SWIMMING POOLS & MOSQUITO CONTROL. (Contról de Moscas en las Piscinas.)

Mosquito orgy: abandoned pool in barrio Santiago

MOSQUITO ORGY: a neglected swimming pool containing rain water and leaves in barrio Santiago.

¿What do you do with your pool while away?  ¿How many Merida homeowners are allowing mosquitos to party in standing water which collects in their backyards while they travel?  Last year I wrote about a biological control which can float in your untended pool, toxic only to mosquitos, introducing them to a deadly gut organism.  This year, due to widespread problems afflicting humans, I decided to do more.  While I was very happy with the biological product, I wanted to prevent access to the water altogether.  So I contrived my own cover, seaming together pvc-mesh screen as a physical barrier. (The entire project cost me about $70-usd, not counting the galvanized pipes supporting the mesh or the flashing, which I already had, and which prices I’ve forgotten;  and I still have almost a half roll of mesh left over.)  Here’s the finished installation:

Our pool, securely covered with a homemade screen.

Our pool, partially drained and covered by a homemade screen, measuring about 4-1/2 meters by 6m.

To start, I bought a roll of 60-inch x 30 meter pvc-mesh (malla) from a larger hardware supply, and a small can (una lata pequeña) of pvc cement (pegamento) from a local plumbing supply; and then I seamed together three lengths of screen, using a roll of aluminum flashing as a work surface so the cement didn’t bond with the paint on my roof, where I did the seaming. (Smaller hardware stores often sell mesh by the meter, but the ultra wide mesh may be more difficult to locate.)  I tested the bond for a week in the bright sun to be sure it would remain strong, trying two types of adhesive.  Both felt equally strong, so I went with the more neutral color.

Close-up of small can of adhesive, on seamed screen mesh

Close-up of small can of adhesive, on seamed screen mesh.

 

Adhesive test on two swatches of screen mesh.

Adhesive test on two swatches of screen mesh.

 

Joining the first pair of three lengths of screen on my roof — pool in top of photo.

Joining the first pair of three lengths of screen on my roof — pool in top of photo.

Of course, there are other places for mosquitos to party, so we each need to do our part:

A favorite breeding area maybe in a nearby yard.

A favorite breeding area may be in a nearby yard, guarded by ferocious beasts.

 

 

 

GENDER POLITICS: ¿ If Bernie were Bernice ? (a thought experiment)

Photo credit: "Fair Use" from CityBeat.us article by Maria Esquinca

Photo credit: “Fair Use” from CityBeat.us article by Maria Esquinca

Just kidding about the photo.  Of course that’s not Bernie in drag, as Bernice.  The NY primary is over, and the press is spinning the vote as a big loss for Bernie.  In reality Hillary got 21 more delegates here than he did (less than a 12% difference), as he carried nearly the entire upstate area, aside from a few cities.  (They were a mere ~700 votes apart in Buffalo, out of 50,000+ cast.) The delegate map is very telling.  Hillary lost the rural and suburban vote across the entire state!  In my region I see Trump signs frequently, Bernie signs infrequently, and I have yet to spot a Hillary yard sign.  The party is about to nominate a potential loser who is carrying major baggage, when they could, instead, nominate someone with very little baggage (“socialist”? —ha!  he’s deftly disabused the public of this red herring, and they are rallying for him) who certainly looks like a winner.

But how might the balloting have gone if Bernie were Bernice?  Hillary carried the women’s vote by 57% to 40% of men.  Would the same outcome have resulted, based on comparative ideology, if Bernie were a woman?  I doubt it.  Hillary is closer to being a moderate Republican, a hawk, and in the pocket of Big Capital.  If you voted for her based on those positions, well, God bless you — but maybe you’re not a Democrat.  If you preferred Bernie’s position, would it have changed if she were wearing a dress?  I suspect the outcome would be vastly different, and Bernice (not in drag!) would win the nomination.  

