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Geopolitics / Re: French Fried Frog Frexit
« on: Today at 03:03:35 AM »
It makes me not want to play with you anymore.


MOAR Oysters for Breakfast!  ::)

This is the last morning we can eat these Oysters raw without risking Death, so the remaining ones will need to get cooked up in some manner to keep a few more days.  I am discussing ideas with Julia on this over Breakfast.  The Lobster is not a problem, we have that all Vacuum Sealed and Frozen.

We're going to relax and enjoy the Beach in Recife today, looks it will be a beautiful Summer's Day (we're in the Southern Hemisphere now) with temps in the 90sF and Sunny Skies.  Surf looks to be up also, probably a Hurricane brewing somewhere out in the Atlantic.  We'll bring our body boards and flippers also.

Hope you enjoy the morning Breakfast Special.  :icon_sunny:


Today's Breakfast Special

Raw Oysters on the Half Shell

Lobster Eggs Benedict

Strawberry Cheesecake

Diner TV / 🎵 DD Juke Box V2.0: Only Time - Enya
« on: Today at 02:36:30 AM »
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Tomgram: Subhankar Banerjee, The Vanishing
Posted by Subhankar Banerjee   at 7:35am, December 11, 2018.

    Baby Starfish, Olympic National Park. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2015.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Just a reminder that signed, personalized copies of Ben Fountain’s new book, Beautiful Country Burn Again, are still available for a $100 contribution to this website ($125 if you live outside the U.S.) -- but not for long. Check out our donation page for the details because the offer will end this Friday.  Of the book, Andrew Bacevich has written: “As a stylist, Fountain combines the talents of Ambrose Bierce, Norman Mailer, and Hunter Thompson… A penetrating critique of a contemporary American politics thoroughly corrupted by money... Ben Fountain’s voice -- enraged, unsparing, unrelenting, acutely attuned to hypocrisy, and suffused with wit -- invests his testimony with an authority that commands respect.”  And a million thanks to all of you who already donated for a copy -- your support truly does make all the difference to us! Tom]

It’s not been a good era for migrants -- and no, I’m not talking about those “caravans” of desperate human beings from Central America heading for the U.S. (and the wrath of Donald J. Trump).  I’m thinking about birds -- shorebirds, in fact, which are surely the greatest migrants on the planet.  The Hudsonian godwit, for instance, flies more than 9,000 miles yearly to its Arctic breeding grounds.  Since 1974, however, populations of that bird have taken a 70% nose (or beak) dive, part of the great shorebird die-off of this era.  In fact, bird populations of many sorts are dropping across the planet.  These include mountain birds that have nowhere higher to go as global temperatures increase and the common farmland birds of France whose populations have fallen by a third, though some like the meadow pipit (at 68%) have experienced far more precipitous drops.  Then, there are the birds of the Mojave Desert in California and Nevada.  In those largely protected national park or preserve areas, according to a recent study, bird populations are down 42% in the last century, possibly thanks to climate change.  And none of this is out of the ordinary, since it’s now estimated that 40% of all bird species are in decline globally and one of every eight is threatened with extinction.

I’ve always remembered John Jay Audubon’s 1813 description of a vast flock of passenger pigeons flying unceasingly overhead for three days.  “The light of noon-day,” he wrote, “was obscured as by an eclipse.”  Such flocks were once estimated to have more than a billion birds.  A single Wisconsin nesting area was, in the nineteenth century, said to contain 136 million of them. Thanks to habitat destruction and overhunting -- pigeon pot pie was popular fare, being “the cheapest protein on land” at the time -- the last of those birds, “Martha,” died in a Cincinnati zoo in 1914.

Now, it seems many other species of birds, including snowy owls (which I’ve tried but never succeeded in seeing), are following in Martha’s wake or at least suffering severe declines. According to Audubon researchers, the bobwhite, for instance -- a bird I used to see every summer but no longer do -- has suffered a stunning 82% decline in this country.  All of this shocks me.  I was from my early teenage years a birdwatcher.  I have no idea now what first attracted me to birds.  All I can say is that watching them was a strange thing for a young teenager growing up in the middle of Manhattan to do, especially in an era when no boy in his right mind would fess up to such an activity (for fear of being drummed out of the corps of boys).  It was a secret I shared only with my best friend.  I can remember well going with him to New York’s Central Park during spring migration season, when birds passing overhead have remarkably few places to land in the big city, and being shown species I wouldn’t see again for decades by what were then the stereotypical Audubon types -- little old people in tennis sneakers (exactly what I now am).  It was a thrill at the time and remains so in memory (as every year my old friend and I still return to that park to do it all over again).

It couldn’t be sadder to imagine that someday, thanks to what TomDispatch regular, environmental activist, and wildlife photographer Subhankar Banerjee terms “biological annihilation,” so many of the birds I saw may no more be there for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren than the passenger pigeon was for me. Birds are, of course, only one small part of a staggering process of human-caused obliteration now underway across this planet, as Banerjee explains today.  It may be the saddest story of all at a moment when humanity just can’t seem to get a handle on its tendency to destroy. Tom

    Biological Annihilation
    A Planet in Loss Mode
    By Subhankar Banerjee

    If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

    Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

    Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change.  In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming.  Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.   

