Tuesday, June 30, 2009

R3volution: Adam Kokesh

Last year at this time, I wrote about the Declaration of Indepedence. I wrote about the document that 56 men signed at the risk of their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. The document that founded the United States.

This year, I am writing about the Revolution that must be renewed in this country to restore the Liberty that our founders pledged their lives to protect, and the rising leaders whose passionate commitment to our liberty can inspire us all.

I begin by posting a speech by Adam Kokesh, who will be running for Congress in New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District.

Here is his speech at the Revolution March:

As with Thomas Paine, we are arriving once again at the Crisis, and "the times that try men's souls" are nigh at the door. Adam Kokesh is one who can and will lead us through this crisis with a passion for Liberty. This is no sunshine patriot.

This July 4th, I will stand with him, in love of Liberty.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

TANSTAAFL: The Sum of the Laws of Thermodynamics

"If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation."
Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1915)

The Magicians won in Congress yesterday.
It was expected, because I believe that the set called Pols is overwhelmingly populated by people who live in unreality so massive that it is rapidly approaching maximum entropy.
They do not accept the laws of thermodynamics, especially the second law, and therefore they believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch.
Would that they would collapse in utter humiliation. Instead, as we live in dangerous times, I fear it is the economy of this country and all that it has built that will do the collapsing. Unfortunately.

For the benefit of our scientifically illiterate Congress, I present the laws of thermodynamics translated into a form that even a Pol can undertand --if and only if he doesn't try to think and chew gum at the same time.

A most basic law zero has been stated:
0. When two objects or systems A and B are in equilibrium with each other, the energy that flows from A to B will be the same as the energy that flows from B to A.
Translation: There is a game.

Now on to the original three.

1. The Law of Conservation of Energy: Energy out cannot exceed energy in. You cannot get more than 100% efficiency.
Translation: You can't win the game. (You can't get something for nothing).

2. The Law of Entropy*: Any process in a closed system will increase the entropy of said closed system. Any process in an open system will increase the entropy of the universe. The entropy of the universe can never decrease. Loophole: You can have 100% efficiency only at a temperature of absolute zero, meaning you can't get 100% efficiency.
Translation: You can't break even.

*Entropy (S) can be defined as the tendency of a system towards disorder. The second law thus says that a closed system will accumulate disorder, and that an open system can become ordered only at the expense of the universe. Thus, as a bumper sticker I got when I passed P-Chem states, "S happens."

3. The Law of Absolute Zero*: It is impossible to reach the temperature of absolute zero. Thus the loophole above is not real.
Translation: You can't even quit the game.

*Absolute Zero is the temperature at which there is minimal molecular energy so that energy cannot be transferred among systems. Absolute zero, defined as -273.15 degrees C, cannot be achieved artificially or naturally (the third law).

All three laws can be summed up as: TANSTAAFL! There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

And I end with another quote:

"Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All three are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these three processes don't have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.
--Seth Lloyd, Nature 430 (2004) p. 971

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Energy Web

I have been reading a lot of science fiction and survival novels this summer. I re-read Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon! and George R. Stewart's classic, Earth Abides. I re-read the first book of S.M. Stirling Emberverse series, Dies the Fire. On Tuesday, I was browsing in the bookstore, looking for a new thriller for which I had read a review, when I came across a new "end of the world" story by William S. Forstchen called One Second After. About the aftermath of an EMP attack on the North American continent, I could barely put it down. So now I am reading that along with the more hopeful novel of a libertarian revolution, Heinlein's immortal The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

I am re-reading and reading these kinds of books, because I have been thinking about the complex web of interactions that makes up a civilization. My original scientific training was in ecology and evolution, such scientists do a lot of thinking about how energy moves through ecosystems via species interactions (such as predation) from the photosynthetic primary producers on to the primary consumers, secondary and tertiary consumers, and how it fans out to the scavengers at the edges. We call this the "food web" but it is really about the movement of energy, gathered by plants from the photons of the sun, and stored in carbon bonds, that are broken by combustion in a process called cellular respiration, which is the process of breaking those bonds in order to move the energy into more easily spendable ATP molecules, which are the energy currency of living cells.

Thus I was excited but not surprised when reading the Forstchen book to come across this passage:

"The web of our society . . . was like the beautiful spider webs he'd find as a boy in the back lot after dawn on summer days, dew making them visible. Vast, intricate things. And at the single touch of a match, the web just collapsed and all that was left for the spider to do , if it survived that day, was to rebuild the web entirely from scratch." (One Second After, p. 260).

Our whole advanced civilization is built of the gossamer webbing of energy interactions, fueled by the ancient photon energy stored in the carbon bonds of fossil fuels. We have not yet found an alternative source of energy that is as efficient a supply of power by which to run our complex web of interactions, except nuclear energy, which we have made prohibitively expensive and difficult to deploy through regulation.

Today, Congress is voting, and may well make those fossil fuels by which we run our civilization prohibitively expensive by a tax system they call cap-and-trade. We currently have no quickly deployable alternative that is ready and able to run a complex, industrial society.

For example, think about medicines, as the protagonist does in One Second After:

"The medicines. Yes, they were out there, someplace. . . . but the factories that made them were in the cities, and the cities had no power, and the people who worked in the factories were hunkered down or scattered refugees . . . And even if the factories did suddenly turn on, the [medicine] was processed from genetically altered bacteria in labs . . . a thousand miles away. The bottles it was then loaded into? Perhaps made in Mexico and trucked to the lab a thousand miles away and then loaded back aboard climate controlled trucks, and taken to airports and priority shipped in containers specially designed, those containers perhaps made in Mississippi. And so it went." (One Second After, p. 259).

And so it goes. For every single thing we ordinarily depend upon to make our lives possible in such numbers. Do you know where your water comes from? For most of us, pumps that require power are used somewhere in the process of getting it from the source to our homes and factories and places of business.

What about food? It takes energy to produce food in the abundance necessary for an American farmer to feed his family, and 20 additional people somewhere in the world. Energy is required to run the tractors for planting and harvest, and to produce the insecticides and herbicides and fertilizers necessary to have transformed farming from a subsistence operation to one that can feed the world. It takes more energy to process the food, to make it safe for human consumption, and to transport it to our cities and towns.

