W is for Water worries

The calculus is whether the short-term economic gain is worth the long-term ecological loss.

“In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation (Resolution A/RES/65/154). In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. Therefore, UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation…”

For years, I’ve been hearing that the wars of the 21st Century will be fought, not over oil or precious metals, but over H2O. I was distressed to hear from the Nestle CEO that water is not a human right and should be privatized, which is already happening in Canada. This has energized the forces calling for a boycott of Nestle products.

As the UN reports note, climate change and other human activities are messing up the planet’s “hydrological cycle,” leading to more droughts in some parts of the earth, and devastating flooding in others. The only year in the last five that the Red River did NOT flood near Fargo, ND was when there was a drought in the region; talk about all or nothing.

My concern over a process called hydrofracking, which, according to many opponents, “uses significantly more water than conventional drilling, as well as a ‘slick water’ mixture that is pumped into the shale to fracture the rock and release the [natural] gas,” is largely based on the use and potential abuse of precious water supplies. “There is an increased potential for toxicity and its long-term impacts, [as well as] the environmental impacts of the drilling: surface and subterranean damage including forestland loss… [and] groundwater and surface water contamination…” Where will the toxic fluids go is a large and seemingly unresolved question.

Fracking is a highly charged issue in New York State because the financially depressed Southern Tier region (Jamestown to Elmira to my hometown of Binghamton) is sitting on top of part of the Marcellus basin deposit which could be a boon to the area. The calculus is whether the short-term economic gain is worth the long-term ecological loss.

On a planet of about seven billion people, more than one billion are suffering from lack of ANY clean, potable water, and twice that cannot get to “any type of improved sanitation facility. About 2 million people die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases, most of them are children less than 5 years of age.”

Read more about water policy HERE.

One does NOT want to be quoting Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

May Rambling: Faraway fire; faux news; second chances

I was noting in particular two Billy Joel songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment.

Chuck Miller has taken on the task of promoting the work of his “fellow Times Union community bloggers, until that day when the Times Union itself will restore the ‘Best of Our Blogs’ feature to the print edition of the paper.” And one of those “well-written articles” was mine. Merci, Chuck.

The specter of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory looms over the garment factory that collapsed last month in Bangladesh, killing more than [1100] workers… But the world is smaller than it was 102 years ago. Tragedies of this sort in the Third World aren’t engendered only by forces in their proximity, and they won’t be averted unless the responsibility for change is embraced globally. Also, Is Rana Disaster Bangladesh’s Triangle Fire? I wrote about the Triangle fire HERE.

Meryl’s quite reasonable concern: ‘truth’ is becoming ever-more elusive with advancing photoshop technology and our modern vehicles of ‘news resources’ and communication. Related: Since Twitter hasn’t built a correction feature, here are 3 things journalists can do instead. And Who’s The Biggest Liar?

Howard Kurtz’s Belated Comeuppance: The Media Critic’s Firing Comes After a Long History of Journalistic Abuses.

For New York State, I thought the effects of hydrofracking was only an upstate problem, but it appears Manhattan will have its own issues.

In What Ways Does The Culture Of Comics Have An Impact On How Business Is Done? Also, The Library of American Comics at 75 Titles (and counting): Moral rights, reprint rights.

Boston Marathon Runner & Psychiatrist Shares Personal Story of Patriots’ Day 2013; written by a cousin of a co-worker.

Harriet Quimby – the 1st US woman to get her pilot’s license.

Space Oddities and Sensations: Inspiring Teaching and Learning , featuring Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Rare footage of Helen Keller speaking with the help of Anne Sullivan.

I was playing my Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 & 2 on a car ride recently; his birthday is in May. I was noting in particular two songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment. Melanie writes about the second time around. Also, practicing in pieces.

Richie’s road of death.

Sitemeter for Ken Levine’s blog, Taken 1:46 pm, May 8, 2013

I’m less interested Ken Levine won’t give Zach Braff one dime for his Kickstarter movie project than the sudden surge in his blog, from about 5000 hits a day, +/- 2000, to over 620,000 after that article, and over 96,000 for the followup. Levine also dissed the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, one that SamuraiFrog supported, BTW. There were a number of folks who dissed Braff, but supported the Veronica Mars effort, which otherwise could not have been made. Here’s Levine’s last word on the project, now that Braff has secured alternative funding. Also, another story on the controversy. Fascinated by the fact that this is what is considered controversial these days.

