Archive for the 'politics' Category


Happy news indeed

A few days ago, the New York Times decided to get rid of TimesSelect, making all of its current content free. (And archives back to 1987 are free, too.) This delights me for many of reasons, not the least of which is I can once again read Paul Krugman’s op-ed column, which had been a for-fee item under TimesSelect.

And now, I just found out (thanks, Jan) that Krugman has a blog.

My cup runneth over…



Theodore Parker, a nineteenth-century Unitarian minister, wrote, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I love this quote. It reminds me to be optimistic about humanity even when truly horrible things are happening.

I hope I can maintain that optimism in light of this: just a little while ago, George W. Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s prison term. Good grief–Bush didn’t even wait until his term was over.

Justice is out there somewhere–I know it. But I think it’s currently obscured in a heavy fog at the moment…


Poor Rachel

Jasmine at the Worsted Witch just put up a post with what has to be one of the best titles ever: “The right bashes Rachel Carson on the anniversary of her birth, because they suxx0r and eat their own boogers.” (Leetspeak and boogers in the same sentence–nice.)

Rachel Carson wrote a book in 1962 called Silent Spring that argued that pesticide use was harmful to the environment, especially birds (hence the “silent spring”). It is considered one of the foundational works of the modern environmental movement, and though its original publication was surrounded by some controversy (namely in the form of attacks from the chemical industry) the scientific community (that is, the part of it not in the pocket of agribusiness and biochemical companies) generally agrees with Carson’s thesis.

The Worsted Witch links to an interesting piece in today’s Salon, “Rachel Carson’s birthday bashing,” that focuses on the debate over DDT use in malaria control.

Recent critics claim that Carson’s book led to the banning of DDT in the USA, which led to the spread of malaria in the Third World. Therefore, they say, all of those malaria deaths are her fault–and the fault of the environmental movement at large. (“[mutter] Bunch of goddam hippies…[mutter].”) The very best part is when they say that environmentalists are “worse than Hitler.” Yup.

Give me a break. The Salon article cites several experts–including the World Health Organization, which leads global efforts to eradicate malaria (so, um, yeah–I’d say those people know what they’re talking about)–who say that attempts to tie decreased DDT use to malaria deaths are ludicrous. In fact, death rates decreased at the same time treatment shifted from insecticides to medicine. DDT is still in use in many places today, and when used lightly and carefully, it can have some effectiveness. One important point–which Carson raised and which is still valid today–is that relying too strongly on only one solution, particularly one to which organisms can develop resistances, is a bad idea in the long run. DDT may be useful, but it can’t be the only option. And people who insist that it is and then blame Carson and all environmentalists for malaria deaths…well, they probably do eat their own boogers.

Oh, and it’s worth noting (thank you, Great Wik!) that the bastion of conservatism known as the National Review ranked Silent Spring #78 on its list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Century. Even they weren’t idiots on this point.


Workers of the world, unite!

Happy May Day (Labour Day), everyone!

(I wonder how many Google hits on that title will bring people here…)

In Making Light I came across this letter, written by a Little Rock lawyer and published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 16 April:

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

Hot Springs

My first thought was “Oh. My. Dog.” Then I read through the comments and learned that the letter was apparently a satire–one that yielded lots of angry letters in the newspaper from readers unaware that it was a satire. Did the newspaper print the original letter in all sincerity, I wonder? Or were the editors also aware of the joke?


A dream come true

I first heard of Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream ice cream right before it hit the stores about a month ago. The latest flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, it “is a decadent melting pot of vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl. It’s the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth.”

Of course, I knew right away that I had to try it. Not only does it have a delicious combination of flavors, but, well, it’s ice cream. (Really, no reason is necessary beyond that.) Unfortunately, I have been unable to find it in any stores in my area…until this evening.

Let me just say this: I’m one of those people who, when pressed to name a favorite ice-cream flavor, usually says, “Oh, I can’t possibly choose just one.” But you know, maybe I can now…

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