Patrick Moore: More Chernobyls!

Many moons ago, when I worked with then-Green­peace Board Chair David McTag­gart, “Green­peace co-founder” Patrick Moore was on the board. He was a like­able enough guy if you could get past the ego (but hey, after hang­ing out with McTag­gart and his pals for a while, you get used to big egos), quick wit­ted, good with a sound bite, per­son­able.

We had one of our board meet­ings in Van­cou­ver some time after he’d resigned/got boot­ed, and we went to vis­it him at his home, where he was show­ing off his brand new, fire-engine red TR-7 sports car, pur­chased with the gains from his … fish farm.

And we were sup­posed to be impressed?

Patrick was rais­ing salmon for prof­it, not fish for food. As a young ide­al­ist, I’d real­ly looked up to Patrick. But I changed my mind that day.

As a sci­en­tist, he knew exact­ly the ecosys­tem com­pro­mis­es he made to amass the lit­tle pot of gold that bought him that car. As an envi­ron­men­tal­ist he knew exact­ly how much “green spir­it” he was show­ing off tool­ing around town in a fire-breath­ing vam­pire of pre­toleum. And as a role mod­el, he damn well should have known bet­ter than to try to impress any of us who had looked up to him in any way, shape, or form. (The salmon farm, appro­pri­ate­ly enough, failed, as most mono­cul­tures do, when a sin­gle inva­sive infec­tion wiped out his entire stock.)
Well, Patrick has lived up to and sur­passed that dis­ap­point­ment in the years since. As a paid apol­o­gist for the forest indus­try, he changed his mot­to from “A flow­er is your broth­er” to “A clearcut is just a tem­po­rary mead­ow,” and inspired the “Patrick Moore is a big fat liar” web­site as he bat­tled again­st pro­tec­tion of the Great Bear Rain­forest.
Patrick lost the “war in the woods” when less extrem­ist (and unpaid for) views pre­vailed and pro­tect­ed the most impor­tant parts of North America’s last tem­per­ate rain­forest. He was wrong about the Great Bear forest. He was wrong about his fish farm. And he was wrong when the French gov­ern­ment bombed the Green­peace ves­sel Rain­bow War­rior to think (and SAY, to a New Zealand jour­nal­ist) that it was an assas­i­na­tion attempt again­st him per­son­al­ly and “that bomb was meant for me.”
Now he’s get­ting a piece of the mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar PR offen­sive the Nuclear Indus­try is putting out there to say Nukes are the Answer to Cli­mate Change in the Wash­ing­ton Post.

They aren’t. And sci­en­tists who aren’t paid to have an opin­ion about nukes and car­bon pro­duc­tion know that Patrick is wrong again.

Worse, he’s a smart enough cook­ie to KNOW he’s wrong. Appro­pri­ate that his piece in the Wash­ing­ton Post appeared on East­er. He’s been ter­med an Eco-Judas before, and it looks like he’s found a new source for his 30 pieces of sil­ver.

–b

Better pictures through social software

Well I think this is just too cool. I post­ed a pic­ture at Flickr and got feed­back from Lisa (“I’ve got a Canon EOS”) Kit­son about how I might improve it: Crop the top, con­vert to black and white.

Damn. Snap­shot turns into a piece of art. This is a new expe­ri­ence for me — putting a cre­ative work out into a social envi­ron­ment in which the crowd can shape it.

And this post is com­ing to you via Flickr’s “Blog It” func­tion, a spiffy lit­tle gim­mick that writes image and post into Word­Press right from the Flickr inter­face. Except I end­ed up with a bunch of CSS in the post that I had to clean up, which takes a bit away from the auto­mat­i­cal­i­ty of the whole she­bang.

Stress. Sharks.

Jeep­ers, things at the Green­peace office have been in non-stop high gear for a while now, and I’m in that hor­ri­ble place where my to-do list is expand­ing out beyond the bound­aries of avail­able time. And that’s INCLUDING the twice a week in the office until mid­night rou­tine, which ain’t gonna hap­pen this week.

Between the (some­what) unex­pect­ed Sey­mour Her­sh rev­e­la­tions about US nuclear attack plans for Iran that kicked our Nukes-out-of-NATO cam­paign into high gear, the McDonald’s Mon­key-Mur­der­ing-McNuggets sto­ry, a new site build for our Dis­ar­ma­ment cam­paign, ongo­ing Oceans work and more than the usu­al num­ber of trains to be kept run­ning for more than the usu­al num­ber of peo­ple, the com­pe­ti­tion for the front page of the Green­peace web­site has been fierce, the dead­li­nes have been rolling in one on top of anoth­er, and things (and your hum­ble diarist) get a bit tetchy when the pace starts exceed­ing the speed lim­it — and that’s an Auto­bahn-gen­er­ous num­ber at the best of times.

