The Watering Hole, Friday Jan. 18 2013; Drought and Heat vs. Civilization(s)

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage, a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-B site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage: a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-V site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Drought-reduced precipitation typically goes hand in hand with elevated temperatures, and the consequences to impacted civilizations can be, and usually are, devastating. Case in point: a thousand years ago, what we today call the American Southwest was home to essentially five different (and advanced) cultures. In the area commonly referred to as the Four Corners, the Anasazi culture embraced today’s SW Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona, and SE Utah. In eastern Arizona, western New Mexico, and probably extending into northern Mexico as well, the Mogollon people dominated. In the southern Arizona deserts lived the Salado and the Hohokam, and between Hohokam and Anasazi lands, the Sinagua. The Sinagua (name based on historical Spanish records which described the aboriginal inhabitants’ desert surround as sin agua, i.e. ‘without water’) are considered by most archaeologists and anthropologists to be the precursors of the Hopi people of northern Arizona, a premise with which the Hopi are in general agreement. It’s also believed, at least in some quarters, that the Sinagua persisted longer than the other four major cultures, although dates of ‘departure’ or disappearance are extremely difficult to ascertain with any precision. Suffice to say that all five cultures had disappeared at least a century, possibly two centuries, prior to the arrival of the Spanish (in Arizona) circa 1539.

What caused their collective (and more-or-less ‘sudden’) disappearance? Until recently, the presumed most significant factor was the enduring and severe drought that blanketed the Southwest in the late thirteenth century. Speculative dates of disappearance range from the early 1300’s to, in some cases, as late as 1450. One could surmise that, since the people were dependent upon both crops and wild game for their food, a crippling drought would likely have played a significant role both in crop production and in the quantity (and quality) of food and materials available to hunters and gatherers; modern tree ring data generally confirm those suspicions.

There are, too, other considerations that have arisen in archaeological and anthropological studies over the last couple of decades, particularly in re the disappearance of the Anasazi. These new theses involve emergent evidences of an apparently severe and divisive religious ‘crisis’ of some sort alongside an obvious infestation of internecine conflicts between different subgroups, with ensuing cultural demise brought to logical conclusion by the encroachment of severe drought. The archaeological and anthropological evidence is, of course, scant and largely speculative; the evidence of a severe drought and its likely impact remains a far more unchallengeable reality.

What tweaks the imagination is the reality that today, we here in the US (along with peoples of other countries throughout humankind’s emergent global society) are on the apparent leading edge of extreme anthropogenic global warming and its consequent climate changes that predict not only severe droughts and untenable temperature elevations, but also profoundly destructive storms as well. In addition, the US finds itself confronted by divisive local and global religious conflicts, intermingled with malignant cultural subgroups including such bizarre “cults” as the National Rifle Association in league with gun manufacturers and sellers as well as with innumerable and heavily armed individuals and deviant “militias” (none of which are EVER ‘well regulated’).  Add to that our myriad numbers of absurdly severe political AND religious extremist and/or racist entities and suddenly the problem becomes clear — obvious, in fact, to the point where, after one reflects on historical precedents, the question: what could possibly go wrong? answers itself in a single word: everything!

The Hopi, descendants of at least the Sinagua and perhaps also the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi), have a word that essentially describes the human predicament, both ancient and modern: Koyaanisqatsi. According to the Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, Koyaanisqatsi means “life of moral corruption and turmoil” or “life out of balance”.

[NOTE: Koyaanisqatsi is also the title of a 1983 film (a Francis Ford Coppola Production) which is presented in ‘mystical’  fashion as . . .

time-lapse photography, often shown in hyperspeed, and shot primarily in the desert of the Southwest and New York City, (and) shows the contrast between the pace of the natural world and the one that man has made.

It does, indeed, point toward the ‘life out of balance’ and ‘life of moral corruption and turmoil’ memes which are so frighteningly commonplace in today’s USA. It’s available on DVD, and well worth a watch.]

