dreamsamelia

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Unprintable Scoundrels & Teachers

In Sing!, Suffer No Fools on May 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Glad to see Krugman keeping the pressure on Mr. Flim Flam Ryan so the punditry at last accedes what the blogosphere has been saying all along…With joy in thinking Karen may be inspiring some of Krugman’s more wickedly playful jousts against the Robo-Ryans of the world…

A quick dump of 2 comments to the Times, just to sprinkle some water on this dying blog, which I hope to attend to eventually….not sure how Krugman keeps his busy life and manages to post so much!

Alas, I just discovered the below comment was not accepted by the Grey Gizzard.   And I’m not half as spicy as the rest of the blogosphere.

re: Hugette Clark, Recluse Heiress, Dies at 104

\”The youngest of seven children, Huguette Marcelle Clark was the daughter of a scoundrel. A footloose, ambitious young man, he eventually made his way to the Montana Territory, where, in the early 1870s, he struck copper, and with it his fortune.\”

Does Ms. Fox so blithely make such an unsubstantiated assertion because time insulates her from the accusations she hurls?

Not that I wouldn’t agree, but, then, by the same logic, we should be able to make as blunt and bold assertions about our current industrial magnates.

Was he a scoundrel because he literally lucked into his wealth, which he just \”happened across\”–and thus, it became \”his\”?

This fundamental concept of ownership that we so blindly accede to and worship has its roots in an abrogation of public resources for private profit.

Why is Mr. William Andrews Clark more entitled to the copper wealth of the Montana Territory than the Native Americans or all the settlers of the region and the taxpayers of the U.S.?

Water is assumed to be under collective ownership–for now (for in this right wing militia overtaking our world, nothing is taken for granted)—but mineral and oil rights are assumed to belong solely to the person audacious enough to claim them for his own.

Thus, West Virginians see none of their coal wealth, and Louisianins see none of their oil wealth…it all goes to the politicians and the CEOs, while generation after generation live in poverty.

The faulty premises which allowed some individuals to accumulate and control what rightfully should be public resources marches straight through time to today’s epic disparities between rich and poor.  Ms. Huguette Clark’s own life is testament to that.

