FEAR AND LOATHING BY THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Since we came to the Valley, trips to the river to take pictures has been part of our life, often the high point of our lives. Now, with the hidden lurking diseases brought by southern mosquitoes that are part of our ongoing climate change, everyone is just staying inside.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s ironic. We’ve had horrible weather all through the spring and much of the summer. It has been much too hot and muggy to go anywhere … or it has been storming with falling trees and broken branches and periodic outages of cable and power.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Now, finally, the weather is lovely. Warm, bright, and comfortable. It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel like you don’t have weather. It just feels good. Or it would if we were afraid that one of our local poisonous mosquitoes might bite and infect us with Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus.

Blackstone River at the end of August

We didn’t have these diseases a decade ago but as the temperature has risen a little higher each year — this year being a record-breaker — the mosquitoes have moved up the coastline from the deep south to New England. We’ve had small batches of them before, but they never moved in the way they have this year. Usually, the winter is cold enough to kill off the larvae. Come spring, there are few living mosquitoes and they have to breed all over again.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But not this year. Winter wasn’t cold enough for long enough to kill off the larvae. And the summer, usually hot and dry, has been sodden and wet creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

They are supposed to spray for mosquitoes tonight, depending on the weather. The Commonwealth will spray at least a couple of more nights.

That won’t really kill the mosquitoes completely. Only a long, killing frost will accomplish that. Will we have one? Or will it be, as it was last year, a stormy fall with almost no color? We never got the snap of cold that brings on color. The wind and rain blew the dying leaves off the trees before they had a chance to brighten.

It was a pathetic version of autumn. Winter was too warm with no snow until the middle of March. Just a couple of weeks followed by a long, sodden, chilly spring. An ugly spring.

All of this was insufficient to winterize our region. The river didn’t freeze. I’m sure there were hoards of depressed young hockey players who never got to hit a puck into a net.

So actually going out today made us both feel endangered. It was the kind of hidden danger I hate because you can really see the mosquitoes and being by the river is close to their favorite haunts. Garry was clearly nervous and while we shot some pictures, we didn’t shoot many and left early.

Climate change is going to eventually harm everyone, everywhere. It’s no myth and there’s no argument among scientists about its reality. The argument is among politicians and business people worried about how it will affect the short term economy. They aren’t thinking by ignoring it, they are setting us up for a permanently unlivable world.

They don’t care.

SHARING THE WORLD AND AUGUST ENDS WITH A WHIMPER – Marilyn Armstrong

Another person died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis today. And they did not spray last night because it was too cold. Swell. Maybe it’ll be warmer tonight. We can hope.

Not that the spraying is going to fully solve the problem. We are still advised to wear long everything and a lot of DEET. Doubly swell.

And now to the sharing.

Share Your World 8-26-19

If you had to sum up the whole human species in 3 words, what would those words be?

Always too late.

Where is the strangest place you’ve relieved yourself?  Obviously in an emergency situation.

In the woods in Sinai. There weren’t any bathrooms.

1989 shot of earth’s arctic ice

What is the worst smelling place you’ve ever been?

Sitting next to Duke when he let one go. Lord almighty! He left the room and shortly thereafter, the other two left also.

I’m glad it’s not a nightly event!

How drunk is drunk enough?

For me, at all is too drunk. I don’t handle booze well and never did.

If you’d like, please list five things that are priceless to you.

I bet you could take bets on this and probably get it right. But I’m not sure priceless is really the word for it.

Times have changed and what I might have viewed as priceless 30 years ago — or even 20 or 10 — doesn’t carry the same weight it once did. I’m torn between the people I love who are priceless to me — and the world in which I live which is beyond price for the humans who live here.

If we change the wording to “things I couldn’t live without,” it would be easier. My friends and family are priceless to me, but our world is beyond any price.

THIRD HUMAN CASE OF EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE) IN MASSACHUSETTS – CBS NEWS

BOSTON (CBS) – The state’s Department of Public Health has confirmed a third human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), this one from northern Franklin County.


Mosquito spraying in Worcester Country begins today depending on the weather. There will probably be several spraying, again depending on the weather. Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn.

Wear long sleeves, long pants, and use DEET. It can be lethal to humans. Dogs are less likely to get it than people or horses — and when they do, it tends to be milder. It can kill horses as well as llamas and alpacas. There is no human vaccine, but there is a vaccine for horses. This situation will continue until hard frost.

We need a cold winter with less rain.


The latest victim is a man older than 60.

