2.28.2006

Heatup Roundup: "Another Dire Warnings and Fascist Tuesday" edition

• Apparently the Guardian has a story entitled "Climate Scientists to issue Dire Warning". You can respond like this or you can respond like that. Or, as the Beastie Boys noted, you can respond with the wiffle ball bat.

• More dire: Greenland is melting far faster than we thought. Take that, Santa Monica!

• Rob McMillin thinks environmentalists are fascists. Unless they're communists. I'm not sure that word means what you think it means.

Climate Audit stops with the statistics long enough to skeptify on Kilimanjaro. It all seems a little nitpicky to me, but what do I know? (Seriously, tell me.) Speaking of, John Fleck amuses hiimself by bringing together Michael Mann and Steve McIntyre, Mr. Hockey and Mr. Anti-Hockey. (Apologies to Gordie Howe, of course.)

• Kevin Vranes reminds us that hydrogen is an energy sink, and compares the airlines to clueless Detroit. Hey, I compare the TV networks to clueless Detroit! I'm already working this side of the street, buddy!

Environmental Economics continues stumping for a gas tax. (Also at Gristmill, but I like EE better.) I go along; if it reduces the numbers of Escalades I can't see around, I definitely go along.

2.27.2006

Knotts

You've probably already seen this, and it's a little arty, but I did want to point out this appreciation of Don Knotts. Sample:

"Mr. Knotts, over and over, was willing to play the desperate, pathetic low-man-on-every-pole. He did it so well — never forsaking his persona and trying to seize the lead, as nearly all major comedians do these days — that his talent for abasement became a source, paradoxically, of great authority. By revealing but never indulging these pretenses, he enlightened everyone he worked with, and his audiences."
I don't know about "enlighten." But there is something unteachable and wise in comedy, I'm convinced, so when it's done well...but to talk about it is anti-comedy.

2.26.2006

Maybe the Opera Encyclopedia is different.

Alex Ross writes:

"It's a strange thing that three of the best opera composers of the moment are Adamo, Adams, and Ades."

But no stranger than Henry Aaron, for a long time the first entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia, having so many of the best records in it.

2.25.2006

Kempton

My dad turned 70, so I had gotten out my copy of Rebellions, Perversities, and Main Events so that I could send him a Xerox of St. Murray's 70th-birthday column, which I remember reading in New York Newsday. But before I put it up, I thought I would quote an extended excerpt from one of my favorite essays of Kempton's, "The Underestimation of Dwight D. Eisenhower":

Dwight Eisenhower was as indifferent as Calvin Coolidge, as absolute as Abraham Lincoln, more contained than John Kennedy, more serpentine than Lyndon Johnson, as hard to work for as Andrew Johnson. Historians seem to accept most of these qualities as necessary for greatness: certainly none of them diminish it. But, then, most are accounted sinister by the great mass of civilians, and to confuse civilians and to keep them off his back is the soldier's art....

The Eisenhower who emerges here
[in his memoirs] intermittently free from his habitual veils is the President most superblyy equipped for truly consequential decision we may have ever had, a mind neither rash nor hesitant, free of the slightest concern for how things might look, indifferent to any sentiment, as calm when he was demonstrating the wisdom of leaving a bad situation alone as when he was moving to meet it on those occasions when he absolutely had to....

The precepts are plain to see:
1. Always pretend to be stupid; then when you have to show yourself smart, the display has the addtional effect of surprise.
2. Taking the blame is a function of servants. When the orange is squeezed, throw it away.
3. When a situation is hopeless, never listen to counsels of hope. Fold the enterprise.
4. Do nothing unless you know exactly what you will do if it turns out to have been the wrong thing. Walk not one inch forward onto ground which has not been painfully tested by someone else.
5. Never forget the conversation you had with Zhukov about how the Russian army clears minefields. "We march through them," Zhukov had said. It is a useful instruction if applied with the proper economy. Keep Nixon and Dulles around for marching through mine fields.
6. Always give an enemy an exit.
7. Never give an ally his head.
8. Assume that your enemies are just as sensible as you are. ("Personally I had always discounted the probability of the Soviets doing anything as 'reaction.' Communists do little on impulse; rather their aggressive moves are invariably the result of deliberate decision.")
9. Lie whenever it seems useful, but stop lying the moment 99 percent of the audience ceases to believe you.
10. Respond onlyy when there is some gain besides honor in meeting the challenge or some serious loss from disregarding it. For example, when Eisenhower was the first candidate for President in memory who indicated that he was unable to pronounce the word "injunction" when discussing the labor problem, I suggested to one of his admirers that he seemed extraordinarily dumb.

