mm448: Global warming: real but not catastrophe

July 25, 2008

dreamstime_638321

© Markwr | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Politicians disagree. That’s not news — that’s politics.

Scientists disagree. That sometimes does not make the news. The flaming rhetoric gets the attention; the calm, carefully reasoned rebuttal is buried on page A22.

Or buried in a special interest magazine.

Found another such publication: Skeptical Inquirer.

Al Gore wants this country to totally migrate power generation from coal, like that sooty specimen above, to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, in 10 years. A very Kennedy-esque proposal. Actually, Kennedy’s inspiration (or, at least, his speechwriters’) might have been Chicago visionary, and leading proponent of the Columbian Exposition of 1892-93, Daniel Burnham, who most famously said: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…”

[Editor’s note: the paragraph immediately above is a prime example of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©‘s specialty: Sequitur Service©.]

Gore’s proposal of course is the follow-on to his environmental hobby-horse, sound-bit as global warming.

Not so fast, Al…

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mm296: Symmetrical political writing: Raising hackles right and left.

February 25, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

You’ll recall the uproar NYTimes precipitated last week with their hazy “revelation” of a purported John McCain affair. We even deigned to notice it here in this  nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

That was the outrage-inducing lead of what actually was a reasonably good rehash of the good senator’s lobbyist affinity over the years. He apparently never met one he couldn’t do business with.

But sex sells even for the Gray Lady of Times Square, and that’s what McCain supporters zeroed in on, along with the rest of us.  The ferociously detailed dotted ‘i’s and crossed ‘t’s of McCain’s lobbyist dealings over the past 20 years thus easily became the 95% of the Times story that not enough people read.

Word was that the story has caused the Republican party’s loony wing to bury their concerns with McCain, in the immortal spirit of “the enemy of my enemy must be my friend.”

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mm202: November 22, 2007: Thanksgiving day, and so much more

November 22, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Thanksgiving day, the U.S. holiday, is celebrated by statute on the fourth Thursday in November. This places the holiday on a varying schedule. It can fall on any date between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28.

Unvarying is the other, deeper implication of this Thanksgiving day, Nov. 22, as this particular day, in 1963, is one of the defining incidents of my generation’s lifetime: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This self-congratulating student of history is ashamed to admit that he had to be reminded of the importance of this day by a story in Wired.com.

By Tony Long   11.22.07 | 12:00 AM

President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally ride in a motorcade in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, moments before a sniper’ would shoot the two men, fatally wounding Kennedy. Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

1963: President Kennedy is assassinated as his motorcade passes through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Texas Gov. John Connally, riding in the same car as Kennedy, is seriously wounded.

The Warren Commission, set up by order of President Johnson to investigate the assassination, concluded that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, firing from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Although the report was widely accepted at first, skepticism grew as more information concerning possible conspiracies leaked out.

Oswald denied having anything to do with the shooting at all, let alone being part of any conspiracy, but he was killed — and silenced — two days after the assassination while in the custody of Dallas police.

That, coupled with the FBI’s miserable handling of the initial investigation, did nothing to quell the suspicions of those who believed Kennedy’s assassination was the work of (pick one, or more than one): the CIA, Johnson, the mob, Fidel Castro, the anti-Castro Cubans, J. Edgar Hoover.

Defining events for a generation. For my parent’s generation, if it had to be boiled down to a single day of so many eventful days, it would be April 12, 1945, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. He was the only president they had known their entire life, and his passing, my mother has said, was like losing one’s father. Anyone alive then can tell you exactly where they were, and what they were doing when they learned the sad news out of Warm Springs, Georgia.

fdr

For my children’s generation, there is no contest: September 11, 2001. Can’t you tell us exactly what you were doing, and where, when those shocking images started to appear on CNN?

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For we boomers, upper half, JFK’s murder changed everything. And yes, I was sitting in my junior year English-Journalism class when we heard; school was immediately suspended as we all rushed home to watch the continual telecast that dominated the entire weekend. (BTW, I believe that this event coverage certified the new ascendancy of television news over printed newspapers and magazines. The boob tube was capable of delivering more than Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan.)

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Nov. 22, 1963: A Magic Bullet, a Grassy Knoll, an Enduring Mystery

For an explanation, or at least a description, of what changed, the Wired story links to this article that appeared the week of what would have been Kennedy’s 90th birthday last month:

John F. Kennedy would now be 90 years old — a circumstance virtually impossible to imagine, for those of us alive on November 22, 1963. When Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets killed the 35th president of the United States, our memories of him were frozen in a kind of memorial amber.

