Black Friday Deal?

The National Climate Assessment—which is endorsed by nasa, noaa, the Department of Defense, and 10 other federal scientific agencies—contradicts nearly every position taken on the issue by President Donald Trump. 

The report is blunt: Climate change is happening now, and humans are causing it. “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” declares its first sentence. “The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid.”

The Atlantic – A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday

Hat/Tip to Eric Buck.

Your Dog Loves You

Short Wave – Does Your Dog REALLY Love You? – December 2, 2019

Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You by Clive Wynne

I avoid using the L-word in my scientific writing. We talk about exceptional gregariousness. We talk about hypersociability. When we’re doing science, we have to find terms that can be operationalized, or things that can be measured. We can measure whether a dog chooses to go for a bowl of food or its owner when it’s separated from both food and its owner for many hours. We can measure how hormonal levels go up in both dogs and their owners when they look into each other’s eyes.

Clive Wynne Washington Post Interview

OK Boomer

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, sky is sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, monopoly
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Ten Years After

I ran across the retort OK Boomer in a podcast once. I’ve since forgotten which one it was. I’d never heard it applied to anyone until Jim confessed to his cardinal sin on Facebook. It fits perfectly. Sadly, it fits all too well when describing our current state of affairs and the despicable hand-waving that the I’ve got mine, get yours set engages in almost daily. Hand-waving designed to deflect any attachment of fault to their ill-gotten gains. I’ve done the best that I can to make the world a better place over my lifetime, and that time ain’t over yet. It ain’t over for the Boomers as a group, either. All they have to do is stand up and be the best people they can be, rather than allow the narcissists and their defenders to be the voice of their generation. If we leave it up to the millennials to fix our shit, we deserve to be disrespected with the phrase OK Boomer.

Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World

You want respect from the next generation? Well, then you should have left the planet in better shape than you found it. Simple as that. And we didn’t.

Stonekettle Station

I, of course, was accosted with OK Boomer as a response to this. Too bad I’m not a Boomer.

Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained

Generational cohorts are defined (loosely) by birth year as the article goes into in depth. One might think that because my birth year is before 1964 that I would be considered a boomer. The Wife, who was born a few months after me, identifies as a boomer. I’m not a Boomer in any sense of the term other than birth year. I am Generation X. Solidly Generation X.

How is that? Like so many things boomers (and other average humans) believe, generational cohorts is just another thing that they have wrong, if they think that what makes up a generation is absolutely defined by the year of birth. The reason why you can’t set years and dates to separate generations is because the influences that make up the generation vary from household to household and from town to farm to city. I was the child of parents born after the start of World War II. My parents were born during the war, making them both too young to be boomers but too old to be counted as part of the Greatest Generation. I was the elder of a large family, all younger than me, so their influences were largely my influences.

The Wife was the only child of parents who fought in World War II. Her parents were of the Greatest Generation. She is a Boomer in every sense of the word, in every way the Boomer cohort is measured. Her parents stayed married, my parents divorced. Etcetera, etc, etc. You can go down the list. Everything aside from year of birth makes me a member of Generation X. I really don’t like Boomers, aside from the Wife and other RL friends. Too many self-important assholes in that group.

…aside from which, I own an electric car, I compost and recycle, and I’ve been recycling since the 70’s. I’m poor and I admit it. The OK Boomer retort does not apply to me. But thanks for thinking of me anyway.

Oxidane

The IUPAC name for water is, actually, water. The alternative name is oxidane. The name oxidane is only used in chemistry as the mononuclear parent hydride to name derivatives of water.

Thoughtco

Personally I prefer hydroxide myself. Dihydrogen monoxide is just too much of a mouthful. If you have a phobia for chemicals, think to yourself every time you have a glass of water “this is some tasty oxidane.” You’ll eventually quit gagging when you do it.

News Addiction

If you are depressed stop wallowing in the outrage culture. Think happy thoughts, you’ll feel better.

