November 30, 2016
WHY WE CARE: Incorporated is a smart, psychological thriller set in the year 2074 where competing multinational corporations have unlimited power and unilateral control over employee lives. The story centers on Ben Larson (Teale), an ambitious executive who conceals his true identity to survive as a company man until a turn of events forces him to jeopardize his position at great peril. Enhanced by a sleek, inventive production design offering plausible near-future technology, the series tangles with such resonant themes as strictly enforced societal castes and privilege, eroding rights, and lost privacy imposed by digital tracking. It reads more like a cautionary tale than escapist sci-fi, which makes it all the more compelling.
November 29, 2016
The question is not, does Donald Trump feel shame. We know he never has.
The question is, are the journalists who have covered this campaign capable of feeling it?
We have plunged into an emergency, and one reason is that journalists who are supposed to supply a picture of the world failed to do so. Not the only reason, but one reason, which is enough to prompt serious rumination.
I wrote last week about journalists searching their souls, trying to figure out what they did wrong in this appalling campaign. Like the rest of us — nobody deserves a free pass in an endangered world — they’re obliged to think deeply about what to do better. Is it too impossibly high-minded and do-goody to insist that their reason for being is to offer the American people what they need to know in order to better choose their course? If that is in fact their mission, they have failed abjectly.
Almost half of the voters have just chosen to be led by a profoundly disturbed ignoramus who refuses to understand he has obligations to Americans who are not members of his family. For journalists who persist in believing their leaders are chosen intelligently, the crisis is apparent and urgent. But the so-called learning curve is getting an appallingly sluggish start. Journalists who should know better are busy complaining about their lack of access to the bullshitter-in-chief, as if access were the golden road to truth and not, often at least, a shortcut over a cliff.
According to the conventions of journalism, access is fundamental. But access runs two ways. Access to “newsmakers” can be purchased with what is known in professional parlance as “beat sweeteners” — softball stories and non-threatening meetings that allow sources access to the journalists who cover them, and by extension, to the public. But these are not ordinary times. While journalists persist in playing by old rules, the president-elect has a different plan. Nor is Donald Trump an unknown quantity. By now it should be painfully evident how he rewards sycophants — with a slap across the face.
For evidence, reader, please peruse the transcript of Trump’s on-again, off-again, back-on again meeting in a New York Times conference room last week. Read the whole thing. It’s not that long. Then consider the Times headline the next day: “Trump, in Interview, Moderates Views but Defies Conventions.” The lede: “President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday tempered some of his most extreme campaign promises, dropping his vow to jail Hillary Clinton, expressing doubt about the value of torturing terrorism suspects and pledging to have an open mind about climate change.”
Nothing to worry about, then.
White House chief of staff may be “the second most powerful job in government,” according to James A. Baker III, who had the job under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
So it matters that the man Trump named his chief of staff, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, embraces Trump’s hard-core climate denial.
November 29, 2016
November 29, 2016
Climate Deniers were making Fake News before making Fake News was cool.
This from a reliable vector of Fakery.
Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after poring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change.
But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming.
Author of said study calls this interpretation “inappropriate and misleading”.
The worthwhile post is excerpted here.
Last week, my colleague Tom Edinburgh and I published an article estimating the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the early 1900s, using sea ice observations recorded by explorers of the time.
It received an overwhelming amount of coverage in the media. This was largely because it combined a human-interest story about the conditions faced by the early Antarctic explorers with an illuminating result regarding the thorny issue of Antarctic sea ice trends.
Despite significant increases in global average temperature, sea ice in the Antarctic hasbeen slightly increasing in extent over recent decades (1979 – present).
Although much of the coverage was very well reported, there were other examples of the results being wrongfully interpreted, perhaps wilfully so. Some of the errors led to confusion, such as conflating sea ice with land ice. Others attempted to cast doubt on the link between greenhouse gases and global mean temperature, which was inappropriate and misleading.
November 29, 2016
Mississippi John Hurt’s playing is a balm.
November 29, 2016
The Pine Island Glacier, part of the ice shelf that bounds the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is one of two glaciers that researchers believe are most likely to undergo rapid retreat, bringing more ice from the interior of the ice sheet to the ocean, where its melting would flood coastlines around the world.
A nearly 225-square-mile iceberg broke off from the glacier in 2015, but it wasn’t until Ohio State University researchers were testing some new image-processing software that they noticed something strange in satellite images taken before the event.
In the images, they saw evidence that a rift formed at the very base of the ice shelf nearly 20 miles inland in 2013. The rift propagated upward over two years, until it broke through the ice surface and set the iceberg adrift over 12 days in late July and early August 2015.
They report their discovery in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
“It’s generally accepted that it’s no longer a question of whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt, it’s a question of when,” said study leader Ian Howat, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State. “This kind of rifting behavior provides another mechanism for rapid retreat of these glaciers, adding to the probability that we may see significant collapse of West Antarctica in our lifetimes.”
While this is the first time researchers have witnessed a deep subsurface rift opening within Antarctic ice, they have seen similar breakups in the Greenland Ice Sheet—in spots where ocean water has seeped inland along the bedrock and begun to melt the ice from underneath
November 28, 2016
DEAR FRIENDS IN AMERICAN JOURNALISM,
Ordinarily, it is you who offer the rest of the world advice about press freedom, and the accountability architecture of democratic societies, so I understand that it may be strange to hear it coming back at you, but this will not be the last inversion that the election of Donald Trump delivers.
You have some deep resources to draw on for the battle that is closing around you. For starters there is your Constitution, which offers stronger protections than just about any comparable legal framework. And your money, greatly diminished, and unevenly distributed to be sure, but orders of magnitude more plentiful than what your counterparts elsewhere have to call upon. You also have reserves of talent, creativity, and commitment far larger than you are given credit for by your critics, and right now by angry, bewildered, and wounded friends.
But one thing you don’t have, is experience of what to do when things start to get genuinely bad.
Take it from those of us who have worked in places where the institutional fabric is thinner, the legal protections less absolute, and the social license to operate less secure. Not outright dictatorships, but majoritarian democracies where big men—and they are usually men—polish their image in the mirror of state media or social media, while slowly squeezing the life out of independent institutions.
When Donald Trump ditched his press pool twice within days of being elected, and launched a series of Twitter attacks on The New York Times, a lot of you sounded surprised. As if you expected him to become a different person once the anointing oil of the Electoral College had touched his brow. Of course there was nothing surprising about his conduct. Rule number 1 of surviving autocracy, as Masha Gessen reminds us, is “Believe the Autocrat.”