The party needs to heed the liberal wing.  When November comes, Jill Stein will tally many votes for the Green Party because progressives can’t vote for a faux Democrat.  And the Democrat party-elites will need to read that tally, perhaps thru their tears.  Many will vote for a woman such as a President Stein.  The elites could end up being green with envy.  And the chance to nominate a person of integrity, beholden to the voters alone, will be history. Am I charging sexism here?  Perhaps.  (It’s understandable, yet makes no sense when comparing apples.)

 

VOTING: “2nd Amendment” & free elections

Photo by Tony Webster, WikiMedia

Photo by Tony Webster, WikiMedia

 

OPEN PRIMARIES 

Our ability to choose candidates in New York State (and a minority of other states) is restricted by two dominant political parties.  If rules prevent voters from crossing party lines to cast a ballot for a preferred candidate, the nominating process is closed, and it is no longer a free election.  

The politicians in this state have stolen the voting franchise so they can control the electorate, disallowing maverick-upstart candidates.  (The US Constitution makes no mention of political parties, so state politicians designed it in their own favor.)  A majority of states allow voters to choose whichever primary contest offers greater interest.  Why is ours closed?–  Because two bully parties want to know where you store your ballot [your affiliation]!  Think Second Amendment:  do you want the gov’t to know where your affiliation [your ballot] resides?  It’s more useful than our guns, when things are normal.  (Or have you forgotten the experience in Norway during WW2, of registered small arms being seized by invading forces.)  Like guns, ballots can get “seized” too; and so they have in states with closed primaries.

Justice Felix Frankfurter said “We are in danger of forgetting that the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses. It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom. It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.  

Adolf Hitler said “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjugated races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjugated races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. ”   

¿Whether or not you favor gun control, can you defend the politicians in this state who have confiscated your ballot?   When the gov’t knows where your party affiliation resides, it’s easy for parties to gerrymander, resulting in districts designed to be almost solidly R or D, by agreement of both parties, making it nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent.  That’s how the parties control us.  The result:  career politicians are rarely removed from office; and we suffer dictatorial anointing of who gets to run for office.  (Just look at the obstacles put up by DNC to stifle Bernie Sanders!)

Those voters registered “independent” are in even worse shape in NY:  the Independence Party has no voice in nominating or choosing those who run in main parties in NY.  Independent voters have abandoned their ability to nominate a candidate in what is arguably a more important balloting process — the primary, where potential office seekers are blessed-by and beholden-to party bosses; upstarts are scorned and obstructed.
    
In New York, voters tolerate this, although there is an effort to lobby for repeal of closed primaries  which you could sign.  We voters deserve what we got.  The pol’s knew we were asleep, and stole our voting franchise.  What’s even worse:  voters who want to switch parties to cast a ballot in a more interesting primary have to do so long before a contest becomes exciting.  The cutoff date to switch was October 25, for an April primary!  That’s designed by them to prevent people from exercising their choice in a timely fashion, as a race heats up.  Yep, more control by the pro’s. Not a free election!
Don’t New Yorkers deserve open primaries?  We must hide our affiliation!  It’s time to take back the electoral process.  We, the people of NYS want our voting power restored to full clout, by becoming a state with Open Primaries. We want a truly independent ability to opt out of party affiliation, without surrendering our ability to vote in a primary of our choice.  Our party affiliation must be invisible to government!  That’s why it’s called a Secret Ballot — but it’s not secret, if THEY know the address of your affiliation.  And it’s not a free election if you can’t easily change affiliation to vote in the primary of your choice.  Take back the power to choose!  Demand an open primary for NY! (We need a revolution in balloting.)
(I would welcome learning of organized efforts in NY to press this issue.)  

ON CHOOSING A LEADER

AP photo

AP photo

Pasted below is a Letter to the Editor of our hometown newspaper up north. 