That was the gist of the suggestion offered to a friend who posted the image featured in yesterday’s article Depression. As if depression is something you can turn off, like a switch. It isn’t like that.

I do follow the news closely these days, as does my friend. I was a news hound for decades before Meniere’s took my joie de vivre. I was active in the Travis County Libertarian Party, taking a hands-on role in as much local politics as I could handle while still holding down a full-time architecture job. I listened to news and radio talk shows constantly while working on whatever architecture project was in front of me that day so as to keep informed of whatever the current trends were. It was crucial to know what was happening if you wanted to have a hand in changing it. I switched to podcasts for my news well before most other people even knew that podcasts existed. I read newspapers and news sites. I immersed myself in the political realities of Austin, of Texas, of the United States, and did my best to be the positive change that I thought the world needed. Just as every good citizen of the world should do.

But then I got sick, and I didn’t get better. I didn’t have a livelihood any longer and I couldn’t look forward to finding one again, probably ever. The constant stream of information about what was going on in the world became a distraction from what it was that I needed to deal with. The barrage of things that I couldn’t change externally just drove home how helpless I was to even be able to alter what was happening in my own body.

That was what was important. Figuring out what was wrong with me. Finding ways to cope with the new reality of my disabilities. I didn’t have time to spend on informing myself about things that weren’t directly impacting my health until I found a way to stabilize my own internal situation.

So I quit the news.

I quit listening in 2006-ish. I just quit, cold turkey. I’m not saying that I didn’t know what was happening in the world, I simply quit seeking out that information. There is no way to stay completely uninformed (a perfect idiot) so long as there are people who tell you things they think you want to hear. But I put science, medical and skeptical podcasts at the top of my queue starting at about that time and stopped even listening to news feeds that didn’t include other information that I might personally find useful.

I only started back listening to the news directly, for news content, when all the hatred for Barack Obama made me decide to find out what all the fuss was about. That was when I realized that the news culture had split into two camps that couldn’t even agree on basic facts. While I hadn’t been paying attention, FOX had lead conservatives and Republicans down a dark alley that lead to a thousand foot cliff and then expected all those lemmings following them to walk off the cliff in blind subservience.

In determining what the facts were I came to realize just how poor my understanding of the world was prior to that point, and just how poorly the average American, the average human, understands anything that isn’t forced into their stream of consciousness. I stopped seeing Rachel Maddow as someone who brought up questionable narratives about accepted truths and instead saw her as the accomplished storyteller that the current crop of news consumers clearly see her as today.

However, It’s going to take an American version of the Extinction Rebellion protests that have been taking place in London and New York to also take place in everytown, USA to wake the average FOX news watcher up to the requirement that we do something about climate change. I’m not even certain that anything short of re-education will make them understand just how scandalous their behavior and the behavior of their leaders are.

The Extinction Rebellion Returns | Jonathan Pie | 9 October 2019

But I remain hopeful, for the time being.

After all, the Wife was telling me “they won’t impeach Trump” just two weeks ago. Now Rachel Maddow has said it is a foregone conclusion that they will impeach him. I have to agree with Rachel. I don’t see any way for them to not impeach him given the crimes he has committed that we know of, to say nothing of the crimes we suspect him of but still don’t have the proof to convict him of. The sticking point remains the Senate and Trump’s co-conspirator, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

I’m reserving judgement until after the power hand-off that should occur in 2020-2021, impeachment or no impeachment. We’ll see just how bad things really are at that point. To draw this circular argument to a close and tie it in with the title, I quit listening to the news precisely because I felt that my health was suffering from spending so much time obsessing about what was going on in the world and what the proper solution to the problems were. I’m glad I stopped paying attention then. The solutions that I would have embraced back then are completely different than the ones I would embrace today. 180 degrees different.

So I improved my health by breaking the news addiction. I’ll break it again if I feel that following the news is negatively impacting my health. So long as the authoritarians that back the Orange Hate-Monkey lose power, I’m pretty sanguine with whatever else happens along with it. Which means, my depression isn’t based on my news consumption. But I do appreciate the suggestion.