It’s hard enough to picture 60-year old JFK as the proprietor of a great newspaper (a post-presidential career he was considering). It is simply impossible to conjure up images of him at 75, much less 90. He remains, forever, young, at least in the memory of those who remember his presidency.

Do we understand why he died, though? And does the regnant interpretation of the Kennedy assassination mask the truth about his presidency, and about his place in the spectrum of American political opinion?[…]

Why did John F. Kennedy die? According to the interpretation advanced by admiring biographers (and former Kennedy aides) Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Theodore Sorensen, JFK’s assassination was the by-product of a culture of violence that had infected the extreme American right-wing: thus right-wing paranoia about communism and civil rights activism had turned the city of Dallas into a seething political madhouse where something awful was very likely to happen.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The-Tidings.com

The interpretation advanced in this last article resonates with me; things changed. Optimism, born of victory, born of world leadership, born of that post-war prosperity that built the suburbs and the interstate highways that wove them together, took a terrible blow that November afternoon.

The American century, at that precise moment, began to unravel. And we boomer inheritors were not destined to enjoy the triumph our parents earned for us after all, but only to ride that plunging elevator into some other nation’s century — China’s?

And shame on me for having to be reminded!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm158: Miscellanea, or, this and that

October 1, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

shortattention

Short attention span blogging: Item 1:

Mike Garibaldi Frick: Elect the U.S. President with the Popular Vote – Politics on The Huffington Post

It’s time to elect the President and Vice President of the United States by direct, popular vote.

In addition to being given greater proportionate representation in the Senate, individuals living in states with smaller populations are given more political influence than those people living in larger states. That’s simply undemocratic. Electing the President by popular vote might also increase voter turnout and most certainly would extend the power of third party campaigns.

We’ve looked at this topic previously several times; it won’t go away… Take a look at the full post, and the comments.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Mike Garibaldi Frick: Elect the U.S. President with the Popular Vote – Politics on The Huffington Post

MUDGE is beginning to think that the Electoral College can be characterized in the manner that Winston Churchill characterized democracy:

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

The Electoral College is a lousy system, whose latest inadequacies have led this country to an abysmal seven years and counting, but I fear that it may be better than any other system for this country.

Short attention span blogging: Item 2:

Space Race Turns 50 With Sputnik Anniversary

MOSCOW (AP) — When Sputnik took off 50 years ago, the world gazed at the heavens in awe and apprehension, watching what seemed like the unveiling of a sustained Soviet effort to conquer space and score a stunning Cold War triumph.

But 50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West. Instead, the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the space age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.

MUDGE was a kid when Sputnik launched the world into the space age. It’s been a long time, but I dimly remember stepping outside to peer at the city-light polluted sky for something winking up there.

Eerie.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Wired News – AP News

Reflecting years later, one can’t help remember that, not mentioned in this story, in the end the Soviet Union’s captured German World War II rocket scientists (those wonderful folks who brought London the destructive power of the V-1 and V-2) beat the U.S.’s captured German rocket scientists into space. At least the first couple of steps.

It took a visionary John F. Kennedy to define an inspiring goal for our Germans and their mentored U.S. colleagues to focus on, and the U.S. won the war of which Sputnik was the first overt battle.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

They don’t build presidents like that any more.

Speaking of which…

Short attention span blogging: Item 3:

If Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, will he run for president?

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, at 12:00 PM ET

Al Gore. Click image to expand.Al Gore

I am occasionally asked why it is that so many Europeans display reflexive anti-Americanism, and I force myself to choose from a salad of possible answers. One of these is the resentment that I can remember feeling myself when I lived in England in the 1970s: the sheer brute fact that American voters who knew nothing about Europe (and cared less) could pick a president who had more clout than any of our elected prime ministers could exert. America could change our economic climate by means of the Federal Reserve, could use bases in Britain to forward its policies in Asia or the Middle East, and all the rest of it. Americans could also choose a complete crook like Richard Nixon, or a complete moron like Jimmy Carter, and we still had to watch our local politicians genuflect to the so-called Atlantic alliance.

Love him, hate him, respect him as one (somewhat reluctantly) might, Christopher Hitchens is always interesting.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

If Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, will he run for president? – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

In this very, very long presidential election season, most anything can happen.

And most anything probably will.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE