Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What have we done to our home?

Three articles in today's NY Times:

The first article, In the Rockies, Pines Die and Bears Feel It talks about how Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone are making such a strong comeback that the federal government wants to consider lifting Endangered Species Act protections from the grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The second article, World Scientists Near Consensus on Warming, talks about the climate changes that will occur over the next several centuries.

And the third article, Can Humanity Survive? Want to Bet on It?, talks about Dr. Martin Rees, a cosmologist at Cambridge and Britain’s astronomer royal, who is betting that civilization has no more than a 50 percent chance of surviving until 2100.

What links the three articles is a bit more than simply Global Warming. It is what Dr. Rees refers to as the new global village idiots. He is so sure of his prediction that he posted a wager on Long Bets that says: "By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event." He also says that bioerror he means something which has the same effect as a terror attack, but rises from inadvertance rather than evil intent.
Examples of bioerror: The US not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The United States (U.S.), although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol. The signature alone is symbolic, as the Kyoto Protocol is non-binding on the United States unless ratified. The United States is as of 2005 the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

Back to the Grizzly Bears. During winter, Grizzly Bears eat seeds of the whitebark pine, the pine nuts, which also feed Clark’s nutcracker birds and red squirrels, which store the nuts underground. The whitebark pine is a slow grower, which may not even grow pinecones until they are about 50 years old. They have no commercial value, but they anchor the soil, they trap snow which helps the spring run off, and they are lovely.

And recently, the whitebark pine has become a meal to the mountain pine beetle. The beetle has usually focused on midaltitude lodgepole and ponderosa pines, but has expanded its range as it adapts to the warming temperatures in the Rockies. Yes. The temperature in the Rockies has risen two degrees since the mid-1970s, and the effect is the spread of this ravenous beetle. Beetle attacks have added to the toll taken by a disease called white pine blister rust. In the northern Rockies, the beetle infests 143,000 acres. Entire forest vistas, like that at Avalanche Ridge near Yellowstone National Park’s east gate, are expanses of dead, gray whitebarks. One prediction is that global warming will reduce the acreage that has the kind of cold and high altitude climate where the trees now grow by 90%.

Meanwhile, the scientists in Paris at that big ole conference have concluded that:

¶The Arctic Ocean could largely be devoid of sea ice during summer later in the century.

¶Europe’s Mediterranean shores could become barely habitable in summers, while the Alps could shift from snowy winter destinations to summer havens from the heat.

¶Growing seasons in temperate regions will expand, while droughts are likely to ravage further the semiarid regions of Africa and southern Asia.

They also warned that squabbling among teams and government representatives from more than 100 countries — over how to portray the probable amount of sea-level rise during the 21st century — could distract from the basic finding that a warming world will be one in which shrinking coastlines are the new normal for centuries to come.

We can act. We can make change. Last night, I had a vivid dream of becoming a home-based agent - such a small thing, to not actually drive to work, to work from home. We have the technology, and it would be an asset to the air we breathe. We all need to make changes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

One week until SuperBowl Sunday


Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Make every play, clear the way to victory!

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
And let them know why you're wearing the crown!

You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Grandbaby Blogging


Thursday, January 25, 2007

American Idle

Blatantly stolen from Sumo with thanks.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why I do what I do

Selling travel is like walking a tightrope without a net. It is a fine mix of being a psychiatrist, coach, bartender, lawyer and salesperson. It is also a very high stress business, constantly changing, and you never know from day to day if it will be creative or if it will be all order-taking.

But this is why I became a travel agent: I believe that if I can provide people with real travel experiences, I am helping to pave a path toward peace and understanding. This goal, this belief, is why I steer away from the sun destinations (Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii) and focus instead on Southern Hemisphere, adventure and exotic travel, and anything off the beaten path.

