Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas and Global Warming

Reflections on An Inconvenient Truth

On Tuesday evening, I rented and watched Al Gore's film. On Wednesday morning, I took Murray, the cairn terrier, for our morning constitutional. I left the house with a winter jacket on. Shortly, I removed the jacket and continued the walk in a t-shirt. I was perspiring. It was November 22.

On Thanksgiving morning, the paper came. I estimate it's weight to be around five pounds. The majority of its heft came from ads enticing one to begin shopping very early on Friday morning and to continue the consumptive spree until late December 24. It would be what Jesus would want. Certainly, Macy's, Penney's, Dillard's, Home Depot, etc, would be quite pleased.

Toward the end of August, I saw the first Christmas specific sales items at CostCo. A year ago, I was depressed to see them at that store in September. The year before, I think, it was disturbing to see them on display in October. CostCo seems to be the canary in the Christmas mineshaft. The trend suggests that by about 2010, give or take, Easter eggs and Christmas ornaments will be competing for CostCo floor space. The Easter Bunny in a Santa Claus suit? I guess it could work; we seem open to most forms of manipulation.

An Inconvenient Truth is full of gripping statistics and disturbing visuals, and it is based upon good science. I was struck by Gore's description of the depth of the earth's atmosphere that within which we live and move and have our being on the material plane. If one were to take a good sized globe and paint it with a coat of varnish, Gore said, the thickness of the varnish would compare relatively to the thickness of the earth's atmosphere. Without it, we're thinking Mars or the Moon.

While watching the film I recalled an article I read during my teaching days. It was about apparently healthy deer dying off on some island off the east coast of the US. The food supply was adequate, and the deer looked ok. However, autopsies showed a common characteristic. All of the deer examined had enlarged adrenal glands indicating their deaths came as a result stress caused by too much togetherness.

Gore cited some population figures that compared similarly to a link I provided in Picks a while back. Gore is around 60, I think. He said that when he was born, there were about 2B people on the planet. Now, there are over 6B. While compounding is a good thing for investment returns, it's a bitch when it comes to fruit flies and humans.

As I was separating the ads from the newspaper on Thursday, I was thinking about the planet and people and shopping and consuming. It may be inconvenient to reflect upon the way we live and the impact on our nest. But we need to start thinking and acting in accordance with reality.

In the 70s, I remember reading about some guy who was focused upon having no more than 200 possessions. If he added something, he felt obligated to rid himself of something else. He counted everything in his realm of possessions, silverware, pencils whatever. I realize that I would easily exceed that number before I got out of the bedroom. Silverware, by the way, didn't count as a single item. The fellow counted each knife, fork, spoon.

I remember when I was in elementary school, I would get a new pair of shoes once a year. With growing and usage, the allotment meant I was a one pair of shoes guy. Now, I'm no Imelda Marcos, but I'm well stocked in the footwear department.

I don't know how the fellow arrived at 200 objects as the target, but the concept of some kind of self imposed finitude on possessions intrigues me to this day. I've always felt the paring down process would be liberating and educational. Knowing what was of vital importance would tell me a lot about who I am and what I'm about. The detritus of a lifetime, in my case, resembles tailings from an abandoned mine. Something for me to ponder.

Yesterday, Rick Steves, the travel guy on PBS, had a retrospective on Christmas travels past. A common theme in the European countries he visited was restraint. Of France he said, it isn't the quantity of gifts but the quality. Maybe we'll never put Christ back in Christmas in the USA, but we should get him transferred out of the marketing department.

Picks of the Week:

Will forests adapt to a warmer world?

'We're like a two-year-old playing with fire... We're messing around with something dangerous and don't really understand what will happen,' says William Laurance, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama, in reference to climate change and the Amazon rainforest."

Hollywood environmentalist targets middle America

"'There is a window closing here,' said David, citing experts like NASA climatologist James Hansen who say the world has 10 years to take action against global warming or face widespread climate disaster."

Global warming said killing some species

"At least 70 species of frogs, mostly mountain-dwellers that had nowhere to go to escape the creeping heat, have gone extinct because of climate change, the analysis says. It also reports that between 100 and 200 other cold-dependent animal species, such as penguins and polar bears are in deep trouble."

World has under decade to act on climate crisis

"The world has less than a decade to take decisive action in the battle to beat global warming or risk irreversible change that will tip the planet towards catastrophe, a leading U.S. climate scientist said on Tuesday."And the United States, the world' biggest polluter but major climate laggard, has a vital role to play in leading that fight, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Reuters on a visit to London."

States will tell Supreme Court feds must act on warming

"The polar icecaps are melting, summers growing hotter and hurricanes becoming more powerful, but the Bush administration has insisted it cannot regulate the gases that many believe are responsible."On Wednesday, a coalition of 12 states, led by California and Massachusetts, will try to persuade the Supreme Court that the nation's environmental regulators have the legal authority and responsibility to control greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming — which many scientists describe as the biggest environmental threat to the planet."

EPA's new air quality standards endanger public health

"Here’s something that will take your breath away. The EPA, charged with protecting our environment, has adopted new air quality standards that actually put our environment and health at greater risk."

How can we [Canada] restore our reputation and sovereignty?

"There is a new axis of evil in the world, an environmental axis of evil. Its members are Canada, the United States and Australia. One expects it from the United States, a country run in a moral void by and for the wealthy élite, but not from Canada.

"That Canada has fallen so low from a position once of being a respected leader in environmental reform speaks volumes about the poor quality of national government that it has fallen victim to."

That's because Canada embraced Harper, and, by default, The Moron and The Dick.

Aids pandemic gains renewed strength

"The spread of the HIV/Aids pandemic continues unabated, with the number of people infected rising once more in some countries which had been thought to be beating the disease, according to the UN."

Class Struggle

"The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes."

Time to revolt? The founders would probably think so.

Fanfare for the common man

"Frustrated by stagnant wages and rising health costs and fearful that their jobs will be sent to China, anxious voters, particularly in the industrial heartland, sent a new brand of Democrat to Congress: one who may believe in God and guns but who is wary of big business and even more dubious about free trade. The rise of these “Lou Dobbs Democrats” (a reference to a globophobic blowhard on CNN) could spell significant changes in American economic policy."

America: What to do next?

"The question now is what to do next? How does the nation maneuver out of the dangerous predicament in the Middle East? And what will it take to ensure that the country is not so easily commandeered again and piloted back toward disaster?"

Washington's Iraq chimeras

"Three persistent illusions—which, intentionally or not, serve to cover up or minimize the mess President George W. Bush has created in Iraq—stand out:

"The Baker/Hamilton commission is our way out.

"Training Iraqis will save the day.

We will keep some kind of control no matter what."

In the shadow of Ho Chi Minh

"Bush seems not to have noticed that we succeeded in Vietnam precisely because we did quit the military occupation of that nation, permitting an ideology of freedom to overcome one of hate. Bush’s rhetoric is frighteningly reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s escalation and expansion of the Vietnam War in an attempt to buy an 'honorable' exit with the blood of millions of Southeast Asians and thousands of American soldiers. In the end, a decade of bitter fighting did not prevent an ignominious U.S. departure from Saigon."

The only real option: Leave Iraq now

"Good lord, if even Henry Kissinger now says that military victory in Iraq is impossible, pretty soon George W. Bush really will be left with just Laura and Barney on his side.

"The Decider Agonistes must be feeling betrayed and abused these days. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's admission that the war has been 'pretty much of a disaster' was just a slip of the tongue, but the president must have felt it as a cut most unkind."

US finds Iraq insurgency has funds to sustain itself

"The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded."

Too bad the US doesn't have funds to sustain itself.

Ferocity of Iraq attacks leaves US troops helpless

"MORE than 3½ years after President George W Bush launched an invasion of Iraq, which his supporters proclaimed as a 'cakewalk', American troops were yesterday engulfed in a wave of sectarian bloodletting that threatens to destroy the Iraqi government and may jeopardise a crisis summit this week with Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister.

"US forces were reduced to near-impotent bystanders as the violence ignited by Thursday’s car bomb attacks on Shi’ite targets in Baghdad spawned a spiral of revenge."

In Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in fron of my eyes. I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect

"Saad’s dreams were dashed a long time ago. 'We always say, ‘Inshallah, there will be a solution’, but realistically we can’t see any hope.' Would he like Saddam back? 'Yes,' he says. 'For many reasons. During Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in front of my eyes, I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect, and I never saw entire families being slaughtered and killed.'”

It should've been The Moron and The Dick being tried in Baghdad for war crimes.

