Monday, August 10, 2009

Step On A Crack...

I finally got the weeds pulled from the cracks, and used the hose for a little hydraulic mining and final clean up. The pavement got nice and clean. My feet were bare, and whenever I felt a piece of grit underfoot, my inner nag would go off about tracks on its nice clean floor. Three boxes of salt, and the brine from three jars of moldy pickles went into the cracks -- low-tech herbicide. I await dry pavement before filling cracks with the gooey residue of Carboniferous-Period ferns.

I wish I had carried the Wild Edibles field guide as I weeded. I’d murder a plant, and wonder, "What the heck was that?" Then I’d think, I can’t interrupt to go look it up. The plant I’m most curious about came in clumps, with lots of slender stalks growing from fat, tender roots. Those were impossible to pull. Each one of those, boy, left part of itself behind.

I finished almost in time for Democracy Now. Caught up during “For the 64th Time: No More Nuclear War,” Daniel Ellsberg, Frida Berrigan, and Pervez Hoodbhoy, commemorating the 64th anniversary of the nuclear destructions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Saturday, Secretary of State Clinton said that the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement wasn’t conditional on India’s signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the Agreement, India says it will keep its civil and military nuclear facilities separate and place all its civilian reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The US will transfer technology and expertise, to India, and help out financially.

India has at least forty nuclear weapons, and no more than 110. It tested its first in 1974. It has begun a fleet of nuclear submarines. Pakistan is its chief rival, although India and China have a history, and look out for certain neighbors to its west.

Can a society keep its military and civilian nukes separate? If nothing else, there’s social feedback, with both sides conditioning people’s images of themselves as nuclear players, for good or bad. Civilian and military engineers will know each other at university, and instructors will have both in the same classes.

There were cities devastated by conventional weapons during World War II -- Tokyo and Dresden most notably -- but those firestorms took fleets of bombers and lots of bombs. Hiroshima and Nagasaki each suffered from a single weapon, dropped from one B-29. Nuclear weapons are attractive because they make total destruction economical.

On the civilian side, nuclear power promises to keep us rich and fat after oil, and reduce greenhouse gases. The net energy of any alternative to fossil fuels is less than what the thing produces. It takes energy to build a power plant, deliver fuel, monitor the thing, and -- in the case of nuclear power -- keep it safe for longer than Homo s. has existed so far. Maybe nuclear pays, but the margin is smaller than you think. Besides, if we use new technology to prolong the current orgy of television and internal combustion, we will never grow up, never fully realize the potential of the gray stuff behind our eyes, our birthright. Conservation, radical conservation, will spare us the energy cost of building many of any kind of energy source, and preserve more liberty. (There is another point of view that tempts me, but I don't have the vocabulary to evaluate it, yet. It's exponent here, Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame, believes that nuclear power and genetically modified crops are compassionately necessary, maybe critical to human survival.)

The Beacon apples are ripe and abundant, with a big grape harvest hard on its heels. We're starting to pick and preserve.

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