March 28, 2008

Can't Win For Losing

Several years ago, we had a tenant with a child in our house. The young boy was helping me get some fire wood, and I mentioned for him to be careful of spiders in the pile - brush them off so you don't bring them into the house. Spiders LOVE woodpiles, as there are lot of gaps for them to hide out of the rain in, and lots of delicious bugs thinking the same thing, highlighting the joys of being at the top of the food chain for your weight class.

"Don't have to," he replied, "Dad says the spiders all die in the winter." His dad was wrong, but only because the circumstances changed between when he gave the advice and the day in question: he moved from Toronto to the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. It's far warmer here in winter, so the spiders don't all die, and in fact frequently live 18 months or so.

The point being that advice is only useful if you understand the circumstances in which it was given. Not only locations may change, but so may the surroundings in a single place. Your experience has to be considered and compared not only to those of the person who gave the advice, but also the physical and emotional conditions in which they gave it to you. Your parents may have told you to always be good; then as you aged and they grew to trust your judgement, amended it to "Don't get caught" and then "Only do one illegal thing at a time".

In short: time counts.

Revisiting old beliefs is never a bad idea, either; but few people bother to do this unless they get shocked into such a re-examination by something occurring that jars their lives.

This comes to mind because of a bumper sticker (yeah, I'm the guy you see contorting his body to read them all in the parking lot without getting suspiciously close to any vehicle) on a local truck:

"Are you an environmentalist, or do you work for a living?"

Hyuk, hyuk.

On the plus side, whatever idiot wrote that knew enough to use "an" instead of "a"; but other than that there are serious problems with the note. I live in a logging town in British Columbia: by now you should damn well know that if you're NOT an environmentalist, then you don't want the loggers working for a living.

Dennis Miller:

"There's a lot of differing data [about global warming], but as far as I can gather, over the last hundred years the temperature on this planet has gone up 1.8 degrees. Am I the only one who finds that amazingly stable? I could go back to my hotel room tonight and futz with the thermostat for three to four hours. I could not detect that difference."

What difference could a tiny thing like that make in the lives of human beings after all, right? So winter is a little warmer: how could that possibly be bad news?

West coast spiders, meet the pine beetle:

"The latest estimates suggest the beetle has infected about 710 million cubic metres of pine — mostly of the lodgepole variety — which is more than half of the 1.35 billion cubic metres of saleable pine in the province."

If the winters are too warm, the beetle doesn't die off like it should. If you don't listen to the environmentalists who have been pushing improvements to logging practices that include avoiding monoculturing, (like, say, only replanting a profitable tree breed) then a single variety of insect, fungus or parasite can wipe out your entire crop.

Well, gosh; I guess if loggers run out of work we know who to blame, don't we? Especially if we don't bother thinking about it.


posted by Thursday at 2:32 pm


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