Al Capp: The Shame of Dogpatch.

Cathy Rigby played Peter Pan in Schenectady in April, and we declined to go. Now that I know that she’s retiring from the role after 3000+ performances, I wish I had gone.

Why McLean Stevenson quit MAS*H.

Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation, died this month. Mark Evanier has a nice Harryhausen story. Also, Ray was Steve Bissette’s hero. And here’s a short video you may recognize.

Don Rosa and the late Steve Gerber have been selected to receive the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Both are heroes in their field, and it was Gerber’s blog that prompted mine.

K-Chuck Radio: Rest in peace, George Jones.

Mark Evanier is dealing with the first Mother’s Day after his mom died much better than I did with mine.

The newspaper misspells its own name in an article about winning awards.

Dustbury speculates why the IRS “Where’s my refund?” site was down last weekend.

2001: A Space Odyssey – Howard Johnson’s Children’s Menu (1968).

The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek.

How ‘Star Wars’ Nerds sold Lucasfilm to Disney.

These re-made Disney DVD covers are scarily accurate.

DOMA, GWB and large sugary drinks

Yeah, I hate agreeing with Tucker Carlson too.

Recent news stories of interest to me:

The U.S. appeals court in Boston became the first appeals court to strike down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This seemed obvious to this old poli sci major that DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards is officially a waste of time and federal resources. Not surprising to me: I had predicted his acquittal. My, I hope the government doesn’t decide to prosecute again after the jury was hung on five of the six charges.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush for the unveiling of their official portraits. It’s true: GWB can be a funny guy. He starts speaking at about the 10:40 mark; Laura had a good line or two.

Obama Ordered Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran. “Concerns have been raised that the revelations will set a dangerous precedent for the future of cyber warfare and international relations.” Makes me feel rather unsettled as well.

The SpaceX Dragon, after its trip to the International Space station, splashed down safely. While I’m still wishing NASA were doing this, I’m glad some entity in the US is going into space.
***
On the heels of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that he is seeking a citywide ban on all sugary drinks larger than sixteen ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, food carts, and ballpark concession stands, Jon Stewart spent the first third of Thursday’s edition of “The Daily Show” excoriating the proposed law— and Mayor Bloomberg himself.

For Stewart, Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban put him in a particularly tough position: being forced to concede a point to a political adversary who blasted Bloomberg’s idea on Fox News. “I agree with Tucker Carlson,” Stewart said, holding back mock-tears.

Yeah, I hate agreeing with Tucker Carlson too.

The ban reeks of …here’s a term I almost never use, because I generally agree with the legislation protecting people from themselves; I mean, wear that damn seat belt! But this is…nanny state run amok. And The Wife, independently, used the same term. Not that I recommend a Big Gulp – it would give ME a royal headache; I DO recommend these cartoons on the topic.

Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US; “The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself.”

Green Lantern relaunched as brave, mighty and gay. This was reported a “major character,” but this GL “is not the emerald galactic space cop who was, and is, part of the Justice League and has had a history rich in triumph and tragedy. Instead…, Alan Scott is the retooled version of the classic Lantern whose first appearance came in the pages of ‘All-American Comics’ No. 16 in July 1940.” The marketing of this by DC feels like a stunt.

ALEC Slips Exxon Fracking Loopholes into New Ohio Law. “While the new law will allow doctors to obtain disclosure of fracking chemicals, it places a gag order on them…meaning some chemicals aren’t disclosed to the public at all.” My barber asked me this week what I thought of fracking; I am generally suspicious of the use of so much fresh water. But the secrecy really tips the scale against it.

I’m giving my daughter a sample spelling test. Seven of the first ten words are: break, sleigh, steak, eight, great, weigh, prey. I realized I had to give her definitions, because every single one of those words has a common homonym; English is so tricky.

Storage media creep, dismal future, and what if Lincoln had lived

Would Lincoln have run for a third term?

