Friday, July 04, 2008

No Rockets--Just Red Glare

Fires, drought, heat, storms, floods--that's what
much of America faces this Fourth of July weekend.Posted by Picasa

In Service to the Future (with updates)

Three news stories that didn't get much play come together for our Independence Day synthesis for the future.

First: the continuing fires here in California. Down in Big Sur, the fires have forced evacuations of some 1800 homes, while fires threaten other towns near Santa Barbara. Here in northern CA, there are some 13 large complexes of fires that have been burning for a couple of weeks, and are expected to keep burning for several more weeks. Some large camp grounds have been closed. Because of continuing dry conditions, campfires have been banned in other parks, and fireworks on the Fourth discouraged.

Saturday Update: On Friday, the Big Sur fire alone consumed another 4407 acres. This fire continues to grow and is not expected to be controlled until August. Some 27 large fires or fire complexes are still active around California, some 335 fires in all, which already have destroyed half a million acres. In addition to the nearly 20, 000 people fighting fires, Gov. S. ordered in some 200 National Guard troops on Friday. The state's resources are being stretched thin.

Sunday Update: Cooler weather helped firefighters in southern CA at the Santa Barbara fire, but another heat wave is expected the first few days of the week, with temps exceeding 100 degrees, meaning hot, dry and inflammable landscapes.

Second: new computer models spell out something of what global heating will really mean. Longer duration, higher temperature heat waves have been predicted, but this study attachs some numbers to specific places. By 2100, peak temperatures for Los Angeles are projected at 117F. Kansas City can expect 116, and Atlanta 110. New York would see 106; it has already hit 104 once. In general, heat waves become longer and temperatures should increase from 3 to 5 degrees by 2050. In southern France, where a heat wave in the 1950s meant 91, and which had a peak temperature in the 1990s of 104, the region can expect 111 by 2050 and 118 by the end of the century.

Third: Barack Obama devoted a speech in Colorado to a call for expanded national service, particularly by young people, as a "central cause" of his administration, as a way for individuals to help "shape the future." In addition to expanding government sponsored organizations, he proposes to use technology and existing nonprofit organizations to network and innovate, to make service more responsive and creative. Also he proposes to work through middle and high schools, and through colleges, to encourage volunteer service, who will be paid in educational opportunities, such as grants for college.

So what does national services have to do with fire, drought, storms and heat waves? Plenty.

Obama specifically included the Climate Crisis as one of the reasons that America will need trained volunteers. He previously announced plans to expand Americorps and establish divisions within it, including those devoted to public health, renewable energy and conservation, and community emergencies.

These volunteers will be needed. For example, the heat waves in Europe in 2003 killed tens of thousands, and scores and even hundreds have died unheralded in various heat waves in American cities in the past decade. Only a corps of volunteers will be enough to keep tabs on vulnerable populations, especially elderly living alone, during dangerous heat waves.

There are likely to be so many emergencies, at the same time as so much infrastructure will need to be changed for energy conservation and renewable energy systems, that only those trained, organized and dedicated to accomplishing necessary tasks will be nearly enough. Look at all that is happening this summer, and how much of the country it is affecting. And we're barely into the summer yet.

Others have recognized this oncoming necessity before. Bill McKibben calls it the Green Corps ; Bruce Sterling has a darker vision of what he calls khaki green --military troops perhaps with coercive power, or Blackwater-type mercenaries, to deal with these multiple emergencies. Obama's vision speaks to the best in people, the empathy in everyone and the desire to do good and to do something constructive for the future that young people feel most ardently.

"No one should be left out of the American story," Obama said. No one should be left out of the future. And there will be no future for anyone if we don't work together to ensure it. Obama's speech makes the connection between individual freedom and destiny, and the health of the community and nation. It is this change, from greed, selfishness and predation to "we're all in this together" and "you'd do the same for me" as our national ethic, that will win the future.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Man has survived hitherto because he was too ignorant
to know how to realize his wishes. Now that he can realize
them, he must either change them or perish."

William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

News Flash--Not A Terrorist

This man was taken off the U.S. terrorist
watch list today. I feel so much safer. Just
winning the Nobel Peace Prize 15 years ago
apparently didn't remove Nelson Mandella
from suspicion. But such bureaucratic contempt
for one of the most admired men on the planet
is hardly the only evidence of this administration's
ineptitude and corruption in its fraudulent war
on terror. There's a new outrage revealed nearly every day.

Like the covert CIA operative in the Middle East who claims that the
Bushites not only ignored his intelligence that
Iraq wasn't working on WMD and Iran had stopped
its nuclear weapons program--his lawyer claims that
"On five occasions he was ordered to either falsify
his reporting on WMD in the Near East,or not to file
his reports at all."
This was reported today, as was
the federal court opinion that threw out the government
case against a Guantanamo prisoner as baseless--merely
repeating the same allegation in three documents. The
judge said it reminded him of a Lewis Carroll nonsense
poem. But Wednesday's literary news will also include
The Manchurian Candidate, when the NY Times reports
that torturers at Guantanamo were instructed using a
chart describing Chinese techniques used on Americans
during the Korean War. Said Sen. Carl Levin, “What makes
this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques
to get false confessions.” This is the War on Terror
waged in our name, and permitted by our representatives
of both parties, enabled by how easily Americans were
and perhaps are manipulated by the most simplistic appeals
to fear.Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hey, That's My Birthday Cake!

Some reflections on my day of birth now at
Blue Voice.( You guys got the age wrong, too.)Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Patriot Games

Barack Obama spoke today about patriotism, mostly his. He's defending himself against the charges of being unpatriotic.

It's times like this that I truly despair of Americans ever growing up. What does patriotism mean to the people who make this absurd charge? Conformity to some stereotype? Acting white? What threatens them? We all know it's some bizarre emanation from the unconscious, a code concept for fears of difference, subversion, whatever. But that doesn't excuse it. Non-idiot adults should be able to figure that out and get serious.

We have this complex of problems that truly do threaten survival. That millions of Americans are left helpless without adequate health insurance, and increasingly aren't seeing doctors when they are ill, to the tune of nearly 60 million Americans, is not an abstraction to me. My next serious illness or injury will likely be my last. Period. We're supposed to put off a decent health care system again because of the exploitation of national idiocy?

Talk about clinging to guns. After more than two hundred years the Supreme Court decides the right to own guns is guaranteed by the Constitution when guns are among the biggest delusions and the most dangerous. Guns keep you safe? Are you kidding me? You need them for hunting? Killing animals for sport is barbaric. Meanwhile children are gunned down in petty disputes that a fistfight used to settle. And what are guns best at doing? Making sure your suicidal impulse successfully kills you. Half of all gun deaths are suicides.

We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them, and serious voters to make sure they do. We can't afford another election based on delusion, lies, corruption and idiocy. Or it may be the last one that will ever really matter.

I used to get those pitying looks when my interest in Star Trek was revealed, but Star Trek fascinates me precisely because, behind all the space opera and bumpy-forehead aliens, there's the premise that humanity is finally growing up. Finally entering adulthood. And not a moment too soon.

These days to call humanity an adolescent race may be a social promotion. Patriot games are for children, and it's not very healthy for them either.