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Total number of comments: 11 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:39)

elkern

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  • Basic Facts on Clothing and Murder for American Bigots
    • My 6-ft+ 19-yr old son wears a hoodie sometimes; likewise, I've seen him walking in public with his bloomers showing.

      Unlike our President, I can't really say "that could have been my son".

      My son is white.

      I won't say that Trayvon Martin was killed "because he was black", but I do think that he would still be alive if he weren't.

  • Tron Dance from Japan: Homage to to the Modern Body
    • Thank you, prof Cole. I had not heard of Moebius' death. He'll always be Moebius to me, the best (only?) reason to read Heavy Metal. Spin in peace, Airtight Garage.

  • The US Congress's UNESCO Problem: Daily Show
    • Like Bob (above), I watched this with clenched fist & open (LOL'ing) mouth. US Congress should be forced to watch this.

      But still, they shied away from making thed point explicity: Congress does this kind of thing because they are owned by AIPAC on these issues.

      Also, the Law they cited says that the US must defund any agency which admits the PLO - which is NOT the name of the nascent country admitted to UNESCO, is it? This make the Obama administration more culpable; they could easily have picked this legal nit as a way out of this.

  • Marsh on Obama: The Party's Over
    • The Ralph Nader point is NOT a canard (don't duck the issue?).

      Disclosure: I'm a Green; I voted for Nader in 2000 (I lived in a "safe" state which Gore won handily).

      Sure, partisan Democrats often overstate Nader's responsibility for the 2000 disaster, but Ms. Marsh understates it. Historically, strong 3rd-Party candidates in the US almost always tip the election away from the major party they are closer to.

      Nader helped elect Bush (boo). Perot helped elect Clinton (yay). Roosevelt (Teddy) helped elect Wilson (yay).

      It sucks, but that's how the current system works.

      It can be changed, by changing each State's electoral laws.
      Vote for state legislators who will support IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) or other alternatives to the "winner-take-all" system . Make it possible for third parties to run without making things worse in the short run.

      In the meantime, I implore Progressives to vote Democratic when opinion polls indicate a close race for any Federal office. Vote Green (or whatever) for State & Local offices. That's the only real way to build a real 3rd party - bottom up, not top-down.

  • Hundreds of Thousands of Arabs Protest their Governments
  • Green Energy in 20-40 Years?
    • Thanks for the post & the link, Prof. Cole. The web is full of sky-pie-tech solutions to the Peak Oil & Climate Change problems, mostly delusional. This looks like a sober analysis of existing tech. But as Zero points out above, the catch is "political will". Posts like this can help generate that will.

      I agree with Al - "biofuel" is bogus. Call it "Cornohol"; most ears will catch the unpleasant Beavis reference.

      I think Spyguy's comment includes an intersting pair of "wrongs" which add up to a "right":
      1. Nuke Fission is NOT a short-term solution, because it takes 10 years to build a nuke plant.
      2. There is (close to) plenty of fissile material lying about, if we include Thorium & other heavy junk elements.
      Net right: Nuke power is not the magic bullet that techno-idealists pretend it to be. It may be part of the medium-term mix - especially since the lobbing power of the corps which will profit makes it politically feasible.

      Peak oil is "merely" an economic problem. Coal & associated Petro-sludge ("tar-sands, etc) is worse. There's lots of it, it can be cracked into gasoline, and it fuels politically powerful corps - so it's hard to stop. Digging it is way-bad messy, and burning it is even worse. Beside the disruption of agriculture & aquaculture from CO2 emissions, burning coal puts all kinds of other junk in the air (mercury & other heavy metals, even low-level rad-crap).

      I reject Zeroworker's pessimism, but I can't entirely refute it. Yes, there are problems - technical (vehicle power, grids, etc), economic (can "we" redirect enough resources to build a post-carbon infrastructure in time), and political (Repubs like big Corps, so they ARE the problem; Iowa likes Cornohol & W. Va likes Coal, so Dems are useless).

      If we - USA "we" - can cut that gordian political "Not", then we - Terrans - can solve the other problems. That's a big IF; let's get to work.

      Thanks again, Prof. Cole.

  • Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don't Arm Them!
    • This "we don't know who they are" meme is driving me nuts, especailly as phrased by Aaron (above), who asked: "...if Qaddafi is embattled by elements of radical Fundamentalist Islam – possibly Al-Queda [...] – then why are we attacking an ally in that fight?" Are you serious?

      This is the phrasing which Cheney used to talk us into the invasion of Iraq: "there MIGHT be WMD there", "Saddam MIGHT have contacts with Al-Qaida", et-f-c.

      Aaron, do you REALLY think Quadhafi is our "ALLY" in anything?