As long as we continue to believe that a wild west cowboy mentality of finders keepers is the true basis of \”a free-market economy,\” we will continue to unquestioningly let some men be insanely rich while the vast majority scrape to survive.   All men are created equal, be damned.

~~~~~~~~~~~

re:   Tests for Pupils, but the Grades Go to Teachers

History is nothing but the story of prejudice and power.  There is no true objectivity, there are only the myriad subjective experiences…thus, inherently, “standardization” is actually representative only of the biases of a particular historical era and group of people.

Listen for a single day to Northern and Southern politicians talk over each other.  You have at least half the country believing President Obama is the most bright, articulate, reasoned, brilliant leader our country has ever had, and the other half believing he is some alien, not one of us, suspiciously entwined with foreign attempts to overthrow our government, and also an in-your-face, uncomfortable reminder of the enduring scars of slavery and the Civil War on our nation’s psyche.

From budget wars to wars in Afghanistan and beyond, identity politics and ideological wars are the wedges on which the fulcrum of power careens.  So, too, mandating an elusive standardized test as proof positive of a teacher’s success or failure is yet another power play of New York City education officials upon teachers…nothing else.

Failure or success on these standards, which by nature will always be subjective, will prove nothing about the teacher’s real ability, but will prove how much political power these officials have.

For we tend to rate highly ideas and concepts that resonate most closely with our beliefs–

How laughable that NYC thinks it is holding itself to such high standards, while you have southern states wanting to teach creationism, and remove the study of evolution, as well as some profound and blatant re-writing of history per the Texas school board.

We will never be able to reconcile such contradictory agendas and beliefs as currently exist, and have long existed, in this country.  The best we can do is find an oasis of like-minded people, because we certainly aren’t going to change anyone else.  Leave the teachers alone.   They’ll do the best they can, and it still won’t change people’s fundamental belief systems, or even what it means to be “educated.”

Advertisements

“B. Swift Ridding the Skies of Geese”

In Conscious, Goose, Searing, Spring on May 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

The health care bill was thousands of pages.  But two reports, one of 9 pages, Ridding the New York Skies of Geese, and one of 7 pages,  Goose Removal Report, are the sole background for what may have just wiped out the last remaining population of Canadian Geese.

Apparently the committee writing the report had so little reverence for either geese or public opinion, that not only did they fabricate numbers of existing geese out of thin air, but they fabricated a straw man,  “B. Swift” who came up with the fictional bird count.

“B. Swift” is a cruel joke=”be swift.”    This is the “guy” who is to “be swift ridding the New York skies of geese.”

The “New York Officials” are literally a bunch of juveniles sitting around a table making up funny names while openly flaunting any ecological principles.  Slapping citizen groups, local politicians, park employees, biologists, and academia in the face, and assuming no one is going to ever read their flimsy report justifying a slaughter happening with no accountability.

Alice Speri wrote a NYTimes CityBlog post on February 8, 2011, noting 1,676 Geese Died for Human Travel Last Year)

“In June and July 2010, the U.S.D.A.’s Wildlife Services observed 1,877 geese in 19 sites across the city and western Nassau and removed 89 percent of them, the report stated.”

So the 1 or 2 geese you see in the photo at Prospect Park being harassed by collies may be the last you see.

Speri’s claim that the numbers “rebounded quickly” to 150 observed geese have no evidence–rebounded from what, over what period time? The tables show they literally killed 90% of the geese, and only 200 were left.

Unfortunately, the reason the geese are “resident” is because some of them never learned to migrate because they are descendants of geese whose wings were clipped to prevent them from escaping in the 1900s–hunters used them as decoys.  Since migration is a learned behavior, the offspring never learned, since their parents could not fly–from GeesePeace, From Awe to Awful and Back

Yet other banded Geese cited in the article flew as far away as Virginia, which means they should rightfully be protected under the now unenforced Migratory Bird Protection Act of 1918.

Read this opening paragraph of the report:

So these fraternal boys on the board,  under the rubric of the  fictional, B. Swift, declare from their perch,  that the geese are “five times the amount that most people would find socially acceptable.”    Never mind that the geese and their advocates see this board with no public oversight as the truly socially unacceptable.

The report cites poop and recreational nuisance as well as threat to aviation as the main justifications for the program…Again, with not a whit of biological consultation.   It cites the “decreased grazing on turf grass” as a benefit of extermination, not thinking that they will have to do more mowing. And the fecal contamination issue is no more a problem than it has ever been. Poop is fertilizer, and this is how animals on farms have lived for centuries. (See subsequent reader comments with academic sources)

The private group called to do the killing, Goose Busters , also cites no consultation with wildlife specialists.   Privatization is great–who needs government workers, just call in a for profit company to eliminate the nuisance.  Forget the chain of nature and the cycle of life!

Kids, don’t bother to get your conservation degree.  Save yourselves a lifetime of debt.  It is obviously useless when “federal authorities” sweep in with a private company, overriding local control.

“The killings last July took many by surprise. Prospect Park employees said they were not consulted in the decision, which was made by city, state and federal officials. “We came in and there were no geese,” said John Jordan, the park’s natural resources supervisor.

Community groups and politicians were outraged. Two Brooklyn councilmen, Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, introduced legislation last month that would create a new citywide panel to oversee more humane wildlife management.”  Collies at Prospect Park

Most damning of all, the geese have no place to go, as suburban sprawl decimates former nesting sites, resting places, watering holes, migratory rest stops, and mating grounds.   This tiny oasis in a concrete jungle in the middle of NYC is all they have…where are the “barking collies” supposed to shoo them to?

The Supreme Court is no longer on the side of the birds, either:

“On January 9, 2001 the US Supreme Court, in a split vote of 5 to 4, (Solid Waste Agency, of Skokie, Illinois vs US Army Corps of Engineers threw out what has been dubbed the Migratory bird rule[3] A case that pitted a consortium of towns around Chicago over isolated wetlands, inhabited or visited by over 100 migratory bird species, against the US Army Corps of Engineers. In this case, Skokie, Ill. wanted abandoned quarries filled with water, but not connected to another or navigable body of water to serve as a site for a solid waste facility. For the previous 15 years lower courts had sustained the law in favor of migratory birds, siding with the Army Corps. The new Federal ruling has proved disastrous[4].”

Migratory Bird Act of 1918

This, on the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico/ BP oil spill photos of all the beautiful pelicans, egrets, seagulls, spoonbills, and thousands of shorebirds frying to death helplessly in oil, not dying fast enough as they were unable to fly or eat.  I can’t imagine any greater torture.

I conclude with more reader comments that say it all.  Yet the fact that 0-7 people recommend the handful of comments written in the first place show how few people are paying attention.   This is truly happening with no public notice.

But I sure have not seen any geese here this Spring.  I saw only one formation last fall, and it was flying in a Y, not a V.

Sorry to the generation of 1918 that created the Migratory Bird Protection Act: we goofed.  You tried to save the birds, but, since 2001, we decided we need golf courses and parks full of pesticides instead, so that rinky dink private companies like Goose Busters can make a tiny profit for a few employees for a few years.  Never mind 100 years of arduous efforts towards conservation to recoup the losses that occurred when Europeans first invaded North America, decimating Native Americans and wildlife alike.

7.
PattyA
Manhattan
May 6th, 2011
1:20 pm
Where is the figure “40-50” geese coming from when the photo only shows TWO geese on an entire EMPTY lake being harassed?It seems the first casualty of any war — including our war on wildlife — is the truth.Last year, we decimated the Canada goose population in NYC. This year we exterminate it.Is that the goal?It will surely be the result.As the writer asks: “Where will the geese go?”

There is in fact, NO place the geese can go in NYC where they will NOT be gassed, shot at or harassed.

That spells “management to extinction.”

Recommended Recommended by 7

8.
ca

PattyA
Manhattan
May 6th, 2011
1:35 pm
@ 2eachhisown: Yes, the geese almost went extinct in the last century due to OVERHUNTING and destruction of habitat. Then, we attempted to restore the population of geese as a “game bird” hunting target.Their natural habitat is still destroyed or deciminated which explains why the geese are fleeing to public parks for survival and safety from their #1 predator, human hunters.But, we gas and harass them in city parks.And you advocate to hunt them even more.The road to extinction is paved by human blindness and stupidity.
