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suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

This is it.

Posted on 2009.11.15 at 12:40

Great movie commemorating a great loss; it really helped to humanize Michael Jackson.  It made me a little jealous of him.  He got to check out before the climate really changed and we are left holding no option but to adapt or die.  Expressive, expansive, belated tip of the hat to you, MJ.

But I didn’t mean to write about a movie.  I meant to write down the dissertation idea that finally fit.  This is it:  How National Environmental Policy Act environmental review would change if Carbon Dioxide (CO2) were named a criteria pollutant.

It crystallized out of unrelated Friday conversations at work.  One was with my supervisor Janeen Spates, debating whether activities that add CO2 to the atmosphere cause physical change to the environment. 

Harris County and HUD have always assumed that using federal grant money to support public services such as ambulance rides or bus ride vouchers for ill patients produced no physical changes to the environment and were thus exempt from NEPA environmental review under 24 CFR Part 58.  On the other hand, constructing new apartment buildings or a new park with play equipment for the kids would produce physical changes to the environment, triggering full environmental assessment under the same federal regulations.

However, the plastic “Donald Duck” play seats that Diana and I used to love to swing on at Marquette Park on Lake Michigan in the 1960s have already cracked up and either joined all that trash in the landfills or is by now well on its way floating serenely toward the great Pacific Ocean garbage flow.  A permanent physical change to the environment?  Certainly, even though no physical evidence of the play equipment remains on the beach less than fifty years after installation.  But the CO2 that left the tailpipe of our car as we happily wheeled down Lakeside Drive to cavort on that same beach is still with us.  So is the CO2 expended in constructing the “Donald Duck” swing equipment, in manufacturing the plastic seats themselves, in transporting them from wherever they were made to the beach where they were used by countless happy kids, each of which transferred over a pound of Carbon (2.5 miles * conservatively .9 lbs of carbon dioxide/2ish kids per car) to the atmosphere on the way there, and after wiping off their sandy feet, again on the way back.  About half that carbon dioxide was absorbed by the world’s waters, acidifying them, and the other half is still up in the air, for a century or more, helping raise the mean temperature of earth during the entire time.

So if the Carbon emissions produce more permanent change, and arguably more adverse change, to the environment than the plastic and metal remnants of the disused 1960s play equipment of my youth, why is CO2 still generally discounted in the federal environmental review process?

That part of the NEPA environmental review process that I work with almost daily is HUD’s interpretation of the statute codified in federal regulations at 24 CFR 58.  Another Friday conversation was with one of my two planners, Jared Briggs, who fresh from recent training relayed the sense that HUD is moving away from narrowly defining its community development mission as safely housing people with less toward a broader view of real community building.  In lifting its view from only those traditionally underserved to the whole community, a move that has been underway at least since the welfare reforms of the Clinton era, opportunity exists for adopting a more generally holistic view that is consistent with the postmodern American city and country. 

Houston can be a tough crowd for an ecocentrist.  Yet even Dr. Stephen Klineberg’s evenhanded Rice University Houston Area Survey finds increasingly that the population considers the threat of global warming as “very serious,” passing the majority mark in 2008.  The Houston Area Survey found consistently that between the 1980s and the 2000s people agreed (ranging between 61% to 72%) with the statement, “Protecting the environment is so important that continuing improvements must be made, regardless of cost.”  If they’re saying that in the (petroleum) energy capital of the world, how much more acutely must the rest of the world feel this?

After last night’s sleep, I thought that if we gave long-lived greenhouse gasses their shrift in environmental review, our assessment of what produces beneficial and adverse environmental effects would change quite radically.   My wife Donna, upon hearing it, told me to write it down this morning before I forget, which is her quite meaningful stamp of approval.  Ha-ha, forget a real dissertation hook into the climate change adaptation planning that I have been working toward at TSU since 2004 and also lets me engage Dr. Ibitayo on my committee?  I wrote it down.

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

The Massacre at Fort Hood

Posted on 2009.11.07 at 10:02

(تَكْبِير) “Allahu Akbar” in deed. If in place of Allah you substitute the profane belief that “might makes right”; that the direction of violence can ever project a force for justice. Not even the most coldly ironic human can make sense of the massacre that took place in the military heart of Texas on Thursday afternoon. Yet I believe that such was bound to happen eventually. The fundamental illogic of training in the martial arts, of knowing to kill in order to deny the land to those you dislike, and to dominate and dehumanize others so that their way does not impede your way, this day is cruelly exposed like a giant raw nerve at the heart of a beast.

