Chuck Thompson understands why we travel, but still thinks we shouldn't:
As evidence piles up about the deleterious impact of global tourism, the travel media charade is starting to feel like the almost comical hypocrisy of Trump surrogates ginning up increasingly contorted justifications on cable news for a worldview that’s becoming more detached from reality by the day.
All motorized transport is a problem—cruise ships generate 21,000 gallons of sewage per day, much of it flushed into the ocean—but the primary offenders are airplanes. According to U.K.-based Earth Changers, another outfit dedicated to “sustainable tourism,” aviation emissions account for 3.2 percent of total global carbon emissions. That figure could rise to 12 percent by 2050.
Short of regulations and fuel taxes on a scale that would restructure the entire global market, people probably aren’t going to stop traveling. More likely, as the world becomes ever more distressed by over-tourism—the 145 million annual overseas trips currently taken by Chinese tourists alone is expected to surpass 400 million by 2030—the travel journalists we rely on for hot tips and insider advice will simply conjure new ways of assuaging our guilt. That may serve the interests of their airline underwriters, but it won’t be doing the planet any favors.
I take no joy in saying so. I like travel as much as you do, and I’m not stopping either. Where’s the line between hypocrite and addict? I suspect we’re all going to find out sooner than we’d like.
And to think, I just got a brand-new passport...
Dana Milbank puts a hunk of the blame for the impeachment trial on the Chief Justice of the United States himself:
Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see.
Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.
Certainly, the Supreme Court didn’t create all these problems, but its rulings have worsened the pathologies — uncompromising views, mindless partisanship and vitriol — visible in this impeachment trial. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), no doubt recognizing that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is helping to preserve his party’s Senate majority, has devoted much of his career to extending conservatives’ advantage in the judiciary.
We just have to get through this year. Maybe things will get better in 2021?
A bomb snowstorm buried much of Newfoundland this week, breaking all kinds of records in the process:
The historic blizzard that slammed Canada’s easternmost province is headed for Greenland — but it left snow-buried neighborhoods, a slew of power outages and shattered records in its wake.
St. John’s superseded its record for the most snow in 24 hours, recording 762 mm, as the storm hit Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday. A state of emergency continued in the provincial capital and elsewhere through Sunday as most businesses were ordered closed and few beyond emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads. Snow drifts rose 4–5 meters high on some highways, officials said. The Canadian armed forces were called in to help clear the deluge.
The storm was a meteorological “bomb,” having undergone a process of rapid intensification known as bombogenesis. With its central air pressure dropping quickly, the storm drew surrounding air into its center, causing sustained winds in some parts of Newfoundland and Labrador to reach 118 km/h or greater, with higher gusts. The winds combined with the heavy snowfall to create whiteout conditions.
NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center determined the central air pressure of the storm bottomed out at 954 millibars early Saturday morning, more than a 54-millibar drop in less than 48 hours.
And you thought your winter weather sucked...
Jonathan Boccara compares the two:
At the beginning of a Tetris game, you start with an empty game. It’s like the very beginning of a coding project when there is nothing yet.
Then blocks start to fall down. The way you position each block has an impact on the rest of the game. If you place blocks around without much reflexion, letting holes slip in, you’re making life harder for the rest of the game. And if you manage to build a clean, compact structure, then it will be more manageable later in the game.
The analogy with technical debt is that each new fix or development is like a new block coming in, which you need to integrate with the existing code. If you hack it in a quick and dirty way, it’s like leaving holes in the Tetris structure: you’re making life more difficult down the line.
And if you take the time to design a clean solution to integrate the fix or development, it’s like making sure you leave few holes in the Tetris game. This is less easy to achieve but it pays off in the long run.
I haven't thought of it that way before, but I like it.
As if by design, the Senate trial of President Trump looked more farcical than serious yesterday. But contra popular belief, David Ignatius argues that impeachment actually bolsters our brand overseas:
A consistent theme through the Nixon and Clinton dramas, and now with Trump, is the presidents’ conviction that they didn’t commit any impeachable offenses and that the process is a partisan political sham.
