June 04, 2011

Luck and life — Roger Staubach

First, an explainer.

By luck, I mean nothing other than random chance. I'm not talking about an allegedly metaphysical element.

Anyway, what prompted this?

I just got done reading a (cheap knockout) bio of Roger Staubach.

I had forgotten both the Kansas City Chiefs AND the Dallas Cowboys drafted him as a "futures" player, similar to the Boston Celtics with Larry Bird.

Cowboys took him in the 10th round, the Chiefs in the 15th of the AFL draft.

That said, late in his senior year at the Naval Academy, the Chiefs first approached him with the idea of signing a player services contract during the years he was still in the Navy.

He said he'd have to talk to Navy officials, to make sure it wasn't unethical or illegal. They said it was OK, and word got back to Dallas. Gil Brandt then offered a similar contract at better money.

Roger said he didn't want a bidding war, and, looking at the NFL as more glamorous, accepted.

OK, forward to 1969. Roger gets big break No. 1 when Don Meredith retires from the Cowboys. That's part of a luck two-parter. He could have been in Kansas City watching Len Dawson start to burnish his credentials for the Hall of Fame by leading the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl IV Roger's rookie season.

Or, he could have been in Dallas with an nonretired Dandy Don perhaps taking Dallas into that Super Bowl as well, with a slightly more mellowed Tom Landry at the helm.

So, remember, luck plays a big, big role in life.

(And, no, no posts here telling me that God wanted Staubach where he wound up, and as a heroic starter for the Cowboys.)

June 03, 2011

Obama: Next George H.W. Bush?

I and many another pundit has pointed out the parallels between the presidencies of Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, but Salon's Andrew Leonard suggests parallels with Bush 41, as well as suggesting the White House is thinking along the same lines, or should be.

#Kevorkian - my semi-personal connections

With the news that Jack Kevorkian, the "Dr. Death" assisted suicide proponent, is dead at 83, I offer a moment of reflection on two semi-personal connections to him.

First, in the middle 1990s, I had a year of adjunct college teaching work in Flint, Mich. The place was Baker College, which had a division called "corporate services" devoted to adult college education, primarily to UAW workers using union benefits to try to get a degree before the next round of Big Three layoffs.

Well, partly due to my divinity degree, one class I was teaching was a class on issues in death and dying - religious, philosophical, medical, legal and psychological/sociological.

And, it just so happened that Kevorkian's first trial for assisted suicide was during this time, which made for an easy class assignment.

Students were told they were a "jury," and they had to clip at least one newspaper article (hey, it was 1993!) and paste it into a diary, along with at least one journal entry per week. At either the last week of class, or the week his trial wrapped up, they'd vote, like the real jury, on his fate.

From relatively conservative Catholics on to farther "left" on the religion scale, he was unanimously acquitted.

As I was in the process of moving beyond the religious beliefs with which I had been raised, the course was interesting and challenging for me, too.

Second connection?

At around the same time, I had an interview for a job in Los Angeles.

On my plane flight west? Kevorkian's mouthpiece, Geoffrey Fieger, who had not yet hit the level of total outrageousness that he did later on, as his Wiki page documents.

Despite his ever-growing ego level since the start of the Kevorkian saga, I don't doubt Fieger will indeed shed tears.



That said, I left him be in peace on the flight; the class was done, and there was no other reason to disturb his space.

Many people still ask "why" as to Kevorkian doing it. I think part of it was genuine concern. Part of it was, though, psychological issues on his part, some of them related to his Armenian background and his feeling, already then, that the Ottoman Empire's genocide of Armenians hadn't gotten due recognition.

As for those larger issues, though? William Saletan gets it about right. Kevorkian did bring this out from the shadows, but, he was lax at truly looking at his patients' needs and the best way to help them, and he overall wasn't the best "role model" for the movement of assisted suicide rights.

