Friday, July 05, 2013


The LA Lakers just lost the center they traded for last year, Dwight Howard, the biggest name to ever leave the Lakers after only a year.  Lots of mixed feelings in LA though, because of the way he and the team played last year. The LA Times' Bill Plaschke thinks it's all for the best, but I don't quite see it that way.  Howard left because Mike D'Antoni is a crappy coach, and he's the guy who should be fired.  He's destroying the Lakers.  The Little Buss who hired him should turn this team over to his sister.  Plaschke may be right about Howard's character, but if Phil Jackson had been hired as coach, he would have dealt with that during the season.  But Little Buss's ego wouldn't let him hire Jackson, so the Lakers are likely in for a long slide.  Plaschke's fantasy about the Lakers rebuilding around LeBron James in 2014 is laughable.  Nobody has faith in the Lakers organization or aura anymore.  Until they fix that, nobody is going to think that the Lakers' uniform is gold.  Kobe's chance for one more championship was done the minute D'Antoni was hired as coach.

Meanwhile, the SF Giants are in a major swoon, a kind of slow motion but relentless nightmare in which everything that went right in their dream season has gone sour.  Pitching is getting shelled, they aren't getting timely hits, they are making lots of dumb baserunning mistakes, they aren't scoring in the late innings.  Just as the Giants and the Pirates seemed on parallel tracks earlier in the season, right now they're almost mirror opposites.  The Pirates are winning when they are ahead in the late innings.  They are winning in extra innings.  They are winning against teams they are supposed to beat, and winning against the best at a healthy clip.  Now the Pirates are in first place in their division, about 20 games above .500.  The Giants are last in their division, below .500.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Business Climate

Articles and opeds that tell us how bad things are vis a vis the climate crisis are depressingly frequent.  But this one in the NY Times quotes several facts and studies I missed.  Mostly about the ongoing role of those behemoths of the age, the fossil fuel megacorporations.

Mark Bittman first of all cites this Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report showing that the world is not going to run out of fossil fuels for a very long time, once new technologies to wring the stuff out of sands and rocks etc. are considered.  There's potentially five times as much oil to be tortured out of the Earth than we've soaked up and burned up already.  A lot of the extracting action is likely to be within the U.S. So even if societies balk at the damage and expense of getting all of it, for a century or so there's not much threat of Peak Oil.  There are others that dispute this, however.

Bittman then puts this together with a Rolling Stone report that asserts that the Big Oil companies are no longer even faking a commitment to clean energy.   BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”

The implication is that Big Oil has figured out that it doesn't have to hedge its bets by getting into clean energy businesses--it's got such a sweet thing going as the world's richest corporations ever, that nevertheless demand and get government subsidies, and that never has to pay any of the estimated $2 trillion in damages to the global environment.  Why bother?  It's like that t-shirt I used to have, with the Exxon logo and the words: We Don't Care.  We Don't Have to Care.  We're Exxon.  It's an all-purpose slogan.

So with almost literally all the money in the world, these corporations can buy all the state legislators they need to keep on pumping and fracking until the ground collapses beneath befuddled non-voters and I Told You So Jesus Apocalyptics.  And they tie up the federal legislature with paid deniers, otherwise known as Republicans, though some Dems are on the payrolls too. Bittman cites an American Progress study  that counts 125 congressional deniers who soak up some $30 million from fossil fuel corps just in "campaign donations."  Which doesn't include speaking and consultant fees, etc.

So the U.S. and the world keep burning the fuels that fuel the climate crisis, and while everybody else struggles to survive the consequences of past pollution, the future is fried for thousands of years after these folks die in their greed-fevered beds.

Tobacco companies were once all-powerful, but regulations limiting smoking eventually became common and pretty pervasive.  The task is even greater this time, because there's no place for fossil fuel corps to shift their business, unless they can market to extraterrestrials.  We have to hope some of them are run by people with a rudimentary conscience, at least about the world their own future generations will inherit. Not to mention the victims of the climate crisis and their children--look no further than the children of the 19 firefighters killed in Colorado.  It will take that, and immense political will and cultural change to make the necessary difference.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“Nature is far more imaginative than we are.”
--Stamatios M. Krimigis, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
quoted in NY Times  6/27/2013

And a Happy Birthday to Martha P., Bruce D., Graceann P. and all my other birthday twins.

Weather Report

It's hot here.

Of course nothing like much of the rest of the West.  According to the LA Times, on Saturday it hit 122F in Palm Springs, 126 in Death Valley, 113 in Las Vegas, and at least 119 in Phoenix, where airport officials were monitoring temperatures because it would soon be too hot to allow airplanes to fly.

CNN even screamed in a headline that the temperature was approaching "the highest ever recorded on Earth."  The key word would be recorded, but it's an assertion the BBC reported, too.  Later Saturday CNN was concentrating on the death toll.

This huge expanse of heat wave, which began last week, is expected to extend well into next week.  And we are feeling it here as well--the first time a heat wave has included us.  It's nowhere near as intense as these places--but for us, a week or more of highs in the mid to upper 70s and into the 80s is unprecedented.  Our normally high humidity makes these temps seem hotter, and though by next week we may not be cooling down at night quite as much as we are now, we still have cool breezes once the sun goes down.  That's absent for much of the West, including most of California.  Temperatures in Phoenix are staying above 90 at night.

The same change in the Jet Stream that's apparently responsible for this heat and dryness is bringing rain to the East, including places where June was the rainiest on record.

Our heat spell comes as our North Coast area has officially been declared to be in drought.  We had a sunnier and colder winter than normal (I wore wool coats I haven't worn as often since I left Pittsburgh) and while the sunshine was cheery, it also made people really nervous.  It's our rainy season, and it wasn't raining.  We got one but really only one of our usual December storms,and though it had unusually fierce winds (it blew my basketball hoop apart), it brought little rain.  After that there was some stealth rain at night, a few rainy days in February, but not much more. Winter rain has been arriving later and later the past few years, and this year it just didn't come.

Recently it became official--this was the driest winter since North Coast records were kept.

In terms of effects, I'm expecting the unexpected.  But there will be effects, to the drought (moderate, so far) and to the string of hot days that this ecosystem is not used to.  But even in places accustomed to hot summers, the intensity of this heat wave is also something new.