And so it goes for every single thing we use to make our living on this planet.
Living is not free. Not for the birds of the air, not for the bees in honey, and not even for the lilies of the field, that do indeed 'toil and spin' using that photon energy captured from the sun to make glucose which they then use up in the business of living.

The difference between them and us is this. In the natural food web, the efficiency between each node averages out at about 10%. This means that when a plant captures the energy from the photon into the carbon bonds in glucose, 90% of the energy is lost. And the same thing happens when the grazer then eats the plant. And again when the predator eats the grazer, and so forth across the food web.

However, by the design and use of technology that converts fossil fuels into energy-- technology being the human ecological niche--we are now able to get average efficiencies of 30 - 40%, which means that we can support a much more intricate web than we were able to as hunters and gatherers.

Sometimes I think that our leaders are like lemmings, inexplicably leading us to to a very real and very deadly collapse of technology for reasons that they (and we) do not understand and cannot fathom. The cap-and-tax scheme will reduce the efficiency by which we transfer energy for living throughout our civilization. And the costs, defined in dollars, will be shouldered by all of us, from Nancy Pelosi in her private jet, to the day-laborer driving that 1970's era clunker to the job site.

We will pay more for food, for transportation, for heat and light, for life-saving medicines and for life-giving water. And this economic suicide, like all economic disasters, will hit the working poor first, and hit them harder. Just as the English working mother of the industrial revolution had reason to bless James Watt for the power that provided her with clean cotton underwear every day, so will the American working mother have reason to curse Congress for taking that power out of her reach, condemning her and her children to lower standards of sanitation, nutrition and comfort. She will be forced to choose between heat, light, food, and/or medicine.

Our amazing energy web, delicate and beautiful, can be collapsed very quickly by the irrational actions of Congress. Nature's learning curve is far more steep.. It is human beings who will suffer.

These people in Congress are not benevolent. They live for a momentary gain, and do not consider the future of tax slavery and misery to which they condemn their own posterity. They are like lemmings running blindly over a cliff.

And it will not matter one iota in the vast reaches of planetary time. The climate cycles of the planet will continue to wax and wane in great temporal cycles. Species will come, and species will go. Earth abides.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cap and Trade Sleight of Hand

If it's Wednesday, then the issue is Health Care. Right?
And it is. ABC is doing an infomercial for Barack Obama and the Dems health care initiative.

And this is a major problem. Last night the Engineering Geek and I were at the Independence Grill making signs with New Mexicans for Liberty for the protest that will take place outside of our local ABC TV affiliate--KOAT. This will take place on the corner of Commanche and Carlisle in Albuquerque for you locals. They will gather (I have to work, but the EG will be there) at 6 PM and you can stay as long as you want.

I must say that the Engineering Geek gets pretty creative with his signs. I made one that said:
"If you liked Pravda, you'll love ABC!" The EG looked at it and got out a red sharpie and made the letter 'C' in ABC into a hammer and cycle, Soviet style. (Yes, I know, anyone born after about 1985 is unlikely to even remember the Soviet Union).
His own sign says: ABC: In bed with the Feds!

But I digress. The socialized medicine initiative is big, it is important, and it is NOT being voted on this week. What is?

Cap and Trade.

David Copperfield, move over! Obama is a master of misdirection. While he is getting the patriot organizations all geared up about healthcare, he and the Dems are hoping to get Cap and Trade passed in the House on Friday with minimal fuss. Thus the summer, Friday schedule.

Cap and Trade is a way to commit fiscal suicide, causing great increases in energy prices that will hurt everyone throughout the economy, but will have minimal effect on global temperature. (I have posted my thoughts on the issue of Global Climate change here and here. I do not agree with Al Gore on this issue. The science is not at all settled, nor does it dictate specific political action). The Heritage Foundation analysts say this about Cap and Trade:

" Though the proposed legislation would have little impact on world temperatures, it is a massive energy tax in disguise that promises job losses, income cuts, and a sharp left turn toward big government.
Ultimately, this bill would result in government-set caps on energy use that damage the economy and hobble growth--the very growth that supports investment and innovation. Analysis of the economic impact of Waxman-Markey projects that by 2035 the bill would:

--Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $9.4 trillion;
--Destroy 1,145,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 2,479,000 jobs;
--Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation;
--Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 58 percent;
--Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent;
--Raise an average family's annual energy bill by $1,241; and
--Result in an increase of $28,728 in additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation."

For more information, follow the link above. The real purpose of this bill is to provide the federal government with more revenue, although this is short-sighted. With whole industries destroyed and double-digit unemployment, who will have the money to pay more taxes?
Congress--to put it bluntly--doesn't understand that money represents productivity and wealth. They think it's magic.

In any case, the sponsors are very unlikely to bring the bill to the floor for a vote if they think there is substantial opposition. Thus, few are talking about it.

Call your nonrepresenting representatives. Make sure they know that there is opposition out there. Let them know that you are watching both hands.
Pay great attention to the man behind the curtain.
Don't let them pass another unread bill in the middle of the night!

Hat Tap: The Gates of Vienna.

Summer Solstice Sunrise 2009


On Saturday night, just before midnight MDT (05:45 GMT, Sunday morning), the Earth passed the Northern Hemisphere Summer Solstice point in its orbit around the sun. On Sunday morning, the Engineering Geek, the dogs and I walked up to the top of Via Sedillo to welcome the first sunrise of astronomical summer.

Before the sun came fairly over the trees, north of east, we could see its light steal across the Juan Tomas valley below. In the picture, the foreground was still in the shadow of the Via Sedillo Ridge upon which we were standing.

A few minutes later, the earth
turning imperceptibly east,
we saw the sun begin to edge up
over the trees as we faced east,
across the ridge.

Welcome, Star of Life, Center of the Year!
Welcome, Summer!

For comparison, here is the Vernal Equinox sunrise, taken on March 21, 2009. Here the sun is rising due east. Above, it is rising 23 degrees 27 minutes north of due east.

And the Wheel of the Year keeps on turning!

