9 May 2009, 11:37am
by admin

African Book Pirates

An Open Letter to Amazon.com CEO and COB Jeff Bezos

Dear Jeff,

So there I was minding my own business when Amazon.com sent me a digital blurb announcing a new book and inquiring whether I wished to buy it.

The book you promoted to me is the alleged “Population History of American Indigenous Peoples” by Charles C. Mann et al. [here].

That was very exciting email because Charles C. Mann is one of my favorite authors, one whose important and artfully-crafted writings are featured at W.I.S.E. [here, here]. CCM is also a correspondent, and so I sent him a congratulatory email.

Imagine my surprise, Jeff, when Charles informed me he had never heard of the book!

It turns out that the publisher, Alphascript Publishing (a subsidiary of VDM Publishing House Ltd. of Maritius [here]), is a PIRATE. They took some old essays by Mann and others, scanned them and created a “book” out of stolen pieces, and are now selling the purloined booty on your website.

You (they) are asking $124 for a paperback copy of a pirated work, which doubles (at least) the piracy factor. None of which goes to the actual authors, by the way, who had no idea this was going on.

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. You don’t want to be a pirate. Pirates meet cruel fates. Pirates get shot in the head by snipers and their carcasses thrown to the sharks, no questions asked. There is no doctor-supervised waterboarding or other friendly interrogation. There are no trials where pirate “rights” are protected. Just a bullet in the brain and quick conversion to shark chum.

Even the French Navy, heirs to Jean Lafitte and other famous cutthroat brigands, has limited tolerance for pirates [here].

I warmly suggest you cease and desist from book piracy. It’s not a good sideline biz for Amazon. Your liabilities in the matter exceed any possible equity you might gain.

You are welcome to sell legitimate books about pirates. You can shout “Yo ho ho” and drink a bottle of rum. But you don’t want to BE a pirate, or fence pirated works.

This is free advice, but I’d absorb it if I were you, Jeff.

Clean up your act. Hove to and swab your deck. Otherwise, beware of naval armadas steaming into your port and blowing you out of the water.

Your Pal and Card-Carrying Occasional Amazon Customer,

Mike D.

8 May 2009, 2:18pm
The 2009 Fire Season
by admin

Santa Barbarans Burned Again

You would think that somebody there would have figured it out by now.

Here you have a coastal community with a Mediterranean climate pinched between the Los Padres National Forest and the deep blue sea. Water to the south, chaparral to north. One of those two eco-types catches fire now and again. Guess which one.

The Los Padres NF is a vast fire-adapted ecosystem. That is well known. What is little known is that the kind of fires that have been most prevalent over the last ten thousand plus years have been anthropogenic ones.

Human beings have lived in Santa Barbara for 10,000+ years and generally have been adverse to catastrophic fire. Major fires destroy resources and so put the survival of the residents in jeopardy. The residents long ago realized that frequent, seasonal, deliberate burning was preferable to sitting around on backsides and waiting for the fuels to build up to catastrophic levels.

But unfortunately, in our modern mobile age, the current residents have forgotten, or not been clued into, the fact that flammable fuels accumulate in Mediterranean climates and will burn catastrophically unless treated before that happens.

The previous residents, during the entirety of the Holocene up until recently, managed to prevent catastrophic fires through experienced, applied stewardship, even though they lacked modern technology.

The current residents sit pretty much carefree or impotent in their technology-rich million-dollar homes. They are either clueless as to the hazard, or defenseless victims of forces they cannot control or influence, such as their own government.

The clueless hypothesis is questionable. Last year the Tea Fire [here] burned 200+ homes in Montecito and the Gap Fire [here] burned 9,400 acres north of Goleta in the West Camino Cielo area. The year before that the Zaca Fire burned 240,000 acres of the Los Padres NF over a two month period, cost more than $120 million in direct fire suppression expenses, and was the most expensive fire in California history.

Santa Barbarans have to know their landscape is flammable. There have been too many direct fire assaults to countenance claims of ignorance. Stupidity might be, but ignorance is not an excuse any longer.

As of yesterday evening the Jesusita Fire [here] had burned 75 residences in the Mission Canyon/Camino Cielo area adjacent to Santa Barbara. Over 30,000 residents have been evacuated. The fire is spreading west towards Goleta and south towards Montecito.

Last night more homes were destroyed as strong northwest winds fanned the flames. The Santa Maria Times reports [here]:

more »

Wilkes to Be Nominated for USDA Under Secretary for the USFS

Mississippi NRCS Administrator Homer Lee Wilkes was tapped yesterday by Obama to serve as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA.


USDA News Release No. 0148.09

Last Modified: 05/06/2009

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2009 - President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Homer Lee Wilkes as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wilkes will serve with Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For nearly thirty years, Homer has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he has been dedicated to conserving and improving the environment in multiple states,” said Vilsack. “It would be a privilege to have a public servant like Homer join the USDA leadership team to help carry out President Obama’s vision of protecting our natural assets.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary science-based conservation, technical assistance, partnerships, incentive-based programs, and cooperative problem solving at the community level.

