8.27.2009

Our Angry Planet (2)

US Drought Monitor:

"In addition, San Antonio’s tally of 100-degree days continued to climb. San Antonio’s former 1998 annual record of 36 days with triple-digit heat was broken long ago; through August 25, there have been 56 days with highs of 100 degrees F or greater. Elsewhere in southern Texas, locations such as Corpus Christi and Victoria endured a 79th consecutive day (June 8 – August 25) with above-normal temperatures."
Via the excellent Jfleck.

8.26.2009

We have an electorate on whom TV ads work

That, to me, is the real problem, and the fact thatpoor people are therefore marginalized is the symptoms.

Fire season

Via LAist. From Runyon Canyon, maybe?

It begins.

This is not the smoke from the current fire, but it's like it -- these hot cloudless days are perfect fire weather, and because they're cloudless you can see the smoke start to drift in from distant points. In 2003 (I think it was) the sun was red all day from all the fires. It's apocalyptic here, I'm telling you.

Riddle me this, cable news

How is Ted Kennedy's death a developing story?

8.23.2009

Our Angry Planet

Greenland...coming soon to an ocean near you!

A Change in the Wind: Climate Change: Facing the Unpleasant Facts:
We have a phrase for those who deny the evidence that the climate is changing, taking us towards what Jim Hansen calls simply 'a different planet.' If we're polite, we call these people 'sceptics.' If we're angry, we call them 'deniers' or 'denialists.'

But we have no phrase for those people who know that the evidence is much worse than has been reported. Should we call them 'Believers?' 'Worriers?' 'Doomsters?'"

Or just...climate scientists?

Does the Federalist Society know what's in the Federalist?

Now that I'm unemployed (more on that later, perhaps) I'm going back to the side project and tidying up all the entries in the hope of putting it out as a self-published book -- yes, like a crazy person.


So here's some of the reading from January 11. It's from Federalist #2:
“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of Government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
Whoa! I guess all politics is just a practical argument: where do we draw the line?

8.22.2009

Self-promo

I have a HuffPo piece up -- "The Obama Administration: A Text-Based Adventure"

UPDATE: Now posted here since it's not on the front page anymore:


It is November 8, 2008. You are in a room with doors to the left and right.

TURN LEFT

You leave the room. It is January 2009. You enter a room containing a sick economy, a printing press, and a small number of Senate Republicans.

PRINT MONEY

How much money?

800 BILLION DOLLARS

The Republicans don't like it.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

"We want some of this money to be tax cuts."

BAD STIMULUS

"We don't care"

PRINT MONEY

"How much money?"

500 BILLION DOLLARS

The economy takes the money and feels a little better. There are doors to the left and right.

TURN RIGHT

You are in a room marked "Financial System." There is another printing press and a bunch of bankers.

TALK TO BANKERS

"That wrecked economy you saw back there? Our bad. Can we have some money anyway?"

PRINT MONEY

What are you going to do with this money?

GIVE TO BANKERS

There are some strings in your Executive Backpack. Do you want to use them?

NO THAT'S FINE

You give the money to the bankers. They spend some of it on hookers and blow and return to the room where the economy is, laughing maniacally. There are two doors to the left and right.

TURN RIGHT

You enter a room marked "Detainees". There is a illegally detained prisoner, some torture implements, the Senate Republicans, and a writ of habeus corpus.

USE WRIT

The Republicans don't like it.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

"It is un-American to use something that Americans fought for."

DROP WRIT

The room now has an illegally detained prisoner, some torture implements, and the Senate Republicans.

MOVE PRISONER TO U.S.

The Republicans don't like it.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

"We are afraid."

KEEP PRISONER THERE

There are doors to the left and right.

TURN RIGHT

You are in a room marked "Health Care Reform." It has a number of policy options and the United States House of Representatives, and the Senate Republicans. Would you like to choose a policy option?

NO

Would you like someone else to choose the policy option?

YES

Who? The United States House of Representatives or the Senate Republicans?

YES

That's not a choice.