My goal is to let people really meet local people, not in a sanitized, touristic theme show, but first-hand - that can mean anything from camping with Aboriginal Elders in a remote area of the Northern Territory to visiting with a Sangomo in Kwazulu Natal. But an intimate experience can change a person's point of view at depth, and that is a path to understanding and peace.

The job is not without stress. People sometimes have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes there is loss - unexpected death, illness, accidents - that affect clients and we have to be there for them - years ago, a colleague had clients take a rental car into a country in Eastern Europe; the car wasn't supposed to go into that particular country. It was a father and son. And the father died of a heart attack, the son spoke only English, he's stuck with an illegal car and not knowing what to do, he called my colleague. I won't go into details but it was the stuff of either a comedy of errors or a spy film, and hard work.

But truly, I do this because I believe that we need to meet other cultures. As of this month, a passport is required for US Citizens to go to Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Perhaps those people who've never traveled beyond those places might decide to venture farther afield.

Once you break bread with someone, you find a common ground.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Isaiah Washington is a flawed man who happens to be an actor. After calling his collegue, T.R. Knight a "faggot", twice, Mr. Washington has pulled a "Mel Gibson" and apologized publicly asking for help. He wants to meet with leaders of the Gay and Lesbian Community to get forgiven.

Washington doesn't have the excuse of being drunk. His prejudices are right on the surface, right there to be seen and heard by anyone in range. His hateful comment about a person he works with are dispicable. And, as one who has been on the receiving end of racist remarks, really all the more shocking. Washington doesn't have Mel Gibson's excuse of being Hutton Gibson's son. He's just a pretty good actor who happens to be a jerk.

Why do we care so deeply about what these people say and do? Does it matter, really, whether or not Paula Abdul is drunk during interviews? I ask this in all seriousness because when I go to work today, all anyone will talk about is celebrity gossip and American Idol. Nobody will even think about the MSC Napoli, a container ship carrying 3500 tons of diesel and fuel oil, and other hazardous materials, as she threatens to break in half just off the English coast. Nobody will talk about The Baghdad bombing this weekend that killed around 70 people.

In general, our nation accepts and practices mediocrity and sameness. We fear change, and we fear anything that is different from us, and we fear the unknown. We fear. And fear is a lie - I've heard it described as false evidence appearing real. The only real truth is in a loving heart. Trust comes from love. Peace comes from love. It was Mother Teresa who never went to an anti-war rally. She said if someone would have a peace rally, she'd be there.

So, what do we do now? I know I practice hate and fear when I focus on the problem; how do I change that to focus on the solution? I do that by changing my language, and what I talk about; I do that by my actions. Such a tall order, because it is easiest to focus on what is wrong.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Keep Donnie McDaniel in your prayers

Just got an email telling me that Donnie McDaniel's father is in hospital and in quite serious condition. Please keep Donnie, and his father Gary, in your prayers.

An Arts Meme

I have been tagged by Pursey TuttweillerK= for the arts meme, which I'd originally seen at Kvatch's. So here goes:

1.) Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving copies away.

The Life Of Pi, by Yann Martel, is an amazing story of hope and survival. About a boy who spends nearly a year shipwrecked with a Royal Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. It is a beautiful book.

2.) Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music.

I Want to Hold Your Hand by Lennon and McCartney.

When the Beatles arrived on US Shores, I was a frightened, repressed, depressed little high school girl who didn't get around much. And something about the Beatles, and this song, just unleashed my wilder side. They changed everything.

3.) Name a film you can watch again and again.

Oh, god, there are so many. And it depends on my mood. Among them:

Signing in the Rain
Waiting for Guffman
The Producers (Original, with Zero and Gene Wilder)
Young Frankenstein
Gone With The Wind (or, Clark Gable in GWTW)
The Deer Hunter
Unforgiven -- Clint Eastwood is an amazing director, and actor. This is a great film.

I could go on, but it's supposed to be one, and I can't pick just one.

4.) Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief. Helen Mirren. She is amazing.