Recommended Recommended by 4 Readers
11.
Johanna Clearfield
Brooklyn
May 6th, 2011
2:33 pm
March 26, 2010, Prospect Park area residents came together to join hands in a symbolic gesture to PROTECT and to NURTURE the wildlife in our beautiful park.http://handsacrossprospectpark.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/hands-around-the…The USDA’s subdivision, Orwellian – named, “Wildlife Services” is responsible for legitimizing the most horrific massacre of wildlife across the country, including thousands of bobcats, otters, beavers, starlings and of course – GEESE.This undemocratic purging our our wildlife — with no actual facts to support a need for said slaughter and/or “reduction in numbers” — comes out of the most nihilstic and myopic of motives. Developers have long fought any conservation or preservation efforts on behalf of the mighty dollar. Protected species (Canada geese have just recently fallen off of this list) impeded development.In addition, For-profit activities in the public parks – including large showings of big screen outdoor movies and/or raucous concerts which damage wildlife have often been hindered.There has been no consensus among the neighbors of Prospect Park nor any other of these parks which mandate the reduction and/or the killing of our wildlife. This is a completely tyranical move on the part of “wildlife services.” and the Dept. of Health which — for everyone’s information — was formed in order to do one thing: KILL off animals.

With untold (possibly millions) of our wildlife destroyed in the recent man-made disasters (Japan’s nuclear reactor and the BP oil holocaust against the Gulf of Mexico) we need to be THANKFUL and even Reverent toward what wildlife we are lucky enough to enjoy.

Here is a link to the fact sheet that describes what the “wildlife services” has done to our country’s vulnerable, unprotected creatures. Wonderful and completely defenseless against the iron grip of profit grubbing men.

http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/topic/67410/

Right now the only way to make your voice heard is to call your local reps and senators and also “311” to complain to the mayor about this new harrassment policy .

We, THE PEOPLE, of NYC — Do not want it. We do not need it. Turning our parks into a battlefield between dogs and birds destroys the purpose of the park entirely. It should be a Sanctuary . A place of peace.

CALL OFF THE DOGS.

http://pleasetellmeyouarejoking.com/2010/09/30/scientists-love-this-i-ha…

Recommended Recommended by 4 Readers

Ted Heeley
San Francisco
May 6th, 2011
2:34 pm
Mayor Bloomberg let’s his constituents think they will be safer in the air by ridding the city of geese and other birds. We live on the Atlantic Flyway, thousands of years of migrating birds pass through here. Why not adjust to them by using available bird radar and mapping migration routes to avoid potential strikes?Prospect Park is more than 7 miles away from the airports, why is this not being addressed? The birds that flight 1549 flew into were 5000 feet up and were migratory from Labrador Canada not from Prospect Park.I understand that the park is under pressure to do something to avoid another gassing…but…I am waiting for the day when wildlife will eventually have the last laugh.
Recommended Recommended by 8 Readers
From:

Just thought I would share –

RE: Health risks of Geese
-Goose droppings actually pose no risk of infection, said Tome Baptist, executive director of Audubon Connecticut. No Scientific study has ever linked goose droppings with infection in human beings, Baptist said.”

Christopher W. Olsen, DVM, Ph.D.Professor of Public Health
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
-”While geese may be either mechanical disseminators or actual carriers of these organisms, the level of risk that they pose remains to be determined. In addition, particularly in the case of Giardia, research suggests that some strains of the organism may be restricted to animals and distinct from strains that infect humans.”

Dr. Milton Friend
(Former Director)
Wildlife Research Center, Waterfowl Disease
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
-”On occasion we have been wading in that stuff, dead birds up to our elbows. There is not a single documented case of any of us coming down with any kind of a disease problem as a result of Canada geese. We do not have a human health situation, not in the urban goose, not in the wild goose, not in the captive geese that we have also worked with. We do have a lot of diseases out there that can affect people; most of them come from different places and do not come from the Canada goose, and I’ll leave you with that.
(Panel Presentation transcript – 1993)

Dr. Timothy Ford**
Microbiology Dept. of Environmental Health
Harvard School of Public Health
-”Numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with Canada geese and waterfowl in general are likely to be minimal, unimportant, relative to the potential for oocysts shed from other forms of wildlife and humans. In my mind, there is no possibility that the Canada goose will ever be a major route of infection. To suggest otherwise is utterly ludicrous, and you can quote me.”

**Author of Microbiological Safety of Drinking Water: United States and Global Perspective (1999)

— Georgette
  1. 93. February 11, 2011 8:18 am Link

    So, “Wildlife Services” gassed 89% of the geese observed in our city parks last year and this year are going after more?

    That sounds like extinction to me.

    In fact, extinction of the entire resident goose population in Prospect Park last summer is what occurred — right down to the two “celebrity” geese, Target and Beaky. Even they were not spared government cruelty after surviving pedestrian cruelty. (Sure, there are geese in the park now, but they are most likely migratory geese who will fly back north before the start of spring — that is, if allowed to.)

    Thanks to Mayor Doombird, Christine Quinn and “Wildlife (Extermination) Services” for insuring that our children will not have the luxury of seeing and enjoying the wonder of gentle waterfowl in our city parks.

    Better that our kids be “connected” to electronic devices than anything real and living.

    — PattyA

Right on , PattyA #93,

The way this world is headed, we will no longer need to connect with anything other than our hand held devices.

There will one day be a large crash…and it won’t be an airliner falling out of the sky due to a peaceful flock of geese who are just doing what comes naturally.

— Leonore

@ Lenore

You are so correct.

It has recently been reported that the City Council will be considering a proposal that will cost $10 million of taxpayer money to install Wi Fi capability in our City parks.

Its also been reported that $100,000 taxpayer money was spent to gas the geese in our parks.

So, picture this scene:

Hundreds of thousands of people sitting around parks, tapping away on their electronic devices totally oblivious to everything else that is around them.

Hey, we may as well kill all the squirrels, robins, sparrows and whatever else dares to breathe besides humans in our parks.

We are fast becoming The Twilight Zone.

— PattyA

Slamming Geese While Wall St.’s in the Slammer

In Agression, Air, Armor, Black-billed Bird on May 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

This is where I can find neither border nor scope to my rage, similar to what my dearly beloved Times Readers express when fighting Brooksie boy.  I wish it were possible for me to muster such unending umbrage, and I rejoice that you all do, but Brooksie is so sadly dime-a-dozen and emblematic of 99% of the men I have danced with or dated in 20 years of my adult life, with or without a large newspaper column.  I didn’t change or reform any of those men, so I don’t expect one shred of conscience to rub off on Brooksie.  Instead,  I happily waltzed away, because, while it takes 2 to tango, I became tired of tangoing….

But this geese attack by the Times is more blatant and unconscionable than the front page lift of the NPR pseudo-scandal from Daily Caller to NYTimes.   While the front page gloats about at last jailing a hedge fund manager, the blog slyly chronicles this taxpayer funded massacre while concealing public outrage.

* update, 8 pm–At last, the Times printed reader comments with excellent comment by Johanna in Clearfield, Brooklyn, with link to her website:  I quote excerpt of her comments:

“WE DO NOT NEED TO REDUCE, WE DO NOT NEED TO KILL OR CULL. What we DO need is to protect, preserve and nurture our blessing of wildlife. Do your readers have any idea of the millions of birds who have been painfully exterminated by the recent BP oil spill (very little of the relief money went to wildlife rescue, most went to building back up business); and the recent nuclear disaster in Japan. Is there any oversight or understanding of the “big picture?”

We have ONE earth. And here in Prospect Park we are blessed to have wild, healthy geese, ducks, starlings, pigeons, sparrows and hundreds of other species (migratory) that come through the park. It is a TREASURE. Now the Parks Dept. brings in it’s barking dogs to chase the geese and to help foster a hostile, horrible nature-hating atmosphere in a place that so many of us used to call our sanctuary.

Here is a link to the recent Prospect Park rally to PROTECT our geese:

http://handsacrossprospectpark.wordpress.com/

Here is a link to show you — In FACTS — how many thousands of our wildlife the USDA (through “wildlife services”) is killing ACROSS the country. Thousands of wild, defenseless animals are slaughtered including deer, starlings, hawks, Bobcats, beavers, otters, eagles (yes!), ducks, squirrels, raccoons — YOU NAME it. Where is the democratic process here? Or is this more of a Tyranny?

Call your local reps — Brad Lander, Bill DiBlasio, Chuck Schumer, the Prospect Park Alliance, The Mayor’s office (call 311) — and tell them to LEAVE our wildlife ALONE!!!!!!!!

fieldjo@aol.com Recommended Recommended by 4 Readers ”

And I resume:

Which moronic beasts have forgotten how quickly the passenger pigeon met extinction? Apparently all of them running this federal goose murder program, which lacks any real supporting data.  And, according to the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese, this is the point.  And by redefining the geese as “resident,” the killers can get around the protections of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act  of  1918 which came into effect after the Passenger Pigeon extinction!!

As this Wikipedia entry notes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_Pigeon), there were 3-5  billion passenger pigeons when Europeans arrived in North America, but they quickly reached extinction by 1890.  “In 1896, the final flock of 250,000 were killed by the hunters knowing that it was the last flock of that size.[citation needed]

In other words, the size of the original group of geese that state of New York cites needs to be reduced to 85,000 (by killing  170,000 of them) is the size of the last known viable population of passenger pigeons before they were decimated to extinction.  The New York Times provides ZERO supporting data that any such populations exist, and their follow up article reporting the euthanizing of hundreds to about 2,ooo geese defies the earlier article with the outrageous and alarming number of a goal of 170,000.   Thus you can assume with such wild inaccuracies the entire article is mere propaganda.

(http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/state-plans-to-eliminate-170000-canada-geese/)

The mere nine-page report justifying this murder is appalling. (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/state-plans-to-eliminate-170000-canada-geese/)  With no basis other than the Hudson river landing and a 1995 Air France flight damage (but not crash), it declares “the population of resident Canada geese needs to be reduced.”  The report mentions no methods used for determining the number of existing geese, nor what is the minimum viable population, nor what will happen if 2/3 of a population is wiped out in a short span of time.

Today’s article, “Goslings Defy Prospect Park’s Birth Control Effort”

(http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/goslings-defy-prospect-parks-birth-control-effort/?scp=3&sq=geese&st=cse    )

predictably did not accept my comment.   I  said the geese cause less harm than congress does and should be left alone.   And I suspect that previous articles in City Room were peppered by industry commenters, since most of them are short.

“Even with these additions, the lake’s goose population now numbers only about two dozen, down from many hundreds before the 2010 massacre.”

Will this be the last sentence we read before, ooops, sorry, we guess killing 2/3 of the population was not such a good move.  They mate for life, and the remaining 1/3 may not be viable.  No article explored that issue, nor did any of the articles suggest, as a reader comment did, the planes could put nets over their engines or create some other plane-based solution, as opposed to a bird-based, grim “final solution.”

But I quote at length for the rest of the blog from the website, a 1996, and a 2002 version, from the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese, which lays bare the ruthless tactics wildlife managers, politicians, and newspapers use to hoodwink the public into thinking there is a widespread consensus about ridding suburbia of the menace of  “resident” geese.  I worry that the site has been shut down after 2002, and the lack of real dissent allowed in the commentary of the Times relentless series in the City Blogs proves these narrow minded “wildlife managers” have proved necrotizingly victorious.

excerpt from:

http://www.canadageese.org/doc3.html


In a growing number of situations, programs have been planned or are underway to kill Canada geese on a regular basis. The government wildlife management establishment (the US Fish and Wildlife Service, state “game” agencies, and seemingly-benign representatives from local cooperative extensions) each play their part in advancing the various stages which make these atrocities a reality. These stages include; convincing a municipality that killing via depredation permit (or hunting) is the only solution, approval of the permit, and public sentiment manipulation by carefully planned media maneuvers.

Local politicians are easy prey to these agencies, which offer only superficial guidance on the use of non-lethal methods of goose dissuasion. When poorly-chosen and sloppily implemented non-lethal methods fail, politicians are convinced that killing is the only answer.

As will be elaborated shortly, government wildlife managers go to great lengths to spread their archaic killing-centered philosophy on how wildlife controversies should be handled. Communities that eventually succumb to goose extermination programs do so after being thoroughly soaked with disinformation, often from ostensibly respectable local figures.

With little or no supporting evidence, geese are accused of posing a health threat, compromising water quality, damaging crops, and overpopulating areas where they live. Those who actively perpetuate such ideas – mayors, health department officials, sportsmen’s clubs, park rangers, etc. – when challenged, find themselves unable to support their claims with sound scientific information. Whether by ignorance or premeditated deciet, the misinformation they dispense can usually be traced to the government wildlife-killing establishment and their beneficiaries (“sport” hunters, weapon manufacturers, etc.).

The following sections serve to shed some light on the more common issues and corresponding misconceptions used to justify the killing of geese. Other topics will be added in due course.

Then, from– http://www.canadageese.org/doc3a.html

Population


When the topic of Canada geese arises, it invariably includes sweeping generalizations about the status of their population. Those attempting to do unethical things to geese have a tendency to exaggerate and speak with great certainty about the rate of future goose population increases. The intent is clearly to sway public perception into accepting a state of imminent crisis. Close examination reveals that such predictions are commonly based on population data that is of questionable accuracy or altogether imaginary.

Even though population is a straightforward concept, determining wildlife populations accurately, except in the simplest of situations, is a complicated undertaking. Simply put, the quality of population data depends on the thoroughness with which one is able to count individuals in a population. Clearly, as the land area under consideration increases, the difficulty of collecting data increases; as difficulty in collection increases, so suffers accuracy. Indeed, the point (territory size) after which actual counting becomes impractical is usually small relative to the total area of interest. Of course, it also depends to some extent on the species being counted. It is an accepted practice of those studying waterfowl populations to do limited surveys and then derive final population numbers based on extrapolation. Obviously, numbers concocted in this way are susceptible to enormous sampling error and, therefore, run the risk of being highly inaccurate. One needn’t pore over numbers to prove this point.

Wildlife management decisions are based on the belief that the population data collected have a useful degree of accuracy. One way in which the inadequacy of such data may manifest itself is when actions based on the data give unexpected or undesired results. In 1995, the population of (long range) migratory Canada geese in the Eastern Flyway crashed suddenly. With the population on the verge of irreversible destruction, wildlife managers had to shut down, for an indefinite period, all hunting of these geese. The regular “hunting seasons” leading up to this decline were presumably justified based on population levels made from population data that were collected using standard techniques. It would seem that these practices nearly caused a catastrophe.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Bureau of Wildlife, provides us with a good example of how contradictory and therefore unreliable Canada goose population data can be. A NYS DEC News Release dated March 13,1991 proclaimed that, according to population surveys, there were 75,000 Canada geese in all of New York State. On the back page of the same release, another article mentioned that the total number (a direct count) of geese at two lakes in upstate NY was 109,000. Why the disparity? According to the DEC, the lower number was based on extrapolations from an aerial survey.

In 1996, a formal proposal was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to withdraw itself from the permitting process by which states get approval to kill Canada geese. If adopted, it would allow towns and cities to slaughter geese without oversight from the USFWS, and hence without much justification. A Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) was published to support this proposal. The following table is one of 7 similar tables found in Appendix C that deal with the Canada goose populations in several states. Presumably, these are their best population data, yet note the outrageous margin of error; it often approaches, and sometimes exceeds, 100%! It is fraudulent but common, that they would attempt to make policy based on such statistically useless information.

As is true with many types of wildlife, most goose population projections are extrapolations based on estimates based on poor data. It is remarkable that an endless stream of definitive statements continue to be made about future trends: “The population of geese is exploding;” “If nothing is done, the population will grow exponentially;” or even “double in the next 5 years.” While statements similar to the one about an “exploding” population are clearly subjective, the others can be validated by fulfilling mathematical criteria – that is, if accurate data are available. In reality, most exaggerated claims about population fall into the category of wishful thinking and are never validated before the killing begins, nor does it seem to matter.

