Tag Archives: hurricane sandy

A Monster God

1 Nov

Sarah Sentilles offers another criticism of the sorts of overblown theodicies public figures like Oliver Stone are just beginning to offer: it’s arrogant to claim an authority about what reality might be.

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Stepping Back From Hurricane Sandy’s Onslaught

1 Nov

paddler_slideshowIt’s clear director Oliver Stone is no scientist.

Stone is an equal opportunity critic, arguing that neither Obama nor Mitt Romney tackled climate change in a substantive way. “I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on Earth,” Stone said. “I think there’s kind of a weird statement coming right after … this is a punishment … Mother Nature cannot be ignored. That’s all I thought about.”

I’m glad Stone is still making movies and talking loud. But, ‘punishment”? That’s theodicy, not science. Talk of divine justice distracts from understanding if Hurricane Sandy, whose high winds and assorted forms of precipitation –yes, snow – have caused 40 deaths and $20 billion of structural damage, according to PBS, was a freak of climate change. Such incendiary speech also makes it impossible for public officials to devise ways to ameliorate the causes of catastrophes.

We do not know whether superstorms like Sandy are harbingers of a “new normal” in the uneasy and unpredictable relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. That does not mean that there is not or cannot be such a connection, but rather that the scientific research needed to prove (or disprove) it must still be conducted. That is how good science works. Sandy has provided a powerful demonstration of the need to support it.

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Infidel Links, Scary Edition

31 Oct

b5d030c6223611e2b13b22000a9f18e8_7-300x300Why I’m not voting for President Obama (or, Governor Mitt Romney). (Philosophers’ Club via Glenn Greenwald)

My point is a simple one: a betrayal has indeed occurred…The people who betrayed the once-vibrant and hopeful 2008 coalition that elected Barack Obama president are lodged in the White House.  Their betrayal was not a consequence of circumstance.  It was the inevitable playing out of decisions taken before January 20th, 2009.  The above list of appointments amply affirms that Barack Obama and his leading advisors knew, at the moment that the oath of office was taken, that their priorities and agendas would be in many, if not most, instances antithetical to the priorities and agendas of its supporters.  There was to be, neither then nor later, a glass “half-full” or even a “quarter-full.”  If anyone tells you otherwise, just ask him or her to show you the glass.

The fact is that the Obama Administration, like the Clinton Administration before it, knowingly engaged in a cynical wager.  They bet that they could pursue a host of policies fundamentally odious to their core supporters and yet be reelected.  The calculation depended on the premise that rank-and-file Democrats would have no other option.  Unsurprisingly, the Obama Administration and its surrogates have invested considerable time and energy convincing its former supporters that there is no option. Continue reading

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