Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grasshoppers, Grasshoppers, Grasshoppers!


We're surrounded by grasshoppers.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we can't take a step in the high grass without dozens of the little critters leaping away from us, only to leap again in a moment when we take another step or two.  Some are so small and quick we hardly see them as individuals -- it's more as if the grass is one organism with a bunch of small pieces moving at once, like lights blinking on some machine.  Others are large, and when they fly make a sound like the one my bicycle used to make when I clipped a baseball card to it, just where the spokes would strike it repeatedly.  They're black or grey when still, easily mistaken for pebbles, but when they fly they display a bright red or blue color.
DG

Grasshopper on ocotillo
At first we thought we had so many because we let weeds grow.  We're a little anarchistic, I guess; and sympathetic to anything trying to make a go out of it in a drought-plagued desert.  But apparently it's actually that a combination of the excessive heat and the drought have decimated the predators that would normally gobble these fellows up with delight. 

A little more than a year ago, visiting our new home before we could actually move back here, we photographed a couple of grasshoppers mating on a rose-leaf.   They were there for hours, catching the rich light as the sun fell toward the West Mesa, and not shy, so we took a bunch of X-rated photographs.  (Sometimes they're at it for more than a day, I've read.)

This guy looks particularly relaxed
This week, as the ocotillo leaves turn yellow or disappear, grasshoppers have been hanging out a whole lot on one of the ocotillo that's still green.  They're well-camouflaged there.

DG - Grasshoppers at Sunset
Monday night around sunset we shot some pictures of them.  (Dael took the one at right, and others with "DG" in the captions in this post.) 













DG - back-lit grasshoppers on tile
Tuesday morning I shot more.  Then, as I walked back toward the house, I spotted another grasshopper on a sunny rock right by the back door.  I looked closer and realized he was eating.  Looking still closer, I saw what he was eating: another grasshopper.  It looked to be days dead.

The still camera's video function works pretty well when you're lying flat on the ground and can rest your hands and the camera on a convenient rock:
video

By the way, it's probably better to play the video without maximizing its size, because of the lower-quality it has to be saved at for posting here. (The occasional sound on the video isn't the grasshopper, but sighs attributable to the strain of holding a very old body in a very awkward position while concentrating on some stupid insect.  Both the insects and the crawling around on the ground ought to be the business of someone many years younger, I guess.)

Anyway, we're inundated with grasshoppers.  Seems neat, at first -- until you realize the pomegranate, the Mexican Elder, and other trees seem to be losing their leaves a few weeks before the season would take them, which ain't healthy.   Some folks say to spray soapy water on the leaves, others to use chile oil (or garlic oil), so we bought a plastic spray bottle and filled it, so the leaves of several of our trees are now both soapy and spicy, a taste combination which seems to appeal to the grasshoppers about as much as it would appeal to me.   Still, we can't spray everything, so this morning we abandoned non-violence.  It feels a bit savage to stomp on critters whose portraits you took such care to shoot a few days earlier; but.   
I'm certainly grateful to 'em for showing up, but it's rather too much of a good thing by now.
Where are the families of quail that waddled up to the dishes of water Dael set out for them during the heat of the summer -- now that we could use their help?  Should we rent someone's chickens?  Let them devour the devourers?



Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Week



In a week dominated by an old friend’s struggles with kidney disease, the beauty of our surroundings kept refusing to be ignored.

A well-camouflaged visitor

We were particularly delighted to find a live Texas Horned Lizard – which I’d always called, incorrectly, a Texas Horned Toad or Texas Horny Toad.

("He’s a lizard," Dael insisted; "and we don’t know anything about whether or not he’s horny.")


Catching the late afternoon sunlight
He eats ants, which is certainly fine with us. He seems to be happily dividing his time between two large ant colonies. Even though the ants from at least one of those colonies have a nasty bite, we left them for him. We’d taken pictures of one of his kind here last year, then found one dead this spring, and hadn’t seen one since.  Now we've seen this fellow three days in a row.


