Friday, July 20, 2012

And again.

We're very slow learners, us civilized folks.  Here we are, with another mass shooter orgy; it will go on for weeks now.

If you have the stomach, take a look at my post from 2007; Screaming Headlines.  Nothing has changed, if anything, the media have had practice now and crank out the trash faster.

I maintain now exactly what I said then: THE reason these shootings happen is; the instant celebrity, the media orgasm frenzy, the "smug-shot" photograph the killer knows will be repeated on every front page and news outlet for weeks.

If we banned such coverage- the shootings will stop.  I guarantee you.  Did we have these events before the media potential was realized?  Sure.  Once every 20 years.  Crazy persons exist.  Now- it's twice a year, and accelerating; and so far, not one major media outlet (The New York Times?  Washington Post?) has taken the high road, and announced the will not make a celebrity of the murderer.  Not one.

So what can you do?  There is something.  Don't watch.

And- tell the medium involved you're doing it.  Here's what I do:

When the Smug Shot shows up on my screen; I immediately go to the bottom, where there's a "Contact Us!" link.  I contact them.  I tell them; having seen their murderous coverage, I have turned it off; and will not visit their website for the next 3 days.  Actually- yeah, they lose revenue, when you don't click.  You can make up a standard message, and just paste it in, repeatedly.  Here's mine:

"You have chosen to make a murderer a celebrity.  I choose to not read your lethal coverage.  The media frenzy is unquestionably THE CAUSE of these massacres.

"I am normally a serious reader of your news; but now I have closed your site; and will not return for 3 days; I will take my traffic elsewhere.

"Stop this mindless snuff porn you are pushing.  Look in the mirror.  You are complicit."

If that gives one media employee a sick stomach- it's worth it.  Copy that (or improve it) if you wish.

I'll check back in in 3 days; if their coverage is still "America's Favorite Home Murderers!"- I'm out of there, 3 more days.  Cover the event, cover the survivors?  Sure- a little; then respect their sorrow.  Publicize NOTHING about the killer; not their name, photo, story- make them become a non-person.

Tell them.  And put this post up on your Facebook site.

The media have shown they have the spines of jellyfish- we don't have to follow them or participate.

There is other stuff to do, and read, in the world.

Maybe if the survivors, and parents of the dead- made this their crusade, someone would listen?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Effect Of Global Warming...

Yeah, yeah, climate change, what the hey.  This comes under the category of Global Weirding, a phrase I first heard at least 15 years ago, but which has recently started to gain steam.  Or my own choice to describe where we are; Climate Collapse.

We just went through this new effect, one I have not seen really described elsewhere.  We're among the many suffering from the drought here, so we're amazingly sensitive to the hope of rain.

This got my hopes up-

And yeah, we're kind of in the middle of all that.  But?

SQUAT FOR RAIN - out of all that lovely dark green radar (usually heavy) and yellow-orange (usually toad-strangler downpour).  Seriously, the deck is barely damp.

What we have here is an Insincere Thunderstorm.  

Or perhaps, for the poetically and vulgarly inclined: a Pissant Thunderstorm.

'Cause that's how much water we got; about as much as an ant could piss.

(actually, it's still dark as hell, and I'm hoping if I insult it enough, it'll eventually RAIN on us...)

Actually, later- no, it never did.  So-

Or.  Dunderstorm.

Ok, or, just Understorm.

Yet another horror awaiting us all as the climate goes over the edge.  Big promises- but it was only teasing.  The grass - is outraged, I assure you; and my neighbors who were hoping this would save their corn may be opening their arteries as we speak.

And I would like to talk to the radar people.   What's up with this!!???  Seriously- I sweat more water than this big blockbuster official "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" produced.

sigh.  Back to sweating.


You guys should, like, vote.  I'm currently liking Dunderstorm, myself.  Noisy, but totally incompetent.

Monday, July 16, 2012

100,000 March In Tokyo...

And you didn't hear about it at all.  My 100,000 is between two estimates.  There's a video at the link; much larger than their usual, with photos of the huge crowd in Tokyo- in 37° heat.  Someone (of you) should grab it, and repost to YouTube, before it vanishes.  From NHK:

Anti-nuclear rally held in Tokyo

"Tens of thousands of people have staged one of the biggest anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo since the Fukushima accident in March, last year.

