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At first pass, I read that metaphor in the way that a competitive, eye-gouging, money-grubbing, back-stabbing whitey would, i.e. the ones on top have the best view, but the bear is in the true position of power because he can sway or bring down the whole totem pole. Yay, everybody loses, in whitey world!

Luckily it soon occurred to me that there's another dimension to the metaphor: The position of power isn't the one that's riding on top of the ones below, exploiting them to raise itself up. The one with the power is the one supporting everyone else. Power is defined by what you can hold up, not how high you're holding yourself up (or what you can knock down). That in a nutshell is probably the difference between whitey and the Injuns.

Sorry, the following kind of takes it out of the realm of metaphor, idealism, the emotional, and dreams, and smack-dab into some weird analytical left-brain shiite, but I think it's worth it. Addressing your first 3 paragraphs, the reason boring people (think they) have all the power is because the whole system is built by, and is therefore built around, and conspires to propagate the values and propaganda of, the ESTJ personality type, a.k.a. "The Guardian" as defined by the Myers-Briggs personality test. http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ESTJ.html The most widespread of the 16 types, something like half of Americans are ESTJ. They're the ones who like to follow established procedure, and do things like work for 45 years at sensible jobs and then retire. To almost every other type, they're notoriously boring. But they're forever telling everyone what the procedure is and how best to follow it, and how to be good Guardians (even though you're actually an Idealist or an Artist or Architect or whatever... they all have names, can't remember them all). Do some more reading on Myers-Briggs and the types, if for no other reason than learning about them helps you understand certain people, and maybe helps you take this particular type a little less seriously. For example since they tend to be really short on new good ideas of their own, they sometimes need leadership from those who are truly innovative.


Correction: Actually I shouldn't say that the Myers-Briggs system "helps you understand" people; I should more accurately say that it provides a mental framework in which you can view people, such that things make sense in a fashion. (You can't hope to understand people.)


Yes Rol, there are many peep-holes through which we may see the world. Myers-Briggs being one in 10 billion. I prefer the one with Sophia Loren anywhere in my field of vision.


Okay... Kirk here.... "Finesmell" had some difficulties posting this comment so I'm doing it for him. Yikes, this is about the darkest comment we've had here. I will say this Mark, there is one other option when the "assholes" force you off the trail: open up a can of woopass on 'em, or enlist one of your larger buddies to do it for you. Anyway, here's "Finesmell's" trip to the dark side:

Yes, Kirk, you're entitled to dream ... perhaps of Wovoka's prophecy ... of bison thundering all the way from the eastern slope of the Sierras to the western slope of the Appalachians; of eulachon running in California rivers as thick as sperm in a collegiate jock's jizzum; of Carolina parakeets filling the hollows of old growth sycamores along the banks of the Potomac ... and then all us white boys will probably be back in Europe, running in terror through frigid mud, as Mongols rape our women and sever our heads! Hate to say it, but if you want a return to historical plentitude (or at least, perhaps, Wovoka's vision of it), that last bit might be part of the deal!

I'm afraid I don't quite concur with the analogies being discussed here. The bear ain't in power, cuz the bear's no longer there. Ya know, a few of those scientists and bureaucrats at Princeton Harbor may have actually danced along the river bank at some point in their lives, at least figuratively - but, if so, then their vision was squelched by the machine that employs them, which in turn is what keeps them from regulating to everybody's satisfaction. Ya know these Tea Party types that just got elected to Congress, and the noise they make about not being "Washington insiders"? Bullshit. The mere fact that they got elected automatically makes them "Washington insiders" - they're just as behooven as any other politician to the businessmen who bought them their electorate.

