Social Media Dump Dec 17-31 2021

See also:  Dec 1-16 and Jan 1-15 (2022) (View all)

First, Smashwords ebook sale is from Dec 17-31; check my Robert’s Roundup of Ebook Deals to see my recommendations.

Here’s a nice and revealing interview with Paula Jean Swearengin . Swearengin is an anti-coal activist who ran for Senate twice (once as a primary challenger against Joe Manchin). Now she’s abandoned the Democratic Party to join the People’s Party. Her insights from running twice as a Democrat are revealing: she says that West Virginia are more cynical about the Democratic Party which has promised lots but never delivered. She also is critical about other Justice Democrats (like AOC) for abandoning Medicare for All movement and not “sharing the wealth” with other progressive candidates. She complained about how national fundraising groups that end up not delivering all the money they raise; it’s better to support the candidate directly. Paula Jean has learned a lot about the political process; I hope she finds a way to use this knowledge to get elected in some way.

Nice analysis of the breakup of the Thwaites ice shelf.

Once the ice shelf shatters, large sections of the glacier now restrained by it are likely to speed up, says Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a leader of the Thwaites expedition. In a worst case, this part of Thwaites could triple in speed, increasing the glacier’s contribution to global sea level in the short term to 5%, Pettit says.

Even more worrisome is the process that has weakened the ice shelf: incursions of warm ocean water beneath the shelf, which expedition scientists detected with a robotic submersible. Because Thwaites sits below sea level on ground that dips away from the coast, the warm water is likely to melt its way inland, beneath the glacier itself, freeing its underbelly from bedrock. A collapse of the entire glacier, which some researchers think is only centuries away, would raise global sea level by 65 centimeters. And because Thwaites occupies a deep basin into which neighboring glaciers would flow, its demise could eventually lead to the loss of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which locks up 3.3 meters of global sea level rise. “That would be a global change,” says Robert DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Our coastlines will look different from space.”

I’ve been a big fan of Craig Ferguson’s talk show. Here is a two part interview with Stephen Fry.

Perfect Bid: Contestant who Knew Too Much. Great story about a Price is Right contestant who beats the system.

Comedian Ali Siddiq does a lot of racial-themed humor and I find it hysterical. Here’s his piece about how white people taught me to complain.

Here’s a nice and nuanced discussion about how pivotal a role that slavery played in the American Revolution. God, I wish I had taken more history classes at college!

Why Mary Bailey is the true heroine in It’s a Wonderful Life:

“Mary Bailey is the true hero of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ” says Caleb Norris, a film buff with whom I chatted about our shared Mary devotion. “And some mopey ­man gets all the glory.” Mary deals with the same leaky roof and small-town limitations as her husband with one major difference: She never complains. She doesn’t need an angel named Clarence to descend from heaven and inform her that she’s actually led a wonderful life. She knows intuitively that wonderful lives are not made by collecting passport stamps or military honors; they are made by investing in the community around you and wallpapering the bejesus out of an old Victorian. “Why must you torture the children?” she asks George when he takes out his foul work-mood on the family. Why indeed? She’s the one who’s been home all day with a sick toddler and a clanging piano…. The entire movie celebrates the personal sacrifices of a nice man while ignoring the identical sacrifices of a nice woman. Why? Because “It’s a Wonderful Life” assumes something that society assumed in the 1940s and sometimes continues to assume to this day: A wife is supposed to sacrifice, buck up, make do, slog through. But when the husband does it, the whole town must take note.

Propublica investigates the lax regulation of ethylene oxide. This has led to a series of cancer deaths in Texas, especially around Laredo.

A climate scientist talks about what resonates from the Adam McKay movie Don’t Look Up.

We live in a society in which, despite extraordinarily clear, present, and worsening climate danger, more than half of Republican members of Congress still say climate change is a hoax and many more wish to block action, and in which the official Democratic party platform still enshrines massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; in which the current president ran on a promise that “nothing will fundamentally change”, and the speaker of the House dismissed even a modest climate plan as “the green dream or whatever”; in which the largest delegation to Cop26 was the fossil fuel industry, and the White House sold drilling rights to a huge tract of the Gulf of Mexico after the summit; in which world leaders say that climate is an “existential threat to humanity” while simultaneously expanding fossil fuel production; in which major newspapers still run fossil fuel ads, and climate news is routinely overshadowed by sports; in which entrepreneurs push incredibly risky tech solutions and billionaires sell the absurdist fantasy that humanity can just move to Mars.


I saw DONT LOOK UP yesterday. Not a great movie — the characters are cartoonish, but the plot is unbelievably cynical (and sobering) and there are touches of surreal horror everywhere. It certainly captures the feeling of being powerless in a society that overlooks real social problems and yet only seems to notice pop culture trivia.. I’m currently reading 3 novels that address climate change — FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver and MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE by Kim Stanley Robinson. Also let me mention a third climate change title by an environmental activist from south Texas, LUZ AT MIDNIGHT by Marisol Cortez.






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