Since the Solstice, the Monsoon season has begun. Yesterday, I had to turn back, could not cross an arroyo, due to a cloudburst that hit the west end of Tijeras Canyon, suddenly, as we drove to town.

Friday, June 19, 2009

IRD: Are You a Real Teacher? Or Do You Just Homeschool?

Last year, teaching for the Institute for Reading Development was all-encompassing.
This year, it is part of what I'm doing. There are other parts as well.

The work itself has become more interesting because I understand the curriculum enough now to modify it (slightly) as needed to fit the real people seated in front of me. And this means that I have begun to think about individual students more, and try to figure out what makes them tick--at least as far as their reading goes. For example, is that middle school kid who is trying to outcool everyone a problem-child? Or is he sorely lacking in confidence in his abilities?

Whereas last year, I was struggling mightily to just master the curriculum, so that I only had time for a few fleeting thoughts about students, this year as I sat down to write my Book Level Assessments (pre-Reading through Grade 5), and my Book Level Recommendations (Grade 6 - Adult), I enjoyed being able to summon the face of each student (with help from my seating chart) and with it a sense of the reader and the person.

There are still some things that I am still surprised and nonplussed by when I encounter them. For example, people parading into class late week after week, even though they have paid tuition for the course, and even more puzzling, people who pay and then don't show up. Period. Strange.

Adults these days!

And then there are the parents who walk in with a chip on their shoulder. Despite my string of degrees, I will never be good enough to teach their Johnny or Suzy, the one going into honors English, you know. They demand: "Are you a real teacher?!"

I am always tempted to say, "Why, no! I'm a holographic teacher. You know, like the doctor on Star Trek Voyager." But then, I would hope that most people who love Star Trek would not be that dismissive and disrespectful. There are quite a few parents I have encountered who don't have their manners very solidly pinned on.

This year, I had a parent overhear my conversation with two homeschooled students about how I homeschooled my own son. She didn't talk to me. She didn't clarify her notions. She called the company and complained that I obviously "couldn't handle the class" because I was a "homeschooled teacher." Of course I couldn't, but it would have been great to walk up to her and talk about Abigail Adams, one of the most intellectually astute women in American history, who was also a "homeschool teacher."

By the way, the two homeschooled kids in that class, the ones deprived of "real" teaching? They are among the best readers in the class. Figures.

I have no idea what the IRD teacher support staff think about complaints like this one. My teacher supervisor asked me directly: "Are you a homeschool teacher?" Well, yes, but like most homeschool moms, or like moms in general, that's not all I have done my whole life.

It is at these kinds of moments that I have to repress that part of my that wants to list all of my degrees, honors, publications, and my annual income. But it would be dishonorable of me to play that kind of "one-up the Joneses" game. So I just smile and say, "Yes, I'm a real teacher. Yes, I did homeschool my son. And I still miss it."

And that is true.
I still miss it very much.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Been There, Done That. Got the Cartoon.

This cartoon is from the Chicago Tribune, published in 1934. The guy on the ass is Rexford Tugwell, a New Deal agricultural economist. The other people in the wagon are also members of FDR's 'brain trust"--Ivy League social scientists and economists.

The sign on the side of the wagon says: "YOUNG PINKIES FROM COLUMBIA AND HARVARD"
Stalin stands in the right foreground saying: "HOW RED THE SUNRISE IS GETTING" as the Brain Trustees throw bags of money into the mud.
At the bottom left, Karl Marx is seen painting a sign that says:
To the side, Marx comments: "IT WORKED IN RUSSIA!"

What's that old crack about "those who fail to learn from history . . .?"
Except, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the U.S. government was in the black--thus "the soundest government in the world." This time we are so far in the red that the Pols don't even try to explain how we will repay it. We can't. We're not even SPEND! SPEND! SPENDing our own money.

Just one question. Are we doomed to repeat total war, too?

Edited once for clarity.EHL

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long Warm Days, Short Cool Nights, Early Summer Wildflowers


We have come to summer, though the nights are cool, and we have yet to turn on our swamp coolers. On our morning walks, I wear a jacket until the sun comes over the ridge, and then the intesity of the rays soon has it tied around my waist. We are seeing so many wildflowers. Some are new on my list, and some I identified last year but couldn't resist their beauty.

The meadow and the trees, the pale blue horizon deeping into that startling New Mexico blue, all speak of the change of season. Summer has come to the high meadow.

Last year I identified #16. Opuntia polycantha, the prickly pear cactus, but it was not in flower. Now it is, and you can see the resemblance of the Cacti to the rose family.

Near the top of the bank is the lavender flower:
37: Phlox hoodii. Carpet Phlox (a.k.a.
Santa Fe Phlox)
In the gravel beneath is:
38. Trogopodon dubius. Yellow Salsify.
One flower had been in seed the night before,
but the rain washed it away before morning.

In many places in the meadows, we find:
39. Erysium capitatum. Western Wallflower.
It is in the Brassicaceae, the Mustard Family.
It has the spicy smell of a mustard.

Blooming in the lower meadow is:
40. Bahia absinthfolia. Sageleaf Bahia.
I've seen this in April south of T or C, but
never until June does it bloom here!

At the edges of the meadow and among the pinyon and juniper tree, there is:
41: Agastache pallidiflora. Mountain Hyssop (sometimes called Giant Hyssop). This is a member of the mint family. You can see last years talks in the foreground, pale and dried.

The paintbrushes are back! This one, growing beneath
a pinyon, has found a beautiful home. I counted
this last year, this is #18. Castilleja applegatei.
Indian Paintbrush, a member of the snapdragon family,

That's all for this week! Late Saturday night, just before midnight, the Summer Solstice will happen in our time zone! We are quickly headed to the longest day of the year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

California Central Valley Farmers' Deal with the Devil

Yesterday I posted an entry about the fight between the farmers and the fish, in which I intended to also discuss the farmer's deal with the devil. However, due to various interruptions (my family expects to be fed at dinner time, as do the animals) and discursions in the text I actually wrote, I didn't do so. To be honest, I found the writing going a certain way and went with it, and as the post had gotten quite long, I thought that another post would be a more suitable way to discuss that aspect of the problem. In the meantime, alert blogger Monica of Spark a Synapse fame wrote an extensive and well-argued comment that you can read here. It was so good, and will keep me so on track that I will be using portions of it.

Monica wrote:
"Cutting off the water supply for a fish is ridiculous, I agree with that part. But the historical and political context here needs to be taken into account as well."

This is very true. As much as I would like to discuss situtations in which one party to the dispute is as pure as the driven snow, it is getting more and more difficult to find them. The farmers in question, and their predecessors are not free-market capitalists who have never taken handouts from the government. Unfortunately out of ignorance or desire to get something for nothing, as people are wont to do when they can, most Americans had made deals with the government devil.

Monica says: "There's no such thing as a free lunch. Or, there is when you deal with the feds. ;)"

Unfortunately for our California farmers, there's no such thing as a free deal with the feds, either. In fact, they have made deals with two devils, the state government (California) and the federal government. Further, they had either not read their Faust, or they forgot that the devil would come calling to collect sooner or later.

The California Aqueduct is a government project that is maintained by the California Department of Water Resources. Because it is a government-run project, rather than a private Acequia Association, demands for the water are apportioned politically, and the costs are born by the taxpayers. From it's inception to the present, the California Aqueduct, the purpose of which is to move water from the Sierras in the north to the dry Central Valley for agriculture, as well as to cities for municipal use, has given very favorable, subsidized rates to farmers and charged municipalities much higher rates, so that the taxpayers pay twice: once for the subsidies and once again for the use of their own water.

The whole issue becomes even more convoluted because the farmers, who own businesses, pay business taxes on their profits to the state, as well as personal income taxes, with the right hand, while taking the subsidies (in the form of water prices far below market value) with the left. And this is all at the state level. When the feds get involved, as they have, by delivering federal money collected from people all over the country to benefit certain sectors of the California economy.

At the same time, the federal government has taken it upon itself to control the use of water in the west, sometimes stripping older, private water associations of their water property rights and giving them carte blanche to local, state and regional governmental agencies that are more easily controlled. The private water cooperative to which Ragamuffin House belongs, and from which we purchase our water, has gone through several name changes and a number of legal maneuvers to purchase and maintain water rights because the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County,, through the Mid-Region Council of Governments, wants to annex our water.

(In general, water law in the Western United States can become quite complicated. The private purchase of land, for example, does not necessarily give the owner the mineral or water rights for these resources on that land. In some locations, a land-owner may be able to collect rainwater that falls on their roofs, but they may not have the groundwater rights to dig wells, for example. To further complicate things, individual states have negotiated treaties with one another about how much water they may use from their rivers that flow into or from other states. These treaties have generally been short-sighted in that they do not take into account recurring weather/climate phenomena like drought).

In California (and the rest of the West), population growth, drought and competing water usage (urban, recreational, agricultural, environmental) have predictably* come together to create the situation the Central Valley is experiencing today. And nobody who uses water is innocent in the matter of accepting government subsidies and handouts; further, individual property owners and Land Grant communities have often been forced to accept governmental authority over their older, more communitarian water arrangements, which worked quite well for the kind of small, regionally commercial farming that was traditional in these parts. (See the article about Acequias, linked above). The concerns of people who farm in small-population states, like New Mexico, are often ignored when the people of larger states, like Texas and California, appropriate property rights by force through the federal government. In New Mexico property rights disputes (including water and mineral rights) also date back to the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago, and are not considered resolved in the eyes of the descendents of the original settlers, who are still quite suspicious of the federal government. (For a very interesting fictional treatment of 'colonization' of Northern New Mexico by Texans, and the ensuing water 'wars', see John Nichol's novel, The Milagro-Beanfield War).

(Property deeds here include the ownership history of the land purchased; thus when I received my title search from the title company for my first home in Rio Rancho, the transactions were listed back to the original Black's Arroyo Landgrant documented by King Philip of Spain in the 1500s. The title for this house was much the same, going back to the Sedillo Land Grant in the 1600s).

So the California farmers are not innocent. At the same time, I do have more sympathy for them than Monica does, because I suspect that although they are not innocent, in some cases, they were likely forced to make deals with the devil against their better judgement in order to continue farming or hold onto their land. Some of them--especially those whose land and orchards had been in the family for generations--were likely forced to give up their ground-water rights at the point of a government gun.

There are other concerns, as well. Food security is going to become a larger issue in the United States because the productivity of farms has been squandered by nearly a century of federal meddling (going back to the New Deal), that has been destructive to the initiative and independence of American farmers. (McLean County, Illinois, where I hale from, is an exception because most of the farmers there owned their land outright before the New Deal. But Iowa was nearly destroyed by FDR's policies. My children's great-grandfather, born on an Iowa farm, and died in 2000 at the ripe old age of 110, never got over his hatred of that president and his destructive policies).

I am not sure I can forsee a good solution to these problems. Any solution is going to require painful accomodations to reality. The State of California has some of the most meddlesome and restrictive environmental regulation in the United States. It is said that the California state government even wants to determine the size of citizen's big-screen television sets. (I'm not sure if that's really a joke!). Due to repressive government and increasingly burdensome taxation, wealth is fleeing that state at an unprecendented rate, and property is becoming usalable due to unrealistic values. California is on the verge of total financial collapse.

I think it would be a good start for California to assert the 10th Amendment and get the feds out of the water picture. I am, however, very uncertain of the legalities involved. But if this could be done, then the next step would be to privatize the California Aqueduct. Perhaps with modifications for size, the Acequia and/or Water Association models would work for California. This would likely mean that farmers in the Central Valley would have to change the types of crops they grow, and how they use their water. Municipalities would also be charging more for water, and people would have to forgo frequent showers, green lawns and lush golf-courses, or pay more for these amenities (Those of us in the Inter-Mountain West have considered Californians spoiled and privileged by federal favoritism for some time; thus the ubiquitous bumper stickers: Don't Californicate _____ [name of mountain state]). Clearly, government has some role in these water issues, if only to adjudicate a process of transferring water rights into private hands and then adjudicating disputes in the future.

If water rights were in the hands of private associations, I don't think there would be any nonsense about diverting water from productive use for the (dubious) benefit of a fish.

