Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ottawa Tar Sands Action on Parliament Hill 26/09/11

or Whither?
or Give me some milk or else go home.
Up, Down, Postscript.

¡Ya basta!May not make sense this week without the music; that is, if it ever makes sense: Stuck in the Middle (with you), Stealers Wheel; maybe a bit of Three Dog Night's Mama Told me not to Come; and, in the end, back to Bob and Ballad of a Thin Man live in Ramat Gan Stadium, Israel, June 20 2011.

Holy shit! There are snipers up on the roof. With guns! And binoculars! What can they possibly be doing up there?
Ahh ... must be the girl in the bikini.
There see - she turned over. She knows they are watching.
Holy shit!

There are snipers up on the roof. With guns! And binoculars!

What can they possibly be doing up there?

Ahh ... must be the girl in the bikini.

There see - she turned over. She knows they are watching.

Ottawa Tar Sands Action.
A-and that must be us there, stuck in the middle between 'em.

Ottawa Tar Sands Action.At the end of the day they let us go with a sunburn.

Earlier on the RCMP had been arresting people, plastic wrist ties and all, handing out a printed warning not to come back to Parliament Hill for one year or face 'serious consequences', giving them to the Ottawa Police for booking and to receive a $65 trespassing ticket and an escort off the premises - these are the 100 or so you can read about in the news.

But Ottawa shuts at 4PM (just in case you thought anyone might actually work there) and whoever it is that books people for the Ottawa Police went home - no budget for overtime I am guessing. Rather than put the rest of us in a holding cell till the next morning (which might have been a bad PR move) they just shooed us away, about another hundred or so. "Go home!" they said, and most did I guess, but for the two of us it was straight across the street to an overpriced patio for a couple'a $10 pints.

Easy to talk now, but when they threatened summary arrest for returning within a year my first response was, "Oh yeah? We'll see about that."

What they might better have been saying was, "Hokey Doodle! Look'a that now boys and girls! Here are 200 people in k-k-Canada with some remnant of a conscience. Please come back here every day, maybe you can balance out some of the people inside the building."

What can I tell you that might be useful?

Yi Ming.A delightful young woman from Washington came up to me and said, "I know you. You were in Washington weren't you?" Her name is Yi Ming and you can see a short video of her here. It was a particular treat to see her again - to recognize her, to be recognized, to be given a little more of her story.

Tony Van Hee.I spoke with Tony Van Hee. In the late 80's he and Glen Kealey were hanging out on Parliament Hill, getting regularly arrested and being so pesky that Brian Mulrooney eventually passed an act of parliament to bar Glen from shouting at him as he got into his limo in the afternoon (4PM remember). Glen used to shout, "LYIN' BRIAN!" as loud as he could - I saw and heard this a few times as I passed on my way back and forth there in those days. Twenty years later and more, and Tony is still at it as you can see. Good on him.

Doug Adams.Part of the title of this post is 'Whither?' and it comes from Doug Adams. That is what he was asking me as we waited to be arrested, "Where are we going from here?" And he has asked it again since, so I am now setting out with him and some others we met there to see how we can answer this question.

That is what is most useful and important coming out of the day for me - that living connections are being established and renewed and strengthened - that we are not alone in this struggle.

One more story: I am sorry that I did not get a photograph of the group, just beside the girl in (and out of) her bikini, who were practicing a martial art on the grass in front of the fence. As we were sitting on the patio later having a beer they came along and took the next table and we were able to tell them that watching them go through their drill had strangely invigorated us. And their leader told us that that was exactly his intention - to spread some energizing vibrations to those of us risking arrest. I didn't get either his name or the name of the particular martial art, but I know that we were both gladdened to know that a message had been conceived and sucessfully conveyed - without a word being spoken. Grace.

It was touch and go from start to finish:

Os três companheiros.The Toronto companheira very nearly knocked me right off my perch with her correctitude - her word for it is 'encouragement' - and my intention to do something to raise the numbers went entirely unrealized. (My nephew came along but couldn't take the training on no sleep and returned directly to Toronto.) Three offers of support to the organizers went unanswered (and are unanswered yet). It would have been easy just not to leave Toronto at all - but we did.