Jaquandor, Buffalo’s favorite blogger, who answered so many of my questions that you’d think I was from New Jersey, writes:
(Sorry to be so late in the game with these!)

You’re not late. One can ask me questions anytime, though I specifically request them periodically. Hey, if anyone else has questions, ask away.

To what degree are you tired of “storage media creep” — meaning, the progression from LPs to CDs to MP3s or from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray to streaming?

I am EXHAUSTED by it. I rant about it periodically, especially when it leads to what I like to call W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. (the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own). This is why I 1) still have an LP player, a CD player, a VHS player, DVD player, and 2) don’t jump on the next technology bandwagon very quickly. I’m not going to get all of those newfangled things, because of cost and some incompatibility with each other. I do have music in the cloud – I have no idea what that means – but it’s mostly stuff I got from Amazon for free or cheap (Lady Gaga’s last album for 99 cents.)

And what do you think of the increasing sense in which when we buy something, we’re not getting ownership of anything for our money, but merely permission to use it?

It angers me. One library vendor decided, after the fact, that library patrons can only take out an e-book, I believe, 28 times, because that’s some average book circulation number. Then the “book” would cease to operate. It’s also true of library databases, where what’s available seems to change from year to year, not to mention soaring prices.

To this day, I get peeved around Neil Diamond’s birthday. I bought his CD, 12 Songs. Then I discovered that SONY had placed essentially malware on its own disc which prevents me from copying an album that I own onto my iTunes or other devices; indeed, I believe that even playing the album on my computer could damage the computer. So I must play it on a CD player. I read, well after the fact, that there was a recall, but I keep the disc as a reminder of corporate copyright overreach.

When you think of the long-term problems we face, which one(s) bother you the most from the perspective of your daughter having to be part of the generation that deals with them?

The environment, clearly. I think that the melting ice caps will mean catastrophic weather. Corporations will dupe people into thinking that hydrofracking is a good thing until some disaster that will make the BP oil spill look like lint on a new pair of pants. I also expect that there will be major wars in the 21st century over potable water, more so than fuel.

We may have already passed the tipping points on global warming, say scientists at the Planet Under Pressure conference. Worse. on March 19, Tennessee became “the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change… The ALEC bill passed as H.B. 368 and S.B. 893, with 70-23 and 24-8 roll call votes, respectively.”

How different do you think the post-Civil War era would have been had Lincoln not been assassinated?

Wow, this is SUCH a good question, because it’s so TOTALLY UNANSWERABLE. Which won’t keep me from trying.

Like an assassinated President a century later, I believe that Lincoln was evolving on civil rights issues. I can only wonder how he would have dealt with the Radical Republicans that drove much of Reconstruction in his absence. Would there have been compensation to slave owners that remained loyal to the Union? Would blacks ex-slaves have gotten their 40 acres and a mule, which Lincoln supported but which Andrew Johnson rescinded? If these two things had taken place, might some of the racial animosity that exists in America today have been better ameliorated?

And here’s yet another question: would Lincoln have run for a third term? I always thought he felt his destiny to serve. It was only tradition, not the Constitution, which barred it at the time. And he may have proved more tolerable terms for Southern states to re-enter the union, without the seceding states feeling totally demoralized. I think it was the quick end to Reconstruction that helped allow for the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, and the like.

And I just had a debate with someone online about this, so I’ll ask your opinion: how much does the common usage of the phrase ‘begging the question’ bother you? This to me leads to a lot of interesting issues regarding how languages evolve. Thoughts?

It doesn’t annoy me. It has an ancient construction that most people don’t understand. Maybe because it involves “proof” and “logic”, and those are not elements of modern discourse. Politicians beg the question, in the classic sense, all the time.

Its more modern meaning, “raising the question,” the more pedantic complain about, and I can be rather that way, but not on this. Language changes.

I remember that my good Internet friend Arthur was complaining about those folks in the Guy Fawkes masks not knowing who Fawkes really was, or what he stood for. Didn’t bother me.

Whereas I’m still bugged by it’s/its, et al. And the word among no longer seems to be in use at all. I learned that it was between two, but among three or more, yet between is now being used to the exclusion of among. I’ve pretty much given up that fight.

Jaquandor, this begs the question (modern sense): what was the nature of the debate you were having?