His uncle or cousin from last year
in an alternate universe . . .
. . . stripped of his camouflage










What we have seen several trillion of is grasshoppers. When we walk through the desert grass, it seems alive with little guys jumping out of our way, lighting, and jumping again.  Scores of little guys like this one, all but invisible -- and larger ones, some of which make a sharp clicking noise when they fly and reveal surprisingly bright blue or red wings. Only a few, mostly the larger ones, pause for photographic portraits.
This guy, who patiently posed for a long time as I lay stretched on the ground with the macro lens, we call the elephant cricket, but I've no idea what he actually is.

Of course, instead of tinkering with their photographs I should be outside pouring soapy water and chile oil on the two little pomegranate trees and the Mexican Elder, to keep these voracious little guys from defoliating them before autumn does.
But I'm a grasshopper myself, in the old grasshopper-and-ant story they tell kids.  I'm still leaping about like an idiot, instead of preparing for winter.
This pleasant sunset . . .
 
. . . feels more like this . . .


. . . or even this.










The full moon, of course, performed his monthly show.


Two nights in a row we sat out on the old deck, watching him peek over the peaks; and in the morning when I wandered out to water trees he was speeding toward the horizon, looking somewhat tired after ten or twelve hours of our company. 







I'd have preferred the moon rise a little further North

which might have looked like this ...

. . . or like this.










In the morning he fell, looking weary after nine hours of our world.

We hear coyotes most nights, and recently we've found their paw-prints and mesquite-filled scat around our place every morning.   Thursday morning as Bud and I sped into town toward his kidney doctor, I spotted a dead coyote just off the road, near the new high school they're building.  Must have happened during the night.  I'd a lot rather photograph 'em alive.  I think I'll slow down some.  Whoever hit him, it could as easily have been I.

He reminded me of the dead road-runner we saw on Baylor Canyon Road a few months ago.

Saturday we saw a live road-runner as we drove toward the Farmers’ Market. Didn’t photograph him, but paused to admire him. He moseyed along parallel to us, but pretty soon the ocotillo and creosote hid him from view.


Returning from the Market, we spotted the two golden eagles hunting near the road, a mile or two before our place. We stopped to watch. 
They soared like eagles.  Which seems a perfectly logical thing for them to do, but was a pleasure to watch.
Eventually one of them landed on a utility pole on our side of the road, just in front of us, and we moved closer.  They sometimes hunt near our house, talking to each other as they hunt. 
Saturday they weren't talking, but each obviously kept aware of the other's whereabouts.   I sat in the truck, nearer to them than usual, marveling at their strength and envying of course the freedom with which they floated up there on the breeze. 


Driving home I thought about the way Coyote and Road-runner, along with hummingbirds and comical families of quail, and the golden eagles on their occasional hunting trips our way, begin to populate our lives more than people do.

Thinking about it just now, I wondered if we’ve been coming to take our home for granted just a little. We love it here. This morning we chatted briefly in the market with some friends, who moved here years ago from California, and could still say we don’t miss the Bay Area. Yet I spend less time out contemplating and photographing our little world than I did during the summer.

Then Dael called from out by the smallest ash tree, and suggested I bring the camera.  A

small rattler lay catching the thin last rays of sunlight as the sun disappeared behind the West Mesa.  He seemed disinclined to move just because of our company.  There was something peaceful about him, though he was reminding us not to reach into places we couldn't see.  We suggested a pact under which he and we would leave each other alone while he'd shrink the rodent population.   I took his silence for agreement.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Obama and Osama

Three years ago this month, a woman at a Presidential Debate in Tennessee asked Barack Obama whether he would pursue Al Qaeda leaders into Pakistan.

Although Pakistan was a sovereign nation and an ally, Obama replied that "If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights" and Pakistan would not act, "then I think we have to act. . . .we will kill bin Laden." Republican candidate John McCain called this answer "foolish."

I recalled that exchange when President Obama’s orders led to bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Pakistan – and, more recently, looking over the field of potential challengers to the President.

Obama was personally involved in key decisions regarding the raid. He didn’t meddle in logistical details; but at several moments when uncertainty prevailed, Obama had to make decisions. He made the right ones.
First, just a few months after taking office, Obama reviewed the programs for tracking bin Laden he’d inherited from the previous administration. He found them inadequate, and requested a more detailed plan and increased effort.

