Monthly Archives: July 2011

Utopian Dystopia

The best of all possible worlds will still have mosquitoes

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
July 23rd 2011

If you’re like me, and you did a lot of reading as a kid and through your teenage years, then you know the situation: there’s an absolutely unforgettable story you read that left you gasping with laughter, or wonder, or made you look at the world in an entirely different way.
Only one day, you think it might be fun to look that story up and re-read it, and it hits you: you can’t remember the title or the author.  If you’re lucky, it’s a fairly well known story, and you can remember the central character’s name, or there’s some other specific item that comes to mind, and you can Google it.  Once a friend of mine and I were discussing Mount Shasta and science fiction, and I mentioned that Heinlein once wrote a story about the locale.  Couldn’t remember the title to save my life, but a Google search turned it up: Lost Legacy, 1943.
Usually you’re just plain out of luck, and it becomes one of your personal life’s mysteries, along with the name of the girl you kissed in sixth grade, or the name of the TV show with the sarcastic duck and the lumberjack.

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Four stories

A grim day in the news

July 23rd 2011

Scanning the top four stories of the day, I found that one left me utterly mystified, another was so inevitable that it hardly even seemed to qualify as news, and one that manged to seem inevitable and utterly unexpected all at the same time. The last one sort of provides a framework for the social milieu in which the first three reside.

I keep trying, and failing, to make sense of the shooting in Norway. There have been so many mass shootings here in America, if not on that scale, that it scarcely seems worth asking “why?” The main question to me is “how?” How did one, or possibly two men build a bomb on that scale, and how did they get it next to the Prime Minister’s office building. How was one man able to get a police uniform, and what was he carrying that enabled him to kill 60 teenagers who crowded around him trustingly in just the first few minutes of his rampage? How did he manage that?

American right wing response was predictable, if in the usual demented fashion. As the story broke, of just the bombing, a loud howl arose about how important it was to do something about the Moslems, and that the bombing was doubtlessly Islamic revenge for those cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. Fox harpy Laura Ingraham tried to link it in some way to Park 51, the “ground-zero mosque.”

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The heat is on

By August 2nd we’ll all be sweating

July 15th 2011

I have kin in a small town in Oklahoma, unlikely as that sounds, which is why I know something about the weather in that small town. The forecast for tomorrow is humid and 107. That actually represents a cooling trend; it was 108 today. But they should be used to it—this is the 43rd straight day they’ve had triple digit highs. And I thought Fresno was bad.

There’s no end in sight: the next 10 days all forecast 107 or 108. However, Oklahoma, parched, barren, dessicated Oklahoma, is getting ready to share the wealth.

At NOAA, meteorologists are frantically warning the upper midwest to expect the heat wave to expand over their region, sending heat indices to over 110 over much of Minnesota.

And then it will expand east, reaching Washington just in time for deadlines on the credit limit crisis to begin falling.

Only in America could the weather become politicized. The heat wave and drought in Oklahoma and Texas is the worst those states have ever recorded, far worse than the one that caused the dust bowl of the 1930s. Conservatives are furious when you mention that. Even the weather sites are susceptible: a stat today showed that 72% of Texas is now in extreme drought, and some sites couldn’t resist noting that only 10% of the state was in extreme drought when Governor Goodhair had his day of prayer for rain.

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US, Murdoch near limits

Tie me Kangarupe down, sport

July 10th 2011

  I can’t help but think that over the next month, things will be coming to a crux.  It’s not a sentiment I express often, especially since a friend of mine, one given to apocalyptic conspiracy theories, used words such as “crux”, “crisis” and “crucial” a lot, and I would tease him about the crucifixion imagery that suffused his writing.  It didn’t alter his writing style, but it made me more conscious when I use it.
Nevertheless, we seem to be heading for a convergence of paths that will prove to be a decisive time that will determine our lives for much of our future.  Yes, this is a crucial moment.

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The Anthony Trial

Not guilty? So what?

July 5th 2011

 I’ve been watching the public response to the Casey Anthony trial with a certain amount of befuddlement and apprehension.

Understand, I haven’t followed the trial at all. I was only dimly aware of the proceedings, and that it was one of those annoying background whinges that passes for news on the cable networks. Just the fact that the reptilian Nancy Gracie was front and center on the coverage would be enough to assure that I would have no interest in the proceedings. Except I didn’t even know that until yesterday. I barely knew about the trial, and I didn’t care.

So I have no opinion, informed or otherwise, as to whether the jury reached a just verdict or not. Given that it was a murder trial—one of thousands the US has every year—in a state 3,000 miles away, the trial was of no particular importance to me. Yes, even if she was guilty. Not important.

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