I’m soooooooooooooo ready for a hol­i­day. East­er, bring it on!!!

But today is a big day for my eldest sprout, Doon, who will be going on his first can­vass­ing expe­di­tion. Those damn World Wildlife Fund peo­ple have infil­trat­ed his school with an out­stand­ing kid’s cam­paign to save the sharks (jeal­ous of their web­site, moi?) and we fig­ured a prime loca­tion for him to pick up his quo­ta of fif­teen 3 euro dona­tions would be the Green­peace Office.

I gave a talk yes­ter­day to 14 US uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents who were here with the Green­peace activist train­ing pro­gram­me. Brought them down into the base­ment to set the scene for what a Green­peace office looked like in the ear­ly 80s, and talked about can­vass­ing, and what great activist train­ing that is. You have two min­utes, max, to state your objec­tive and win your audi­ence over before that door clos­es on you. (An eter­ni­ty, now that I think about it, com­pared to the grab win­dow on the web.)

It was great to see signs of intel­li­gent life, and active rad­i­cal­ism, among Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents, and one of them came up to me after­words and said it was the first time he’d had a “pass­ing the torch” speech and that he’d found that inspir­ing — so many of the “old­er peo­ple” (ouch) that he knew who had been active in their youth were now bit­ter and dis­mis­sive of those efforts. The lat­ter is hard to hear, but the for­mer warmed the cock­les.
It’s so hard in this job to keep the long view — remem­ber­ing that the activism that is hap­pen­ing now, the action that needs to be out the door, the mes­sag­ing that needs to be rel­e­vant to a par­tic­u­lar audi­ence, also has a role in the future of activism as a whole. And that when we for­get to speak to youth, and to kids, we’re doing a dis­ser­vice to those who will fol­low.

WWF (or World Nature Fund, as they are known here in Hol­land) REALLY knows how to orga­nize kids. I’ve always loved their Pan­da Pass­port sys­tem, and I’m thor­ough­ly impressed with this shark cam­paign. Seems like every kid at Doon’s school knows the sharks are in dan­ger and the range of games and easy learn­ing mate­ri­als at their site is very cool. I’m glad they’re think­ing about that stuff.

Goodbye Lale…

Lale33, dead of can­cer. Lale was such a spark of love. Sharp as a tack, fun­ny and warm, she just walked into our lives one day as a col­league, walked a while as a friend, and walked out the next.

All day this has been haunt­ing me. I worked until almost mid­night at the office, throw­ing myself into a GoogleEarth map of Ira­ni­an tar­gets that the Bush­Hawks are prob­a­bly con­sid­er­ing for tac­ti­cal nuclear strikes, and how many casu­alties that will mean (3 mil­lion, by the reck­on­ing of the Physi­cians for Social Respon­si­bil­i­ty) and here was this sin­gle human death of some­one I knew and loved and was inspired by, snuffed out. Hov­er­ing. Some­place in a cor­ner of my mind where I couldn’t give it space, had to keep it at bay.
I man­aged to grab a moment in one of the qui­et rooms in our open-plan office. Just a moment, long enough to let some emo­tion through but not enough to let the weight of it come down. I was at work.
I was look­ing out at the sky and there was a sin­gle small smudge of cloud again­st a blue sky. And I saw Lale. And a gull flew across my vision. And I saw Lale. And I said a small good­bye, and I saw her smile in my mind’s eye.

And I went back to work.

–b

Tolerance, Tribalism, and my inability to speak Dutch

Tilly-BurkaThought-pro­vok­ing, dis­turbing arti­cle in the New York­er argues the Dutch “pil­lar” sys­tem of cul­tur­al tol­er­ance is a fail­ure, as evi­denced by the pres­ence of rad­i­cal islam­i­cism with­in its bor­ders. The mod­ern imple­men­ta­tion of the “pil­lar” sys­tem is the pro­duct of Ruud Lub­bers and the lib­er­al left in this coun­try, by which cul­tur­al sub-groups have been allowed to (and in some cas­es encour­aged to) main­tain their lan­guages and iden­ti­ties and val­ue sys­tems rather than inte­grat­ing into those of main­stream Dutch soci­ety. Jane Kramer, who wrote the piece, slams this pol­i­cy and (in my read­ing) the left’s fail­ure to con­fine the right in mak­ing this their issue — a bit of the same “why does the left miss pop­ulist oppor­tu­ni­ties that the Right cap­i­tal­izes on” analy­sis that the Democ­rats in the US have been wor­ry­ing over ever since the fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian right dis­cov­ered the fax machine.
I don’t want McCiv­i­liza­tion — a sin­gle homoge­nous mass. But I also found myself strug­gling to find a posi­tion again­st some of the argu­ments in this piece: that there is sim­ply no means by which one cul­ture which per­mits wife-beat­ing can live with anoth­er cul­ture which for­bids it. That aggres­sive intol­er­ance of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty can’t be defend­ed as a reli­gious right. In an Amer­i­can con­text, this is a fight in which the line is between the fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian right and the lib­er­al left.