    With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

    Insects Are Vanishing

    When most of us think of animals that should be saved from annihilation, near the top of any list are likely to be the stars of the animal world: tigers and polar bears, orcas and orangutans, elephants and rhinos, and other similarly charismatic creatures.

    Few express similar concern or are likely to be willing to offer financial support to “save” insects. The few that are in our visible space and cause us nuisance, we regularly swat, squash, crush, or take out en masse with Roundup.

    As it happens, though, of the nearly two million known species on this planet about 70% of them are insects. And many of them are as foundational to the food chain for land animals as plankton are for marine life. Harvard entomologist (and ant specialist) E.O. Wilson once observed that “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

    In fact, insects are vanishing.

    Almost exactly a year ago, the first long-term study of the decline of insect populations was reported, sparking concern (though only in professional circles) about a possible “ecological Armageddon.” Based on data collected by dozens of amateur entomologists in 63 nature reserves across Germany, a team of scientists concluded that the flying insect population had dropped by a staggering 76% over a 27-year period. At the same time, other studies began to highlight dramatic plunges across Europe in the populations of individual species of bugs, bees, and moths.

    What could be contributing to such a collapse? It certainly is human-caused, but the factors involved are many and hard to sort out, including habitat degradation and loss, the use of pesticides in farming, industrial agriculture, pollution, climate change, and even, insidiously enough, “light pollution that leads nocturnal insects astray and interrupts their mating.”

    This past October, yet more troubling news arrived.

    When American entomologist Bradford Lister first visited El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico in 1976, little did he know that a long-term study he was about to embark on would, 40 years later, reveal a “hyperalarming” new reality. In those decades, populations of arthropods, including insects and creepy crawlies like spiders and centipedes, had plunged by an almost unimaginable 98% in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Unsurprisingly, insectivores (populations of animals that feed on insects), including birds, lizards, and toads, had experienced similarly dramatic plunges, with some species vanishing entirely from that rainforest. And all of that happened before Hurricane Maria battered El Yunque in the fall of 2017.

    What had caused such devastation? After eliminating habitat degradation or loss -- after all, it was a protected national forest -- and pesticide use (which, in Puerto Rico, had fallen by more than 80% since 1969), Lister and his Mexican colleague Andres Garcia came to believe that climate change was the culprit, in part because the average maximum temperature in that rainforest has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit over those same four decades.

    Even though both scientific studies and anecdotal stories about what might be thought of as a kind of insectocide have, at this point, come only from Europe and North America, many entomologists are convinced that the collapse of insect populations is a worldwide phenomenon.

    As extreme weather events -- fires, floods, hurricanes -- begin to occur more frequently globally, “connecting the dots” across the planet has become a staple of climate-change communication to “help the public understand how individual events are part of a larger trend.”

    Now, such thinking has to be transferred to the world of the living so, as in the case of plummeting insect populations and the creatures that feed on them, biological annihilation sinks in. At the same time, what’s driving such death spirals in any given place -- from pesticides to climate change to habitat loss -- may differ, making biological annihilation an even more complex phenomenon than climate change.

    The Edge of the Sea

    The animal kingdom is composed of two groups: invertebrates, or animals without backbones, and vertebrates, which have them. Insects are invertebrates, as are starfish, anemones, corals, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, and many more species. In fact, invertebrates make up 97% of the known animal kingdom.

    In 1955, environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book The Edge of the Sea was published, bringing attention for the first time to the extraordinary diversity and density of the invertebrate life that occupies the intertidal zone.  Even now, more than half a century later, you’ve probably never considered that environment -- which might be thought of as the edge of the sea (or actually the ocean) -- as a forest. And neither did I, not until I read nature writer Tim McNulty’s book Olympic National Park: A Natural History some years ago. As he pointed out: “The plant associations of the low tide zone are commonly arranged in multistoried communities, not unlike the layers of an old-growth forest.” And in that old-growth forest, the starfish (or sea star) rules as the top predator of the nearshore.

    In 2013, a starfish die-off -- from a “sea-star wasting disease” caused by a virus -- was first observed in Washington’s Olympic National Park, though it was hardly confined to that nature preserve. By the end of 2014, as Lynda Mapes reported in the Seattle Times, “more than 20 species of starfish from Alaska to Mexico” had been devastated. At the time, I was living on the Olympic Peninsula and so started writing about and, as a photographer, documenting that die-off (a painful experience after having read Carson’s exuberant account of that beautiful creature).

    The following summer, though, something magical happened. I suddenly saw baby starfish everywhere. Their abundance sparked hope among park employees I spoke with that, if they survived, most of the species would bounce back. Unfortunately, that did not happen. “While younger sea stars took longer to show symptoms, once they did, they died right away,” Mapes reported. That die-off was so widespread along the Pacific coast (in many sites, more than 99% of them) that scientists considered it “unprecedented in geographic scale.”

    The cause? Consider it the starfish version of a one-two punch: the climate-change-induced warming of the Pacific Ocean put stress on the animals while it made the virus that attacked them more virulent.  Think of it as a perfect storm for unleashing such a die-off.

    It will take years to figure out the true scope of the aftermath, since starfish occupy the top of the food chain at the edge of the ocean and their disappearance will undoubtedly have cascading impacts, not unlike the vanishing of the insects that form the base of the food chain on land.

