laurence turner

the random musings of a fool

14 days

‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation’ – guardian.co.uk

It’s hard to understand why it has taken so long for so little. I can remember the first Earth Day. I was in second grade, quite a long time ago. I expected that environmentalism would be a driving force in in the world by the time I was grown up, and that we’d all live in a cleaner, healthier world. I was wrong. It’s easy to be idealistic and utopian in second grade. When I was in second grade I also assumed that by 2009 I would have traveled to the moon. Well, we all know what happened with that…

We are a disappointing species in some respects. So much ability, so much promise. But when push comes to shove, there are times we don’t live up to our abilities. Are we truly beset by an evil short-sightedness that will forever doom us as a species?

If you want to know why our species is doomed, look no further than George Michael: “All I really need is music, sex, and TV“. That’s a brute-force attack on genetic destiny. That’s betting that just propagating the species is enough to sustain it, when in fact the survival of any species is largely determined by the environment in which it develops and lives.

Now, as the gathering gets underway in Copenhagen, we have learned that some climatologists have fudged their research. Not good for science, and not good for those who hoped to see some movement towards change in environmental policies. Some scientists are rightly outraged. Science, one hopes, will not succumb to politics, but it does, as science is a human endeavor, after all.  If one considers what other scientists have done to deny global warming (see Exxon-Mobil) and other forms of environmental degradation, this is probably a drop in the bucket, but the good guys have lost the high road.

Even if the science about global warming is all bad, the underlying premise of having to conserve resources and lesson pollutants is not a bad thing. We’ve poisoned our world, and weird things are happening to our kids because of it. Is that OK? Are you OK with that? I’m not. I don’t know how even the powers-that-be at Exxon-Mobil can be OK with that, but apparently, they are. Exxon-Mobil alone has spent millions of dollars to overturn the prevailing views of scientists and muddy the waters to the point where the general public are unsure what to make of it all. Profits uber alles.

What Earth Day taught me back in second grade was that we humans are on a little raft of a planet, living in a very thin biosphere, adrift in the vast space of the Universe. Everything about our Earthly existence is finite, including resources. When I was eight years old, I understood this simple truth.

14 days. That’s a big challenge, a call to action, or recklessly hopeful. We’ll see what comes of it. Hopefully, not this.

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Filed under: environment, science

hobbit edition

‘Hobbits’ are a new human species, according to statistical analysis of fossils, sciencedaily.com / Sushi DNA Tests Reveal Fraud, wired.com / A Milestone in the Health Care Journey (?), theatlantic.com / The Secret Political Reach Of ‘The Family’, npr.org / something to watch tonight: The Card Game, pbs.org

Filed under: politics, science

earworms

the songs stuck in our heads, baltimoresun.com / Not Funny: Reporter detained in Iran for ties to the Daily Show, harpers.org / Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option, talkingpointsmemo.com / Before I Vote, Let Me Check My Portfolio, harpers.org / Microsoft Offers To Pay News Publishers To Pull Content From Google, paidcontent.org / Demons and beefcake – the other side of Francis Bacon, guardian.co.uk / the internet as playground and factory, digitallabor.org / ABA President’s Curious Means of “Advancing Rule of Law”, harpers.org / Homeless on the Home Front, nybooks.com

Filed under: economics + finance, music, news, politics, science, stupidity, tech

Sunday leftovers

update: this is going to be an interesting story –  Leaked documents reveal No. 10 cover-up over Iraq invasion, guardian.co.uk / How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world, mailonsunday.co.uk / OS mapping data: a new landscape unfolds, guardian.co.uk / Call girl in Silvio Berlusconi sex scandal claims series of attacks and threats, guardian.co.uk / reviews for many things – blippr.com / parenting in the age of paranoia, quinnnorton.com / Murdoch targets Sulzberger as newspaper ad slump shifts fight to readers, bloomberg.com

Filed under: environment, news, politics, science, tech

net neutrality?

Say no to asbos for downloaders, guardian.co.uk / housing recovery in U.S. is set back to 2010 with market on ‘life support’, bloomberg.com / Chrome OS: Internet failing at PC > PC failing at Internet, arstechnica.com / Google, the world’s frenemy, theage.com.au / SOLD: Skype now worth $2.75 Billion, mashable.com / Microsoft to patent Tufte’s sparklines?, kottke.org / smart grids drag utilities into the swamp of online privacy, arstechnica.com / In SUSY we trust: What the LHC is really looking for, newscientist.com / who is paying taxes?, mint.com / sausage factory, talkingpointsmemo.com / Apple’s Mistake, paulgraham.com

Milton Glaser Draws & Lectures, vimeo.com, via kottke.org / Jean-François Rauzier’s opulent hyperphotos, guardian.co.uk

Best wishes for a great weekend!

Filed under: art + design, news, politics, science, tech

the end is nigh!

Visualizing empires decline from Pedro M Cruz on Vimeo. / 2012: End of the World?, informationisbeautiful.net / the last opium den in the world, kottke.org / ‘Im going to tell my son the worst swearword in the world‘, Jon Ronson, guardian.co.uk

Filed under: history, politics, pop, science, video

11/17/2009 links

The ‘abominable mystery’ even Darwin couldn’t solve, telegraph.co.uk / Welcome to PublicEarth, publicearth.com / NYK super eco ship 2030, designboom.com / Take me back to Constantinople, foreignpolicy.com / History of curved origami, makezine.com / Will disparity split the human race?, thestar.com / Welcome to Citizendium, en.citizendium.org / Cryptographic voting debuts, web.mit.edu / I’m Belle de Jour, timesonline.co.uk / No God doesn’t mean no beliefs, courant.com

Filed under: art + design, history, news, politics, science, tech

you are what you eat

the gut response to what we eat, npr.org / Rock (and oil production) are dead, good.is

Filed under: health, music, science, tech

lists

We like lists because we don’t want to die‘, Spiegel interviews Umberto Eco / Invisible but indispensable, economist.com / Pants off to impropriety, liberalconspiracy.org / 13 years of CNN.com traffic, visualized, feltron.tumblr.com / The dirt on dust, npr.org

Filed under: art, media, philosophy, science, tech

various and sundry items…

Murdoch’s non-apology apology, guardian.co.uk / 9/11’s delayed legacy: cancer for many of the rescue workers, guardian.co.uk / bomb grid, bldgblog.blogspot.com / flu shot finder, google maps / typekit is open for business / Congress: not quite the people’s house, harpers.org / why Google is buying AdMob, businessweek.com / following in Japan’s footsteps: Fed official sees high unemployment for years, npr.org / Hosed, newyorker.com / the making of an American soldier, guardian.co.uk

Let’s bring ’em home.

Filed under: architecture, art + design, dev, news, politics, science

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