Olmert and the Baker boys

"In order to undermine the Baker Boys, Olmert will rally AIPAC. 'On his way home from Los Angeles, the prime minister 'calmed’ … reporters—and perhaps even himself—by saying there is no danger of U.S. President George W. Bush accepting the expected recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton panel, and attempting to move Syria out of the axis of evil and into a coalition to extricate America from Iraq. The prime minister hopes the Jewish lobby can rally a Democratic majority in the new Congress to counter any diversion from the status quo on the Palestinians,' reports Haartez."

Articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney

" . . . here are the following 14 possible articles of impeachment against the President and Vice President."

Bush administration and US media blame Syria for Gemayel assassination

"The ferocity of this response should in and of itself raise eyebrows. Another agenda is at work. Or, worse, the clamor to blame Syria, without evidence or any attempt at substantiation, represents a premeditated course of action, prepared ahead of time, suggesting foreknowledge of the event."

US carried out madrasah bombing

"'We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US,' said a key aide to President Pervez Musharraf. 'But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.'

"The Americans are believed to have attacked after a tip-off that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, was present. Local people claimed the victims included boys as young as 12 and that the tribal area had been negotiating with the Pakistan government for a peace deal."

Gates pushed for bombing of Sandinistas

"Robert M. Gates, President Bush's nominee to lead the Pentagon, advocated a bombing campaign against Nicaragua in 1984 in order to 'bring down' the leftist government, according to a declassified memo released by a nonprofit research group.

"The memo from Gates to his then-boss, CIA Director William J. Casey, was among a selection of declassified documents from the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal posted Friday on the website of the National Security Archive."

Guess it wouldn't be too great a leap for Bob to rubberstamp nuking Iran.

Dems want to see citizen-monitoring database

"But a previously secret Pentagon intelligence report labeled that same event a 'threat to military installations.' The report lists the group's upcoming events and warns that while it's a 'peaceful organization,' there is potential that 'future protest could become violent.'"

I'm no politically savvy politico making a 6 figure salary, but wouldn't it be a good idea to ask Bob Gates if he thinks spying on citizens is constitutional?

A strategy for seeking a national single-payer healthcare system

"'The Time is Now.' said Congressman John Conyers to the Healthcare-NOW national strategy meeting, November 12, 2006, in Chicago. Conyers and 60 Healthcare-NOW organizers from 16 states joined in thinking about how to push forward for a single-payer national healthcare system in the United States in a marathon 10-hour strategy session. Healthcare-NOW is a bottom up movement organization, so the strategies evolved throughout the day came from very few speeches and a lot of discussion. Conyers's bill H.R. 676 will provide healthcare for everyone in the United States by eliminating the profits of the insurance companies and negotiating drug and other treatment costs. It will be paid for on a sliding scale by all of us together. We will have no bills, co-payments, deductibles, denials, or bankruptcies. And we will be paying less than we are now."

California legislature votes to kill the health insurance industry

"The US system, according to the World Health Organization, is rated 72nd in quality, but number one in cost, worldwide. The 'Death by Medicine" study shows that the system itself is the number one killer of Americans. The number two and three killers of Americans are heart disease and cancer, diseases which those of us outside of the 'status quo' know are curable, and preventable - but those cures and preventive treatments are being suppressed by agents of the 'status quo.'"

Ivan Illich's 70's book, Medical Nemesis, portrayed iatrogenic disease (doctor caused illness) as the number one killer of Americans.

Firms crimping oil supplies

"Whatever the truth in Bakersfield, an Associated Press analysis suggests that big oil companies have been crimping supplies in subtler ways across the country for years. And tighter supplies tend to drive up prices.

"The analysis, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, indicates that the industry slacked off supplying oil and gasoline during the prolonged price boom between early 1999 and last summer, when prices began to fall."

Democrats' victory is felt on K street

"Labor and environmental representatives, once also-rans in congressional influence, are meeting frequently with Capitol Hill's incoming Democratic leaders. Corporations that once boasted about their Republican ties are busily hiring Democratic lobbyists. And industries worried about reprisals from the new Democrats-in-charge, especially the pharmaceutical industry, are sending out woe-is-me memos and hoping their GOP connections will protect them in the crunch."

We'll see.

Reno files challenge to terror law

"Former Attorney General Janet Reno and seven other former Justice Department officials filed court papers Monday arguing that the Bush administration is setting a dangerous precedent by trying a suspected terrorist outside the court system.

"It was the first time that Reno, attorney general in the Clinton administration, has spoken out against the administration's policies on terrorism detainees, underscoring how contentious the court fight over the nation's new military commissions law has become. Former attorneys general rarely file court papers challenging administration policy."

