Corrections

Previously on this blog, we referred to Tiger Woods by the honorific “World’s Best Human.”  We would like to rescind that designation.  All Things In Their Place regrets the error.

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Is It Still A Jinx When Everyone Knows You’ll Lose Already?

 Sporting Civilizer

I think what SI meant to say was “Gearing Up For Another Title Appearance In Which They’ll Get Spanked By A Faster, More Athletic Team From The SEC.”  And hey, Sports Illustrated – you wanna explain how you justify a completely gratuitous Todd Boeckman crotch shot?  What the hell’s the deal here?

The Chinese Example: Forget Warming, And Cut Emissions Anyway

 Civilizer

Global warming continues to be this year’s hot complaint.  The greening of America has seeped into retailers, advertiser, and consumers, and all thanks to the rallying cry “Stop Global Warming.”  Al Gore made an alarmist film rife with errors and got a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar for it, because he was trying to “Stop Global Warming.”  You can buy everything from an environmentally friendly light bulb to environmentally friendly floors for your house, so you can help “Stop Global Warming.”  Well I never thought I’d say this, but:

To hell with global warming.  Take a look.

A smog-o-rific satellite image of China

That picture up there is a photograph of China taken from space.  See all that dark gray stuff?  That would be all the stuff that China’s factories belch into the atmosphere.  And it’s a perfect example of why we do have to cut emissions, develop cleaner energy, and more prudent land management strategies, and why global warming has to take a back seat.  The example of China illustrates the situation perfectly.

China, of course, is hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.  “Hosting” is kind of a funny word, as they seem like the kind of host who welcomes you into their home and then dispatches their German Shepherd to watch you like a hawk and take a bite out of your thigh if you touch the candlesticks.  But in any case, it’s their big event on the world stage.  And they had so badly fouled their air that they had to shut everything down in and around Beijing well ahead of the start of the Games to try and get things athlete-ready.  The air is so bad, the great Haile Gebrselassie has refused to compete in Beijing.  But underneath that nauseating claim are some pretty shocking facts:  Air pollution kills approximately 656,000 Chinese people a year, and water pollution another 95,600.  More people die of pollution-related causes in China than die of cancer in the United States each year, or heart disease.

And how about this, for all you dismal scientists out there:  on a combined basis, air and water pollution cost China 5.8% of its GDP – around $100 billion annually.  And oh yeah – all that smog probably exacerbates global warming. 

Now, I’m not saying that global warming is a liberal con job, or that it doesn’t exist.  The evidence that global warming is happening is pretty hard to refute, and I’ve no doubt that humanity has a hand in it.  But remember, this planet has been going through climactic shifts and cycles since time out of mind.  And also remember that while human activity has a tremendous impact on the planet, our capacity to affect the climate is dwarfed by our capacity to affect conditions on the ground and our own quality of life. 

China is a microcosm of the wider world.  Their most pressing problem isn’t global warming, and it isn’t their most solvable problem, either.  The same goes for the rest of us.  Keep in mind that China shut down the country for several months and their air is still a mess – you think if you buy some different lightbulbs and drive a Prius that you can reverse something like global warming?  Really?  You think if a few enlightened people in pockets of the world straighten up and fly right, it will reverse centuries of industrialized by-product, and the millions of cars on the road?

But let’s look at what would happen in China, and in fact the entire world, if we developed clean, alternative fuels instead of burned oil, gas, and coal – less cancer, cleaner water, healthier watersheds and ecosystems, stable animal populations, and budgets that aren’t as stressed by the health care and/or clean-up costs that come with all that stuff.  But if we push that stuff aside and just keep talking about global warming, then what happens when the skeptics break through?  What happens when they plant enough doubt in enough people’s minds about this whole global warming thing?  After all, no lay people really understand the science behind it – here’s a fun game: find some passionate global warming guy or girl on a college campus and ask them to explain carbon-feedback loops.  See?  They mostly just know what Al Gore put in a movie, and we all know he’s full of shit most of the time.  Wasn’t his wife that crazy chick who tried to ban W.A.S.P.? (Truth be told I wish she’d succeeded there)

Gas prices drop, these stupid things will come right back

I’ll tell you what will happen – people will decide they don’t have to worry anymore.  They’ll buy regular old bulbs again, they’ll stop buying hybrid cars, they won’t worry about recycling that much.  Global warming has at least served one purpose.  It’s woken people up to the fact that we can’t continue to live the way we do without serious consequences to the long-term viability of the planet.

But it’s time to shift the focus.  China isn’t shutting its factories down because of global warming.  They’re doing it because the world is coming to visit this summer, and the Chinese government understands that no one wants to live or compete in the smog, the algae blooms, and the runoff.