"If he's so dumb," was the reply, "why is he such a good bridge player?"

Like all defenses of Dwight Eisenhower it seemed sillly at first; but, with thought one understood its force. Eisenhower spent the twenties as an officer in garrison; his friends were civilians in towns like Leavenworth, Kansas. He learned to play bridge well because his pay did not cover losing money to civilians. He is equipped to respond to any challenge which seems to him sensible.


I think of those precepts a lot, these days. Kempton I miss even more. Here is the concluding graf from the birthday column I sent to my dad:

There are, in truth, kicks everywhere, and I have had all these and never one at my own expense. Most of life's epiphanies arise from its accidents, and it is never so much fun as when it conscripts us as prisoners to the luck of the day. Colette says in "The Vagabond," the bible for all us migratory laborers, that "If Chance ever got Herself called God, I should have been a very good Catholic indeed." And so, too, should I.

2.24.2006

heatup Roundup: British food edition

• Red Ken tries tries to get food into London with less petrol (us Yanks prefer the word "lorry").

Stoat has moved, but informs us that climate scientists are still po'.

• Finally, a letter from Yale dean James Speth (via A Change in the Wind:

"Climate change is the biggest thing to happen here on earth in thousands of years, with incalculable environmental, social and economic costs. But there is no march on Washington; students are not in the streets; consumers are not rejecting destructive lifestyles; Congress is not passing far-reaching legislation; the president is not on television explaining the threat to the country; Exxon is not quaking in its boots; and entire segments of evening news pass without mention of the climate emergency."

Dream Team

I know, we're all supposed to vote for Berube. But I have a soft spot for Anglea Davis just because she's name-checked in this Spearhead song:

he's throwin it in/ to Angela Davis's neighborhood
she's postin up down in the extra hard wood
she grabs the pill/ and then she puts her shoulder down
get out the way/ 'cause she's gonna throw down now
boom /oh my god! I just can't believe it
get anotha backboard or bettah yet leave it.

2.23.2006

Heatup Roundup: Sneak Previews edition

Here's a summary of Al Gore's soon-to-be-documentarized PowerPoint presentation.

• A new blog about how to talk to a global warming skeptic. There are fewer and fewer of these, however, outside of the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (which is not nothing); the next frontier is the Lomborg/Copenhagen Consensus guys, who say the world is warming, big whoop. This post may address that, but I honestly don't understand it.

The local angle

The LA Times needs more articles likethese.

It's not right that I find out so much more about the city I live in from blogs than from the LA Times.

2.22.2006

Speaking out on the issues

I don't know anything about this port deal. But I do know that The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company is a 100% awesome name.

2.16.2006

Heatup Roundup: Clearing the decks edition

I'm away for a long weekend in the Sierras and their diminishing snowpack, so here's some stuff:

• Guess who's to blame for New Orleans. Go ahead. Wrong! It's the victims! Here's the money quote from No se nada:

If we want to reframe Katrina more intelligently we might as well be honest: Katrina's real name is Gambling Addiction. Accepting the risks and rewards before beginning the game, some of us are willing to gamble by living in hazardous areas.
It's a little more subtle than that, but still, stupid people! Trusting the Corps of Engineers! (Having said that, I know that I am, to some extent, culpable when my house collapses during the earthquake I know is coming. But it doesn't let everything else off the hook, as this post seems to imply.)

Roger Pielke Jr. still on the "what is science, what is policy, what is science policy" beat. Overall thrust seems to be that he hates scientists who make a lot of noise and frighten the horses: "And because the issue is so politicized only the most high-minded and responsible scientists will avoid getting caught up in mud slinging. " That, my friends, is a sniff worthy of Margaret Dumont. William Connelly finds this attitude (though not this specific post, as far as I know) "beastly." Whoa, dude! Put down that mud!

