Thursday, November 10, 2016


Rwanda's Lake Kivu holds methane.
It's being developed as a power source.

Water is a very active substance full of currents, strata, tides, and the potential for eutrophication, which is water that is so stagnant that it’s choking on silt and vegetation.  Bodies of water turn over, bringing up the bottom water, under different circumstances.  Around here, waterholes are kept from eutrophication with little solar-powered motors that stir the bottom, or sometimes they are driven by a small windmill.

There is a phenomenon during which methane, held on the bottom of a lake, suddenly escapes, maybe because of a shakeup by an earthquake, and every mammal (I’m not sure about insects and reptiles) is killed by the poisonous methane.  It’s very rare and only discovered afterwards when the gas has dispersed so people can visit without dying.

But the health of the Pacific Ocean fisheries depends upon a cyclical phenomenon (we don’t know what causes it) during which the bottom of the sea warms and rises, bringing up with it a new supply of small aquatic lives for fish to eat.  The point is that we don’t know whether this election is going to have either effect or maybe a mixture.  But it’s clear that the world has come to some extreme of the pendulum swing that has the effect of bringing the bottom up to the top.

Much farther and we’ll see tanks in the street.  But wait — we’re already seeing tanks in American streets, protecting SWAT teams at demonstrations, and even tanks out on the Dakota prairie protecting corporate pipeline builders.  That’s FAR.  But, imagining what might be farther still, we could provoke a rogue country into bombing us.  Nothing is impossible now.  Certainly not World War III, which might begin with an atomic bomb much more powerful than the one that “ended” WWII.  On the other hand, when Nixon was getting so drunk that he might accidentally fire the nukes, the military quietly came in and disconnected him.

It is impossible to go back to the past, which is what a lot of people think they were voting for.  It’s too late to stop global warming.  Regardless of whether humans are to blame, even if it’s entirely natural to be warming, we cannot replenish the major underground aquifers on which we depend until there’s another glacial age.  In the meantime there is drought and fire.

The generations turn over without anyone being able to stop them, not even with the pill or war.  And generations are the bottom coming up to the top.  They are biological “immigrants” much more powerful than those from other parts of the planet.  They are not their parents.  Maybe they have genes, but they also have epigenes and the environment presses in on them.

Those who are dying off now are the people who reshaped the world after WWII, and thought that the institutions they devised would be permanent.  They had no idea that in a few decades both Germany and Japan would be far ahead of US developments, because their buildings and infrastructure were renewed in the process of restoration, but the US struggled along with structures built in the Depression or during wartime rationing.  

Even something so recent as the Internet is already so overgrown with pop-ups, forced ads, pay walls, obligatory adverts, block lists, and programmed assumptions about what you are looking for that it takes twice as long to get something done as it did a few years ago.  The advantages can be nearly overwhelmed by the disadvantages.  Sometimes I have to make six guesses to find something, because the computer has to be fed a certain trigger.  I once read about a kind of baby bird that will only accept the worms the adults try to feed them if they are stuffed into the nestlings with the proper end toward their gullets.  Picky chicks, they are.  Sorta like techies. 

As I talk to people around here today, the adult Trump folks (I didn’t meet one single Clinton fan) were interpreting the election as a win for them, meaning that now the unnatural aberration of things like trade globalism and climate change will simply be reversed and everything would return to what they remembered.  (They assume they are remembering completely and accurately.)  I didn’t talk to any kids.  I rarely have any reason to talk to kids in Valier, nor am I seeking them.  I suspect their “take” is a lot more cynical and they are more inclined to think about the “other” candidates, the reality of a third party.  It may be a whole lot MORE real now.

I was working on my gutters when my neighbor stopped by to advise me not to fall off my ladder.  He means well.  He also pointed out that I need a new roof.  So I pointed out I have no money.  He thought surely there was some program that would buy me a roof.  I reminded him that “his” candidate, Trump, will wipe out all such waste.  Hmmm.  He changed his focus to my cottonwood tree.  Every man who looks at this tree wants to saw limbs off it.  Sawing and cutting must be a displacement of fucking.

We can be so different from each other that there’s just no way to get past the many assumptions.  My neighbor was recently widowed but told me he had lot of friends to talk to.  I said I talked to my friends on the computer and he was immediately concerned, assuming that I was cruising dating sites.  “You’re in danger!”  An intellectual life in print is inconceivable for him.  But his life is a big gaping hole to me.  His house is reroofed, his trees are pruned, but what does he do all day?

I live among Trump supporters in part because I’m safer here.  They cannot see me.  I should not say so.  But in my natural milieu, people see me as rivals.  Here, I’m not even relevant, so I can go about my business.  My big folding table is set up just inside the garage door and it is so mild and bright this fall that I can work on my years of folders, all color coded, while sitting there almost under the cottonwood.  But my neighbor is puzzled by why my "dinner table" is out here.  This to him is the female use of big tables: setting out food.

Today I came across another folder of letters from old friends, pleased parishioners, and long-time colleagues.  I guess I can survive Trump.  All this sorting is bringing a lot of nourishment to the surface. 

While I was working for the Site Development engineers in Portland, I read all their professional magazines.  One had an article about preserving Walden Pond, where the shoreline was eroding so that it had to be reinforced with coconut fibre sunk in the mud.  The engineer who wrote the article wondered why the pond hadn’t died of eutrophication by now, since it has no stream running into it nor out of it.  It turned out that there were underground springs.  Great metaphor.

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