But, he was raising the right questions and issues:
Assisted suicide, it turns out, is a lot like abortion. No government can stop it—I would have risked jail to get the pills if necessary—and efforts to enforce its prohibition only make it less careful and humane. But, like the right to abortion, it can be abused. People want to die for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it's agony. Sometimes it's boredom. Sometimes it's fear. Maybe your mother needs a lethal prescription. Maybe she needs antidepressants. Maybe you just need to hold her hand.

Kevorkian didn't have the answers. But he raised the right questions. We can't criticize his flaws, temper his ideas, and praise the hospice movement without acknowledging what he did. He forced an open conversation about the right to take your own life. Under what conditions, and within what limits, should that right be exercised? Even if it's legal, is it moral? What do you do when a loved one wants to die? Kevorkian didn't take those questions with him. He has left them to us.
Eighteen years ago, the "good Catholics" and others in my death and dying class largely agreed.

(Sidebar; whenever I look at the Washington Post op-ed page, or glance at Faux News, I actually think Charles Krauthammer is "Dr. Death."

Ed Brayton does a solid half-job on American exceptionalism

Ed Brayton uses one of Sarah Palin's latest bits of nuttery to tackle American exceptionalism.

Unfortunately, he ONLY looks at right-wingers' attachment to this, rather than noting that many, many, many a "liberal" also believes that American is inherently special, often for religious reasons, just like many on the right, but sometimes for other reasons.

(And, the religious reasons don't always include orthodox Christianity, either.)

June 02, 2011

E coli outbreak would be legal in U.S.

To be specific, the E coli variant that's killed 17 Europeans and counting, would be legal here, in part because the Food and Drug Administration doesn't require produce testing and in part because we don't test for but a few strains of E coli in the foodstuffs we do taste.

But, then again, if you believe evolution doesn't exist, or you believe it's a waste of time to fund health preventativeness measures, it doesn't matter, does it?

#MichaelLind, liar on #PeakOil and #globalwarming

First, Salon columnist Michael Lind came off sounding like Daniel Yergin, or Julian Simon, Michael Shermer and other cornucopians, claiming there is no such thing as Peak Oil.

In part of the column, he also pooh-poohed the seriousness of global warming.

His colleague at Salon, Andrew Leonard, called him out for these and other issues.

And now Lind has written a non-rebuttal "rebuttal."

It's a non-rebuttal because it starts out by claiming that Leonard has called him a "global warming denialist." And, Michael you put that phrase in quotes, in the header, implying (or so I infer) that you think Leonard called you that.

He nowhere said that Lind was a "global warming denialist." The word "denialist" isn't even in Leonard's column.

So STOP LYING. Andrew Leonard never called you a global warming denialist, despite your claim in your second column.

I never thought I'd see Lind stoop this low.

Neocolonialism, Asian-style

South Korea, China, India, et al, are buying up more and more Egyptian farmland on the banks of the Nile River. Where will Egyptians, who rioted about bread prices three years ago, get their own food? Will they have yet another revolution against the hypercapitalists in their own country who sold this land? Will they attack the Chinese, Indian and South Korean overlords, or their local viceroys?

None of this can be good for the future stability of North Africa and the Middle East.

June 01, 2011

Rick Perry trips himself up on Prez "non-run" run

I've blogged before about the lies and myths that are the reality of the "Texas miracle" of economics. Those include, besides the new fees that aren't "taxes," the recession, including the housing problems part of it, hitting Texas later than elsewhere, as it now seems Dallas and other Texas big cities still have a year or so of housing value slide left to face.
(T)he damage is now spreading to areas that had long escaped the worst of the crisis. They include Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Cleveland. Economists regard them as housing bellwethers — metro areas that are reliable indicators of where national prices are headed.

Denver and Dallas are on pace to hit post-housing bust lows in the next few months.
That said, Tricky Ricky has always fallen back on the "lean, mean efficiency" of Texas state government, lead his "his truly," although he modestly doesn't say that.