Wildly expanded from Facebook comments.

Hope?

Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can “solve the climate crisis.” But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. And why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts in the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society. Some people say that Sweden is just a small country, and that it doesn’t matter what we do, but I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not coming to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could all do together if you wanted to.

Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg|TEDxStockholm – The disarming case to act right now on climate change

Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been ”normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things – like just sitting down outside the parliament – speaks much louder than doing things. Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting.

Greta Thunberg

Perspective

George Bush got a pass from history that I will never understand. He starts a war for a completely fictionalized reason, which results in hundreds of thousands of people dying, and an entire generation of war vets coming home, damaged for the rest of their lives, and you can see them on the streets. Why are they on the streets? Because George Bush started a war for no reason. Right? And then not to mention the devastation that is left over in Iraq because we started a war for no reason. Right?

…And somehow this doesn’t matter and we’re obsessing about Trump’s tweets when there is a guy in Texas…

(Larry Wilmore: You know who was against that war? Your boy Trump.)

I don’t think Trump is nearly as egregious as George Bush. I don’t think it’s even close. He started a war on the basis of a lie. A complete falsehood which he told to the American people that had nothing to do with 9-11. Which devastated tens of thousands of lives, cost a trillion dollars, and left a generation of American soldiers devastated and wounded and somehow he’s perceived as this genial guy down in Texas painting pictures and giving speeches.

What is the matter with us? There is nothing Donald Trump has done that has come even close to the human devastation of George Bush’s time. Not even close. Not even close. I mean, Trump is a deeply objectionable figure, but he has not resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people for no reason.

George Bush is a war criminal. That is what a war criminal is. Someone who enters into a disastrous conflict for no good reason. For worse than no good reason. For a completely trumped up, ridiculous reason. The choice of things that Americans get riled up about has always amazed me.

Malcolm Gladwell

Something I’ve pointed out a few dozen times myself. As much as Trump is an active threat to the proper functioning of the United States, and a fraudster that is duping us of millions of dollars for every day he is in office, he hasn’t yet descended to the level of war criminal that Bush, Cheney, et al occupy.

The Orange Hate-Monkey hasn’t gone that far down the scale of evil yet. Yet. The back and forth occurs at 40:45 in this episode of Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air.

Malcolm Gladwell on ‘Talking to Strangers’ (Live) | Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air

I also took the time to listen to It’s Been a Minute With Sam Sanders,  Best-Selling Author Malcolm Gladwell On ‘Talking To Strangers’: A Live Conversation. Both podcasts were worth the time, and you gain an insight into the personality of Sandra Bland that isn’t available anywhere else unless you just happened to run across her Youtube channel yourself, as well as why every time you call a racist a racist you are in some small way handing a victory to institutional racism.


It is worth noting that not prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al for their war crimes leads directly to Donald Trump becoming president. Which means that in some small part, Barack Obama is to blame for the predicament that we find ourselves in today. George W. Bush was not prosecuted for war crimes because the Obama justice department chose not to make a case of the conspiracies and lies that lead us into war in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost, the foundation of DAESH (what the media in the US calls the Islamic State) hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives lost, thousands of American lives lost, more than a hundred thousand injured and disabled US veterans, trillions of dollars wasted. George Bush and his administration get a pass for all of that when all of that sprang directly from the lie that Iraq was somehow involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. President Obama gave him that pass.

Had George Bush been prosecuted. Had the known crimes against humanity committed by the Bush administration been subjected to inquiry, justice and restitution, the Republican party would not have felt that they were still in the right when it comes to their delusions about foreign policy. Their delusions about christianity. The place of the US government as part of a whole world which requires governance. Requires justice.

They would have known that their beliefs were based on lies because the criminal proceedings would have made the truth of this blatantly clear. Whether they agreed with the verdicts or not, in the end, the trial of George W. Bush for war crimes would have altered the trajectory of the Republican party if not resulted in its destruction and reformation as a viable opposing party to the Democrats.