In Rockland County, NY, a plan to kill geese was initiated in 1993 when it was estimated that about 3500 geese lived in the county. Yet in 1996, when the killing began, the population had already dropped to around 2000 geese. The killing of 251 geese, despite a drop in population by approximately one-third, defies logic.

Grudgingly, wildlife biologists must concede (but not publicly) that in established populations, under ordinary conditions, long-term, high-level exponential growth of most wildlife species, certainly geese, is virtually impossible. The word “exponential” is used to draw fear from the public; it implies enormous change over a short period. However, exponential growth may proceed at a slow rate and never reach levels of practical importance. The idea of continued exponential population growth, as showcased on so many speculative graphs about future population trends, fallaciously requires the assumption that no biological limiting factors (factors that regulate population) exist.

Among those who would like us to believe this fallacy are the wildlife biologists in Minnesota (where rounding up and killing geese originated). On the first page of a report issued in 1996 is a graph showing projected population growth over time. The chart tells us less about future population trends for geese than it does about the willingness of Minnesota’s wildlife biologists to risk appearing incompetent, so as to scare and deceive the public. Note that fully 75% of the Y-axis is speculation.

The graph was created to imply, despite the biological absurdity of the implication, infinite population growth. The intent is clear, to scare the public into accepting their plan of mass destruction. (Note the cover design of the report: The skyline is filled with menacing Canada geese – a tribute to traditional propaganda and reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”).

Top


Suburbia: Inviting Territory for Geese

Outpacing any increase in goose populations is the steadily growing size of suburbia. Such rapid and unregulated expansions via modern development practices exact a heavy toll on suburbia’s already precarious ecological state. The tremendous imbalances that such actions bring to the land set the stage for a growing number of human-wildlife conflicts.

The common construction practice of clear-cutting, building, then replanting with turf-grass and foreign ornamentals (non-native species) reinforces a wrong-headedness about the natural world and advances the philosophy that “cleaning up” and controlling nature is the thing to do. Intensively landscaped areas such as those found at golf courses, corporate facilities, public parks and around many homes, despite their ecological barrenness, still maintain potent attractions for certain types of wildlife. Unfortunately, the artificiality of these places, in combination with the mentality of those who fight to maintain them, afford little leeway for co-existence. Under such circumstances, wildlife is forced into the role of an unwelcome invader whose natural activities can not be accommodated, and therefore, are considered “destructive.”

The dysfunctional biology of these manicured areas exacerbates the awkwardness of the relationship between say, Canada geese, the natural pond-turned-public park and its human visitors. Claims about “overpopulation” have very little to do with any knowledge of statistics, banding studies, aerial surveys or biological carrying capacity than they do about geese being an inconvenience. Such claims exemplify the arrogant notion that nature must conform to unnatural selfish human standards, standards that humans themselves cannot meet. In other words, talk of Canada goose overpopulations is not a biological reality as much as it is one of attitude and perception – a perception born of the idea that it is rightly within the domain of human activity to determine how many of which creatures there should be, what behavior is acceptable, and which should live and which should die.

Top


Government Wildlife Management:
Creating & Exploiting Wildlife Imbalances for “Sport” Hunters

In suburbia, the wildlife management establishment clearly lets the ecological disruptions fall where they may: Wetlands, lakes and ponds are made into parks and incorporated into housing developments, corporate centers, and shopping malls. When the predictable human-wildlife conflicts erupt, wildlife managers roll in with their usual approach to wildlife crisis management. They advocate actions for which they have the most experience: killing. Wildlife extermination proves to be ineffective because it has little or no relationship to the biological imbalance that gave rise to the human-wildlife conflict in the first place. Wildlife managers often refer to extermination plans as “long-term management”. It is an intentionally vague concept used to perpetuate the killing of wildlife (usually in the form of “sport” hunting) for an indefinite but long period of time. Indeed, precedent shows that this type of thinking sets the stage for a cycle of killing that is repeated year after year.

The inability of state and federal wildlife agencies to protect, in the true sense of the word, Canada geese from the poor planning and ignorance of humans is not surprising, as they subscribe to the archaic philosophy that the value of an individual goose’s life is inversely proportional to the population to which it is affiliated (the geese-as-a-commodity mentality). This is the result of having wildlife agencies that economically benefit from high populations of species, such as Canada geese, that “sport” hunters like to kill. Contrary to illusion, “game” agencies are not in the business of population reduction, they are in the business of optimizing hunting opportunities, and more hunting requires more living targets (i.e., more geese).

One might say that the wildlife management establishment maintains a substantial conflict of interest between the “sport” hunters they serve (approx. 6% of the US population) and the best interest of wildlife and the general public. The often-heard refrain that goose and other wildlife populations are growing in suburban areas because hunting is not allowed sounds almost reasonable until one reads government documents such as the 1986 North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NWMP). In short, this plan is an agreement between Canada, Mexico and the US to work together to increase populations of ducks, geese and swans throughout North America. Indeed, hunting and its economy are actually working in concert with suburban ecological changes to make imbalances worse and conflicts more common.

Protecting waterfowl habitats is one thing; establishing goals to increase waterfowl populations by using public lands “…to increase their productivity and carrying capacity” (NWMP, May 1986, p. 14) is another matter altogether. Furthermore, by saying that “the financial participation of private conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Wildlife Habitat Canada is critical…” (NWMP, May 1986), the intent of the plan is revealed since these organizations are waterfowl hunting groups whose interest is in conserving hunting above all else.

Our Dictionary of Wildlife Management Euphemisms

Top


Wildlife Discrimination: The “Resident” Goose Syndrome

The concept of the “resident goose” is the arbitrary creation of government wildlife managers. By their terminology, a “resident” goose is defined as any Canada goose not nesting north of Quebec, Canada. Thus, a goose spending the summer in Maine who winters in North Carolina, despite the impressive migration, is a “resident” goose. The term allows wildlife managers the flexibility of defining this imaginary goose in any way that suits their purpose. In public they regard “resident” geese as evil and migrants as desirable. For reasons described below, waterfowl managers would like the public to share their attitudes.

Their hope is that by separating the populations, “resident” birds will eventually be legally exempt from the regulations and “protective” provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty (1916). This would lead to more liberal “sport” hunting opportunities, and in turn more revenue. Such a scenario is already being played out with the introduction several years ago of so-called “special” early and late hunting seasons on Canada geese. In essence, like so many other manipulative euphemisms in wildlife management, the term “resident” goose is a discrimination tool employed with an eye toward exploitation.

One ironic twist is that since most of the NWMP “wetland enhancements” for the “increased productivity of waterfowl” are carried out south of Quebec, these managed wetland areas amount to “resident” Canada goose (waterfowl) factories. Thus, waterfowl managers are making a concerted effort to produce “resident” geese, talk incessantly about their population increases, then recommend special seasons to hunt them. In light of this, it seems perverse to call on government wildlife officials to resolve controversies involving Canada geese.

“Special” hunting seasons have less to do with reducing the population of so-called “resident” Canada geese, than they do with providing more (and convenient!) “sport” hunting opportunities for their paying customers. Thus, “special” seasons serve as a revenue-generating bonus or, if needed, an economic back-up for “game” agencies during years when regular seasons have been curtailed. [In 1995, the “regular” hunting season for Canada geese in the Eastern Flyway was cancelled due to a declining population. To compensate, the “special” hunting seasons on Canada geese were lengthened.0