Os três companheiros.And arrived in Ottawa after a crippling all-night Greyhound bus ride - to discover that a bus had been chartered to bring people from Toronto, which did not involve staying up all night, but that no one had thought to tell us about it. I was so exhausted at the training session that I began to weep and babble - I soon left in shame - and except for my son's good humour the next morning I was ready to quit, even having come so far.

Petty bureaucracies are the same wherever you run into them and somehow every thread snags on my negative and curmudgeonly hedgehog appurtenances. Again, not being alone made all the difference - that Moe was willing to run some interference kept me both there and mostly on the rails.

So yes, there between the snipers and the lovely exhibitionist something changed, something was learned, accomplished, initiated, reinforced.

May it grow.

Be well.


Gitz Crazyboy aka Ryan Deranger, from Fort Chipewyan.
Gitz Crazyboy aka Ryan Deranger, from Fort Chipewyan.
I almost forgot to mention Gitz Crazyboy. Eloquent and clear, he says, "Let's dream together. Let's do it today. Let's do it right NOW."

Gitz Crazyboy arrested.There doesn't seem to be an official repository for photographs. There are some here thanks to the Washington organizers; and more here.

One of the photographers working with the organizers was Ben Powless - I have mentioned him before for his coverage of events in Peru in 2009. I was pleased to finally meet him - he was in Washington as well but I missed him by a day - he certainly merits praise for his skill and energy.

You can see a collection of his photographs on Flickr. It is always hard to find a good photograph of the photographer - but if I come across one I will post it here later.

JP with David & Moe.A-and he graciously took this shot of us as we left Parliament Hill on Monday (as well as the several shots of Gitz Crazyboy).

JP is worthy of praise as well - we were all sitting obediently on the grass after having been stopped (but not technically arrested) and I heard him speaking with the Mounties behind us, and then ... there he was ... standing up (!) I was quite uncomfortable on the ground, so I got up, and also went to ask, and yes, we were permitted to stand, walk around, smoke, and were in fact repeatedly encouraged to climb back over the fence and leave. But it was JP who first broke the spell and good on him for it. It may not sound like much - but it was.

There are many others whose lives touched ours in Ottawa: Mark the Medic, Brendan the Irish, Sean & Tara, Brigette DePape, a gent from organized labour who lent me his cellphone (for a long-distance call yet! True!), another Mark from Kitchener, Jasmine Thomas from B.C. who sings like an angel ... many many many ... may all of you be well.

I may have something to say about the police later on ... There is a rumour going around that there is now a contest, initiated by someone among the Washington Park Police, to see which branch can treat protesters with the most courtesy and civility and compassion. The rumour was denied by both Mounties and Ottawa Police on the scene on Monday - but I'm not convinced ... and then too, we have yet to talk seriously with them about Stacy Bonds and Robert Dziekanski ...

This video is now available: Ottawa Action (10 min.).


Saturday, 24 September 2011

People Are Strange.

"Au lieu d'un chateau fort dressé au milieu des terres, il faudrait penser a l'armée des étoiles jetées dans le ciel." Jacques Maritain (or maybe Raïssa or even Jean-Luc Barré).
Up, Down, Postscript.

Music this week, first and last, from The Doors. First: People Are Strange.

Occupy Wall Street.Occupy Wall Street.
¡Ya basta!Wall Street is Occupied!

From what I can see these guys at least know how to organize it - general assemblies (lower case intentional), food committees ... and they are still there a week later.

There are lots of videos, this one's a good start, and this one, I Am the 99%. Some crazies, some incoherence, some clear thinking - all good - I wish I was there, I might just fit in.

"I don't know if we can do it. But if we can't do it we are doomed as a species."

The police got very ugly already - and they are still there.

Good on them.

You can send them an 'Occu-pie' pizza from Liberatos Pizza right from the comfort of whatever chair you put in front of the computer deity in your household.

Go Ahead! Send them a pizza!

Just do it!

Gable - Eminent Economists agree.Gable - R-r-ramping up k-k-Canadian Justice.Gable - Bear Market Yo-yo.Gable gets it half-right again. He is, as he so often is, close but no cigar (Once! Twice! Thrice!). I'll leave you to figgure out how exactly if you're interested.

There is some news of the Wall Street occupation, with some pictures, in the NYT (but not on the front page of course). The newspapers, so called 'liberal' or not, all know who butters their bread - and it ain't the 99%.

Toxic k-k-Canada.A-and Gwynne Dyer reappears as a purveyor of KY jelly: Geo-engineering takes off to cool Earth's surface. The true seat of fear is in the prostate apparently - bend over, this won't hurt a bit.

Doh! One after the other these people tip in the direction of easy. Wazizname ... the maudlin clue from the Munk debate? ... George Monbiot; then there was the nimby Gaia promoter ... James Lovelock; and now the last clear-headed Newfie, Gwynne Dyer - not exactly news, he made it clear in Climate Wars, but still ... Oh well.

Jean-Luc Barré - Les mendiants du Ciel.Jean-Luc Barré - Beggars for Heaven.There was a typo in my transcription of Ivan Illich's exegesis on the Good Samaritan (which I have fixed). In the process I looked into getting the source of this quotation from (I thought) Jacques Maritain.

"Au lieu d'un chateau fort dressé au milieu des terres, il faudrait penser a l'armée des étoiles jetées dans le ciel."

According to Charles Taylor it is on page 396 of this book by Jean-Luc Barré: Les mendiants du Ciel, 1996; Beggars for Heaven translated by Bernard Doering, 2005.

So, it is not clear that the quotation is directly from either Jacques or Raïssa, and the book is not in the library, even in translation, and a used copy is beyond my budget, so ... a quandary. I'm working on it.

Some are setting out to beatify these people, knuckleheads, and worse than knuckleheads - they'll just never learn.


You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time ----
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You ----

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two ----
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.
 Doug Ford would not recognize Margaret Atwood if he saw her on the street - this has now been rectified I understand, they have been introduced somehow - and it's probably a safe bet that Rick Perry has not read Sylvia Plath.

Sylvia Plath stamp.But they are making a stamp of her. Ho hum.

How many theses have been written around this poem I wonder? I remember Keith reading it aloud in an english class long ago: "Ich, Ich, Ich." And the implicit 'Du' reiterated in every blue rhyme. An inversion of Buber's I/Thou ... a daemonic inversion I suppose ... such a clear window into such a dark abyss.

Sylvia Plath stamp.I am certain that I have said all this before. But my memory and this crutch of a blog are now insufficient to help me find where that was (?) ... once here in 2005 but that's not it ... Oh well.

I am posting it here today to dot the i's and cross the t's on the Toronto companheira who didn't like being addressed as a lady. How was I to know? Why not say it the first time? Why save it for some kind of implicit cadence?

We mistake the poet for her poetry, and her poetry for something else - say, the Zeitgeist - and soon it comes ready-made instead of bespoke, doctrine carved in stone on the cathedral walls - picked out in gold leaf, wisdom of the age, handed down ... and so on.

L'Afua.How anyone can imagine that correctitude will help the movement coalesce into something that can turn the tide I do not know.

Instead it splinters into ever finer and finer shards; too often governed by "Look at ME!" The organizers are all giddy counting has-been endorsements and contingent promises. What can we possibly learn in 8 hours of 'training'?

I don't know.
If I were competent I would write a Daddy parody, turn it on its head with harpies and Sullenbode, weave Medea into it - and maybe provide a balance that could make sense of it - but I am not. And anyway, balance is overrated.

Astronautas, zombies y oleo - Jeremy Geddes.Astronautas, zombies y oleo - Jeremy Geddes.¡Ya basta!So, as I get ready to head off for Ottawa I feel hopeless. Even accompanied as I am this time by my son and nephew - indeed, it could be as simple as commitments made to them that takes me out the door at all.

More and more I prefer to skip a day whenever I can possibly get away with it - just ... stay in bed with a book. And there have been two truely excellent ones this week.

Astronautas, zombies y oleo - Jeremy Geddes.When I first became dissatisfied with the Father God nonsense, and with Jesus, meek and mild, someone said to me to go looking into my own heritage then - the Viking originators of 'fuck' ... but I never really did get around to it. It was so comfortable to be shining with Jesus: "You in your small corner, and me in mine," and much too difficult to try walking around the KJV - I was never up for it, not enough jam.

Antonia Susan (A.S.) Byatt seems to have had the right stuff though: Ragnarok: the end of the gods, 2011.

I found the last two chapters here: A.S. Byatt - Ragnarok, The End of the Gods (excerpts).

She ends with: "As it is, the world ends because neither the all too human gods, with their armies and quarrels, nor the fiery thinker know how to save it."