    Concurrent with the disappearance of the starfish, another “unprecedented” die-off was happening at the edge of the same waters, along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada.  It seemed to be “one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded,” Craig Welch wrote in National Geographic in 2015. And many more have been dying ever since, including Cassin’s auklets, thick-billed murres, common murres, fork-tailed petrels, short-tailed shearwaters, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars. That tragedy is still ongoing and its nature is caught in the title of a September article in Audubon magazine: “In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem.”

    To fully understand all of this, the dots will again have to be connected across places and species, as well as over time, but the great starfish die-off is an indication that biological annihilation is now an essential part of life at the edge of the sea.

    The Annihilation of Vertebrates

    The remaining 3% of the kingdom Animalia is made up of vertebrates. The 62,839 known vertebrate species include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

    The term “biological annihilation” was introduced in 2017 in a seminal paper by scientists Geraldo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich, and Rodolpho Dirzo, whose research focused on the population declines, as well as extinctions, of vertebrate species. “Our data,” they wrote then, “indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations.”

    If anything, the 148-page Living Planet Report published this October by the World Wildlife Fund International and the Zoological Society of London only intensified the sense of urgency in their paper. As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide. The results were based on 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, which meant that the study was not claiming a comprehensive census of all vertebrate populations.  It should instead be treated as a barometer of trends in monitored populations of them.

    What could be driving such an annihilatory wave to almost unimaginable levels? The report states that the main causes are “overexploitation of species, agriculture, and land conversion -- all driven by runaway human consumption.” It does, however, acknowledge that climate change, too, is a “growing threat.”

    When it comes to North America, the report shows that the decline is only 23%. Not so bad, right? Such a statistic could mislead the public into thinking that the U.S. and Canada are in little trouble and yet, in reality, insects and other animals, as well as plants, are dying across North America in surprisingly large numbers.

    From My Doorstep to the World Across Time

    My own involvement with biological annihilation started at my doorstep. In March 2006, a couple of days after moving into a rented house in northern New Mexico, I found a dead male house finch, a small songbird, on the porch. It had smashed into one of the building’s large glass windows and died. At the same time, I began to note startling numbers of dead piñon, New Mexico’s state tree, everywhere in the area. Finding that dead bird and noting those dead trees sparked a desire in me to know what was happening in this new landscape of mine.

    When you think of an old-growth forest -- and here I don’t mean the underwater version of one but the real thing -- what comes to your mind? Certainly not the desert southwest, right? The trees here don’t even grow tall enough for that.  An 800-year-old piñon may reach a height of 24 feet, not the 240-feet of a giant Sitka spruce of similar age in the Pacific Northwest. In the last decade, however, scientists have begun to see the piñon-juniper woodlands here as exactly that.

    I first learned this from a book, Ancient Piñon-Juniper Woodlands: A Natural History of Mesa Verde Country. It turns out that this low-canopy, sparsely vegetated woodland ecosystem supports an incredible diversity of wildlife. In fact, as a state, New Mexico has among the greatest diversity of species in the country.  It’s second in diversity of native mammals, third in birds, and fourth in overall biodiversity. Take birds.  Trailing only California and Arizona, the state harbors 544 species, nearly half of the 1,114 species in the U.S. And consider this not praise for my adopted home, but a preface to a tragedy.

    Before I could even develop a full appreciation of the piñon-juniper woodland, I came to realize that most of the mature piñon in northern New Mexico had already died. Between 2001 and 2005, a tiny bark beetle known by the name of Ips confusus had killed more than 50 million of them, about 90% of the mature ones in northern New Mexico. This happened thanks to a combination of severe drought and rapid warming, which stressed the trees, while providing a superb environment for beetle populations to explode.

    Dead finch on my porch. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2006.

    And this, it turned out, wasn’t in any way an isolated event. Multiple species of bark beetles were by then ravaging forests across the North American West. The black spruce, the white spruce, the ponderosa pine, the lodgepole pine, the whitebark pine, and the piñon were all dying.

    In fact, trees are dying all over the world. In 2010, scientists from a number of countries published a study in Forest Ecology and Management that highlights global climate-change-induced forest mortality with data recorded since 1970. In countries ranging from Argentina and Australia to Switzerland and Zimbabwe, Canada and China to South Korea and Sri Lanka, the damage to trees has been significant.

    In 2010, trying to absorb the larger ecological loss, I wrote: “Hundreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying. Now think of all the other lives, including birds and animals, that depended on those trees. What happened to them and how do we talk about that which we can’t see and will never know?”

    In fact, in New Mexico, we are finally beginning to find out something about the size and nature of that larger loss.

    Earlier this year, Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist Jeanne Fair and her colleagues released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, where some of the worst piñon die-offs have occurred. The study shows that, between 2003 and 2013, the diversity of birds declined by 45% and bird populations, on average, decreased by a staggering 73%. Consider the irony of that on a plateau whose Spanish name, Pajarito, means “little bird.”

    The piñon die-off that led to the die-off of birds is an example of connecting the dots across species and over time in one place. It’s also an example of what writer Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.” That “slowness” (even if it’s speedy indeed on the grand calendar of biological time) and the need to grasp the annihilatory dangers in our world will mean staying engaged way beyond any normal set of news cycles.  It will involve what I think of as long environmentalism.