Hi Neighbors,

We haven’t missed the northern winter, but we’re flying back early to cast a vote for Bernie Sanders in NY’s primary.  It’s such a rare opportunity to have a person of integrity on the ballot.  His rival, a member of a First Family which sold out America’s middle class by removing the Glass-Steagall Act — a protection which had long kept banks from gambling with our savings and pensions, thus setting the stage for crashing the global economy — doesn’t deserve another chance with our financial security.  The banksters who have contributed so heavily to her campaign should be denied their influence.

I hope my fellow citizens will think carefully about this.  The mistakes of the past need correction, not replay.  

As for Sanders being a “socialist” (a social democrat) we might ponder the facts of nature:  humans are one of only a very few social species on this planet, like the bees and the ants, which specialize in working together. 

Sanders has become known in the US Senate as the Amendment King* for his ability to work with colleagues of both parties to improve bills before passage.  Working together is socialism at its best.  And his history as mayor of Burlington VT taught the Democrat “machine politicians” who ran that city for so long that he knew how to work with the merchants of main street to restore sensible government to that city, soon putting the machine out of office.  They laughed at his socialism until he won; then they told him he wouldn’t get anything done.  But he taught them otherwise.  Yes, Bernie has the right executive skills to restore balance to our government.  And he hasn’t been bought by special interests — accepting no PAC money, just small donations from people who want America to work again.  We, the people have a voice.  We can choose a leader with integrity.

*(Update): In comparison, Hillary Clinton passed zero roll call amendments during her tenure as a senator from New York from 2001-09.

A Detective Story from Yucatan, about Dinosaurs & Disaster

© Joe Tucciarone/ /Science Photo Library/Corbis

Illustration © Joe Tucciarone/ /Science Photo Library/Corbis; and National Geographic

We all love well-told stories.  I’ve long been aware of this one since taking a geology class in college many years ago, but rarely have I found it told as well as it has been by this author, writing in Nautilus.  (Pity they’ve blocked use of the gorgeous asteroid-impact illustrating their article.)  

At a language school where I volunteer here in Mexico, I’ve been using this story in coaching English pronunciation.  Yes, it has some big science words, but we don’t let that detract from the excitement of the telling, which has so much going for it, namely:  a geologist of Hispanic lineage whose father (and collaborator) was a Nobel physicist; local angle (the impact site is a 40-minute drive to the beach); brilliant use of scientific methods and thought experiments; deep resistance from other scientists who believed in gradualism rather than abrupt and cataclysmic events; and the key to learning — curiosity, combined with a tenacity to ask and pursue the right questions.  This account may not be an Indiana Jones nail-biter, but it certainly hasn’t put my students to sleep!   

The Heat Returns, but: “Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun”

Foto: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

Foto: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

Lest we forget, the season of doing things early in the day is soon upon us.  April and May are said to be the hottest months in Yucatan.  So here is a video reminder, with lyrics, sung by the original author:

Mad Dogs and Englishmen
(Noel Coward)

In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire,
     to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of those rules that the biggest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry and one must avoid
     its ultry-violet ray --
Papalaka-papalaka-papalaka-boo. (Repeat)
Digariga-digariga-digariga-doo. (Repeat)
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, absolutely nuts --

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The Japanese don't care to, the Chinese wouldn't dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one,
But Englishmen detest a siesta,
In the Philippines there are lovely screens,
     to protect you from the glare,
In the Malay states there are hats like plates,
     which the Britishers won't wear,
At twelve noon the natives swoon, and
     no further work is done -
But Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
That though the British are effete,
     they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides, every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will
     impale his solar topee on a tree.
Bolyboly-bolyboly-bolyboly-baa. (Repeat)
Habaninny-habaninny-habaninny-haa. (Repeat)
It seems such a shame that when the English claim the earth
That they give rise to such hilarity and mirth -

Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun.
They put their scotch or rye down, and lie down.
In the jungle town where the sun beats down,
     to the rage of man or beast,
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok, at twelve o'clock, they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen, go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this stupid habit.
In Hong Kong, they strike a gong, and fire off a noonday gun.
To reprimand each inmate, who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
     there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie down and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal, to move at all, is seldom if ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

SOURCE: 
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Mad_Dogs_and_Englishmen.
htm

JUSTICE: ¿¿Comforting the comfortable; afflicting the afflicted??