Madeleine Thien.If we are walking to the end, running, whatever, it is just as well to look straight at it, to see it for what it is - even from somewhat to the side - and this Ragnarök is the clearest view I have seen yet.

And Madeleine Thien as well (two in a week ... Imagine!): Dogs at the Perimeter, 2011.

On the most trivial level (f'rinstance); here is a woman who can write a character who strikes her child. The photograph is included to assure all that she appears otherwise normal.

Lindonjonson Silva Rocha e José Rodrigues Moreira.It looks like they got the killers of Zé Cláudio and his wife Maria. These two, Lindonjonson Silva Rocha and José Rodrigues Moreira, are (apparently) small-time contract killers. The instigators, their paymasters, are still walking around.

These photographs are at reasonably high resolution - click on them, look closely at these men, they do not have two heads or forked tongues, either of them.

Lindonjonson Silva Rocha e José Rodrigues Moreira.Several news articles in Portuguese:
Polícia prende no Pará irmãos acusados de assassinar casal extrativista, Altino Machado, 18/09/2011.
Polícia prende no Pará irmãos acusados de assassinar casal extrativista, Altino Machado, domingo, 18 de setembro de 2011.
Acusados de assassinar casal de extrativistas são transferidos para Belém, Altino Machado, domingo, 18 de setembro de 2011.
Irmãos negam assassinato de casal de ambietalistas, 20/09/2011.
Irmãos negam assassinato de ambientalistas, Diário do Pará, 20/09/2011.

And one in English (Lo and behold!):
Brazil police arrest suspects in Amazon killings, AP, 18/09/2011.

I get no help thinking: Either it is what it is, or: It is more (or less) than it is ... and it remains always possible I guess that without at least some fiction of something transcendental, life cannot be lived? Depending upon how strong and original you really are. Whatever ...

¡Ya basta!And for the last, The Doors again: The End.

I am wondering if I might not just stay in jail if they are fool enough to put me there? If not I will report here with first-hand photographs maybe.

Be well gentle reader.

Occupy Wall Street.Occupy Wall Street.

"I would like to be remembered as a judge who didn’t shy away from the most difficult issues but tackled them head on with blunt honesty. Beyond that, if it doesn’t sound too corny, I think what my decisions show is a profound belief in a decent and civilized society where the law affords people as much scope as possible to make whatever they can of themselves, but an equally deep belief that the people have to take responsibility for whatever it is that they decide to do."

Ian Binnie.

What do you say now?: "... I mean really. What are we coming to? We’re coming to the end, I hope."
The end of what? : "The world."
Do you feel apocalyptic?: "I do. A lot of people do. But it’s become rather a cliché. When was the world supposed to end last, two months ago or whatever? It was a lovely thought."

Maurice Sendak.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cada pessoa é um mundo ...

Each person is a world ...
Up, Down, Postscript.

Lois Frank & Máijá Tailfeathers facing the trucks.¡Ya basta!Three women of the Kainai Nation; Lois Frank, Jill Crop Eared Wolf, and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers; were arrested for blocking three Murphy Oil trucks carrying fracking fluid onto the reserve near Standoff, Alberta (map) on September 10.

For some reason Google Maps shows the rivers but not their names: Oldman River, St. Mary River, and Belly River.

Máijá Tailfeathers arrested.Jill Crop Earred Wolf arrested.Jill Crop Earred Wolf & Lois Frank arrested.Lois Frank arrested.Facing the Reserve Police.It looks to me like Murphy Oil Corporation with the connivance of the various levels of so-called 'government' bought all of those nice diesel pickup trucks you can see (and hear) there in the videos, and along with them the Kainai Band Council, but it wasn't enough to shut up these women and their colleagues. There is at least one man involved - Arnell Tailfeathers, a brother (I think) to Máijá, and who (I think) took the videos.

Here are the videos:
       1) Introduction: Máijá Tailfeathers & Cathy Brewer,
       2) The site: Máijá Tailfeathers,
       3) The arrests, and,
       4) The trucks go rolling on through.

There is a report at CBC, but better is at CENSORED NEWS by Brenda Norrel:
       Sunday, September 11, 2011: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers Statement, and,
       Tuesday, September 13, 2011: Fracking Mother Earth for Dollars.

The network is paying off - I got this news on the very day from Tar Sands Action, the organizers of the Washington protest: 3 Blood Tribe Women Arrested in Fracking Blockade.