    Let’s return, then, to that dead finch on my porch. A study published in 2014 pointed out that as many as 988 million birds die each year in the U.S. by crashing into glass windows. Even worse, domestic and feral cats kill up to 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals annually in this country. In Australia and Canada, two other places where such feline slaughters of birds have been studied, the estimated numbers are 365 million and 200 million respectively -- another case of connecting the dots across places and species when it comes to the various forms of biological annihilation underway on this planet.

    Dead piñon where birds gather in autumn, northern New Mexico. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2009.

    Those avian massacres, one the result of modern architecture and our desire to see the outside from the inside, the other stemming from our urge for non-human companionship, indicate that climate change is but one cause of a planet-wide trend toward biological annihilation.  And this is hardly a contemporary story.  It has a long history, including for instance the mass killing of Arctic whales in the seventeenth century, which generated so much wealth that it helped make the Netherlands into one of the richest nations of that time. In other words, Arctic whaling proved to be an enabler of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, the era when Rembrandt and Vermeer made paintings still appreciated today.

    The large-scale massacre and near extinction of the American bison (or buffalo) in the nineteenth century, to offer a more modern example, paved the way for white settler colonial expansion into the American West, while destroying Native American food security and a way of life. As a U.S. Army colonel put it then, “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.”

    Today, such examples have not only multiplied drastically but are increasingly woven into human life and life on this planet in ways we still hardly notice.  These, in turn, are being exacerbated by climate change, the human-induced warming of the world. To mitigate the crisis, to save life itself, would require not merely the replacement of carbon-dirty fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy, but a genuine reevaluation of modern life and its institutions. In other words, to save the starfish, the piñon, the birds, and the insects, and us in the process, has become the most challenging and significant ethical obligation of our increasingly precarious time.

    Subhankar Banerjee, a TomDispatch regular, is an activist, artist, and public scholar. A professor of art and ecology, he holds the Lannan Chair at the University of New Mexico. He is currently writing a book on biological annihilation.

    Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Environment / 🌳 Crimes Against the Earth
« on: Today at 01:53:43 AM »

Crimes Against the Earth
December 14, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas



by Andrew Glikson

The author surveys the capitalogenic crisis currently dooming our planet to vast die-offs.

    Dear Caesar
    Keep Burning, raping, killing
    But please, please
    Spare us your obscene poetry
    And ugly music

    – From Seneca’s last letter to Nero

The excavation of more than 600 billion tons of toxic carbon and hydrocarbon geological remains of previous biospheres and their transfer to the atmosphere as carbon gases constitutes nothing less than insanity leading to global suicide. With estimated profitable carbon reserves in excess of 20,000 GtC (Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”, including oil shale, tar sand, coal seam gas, further emissions would take the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere back to early Eocene (~55-40 million years ago) and Mesozoic-like (pre-65 million years ago) greenhouse atmosphere and acid oceans conditions, during which large parts of the continents were inundated by the oceans. Most likely to survive the extreme transition over a few centuries would be grasses, some insects and perhaps some birds, descendants of the fated dinosaurs. A new evolutionary cycle would commence. Survivors of Homo sapiens may endure in the Arctic.

Figure 1. Global warming by January 2018 relative to 1951-1980

Since about 542 million years ago, acting as the lungs of the biosphere, the Earth’s atmosphere developed an oxygen-rich composition over hundreds of millions of years, allowing emergence of breathing animals.

A critical parameter in Drake’s Equation, which seeks to estimate the number of planets that host civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy, is L – the longevity of technological civilizations. Estimates of L range between a minimum of 70 years and 10,000 years, but even for the more optimistic scenarios, only a tiny fraction of such planets would exist in the galaxy at the present time. It is another question whether an intelligent species exists in this, or any other galaxy, which has brought about a mass extinction of species on the scale initiated by Homo sapiens since the mid-18th century and in particular since 1945.

The history of Earth includes six major mass extinctions defining the end of several periods, including the End-Ediacaran, Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Each of these events has been triggered either by extra-terrestrial impacts (End-Ediacaran and K-T) , massive volcanic eruptions, or methane release and related greenhouse events. Yet, with the exception of the proposed role of methanogenic bacteria for methane eruptions, the current Seventh mass extinction of species constitutes a novelty. For the first time in its history, the biosphere is in crisis through biological forcing by an advanced form of life, i.e. of a technological carbon-emitting species.

The distinct glacial-interglacial cycles of the Pleistocene (2.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago), with rapid mean global temperature changes of up to 5 degrees Celsius rises over a few thousand years, and, in some instances shorter periods, forced an extreme adaptability of the Genus Homo. Of all the life forms on Earth, only this genus mastered fire, proceeding to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum, split the atom and travel to other planets, a cultural change overtaking biological change.

Possessed by a conscious fear of death, craving a god-like immortality and omniscience, Homo developed the absurd faculty to simultaneously create and destroy, culminating with the demise of the atmospheric conditions that allowed its flourishing in the first place. The biological root factors which underlie the transformation of tribal warriors into button-pushing automatons capable of triggering global warming or a nuclear winter remain inexplicable.

Inherent in the enigma are little-understood top-to-base mechanisms, explored among others by George Ellis, who states: “although the laws of physics explain much of the world around us, we still do not have a realistic description of causality in truly complex hierarchical structures.” (“Physics, complexity and causality”, Nature, 435: 743, June 2005):

    For the first time in its history, the biosphere is in crisis through biological forcing by an advanced form of life, i.e. of a technological carbon-emitting species.