Missing presumed tortured

"More than 7,000 prisoners have been captured in America's war on terror. Just 700 ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Between extraordinary rendition to foreign jails and disappearance into the CIA's 'black sites', what happened to the rest?"

Gates is the wrong man to follow Rummy.

Bush's mysterious new programs

“'I stand by this President’s ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,' Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

'Senator,' a smiling Gonzales responded, 'the President already said we’d be happy to listen to your ideas.'”

Dreaming of gulags in 'Merica.

Rumsfeld okayes abuses says former US general

"Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

"Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation."

Judge orders FBI to correct disclosures

"Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to submit "proper disclosures" to the Court and Judicial Watch by December 15, 2006 concerning the U.S. government's evacuation of Saudi royals and members of the bin Laden family from the United States immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

Maybe some light will be shed upon bin Laden connections with BushCo.

CIA role claim in [Robert] Kennedy killing

"It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968.

"The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and some of the officers were based in South-East Asia at the time, with no reason to be in Los Angeles." . . . .

"David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends:

"'I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.'"

I can't remember, was George H.W. Bush head of the CIA in 1968?

The coming collapse of housing

"I arranged for good friend Gary Shilling to condense his 40 page letter on the housing market for you. While this letter will print long (for those of you who print the letter out), it is mostly charts, which Gary excels in. Gary argues that housing prices are not in for just a small decline but a material drop. I have argued that it is housing that will be one of the main causes of the next recession sometime next year. So without adding too much more copy, let's jump right into Gary's analysis."

US dollar will keep falling

"The US dollar has reached a 'tipping point' as foreign exchange markets wake up to the threat that the Federal Reserve will have to slash interest rates in the new year to stave off recession, analysts say. After a sharp sell-off on Friday took the greenback to 18-month lows against the euro, and pushed the pound to $1.93, economists warned that there was worse to come for the US currency."

Markets rocked by sharp slide in dollar

"A sharpening slide in the US dollar unnerved global markets on Friday as investors sought to protect themselves from the possibility of sustained dollar weakness."

Quotes from and others:

"John Kerry said he's thinking about running for president in 2008. In other words, Kerry is still telling bad jokes." -- Conan O'Brien

"Finally a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking. Just like as a conservative white guy, the burden is on me to prove to you I've neither blown up a federal building with a fertilizer bomb nor blown a gay hooker in the men's room at Denny's." --Jon Stewart, on Glenn Beck insulting the first Muslim elected to Congress, Link

"The president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles. I think he's gotten a real sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people." -- BFEE spokeswhore Stephen J. Hadley, saying that although Dubya had not come into direct contact with ordinary Vietnamese, they connected anyway, Link

"In 2000, tens of thousands of Hanoi's residents poured into the streets to witness the visit of American President Bill Clinton. Clinton toured the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature, grabbed lunch at a noodle shop, argued with Communist Party leaders about American imperialism." --David E. Sanger, on the difference between love and hate, Link

"I applaud a society where people are free to express their opinion. It's to Indonesia's credit that it's a society where people are able to protest and say what they think. That's what happens when you make hard decisions." -- Dubya, flattering himself as "The Decider" as the hate oozed into the street upon his arrival, Link

"It was a great win for what I call the new Democratic Party. This is the new Democratic Party. The old Democratic Party is back there in Washington, sometimes they still complain a little bit. The people who complain always get the headlines. But the fact is that this strategy not only works, it works in states Democrats have given up on for 30 years. We cannot give up on anybody." -- Howard Dean, smacking Carville, Link

"I think that's weird and it's nuts. To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school." -- The Senior Bush Criminal, responding to a college student in Abu Dhabi, who said he believed that Dim Son was raping the world so he could steal its wealth, Link

"The cost of giving Americans universal health care is about $300 billion. That's less than a quarter of what Bush's Iraq fiasco is going to cost. But bring that up during a 'national security' debate, and they'll call you a wimp and you'll be disbarred from further participation." -- Eric Alterman, Link

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to change a light bulb?

Answer: TEN. Let me break that down for you.....

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for a new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor and standing on a step ladder under the banner "Bulb Accomplished";

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally "in the dark" the whole time;

8. Another one to viciously smear #7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing in a light bulb and screwing the country.

And after all is said and done, no one will notice that they never actually managed to change the light bulb.


Post a Comment

<< Home