Robert Frank (warning: TimesSelect) has a nice piece on why gas taxes would be good all around, and why they won't happen anytime soon. The amen comes from Environmental Economics, free-markety dudes who are not usually aligned with panicky green guys like me.

• For fans of alt-power (you know, with the hipster glasses and the old Yo La Tengo posters), some news here, here, and here. I'm glad I'm not a scientist so I don't have to assess the validity of these things!

• Oh, and Greenland's melting. Decent summary here. Kevin Drum is worried about it. Very few of my fellow-travellers on the leftish-moderate-what have you side are, however. This surprises me, yet does not delight.

I'll see y'all when I'm back at sea level.

2.15.2006

Hiltzik again

I'm quoting this almost in full in the manner of Brad DeLong:Golden State: Who Owns Your CD/DVD Collection? A Follow-Up:

"Back in December, I wrote a column and posted an alert about the efforts of big media companies to tighten the rules on fair use of purchased entertainment, all in the ostensible name of combating piracy.

The evil is getting deeper. The ever-vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation has vacuumed up a recent regulatory filing by the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several other media industry lobbies complaining about the now-common practice of transferring your purchased CDs to your iPod (or any other mp3 player). The filing states that they've never conidered this behavior to be permitted under fair use; the implication, as noted by the EFF, is that they wish to reserve the right to outlaw it.

A close reading of the document reveals that the industry isn't any happier about its customers' making back-up copies of their CDs, DVDs, or books for private purposes. What about preserving purchased content against the chance that the original disc or book might get damaged, or for the convenience of traveling light? These uses are not 'compelling,' the moguls say, and shouldn't be afforded a blanket permission. (See the filing page 39.) This despite the fact that making back-up copies of material for personal consumption has always been treated as a fair use in the past.

The filing, by the way, was made in connection with a rulemaking procedure at the U.S. Copyright Office under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It's apparent that this DMCA rulemaking is going to afford industry plenty of opportunities for mischief, and should be watched closely.

Heatup Roundup: The day the oil died edition

We passed peak oil two months ago. Do you hang the flags out?

RealClimate debunks a skeptic, but respectfully. I also missed this post giving us hope that we can avoid 2C warming if we act fast about CO2. Am I only dubious because I haven't had my coffee?

What's the big deal about 2C anyway?

• Besides, maybe CO2 is the onlyy problem we have.

• John Quiggin tries to debunk the careerism argument, that scientists are working the climate change angle in a Geraldolike manner.

Save gas, fart in a jar. Hey, I just report!

Bad blogger!

I'm working on clearing out some Heatup Roundup but blogger took forever to load so it will have to wait, I hope, till this evening.

2.12.2006

Cheney's addiction

I hope I am not the only one who is reminded of this re: Cheney's shooting accident:

"But you can't mean--" gasped Rainsford.

"And why not?"

"I can't believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke."

"Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting."

"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."

The general laughed with entire good nature. He regarded Rainsford quizzically. "I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life. Surely your experiences in the war--"

"Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.

Laughter shook the general. "How extraordinarily droll you are!" he said. "One does not expect nowadays to find a young man of the educated class, even in America, with such a naive, and, if I may say so, mid-Victorian point of view. It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine. Ah, well, doubtless you had Puritan ancestors. So many Americans appear to have had. I'll wager you'll forget your notions when you go hunting with me. You've a genuine new thrill in store for you, Mr. Rainsford."

"Thank you, I'm a hunter, not a murderer."

"Dear me," said the general, quite unruffled, "again that unpleasant word. But I think I can show you that your scruples are quite ill founded."


Heatup Roundup: You Give Hockey A Bad Name Edition

John Fleck and William Connolley are both sick of the Hockey Stick debate (where the temperature graph suddenly jerks upward right around our time). "It's just not as important as people think it is," says the Stoatster. The polar bears agree. Me, I just don't like hockey, known around the world as "the beautiful game," used in this fashion.

• Number of posts over to Promethus over whether the goverment has the right to shut Hansen the fuck up (note: not a quote). Why doesn't Hansen resign? Don't comment here -- I'm not that interested.

• Via Kit Stolz, Malcolm Gladwell weighs in on getting rid of the most dirty cars, and why we should be doing more of it. I think this will become a bigger deal as we get more serious about emissions, probably around the time when a hurricane hits Philadelphia or something.