Monday, June 15, 2009

California's Central Valley: Don't Let That Desert Bloom!

Hang onto your hats, folks, this story could be right out of Atlas Shrugged!

Today as I was shelving books in my Guest Room/Library, I heard a short news item on a local AM station from Albuquerque about a protest along I-5 in California's Central Valley. Evidently, some farmers had driven their tractors onto the the freeway near Fresno, and although they were in the slow lane only, it caused an accident. This is what the Fresno Fox station is reporting, but the real story is not about the accident, it's about why the farmers were driving their tractors onto the freeway at all. It was a water protest.
To understand it all, indulge me with a digression about the Great Central Valley itself, and its current problems.

I will start with a paragraph from my August 2007 Travelogue about the Central Valley:

"California's Central Valley is a geological wonder of the world. The Central Valley is a great sliver of oceanic crust that got stuck in the Sierran Subduction Zone, stopping the conveyor of ocean crust under the continent in that place, and causing subduction to begin further west, at the Franciscan Subduction Zone. On that stuck piece of oceanic bedrock, alluvium from the Sierras and river sediments have formed an amazing flat, fertile valley that stretches several hundred miles from the Tehachipi mountains in the south, to the rise of the Klamath north of Redding, California. It is incredible in it's flatness, it's immensity and fertility. Although there is not much to see geologically speaking, just alluvial fans here and there, and some stray volcanoes near Colusa, it is still impressive in a way that words cannot describe."

But the Central Valley, running between the Sierras, and fault blocks to the east and the Coast Range to the west, has no large natural rivers that run through it south of Sacramento. The Sacramento River enters the Central Valley near Redding, but flows west of Sacramento, joining the waters of the San Joaquin River to create a great delta at Suisun Bay, which is a northern extension of San Francisco Bay.

In order to make the Central Valley fertile south of Sacramento, water is pumped across the hills south of Sacramento, and then flows or is pumped through a series of canals and irrigation ditches down to Tehachipi, nearly 300 miles south. The picture to the left shows a pumping station south of Stockton.

This is an amazing feat of engineering that has made the Central Valley one of the great food producing places in the west, supplying the United States with much of its vegetables, fruit and nuts.

During the past three years, there has been a great drought in the Central Valley, making the farmers and the farm workers there more dependent than ever on the flow of water coming out of the north.

In the summer of 2007, when we drove through, the drought was in it's second summer, and dust storms like this one we drove through near between I-5 and Bakersfield, had become increasingly common. A desert dweller myself, I had still never seen a sight quite like this, because instead of sand, the dust-storm was made up of the fine soil fractions, coming from the silts and topsoils of the Central Valley.

In what some are calling an agricultural disaster on par with that of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, unemployment has grown to 20 - 50% in the Central Valley. People there are experiencing true misery and hardship.

But the final blow to the business of the fields and orchards is not the drought. They were hanging on and making do. And it was not the economic crisis, though that hurt.

The final blow is something that has so rarely made the national news that most Americans are not aware of it.

The final blow to agriculture in the Central Valley is the federal government. First, the pumps were shut down in 2007 for the Delta Smelt, a minnow that has been listed as endangered or threatened. It is endemic to the San Joaquin - Sacramento River Delta, and Federal Judge ruled that the water for agriculture in the Central Valley had to be released in Suisun Bay instead. However, there are differences of opinion about whether the threat to the fish has been overstated, and whether or not it is the water taken for agriculture that is responsible. There has also been some question about whether the Delta Smelt continues to have a unique genome, or if the population has interbred with other common minnows.

In February of this year, the people of the Central Valley were informed that they would receive zero water allocation for the season and that pumping would remain closed down. This means that there is no water to grow the crops, a loss of 60,000 jobs. The people of the Central Valley understand this to mean that in the eyes of federal government, they are not as important as a tiny minnow that looks exactly like the minnows they use for bait.

As a biologist, I believe that biological diversity is important. However, I have never thought it should be or even could be protected by laws, however well meaning, that pit the economies of whole states and countries against a single species. I also wonder whether or not the earth is losing biological diversity at the high rate that is bandied about. Where did the number come from? Does it take into account the fact that there are a myriad of species never identified? Or that species do adapt to changing environments? In fact, this last is the hallmark of evolution.

And as I have spent this evening looking into this story, I can't help but remember Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. In it she describes the destruction of whole regional economies due to the political considerations of a few self-righteous individuals. One segment tells of the food insecurity that burdened the whole nation brought on by a manufactured famine. It was different in the particulars than this one about to take place in California, but the results will be the same:

"The wads of worthless paper money were growing heavier in the pockets of the nation, but there was less and less for that money to buy. In September, a bushel of wheat had cost eleven dollars; it had cost thirty dollars in November; it had cost one hundred in December . . . while the printing presses of the government treasury were running a race with starvation and losing. " (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Centennial Edition, p. 1082).

This is exactly what will happen to food prices in this nation as a result of the insane farm and environmental policies of this government.

Ms. Rand's novel was prescient not because the author was a fortune teller, but because she could see clearly what happens to people when they place no value on their own lives. What is happening in California now is the result of a federal government out of control; one that exists not to " . . . establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty . . .", but rather exists to aggrandize its own power through political gamesmanship that can only end in tragedy for the productive people who are forced to give up their livelihoods at the behest of a looting politician.

A few things to ponder from an evolutionary biologist:

1. In the natural world, it makes no evolutionary sense for an individual to do anything for "the good of the species." What benefits the species is for individuals to maximize their individual fitness (differential reproduction), thus increasing diversity in the gene pool. However, individuals do not consciously choose this, rather they live their lives using the tools provided by their own natures, equisitely adapted and adapting to the niches the species fills, in order to benefit themselves and their offspring, who will propel their genes into the future.

2. It makes even less sense--if that is logically possible--for individual members of a species to decrease their own fitness for the supposed benefit of another, as the federal government is forcing the farming people of California's Central Valley to do.

There are good evolutionary reasons why human beings ought to value their own lives highest, then the lives of their close genetic relatives, and then lives other humans, above those of other species.

And human beings are unique in that our large and complex brains, which betray a unique evolutionary heritage, stand us alone among all the species on the earth. We are capable of reason, and we understand our own mortality. This is our gift, taken from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to cite metaphor. This makes us uniquely responsible for our choices.

