Let them make MILLIONS!

I just posted this remark on some sports page somewhere. I find that I’m doing a lot of that lately, so I’ll just repost them here for whoever stumbles on this lonely outpost.

Upon reading newsstories about the mega millions sports players are now earning and weighing the various initiatives for raising minimum wage plus the social-economic imperative for better wealth distribution in the country, I now stand corrected on my long held view that commercialized sports is a waste of time and money; the “Mega Salary” professional player is a fantastic model for wealth distribution. And I hope they make a heck of a lot more. How else can a dirt-poor kid end up making millions of dollars just for playing a game he/she learned for simple entertainment or to stay out of trouble? There are some fans who complain that players are overpaid… that’s probably because they don’t like the price of admission (which is either cable television or paying scalper prices for seats). But sports fans, there are alternatives. Like, paying a living wage to the security guards, maids, janitors (et cetera) who are often the parents of many of these former dirt-poor kids. If these parents could afford better housing and better education for their kids perhaps there would be fewer mega-rich players and more affluent citizens… at least they’d be better educated and wouldn’t have to burn up their lives for this sort of visceral entertainment. And as for the fights… let them fight. Besides, these guys don’t give two hoots about what gentrified suburbia thinks millions of dollars ought to behave. If you don’t like the fights… don’t tune in.

Confronting the Debate

Lately, President Dubya and Vice DICK Cheney have been issuing warnings of disaster and mayhem if the opposition party is successful in taking over both chambers of Congress. Now British PM Blair is in on the act – recently claiming that a democratic discussion in the Parliament on Iraq could cause unbearable demoralization of the troops. It seems to me that we have endured quite enough disaster, mayhem and demoralization from the present course. It may be just as the war hawks say, that the arbiters of terror are just waiting for the electorate to grow weary of the so-called “war on terror,” we’ll let up our guard and they’ll strike us again. But, it could also be that history has dished out ample lessons on the folly of confronting terror with warfare. Five years of warfare, massive death, and chaos are hardly what I call productive signs. Look at what we have accomplished: We have taught the world that the so-called “free democracies” are limited in both capability and means to stop terror and that we are willing to compromise our democratic principles to that end; that our war machine has a limit to what it can do while the terrorists are unlimited; that we don’t care what happens to the citizen on the street so long as our homeland is safe and we have plenty of gas in the tank. I feel like Dorothy meeting the Wizard for the first time… peering around the curtain to learn the truth. Let the debates rage.

Glacier Stories

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

I have been collecting ‘glacier’ stories for more than 20 years and it’s pretty evident: change is on the way. Change, as in sudden pivotal change in a Crichton novel where the inevitable disaster is spelled out for us in gut-wrenching detail.

For years, the conservative-biased news media has rattled on about how their counterparts (the liberal-biased news media) exaggerates stories about global warming for political fodder. Ah, but have you ever noticed how some events defy the need for superlative and hyperbole? Oh sure, you can embellish anything, but sometimes the facts stand on their own. A snip or two from recent news:

  1. Greenland’s glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed.
  2. A warming trend has increased which has obliterated previous predictions.
  3. Earth’s oceans will rise over the next century, the question is how much and how fast.

So, the ‘oh-shit’ problem we thought was bad, is worse than we thought and now has risen to an ‘oh-shit-shit-shit’ problem. And that’s just the lede. It gets better…

New data from satellite imagery has alarmed climatologists who worry about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data mirrors findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.

Okay… one could argue that a few of the adjectives are a tad overly descriptive but not so much that they overstate the underlying facts. It’s still a problem that begs our attention and we should be concerned because it could end up roosting in our backyards pretty soon. Need I mention New Orleans?

Scientists now say that they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous — and accelerating. By comparison, in 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

Damn… 225 times the volume of water that LA uses annually? That’s a lot of water.

Scary and super-real as it is, the lack of superbole strengthens authority and believability. It is the kind of story that makes you pause and think – unless of course you are biased.

Elevation ChangeI have attached a little graphic to illustrate another point. Also devoid of superbole, this bit of artistry plots the elevation changes of Greenland’s glaciers. The blue areas have drawn the most attention for two reasons: they are places where the glaciers are most vulnerable to change AND they have seen the largest increase in change during recent years. About 10 years ago the areas of stable or increasing snow/ice pack (yellow and grey) were so large that the blue areas (decreasing elevation) were mere slivers. Click the graphic to see a larger version of this graphic.

If you still believe that there’s no such thing as global warming, then consider this – the climate is changing, glaciers are melting, and we’re all in for a world of hurt.