(On August 6, 2001, when Obama’s predecessor received a briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S," the family-newspaper version of his response was "All, right, you’ve covered your butt now." To be fair to Bush, the threat probably sounded somewhat unlikely; no one knows how a more "hands-on" President might have reacted; perhaps nothing could have prevented 9/11; but it was more clearly ominous than Bush’s advisors later claimed. The briefer said, "An Egyptian Islamic Jihad operative told an [redacted] service . . . that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike," and mentioned many aspects of the strike that occurred five weeks later, including use of hijacked airliners.)

In the fall of 2010, analysts learned that bin Laden might be in a compound in Abbottabad. Observations strengthened their belief that he was.

They weren’t certain. As late as a week before the raid, according to a New Yorker article citing an unnamed counter-terrorism official, when a dozen CIA analysts were asked their levels of confidence bin Laden was really there, the answers ranged from 40% to more than 90%. Some officials urged Obama to wait for stronger confirmation – which would have risked a leak and the possibility that bin Laden might move again.

Obama’s military advisors also differed as to the best form of attack. The Washington Post called them "sharply divided." Several feared that an operation inside Pakistan was too risky. About six weeks before the raid, some wanted to await more intelligence, some wanted the helicopter raid, and some favored a B-2 bombing. Holdover Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued vigorously for an air strike, recalling the failed 1980 attempt to rescue hostages in Iran. Such a strike would have required a huge blast equivalent to an earthquake in Abbottabad. Obama rejected the plan, noting that it might flatten much of the city – and that it would leave uncertainty that bin Laden had really been killed.

Then Obama made a key adjustment when military planners briefed him on details of the planned raid: to the two Blackhawks that would go to bin Laden’s compound, he added four Chinooks. Forty-five minutes after the Blackhawks took off, the Chinooks followed. Two landed just before the border, in Afghanistan, ready to assist if needed; and two continued into Pakistan, loaded with SEALs, and one also carried extra gas in case the Blackhawks needed it.

The first Blackhawk, which was to hover above the compound while the SEAL’s fast-roped down to the ground, got caught in its own rotor wash. (Detailed simulations had used chain-link fencing to simulate the high walls of the compound, and the fences didn’t create the same kind of heat when the helicopter dropped down between them.)

The pilot made a sort of crash landing and the men rushed out into the compound. But the Blackhawk was destroyed. Had a Chinook not been waiting within range, and had there been no extra gas, it is questionable whether everyone would have returned safely to Afghanistan.

Obama consulted intelligently with the military, raised a couple of critical questions, made the necessary decisions, then left them alone to do their jobs, though he watched the entire raid as it happened. Maybe he was lucky, but he applied his considerable intelligence in a way that made a positive difference: amping up the search effort, not waiting for absolute certainty that bin Laden was there, choosing the helicopter raid over an air strike, and adding the Chinooks as a precaution. This doesn’t detract from one’s respect for the military officers who planned the details of the operation, practiced intensely, and carried it out. They did it skillfully and well, including many details other officers might easily have overlooked, and they deserve credit.

Afterward, Obama met with the SEALs, who gave him a detailed briefing and answered his questions – and expressed their appreciation. Obama, said to be "in awe of these guys," praised them and gave them medals. They gave him a framed flag from one of the Chinooks. As one observer put it, "They knew he had staked his Presidency on this. He knew they staked their lives on it."

When Obama learned a dog had been on board, and that the dog – muzzled – was in a nearby room, he insisted on meeting the dog, too. One of the SEALs joked that the President had better take some treats in with him. Cairo was kept muzzled. The President petted him, but there is no record of what, if anything, he said to the dog.
                                                                         -30-

[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News today, Sunday, 16 October.]

        A more intellectually interesting column might discuss the legality of the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States.  

I know how it feels.  It feels right, although some of the more excessive celebrations by folks here at home were pretty tasteless.   I have to feel that if someone killed a few of my cousins then hid out in someone else's house -- or, say, a church, claiming sanctuary -- while threatening to kill my sister and kids next week, I'd be right in going after him, whatever the law might say.  It ain't like Osama was denying responsibility for the attack, so there wouldn't have been much to try in court.  (I have a hard time envisioning him trying an insanity defense.)  And since he was still doing what he was doing, the killing wasn't merely punitive, but may have saved lives. 