The modern Hopi people are, meanwhile, derivative of ancient culture(s). They are a people who trace their roots back, via their thesis of origins, to the emergence, at Sipapu in the Grand Canyon, of Human from the Third World of the creation into this, the Fourth World. The Hopi also believe that, by way of antecedent wanderings and explorations of North, Central, and South America, from Atlantic to Pacific and from Arctic tundra to the very tip of South America itself, the paths of the ancient nomads finally converged and crossed at the point where their three great mesas tower above the surrounding desert plains. The Hopi understand themselves to be descendants of these first inhabitants of the Americas. They remain a peaceful people, deeply religious Keepers of the Earth who believe that their progress on life’s road derives from the unspoken observation of life’s laws. Their village of Oraibi, on Third Mesa, is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in what is, today, the United States. The Hopi people and their culture have withstood the onslaught of at least three tiers of invaders — Navajo, Spaniard, and American — and yet their culture remains intact and faithful to its beliefs, and to practices which are rooted in an antiquity few others can or will ever even attempt to comprehend.

Sinagua Ruins (Hopi ancestors) at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Sinagua  (ancestral Hopi) Ruins at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle; Arizona National Monuments on the Colorado Plateau and in the Verde Valley, resp.

Perhaps it would be wise for modern societies to, for once, listen to and heed the precepts of ancient wisdom, to consider the potential consequences of Koyaanisqatsi in this modern era, perhaps even to attempt correction of those cultural practices (and foibles) which can — and have — provoked the demise of otherwise advanced civilizations. But I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

This is today’s open thread . . . speak up, and enjoy!

107 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Friday Jan. 18 2013; Drought and Heat vs. Civilization(s)

  1. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Says He Regrets Comparing Obamacare To ‘Fascism’

    “I regret using that word now because it’s got so much baggage attached to it,” Mackey told HuffPost Live on Thursday. “Of course, I was just using the standard dictionary definition.”

    Really? He was just using the denotative version of the word, and not the connotative? For most of the last century people pretty much equate Fascism with a specific brand of Fascism; aka Nazis and Hitler.

    However, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s look up the word.

    Fascism – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    Definition of FASCISM1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition 2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control <early instances of army fascism and brutality — J. W. Aldridge>

    I don’t think either of those dictionary definitions actually fits.

    He knew the word meant, and the “baggage” that comes it. And he said it. That’s that.

  2. Request from Pete:

    I know it’s a bit late for our crowd but one really, really, needs to watch these two segments from The Daily Show. In fact, it should just replace sports on every evening “news” show in the country so even the rubes might start thinking about the implications. Actually, somehow the message has to get out that virtually any industry that makes enough money is writing the legislation that is supposed to regulate said industry and then they buy the seats for politicians who will do their bidding.

    P.S. I won’t be around tomorrow morning. Could someone please repost the link on tomorrows open thread? Thanks.

    • Thanks, House.

      I’ve decided to do a little investigative reporting of my own. I’m looking for instances of GOoPers who are saying “enforce the laws on the books” who have made it more difficult to enforce said laws. Film at 11:00.

  3. I posted a story the other day about a smoothie shop owner who charges more to liberals.

    Yeah, he fired two employees for supporting Obama. Smooth move.

  4. I’ve always adhered to the Jeffersonian principle, that we have a primary obligation to hand the planet off to our children a better place than we found it.
    We’re failing. Epically.

    • HEY!….they can heat their homes by turning on the cold water tap and striking a match, how much better can it get that that!!??

  5. Kinky Fetish of the Day:

    “Both male and female late 40′s seek adventurous couple for fun times. We seek another couple for a night of fun so we can check off another on our bucket list. We would like the man to dress up and play the part of Pat Robertson and the female to wear a tight blue dress and act like she is a sales spokesperson on Home Shopping channel. My husband I would be naked and making love in our bed all the while Pat Robertson will be constantly attempting to save our souls and the female to have ongoing dialogue trying to sell us an Ab Rocket in 3 easy payments. We are open to possibly videoing the event as long as each of you sign a disclaimer. Please place the word “damnation” as subject line.”

