Arts for Action's Sake

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…)

The Potemkin Economy

September 10, 2018

Tags: Economy, fake news

A “Potemkin village” is an impressive façade or display built solely to deceive people into thinking a situation is better than it really is. We owe the term to Grigory Potemkin, the Russian governor of Crimea in 1787, who supposedly constructed fake villages along the route the Empress Catherine II was to travel, to (more…)

The Trend is Not Your Friend

June 27, 2018

Tags: climate change, global warming

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Although it may not always seem that way to cable new viewers, Stormy Daniels isn’t the only meteorological phenomenon that the media is covering. There’s been a noticeable uptick in stories about climate change, thanks to the thirty-year anniversary of then-NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It was that hearing that first brought the concepts of greenhouse gases and global warming to the public’s attention.

Thirty years after Hansen’s seminal testimony, our president has declared climate change fake news, Congress is still dithering, and the news media are doing their best to confuse the issue. (more…)

Are You Better Off Now Since the Last Time I Asked?

June 14, 2018

Tags: state of the economy

That’s a riff on the killer question asked by most politicians. And if you believe what you read in the papers or your alternate go-to news source, your answer should be a resounding YES!

It’s difficult to find a dissenting voice about the strength of the US economy in the media. Take the unemployment rate, for example. The customarily sober-minded New York Times went so far as to headline their story about the eighteen-year low of 3.8% in the May report, “We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are.” The lead states, (more…)

We've Got the Power

May 1, 2018

Tags: climate change, global warming, rock music, folk music

This is a guest post from Joe Di Fabbio, songwriter and rock bandleader since the days of Woodstock. Joe wrote this terrific, uplifting song, "We've Got the Power," to help galvanize action to fight climate change. You can read the lyrics below and click on the title to hear Joe's arrangement.

Artist's Statement: I have been shocked and disappointed by the widespread denial of the human contribution to climate change, even after numerous reports of thousands of scientists around the world. The way we spill oil into our oceans and pollute the air we breathe point to an immediate need to develop and use cleaner fuels.

This song is a wake-up call to change and correct the damage that we are doing to our environment. We possess the technology, we just need to spread awareness and overcome the disinformation being promulgated by the oil cartels. I feel very strongly that we have the power to turn things around if we have the will! — Joe Di Fabbio

"We've Got the Power"

What goes around, yeah,
surely comes around,
and it ain't no different
with our pollution.

Instead of dumpin'
in the air, and sea and ground,
we need to find
a clear solution.

And we'd better start using clean fuel, yeah,
ones that don't spew gas all around.
And let those fossils stay with the dinosaur,
We've got the power, to turn things around.

Seems we've been thinking
"out of sight, out of mind",
but that's really not too wise.
The oil we've burned now
for a long, long time,
has made a greenhouse of our skies!

Why don't we see what
Mother Earth's saying,
Winds are blowing her rage all around,
And our environment
we're surely swaying,
but we've got the power, to turn things around

So mister lazy,
now that you've heard the plan,
ya 'spose we can fix,
what we've ben bungling?
well we'd better start changin',
and work to clean the land,
so we don't stumblin', and rumblin' down.

We've got the power to turn things around!

I'm off to Washington this weekend to see if I can galvanize the lit biz agents to fight climate change with powerful fiction! Wish me luck!

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The Robot Revolution=Robotic Evolution

April 25, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs

Early Androids
You can’t escape them. Turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or newspaper, search the Internet. Robots started off as a futuristic threat, quickly became a nervous, jokey prediction about lost jobs for humans, and now are in danger of becoming a meme.

Still, other than the occasional Roomba vacuum cleaner or Robomow lawnmower (my favorite), most of us still haven’t seen a robot in action. That’s because they work largely behind the scenes on the factory floor. It’s also because they tend to look nothing like the bipedal, anthropomorphic, android robots of our imagination and our toy stores. Today’s robots are designed to do very specific functions (more…)

Gunplay - A Physician's Point-of-View About Gun Control

April 18, 2018

Tags: Gun control, NRA

"Grandma Swift's" guest post about the need for gun control elicited many comments and much conversation. So today, Peter Acker, a practicing pediatrician and author of the medical thriller Blood Brain Barrier weighs in on the issue from a physician's perspective.

A few years ago I wrote an essay with the provocative headline “It’s the Environment Stupid”. It was inspired by a talk from Dr. Y. Cathy Kim, associate director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Center at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. I wrote about the environmental factors that influence the health of children and argued that it was well within our purview as pediatricians to get involved in community issues such as the type of food readily available in our schools. Of course, every doctor should want to know about environmental influences, but I think it is of particular moment in pediatric care because we pediatricians are charged with advocacy for a group that does not have the clout of adults.

I thought of this piece while digesting all the articles I have been reading about the current gun control debate. Unfortunately, it is loaded (excuse the use of this verb!) with hyperbole, myopia and absurdity. For example, (more…)