Massachusetts has not seen a human case of EEE since 2011 until this summer when now-three people contracted the virus.

The risk level in the towns of Heath and Colrain in Franklin County has been raised to critical.

A horse in Mendon and a horse in Uxbridge, both towns in Worcester County, have also tested positive for the EEE virus. The risk in those towns has also been raised to critical.

Massachusetts EEE risk levels as of Aug. 19 (WBZ-TV)

The threat caused Mendon to cancel Saturday night’s “Mendonfest” because it’s scheduled during peak biting hours.

“2019 is really turning out to be not just an active year, but a very active year,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.

Dr. Brown said several factors are contributing including changing temperatures and precipitation along with the shifting types of mosquito species.

“Because we’re seeing an increase in the populations of the mammal biting mosquitoes, we think that might be one of the reasons that the cycle is changing a little bit as well,” Dr. Brown said.

Earlier this week, DPH and the Department of Agricultural Resources said aerial spraying in specific areas of Worcester and Middlesex counties is scheduled to begin Sunday, Aug. 25. As a result of the elevated risk in several communities, the spray zone has been expanded. The additional communities either partially or fully in the spray zone are Blackstone, Douglas, Dudley, Holliston, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Uxbridge, and Webster.

In total across Massachusetts, there are 23 communities now at critical risk, 22 at high risk and 52 at moderate risk for the EEE virus. So far, EEE has been found in 330 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species that can spread the virus to humans.

EEE symptoms can range from a stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy to dangerous complications like inflammation and swelling of the brain.

The risk of EEE will remain until the first killing frost.

Aren’t we glad that climate change is a myth?

SHARE MY WORLD ASSUMING WORD PRESS DOESN’T CRUMBLE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 8-20-19

QUESTIONS:   

What would be your solution to the overpopulation of the earth?  Earth has finite resources and humanity seems to be breeding themselves to extinction.   Some countries have tried restricting the number of children a couple or a person can have, with little success.  So what other viable options are there for reducing the number of people? 

Let me start out by pointing out that I don’t have answers. I mostly have fears.

Although overpopulation is a major part of our problems of surviving on Earth — especially in places like China and India where over-population has been an issue for centuries — the even bigger problem is over-building and mindless destruction of our natural environment. Water and earth pollution, as well as the poisons we use to “protect” our vegetables and other plants.

The fundamental combination of ingredients we use to increase nutrients in the soil — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — although they are essential to healthy plant growth, fertilizer needs to be used in moderation based on the rain for the region. More rain means the soil gets “washed.” In arid regions, such”fertilizers” are poison.

Weed poisons — Monsanto seems to make a lot of them — not only poison our water, but also kill the birds. A few years ago, we had robins nesting on our porch and all over the woods until one neighbor decided to use Monsanto weed poison.

The robins fell over dead in their nests. Baby robins were never born.

Dry lake at Manchaug

It was horrible and really depressing. Although a few robins have returned, they are relatively rare now instead of (as they used to be) the most common summertime bird.

Dried out Mumford River in Uxbridge

Nitrogen, a major part of fertilizer, is only viable in areas that get plenty of rain. Without the rain, the nitrogen builds up in the soil, sinks down and poisons the aquifer. It happened in Israel while I lived there. I worked at the part of the university which monitored the condition of the country’s air and water. Israel is a dry country with a climate much like Arizona. Our people went from one Kibbutz to the next Kibbutz warning all of them that continuing to use nitrogen-based fertilizer would poison the aquifer by 1985.

We were wrong.

It poisoned the aquifer in 1982. Now, there is no aquifer in the country. All the water comes in tankers from Turkey or from the Sea of Galilee (called “The Galil – pronounced “Ga-leel”). In an arid climate, rainy and dry years are normal events. One always prayers for normal rain, but droughts are part of the climate pattern and can last for years.

This is why part of the annual prayer cycle includes the autumnal prayers for rain. On a good year, there will be rain clouds by late October or early November. On a bad year, you may see very little rain at all and not until December. Considering that spring starts in January, that doesn’t leave much time for rain.

Empty dam at Manchaug

A few years ago, The Galil was more than 13 meters lower than normal and I don’t know how it’s doing now. I understand they have added desalinization plants that are helping, but the population of the country has more than doubled (tripled?) since I left in 1987.

FYI, a meter is one yard plus 3 inches, so 13 meters is just under 120 feet below normal. Boats that sank during the time of Jesus were showing up because the water was so low.

