Thursday, 28 May 2009

we're painting the roses red

US agencies are fronting novel and simple ways to help combat global warming and possibly reduce energy consumption, including the promotion of soft colours. There's a bit of targeted ridicule and scepticism that posits the notion of just painting roofs in cool, reflective white will salvage the polar ice caps, but that's just part of the proposal and it is sound science--though it is sometimes difficult to speak of "sound science" to the lobby that would doubt the veracity of global warming and man induced climate change. Months ago I thought about this modest proposal when learning about the rapid acceleration of the melting of icebergs: white ice reflects back around 90% of the sun's heat beating down on any given area while dark sea water absorbs about 90%, only conflating the problem. Watching vast stretches of Autobahn, I wondered what the impact would be of adding a portion of gympsum to lighten up the asphalt mix, or toting mirrors on the roofs of cars. I personally would like to leave a whiter footprint when I am out and about.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

it's time to play transitioning word cloud

The US army, possibly just like all sorts of jingoistic organizations with secret patois, is also fond of making up words--a language by fiat rather than use the perfectly good and precise words and grammar that already exist. Out-processing was conjured up instead of discharge--transitioning came about as a euphemistic short-hand (long-hand, really) for restructuring, down-sizing and closure. There is a high frequency in the recurrance of particular terminology as the Army in Europe prepares to undergo another endless round of base-closures, mostly veteran and old-school terms used: RIF (reduction-in-force), in-direct reporting garrison, non-enduring, table of distributions, standard garrison organization, staffing template, nonappropriated funds. Ah well, time for more fright, edginess and back-stabbing. I have gone through this routine a few times before--but it's not as if I know what to expect. Finishing off large construction and modernization projects are usually a bad sign, a death-knell, since a brand new, high-technology security parameter or a fancy garden pavillion may be installed, only to mothball the whole place the next month. The army must honor its contracts, regardless how long it has delayed and procrastinated and become non-sensical. Also restoration and remodeling are cheaper than leaving facilities in place in disrepair or dismantling totally: it is harder to find fault with a refurbished building (even if it was a building no one particularly wanted) than to pay the costs associated with the environmental impact for tearing it down. The allied occupation has been winnowing itself away for decades now, but seems to take a step back when it comes to the hard-scrabble of placing those displaced

Friday, 22 May 2009

weakest link or the Eloi and the Morlocks

The news about the re-discovery of the fossilized remains of Darwinius masillae does not strike me as terribly exciting--and at the risk of sounding like a Creationist, or as compelling evidence of anything. Maybe the information was released prematurely--what does it mean that we are decended from proto-lemurs now and not some aquatic ape, monolith, or divine respiration? Did the scientific community ever seriously doubt that the miss link wasn't lurking around somewhere--or collecting dust in someone's basement since 1983? As not as if when we watch the evolutionary progression (at least in cartoon form) from fish to man that there are a lot of missing scenes and skips. Then I wonder about the case of the Hobbits from Flores Island: most scientists were initially of the opinion that they were malformed or malnourished cases, until concensus decided that they were a separate race, even though they cohabitated with Man as recently as 40, 000 years ago. I don't understand these things. This find is certainly not as impressive, to my mind, as Lucy or Heidelberg Man, but I doubt any living-being, no matter how advanced, has ever been capable of the abstract thought, when I grow up I want to be a fossil. Only we bury time-capsules and make sure our dead don't decay. Maybe Man managed to out-perform the Hobbits too, like the Neanderthals--who apparently Man ate and made their bones into trinkets.


Moving day saw only one significant delay, due to the apparent relative scarcity of bohemoth trucks not otherwise engaged in the service of fleets of shipping goods that used to be quaintly known as truck-farming and due in the main to the previous renter of the transporter H and I reserved re-fueling the vehicle with petrol rather than diesel (which cheerleading signage on the tank and dashboard and fuel pumps prescribes boldly). I told H that that sounds like something I would do in a burst of trying-to-be-helpful but he was not amused at the time--though I've always been curious as to what exactly happens to the engine when one does that. Is it like trying to use Tschibo coffee pods with a Nespresso machine? Is it like putting a salt-water fish in fresh water? Drinking salt water? It seems strange to me that automotive poison can be dispensed freely from the next or from the same rack of pumps, and at the same time, the constitution of a diesel engine is not so delicate that it cannot be coaxed into running off of grease and vegetable oil. Despite the late start, however, moving went well and connections are up and running.

Monday, 18 May 2009

relocation bonus

Epic tasks notwithstanding, the move has gone outstanding well and the space is becoming our own. It would not be a task, however, that I would like to repeat again soon, nor is it something that I have become more expert on, despite excedingly numerous moves in my lifetime. Being incognito for the past weeks, off-line--as if what's not reported on, parodied, exaggerated and otherwise posted does not happen, has been quite nice: no lazy, ambient internet, no fixed phone service, and no television. It's been quiet and the picture of tranquility out the big kitchen windows, manicured rough and the gaudy excesses of nature. I chose this image of a dandelion going to seed because it is an absolute snow-storm in the wood by the shore, and when the wind comes in gales, it just pours through the trees and over the roofs in great blasts. A little rain did not do much to dampen this invasion, however.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Never mind about the potential for hay fever or allergies, seeing great swatches of unnaturally yellow soy or alfalfa blooms can look positively alien--cthulhian, an an unintelligible invading madness, like a color from space. I have to wonder what sort pixie-dust is spread about in the pollen from genetically-modified crops. First, a fine layer settles on cars and window sills, inchoate like the blowback of a persistent sand storm. Is it the gentleman-farmer raising the plants--or is it the plants that have the farmers trained to be so considerate with their care-taking? The weekly aftermath, the air cleared of the stuff by a strong rain, looks less sinister, invasion defeated--the pollen tacky and gold, scumming puddles and between cobblestones.