"Labor union activists joined members of the public in the main protest rally at Yoyogi Park on Monday. Many of them responded to calls on the social network Twitter and the Internet.

"Nobel prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe was among public figures who called on people to take to the streets.

"The rally came after a reactor at the Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, was brought back online. It began operating at full capacity earlier this month.

"Oe said the government's move to push forward the re-starting of idled reactors despite wide public opposition is an insult to the people. He added that people must defeat this move.

"Organizers say 170, 000 people took part in the rally, while police estimate the number at 75,000.  The crowd then marched on to the streets to protest the restart of the reactor and show their opposition to nuclear power.

"A woman took part with her son, who is in elementary school. She said she wants the government to scrap nuclear plants immediately for the safety of her child.  A man in his 70s said he joined the rally because the government won't listen to the people. He added that he cannot accept its decision to restart the reactor.

"Jul. 16, 2012 - Updated 15:55 UTC (00:55 JST)"

And you thought the world could not change?  This is an astonishing change for Japan; before Fukushima, anti-nuclear protests typically garnered numbers of under 100 protesters, year after year.  Granted- it took massive disaster.  But look at the people in the video.  I have to say- I see some hope in their faces.  They're not going away, or giving up.  I hope.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Grab this one quick!

The rumors today that the US Justice Dept. is preparing CRIMINAL! charges for some folks over the Libor fixing scandal - has got the folks on Wall Street seriously spooked!  (What!  Golly!!  You mean- you were expecting us to follow the rules!??  We had no idea!!)  And we've got the proof right here!

Bloomberg News feed is currently (but not, I bet, for long) running THIS headline:

Yep, that's right.  There may be charges- in Sepetmeber!

LOL!!!  For a news service that certainly strives for cool and correct- Sepetmeber is just a really huge whoopsie.  Only accountable as- oh, some nerves, maybe?  Or, maybe that's how you spell it, in Amercia?
UPDATE; next day, the URL is still working, to my amazement- but they DID change the resulting headline, to something quite different, and spelled correctly.  Tres amusant.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It ain't that there's nothing else to talk about...

And it's far from my favorite topic; but I just don't see anyone else really passing this information, and a couple of you guys have said you appreciate it- so; from NHK; again:

S.Korea nuclear plant officials indicted for graft

"South Korean prosecutors say they have indicted dozens of senior officials at a state-run utility for taking bribes in return for business favors. The Ulsan District Prosecutors' Office said on Tuesday it indicted 22 officials at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, along with 9 others who worked for suppliers or as brokers.

"Prosecutors said the bribes amounted to about 1.9 million dollars in total.  They said officials at the utility's nuclear plant in Gori in the southern region received bribes in return for tolerating delivery of supplies that did not meet safety standards.  They said other officials instructed suppliers to pad their bills and then pocketed some of the excess.

"The safety of nuclear power plants has drawn attention in South Korea following the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan last year.

"The revelation of systemic corruption while compromising nuclear safety could severely undermine public trust in South Korea in nuclear power generation.
Jul. 11, 2012 - Updated 07:03 UTC (16:03 JST)"

Yeah, I think that's news.  And powerful ammunition for those combating nukes around the world.  Anybody wanna bet what's hiding under the rug in France?  Maybe the new proprietors there will take a look now; after this incident of "dozens" of "senior officials" taking bribes for installing sub-standard materials- in a nuclear facility.

It will not turn out well.  There will be another Fukushima event in our future, of course.  My guess is, we'll see little real action on shutting down nukes until that happens.  My best two candidates- France, which is incredibly arrogant about their nuclear technology, inspite of their actual record not being that good, and the USA- likewise.  Plenty of chances for things to go wrong, in both places.  And- do you think the chances of corruption are increasing, or decreasing, as the years go by?  It's been a long time since I've seen a headline saying "Investigators find (x) to be squeaky clean."

UPDATE: Roz, in the comments, pointed out the NHK link no longer works (which is why I quote it in toto; they usually quit working in 24 hrs.)  But- doing a little Google search, I was able to find the story again.  Not on any big international news feeds; of course.  On a South Korean news feed.  I haven't been to that site before, so not sure how long it will work, but longer than NHK, apparently.  Do take a look; there are more details.  And isn't it just amazing that no one else in the journalistic world has picked this up?  My, my.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Only an "oops"

Hey, it's not hot!  My brain is functioning again.  Fingers, too, apparently.

In skimming the news today, this one hit me as beautifully relevant to all our considerations of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

From NHK, again, (remember these links only work for about 12 hours) one more little problem not in the original design specs:

"Jellyfish problem at nuclear plants

"Operators of Japanese nuclear power plants have experienced power reductions at times, caused by a swarm of jellyfish being sucked into water intakes.

"Electricity at the plants is generated by steam-driven turbines. The steam is then sent to condensers to be cooled down with pipes in which seawater flows.

"An influx of jellyfish to the intakes sometimes disrupts the supply of cooling water, forcing operators to reduce power output to curb heat generation.

"Many plants now have filters or equipment to remove sea creatures at the intakes. But these measures do not work perfectly when a massive bloom occurs.

"Thermal plants have been affected too. Kansai Electric Power Company says jellyfish problems have forced it to reduce power output in 17 of its generators from April to June, the largest number of affected plants for the utility in the past 5 years.

"The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says reports on jellyfish trouble have been made from spring through fall, mainly at plants on the Sea of Japan coast.

"But the agency says no reports have been made that jellyfish have completely blocked water intakes. The agency says that safety can be ensured by measures such as monitoring the flow of seawater.
Jul. 9, 2012 - Updated 10:50 UTC (19:50 JST)"

So - nothing has blown up yet, so it's all ok, no worries.  Yep, monitoring will make it safe.  When the big surprise upwelling from the abyss of unanticipated ctenophores arrives next month, totally blocking all intakes, we'll be able to monitor the shut-downs as they happen.  Fabulous.

Irony aside- this is what is going to bite us, as a species, on our collective butt.  The utterly unforeseen consequences of global change, that our technologies simply have no ability to cope with.

With thanks to T.S. Eliot:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
With neither a bang nor a whimper;
But with only a soft spoken- "oops."



"Jellyfish cause problem at Ohi plant

"The operator of the Ohi nuclear complex in central Japan says it will strengthen the plant's defenses against jellyfish plagues.

"Kansai Electric Power Company was forced to reduce the power output of a generator on Sunday after a mass of jellyfish was sucked into a water intake of reactor 3.

"The utility said that conveyer-like equipment used to remove objects that had slipped through a mesh filter at the intake was overwhelmed by the volume of jellyfish.

"The invasion disrupted the supply of seawater that cools the reactor, forcing the utility to power down a generator.

"Last month, the same problem forced Kansai Electric to reduce the power output of a generator at one of its thermal plants.

"Jellyfish are a considerable risk for power plant operators. But predicting an infestation is notoriously difficult and a solution has proved elusive.
"Jul. 9, 2012 - Updated 11:52 UTC (20:52 JST)"

That's the nuclear power plant in Japan that they just restarted- the only one now actually operating, since 2 days ago- and they've already had to cut output, because of a "notoriously difficult" problem, where the "solution has proved elusive."

Fascinating that the announcement of an actual power reduction event at a nuclear plant followed a previous "theoretical" announcement by about 6 hours or so, isn't it?  An amazing coincidence.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Parenting is hazardous to your health.

I was mortified to see that my "previous post" on poultry was - over a month ago.  I'd been intending some updates on our guineas, etc, right?  Hey, it was hot.

But, also; about 2 days after that post - chickens started to disappear from the two "tractors" we have going.  So I got preoccupied with tracking down causes, before updating; then... hey, it got hot.  : - )

It was particularly painful/frustrating/infuriating to lose birds because I hadn't lost any; not one, for months.  And zero chicken losses from the tractors, since moving birds out of winter quarters.  We did lose a few guineas immediately after the winter to tractor transition.  That happens.  The guineas are just a little too likely to take off on their own, and simply not come back.  We're hoping to select guineas that are better about that, eventually.  But the numbers had been stable for a long time.  Then, suddenly- 1 or 2 hens a day; failing to come in at night.  Long searches of their range usually failed to show either birds sitting on eggs or piles of feathers.

There were a couple piles of feathers, however; unequivocal proof of predation.  Both guineas and chickens have a "shed feathers" reflex, in response to fear of predation; suddenly their feathers become very loosely attached, and fly everywhere.  In normal predation circumstances, that might be expected to save their lives, once in a while- leaving the predator distracted, or with only a mouthful of feathers.