Instead we let George Bush off the hook. And what we got for letting him off the hook was transparently racist hatred of Barack Obama and an unrepentant Republican party willing to sacrifice everything on one last chance to get their beliefs enshrined as public policy, even if that meant they had to destroy everything they pretended to hold dear in the process.

What we got for our inaction on the crimes of the Bush administration was civil war in Syria and unrest across the entire region that we refer to as the Middle East. How many millions of lives will be negatively impacted by our unwillingness to get involved in the Syrian civil war?

Morning Edition – Survivor Of Torture In Syria’s Prisons Is Telling His Story

Climate change is a portion of the reason why Syria descended into civil war. Civil war is always more complex than any one group involved in the civil war ever wants to admit. An extended drought in the region lead to crop failures and the migration of the starving farmers into cities and towns where they demanded aid and assistance from the Assad government. Instead of responding with aid, Bashar al Assad imprisoned these protestors and forced the dissident groups within his country to ally with outside forces in order to topple his government. Topple his government so that the poor in his country could be given the assistance that they needed to weather the crisis brought on by climate change.

The conservatives here in the US deny that climate change is real, and they further deny that we have any reason to think that the human tragedies occurring in Syria and elsewhere around the world are our responsibility. All while we pump out more carbon dioxide than any other country as technically advanced as our own.

How many millions of people, if not billions of people, will suffer and possibly die because of the denialism that we allow to fester in our country, when it comes to climate change? Why do we allow these people who deny science to lead our country? Why do we think that they have a right to believe things which are demonstrably not true? Will flat earthers be given a seat at the leadership table next?

Morning Edition – We Are On The Front Line Of Climate Change, Marshall Islands President Says

That is perspective. Study it closely.

The Folly of Prometheus

This scheme of combustion to get power makes me sick to think of — it is so wasteful. Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy. Do we use them? Oh, no; we burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property.

Thomas Alva Edison (via Wikiquote)

A hat/tip is due to the On The Media episode Too Hot For School and their contributor Leah Stokes for bringing this quote to my attention. It is truly prophetic, his vision of what science could do for us if we simply applied ourselves to the problem of providing energy for ourselves.

On the Media – On The Many Gulfs In Climate Coverage – September 20, 2019

Outside Was Death

This is the intro to a work I’d love to finish some day. I’d love to finish it before the dark future it predicts comes true.


We had Denver. For awhile anyway, we had Denver. Then a particularly bad stormfront passed over the rockies dragging the Earth-bound poison with it, and after that the Denver radio station that we had looked to as the last hope for humanity went silent.

There were plenty of survivors at first, don’t get me wrong. Submarines at sea, for example. Stealthy death machines that were suddenly without purpose or much hope for long-term survival. Their mission to rain death upon an enemy successful without their having to kill a single person directly. Mission accomplished. They were among the last to go. Those nuclear fueled, hermetically sealed pressure vessels were perfect for long-term survival, except for one thing. No way to re-supply without opening the hatches and suffocating with the rest of humanity.

A few of them teamed up. They linked their death machines together in the hope of maintaining life-sustaining atmosphere for long enough for the outside to be livable again, but that just meant they took longer to starve to death. In the end, you can’t live on fungus scraped from the damp walls of a submarine. Not for long, anyway.

Before the last of them went silent, we lost the crew on the orbiting platform. The not-quite-ready for primetime gateway to space. The hopefully self-sustaining first effort at off-world colonization brought to a halt before it even had a chance to fail, the beam-jacks suffocating in their orbiting barracks after the air scrubbers failed. Those were particularly ugly deaths to witness.

Ugly deaths, compared to the vast majority of human beings on the planet surface. Most of them simply lost consciousness and suffocated in their sleep. How I envy them. They didn’t have to face the knowledge that humankind had committed willful suicide. As surely as the redneck who said “hold my beer” and “watch this” knew that he could do the impossible, humanity continued to poison the mother that gave birth to them, always thinking that they had one more year. One more month. One more day. To enjoy that latte. Hamburgers in discardable wrappers. Sweet, sweet sodas in plastic bottles. Disposable diapers.

How I envy the unknowing dead.

It happened suddenly, if suddenly means that glaciers moved at lightspeed. I mean, we knew it would happen eventually, we’d been told about it for decades. But it didn’t matter enough to the average person. It wasn’t going to happen tomorrow. It was going to be hard to change everyone’s habits. It was going to cost a lot of people their jobs, as if jobs were the most important thing about life on Earth.

So we ignored the warnings. We pretended that there was an all-powerful god who would make sure we didn’t destroy ourselves, as if the stories about him hadn’t included cautionary tales about him nearly destroying us all himself in a fit of pique. We ignored the truism “god helps them that helps themselves” and went on feeding poison into the systems that sustained us, pretending that the red warning lights and klaxons weren’t raising hell all around us. Hottest years on record. Raging wildfires that burned entire states to the ground. Storms of a size and speed that we had never seen before.

Miami had to be vacated, as did Houston. New Orleans was already a lake by then. Venice’s great experiment with sea walls had already failed, and the seas had reclaimed the areas of the Netherlands that had so carefully been pulled from the sea in the first place. China’s attempts to build new islands in the South Pacific? Laughingly thwarted by the oceans that gobbled them right back up. The Indian ocean now covering a lot of low-land india and where the Amazon rainforests had been before they were burned off was now several feet underwater. The vast oceans had gotten even more vast, but sadly no less acidic.

I wonder if the transplants from Miami who were handed bottles of disposable water to refresh themselves with refused to accept the water, insisted on drinking straight from a fountain? Did any of them make the connection between death and plastic? I don’t remember any stories like that, but then there were a lot of stories and not much time to see them all, there at the end. When that last coral reef died. When the krill ran out and the whales starved to death. When the great encircling ocean was returned to its most primitive primordial inhabitants, and their waste by-products rose up out of the oceans and engulfed the land.

What was it like to be on the beach that day? I don’t have to wonder what it’s like today because I have that feed on 24/7 now. No birds, no animals of any kind visible today. But what was it like on the day, the day that being outside was a death sentence? Could you smell the rotten egg smell before the poison killed you? Did you notice the birds falling out of the sky, squirrels out of the trees, before you yourself lost consciousness?

I tend toward the maudlin. I used to wonder what the eyes in a severed head recorded as it flipped lazily through the air on its way to landing on solid ground. Decapitation humor. The truth is far less entertaining than the fiction. The truth is that the loss of fluidic pressure in the head causes consciousness to cease in the brain. There is no thought after the neck is severed. There is just blissful death. No more rigid procedure to follow. No more same-old, same-old protein packs to consume.

The video feed I watch most frequently has a bench in the foreground. In the early days there was a man’s head visible there, as if he was still watching the waves lapping the eerily familiar beach. His head blew out of screen a few weeks ago, either severed from the rest of his body, or the whole thing slumped over, it would be hard to tell without going out there to look, and we can’t go outside the habitat. Outside is death.

Grandmother

I had the weirdest dream last night. When I’m having dizzy spells like I’ve been having all summer, I tend to have really strange dreams, and this one was a doozy.

I was in my maternal grandmother’s house. It was exactly how I remembered it. The lime green living room walls. The floral patterned couches that I used to lay on and trace the patterns with my fingers. When I looked up I noticed that grandmother was crying. I asked her what was wrong? Why was she so upset.

“I’m sorry Tony. We left you a world that was so broken and we never knew how badly we had broken it.”

I tried to comfort her. I got her to sit down and I hugged her. But I was only a small boy and so my arms wouldn’t go around her. I couldn’t reach her shoulder to rub it consolingly. I’m thinking to myself “why is she so huge? I’m not a child anymore.” and then I woke up. weird dream.

I’d like to think I won’t owe my children an apology for the world we leave them. Hope springs eternal.