Can anyone condemn the soldier who turned on his mates who can also abide what those slain and unslain were either commencing or finalizing at the Soldier Readiness Center of Fort Hood, the “largest active duty armored post in the United States”? (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572305,00.html).

If the string of domination by violence noted in the Bible beginning with Cain and his brother and continuing to Saul’s thousands and David’s tens of thousands had continued unbroken to this day, how many of us would be yet alive? सत्याग्रह Satyagraha, my gentle readers.

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box


Posted on 2009.09.12 at 16:39

I, for one, hope that youth will again revolt and again demoralize the dead weight of conformity that now lies upon us.
- Howard M. Jones

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.
- Blaise Pascal

Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy.
- Robert Anthony.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.
- Garrison Keillor

"War is not an acceptable energy policy"
- Cynthia McKinney (2008 Green party candidate)

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box


Posted on 2009.07.31 at 19:17
Current Location: Houston, TX
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: One More Day - David M. Bailey
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Re-posted from David M. Bailey

Chemo-Brain - July 31, 2009

So Today I learned a brand new word
I’m pretty sure it’s one I’ve heard
more Chemo-Brain...Collapse )
from this 12-year glioblastoma survivor's web site,
Go David!
DAVID M. BAILEY: Love - Still the Greatest

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

Promote financial inclusion to make insurance more available.

Posted on 2009.03.23 at 09:14
Current Location: Work
Current Mood: busybusy
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Promote financial inclusion to make [Phil in the Blank] more available.

Always a good idea, promoting financial inclusion spreads the risks more evenly.  Of course, the ultimate risk spread is via taxation, to all people.  The Association of British Insurers in their January 2009 Preparing the UK for climate change:  ABI's new adaptation strategy included this as the 11th strategy, noting:

"adaptation investment can be very cost effective: for example flood defence expenditure in the UK has a cost-benefit ratio of 7:1, much higher than for other public sector capital investments. Adaptation needs to be pursued with more energy."

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

short story writing

Posted on 2009.02.17 at 03:32
Current Location: my home office
Current Mood: creativecreative
Current Music: silent - it's deep in the night
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i woke up at exactly 2 am twice this week so far...and it is only Tuesday!

Tonight, I rose to arrange my things for tomorrow into their customary places, rather than the scattered places where they sat.  Then I climbed back into bed.  No sooner had I been comfortably mummified again in the winter darkness than my dear cat Lucky softly barked a cheery hello bedside, waited for dramatic effect, and jumped lightly onlo my chest.  Half an hour of mutual petting time later, he hopped down and disappeared as stealthily as he had come in, a black cat into darkness.

I began to think about my Sunday morning atheist's meditation experience (which Donna called a birth of faith in me, apparently a huge step for someone who only knows what he knows).  It had begun as a dream in the dark early Sunday morn and was so pleasurable that it reminded me of the flying described in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide, that one should purposefully not think about anything at all or the unusual human ability to fly would be immediately lost.  The thoughts that had triggered a sparkling huge universe inside my self were those of the von Hagens Body Worlds 3 exhibition we had viewed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science the day before, of the physicality of our existence, of settling old coflicts unilaterally, of self-forgiveness and peace.  Quite suddenly the fizz of that experience had lit into being, some of which still remains in the side ways of my mind like the background temperatures of the big bang itself.  Now two mornings after, the cat gone, having turned over next to my wife in my warm bed, I thought about it, longed for it like an adolescent longs for an unknown life partner.  I gently remembered the clear sparkling vastness inside of me, mentally patted it  to be sure it was there, safe, protected, deep.

In my night mistiness I began to have a random thought about a little bug in a Venus fly trap.  I wondered what the bug's experience of the rest of its life would be.  Assuming it were self-aware, what would it feel about itself, its circumstances, life, the universe, everything?  I tried to put myself in that poor bug's shoes, a substitutionary transposition.  I came up with an idea for a short story about a man living his life in the cup of one of those digesting flowers that one cannot climb out of and making the best of it, and could not rest until I put it to metaphoracal paper.  Hence, this somewhat silly message to my gentle reader, at 4 AM Tuesday morning.  The story begins, "Peculiar, he thought, how smooth the sunlight shown on the great high walls of his world."

