25 March 2019

The prevailing corporate obsession with financialized "metrics," such as natural disasters causing $1 billion or more in damage*, is my pet peeve about many Democrats' response to climate change. 

You do not need to keep telling me or anybody with sense perceptions these metrics.  We can see what's happening and we are afraid.

Many people (I will take a guess:  42% of Americans) take this as further confirmation of the Rapture being imminent and thus refuse to concern themselves with responding to climate change as such.  God is rolling up the world like a scroll and those in the Book of Life already are guaranteed eternal bliss after it all ends.

You cannot break through to hardened premillennialists (this is the theological term for the views I have just described) by carefully spoon-feeding them these monetary metrics.  Isn't ruling over the unrighteous for a thousand years worth losing any amount of money invested in eastern Nebraska? 

Now, more than ever, we really need Christian voices to proclaim an amillennial message of hope:  to make clear that the kingdom of God, or at least its seed, is within us already -- Christ's love is implanted in every child at birth -- and there's no need for baptism**, summer camp or an internship with Jerry Falwell, Jr. to unlock it.  I am sure this, more than anything, will loosen the grasp of smug premillennialist denialism, the denialism that says helping our fellow Americans deal with climate change is too expensive but buying fighter jets for Israel is well worth the cost because God has an elaborate scheme of progressive salvation in the works that requires us to keep Muslims off the Temple Mount.

*NOAA's map of 2018 disasters does not mention the late August epic rain and flooding in southern Wisconsin, which shattered plenty of people's farms and lives in the driftless area and briefly created a new lake in the midst of a commercial area right next to my old high school.  Frankly, I think making maps like this, with cute icons for disasters that are anything but cute, is a fool's errand, as "exceptional" weather is fast becoming the new norm.  Tell me what country in the world has not suffered the loss of more than 1 in 10,000 of its population from climate change, from death in disasters or emigration or starvation, and put a smiley face on it.

**I'm not condemning infant baptism, just saying it's not necessary for salvation.

24 March 2019

These are some things the Green New Deal would pay for.   If the 44% efficiency that Ms. van Aubel cited is accurate, I'd also think plenty of cargo ships would often be able to power themselves with solar energy.

Here is how Patrick O'Brian describes the equatorial sun shining on a Royal Navy ship (off Brazil) circa 1812:

Even at night heat seemed to emanate from the bloody moon, and during the oppressive, stifling days the sun, even from behind its frequent low cloud, made the pitch bubble in the seams of the deck and the tar melt so that it dripped from the upper rigging, while resin oozed from under the paint and drooled down the sides as the ship towed slowly south and west, all boats out ahead and the pullers relieved each glass ... It was a wearisome time, and it seemed to last for ever.  One day's noon observation could be distinguished from the last only by the finest instruments used with the greatest skill ... It was a time when theories crumbled:  although he was as impervious to heat as a salamander -- revelled in it, indeed -- Stephen shed his stuff coat, his cloth breeches, his good wool stockings, and appeared in a white banyan jacket, usually open on his meagre chest, airy nankeen pantaloons, and a broad-brimmed sennit hat, plaited for him by Bonden, whom he had taught to read many years before in these same waters:  far, far kinder waters then, and a very much quicker passage, incalculably cheaper as far as expense of spirit was concerned.  In the same way Jack's views on humidity did not prevent him from drinking up his whole private store of East India pale ale, nor from going over their supplies of water with the master again and again ... They did come in for the skirt of a rainstorm in 6 degrees 25 minutes N., but it did little more than prepare their spread-out awnings and sails, cleaning them for the next hypothetical downpour.

from The Far Side of the World , chapter 4

15 March 2019

In uplifting news, today hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, high school students marched from Madison's East High School to the State Capitol, missing out on precious hours of study to improve their AP exam score in Calculus AB to a 5.  This blogger watched the Climate March pass by from a local coffee shop and was favorably impressed by the commitment of many students to a swelling worldwide movement of people who think we might want to do something about looming civilizational collapse. 

He brought Clark the Bear (© Chicago Cubs) along because, although the Ricketts family may not like to bring it up at family gatherings, outdoor baseball in the eastern half of the United States is likely to go extinct if this crazy cold monsoon - hot monsoon weather from April to October, punctuated by murderous tornadoes, continues another few years.  Clark felt better after watching the students march, knowing that these young people are not OK with him being reduced to a boyish imitation of Hello Kitty, devoid of any sporting significance.  He hopes that Screech the Bald Eagle (© Washington Nationals) and the Rally Goose (of the Detroit Tigers)  were able to see similar mobilizations in their hometowns.

02 March 2019

That sense of community, identity and purpose can come from a lot of places.  It can come from faith -- at risk of sounding conservative -- it can come from faith or family.  And if we're not speaking to that, I think we're missing -- we're allowing this void to open up, and I think by the way, that void is being filled by some hideous things.  Medically hideous things like opioids, or morally hideous things like white nationalism, which will rush in to fill that void ... that is something that the moral authority of the Presidency can help with.