  6. Al Pacino is going to play Joe Paterno in an upcoming film.

    I sure hope there’s an outtake where Pacino says, “Hey Jerry …. say hello to my little friend!”

  7. War is hell on the Appalachian Trail:

    “I’m scared to death in human terms. I mean, as I say, I’m a wounded warrior. I’m going to step out as best I can and try and advance ideas that I’ve long believed in. But it’s not without fear and trepidation because you know you’re going to get hit, and you’re going to get hit hard.”

  8. Polite British vandal guilty of damaging cars

    A British professor who specializes in cities and urban life has been convicted of damaging luxury cars with graffiti that was surprisingly polite.
    Stephen Graham was found guilty Friday of using a screwdriver to scrawl inoffensive words such as “very silly,” ”really wrong” and “arbitrary” into the paintwork of vehicles including a Mercedes, an Audi, and a Volvo…

    • Second Amendment. Second Amendment. Second Amendment

      police discovered two men who thought they were safely shooting at paper targets, but the bullets were skipping off the ground and riddling the suburban neighborhood.

      “They were drinking alcohol, they had some drugs on them and they were just outside, in their backyard shooting paper targets,” Neil said. “They felt because they were shooting at a downward angle, that it would have been OK.”

    • Terminal effing stupidity should be a crime punishable by taking firearms away from morons like these until death releases them from their mortal burden.

  9. And Frugal, that’s an execllent post – are you Jared Diamond by any chance? Love that guy’s perspective, very informative and will buy his book (saw him on Colbert this week).

    OK, have to plug back into the Collective again …. Resistance is Futile, Resistance is Futile….

      • Not sure why anyone would ever trap any critter, period. Well, ‘cept for, say, wingnuts maybe — but that’s another issue entirely, I’m thinking.

        Last time I spotted a mouse inside, I managed to catch it with gloved hand, carry it outside, and turn it loose. I don’t like the idea of killing ‘superior’ beings, which explains my attitude on both mice and wingnuts, I suppose.

        • Before a meeting at work, one of my co-workers showed off her new laptop ‘skin’.
          I commented that the only skin I’d put on my laptop would be from a dead Norwegian rat. One clawed foot at each corner of the laptop, kinda like a tassel.
          Stunned silence, until one gal started shrieking with laughter. She actually envisioned it…heh. My sense of humor doesn’t get appreciated much…

      • Thanks, I had no idea. Taxidermy is creepy in many ways, but why would anyone want an animal they had to dust?

  10. O/T Break – I am planning on starting to do juicing. Does anyone here do juicing and if so, what type of juicer are you using? I was reading the reviews on Amazon and now I really feel confused. My main goal is to juice red beets. Any and all comments are welcomed.

    Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming.

  11. Crested Coua chicks develop unique markings on the inside of their mouths, which could be a way for their parents to identify their young, or it could be as simple as a bulls-eye to make feeding easier and avoid spillage. It seems to be working either way, as the Crested Coua is one of the more widespread birds on the island of Madagascar, thriving on an island where many birds face extinction.

  12. Just when you think you have heard the stupidest thing ever; Lush Rimjob opens his mouth again. In today’s segment the Great Lushbo proclaims that the civil rights struggle of the 60’s would have been, I don’t know, shorter(?) if all “those people” had carried guns. Considering how many black people and white allies were shot, beaten, bombed, and imprisoned for non-violent protests I think that most sane people would agree that carrying guns would have gotten them ALL killed. Of course, that’s probably what Lushbo wanted.

    • If you’re not a hunter, carrying a gun is simply stupid. Period.

      And hunters would show themselves to be far better souls if they carried only a camera and left their guns at home. Or sold them, melted them down, whatever.

      Guns. Absolutely meaningless appendages in this modern world.

      As is Lushbo.

      • I used to hunt but not recently. Mostly it just became an exercise in diminishing returns because ducks, my favorite prey, have mostly abandoned my favorite hunting spots. Climate change and invasive species have seen to that.

        My old buddies and I still get together for a “game feed” where I cook and they supply the game so it’s all good. It is, for me, the best of all possible worlds. They spend a bunch of money to sit outside and kill shit and I just cook and eat. It’s not easy to make game palatable so I still have a skill that’s in high demand.