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

aloha ‘āina.

Posted on 2008.06.30 at 14:28
Current Location: Houston
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aloha ‘āina.

It's rather basic.

Love and care for the land, for it is the land that cares for you.

It's supremely complex.

Caring for the land, and by extension it's living inhabitants from the most endangered species to ourselves, means ensuring that everything else remains in or regains its dynamic balance.  So loving the land means caring for the air, water, fire, and ice, because it literally all works together.  We have not the computing capacity to analyze or learn, let alone adequately model or manage or optimize everything involved with Earth's systems.  

Our incremental inputs to this planet will reverberate harmonically for a very long time, and it is questionable whether such inputs can be counteracted in any beneficial way.  In many ways, dynamic balances and harmonic cycles so far identified in the Earth are becoming degraded from levels that were prevalent during most of human development.  We don't currently have the capacity to understand Earth systems holistically. but it gives those of us alive today an ultimate objective and high aspirations.

Perhaps the most important work today contributes to a better understanding of how the Earth works altogether, and how best through human action to support that environment for life.  I am not at the front lines pushing the limits of human understanding of our Earth.  I believe that I have identified how I can fit into that grand mission, by learning and applying and re-teaching as much as I may to those who have eyes or ears or hands or feet, and encouraging them to do the same.

flag, colorful, horserider, victor

Up with the Dialogue

Posted on 2008.04.28 at 18:33
Current Mood: creativecreative
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You can be any religion or none in America. That is one of the many rights that protectors of the amended Constitution admire in the U.S. No one truly admires uncritical thought, whether it be on the part of religious adherents or "my-country-right-or-wrong" zealots. That is one of the freedoms, obliquely, for which you may have fought; if so, our countrymen and women thank you for your service.

Read more...Collapse )

-- Paul M. Suckow

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

Just bought a replacement laptop

Posted on 2008.02.16 at 01:40
Current Location: Houston, TX, USA
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Tags: , ,
Hey friends!

Since this blog is my most personal, I thought I'd write of my experience buying an up-to-date replacement for my obsolete (3 year old) Compaq laptop PC. It's been good. Here's the background.

I'd started last July to provide GIS services and training to Roberta F. Burroughs and Associates, an excellent African-American woman-owned planning consultancy in business for the past 20 years. So for the past half year, my pay has been quite bountiful (compared to near nothing during most of the Bush administration) and in early 2008 I could consider updating our computing capacity. 

Read more...Collapse )

suckow, chatter, linux, paul, box

What a difference eight years makes

Posted on 2008.01.08 at 23:28

It is hard to believe that it was eight years ago that I began, tentatively, to record my thoughts on the WWW.  These thoughts were mainly public observations rather than personal disclosures.  My blogging peaked prior to the shocking 2000 U.S. general election, and again during the pileup that erupted in the disastrous Iraq war.  As you can read back in my blog I didn't much dwell on the personal consequences of my political awakening, so let me outline some here.

By the time the 2000 election was "settled" by a one-vote majority of the Supreme Court, I was determined to catch a bus to Washington DC to attend the "W" inauguration in protest.  One month to the day after 9-11-2001, my contract employment ended.  I became increasingly despondent over my future prospects in the world as it was then developing.  Once or twice family and jobless pressures reached the level of considering suicidal preparations.  Fortunately, I could not find sufficient redeeming value in out and out quitting, and resolved myself not to accept death until my life's work was one way or another complete.  I made application to the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Urban Planning-Environmental Policy Program in 2003, and entered into my doctoral degree studies the following year at TSU. 

I had been increasingly concerned about the implications of global heating for the human and built environment since reading Lovelock and Myers around 1982.  During 2003, the global warming misinformation campaign had peaked and I wanted the unvarnished scientific record available to me.  I wanted to determine my future career endeavors around planning for the public interest in what I saw as the biggest global issue of my remaining time on earth.

I met an online friend, then two, then more, in China.  Though India and Indonesia also contain world-altering populations, as goes China, so goes the world.  In China it will be determined whether earth life as we know it will continue much into the future or, simply, not.  My original and closest Chinese friend has developed a very meaningful bond with me.  I just sent to her in Chongqing a handmade 120-page book of our poetry that we created in an online collaboration.  It is illustrated by me in watercolor and prismacolors.  I feel as concerned for her family as if they were my own, to some consternation in my own dear wife of 17 years.

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