Monday, February 26, 2007
Al Gore was a winner even before his Oscar glory:
Sunday’s Union of Young Communist’s newspaper reported acting Cuban President Raul Castro “recognized the effort of the former vice president to denounce” global warming during a two-hour meeting with youth leaders on Friday. Cuba’s official and only television media showed Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” on prime time this month ...
Gore denounced global warming! Has a bolder man ever lived? Other Oscar-related highlights include:
“It’s freezing! Are you kidding me?”
• Jerry Seinfeld’s reaction to passionate Oscar eco-love:
Al Gore was on stage, congratulating Leo DiCaprio for being an eco-warrior, when the camera panned to the audience - and settled unfortunately on the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who was in the middle of an epic yawn.
• Gwyneth Paltrow’s cranial alignment:
Gwyneth Paltrow tilted her head and offered a regal wave.
Always knew she was a tilter. And:
I woke up in Washington, D.C. with about 6 inches of snow on the ground and the roads too icy to travel upon. The nation’s capitol (a.k.a. Prince Albert’s hometown) was essentially shut down due to an unexpectedly severe winter storm.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
The Sydney Morning Herald’s plan:
At 7.30pm on 31 March 2007, we are inviting Sydney to turn off its lights for just one hour - Earth Hour - to show that it’s possible to take action on global warming.
• Dine in the dark - guess the food you’re eating!
All SMH staff are invited to my place on March 31, to dine in the dark. You’ll probably guess what you’re eating after one or two bites. Meanwhile, sensible Laborites at The New City have an alternative plan:
LET THERE BE LIGHT! PROTEST GREEN HYSTERIA. SWITCH ON THE LIGHTS AT 7:30PM ON 31 MARCH.
Yes! Anyone got access to some monster searchlights?
A rare example of sound judgment from lefty blogger Lindsay Beyerstein:
I was offered a job blogging for John Edwards, but I declined.
UPDATE. Perhaps Edwards could hire the forensic experts responsible for this:
NIECE TOO TALL
I was brought up in an extended-family deal ruled by women: mother, grandmother, sister, aunt. Which explains my delicate and feminine nature. The female influence continues:
That’s me, youngest niece, mother, oldest niece, and sister. Not a bad-looking bunch, except for old Uncle Ugmo on the left there.
• 100 years ago Canton City Council made it unlawful for chickens to run at large.
• 90 years ago five men gathered at a drug store on Greensboro Avenue in a meeting that would eventually evolve into Tuscaloosa’s first and largest service organization, the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa.
• 80 years ago poolside entertainment at the hotel meant synchronized swimming and alligator wrestling.
• 70 years ago the Waterman Arrowbile, the world’s first successful flying car, made its maiden test flight.
• 60 years ago Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab decided to supplement its declining post-war aircraft sales with land-based transportation.
• 50 years ago a plea for a compromise between those who wanted to rock and roll at Malvern Winter Gardens and those who did not was made by Councillor J K Clarke.
• 40 years ago Brian Boyett walked the streets of the East Valley carrying two small glass bottles — one filled with unfiltered “hard” tap water and the other with water that had been softened through a filtering system.
• 30 years ago the weather in Penang Hill was so cold that even cooking oil in tin containers would solidify.
• 20 years ago it occurred to Dr. Ifay Chang of Somers that whenever he played the board game Scrabble with three other people, it was only his turn to play the game 25 percent of the time.
• 10 years ago a developer in Minneapolis, Kan., the county seat of Ottawa County, wasn’t able to follow through with a planned project. The city eventually acquired the land but did not know what to do with it.
Feel free to offer your own decade-specific recollections in comments. Especially if you were ever party to an illegal running of chickens.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The Gore Effect hovers ominously:
A hint of rain over the Kodak Theatre hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm on Hollywood Boulevard.
Gray clouds floated over the red carpet Sunday as limousines began delivering early guests to the venue for the 79th annual Academy Awards.
It’s like a Stephen King prologue. Further weather details here.
UPDATE. “I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the Gore effect,” writes ForNow, “but now it looks like most of the USA is being hit.” And that was before Al’s film won the Oscar. Here’s how the Gore Effect has impacted thus far across the US:
Iowa: “Power crews scrambled Sunday to restore electricity to more than 250,000 customers, after ice, snow and wind caused the most widespread Iowa power failures in at least a decade — possibly in history.”
Minnesota: “After a mostly dry winter, Minnesotans were reacquainting themselves with the winter lingo Sunday after a slow-moving snowstorm dumped depths in the double digits across much of the state.” (Also in Minnesota, James Lileks writes: “We woke to seven inches of accumulated global warming this morning, so everyone got out the snowblowers.”)
Indiana: “A winter storm that coated parts of northern Indiana with up to a half-inch of ice snapped tree limbs and power lines, leaving more than 19,000 customers still in the dark Sunday afternoon hours after the ice began to melt.
Virginia: “Air temperatures two degrees colder than expected at about 3,000 feet allowed several inches of snow to fall across much of the region …”
Illinois: “The storm’s snow, sleet and freezing rain led airlines to cancel 200 flights Sunday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport …More than 83,000 customers were without power Sunday morning in Illinois because of wind damage, fallen tree limbs and ice collecting on wires, utilities said.”
Nebraska: “‘The snow is so wet it’s sticking to power poles and power lines,’ said Bill Taylor of the National Weather Service office in North Platte, Neb.”
DC: “The District of Columbia declared a snow emergency, banning parking on major routes to make room for snow plows. Three to 4 inches of snow was expected in the Washington area and motorists in the region were warned the snow could turn to ice overnight.”
Michigan: “Snow has been falling down for most of the day, causing accidents and some headaches for people trying to dig out.”
New York: “JetBlue airlines has canceled 68 flights into and out of Kennedy airport Monday because of the snow expected to fall overnight.”
New Jersey: “A wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain - spawned by a massive storm system that battered the midwest this weekend - made travel treacherous in parts of New Jersey on Sunday night.”
UPDATE II. AFP hails An Inconvenient Truth:
Making use of a vast body …
That’d be Al Gore.
… of scientific data, the film represents a stinging rebuttal to the dwindling and increasingly discredited band of skeptics who refuse to acknowledge the extent of climate change.
As Dave Barry might say, Discredited Band of Skeptics would be a good name for a rock band.
The central thrust of Gore’s claims is that global warming is a genuine threat and largely man-made, an assertion that is backed by recent research.
Then why is everybody so cold?
UPDATE III. As if further proof of the Effect’s potency was required:
Hollywood’s elite braved cold dreary skies with barely a shiver as they crossed the red carpet in off-the-shoulder gowns and designer tuxedos for the 79th annual Oscars today …
Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Rachel Weisz were among the stars wearing flowing strapless or off-the-shoulder gowns despite the unusually chilly temperatures.
UPDATE IV. It’s raining in Sydney. Are you happy now, Al Gore? Happy that you’ve made the whole planet cry?
To its credit, this time around the ALP is running its novelty candidate in a marginal seat:
Former ABC journalist Maxine McKew will run against Prime Minister John Howard in the seat of Bennelong at the next federal election.
Ms McKew joined the ALP recently and is working for Labor leader Kevin Rudd. Mr Howard’s seat is marginal and Ms McKew would need a swing of around 4 per cent to win it. She says Labor needs to claim those sorts of seats if it is to win Government.
Ex-Labor minister Gary Punch told ABC radio this morning that McKew would win due to demographic changes in Howard’s seat. “They hate him,” Punch claimed, speaking of the area’s Asian residents. We’ll see.
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UPDATE. You must also be funny.
Pro-Taliban, anti-British propaganda from Robert Fisk:
Hands up any soldiers who know that another of Britain’s great military defeats took place in the very sands in which your colleagues are now fighting the Taliban. Yes, the Battle of Maiwand - on 27 July, 1880 - destroyed an entire British brigade, overrun by thousands of armed Afghan tribesmen, some of whom the official enquiry into the disaster would later describe as “Talibs”. The Brits had been trying to secure Helmand province. Sound familiar?
Yes, it does sound familar, what with Fisk’s direct appeal to soldiers and their colleagues. It sounds like Axis Sally or Lord Haw-Haw.
The Afghans talk of one British unit which last year had to call in air strikes, destroying almost the entire village in which they were holding out. Otherwise, they would have been overrun.
Another damp sheets moment for Bobby, who seems to be in conversational contact with those who would kill Fisk’s countrymen. Interesting.