~~~~~~~~

an excerpt from a  1996-2000 page ( I http://www.canadageese.org/doc1.html)

Various investigations by the Coalition revealed that local politicians and state wildlife agencies routinely employ deception and illegality to achieve the goal of wildlife destruction. One common tactic is the use of gross exaggeration. For example, the supervisor’s 1993 claim that there were 10,000 – 12,000 Canada geese in Rockland County was wrong: There were less than 3500. When he finally conceded his error, he said he wanted to reduce the Clarkstown goose population to around 2000 geese, yet when goose killing began in 1996, counts revealed there WERE only about 2000 geese in the whole county. As predicted by basic biology, the extremely costly extermination of geese was a complete failure; once geese were killed, others moved in from surrounding areas to fill the void. (The full story is available here.)

While he denies it now, he has known from the start that most people are opposed to his irrational and deadly schemes.

“…And, he readily admits the plan is unpopular.”
Rockland Journal-News, January 25,1993

We have confirmed this unpopularity — thousands of people have signed our petitions in opposition to the killing of Canada geese. While not apparent initially, his obsession with killing is now widely recognized throughout the community, even among his supporters.

The Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese is a diverse group of concerned citizens that came together to protect Canada geese and those who consider them among the jewels of our ecologically bankrupt suburban landscape. The Coalition rigorously challenges goose extermination plans from a scientific, ethical, and practical standpoint. Further, the Coalition monitors the emergence of similar schemes throughout the country. Our research indicates that, despite having decades of precedent, lethal methods of wildlife control are generally ineffective, and leveraged into place by playing to the fears of the public. This web page serves to share some of our findings and foster a greater appreciation for a much-maligned species.

Scene Obscene

In Air, Garment on May 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Convalescent camp, near Alexandria, Va.

The rejoinder to Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown  keeps arising to me as an imagined memoir, The Scene Obscene, which hit my conscience as unremittingly as the speckled drops of blood on Samar Hassan’s 5-year-old face: “Face that Screamed War’s Pain Looks Back, 6 Hard Years Later,”  New York Times, May 7, 2011.

This image of Samar’s horror-stricken primal howl as she witnessed her parents being gunned to death by U.S. troops is indeed the caveat to add to any collective sigh of relief over OBL’s death.  And you almost have to wonder if the Times isn’t being intentionally exploitative in trying to sell more online subscriptions by featuring inflammatory stories such as the one running front and center right now, “Bin Laden Sons Say U.S. Violated International Law.”  The Times seems to exploit Palin the same way…so all the wacknut delusional fantasies of politics (i.e 3/4 of what is printed any given day) are used to attract hits to the papers so that presumably then people will be lured to more serious stories?  As opposed to simply setting the bar high with only solid stories and refusing to print the obviously  sensationalized and intentionally inflammatory?

The President’s 60 Minutes in-depth 30 minute interview demonstrates the type of equipoise and seriousness which we could only wish more recent presidents had displayed.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20060530-10391709.html?tag=component.0

But the bittersweet wistfulness over his leadership leads to the agonizing conclusion…if Obama had been president instead of GWB, surely we would have avoided Iraq altogether.

No memory of 9/11 is complete without a lament that there is no real accounting of how many injuries and deaths Iraqi and Afghan citizens have suffered. But from myriad sources, the numbers all point to a horror far larger than anything we faced on 9/11.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War

And so, while we have avenged fear with the death of OBL, whose wake leaves the threat of an omnipresent paranoia more d/elusive than fear itself, the moral debts of war remains a burden that will stain our conscience far beyond any time in which the financial debts are repaid.

No heroic mission can undo the huge burden of what our tax dollars have done against our will,  though we have been out in the streets or in the blogs, shouting against the war….or in our deleted comments to the New York Times, whose justice only touched the void of cyberspace.  Apparently those types of rumors and allegations–of civilian casualties–are the types of “mere speculation” that can’t be entertained, while ludicrous hatchet jobs to the middle class are fair game.

There is no “mission accomplished” in undoing the mechanism of war, there are only the earnest threads, voice by voice, piece by written piece, prayer by prayer, of people rising up in defiance of war.

I am watching Ken Burns Civil War, and it seems that none of those thousands of death did very much to mitigate the attitudes and budget wars we are fighting today.  The rallying cry of “state’s rights” is a sheerly confederate slogan: thus it is impossible to read of the Republican governors’ rejection of federal aid without thinking of how southern states burned bales of cotton during the war in the hopes of persuading England to side with them to re-open their invaluable commodities supplies. (“The Rejected Windfall” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/opinion/10tue1.html?hp)

If the bitterest, bloodiest war in these somewhat loosely United States did little to change fundamentalist opinions about the nature of work and pay, the nature of education, the nature of government, and the nature of business….then obviously we are throwing billions into a sinkhole to try to “reform” a fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan, as we have trying to “change hearts and minds” in Iraq.  I’ve never met anyone willing to give up their cherished beliefs, and obviously they would lose all respect if they did…so changing anyone’s mind is not an option.

The challenge is how do we reconcile diametrically opposed agendas–protecting the oceans vs. subsidizing oil drilling; providing a social safety net for health and retirement vs. variable and widely divergent private enterprise experiments; every car for himself vs. public transportation; corporate welfare and bailouts vs. no safety nets for people; making pleasures such as pot into petty crimes to fill up for-profit jails vs. tax-payer funded jails that only lock away violent criminals; safe, legal abortion vs. no abortion at all; I am sure anyone reads this blog other than the botnets who regularly peruse it can come up with better examples—but the only solution to these intractable, diametrically opposed agendas is through compromise.  You simply cannot kill ideas out of people.  Joe Hill watches over every shoulder.