Wilkes is a 28 year veteran of the NRCS, currently serving as State Conservationist in Mississippi where he administers the natural resources conservation program for the state. He has also served as a Budget Officer for NRCS in Amherst, Massachusetts, the Assistant Financial Manager and Fiscal Specialist for NRCS in Washington, and served as the Chief of Administrative Staff for the South Technical Center for NRCS in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wilkes received his Bachelors, Masters of Business Administration and Ph.D. in Urban Conservation Planning and Higher Education from Jackson State University.

Wilkes and his wife, Kim, have three sons - Justin, Austin, and Harrison. They presently reside in Madison, Mississippi, and are members of New Hope Baptist Church.

He enjoys fishing and family activities.

Biomass Logic Spreads to MSM

The Oregonian has dutifully followed our lead and reported on Congressman Greg Walden’s YouTubed exchange with Al “The Very Definition of Fatuous” Gore, in a stirring editorial. They even almost got the point:

Rural Oregon has energy to burn

by The Editorial Board, May 02, 2009 [here]

More than 1,000 people from 25 countries gathered in Portland last week for a conference on the vast promise of crop residues, wood waste and other sources of biomass to help power a greener, cooler, safer world.

At roughly the same time the world’s biomass experts were in town, the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives released ant energy bill that explicitly disregards the largest available source of biomass in Oregon: federal forests.

That makes no sense as a matter of energy policy, economics or environmental stewardship. Oregon has hundreds of thousands of acres of federal forests that are overgrown, infested with insects and disease and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires. It has rural communities struggling with 17 percent unemployment. It has everything it needs — and every economic motivation — to become a center for biomass energy.

But that won’t happen, can’t happen, if Congress approves an energy bill that sets out incentives and an ambitious goal — requiring that 25 percent of the nation’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 — and then expressly discounts biomass from the nation’s federal forests.

Congressman Greg Walden, a Hood River Republican who represents much of rural Oregon, has a reasonable question: “What’s the science behind this decision to say biomass from federal lands is not a renewable energy source?” Walden said he can’t get an answer, not from Democratic leaders, not from former Vice President Al Gore, who testified on the bill last week, and not from the leaders of national environmental groups who helped draft the energy legislation. …

The Editorial Board is onboard with Fatuous Al as far as climate change hysteria is concerned:

… we disagree with his [Walden's] general opposition to what he labels “cap-and-tax” legislation to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible [for] climate change.

But they are willing to repress it long enough to advocate against catastrophic wildfires, which, by the way, emit more CO2 in Oregon than all the rest of the to-be-regulated CO2 emissions combined [here]. Too bad the Oregonian didn’t report (hasn’t yet reported) that story, too.

Be that as it may, kudos to the Oregonian for realizing that biomass from Federal land is a useful commodity for many reasons, and that fatuousness should not plague Federal legislation.

3 May 2009, 6:47pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Let It Burners Obfuscate the Facts

The Redding Record Searchlight continued its series of articles about forests and fire [here, here] this week with a Dylan Darling piece on firefighting methods [here].

Firefighting methods questioned

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, May 1, 2009

Last summer Rayola Pratt experienced the fear that haunts so many in the north state. Wildfire tore through the woods near her home off Rock Creek Road west of Redding.

“From here we could just watch the trees burst into flames,” she said.

When she evacuated as the Motion Fire pushed flames toward her place, she left her home in the care of a fire crew from Montana that slept on her deck between shifts. It was the biggest fire to burn near the home in the 40 years Pratt has lived there and she partially credits the firefighters for saving it.

While people with opposing points of view about wildfire issues in the north state agree that homes threatened by flames should be saved, they disagree about the level at which fire should be fought in the wildland.

At the crux of most any debate about wildfire suppression is the question of how aggressively to attack — when should firefighters hit fires with everything available, and when should they let them burn. The issue is complex, with firefighter safety, threats to life or property and potential benefits of fire for the land all taken into consideration by the agencies fighting the flames.

That would be nice if it were true, but it isn’t. The “agencies fighting the flames” do not take “potential benefits of fire for the land” into consideration, principally because there aren’t any.

Wildfires that are allowed to burn hundreds of thousands of acres all summer long do not benefit the environment. That canard is mousy propaganda, a falsehood, a raft of bilge, not the facts, sophistry, and too easy fodder for numskull journalists anxious to grovel in front their government informants.

The facts are that wildfires destroy forests, incinerate habitat, pollute air and water, cripple rural economies, and scar landscapes for lifetimes.

more »

3 May 2009, 11:09am
by admin
leave a comment

Been Busy

I regret the lack herein of plenty of pithy posts lately, but I have been busy with a variety of non-computorial matters; specifically installing a large market garden in part for survivalist purposes given the state of the economy but mostly for fun, and supporting the ceramic arts via multiple and sundry mostly beast-of-burden and other brutish tasks, traveling yon and hither pursuing matters of personal, consanguineous, and professional interest, and the like; which in concert have worn me out as well as detracted from the profusity of postings we all have come to expect if not value; and I also read a book, which took some time because of the sheer weightiness and richness of the book, which was about how to write a book and was brilliant at many levels; and which has inspired me to improve my writing skills, as you can see.

Now through this gray morning window of opportunity we will try to rapid fire a waiting backlog of pithy yet pregnant items of import that relate to the various subsites of W.I.S.E. until the next duty calls which is expected sooner rather than later. I predict the showers to continue, although there is a strip of blue sky off to the west.

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