Saturday, March 18, 2006

mandala-XIIIlb by Strumillo. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
George Orwell

The real President (Martin Sheen, aka Prez Bartlett)
leads protestors in L.A. Posted by Picasa

London Posted by Picasa

Indianapolis Posted by Picasa

Boston Posted by Picasa

Barcelona Posted by Picasa

Protest in Rome Posted by Picasa
Never Forget: The Idiots We Followed

Ah, memories. Could it be just three years ago that the war started, thanks to the wise ones and their wisdom? Not only our Fearless Chickenhawk Leaders but our Fearless Chickenhawk Pundits. Remember...when?

. "The evidence he [Sec. of State Colin Powell] presented to the United Nations - some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail - had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them...Only a fool - or possibly a Frenchman - could conclude otherwise."
Richard Cohen, columnist (still has his job, by the way) Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2003.

"Colin Powell did more than present the world with a convincing and detailed X-ray of Iraq's secret weapons and terrorism programs yesterday. He also exposed the enduring bad faith of several key members of the UN Security Council when it comes to Iraq and its 'web of lies,' in Powell's phrase...To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."
Jim Hoagland, columnist, Washington Post Feb. 2003

"Those who are calling for more time in this process should be aware that they are calling for more time for Saddam's people to complete their humiliation and subversion of the inspectors."
Christopher Hitchens, TV and print gasbag, Feb 13, 2003

"We're all neo-cons now... "We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple."
Chris Matthews, Hardgas, MSNBC April 2003

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
Alan Colmes, Hannity & Colmes, FAUX News, April 25, 2003

Hat tip to Norman Solomon, from whose article these quotes come.

UPDATE: A version of this is on the recommended lists at Daily Kos and Booman Tribune.
Dangerous When Cornered

It's too bad that a blog that set out to be about realizeable dreams for the future has to be so depressing so often. Every time I try to get out of it they pull me back in. I try not to add one more voice to a chorus, but to say what needs to be said that I'm not hearing others say, loudly or well enough, or at all. Even if the only effect is to further depress my few readers, and drive away my last remaining friends.

What people are not talking enough about right now is Iran, and the dangerous rhetoric coming out of Washington. While the public finally catching on to Smirk as a major evildoer of our time, and the worst president in U.S. history, is cause for some sense of relief at least, it is also a cause for worry. Because as Richard Nixon almost proved, a vicious unconscious soul is more dangerous when cornered than an ordinary animal fighting for its life.

It's more or less documented that Nixon was stopped from doing his worst, though the culture of the time was far less crazy than the neocon Washington is today. But who will stop Cheney and Bush? So far, nobody. Their poll numbers tank to the point that majorities don't trust them on anything. But they keep at it--an unrelenting assault on the future, in every conceivable way.

Smirk is on a speaking tour, brazenly promoting his policy of preemption, which is nothing less than the same naked use of dictatorial power he asserts within this country, except aimed at the entire world. Two-thirds of the country being against him doesn't bother him a bit, as long as he's got the office and his finger on the triggers.

In the past few weeks, the Bushites have dialed up the rhetoric on Iran, sounding suspiciously like they did just before launching their attack on Iraq, justified by nothing but lies and imperial power.

Here is all sane people have to know about Iran: Iran is unlikely to have a nuclear arsenal until 2016. That's right--a decade from now. So exactly what's the rush? Right now, an American air attack to take out suspected nuclear facilities in Iran will result in a barrage of missiles, which Iran does have, on American military ships in the Gulf, perhaps other military targets, or on Israel, or both. Israel will respond with bombing, and if it carries out its threats, with a nuclear attack on Iran's cities. Apart from unleashing nuclear destruction, it will mean a frenzy of war and instability in the Middle East and perhaps beyond, with unforeseeable consequences, except the one most likely: a disruption of oil exports that will send the international economy into chaos.

The U.S. is a strong country with many resources. But there is also a strong chance that a fast-moving chain of events like this will be truly apocalyptic. That's certainly a possibility. Iraq may ruin us, in combination with the Climate Crisis and other factors, in the next decade or two. But folly in Iran could be an immediate and immense disaster.

It's time for that kind of alarm to be raised, and loudly. It's irresponsible for politicans, including Senator Russ Finegold, to be talking about the "option" of militarily attacking Iran.