Nixon wrote: “I never for a moment believed that any of the charges against me were legally impeachable.” Clinton declared in his memoir that his impeachment was “a politically motivated action by a majority party in Congress that couldn’t restrain itself.”
And so it goes. Impeachment is an inherently political process for resolving allegations of abuse of power, as the Founders intended. But past evidence suggests that it helps break the fever, rather than making it worse.
Meanwhile, Frank Bruni suggests we all take a moment to comfort the Whiner in Chief:
He’s always right and yet always wronged. He demands that we marvel at his invincibility even as we tremble at his degradation. He can vanquish any enemy — and his enemies are legion! — but look at how he’s pushed around. Trump takes a textbook oxymoron and gives it presidential form. Behold, at the Resolute Desk, a jumbo shrimp.
It’s disgusting. It’s also part of his political genius. He has turned himself into a symbol of Americans’ victimization, telling frustrated voters who crave easy answers that they’re being pushed around by foreigners and duped by the condescending custodians of a dysfunctional system.
Thanks to Republicans in the Senate, he’s poised to evade punishment again. We should all be such victims.
Yes, thanks to Republicans in the Senate, particularly those in diverse states who face election in a few months.
I mailed in my passport renewal application on the 7th and got both my new passport and my passport card yesterday. I still haven't gotten my old passport back, but that's OK for now.
Two weeks and $200, start to finish, without using Express Mail. Nice job, guys.
As of yesterday, the 3/4 mark in his term, President Trump has told 16,241:
In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.
In other words, in a single year, the president said more than total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019.
The president added to his total on Sunday evening with more than 20 Trumpian claims — many old favorites — during a triumphant speech at the annual conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He incorrectly described trade agreements — suggesting Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and an agreement with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was “a $40 billion deal” — and also falsely asserted that “tough” farmers and ranchers were crying as he signed a repeal of Obama-era regulations. A video of the event shows no one crying.
In 2018 and 2019, October and November ranked as the months in which Trump made the most false or misleading claims: October 2018: 1,205; October 2019: 1,159; November 2019: 903; and November 2018: 867.
So, as of today, only 365 days remain in his term. And the election is closer still.
Josh Marshall says we should hold Republican senators accountable for their handling of President Trump's impeachment trial—especially vulnerable ones up for re-election this year:
We know what Trump did. What remains to be seen is whether Senate Republicans will back his behavior. Monday evening we got a big part of the answer.
When we say that it’s Senate Republicans who are on trial, that’s not just rhetoric or wordplay. It’s the reality and understanding it is a guide to political action.
I’ve already seen a number of statements from Senate Democrats “hoping” that “Republican moderates” will force McConnell to backtrack. This is all wrong, not least because it prospectively credits the good faith of these supposed “moderates” who are in fact operating as McConnell’s foot soldiers in shutting the trial down. In other words, this is vouching for the good faith and good intentions of senators who deserve to be driven from office in November. Start making the case against them right now. If any of them think they are unfairly accused the solution is ready at hand.
Only 227 days until the election.
Wildlife authorities captured the coyote that attacked a 6-year-old boy in Lincoln Park earlier this month, and have taken it to a rehabilitation center:
With help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, local officials tested the animal and said it was the same one that on Jan. 8 attacked the child near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, biting the child on his head.
The results of the testing that were promised at the time of the coyote’s capture were released Sunday, and authorities now say the animal was limping because it had been shot with a BB gun, according to a statement from city spokesman Patrick Mullane.
Mullane also said testing confirmed the animal did not have rabies.
It looks like everyone, including the injured coyote, will recover.
I'm visiting one of my oldest friends in Durham, N.C. She is fostering Lexi, who had nine puppies on the 5th:
So, it turns out that puppies under two weeks old (a) smell horrendous, no matter how often you change their bedding, and (b) don't do a lot. But in the 18 hours I've been here most of them have opened their eyes for the first time. And they are really cute.
This morning we took a short hike at the Museum of Life and Science, which encourages John Cleese to visit:
It helps that while Chicago basks in its tropical -12°C January heat, here in Durham it's a chilly (to them) 12°C.