We don’t merely overpopulate the world. We misuse it. The combination is lethal, at least for mammals, of which we are one. Between our enthusiasm for killing anything we think looks good stuffed and hanging on a wall and the natural destruction that farming and housing cause … the rate of destruction of large mammals is insane and with our current idiotic president, getting worse day-by-day.

There really isn’t a lot of time left to fix the climate to make this world livable for the next generations. We aren’t waiting for climate change. It has arrived. And when you live in cities like New York and Boston which actually lie below sea level, a rise in sea levels won’t take long to swamp our shorelines. East and west coast cities are in imminent danger and the flooding in the midwest is catastrophic.

Whatever we SHOULD be doing to fix our climate? We aren’t doing it.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong – Behind the dam is a mountain of poisonous soil from the factories and mills that used the Blackstone to dump their pollution over the years. They can’t take down the dams because it would release the poisoned soil.

The poisons in the soil, air, and water.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

I think life is ridiculous, our government is idiotic, and an awful lot of our population is incredibly stupid. There’s no way I could pick out one part of that as the MOST ridiculous.

What are the unwritten rules of where you work? If you don’t work (retired or unemployed) what are the unwritten rules you live your life by?

Dogs eat first.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

Pineapple is delicious on ham and I love fresh pineapple. It doesn’t belong on pizza. But other countries put even worse stuff on pizza like peas and corn. El yucko.

Toilet paper, over or under?

Over. Even the patent for the toilet paper roll shows it over, not under. The only reason for putting it underneath is that you have kittens who think unrolling the entire roll is tons of fun.

What’s the best type of cheese?

Remains of the feast
Cheese!

I’m torn between blue/Roquefort, strong cheddar, hard parmesan, and romano. But really, I just like cheese! Almost all cheese except whatever that yellow mushy stuff they call “American” cheese is. Whatever you call it, it ain’t cheese.

IS THIS THE END OF DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong

I know, because I keep reading about it, how “end of days” is supposed to work. This is when the good guys (not me or mine) will go wafting upward to heaven whilst the unshriven and/or non-religious, disbelievers, and the many who believe in “the wrong gods” are left behind in a world of Bad People. Or, at least not good enough to be drawn into heaven.

Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end times.” In Judaism, the end times are usually called the “end of days” (aḥarit ha – yamim, אחרית הימים).

If ever we’ve faced a genuine “end of days” for all of humankind — rather than for a specific group of people at who is one of the many current objects of local (but highly effective) genocide, it’s right now. This oncoming “change of climate” is no local holocaust on some “other” continent. This is the one that is going to hit everyone, though not everyone at the same time.

And there will be no gentle ascension into heaven for the praiseworthy and most righteous. To put it in musical terms, one more Tom Lehrer song for those who like a little humor with the “end of the world.”

Now, of course, we don’t expect to do it in one big flash-bang of bombs, though given one thing and another, that’s not entirely out of the picture … but this is still a good summary number.

Me being me, I never expected to go wafting up to heaven but I also didn’t think I would hit my 70s and wonder if the world was going to survive through my granddaughter’s midlife crisis.

ONE PEOPLE, ONE PLANET, ONE PLAN TO RULE THEM ALL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Repercussions

Much is made of the U.S.’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as particulate air emission, and plastic in the oceans. Rightfully so. We make major contributions, especially considering our size relative to other areas in the world.

Carbon emissions around the globe

The United States has a big chunk of this, but China’s piece is bigger with the EU, India, and Russia not far behind. Saudi Arabia is doing its best to catch up with the biggest polluters and doing a not half-bad job of it, too.

In point of fact, in all categories of terrible things we are doing to the environment, no one country is doing even the majority of the damage. We may not be able to work together to achieve positive things like peace, but we are very good at working towards unified planetary destruction that can take down every country on this planet, regardless of its location or form of government. Race and religion are immaterial.

When we do bad things — without any forethought or planning — we do a mighty good job of it.

Biggest ocean polluters. Surprised that the U.S. is not at the top? But China is — and that’s where everyone sends the work that needs doing. They may be the biggest polluters, but we all helped put them there.

I think most people (at least people who aren’t our government!) recognize something very bad is happening to Earth. It won’t ruin the Earth, mind you. The planet will repair itself. It just needs a few hundred thousand years, but it’ll get the job done.

It is us — people and other mammals — who will pay the price. We will destroy ourselves and all the things we love. Unless we can find some way to do the one, single thing humans have never been good at: COOPERATING. The repercussions of a failure to work together as a species are overwhelming and incontrovertible unless you are the U.S.’s buffoon president — or someone who “reports” on Fox News.