5.) Name a work of art you would like to live with. Well, I just came across a little photo by Fan Ho yesterday that I liked so much, I bought it. He did a series of small, one-off images that are just exquisite. All shadows and mystery, and serenity.

6.) Name a work of fiction that penetrated your real life.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler, was one that felt incredibly close to home. Both my brother and I said that it described our family.

7.) Name a punch line that always makes you laugh.

In the original version of "The Producers", Mel Brooks put together a wild assortment of bad taste that just makes me sream with laughter every scene. But, as Bialistok and Bloom are trying to get in to see the writer of "Springtime for Hitler," they are met by a woman leaning out her window, hair in curlers, cigarette ash dangling, and wearing a housedress. They ask her a question, and call her Madam.

She says, "I'm not a madam. I'm a con-see-urge."

I love that line.

And for a sight gag, two which kill me every time: in "Waiting for Guffman", Corky St. Clair is telling Dr. Pearl not to wear his glasses in a particular scene in the musical the town is doing. Dr. Pearl takes off his glasses, and his eyes immediately cross. Later, in the scene in question, Dr. Pearl enters the stage in a fake beard and his eyes crossed, looking just like Ben Turpin. Ron Albertson says the line "What has your keen and perceptive vision shown us?" And again, I just disolve.

So now I have to tag some folks. Okedoke.

I tag The Fat Lady Sings
and Sigrid Jardin
and Betmo
and Sewmouse

I'm done.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

This is for Donnie McDaniel

Game day is Sunday, Jan. 22 Bears vs NOLA Saints. And, I confess, if Rex Grossman doesn't learn to plant his feet in the next 24 hours, I fear that my beloved Bears will go home.

But nevertheless, I bleed Black and Orange, I hope the Bears kick butt tomorrow, and so I sing with full voice:


Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Make every play, clear the way to victory!

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
And let them know why you're wearing the crown!

You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

Christmas was fun because I got to play with my cousins and stuff. And now I talk on the phone with Gramma a lot. I say "doggidoggidoggidoggi" and then Gramma answers me, and then I say "Doggiedoggeeeedoggeedoggeeee" and she answers me. We have fun talking on the phone. Sometimes I say "nerdernerdernerder" or "bububububub" and then I put in some real words but not too many because I don't like to. I love my Elmo and my Nemo. I love my mommy and daddy and gramma and other gramma and grampa too. I have to play now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hot new ski destination

Snow fell yesterday in Malibu, California. I hear the next new Reality TV show is going to be called Ski Malibu With The Rich And Famous.

Really, today I will leave the domestic spying issue to other, more eloquent bloggers to address, especially the part about how Bush and his administration have broken enough laws over the last five years to lock them up and throw away the key. Today, as snow confounds Los Angeles, and Greenland heats up, today I want to mention what a board of scientists, including 18 Nobel Prize winners, has determined.

The directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine, who set the time on the Doomsday Clock, said: “We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices. North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed US emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia are symptomatic of a larger failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on earth.

“As in past deliberations, we have examined other human-made threats to civilisation. We have concluded that the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause drastic harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival.” (emphasis mine.)

They say that Global Warming poses the most dire threat to civilization, second only to nuclear weapons. Second ONLY to nuclear weapons. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that most of the warming over the last 50 years is caused by human activity: the result is that carbon dioxide levels in the atmoshpere are at the highest level in 650,000 years. That carbon dioxide acts like a blanket that heats up the earth's surface, oceans and atmosphere, which in turn helps to create more carbon dioxide, which... Dependence on fossile fuels (Big Oil) is a key factor in this cycle.

And so the panel has focused on this global problem, noting that in some areas, Global Warming has been happening faster than predicted. If the Global Community maintains a "business as usual" attitude, wherein we take no further measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions--this would raise the global temperature 2.8 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, causing a sea-level rise of about 80 feet. The United States would lose most of its cities on the East Coast: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami, and nearly the whole state of Florida. China would have 250 million displaced people; India, 150 million. India has already lost one inhabited island, displacing 10,000 residents who moved to another island that is almost completely submerged.

