If former students can’t meet their payments, lenders can garnish their paychecks. (Some borrowers, still behind by the time they retire, have even found chunks taken out of their Social Security checks.) - Robert Reich, "Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn't"

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why 'Free Market Solutions' Will Not... Cannot... Address Global Climate Change

David Atkins (thereisnospoon) at Hullabaloo expands on a theme by David Roberts at Grist: not only is global climate change worse than you think, not only is some degree of it inevitable even at this point, but there is, at ground, no solution as long as we insist on approaching the problem through nation-states and (allegedly) free markets. Please go read those two posts before you undertake any serious dispute of that assertion on threads here. (Warning: at the moment, the Roberts/Grist article is serving atrociously badly on their web site. Expect a long wait.)

Many of you will quite understandably shrug, acknowledging the assertion as having already long since proved itself.

Some of you, though... probably not many who bother to read this blog... will object to the whole thesis of global climate change, or dispute its inevitability, or use old science or current papers by pseudo-scientists to dispute the fact of impending climate change, or tell me that God is going to save us. To those few of you, I say this: save your breath; if you're young now, you're going to need it when the shit hits the fan in a few decades.

Contrary to claims you've almost surely heard, science is not a matter of opinion (though there's no shortage of opinions among scientists) nor is it something you believe or don't believe, like a religion. Science is a collection of methods for creating effective explanations, together with the current versions of those explanations themselves. Science contains few if any eternal truths, but it offers the best way of obtaining the current best assessment of what is factually true, and how those facts interrelate. And in matters of global climate change, the best science indicates that, sooner rather than later, a lot of our coastal towns and cities will be under a lot of water, the life cycles and breeding patterns of many species will be unable to accommodate regional temperature changes (with extinction the likely consequence), and humans will continue to ignore the most basic markers of the human condition by fighting wars over what is left, and by suffering plagues we can only imagine. It is not a pretty picture, and it is already underway.

I wish I could propose some marvelous action you could take to avert this catastrophe, but I am afraid that flight departed a while ago. As for "free market solutions," I cannot even fathom what kind of virtuous investment strategy would induce corporations to take the needed actions soon enough to mitigate the worst effects of climate change... the free market is designed to operate on an extremely compressed time scale, and anything that happens a century from now, even if predictable, simply does not seem real to the people and institutions investing in industries whose actions may or may not make climate change happen.

So I have no preachy advice for you. Being who I am, I can't even provide you a tip on a hot new stock, and besides, the heat of that stock would contribute to the problem...


  1. No matter the denial, the perfidy, or whatever free market nonsense is spouted 'cause and effect' (the truth) will trump propaganda reality in the most devastating way.

  2. Also, Steve...check out this article on Counterpunch--- http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/06/28/what-the-market-does-to-our-souls/



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No Police Like H•lmes

Current and Recent Reading and Viewing

• King, Laurie R., Mary Russell series.
—. The Beekeeper's Apprentice.
—. A Monstrous Regiment of Women.
—. A Letter of Mary.
—. The Moor.
—. O Jerusalem. ...
If you are unfamiliar with Ms. King's Mary Russell series of Holmes novels, please do yourself a favor and begin with the first, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and just keep going. If you have female children of the right age, you may want to introduce them to these books; Ms. Russell is a splendid role model for someone who would become a strong, intellectual, adventurous woman. King's prose is beautiful, too. Highly recommended!
• Rennison, Nick. Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography.
Rennison weaves the scant information Conan Doyle provides on Holmes's background into the fabric of the stellar lights of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with such convincing detail that one could almost believe Holmes was an actual historical figure. If you like reading British biographers (face it; Americans write biography wholly differently) and you have a passion for Sherlock Holmes, you will very likely enjoy this book. As in eating a Dagwood sandwich, it helps to take it in small bites at a time.
• PBS Masterpiece - BBC. Sherlock, Season 3. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman.
Sunday 1/19/2014, Premiere, "The Empty Hearse".
Sunday 1/26: "The Sign of Three".
Sunday 2/2, "His Last Vow".
Need I even comment on this?

I imagine people, especially Sherlockians, will either love this series or hate it. I am inclined to take each episode at face value, as a sort of parody of the traditional Conan Doyle Holmes story model, having (in my opinion) very little obligation to conform to that model as long as it does not deliberately poop on the basic conventions Doyle established. The setting is either present day or near future (some of the technology, and the reference to hardware Holmes apparently has installed in contact with his brain, lead me to call it the future), and many of the human elements are right out of Doyle: Holmes, who has just returned from his "dead" period, is an absolute a(bleep!)hole to Watson; Mrs. Hudson starts out talking to Watson, who announces he is recently engaged, as if he is surely gay; Watson is played (to type) as not the brightest bulb on the string, etc. My advice: do watch, but just sit back and enjoy the fireworks, the effects, and the unsubtle humor. I've read that women find Cumberbatch very good-looking; perhaps some men will as well.
• Douglas, Carole Nelson. Irene Adler series.
—. Good Night, Mr. Holmes.
—. The Adventuress (formerly Good Morning Irene)
—. A Soul of Steel (formerly Irene at Large)
—. Another Scandal in Bohemia (formerly Irene's Last Waltz)
Here's Dr. Watson (i.e., Conan Doyle) on Irene Adler:
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler... yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.
Carole Nelson Douglas, perceiving the memory of Adler as anything but "questionable," frames a series of mystery novels in which Adler is the detective, accompanied by her own Watson, Penelope "Nell" Huxleigh, Adler's husband Godfrey Norton is the strong male lead, and Holmes appears only incidentally. Adler is granted an astonishing but undeniably plausible variety of skills to ply in her role, and her background as an American opera diva contributes to the stories in an entertaining way. Douglas has done us a real favor in fleshing out this character, who is only once mentioned in the Canon but deserves and receives a much deeper treatment in Douglas's books.
• Millett, Larry. Sherlock Holmes in Minnesota series.
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance
—. The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes
Millett writes a flavor of Holmes novels that I call either "American Sherlockiana" or "Sherlockian Americana," take your choice. Either way, the series comprises novels in which Holmes and Dr. Watson have an adventure involving America, which nation to all appearances Conan Doyle himself admired. Millett sets his stories in Twin Cities in Minnesota, adds his own detective, Shadwell Rafferty, a barkeep with an analytical mind, and lets loose with a series of five adventures well worth your time. I read these years ago, but they have been recently re-released; see Millett's web site at the link above.