Cod wallop

November 7th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Due to years of overfishing, the North Sea’s cod population is lower than it has ever been, and experts are worried that the region will never recover unless commercial cod fishing is banned indefinitely.

The article notes that a fishing ban would destroy the economies of some Danish towns. Surely, though, it would be better (and cheaper, in the long run) for the European Union to subsidize those towns temporarily rather than watch the cod stock dwindle to nothing.

There’s another more difficult issue here, as the article acknowledges: “[E]ven if the North Sea cod are saved, the pressure will likely move to other fisheries to meet the voracious appetite for fish sticks, fish and chips and fried fish sandwiches–or it will go to other species.” The only way around that problem is for people to change the way they eat. (Farm-raised fish are an alternative, but they’re far from a panacea.)

Tiptoing to defeat

November 7th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert does a much better job than I did of summarizing this week’s election: “Republicans didn’t win control of the Senate on Tuesday. The clueless Democrats lost it.

Post-election thoughts

November 6th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I don’t have much to say about yesterday’s election, except that the Democratic Party got what it deserved.

No, that’s too harsh. Better to say that it reaped what it sowed; after a year of letting Bush have his way with the country, Democratic politicians have compromised their way into irrelevance.

Was that less harsh? Probably not.

Why I love my Mac

November 3rd, 2002 § One comment § permalink

(That’s my brother on the left and me on the right.)

Suburb of the future?

October 28th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

A new housing development in Brisbane, Australia promises to be one of the world’s most ecologically sustainable communities. Residents will generate their own energy from solar panels and sewage digesters, treat their own wastewater on site, and even grow some of their own food.

Adapting to catastrophe

October 24th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Diplomats are meeting right now in New Delhi to discuss global warming. They’re not talking about how to prevent it from happening; they’re talking about how to adjust to its effects. And an anonymous United States negotiator is pleased: “‘We’re welcoming a focus on more of a balance on adaptation versus mitigation,’ said a senior American negotiator in New Delhi. ‘You don’t have enough money to do everything.’”

Okay, let’s look at some of the predicted effects of global warming that we’ll have to “adapt” to. For starters, there’s the likelihood that harvests of wheat, rice, and corn will drop up to 30 percent. If starvation doesn’t worry you, perhaps property damage does. In addition to deforestation and mosquito infestations, Alaska has already suffered enormous property losses caused by the thawing of permafrost; houses in Fairbanks must be supported on jacks, and engineers worry that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline may become unstable.

As for the claim that mitigation is too expensive, I would note that in the United States, companies nearly always complain about costs when they’re told to implement new regulations. It does not appear that American capitalism has collapsed as a result. (If that’s too flip for you, I’ll offer an example: Would it really bankrupt American car companies if they were forced to improve the abysmal fuel economy of sports utility vehicles?)

My hope is that it’s not too late to prevent massive, worldwide disaster. Just in case, though, I’m stocking up on shorts, T-shirts, and plenty of Soylent Green.

The time will come

October 21st, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Oh my God, this is the coolest thing ever: Someone took a 1988 Macintosh SE and a 1923 Underwood typewriter and combined them into the ElectriClerk, a hybrid office monstrosity inspired by the machines that clerks used in the movie Brazil. The guy even created fake advertisements for the ElectriClerk. This is just gorgeous.

Making the world safe for plutocracy

October 20th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

In today’s New York Times Magazine, Paul Krugman weighs in with an insightful article about America’s growing gap between the rich and the poor. Krugman makes a convincing argument that the country has entered another Gilded Age. For example, in 1998, according to Krugman, “the 13,000 richest families in America had almost as much income as the 20 million poorest households; those 13,000 families had incomes 300 times that of average families.”

Incidentally, you can use “pinchydotorg” as the login and password for the New York Times Web site.

Why I am not a diplomat

October 19th, 2002 § Two comments § permalink

The United Nations would probably be more popular if it portrayed itself as a bunch of lovable screw-ups who always save the day at the last minute. You know, kind of like the cops from Car 54, Where Are You? The U.N. could even adapt the show’s theme song:

There’s a tyrant in Iraq
North Korea’s got the bomb
Hamid Karzai sees resurgences of radical Islam
Dubya’s theories are unsound
Cheney’s hiding underground
Kofi Annan, where are you?

Kitsch alert

October 18th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Halloween is coming soon, so I’ll post the scariest thing I’ve seen all week: William Shatner performing the Elton John classic “Rocketman.” Is there any public humiliation that Shatner will not endure?

Where am I?

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