Here in Hol­land, the left has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment of cul­tur­al tol­er­ance which has meant not just a tac­it allowance, but an active defense of the right to those fun­da­men­tal­ist val­ues.
And if you want to talk about fail­ure to inte­grate, I real­ized mid­way through the arti­cle that I learned more about the pol­i­tics and cul­ture of the Baarsjes, a neigh­bor­hood two blocks away from me, from a mag­a­zine pub­lished in Man­hat­tan than I’d learned in ten years of liv­ing here. I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want Dutch soci­ety to insist that I learn to love Edam Cheese, but I cer­tain­ly could have used a push to learn Dutch well enough to eaves­drop on the tram. So I’m sup­port­ing the posi­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tives, who have intro­duced manda­to­ry inte­gra­tion and lan­guage cours­es for immi­grants?? You see my predica­ment here.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Tol­er­ance, Trib­al­ism, and my inabil­i­ty to speak Dutch”

Rare Amazon species, with ketchup

McAmazonAma­zon being cleared to grow soy which goes into the chick­en mcnuggets that go into Unhap­py meals in Europe.

I keep telling my son, Doon, that clown is evil.

Go yell about it.

And if you blog this one, tag it “McA­ma­zon,” would­ja? I have a feel­ing this one is going to have some legs, and it would be nice to be able to track it down.

I’m still try­ing to get Mov­able Type to accept a Blog Claim tag from Tech­no­rati, and if I can’t get around a mod­_se­cu­ri­ty issue I’m hav­ing with my host, I may just have to make the leap to Word­Press.

Of course, that’ll prob­a­bly bring on a whole new heap of humdingers.

Trinity, Nuclear Craters, UFOS, and Elvis…

Boing Boing is fea­tur­ing a great audi­ence-fund­ed piece of fea­ture jour­nal­ism here from Josh Ellis:

Dark Mir­a­cle: Trin­i­ty, the Man­hat­tan Project, and the Birth of the Atom­ic Age.”

He asked folks to pay for his trip to Ala­m­agor­do on one of the two days a year that they open the site to the pub­lic.

As a for­mer vis­i­tor to anoth­er nuclear weapons test site (though uni­vit­ed!) I can relate to the total­ly weird vibe the­se places attract. In 1983 four of us drove and hiked across 50 miles of desert to get to Yuc­ca Flat at the Nevada Test Site — the first incur­sion by activists into the nuclear test zone. It was a cratered moon­scape of apoc­a­lyp­tic weird­ness in itself. But to get there, we had to pass by Area 51 — beloved of UFOl­o­gists the world over. And damned if we didn’t in fact see some­thing strange there…

We’d cho­sen a route to the test site that would keep us well clear, (we had no idea what kind of secu­ri­ty to expect out there) but we crossed one high ridge that gave us a view. There was some­thing on the run­way that none of us could make heads or tails of. A casu­al men­tion of this fact in a bar after we’d been arrest­ed end­ed up find­ing its way into the UFO cir­cles as “Green­peace spot­ted an alien craft at Area 51.”

Well, we hadn’t. A few years lat­er when pic­tures of the first Stealth Bombers were declas­si­fied, I recog­nised it imme­di­ate­ly as the shape we’d seen down there at Area 51. And with the help of a UFO researcher who was a thor­ough fact-find­er, we deter­mined that in fact the ear­ly pro­to­types were being trans­ferred from research duty at Area 51 to oper­a­tional train­ing at Nel­lis Air Force Base pre­cise­ly dur­ing the mon­th we were out there stop­ping a nuclear test.

I guess when you think about the meta-threats to human exis­tence, UFOs and Nuclear weapons share some ter­ri­to­ry. And any­thing like the end of the world which the imag­i­na­tion can’t real­ly grap­ple ratio­nal­ly prob­a­bly ends up in that place where there are no bound­ries on the pos­si­ble, a place I call… The Elvis Zone.

