who do not deny that climate change will seriously damage society within our own lifetimes.

A plurality of us quickly forms up to oppose even weak carbon taxing and the idea of serious carbon taxing sufficient to halt and reverse global warming, finds no traction at all.

Since there still is a mania about the Titanic sinking in the air about my hometown of Halifax as I write this post, let me use a metaphor from past ocean liner disasters.

If we really truly believed that the lifebelt of a sharp tax on our extravagant lifestyle was the only hope for being alive 30 years from now, we would be rioting trying to get at the ship's stores of them.

But we are not - instead we are busy rioting in an attempt to avoid being made to put to them on.

Deep down ,most of us still believe Newtonian science's glossy promise that given enough time, money and mental effort, human science can solve any problem thrown at it.

None of us, not even WILD ROSE premier-elect Danielle Smith, denies that past human science has thrown up some serious environmental and social problems right now .

(I believe even Exxon executives would admit this ----- privately.)

What most of us deny is that it will take a global solidarity of will without precedent in history, to do something, in time, about our biggest current problem.

That is the fact that we are pumping way too much CO2 into the atmosphere.

We still believe that Newtonian science, two body science, linear, rational, mechanical science , can quickly and painlessly invent a technical solution.

It can't.

It won't.

Three body science, post modern science, commensalistic science, says only by accepting limits (in this case upon our burning of carbon-based fuels) can we pull out of this fatal Phaetonian dive.

The Deniers are not just MURDERERS AMONG US, they are a majority among us, a majority of us.....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If only SIR ISSAC NEWTON had been a BIOLOGIST...

Michael Marshall
If only  NEWTON had been a full time scientist .

Rather than being a fulltime NEW AGER and just a part time scientist.

I'll grant one to the camp of the DENIERS, I do believe that there was a concerted effort (yes, a conspiracy of a sort) among generations untold of eminent scientists, to studiously ignore exploring too much about the life of their most famous scientist.

 An effort centred among the members of Britain's famous ROYAL SOCIETY.

Today, shorn of his contributions to physics and math, Newton is liable to come across as a total nutbar and fruitcake.

But he was not untypical of many earlier - and even - current eminent scientists.

Still, this is a post about his useful work in science - the solving of two-body problems.

Briefly, Newton came up with a way to successfully predict (albeit only roughly accurately) the effect on the motions of two objects of their mutual gravitational attraction to each other.

Typically - and I say crucially - the two bodies are very unequal in size (mass, actually).

Sun and Earth ; Earth and Moon.

It replicates many unequal relationships in human society and  flattered the bigger body in those relationships as merely reflecting a fact of nature, a LAW of Nature, for God's Sake !

Man and wife, parent and child, boss and servant, master and slave, white man and black man, A1 people versus 4F people.

On and on.

Oh yes, one more.

In biology, we find Newton's earth and moon replicated in the biologists' naft idea of biological commensality.

"Two-bodied commensality".

The bigger body, Man, has a meal.

Uninvited at Man's table, his physical body, is some tiny body - the commensal microbe.

They eat some of Man's food, but do not harm him ( disease) or help him (generating vitally needed vitamins for human survival inside Man's intestines).

It is a nice simple - stupidly simple -flatteringly untrue image.

In fact, in the real world, Life is run on a infinitely complex three-bodied model - the equation of which neither Newton nor anyone else ever solved perfectly, or even solved imperfectly for very long.

For Man, by mass and number, is in turn but a tiny commensal upon the entire world population of microbes who keep us fed with oxygen and vegetation/meat foods.

Without other life to feed us, we would starve because neither our current genes nor our current science allows us to breath and eat in a world of methane and sulfur -- unlike some of the microbes.

Now in a real world three-bodied problem, the three bodies would all interact with each other - and we definitely do interact with the local microbes upon us and with all the microbes living on the globe  around us.

Our commensals sometimes do kill us and sometimes do help us ---indirectly.

We push them into it, by consuming antibiotics.

Some antibiotics kill off the commensals'  competitors - so they in turn can move into us and cause disease.

Or we kill off our harmless commensals with our antibiotics and their replacements are not harmless but pathogens - we thus learn the harmless- useless- commensal actually indirectly helped us by keeping the deadly alternatives off our skin and out of our throats.

We also pump trillions times trillions of microbe-sized fatal doses of
fatal antibiotics into the general environment every year ; we raise the temperature of the air and the land and the water via our greenhouse gases and thus by our actions we kill some and promote others among the world's microbes.

Just between these three bodies,calculating the interactions would
still boggle Newton's brain.

Now 'three-bodied' is just a scientific cum classroom metaphor.

 Because really life and reality is a many-bodied problem: a many,many,many-bodied problem.

Getting it exactly right - even once - probably boggled even God's mind.....