Friday, December 17, 2010

Emerson for the Day

“It is not imagination that commonly masks reality; it is routine.”

--Emerson biographer Robert D. Richardson, summarizing an Emerson point.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fate of the Polar Bear

There's a bunch of new macro-news about the Climate Crisis, and none of it is good. But for the moment, there's one study that professes one sliver of hope about one species: the polar bear. The headline from this study by a US Geological team published in Nature says that the polar bear may not necessarily be doomed to extinction--that if there are immediate major cuts in greenhouse gases emissions, the polar bear has a chance.

This BBC article goes on to note that it isn't much of a chance, but there are two interesting points the article makes. First is from the study, which is that the tipping point in the Arctic has not yet been reached (as at least one other study suggests). This is based on observational studies as opposed to projections from models.

The second point is also observational, and it points to the more likely fate of the polar bear--more likely because it has already begun, and it mirrors the fate of many other species. As the characteristics of their Arctic habitat are lost, polar bears come into contact with other bear species, and crossbreeding has already begun. The first polar bears with brown fur mixed with white have been observed--probably from a grizzly bear mating. The article notes that other Arctic species are involved in the same process. So the polar bear is going extinct as a distinct species, as the Arctic heats up and destroys the conditions that make the polar bear the polar bear.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Beginning To Look Alot Like...

It's not Christmas yet, but President Obama's tax cut agreement won in the Senate by a large margin, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell passed the House and is one vote away from a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate (with the support of 77% of American in one poll), and he signed the bipartisan bill he got through Congress that stops a large pay cut for doctors from Medicare which threatened medical care for seniors. Meanwhile new polls show that his job approval among liberal Democrats did not drop appreciably because of the tax cut controversy (it's at 87%), Americans trust him more than Republicans, and way more than Congress as a whole (their approval rating is 13%), and he's well ahead of everybody to be re-elected in 2012.
Update 12/16: Repeal of DADT now has 61 votes. But a vote on the bill isn't yet scheduled in the Senate.
2nd Update: Tax cut bill passed the House. DADT vote scheduled for Sunday. Senate proceeding on START treaty consideration, but GOPers reneged on promises and killed the overall spending bill they had previously agreed to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Emerson for the Day

"His own culture—the unfolding of his own nature—is the chief end of man.”

[ Phipp's Conservatory in Pittsburgh, November.]
Photo copyright William Kowinski 2010.