Pope Francis blesses environment, McKibben gives Pope his blessing

Laudato Si’, the papal encyclical letter written by Pope Francis, is helping to move global warming to the forefront of the world’s consciousness.

The fearless that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The fearlessness that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Recent years have exposed the emptiness of the free market ideology — arguably a theology — and U.S. intervention. In turn American voters have staged some dramatic about-faces: from George W. Bush to Barack Obama (or our idealized version of him before he proceeded to continue and even double-down on — surveillance — some of Bush’s policies); from Scott Brown to Elizabeth Warren; and Mike Bloomberg to Bill de Blasio. But none of these can compare with the series of popes culminating in the ossified Benedict XVI to Francis, who didn’t take long to reveal himself as a champion of the dispossessed (and I’m speaking as a former Catholic to whom no love was lost on the church). Continue reading

Talking about my electric car – Renewable Journal for 7/11/2014

For more posts in this series, please click here.

I was eating lunch with some coworkers recently when the topic of cars came up. As someone who has recently purchased a new car, I mentioned that I had bought an all electric Nissan Leaf, and that kicked off a 10-15 minute discussion of the particulars of charging, the economics of it, pollution, how quiet it is, why I bought it over a Volt or some other electric, expectations for bad weather driving, the confusion between a 100% electric vs. a hybrid, and so on. Continue reading

Go green, vote blue

A few weeks ago, my friend Katie Della Terza, who writes an eco-friendly lifestyle blog called Shades of Green, asked me to write a blog entry on why progressive and environmentally-conscious voters should vote for Barack Obama this election, and why people should concern themselves with environmental issues this year.

To be honest, there weren’t that many people talking about the environment and our effect on it until Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast this week. In political terms, talking about climate change doesn’t win votes – and it usually gets swept under the rug in favor of more voter-friendly campaign ideas. Every debate series since Jimmy Carter’s election has had a question about the environment, and climate change – until this election cycle.

Continue reading

Want the planet to survive? Time to go rogue…

The solution will not be televised…

With 36.1% of the civilian labor force unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy in neutral since 2007, and the national debt threatening to swallow us all in a spiraling vortex of compound interest, do we really need to talk about global warming right now? That depends on whether we want life to exist on this planet’s surface in 100 years. Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #118: VOTE!

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #114: Big Star

“The radio makes hideous sounds.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #111: Mmmmm… Beeeeeer

Sorry for the long absence. Let’s carry on, shall we? “If you listen to the guys up in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be up there sitting with them.” Who said it? Continue reading

Gulf oil has likely reached the Loop Current

The image at right is a composite of the most recent MODIS satellite image of the spill area in the Gulf of Mexico and a National Weather Service model of the Loop Current. It was created by Brad Johnson of Think Progress’ The Wonk Room.

The composite image shows that the oil spill area has almost certainly reached the Loop Current, which is one of the major currents in the Gulf of Mexico. The loop current runs right past the Florida Keys and then meets up with the Gulf Stream, and if the tar balls that have been washing up on Key West beaches over the last day or two are from the spill (they may be from older spills years ago), then we should assume that the MODIS satellite imagery is the minimum extent of the spill area. Given that scientists aboard a NOAA survey ship have observed a plume at least 45 km long and 10 km wide that’s thousands of feet below the surface (and thus not visually detectable from the surface), it’s reasonable to say that the observed surface slick does not represent the full extent of the spill to date. And NOAA has now closed 19% of federally-controlled Gulf waters to all fishing (map).

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #96: Saturn's Hexagon and the Bulava Spiral

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Continue reading

Adjunct faculty: an unsustainable disgrace

by Joseph Domino

There is perhaps no topic in America where we talk out of two sides of our mouths more than Education. Education is in crisis at all levels, but at the college and university level it cries out and no one seems to be listening. Everyone says education is important but our standards continue to drop and we fall behind other countries. Faculty, the hearts and souls of universities, are being relegated to “operating costs” which are forever scrutinized for reduction. The adjunct system, around a long time, provides that cost control, and it has slowly been eroding opportunities for full-time professors and the salaries and benefits that accompany that status.

When adjunct faculty handle a full-time course load plus work other part-time jobs to make ends meet it compromises the quality of their instruction which affects students. Continue reading

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can't cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading

Has a college degree become a bad investment? Better question: is conservative rhetoric the worst investment in history?

Yesterday over at Future Majority, Kevin Bondelli responded to Jack Hough’s New York Post column “Don’t Get That College Degree!” Bondelli’s take led with one of the more terrifying titles I’ve seen lately: “Has College Become a Bad Investment?” Yow. When you dig the hole so deep that you can even use that kind of question as a rhetorical device, you know you’re in some deep, deep kim-chee. Seriously. That one ranks right up there with “Is breathing really a good idea?” and “What are the lasting benefits of a howitzer shot to the balls?”

Snark aside, Bondelli does a nice job of addressing Hough, who “argues that the increase in lifetime wages for graduates no longer makes up for the financial burden of university education and the ensuing student loan burden.” He also takes on one of the GOP’s most successful and devastating canards, explaining that Continue reading