Nature losses double bank crisis

The BBC reports that conservationists have found a new method to convey the cost and risk of loss in nature:

…study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.

“It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year,” he told BBC News.

“So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.”

The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the European Commission providing funding.

Sounds drastic, but it seems to me if they are going to make the comparison they also need a way to present a stock ticker-like graphic to illustrate rate of decline and some kind of floor or zero value.

McCain Steals Foo

I do not understand how candidates can forget to license the material they use in their campaigns. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I just noticed the Foo Fighters are not happy that McCain has taken their music without authorization and is misrepresenting it to his followers:

US rock band the Foo Fighters have told John McCain to stop using song My Hero in his presidential campaign, saying it “tarnishes” the track.

The band said it had been “appropriated without our knowledge”.

Appropriated is a strong term. I think use or play would make more sense, but they say the song is being harmed through use and association:

The band said in a statement: “The saddest thing about this is that My Hero was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential.

“To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song.”

This story reminds me of a born-again Christian who played Bob Marley regularly because she said it was popular at her church “retreats” and “camps”. I felt bad breaking the news to her but eventually I explained what Marley meant when he sang Get Up, Stand Up:

Preacher man don’t tell me, heaven is under the earth,
I know you don’t know what life is really worth
Its not all that glitter is gold,
I got story aint never been told
So now you see the light
You stand up for your rights


Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. Jah!

He often sang about trouble caused by Christian missionaries and similar foreign invaders who did harm to Jamaica through bias and false hope. Crazy Baldheads is another example:

I’n’I build a cabin;
I’n’I plant the corn;
Didn’t my people before me
Slave for this country?
Now you look me with that scorn,
Then you eat up all my corn.


Build your penitentiary, we build your schools,
Brainwash education to make us the fools.
Hate is your reward for our love,
Telling us of your God above.

This is not to say Marley inherently disliked Christianity, but rather he warned of the hatred, slavery and racism that hid behind its name. Talkin’ Blues was perhaps his most agitated commentary:

But-a I – I’m gonna stare in the sun,
Let the rays shine in my eyes.
I – I’m a gonna take a just-a one step more
‘Cause I feel like bombin’ a church –
Now – now that you know that the preacher is lyin’.
So who’s gonna stay at home
When – when the freedom fighters are fighting?

Perhaps if Marley were alive today he would encourage Christians to license his music, under the condition that they practice what he preaches. Likewise, the Foo Fighters could grant McCain license under the condition that he actually serve the needs and interests of common people instead of stumping for big banks and oil.

TIME has a list of musicians who have asked McCain to stop using their music.

Van Halen’s “Right Now”: “Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given.”

Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty”: “[T]he fact that Sen. McCain has used this song in a hit-piece on Barack Obama is anathema to Jackson.”

Gretchen Peter’s (writer) “Independence Day” (Martina McBride performs the song; Peters objects to use of song about abused women being used at a campaign rally): “The fact that the McCain-Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony.”

And so it goes…

The Bicycle Test

Try this at home. Mariano Pasik, an Argentine publicist in Buenos Aires, has attempted to measure crime in his city is by leaving bicycles unlocked. He films the spot to see how long it takes before they are stolen. Reuters has the story:

“What you see on the videos is that they aren’t professional thieves, they aren’t people who went out to rob. They are people who ran into temptation and decided to commit a crime, they become thieves at the moment they take the bike,” he said.

He said he is also trying to show that the media fascination with crime, in places like Buenos Aires where armed robberies are rampant, is part of the problem.

“The popular fantasy is that the bike will be stolen in seconds, and it isn’t quite like that,” Pasik said.

In the latest video posted, a bike lasted an hour without being stolen in the unsavory Constitucion neighborhood. But on the upscale shopping street of Santa Fe, a bike lasted a few short minutes before it was stolen.

A neighborhood “passes” the bicycle test when an hour passes or when the filmer gets tired or runs out of batteries.

Nice methodology. If the observer stops for a cup of coffee, the neighborhood is safe.

“You see the person thinking and thinking and thinking, coming and going. Sometimes they talk by phone. They go away. They come back. It’s more about an internal dilemma between good and bad, than about the bicycle itself,” Pasik said.

Watching for signs of casing is always a good idea in security.

So far in the Bicycle Test, no woman has stolen a bike.

Maybe he should change the color of the bicycle.

Pomegranate Grenade

by Tahar Ben Jelloun, as quoted by Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio in Tahar the Wise, Translated from French by Margaret Obank.

La grenade rouge et juteuse
lourde de grains et de souvenirs
tombe avec la lune
dans les mains des enfants nus.
(The red and juicy pomegranate grenade
heavy with seeds and memories
falls with the moon
into the hands of naked children.)

Here’s my translation:

The red juicy grenade
heavy with seeds and memories
drops with the moon
into hands of nude children