So why should the rest of us put up with it anywhere else?

Yeah, Maybe We All Overreacted Juuuuust A Touch

 Civilizer

It’s been a popular lament amongst the nation’s columnists and talking heads that these past 7 and a half years have been a long strange trip – we suffer a catastrophic terrorist attack in two major cities on the same day, manage to blow all of the international goodwill engendered by that terrorist attack, the Vice President basically sets up a shadow government and does all kinds of shit with everything from intelligence agencies to land use laws, the nation’s first MBA president and his party’s Congress spend so recklessly that our military and budget are stretched too thin, the dollar plummeted in value, and then a bunch of greedy Wharton bastards on Wall Street did something weird with mortgages and in so doing launched a bowling ball from a sling right into the economy’s balls, leaving it on its knees and gasping pathetically.

And I can’t say I entirely disagree, but there was one thing, one incident that scared me when it happened and never really stopped scaring me, and I had to actively force myself to just not think about it anymore.  Because you can fix an economy.  You can fix Iraq (right?).  You can reconstitute the military.  Cheney has to leave so you can, uh…fix all that stuff that he did (right??).  But when you find that your country is mobilized not by a faltering economy, not by the war in Iraq, not by a Vice President committing what are probably impeachable offenses, but a half-second clip of boob during the Super Bowl halftime show, man, how the hell can you reasonably expect all that stuff will get done?

 

 

 

Did your kids see this?  Sorry, they’re gay terrorists now.

 

 

 

I can’t really think of anything else that made the entire country just look stupid.  People like to act like Iraq was this catastrophic blunder, but let’s not forget that for all the talk of Cheney and his orcs “stovepiping” intelligence and Rumsfeld’s idiotic “modern army” occupation plan, Saddam Hussein had a track record of exactly the stuff we used as a justification for war.  It’s not like we framed Nelson Mandela. 

But the way we absolutely went out of our minds when Janet Jackson’s breast popped out, the rest of the world must have looked at us like “What are they, a bunch of 10 year-olds?  Puritanical 10-year olds?”  Usually I’m the first guy to throw a star-spangled middle finger at the international community, but when they’re mocking us with good reason, man, that’s embarrassing.  And that whole Super Bowl fiasco gave them plenty of good reason.

That’s why I feel all warm inside about the ruling that came down yesterday from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the indecency penalty levied against CBS by the Federal Communications Commission.  Don’t get me wrong – if I had kids, I’m sure I wouldn’t be thrilled about trying to watch a game with them where men beat the living hell out of each other and get paid salaries that exceed those of teachers, firemen, and most doctors and have the purity of the moment ruined when Janet Jackson’s boob goes rogue.  But I was pretty pissed when the country failed to act even a little adult about it, and the media acted like it was a newsworthy event on the order of the Kennedy assassination, and then the FCC treated CBS like they ran a 30-minute NAMBLA infomercial instead of a Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake duet.

So thank you, Third Circuit Court of Appeals, for restoring just a little of my faith in our public institutions.  And especially for using some of my favorite scolding words, “arbitrary and capricious,” when doing so.

Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 25, 2008

 Captain Marvel

Top Story! – Turkey: “Common Ground” Found In Israel-Syria Talks

A common ground was reached in Israel and Syria talks that were held in Istanbul during the week and the indirect talks between the two countries would continue, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday…[click here for more]

Environmental News – EU Agrees To Outlaw “Green Crimes”

After eight years of negotiation, the European Parliament has reached an agreement with member states on legislation that will force national governments to apply criminal sanctions to those causing deliberate or negligent damage to the environment…[click here for more]

U.S. Politics News – Senate Race in Minnesota Shows Power Of Bloggers

On a laptop at a kitchen table in this cheery Twin Cities suburb, headlines ripping into Al Franken, the satirist whose campaign for the United States Senate is seen as one of the most competitive in the nation, are written up day after day for Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a political blog created by a former Republican Party researcher…[click here for more]

Asia News – Burma “Still Uses Child Soldiers”

Burma has been named as the most persistent user of child soldiers, with thousands in its armed forces – some as young as 11, a human rights group says…[click here for more

Business News – Fund Manager Is To Refinance Stalled Auction-Rate Notes

Nuveen Investments, the largest American manager of closed-end funds, said on Wednesday that it had a commitment for up to $1.75 billion in liquidity support to help refinance the troubled auction-rate preferred shares its funds once issued.  But the funds are now struggling. Most of them use leverage to enhance returns, and many of them borrowed that leverage in the auction-rate market, which is now effectively in liquidation…[click here for more]