There was some applause from supporters as they were arrested - and there has been some applause in this little apartment too as I have been putting this together.

Good on you!

Toxic k-k-Canada.I spent some time in that foothills country - in the 80's putting up windmills (and taking them down again in the 90's) at the now defunct Alberta Renewable Energy Test Site near Pincher Creek (also on that map).

If you are unclear on just what 'fracking' is, you can start here.

The latest report I can find (as I am about to post this) is from Wednesday the 14th in the Calgary Herald.

Here's something else: UBC graduate Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers stands up for the Bloodlands by Shannon O'Rourke in The Ubyssey, September 20, and, her film Bloodlands plays at Empire Granville 7 Theatre on October 6 and 11: VIFF Listing.

A-and a bit more: (October 4 update) A short piece on CBC Radio from September 22, and a link I meant to include before: Protect Blood Land, now with the news that court proceedings have been delayed until October 17 for the three women arrested on September 10th.

by Rodrigo Chaves.
From Rodrigo Chaves' blog Contratempos Modernos.

Each person is a world, with a history, a geography, biodiversity ...

To know a person is to explore this world. Some are immediately interesting.

On others it is necessary to explore more thoroughly.

And obviously there are some who do not permit visits.

Thanks to Miss Numa.Thanks to Miss Numa.
I saw this on Miss Numa's blog Miss Numa Gloves You back in August when she posted it, and it stuck but I didn't know why - that the veils are reminiscent of the Orixás perhaps.

Then, turning over the old compost heap yesterday, it came to me - The Three Graces: Aglaea (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer). A-and Wikipedia calls them 'The Charites' - which set off another one of those damned tectonic shiftings I have been experiencing lately - mini-strokes maybe (hopefully).

(I have been stumbling around in this territory before, looking for my lost & distant girls Oxum & Iansã and their source Iemanjá ... and Anima and Abishag of course.)

There is a nexus here so deep and wide ... but it was not until today that I followed the trail from the graceful charites through caritas to agapé.

So ... thanks to Miss Numa, who simply called them 'rather delish'.

Another one so soon?! Yup. Here's Alzheimer's
'Vantage #8: Out with a friend to a restauraunt where we shared a delicious Italian dessert. But I cannot remember the name of it - could not indeed remember it at the time for more than 20 seconds (for some reason). So, as long as I remember that there was a dessert at all I will be calling to have the name given to me again. It promotes social interaction do you see? Solidarity.Let's hear it for Lizard Brain! :-)
I am betting that the olfactory & gustatory will outlast language. (I have the telephone number written down.) And not a bad bet either - since I believe these senses reside in that old fave-o-rite: the hypothalamus (or substantia nigra is it? amygdala? hippocampus?) ... anyway, the Lizard Brain - you know what I mean.

When mom was going down with it and took a mouthful of sweet custard you could see a change, a kind of a ghost of a smile, just a hint of some vague residual recognition of pleasure.

I am longing to exercise that closing cadence 'My tale is done, a mouse has run' upon this blog. In fact, I did use it here ... more than a year ago, but it didn't stick. Oh well.

I am such a pushover. I can clutch longer at slimmer (even invisible) straws than ... (It's not over yet, so ... Who Knows?) One of my ex's expressed mild & indirect approbation when I participated in Washington and in a flash I was back in love all over again.Easy AND cheap. :-)

It don't take much.  
(As I hum a few bars of Guess Who's American Woman ... and then ... Undun.)

¡Ya basta!I went looking for some of the other Canadians from Toronto who were in Washington. I thought maybe we could get together and do something to promote the planned demonstration in Ottawa on the 26th - but it looks like none of them want any, and the organizers have now ignored three offers of support (beyond mere attendance). So ...

Here are some possibly useful links:
       VIA Rail - $155.94 Toronto return,
       Greyhound Canada - $125.00 Toronto return,
       Ottawa Backpacker's Inn - $25 per night, and,
       Hostelling International Ottawa (in the old jail) - from $28.
Be aware that there are various discounts for early booking, age, and so on, so these numbers are just indicators.

Estimates are for 400-500 demonstrators in Ottawa on the 26th. I thought this was not enough. But - it would be about twice any given day of the Washington action. So ... close enough to significant & substantial for the girls I go with!