Maybe there's a good reason for that modesty.

All Perry had to do was pull, oh, $2 billion out of the $9.4 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund and spend it on education. But, nooooo, he had to play hardball.

And now, his hardball (not to mention, possibly, his hypocrisy, are coming back to bite him.
Gov. Rick Perry often cites the state budget as the only thing Texas lawmakers have to do. And, when asked before the legislative session what the state's top spending priorities should be, he named education.

But when the GOP-led Legislature adjourned the 140-day session on Monday, it did so without a budget for Texas classrooms, an omission that prompted Perry to call lawmakers back for an immediate special session to try again.
Looks like education was actually about ... uh ... 9.4 billion spots below being his top priority.

That said, maybe this is proof he's not thinking about running for president.

A supermajority in the House, a lt. gov. who failed, though he had done it before, to use parliamentary tricks in the Senate, and "poof," it's special session time.

That said, even though I'll be voting again, for political theater, I'd love to see a Perry-vs-Obama steel cage death match.

Texas: Millions to fight 1st Amdt, not one more cent for schools

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, sometimes good (especially on open records issues) and sometimes as bad a grandstander as Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst or U.S. Senator John Cornyn, has chosen to be a grandstander, again, over school prayer.

This time, he's spending Texas taxpayer dollars to fight a federal court order barring school-sanctioned prayer at a public high school graduation. Federal court rulings and their history on this issue are pretty clear, yet Abbott continues to waste money.

Meanwhile, Perry, Dewhurst and the GOP-dominated Texas Legislature still refuse to tap the state's $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund surplus to provide more money for public schools.

Of course, more money for schools might have more educated students questioning such nuttery in the future.

Of course, we now have the hypocrisy trifecta, courtesy of Gov. Helmethair himself, who appears to have had his "I'm not quite yet running for president" dance get tripped up by a special session of the Legislature:
Gov. Rick Perry often cites the state budget as the only thing Texas lawmakers have to do. And, when asked before the legislative session what the state's top spending priorities should be, he named education.
Looks like education was actually about ... uh ... 9.4 billion spots below being his top priority.

The AP keeps slipping

Really, AP? Using a photo from AOL serf labor site Patch.com for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's controversial helicopter flight to his son's ballgame?

Really?

May 31, 2011

MichaelLind off base on #globalwarning, #PeakOil too

Sometimes Michael Lind is great; sometimes he's thought provoking. Occasionally he's irritating. This time, he's all three and worse He may be right on the abundance of natural gas, but he's "out there" on an age of future oil abundance. Plus, although not a global warming denier, or even a skeptic of its reality, he appears to be a "minimalist" on its effects.

In sounding like Daniel Yergin, and in making claims for both crude oil and natural gas that even Exxon won't, he's sounding like a utopian, or Kurzweil, or Michael Shermer, with a dash of Bjorn Lomborg thrown in on the global warming side.

It's clear that he's overstating the case for future oil reserves. He should know that King Hubbert made allowances for new technology when he first proposed his ideas on Peak Oil.

He also, while perhaps quite right on natural gas reserves, overlooks the difficulty of converting an entire infrastructure, and not just an occasional filling station, to natural gas pumping. Finally, he ignores the costs of that, and how much more quickly running cars on natural gas would draw down those reserves.

That said, he is right that hyper-abundant natural gas will put the use of renewables for electricity in doubt. But, gas is no panacea on global warming issues. More on that below.

As for coal? Its use for electricity is simply not allowable if we're going to have any reasonable chance of controlling (no, not stopping) global warming. Using coal to produce diesel? It's environmentally dirty and requires massive amounts of water, among other problems.

Finally, he ignores global warming almost entirely in this whole long piece. When not ignoring it, he poo-poos it with a comment like this:
The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes -- a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it.
Big fail. Big fail. Big fail.