International energy efficiency

We were doing better at dealing with energy efficiency, though with the changes Trump has made, we’ll need another year of monitoring to see how much his interference has altered our position.

It’s not just total emissions by nation, but how much each individual in a particular country uses because this metric shows what an alteration dealing with climate change will make to an individual life

We do surprisingly poorly on deaths from air pollution. Much of the problem is the result of the massive wildfires — which are the result of the heating up of the earth which goes back to greenhouse gases to which most nations are making substantial contributions.

It’s all connected. We are connected.

The World Resources Institute publishes newsletters on various environmental issues and other international issues such as air, food, water, governance, etc. It’s a good place to get summary information on the climate and other world changes.

We are one human species living on a single planet. The planet can survive nicely without us, but we cannot survive without the planet. We not only need a leader with brains in his head and concern for fellow humans living in this world, but we also need an international, united approach to dealing with climate change. That means every country on every continent, regardless of how it is governed or its race, religion, or history.

For probably the first time in our history, we will work together or we will die. Not all at once. As T.S. Eliot put it so elegantly:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

NO ESCAPE AND NOWHERE TO RUN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Escape

A lot of my post this morning are quotes from “The Washington Post.”

Why, you might ask, since I’m a born and bred New Yorker living in New England and Boston for more than 30 years, would I read “The Post” rather than “The NY Times” or “Boston Globe”? Because both of these two papers — run by the same company, by the way — charge nearly $30/month for an online edition. In other words, $60/month if in my madness, I subscribed to both.

I like the Times and the Globe. I would prefer to read local news and not just national news. But their prices make that impossible. If the Times/Globe organization wants to get a bump upward in their readership, they should reconsider their pricing. Even if they were delivering the paper to my door (physically, the actual newspaper), I still could not afford those prices.

The “Squad” in U.S. Congress on television yesterday evening

I understand that it’s hard times for the press these days, but raising prices so that the very people who might actually read them can’t do it is stupid in every possible way. If you drive away your only readership, you are driving yourselves out of business as so many others already have done.

I pay $10/month for “The Washington Post” and anyone can get a trial of their paper for a month for $1. They also have “cheat sheet” online papers that come out many times a day to update you on issues that are actively progressing, as well as summaries of current issues on any number of subjects from sports to politics to humor.

I would quote other newspapers too, but anything worth reading is a “pay to read”paper. I’m out of money.

It is ironic that “The Boston Herald,” which was Boston’s “other” newspaper — the right-leaning one — was bought up by the Trumpist Sinclair Group and now, you can get whatever crap they print for free. They aren’t worrying about circulation. They own more than half the papers and TV stations in the country and can (and do) say whatever they feel like saying. It doesn’t need to have even a scrap of truth in it. They say march and anyone who wants to keep his or her job, marches.

Back to the subject of escape.

As the holder of two legal passports, one from Israel and the other (obviously) U.S.A., I always had the thought in my mind that if things turned pear-shaped in this country, I had someplace to go. It never crossed my mind that both countries would go fruity together. I cannot tell you how sad this makes me. Israel has always been a country with a lively internal war going on inside it, but it was a war of words, thoughts, and ideas.

Since I left and came home in late 1987, Israel changed. The children who grew following the 1967 and 1973 wars are more hawkish than were their parents. More hard-nosed “hold the liners” and less inclined to reason and discussion.

Photo: Washington Post

I saw this beginning to happen when I was there. I saw the country taking a sharp right turn. Arabs blame Israelis for this, but they can also blame themselves. Whenever Israel tried to find any road to peace, Arab “neighbors” shattered it with bombs.

Why? I don’t think most Arab-Israelis want a war any more than most Americans want a war … but the driving force for war is never a nation’s citizens, but its politicians and generals. War makes those people powerful and rich. If it kills off the population? So? They are not in the rank and file these days and probably their children are not, either.

If the Arabs ever wanted peace — something I often question — they had many opportunities make a deal to forget everyone’s past and start from NOW. Build peace on today. Build peace on what we need to move ahead into a better future and LET THE PAST GO. I know it’s not easy, but that’s what has to happen and if no one can do it, there will never be peace in this or any future generation.

Which brings me back to the good old U.S.A.

Did I always know this was a deeply flawed country that liked pretending our past didn’t count and we are/were/will be a nation of equals? Sure I knew that. Did I believe we could turn around and become the people we fought against or think we could stir up the type of hatred which brought on the Civil War — in 2019?

