Sunday odds and ends

So, I notice that the print version of my current Flagpole column that’s been out for a few days has not been made available online; maybe they’ve got some kind of blockage in their intertubes. Can’t say for sure. Look for further erratic behavior on this front. Newspapers are in trouble if you haven’t heard.

So is the South, with regard to new targets for renewable energy, apparently. Why the congressman won’t include the rest of the statement, that the South doesn’t have enough renewable energy sources if demand continues to spiral upward and onward is anybody’s guess. Thanks Ben, for the heads up.

There’s more on this and other issues on Georgia Public Broadcasting this afternoon. I tend to have a way of saying things people don’t like, so I’m sure there will be a little something for everybody.

Update. The internets are nothing if not self-correcting – and at lightning speed. New Flagpole column is here.

outta site

So here’s a nice idea from this guy in Norway about how to charge your batteries with the sun, complete with pictures. While the set-up is somewhat amateurish, I like the tone of we should be able to do this. Indeed we should. And not just this.

This was courtesy of this site, which was sent my way by mrs. green and is far more up our alley and not just because it’s in french. Poke around and see what you see. Don’t miss the two-year-old housekeeper.

The Green Zone

Not that one.

One connection to what’s happening to the planet is the shape our self-interest takes in the form of our kids and what they will be dealing with. In the early years of life when we are learning about the world, unafraid to question adults or puzzle over the answers of more than a few of them, there’s an opportunity to bond with the natural environment in a fundamental way that is a heavy indicator of our later predispositions. Here’s a thoughtful Monitor piece about a mom’s concern for her young sons over global warming.

On the other corner (no offense intended unless appropriate) is this wonderful little bit, via TPM, about the coordination of global warming denial by a former Limbaugh producer. The fun never stops, apparently.

It’s profound in its way, the manner in which that ever-so-brief early epoch of life effects so much of what comes later. Relatedly, in a way that I wish I could say was some kind of extreme example of this but which is way more average than we should be comfortable with, a run down of the top 15 searches on Technorati, via the wit and wisdom of Dr. Cole.

And then, just to round things out, the world’s angriest dog.

The road to sustainability

tracks through the forest of stupid, veering off for extended moments in moronic triviality as we all behave like children for a little while longer. If you want to see the current dynamics of the debate over the financial crisis, gird your loins for this.

It’s amazing. On the one hand you have a couple sober realists, patiently speaking about the absolute necessity to massively de-leverage the insolvent banks… heaping ridicule on central bankers and others who didn’t see this coming but who remain in decision-making positions, insisting that banks must be nationalized. On the other, you have clowns asking for stock tips. There could be no more explicit description of the crisis itself than this display of inanity, which is at least representative if not the norm. When are we going to pull out of this? Like it’s just another slight downturn and not the collapse of the house of the mother of all pyramid schemes.

It’s a deep structural crisis. When Taleb tries to explain how executive compensation is tied to incentives that led to this mess in the first place, he’s met with demands to instead answer questions that are so far removed from the situation, they might as well be about the rock star status of Roubini and Taleb at the recent Davos summit.

Wait. That was what they were about. Nevermind.

Green Journalism

An inadvertent follow-up to the previous post but, there’s a well-laid out compendium about the media’s culpability in the run up to the current financial crisis, here. Using as its analogue the media’s roll in the breathless rush to war in Iraq, there are some startlingly appropriate comparisons to draw with other situations. In the midst of fiscal, geo-political, environmental meltdowns, we’re accustomed to the print and TV press just playing along, presenting false dichotomies and premises, compromised by corporate conflicts-of-interest, muddying a situation until it’s too late.

And even when the reporting was solid, which was rare enough, news organizations didn’t follow up in appropriate ways. If we can foresee a catastrophe, it’s not enough to mention it once or twice and then move on.

That common practice suggests an opportunity. When we can predict an inevitable calamity if we continue along the current path, we owe it to the public to do everything we can to encourage a change in that destructive behavior.

In practice, this means activism. It means relentless campaigning to point out what’s going wrong, and demanding corrective action from those who can do something about it.

Crushing and important issues with long-term implications become trivialized as a part of the infotainment experience the big media conglomerates, like the Big automakers and their rationales for the huge, gas-guzzling SUVs, say the public desires. It’s the guise of fairness in the trappings of drama and fragmentation that allow enormous and clear stories to become opaque and difficult to piece together. Global warming is one such story; how long will we read and hear stories from the perspective of both sides, about how it might be a problem, until we pass the last tipping point?

TPM’s Gillmor brings up yellow journalism and draws an interesting comparison to the few newspaper editors who decided to embrace racial integration and really forced the issue by keeping it front and center, drawing lines in the sand, digging footings and constructing the edifice that would become our present society. Because they knew it was being constructed anyway, and that if they didn’t, if they supported the status quo with their silence, they would be working in the service of segregation.