Some believe that the Pentagon would do what they were apparently ready to do with Nixon---they could defy Bush's order. That would precipitate a whole other crisis. It's better for our leaders to say now in no uncertain terms that this easy chickenhawk rhetoric of military threat is intolerable.

Soul of Star Trek

Speaking of dreams of the future, and using the future to consider the reality behind contemporary wars, there's a consideration at Soul of Star Trek here of a famous Vietnam era episode and its obvious echoes today.
Budgeting Class Warfare

There has been class warfare going on pretty openly for the past six years in the United States, and the Bushites have been leading it. Today the Senate narrowly passed their budget bill, though it's not the final word by any means for the official federal budget. Class warfare was again at work.

The only class that benefits from the Bushite budget is the ultra-rich and the Bushite corporate cronies. They tried and largely succeeded in putting their interests above the future, the country and certainly all other Americans, especially those most in need of the help of their more fortunate fellow Americans.

The Bushite strategy has been clear from the beginning: totally eradicate the Clinton surplus and run up huge deficits with tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and billions to corporate pals in the war business---much of it unnecessary spending, much of it that never aided the war on terror or the war in Iraq and certainly not Katrina victims---and then cry that the government can't afford to pay out all that money to help the families made poor by corporate outsourcing, a health care system much more interested in profit and wealth for a few than in health for the many, or for older Americans whose pensions are being legally stolen and dismantled by greedy executives and bought politicians and judges.

So the cry went out in the Wall Street Journal editorial pages about "entitlement" spending going up, as if the greed of the poor, the sick and the old---and those colored people as well, be they black, brown, yellow or red--is getting way out of control.

It took Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Spector to replace some of the cuts the Bushites wanted, restoring some $7 billion. "Health and education are the two major capital assets of this country," he said, noting that (as the NY Times put it) those areas had been starved for money in recent years and could not afford to be overlooked again.

What is the Bushite Congress willing to spend money on? Not on actually enhancing American security against terrorism--as this list of defeated amendments proves. It goes to Bushites who are scamming for billions: for useless technologies like Star Wars and expensive Homeland Security gadgets in a massive corporate scam; the for-profit war in Iraq, enriching Halliburton, documented to have fed troops tainted food and water. And wasting millions if not billions on no-bid crony contracts supposedly to aid Katrina victims and rebuilding, which is apparently going as well as rebuilding Iraq.

And that's not even counting the tax cuts for the superrich. And let's remember one more time that social programs were funded during the Clinton years, and he left a huge budget surplus. So tell me again how the poor and the sick and the old are responsible for this deficit.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sorry, I don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
But this is my photo of Eugene O'Neill's
porch in Waterford, Connecticut. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Orion nebula Posted by Picasa

Captain Future's Log

The Life and Death of Global Civilization

We've had so many bad wars on this and phony wars on that, the concept is just about bankrupt. But there is still a tingle of life in the metaphor, because war means urgency plus mobilizing all resources to achieve an end. And now that the question of whether the Climate Crisis is real is becoming a very sick joke, it's time to focus on what really we've got to do.

Here's Australia's Tim Flannery, author of the new book, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, in Wired:

Again and again in all areas of climate science, what I'm seeing is trends in the real world that are running far, far ahead of what the computer models predict...

The classic example of that is of the hurricane season. There was a study in 2004 that had projected out to 2080 and tracked trends in hurricane intensity and all the rest of it. What we see in the real world is these things are arriving a hell of a lot faster than we see predicted in the computer models.... I'm really worried that we're swiftly running out of time to deal with the problem.

I do think that if we're going to survive this first threat to global civilization -- and it is the first big test of global civilization -- we will need to put ourselves on a war footing.

When a government goes on a war footing, they reorganize their enterprises around the imminent threat of invasion. So they can restructure the economy, the way the bureaucracy works, in order to combat the immediate threat. I do think the situation is worse than suggested in most computer models. We've got less time than we thought we did. We will need to give this issue primacy in our thinking as governments and as individuals over the next decade or so. "

It's about time real leaders understood this and have the guts to say so. Because it's no longer a matter of fighting global warming by installing some insulation in your garage. It's going to take focused, sustained and large-scale attention.

It's interesting that he uses the term "Global civilization." It occurs to me that the response to the Climate Crisis will either define and perhaps even create something worth calling 'global civilization,' or it will end the possibility of it ever developing, essentially forever.

James Spader accepting an Emmy. Posted by Picasa
In Spaders

The southpaw blogs were singing the praises of James Spader's speech to the jury towards the end of Tuesday's episode of Boston Legal. He was defending his secretary against aggressive political prosecution for tax evasion; she was making an awkward political protest. Alan Shore, the attorney Spader plays, made an impassioned speech about American apathy in the face of so much that's happened, from no WMDs to torture and wiretapping, and the control of protest to the point that the wrong t-shirt can get you barred from a Bushite rally. (You can see it at Crooks & Liars.)

I've said it here before but it bears repeating: Boston Legal is my favorite show, and James Spader's Alan Shore is my hero. This summation to the jury is only one of many that have been more eloquent and incisive on issues of the day than anything out of politicians or media windbags. Apparently David E. Kelly, the series producer, writes these---at least that's what one of the actors, Rene Auberjonois told an interview, when he confessed that when he gets a new script he goes right to the back to read Spader's speech.

But it's Spader's delivery as well as the words that makes him my hero. Now that our president is in office for only five more episodes (on The West Wing) , we'll have to make do with a crusading lawyer. That species has been largely extinct on TV since I cut my rhetorical teeth on The Defenders and The Law and Mr. Jones in the early 60s.

Those were earnest shows, and what makes Boston Legal perfect for this time is that Spader delivers these broadsides amidst the most surreal and outrageous but smart comedy on any TV show I've seen in a long time, maybe ever. I didn't watch The Practice, the series that birthed this one, except for a few episodes, which seemed deadly serious, and very cutthroat chic. I'm only guessing, but it may have been William Shatner's guest appearances, and certainly his incredible chemistry with Spader (and both with Candace Bergen) that turned this show into what it's become.
Why Are We in Iraq?

The topic of "why are we in Vietnam?" was so persistently examined in the 60s that Norman Mailer used it as the title of a novel. It's somewhat different these days---the question isn't so obsessive, but then this period does often seem anesthetized if not lobotomated. But those who do ask come up with a variety of answers: oil, G.W.'s Revenge (either on behalf of Daddy, or on Daddy), the neocon strategy for world domination, oil, the permanent war economy, Iraq as the permanent military base to replace Saudi Arabia, oil, etc. They are probably all true in some measure, and others besides.

But here's a response I haven't heard before, that tends to explain the virulence of the Bushite post-9-11 complex of war, torture, imperial disregard for law and civil liberties, the whole hog of excess.

It's in a discussion Tom Englehart has with journalist Mark Danner at Salon. Danner apologizes for engaging in speculative psychologizing, but even with his embarrassment, I think he's on to something:

The central question here is: Why did we have the kind of response we did after 9/11? The Bush administration, which professed itself so strong on national security, had let the United States suffer the most catastrophic attack on its territory in history. We have to remind ourselves of the effect of this. Remember, their major security programs were the Strategic Defense Initiative and confronting China. They thought that terrorism, which they didn't care about, was a matter for sissies. Like humanitarian intervention, the threat posed by non-state actors -- and many other concerns of the previous administration -- all this stuff was, as they saw it, a kid's view of national security, so they ignored it. And afterward they knew very well that reports existed showing how they had ignored it, most notably the PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] that was famously titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." This was a very human thing. Having proclaimed how strong they were on national security, they were attacked. I think that accounted, to some degree, for the ferocity of the counterattack. You don't need to get too deep to see that. When you look at this idea of the gloves coming off, the implication is very much exculpatory. They're saying, in effect: Before the gloves were on, so we weren't able to detect and prevent this attack. "

So Danner is saying two interesting things here: first, the ferocity of the Bushite response was proportionate to their extreme shame of having left the country unprotected for 9-11, and second, that their insistence on torture and wiretapping is a way of telling everyone, including themselves, that the reason they didn't see the terrorist threat was because they weren't torturing and wiretapping back then, not because they simply weren't paying attention.

Not paying attention is something this administration does very well. Maybe the only thing.

