Not all climate change news is depressing, just 99% of it

NASA models say if greenhouse emissions continue to rise at current levels, arctic ice will dwindle to very little. The effect will be like moving south “by a couple thousand miles, according to climatologist Gavin Schmidt on NPR. “The climate of New York would have the climate of Miami.” But doesn’t that mean future generations of New Yorkers won’t have to move to Florida when they retire? Maybe this climate change thing isn’t so bad after all! By current calculations, maybe the current generation of young New Yorkers will see the day around retirement when winter high temperatures are in the 80s and snow is a rarity. People can keep their rent-controlled apartments. People can be close to their old friends and their favorite restaurants. So relax. See: here. Now, uh, you may not want to be in Miami by that point…

From former Rep. Ron Paul: Reality is now settling in for America

If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of neglect for our liberties to be given away so casually for a promise of security from the politicians. The tragic part is that the more security was promised — physical and economic — the less liberty was protected.

With cradle-to-grave welfare protecting all citizens from any mistakes and a perpetual global war on terrorism, which a majority of Americans were convinced was absolutely necessary for our survival, our security and prosperity has been sacrificed.

It was all based on lies and ignorance. Many came to believe that their best interests were served by giving up a little freedom now and then to gain a better life. Continue reading From former Rep. Ron Paul: Reality is now settling in for America

General Rants by Mike Shiloh

So if Republicans are dead set on shaking their image as the political party of corporations and the rich, why are they making the Keystone XL pipeline a top priority in the New Congress?  And while there are still millions of people who can’t find jobs that can support a family, President Obama is touting the message that the US economy is doing well.  It’s common knowledge in Washington that Democrats are getting big money from donors who want to control the political agenda, and in some cases (Hi there, Tom Steyer!) they’re getting more money that Republicans.  I guess both parties are now the “party of corporations and the rich.”

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Is my assessment of the two political parties a bit too judgmental?  Okay, here’s how no less a liberal scion that PBS’ Bill Moyers put it in an interview with Progressive magazine: “One of our two major parties is dominated by extremists dedicated to destroying the social contract, and the other party has been so enfeebled by two decades of collaboration with the donor class it can offer only feeble resistance to the forces that are devastating everyday people,” he told the Progressive magazine in an interview in February. “Our economy is a plantation run for the aristocrats — the CEOs, hedge funds, private equity firms — while the field hands are left with the scraps.” Continue reading General Rants by Mike Shiloh

A little story of Christmas Eve

lighted barn

The man was not a Scrooge, he was kind and decent, a mostly generous good man, good to his family and upright in his dealings with other men.  But he jus didn’t believe in all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas time.

It just didn’t make sense and he was just too honest to pretend otherwise.

In essence, he just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story about coming to Earth as a man.

He told his wife, “I’m truly sorry to distress you, but I’m not going to church with you this Christmas Eve.”  He said he’d feel like a hypocrite so he would much rather stay home, but that he would wait up for his family.

So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall and he went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then he went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.

Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound and then another and then another. Continue reading A little story of Christmas Eve

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

 

One of the original depictions of Santa Claus
One of the original depictions of Santa Claus

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

– Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety-Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Continue reading Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

The Manipulation Machine Part One: You’ll learn to love ALL the Castro brothers

One day you’ll learn to love the Castro brothers, all four of them.  Now that President Obama wants to normalize relations somewhat with Cuba, we are being reminded in newspapers and on television and radio about the once-strong ties between the US and that island to our southeast.

Both Fidel and his brother Raul considered themselves revolutionaries after growing up wealthy, Fidel having gone to the University of Havana. It somehow seems fitting that the son of a wealthy capitalist farmer would grow up to be a left wing anti-imperialist.  He spent time as a political prisoner in — and eventually had to flee — his own country because of his Marxist politic, and while few people will defend the tactics of his predecessor General Fulgencio Battista, at least Batista would co-operate with the US government (and with our organized crime groups too). Continue reading The Manipulation Machine Part One: You’ll learn to love ALL the Castro brothers

The South Falls to Republicans

Among the last national Democratic politicians in the American south has gone down to defeat with the win earlier this month by Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy over Mary Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff election for US senator.

Some are calling it a rout of the once-powerful Democrats in the South, and Louisiana has not had two Republican senators concurrently since 1876. Continue reading The South Falls to Republicans

Concern for Seattle. And Portland. And Vancouver. And…

Vancouver
Vancouver

A new report from Seattle public radio brings new concern for our friends in the Pacific Northwest.  The trouble is the lack of movement in the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Scientific jargon aside, there is concern about the American cities of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada because of a rare earthquake possibility from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

There is a strong possibility of a huge earthquake underwater off the coasts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington up through Canada, the likes of which we have never seen.

The key word here is “seen,” because there’s been plenty of evidence that big 9.0 (on the Richter scale) quakes have occurred off the coast many times over the centuries, but they only happen about once every 500 years (or so), according to researchers.

It’s been more than 300 years since the last big quake, and that was long before people starting  moving to Seattle and Vancouver and Portland in droves.  Now those people might be in danger.

Earthquakes, of course, happen along fault lines, places where competing sheets of rock hundreds or thousands of miles in length rub against each other.  When the two big sheets of rock rest on each other they build up tension that is released when they suddenly slide against one another.  The slide happens so quickly that it disrupts the underground rock for perhaps hundreds of miles.  That shaking because of the release of tension and energy is what we call an earthquake.

Scientists say if the rock sheets can move in little places here and there, it releases the tension and reduces the chance of a quake.

The problem is, along the northern west of coast of America, the faultline under the oceans isn’t moving in little places.  It’s stagnant, which means tension and energy are likely building up along the fault.  The longer we go with no movement, the more likely a big quake will occur.

As KPLU radio notes, “The fault zone expected to generate the next big one lies underwater between 40 and 80 miles offshore of the Pacific Northwest coastline.”

University of Oregon geophysics professor Doug Toomey says there’s no way of knowing how much tension is building up along the fault, but if released all at once it could result in a quake and tsunami.

The last such big earthquake along the coast was in 1700, and the resulting tsunami was strong enough to be seen thousands of miles away in Japan.

And while the big American cities along the northern West Coast are built along  inland water instead of directly along the coast, the effects of such a tsuami could well be felt there — and a 9.0 quake would be disastrous for those in the brick-and-mortar buildings in those cities.  They just wouldn’t be able to withstand such a huge shake.

There’s not much that can be done right away about the danger presented by the possibility of a big earthquake to those in buildings that are not designed to withstand quakes, but if they’re really intent on protecting the people along the coast and the inland cities then politicians up and down the endangered states must starting thinking about the future — and the possibility of many deaths from such a disaster.

A disaster that is, scientists say, looming.  Now.

Leaders from Western Canada down through Northern California must start thinking like those in the San Francisco Bay area about how to protect the population against what is a real but abstract danger.  It took the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the resulting destruction and thousands of deaths to make leaders start preparing for the next Big One.

At that time San Francisco had a population of just over 400,000, but leaders learned to implement building codes that reinforce structures against quakes.  That way of thinking also led to similar building codes in earthquake-prone Los Angeles.

It’s time for similar thinking all the way up the West Coast.

We, along with the researchers worriedly watching the “eerily quiet” faultline, hope that there is no Cascadia Subduction Zone quake for another 100 years or more, so that there will be time to upgrade buildings all along the coast against shaking and tsunamis.

So you see the concern: Such a terrible quake can only be estimated.  We hope it’s not too late.

— Mike Shiloh