16 September 2014

Songs from "Northern Britain"

Scotland (ancestral home of at least some of my people) is voting on whether to break away from the United Kingdom on Thursday. Here's a map showing all the countries that have declared independence from the British:

In honor of this momentous referendum, I offer a cascade of Scottish bands:

14 September 2014

Fun with Wordle

Here's a Wordle of my novel, EULOGY. I've just completed what I consider to be the FINAL draft. The submission process is beginning:


12 September 2014

07 September 2014

This Week in Water

I apologize for not having posted much recently. I've been obsessing about finishing what I believe is my final revision of my unpublished novel EULOGY. I've had to rewrite the ending and been in a bit of a panic about that, but the novel is ready to be submitted to agents now. Wish me luck.

There. That's out of the way. Let's turn to the real world. Water: It's a problem.

Halliburton has to pay $1.1 billion for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers. Something about faulty cement. BP which claims it has spent more than $28 billion on damage claims and cleanup costs may be fined up to $18 billion more for its role. Of course, if corporations were people, as folks like Mitt Romney and the U.S. Supreme Court claim, wouldn't that make them liable for murder and manslaughter? Oyster harvesting along the Gulf has yet to recover.

Satellite analysis is showing that Earth's two largest ice sheets—in Antarctica and Greenland—are being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles per year. Computer climate simulations show that human contribution to glacier melting is increasing steadily. The Atlantic Ocean, by absorbing vast amounts of heat from the atmosphere, has masked much of the effects of global warming. This trend may reverse after 2030.

A slow-motion disaster: The East Coast of the U.S. is facing increased damages and ill-effects from rising sea levels. Miami and New York City (my former home) are ground zero in the battle against rising seas. "Imagine Cape Cod without cod. Maine without lobster. The region's famous rocky beaches invisible, obscured by constant high waters. It's already starting to happen."

Historic levels of flooding hit Detroit and Michigan.

Half a million residents were left homeless as devastating floods hit Bangladesh. Monsoon flooding in India and Pakistan has claimed nearly 300 lives.

It's been a busy typhoon season in the Pacific, much busier than the Atlantic, and it's still going on.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is under duress from natural and man-made forces. So much so the government has abandoned plans to dump 3 million cubic meters of dredged sand into the area.

Meanwhile, in another potential slo-mo disaster scenario, California continues to labor under historic drought conditions. Click for shocking pics of vanishing lakes. More than 80% of the state is either in extreme or exception drought category, the highest levels. Crops are shriveling up. Wells and aquifers are running dry. More devastating pics. Some worry that groundwater depletion there is destabilizing the San Andreas Fault (among others) and increasing earthquake risks. And it's not just a California problem: the food supply of the whole nation is in jeopardy.

Texas, too. And some think this Southwest drought could last for a generation or more. Especially with hydrofrackers competing for limited water resources and fouling nearby aquifers in their wake.

28 August 2014

A "F*** You and Your Friends" Jig

A special birthday cascade tribute for a longtime blegfriend who's just paranoid enough to believe it might not be about him (& just might listen to a song or two to discover if the music will save him again (from his [& our] complicity)):

Dangerous Book by The Plimsouls on Grooveshark

21 August 2014

The gods are watching adverts

Found the first of the following three Kate Tempest vids on Huenemanniac. Thanks, Charlie, nice pick! And welcome to a coveted spot on WoW's renewing Wisblog Roll.


10 August 2014

This Week in Water

The world's first Climate Change refugees have been granted residency in New Zealand. Rising sea tides on the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu has contaminated the drinking water. Some predict that as many as 150 to 300 million people will be displaced by climate change during the first half of this century.

Climate data from 2013 published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concluded:
"Last year was one of the ten hottest on record. Depending on how scientists slice the numbers, the year ranked second or sixth. Australia experienced its hottest year since recordkeeping began in 1910, as did a research station at the South Pole, whose records date to 1957. 
Average sea levels continue to creep up at consistent rate, of roughly three millimeters per year. Glaciers are losing mass at an accelerating rate. 
Extreme events in 2013 caused significant damage. Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest recorded tropical cyclone at landfall when it crossed the Philippines in November with wind speeds of 170 knots (195 miles per hour). More than 5,700 people died because of the super storm. 
In Canada, heavy rains flooded southern Alberta, resulting in the country’s most expensive natural disaster ever, at more than $US 6 billion."
The Global Ocean Commission has determined that the world's oceans need saving from pollution and overfishing, and urgent action is needed within five years.

A team of scientists has determined that sea level rise in the western tropical Pacific off the coasts of the Philippines and northeastern Australia is a result of human activity and likely will continue unabated.

Scientists have observed methane gas bubbling to the surface from the sea floor in the Arctic Ocean. These plumes could signal a major tipping point for climate change, causing trillions of dollars of damages to the world's economies. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is 20 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. One climatologist associated with the expedition that discovered this phenomenon tweeted: "If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd."

The worst environmental disaster in North America in decades? A dam holding waste from Canadian gold and copper mines operated by Imperial Metals around Mount Polley in British Columbia broke, spilling up to 4 billion gallons of toxic slurry and sludge containing things like arsenic, mercury, and sulphur from the tailing pond into the Province's pristine lakes and streams.

A massive red tide algae bloom, some 80 miles by 50 miles, off the Gulf coast of Florida has killed thousands of fish and could cause further damage, including to people, if it washes ashore.

Scientists are reporting a man-made 'dead zone' about the size of Connecticut in size in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. It is purportedly second in size only to a similar zone in the Baltic Sea around Finland and is a result of agricultural runoff from farms along the Mississippi River.

Pharmaceutical waste from an anxiety medication, Oxazepam, released into a Swedish lake is decreasing Eurasian perch mortality rates. This is not necessarily a good thing.

Engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are constructing an ice wall to keep contaminated water from the nuclear reactor disaster from polluting ground water.

A mysterious lake, some 30 to 60 feet deep, has appeared in the the Tunisian desert.

Canada wants to map and lay claim to the seabed around the North Pole. So does Russia.

Russia has released "Arctic Sunrise", the Greenpeace ship it seized last year in a protest against its Arctic drilling.

The world's largest naval exercise, RIMPAC 2014, involving militaries from 23 countries, got underway in the Western Pacific.

Also, ebola is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person.

02 August 2014

This Week in Water

Tons of news this week, mostly bad. And mostly in the U.S. Let's get down to it:

Health Advisory: If you're one of the nearly half million people who live in or around Toledo, Ohio, DON'T USE THE WATER!

More Ohio news: Haliburton was hesitant to disclose the type and amounts of toxic fracking chemicals it spilled into the Ohio River on June 28. By the time it released the information some 70,000 fish had died and the drinking water for millions of residents was threatened.

Hydrofrackers spilled some 480 barrels of hydrochloric (HCL) acid in rural Oklahoma that could taint nearby creeks and water supplies.

A waterfront oil refinery in Delaware is asking taxpayers to pay to protect it from rising sea levels.

Who would've guessed? The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is turning out to be much worse than people anticipated.

The depletion of the Ogllala Aquifer that stretches from Texas to South Dakota by human extraction—mainly for agriculture and energy use—threatens the bread basket of the U.S. and, potentially, the entire planet.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., is at an all-time record lowest level.

In a related story, NASA satellites have revealed a shocking loss of groundwater in the Colorado River Basin, challenging long-term water supplies for seven states. Purportedly, many areas are drier than during the Dust Bowl era.

Remember that chemical spill in West Virginia in January of this year? Well, the company that poisoned the water of some 300,000 residents sure got its comeuppance: It was fined $11,000. Freedom (Industries)!

Taxpayers will have to shoulder most of the $2 billion cleanup of pollution in the Everglades from South Florida's sugar industries.

Acidic seas are turning phytoplankton toxic. Why should that matter? Well, for one thing they produce up to 60% of the earth's oxygen.

Scientists still don't understand why numerous species of starfish along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S. are dying out.

Researchers have measured swells of up to 16 feet in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea north of Alaska in oceans that are typically frozen.

Is Kick'em Jenny, an enormous volcano some 6,000 feet beneath the Caribbean Sea where tectonic plates converge, a potential tsunami threat to the U.S.?

Will the world essentially run out of fresh water by 2040? It is not out of the question if current trends continue. Not only do fossil fuel facilities pollute the environment and increase global warming with their carbon emissions, they consume massive, untold amounts of water resources.

Water: the next gold rush? Many mega-national companies think it is and are maneuvering to control this vital resource.

As much as 60% of California is in record drought conditions.

California halts injections of fracking waste, warning that it may be contaminating aquifers. May be?

Is desalination of the Pacific Ocean a viable option for California in the face of its historic drought?

New climate models predict an Australian forever-drought.

New E.P.A. proposed rule: an attempt to keep small bodies of water clean for families and businesses or yet another overreaching intrusion by Big Gov't into private property?

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014: a much-needed upgrading of U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure or the nose of the privatization-of-water-systems camel into the tent?

"U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced 'W21: Water in the 21st Century,' legislation that would help communities nationwide better prepare for the future by providing new incentives and investments to help residents, businesses and local water agencies to conserve, recycle and manage limited water supplies."

25 July 2014

This Week in Water

Been wondering lately what's happening with your planet's most precious resource? I'm back after a brief hiatus to give you the 411.

With Israel having invaded and currently occupying much of Gaza, I want to focus on the water angle to this current conflict.

If you've been reading this blog, you are aware that water is always a major issue in the Israel/Palestine conflict. In February, Martin Schulz, European Union Parliamentary President, made the following statement before the Israeli Knesset: "A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17." This prompted a faction led by Naftali Bennett to walk out. Is this true?

Haaretz recently published a fact sheet about the role of water in this corner of the Middle East:
* Israel doesn’t give water to the Palestinians. Rather, it sells it to them at full price.
* The Palestinians would not have been forced to buy water from Israel if it were not an occupying power which controls their natural resource, and if it were not for the Oslo II Accords, which limit the volume of water they can produce, as well as the development and maintenance of their water infrastructure.
* This 1995 interim agreement was supposed to lead to a permanent arrangement after five years. The Palestinian negotiators deluded themselves that they would gain sovereignty and thus control over their water resources.
The Palestinians were the weak, desperate, easily tempted side and sloppy when it came to details. Therefore, in that agreement Israel imposed a scandalously uneven, humiliating and infuriating division of the water resources of the West Bank.
* The division is based on the volume of water Palestinians produced and consumed on the eve of the deal. The Palestinians were allotted 118 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from three aquifers via drilling, agricultural wells, springs and precipitation. Pay attention, Rino Tzror: the same deal allotted Israel 483 mcm annually from the same resources (and it has also exceeded this limit in some years).
In other words, some 20 percent goes to the Palestinians living in the West Bank, and about 80 percent goes to Israelis – on both sides of the Green Line – who also enjoy resources from the rest of the country.
Why should Palestinians agree to pay for desalinated water from Israel, which constantly robs them of the water flowing under their feet?
* The agreement’s second major scandal: Gaza’s water economy/management was condemned to be self-sufficient and made reliant on the aquifer within its borders. How can we illustrate the injustice? Let’s say the Negev residents were required to survive on aquifers in the Be’er Sheva-Arad region, without the National Water Carrier and without accounting for population growth. Overpumping in Gaza, which causes seawater and sewage to penetrate into the aquifer, has made 90 percent of the potable water undrinkable.
Can you imagine? If Israelis had peace and justice in mind, the Oslo agreement would have developed a water infrastructure linking the Strip to the rest of the country.
* According to the deal, Israel will keep selling 27.9 mcm of water per year to the Palestinians. In its colonialist generosity, Israel agreed to recognize Palestinian future needs for an additional 80 mcm per year. It’s all detailed in the agreement with the miserly punctiliousness of a capitalist tycoon. Israel will sell some, and the Palestinians will drill for the rest, but not in the western mountain aquifer. That’s forbidden.
But today the Palestinians produce just 87 mcm in the West Bank – 21 mcm less than Oslo allotted them. The drought, Israeli limits on development and drilling new wells, and limits on movement are the main reasons. Palestinian mismanagement is secondary. So, Israel “gives” – or rather sells – about 60 mcm per year. True. That is more than the Oslo II Accords agreed for it to sell. And the devastating conclusion: Palestinian dependence on the occupier has only increased.
* Israel retained the right of the mighty to cap infrastructure development and rehabilitation initiatives. For example, Israel has imposed on the Palestinian Authority pipes that are narrower than desired, forbids connecting communities in Area C to the water infrastructure, tarries in approving drilling, and delays replacing disintegrating pipes. Hence the 30 percent loss of water from Palestinian pipes.
* 113,000 Palestinians are not connected to the water network. Hundreds of thousands of others are cut off from a regular supply during the summer months. In Area C, Israel forbids even the digging of cisterns for collecting rainwater. And that’s called giving?
* Instead of spending time calculating whether the average Israeli household’s per-capita consumption of water is four times or “only” three times that of Palestinian consumption, open your eyes: The settlements bathed in green, and across the road Palestinian urban neighborhoods and villages are subject to a policy of water rotation. The thick pipes of Mekorot (Israel’s national water provider) are heading to the Jordan Valley settlements, and a Palestinian tractor next to them transports a rusty tank of water from afar. In the summer, the faucets run dry in Hebron and never stop flowing in Kiryat Arba and Beit Hadassah.

12 July 2014

A Tough Week

It's been a tough week.

On July 4th, Wisdoc and I drove 200 miles to Lexington, SC, to pick up a new puppy. We spent a couple hours with the litter, selecting out candidates by—mainly—disposition. We chose this little fellow:

and named him Kona because he reminded us of the color of the sand there. (We visited Wisdomie in Hawaii in June). He rode the three-hour drive home sitting quietly next to our miniature Dachshund, Lily, and Wisdoc.

It didn't take long for Wisdoc plus all the Wiskids to fall in love with him. He's a German Shepherd/Poodle mix. Very sweet and self-possessed.

As readers here will recall, we lost Jake, our beloved Shepherd of 13 years, last Thanksgiving when he succumbed to doggy Lou Gehrig's disease. Jake was a truly great dog and family member. I've written plenty about him here.

Over the years, though, Wisdaughter developed an allergy to Jake. We'd grieved for over 6 months and felt we wanted another big Shepherd-like dog. We did some research and learned that some folks were breeding Shepherds with Standard Poodles to produce a hypoallergenic dog with all the qualities of a Shepherd and the calmness of a Poodle.

We took Kona to our family Vet on Monday afternoon. She found a disastrous heart murmur and told us it was likely inoperable. We were in shock—PTSD-like. It didn't help that it was the same Vet who put Jakey to sleep. We immediately (then and there in the Vet's office) informed the breeder who, likewise, was shocked. After much soul-searching and after seeking a second opinion, we agreed to exchange Kona for the puppy that came in a close second in our disposition testing.

Wisdoc was disconsolate and hardly slept Monday night. She'd already become attached to Kona.

Tuesday afternoon (yes, during yet another World Cup match—this time, the Germany v. Brazil shellacking), we met the breeder about halfway to SC at an exit on I-20. We spent about an hour with the new little fellow, introducing him to Lily. She brought us her Vet's certification of his health this time and assured Wisdoc she would raise Kona as her own pet, letting him live out his days on her farm.

I had no choice but to believe her.

I took the new guy to our Vet on Wednesday, and she gave him a clean bill of health. I told her she owed us some good news.

We had trouble naming the new little boy but eventually, after a debate of what felt like hundreds of group text messages between and among the entire Wisfam, settled on Bruno.

He's a fuzzy 14-week old puppy. Adorable, sweet, playful, and well-related. Black with some brown highlights, a white spot on his chest, and white tufts on his front paws and chin beard. He should grow to about 60-65 lbs (not as large as Jake but large enough). He doesn't shed, and, importantly, Wisdaughter had no allergic reaction to him.

Also, he sleeps through the night!

He's a happy fellow and has adjusted wonderfully well to Sasha (our cat), Lily, Wisdoc, Wesdom (who's home from college for the summer), and, of course, yours truly. He bonded immediately to us and seems to have accepted his place in the pack order around here. He looks me in the eye to see what I want him to do. He is not aggressive with strangers.

We Facetimed Wisdomie in Honolulu for a couple hours, and he enjoyed watching the little fellow play.

It was tough having to give up on Kona. A puppy with a congenital heart condition is a sad thing, especially one you've grown attached to for however short a time. The breeder will no longer be able to breed Bruno's and Kona's sire and dame, and she plans to put them up for adoption. I hope little Kona will be able to live out the rest of his life in the comfort of her farm.

Now, if I can only get Bruno to stop peeing on the rug.