66 million years ago, huge asteroids hit the Earth, extinguishing the dinosaurs and vacating habitats, succeeded by the flourishing of mammals. At 56 million years ago, in the wake of a rise of atmospheric CO2 to levels near-800 parts per million, the monkeys made appearance. About 34 million years ago, weathering of the rising Himalayan and Alps sequestered CO2.  Earth was cooling, the Antarctic ice sheet formed and conditions on land became suitable for large, warm blooded mammals.

About 5.2 to 2.6 million years ago, in the Pliocene, with temperatures 2 – 3oC and sea levels 25+/-12 meters higher than during the 15th to 18th centuries, the accentuation of climate oscillations saw the appearance of the genus Paranthropus and the genus Homo. At least about one million years ago the mastering of fire by Homo Erectus, about a quarter of a millennium ago the appearance of Homo sapiens,and about 8,000 years ago the stabilization of the interglacial Holocene, saw the Neolithic and urban civilization.

Since the industrial age about 1750 and in particular from 1950, a period denoted as the Anthropocoene (cf. Steffen, Crutzen and McNeill, Ambio, 36, 614-621, 2007), deforestation and climate change led to the demise of an estimated 10,000 species per year due to destruction of habitats, ever increasing carbon pollution, acidification of the hydrosphere.

Planetcide stems back to deep recesses of the human mind, primeval fear of death leading to yearning for god-like immortality. Once excess food was produced, fear and its counterpart, violence, grew out of control, generating murderous orgies called “war“, designed to conquer death to appease the Gods.

From the Romans to the Third Reich, the barbarism of empires surpasses that of small marauding tribes. In the name of freedom they never cease to bomb peasant populations in their small fields. Only among the wretched of the Earth is true charity common, where empathy is learnt through suffering.

War is a synonym for ritual sacrifice of the young. From infanticide by rival warlord baboons, to the butchering of young children on Aztec altars, to the generational sacrifice such as in WWI, youths follow leaders blindly to the death. Hijacking the image of Christ, a messenger of justice and peace, fundamentalists promote a self-fulfilling Armageddon, while other see their future on space ships and barren planets. Nowadays a cabal of multibillionaires, executives and their political and media mouthpieces are leading the human race and much of nature to ultimate demise, with little resistance from the majority of people, either unaware or too afraid to resist the slide over the cliff.

Humans live in a realm of perceptions, dreams, myths and legends, in denial of critical existential factors (Janus: A Summing Up, Arthur Koestler, 1978) in a world as cruel as it is beautiful. Existentialist philosophy allows a perspective into, and a way of coping with, all that defies rational contemplation. Ethical and cultural assumptions of free will rarely govern the behavior of societies or nations, let alone an entire species.

And although the planet may not shed a tear for the demise of technological civilization, hope on the individual scale for the moment is possible. Going through the black night of the soul, members of the species may be rewarded by the emergence of a conscious dignity devoid of illusions, grateful for the glimpse at the universe for which humans are privileged for the fleeting moment:

“Having pushed a boulder up the mountain all day, turning toward the setting sun, we must consider Sisyphus happy.” (Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942)

In desperation, given the criminal inaction of most key international leaders, the scientific community has been coalescing about the notion of containing global heating damage via geoengineering.

About the Author
Dr. Andrew Glickson is Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland.

You also can't charge more either.  Japanese Wagyu @$1000 for an 11 lb Standing Rib Roast, this is the most expensive single cut of meat I have seen yet for sale on the web.  Only $100/lb!

Next Diner Convocation, we have to order one of these and have Eddie smoke it.  ;D

Last day to get your votes in on the Meatosaurus Survey.  Results to be published tomorrow.



The U.S. Oil Industry’s Dirty Little Secret
By Nick Cunningham - Dec 13, 2018, 6:00 PM CST

The oil industry engaged in a secret public relations campaign to undermine U.S. fuel economy standards, according to a new investigation from the New York Times.

One of the main actors was the largest oil refiner in the country, Marathon Petroleum. Marathon, along with others, ran a “stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards,” the NYT reported. The campaign argued that the U.S. no longer needs fuel economy standards because it is now such a massive producer of oil.

“With oil scarcity no longer a concern,” Americans should be given a “choice in vehicles that best fit their needs,” a draft letter that was sent to members of Congress said. The Trump administration took up the talking points in its official justification for the proposed watering down of fuel economy standards.

Much of the debate about the corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE), which were set to rise to over 50 miles per gallon by 2025, focused on the position of the auto industry. But California still has the authority to set its own fuel economy standards, something that the Trump administration is now contesting as it seeks to freeze federal standards at 37 mpg beginning in 2020.

The auto industry has been the dog that caught the car – it initially pressed the Trump administration to weaken the fuel economy standards, but realized that the aggressive rollback would leave the industry with a patchwork of state levels regulations, led by stricter standards in California. Different standards for different states would require automakers to produce different cars for different markets, a reality that would be more problematic than the more stringent nationwide standards.

