Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Jackson's Media Attention
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

When I came out of a stay in the wilderness on Thursday, I checked into a private campground. Almost the the first human speech I had heard in days was the lady at the campground office, a perfect stranger, telling me "Michael Jackson died!"

Now, five days later, the news channels are starting to talk about other things. The weekend that just ended reminded me of the weekend after John Kennedy was shot (which happened on a Friday) -- a weekend in which the media seemed to have only one thing on their mind.

These have been five days during which Americans who listens to music that is not transparently easy to understand at first listening, or who occasionally read a book, has been reminded that most of the people in this country aren't like them at all.

I suppose this is a good thing to remember every once in a while. We live in a system of capitalist democracy, which means everything is driven by the voter/consumer. The tastes and interests of l'homme moyen sensuel explain a lot of what we see in the public forum. Why is Congress jamming through a crippling anti-global-warming bill, though there has been no global warming since 1998? Why did we go to war against Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us whatsoever? We have here is not the whole answer, but surely it is an indispensable part of it.

I find this rather comforting, oddly enough. The world is not really insane, as it often seems. It just isn't terribly bright. That's better. Isn't it?
Added later: It is now a week since his passing and, turning on the TV, I see that CNN, Headline News, Fox, and MSNBC are all talking about him simultaneously. I gather that he is still dead, and turn the thing off.


Peter L. Winkler said...

"though there has been no global warming since 1998?"

You're wrong. See:


Lester Hunt said...

When I said that there has been no global warming, I meant that the actual temperatures on planet Earth had not risen during that period. The site you direct me to looks at "moving averages" to discover and "underlying trend" of warming. Maybe it is my ignorance of statistics, but this just sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me. Another argument is that things look different if we subtract 1998, which was hot for natural reasons. You can prove all kinds of things by erasing data. I think a better argument would be that climate warming is "on hold" because unknown natural causes are swamping the contributions to climate change made by technology. But that raises the question of how strong the human contribution actually is, if it can me swamped in this way.

Ann said...

Global warming computer models predict a 'hot spot' in the atmosphere at about 10km up. There is no evidence for this from satellite data. I wonder how many politicians at this point really believe or even care whether, or to what extent, humans are influencing weather. They see it as a way to collect more taxes through cap-and-trade bills. Earlier governments in the past (before separation of church and state) maybe could invoke the wrath of god to keep the populace in line, do their bidding. The fear of god is largely gone in modern society - but maybe catastrophic pseudo-science scenarios can now serve as a useful proxy for a wrathful god? The kind of belligerent bullying that goes on by Hansen and Gore supporters, their unwillingness to engage in civil, empirical scientific debate with legions of thinking people who have lots of troubling questions about their assertions, tends to support the idea of this AGW movement as mostly a modern Gaia-religion of sorts. My husband was raised as a Baptist (he is not religious at all now), and as a kid he asked curious, inconvenient questions about the bible during bible school. His questions were answered with anger and moral outrage - who was he to dare question the righteous peer-reviewed religious assertions? I've never cared for Paul Krugman, but now he's out saying to not do cap-and-trade is treason against the planet? I guess he's decided to become a priest now, instead of an economist.

Lester Hunt said...

What makes that Krugman piece particularly bizarre, at least for me, is the fact that treason is generally punishable by death, even in countries that don't otherwise have capital punishment. From the point of view of the state, and of statists like Krugman, it is the ├╝ber-crime.

Craig D said...

Have you watched Mike Judge's 2005 movie "IDIOCRACY?"

It will either give you a good laugh or a good cry.

Lester Hunt said...

Thanks for the rec. I've been a Mike Judge fan since the Beavis and Butthead era, but I haven't seen that one.