And in case you weren't paying attention yesterday, The Big Smirk has gone below the one-third of the approving electorate that was his rock solid rock bottom, in one poll. In all the others he doesn't get higher than 38%. He's lost Independents and now the Republicans who were along for the ride.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eagle Transforming by Robert Davidson. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Babble

It's All About ME!

Mostly it's early in the morning-late at night, I'm tired, no energy to do anything requiring effort, usually after completing some goofy writing project or another. And I do what I KNOW you do, too: I google myself.

It's more than a little odd to look for some sense of permanence in the ether of cyberspace but some kind of a mark is made out there, and sometimes this is the only evidence. It's also some indication of my place in the world as others perceive it, which is pretty much always a surprise to me, one way or the other.

The newest thing I found was a
transcript of a Australian public radio program on Wal-Mart--I did an interview for it shortly after my review of two books on Wal-Mart was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Apart from the bit with me (and I've done enough of these to be pleased when the ten seconds they select doesn't make me sound like a complete moron), it's an exceptionally well done program.

A big chunk of what's out there consists of references to my book,
The Malling of America. Despite the fact that it was originally published in 1985 and finally in a paperback edition in 2002, people continue to remember or discover it.

I usually find these new comments on these searches, even the one that was in
Newsweek in November that referred to me as "author and famous mall-basher." Really? You mean I slept through my Opra moment? Unfortunately it was because I couldn't be marketed as either a mall-basher or mall apologist that made my publisher's marketing department so apathetic--although I believe it's the balance in my book which led to its long life. Mall supporters and doubters both still quote it.

Today I found a mall story in
The Scotsman that referred to me as "a cheery dystopian with a few hippie tendencies," which may be a little closer to the mark. Some unusual references have shown up recently, like a 28 year old blond in L.A. who mentions my book in her My Place profile. Or a complimentary reference on a blog by a young woman in Tokyo ("master of bad-good puns"--I can live with that, too.)

It's also flattering to see my work referred to in other languages, like Italian, Spanish, French (in Le Monde, no less), and--well, I think it might be Russian. (There have been other languages at other times, including Japanese and Chinese.) It's perhaps especially flattering in that I don't understand what they say, but I do like reading the Italian, French and Spanish aloud.

There are also many references to pieces of my book that are reprinted in literally dozens of anthologies for students, and therefore are assigned for student essays. So many times apparently, that in the past I've found at least two term papers for sale on them, from a couple of outfits that specialize in that particular product. I don't often read these essays, partly because often I have no idea how I would answer the teacher's questions. "What did the author intend when..." You know, I'm not sure. But hosting one of only a few questions in the
Ministerial Examination in English (in Quebec) is a little daunting. Maybe they wanted to provide a little break with my "lighthearted" prose.

Things last forever on the web and almost as long in academia, which I am not complaining about, because every time there's a new edition of one of those textbook anthologies, I get paid. I never got paid at all when Adbusters and I gave permission to Canadian educators to use a column I wrote for that magazine in the early 90s, concerning the brohaha that led to the end of my regular column for a Pittsburgh alternative weekly. The issue that led to my resignation was censorship, but not in a familiar guise. I was told I couldn't write anything about smoking and health---a topic I had written about--- and certainly nothing about the wave of new cigarette ad campaigns aimed at young people-- because it was a condition of a major tobacco company advertising account the paper had just landed.

It was a humbling episode when my popular column disappeared and I got little visible support for my action. I did get a lot of criticism for biting the hand that fed me. So the fact that the issues I tried to raise has been part of a program of study in Canada for about a decade, is some comfort when I run across
this link.

There is some embarrassing criticism (which you can find yourself if you're so interested) and some misinformation that lives on forever, like the amount of my North Coast Cultural Trust grant of a few years ago: the figure stated is double what I actually got.

And while it's great to find references to my work and people writing enthusiastically about it, the risks of that are also evident in posts like
this one in which one of my SF Chronicle essays (on this year's alien invasion TV shows) is summarized with some accuracy, only to be told I missed the point. The problem it turns out isn't our unfocused fears. It's Lucifer. Wish I'd realized that.

I do the goggling thing with purpose sometimes too, usually after something's been published and I'm interested in who has picked up on it. There are a lot of special interest groups for everything, and they preserve at least the titles of things, though some steal whole texts off the net. I'm curious about who gloms onto what. Often I've never heard of the group, like Psychoanalysts Oppose War or Yerba Buena gardening organization.

