“The GOP used to be the party of business”

September 10, 2009

Santayana’s Ghost notes there’s an 1852 Whiggy smell about the Republican Party these days.

Thomas L. Friedman writes at the New York Times:

The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world’s best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world’s next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill.

“Globalization has neutered the Republican Party, leaving it to represent not the have-nots of the recession but the have-nots of globalized America, the people who have been left behind either in reality or in their fears,” said Edward Goldberg, a global trade consultant who teaches at Baruch College. “The need to compete in a globalized world has forced the meritocracy, the multinational corporate manager, the eastern financier and the technology entrepreneur to reconsider what the Republican Party has to offer. In principle, they have left the party, leaving behind not a pragmatic coalition but a group of ideological naysayers.”

Drum up some business:

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Alaska’s salmon go missing. Why?

August 21, 2009

It’s one of those environmental mysteries that would be fun and intrigueing, were it not so worrisome.

Alaska’s King Salmon disappeared from traditional river runs this year.  Again.

From Reuters:  A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006.  REUTERS/Andy Clark

From Reuters: "A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006. REUTERS/Andy Clark"

Reasons could be one of many, or several:  Changing ocean currents, pollock fishing accidental catches of salmon, plankton blooms, conditions on the rivers, competition from “ranched” salmon.

Consumers may see only the rise in price and a change in labeling in the supermarket.

Effects on employment and food supply in Alaska are huge, and crippling.

Canada fisheries are affected, too.

Climate change probably plays a role, in any scenario anyone poses:

“It’s quite the shocking drop,” said Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “No one’s exactly sure what happened to these fish.”

Salmon are born in fresh water before migrating to oceans to feed. They return as adults to the same rivers to spawn.

Several theories have been put forward to try to explain the sockeye’s disappearance:

* Climate change may have reduced food supply for salmon in the ocean.

* The commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean may have infected them with sea lice, a marine parasite.

* The rising temperature of the river may have weakened the fish.

The Canadian government doesn’t know what’s killing the fish, but believes the sockeye are dying off in the ocean, not in fresh water, based on healthy out-migrations, said Jeff Grout, regional resource manager of salmon for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In this case, even a small change in climate can have huge effects on ecosystems and specific populations of animals.  It’s one of those climate change issues that climate change skeptics and denialists prefer not to talk about at all.  If, as they allege, concern over climate change is entirely political, driven by bad information and false claims from over-active environmentalists, these problems should not exist at all.

But the problems do exist.  A fishery that had been stable for 50 years previously, the entire time it was tracked so carefully, suddenly becomes fishless.  Watch those rivers and fisheries.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pamela Bumsted.

Help save the salmon; tell others:

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India accepts climate junk science; U.S. suffers

July 25, 2009

It would be good news were it not so bad:  India, usually considered a threat to U.S. dominance in science, has turned its back on climate science and instead, citing junk science claims, rejected overtures to reduce pollution that affects climate.  India appears to have fallen victim to the hoaxters who claim climate change is no big deal.

From the Financial Times:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

As if the atmosphere of the Himalayan range is unaffected by emissions from Europe or Asia.  As if the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the snowfall,  and the water to India’s great rivers, come independent from the rest of the world.

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

It’s interesting to see these issues play out politically.   India and China both understand that the U.S. and Europe have much more to lose from climate change than either of those nations.  Climate damage to the U.S. wheat belt, for example, would chiefly close off U.S. production of wheat for export, opening markets for others — like India and China.  Critically, such damage also hurts U.S. ability to offset balance of payments issues, providing economic and finance advantages to China’s banks.  U.S. ports are much more vulnerable to climate change damage, from increase storms and changing ocean levels, than are ports in India and China — and there are more ports that are vulnerable in the U.S. and Europe.

India’s inaction and recalcitrance should not be used as justification for the U.S. to do nothing, thereby slitting its own patriotic throat.

But watch:  Climate denialist blogs, “hate-America-first” outlets like World Net Daily, and Osama bin Laden will hail India’s inaction.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, lest we run out of cooler heads.

Shake of the old scrub brush to Brown Hell and Watt’s Up With That.

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Fixing education at the top

June 9, 2009

No, Harold Levy doesn’t get it all right.  He’s a former chancellor of schools in New York City, so even if he did manage to get most what he says right, there would be enough people on the other side of some issue to say he did not, that if I compliment him too effusively, someone will say I’m wrong.

Among the greater products of the United States of America — and Canada, let’s face it — is the grand array of nearly 4,000 colleges and universities that set the pace for education in the world.  Our greatest export is education, the idea that education almost by itself can solve many great and vexing issues, the idea that education is a great democratic institution, and the education systems themselves, the methods of education used no matter how little backed by research.

Higher education makes up the better part of what we get right.

In an opposite-editorial page piece in the New York Times today Levy proposes some significant but eminently doable changes in how we work education in high schools and colleges.  Maybe surprising to some, he has good things to say about the University of Phoenix and their $278 million advertising campaign, about high-pressure tactics to reduce truants, and about the GI Bill.


The energy policy speech the candidates should give

September 14, 2008

It emphasizes conservation and development of alternatives, but conservation mostly.  Conservation has already been tried and shown to work.

The crises in Iran and Afghanistan have dramatized a very important lesson: Our excessive dependence on foreign oil is a clear and present danger to our Nation’s security. The need has never been more urgent. At long last, we must have a clear, comprehensive energy policy for the United States.

Sounds like this guy has the proper perspective.  Who advocates a policy designed to keep us from war in the ‘Stans and the Middle East?

Jimmy Carter.  In 1980.  In his State of the Union speech.

Check it out at Patriots and Peoples. Carter’s policy is compared to McCain’s, and Obama’s.

And then consider the price of lost opportunities, and whether we can ever learn enough to avoid the punishing sword of Santayana’s Ghost, when we don’t learn from history.


Rapping physics in the Bathtub

September 3, 2008

Now it’s gone big time, with NPR’s Morning Edition and Pharyngula on the bandwagon, remember you saw the Large Hadron Collider Rap second here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

You saw it first at Tommaso Dorigo’s A Quantum Diaries Survivor.

Geography teachers, have you figured out how to use this in your classrooms yet?

Related NPR stories:


Dr. Doom

August 17, 2008

Alone among economists, Nouriel Roubini of New York University accurately predicted the current economic woes of the United States.

Nouriel Roubini, NYU photo

Nouriel Roubini, NYU photo

Who knew? Do you know anything about what he predicts now?

Read this profile from The New York Times.

Roubini contributes to RGE Monitor.

Other resources:


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