Saturday, February 19, 2011

Notes: 2/25/11

1. Kadafi has declared war on his own people. He said "I made this country and I can destroy it." Many in his own army have deserted him and he now hires foreign mercenaries to take their place. Western nations seem unsure what action to take. But still the people go out in the street in the tens of thousands to say "We have had enough with this dictator. We want democracy".

In the American revolution the slogan was – “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people…” For democracy to work there must be a fair and open exchange of ideas.

What makes the United States (and the rest of the world) uncomfortable with the changes in North Africa and the Middle East is that we can not control or predict what these newly freed Arab democracies will become.

A Mosque and garden in Turkey

It appears likely that within a year we may have a broad restructuring of North African and Middle Eastern politics. The democracies that emerge will most probably be based on multiple parties (like the Italian or French systems) with all voices contending to be heard. Like Turkey, I hope that both secular and islamist parties will be included. When parties are suppressed it is than that they become dangerous. If the people throw off this long standing dictator it is their time to experience the power of their own government - not the time for us to impose our will on them.

Inside of a Mosque - Istanbul

This quote comes to mind: “ One mans terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” - Certainly true of Moshe Dayan and the British, True of Charles DeGalle and the Vichy French in the Second World War, true of the American Patriots in our Revolutionary War, Yasser Arafat and Israel… Kadafi is feeling very uncomfortable right now with the people in the street – he calls them cockroaches and terrorists, instruments of the US and Osama Ben Laden…but to the people on the street he it the one with a long history of the most brutal terrorism.

As I write this blog the outcome is undecided - Kadafi has a history of surviving tough situations, he is brutal... but the people are a force he has not faced before...


Temperature: 53F in February, 60F in August

2. Moist Pacific air flows past the beaches, over the hills and mountains of the California Coast, the towns, farms, and cottages of farmworkers. It flows past oak savannas, grass lands with grazing cattle, the fields of cotton and corn, through the Sierra forests and rocky crags beyond. California life depends on the moisture carried by ocean air...

The Alaska current carries water south ward along out coast

In the winter, the middle latitudes over Northern California are a meeting place for confrontation between warm moist tropical air and cold arctic air masses. The warm air is forced to rise and moisture is released as rain in the low lands and snow in the mountains. Winds out of the northwest, off the cold Pacific Ocean, carry storms to us – sometimes one after another in January – April.

Vast amounts of water and lifted from the sea and return as rain and show

We don’t have "spring" in the sense that the midwest and the east coast have. New growth begins with the first fall rains. Light winter frost slows but doesn't stop the growth, there is a slow progression of life as long as their is moisture– New sprouts, new growth, a sequence of flowers… but no sudden dramatic change from winter to spring. As long as we have water we have growth.

Much of the San Francisco area receives about 15 inches of rain on average each year

Spring weather can be 70 degrees in February and a week later 35 degrees.. It all depends on whether our air mass has come to us from tropical or arctic regions. By the third week of February daffodils have just completing their brilliant yellow blooms, I see serious green buds and growth on many plants, lifeless looking twigs are suddenly sprouting green.

The first fruit trees are blooming - almonds and plums now apricots, peaches, and apples later. Our future plum crop is in jeopardy right now – we have had days of steady rain recently and it is not good weather for bees to be about. Frost is the kiss of death for fruit crops in bloom…we keep our fingers crossed.

Plum blossoms have the smell of spring that bees can not resist. The slightest breeze carries a snow storm of petals...(they eddy and swirl in the street below). When the petals are gone, the task is just beginning - each flower ovule now has been fertilized and can form a sweet summer fruit.