7 things for Saturday (9.14)

1.U.S., Russia reach agreement on Syrian chemical weapons.” Steve Benen writes: “The crisis isn’t over, but the diplomatic solution took an important leap forward this morning. For all concerned, it’s heartening news — and a development that was hard to even fathom a week ago at this time.”

2. Mumford & Sons kicked out of Atlanta strip club. That sounds like a sordid tale of rock-n-roll debauchery, until you read the details and realize it had to do with karaoke and cell phones. (Note to The Independent: I appreciate that “clean-cut” generally refers to upstanding morals, but it’s really not the best term for a bunch of tousled and bearded musicians.)

3. AIDS-denying racist religious right spokesman Bryan Fischer borrows an argument from corporate-tool hack-for-hire E. Calvin Beisner: “It Is ‘Ignorant, Ignorant, Ignorant’ to Think Human Behavior Can Affect the Climate,” Fischer says. Fischer, like Beisner, argues that God is in control of the Earth’s climate, and that therefore nothing humans do can change it because the Bible tells him so.

Well, let’s see if the Bible does say that. Hmm, nothing there on page 1 or page 2 to contradict what Fischer says. But, uh-oh, what’s this on page 3? “Cursed is the ground because of you … thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” Seems like the Bible doesn’t agree with Beisner and Fischer, because that’s clearly a case of climate change as a consequence of human behavior. And what’s this bit here on page 5 of my Bible? “Then the Lord said to Noah …”

If you don’t believe that humans can cause climate change, you should probably rip the story of Noah out of your Bible.

4.‘Hug an Atheist’ film tries to put a human face on unbelief.” “Can bubbas love Muslims? A new documentary tries.” We humans do this thing where we tell stories. We humans also do this other thing where we generalize and stereotype and Other, pretending that we already know their stories, and that their stories are completely unlike our stories, and that we don’t need to hear their stories. The more and better we do the first thing, the less we’ll do the second.

5. Every time you hear a politician talk about those who “create wealth,” remember this graph:

“Productivity” refers to making stuff and doing stuff. That’s the business of “wealth creation.” Today, wealth-creators work for rent-seekers, and as this graph shows, the rent-seekers have been taking a bigger and bigger slice of all of the wealth that workers are creating.

It turns out there really is a class of moochers and parasites, siphoning money from the rest of us. But it’s not the idle poor, it’s the idle rich.

6. 25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women.

7. Elvis Costello and The Roots.

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  • Morilore

    Oh god the labels on the abscissa of that graph. Rotate the font guys God.

    By the way Fred, have you watched Richard Wolff’s Capitalism Hits the Fan?

  • Victor

    (((“Then the Lord said to Noah …”)))

    Hey Fred! Far be “IT” for U>S (usual sinning) gods, “I” mean us 96% godly cells of Victor’s so called four per cent age cells of his father, mother, son and holy spirit’ kingdom, to tell YA what to do while you’re praying butt, “I” mean but, we gods do have something pressing to tell YA NOW!

    Fred, “I’M” sure you’ve heard of http://www.esvbible.org/Ex34.29/ butt stories, “I” mean but YA don’t know the hole, “I” mean whole truth of “IT” NOW!

    Long story short, we gods with the help of the alien gods managed to get back to the good old days when Noah came down from his mountain and what we gods saw was very surprising indeed. Fred, trust “ME”, “ME” and “ME'”, YA just can’t believe everything YA read these days cause as far as we’re concerned, there was no golden bull statue but only the truth so says our alien gods. As YA know, there’s a LOT of Christian fanatics who might and have jumped the gun about these so called Biblical stories. Tell YA what and with the help of our alien friendly gods if YA know what “I” mean? Listen Fred, YA must stop Victor from commenting cause the hackers won’t take much of “IT” and have already put a stop to him ever starting his own new blog, so who’s side are YA on NOW? If YA don’t believe me just speak to a few of NO HA’s alien godly cells. Yes they now see the light and we can all trust these alien gods cause they’ve put a stop to those cowboy victor savard alien, “I” mean cowboy vs alien, no, no, “I” mean cowboys and alien http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdmupNxobP0 . Come on Fred what does Harrising a Ford have to do with “IT” so wake UP your tropes before “IT” is too late for this twenty first century. Don’t YA want us to start our own Bible texts where we can educate all pup pets, “I” mean humans NOW?

    Fred we can’t trust Victor any longer and to proff “IT”, have you seen all the down votes that he’s now gotten and to top “IT” all, he’s only got “ONE” follow her, “I” mean follower and truth be known, “IT” is only to find out how crazy these four per centage cells of this little retardo Victor really are NOW?