I have had a very difficult time understanding the real agenda behind political environmentalism, just as I have had a hard time understanding that there are people within our government who do not value human existence. But now I understand that both of them have the same agenda. Neither value their own lives so much as they value temporary power, unearned adulation, and total control over others. It is becoming clear to me that they'd rather die than give that up. And they'll die happy if they take the rest of us with them.

In the meantime, brace yourselves. California is about to be hit with the perfect storm. A man-made agricultural disaster and financial default. If the adage is true that as goes California, so goes the nation, then there are rough waters ahead.

NOTE: Below is a You-Tube Video from the California Farm Bureau Federation. If you go to the You-Tube site you will find all of the information you have probably not heard on the news. These farmers are not asking for a bail-out. They only want to use the water from one of the most ingeneous engineering projects of all time to feed the rest of us the food to which we have become accustomed to buying at decent prices.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Problem with Progressivism is Messianism

Evolutionary biologists take pains to teach students that evolution has no direction; it has no preferred path precisely because it has no specific end. As Steven J. Gould used to say, if you rewind the evolution of life on earth and set it back to the beginning, there is no guarantee that it would play out the same way again.

Unlike social Darwinists, who tend to believe that their preferred form of being human is the pinnacle of creation (note the conceptual contradiction here), evolutionary biologists understand that 'fitness' in the Darwinian sense does not imply a more 'perfect' member of a species, rather it defines individuals who can live long enough in certain environment to reproduce. Thus the measure of individual fitness is not wealth or a certain definition of perfection, rather it is the number of offspring one successfully brings into the world.

As a scientist trained in ecology (the science not the social movement) and evolution, it is rather amusing to observe how much the cultural elite really does not understand the theory of evolution; nor do they grasp its principles nor accept the consequences of its reality. To them, as to their creationist opponents, it is a political tool used to force their ideology on others, rather than a scientific idea that serves to illuminate reality.

Less amusing is the use of the theory of evolution as an excuse for the early 20th century Progressive push for eugenics, which appeared first here in the United States. (See for example Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' opinion, when writing for the majority in Buck v. Bell, which enshrined forced sterilization into law in the United States). It was the Progressive movement's goal to build a more compliant, less independent citizen; one who would be willing to subsume his will to that of the State, in order to fit like a cog in the all-powerful and all-knowing State.

The problem with the Progressives is twofold. The first is that they believed that the term "fitness", as used in evolution, implies some quality other than differential reproduction. They believed that they could redefine fitness to mean whatever they wanted it to mean in order to direct human evolution toward what they conceived to be its proper end. And this leads to the second problem, namely, that they believed that evolution has a direction and a goal, and further, that they, by virtue of their vision were privileged to define that goal and direct humanity towards it.

In short, Progressives were (and are) Messianists. They believe that human beings are not good as they are, and should not be allowed to pursue their own ends, but that they must be perfected in some way in order to be made to conform to better ends. The only difference between the Progressives and religious Messianists, is that Progressives proclaim that they themselves are qualified to define the end of evolution and the perfection of the human being, whereas the religious Messianists rely on scripture and tradition, ultimately blaming their own desire to restrict human freedom on their various gods. But both religious Messianists and Progressives believe in some form of original sin--the concept that human beings are inherently evil and that they must be fundamentally changed to accomodate a perfect world. That this unchanging and perfect world would not be a human world is left unstated.

The particular form of Messianism that plagues Western culture began during the time when the tribal Israelite religion was evolving into modern Judaism. The Rabbis of the Talmud were, for the most part, suspicious of the apocalyptic nature of the Messianic goal. Those who espoused it (e.g. R. Akiba), learned the hard way of the danger of it during the third war with Rome (the Bar Kochba Revolt--132-135 C.E.). The Rabbis came to realize that fervent messianism was not compatible with the survival of the Jewish people. Knowing that they could not eradicate it from the minds of the people, they enshrined it as a distant hope in an unattainable future (e.g. Pirke Avot: the Messiah will come when all of [the people] Israel keeps the Sabbath perfectly). They also created a system of law and custom that kept people's focus firmly on their own lives, not on some future immortality. Thus the average Jew was taught to pray for the coming of the Messiah three times a day, but to value his life and the goodness thereof in the here and now. To this day, one notable quality of most Jews is that they have their feet firmly planted on the ground, and do not accept the idea that death is the gateway to a better world.

It helped that Judaism never accepted the concept of original sin. The Hebrew version of the story of creation uses a play on words to make the point that the material world is good, and that the presence of human beings makes it very good. (The play is on the Hebrew word for human being--Adam--which has three Hebrew letters, alef-dalet-mem; rearranged these letters become--meod--mem-alef-dalet, which means very; so with the presence of human beings the universe, which was called tov--good, is called tov meod--very good.) When confronted with the Christian notion of original sin, the Rabbis added this statement to the morning service: "The spirit that you have created within me is a good one, O G-d . . ." Every morning, a religious Jew thus affirms his own goodness.

In Judaism, morality rests on the notion that human beings have free will, and because of their knowledge of good and evil, are constantly required to make choices. No one, neither human nor divine, can save another from the necessity of choice and the consequences that follow. A human being, by his nature, must go through life asking himself: "Right or wrong? Good? Or evil?"

However, Jews, just like other human beings can become lazy and wish to avoid the consequences of free will, though this is quite impossible. Choices must be made and the consequences of those choices follow like night follows day. Nevertheless, people often desire to avoid the painful consequences of their wrong choices, and try to evade their reality.

(This is especially true in times of great difficulty, such as those Jews encountered during the Reformation and Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was actually an en-dark-enment for Jews in Europe, as Christian anti-Judaism mutated into the race-theory of modern antisemitism culminating in the European genocide by the National Socialists).

In modern Europe, socialists and fascists took the Messianic idea out of the religious context, where it was dangerous enough, and decided that certain "enlightened" individuals have the wisdom to determine what the good life and the perfect person ought to be, and to force others (for their own good) toward this goal. They determined that goodness means that individuals must give up their lives and aspirations for the "public good" as Holmes stated in Buck v. Bell:

"In view of the general declarations of the Legislature and the specific findings of the Court obviously we cannot say as matter of law that the grounds do not exist, and if they exist they justify the result. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind." (Emphasis added).