–b

Sneak Peek: Duke Anti-nuke

duke.gifMy 7-year-young son is up with the birds, and his Dad, this morn­ing. He’s at the PC next to me, googling Poke­mon and end­less­ly ask­ing when I’ll be done so I can tell him a Poke­mon sto­ry. (Which is actu­al­ly a call-and-respon­se kind of nar­ra­tive in which I lay down a basic sto­ry­line and he fills in the Poke­mon char­ac­ters and what they do, as I’m clue­less about the intri­ca­cies of Chowazar train­ing issues.)

Which brings me to games and activism.

Any aging dig­er­ati out there remem­ber the first Whole Earth Soft­ware Cat­a­logue (1984)? I think I’ve still got mine kick­ing around in the base­ment some­where. It was the dead-tree Tucows of its day, list­ing cool stuff you could buy on 5 and a quar­ter inch flop­py disks to run on your (in my case) 286 Com­paq Sewing Machine portable with 10 megabyte hard disk mon­ster rig.

Chap­ter One was games.

Stew­art Brand made a com­pelling case for why, at a time when the PC was infest­ing account­ing depart­ments all over the plan­et and becom­ing some­thing that every office had to have, he chose to lead with fun, say­ing that games are the way we first learn as chil­dren, and play­time learn­ing remains one of the best ways to mas­ter a com­pli­cat­ed new task like DOS-based Per­son­al Com­put­ing. And indeed, the ear­ly adopters I knew in the days of the Kaypro II, where I cut my teeth, all had a child-like streak of curi­ousi­ty and gee-whizzik­ers-ness.

I’m remind­ed of that every time I look at the stats over at the Green­peace web­site and see that among the many fine 50-page stud­ies and painstak­ing­ly researched infor­ma­tion, it’s still the Games sec­tion which rules the mousepa­ths. Which has been dri­ving some thought about how we can bundle cam­paign mes­sag­ing into fun-filled deliv­ery pack­ages. Top on my list: How to inform kids today that all that stuff about how the nuclear weapons threat is not sim­ply a mat­ter of rogue states or a bygone of the Rea­gan era, and that thing called Cher­nobyl and what it was all about.

So I’m hap­py to provide you with a sneak peak of our lat­est Pain­less Activism Edu­ca­tion Device: Duke Anti-Nuke.

We bun­dled a hun­dred Fun and Fear­some Facts about nuclear weapons and nuclear pow­er into a plat­form game fea­tur­ing our hero, Duke, as he strives to con­vert nuclear pow­er plants into wind­mills and solar farms and dis­arm those pesky WMDs before the evil ter­ror­ists get to them. The facts about all things nuclear have been shred­ded by a smarmy Nuclear Indus­try pub­li­cist, and it’s Duke’s job to gath­er them up.

Rich Salter and Denise Wilton put this togeth­er. I’m real­ly lame at plat­form games, so in order to test some of the high­er lev­els and see the win screens, I need­ed some­body who could actu­al­ly get past that nasty place in screen three where the radioac­tive waste starts leak­ing and you have to dodge guards, falls, AND radioac­tive drops.

So I sat my son down, (he could mouse around by the time he was 3) and we went head to head on our two pcs in the base­ment in a week­end-long Duke chal­lenge. I haven’t had so much damn fun in ages.

But while at 7 years old Doon could appre­ci­ate the game­play, he cer­tain­ly missed the mes­sage. The son of a peace activist had one improve­ment sug­ges­tion: Duke should have a gun, so he can shoot the guards.

We didn’t imple­ment that par­tic­u­lar change request.

What’s *your* favourite game with a mes­sage?

Worldchanging

Dang. I’ve used up the morn­ing blog time I have (between 6–6:30- when I rise to 7:50 when I need to get my son Packed off to school) post­ing over at World­Chang­ing.

I’ll cross post what I said over there in respon­se to an open ques­tion about what NGOs are doing wor­thy work on Cli­mate change.

(Chevy Appren­tice still going strong — see the links in the com­ments to my pre­vi­ous post for some cool stuff!)

OK, full dis­clo­sure: I work for Green­peace Inter­na­tion­al in Ams­ter­dam. But even if I didn’t, I’d put them up there in the ranks of the wor­thy.

For starters, they were talk­ing about this issue in the late 80s with a “Fos­sil Fuel Free Future” that was ahead of its time. They did some impor­tant work inter­na­tion­al­ly putting the issue out there. In the inter­ven­ing they:

Cre­at­ed a pres­sure cam­paign that got Coke, McDon­alds and Unilever to switch their refrig­er­a­tion meth­ods away from CFCs:

http://tinyurl.com/fguey

Part­nered with indus­try to cre­ate “Green­freeze” CFC-free refrig­er­a­tion:

http://tinyurl.com/nj5n6

Lob­byed the World Busi­ness Coun­cil into a pro-Kyoto posi­tion again­st the will of the US mem­bers:

http://tinyurl.com/nayqg

Green­peace may not be the new cool in envi­ron­men­tal advo­ca­cy (I note they don’t even get a link in the side­bar here at World­Chang­ing), but in a world in which the nuclear industry’s adver­tis­ing bud­get alone is (way) big­ger than their annu­al bud­get, they’re still box­ing above their weight.