    Fred, there’s so much more that “I” want to tell YA but “I” see Victor’ coming from his fall and he’s got blood in his eyes and that’s probably cause he’s just got back from a MASS demonstration church of “Jesus” where they gave him The Body of Christ and to top “IT” all, they even gave him a little of His Blood and……..

    END YA SAY sinner vic? BE NICE NOW!


    Go figure folks! :)



  • mememine

    Get up to date people, we don’t have to love this planet with fear like neocons:

    *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.

    *Science has never agreed it WILL be a crisis, only could be a crisis and it’s been almost three decades.

    *Not one single IPCC warning has ever said any crisis WILL happen, only 28 years of “maybe” a crisis. Prove me wrong.

    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

    *Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.

    *Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.

    Definition of a Fear Monger; Anyone saying a CO2 crisis will happen when science has NEVER agreed it WILL happen, they only agreed it could and might and possibly and……………………….for 28 years.
    Who’s the neocon here again?

  • Morilore
  • Sue White

    It turns out there really is a class of moochers and parasites, siphoning money from the rest of us. But it’s not the idle poor, it’s the idle rich.

    Hey, I’m not siphoning *that* much. I haven’t raised any of my rents in five years.

  • It’s still you.

    The ice cares not for your politics. The ice only knows that it’s melting. The ice is melting.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Out of curiosity, are all 3600+ posts of yours about climate change? Sounds like a job.

  • Alix

    Eh, copy-paste makes it much easier. Especially if one doesn’t mind spamming places.

  • Alix

    That said, one’d think that’d give em a repetitive strain injury…

  • kcrothers


  • Rhubarbarian82

    Yeah, 3600 is a lot, even for copy pasting chunks of his posts. I dunno, I find people like this and that God is Laughing dude bizarrely fascinating. I barely have the energy to keep arguments going for three posts.

  • Does that mean if we get you to post one more time, you’ll sputter out and collapse at the keyboard?

  • dpolicar

    You know… now that I think about it, nobody ever told me I WILL have another stroke, or worse, if I don’t start controlling my blood pressure.

    They only agreed that it could, and might, and possibly, and statistics show, and etc.

    Would you advise me to stop taking my blood pressure meds?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I don’t know for sure, but I guess it’s worth findip;;xdurlf;gbnf

  • Medic~!

  • Albanaeon

    And what if your wrong? Do you think “sorry” is going to be sufficient if all the experts are right and climate change causes severe to catastrophic shifts in our climate? And yes, most of the experts agree that major crisis are in the works due to climate change. Just look up the disasters that came because of the shift from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age. Small things like The Great Famine, Black Plague, etc.

    If we follow the advice of experts on climate, we get cleaner, more reliable energy, without having to play with some of the worst people on Earth to get ever diminishing returns for our investments. And quite possibly saving civilization, humanity, etc. What exactly do YOU have to offer?

  • FearlessSon

    That said, one’d think that’d give em a repetitive strain injury…

    Not if you have a good programmable mouse. Use one of its extra buttons to set a macro for pasting. Strap on a wrist brace before you settle in too. You will find that the repetitive stress can be greatly mitigated.

  • Anton_Mates

    If you don’t believe that humans can cause climate change, you should probably rip the story of Noah out of your Bible.

    I still don’t think that follows. The story of Noah says that God can cause climate change, but has decided to never do it again. It doesn’t say anything about humans changing the climate–in fact, Genesis 8:22 seems to promise that the earth will never again see a radical change like the Flood, no matter what humans do.

    Likewise, the “cursed is the ground” thing seems to be God’s intentional action in response to human misbehavior. Thistles don’t just start popping out of the soil as soon as Eve bites the apple.

    Plenty of other cultures have stories where human actions directly affect nature on a global scale, but if there’s a Hebrew one, it’s slipping my mind right now. The Old Testament myths tend to hit “This is all due to G-D and ONLY G-D, no one else can do this but G-D” over and over again.

  • arcseconds

    Scientists never say you WILL die if you jump out of a plane from 20,000 ft with no parachute.

    They only say you MIGHT die (people have survived falls from this height before).

    So, obviously falling from enormous heights is a totally fine plan! Anyone who says any differently is just a fear monger!

    (Scientists of course think it’s extremely probable that there will be a catastrophe if we continue to heat the planet by releasing CO2, and it’s already causing problems. But even if it was pretty unlikely, it wouldn’t follow that we shouldn’t do anything about it. You do understand the concept of insurance, right?)

  • Sue White

    How do you know?

  • Michael Cule

    No hugs for agnostics? We’re cuddly too! (Some of us….)

