Tuesday, June 28, 2011

extinction distinction

let's pretend.

let's pretend your house is on fire, and there are pets and children inside.

that's some serious shit, right? i mean, this is not the time to debate the size of the fire and who started it and what to do next.

you drop what you're doing, wade in, save the kids and the animals, and put out the damn fire. right?

are there other options i'm not aware of? is there another decision tree that makes more sense? if there is, now is a real good time to share it.

because the house is on fire, and wouldn't you know it? we're all inside.

it seems that climate change, pollution, and over-predation by humans is about to trigger an "unprecedented mass extinction event" in our oceans.

according to a report by people who don't find science to be too "sciency," countless marine species are disappearing at a much faster rate than the watered-down, politicized predictions previously estimated.

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions were combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford.

The international panel of marine experts said there was a "high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history."

well. that's kind of alarming, isn't it? because if you follow the mass extinction on up the food chain, where do you suppose it leads? to the children and animals in the burning house, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor and the abstractified analogy.

so, where is the alarm? where is the immediate response to this imminent disaster?

why, silly, it's nowhere, of course! rather than save anyone, let alone put out the fire, we're arguing about the existence of fire, and whether it has any negative side effects if, in fact, it were determined to exist. this is thanks to a huge, years-long campaign of disinformation by the lovely folks who started the fire, and profit greatly from the flames. hi exxon! hi bp! hi u.s. energy policy!

this campaign is helped along by politicians whose lips are so fastened to the ass of energy-producing corporations that helping the people in the house will never come to a vote, let alone actually happen. hi rick santorum, gop presidential hopeful!

never mind the volumes of peer-reviewed research documenting the effects of pouring billions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. or the fact that sea levels are rising faster than at any time in more than 2100 years.

nonono. none of those studies were sponsored by big oil, so therefore they must be discounted as the work of crazy environmentalists who only want to...only want to...wait, what is it the crazy environmentalists want?

oh yeah, they want to put out the fire. rescue the living creatures. maybe prevent future fires.

real subversive stuff like that.

but when there's lots of money involved, you get a certain sort of people saying, "environmentalists are evil and crazy and un-american! they want to take away your 56-inch TVs and your football games and your gas-gargling SUVs! don't mind the screams coming from that house...they'll stop real soon."

similarly, never mind the millions of dying fish washing up on shores all over the world. don't worry about the thousands of dead birds falling out of the skies. ignore the texas-size island o'trash meandering about the pacific ocean.

but the politicians and low-information voters flopping all over themselves denying the existence of fire and other sciency stuff? take their word for it. because if it ain't in their version of the bible or the constitution, then shirley it doesn't exist.


meanwhile, and almost certainly coincidentally...

Two unusual dolphins that have never been seen in the state have been spotted cruising in waters near Olympia.

The long-beaked common dolphins were spotted off Boston Harbor, near Olympia, said Annie Douglas, a biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, a marine-mammal research group.

Douglas doesn't know what prompted the dolphins to cruise so far from home. She said it might have to do with water temperature or storms. "It's one of those things that's hard to say right now," she said.

"These are animals who aren't normally here and their chances aren't very good," she said.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ephemeral milestones in an existential world

If you believe it, darling, then I
believe. Being young can be just
as confusing as being old. The
things that happened to me fifty
years ago are more on my mind than
what happened yesterday.

But I'm remembering the future.

Right now you're just browsing
through time. Choose the things
you'll be proud of. The things that

this bit of quality writing from 'peggy sue got married' always gets me. it demands that i imagine similar conversations with loved ones who went before me, and those who might follow. what priceless advice would they give? and would i have anything useful to offer?

the premise is deeply moving. moreso recently, given my proximity to what some people consider a significant personal milestone. i'm not sure how significant it is, but it'd probably be unwise not to consider the prospect.

unless you're really determined, you can't help but learn a few things in 50 trips around the sun. and while my library of wisdom is pitifully limited, i have retained a handful of things...


people are mirrors. have you noticed? they tend to treat you exactly the way you treat them.


