I have little doubt that Hillary Clinton was fundamentally involved in the Saudi Arabian announcement today that women will be "allowed" to vote, hold office, and serve on advisory panels:
Reporting from Cairo— King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia surprised his ultraconservative nation Sunday by announcing bold reforms that for the first time will give women the right to vote, run for local office and serve on the Shura Council, the king's advisory board.
The measures by an aging monarch who has battled Islamic hard-liners for years will marginally improve the standing of women in a country that still forbids them to drive or leave the house without their faces covered. The moves appear likely to enrage religious conservatives while advancing at least a veneer of change in one of the world's most repressive states.
As an earnest and o-so-serious investigator of the ongoing environmental collapse, noted by few and bemoaned by only-a-few-more, I've recently realized that confronting the converging emergencies of overreach, overtoxicity, overpresumption, and overgrowth by way of rational discourse is no longer tenable.
Rationality does not triumph over belief. Sanity does not triumph over faith.
Consequently, we're launching a different model of affecting cultural change.
As we close in on the 10th anniversary of our national, idiotic swerve into terror incognita, a land where fear was the currency used to buy off rationality, I'm reminded of the dots that weren't "connected" prior to the attacks. It allowed a handful of zealots to luck into a trifecta of suicidal glory, which allowed a different handful of zealots to luck into an opportunity to pursue their own suicidal vision of American extremism.
In light of the long-term environmental consequences of fossil energy extraction (whether that be hydraulic fracturing, tar sands, mountaintop mining, offshore drilling), and the cost of protecting water, air, and both human and ecosystem health, it's clear that something must be done.
Most experts agree that over the next ten to twenty years, fossil fuels will become an ever-more specialized (and ever-more expensive) niche product, because solar, wind, battery, and smartgrid technologies will become both more efficient and much cheaper, over those two decades.
The problem is how to get through the next ten to twenty years with the least long-term damage, to the largest area. It is a classic conflict between short-term benefit and long-term harm; between short-term profit and long-term quality of life.
I watched -- and worked in the aftermath of -- the collapse of the Soviet empire in '89, '90, 91.
I tried to encourage, at the time, through my tenuous links in politics and policy, a dramatic response to help the Eastern European and Russian people shift to democracy, via a sort of Marshall Plan.
But alas, this was during Bush Sr.'s short tenure as president.
It was, at the time, the biggest missed opportunity in foreign policy I'd ever seen. We could have had their friendship forever. World unity was possible.
Instead, we let "the market" lead the way. And so the Mafia and the KGB took over.
We have a new opportunity.
As I've been doing daily for more than three years, this morning I was collecting news items documenting the ongoing environmental collapse (and adding punchlines) for the site I coedit.
I ran across a story in the Guardian (UK), entitled 71 months and counting. It's written by the policy director of the New Economics Foundation -- well worth reading.
It's part of a monthly series that began August 1, 2008, with The final countdown, which I revisited. He expected that we had about 100 months to change society dramatically if we were to avoid the 50/50 tipping point of runaway climate change.
Correct me if I'm wrong, please.
DDOS -- Distributed Denial of Service -- is what's been hammering WikiLeaks the last couple of days.
That's when kajillions of requests for a server's webpage bombard a server, so much so that it can't distinguish between legitimate requests and other traffic. It's called a DDOS attack.
It's used as a blackmail tool ("I pwn 100,000 infected computers, and if I say "go," you'll be hit by 100,000 clients every single second of every day to your site. You'll stop making money. Pay me $100k, and I'll go away"). It's an approach that has generated the black market of viruses. Because if you've infected 1,000,000+ computers with a virus you can command ("hit acme.com every second from your always-on computer connection") then you can bring almost any server down.
Now, WikiLeaks, over the last few days, has been hit by a massive DDOS. Hunh? This is not blackmail as we've come to know it, nor is it something that "hackers" would do.
It means, I'm afraid, that our own governments have been putting viruses on our computers.
This season's in thing? Aggressive stance!
It's not just a win, with extra-wide shoulders, very specific codpieces, and bald-man big-package whiteness, it's also causing conflagration on the catwalks.
That new style is hot, hot, HOT.
Today the rain fell
and the small barn roof
was the timpani
in the symphony of the rain
Today the rain fell
and the big barn roof
thrummed like a thousand
marching hobnail boots.
When we heard about 350.org's 10/10/10 project a couple of months ago, we struggled to find one that was appropriate to our own project.
Last week we had an epiphany, and we've launched an 11th-hour experiment, to gather 350 jokes about environmental collapse by 10/10/10, and then make that database freely available for nonprofit use.
Why jokes? Because by laughing, we understand differently.
And because environmentalists are, according to most conservative pundits, a humorless lot, too serious by half, and we want to prove them wrong.
Below are the 40 jokes we've collected so far (only 310 to go!), in descending order of recency, not quality. There are some good ones!
If you'd like to participate, please do, either in the comments (I'll copy and paste 'em!) or directly, on the 350jokes page on our site.
Think like a stand-up comedian!
A new study by J. Alroy, just published in Science (subscription required for full text), has been getting some reporting by other sources. It's mildly entitled "The Shifting Balance of Diversity Among Major Marine Animal Groups."
It prods me to my keyboard.
Evolution, and biodiversity, and the interrelationships of biosystems, are to me the imprint of the universe's organizing principles. It's what I grew up with instead of religion.
My father was an evolutionary biologist and animal behaviorist, and so I grew up with dinnertime discussions about evolutionary pressures on butterfly wing designs, or the evolutionary explanations for beehive altruism, or why mating behavior affected peacock feather development.
Elroy's analysis -- while not a surprise -- hit me surprisingly hard, because it drove home the full impact of the "sixth extinction."
It's what's for dinner.
And lunch, and breakfast. Its danger depends a bit on whether you're flora or fauna, insect or mammal, baby or oldster -- and, of course, what you've accumulated.
But it's dangerous, and on the rise.