Per­son­al­ly, I’d split my dona­tions between Green­peace (think glob­al) and small­er local groups doing the nuts and bolts work to ensure renew­ables are on a lev­el play­ing field with big oil, that con­sumers get incen­tives to buy green, and that your own pow­er isn’t com­ing from nuclear or coal.

Here ende­th the ser­mon. 😉

–b

Tire tracks all over Chevy


= Martha and Doon in MY idea of a sports util­i­ty vehi­cle­Woo hoo… the Chevy Appren­tice anti-ad cam­paign cross­es over into “the news.” Here’s an arti­cle from CNET. Calls to Chevy for com­ment were not returned. I bet.

At the moment there’s prob­a­bly a real con­flict going on over there of the “there’s no such thing as bad pub­lic­i­ty” kind — do you keep run­ning this com­pe­ti­tion when it’s get­ting used to tar­nish your well-fund­ed brand, or do you fig­ure the more the mer­ri­er and all that “Tahoe Tahoe Tahoe” mantra going out on the ether will make con­sumers for­get they have any envi­ron­men­tal ethics when it comes time to plunk down the ready for the ride?

The Detroit Free Press, in a piece about the ad cam­paign before it was launched:

Because the aver­sion to adver­tis­ing seems to be grow­ing, con­sumer engage­ment is a key way adver­tis­ers are try­ing to get peo­ple to inter­act with their brands. From spon­sor­ing major sport­ing events to air­ing ads ordi­nary peo­ple cre­ate, com­pa­nies are find­ing ways to make the their pitch­es less like ads and more enter­tain­ing.”

But seri­ous­ly, is let­ting even a hard-core Tahoe fan stitch togeth­er an ad from a pre-assem­bled set of puff pieces going to be any fun unless you’re spoof­ing it? I am *defin­i­tiely* not the tar­get audi­ence here given my pri­ma­ry means of trans­porta­tion is my bike and my bad-ass, two-kids and gro­ceries truck­in’ “bak fiets,” but I just can’t imag­ine any­one of sound mind get­ting a kick out of con­sid­er­ing with a straight face where to stick the pro­mo about how the seats fold back.

Then again, I haven’t lived in the Unit­ed States for a long, long time. And you know how the­se things are, you miss out on a few brain­wash ses­sions, you cut a cou­ple imag­i­na­tion labotomies, and before you know it, you just can’t keep up.

(By the way, the sam­ple ad they post at CNET is pret­ty good, but I see bet­ter below!)

In oth­er SUV news — who says slap­ping a stick­er on an SUV isn’t an effec­tive form of action????

THANDIE New­ton, the British star of the Hol­ly­wood hit film Crash, has become a cru­sader again­st gas-guz­zling cars after a Green­peace activist slapped stick­ers on her vehi­cle accus­ing her of adding to glob­al warm­ing.”

–b

Here’s mine, where’s yours?

tahoe.gifAhh­h­hh. Every now and then you just have to take a moment and give thanks for the stu­pid­i­ty of your adver­sary.

Chevro­let is intro­duc­ing a brand new, gas-guz­zling Tahoe SUV which gets “an amaz­ing 20 mpg.” Yep, in an era in which oth­er cars are mak­ing more than twice that fig­ure, Antarc­ti­ca is melt­ing and the Green­land Ice Sheet is about to fall into the sea, that’s amaz­ing alright. What’s MORE amaz­ing is they’ve cre­at­ed an adver­tis­ing con­test in which any­one can make your own tv ad. What? They just nev­er con­sid­ered that they’d be set upon by a howl­ing pack of out­raged eco-hack­tivists bent on cul­ture jam­ming their lit­tle pow­er-truck love­fest? Gol­ly! That wasn’t very smart! Let’s all tod­dle over to Chevy’s House and put some tire­tracks in their fun. We’re call­ing it the cam­paign.

(Thanks, Gillo!)

Eco-Geek’s Tahoe Ad

Total Tac­tics:

Grist:

Net­work Cen­tric Advo­ca­cy:

Richard Han­son

Live Jour­nal

UPDATE, April 23:

Here’s the email we all just got from Chevy, ask­ing us to join them in the Board­room. Ha ha. Wouldn’t we have a thing or two to say THERE? (hav­ing made the most “refined” ad we could.…excuse me, must go puke now…)
=============================================

Add Chevrolet@email.chevrolet.bfi0.com to your address book to
make sure you con­tin­ue to receive Chevy email.

