I don't think I'm really in the market anymore (though I'd love to have something you could put through as baggage), but this is a good survey of what's out there for river trips. I'm not as brave or skilled as Ron with his folding canoe.
The heroic work of Marie-Claire Paiz has resulted in an agreement by USAID to directly support the protection of the Sierra del Lacandon, in partnership with the Defensores. Javier Marquez has recently become director, and Marie-Claire has taken on new responsibilities with the Nature Conservancy in Mexico.
For those unfamiliar with the struggle to protect the Maya Biosphere, here's a good overview:
Here's a note on the author of this SFGate.com editorial:
John A. Russo is city attorney of Oakland. He is immediate past president of the League of California Cities and serves on the board of directors of the National League of Cities.
"Were a totalitarian government to be imposed upon us, its inception would look strikingly like these provisions. History teaches us that such evils almost always begin justified by concerns for public safety and amid general panic."
The wrinkle here is that they are using 802.16, known as WiMax, in an early demonstration of municipal county-wide coverage.
Conference at the Interamerican Development Bank, Washington, D.C.
Free. Register before Feb. 6.
PDF Documents in support of the conference:
Howard Dean's social software advisors and friends are regrouping after recent primary setbacks and the news yesterday that Joe Trippi is leaving as campaign manager. Here are some early reactions, to give an idea of the online discussions that are going on.
Doc keeps his finger on the pulse:
According to this report, the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala will meet on March 23. They will discuss, among other things, immigration along their border, and the development of hydroelectric plants on the Usumacinta.
UPDATE: This story has disappeared from the Mural website. It can be found for now in the Google cache:
The text is also posted below (click MORE)
Pacta Fox visita oficial a Guatemala
El trasiego de ilegales, la inseguridad fronteriza y el desarrollo de empresas hidroeléctricas
Guatemala, Guatemala (28 enero 2004).- El Presidente de México, Vicente Fox, realizará una visita oficial a Guatemala el próximo 23 de marzo para tratar temas bilaterales, entre estos el tema de la migración ilegal, informó este miércoles una fuente oficial.
El canciller guatemalteco, Jorge Briz, dijo que durante la visita a Guatemala, Fox y Berger también analizarán el desarrollo de proyecto conjuntos en materia de generación de energía.
De acuerdo con Briz, los mandatarios analizarán el trasiego de ilegales, la inseguridad fronteriza y el desarrollo de empresas hidroeléctricas sobre el río Usumacinta, que sirve de límite a una parte de los 967 kilómetros de frontera que comparten ambos países.
De acuerdo con datos oficiales, a lo largo de la zona fronteriza conviven más de un millón de mexicanos y medio millón de guatemaltecos, quienes tejen a diario lazos de comercio, cultura y amistad.
Pese a los intercambios sociales cotidianos, la línea divisoria enfrenta desafíos y riesgos como el crimen transnacional organizado que aprovecha la alta porosidad en esa zona para el tráfico de drogas, el contrabando, el tráfico ilegal de personas, la depredación arqueológica y ambiental.
Documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency files show U.S. figures scratching their heads in disbelief as the Mexican military misinterpreted and over-estimated the Zapatistas in '93-'94.
The most recent public statements by the CFE about plans for Boca del Cerro dam emphasize that the water levels will never rise above the normal high water mark. That is supposed to calm fears of widespread flooding and loss of land. But this unnatural constant high level has its own consequences.
The following article mentions the work of Peter Bayley, who is just finishing a term as visiting Fulbright Scholar in Villahermosa, Mexico. I am looking forward to his findings regarding the centlas of the Usumacinta.
Nothing alters a river as much as a dam, and nothing is more destructive of riverine and riparian species.
...What ecologist Peter Bayley terms the "flood pulse advantage" is the main reason for the astonishing diversity and productivity of rivers and floodplains...Annual floods on tropical rivers are estimated to produce fish yields a hundred times that of rivers without floodplains.
...Dams are therefore the main reason why fully one-fifth of the world's 9000 recognized freshwater fish species have become extinct, threatened or endangered in recent years. The percentage rises in countries which have been most heavily dammed.
More on the "flood pulse" can be found in these studies:
The flood pulse also affects plant and tree growth:
And here is an abstract of the paper in which Peter Bailey and others first defined the flood pulse concept:
There's a concern that believing the current CFE statements (that they only plan low structures that won't change the river) will allow them time to regroup and begin building large dams instead. Even if they build only low structures, there may be unintended damage to habitat and archaeological evidence.
