Another great book that is going on my Kindle queue is Maggie Koerth-Baker’s Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us. I am so ridiculously excited to see someone talking about the real costs of fossil fuels, including health and environmental costs. Anyway, another fine author interview on Grist. Yay!

Grist

Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing, the popular group-blog where she gets to link to stories about booze-based semiconductors or the science of farting. But her writing has always displayed two traits that give it power far beyond BoingBoing’s geeky precincts: She’s got a knack for explaining really complex science in an unintimidating way, along with a hardheaded Midwestern pragmatism that’s tough to dismiss.

She brings both those qualities to Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us, her new book about the choices we face in continuing to power our world without wrecking it. It’s a fast, filling read that will arm you with a deeper understanding of the precariousness of our electricity grid, the distinction between efficiency and conservation, and the pros and cons of each of the energy sources we imagine as our savior. Koerth-Baker plants herself firmly in…

View original post 1,433 more words

Continue reading

Boston Review — Corey Robin and David V. Johnson: Contraception and Counterrevolution The Reactionary Mind, conservatism

Lovely interview with Corey Robin, the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.  He makes an excellent point, flagged on Digby’s Hullaballoo, which is that although liberals frequently express astonishment at what we perceive to be the conservative base voting against their own self-interest, this is not necessarily true.

As Robin notes in the interview:

I don’t have a theory of false consciousness; I don’t think anyone’s being distracted. I think the right really does deliver the goods of power and privilege to more than an elite class. And the way it does that is often through the private life of power, the slave plantation being, of course, the most obvious form, but the family and the workplace also being critically central. Burke understood this—that our identity is a historical inheritance, and one of the main aspects of that inheritance is this private relationship of power and domination. And that relationship is so close to us that to give it up would really be a form of self-destruction.

And as Digby further states, noting that conservatives have a different definition of what their self-interest is:

They believe that giving up their private power would be far more destructive than giving up political power. Sure, right wing politicians are all liars and cheats and do anything they can to hold on to their public power. That’s the gig. But to the true believers their central concern is losing the privilege that defines them. And it isn’t really about money, although that’s tangentially part of it. It’s about hierarchy, status and dominion.

Click the link for the entire interview, which is great reading.  I know what I’m downloading onto my Kindle next.

Boston Review — Corey Robin and David V. Johnson: Contraception and Counterrevolution The Reactionary Mind, conservatism.


John Boehner and NOM

In an editorial today, the New York Times takes note of the horrific contents of unsealed National Organization for Marriage (NOM) memos, pointing out that the contents of the memos clearly identify NOM as a purely political organization, despite its claim to be a social welfare organization.

Among the highlights are the following:

The documents brag about its “crucial” role in passage of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage that was overturned by a federal appeals court. They describe the group’s use of “robo-calls” to scare residents in different states away from supporting marriage equality. They talk of a plan to “expose Obama as a social radical,” but the most appalling portions deal with the group’s racially and ethnically divisive strategies.

“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” says one memo.

Another stated aim is to manipulate Hispanic voters by making the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.”

Although I am sure that the evidence, as usual, will fail to convince those who need convincing, it should be painfully obvious that NOM consists of horrible, hateful people whose entire existence revolves around constant attempts to insure that other people are miserable and oppressed.

However, I took special note of the paragraph following the above, in which the NYT noted that House Speaker John Boehner recently appointed NOM’s co-founder, Robert George, to a U.S. commission “focused on addressing religious intolerance and extremism around the globe.”  This is the same Speaker Boehner who is wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible DOMA in court.

Aside from the obvious prejudice and desire to oppress and marginalize, I do wonder what’s the connection between Boehner and NOM?


Anti choice terrorists plant homemade bomb at Wisconsin Planned Parenthood

Can we please, please, please all just admit that these people are terrorists already?  According to the CBS article, a homemade explosive device was planted in the window of a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood last night.

Fortunately, no one was injured, and the fire quickly burned itself out.  But it isn’t as if all of the anti-choice violence is equally incompetent.  It wasn’t that long ago that Scott Roeder successfully assassinated Dr. George Tiller.

 


Voice of Choice – turnabout on anti-abortion harassment is fair play

Fantastic article in the Washington Post on how the landlord of an abortion clinic chose to respond to anti-abortion harassment:

A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters – The Washington Post.

Todd Stave owns the building in which LeRoy Carhart operates.  Carhart is one of the few doctors in the country who does late-term abortions.  In addition to protesting at the clinic, the forced pregnancy freak show began harassing Stave, including calling him at home and showing up at his daughter’s school.  In response, Stave recorded the telephone numbers and addresses of the people who were harassing him, and distributed them to what began as a small group of friends, who then called the harassers at home.  Since then, the group has gotten much bigger.  Stave founded an organization called Voice of Choice, and its thousands of volunteers will respond, in a calm and measured way, to the harassing tactics of the forced pregnancy crowd.

I love this guy.


Why knowing about ALEC is important

Paul Krugman has a must-read piece up on the influence of the shadowy corporate-sponsored group, American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), on state legislatures.

For one thing, the “shoot first, avoid arrest” bill that has allowed Trayvon Martin’s killer to avoid charges was drafted by ALEC.  ALEC has also provided multiple state legislatures with voter ID bills intended to suppress the votes of minorities, the poor, and the elderly.  It should be a surprise to no one that many members of ALEC are the corporations that are bring us the privatized prison-industrial complex, and who are also bringing us privatized, for-profit schools that are bringing profits to its members at the expense of actual education.

We are looking at a very, very bleak future for the vast majority of our citizens if ALEC continues to write our state’s laws unchecked.


Standing with my hands at my sides while he burns

Like every other media junkie, I’ve been following the stories about the death of Trayvon Martin.  I’ve read multiple articles, including the heart-wrenching and highly personal pieces by Charles Blow and Danielle Belton.  I have listened to the tapes of the multiple 911 calls, including the one where you can hear Trayvon Martin yelling for help in the background, and then the gunshot that ended his life.  That one left me shocked and in tears.  There are so many smart people writing excellent explorations about what this innocent boy’s death means in terms of race relations and gun violence.  Unfortunately I am not one of them.  I feel utterly incompetent to write or express anything but sorrow and a sense of injustice.

I first read about the death of Trayvon Martin on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog on the Atlantic.  Because, for me, Coates’ writing is tangled up in my mind with the poet Yusef Komunyakaa, I went back to Komunyakaa’s book of Vietnam war poetry, Dien Cai Dau, and found this:

You And I Are Disappearing – Bjorn Hakansson

The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak

she burns like a piece of paper.

She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
at dusk.

We stand with our hands

hanging at our sides,
while she burns

like a sack of dry ice.

She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker’s cigar,

silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
at nightfall.
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.
___________________________________________

It’s the lines about standing with hands hanging while a human being burns alive, and the final lines about her death being like a burning bush driven by a godawful wind that are the real kickers for me.  I know that my daughters will never be subject to the kind of experience that lead to the death of Trayvon Martin, and god help me, I am grateful.


%d bloggers like this: