segunda-feira, outubro 29, 2007

Pigs, Death ... & stuff

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I like this phrase:

" ... may help to concentrate people's minds."

     Gwynne Dyer.

This short essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg caught my attention:

25 October, NYT, The Rural Life, Two Pigs.

Very soon, a farmer and his son will come to the farm to kill our two pigs. If that sentence bothers you, you should probably stop reading now — and you should probably also stop eating pork. The pigs weigh nearly 300 pounds apiece, and killing them is the reality of eating meat. I talk to the pigs whenever I’m in their pen, and ever since June I’ve been slowly taming them, getting them used to being scratched. There are two reasons. I truly love being with the pigs. And taming them means it will be that much easier for the farmer and his son to kill them swiftly, immediately. If I had no more foreknowledge of my death than these two pigs will have of theirs, I’d consider myself very lucky.

The questions people ask make it sound as though I should be morally outraged at myself, as if it’s impossible to scratch the pigs behind the ears and still intend to kill them. If I belonged to a more coherent, traditional rural community — one that comes together for pig-butchering in the fall — I would get to celebrate the ritual in it all, the sudden abundance a well-fed pig represents. It’s hard to act that out when the cast is a gruff farmer and son, and my wife and me, who have been silenced by the solemnity of what we’re watching.

Because we do watch. That’s part of the job. It’s how we come to understand what the meat itself means. And to me, the word “meat” is at the root of the contradictory feelings the pig-killing raises. You can add all the extra value you want — raising heritage breed pigs on pasture with organic grain, all of which we do — and yet somehow the fact that we are doing this for meat, some of which we keep, most of which we trade or sell, makes the whole thing sound like a bad bargain. And yet compared with the bargain most Americans make when they buy pork in the supermarket, this is beauty itself.

Knowing that you’re doing something for the last time is a uniquely human fear. I thought that would be the hardest thing about having pigs. In fact, it’s not so hard, though it does remind me that humans have trouble thinking carefully about who knows what. One day soon I’ll step into the pen and give the pigs a thorough scratching, behind the ears, between the eyes, down the spine. Their tails will straighten with pleasure. It will be the last time. I will know it, and they simply won’t.


That it stuck at all is because it is obviously (to me at least) but subtly incomplete ... there is a quality I cannot yet put my finger on that makes it so. It seems to dip beneath a respectable and bourgeois surface ... and yet does not.

More later maybe.


And a story about a recent human death, say, a recent homicide by the RCMP:

17/10/07, CTV, Man who died in airport likely asking for help: mom, Source.
19/10/07, CBC, Witness blames RCMP, Vancouver airport for death of Tasered man, Source.
26/10/07, Mark Hume - Sunny Dhillon, Questions hang over taser death, Source.
26/10/07, Editorial, The tragic death of Mr. Dziekanski, Source.

More useless Canadian hand-wringing.

A-and another RCMP cover-up underway: Witness going to court to retrieve Taser video, Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist, Source.


And a story about general death:

Gwynne Dyer, Climate Change: Evasion Replaces Denial.

     When denial fails, try evasion. Almost all the climate change deniers, even President George W. Bush, now allow the forbidden phrase to pass their lips, but that doesn't mean they have really accepted the need to do something about it. The preferred tactics now are distraction, diversion and delay.

     That's why the US government held a mini-summit on climate change last week just two days after the United Nations held a one-day summit to prepare for the December meeting in Indonesia that must set the targets for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the period after 2012, when the current Kyoto Protocol expires. The Bush administration, which refused to ratify the Kyoto pact, doesn't want any hard targets at all, so the name of the game is sabotage.

     "Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technology to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective," Mr Bush said. In other words, there should not be negotiated targets for actual cuts in emissions, with penalties for those who do not meet them. "By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem," said the US president. "And by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it."

     What he proposes to do about it is to host another conference next year to "finalise the goal" (but not a mandatory goal, you understand) and discuss ways of attaining it. Then there could be another conference in 2009, and another in 2010....

     Evasion and delay. The aim is to prevent the Kyoto accord's 144 signatories from setting hard targets for deep emission cuts, or at least to provide a plausible political shelter for governments that oppose mandatory cuts but need to look like they are fighting climate change in the eyes of their own peoples. That shelter, which is now called the Asia-Pacific Partnership, was set up last year, and last week it gained a new recruit: Canada.

     The six existing members are the United States and Australia (huge emitters of greenhouse gases that never joined the Kyoto process, and until recently were climate change deniers); China, India and South Korea (Kyoto signatories that, as developing countries, were exempt from emission limits under the existing treaty, but fear that they would face limits in the next phase); and Japan (which accepted a Kyoto target for 2012, but has no hope of meeting it now without heroic efforts). Together, they account for half of the world's emissions.

     The new member, Canada, is a big emitter that committed itself to reduce emissions under Kyoto but made no effort to reach its target. The fault mostly lies with previous Liberal governments, but the new Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, is a former climate change denier who is seeking a way to welsh on the commitment. A large majority of Canadians support Kyoto, so he needs political cover, and the Asia-Pacific Partnership might give him some.

     The Bush administration has thus succeeded in splitting the world in two on the climate change issue. An overwhelming majority of the 39 developed countries have agreed to get back below their 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, and will meet their targets (usually about 5 percent below) or at least come close. A few rogue industrial countries have shunned the Kyoto process entirely or missed their targets very badly, and they have now joined with the most rapidly developing countries (whose emissions are soaring) to subvert or evade the next phase of cuts.

     It's exactly what you would expect in any large undertaking that involves many different countries, and there's no point in getting upset about it. The only question is how to get past it.

     Australia will probably join the post-Kyoto process as soon as Australian voters have dumped Prime Minister John Howard, a serial climate change denier who looks certain to lose the election later this year. After six years of intense drought, Australians are losing their scepticism about climate change. So are Americans.

     Seventy percent of Americans now identify climate change as a major problem, and in the face of the federal government's obstructionism many states are pressing ahead with their own greenhouse gas reduction programmes. As California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who has committed his state to deep cuts) said at the UN summit: "California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action..What we are doing is changing the dynamic."

     An even bigger problem is the Asian giants, China and India, whose hopes of achieving full developed-country status depend on historically unprecedented economic growth rates. They will not abandon those hopes while other countries still live in lavish consumer societies. So how can they be persuaded to accept emission controls?

     With great difficulty, but it is their climate too. The deal will require the old industrialised countries to take even deeper cuts in their emissions in order to leave the emerging ones some room to grow. It must also involve technology transfer and direct subsidies from the old rich countries to help them switch from CO2-intensive technologies for power generation (like two new coal-fired generating stations in China each week) to cleaner ones.

     That will be one of the most difficult political bargains that has ever been negotiated, but the prospect of global disaster may help to concentrate people's minds.


All of this was bringing me down ... then my daughter called and later on I went to the beach at Itaipu with a bunch of kids and cooked for a while in the hot spring sun. It worked. Lizard brain woke up, Death disappeared up the stairs into the nearest bank.

Use 'defeat', 'deduct', 'defence', and 'detail' in a sentence ... De feet of de duck went over de fence before de tail ...

A-and then there is Bob Dylan selling Cadillac cars. He looks younger in the Cadillac pic (?), airbrush I guess, or maybe working for Cadillac does that to you, even maybe owning one or two? Cadillac & Victoria's Secret ... hummm ... there's a pattern here huh? ...

: But you said no one would get hurt ...
: And it's true, they're going to kill us.
: So all we can do is pray or drink.
: Go read the Bible, the fridge is mine.