But was it right as a matter of law?  That's something I'm curious about, but haven't gotten around to researching or reasoning out. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Morning Coffee III


Interesting discussion recently about taking firearms into municipal buildings. What crossed my mind this morning is the reason that decisions are always mailed out in small claims court cases in San Francisco. They didn’t used to be. The change came after a defeated litigant bit the nose off the prevailing party. Think I’d at least ban guns in courthouses, even if they were allowed at city council meetings.

I pretty much loathe Facebook but check it out every week or two in case someone’s posted a good photo of Sunset at the North Pole or something, and I liked a couple of the images my former secretary posted recently:



A couple of years ago near San Francisco I ran into a former client whose company I had represented against, among others, folks from El Paso Electric Company. He was older than I, but we’d become friends.

Now, in the spring of 2008, I was glad to see that he and his wife were alive and well. As we talked, they told me about an incident when they’d lived in Hawaii, where he’d been with a big Hawaiian company. They were well off, of course, and their daughter attended Punahou. One evening her date for a big dance was to pick her up, and my friends were worried: their daughter’s date was a black kid, which was fine with them, but my friend’s mother was very conservative. They said nothing to her, but wondered how she’d take it. Eventually the young man came in, politely placed a lei around the neck of the girl’s mother and grandmother, and left for the dance. Afterward when my friend and his wife looked closely at Grandma, she just said, "Wasn’t that the sweetest young Hawaiian boy!" He was light-skinned. His name was Barack Obama.

The Republicans hammering Obama on the Economy is natural, but even more hypocritical than most politics. As we all know, Bush and his zealots got us into two wars, one of which bore no significant relationship to its purported causes and was sold to the nation and the world based on lies and on suppression of intelligence. Bush also championed the "Bush Tax Cuts" that made tax rates on rich folks among the lowest in the world and the lowest in the U.S. for at least a half-century. In short, with Republicans in control the country jacked up its expenditures astronomically and reduced its income. To blame Obama for not having rescued us from Bad Times in a couple of years in office reminds me of a guy running up hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit-card bills, switching from full-time to par-time work, then handing his wife the checkbook and blame her for not having got everything fixed within a couple of months.
That’s particularly so when the Bernanke, initially appointed by Bush to head the Fed, warns that drastic spending cuts in a recession could spell disaster – and Tea Party Republicans in Congress won’t hear of anything but spending cuts.

Monday Night Football opened a little differently last Monday, although since I have the sound down I wasn’t blown over by the difference: instead of the usual rowdy Hank Williams, Jr. song Mike Tirico was talking to us from a booth. Of course I learned the reason later, that he’d compared Obama to Hitler. Although I like Obama’s politics better than Williams’s or Hitler’s, Personally, I’m not outraged by the comparison. I don’t always speak as cautiously as I should, and I’m not even a famous singer.
But the funniest part was probably Williams’s lukewarm apology Tuesday, in which he said he objected to the heads of the country’s two parties "jukin and high given on a Golf course, while so many Families are Struggling to get by" – but if that made him "Boil over" then why doesn’t he Boil over at the strategies of the Republican Party to keep rich folks getting richer and avoid anything close to a fair deal for the folks "Struggling to get by"?

One of those folks, a 63-year-old Montana woman, reportedly penned a pretty neat comment. Wyoming U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of Obama's deficit commission, had called senior citizens "the greediest generation" and compared Social Security to a milk cow with 310 million teats.

Patty Myers wrote back:

"Hey Alan, let's get a few things straight.

1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole for FIFTY YEARS.

2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

3 My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would have made Bernie Madoff proud..

4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age 67. NOW, you and your shill commission are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay the bills.

6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt. To add insult to injury, you label us "greedy" for calling "bullshit" on your incompetence."

She also asked him a few very pertinent questions:
"1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?

4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing
in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?

It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the "greedy" ones. It is you and your fellow nutcases who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That's right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.

And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch."