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I read the book depicted above last summer.  It was a real eye-opener.  The Slate article linked below gives a better taste than any review I could write.  Here’s the opening of the article, as an excerpt:

In America at the dawn of the 20th century, 25,000 little boys spent 10 hours a day in the living hell known as a coal mine. Charged with pulling detritus out of coal shipments, boys as young as 8 hunched over an ever-flowing stream of minerals, plunging in their hands to pull out slate and other rubbish. Many lost fingers or had limbs torn off by faulty machinery. Some fell down coal chutes and were smothered to death. Most, later in life, experienced horrific medical conditions like black lung. For this work, they were paid 40 cents a day.

 Disgusted by these savage working conditions and vexed by individual states’ refusal to take action, Congress passed a law in 1916 that forbade the interstate shipment of any good produced in a factory that employed children under age 14. Conservative activists quickly contrived a lawsuit against the act—and won at the Supreme Court, where five justices declared the child labor law unconstitutional. Although the Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power to regulate commerce between the states, the court explained, Congress here had illegitimately used this power to ban child labor. Why was that exercise of constitutional power illegitimate? Because five justices said so. The law was invalidated, and the 8-year-olds went back to the mines.
 That was just a hundred years ago.  If I had been born a generation earlier, that could have been my lot!  Can you imagine working in a coal mine at age 8?  Yet Big Money required it of the children of the poor.  And The Supremes said Amen.

Link to article

Link to book

 

 

MAKING MEANING

 

The Light of the world has never left us.

The Light of the world has never left us.

Wow, linked is a most HOPEFUL, HELPFUL, essay on our fate, titled We’re doomed. Now what?  The concluding observations are a huge gift, if we will simply unwrap them to ponder our footsteps as a species.  [Excerpt]:

The human ability to make meaning is so versatile, so powerful, that it can make almost any existence tolerable, even a life of unending suffering, so long as that life is woven into a bigger story that makes it meaningful. Humans have survived and thrived in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth, from the deserts of Arabia to the ice fields of the Arctic, because of this ability to organize collective life around symbolic constellations of meaning: anirniit, capital, jihad. “If we have our own why in life,” Nietzsche wrote, “we shall get along with almost any how.”  [ . . . ]  

Most important, we need to give up defending and protecting our truth, our perspective, our Western values, and understand that truth is found not in one perspective but in their multiplication, not in one point of view but in the aggregate, not in opposition but in the whole. We need to learn to see not just with Western eyes but with Islamic eyes and Inuit eyes, not just with human eyes but with golden-cheeked warbler eyes, coho salmon eyes, and polar bear eyes, and not even just with eyes at all but with the wild, barely articulate being of clouds and seas and rocks and trees and stars.  [ . . . ¶ ]  We owe it to the generations whose futures we’ve burned and wasted to build a bridge, to be a bridge, to connect the diverse human traditions of meaning-making in our past to those survivors, children of the Anthropocene, who will build a new world among our ruins.

 Many happy returns of Solstice, “The Light of the world”, Divine Mind, Consciousness, Messiah, calling it whatever you care to.  Peace be unto you.

 

 

BEGINNINGS / GENESIS

“The beginning is near!”  

Check this space for updates and details as the date draws closer. 

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The power of story.                             photo by D Sharon Pruitt, wikimedia

Perhaps you’ve noticed the ad below in Merida English Library’s newsletter.  It’s an invitation to a conversation, not to a lecture. I’m hoping that you, and others, might enjoy discussing primitive stories which touch on human nature — stories that could enhance our understanding of ourselves and our interactions with each other.  Of course, there will be some god-talk, as God is a character in these stories. There is likely to be some irreverence, as we may have issues with this first-appearing character. We will need to suspend doctrinal positions, endeavoring to ask apt questions of the text. Right questions, rather than bright answers, will be our focus.  Civility will be maintained at all times.

This is an experimental project which cannot get far in a single hour.  (We will examine only a small portion of chapter one at  this first meeting.)  I’m very grateful to the Board of MEL for allowing us to convene in the courtyard of the library, but we must move elsewhere if we wish to continue this conversation.  Please bring your spontaneity.  ~eric.

genesis ad copy pdf_00001

 

 

 

 

 

¿¿ SECOND COMING in 1st CENTURY ??

APOCALYPSE VIII: Le quatrieme Ange sonne de la trompette, image at El Escorial (Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo) uploaded to Wikimedia by Cnb.

APOCALYPSE VIII: Le quatrieme Ange sonne de la trompette, image at El Escorial (Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo) uploaded to Wikimedia by Cnb.

Book Review.

What if “The Second Coming” of Jesus, the Messiah, already happened during the span of his own generation, as he himself predicted?  

That it has, is the hypothesis of a rigorous, engaging book which deserves consideration by deeply thoughtful Christians, and anyone who enjoys church history.  I, for one, have long suspected there is merit to such a project.  And the author, Charles S. Meek, has made a superb presentation of this rare position, termed preterism (over-against futurism, and variants of millenialism) which deserves to be more widely pondered.  Be prepared to be effectively disabused of scriptural fantasy if you happen to have read any of the popular “Left Behind” series. And clergy might wish to keep an eye on this book, as it seeds their audiences with focused, pertinent questions.

While the title of the book, Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophesy is rather bland (and the subtitle is rendered in obscurantist grad-school speak: An Exposition of Evangelical Preterism) — the topic is quite edgy, the writing is logical, compelling, and accessible, if a bit repetitious at times; and the author has done a thorough job of defending his thesis with rigorous examination of scripture, and historical material:  “…we will show that a strong case can be made that fulfillment of the entire prophecy of Revelation occurred in association with the Jewish-Roman War of AD 66-70 and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.”

Normally I avoid books on “End Times” as they are filled with unreasonable speculation and nonsense.  This book intrigued me, as it argues from history, illustrating that we are beyond the era of the promised Parousia (second coming of Christ).  While I’m unfamiliar with the author, and until now was not aware that anyone was working seriously on this topic, this book seems important, as it effectively refutes much that has damaged Christianity.  But perhaps the book needs a new title?  Maybe something like:  

JESUS RETURNED.  Christians Slept:

First-Century Prophetic Fulfillment.

Yes, the book deserves to be repackaged somewhat for the general audience it claims to seek: “this book is written for the informed laymen…”  And, if repackaged, I would hope the author would adjust a few things, like inclusive language (instead of referring to theologians as “men” while several times quoting women from that field).  Mr. Meek also reveals bias against liberal Christians, yet many of his detractors would seem to be his fellow conservatives.  (He appropriately holds the feet of those critics to the fire by diligently focusing on the text.)  And we can suspect that he is liberal-minded in the best sense, due to the controversial nature of his thesis — conservatives putatively being more inclined to hew to the status quo regarding such a topic.  But his bias against “liberals” is often vague, unwarranted, and mostly unfortunate.  

His utilization of pertinent quotes shows us that he has read widely — Tolstoy, Ratzinger, Augustine, Eusebius.  And his end notes are superb in marshaling the history and resources from his research on eschatology regarding his thesis.  He also takes a good shot at careerism among the clergy by formulating questions for parishioners to ask their pastors regarding scriptural positions in tension with an expected second coming of Jesus.  (Heads up. This author is not afraid to stir the pot!)  I’m reminded of a quote from CS Pierce, saying those who love truth are destined to agree – which would seem to characterize the spirit of his effort.  How refreshing!

We are now able to dispense with waiting for search lights to converge on the Temple Mount, scanning the skies for a bearded guy on a white horse, descending in a cloud.  The prophetic promises have been fulfilled, if we are able to agree with the author. Said promises are carefully detailed and examined in this edifying book.