Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Closing Out A Season Farmers Want to Forget"

Sure, blame it on the rain...and the "late blight" (that came months early)...and the tornados that nobody actually saw, but must have been there, because only wind that wild could explain so many fallen huge trees...

After this link to the story in the New York Times, I'll explain why it's much more than rain, fungus or some's the atmosphere, people! I apologize if the formatting that follows is bizarre - it's some kind of software problem and I'm tired of trying to fix the fonts and spacing.
Shana Sureck for the NY Times

The last of the tomato crop lie on the ground after a combination of wet weather and then blight did damage to much of the crops grown.

Earlier this season, I saw stories like this one in the Washington Post, which states: "In spite of its name, late blight has appeared early in the tomato growing season...The disease is sometimes seen at the end of the tomato growing season, but after the fruit has been harvested"...and..."McGrath, who works from Riverhead, N.Y., said that in 21 years she has only seen five outbreaks 'and I've never seen it this early before.'"

I think it's just possible that what they reported then and now isn't late blight at all, because the symptoms are the same as exposure to toxic ozone - plus, every tree, shrub, potted and aquatic plant has the same characteristic foliar damage. Furthermore, the longer-lived species, like trees which experience cumulative exposure over more than one season, were universally exhibiting the signs of irreversible decline beginning in the summer of 2008, when it wasn't wetter than normal.

The only explanation that fits ALL the empirical facts must be related to the composition of the atmosphere.

Copied below is an exchange of emails with Dr. Brust, a professor at the University of Maryland:

First my message:

Dear Dr. Brust and Dr. Holmes,

Last week a wrote a letter to some nurserymen and farmers who had authored articles in a local publication, which I will copy below, because it pretty well summarizes my observations. I saw a photograph here (hope that link works) of a watermelon leaf attributed to Dr.Holmes and I thought perhaps you might be interested in what I see happening, up and down the East Coast.

I would be very grateful for any thoughts you may have on the matter. I think it's quite important, because if people recognized the very real and immediate threat to their wellbeing and food supply posed by fuel emissions perhaps the transition to clean energy could begin in earnest.

Thank you for reading,

Gail Zawacki

And Dr. Brust's reply:

Hello Gail,

Yes the air pollutants are a growing concern. Some years are worse than others. The thing you could do is keep a video or pictorial record of any air pollution damage to plants in your area. You know the saying about a photo being worth many, many words. Growers often try to overcome the foliar damage by using more fertilizer or pesticides, which really do not help. The more people that are looking for the damage and documenting it the better the chances will be to influence new legislation.

Jerry Brust

And so taking his advice I have posted below some photos from the last couple of days.

I have written several times that older foliage is more damaged than newer foliage that grew later in the season. This I suspect is because the short-lived gases that derive from emissions of volatile organic compounds are more damaging in the presence of extended UV radiation, which is stronger in early and mid-summer. This viburnum was trimmed in late summer, and the new leaves are still green. Below you can see how the older the leaves are, they become progressively more yellowed. Of course the very earliest have fallen off.
Below is a clump of older leaves on a spring beauty bush, very shriveled and shrunken.
And a more recent spurt of growth on the same bush, where the leaves are large and much healthier.
If you click on the photo and examine the geranium closely it becomes much clearer that the older leaves - there is one in the very center and one on the far right - are curled up to almost nothing.
I forget the name of this shrub. It has fuzzy, flat bright pink flowers. Anyway, all of the earliest leaves curled up and fell off, leaving this very peculiar formation where the bright newer leaves look like they are floating.
I have a potted plant whose name also escapes me. It's very tender and tropical so I brought it into the kitchen to overwinter. Leaving aside that it is listing badly and needs to be staked up, it has the identical pattern as the shrubs planted in the ground. The flowers are tiny purple but they come in sprays when it is blooming.
On the left is a really weak older growth, and right next to it is a much more vigorous recent shoot. Many of the older leaves have already fallen off, but enough remain to demonstrate the amazing contrast.
To compare the size and color you would never know this is the same plant.
The rest of the pictures are of ivy, which is turning all sorts of fascinating shades.
I've posted a bunch of them, because they're all so different.
If I didn't know their symptoms are of atmospheric poisoning I would quite like them.
That's all for now! I have been so immersed in many articles recently, about various forms of collapse - economic, military, agricultural - and transitioning to a very different social structure, and how that might occur. I'll put some links after my last, favorite Ivy.

Following is a series of messages with RPauli, Philosopher Extraordinaire, inspired by the post at Desdemona, beginning with a quote there. I've copied it mostly just so I can come back and contemplate it from time to time, because I have always loved mythology, it is so very rich and complex, like the best fairy tales, and RPauli has put in many links to explore. But for anyone else concerned about the topic of hope, they might find it of interest.
Wit's End wrote:
"More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -- Woody Allen
From: richard pauli Subject: Re: followup To: "Wit's End" Date: Friday, November 13, 2009, 5:23 PM


Pandora was created by command of Zeus as a tool for revenge. Instructions were given by Zeus to create a virgin woman of seductive beauty with an insatiable curiosity.