The emphasized words demonstrate that to the Progressive, individuals exist to serve the interests of a few, who call themselves 'the State' and 'Society'. These terms are really a mask for tyranny.

The real engine of American progress has been liberty. Our founders understood that human beings are endowed by their very nature with individual rights, and that governments exist to protect these rights. That people have the right to their own life, and thus must have the liberty to make their own choices, in order to pursue their own ends. The founders put these ideas forth in Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." (1776)

But Messianists tend to have little regard for the lives and happiness of individuals because their vision of perfection is collective. As the consequences of their evasions of reality pile up, they tend to blame it on everyone and everything but their mistaken ideals, as F. A. Hayek astutely pointed out in The Road to Serfdom. Thus they blame it on the inherent wrongness of human nature (original sin), which they believe requires them to force goodness on their victims. Finally, they come to a place of such embittered hatred of human existence that they'd rather see the whole world enslaved or dead than give up their Vision of the Anointed.

And yet the whole reason that their visions don't work, and that they cause such death and suffering, is because their visions do not conform to reality; it is the realness of matter and the consequences to mortal beings that require individual choice. It is the Progressive vision of humanity that is wrong, and their imposition of it upon others that is evil, not the nature of the human being.

Human beings evolved with all of the aspects of human nature because this enables humans to go on living and reproducing in this environment, on this earth. There is not some teleological perfection that we are missing, no ideal end that we must sacrifice our lives to attain. We are here now. We live now. Our pursuit of the good is the pursuit of our own lives in our own time.

An evolutionary biologist knows that evolution has no direction, no goal.
And she knows that it is the diversity of individual choices and personal ends that can vouchsafe a future for the species on this ever-evolving planet. For a while.

Of course, evolution is not moral. It is an idea, and thus cannot make choices. But people who understand the idea that evolution has no direction and no preferred end can infer from it that life itself is the goal of living, and what is good will always be those choices that maintain life.

Human life on this earth is tov meod. This is very good.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Sabbatical Year of Marriage

On Monday, June 8, the Engineering Geek and I marked our seventh marriage anniversary.
This year, then, is our Sabbatical year of marriage.

Since the Boychick is at BSA camp this week, we took the opportunity to go out alone together to a very good Greek place, and we splurged on a bottle of wine and dessert as well, since we could linger over our dinner.

We held hands at the table and shared our memories of the wedding and our honeymoon trip to Alaska. We still feel like teenagers in love, but we're old enough to really appreciate it.

Signing the Ketubah:
A Jewish wedding is legal when the Ketubah--the marriage contract--is signed. Ours is traditional, but has also a more contemporary paragraph.

I am already veiled--the bedecken--the veiling ceremony occurred when the EG was led into the chapel where I was was seated, waiting for him to see me for the first time that day.

Under the Chuppah, with our family, bridesmaids and groomsmen around.
The wedding ceremony itself is called
Kiddushin--holiness--for the covenant
of marriage takes us back to Eden.
The Bimah is decorated with greenery
for Shavuot, which occured the day prior.
Shavuot--the Feast of Weeks--when
the Eternal solemnized the Covenant of Sinai,
and the Mountain was our Chuppah.
Now we are in our Sabbatical Year, a time to count the harvest, share it freely, and rejoice in newly creating our covenant.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hidden Blooms

The ubiquitous "they" still say that this is not an early monsoon season,
but to those of us living in the Sandias it sure feels like it is.

The rains have brought us some hidden blooms. Two more for the One Hundred Species Challenge.

35. Penstamon breviculus. Shortstem pestamon.
We almost stepped on this one in the high meadow.

36. Escobaria vivipara (var. neomexicana). Pincushion ball cactus (also called Coyphatha or Mamillaria varieties).

We are walking very carefully in the high meadow these days. Both dogs routinely jump over the cacti or go around them, as they have learned. So have we.

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Playing Fast and Loose with History: Obama at Cairo University

I have been thinking about Barack Obama's speech at Cairo over this weekend, and contemplating where to start with a speech that was so full of misinformation and misdirection. As it turns out, others have said much that I might have said, and they have said it better than I would have. Here are some links:

In his post on Obama's Submission, Ed Cline at the Rule of Reason discussions some of the historicial inaccuracies in Obama's speech, which is useful, but his post directly addresses the differences in fundamental values between Islam and the United States. He writes:

"As ideas, America and Islam are mutually exclusive and fundamentally incompatible. There is no reconciliation possible between freedom and servitude, between reason and faith, between progress and stagnation, between the sanctity of property and legalized theft, between individual rights and societies policed by priestly castes. As with reason versus any other faith or religion, it is a matter of “either-or.” Obama repeated what he said in Ankara, Turkey in April, that the United States “is not and never will be at war with Islam.” That may be true, however, Islam has been and is certainly now at war with the U.S. and with the West."

In a post over at The Charlotte Capitalist, Andy Clarkson identifies the true origin of the advances that Obama claims for Islam. He concludes by saying:

"For Barack Obama to deny the reality of medieval Arab history by praising Islam as the tool of modern progress when in fact it is the consistent killer of human thought and action is a disgrace. It is a disgrace because it attacks not only the true tool of human progress (reason), but it attacks the philosophical and historical roots of the country of which he is president."

Finally, the straightforward Carolyn Glick of the Jerusalem Post discusses what Obama's evasion of truth-telling means for Israel, stating:

"In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free world."

Once again, the President of the United States has played fast and loose with history.
Or is it that he consistently plays fast and loose with the truth?

It imperils us all.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Of An Ominous Financial Crash, An Ordinary National Election, A Trivial Tea Party

One of the great pleasures of finally setting up my library (after more than ten years of rooting in boxes), is the pleasure of re-reading old books that I own, after a long absence. One of the most intellectually delightful and challenging aspects of this rediscovery is reading with fresh eyes, from a different perspective in space and time, as well as experience and knowledge. Thus, ideas come together in new and interesting ways, keeping the mind active, and providing much welcome new understandings that can blunt the worry and concerns of our times.

