I don’t know why I gave even a wry chuckle at this. There is no reason, no logic, no sense in what the republicans proclaim.

If you truly despise big government, then what are you taking money for?

http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/575.jpg

Incredible power.  How can one conceive the force behind an explosion that produces these clouds?

Overwhelming beauty. How can one describe the magnificence of these clouds?

The evening and night images of the cloud show it no longer softly billowing ash, but a fiery column.

Nature: so tame, so friendly. When Nature reveals its other side, we remember how vulnerable we truly are; whether during the short-term, like this volcano or earthquakes and tsunamis; or during long-term world-altering events such as climate shift.

When Nature speaks, we can only listen and struggle to survive.

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/06/chiles-puyehue-volcano-erupts/100081/ 

Nuclear Skepticism

April 4, 2011

I repeat: to be a skeptic is to ask questions; seek answers from reputable sources; and make decisions based on that accumulated, verifiable evidence while still being open to new information.

To be a skeptic is not to be a naysayer, a denier, or a knee-jerk reactionary. It is not to accept without thought or question, nor is it to ignore evidence.

Once again / George Monbiot / addresses failings in critical thinking that severely damage credibility of people who, as recognized spokespeople, must be held to a higher accountability. If you are going to talk in public about an issue, you *must* be well-informed. (his two previous posts address his repeated and unsuccessful attempts to get Helen Caldicott to provide references for her so dramatic statements.)

People trust their chosen leaders. This is an unfortunate but absolute fact of human nature. And if leaders lie, as almost all seem to do, in pursuit of their chosen agenda, people make foolish choices. Global warming will not go away because people trust greedy, manipulative leaders. And nuclear power must be considered intelligently, not in the obscuring cloud of fact manipulations.

We must teach people how to question intelligently and how to recognize reliable sources.

We are running out of options in too many areas. Humanity may survive the coming crises and the wars and devastation that will accompany them, but wouldn’t it be better if we found ways to prevent the worst disasters? We won’t, not without cooperation and reason.

Where are the leaders and the people who seek reason, not power and emotion?

People clamoring to decommission nuclear plants is a ‘hot’ topic as the drama in Japan keeps unfolding. George Monbiot has been exploring how nuclear energy compares to other sources for safety. Not a pretty picture, considering where so much of our electricity comes from.

His posts, in order:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/16/atomised/

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/21/going-critical/

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/31/seven-double-standards/

And a tangential post on oil, tyranny, torture, and Western blind eyes:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/14/oil-and-trouble/

Diana Wynne Jones

March 26, 2011

I am bereft. Her books have been a joy to me for so much of my life. I introduced both my children to them, to their delight.

I’ve never understood why Diana Wynne Jones is not acclaimed in Britain and the world as the foremost author for children, young adult, and adult. No two books were the same for her. Her creativity seemed limitless. Fantasy, myth, science fiction: perhaps they all fall into speculative fiction. But though the approach varied, she always created worlds you wanted to live in. She always created characters you wanted to know. You picked up a story of hers and finished it with a bittersweet sigh compounded of sheer contentment and delight mixed with sorrow that it was over.

She is one of the few authors I would buy a book from without stopping to wonder if it would be good. I knew it would. They always were. I reread her books regularly. Not many authors can stand up to that sort of scrutiny, but she never seemed to put a foot wrong. Everything worked. Nothing jarred.

Her book, ‘Sudden Wild Magic’ is the only one labelled adult, but stories such as ‘Deep Secret’ or ‘Dark Lord of Derkholm’ are equally complex. And even the most simple stories held that inimitable charm. Chrestomanci, ‘Dogsbody’, the Dalemark Quartet: they enriched my life. The inimitable ‘Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ is a delight.

Her wealth of ideas, the joy of her style, the warmth and love she brought to each book: no one I’ve read has come close.

And cats. She loved cats.

I shall miss knowing she’s in the world, weaving her spells of joy for me to share.

Ed Yong’s blog ‘Not Exactly Rocket Science’ has a weekly feature on   / missing links /. It always includes real treasures from myriad topics.

This week introduced me to a marvelous website, /  Scienceline / . She includes sounds. Mudpots! I love mudpots, but to describe the sound… well, now I needn’t try. And the bellowing bedfellows… wonderful stuff.

He also mentioned my favorite story of the week – the  / cloned African blackfooted  kittens / .

I quite liked this. As one who gets regular facepalms and eye rolls from her progeny, I think nerds, geeks, and any ‘expert’ in their field should  / learn from this /.

I could go on and on, but check out his site if you haven’t gone there before. It’s always a good read.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=japan-nuclear-twitter-updates-2011-03-14

Update:  Google’s consolidation page:  http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html

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