Chris Shaw presents these concerns in terms that are very similar to those on the TropicoVerde website, quoted below.
CFE's current claims that no large storage dam is planned, ... would eliminate, at least in their minds, the archaeology and terrestrial flooding arguments, as well as some of the hurricane and earthquake concerns. They can also say they have kept their promise to increase energy generation.
Four or five low-heads, however, would destroy a one-of-a-kind aquatic ecosystem about whch almost nothing is known, and probably wipe out other undescribed aquatic species (to say nothing of affecting the centlas). They would probably also destroy a certain number of river's edge archaeological structures, as well as navigation for local travel and toursism. And in any case, where are the environmental impact reports? What about the impact of new roads, for instance?
We need to make a statement that low-heads in the main corridor don't get them off the hook, and that last year we rejected any bank-to bank structures. We need to assert that archaeology and patrimony are about more than "treasure," i.e, tombs etc, and as much involved with preserving the ancient landscape, which records the old culture in its whole cloth.
El gobierno de México ha cambiado en repetidas ocasiones la altura de la represa de Boca del Cerro. Documentos recientes de la CFE afirma que “cambió la concepción de los esquemas de sus proyectos hidroeléctricos a presas de baja altura, procurando así proyectos ambientalmente sustentables, que no afecten el patrimonio cultural del país, ni inunden grandes extensiones de terreno” (CFE,2003a).
Además plantea que el proyecto Boca del Cerro tendrá una altura de 48.5 m (originalmente era 135 m) y con este cambio afirman que: “no involucra territorio de la Republica de Guatemala, no inunda la Selva Lacandona, no impide el paso de nutrientes y organismos acuáticos hacia los pantanos de Centla, debido a que al operar al “hilo de corriente” se garantiza el escurrimiento natural del río, tal y como se ha presentado históricamente”(CFE,2003b).
Sin embargo, la realidad de otros proyectos de represas demuestra que siempre hay grandes impactos ambientales, como el impedimento de la migración de las especies que viven en el río y la alteración de las condiciones físicas, químicas y biológicas de las cuencas. Entre los impactos sociales cabe mencionar daños a sitios arqueológicos, desplazamiento de la población e impedimento a la libre navegación del río. Es importante resaltar que aún cuando se cambie la altura de Boca del Cerro el proyecto global es muy cuestionable.
More on the eviction of an "irregular" settlement from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. There's some dispute over whether there was anyone there at the time, and whether the people left voluntarily. Most agree that 23 houses were burned, by officials including members of the Mexican Navy, an odd touch since it is nowhere near the ocean. It's possible they approached in a boat on the Lacantun river.
Here is the website for International Shared Aquifer Resource Management (ISARM), and initiative of UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrogeologists. At the bottom of the page is a link to a pdf, a report on ISARM Americas, that mentions the Usumacinta.
According to this account from Guatemala, the capture seems to have started on the Rio Pasion, a tributary of the Usumacinta.
Prensa Libre - Incautan 900 kilos de cocaína
Three different incidents in Chiapas
No this isn't some New Age nonsense. It's an article in New Scientist about a fractal element to Maya organization. According to the article, "Self-organised critical systems are inherently unpredictable." Another way to look at the Maya collapse.
(Subscription is required, but there is a 7-day free trial)
I don't get many comments in this weblog, but some recent ones have started an interesting debate over the effect of a dam at Boca del Cerro on communities nearby. A town leader at Chinikiha (which is now called Reforma Agraria) has written in twice, once in response to a comment defending the dam, to outline the danger of such a dam to his community.
Here are the original posts with the news articles that prompted the debate:
The Daily Glyph: Proceso reports letter, Chinikiha
The Daily Glyph: News on Boca del Cerro Dam
And the three comments:
Me interesa el documental que tienen redactado, y el gran interes que se le ha dado a esta zona , pese a que ya desde hace muchos años la dependencia de INAH jamas se ha preocupado por restaurar ni mucho menos.