David is relieved to find his depression isn't about him, but rather a massive disappointment in the human race.But ... What am I doing wrong then? That so many of my overtures are rejected? What can it be? I don't get it. Either I really am (unbeknownst to myself - is that even possible with the written word?) entirely incoherent. Or am I working secretly and undercover (and schizophrenically I guess, psychotically) for CSIS & the RCMP? Is that it?

Or, as I often fear these days, am I - completely and on every conceivable axis and in every conceivable dimension - simply ... wrong?

Or ... or ... it's a remnant ... an aberration generated in some vestigial circuit of hope à la Allen Ginsberg & his Howl: "waiting for a door in the East River to open full of steamheat ..." Maybe it is not Alzheimer's at all, nor even age. Maybe it is a mind-virus disrupting, expanding, transferring, propagating by some corrupt but invisible intellectual process ... (Ggah!)

Surely my kids would see such a thing and tell me. Wouldn't they? I talk to them all the time.

Aha! A Clue! One of the companheiras from Washington has sent me a blast, trying to whack my pee-pee for being politically incorrect in my language. She missed ... but sure ... She's right! I am so not a devotee of correctitude. Could it be as simple as that? Ai ai ai!

I will try to fathom just how correctitude fits (or doesn't fit more likely) into this nexus and let you know.

Thank you Madam for this honesty, howevermuch unintentional & inverted. It is already useful to me.

I have been wondering about Jared Diamond: How could such a smart guy, so articulate and competent and so obviously full of life, sell out to Chevron? (See Chapter 15 of Collapse.)

So I have set about reading some of his books, as carefully as I can, thinking about him, wondering ... maybe I will have something to say about it all later on sometime ... one of these days:

1991: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal at Wikipedia & the Toronto Public Library (TPL),


1997: Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality at Wikipedia & TPL,


1997: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies at Wikipedia & TPL,


2005: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed at Wikipedia & TPL, and,


2010: Natural Experiments of History not included in Wikipedia but yes, at TPL.

In The Third Chimpanzee: the evolution and future of the human animal, at the end of Chapter 17 - The Golden Age That Never Was, I found this poem:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

       (Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!Of course I already knew it - I think we had to memorize it back in the day, Grade 8 or maybe Grade 9. And there is a mystery in this poem as well: What does, "the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed," refer to exactly I wonder? Another question for another day.

I will carry this poem to Ottawa on the 26th - in the event that someone asks me what I am doing there I will have an answer at hand.

Chapter 18 of The Third Chimpanzee, Blitzkrieg and Thanksgiving in the New World, is quite short, quick to read, and challenges some politically correct notions around the privileged aboriginal relatonship with nature and the environment - and challenges them successfully to my mind. I have been in the bush with First Nations' people who were no more in tune with it than I was (I mean to say: I was, and they were, but no more d'y'unnerstan'?).

Meditations around despair inevitably touch upon suicide. Those I feel closest to these days in considering environmental issues have despaired and, like myself, keep on keepin' on for ever more subtle and difficult-to-describe-in-smalltalk reasons. I met several people in Washington who were there and who share (approximately) my despair (or something like it).

One of them pointed me at this audio webcast of David Webb, and links to his book Thinking of Suicide (unhappily not available at the Toronto Public Library), and to an earlier report of his, The Many Languages of Suicide.

One evening in Rio - this happened right across the street from the famous Garota da Ipanema, where they say The Girl from Ipanema was composed - I had been working too hard and not eating and I collapsed over two choppes and a grilled-cheese sandwich. Luckily, waiters in Rio are not afraid to touch you so they soon had me picked up and into a chair and I came to. I didn't even remember falling. One of my mates saw me to my door later on, just in case. But, as we were walking slowly up the street, I was thinking to myself, "So, that's it then? If I had died I would never have known. When the time comes I can do that - easy."

One of those rare moments of freedom.

David Webb several times asks the question, "What would a compassionate society look like?" Good question!

It would certainly not look much like the urban and sub-urban societies of the early 21st century, for starters. (I said that.)

The United Church of Canada Crest.I hope this is not too long a jump, but: Compassion does not fit into institutions and cannot be made to fit there. A bureaucracy cannot dispense compassion. Compassion can neither be legislated nor enforced. As soon as your church makes it into doctrine it flies away from your church. As soon as you have applied a bumper-sticker to your car saying 'Be Compassionate!" it has flown right away from you.