One of the greatest defeats of British forces anywhere in the world had occurred more than four decades before Maiwand, on the Kabul Gorge in 1842, when an entire British army was wiped out by Afghan fighters in the snow.
Fisk isn’t exactly the model of a motivational speaker, is he? Unless you’re some Taliban goat-pimp training an AK-47 on advancing Brits, of course.
So now the British are to reinforce Afghanistan yet again. Flying by Chinook to Kandahar will not take as long as General Roberts’s 20 days. British soldiers are unlikely even to enter Kandahar’s central square. But if they do, they might care to look at the few ancient cannon on the main roundabout: all that is left of General Roberts’s artillery.
Fisk’s next column: “While you’re away fighting the Taliban, your wives back home are sleeping with Americans!”
MOVE TO GEOTHERMIA - WE HAVE NO CHOICE
Everything Tim Flannery says should be viewed in relation to this comment, from a Bulletin profile published last week:
“This year’s election is the critical moment for us all. It’s a bit like the days before World War II.”
Flannery’s at war! Which might explain his tendency to exaggeration and alarmism; all’s fair when you’re fighting the denialist Nazis. The rest of the article is a subtle comic masterpiece, as Julie-Anne Davies (broadly sympathetic with Flannery’s aims) encounters Flannery’s spectacular ego:
“I’m not into celebrity,” he announced straight up. “I’ve not run for political office. I am a private person and, anyway, it’s the message that’s important, not me.”
There will be some people - notably scientists and politicians - who are probably picking themselves up off their floors after reading that one.
And, presumably, Bulletin readers. Non-celebrity and private person Flannery somehow appears on the Bulletin’s cover, in one of the most sick-making compassionate-tilt images ever published:
Brief pause while sawdust is deployed. The article continues:
Some in the Green movement believe he should have knocked back the honour because of the Coalition government’s woeful record on climate change. Did he consider it? “Not for a second. It’s the people’s honour, this is the year of climate change and that is why it has been bestowed upon me.”
And here were we thinking climate change is some kind of long-term problem.
Those few Australians who haven’t read his The Weather Makers better bone up, because Flannery promises it is all he is going to talk about for the next 12 months.
The majority of Australians haven’t read The Weather Makers. Still, thanks for the warning.
Even as a child he was aware of the footprint man was making on the environment. “When I was very young, there was so much space but gradually it began to disappear and with it the birds and the trees. That was the depressing thing about Melbourne even back then: the relentless march of the suburbs. I remember commenting on it to my mother and she said, ‘that’s progress’.”
Australia is approximately the same size as the US but with a population of only 20 million. If Flannery thinks our space is “disappearing”, he’s looking through the wrong end of the telescope. (By the way, Mrs Flannery sounds like she’s got a good handle on things.) The Flannery ego now commences to emerge:
Flannery also has a reputation in some circles - bitchy scientific academia mainly - as being a bit of a media tart. He is always available. For this story, he bent over backwards to help out with photos and took more time than his packed diary permitted, to explain himself and his life ...
He’s a private person.
Trying to get Australians to think, really think, about climate change and how they’ll vote in the coming election. That’s what Tim Flannery wants to talk about. So quizzing him about his partner Alexandra, or his relationship with his children (a son and a daughter, both in their early 20s) ends up sounding trivial and, as he bluntly wrote later in an email, “their own business”.
Given Flannery’s estimate of our optimum population, he’s probably ashamed they’re alive.
When he travelled the river with his mate John Doyle for the ABC series Two Men in a Tinnie, more than a million viewers tuned in ... A second series is planned for later this year.
He’s a private person. Beyond this point, Davies’ responses to Tim’s Flannerisms become delightfully frosty:
“There is nothing that is more important for me than influencing government policy towards halting the amount of greenhouse emissions, nothing. Our climate is so fragile, it’s like it has cancer. We’re at the point where we are not sure if it has metastasised or not. I think we can still pull it back, but if we don’t act now, we will spend trillions of dollars trying to ward off the new dark ages that will surely follow.”
Bloody hell. He bandies around ideas that seem so big, so impossible, that one’s first response is to dismiss them. It is also many people’s second response.