Or I check out which publishers are using pieces of my reviews (published or just online) to advertise their books. A lot do--especially the university presses, like Yale, Harvard, M.I.T., but also authors and bookstores. I'm glad, actually. So many worthy books are ignored, and as far as I'm concerned, the university presses are the last line of defense.

I am always amused to find myself quoted as an authority, for example in a U.S. government document (though they steal my title and even book cover design) or official Commonwealth of PA site (on Pennsylvania forests) and the United Nations. But I only have to try to figure out how I can pay for a new headlight on my ancient Volvo to put that in perspetive.

But frankly it is something of a tonic to find articles for which I was maybe not paid all that much and/or were available to the public for less time than it took to write them, showing up in places like a
Native American Studies program, an interesting book about larger trends of our times, a Museum of Civilization bibliography, a cultural studies tome (on film), the Mind and Life Institute, Urban Dharma , etc.

As for my writing on the blogs, I see some evidence of comment about it on other blogs, though chiefly from Soul of Star Trek. All in all, the google search is not a sure fire morale booster or antidote to last gasp loneliness, but it is intriguing.

As for why the spacing is so weird on this post, I have no idea. I've spent a good 20 minutes trying to fix it. Maybe it's all those links. Or because it's cold, and it's lightning and thundering out there.
Forward to the Past---Like 30 Million Years

Based on measurements at various locations all over the world, climate scientists found that that CO2 levels rose substantially in 2005, exceeding most recorded single year changes.

The BBC story continues:

The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.

We don't see any sign of a decrease; in fact, we're seeing the opposite, the rate of increase is accelerating," Dr Pieter Tans told the BBC.

The precise level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of global concern because climate scientists fear certain thresholds may be "tipping points" that trigger sudden changes.

The UK government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, said the new data highlighted the importance of taking urgent action to limit carbon emissions.

"Today we're over 380 ppm," he said. "That's higher than we've been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years. Mankind is changing the climate".

30 million years ago was earth's last major climate change, from very hot and tropical to the cooler temperatures that allowed for the evolution of mammals into the species we know today, including primates. Humans have never existed on a planet like earth was, before 30 million years ago.

UPDATE: NASA confirms recent studies showing rapid melting of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, due to global heating. And the Independent reports: Scientists are now convinced that Arctic sea ice is showing signs of both a winter and a summer decline that could indicate a major acceleration in its long-term rate of disappearance. The greatest fear is that an environmental "positive feedback" has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dwarf galaxy NGC 1569 from Hubble telescope. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“Although we need to know much more about evil, we already know a few things beyond doubt. One is the tendency of the evil to project their evil onto others. Unable or unwilling to face their own sinfulness, they must explain it away by accusing others of defects. As we develop a psychology of evil, this fact---already common knowledge among scholars---will surely be more widely publicized. We will be become more rather than less discerning about those who cast stones. As scientific interest in the phenomenon of evil filters down to the public, our consideration of it should become increasingly thoughtful.”

M. Scott Peck

The Daily Babble

Pol Spec

Senator Russ Feingold is proposing that The Big Smirk be censured by the Senate for violating the law with his secret snooping NSA program. The southpaw blogosphere is fully mobilized, everywhere you look, urging readers to contact their Senators. If this catches on and turns into something, it could get Feingold a lot of attention, and we'll see how he stands up to it--a good test for potential presidential nominees. So far he's doing great.

Meanwhile, there's a report on an Al Gore speech in Florida. It sounds as if he's developed a vocabulary for connecting with people on issues and impressions. It's going to be months if not years before we see how 08 prospects shake out, but for right now, I'd say the strongest ticket the Dems could go with would be Gore-Finegold. The blogs are generally backing Feingold for the top spot, with some support for Mark Warner. And of course Hillary is leading everybody in money and clout. But I don't think she's the new Bill Clinton. Oddly enough, it's Al Gore. Gore is the new Clinton in terms of his ability to communicate. I think that will become clearer as time goes on, and we'll see how it all shakes out. Right now, my sense is that Gore-Finegold would beat anyone the Republicans could nominate, especially after what I expect to be a fractious run-up to nomination. Including McCain.