The panel proposes Global action, because this is a Global problem. Civilization depends on this. Of course, we can wander through many Right Wing blogs which dismiss Global Warming as a liberal plot, but to them I pose this question: Would you rather be right, or swimming with the fishes?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Uh, oh

Hat tip to Frog and Fred. Want one? Get it here.

Hot New Vacation Destination

That's right, people. New Island resorts will spring up overnight - and I am not talking about the famous Ice Hotel, either. No, no. I am talking about "Caribbean North", a growing number of newly discovered islands that had previously been covered with glacial ice. "All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines. Nunataks — “lonely mountains” in Inuit — that were encased in the margins of Greenland’s ice sheet are being freed of their age-old bonds, exposing a new chain of islands, and a new opportunity for Arctic explorers to write their names on the landscape."

And with that climate change comes an opportunity for a whole new flock of luxury hotels. Be the first on your block to get an Arctic Sunburn - travel to the land where fur is fast becoming obsolete (partly because those attractive fur animals, Polar Bears and Baby Harp Seals, are disappearing. But hell, a girl can think in terms of string bikinis, right?)

I'm here to help - after all, I am a travel professional.

Monday, January 15, 2007

In Los Angeles, it was so cold that...

When Johnny Carson did his monologues on The Tonight Show, he often included a bit that was roughly: in (name of city) it was so (blank) that (punch line.)

Example: "In Los Angeles, it was so cold that Farmers begin assessing the damage to fruit, which could hit half a billion dollars, and ice causes a freeway pileup.

Wait. That's not funny. And while the rest of the nation is wading through a strange, warm winter, the West Coast and Mountain States are being socked with record cold and snow.

In the 2004 film, The Day After Tomorrow Global warming causes large areas of the Arctic ice shelf to break off and melt, meaning that the Atlantic ocean is diluted by large amounts of fresh water. this then disrupts the Gulf Stream causing an unnatural cooling of the northern hemisphere. This then triggers a series of anomalies, eventually leading up to a massive "global superstorm" system consisting of three gigantic hurricane-like superstorms, which result in an ice age for the northern hemisphere within days. The film is not so great on the science part; but the special effects are pretty darn entertaining.

Still, the underlying point of the film is this: we humans are having a devastating affect on climate. Our obsession with "more" and "bigger" is actually killing us, and our home. Our dependence on oil is a primary contributor to greenhouse gasses which are indeed changing the climate.

While there is a natural progression of climate change - ice ages do occur cyclically. But do we really have to speed it up? Any way you look at it, this winter is pretty peculiar.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Game day: Bears Vs. Seahawks


Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Make every play, clear the way to victory!

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
And let them know why you're wearing the crown!

You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Choices: Good or Greed

Yes, this is what it is coming down to: Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs has drawn a line in the sand. In an interview Thursday on Federal News Radion, Mr. Stimson said that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

Stimson listed those firms who are actually doing the correct, ethical act of representing people - and by listing the names of those firms, he places a big fat bullseye on those firms. Stimson cited the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

A core American value disintegrates before our eyes: to treat ALL people equally before the law. To assume innocence until proven guilty. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in favor of this representation: said he had no problem with the current system of representation. “Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases,” he said.

But the Defense Department, through Mr. Stimson, has drawn a line in the sand: “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.” (emphasis mine.)

So basically, Mr. Stimson has given corporate America the directive, to choose between Good, or their Greed.

I don't know about you, but I weep.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush's legacy of lies

In his most recent Special Comment, Keith Olbermann refers to Bush as the President who cried wolf. As one of the few news voices for truth, Olbermann's Special Comments tend to be courageous, and pointed, and for me, at least, always surprising that this comes out of the mouth of "That sports news guy."