I KNOW

The House has chosen anyway. The Republicans aren't happy.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

"You're a terrorist."

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

"You're worse than Hitler."

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

There are people with guns hanging out with the Republicans.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

Who say you're not a legitmate President. They seem mad.

TALK TO REPUBLICANS

There are doors to the left and right. The United States House of Representatives would like you to use the one on the left.

TURN RIGHT

8.21.2009

Take that, skinny dudes!



It's a sandwich with two breaded chicken breasts instead of bread! Memo to China: Forgive our debts or we will sit on you.

Russification

• Brutality, taser-style.

• Squalor, California-style.

Heatup Roundup: Bugs and Bags

The beetles are killing us on land

Plastics are killing us on sea..

One wonders

When the "Jimmy Carter: 30th Anniversary" patcheswill be sewn into the suits of the Obama administration.

Hobbyhorse!

You get to stay, Assembly. For now.

Harold Meyerson rides my very favorite public hobbyhorse this morning -- unicameral state legislatures:
In this spirit of reinvention, then, permit me a few modest queries: Why in the world do we have a two-house Legislature?

What does the state Senate do that the Assembly doesn't, and vice versa? In the name of fostering transparency, ending gridlock, curtailing backroom deals and creating a more responsive government, why doesn't California just abolish the Senate and create a larger Assembly?
Right! It would be one thing if State Senates did something different -- they weren't term-limited, or something. But as it is it's just a duplicate assembly. I think it would help voters, too, if they only had one state legislator to keep track of; it might add stakes to state elections which tend to fly under the radar. And it could happen if we have a constitutional convention in California (or CalConCon)!

O The Newspaper

This is the headline from which Chinatown was ripped!

As I age I find that eating too late in the evening keeps me up at night. So I find myself reading the LA Times...and, as I frequently discover, there's something great about coming across articles in the newspaper that you don't get on the bookmark-ridden, path-dependent internet.

Case in point: this article on clunkers by car columnist (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Dan Neil. Sample:k
On the block was a 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, as wretched and routine a hunk of Detroit iron as ever freighted down an assembly line. Spot-welded together with the craftsmanship one might expect of unsupervised political prisoners, the Monte Carlo -- with a 402-cubic-inch V8 engine and four-barrel carburetor -- was and is a sidewalk-fumigating stink bomb, with no steering or handling to speak of, and brakes that are more rumor than fact.

This particular car was a cut above, with fine black Naugahyde and adhesive-backed wood-grain on the dash. Still, in my college days I could have bought Monte Carlos like this for $500 all day long. At Gooding, the car sold for $60,500. Good Lord. The clunkers of my youth have become classics.
I then thought it was going to be a piece about the cash-for-clunkers program, but instead Neil nominates his future classics, including the Pontiac Aztek for God's sake. Anyway, fun to come across in a way that you just can't get on the net.

Autre Temps, Autres Moeurs


Some LA news guy in the 70s.

8.20.2009

Mont d'Espoir or Mount Despair

Via Yglesias:

Jim Henley is in the grips of despair and I don’t think he even favors universal health care:

I’ve become a pessimist. I think our future is Argentinian: a nation’s elites can have very nice lives for themselves if the commonality is financially secure and healthy, but history shows that a nation’s elites can have very nice lives for themselves even if most people live crabbed, fretful existences. You just need more security guards or, if necessary, paramilitaries. Since the financial crisis of last year, we’ve seen that the FIRE sector will work overtime to redistribute wealth to itself while working overtime to keep from redistributing wealth elsewhere. I think that with the normalization of the filibuster in the Senate, we’ve just about completed a revolution-within-the-form that is a much bigger deal than Barack Obama’s personal failings. The government works perfectly well at ensuring the lifestyles of defense contractors and investment bankers. That is its purpose. America may have one more good bubble in it. Or we may go straight to villas and bodyguards for the comely daughters.

"Don't throw up your hands!" says Yglesias, but he lives in Washington (which is also the capital of Stockholm Syndrome, oddly enough) where everyone has to think that.

(NOTE: the title references this poem by my favorite poet.)