This weekend, an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette by Sally Kalson was getting a lot of attention. She reports on a 7 year old Iraqi boy disfigured by the war, brought to Pittsburgh for reconstructive surgery. Seeing this face of war calls into question its legitimacy in a real way, she writes. It's a fine, balanced piece but I'd expect that from Sally. I knew her a bit when I lived in Pittsburgh and wrote some for the Post Gazette. She's been quietly doing a great job of reporting for a long time in Pittsburgh, so I'm happy to see her get this well-deserved attention.
West Wingers: What Do You Make of This?

So it seems that the first episode after hiatus, and after the cancellation of this series was announced, was at least partially filmed before the death of John Spencer. It shows in that context how important he was to The West Wing, and how important his character was going to remain.

So in seeing the episode and sensing what was originally planned (partly through the previews as well), I'm now wondering how much is really going to be changed in the story, after the cancellation and this sad and untimely death.

At first I thought the "reunion" of series regulars and semi-regulars not seen recently was in response to the show ending forever with the next five episodes, but then it was already a given that this would be Martin Sheen's last year, or at least the last year of the Bartlett presidency. So such a reunion might have been in the works anyway.

I also wonder whether Leo is going to die in the next five shows, or if somehow they are simply going to write around him, and find shots they can include where necessary in the final show. Somehow having Leo live on, especially as vice president, would be a fine memorial to John Spencer.

Anyway, this episode threw a dose of reality into the forward momentum of the "who will win" storylines. Now that President Bartlett has been forced to deploy American troops, possibly for years (in a more reasonable and justifiable combination of Kosovo and Iraq), both candidates see their plans for their presidencies evaporating, just as Bartlett sees his own eight years defined by this one decision, and the outcome. Shades of the next president indeed, who will have to deal with the incredible damage Bush is leaving.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mt. St. Helen's. Snow pack 79% below normal. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

The capacity to deny, to remain innocent, to use belief as a protection against sophistication of every sort---intellectual, aesthetic, moral, psychological---keeps the American character from awakening. The American character remains blind to the fact that the virtues of mediocrity---those pieties of disciplined energy, order, self-control, probity and faith---are themselves messengers of the devil they would overcome."

James Hillman
The Soul's Code
Willed Ignorance

"The thing they couldn't prepare for was the same thing that we won't prepare for, because in their case they didn't know about it and because in our case the political system can't listen to it."

Peter deMenocal, expert on climate history, talking about climate changes overtaking civilizations, quoted in one of two new books on the Climate Crisis, reviewed by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times.
Deconstructing Charlie

I've been watching Charlie Rose again after a long time not. Quick impression: he's become a better interviewer, but he's choosing to interview more boring people.

He interviewed the head of General Electric the other night. Might have been General Electric himself. He's a wily coyote, that guy. He said some smart things about the global corporate landscape, like that India and China are succeeding because they use their markets to define their businesses, and we should do the same. He even mentioned alternative energies and advanced health care, which Americans can create and build, and Americans want to buy. We'd probably disagree on what those mean, though. There's a market on this continent crying out for solar, wind and other renewable sustainable energy systems that work for people. And my idea of advanced health care isn't just hot new CAT scanners from GE, but universal single-payer health care.

He said something else that's true as far as it goes, which is not far enough. Excusing his company's jumping into outsourcing, he said it wasn't because of cheap labor but because of skills and capabilities---in the U.S., 4% of college degrees are in engineering, while it's 30% in India. If you have engineers, he said, you get manufacturing.

Well, maybe in a very narrow sense in recent history that was true, as engineering and other jobs went to India and elsewhere, thanks to failing education systems bled dry by rich people who wanted to spend Their Money on every idiotic indulgence except public schools.

But it's also more generally true that if there was manufacturing here, there would be reason for people to study engineering, because they would have jobs when they finished. The rise of science and technology was tied totally to manufacturing for the past two hundred years. It was the needs of manufacturers and industrial businesses (steel, railroads, coal and oil, etc.) that drove science. The only other comparable factor was warfare. And maybe medicine, a little.

So if G.E. wants engineers in America, give them a place to work in America. And maybe talk a little about the responsibility to pay taxes to support the common good as well as the responsibility of making money.