I don't know whether or not Lind has read the news from across the pond that there's good research indicating we have a 50-50 chance of a 4C, not a 2C, rise in temperatures by 2100. I suspect, thought, in light of this column, that he'd pooh-pooh that, too, though, even though it means we have a 50-50 chance of a 3F/1.5C rise by 2050, when Lind is likely to be alive.

As for his claim on why politicians are treating CO2 emissions as a low priority? It's not because they think scientifically-backed worst-case scenarios are alarmist; it's because they're craven.

Lind has written enough about politics to know how craven politicians can be, which makes his refusal to take that into account all the worse.

Lind was someone I enjoyed reading. I'll be looking at him with much more skeptical eyes now, assuming he's a semi-neoliberal cornucopian.

Andrew Leonard, his Salon colleague, has the right reaction today; WTF? That said, until/unless Lind admits he bloew it, he's on skeptical probation.


Lind now weakly claims he's "not a global warming denialist." No, just a pooh-pooher of how bad it's going to get.

Right here:
If there were really a clear and present danger of catastrophic overheating ...
Now, "present" isn't in the next 5 years, perhaps. But, a 3F rise by 2050, in the lifetimes of many of us here right now? I'd call that "present" enough. And, catastrophic enough.

Michael Lind, put down the shovel.

Oh, and STOP LYING. Andrew Leonard never called you a global warming denialist, despite your claim in your second column.

Liberal doctors, healthcare crackdown

Two related stories on a deeper level, though not on the surface.

First, new doctors are more politically liberal than their seniors.
Doctors were once overwhelmingly male and usually owned their own practices. They generally favored lower taxes and regularly fought lawyers to restrict patient lawsuits. Ronald Reagan came to national political prominence in part by railing against "socialized medicine" on doctors' behalf.

But doctors are changing. They are abandoning their own practices and taking salaried jobs in hospitals, particularly in the North, but increasingly in the South as well. Half of all younger doctors are women, and that share is likely to grow.
Nobody's asking doctors to take vows of poverty, even after paying off med school loans. But, the idea that being a doctor is a great way to be your own small businessman? I hope that's falling by the boards with these changes, and doctors like this are becoming fewer:
“People who are conservative by nature are not going to go into the profession,” said (Dr. Kevin S. Flanigan, a former president of the Maine Medical Association), “because medicine is not about running your own shop anymore.”
As Dr. Atul Gawande just told Harvard Medical School graduates, medicine is becoming more and more a team-based enterprise.
Everyone has just a piece of patient care. We’re all specialists now—even primary-care doctors. A structure that prioritizes the independence of all those specialists will have enormous difficulty achieving great care.
All we need now is for med schools to stop charging tuition as though an MD were a super-MBA.

===

The other, related issue?

The feds are looking at cracking down on healthcare company CEOs for negligence that fails to detect fraud by underlings.
Now, on top of fines paid by a company, senior executives can face criminal charges even if they weren't involved in the scheme but could have stopped it had they known. Furthermore, they can also be banned from doing business with government health programs, a career-ending consequence.
This, too, says that medicine needs to become more about medicine, and about team-based medicine, not big business.

That's why some libertarians, and many of us liberals, see healthcare as like a utility, and single-payer national healthcare as the best way of meeting that.

That said, the utility privatization wave of the past decade has undermined that analogy.

Liberal doctors, crackdown

Type your summary here Type rest of the post here

2012 for home prices to hit bottom?

Housing analysts who talked to the Associated Press many not be quite as gloomy as those who talked to the New York Times yesterday, but they're not a load of joy.

The AP has says it may be 2012 until the housing market bottoms out, in a good story that looks at the broader effects of the housing bubble. It also mentions the foreclosure fraud committed by mortgage signing services, a fraud the banksters don't want to accept any responsibility.

Also worth noting is the spread of problem to new areas:
(T)he damage is now spreading to areas that had long escaped the worst of the crisis. They include Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Cleveland. Economists regard them as housing bellwethers — metro areas that are reliable indicators of where national prices are headed.