But the compromise only exists by each idea maintaining its purest integrity, not by diluting the ferocity of the goal or agenda.  So though Abe Lincoln was elected because he was viewed as a moderate, and not one of those radical abolitionists, abolition became the only compromise feasible to save the union.   Jim Crow and every battle we have faced since is ever a negotiating of the turf of fair wage for labor with people and plutocrats yanking the debate back and forth.

And obviously, the plutocrats have about the same leverage as they did at the turn of the 19th century, which is why I read this editorial as “The Unseen Obscene,” as Democrats continue to lose all the moral ground and jump into the money train. (“Democrats, Seduced by Secret Dollars,” May 7, 2011  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/opinion/08sun1.html?scp=1&sq=secret%20money&st=Search)

Where The Wild Things Aren’t *

In Elusive, Gently Shifting, Honest, Simple, Southeast, Subtle on May 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I am pausing from apoplectic/catatonic Tweeting to save the Atlantic seaboard from offshore drilling to re-post a response to Griot Walter Rhett’s post about “The Anti-Obama Buzz.”

Also glad Gail Collins addressed the heinous abortion situation, played out yesterday with HR3, which would effectively force all insurers to not cover abortion.  It passed, but the President promises to veto it should it pass the Senate.

 RT @DreamAmelia: #HR3 Why can’t Republicans let the Supreme Court in each woman’s heart make the decision and leave us alone?
Thankful as ever for fantastic reader comments yesterday and today by Karen, Marie, Kate, and Valerie.
~~~~

“After Obama’s surgical strike, Republicans are making every effort to numb the national conversation.” (Griot Rhett)

But the people are electrified. The electorate is electrified, as much or more than we were in the giddy heydey of President Obama’s election night and first days in office.

And no, “a little sweat never hurt no one.” If this is propaganda (Mrs. Obama dancing with schoolchildren), I admit my heart is melting for it…given, taken, had, she has me, I am ALL Mrs. Michelle Obama’s…

No, sadly, Hillary’s mojo could never get her twiggy stiffness uncreaked, while Michelle lithely floats rhythm…

Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, every single ball that lands in the President’s court these days is struck deftly into the opponent’s court: no malice.

The President’s laughter at all the SNL jokes at the WHC dinner, his own “Red Press State Film. Rated U: Unacceptable for viewing audiences anywhere,” his memory of soldiers at the dinner, the now stunning overtones of his “We don’t have time for this silliness” press conference over the BC, coupled with his, “And I can’t get the press to cut in on an issue of national importance like our budget!”–
The Easter Egg Roll White House Garden reading by Sasha and Malia of  Where the Wild Things Are…

Whoah. Stop and think about that: Where The Wild Things Are.

They actually read that in the garden 1 week before Osama Bin Laden was assassinated. Where are the wild things now? Sadly, they still lurk in the Republicans heads.

It seems that every public move of late was calculated to rise in a state of grace, so that all the pieces of the puzzle would fall neatly back together into the conditions of this moment, like an Olympian athlete, displaying agility and poise that mere mortals do not normally possess, instilling awe at a sense of possibly supernatural powers.

Do Olympian athletes who didn’t get the Gold walk away and say, well I never thought much of running anyway?  No, they hone their craft to a higher art even deeper than before.  But the Republicans are like wanna be athletes, who, on losing, give up, rather than double down on effort.  Naaaah, we never thought OBL was so important anyway….but we still believe in torture, that’s why we do our best to relentlessly torment the President, so  that no matter how many tokens and trivia of stature he acquires (Harvard, Columbia, Author, Senate, Presidency, Nobel Prize), we will keep moving the goal post further down the field.  We will forever look at him with eyes as dismissively as any plantation owner viewed his slaves, ever blind to the amazing grace and forbearance that the slaves daily gave their masters by not taking an eye for an eye.

Every narrative that attempts to reduce the President to a mere old-style, Chicago-style, pay-to-play politician crumbles in the hands of the purveyor while the doves of his agility and grace soar into the air.

This in no way confers a “free pass” on the need to get out of Afghanistan immediately, pass The People’s Budget,  get Wall St. out of Washington, instill Elizabeth Warren as a permanent consumer protection board chair, use the bully pulpit for The Dream Act, and use all this capital as EVIDENCE Guantanamo needs to be closed now.

But it adds faith that he is taking this fire from us and keeping the flame alive in his heart. Maybe we are too quick to believe all is lost. Maybe stranger things we haven’t seen yet can happen. They certainly can’t happen without our dreams, so I’ll keep dreaming, and, of course, working locally.

As Walter Rhett taught me, we are not so much writers, as “dreamscribes.”  Writing out our dreams.

~~~~

* Update, May 6.

While it is heartening to read of the widespread recognition that the President represents the appropriate dignity we want to present to the world, by withholding the photos of Osama Bin Laden;  to feel  that he was heartfelt and sincere in his laying of the wreath, with hugs that say more than words, at the New York Ground Zero Memorial;  appropriately honoring the families and all of our nation first, before he went on to cite  “a job well done” to the military….that, really, most of what we “do” or “are” is not manifest either in what we look like or what we say…so the ineffables of photos from the scenes grip us with myriad possibilities, speaking to millions of different people…

There is also a recognition that those who hate the President will hate forever, no matter what.   I, at least, am coming to peace with that.   To finally understand that this brutality is no different than what Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr, or Malcolm X, or the Freedom Riders encountered…what must have been bigotry at its harshest, lowest, meanest form.  And they rose gloriously, ultimately unchafed by the sands of time.

The IChing reading for today points to  Hexagram 58,  Tui, The Joyous, Lake, whose translation from Richard Wilhelm states,

“The joyous mood is infectious and therefore brings success. But joy must be based on steadfastness if it is not to degenerate into uncontrolled mirth. Truth and strength must dwell in the heart, while gentleness reveals itself in social intercourse. In this way one assumes the right attitude toward God and man and achieves something.

Under certain conditions, intimidation without gentleness may achieve something momentarily, but not for all time.

When, on the other hand, the hearts of men are won by friendliness, they are led to take all hardships upon themselves willingly, and if need be will not shun death itself, so great is the power of joy over men.”

This, to me, says it all and is exactly why the Republicans remain so inherently dead wrong in their purposes and motivations.  They cannot strong arm the will of the people as they have been doing since their 2010 election, because “intimidation without gentleness may achieve something momentarily, but not for all time.”  This goes from union-busting to corporate cronyism to barely veiled racism to egregious assaults on women.

The ideals and forces that occur for longer durations of time are based on steadfast joy, not uncontrolled mirth.  You feel called to do it because it gives you deep satisfaction:  the joy of fruitful labor, not indulgence.