Mi nombre es Guiilermo Castañeda ...y soy el actual COMISAIADO EJIDAL de este ejido que actualmente se le conoce como REFORMA AGRARIA, un saludo y si en algo nos pudieran ayudar para sobresalir en este potencial turistico que tenemos apagado en nuestra zona desde hace muchos años......se los agradeceremos
Lei el articulo y la verdad no entiendo su punto de discusion, Primero :dicen que los proyectos hidrologicos sobre el Usumacinta inundaran gran cantidad de terrenos y sitios aequeologicos ,sin embargo ese problema se soluciona bajando la altura de la presa,, y cambiando el tipo de turbinas( con lo que se aseguraria que el lago artificial de las presas no sobrepasara el nivel inundado naturalmente por el usumacinta en epoca de lluvias),,,Segundo: en esa zona los pueblos malviven de la agricultura (el maiz cuesta 500 la tonelada, cuesta producirlo 3000) y con la implementacion de los embalses como zona piscicola sin duda mejorarian su nivel de vida,,,
tercero: el proyecto boca del cerro no es nuevo ni exclusivo del PPP,,,es un proyecto que data de los años 70´s y esta contemplado en el original Plan nacional de desarrollo...
cuarto: les doy la razon en el sentido de que los pobladores deben de ser consultados pues son sus tierras en donde viven, pero las presas son vitales precisamente para evitar que mediante plantas termoelectricas (queman combustible fosil(chapopote o carbon mineral y/o vegetal))el medio ambiente se siga contaminando,,,si se ponen a pensar un poco o se molestan en profundizar en lo que es un proyecto hidraulico, se darian cuenta que es la unica manera ademas de los campos de generacion eolica y por mareas de no contaminar ni destruir nuestras reservas petroleras que tan necesarias son para el desarrollo de mexico....
Ing. Juan francisco de León Ibarra; UNAM(CU )
Si los comentarios que menciona el ing. de la unam tuviesen gran impacto dentro de mis paisanos les aseguro que dijeran que esta loco con respecto a su mencionado proyecto de crianza de peces ( piscicultura ) ....ya que no tiene ni idea de lo que representa el romper una cultura como la nuestra ...si cosechar 1000 kg. de maiz nos representa mas de lo que vale en el mercado...eso para nosotros nos tiene sin cuidado ya que comer lo que nosotros mismos producimos es una tradicion y es un honor para nuestro pueblo
impidan por favor esas construcciones hidrologicas ya que por otra parte enterrarian bajo no se cuantos metros del agua, a nuestros ancestros....los mayas.....
mi pueblo y yo defenderemos nuestra zona arqueologica a capa y espada
Upgrading, troubleshooting, backing up the Lower Eastside Girls Club, I'll need this.
Links to projects inviting outside investment, location of plants, successful bidders.
A search on the site for "Boca del Cerro" brings this up:
Search results under: Boca del Cerro string
1 articles were found
1.- January 28, 2003
NO PROJECT IS UNDER WAY TO BUILD A MAJOR STORAGE DAM AT USUMACINTA RIVER
And the January 28 date links to a story from Feb. 6 about Nicaragua, no mention of Boca del Cerro.
But a little digging finds something that's not news, but the official line we've heard before, in as few words as possible:
Mexico City, Federal District, January 28, 2003
NO PROJECT IS UNDER WAY TO BUILD A MAJOR STORAGE DAM AT USUMACINTA RIVER
* CFE cancelled a project with those characteristics several years ago
The Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) does not have plans for any project to build a major storage dam at the Usumacinta river, in the region known as Boca del Cerro, and it has been several years since a project with those characteristics was cancelled.
The company’s technical staff is studying in this region the probable usage of the river’s flow to generate hydropower, having as a restriction the utilization of the river in its natural flow.
The progress of the studies will be discussed at all times with the relevant authorities.
Not Boca del Cerro, but La Parota and El Cajon.
How do we make the case to CFE that it is in their interest to preserve the Usumacinta?
Earthwatch has a number of publications on business and biodiversity:
CFE is proud that many of their plants conform to an international standard - ISO 14001 - of environmental responsibility:
But what is ISO-14001?
What is greener management, environmental management? Does this guy know?
How about the World Commission on Dams?
1. Dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development, and the benefits derived from them have been considerable
2. In too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, by people displaced, by communities downstream, by taxpayers and by the natural environment.