UPDATE: Surprising non-technical post at RealClimate on James "You Killed Gaia! You bastard!" Lovelock's bad mood. Sample quote:

We should be very clear. No one, not Lovelock or anyone else, has proposed a specific, quantitative scenario for a climate-driven, all out, blow the doors off, civilization ending catastrophe. Mr. Lovelock has a feeling in his gut that something terrible is going to happen. He could be right, but for what it's worth, there aren't any models that explode as catastrophically as this. We can never say that it's impossible that something might fall out of balance, something we haven't thought of. But I think in general the consensus gut feeling among small-minded working scientists like me is that the odds of such a catastrophe are low.

Low odds of catastrophe does not imply negligible. Nordhaus [2001] considered the possibility of catastrophe in his analysis of the economics of climate change. He defined catastrophe as comparable to the Great Depression, a 25% decrease in global economic activity that lasts for a long time. The probability of such an event he estimated by polling the gut instincts of a group of climate scientists; for what it's worth, they came up with probabilities of a few percent.

2.10.2006

BLDGBLOG

A kind of cool arty architectural website. I got it via this post at LA Observed.

Heatup Roundup: Don't Worry About The Tipping Point Edition

Independent Online Edition > The Independent says that we can't stop a massive rise in temperature. We're record breakers, guys!

• You can't get more un-PC than bottled water. (Via Environmental Economics Maybe bottled water with ice?

Post in the manner of an observational comic

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

"Hardtack," maybe. Or maybe "ale."

2.09.2006

We're coming for you, Justin Timberlake!

According for Alex Ross, classical music accounts for 12 percent of iTunes sales. And that's with that department being incredibly poorly organized! (Although it looks nice.)

Already we're doing better than Counting Crows.

2.08.2006

More special

Can't post as it's tax time. But I will share this -- in the room we were talking about vague exec notes, like "It needs to be more special." "How do I make it more special?" the writer in question asked. No idea.

Other vague exec notes include "I just need to care more," or "Dig deeper" (which we writers take to mean, "Put in more backstory"). Some execs know enough to realize the general is only found in the specific, so even if you disagree at least you both know that they think it goes off the rails on page 26. But there's an alarming number of "make it more yellow" type notes at this time of year.

What you never get -- and I mean never get -- is the note of "I think this could be funnier." I admit that I'm on the radical fringe of we-could-learn-some-lessons-from-Green-Acres, but it seems like at least sometimes they should say, "You have permission to be sillier."

I take it back, actually. I have gotten the note of, "There's more fun to be had." "Where?" I replied. Again, they didn't know.

2.07.2006

Heatup Roundup: Yes! More Spiteful Bush Funding Cutoffs Edition

• Pielke Sr. preaching about the many uncertainties in modeling the climate of the future (which I think was an exhibit in the old Tomorrowland). So why are we making these goals for our emissions if we don't know that it will do any, or enough, good? John Fleck replies:

"The short answer is that we make decisions all the time, large and small, in the face of uncertainty. We do it based on our understanding of the uncertainties, which we hope scientists have done a good job explaining to us. And we do it based on other values and considerations. The science can help us here, but it’s not the only input into the process."


Kit Stolz is a busy bee. Highlights include a spiteful Bush funding cutoff in Oregon, and an acknowledgement that Santa Ana winds, the wildfires they cause, and the weird creepy apocalyptic light therefrom, have now become a fall-winter phenomenon, not just a feature of late fall.

• Alternative Energy Blog gives a shout out to the top ten green utilities. My own LADWP is seven, because of its Green Power program. The surcharge is not that much, guys!

INSTA-UPDATE Tony Blair says we have seven years to save the planet. I don't know if it's seven years from when he said it or seven years from right now. You get the idea. Also, he says it's still OK to fly -- we'll save the planet some other way!

A Renata Adler quote that keeps popping into my head

"Sanity is the most profound moral option of our time"

Also, "Renata" sounds like a good name for a model of car. The Nissan Renata. "Adler," not so much.

White-Collar Hockey

I love this (LA Times):

'We have a lot of hard-working guys on this team,' said Cullen [of the Carolina Hurricanes], who has a career-high 20 goals. 'This is a blue-collar area. The fans appreciate that.'
When O when will someone say, "We don't like to go get the puck, we want it to be served to us, and our white-collar, upper-crust fans appreciate that."

Or, "We get the point of digging in the corners, but we're frankly too high to be bothered, and our stoner fans can really relate."

Or, "This is a blue-collar town, and so when all the players were laid off and replaced with less-skilled Chinese prison laborers, they really responded to it."

2.06.2006

Weird and apocalyptic and evil light

It doesn't do it full justice, but this Flickr image, via LA Observed, gives you an idea how the wildfire cloud gave the LA an eerie, end-of-the-world quality that has been so often remarked upon as one of our best features.

And the wildfires a couple of years ago, with the sun a red ball in the sky all day -- that was really something. It's both scary and carpe diem at the same time.

This is truly a golden age

No link, because I'm writing on my cell while waiting for my car to get finished, but do enjoy Hiltzik's column (latimes.com/goldenstateblog) about Blue Cross. Its parent company enjoyed record profit while raising premiums. Ladies and gentlemen, your capitalist system!

2.04.2006

Good News! Apple is evil

Nocera (TimesSelect, alas):

"'Apple has been willing to alienate a certain percentage of its customer base forever,' said Chip Gliedman, a vice president with Forrester Research, the technology research firm. Why? Because Apple is an extraordinarily arrogant company. 'Apple thinks it is special,' is how Mr. Gliedman put it.

At this particular moment, of course, Apple is special, and it can get away with being arrogant. It has a product that everyone wants, and for which there is no serious competition.

But it seems to me that Apple is on a dangerous course. Yes, it has strong incentives to minimize tech support, but to say 'Not Our Problem' whenever an iPod dies is to run the serious risk of losing its customers' loyalty. "

I love Apples; the first computer I bought was a PowerBook when Apple was at its absolute nadir. That said I never got the messianic quality of Apple lovers -- can't the see that it is a company like other companies?

The same skepticism also applies to Barack Obama.

2.03.2006

What ought to be the next cool showbiz trend, but won't.


Masonic lodges. It could be the new Kabbala!

2.02.2006

Preach, brother

From Joe Flint's TV column in the WSJ (sub only):

"Mr. McPherson seems quick to blame the producers involved in 'Emily,' but what about his own network? These days, most producers don't have the latitude to cast even benign parts or make minor tweaks to scripts without network approval. If Mr. McPherson were truly surprised by the creative issues, then ABC's own programming team also fell down on the job by not realizing how dire the situation had become."


Emphasis added to make one point -- how you have to run all your casting by the network. I had a (even more) veteran writer complain that, in the old days, the network only wanted approval of your leads, but your side characters were your choice. This makes perfect sense to me because your leads are the face of the show and the network has a stake in it, but your other characters are mostly there for funny and you, as the writer in charge of generating funny, should know best who will deliver it for you. But now you don't get that choice. What this leads to almost invariably is that the hotter less-funny woman gets chosen over the funnier less-hot woman. And hot less-funny is what comedy is all about!

2.01.2006

Save the 76 meatball!

Union 76 is getting rid of its balls, or more precisely ConocoPhillips is getting rid of them. When I moved to LA I loved seeing them -- the same 76 ball you could see in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, right there on Beechwood and Franklin! And Dodger Stadium, too, of course.

First 3-buck-a-gallon gas, now this. (Via Franklin Avenue)

Equal Opportunity Offender?

Since my man Hiltzik likes a flak war with his commenters, I wonder what they'll make of this column harshing on Rob Reiner and his bad-goo initiative. (He swerves the car to hit the stem cell initiative standing on the sidewalk too.)

Reiner, of course, already has an initiative win, having gotten a cigarette tax passed. I remember at the time I told a chain-smoking leftie friend of mine that he should run in a primary against Waxman: he'd be just as liberal, plus he'd get all that tobacco campaign contributions. No one listens to me, alas.

Heatup Roundup: Early Morning Edition

• RealClimate says there's a cat in the oven. (Even if we turn down the oven, it's going to stay hot, y'see. Why we're all a cat I don't know.)

• Awesome primer on carbon at The Oil Drum, part one of a series. Recommended. Some scary/depressing comments, too. (Via Backseat Driving.)

• Those oil sands are getting burnt, one way or another.