        If I got a really good offer to attend a South Dakota hunt for ducks, geese, and pheasants I might break out the shotgun and partake but, so far, I haven’t received that offer.

        The thing that used to upset me is that I didn’t have any kids to bequeath the family shotguns. Then my friend Matt’s son got old enough to hunt and he has used my guns the last two years. I’m not quite ready to just give them to him but I have amended my will so they will find an appreciative home when I slip this mortal coil.

    • Gawd, I just had this horrid vision of Lush, sitting on his morning shitter, dumping volumes of acrid sludge into the toilet, thinking, now what is the most hateful shit I can make up today?!

  13. Issa: ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Is Unconstitutional

    The California Republican is urging Speaker John A. Boehner to take up legislation he introduced to tie the debt ceiling increase to passage of the budget.
    Under that proposal, which was introduced in the 1980s by former Democratic Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the debt ceiling would be increased to the amount of new spending allowed under the budget resolution. The practice is known as the “Gephardt rule,” but it requires passage of a budget to be implemented.

    Isn’t this basically what Obama said the other day in a speech?

    • Kantor just caved, big time. No default scenario, three month extension, at which time they’ll ‘shut down’ the gummint, rather than fund it.

      • Funny how it took them three days to come up with a proposal that Issa shoots down in about three hours. They expect to get everything they want in budget negotiations, if they can hold the economy hostage once again.

        Issa needs to come across as a facilitator if he intends to try a Presidential run. His attempt to become Governor of California as a steppingstone to the White House was thwarted by Ahnold.

  14. Dear Republikkin Cungreshunal dumfuks.
    Yer aprewvul ratink is forteen persent.
    The prezidunts iz fifteesevun persent.
    Figger it out.
    (translated into dumfukese for their benefit)

  15. Have A Nice Day….

    This year’s Edge Question is what people should worry about. John Tooby’s gulp answer:

    “The average G-type star shows a variability in energy output of around 4%. Our sun is a typical G-type star, yet its observed variability in our brief historical sample is only 1/40th of this. When or if the Sun returns to more typical variation in energy output, this will dwarf any other climate concerns.”

    • Nice of Mr. Tooby to leave out pertinent details like duration of the variation, and at what point in a durational cycle we currently exist, so as to be able to consider whether the sun might offset or exacerbate global warming. Perhaps our sun is much more mature than his average G-type star, hence the lowered variablility.

      Economies around the world still apply epically costly Keynesian remedies despite the decisive falsification of Keynesian theory by the post-war boom (government spending was cut by 2/3, 10 million veterans dumped into the labor force, while Samuelson predicted “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced”).

      He may be excellent at Psychology, but he’s completely wrong about the post-war boom being a ‘falsification of Keynesian theory’. So what if 10 million veterans returned home to the labor force? 19 million women worked in the labor force by the end of WW2, many of which ceased to work when their husbands or husbands to be came back. Lower government spending was offset by consumer demand as new families set up housekeeping. Rationing during the war had also created savings (Buy Bonds!)
      to fund setting up those households.

      His selective portion of the Samuelson quote leaves out the qualifiers.

      “The final conclusion to be drawn from our experience at the end of the last war is inescapable—were the war to end suddenly within the next 6 months, were we again planning to wind up our war effort in the greatest haste, to demobilize our armed forces, to liquidate price controls, to shift from astronomical deficits to even the large deficits of the thirties—then there would be ushered in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.”

      —Paul Samuelson, 1943

      We didn’t end the war suddenly in a great haste, surrender in the two theaters were four months apart. And Keynesian theory was upheld by the war spending ending the Depression, and had the government been able to spend money in the amounts it spent on the war, but in peacetime, the Depression would have ended sooner.

        • I never sensed any agenda with which I had any conflict.

          In the absence of the clear, easily presented hypocrisy of the Reich, Stewart tends to take the tone of a Third Way advocate. The Republicans have made his job a little too easy lately.

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