3. Lack of equity in the distribution of benefits has called into question the value of many dams in meeting water and energy development needs when compared with the alternatives
4. By bringing to the table all those whose rights are involved and who bear the risks associated with different options for water and energy resources development, the conditions for a positive resolution of competing interests and conflicts are created
5. Negotiating outcomes will greatly improve the development effectiveness of water and energy projects by eliminating unfavourable projects at an early stage, and by offering as a choice only those options that key stakeholders agree represent the best ones to meet the needs in question
Navigation Surveys, Salvage Archaeology, and the Nile
While in Florida, I read Rex Keating's "Nubian Rescue", which is not an episode from the Arabian Nights. It summarized the Nubian Campaign, a portion of UNESCO's massive salvage operation racing against the filling of Lake Nasser behind Aswan High Dam on the Nile. Though it was an enormous, well-funded international effort that relocated Abu Simel and put ancient Meroe on the map, it could not save some great sites.
For me, it was a really sobering look at what could be in store for the Usumacinta and what might have to be done. Chris [Shaw's] reports from Rosa Bacelis about goings on at Boca' sound ominous. I'm going to just crib from the book, with an occasional aside. The quotes speak for themselves.
UNESCO drew up a list of the principal threats to world cultural property. "First among them, and the most spectacular, is dam construction. In America, the Missouri River drainage plan has submerged all the known sites of five major prehistoric cultures." Subsidiary works, such as access roads, worker camps, and quarries for rock fill can be equally destructive [paraphrased].
From Dr. Vittorino Veronese's UNESCO appeal on 3-8-1960: "It is not easy to choose between temples and crops. I would be sorry for any man called on to make that choice who could not do so without a feeling of despair. These monuments do not belong solely to the countries who hold them in trust. Treasures of universal value are entitled to universal protection."
The Nubian campaign focused on a 100 mile stretch between Faras and the Dal Cataract. They fielded thirty expeditions from 24 countries from 1663 to 1971. "The Second Cataract, of all the many reaches of the Nile in its four thousand mile journey from source to sea, was by far the most beautiful. Rapids and islands followed in bewildering variety until at Semna, forty miles upstream from the Rock of Abusir, the granite closes in on the river, driving it into a channel less than fifty yards wide. From then on the landscape was convulsed into a series of ridges known in Arabic as Batn el Hagar the Belly of Stone and never was anything more aptly named. From Semna to the Dal Cataract, a distance of 55 miles, the Nile ran swiftly between steep walls of rock."
Though one is in the desert and the other in selva, the Nile struck me as remarkably like the Usumacinta. Both were swift, challenging, and well-used river routes. The Belly of Stone corresponds to the gorge-bound Usu' from Yaxchilan to La Linea. The lengths are even the same. The Usu' canyons follow downstream just as the rapids of the Second Cataract do on the Nile. Each had a parallel overland route: the Usu's was through Piedras Negras and La Pasadita, and the Nile's was the Nubian Road.
"Wherever there was a perilous stretch of water there one would find a(n Egyptian) fortress. They represented military engineering on a scale never before attempted in the ancient world and never to be equaled." The Nile had twelve forts ranged along the Second Cataract. The Usu' valley also has its fortresses: Panhale, La Pasadita, probably Yaxchilan, and maybe others.
Buhen - "The main defensive wall with rectangular towers projecting from it at regular intervals was 5 metres thick and 11 metres high. The number of bricks that went into its construction reached the staggering figure of ten millions. Piercing the bastions were double rows of loopholes, one set for standing and the other for kneeling archers. Buhen was virtually impregnable and nothing short of artillery could have breached its defenses. The architects of 1900 BC were every bit as imaginative and in some ways more advanced than the designers of the fortresses of our Middle Ages."
Mirgissa - "Whenever I think of Nubia, it is Mirgissa Fortress that comes to mind. That improbable mass of brickwork perched above the wildest and most dangerous stretch of the Second Cataract fires the imagination." Not only was it the largest of the Egyptian forts, its outer works sprawled for miles enclosing a river town. "The sandy plain south of the fort was never examined. Had the docks and warehouses been found they could have yielded invaluable information on the maritime and commercial activities of ancient Egypt."
"It is a great misfortune that not one of the forts has been preserved. For close to four thousand years they resisted the abrasive winds of Nubia and it is hard to credit that now in the year of 1974 not one of these absolutely unique structures survives." Being of mud brick, they could not be moved to higher ground. In the rising lake waters, the mud bricks dissolved into just mud.
