Arts for Action's Sake

In Case You Missed It, Part Two

December 10, 2018

Tags: Climate change, Trump

Thousands of environmental experts are now gathered in Poland for the United Nations’ 24th annual climate change conference. The goal is to establish rules for carrying out the Paris accord to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Centigrade, or 3.6 Fahrenheit. Just prior to the conference, Poland, which has the highest domestic coal production in Europe, and is home to 33 of the 50 most polluted cities in EU, announced that it planned to invest in more new coal capacity in the coming year.

The UN conference comes on the heels of several other recent disheartening developments presented mostly without comment…

…After several weeks of protests, Paris is virtually on lockdown as the “Yellow Vests” express their rage about taxes and salaries. The spark that ignited the riots was a planned increase in France’s fuel tax, designed to help the country meet its carbon reduction pledge.

…Le Grand Orange responded on Twitter "I am glad that my friend Emmanuel Macron (more…)

In Case You Missed It...

November 26, 2018

Tags: Climate change, Trump

If you were still shaking off the effects of a tryptophan coma induced by the Thanksgiving turkey, or out hustling for bargains at your local zombie mall, you might have missed last Friday’s big news from the White House—a stark warning about the devastating impact of global climate change on America’s economy and our way of life.

Wait a second. The White House? Isn’t Trump still president?

Unfortunately, yes. See the date of the release, the slowest news day of the year.

But our president had no choice. The findings about climate change come from the National Climate Assessment, a major scientific report mandated by Congress that the federal government is required to produce and release every four years. Thirteen federal agencies contributed to the alarming findings (more…)

The Lit Biz Eats Its Best and Brightest

November 19, 2018

Tags: Lit Biz

The American novelist, Barbara Kingsolver, writes stories that encourage readers to think while they’re being entertained. Her novels are concerned with the great social issues of our time, such as global climate change and political turmoil.

Publishers have a variety of names for this genre, as though the lit biz can’t quite get a grip on it—social novel, social justice novel, social protest novel, political novel, the literature of social engagement. Whatever these kind of novels are called, they’re generally viewed with suspicion by critics and editors, who see little or no place for social commentary in “literature” or in sales. Happily, that attitude hasn’t stopped Kingsolver’s books from becoming best sellers, and being shortlisted for such prestigious honors as the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Kingsolver’s eighth novel, Unsheltered, was published in October. It’s more overtly political than her previous novels, as well is should be in this Time of Trump. It’s also one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking novels I’ve read in quite some time.

The plot revolves around an educated middle-class couple, (more…)

Post-Election Morning: An Open Letter to My Children

November 7, 2018

Tags: Trump

Two years ago, on the morning after the election, I wrote to you acknowledging our disappointment, even despair, but cautioning against a rush to judgment about our new President. My hope was he might step up to the responsibilities and gravity of the office. Those hopes were quickly dashed.

But I also reminded you that our democratic system is stronger than any one man or woman, and if Trump proved incapable, we would exercise our Constitutional rights and find a new leader

I know you are disappointed once again, but don't be. I believe that Constitutional process began yesterday. In fact, I'm willing to go on the record with a prediction: other than a possible Supreme Court vacancy, yesterday was Trump's last political hurrah.

The political rock stars on whom so many Democrats were pinning their hopes—Gillum in Florida, O'Rourke in Texas, Abrams in Georgia— went down to a narrow defeat. Trump gets the credit for energizing the worst instincts (more…)

"Shut him up! Shut him up!"

November 5, 2018

Tags: Trump

VOTE YOUR VALUES


VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE


JUST VOTE!

First Sharks, Now Beer

October 29, 2018

Tags: Climate change, Supreme Court

"If you love me, you'll help save the planet!"
It seems like years, not weeks, since the nation was transfixed by the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. So many other horrible news cycles have come and gone since then, with the only constant our President’s deep desire to divide the nation even more deeply to further the election of members of his adopted Republican party, and to solidify his base for the 2020 race, Mueller permitting.

But an article in today’s New York Times about the Homecoming football game at Georgetown Prep, headlined “Kavanaugh is Hailed as a Hero,” made me want to unilaterally declare an end to any cooling off period and examine our new Justice’s positions on a critical issue that America is facing today, (more…)

A Bad Week for Climate Change Deniers

October 15, 2018

Tags: Climate change, Trump

Here's lookin' at you, Mr. President!
For anyone who remains unconvinced about climate change after seeing the horrific destruction in the Florida panhandle levied by Michael, the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the US mainland, or the ominous new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describing a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires as soon as 2040, there’s always the threat of our old friend, “Jaws.”

A few weeks ago, a 26-year-old boogie boarder was killed by a shark in the first fatal attack in Cape Cod in 80 years (Spielberg took some liberties with the truth in “Jaws” the movie, released in 1975) and (more…)

Meet the Man Behind the Curtain: Don McGahn

October 8, 2018

Tags: Trump, Supreme Court

“There’s nobody with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh,” Mr. Trump told reporters Saturday night in Topeka, Kansas, as he dismissed allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by his new Supreme Court justice.

Ironically, Trump’s customary mangling of the English language led him into accidentally uttering a rare truth. Based on the reports in the media these past few weeks, there is no one indeed, with a squeaky clean past who would even think about behaving anything like what the country heard about Justice Kavanaugh’s behavior back at Georgetown Prep and Yale.

Whether or not Kavanaugh was actually guilty of sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, there was more than enough reliable testimony from people who knew him at the time to indicate that he was often in an inebriated state (more…)

The Robot Are Coming, Sort Of!

September 26, 2018

Tags: robots, jobs

Down and out in Silicon Valley
Atlas, Boston Dynamic’s 165-pound robot and YouTube sensation, can run, jump, and even do backflips, and is rarin’ to go to work. But who wants to hire him?

Atlas is a classic case of technology outstripping utility. He’s designed to mimic a human being’s movements, but not to do anything useful that a human might do.

One of Atlas’s UnHuman Resource issues is that he’s not a self-starter. He needs a very-human handler to control him with a laptop, a joystick, and a wireless radio. He’s also clumsy, according to the New York Times. In a recent demonstration he stumbled to the floor several times and crashed headlong into a pylon. But given how quickly robotic technology is advancing, his deficiencies are unlikely to be anything other than growing pains. I wouldn’t be surprised if, like many humans seeking to enter the work force for the first time and lacking a saleable skill set, he ends up in the military.

The immediate future in robotics appears to be highly specialized, single-task applications. Flippy, Miso Robotic’s hamburger-making robot, (more…)

What, Me Worry?

September 18, 2018

Tags: Climate change, Fake news

Are hurricanes stronger and more frequent because of climate change?

That seems like the pertinent question after watching now-Tropical Depression Florence slow walk over the Carolinas, bringing record storm surges, rainfall, and river flooding. The answer is an unambiguous Yes according to the New York Times, which has put a dedicated team of expert reporters on the climate change desk.

The data is indisputable. So is the physics. The planet is warming dramatically. Increased water temperatures create more favorable conditions for hurricanes, (more…)