What We Knew (Climate Change)


What did we know? What do we know? I've been spending some time doing some writing on the deficiencies of mammalian brains, overpopulation, climate change, and so forth. Things are not looking good for human civilization. Due to collective action problems, it is likely that the world will not hit temperature targets for 2050 and runaway global warming is a certainty. There are a host of ills that will come by 2100. Extreme weather will be common, and large swathes of the globe will become uninhabitable. We don't need any more proof or science to know that this is the case. Deniers are clearly self-serving capitalists that have more short-term monetary gain in ignoring the obvious and smearing those that fight for change.

I feel like Moishe the Beadle from Elie Wiesel's Night. Without having gone anywhere physically, I have come back from the future to tell those of the present the ghosts and horrors of what could be.

What are our opportunities? What are our choices?

1. We've learned from Covid that individual choices do not work to move aggregate population health decisions. Not enough people will voluntarily make changes like using masks or vaccinating to prevent disease and death. As a result, mandates have been the only successful option worldwide. I see the fight to mitigate climate change as ultimately a public health decision. As with Covid, it might seem costly or unpractical to mandate universal changes, but failing might result in the collapse of civilization. Essentially, do you want to pay more? As a result, rich nations like the US, those that have military power, should mandate immediate and severe carbon limits globally that not only slow global warming, but go well beyond it to attempt to halt or reverse it if that is even possible anymore. Those nations that do not immediately comply should face financial and military consequences.

2. Because I'm not a politician, and I have virtually no power to make #1 a reality, I'm also thinking about what to do at an individual, and family level. The history of my people, the Jews, is one of wandering, often forced wandering to find places where we would not be persecuted, always towing our torahs, talmuds, and rituals from place to place. If I was to move my family somewhere, it would be important to take not only money, but our learning, knowledge, science, technology, just as the Jews have taken their torah which is literally just a collection of ancient stories to study and debate and instruct. More than money, which has come and gone over time, has been the power of knowledge. I like to think of this as creating one's own Schindler's List. Who is on the list, and what is on the list, and what do you take if you have to move and uproot, and how do you re-create democracy in a 2.0 (3.0?) version that is more human, more sustainable, and protects against demagogues, megalomaniacs, tyrants, or oligarchs?


A completely fucked situation

 Food Lion on a Sunday afternoon

 "We have to overcome it because the planet is on fire." 

- Sarah Jaffe on capitalism


 If you should eat well, and drink well, all your life, you will have done better than almost all your ancestors and possibly all of your progeny.

 you don't choose your family and you don't choose your customers and you don't choose your staff.


The rise of the bourgeois

I've been reading a good bit of classic literature through the pandemic. Madame Bovary, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, Marx, Henry James, Austen, Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Thoreau, Emerson. It makes me realize how many good books were left out in my high school, undergrad, and grad education. The other realization is that these books (across nationalities) really hold up a mirror to the experience of the newly produced bourgeois class at the time. Never in the 1700s or before were there as many wealthy and literate people as in the 1800s, and as leisure, quality of life, and more widespread access to education increased, we find this explosion of writers chronicling the experience for us. Affairs have existed in literature since the writing of the Bible, but never the bourgeois affair as so majestically and satirically portrayed in Bovary. The bourgeois affair is a product of its time, and likewise each of these writers comment in their own way on the rapidly shifting economic landscape brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Politics, economics, sociology, and literature all see an explosion in the 1800s that lays the groundwork for the modernism of the early 1900s. Now we are in a fully postmodern age, where bourgeois pleasures (so many couches, so many TVs!) are taken for granted, and everything is worthy of snark and bite, but to see the lineage through to the 1800s is instructive. Our broad-based, high quality of life is only ~200 years old. Our highly technologized lives are only ~30 years old. We act as if we've had iPhones since forever. The global and historical awareness of the human remains still so narrow. No wonder older cultures had highly ritualized ceremonies commemorating life, death, war, and even the weather and the seasons. There was no other means of recording but of the ritual. Thank goodness we have these books to remind us who we were, and where we came from.


 "If you drink a glass of Edward every day, you will never die."