Come To The Board­room.

You put in the effort. You made the most capa­ble, most
respon­si­ble, and most refined com­mer­cial you could for the
2007 Tahoe.®

Dur­ing the course of your cre­ativ­i­ty, we hope you learned a few
things about this all new SUV from Chevro­let.®

- The Vortec 5300 V8 engine with Active Fuel Man­age­ment™
tech­nol­o­gy helps Tahoe deliv­er best-in-class fuel econ­o­my.*
— 2007 Tahoe has earned the high­est pos­si­ble rat­ing for frontal
impact crash tests — five stars.**
— The Vortec™ 5300 V8 engine fea­tures Active Fuel
Man­age­ment™ tech­nol­o­gy that allows it to shift seam­less­ly
between eight cylin­ders and four, then back again.

Now it’s time to see how your work stacks up.

Join us online in the Chevy Board­room on April 27 at 8:00 p.m.,
EST, as the judges dis­cuss the entries, reveal the top five
com­mer­cials, and announce the win­ner.

In the mean­time, learn more about the all new 2007 Tahoe at
http://email.chevrolet.bfi0.com/W3RT03350A987247D783432B157E80

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Thanks for par­tic­i­pat­ing and good luck.

Ed Peper
Chevro­let Gen­er­al Man­ager

*Based on 2006 GM Large Util­i­ty seg­ment and lat­est avail­able
com­pet­i­tive infor­ma­tion. 2WD with 5300 V8 engine EPA est. MPG 16
city, 22 high­way on gaso­line. EPA est. MPG 12 city, 16 high­way on
avail­able E85. Excludes oth­er GM vehi­cles.
**Five-star rat­ing is for both the dri­ver and front pas­sen­ger in
the frontal crash test. Gov­ern­ment star rat­ings are part of the
Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Administration’s (NHTSA’s) New
Car Assess­ment Pro­gram (www.safercar.gov).

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It was Jackson Browne that made me invade that nuclear test site, sir…

Grate­ful Child is a self-described elder­ly hip­py liv­ing in Con­necti­cut who pings all of us at Green­peace with love every now and again. He sends encour­ag­ing mes­sages when we save whales. He made up mugs and mouse­mats for the web team to say thanks for the web site. He chats with our sup­port­er ser­vices folks about this and that. He makes trib­ute web­sites to our ships crew.

A while back, he sent me links to a cou­ple Jack­son Browne videos. Out of the blue. And some­how he plucked the string of some Jun­gian syn­chronic­i­ty wave or some­thing, and watch­ing them made me reflect on exact­ly how much Jack­son had to do with me get­ting on a path that led to Green­peace.

Are we sit­ting com­fort­ably? Then let’s begin.

In 1972 I was 14 years old. Nixon was in the White­house. I had no pol­i­tics, no idea where my life was going to go, no formed opin­ions about much of any­thing. But I had this lit­tle tran­sis­tor radio (SOLID STATE!) and I’d obses­sive­ly scan the AM air­waves at night for sig­nals from far off places like Chicago and Detroit so I could lis­ten to scratchy sta­t­ic-filled songs which would fade in and out on ionos­pher­ic waves. My musi­cal expo­sure up to then had been pret­ty lim­it­ed to the few items my par­ents had on 33rpm albums: Herb Alpert and the Tia­jua­na Brass, the Ray Con­niff Singers, Glenn Camp­bell.

And one night I heard “Rock me on the Water.” For what­ev­er rea­son, I want­ed to know who wrote that song. OK, may­be that gospel anthemic qual­i­ty spoke to an alter­na­tive catholocism or some­thing in me. Indeed, the only stand I’d ever tak­en was about this time, when I told my father I felt like a hyp­ocrite going to church and I didn’t want to go any­more. He told me I was too young to know what a hypor­crite was, and I was going to church. Then sud­den­ly the whole fam­i­ly stopped going to church. Hmmm…

Oh peo­ple, look around you. The signs are every­where.
You’ve left it to some­one oth­er than you,
to be the one to care.”

Now what the heck made me think “Here was a teacher. Here was wis­dom?” I haven’t a clue. But here was some­body with some­thing to say that made you pause in your gum chew­ing. And when I sub­se­quent­ly heard “Doc­tor my Eyes” and “For a Dancer” I was com­plete­ly pulled in.