Sadly, the legacy of this President is one of lies, hate, and contradictions. He has cheapened the office of the Presidency by his policies, and has placed all American citizens in danger. We are less safe in the world, having lost our allies, having gained the hatred of Muslims everywhere - all because Bush wants to prove that his is bigger than anyone else's.

Last night, Olbermann read again the list of Bush's contradictions, which he'd read on Wednesday before the President's speech. I list them here as well:

"Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for America.

Now he says it is vital.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control.

Last night he promised to embed them in Iraqi units.

He told us about WMD.

Mobile labs.

Secret sources.

Aluminum tubes.


He has told us the war is necessary:

Because Saddam was a material threat.

Because of 9/11.

Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaida. Terrorism in general.

To liberate Iraq. To spread freedom. To spread Democracy. To prevent terrorism by gas price increases.

Because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.

Because — 439 words in to the speech last night — he trotted out 9/11 again.

In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

To get Muqtada Al-Sadr. To get Bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than the generals told him to. He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government “de-Baathified.”

He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. He gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

He and his government told us: America had prevailed, mission accomplished, the resistance was in its last throes.

He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.

He has insisted it’s up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.

He has trumpeted the turning points:

The fall of Baghdad, the death of Uday and Qusay, the capture of Saddam. A provisional government, a charter, a constitution, the trial of Saddam. Elections, purple fingers, another government, the death of Saddam.

He has assured us: We would be greeted as liberators — with flowers;

As they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about “stay the course.”

We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad. And, last night, that to gain Iraqis’ trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.

He told us the enemy was al-Qaida, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now Iran and Syria.

He told us the war would pay for itself. It would cost $1.7 billion. $100 billion. $400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night’s speech alone cost another $6 billion.

And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November and the majority of the American people.

Oh, and one more to add, tonight: Oceania has always been at war with East Asia."

While Olbermann speaks for many of us, it is up to us to take action. Again, write your Congressman, demand impeachment. Demand it. We have to find our way to restoring dignity to the United States, and the only way to do it is regime change at home.

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

Hallo. My gramma has had a very busy week since she got back from Tahishiti or wherever it was and she had to do work so she's not been visiting too many blogs except a few, but we did talk on the phone twice and I told her plftpfltxfrrf, and I told her hi g hi g hi g hi g, and I told her that thing where you rub your fingers on your lips and say bbbbbbb. Then she sang "teapot" to me, and then she sang the ah-m song and told me a joke. She has a funny singing voice.

Bye bye. See you later. I have to go play now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And now for something completely different

Does anyone remember The Mod-Est Lads? That group from Bladderpool, England, who recorded briefly for Roger "Clecky" Davis of Clecky Records in 1966? They made one record for Clecky Records, Trouser Load of Love, and it's quite upbeat, and you can dance to it. My favorite is the tune called "They Stand Straight Up" because it reminds me so much of LA.

Anyway, they are now on a wonderful compilation of nits (non-hits) on this newish release from Clecky, called "Let's Get Clecky":

This homage to K-Tel is wonderfully eclectic, and well worth a listen. And it gets your mind off the disaster of the Bush administration. I'm just saying.

It's just a number, right?

I'm having an opinion. My opinion is based upon contempt prior to investigation because I didn't watch Bush's speech last night - I assumed that he would lie, and that he would refuse to take a golden opportunity to admit that his policies have failed. I assumed that he would refuse to announce troop withdrawal from Iraq, and instead that he would indeed commit 20,000 more troops to Viet Nam... oops, I mean Iraq.

Guess what? I was wrong. Bush did not commit 20,000 more troops. It was actually 21,500 more troops. And my theme for today is this: It's just a number, right?

In my freshman year at New Trier High School, the first American "Advisor" was killed in Viet Nam. I was 13 years old, and, up until that point, highly unaware of an outside world. I read this news, and, about the same time, found myself going to a small rally in one of the suburbs where Martin Luther King, Jr., was speaking. He wasn't speaking about Viet Nam - he was speaking about human dignity, and while I don't recall his words, I do recall the sense of awakening.