However, while media coverage focused on this back-and-forth between major automakers, environmentalists and the Trump administration, it appears that oil refiners were waging a stealth PR campaign to convince the public that the standards are no longer needed. Marathon teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to the NYT investigation, where they pushed facebook ads, and lobbying at the state and federal level. They trumpeted a resolution calling the fuel efficiency standards “a relic of a disproven narrative of resource scarcity.”
Related: Saudi Arabia Can Outwait The Khashoggi Crisis

The motivation is obvious: more efficient vehicles, including hybrids and increasingly electric vehicles, will cut into gasoline sales from refiners. While automakers have to worry about complying with state level fuel standards, refiners simply want to sell more fuel. Marathon’s CEO Gary Heminger told investors in early December on a conference call that the rollback in fuel economy standards would mean the refining industry would sell an additional 350,000 to 400,000 bpd of gasoline.

By 2030, freezing the auto standards, as proposed, would lead to increased U.S. oil demand by between 221,000 and 644,000 bpd, according to the Rhodium Group.

Some experts argue that the gutting of auto emissions standards would likely result in the largest impact on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions out of any other initiative pursued by the Trump administration, including the rolling back of methane limits, gutting the Clean Power Plan, or opening up vast new acreage for more oil and gas drilling.
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The cleaning up of the electricity sector – more renewable energy, and a coal-to-gas switch – is happening on its own, due to pricing pressure from cheaper and cleaner sources of energy. Transportation is a tougher nut to crack and stricter federal standards have been critical to improving fuel economy.

But oil refiners were never going to sit on the sidelines and let federal regulations cut into their sales.
Related: No, The U.S. Is Not A Net Exporter Of Crude Oil

Amy Myers Jaffe, a Senior Fellow on Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, summed up the New York Times investigation on twitter:

Marathon Petroleum, biggest US refiner, wants you to use more of its product, pay more for gasoline, drive car w inferior tech, lose future jobs to China, enhance Saudi/OPEC power, harm US national security

The oil industry argues that regulations are not needed because the U.S. is such a large producer of oil. This sentiment has permeated much of the political establishment as well, and helps explain the sudden indifference to the selling off of the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) after decades of rigorous safeguarding of the stockpile. Washington seems to think that producing more oil insulates the country from supply risks.

But it doesn’t matter how much oil the U.S. produces, motorists are always going to be vulnerable to price swings so long as they burn a lot of fuel. Even recent data demonstrates this to be true. U.S. gasoline demand actually declined in the third quarter compared to a year earlier, a sharp drop off due to the run up in global crude oil prices. The fact that the U.S. was breaking oil production records did very little to insulate drivers from the price spike. It’s true that U.S. shale has contributed to lower global prices, but removing the most effective demand-side policy from the toolbox is really self-destructive.

By Nick Cunningham of

There IS somebody stupid enough to take the job!  ::)


Mick Mulvaney to be acting White House chief of staff

By Kathryn Watson

updated 39M ago / CBS News

The White House chief of staff sweepstakes is over for the moment — and Mick Mulvaney is the winner President Trump announced Friday on Twitter.

The president is tapping Mick Mulvaney, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, to assume the role of acting chief of staff. But Mulvaney isn't leaving his day job. He will still technically be the head of OMB, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

"Mick Mulvaney will not resign from the Office Of Management and Budget, but will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting chief Of staff for the president," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "Russ Vought will handle day to day operations and run OMB."

It's not the first time Mulvaney has worn two hats. He was also recently the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney will replace outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly, who is set to leave at the end of the year, with a transition period.

But it's unclear how long Mulvaney will be the "acting" chief of staff, or whether he will continue receiving his OMB salary or a salary as acting chief of staff. When Mr. Trump announced Kelly's impending departure on the White House South Lawn earlier this month, he suggested he might select someone on an interim basis — but it's unclear if that's what this is for Mulvaney.

Mr. Trump later tweeted there were "for the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff."

Mulvaney said he was honored to have been selected.

"This is a tremendous honor. I look forward to working with the president and the entire team. It's going to be a great 2019!" Mulvaney tweeted.

Only hours earlier, the president had a list of five candidates, according to Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. Names CBS News had reported as potential contenders included Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, among others.

It's unclear why the president has selected Mulvaney to serve with the "acting" title when Mr. Trump's first pick, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers, bowed out of the running when Mr. Trump wouldn't accept a three-month, interim tenure.

Even after the Mulvaney announcement, Mr. Trump insisted that "many" people wanted the job, amid reporting and speculation that it isn't a desirable role given how Mr. Trump has treated his current and former chiefs of staff.

"For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!" he tweeted Friday night.
Trump's team
Trump's team 59 photos

Asked why Mulvaney will be serving as "acting" chief of staff, without the permanent title, one senior White House official told reporters, "We'll see. I mean, it's what the president wanted for right now, and if we have changes we'll let you know."

One administration official, speaking to reporters, cited Mulvaney's experience as a "former member of Congress."
"He knows Congress. He knows Capitol Hill," the official said of Mulvaney, adding that he is "fiscally responsible."

The career of 51-year-old Mulvaney has risen quickly through the ranks. Only two years ago, he was a South Carolina congressman, known for his fiscal prudence. He will now be responsible for guiding the president through the budget process and attempting to bring down the national debt. But Mr. Trump has pushed for big spending — especially when it comes to defense — and his tax cuts haven't helped alleviate deficits, either.