Sports News – Big Brown Has Hoof Injury, Still Expected To Race

Big Brown’s perfect path has its first bump.  The unbeaten Triple Crown contender has a slight crack on his left front hoof, although trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was confident the injury won’t keep his colt from running in the Belmont Stakes in less than two weeks…[click here for more]

Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 11, 2008

 Captain Marvel 

Top Story! – Sadrists and Iraqi Government Reach Truce Deal

The Iraqi government and leaders of the movement of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed Saturday to a truce, brokered with help from Iran, that would end more than a month of bloody fighting in the vast, crowded Sadr City section of Baghdad.  The deal would allow the sides to pull back from what was becoming a messy and unpopular showdown in the months leading up to crucial provincial elections…[click here for more

Africa News – Niger Delta Push For U.S. Mediator

Ex-US President Jimmy Carter could play a positive role in mediating between Nigeria’s government and oil militants, a Rivers State spokesman told the BBC.  Rivers is the last state where Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) militants are not in talks…[click here for more]

Europe News – Controversial Proposals For German National Security

WAS it the start of a serious debate about German security, or a blueprint for militarism and a presidential style of foreign policy at odds with German tradition? Or both? These questions arose on May 6th, when parliamentarians of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the senior partner in the “grand coalition”, issued a paper calling for the creation of a national security council; and for fewer limits on the deployment of armed forces at home and abroad…[click here for more

Business News – Dollar Bulls Gain Control As Futures Signal High-Flying Euro Close To Peak

For the first time since December 2005, futures traders are turning bullish on the dollar.

The difference in the number of wagers by hedge funds and other large speculators on a gain in the greenback versus the euro, known as net longs, was 21,315 on April 29, figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington show. There were net-short positions in each of the previous 123 weeks…[click here for more]

Gun-Running News – Viktor Bout Indicted For Conspiracy To Kill Americans And Other Terrorism-Related Charges

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced the unsealing of an indictment against international arms dealer Viktor Bout for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the FARC to be used to kill Americans in Colombia…[click here for more]

Environment News – Huge Reservoir In Works For Everglades

Earth-moving equipment and high explosives are laying the foundation for a mammoth construction project: a reservoir bigger than Manhattan designed to revive the ecosystem of the once-famed River of Grass.  More than a century after the first homes and farms took shape in the Everglades, decades of flood-control projects have left the region parched and near ecological collapse. Now crews are building what will be the world’s largest aboveground manmade reservoir to restore some natural water flow to the wetlands…[click here for more]

Sports News – O.J. Mayo Received Gifts, Cash

Former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo, a projected lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft, received thousands of dollars in cash, clothes and other benefits in apparent violation of NCAA rules while he was still in high school and during his one year in college, a former Mayo associate told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”…[click here for more]

Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 4, 2008

Captain Marvel

I’m starting a weekly roundup of news that didn’t make major headlines over the weekend, but should have been paid attention to anyway. Most of it is going to be stuff from overseas (because somebody needs to keep an eye on what those pesky ‘ferrners are up to), but will also involve American jurisprudence, sports, business, music/movies/cultural detritus, and so forth. Basically, if you read this page every Sunday, you can walk into work on Monday and bring up some obscure story from Southeast Asia that no one heard about and act like a smug prick the whole day. The Roundup will be hosted by Captain Marvel, because I have been looking for an excuse to use the Alex Ross rendering of him in this blog for like 6 months now.

Top Story! – Thousands Killed in Burma Cyclone

A tropical cyclone has killed at least 351 people in Burma and damaged thousands of buildings, according to state television…[click for more]

Business News – Congress May Force Securities Firms To Raise Capital

The result may be a law modeled on the 1991 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Improvement Act, or FDICIA. Such a measure would obligate regulators to step in when Wall Street banks fail to meet minimum capital requirements. Securities firms may also face new costs and disclosures in any regulations Congress passes…[click for more]

Middle East News – Palestinian Police Deploy In Jenin For Self-Security Initiative

The Palestinian Authority has launched a new security initiative in the West Bank. The move, which coincides with a U.S. peace mission to the Middle East, has been met with Israeli skepticism…[click for more]

Environmental News – Top EPA Official Resigns, Citing Dow Chemical Hubub

The top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Midwest resigned Thursday amid internal fights over dioxin contamination near Dow Chemical Co.’s world headquarters in Michigan, according to a published report…[click for more]

Sports News – The Celtics Rob Atlanta Of Their Manhood On National TV

Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Pierce scored 22 points, and the Celtics turned back the pesky Hawks with a 99-65 victory Sunday in Game 7 of their playoff series to advance to the second round…[click for more]