My favorite line of the week actually was uttered more than 40 years ago by a man I never met: a friend’s father, a mature man in the 1960's when son came to manhood. Far from being appalled by the growing protests, or the catch-phrase "Don’t Trust Anyone over 30!," my friend’s father remarked one day, "What they really ought to do is shoot us all [old folks]."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sustainability and Defense

Is climate change a significant threat to our future, and already harming us? Or a scientific theory not yet supported by real evidence?

The Army and Navy say it’s real; and they’re working hard to minimize the harm it’s doing to our national defense.

"We’re not dealing with projections, we’re dealing with data," Admiral David Titley, director of the Navy’s Climate Change Task Force, told a conference in August. Army sustainability guru William Goran described "compelling data over the past thirty years" during his visit to Las Cruces last month.

In Alaska, where much Army training takes place, the trainers are losing ground rapidly – and literally. The earth up there is normally frozen most of the year. When it isn’t, vehicles can’t even move, and training is impossible. Recently, frozen-ground days have been declining in spring and fall. Valuable training can’t happen because of the change in climate. The Army also has to dig deeper just to anchor buildings in Alaska.
The Navy faces bigger difficulties.

The Arctic is opening up for navigation. Some say this could mean a new fleet.

Sea-levels are rising - which Goran calls "a significant risk" to the Navy. Most bases are at sea level.

The seas are growing more acidic. As Titley notes, "one billion people who today get their protein from the ocean may not be able to do that, and in the face of all the other challenges we have on land, as our population goes to about 9 billion, it will be a huge challenge for us, and will have tremendous national security implications."

These are not abstract ideas, but practical problems our military faces right now.

The military forces also recognize that the rise in sea-level could be a significant "stressor" on national governments. Particularly in nations where the government isn’t too popular or stable, this could help create conflicts our Army and Navy might have to deal with. "Climate change wouldn’t be the sole cause, but would contribute to conflict," Goran says.

Goran is a key member of the Defense Department’s team working on sustainability, which the local Sustainability Plan defines as "that which ‘ meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’" Sustainability presents complex set of problems in which climate change is one factor.

The push for sustainability isn’t designed just to save money or the environment. It saves lives. It saves U.S. soldiers’ lives.

For example, on average, every 22 times a convoy has to transport gasoline to the front, a soldier dies. If we can cut fuel needs by ten per cent, we probably save some of those soldiers, since fewer convoys will be required.

Batteries – for communications devices, lap-top computers, etc. – are the heaviest single item a soldier carries in his pack. If we could lighten that load – say, with a lightweight method to recharge batteries in the field – soldiers could carry more bullets or grenades or food or water, or just carry a lighter pack.

Soldiers are already carrying solar backpacks into the field. The backpack contains a lightweight solar array that can recharge batteries or run the lap-top in the field. Military officials say the solar backpacks are performing even better than anticipated. (Solar tents are also in the field "at a high technical-readiness level but not in mass production yet.")

The military also seeks to analyze use of resources such as electric power and fuel, to synch up distribution and increase efficiency. This involves matching supply and demand, often using a localized "smart grid."
Similarly, armies traditionally have a burn hole where they burn everything; but some of what they burn hurts the environment – and the health of citizens and soldiers. Now the army seeks to separate materials, and also to conduct burns in a way that the burning may generate steam or electricity. That’s a far more efficient, and easier on soldiers’ health.

More generally, the Army seeks "to reduce our boot-print" on the environment, for a host of reasons. Trying to help stem the tide of pollution and global warming is one. Saving money and preserving health are two. But a major reason is the military’s need to be as flexible as possible in responding to danger in the field.

Agility is a key military need to which sustainability contributes. DOD Director of Training Readiness & Strategy Frank DiGiovanni, an old Air Force fighter pilot, says that there’s never been an action by our adversaries that we were fully prepared for. There probably never can be, since we probably can never anticipate every new wrinkle or accidental event. However, we can increase our flexibility. Decreasing resource needs increases the Army’s capacity for adaptive, flexible responses to changing circumstances.

Climate change and dwindling resources are facts, not pseudo-scientific chatter. Sustainability is a key concept we all need to learn, as our military has, in trying to make the best of our world – and at least in the military context, it can save lives.

The City of Las Cruces also has a sustainability plan. (You can read the entire thing on the City’s web-site, www.las-cruces.org - click on Environment, then on "Sustainability Program" under "Conservation" in the chart that comes up.) It appears to be a very reasonable stop in the right direction, and – as in the Army plan – calls for care in balancing various factors so as not to do more harm than good. A later column will examine it.
                                                        -30-
[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News today, Sunday, 2 October.]

      Sustainability is a vague-sounding word that so far has drawn more hot words than careful study.  Locally,  the City's web-site contains the local Sustainability Plan, as noted in the column.   I've read it.  I've also read  Agenda 21 on the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs web-site.  Some people are screaming as hysterically about Agenda 21 as the women in old movies used to do when they jumped up on chairs at the news of a mouse in the same zip code.  Anyone who's curious -- or feels inclined to scream -- ought to read the thing.   Nothing in it is mandatory.  Both it and the City's Plan are somewhat generalized and high-sounding goals which sound pretty good; the real story will be in the nature of implementation.  Neither document makes for exciting reading and neither warrants fear or excitement.

      Climate change has drawn a great deal of careful study, and the serious scientists seem unanimous that it's a significant problem, that we may have lost the chance to prevent it, but that we may still have time to mitigate its effects somewhat.  The "science" opposing it begins to resemble the "science" of tobacco companies trying to show that maybe cigarette smoking was relatively harmless.  It's so much dung thrown against the wall, in the hope it'll stick long enough that big companeis can reap more profits before they have to start taking the kinds of corrective action that might make them less profitable.  If you have some honest doubt about climate change, you might be interested in some of the discussions by some of the military men quoted in the column, and others.   For example,
Admiral Titley, the Navy's Chief Oceanographer, was a skeptic about climate change.  So was
General Gordon Sullivan, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, who's featured in another video on the same web-site.

        The problem is that powerful corporate interests are against doing anything about pollution greenhouses gasses or climate change because it undermines profits in the short run.  Don't blame 'em.  Corporate managers have a single legal duty: to maximize profits for shareholders.   And shareholders are either rich folks who want to keep raking in the most-possible money or everyday folks who either want to maximize profits or, if they understand that foregoing part of the profit could be a better deal for them and their kids and grandkids in the long run, don't have enough knowledge or voting power to make anything happen.
Meanwhile the Far Right gets bankrolled by just those corporations and rich folks, and also has a penchant for unthinking responses as meaningful as "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad" in Orwell's Animal Farm.  Government is bad.   Corporate freedom to maximize profits and urinate on our future is good.

        One of my favorite stories was told by James Woolsey, former CIA Director and former  Undersecretary of the Navy.  He had testified on the subject before the House of Representatives, and a "congressman was arguing with me because I’d presented some of the reasons I thought climate change was a significant problem, so I finally said, ‘Congressman, look: set aside climate change, do you realize 7 of the 9 things I’ve suggested will help us be a lot more resilient against terrorism or oil cutoffs - and he said, ‘Oh, well, if you do ‘em for that reason, it’s fine.’" 

        Woolsey also responds to the argument that there were variations in climate well before people were sufficiently numerous or sufficiently industrialized to affect the atmosphere much.  He says, essentially, "Yeah there was climate change before humans; and people got lung cancer before people smoked; and yes, we might get lucky and some of the extreme manifestations may not happen so quickly – and you may get lucky if you smoke five packs a day, and live to 95 and get shot by a jealous husband."

        All this and more is in videos on the web-site where Titley tells his story.

        To a small part of my mind, of course, it's unnatural to be seeing military folks making so much sense.  I came of age during the War in Viet Nam.  But even then, if you looked beneath the surface, blaming that war on the military wasn't fair.  It was a war that never should have been fought; and it was a war that couldn't be win except by, as one retired military man put it at the time, "Bombing the Vietnamese back to the Stone Age."  (We nearly did, and never came close to winning.)  Military officers didn't decide to fight that war.  Politicians did, for the same kinds of knee-jerk reasons some folks oppose looking rationally at climate change.  ("Gotta stop the Communists" blinded them to the real nature of the Vietnamese situation and to thousands of years of Vietnamese history.)  Then once we were in that quagmire, military analysts often pointed out the improbability of any good result; but politicians intercepted those analyses before they reached the public, and promised Victory.