Through­out high­school and Uni­ver­si­ty I col­lect­ed Jackson’s lyrics and songs and scru­ti­nized them. I dug the poet­ry. I didn’t get the pol­i­tics. I could relate to “Before the Del­uge” at a kind of sci-fi lev­el — it was enter­tain­ing fic­tion, noth­ing more. As late as my soph­more year at George­town, when a lit­er­a­ture pro­fes­sor had me read­ing George Luck­as, I still didn’t get, real­ly, what pol­i­tics had to do with lit­er­a­ture or any­thing out­side the elec­toral process.

But I knew I didn’t like some­thing there at the school that spawned Joe McCarthy and where Hen­ry Kis­sen­ger lat­er became a pro­fes­sor. I didn’t fit with the eco­nom­ics of the place. I didn’t fit with what I expe­ri­enced as the rote learn­ing, no-think­ing meth­ods in the School of For­eign Ser­vice (I was unlucky — there were excel­lent, thought-pro­vok­ing pro­fes­sors there, but I large­ly missed them). I wasn’t a yup­py and I couldn’t play with yup­pies. I fell in with a crowd of repro­bate musi­cian non­con­formist poets. And one day one of them said we should head down to this thing, some con­cert on the mall where Jack­son Browne and a bunch of oth­er cool cats were going to be. It was for some cause, and it was called “No Nukes.”

Well, I sud­den­ly found my con­text. I lis­tened to what I was hear­ing there, I felt the uni­ty, I felt the buzz of the pow­er of num­bers. And what had been a white noise of news about the dan­gers of nuclear pow­er and Three Mile Island and the Dia­blo Canyon reac­tor all sud­den­ly came into focus as some­thing I ought to care about — and sud­den­ly did care about. Lau­rie Ander­son would impress me years lat­er by describ­ing artists as the radar of soci­ety: they ampli­fy the­se weak sig­nals that are com­ing in and make them vis­i­ble, audi­ble, get them talked about.

All the pol­i­tics in those songs sud­den­ly fell into place. It was pol­i­tics, sure, but it was bound up in poet­ry, in the tra­di­tion of the Roman­tics or Emer­son and Thore­au — it was all about a small group of peo­ple who shared a com­mon light try­ing to make that light shine brighter, to share it, to fire the imag­i­na­tions of oth­ers with it. It was about mak­ing the world more like a place we’d feel at home in. It was about respect­ing the pow­er of nature and favor­ing that over the pur­suit of mon­ey. And all of the sud­den I realised that what I’d thought of as “pol­i­tics” was a pret­ty thin slice of the spec­trum. I start­ed read­ing Wen­dell Berry, Saul Alin­sky, Edward Abby. I began to see how deeply pol­i­tics is ingrained with every choice we make every day — how every time we buy some­thing we vote for a cer­tain vision of what the world should be, how every time we agree or dis­agree with some­one we’re say­ing some­thing about our idea of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Before I knew it, I was camped out at ground zero at the Nevada Test site, try­ing to stop a nuclear weapons det­o­na­tion. I was in jail in Boston for protest­ing the seal hunt. I was get­ting chased down a dri­ve­way by an NRA mem­ber with a shot­gun. I was sail­ing on the Rain­bow War­rior. I was on a path.

Thanks, Jack­son. The wind be with you now.

Exxon refuses to answer to audit charges at Democracy Now

So much for trans­paren­cy. Nei­ther Exxon nor Pub­lic Inter­est Watch would share a podi­um with Green­peace USA chief Trou­ble­mak­er John Pas­sacan­tan­do and the Wall Street Jour­nal reporter who broke the sto­ry on the IRS audit­ing Green­peace at the behest of PIW, an Exxon front group.

There’s a tran­script here from Democ­ra­cy now of the dis­cus­sion.

Why is it scary is that Exxon isn’t account­able for any of this? Because fun fact num­ber 123, kids: Exxon’s prof­its last year were big­ger than the annu­al bud­gets of 123 coun­tries. Coun­tries are, in the­o­ry, account­able for their dirty tricks. Fat cat cor­po­rates like Exxon can sim­ply buy the demo­c­ra­t­ic process. They’re not even account­able in the mar­ket­place. As Karma­ban­que points out, their retail sales form such a tiny frac­tion of their income that we the peo­ple can boy­cott them to our heart’s con­tent, and it won’t real­ly dent a toe­nail on the T-rex.

Exxon­se­crets keeps track of who Exxon pays to deny cli­mate change and glob­al warm­ing. Per­son­al­ly, I think there ought to be a “Cor­po­rate Crimes Court.” We can already count deaths attibutable to glob­al warm­ing, and that num­ber is going to soar in com­ing years. There are indi­vid­u­als behind the poli­cies Exxon, and they deserve to be behind bars just as much as any war crim­i­nal.