As the surveys progressed, data accumulated on the river itself. At Mirgissa "the French Mission actually found a slipway which had been used for dragging ships. It took the form of a roadway laid with wooden poles rather like the sleepers of a railroad, each pole being slightly curved. The poles had long been eaten by termites but the dry mud had faithfully retained their imprints just as it had retained the impressions of grooves made by the keels of the ships and the actual footprints of sailors who had pulled the vessels along the slippery surface some forty centuries ago. When I saw the slipway the sand was already drifting over it but still I was able to follow its course due north for three kilometers. The dangerous rapids nearby can be navigated in reasonable safety only during the period of high water between the end of July and November, and the slipway had been constructed to outflank them and make navigation possible throughout the year."
"There can be little doubt that similar slipways would have been found in other dangerous reaches of the Cataract had the archaeologists conducting the Survey known what to look for. All the fortresses must have had quays or even harbors. At Buhen and Serra forts the quays were in situ."
"A careful study of aerial photographs of the Second Cartaract had revealed artificial spurs (wing dams) among several rapids and it is entirely conceivable that had Mills and his colleagues known of the existence of such spurs, which are difficult to spot on the ground, they could well have located and mapped others during their survey of the river and its islands. It is an opportunity lost which can never recur since the whole region is now submerged."
"To sum up then: Professor Vercoutter believes that in the reign of Amenemhet III two massive spur walls were built over the natural barrier at Semna and a high level of water was maintained by other spur walls at Uronarti and Askut, and so on down the length of the Cataract. We are drawn to the remarkable conclusion that one of the great rivers of the world was effectively brought under control nearly forty centuries ago."
The bottom line is that a navigation survey of the entire section of the Nile was badly needed but never done. Only bits and pieces were recorded. Hopefully we'll do better on the Usu'.
Other lessons that I got from UNESCO's Nubian Campaign were:
- An archaeological salvage effort is a huge job, requiring financial help from many nations, multiple teams on the ground, and a long term commitment. Any one project, like a navigation survey or dig, is only a small part.
- A lot more sites turn up than are known at the start. In one part of Nubia they started with a dozen and ended up with 1000, and that was in a desert where you can see things. Think how many may be along the Usumacinta hidden in the selva.
- No matter how good the resources, things are left undone, some for lack of resources, but many because a need was recognized too late.
- Last, and most heartbreaking, the biggest and best are going to be destroyed. All that will survive are documents from the surveys.
1-22-04, Ron Canter, with many quotes from Rex Keating
From Boing Boing, a link to this story. Much more extensive and sophisticated than the bungled Watergate break-in.
Also for problem-solving. And I'm still awake now at 3am?
A search for " Mexico hidroelectrico" on Spanish Google turned up this, from Jan. 6 of this year.
For the first time, the government has given the green light to privately owned hydroelectric plants in Mexico.
CIUDAD DE MEXICO.- Por primera vez operarán en México plantas hidroeléctricas privadas, que venderán la energía que produzcan a la industria y a municipios, bajo la figura de autoabastecedores o exportadores.
El Gobierno federal dio luz verde a la construcción de este tipo de plantas de mediana escala, y ofreció concesionar los cauces y presas para que el sector privado pueda operar.
La estrategia fue adoptada a finales del año pasado, luego de la parálisis del proyecto de Reforma del Sector Eléctrico, que obligó al Gobierno federal a ofrecer otras alternativas, dentro del marco legal, al empresariado nacional y extranjero, como la construcción y operación de hidroeléctricas.
Did it just happen last night? A lot of reflection on Iowa already, with some of the best, and best links, from Britt Blaser and Doc Searls. As usual.
In 2001 Bill Saturno found the oldest known Maya murals in San Bartolo, Guatemala. I've posted here about San Bartolo before. Here's my first post:
Recently I posted Ron Canter's speculations about the murals' central image:
But I neglected to post a link to Bill Saturno's report on the second season's work:
Marc Canter baffles me. But I've been checking his weblog ever since he gave me some encouragement for my community wireless media fantasies.
He's working on some improvements for shared calendars. And I've got a mental note to work again on the FEVA calendar. So I may need this.
Here's another great site devoted to sharing iCal calendars with not just other Mac users but anyone on the web.
Two terrific postings from Sam Churchill at Daily Wireless today.
The first about a mesh network in the South - two towns with roaming for under $30,000.