Mulvaney will also have to help steer Mr. Trump through Democratic probes in Congress when the opposing party takes control in January. Democrats are intensely interested in the president's business ventures, as well as his tax returns. The current OMB director will also have to aid the president as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation progresses apace, and Mr. Trump declares it a "witch hunt."

Mulvaney reports for duty when Kelly departs at the end of the year.

Sara Cook contributed to this report.

First published on December 14, 2018

Geopolitics / Re: Cost of Living by State 3rd Quarter 2018
« on: December 14, 2018, 05:17:28 PM »
Looks like Ak & Md are in a horse race headed for the loser hall of fame as far as cost of bizness is concerned.
Az. holding middle ground.

The more you desire the more you have to pay to play.

Less IS more in my viewpoint.

I edited out your quote of the Table.  It was all html and unintelligible, plus a long scroll to get through.


Ok thanks...

But seriously, area's like Md & Ak are damn expensive to live in.

Our generation is catching on to living in the desert or more rural areas close to services.

Well, you have the issue that our generation is living mostly on Mailbox Money.  If you wanna make lots of money by working, you gotta go to the high CoL states.  That's where the high salaries are also.


Geopolitics / Re: Cost of Living by State 3rd Quarter 2018
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:59:31 PM »
Looks like Ak & Md are in a horse race headed for the loser hall of fame as far as cost of bizness is concerned.
Az. holding middle ground.

The more you desire the more you have to pay to play.

Less IS more in my viewpoint.

I edited out your quote of the Table.  It was all html and unintelligible, plus a long scroll to get through.


The Diner Pantry / 🥩 Doomstead Diner Dinner Special: 12/14/2018
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:55:39 PM »
We made Recife International Airport a little after our scheduled 5PM arrival time due to headwinds.  While in transit, I made reservations for 7PM at the Ponteio Churascaria, definitely the best Churascarria in Recife and possibly in all of Brazil, which would make it the best Churascaria in the World.  Although there are some very good ones in Mew York, Florida and Texas, anywhere there is a large Brazilian community of ex-Pats.

Last time I was there was sometime in the 90s for Dad the Pigman's 75th Birthday with a big celebration with my half-brother and half-sisters and a bunch of my step-mothers relatives.  The place has grown and gone more upscale since then, and quite a bit more than the Ponteio I remember from the 1960s, which was basically a shack with outdoor tables.

I contemplated inviting Shaka and his squad of Zulu Warriors along as Protection for this trip since Brazil is in a lot of political turmoil these days, but I figured we would probably have trouble getting the Uzis, RPGs and Shoulder Fired Missiles through Customs. lol.  Also their Passports are pretty transparent fakes, poor counterfeiting job.  I emailed Soros to see if he can get them some better ones and also get the SUN Foundation licensed as an International Arms Dealer.  ;D  Another income stream for the Diner!  :icon_sunny:  For this trip though, I figured we were reasonably safe shuttling between the airport and the toruist district of Recife, both loaded with Brazilian Gestapo armed with automatic rifles.

Below are a few of the meat offerings the Churrascos brought to our table for the meal.  I was so stuffed with meat I couldn't even hit the buffet table for Feijon or Farofa!


Today's Dinner Special

Filet with Cheese

Skirt Steak

Bacon Wrapped Filet Steak

Leg of Lamb

Milk Chicken

Pork Ribs

Geopolitics / Cost of Living by State 3rd Quarter 2018
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:20:36 PM »