Dai­lyKos pal Plu­to­ni­um Page wrote a great blog on the WSJ sto­ry when it broke.

Iran: it will be war.

= Marten Lindquist, Peace Poster Pro­ject­In dis­cus­sions yes­ter­day in the Porn Lounge in the Green­peace office (so called because of the ornate faux-18th cen­tu­ry faux-gold thread­ed freecy­cled fur­ni­ture) a cou­ple of us talk about Iran and the ulti­ma­tum that the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil is going to deliv­er. Is there, real­is­ti­cal­ly, any way that this won’t amount to a dec­la­ra­tion of war? Isn’t the ques­tion now what form that war will take rather than whether it will hap­pen? And what, as peace activists have we got to say about this?

I know what I say: Ban it all, dammit. Iran has no “inalien­able right” to nuclear pow­er any­more than I’ve got an inalien­able right to send my kid to school with a luger. The US won’t have the right to play good cop until it sets an exam­ple by shed­ding those 30,000 nuclear weapons they’re still hold­ing up their sleeve (and which don’t, by the way, seem to be deter­ring a damn thing). The Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil is bank­rupt for the same rea­son — recall you buy a veto in that club with nukes.

The geopoltics of this par­tic­u­lar cri­sis may be com­pli­cat­ed, but the big pic­ture answer is sim­ple. A fis­sile mate­ri­als ban for all. We have a choice: a world where there’s a nuclear weapon for every man, wom­an and child on the plan­et, or one where they’re 100% pro­hib­it­ed. No nukes. Peri­od. Now, how do we get 30 mil­lion peo­ple out in the streets to say that with one voice?????

And as to what form this war will take — here’s a chill­ing bit of spin­drift from the ocean of email I wade through every day. I find this a fair­ly cred­i­ble analy­sis of why Israel will front the attack, though I dis­agree in some details (the US doesn’t real­ly care what the world thinks either, but they will build a coali­tion around this one for the sake of domes­tic pol­i­tics):

Some thoughts on whether the US or Israel would hit Iran first (IF they do, let us hope not) — there is sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle pub­lic dis­cus­sion. I would sug­gest the US would not jump first — it would be a diplo­mat­ic dis­as­ter as the whole
world would con­demn a new uni­lat­er­al war, and also it would imme­di­ate­ly invite the still-silent Badr brigades in Iraq to attack the US occu­piers, and it would give the Democ­rats a secu­ri­ty issue to be dif­fer­ent from the Bush admin­stra­tion about, some­thing the Dems des­per­ate­ly need.

Israel on the oth­er hand:

  • open­ly con­sid­ers that Cheney has given them the green light to do a pre­ven­tive strike;
  • is pub­licly com­mit­ted to a ‘point of no return’ in the next weeks or months — so doing noth­ing would be a sign of weak­ness and ques­tion their acknowl­edged ‘be like mad dog’ mil­i­tary pos­ture.
  • will have a new Kadi­ma gov­ern­ment that may need to prove it’s tough-guy cre­den­tials in the absence of Sharon, espe­cial­ly as it soon wants to “sell out” a few ille­gal set­tle­ments in the Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries to make a per­ma­nent
    bor­der.
  • Israel has announced it wants to take out Bushehr as well. The Amer­i­cans would may­be like to do, but can­not real­ly jus­ti­fy it because they admit Iran has a right to nuclear pow­er. Israel will not sat­is­field with a diplo­mat­ic
    solu­tion to end Ira­ni­an enrich­ment — it’s said it can not tol­er­ate ANY civil nukes pro­gram.
  • unlike the US, Israel has no con­cern about what the rest of the world thinks
  • unlike the US, Israel con­sid­ers Ira­ni­an nukes to be an ‘exis­ten­tial threat’… a grave, total threat to the exis­tence of the state. So they have to act, some­time.

Not every expert in the US thinks this way, indeed the Army War Col­lege pub­lish­es papers about learn­ing to live with the Ira­ni­an bomb being a bet­ter idea than bomb­ing Iran.

From the US point of view, it is not only much more con­ve­nient if Israel strikes first, but the end result would be sim­i­lar — if Iran strikes back at either Israel or US forces, then Bush would have a legit­i­mate causus bel­li of
defend­ing an ally or of self defence — and could bomb what­ev­er it liked in Iran.

If you find that scary, go get a heap­ing help­ing of more bad news over at Pete’s blog, Don’t Bomb Iran. Then talk it up — there’s a train start­ing to roll down the tracks, it’s gath­er­ing steam, and it’s name ain’t peace.

–b