Pete Buttigieg (beginning about 46:30)

01 February 2019

Finding out that the New York Times has never written an obituary for Scott Joplin is just, like, one of those WTF moments, brief because you soon realize that the Times really has been that racist all along.

Without Joplin, or without the African-American audience that made his music catch on, we would never be enjoying this delightful American fusion:

30 January 2019

I can't say I really agree with anything Ben Studebaker advocates in the real world, but I'm still reading him, maybe solely because it amuses me to read an American PhD student in England write about American politics.  Sentences like these are produced:

It is long past time that we started taking our queues [emphasis added] from the workers who vote in those key Midwestern states, the ones that voted for Obama and then flipped to Trump.

But to respond to the argument:  Ah yes, the Obama-Trump voters who litter every medium-sized town in the Midwest like cast-off car parts, the voters that Wisconsin's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, dismissed as infertile ground.  No wonder he failed ... clearly, this political naif must be taught a lesson!

There is a certain kind of purity politics on the left I have seen a lot of in my 37 years, and Studebaker seems to partake of it.  I understand its appeal:  hearing candidates who speak your language without reservation or apology is hard to beat for a political ego boost.   The problem is much amplified, though, when you get a degree or two and read some E.P. Thompson and Noam Chomsky.  Soon you're thinking that anybody who was once (GASP) a district attorney, like Kamala Harris*, is forever captive to a carceral system and an enemy of working-class children everywhere.  You find yourself gravitating strongly to old straight white male candidates, because they're the ones who talk about your issues the right way.  There are always reasons to discount the other candidates.  The "real workers" wouldn't like them anyway.

Taken to extremes, this desire for purity will result in you withdrawing from the political process altogether, sitting alone in your coffee shop of choice, hunched over your laptop with its DON'T VOTE sticker clearly visible to all around you (yes, I really saw a disheveled-looking white man like this recently).  The siren call of embittered anarchism is the only thing that penetrates those jaded ears.

My serious response to Mr. Studebaker is this:  people are not categories.  They often vote without regard to their economic interests, and good for them!  If everyone did vote their "pure interests," based on some Bentham-like calculation of tax rate and minimum wage "utils" or what have you, rich people would have been eliminated a long time ago and we wouldn't even have a socialist movement to argue about.  (People like me who work to facilitate voting would also have a hell of a time trying to feed people all the numbers they need to make those calculations.)

Yes, it is painful to see homeless families existing in a country as rich as ours.  (Consider homeless families in the MIDST OF THE POLAR VORTEX the next time you want to make a political point from their lives.)  But telling the parents in those families that you need to vote for the old guy from Vermont, and by the way, that DA Harris who prosecuted you is BAD, is not gonna remedy their condition in any substantive way.  Electing a president who won't shut down the Department of Housing and Urban Development for months at a time:  that might help.


20 January 2019

I have to say I'm no longer even faintly amused by the Organizing for Bernie emails I receive.  This is how one I got this morning begins:

Hey Skye,
We wanted to make sure you saw this — earlier this month, tens of thousands of Bernie supporters came together to watch our livestream, and learn how they could get to work, building a campaign-in-waiting for Sen. Sanders, if he decieds to run in 2020.
On January 26 & 27, Bernie supporters across the country will continue that work by coming together and starting conversations with people in our communities. Can we count on you host a canvass or house party during the Weekend of Action, January 26th & 27th?

I'll pass over the misspelling of "decides," which is something I'd expect from a Bush-Cheney campaign email written by a drunk intern.  Hosting a "canvass or house party" for a US Senator on the weekend that federal workers will have missed their second paycheck and millions of low-income people will be desperately trying to work out how to avoid starving after their SNAP benefits run out?  What words come to mind for you to describe this?

I will shortly be unsubscribing from these emails, and I want Spencer Carnes and everybody else at the OfB mothership to know:  This is a complete goddamn waste of your energy and not something you should relish telling your nieces, nephews, or grandchildren about when they ask what you did in the American Crisis of White Supremacy.  You have already lost the point of Bernie's 2016 campaign if you want to spend all of 2019 trying to tell America how Bernie alone is the solution to our suffering (then again, maybe you were high every time the candidate said "this isn't about me, it's about all of us"?)

Go clean up some national parks, at least.  I hear Colorado (where your postal address is) has a few small ones.

 Politics: pg. 2   Base-ball: pg. 4   Astronomy & Chemistry: pg. 6    Fine Arts: pg. 8   

 Emergency Letter -- Is your federal arsenal adequately protected? : see insert

How Popular is the "Confederate States of America"?

UPDATED JAN. 20, 1861

55.2% Disapprove

40.0% Approve