The second a great collection of information for digital divide activists, community technology centers and free networks.
Now this is pretty mundane, but I needed it a while back to print business cards. It's a page of free templates to download and use with every size and style of Avery labels (and the company's brand, WorldLabel). CD, Disk, Address, VHS - they're all there. I found the link on MacMinute.
I posted this before, but here's an easy solution for Nicole. Click on the "pigtail" item in the sidebar of this site, find your wireless card, and it will find the pigtail (connector cable) you need. Antenna, stand, and pigtail for $49.95.
Order from the site or call 858-509-9434 from 9-5 PST.
Point it around until you get the strongest signal.
And yes, it looks like a Pringles can. Because it's modeled on a well-known homemade antenna. A wireless hack pedigree. Cool...
For Apple compatible antennas, and a range of other antenna products:
I've posted some of these links before, but now I'm collecting them for my own benefit. I hope to be in Piedras Negras, on the Guatemalan shore of the Usumacinta River, in a month or so.
Click MORE for a list of reports on Piedras Negras and the area close by.
And click the photo above for a larger image.
UPDATE 1/19: I missed a link to the FAMSI Piedras Negras photographic archives. You'll find it with the rest of the links.
All of these are reports submitted to FAMSI, which awarded the authors research grants.
Stephen D. Houston - Investigations at Piedras Negras, Guatemala: 1998 Field Season - Between Mountains and Sea: Investigations at Piedras Negras, Guatemala - Stephen D. Houston, Héctor Escobedo, Perry Hardin, Richard Terry, David Webster, Mark Child, Charles Golden, Kitty Emery, and David Stuart
Stephen D. Houston - Investigations at Piedras Negras, Guatemala: 1999 Field Season - Among the River Kings: Archaeological Research at Piedras Negras, Guatemala - Stephen D. Houston, Héctor Escobedo, Richard Terry, David Webster, George Veni, and Kitty F. Emery
Stephen D. Houston - The Piedras Negras Project: Preliminary Report of the 2000 Field Season - In the Land of the Turtle Lords: Archaeological Investigations at Piedras Negras, Guatemala - Stephen Houston, Héctor Escobedo, Mark Child, Charles Golden, Richard Terry, and David Webster
Charles Golden - Sierra del Lacandón Regional Archaeology Project
First Field Season 2003
Arturo Rene Munoz - Ceramics at Piedras Negras, Guatemala
FAMSI - Research Facility - Photographic Archive of the Piedras Negras Project, 1997-2000
For about 6 months I've been getting la palabra del día, the word of the day, from La Página del Idioma Español (elcastellano.org). It's a site dedicated to the Spanish language. The word of the day reminds me how much I need to keep studying.
Go here to see the word of the day, or to subscribe to it.
Or here for their section on Spanglish.
Okay, I've read more science fiction than your average nerd. But this latest space plan is too little, wrong time, and from the wrong guy. Like his state of the union hydrogen power announcement (Can it be? Rats, he's going to use the nuclear plants to make the hydrogen!). It's an excuse to dismantle Hubble, the shuttle, and the space station while dangling a remote possibility until after the elections.
But we know all that. Here's the best rant I've read on the subject:
Click "More" for the letter I sent out regarding a stop work order from A&E that the production team on the Dean bio received this week. I'll add responses to the letter and my answers as I get around to it.
All of this so my friends in Mexico and Guatemala can get a taste of the personal and political issues sweeping our lives here in the States.
And digital democracy is growing in their countries as well!
Here's an update on the Dean biography which, as some of you know, I
began editing 2 weeks ago. The biography was to be produced by ABC News
Productions under contract to A&E. With too little time and too small a
budget (as usual these days) but with excellent interviews, including
Zephyr, we were racing to get it finished in time for New Hampshire.
Without seeing any scripts or roughcuts, an A&E executive decided to stop
production on the bio. The reason given - bios of politicians do poorly in
the ratings. Based on what evidence? A Tom Ridge biography they had
Along with the CBS decision not to air the MoveOn spot, you may file this
under "Why Big Media does not get it."
Comments resulting from an Institute of the Americas conference on Mexican energy needs.
Another Maya web-head.
La Cie has announced a 1 terabyte hard drive, that's 1,000 gigabytes, for $1200, available next month. That's 2 years of continuous music, one month of MPEG-2 video, according to the website. And by my calculations, 75 hours of DV. And it's small - 6"X3"X11".