It can also help the forensics on the farm.  Got a big central poof, with a few feathers in all directions out to 10 feet- then nothing?  Probably a hawk or owl.  Big poof, then another poof 5 feet away, then a trail going in one direction for 30 feet?  Probably a mammalian predator.  Note the "probably"; lots of variations will happen.

But when the thief took my big Cochin rooster, Thor- with the 40' trail; that let out not only avian thieves but most wild mammals, and focused suspicion on - the farm dogs.  Sigh.

Daisy, alas, was looking guilty when I asked her "Have you been after the chickens?"  You think they don't understand?  I think they do.  We're down to two dogs, these days; Daisy's sister Schatze fell victim quite some time ago to her unbreakable desire to chase cars.  And Theodore, now far from this puppy.  Both have been trained, intensively, to behave themselves around poultry.  And both had been allowed totally free access for many months; with no indications of problems; on the contrary, both dogs accompanied me as I tended the tractors and birds- both dogs and birds behaving as if there were no tensions here at all.  But.  Daisy was now looking... shifty.  And we were down 7 hens at this point.

So; both dogs went on chains.  During the day.  Thankfully, and sadly, the birds stopped disappearing immediately.  Dogs were set free as soon as the birds were shut in for the night (our standard practice to prevent them from quickly become owl-chow), then put back on before letting birds out in the morning.  They weren't happy during the day; but are well trained enough that putting them on chain in the morning was easy- just call, they come right to the chain, not looking cheerful, but unquestioning.

After 10 days with no poultry disappearing- I let Theodore stay off-chain all day, trepidatiously .  Of the two dogs, he's the stay-at-home, oddly; usually males roam more than females, but our current two work the other way round.  And - no birds disappeared.  Sigh.

That would seem to be pretty convincing evidence. And I'm pretty convinced.  But.

Alas, there is more than one threat to free-range poultry.  This was a guinea.  And the cause in this case was- newly hatched babies.  Spice was out early, and found 5 newly hatched baby guineas (keets) running about.  She captured them, of course.  We have about 10 farm cats at this point, and while the adult poultry are cat proof; baby birds are irresistible cat morsels.  They have to be protected, at least until they can fly.

Only 5 keets were in evidence.  After catching them (no small feat) and bringing them in, she went back to see if there were more keets, previously hiding (or perhaps not hatched yet) - 5 is a very small number for a guinea clutch ... and found instead, this poof.

Almost certainly, a Cooper's Hawk.  We see them pretty often; and generally like to; they catch mice and bluejays.  Usually the poultry are too big for them to attempt; but if they're really hungry; they may try.  If they try, they'll pretty certainly succeed in killing the chicken, even if they can't carry it off.  The guineas rarely are caught, they're too wary.

Unless- they're new parents, or protecting a nest, and distracted.

A few days ago- we had 2 more poofs show up, in the woods.  Poof 1 was- an Araucana hen who'd been missing for weeks- presumed eaten by Daisy.  But, nope.  She'd evidently gone broody, and started sitting on a clutch of eggs, in the woods.  The timing of the poof- just right for the eggs to have hatched.  And the hen to have become hawk food, while watching the new chicks.  Poof 2 was- the Araucana hen who had been proven our best foster mom.  Probably- when the original mom disappeared, the chicks started calling; and the 2nd hen's maternal instincts called her into the woods, to also encounter the hawk.

Pretty sad.  No way around that.  These were birds I'd known for years, as individuals.  I miss them.  And I feel guilty that I somehow let them down- I wasn't able to provide them with a safe place, or a safe way, to be parents.  They'd survived just fine- for 3 years of free range - until there were unprotected chicks in the picture.

Still working on figuring out how to protect them in the future.  It'll be work.  But the benefits the birds provide are pretty clear.  (I'll make a list, one of these posts).

Meanwhile.  At least, the 5 keets are protected, and being tended by an adult guinea.  I'm pretty sure this bird was NOT one of the birds that hatched the eggs, but she responded strongly to the keets calling, went into the cage I set up, and now broods them when they get a little cool.

They're thriving.  With no heat lamp.  Life goes on.  For some.

Daisy is now resigned about being on chain all day.  But the reality is, we need her free, 24 hours, guarding the farm.  Particularly since we've now got reports of bears, nearby.  More work ahead, one way or another.