Third Quarter 2018 Cost of Living
State Rank Index  Grocery Housing Utilities Transportation Heath  Misc.
Mississippi 1 86.4 95.4 72.4 90.4 91.6 91.4 91.2
Oklahoma 2 87.1 93.7 72.9 95.8 92.4 91.3 91.7
Arkansas 3 88.5 90.5 75.4 91.9 91.0 84.1 97.3
Missouri 4 88.6 99.0 72.0 99.1 95.6 97.3 92.0
Wyoming 5 89.1 98.8 75.2 86.7 80.7 95.9 98.5
Tennessee 6 89.4 91.3 82.4 95.6 89.4 89.1 92.5
Alabama 7 89.6 96.9 71.6 103.2 92.8 88.0 96.7
Kansas 8 89.9 92.9 75.1 102.2 95.8 97.2 94.6
Indiana 9 90.0 90.1 75.5 97.4 99.4 96.2 96.3
Michigan 10 90.2 84.2 77.9 97.4 103.2 92.5 96.8
Texas 11 91.4 90.0 84.2 100.6 94.3 95.5 93.8
New Mexico 12 91.5 102.5 79.2 88.7 93.9 104.1 95.7
Iowa 13 91.5 98.1 78.8 100.3 97.5 98.0 94.5
Georgia 14 91.6 98.2 76.5 94.0 93.4 96.4 99.3
West Virginia 15 92.5 92.7 86.8 90.4 81.7 90.2 100.6
Ohio 16 93.0 97.5 76.9 93.8 102.3 96.8 101.2
Louisiana 17 93.1 99.3 86.8 89.4 97.7 94.3 95.6
Idaho 18 94.0 92.1 85.6 87.6 110.8 100.3 98.1
North Carolina 19 94.5 96.4 80.5 95.4 93.3 110.5 103.0
Nebraska 20 94.8 97.5 83.3 95.7 95.9 100.4 101.6
Kentucky 21 95.0 89.0 84.6 94.5 104.0 90.8 104.0
Illinois 22 95.7 94.3 89.0 97.3 103.9 99.2 98.7
Wisconsin 23 96.8 97.8 88.8 96.9 101.7 115.4 99.0
South Carolina 24 97.8 102.8 86.4 107.0 93.1 100.5 103.3
Arizona 25 97.9 99.9 95.3 107.4 105.7 94.9 95.1
South Dakota 26 98.0 103.3 109.1 92.1 93.8 95.9 90.0
Pennsylvania 27 98.4 100.6 92.8 106.9 107.7 92.1 98.1
Florida 28 99.1 108.2 95.6 100.0 98.8 96.3 98.6
North Dakota 29 99.6 108.9 93.2 90.4 105.8 115.9 99.9
Utah 30 100.0 102.8 96.0 93.0 108.4 95.3 102.5
Virginia 31 101.1 96.3 111.8 97.1 88.9 100.0 98.6
Minnesota 32 103.2 107.8 88.7 99.3 103.1 112.4 113.2
Delaware 33 104.7 107.2 98.3 98.8 102.5 101.2 111.6
Montana 34 105.9 104.9 113.3 85.9 98.2 106.6 107.8
New Hampshire 35 106.6 100.4 105.8 113.1 89.0 118.4 110.8
Colorado 36 107.3 101.9 126.1 86.7 103.2 103.1 101.9
Nevada 37 108.8 109.7 120.2 89.7 112.7 107.4 103.8
Washington 38 109.3 108.6 115.1 90.5 112.7 119.0 108.2
Maine 39 115.9 106.6 124.8 109.5 104.9 124.0 115.8
Vermont 40 117.2 110.5 140.5 115.9 112.2 103.0 104.4
Rhode Island 41 120.8 106.1 143.3 122.7 96.0 111.6 115.5
New Jersey 42 122.3 104.8 157.7 107.4 108.5 105.1 110.5
Massachusetts 43 129.2 113.7 167.1 106.7 110.5 121.5 116.8
Maryland 44 129.3 108.5 192.4 105.1 98.0 90.7 106.3
Oregon 45 129.4 112.6 185.1 87.4 118.1 113.7 107.8
Alaska 46 130.5 136.5 137.5 155.4 118.2 148.3 116.3
Connecticut 47 133.0 110.5 164.9 125.6 118.4 122.2 123.3
New York 48 134.0 112.2 195.7 106.1 105.4 104.6 111.8
California 49 137.2 116.6 192.7 120.8 126.1 111.4 111.1
District of Columbia 50 161.0 127.1 268.4 114.3 95.0 99.3 125.8
Hawaii 51 188.9 165.7 318.6 160.5 139.7 120.2 122.9
US Average 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Geopolitics / Re: French Fried Frog Frexit
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:05:33 PM »

I live in Rockville, MD and work in Tysons Corner, so it's not exactly the Alaskan cost of living. Far from it.

You are trying so hard to shove me into your category of "evil capitalist consumer destroying the planet", like you do with Eddie, but it barely works on your own terms.

The real problem for your argument is that, based on the evidence and common sense, people who make and spend/invest large amounts of money are more likely to save the planet than anyone isolating themselves or playing radical activist in front of a computer screen or with their friends on the street.

You moved to Rockville, MD?  Not familiar with the CoL there, but it's not as high as Alaska, I can guarantee that one.

"People who make and spend/invest large amounts of money" are the LEAST likely people to save the planet.  They have too much invested in living this lifestyle, and they want to keep living that lifestyle as long as possible.  That's WHY they strive to make so much money.  Thus they Hope/Pray For BAU to continue onward as long as possible and do everything they can to try to insure that, like electing idiots like Trumpovetsky to POTUS.


Marathon Man Newz / Re: How About Those Trump Tax Returns
« on: December 14, 2018, 02:39:05 PM »
I hope they can find all the dirty laundry, of which there is plenty, not that it all necessarily has to do with the Presidency.  By deciding to run for President, he made himself fair game for whatever ugly truths he managed to hide all these years to be made public.. The American people deserve to see what a great guy they made their President. All the facts.

Adam Schiff’s Plans to Obliterate Trump’s Red Line
With the Democrats controlling the House, Schiff’s congressional investigation will follow the money.


The Diner Pantry / 🍳 Doomstead Diner Lunch Special: 12/14/2018
« on: December 14, 2018, 02:35:19 PM »
It seems morning Breakfast was swallowed up into the Great Maw of Cyberspace.  Now you will never hear about any of Shaka's firefights in Libya or how Mustafa raised himself up by his bootstraps Horatio Alger-Eddie style to become a successful Sierra Leone Fish Vendor-Capitalist.  C'est la Vie.

We're begining the process of working through the leftover Lobster meat and Oysters.  Unshucked & refrigerated, you can keep live Oyster about 2 days and they are still good.  So more Oyster appetizers for lunch today.  :icon_sunny:

We're due to land in Recife around 5PM in plenty of time for dinner.  Looking forward to more great Brazilian Cuisine the next few days while Amelia bones up on the mechanics and systems of the e190 jet.

Great Quiche from Julia, and I shucked all the Oysters.


Today's Lunch Special

Raw Oysters on the Half Shell

Lobster & Asparagus Quiche

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