      The rebels are people who are tired of being ruled capriciously by a megalomaniac. Young facebookies, swept up by the Arab Spring flowering to their West & East (Tunisia & Egypt), all partially sparked by Obama's Cairo speech. Professors returning from exile in the US. Former government ministers & Army units. And yes, probably more than a few Islamists, typically fired up by Islam's rather romantic focus on Justice. Can you blame them?

      This is who I think the rebels are.

      And I think that Qadhafi will have them all murdered slowly if he regains control of Libya. All in favor, say "but we don't know who they are!"

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • Actually, we CAN afford to be the World Police - sometimes.

      I agree with Prof. Cole, that this is one of those times where a limited use of US military capital can make a big difference in a positive way.

      Why Libya, and not Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, etc?

      Partly because we can do something, partly because we can get away with it.

      Libya is a coastal state on the Med; we have a big navy, plus bases & allies in Europe. France & Britain each have one aircraft carrier; we have 11, each approx twice the capacity of the Charles De Gaulle. Qadhifi's military depends on armor. Tanks beat guerillas, but airplanes trump tanks in a desert hands down. This has already worked.

      We can't go after Bahrain - or even Yemen - because we dare not freak out the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Sure, I'd love to knock those clowns off their throne, but it's not worth the gamble (food supply depends on gasoline).

      In Tunisia & Egypt, US-backed autocrats resisted the "Arab Spring", but their militaries chose change over genocide. Libya was a more extreme case. The Libyan military was not a separate institution; it mostly acted as the Army of Qadhafi, not Libya. Gandhian passifism is - sorry - trumped by force, if that force is willing to exterminate resistance. Qadhafi was willing - even eager - to crush the revolution.

      We had the leverage, and reason to use it.

      That said, my qualms are these:

      I agree in theory with those who say that the US Congress should have to declare war before the US attacks another country. But can you imagine the republican-led congress agreeing to anything, uh, really, anything, ever? They would have hollered for blood - mostly Obama's - until the revolution was wiped out, then blamed Obama for it.

      I also agree with the concerns about the "end game". I think Obama will be able to avoid putting "boots on the ground", so I think the US will come out ahead in general. The hard part will have to be done by the people of Libya - putting together a reasonable country after 40 years of Crazyism. Sure, they could screw it up, but I'd bet on pretty much anybody over the "devil we know" in this case.

      Which reminds me, where did the "we don't know who the rebels are" meme get started anyway? NPR?

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • I think this will have to go beyond "No-Fly", and even beyond "No Driving Tanks".

      One thing which the Right generally gets better than the Left is that character matters; in this case, Qadhafi's. He's a crazy person who believes his own BS, and has zero respect for human life other than his own (which in my view, means he forfiets the right to be treated as fully human).

      Give him an out, maybe - a one-way ticket to Kiev, or his very own Reality show - but he can't be allowed to run a petrostate which can spend billions on weaponry. Left in power, he will have every Libyan who opposed him killed - slowly - then move on to real & imagined enemys outside his fiefdom.

      I'm glad Obama's talking like we - the US - will stay carefully within the limits of the UN mandate. I'm most encouraged by the leading role being played by France. USA will need real allies someday (soon?) and we need Europe to be militarily competent and independant.

      I think Bush/Cheney intentionally abused Europe in many ways, and I think it was among the stupidest strategic mistakes they made for the US (and yeah, there were some humdingers in that list). I was afraid for a while that Obama would hold back the French, catering to the apparent preference of his Israel Lobby advisors ("but we don't know who these rebels are..."). Now I'm afraid that he might take HIS own BS too seriously, & leave Qadhafi in power.

      This is a time for the President of the US to say the right thing ("We are there to implement the UN Resolution...") and do the right thing (help nudge Qadhafi out), and silently take responsibility for the incomplete honesty of the diplomatic language.

  • Saudi Arabia, Distribution of Annual Rainfall
    • Ahhh... much better, thank you.

      But, gadzooks, it makes me thirsty! How can anybody live there? It looks 98-9% of the country gets less that 10 inches of rain per year. The remaining 1-2% gets... about 10 inches. Compared to this, Arizona looks like Brazil.

    • Yeah, somebody deserves a spanking from Edward Tufte.

      I suspect that the legend is wrong; that Orange does NOT mean "over 1/2 meter of rain per year" as listed. The color pallette is bad even without putting a widely accepted hot (=dry?) color like orange at the top of a scale of wetness. I would prefer a straight brown-to-blue scale, skipping the white (which makes me think, Snow??? nah...).

      But what could the Orange mean? Less than 0? Non-Saudi Arabia? (Yemen, Oman, etc?)

      Prof Cole - I'm embarrassed that my 1st comment on your great site is a map-geek nitpick. I've tried before & failed; hopefully, I can navigate the new look better. Thanks for your work & insight.

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