all women are beautiful...even if it's not immediately obvious. you can sometimes see it in a shy smile, or an arched eyebrow. or the clever, subtle things that elicit a laugh. or the closed eyes and slow-swaying to a smoky blues tune. or the quiet strength and poise summoned when things go sideways. regardless of her looks, that beauty is always there.


it's better to participate than spectate. but the longer you participate, the more likely you'll be injured, forcing you to become a spectator. excessive spectating, however, invariably leads to increased morbidity and early mortality. either way, no one gets out alive.


god doesn't hate fags. so she's not thrilled with the westboro baptist church. coincidently, the westboro baptists apparently will visit their vitriol on seattle's mars hill church...causing god to sigh and roll her eyes.


the aarp REALLY needs to stop sending me membership offers.


don't rush through today. it'll be over soon enough, and who knows how many more there'll be? (plus, rushing around quite often is correlated with crashing into things.)


whether you're the windshield or the bug, there's still a mess to clean up.


rioting in vancouver, bc, is like civil unrest at disneyland. nookie in the middle of the road in vancouver, however, is just kinda riotous.


missing three yoga classes in a row is similar to saying "beetlejuice" three times fast. bad things ensue. today was just such a day.


pepsi or coke? mcdonald's or kfc? halo or call of duty? what are you, kidding? none of the above. geez.


"An existential crisis is often provoked by a significant event in a person's life. Usually, it provokes introspection about personal mortality, thus revealing the psychological repression of said awareness."

i don't know what this means, but it doesn't sound good. better to avoid that kind of awareness altogether.


yes, i will have some more wine, thanks.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

the only constant

change is good.

it may take years to recognize it as such, exacting a shocking toll along the way, and leaving people looking like they've peered through the very gates of hell.

but the premise was "change is good," not "change is easy."

we're such silly creatures of habit. we love our routines, and we fight like honey badgers to preserve them. even when they're not particularly good for us.

we drink, we smoke, we send ill-advised photos of ourselves on the internet. not because it's smart (hi, congressman weiner!), but because we derive comfort and a false sense of control from the rituals.

and since the entire world is out of our control, sometimes we get a little nutty trying to establish order in our little corner of it. we call it "being organized," or "keeping a schedule," or "obsessive-compulsive disorder."

if we stray from our morning rituals, for example, bad things happen. we lose our car keys. or neglect to put on our makeup. or forget to drink our morning coffee, causing an extreme bout of lethargy, headache, and irritability, also known as caffeine withdrawl. and throughout the day we think maybe we're coming down with the flu or having a stroke or experiencing demonic possession.

and just as we're about to slog home, hoping not to fall into a catatonic state on the way, we remember, "no coffee today! have i lost my mind? no wonder i've felt like such utter crap for the last ten hours!"

file that under, "change is not easy, but it will help you view life in inaccurate and drama queenish ways."

when we're young, we slip in and out of routines like jeans that actually fit without saying "loose fit" on the tag. change is no big deal, because our brains are still adept at processing new information without insisting it conform to our world view. we see gays getting married and we say, "cool, people should be able to marry the person they love." and we know this is true in the same way we know the universe is continuously evolving, sliding into and out of itself, vibrating with a constant thrum of cosmic ethereal rhythmic velvet. it just is.

when we get older, however, routines become habits, and habits become health risks. our ability to dodge conventional wisdom loses a step, then two, and the next thing you know we're doing a slow, insensate waltz in the cold, rigid arms of dogma. we hear people say, "healthcare is bad," and we say, "yes, healthcare is bad, we should keep it from as many people as possible." we know this is untrue, because it feels false and contrary to every impulse we know, and yet we find ourselves locked into it without really understanding why.

file that under, "change is good because it keeps you dancing fast."

metamorphosis is inevitable. the really smart ones among us constantly reinvent themselves to stay ahead of it, surfing on the aeonian waves. the rest of us typically stand there in the surf, sometimes rising up with the surge, sometimes getting slammed into the sand.

if we're resilient (according to the japanese proverb), we get knocked down seven times and get up eight.

if not, well then we're seaweed.

file that under, "never turn your back on the ocean."