Denver and Dallas are on pace to hit post-housing bust lows in the next few months.
Yet more reason why we should look askance at Rick Perry's boastful talk of Texas' economic miracle.

Non-Gang Green enviros: #CBD at least has down side

While I applaud a group like the Center for Biological Diversity for not sucking up to the Democratic Party, and for playing hardball as needed, some of its tactics do fuel pushes for tort reform, and give environmentalism a black eye.

Losing a $600K suit for defaming a rancher by claiming photos of a dirt parking lot were allegedly his denuded grazing allotment? And, the legal fees CBD gets undercutting Interior Department's funds for endangered species protection?
Amos Eno runs the hugely successful Yarmouth, Maine-based Resources First Foundation, an outfit that, among other things, assists ranchers who want to restore native ecosystems. Earlier, he worked at Interior's Endangered Species Office, crafting amendments to strengthen the law, then went on to direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Eno figures the feds could "recover and delist three dozen species" with the resources they spend responding to the Center for Biological Diversity's litigation.

"The amount of money CBD makes suing is just obscene," he told me. "They're one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional. They deserve the designation of eco-criminals."

A senior Obama official had this to say: "CBD has probably sued Interior more than all other groups combined. They've divested that agency of any control over Endangered Species Act priorities and caused a huge drain on resources. In April, for instance, CBD petitioned to list 404 species, knowing full well that biologists can't make the required findings in 90 days."
Hmm. I might have to rethink clicking on all those CBD email action alerts.

Michael Lind, off base on peak oil

Sometimes Michael Lind is great; sometimes he's thought provoking. Occasionally he's irritating. This time, he's all three. He may be right on the abundance of natural gas, but he's "out there" on oil.

In sounding like Daniel Yergin, and in making claims for both crude oil and natural gas that even Exxon won't, he's sounding like a utopian, or Kurzweil, or Michael Shermer.

It's clear that he's overstating the case for future oil reserves. He also, while perhaps quite right on natural gas reserves, overlooks the difficulty of converting an entire infrastructure, and not just an occasional filling station, to natural gas pumping. Finally, he ignores the costs of that, and how much more quickly running cars on natural gas would draw down those reserves.

That said, he is right that hyper-abundant natural gas will put the use of renewables for electricity in doubt. But, if so, especially post-Fukushima, why is he touting nuclear power in the story? He comes off perilously close to being an anti-environmentalist.

Finally, he ignores global warming entirely in this whole long piece. Big fail.

Andrew Leonard, his Salon colleague, has the right reaction today; WTF?

Lind now weakly claims he's "not a global warming denialist." No, just a pooh-pooher of how bad it's going to get.

Right here:
If there were really a clear and present danger of catastrophic overheating ...
Now, "present" isn't in the next 5 years, perhaps. But, a 3F rise by 2050, in the lifetimes of many of us here right now? I'd call that "present" enough. And, catastrophic enough.

Michael Lind, put down the shovel.

Oh, and STOP LYING. Andrew Leonard never called you a global warming denialist, despite your claim in your second column.

May 30, 2011

California: running out of water as seen from space

California water districts appear (for "good" selfish reasons) loth to accept what a pair of satellites is showing: the state is running low on groundwater.

How bad is it? Over the 2003-2010 period, California drew down nearly enough groundwater to fill Lake Mead, and I'll assume that's full-capacity, pre-bathtub-ring Lake Mead.

Looking at the map, some areas in the southwestern part of the Central Valley, around Tulare, look like they don't have a lot of life left.

That said, I wish the Times had produced a similar map for the Ogallala Aquifer. I doubt West Texans would totally wake up, even then, to the severity of water issues, but maybe some would.

Where data has been presented, though, and not just in California, it's been resisted:
In other areas of the world, like northern India, the novelty of the gravitational measurements — and perhaps the story they tell — has led to pushback, scientists say. ...

John Wahr, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado and his colleague Sean Swenson faced opposition for a study on aquifer depletion in northern India. As Dr. Swenson explained, “When in a place like India you say, ‘We’re doing something that is unsustainable and needs to change,’ well, people resist change. Change is expensive.”
In places on high-tension, water-focused borders, like India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine-Jordan-Syria and such, this is understandable in a way, but still lamentable.

An interesting sidebar is that the satellites were launched from Russia and some of their data would have been considered classified before the end of the Cold War. A peace dividend!

Housing ownership falling back to '80s levels?

The New York Times says that yes, just such a thing could happen before the housing bubble finally, fully deflates.

This isn't just more and more subprime loans going belly-up. On the side of "fundamentals," it appears more and more would-be buyers are willing to continue the wait-and-see as to how much further the market might go.

And, this isn't just a decision in high-priced urban areas.
The Associated Estates Realty Corporation, which owns 13,000 apartments in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan and other Midwest and Southeast states, also is seeing more people deciding to rent.

“We have more of what we call ‘renters by choice’ than I’ve seen in the 40 years I’ve been in the apartment business,” said Jeffrey I. Friedman, chief executive of Associated Estates.
Beyond that, it appears that other Americans have finally stopped buying into the myths told by the National Association of Realtors and believed by people like my parents about the "investment" of owning a home.

Especially given the craptacularly cheap value with which many of today's Sunbelt suburban homes are built by the likes of D.R. Horton, et al, this is an investment that, frankly, sucks.

Besides, as long as there's such a glut of homes on the market, even if housing quality were better, there's no chance of serious appreciation.

That said, the continued slump affects more than just housing. Realtors were a major newspaper advertiser. And, they made money off legal notice classifieds for zoning changes, development hearings, etc. that city and county governments had to hold.

In the housing biz itself, this also affects subcontractors, many of whom, like carpenters, would be the contractor on farmed-out remodeling, etc.

The AP has a great follow-up story on the broader effects of the housing bubble. It also mentions the foreclosure fraud committed by mortgage signing services, a fraud the banksters don't want to accept any responsibility.

Branding Barack Obama — and his abused "lovers"

Naomi Klein, a while back, reflected on the 10th anniversary of her book "No Logo," The Guardian excerpts here her reflections.

In this, she gets much more into "branding" in politics, noting W. was decent at it, but that Barack Obama makes every predecessor of his look like a piker in terms of modern branding, both in techniques, and degree of use.

This, from the excerpt, sounds all too true and all too depressing. Although I didn't have a label for what I was "seeing through" by the end of 2007, it's clear in hindsight, and with a bit of help from Klein, that I was seeing through his branding, and finding the hollowed-out non-core of neoliberalism inside.

But, she also sounds like an abused woman returning to the man who just slapped, or even punched, her in the face:
Personally, none of this makes me feel betrayed by Barack Obama. Rather I have a familiar ambivalence, the way I used to feel when brands like Nike and Apple started using revolutionary imagery in their transcendental branding campaigns. All of their high-priced market research had found a longing in people for something more than shopping – for social change, for public space, for greater equality and diversity. Of course the brands tried to exploit that longing to sell lattes and laptops. Yet it seemed to me that we on the left owed the marketers a debt of gratitude for all this: our ideas weren't as passé as we had been told. And since the brands couldn't fulfill the deep desires they were awakening, social movements had a new impetus to try.
To me, without the actual violence, of course, that sounds exactly like the psychology of an abused lover, claiming they're not betrayed, that you have to look on the bright side, that it's not really that bad, etc.

It's amazing how someone like Klein can be so insightful and then ... so willfully self-blinded.

May 29, 2011

CO2 takes record jump - 4C rise coming?

The Guardian has the details on how 2010's global increase in carbon dioxide emissions from 2009 set a new record. And, discusses what that means.

A 2-degree Celsius rise in temperatures by 2100? We had better start worrying about 4C.
Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. "These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path ... would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100," he said.
A 4C rise by 2100 would likely mean 1.5C by 2050, when many people now on this globe will still be alive, is a realistic worry.

And, there's other issues:
John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said time was running out. "This news should shock the world. Yet even now politicians in each of the great powers are eyeing up extraordinary and risky ways to extract the world's last remaining reserves of fossil fuels – even from under the melting ice of the Arctic. You don't put out a fire with gasoline. It will now be up to us to stop them."

Most of the rise – about three-quarters – has come from developing countries, as rapidly emerging economies have weathered the financial crisis and the recession that has gripped most of the developed world.

But he added that, while the emissions data was bad enough news, there were other factors that made it even less likely that the world would meet its greenhouse gas targets.

• About 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, the IEA found. Most of these are fossil fuel power stations unlikely to be taken out of service early, so they will continue to pour out carbon – possibly into the mid-century. The emissions from these stations amount to about 11.2Gt, out of a total of 13.7Gt from the electricity sector. These "locked-in" emissions mean savings must be found elsewhere.

• Another factor that suggests emissions will continue their climb is the crisis in the nuclear power industry. Following the tsunami damage at Fukushima, Japan and Germany have called a halt to their reactor programmes, and other countries are reconsidering nuclear power.
So, you American red staters, before you die, the average temperature wherever you live has about a 50-50 chance of rising by 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hope you like it. And, yes, that's schadenfreude, even as I still live in Texas

Bring back the WPA

Paul Krugman argues well for programs like the Depression-era Works Progress Administration to be revived today to combat "structural unemployment."

Memorial Day, Civil War, modern GOP South

A good reminder here of why Memorial Day started: to honor black Americans who died for the Union.

This is a fascinating story and one I had never heard before. As we star four years of Civil War sesquicentennial observation, anytime anybody in the GOP halfway close to Haley Barbour pops up, or whenever we get any more Lost Cause bilge spilled by Southerners, even academic (allegedly) historians, and lapped up by dumb media, we need to look at events like this to get the focus back to what the Civil War ultimately became all about.

Fix USPS — just not the Big Biz way

I agree with Business Week — the United States Postal Service is in serious financial trouble and needs help.

But, not what it proposes.

First, there's a big geographic and population spread difference between the U.S. and Europe, by and large.

Most privatization schemes ignore how much more rural "flyover" country is in the US is compared to anything in Europe this side of Russia. And, those older Red State rural voters who still mail lot of stuff will squawk if it's a buck a letter.

Scanning mail and converting it to digital formats? Would be great if broadband Internet, especially in rural areas, is as fast and reliable as in Europe. But it ain't, in part because union-busting Big Biz types that Business Week loves, and their GOP allies in Congress, vehemently oppose the government here getting involved with improving that.

But, given the way the GOP eats its young, like a threat to refuse disaster aid to VERY "reddish" Joplin, Mo., don't doubt it would do that, i.e., privatize the mail without requiring the retention of rural free delivery, that is, rural rates the same as urban ones. Ditto on Red State GOPer switching USPS to digitally-scanned mail without improving infrastructure. When you see how much the GOP refuses to pay for road and bridge upgrades, you know this ain't happening.

"Digital mail" in its other aspects? Utilities and other folks already have online bill-pay; that part of digital mail would go nowhere in the U.S.

NOT mentioned in this biz-friendly story — increasing the price of junk mail. On the revenue side, that would vastly help USPs, as well as unclogging mailboxes. Also not mentioned, and related — a comparison of U.S. and European junk mail rates.

Otherwise, this article seems to be an exercise in singing the praises of privatization, and of union-bashing. No shock, coming from an oftimes kinder, gentler, subtler version of Faux News that is Bloomberg.