Archive for June, 2011

June 27, 2011

fee fi fo fum

I spend lots of time in the ancient past. In Crete, and the Basque region, and Egypt. The novel I am writing has a modern element and an ancient element, and so I am always looking for clear ways to understand how we got to where we are.
I love this piece by Buckminster Fuller about how the games of giants first began to how they turned into the corporations of today. He invented the word GRUNCH for the invisable, legal-contrivance army of giants, which stands for GROSS UNIVERSE CASH HEIST.

(Don’t you love the second paragraph when his friend said, “You go around explaining in simple terms that which people have not been comprehending, when the first law of success is, ‘Never make things simple when you can make them complicated.'”

Heads or Tails We Win, Inc.by Buckminster Fuller
Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys—legally enacted game-playing—agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members. How can little humans successfully cope with this greatest of all history’s invisible Grunch of nonhuman Giants? First of all, we humans must comprehend the giants’ games and game-playing equipment, rules and scoring systems. But before we can comprehend their game-playing, we must study the history and development of giants themselves.

One of my many-years-ago friends, long since deceased, was a giant, a member of the Morgan family. He said to me: “Bucky, I am very fond of you, so I am sorry to have to tell you that you will never be a success. You go around explaining in simple terms that which people have not been comprehending, when the first law of success is, ‘Never make things simple when you can make them complicated.'”

So, despite his well-meaning advice, here I go explaining giants.

In addition to the B.C. David and Goliath theme, we have the A.D. 800 story of Roland (Childe Roland), legendary son of Charlemagne’s sister Gilles. There are many poetical chronicles of young Roland’s enfances (a very young person’s heroic exploits), such as vanquishing giants—one named Ferragus and another Eaumont. From the eighth to the seventeenth century,
many variations of the story occur, published in Latin, Italian, French, and English.

Much esteemed in Italy, Roland was known there as “Orlando Furioso”—the order of the name’s first two letters is reversed from ro to or—as immortalized in the A.D. 1502 poem by Ludovico Ariosto.

The first comprehensive chronicling of Roland was written in Latin by Turpin, Archbishop of Reims, before A.D. 800. Roland (or Orlando) is mentioned by Dante in his Paradiso and is the subject of songs sung at the Battle of Hastings in the Chanson de Roland (c. A.D. 1100). Shakespeare
mentions him in King Lear.

With the advent of radio and television, the children’s Mother Goose-type storybooks of yesterday have been progressively abandoned. Few people today are familiar with the thousand-year-old story of the roaring of the giant as Roland approached his tower:
“Fee-fie-fo-fum/ I smell the blood of an Englishman/
Be he alive/ Or be he dead/ I’ll grind his bones/ To make my bread.”

Supreme horse-mounted monarchs in the days of Roland could and did award vast hunting and farming lands to their horse-mounted blood kin and military henchmen, who together hunted their lands and had them cultivated by on-foot, tithe-paying tenant farmers.

In ancient North China a new kind of giant had developed long, long before Roland’s time a three-component-parts giant, i.e., the little man, with a club, mounted on a horse—who could and did overwhelm the big, onfoot, tribe-leading shepherd. This new composite giant, the horse-mounted bully, could divert to his sole advantage as much as he wanted of the life-support
productivity of the on-foot peasantry.(Pa ys = land; ped = foot = ped ant = pa ys antry = peasantry = combination of on the land and on foot = pa y of lands = pa of patriot = pa of pagans = patois = po-gan, pa-gan peasantry.)

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June 16, 2011

the power of story

this one has a major cliffhanger…
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June 4, 2011

the last mountain

A chilling look at the reality and fallout of mountaintop removal. People like Maria Gunnoe and Ed Wiley are heroes.This is about all of us, not just West Virginians and Kentuckians.It is about making decisions to use less coal. Period.
“We live in a very intelligent country that has the ability to create energy without blowin’ up mountains.”
The film will be shown for free next Thursday in Charleston, WV at the WVSU Capitol Center at 6:30. No showings so far scheduled for Asheville, but they are adding new events every day.

THE ISSUES
Almost half of the electricity produced in the U.S. comes from the burning of coal.
Sixteen pounds of coal is burned each day for every man woman and child in the US.
Thirty-percent of that coal comes from the mountains of Appalachia.
Burning coal is the number one source of greenhouse gases worldwide.
THE DESTRUCTION
Mountain top removal has destroyed 500 Appalachian Mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams.
THE COMPANY
Massey Energy is responsible for more mountaintop removal mining than any other company in the U.S. [Massey agreed to be purchased by Alpha Natural Resources in mid-2011]
Massey Energy is America’s 3rd largest coal company by revenue, and it controls all the coal mining in Coal River Valley.
Between 2000 and 2006 Massey committed more than 60,000 environmental violations.
THE WASTE
There are 312 coal sludge impoundments in Appalachia.
Massey’s 28 impoundments have spilled 24 times in the last decade, contaminating rivers with more than 300 million gallons of sludge; two times the amount released in BP’s Gulf oil disaster.
THE JOBS
In the last 30 years the coal industry in West Virginia has increased production by 140% while eliminating more than 40,000 jobs.
The wind industry in the U.S. already operates more than 35,000 turbines, and employs 85,000 people– as many as work in the coal industry.
THE POLITICAL INFLUENCE
In the last decade the coal mining industry spent more than $86 million, the railroad industry spent $350 million, and coal burning electric utilities spent more than $1 billion on political campaigns and lobbying.
THE HEALTH IMPACT
The health and environmental costs associated with mining, transporting and burning coal, as reported by a new Harvard Medical School study, are estimated to be $345 billion annually – or more than 17¢ per kilowatt hour. These costs are often referred to as “externalities” since they are costs borne by the public which are not reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity.
There are 600 coal-fired power plants across the United States, and over 600 ash ponds across the country, filled with 150 billion gallons of toxic sludge.
Each year emissions from coal-fired power plants contribute to more than 10 million asthma attacks, brain damage in up to 600,000 newborn children, and 43,000 premature deaths.
The EPA has announced that in 48 states, it’s unsafe to eat many freshwater fish due to mercury contamination.
ELECTRICITY COSTS FROM WIND AND COAL SOURCES, VS. THE TRUE COST OF COAL ELECTRICITY
7.9¢ typical cost of electricity from wind per kilowatt hour
6.1¢ typical cost of electricity from coal per kilowatt hour
Per the Harvard Medical School report noted above, the cost of coal electricity goes up by approximately 17¢ per kilowatt hour, totaling 23.1¢ – or nearly three times that of wind – if you include the following costs borne by the public: Air Pollution Illnesses, Mercury Poisoning, Health Damages from Carcinogens, Public Health Cost to Appalachia, Climate Change Impact.
SUPPLYING THE U.S. WITH WIND POWER
The wind Industry operates more than 35,000 turbines and employs 85,000 people in the U.S. – the same number the coal industry employs. In 2009, enough turbines were built to power 2.4 million homes.
In 1991, the Department of Energy published a “National Wind Resource Inventory” which pointed out that three states – Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas – have enough harnessable wind energy to supply the nation’s electricity needs. However, since the report was based on 1991 wind technologies and turbines are so much more efficient today, we now know that the DOE’s projection was a gross underestimate.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 20% by 2020 would create: 185,000 new jobs from development, $25.6B in income to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners and $10.5B in electricity and natural gas savings to consumers by 2020.