About the same goes for compassion's first-cousin, 'empathy'. I say 'about' because marketing researchers and such like sleveens do try to use it - sometimes with effect, albeit negative; and because weeping sometimes, over Internet videos of courageous actions and eloquent speeches may (does sometimes) evoke a sort of verisimilitude.

I would go farther and say that compassion only raises its eyes & reveals its visage when you are close enough to someone to reach out and physically touch them. But that might be a step too far, and anyways I am still learning.

One thing David Webb says, which bears very directly, is this: "Speaking openly about suicidal feelings, rather than reacting with panic and fear, is the best ..."

And not true just for suicide either I'll warrant.

No doubt it is nothing but a coincidence that some Americans are simultaneously ruminating (in their way) over related issues:
       Paul Krugman: Free to Die, September 15 2011, and,
       Peter Catapano: Let’s Talk About Death, September 16 2011.

Be well gentle reader.

Kumi Naidoo.Kumi Naidoo - after 2009 hunger-strike.Postscript:

(The Wikipedia bio seemed incomplete, so I cobbled this together.)

Kumi Naidoo Bio:
Born in South Africa in 1965, Kumi Naidoo became involved in the South African liberation struggle at the age of 15. As a result of his anti-apartheid activities, he was expelled from high school. He was deeply involved in neighbourhood organisation, youth work in his community, the underground movement, and mass mobilisations against the apartheid regime.

In 1986, he was arrested and charged for violating the state of emergency regulations. He went underground for one year before finally fleeing into exile in the UK until 1989. During this time, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and earned a doctorate in political sociology. After Nelson Mandela's release in 1990, Kumi returned to South Africa to work on the legalisation of the African National Congress. During the democratic elections in 1994, he was the official spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission and directed the training of all electoral staff in the country.

Kumi became the founding Executive Director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), an umbrella agency for the South African NGO community. Provoked by the fact that South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women, Kumi was lead organiser of the National Men's March Against Violence on Women and Children in 1997.

From 1998 until 2008, Kumi Naidoo was the Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. With a small staff of 40, but a membership of more than 1000 organisations and individuals from more than 100 countries, CIVICUS is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. He is currently the honorary president of CIVICUS.

Kumi is a Rhodes Scholar with a D.Phil. in Politics from Magdalen College, Oxford. He also holds a BA in Politics and Law from the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa. He has published and spoken widely on issues relating to civil society, education, and resistance to apartheid.

Kumi Naidoo took up the role of Executive Director of Greenpeace International in November 2009.

Kumi Naidoo.Some videos of Kumi Naidoo:

Conversation with Thom Hartmann, and part 2 (about 15 minutes each).


Speech at CCLA March 2011, part 2, part 3 (about 15 minutes each).


Speech at the Copenhagen Global Day of Action, December 2009 (10 minutes).


Greenpeace at 40 Years, a conversation between Rex Weyler & Kumi Naidoo.

Some (possibly related) miscellaneous links:

Desmond Tutu at Copenhagen Rally in 2009 (a version from the United Church of k-k-Canada), and another video, less complete but with more closeups.


Food & Trees for Africa


The Climate Reality Project (Why is there nothing of this in Toronto?)

Finally, a report of Kumi Naidoo's 2009 hunger strike (written by himself) and a Guardian Interview from July 2009.

I just thought it was time to get to know this man a little better. The speeches are competent but not all flattering to him. Nonetheless he is indeed a fit champion. Actions speak louder than words.

Toxic k-k-Canada.The headline in my Canadian Climate Action Network weekly newsletter trumpets, "Victory! Kent says Maxim coal won't be allowed to skirt the rules."
'Damned Pollyanna optimists!' I think. Everyone knows that Peter Kent is a spineless weasel, and I doubt there has been any real victory over him (yet).

Sure enough, the CTV article they reference has it as, "Ottawa warns pending emissions rules will be enforced," but working your way west, to Winnipeg , where it is still "Kent threatens to tighten coal plant emissions rules," you fetch up with a thump in Calgary & Edmonton where it is "No surprises likely in new coal rules, Kent says."


In an effort to cut down on copy&paste I am keeping text copies of some of the articles I reference here so that if-and-when the link dies and if-and-when I notice it (or someone tells me) I can post them then. This makes it a bit slower to get at them - apologies.