No, it's not the soft voices of unimaginative bureaucratic reason, or ESTJs, that are running the show. It's pushy alpha-types in suits and ties; it's playground bullies who learned to dress sharp and spout math, but never learned to use their inside voices. Believe me, I know: I ride the subway through our nation's capitol with these assholes every day. When my son and I hike through nearby forests, we're forced off the trail by these people, because they insist on their percieved "right" to continuously run side-by-side with their trophy spouses, refusing to return the courtesy of falling into single-file upon another's approach. We apparently owe it to them to step into poison ivy or dog shit. And they're no longer content to lobby in the halls of power; they've taken over our culture, and infiltrated our values. "Can you hear me now?" It's a thug nation, homies.

The crux of the dilemna is that the market economy depends on perpetual human population growth in order to sustain itself - and perpetual human population growth is ecologically unsustainable. I'm all in favor of dreams, of postponing our doom, and of making the ride as tolerable as possible - but ultimately you've just got to accept the fact that we're screwed. Yeah, austerity hurts - but when considering fisheries regulation, consider those college kids in Europe who are rioting over tuition hikes: you're not gonna stop the austerity measures, any more than the austerity measures are gonna fix the problems they're meant to address. You'll make your noise, you might get a paltry concession or two, and then the downward spiral drags on. --Finesmell


Any public resource management issue in the world today all goes back to one thing: there are too many people and not enough ____. I'm going to stick up for the scientists here.

Let us try to understand that the so called bureaucrats and fisheries managers are indeed doing the best they can given the political constraints of their jobs. Does a fisheries biologist have any less love for fish or the sea than a commercial or sport fisherman? I would argue no. Why would someone spend 6 years getting a PHD if they didn't love and want to protect the fish? Last time I checked, you can get a commercial fishing permit about as easily as you can buy a used car. Do fisheries managers want to preserve the fish stocks for future generations? Yes. Commercial fisherman say the same thing all the while they take take take as much as is legally possible. Not the rule, but surely the norm.

Should we let fisherman or native americans manage the fisheries? Probably not a good idea. Two words: Atlantic Cod. And that was back when there was a fraction of the pressure on that fish there there would be today. It's not even really fair to lump the modern commercial fishing community in with native americans. One was able to sustain existence and have little impact on the resource for eons, the other, well, again, Atlantic Cod.

So here is the solution: We stop reproducing so much. Honestly. If you are so intent on contributing in a real way to the preservation of our fisheries or any natural resource, do not make babies. Make it a law. The salmon will thank us.


No arguments from me on that. I'm all for fisheries managers. I don't think I said otherwise. My issue was with the way the water managers justified their decisions to suck water from our rivers--thereby decimating our fish stocks. This was the theme at the meeting--science used as justification for inaction. "Science science science. Bureaucrats bureaucrats bureaucrats. Politics politics politics." Was meant to emphasize to the readership what a poor dish we have been served. Sure, I understand our water managers are up against the world. Sure, they have vast constituencies and the entire agriculture industry to think about. They also have numbers and graphs and science to tell us that they're doing everything possible to save the salmon. They even have science to tell us that we still need more science to prove that the fish are dying off--it's so hard to pinpoint it, they tell us. Every time a fisherman or an indian or an outraged fish-lover brings up an obvious and important suggestion... the answer is: "we need more science." Or "we need to study that in more depth." This is what happened with the Eulachon. The Indians petitioned to list the Eulachon 10 years ago, (maybe more like 20?) when there were still a few left. By the time we got done studying, writing grants for studies, submitting proposals the suckers were gone! And so now, when I listen to a water manager start to subtlely steer the conversation towards invasive species--rather than talking about immediately changing the pattern of water diversion, it makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots (not mere hyperbole, I did this at the meeting--though admittedly it comes out easier than it did in my youthful days). Let's spend all our time eradicating the stripers and the invasive diatoms, rather than closing the turbines for a week to allow the salmon to pass through unscathed. But wait, did someone say close the turbines? Well... that sounds great but first we're going to have to study the effects of that closure. Get more science. And what will the almond farmers, and the industrial cattle production companies who paid for my boss's campaign say if we shut down their water supply for a week? More politics. Brought to you by bureaucrats bureaucrats bureaucrats. I'm all for science JB, but the salmon are dying off right now. (They say the numbers were good on the Sac this year so maybe I'm hot and bothered without cause? I sure hope so).

At the meeting, strangely, it was the fishermen who were calling for "listing" the fall chinook. And the water managers who balked at the idea. Their rationale? They think we need a more comprehensive decision, one based on more studies, more science. It's not just a salmon issue, they say, there are hundreds of species involved. We need a more holistic approach. They are using science as a smoke screen to maintain the status quo. And the status quo is killing the fish. As one salmon fisherman said (I paraphrase): "we already have the science, fisheries managers have been doing studies for decades, we have good science, let's use it now, rather than forever requesting more studies." I did not mention the Fisheries biologist from the Marine Institute who stepped up after the water guy left the stage and reminded everyone to make no mistake about it, the ESA was our best weapon to save the salmon. I should have. It was science's strongest moment at the meeting. It seemed to me that the fishermen and she were in unanimous agreement. Maybe I'll edit her into the original post. Anyway, you raise a valid point that a guy with a PHD has to have a great deal of love to get through six years of school. But those water dudes at the meeting sure weren't spreading it around. Perhaps I was unclear, I wasn't trying to condemn science (!) I was simply taking exception to its use, by bureaucrats, for political ends.


JB, if we stop making babies entirely, there will be nobody to pay for your pension when you retire. What's needed ecologically is zero population growth, which translates to no couple having more than one child - but even that is inadequate to sustain the global economy; the market requires growth to exist.

For the record, my son won't touch seafood (though I, of course, love the stuff), and the pesticide-free lawn he plays on is only fertilized with mulched grass clippings and never watered by anything other than rain (hence no run-off) - so his impact on fisheries is relativey minimal.

If you're going to ban something to protect our fisheries, I'd say lawn fertilizer is a better choice than babies. Not that I'd be entirely opposed to a Chinese-style limit to how many babies people can have - but good luck selling that idea on the American public, dude ... really, it's hard enough just getting your average property owner to give up lawn fertilizer. We have a very inflated concept of "rights" in this country, to which our concept of "responsibility" takes a back seat - hence the closing statement in my previous comment about the downward spiral dragging on. Our self-imposed extinction is what's going to restore the fisheries.

Scott Parker

I'm not a "Randian" but it's about time for Atlas to shrug...

I deleted every other attemt to expand on the above because it was simply too cynical and depressing to commit pen to paper. Those who undersand the reference will understand the subtext and those who only acknowledge the surface intentions aren't capable of comprehending the more deeply buried angst which prompts it.


... and then there's a third category: those of us who don't categorically dismiss the reference, and may actually be capable of understanding your point, but ultimately don't understand the reference by simple virtue of having not read the book.

Nonetheless, I think I get your point: the bear - anybody at the bottom - does in fact have an unrealized power, if s/he takes the initiative. Specifically, if people do become sufficiently enlightened, they'll motivate to make the appropriate changes in their own habits, and bring about the desired results. The machine can be moved.

It just won't be, at least for now - live and work in and around our nation's capitol for as long as I have, and you'll see what I mean. I'm all in favor of dreams, of postponing our doom, of making the ride on the downward spiral as tolerable as possible - if I wasn't, I wouldn't bother taking hikes with my son; I'd curl up into a ball and rot - but in order to move the machine, you have to have patience, and know your limitations. That's not a level of maturity that I see coming from the average American voter.

The best way to avoid extinction is to evolve - but because of our species' incredible ability to adapt at the behavioral level, we never feel the genetic pressure to do so. In other words, our greatest strength may be our undoing. That everything decays is a law of nature; I don't think it's cynical to accept that - depressing maybe, but not cynical!

I think all of us have to hand it to Kirk - his blog sure does stimulate discourse! A blog about fishing - imagine that! Now there's the power of the bear!


Oops - sorry to repeat my line about being "all in favor of dreams, of postponing our doom". Seriously, pardon my redundancy - I guess I'm just trying to emphasize that there is something positive hidden in my apocalyptic vision.