So it is that a book that I had been thinking about came into my hand once again, out of the depth of a box labeled simply: Books (4/06)--Under-stair closet. Most of the books in these boxes had first been packed in the summer of 2000, when the kids and I moved from our rental house in Rio Rancho, to the first house I had ever owned; the one that I thought I would live in for a long time. Never unpacked for the nearly two years we lived in that house, they were moved again in early summer 2002, when the Engineering Geek and I married, and we moved into a house in the Far Northeast Heights of Albuquerque. Three years ago in April 2006, in the process of moving once again to this house in Sedillo, we unpacked boxes of his-and-hers books that had come to reside under the stairs in the walk-out basement, in order to give away about one third of them and move the rest. They were shuffled and re-packed, and I remember seeing this particular book, but neither of us had the leisure to actually read any of them.

So this book came to my hands again last Tuesday, a book that I had thought about quite a bit over the past half-year because of the events that are overtaking our country. The book is called The Fourth Turning, An American Prophecy: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendevous with Destiny by William Strauss and Neil Howe. I stood there, among the half-emptied boxes, haphazardly piled books awaiting some semblance of order, feeling a sense of familiar excitement, as the book fell open in my hands. It opened to a chapter toward the end of the book, "A Fourth Turning Prophecy", and as I glanced down the page, I read:

"Sometime around the year 2005, perhaps a few years before or after, America
will enter the Fourth Turning . . . A spark will ignite a new mood. Today, the
same spark would flame briefly but then extinguish, its last flicker merely
confirming and deepening the Unraveling-era mind-set. This time, though it
will catalyze a Crisis. In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a
financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party."
(Strauss & Howe, 1997, p. 272).

That last sentence, in particular, jumped out at me, demanded my attention, and sent a chill of recognition through me. "Wow," I thought. "This is an American Prophecy--not in the sense of reading the tea leaves, but in the more traditional sense of those who stand on the tracks and see the train coming from a long way off."

The authors, Strauss and Howe, published their first book together in 1991. It was called Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069.In it, they present a history of the United States and a possible vision of the future drawn in broad strokes, told as the story of generations, each four of which has a particular archetypical "personality." From this Strauss and Howe have developed a theory that the lifecycle placement of these generations (childhood, young adulthood, middle-age, elder) influences the mood of all of them, and further, creates a seasonal cycle lasting 80 - 90 years, that they call the saeculum. This consists of an exuberant High "spring", a turbulent, fertile Awakening "summer", an unraveling social fabric "fall", and a Crisis "winter." They detect just such a cycle operating in Anglo-American history since the Reformation. In The Fourth Turning, Strauss and Howe go on to predict the coming of the new crisis, as the Boomers take their place as elders and the Millenial generation enters young adulthood.

I read The Fourth Turning in 1998, as a Strauss and Howe Unraveling Turning was approaching its end. They describe an Unraveling Turning as "a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order (created during the High) idecays and the new values regime (created during the Awakening) implants." (p. 3). When I read the book, I certainly identified with and recognized the Unraveling mood they were describing, and I had been walking through my life at that time with the strong notion that "this can't last." Therefore, I was receptive to the predictions they were making about a coming Crisis period, and I was interested to see how predictive their theory of the saeculum would be. Thus when 9-11 happened, I thought it might be that "spark", but later thought it was more likely an early warning of a still distant but approaching storm.

As the strange and apparently ominous events of the past half-year have been accruing, I have wanted to re-read The Fourth Turning, but all my rooting in the accessible boxes in the garage came up wanting. So I was anxiously on the lookout for the book as I began the task of making my library as planned in the Chem Geek Princess's old room (now the Guest Room/Library). Thus I was amazed when finally, I found the book and read the page that fell open, and that last, pregnant sentence:

" . . . the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, as trivial as a Tea Party."

When they were writing the book in the mid-90's, Strauss and Howe used these events as examples of the catalyzing spark because they were indeed the sparks that catalyzed the Crisis mood during the Fourth Turnings of one each of the last three Saecula: They identified the Boston Tea Party (1773) as the spark for the Revolutionary War Crisis, the election of 1860 as the catalyst for the Civil War Crisis, and the Crash of '29 as the spark that began the Great Depression-WWII Crisis that ended what they call The Great Power Saeculum.

But from the perspective of this past half-year, it seems that we are entering the Millenial Crisis via sparks pulled from all of these past catalysts. Since September of last year we have experienced a financial crash, a regular but divisive national election (the last of three such thus far), and this spring, tax-protest Tea Parties, the names of which were inspired by that of 1773.

The generations are all in place according to the Strauss-Howe paradigm as well: We have the inner-directed Idealist/Prophet generational archetype (Boomers) entering elderhood, full of fervor and moral certainty; the alienated and pragmatic Reactive/Nomad archetype (Gen Xers) entering mid-life; the outer-directed Civic/Hero archetype entering adulthood ready to be achievers; and just in past decade, a new, and likely Adaptive/Artist generation (Homelanders?) is being born. If these last grow up through a successfully resolved Crisis, they will be protected during the great doings, thus becoming risk-adverse and somewhat conformist in general, as a result of their childhood experience.

The human mind loves to find patterns, and it might be that the Strauss-Howe generational paradigm is just that, except that they provide very good historical evidence of the saecular rhythm in modern Anglo-American history. And now, as a Crisis appears to be catalyzing before our very eyes, the predictive power of the paradigm will be tested. In Generations they say:

"Anyone who claims to possess a vision of the future must present it with due
modesty, since no mortal can possibly forsesee how fate may twist and turn.
Readers who encounter this book fifty years from now will no doubt find [the
predictions it contains] odd in much of [the] detail. But it is not in our purpose
to predict specific events; rather our purpose is to explain how the underlying
dynamic of generational changes will determine which sort of events are most
likely." (p. 15).

Still, that one sentence in The Fourth Turning almost jumped off the page at me in light of the events that are catlyzing the coming Crisis. As I re-read this book, my new place in space and time, and in experience as a leading-edge Gen Xer (and I agree with this placement for me, at least), will likely create more of those "big chill" moments.