Climate Update

The day after Thanksgiving, while we were still semi-comatose from overindulging on food and family, the White House quietly released the latest report on the state of the world’s climate. Friday afternoon is typically news-dump day, a day for the government to release information it hopes few will read. (You can read it here.) The current occupant of the White House has already gone on record that he doesn’t believe it.

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Fighting Urban Traffic

While you’re waiting for Amazon to deliver your latest purchase by drone, UPS is testing a more, umm, down-to-earth approach. The company announced it would begin delivering in Seattle’s downtown Pike Place area using pedal-powered tricycles. The trike-trucks have electric-motor assistance, presumably to help the operator make it up Seattle’s hills.

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Finally – Some Help for White People

In this digital age there is little chance of going off on a racist rant or other stupid behavior without someone recording it with a smart phone and causing embarrassment or even loss of employment. Niecy Nash decided it was time to help. Now white folks have a hotline to call when they observe African-Americans doing things that don’t seem to be right for persons of color to be doing.

Influenza Centennial

A hundred years ago, November 11, 1918, the armistice ending four years of fighting the Great War was signed. Armistice Day was later renamed Veterans Day. The Great War became known as World War I to differentiate it from the even greater war that broke out in 1939, a little more than twenty years later. WW I killed 8.5 million combatants, another 28 million wounded or missing. Add to that a million or so civilian deaths. The end of the war did not mean people stopped dying, however.

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Science News Bulletin from the Swamp

While Republicans were noisily reminding us what they think of women, they were quietly reminding us what they think of science.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to merge two of its science offices: the Office of Science Policy with the Office of Science Advisor. The stated purpose of the merging is “in order to reduce redundancies.” Critics say the real purpose is to mute the voice of science.

The Office of Science Advisor manages scientific standards throughout the agency and is tasked with providing unbiased advice to the EPA administrator. This action will reduce its role in the agency, putting it further down in the bureaucracy’s pecking order.

From Bloomberg:

“By dissolving the science adviser’s office and putting it several layers down in ORD [Office of Research and Development], that greatly accelerates the decay of science advice within the EPA administrator’s office,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “That kind of coordination is much more difficult to do if they’re buried down inside an office.”

Saving Country Music

“I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.” – Bob Newhart

In spite of Mr. Newhart, Country Music is more popular than ever.

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I never liked country music, or I thought I didn’t. Eventually I came to the realization that I had been listening to country music all my life. Much of the music I liked was derivative of the music I thought I hated, or rock and roll covers of straight country songs. The Beatles, for example, recorded several Buck Owens and Carl Perkins songs. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Everly Brothers’ roots were deep in country. Elvis Presley combined country with gospel and country blues to initiate the rock-and-roll frenzy. Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and Bob Wills are among the many whose songs have been interpreted by rock and pop artists.

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