I've been following so-called captive portal software packages, for administering wireless hotspots. Most of them are Linux programs, which I know little about. So I'm glad to see one that runs on the Mac.
Thanks to Daily Wireless for the link.
From the LA Times (free registration) a fascinating essay about the preservation, or destruction, of written materials as a means of holding on to power. It mentions the burning of nearly all Maya books by the Spanish.
It's the most famous Maya representation of a canoe. This is Linda Schele's drawing of the incised bone design, showing a number of gods paddling a dugout. (Click drawing for a larger image)
Just a little inspiration for the spring Usumacinta trips.
Here's a link to the full-size drawing on the FAMSI website:
And for Constantine, the link to all the Schele archives. Make sure also to check out Justin Kerr's Mayavase Database - there's a link on the same page.
President Bush and Mexican President Fox may begin patching up their differences tomorrow. Recent government statements out of Chiapas seem to be aimed at minimizing the perceived threat of the rebels, with an eye toward increasing foreign investment. The impact on the Usumacinta River, both in immigration and investment terms, bears watching. (This Times article requires free registration)
Might come in handy some day in my river documentation.
We are star dust and all that...
A Chiapas official has declared that only settlements dating back to 1978 will be allowed to stay in The Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.
No más invasiones: El secretario de Gobierno de Chiapas, Rubén Velásquez, afirmó que en ese Estado no se permitirá una nueva invasión de tierras y respecto a Montes Azules sostuvo que sólo se autorizará en el lugar la permanencia de aquellos campesinos que la habitan desde antes de 1978.
The same Chiapas official minimizes the extent of the autonomous (Zapatista) communities - only 200 out of 20,000 in Chiapas, he says.
The race for the resources in the Usumacinta watershed:
A report from InterAction on the results of the December meetings on the U.S. - Central America Free Trade Agreements:
The Mexican impact on job creation and loss is instructive. A recent Carnegie Endowment for International Peace study finds that 1.3 million jobs were lost in the Mexican countryside due to NAFTA. 25 A more conservative World Bank study of NAFTA found only that the 10-year-old agreement had not lowered (nor raised) the number or quality of jobs , and added that there was little conclusive evidence that NAFTA had raised Mexican wage levels. Not good news for Central America. Analysis of the Mexican Agricultural Sector suggests that fewer than 1% of agricultural production units are exporters. The other 99%, without support for some type of protection against imports or incentive toward economic reconversion, are likely to benefit less from trade expansion. Indeed, this is what happened in Mexico, and suggests what might happen in Central America.
Thanks to Harrison for pointing this out. NAFTA hasn't delivered on its promises for Mexico. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas may do no better for the hemisphere, as Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz explains. (requires free registration)
From the LA Times, the story of two men who left their village near the Usumacinta River to work in auto plants in the north. How NAFTA may have hurt, and helped their chances for a better life.
File under "Wireless Tricks." If I had a bluetooth-equipped PDA and bluetooth on my Mac...
From Berkeley and Stanford:
So President Bush doesn't read the newspapers (he has very smart people to tell him what he needs to know) and he doesn't see any protestors either - they are all herded into "free speech zones" far from his route when he comes to town. And no media are allowed in those zones. It's good to be the king.
And an interesting spin on the subject, including a prediction some years back from the CIA-ousted former president of the Dominican Republic. He predicted that America would one day look like a U.S. occupied Dominican Republic.
I read two wonderful books on this Christmas trip to San Francisco. One, John McPhee's "Encounters with the Archdruid", gave me plenty to consider as I float down the Usumacinta this spring. The other, Gore Vidal's "Inventing a Nation", is food for thought this election year. It takes the founding fathers down off Mt. Rushmore and makes their debates and worries personal and relevant. Ben Franklin, in particular, foresaw the nation's drift toward despotism.
Here is Chris Lydon's blog entry on Vidal, and his mp3 of a conversation with him.
UPDATE: THE LINKS ARE FIXED - Enjoy the interview.
January 1, 2004 was also the first day of a Tzolkin in the Maya calendar, a coincidence which only happens once in thousands of years. Good story on the Maya calendar, and the importance of both 2004 and 2012.
Lyn and I were among the hundreds of people stranded overnight on I-5 driving up to Oregon last Sunday. This poor man was apparently a few hundred yards behind us.