The electorate, myself included, spilled too much into uncontrolled mirth upon the President’s election, but now we firmly have the reigns in hand and know much better what needs to be done.  With patient strength, we work to those goals, recognizing that the President obviously knows more than many would give him credit for conveying.   As do each one of us.

So it is from that very clear position of strength, power, and inner possibility, inner vision, that we will keep on marching forward, far less daunted than ever by sideshows of derision, which, this week,  have proven themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt to be laughably feeble-minded and foolish.   We will leave the haters in the dust, and keep the eyes on the prize, not mirthfully, not vaingloriously, but quietly joyfully, because that is what delights us.

No Photographs

In Bent, Melancholy, Wrecked Chariot on May 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm

When you step off of one of 50 or more buses that arrive at the Pentagon,  what is the one sign you see more than any other sign?   Every 20 feet or so,  “No Photographs.”   Sorry I don’t have a photo to show you.  I bet you get the picture.  It is only written in English.  And it has a camera in a red circle with a red strike-through.

Mind you, no phraseology more seemly or genteel, such as, “No Photography, Please.” (Would you see that in England? Australia? Brazil? Canada? Costa Rica?)  And doesn’t every other country in the world put memorial sites and tourist site signs in at least 5 or 10 major world languages?  Don’t hold your breath when looking for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.   If you wander up and down the bus platforms in vain searching for a sign directing you to the memorial, don’t worry: no one will help you.  The “see it, say it” campaign urging all Metro users to alert authorities of “suspicious activity” ensures that someone will call a tip line before they ever try to help you.

It would tax our courtesy as taxpayers to print a sign stating,  “Kindly Refrain from Taking Photographs.”

Or how about,  “Please Respect our Need to be Insanely Paranoid.  Don’t even THINK about Photographing the Pentagon or We Will Hunt You Down Wherever Any Such Thought Lurks in the Recesses of Your Mind!!!  We have Psy-Ops as evidence of what you are thinking!!!!  No other proof needed, and POOF, you’ll be next in the dungeons of Guantanamo!!!!  And Don’t even THINK about having a trial, EVER.   Don’t think about knowing what the charges are, or what evidence against you we have collected!!!   Ever.  OUR PARANOIA is ALL THE PROOF WE NEED THAT YOU ARE GUILTY!!”

The Pentagon has not yet managed to scrub the cache of trillions of clip-art photos of every conceivable exterior of the Pentagon possible from the internet.  I am too cheap and not internet savvy enough to buy one for this post.

In what has sadly become a typical “ho-hum” moment in a country that has no semblance of “Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing….” (which no one had the grace to sing last night, neither the Official or the Anti-Slavery versions) left, I listened to and watched a U.S. Special Something High Up or High On The Military absolutely REAM out a mere mortal passer-by like me on the periphery of the Pentagon this morning, about 9 am.

A Stark Reminder of what DARE befall anyone who falls outta line, boy!  Keep your eyes straight ahead, do not look left or right.   The officer addressed the man in English, utterly assuming the person he was addressing spoke or comprehended English.  “What ARE YOU DOING!! YOU CAN’T TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS!  DON’T YOU SEE THE SIGNS EVERYWHERE!!!!” he bellowed in a voice dripping in derision, and yes, hate and vengeance.  The gentleman’s skin was not white, and I would be a fool to speculate on any of millions of nations he could have in his background, or whether he is or is not a U.S. citizen.  The officer who was yelling’s skin was white, but I am not sure what assumptions you can make there, either.

The gentleman was cast into the officer’s net.  The officer had him close, and I was going the other way, towards the 9/11 Memorial.   I knew I would immediately be interrogated as  something in accomplice if I paused, but one more look back showed it was most likely the officer was confiscating his camera, which he had in his hand.

I couldn’t help myself but to spit on several of the  “No Photographs” signs on the way to the memorial.  Freedom.  Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of the Press.  Freedom of Assembly.  Yup, this is what it looks like.  In actual action.  In living, breathing color, right here, right now, today.

This is what we’ve become.  The freedom to yank the camera right off your neck if we don’t like the looks of you!

Not that there is anything remotely interesting or hopeful or consoling about the Pentagon exterior or parking lot.  It looks like every other eyesore in the U.S.  No beaux-art flourishes.  No Frank Lloyd Wright meditations.   No honorific to the slain earth that is wounded by our roads and war war war war war of words, motive, mind,machine, weapons, economy, chatter chatter chatter terror terror, turning any direction it feels like, with paranoia its only proof, insecurity its sole security.

I was utterly alone after a large group in orange jumpsuits from the mid-west left.  I honestly thought for  a second the  9/11 Families for a Peaceful Tommorrow had re-staged their 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo at the site this morning, reminding us that Guantanamo is a shame ever more in need of closure.  But no, they were not.

Since I was the only one there, I spoke to both Fox news and The Washington Post, who were also wandering the memorial, looking for reaction, from almost no one but a few scattered birds and people.  I think it made us all sad that no one was there.  No one feels welcome, and there are really no signs indicating a memorial even exists if you are just a normal person getting on and off the bus at the Pentagon.

It all just feels like sad rhetoric from which we’ll never escape:  War on Terror. Bin Laden, dead or alive. Not  as much real events, as emblems for getting people to turn against each other, turn each other in, and protest nothing.

The war machine will keep on devouring us, and no one notices how the rhetoric has divided us beyond repair.  We accept random arbitrary interrogations and seizures of anyone without protest.  Whoever is caught in the dragnet is “other”–call them “enemy combatant,” “terrorist,” and wipe your conscience clean from ever having to think of them again.

When I lamented aloud that I realized no photographs would be allowed at the Pentagon, a lady at the bus stop thought I was quite foolish.  She said they wouldn’t put me in jail, they’d just take my camera.  Giving moral equivalence to both, and accepting both equally as “the new normal” in which we are all compliant sheep.  She has no feeling of loss of freedom of speech and thinks we should hand over our cameras, and if need be, our lives, in the “war on terror.”

I agree, there is no closure.  The way propaganda is spun relentlessly against us means that even when The Bad Guy is dead, the war against freedom will continue to carry on without skipping a beat.   So, so, much senseless blood has been shed any way you want to look at it.  Grief will never go away, it is just a wound that comes and goes.  The whole way the charade is spun into political theatre  trammels my ideas of grief and liberty beyond any capacity to shape thought about it.  So, I walk wordlessly through the memorial, unable to take photographs, and worrying that I will be indicted for daring to have the audacity of eyes, heart, and mind, which can weave images more searing than any camera can.