Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Armageddon, Only Faster

A recent episode of PBS’s excellent series “Now” dealt with the facts and politics of global warming. One scary prospect some scientists predict is a phenomenon called “abrupt climate change”. As opposed to the slow burn we think of when we hear global warming, one degree in a century, the climate will slowly change up to a point and then jump dramatically.

Not quite “The Day After Tomorrow” and okay, maybe not Armageddon, but with the oceans rising twenty feet, coastal cities will vanish. Numerous plant and animal species will become extinct. And with the Arctic, the “air conditioner to the world” in scientist Susan Joy Hassol’s words, melted away, temperatures around the world will get a lot more sticky and unbearable.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brother, Can You Spare The Dollar?

If you feel like reading some dense political/economic ponderings, this is an interesting, provocative article about a less-discussed motive for invading Iraq. The argument goes like this: The U.S. dollar is the international currency for trading oil. Every country in the world must use U.S. dollars to buy oil. The U.S. has what is known as “fiat money”, backed by a law saying it’s legal tender instead of gold or silver. Therefore, according to the article, the U.S. is on very shaky ground, and with debt in the trillions, it needs the international oil market to sustain its economy.

Enter the U.N. Oil-For-Food Program. In 2000 Iraq stopped accepting the U.S. dollar for oil, purely for political reasons, and through the Oil-For-Food Program converted all its U.S. dollars to euros. The article argues that this was a primary motive for invading Iraq. Two months after the war, the Oil-For-Food program was ended, the country’s accounts switched back to dollars, and Iraq oil was sold for greenbacks once again.

While much of the article is obviously debatable, it draws some interesting parallels with the current situation in Iran. Iran recently announced it will form its own international oil exchange in March of 2006. The currency? Euros.

The "Manimal" Threat

Bush’s warning cry about “human-animal hybrids” in the last State of the Union address may seem like an odd tangent, but it appears he has good cause: they’ve already infiltrated the NSA and the Dept of Homeland Security. Blogger Jesse Berney has posted a hilarious threat-level chart.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Environmental Per-FORE!-mance

The Environmental (hm…) Protection (yeah, right) Agency (okay, I’ll give you that one) is under fire for the failure of its Performance Track program, which rewards supposedly green-conscious corporations with lax regs and tax breaks. Strangely enough, the Bush administration has been reluctant to enforce it. When questioned, the EPA chief Stephen Johnson responded, “We’ve been focusing most of our resources on the logo design for our golf shirts. You can’t have a strong federal program without the proper golf shirts. Once we get the buzz going among America’s golfers, this thing is just going to snowball…"

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Working intensely hard on a screenplay for the past few weeks, which can make me rather boring. Not that I have nothing to talk about, or write in my blog about, but for the most part, I'm either reading, or watching something on Tivo, or writing. Or doing my jobby job, which is not interesting to talk about. So I'm left discussing the media I'm absorbing or the media I'm generating. Want to hear what I think of the book "China Inc."? Well, too bad, I haven't read it yet. I did read "Funny in Farsi", which is funny, and, even better, not in Farsi.

I missed Mr. Bush's speech last night, but caught Gov. Kaine's Democratic response slash commercial for Virginia. "In conclusion, America, there is a better way. And Virginia Is For Lovers!" I heard that LA Mayor Villaraigosa was supposed to give the speech, so maybe it was for the best - if there's one thing LA already has plenty of, it's publicity.

My girlfriend called me from work to tell me about the Oscar nominations. I had forgotten, which is because I was reasonably confident I wouldn't be nominated for anything. But if I wasn't, you can bet that I would be up at 5 am watching it live. I've been amused lately by all the calculated attempts that celebrities make to seem Just Like Us, completely Normal. Lately even Tom Cruise has nothing on Michelle Williams. The day after her Globe nomination she was on the cover of USA Today in an article titled "Globes? What Globes? Michelle Williams Just Wants To Be With Her Kids." It's weird to see celebrities gloating about their children, like Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover of some fashion magazine with a quote like "Now that I have children, my life is perfect." I'm sure that makes you really relatable to the mother of six in the checkout line in Akron, Ohio.

The classic example of this feigned modesty is the fact that in 99% of post-Oscar-announcement interviews with actors, they say they were asleep. Always woken up by the phone, always forgot the nominations were being announced, even people who won awards for their work just weeks earlier. I've been on numerous film shoots, and they routinely have 5 am calls. But for some reason these actors and movie people just had to get a full night's sleep. "Oscars? I completely forgot what the Oscars even are. Is that some sort of award? I was volunteering at a soup kitchen when my cel phone rang..." Bla bla bla. I promise you, that if I even think there's a chance in hell of being nominated, if I directed "Cheaper By The Dozen 4", then I will be up watching. And if I'm nominated, don't worry - I'll be calling you.