The stones I left (dedicated to vermont)

The stones I left

Atop Mount Pisgah and down in Lake Willoughby and by Long Pond and the Fire Tower, 
I accepted stones.
I accept your stones, I said aloud.
So as to honor this earth, we map the stones. 
Stones of granite. Shards of quartz like shark’s teeth. Stones of slate. Mother stones and father stones and stones of every creed.
Would it be OK if I did not sit like Buddha to accept these stones? 
But to see quartz popping out of the ground at Barr Hill and hear owls at Long Pond. 
To see a tree fallen and caught between two limbs of another and ferns so large and mountain green it transports me to prehistoric time.
To pick a wild raspberry and to watch a cow shit in a field.  
To take this stone for you, this sight of Jay Peak to the northwest and breathe, almost missing the windmills over the distance, this time immemorial of trees, an onionskin of time relative to all time, how shall we know this time? 
And what will it know of us? It is a trepidation before the mountains that causes me to hesitate, to see the 7 PM light coming off the clouds nestled above, it is absolutely quiet except for the rustling of leaves.
The sky opens up and illuminates the vista, a little breath of hello from above, something is out there, watching, And it is us that completes the picture.

To find little stones that one should leave for another to find. 
To trace and retrace the paths. 
To swim in the rain in Great Hosmer and to learn to pronounce Charlotte and Montpelier.  
To trace my fingers along birchbark like braille, reading the years and moments of toads, snakes, and frogs.  
To eat an underbaked piece of chocolate chip banana bread under the awning from the Craftsbury Jenny, served by a cute stony shopgirl.
To be out of cell phone reception for four hours and navigate only by a little pin on a map.  
To carry this stone this day for another to find on what is left of a tree stump or a boulder well worn by 1000 seasons.  
To see the stones standing bolt upright of Great Hosmer, thousand-pound stones, rolled on dowel-shaped logs, the Easter Island of our generation, of our empire.
To pick a daisy and count the love petals like a child. 
A hawk cries while I pick up an opalescent stone.  
To leave a stone as I left my grandfather that last day in rehab, my hand on his chest, a stone to the world, mouth open, nearly gone,
To travel throughout life as a monkey on a string but also as the string connected to the monkey, pulling at it in an unending cascade of waves.
The mountain is the mountain. And the rock is the rock. It exists for none of us. It is carved by the sounds of time over a duration longer than we can ever imagine. We have to behold it to embrace it, to enmesh with it, but never as our property. We are in its dominion and for that reason we serve.  

 "We will say of pure immanence that it is A LIFE, and nothing more. It is not immanent to life, but the immanence that is in nothing else is itself a life. A life is the immanence of immanence, absolute immanence: it is complete power, complete beatitude." - Gilles Deleuze


Is Febreeze - a magical ingredient worthy of veneration or Death in a bottle ☠️?

The Gift

"This pot was crafted in Sea Grove, NC, home to some of the most famous potters (and clay!) in NC and the U.S. I picked it up at my favorite store, Oddities and Such, in Carrboro. I think it holds well the attributes of marriage - fullness, fecundity, a dash of stoutness. But perhaps most of all (and you should not be trusting of any relationship talk from a wayward lover such as me), an overdeterminedness that serves to hold all the errant dreams of partners by which we oversubscribe to a platonic shared love and find a mere construction instead. In place of authenticity, the pot sits to expiate and thereby exorcise such aspirations, a totem that receives penny wishes and returns one to the real. May your union always be blessed with the authenticity of the real communication that serves to renew love daily as one may so simply make a cup of tea."

[insert pic]






Bill Callahan

And I got the woman of my dreams

And an imitation Eames


The Granny Tapes

 In 2016, I was gifted an old 1960 Motorola cabinet with a reel to reel, phono player, and tuner. The only thing that apparently worked was the tuner, but unfortunately I believe the reel to reel was on the entire time, just not playing, as one night the smoky smell that frequently came from the cabinet ("It's just burning dust," I was told) turned into a real live fire inside the cabinet underneath the reel to reel. Panicked, I struggled and then ripped off the back cabinet and blew out the kindling flame. That flame, as it turns out, was the spirit of "Granny" as scrawled onto the reel to reel. With the help of Amanda and her father, the reel to reel was then digitized to mp3 for your listening enjoyment. We date this to approximately the late 1970s. Granny, may you rest now in peace.