No, really, I didn’t believe it. I knew it wasn’t impossible because I read history. I know nothing is impossible. I just thought it very unlikely. And yet, here we are, at the front door, fingers on the doorbell of hatred and despair.


From this morning’s “Washington Post,” a few thoughts to ponder. If we can’t escape — almost none of us can because we have nowhere to go or where we could go doesn’t want us and maybe, we don’t want them, either.

1) Trump’s rhetoric is creating a more dangerous climate and corroding the public discourse.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the Capitol Police last night to provide extra protection for the four lawmakers, citing a growing threat profile, per Fox News.

There are also longer-term impacts to consider. For better or worse, the president is a role model. Modeling bad behavior sends signals to young people just as much as good behavior.

Conservative columnist George Will argues that this is why Trump is worse than Richard Nixon. “I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse, you cannot unring those bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream,” the consistent Trump critic said on a New York Times Book Review podcast last week. “This will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”

2) Trump’s “go back” rhetoric is consistent not only with his own long history of attacks on people he perceives as the other but also the nation’s oscillating attitudes toward immigration throughout its history.

Marc Fisher traces the etymology: “The Know-Nothings wanted German and Irish immigrants to get out because they were allegedly subversive and diseased people who were stealing American jobs. White preachers and politicians of the 1820s urged freed blacks to move to West Africa, supposedly for their own good. From that drive to encourage blacks to go back where they came from to waves of nativist attacks on Catholics, Jews, Asians and Hispanics in nearly every generation that followed, ‘go home’ rhetoric is as American as immigration itself. ( … )

“There is hardly any ethnic or racial group in the country that hasn’t been told to go back where they came from. In collections of voices from the Japanese American internment camps of the World War II era, in diaries of the earliest Italian and Irish immigrants, in Jewish novels and memoirs from the turn of the 20th century, the slur is a mainstay. … From Calvin Coolidge’s warnings in the 1920s that the country was becoming ‘a dumping ground’ and that ‘America must remain American’ to the ‘America: Love it or leave it’ rhetoric that surrounded Richard Nixon’s presidency, the nation’s leaders have struggled for two centuries with a central ambivalence about its core identity as a magnet for immigrants.”

Conservative lawyer George Conway, the husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, explains in an op-ed for The Post why this episode caused him to conclude that Trump is a racist – after years of giving him the benefit of the doubt. ( … )

3) White identity politics is driving Trump as 2020 approaches, and the Republican Party that he’s remaking in his image. Trump is making clear that his reelection campaign will feature the same explosive mix of white grievance and anti-immigrant nativism that helped elect him.

Michael Scherer explains: “Trump’s combustible formula of white identity politics has already reshaped the Republican Party, sidelining, silencing or converting nearly anyone who dares to challenge the racial insensitivity of his utterances. It also has pushed Democratic presidential candidates sharply to the left on issues such as immigration and civil rights, as they respond to the liberal backlash against him. Unknown is whether the president is now on the verge of more permanently reshaping the nation’s political balance — at least until long-term demographic changes take hold to make nonwhite residents a majority of the country around 2050. ( … )

4) “Trump is proposing a giant swap: Republicans can no longer count on suburban women and we will continue to lose college-educated men and women.

“While increasingly picking up working white Americans without college degrees,” said Ari Fleischer, who was a White House press secretary for President George W. Bush and who has spoken with Trump campaign advisers about their strategy for increasing turnout. “Nobody knows who will come out ahead in the swap,” he told Scherer. “That’s what the campaign will tell us.”


There is no escape for me or at least none I’m likely to take … and probably none for you. The younger people who will still be alive in 30 years? This is your fight. This is your world war. Your final battle to live in a decent nation.

If you have a conscience and you vote for it this coming election in 2020, we may survive this crisis. Maybe. If you don’t vote. If you shrug your collective shoulders and mutter “This has nothing to do with me,” you will ultimately discover that it has everything to do with you and worse, it has, even more, to do with the children who are yet unborn.

This is not a battle for today. It’s a battle to have a future worth living — for any of us still alive and for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Will the nations of the world utimately “come around”? Assuming, of course, Planet Earth doesn’t decide it no longer wants human beings living on it? Sure it will.

But historically, that could easily take a few hundred or a thousand years. If you’d like to see this country remain a place we and our descendants can live in safety and hope, do something positive. Vote. Talk to your official representatives. Clean up the garbage along the rivers and roads. Fight for clean air and water.

Decide what you want and stop brooding about how the world isn’t what you expected. The world was never what anyone expected.