And so on:
He makes no apology for his apocalyptic predictions and has a checklist of solutions, including a new city which he calls “Geothermia” to be built in central Australia on the borders of NSW, South Australia and Queensland. A new desert city? But that’s not going to happen, surely? “I know it’s radical but we have no choice,” he shoots back in that quiet, earnest, assured way that galvanises many but also infuriates his critics. Later, he sends me his list which he headlines, again without a trace of irony, “A New Industrial Revolution for Australia”. Flannery is happy to provide the list because “this is important, you have to get this stuff right”. By that he means me.
Next, a terrible threat:
In July, Flannery will begin a new phase in his life when he takes up a professorship in environmental and life studies at Sydney’s Macquarie University. He is also girding his loins to write another book. “I’m dreading it in a way ... “
You ain’t alone, professor.
But before that, he’s got another project to complete. Flannery the serious enviro-scientist is part way through writing a work of fiction.
Flannery shouldn’t have too many problems with that.
TOOK LONG ENOUGH
Phillip Adams discovers his purpose on Earth.
HE’LL TELL US WHAT TO DO
Straight out of the socialist realism school is this Archibald-entered portrait of great leader Peter Garrett:
Odd that such a mighty entity is so easily brought down by morning TV presenters, and requires the likes of a Traceeee to defend him.
CHEESEHEAD CAR ISSUES
Six peace activists were recently arrested in Wisconsin for plonking themselves in the road and blocking traffic.
One is named Bonita Sitter. Another is called Bonnie Block. Born for this, they were.
The human traffic barriers received $109 fines. In other Wisconsin court news:
On Jan. 18, 2006, Adrial White of Racine, Wis., spotted three teens breaking into his girlfriend’s car, which was parked in his driveway. Mr. White, 30, fetched his gun and confronted the hoodlums. When one came at him with a tire iron, Mr. White shot him to death. For “the crime” of self-defense, he will spend at least 25 years in prison.
Canadian enviromite David Suzuki - lately observed stomping out of a radio interview after his host expressed mild doubt over global warming - finds himself in a diesel dilemma, as the Winnepeg Sun’s Tom Brodbeck reports:
With all the alternative-energy modes of transportation out there, Suzuki and his entourage are crossing Canada in a sprawling, “rock-star-style” diesel-burning tour bus, emitting more greenhouse gases during his 30-day tour than many of us do in a year.
That’s right. Mr. Kyoto isn’t so green after all.
“It’s diesel,” Jason Curan, a media staff member on the Suzuki tour told Sun Media yesterday. “It’s a tour bus—kind of like a rock-star tour bus.”
You know, one of those big-ass, diesel-guzzling, carbon-spewing beasts?
The kind that emits tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and supposedly contributes to some future catastrophic climate event.
A polar-bear killer on wheels.
“It’s kind of too fancy for our needs,” admitted Curan. “But it does the job.”
I bet it does.
How are we supposed to take a guy like Suzuki seriously when he drives across Canada in one of the most polluting modes of transportation available?
Suzuki’s bus, Al Gore’s concerts, Tim Flannery’s global travel ... how can we take any of them seriously? Further from Brodbeck: “We’ve all learned a little more about David Suzuki this week.” But nothing that would surprise us.
UPDATE. In happy environmental news - although somehow depicted as unhappy (“their habitats are shrinking”) in the linked article - beavers have returned to the Bronx River.
“IT IS A FORM OF RELIGION”
Besides bringing snow to Toronto - “the first significant snowfall in the area” this season, in fact; the Gore Effect is irreversible - Al Gore’s University of Toronto lecture brought forth impressive statements of faith from global warmening believers:
“From my perspective, it is a form of religion,” said Bruce Crofts, 69, as he held a banner aloft for the East Toronto Climate Action Group amid a lively prelecture crowd outside the old hall. “The religion for this group is doing something for the environment.”
“It was not our intention to have a religious approach,” ecoSanity group founder Glenn MacIntosh said, “but it was our understanding that it was that kind of movement that people were craving; that kind of spiritual connection in their gut.”
This reckless “spiritual connection” talk really steams the guys at treehugger.com:
I would urge even those people for whom environmentalism *feels* like a religion to refrain from describing it as such.
Splitters! Meanwhile, barely any criticism from our Holy Herbivores over Al Gore’s Gaia-whuppin’ concert plans; do read Joe Carter’s carbon audit on these egomaniacal eco-events.
(Via Small Dead Animals which observes: “It’s important to note that one important variable has not been included. With the Gore Effect factored in, one can anticipate at least half of the planned events will be cancelled due to cold.”)