That was the year I realized that our involvement in Viet Nam was wrong, and that we were trying to police a civil war that had gone on for centuries, and that other governments had tried and failed to interfere in the will of the people. I read about Buddhist monks lighting themselves on fire in protest of the South Vietnamese government. I began to really notice the deep levels of hatred that fuel wars, and that hatred was based on fear, greed and ignorance.

And now I feel our nation has been living in Macondo, trapped in rooms of mirrors or mirages. We have forgotten our past, and we may be at the end of our future. A commitment of more troops in Iraq, the threat that Bush will escalate this illegal war into Iran and Syria echoes both Lyndon Johnson's hubris in escalating Viet Nam, and Richard Nixon's blatant lie that he had a secret plan to end the war -- instead escalating into Laos and Cambodia. After his election, the war raged on another six years, until the ignominious fall of Saigon.

And here we are again. We stand on the edge of a cliff, falling off without even looking. American troops attacked an Iranian diplomatic mission in Iraq, and we stand on the edge of a cliff. Is there no turning back? Have we lived in so much comfortable ignorance that we, like the residents of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's fictional town, will perish? The last line of One Hundred Years of Solitude reads races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

As we repeat our past, our nation's soul begins to perish. We may not have a second opportunity.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Benchmarks, Milestones, and a pissed off Faculty

So, the faculty of SMU is angry about the proposed Bush presidential library at Southern Methodist University. “There’s been a lack of transparency from the beginning,” said Tony Pederson of the journalism faculty, urging the university’s administration “to be more forthcoming with detailed information.”

Mr. Pederson could well be talking about the way Mr. Bush has conducted his presidency: lying to the American people in order to invade Iraq, Bush now plans to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq. In his address to the Nation tonight, Bush plans to admit Iraq mistakes, and his solution is to send more US troops. The Democrats, led by Senator Edward Kennedy, plan a largely symbolic vote that would require Mr. Bush to gain Congressional approval before sending more troops. I read this and vacilate between thinking it's too little, too late OR it's about time the Democrats demand accountability. Or both.

And in his general disdain for the environment, his refusal to find alternative energy sources, Bush has lifted a ban on offshore oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay. U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and other state politicians praised Bush's action, but said care must be taken not to damage the bay's extraordinary sea life.

The common thread in these three items is disdain and arrogance, woven together with lies and secrecy. We've lain waste to Iraq, once home to incredible riches of history and art. Some mother's child will be the last US soldier to die in Iraq in pursuit of Bush's folly. We will destroy the environment in pursuit of Bush's folly. But not to worry: Halliburton will be there, building condos on the Moon for the Bush family and the Cheney family, once our Earth becomes uninhabitable.

And to remind us of how beautiful our planet is, Laura of Somewhere in New Jersey is hosting the Good Planets gallery for January. Send your photos to her at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net for this Saturday's offering.

Tahiti trip report will follow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Our Breathing Earth

What does a new year bring? Hope? Hangovers? Is it just one more day? Despair? I'm packing to go on vacation, leaving later today. And before I go, I am running through the blog world to say Howdy, and check in. Which is how I found The Breathing Earth over at Dusty's place.

This map shows in real time the carbon emmissions of each country, along with birth and death rates, and population. Now, I have a confession to make. Because I travel, I leave a big carbon footprint. Air travel is a huge contributor to Greenhouse Gasses. I share this problem with Al Gore. I'm a travel agent. I send people on airplanes. And I know that the airline industry is trying to find a way to make more fuel efficient planes.

At home, I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid; I recycle; I use energy efficient bulbs; I don't use air conditioning. But I do get on airplanes and fly. I don't have an answer. How do you help the environment, and how do you harm it? Because we all do both.

Have at it, I will be back in a week.