Friday, April 13, 2012

A Video for Catloving French Existentialist Film Buffs

Subverting the Future

Govenor Crisp Crispie of New Jersey is making wannabe VP with Richney noises, and this column by Paul Krugman suggests how appropriate that would be, as he is also a conniving liar as well as a thug.  But that's not the purpose of the column, exactly: Krugman uses Crispie to illustrate a point about how GOPers talk so much about the future, and work so hard against it.

"One general rule of modern politics is that the people who talk most about future generations — who go around solemnly declaring that we’re burdening our children with debt — are, in practice, the people most eager to sacrifice our future for short-term political gain," Krugman begins.  He names the Ryan budget as a prime national example, but also: "And you can see it in the actions of Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who talks loudly about acting responsibly but may actually be the least responsible governor the state has ever had."

Crispie cancelled work on a tunnel linking NJ to NY, lied about its costs, how it was financed, and whether it's necessary.  He did it so he could raid the funds set aside for it to apply to short-term uses.  Governors in general are good at this, Congress did it for years with Social Security, but the mendacity here is striking.  And its effect is devastating, on the future of the state he's supposed to be working for.  

Krugman's expanded point: "Unfortunately, Mr. Christie’s behavior is all too typical these days.
America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars. Funny how that works."  

Such shortsightedness is going to have even greater consequences as the need to apply imagination and will to big projects to deal with the effects of the Climate Crisis as well as the causes becomes acute.               

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wild Thing

This photo from the White House Easter Egg Hunt, as President Obama reads "Where the Wild Things Are" to the assembled children, is classic enough to feature on its own.  But it suggests a few political notes.  The Obama campaign understands that it has to be aggressive and lively to be successful against the many millions of dollars that will be spent in lying about President Obama over the next too many months, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision that money should be the prevailing power in selecting our leaders.  The Obama campaign right now is countering with on the ground organizing that so far the GOP can't match.  But the air war has been joined as well.  It's clear that the Obama campaign is not taking anything for granted.

This photo highlights something else--President Obama and Michelle Obama are popular figures.  They connect as human beings, as a couple and as parents.  President Obama clearly loves being in the company of children.  And he loves his dog.  So as Americans try to protect their eyes and ears from the barrage of ads and robocalls, such images and realities could become decisive. 

Last Clown Standing

Little Ricky Sanctimonious has called it quits before facing humiliation in Pa fueled by carpet bombing by Richie Richney's vicious attack ads, and Casino Newt is so broke that his check for a $500 filing fee bounced.  So Richney has bought the GOP nom, and there are millions more where that came from, so expect a seven month onslaught of negative derogatory insulting vicious lying ads from Richney and his obscenely wealthy backers aimed at President Obama.   As Richney, the last clown standing, attempts to buy the presidency.

He may need the help of the "conservatives" who are busy trying to install theocratic dictatorships in the states, specifically by preventing the non-rich from voting.  He may even eventually need the Supreme Court.  But in the meantime he is so personally and politically unpopular, and the policies he advocates so extreme, that his only recourse is to preside over the spending of millions in what I have no doubt will be the most thorough and best financed attempted character assassination in American history. 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Emerson For the Day

"It is the marriage of the soul with Nature that makes the intellect fruitful, that gives birth to imagination."
[click photo to see it all]

This is An Extreme Weather Event?

photo with story: "Western Michigan sets another hot weather record," March 22, 2012. in M Live (Grand Rapids.)

The Climate Crisis reality mandates new kinds of thinking, and much of America is getting a lesson in it now.  The weather is great.  Really, really great.  And that's really, really weird.  And maybe really really bad.

After a mild to nonexistent winter in much of the country, March has been ridiculously warm.  Up to 40 degrees F warmer.  By standard definition, it's an extreme weather event.  It just happens to be temporarily a nice one.

NPR quotes climatologist Heidi Cullen to that effect: When you think of extreme weather, you often think of dramatic events like tornadoes, droughts or hurricanes. It's hard to view a warm, spring day as an extreme weather event, and Cullen says that's one of the challenges of talking about climate.

Cullen notes all the ways that recent climate extremes track with predictions based on Climate Crisis science.  "The science tells us that if we don't do anything about this problem, that by the middle and the end of the century, we're looking at really a radically different climate," she says.

It's not all due to the Climate Crisis--La Nina is having a particular heating effect on North America.  But Climate Crisis models predict that unusual weather trends become more extreme and last longer because of global heating.   NOAA climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi compared the increase in weather extremes to baseball players on steroids: You can't say an individual homer is because of steroids, but they are hit more often and the long-held records for home runs fall.

How hot is it?  Try these stats on for size:

The first quarter of 2012 broke the January-March record by 1.4 degrees. Usually records are broken by just one- or two-tenths of a degree. U.S. temperature records date to 1895.

The atypical heat goes back even further. The U.S. winter of 2010-2011 was slightly cooler than normal and one of the snowiest in recent years, but after that things started heating up. The summer of 2011 was the second warmest summer on record.

The winter that just ended, which in some places was called the year without winter, was the fourth warmest on record. Since last April, it's been the hottest 12-month stretch on record, Crouch said.
But the month where the warmth turned especially weird was March.

Normally, March averages 42.5 degrees across the country. This year, the average was 51.1, which is closer to the average for April. Only one other time — in January 2006 — was the country as a whole that much hotter than normal for an entire month.

In March, at least 7,775 weather stations across the nation broke daily high temperature records and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat. Combined, that's more high temperature records broken in one month than ever before, Crouch said.

"When you look at what's happened in March this year, it's beyond unbelievable," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver.

What has people feeling weird about this right now is the near term prospects.  Already there's a large increase in insects in some places, and farmers worry that their rapidly growing crops are more vulnerable to a seasonable frost.  Allergies are more active, and that's a sign of other health problems that might arise.

And then there's summer...

Meanwhile are busy organizing an international Climate Impact Day for May 5 (5/5) to "connect the dots" between extreme weather and the Climate Crisis.  More on that later.