Just like Kirk saying "buy the print MFN, or I'll terminate the blog", I'm hoping to be proven wrong. I'm hoping every suburban property owner in the country will read my ranting, and be inspired to ditch the Scotts or Miracle-Gro or whatever crap they dump on their lawns (and, ultimately, into the watershed).

But I also realize that we're mostly just preaching to the converted here - what's fun is the different takes we each have on an essentially shared perspective.


Indeed, kudos to his highness the Intertidal. Such a shame that someone like him is currently being fucked by the state fisheries managers I choose to defend. Someone who gave so much of himself to the front lines of sport fisheries management is now being relegated to the pay scale of a day laborer. Truly a shame. Kirk is one of the most dedicated people I have ever met with regard everything he does. This blog is just the tip of the iceberg.

With regard to our impending mass extinction, to which I know to a certainty will occur, maybe the best plan is to actually expedite the process. Have 12 kids, pour motor oil down the storm drain, overfish the oceans, keep shiping permium drinking water from Fiji. The sooner we get it over with the sooner the salmon will be spawning in the abandoned burned out post armageddon living room of a McMansion built on a flood plain.


I don't even know what a euchalon is. I mean, I've heard of it from this blog, but I can't say I really miss them; I've never even seen or heard of one prior to surfing the web.

The salmon are doomed, at least in my lifetime. It may sound callous, but I really don't think anything will be done in time to affect their decline. They are almost totally gone anyway, and the fact is we will not address the core problems. It would be difficult to do so given our economic and population pressures, not to mention it would be political suicide to hint that the needs of wild animals might take precendent over the desires of humans, regardless of what some might think. I don't think the majority of my liberal tree hugging hippie neighbors would actually want to walk to work, or live in a "ecologically sound" manner if it meant some deprivation on their part.

Its possible to retain some viable fisheries and manage a healthy ecosystem in relation to human existence, but one must have a realistic goal. Salmonids have no place in todays world. I'm actually really sad to say that, more than you guys would know; but I know how powerless I am.

Scott Parker

Finesmell, even without reading the book you still understand.

Once again I deleted a quite lengthy posting I had written because the tone comes across as too depressing and overly defeatist... a viewpoint that do not advocate by any means. Just because a fight seems hopeless doesn't mean that it shouldn't be fought.

And on that note, I offer this for consideration... The Ants and the Grasshopper by Aesop.

Definitely worth consideration.


Shoot, *I* wanna win "darkest comment!" I've been known to drag folks down into the blackness in my day! But no, I'll continue to keep it positive for now.

Mainly I just wanted to say, the reason those in power, or those who take power, are able to take & keep power, is because no one challenges them. If it's not the ESTJs in the top spots (though in things like fisheries management agencies I tend to think it is), at the very least it's the ESTJs obediently following the orders of the (whoevers) without challenging them.

Also Finesmell: There's no law against hiking with your fist extended, is there? Or maybe a brush with some blue paint. Or maybe a knife. Whoever wants to run into it can only blame himself!

Also by way of comic relief only, and not to advance any particular agenda, I offer this counter-parable of the Ants & the Grasshopper: http://tinyurl.com/2dzjucd

Although now that I think about it, that story might reflect the future behavior of the "grasshoppers" in our society. I mean what else are they gonna do... learn SKILLS and use SELF DISCIPLINE and shit?

Scott Parker

“All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." - Likely a quote from Edmund Burke

While trying to source the above quote, just as an interesting aside, this site, http://freedomkeys.com/vigil.htm or at least the linked page, has numerous really interesting quotes, most of which while I have heard often never knew from whome they were attributed.

One that I find particularly pulling and actually already knew the source of is:
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759)

And with that, I think I should most likely stop posting on this topic here... while originally about fisheries management, in particular the issues facing Salmon, it has digressed into a more general fault-finding of the system itself which created the problem...

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