He also ordered a huge vessel to be made in which he placed the Spites:

Old age






to plague Mankind upon their release. At the bottom of the chest he placed Hope to keep man from killing himself in despair, thereby escaping his full measure of suffering. Then Zeus requested that the other gods bestow their special gifts upon her, too.

Pandora was given a crown imbedded with natural and instinctual energies. She was also given the gift of Life or Creation, Sensuality, Charm, Harmony, Enchanting laughter and persuasion and received a Soul filled with Love, Tenderness and Kindness.

Hermes delivered Pandora to Earth as a gift to Epimetheus who took her as his wife. She had been instructed to take with her, Zeus’ vessel , but not to open it under any circumstances. Eventually, Pandora was overcome with curiosity and opened the vessel, releasing the

Spites into the world. She hurried to close the lid, trapping Hope inside, creating delusion, tricking Man into a lifetime of darkness and suffering.

The feminine attributes of Pandora can lend themselves to a tendering of the Spites.

In Greek mythology, gifts are symbols of power and authority.

Pandora received many gifts and came down to Earth well equipped.

The feminine Gifts of Pandora include the ability to validate one’s own convictions of Truth, Beauty and Integrity in regard to body image, confidence, sexual pleasure,

self assessment and the world around us - a feminine perception.

The lesson of Pandora might be one of omnipresence - recognizing both sides of everything life has to offer. The Spites were released upon the world as aggressive (male) energies.

A feminine outlook gives us the ability to see each as potential for This or

for That - the choice is ours, in how we feel about what lies before us.

Through that sensing, we create our lives as we wish them to be.
Wit's End wrote:
I looked up a couple of versions today and they said that delusional hope escaped the vessel, and that the purpose of it was to prevent people from killing themselves thus attenuating the length of their punishment by the spites.

Isn't is amazing how brilliant, and how creative, people were so long ago without the benefit of hot showers and computers?

From RPauli:

Oh jeekers this is a fascinating discussion.

Wikipedia says
Prometheus had (fearing further reprisals) warned his brother Epimetheus not to accept any gifts from Zeus. But Epimetheus did not listen; he accepted Pandora, who promptly scattered the contents of her jar. As a result, Hesiod tells us, "the earth and sea are full of evils" (101). One item, however, did not escape the jar (96–9), hope:

Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,
she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not
fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the
lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing
Zeus the Cloudgatherer.

He does not tell the reader why hope remained in the jar.[11]

... ...

In a major departure from Hesiod, the 6th-century BC Greek elegiac poet Theognis of Megara tells us:

Hope is the only good god remaining among mankind;
the others have left and gone to Olympus.
Trust, a mighty god has gone, Restraint has gone from men,
and the Graces, my friend, have abandoned the earth.
Men’s judicial oaths are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone
revere the immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and
men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of piety.

Theognis seems to be hinting at a myth in which the jar contained blessings rather than evils. In this, he appears to follow a possibly pre-Hesiodic tradition, preserved by the second-century fabulist Babrius,[13] that the gods sent a jar containing blessings to humans. A "foolish man" (not Pandora) opened the jar, and most of the blessings were lost forever. Only hope remained, "to promise each of us the good things that fled."

... ...

In Hesiodic scholarship, the interpretive crux has endured:[19] Is Hope's imprisonment inside a jar full of evils for mankind a benefit for mankind, or a further bane? A number of mythology textbooks echo the sentiments of M. L. West: "[Hope's retention in the jar] is comforting, and we are to be thankful for this antidote to our present ills."[20] Some scholars such as Mark Griffith, however, take the opposite view: "[Hope] seems to be a blessing withheld from men so that their life should be the more dreary and depressing."[21]
... ...
All the evils in the world were scattered from Pandora's jar, while the one potentially mitigating force, Hope, remains locked securely inside.[26]

This interpretation raises yet another question, complicating the debate: are we to take Hope in an absolute sense, or in a narrow sense where we understand Hope to mean hope only as it pertains to the evils released from the jar? If Hope is imprisoned in the jar, does this mean that human existence is utterly hopeless? This is the most pessimistic reading possible for the myth. A less pessimistic interpretation (still pessimistic, to be sure) understands the myth to say: countless evils fled Pandora's jar and plague human existence; the hope that we might be able to master these evils remains imprisoned inside the jar. Life is not hopeless, but each of us is hopelessly human.[27]

An excellent essay was penned by a conservative.
(does that mean politics has come full circle??)

Hope is little more than a word and an emotion. It contains no substance. It has no meaning. Hope itself is a myth. It is one of those beautiful evils. You cannot build your life around hope. At some point you are going to need food and a place to live. And if you really want things to be good, you’re going to want not just hope, but a car and a job and friends and a 401k.

I rather think that hope is a message of inaction. It is a message that placates us. It lures us into a false sense of calm, security, and optimism. There is, after all, no reason to do something if you hope everything works itself out somehow. It gets into your head. Under your skin. It saps your strength and your will.

If happiness is the food of the soul then hope is an empty calorie. It keeps you going but it does not nourish. It has no substance. It is hollow. We need the protein in action, the starch in good planning, the vitamins of experience, the minerals of patience, and maybe a contingency or two for dessert.

"Hope is also described as being the last thing to escape because it is the laziest and least motivated of the things put in the box, if you really want to quibble over the various translations."

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