  • But these are christians we’re dealing with for the most part, and the christian “literal” reading of those passages is that God is just the mechanism; human sin is the cause of the flood, because it forced, forced God to flood the earth. Bad behavior by humans forced God to make those catastrophes as surely as two dudes doin’ it forces God to send hurricanes. Otherwise, it would be God’s fault that bad things happen, and that’s unpossible.

    It’s just like how uppity women who won’t learn to make a proper sandwich force their husbands to hit them.

  • e-hugs! :)

  • That wages and productivity graph gets depressing each time I look at it, because there’s no way for the wage rate of change to ever catch up to the productivity rate of change absent some very, very large transfers of money from capital-holders to wage-earners and that won’t happen with people like Tim Geithner in the White House as part of Obama’s team. :(

  • “x axis” is easier, you know.

  • Sue White

    Does that mean that global warming is punishment for the sin of driving too much?

  • Panda Rosa

    Okay, call me twisted, but when I read about Mumford & Sons, was I the only one who thought of that magician on Sesame Street? “And now I’ll make your clothes disappear–ALA PEANUT-BUTTER SANDWICHES!” and Poof!
    Real life’s no fun.

  • myeck waters

    I might be hugging you, but can’t say for sure.

  • Wednesday

    “Science has never agreed it WILL be a crisis, only could be a crisis and it’s been almost three decades.”

    I think you mean scientists? Science is not a sentient being and cannot itself agree to anything.

    That said, most of the scientists I know whose areas of research have anything to do with climate change are well past the “is it happening or not, and is it caused by humans or not” and are busy looking at things like “what will happen to the prairie-forest boundaries as a result?” and “how much longer will I even _have_ this glacier to study, given how quickly it’s melting?”.

  • Anton_Mates

    Well, God’s only “forced” in a moral sense; by and large, AFAIK, fundamentalists and evangelicals deny that the flood was a bad thing. When humanity is wicked, killing the crap out of them is the good option. God could have chosen not to do it, but that would make him bad (i.e. unjust or indulgent.)

    Likewise, if we let gay people marry, God might be obliged to hit us with a few hurricanes. Good, just, righteous hurricanes. But we can’t expect to summon up the hurricanes ourselves by altering the climate; that would be arrogant. And God will limit his wrath to local stuff like hurricanes, not wrecking the global climate until he’s ready to destroy the whole thing (which gets around Genesis 8:22 because that only applies “as long as the Earth endures.”)

    All I’m saying is, Fischer’s position is scientifically ludicrous, but I don’t think it’s obviously inconsistent with Genesis.

  • dpolicar

    It’s not only scientifically ludicrous, it’s morally reprehensible… and still not obviously inconsistent with Genesis.

  • David S.

    I don’t think it’s a good argument to argue that if it is pretty unlikely we shouldn’t do anything about it. Giving up fossil fuels means giving up a huge source of convenient power that the First World doesn’t want to let go and the Third World would love to get their hands on. The argument has to be made (and has been) that it’s going to happen before we could even think about stopping using them, and I’m not sure I believe we will ever be willing to give up fossil fuels no matter what the cost.

  • “Convenient” casts the issue with quite a lot of wishful thinking. Eliminating fossil fuels means saying that some people are going to die, and some people are never ever going to be allowed to improve their lives.

    (Not eliminating fossil fuel means more or less the same thing, but different people on a different timetable)

  • smrnda

    ‘Convenient’ – it’s often inconvenient to make responsible choices, whether it’s switching the type of fuel you use or legally ending discrimination. Part of the ‘convenience’ is that we’re tip-toeing around demanding that the oil industry and other industries put long-term sustainability ahead of their short-term profit.

    It wasn’t convenient to go to the moon, and we did that out of a pissing contest with the USSR.

  • David S.

    As Ross says, this is a life-and-death situation. People like street lights, but they use a lot of energy. People like fast ambulances and firetrucks, not ones that are stuck next to a charger when needed. The Third World still needs refrigeration and air conditioning and a host of other life-and-death things, provided only by a handy source of power.

    Going to the moon did not negatively affect the average person’s life at all. Legally ending discrimination in the US didn’t happen until it wouldn’t seriously affect most Americans negatively. On the other hand, if we magically stopped all fossil fuels from working today, I suspect 100 million American would be dead in weeks. No planes, no cars, no trucks, most sources of electricity gone? Total social collapse.

  • arcseconds

    I don’t think it’s a good argument to argue that if it is pretty unlikely we shouldn’t do anything about it.

    That’s what I said. The remainder of your comment seems to be implying the opposite, though?

    I’m confused…

  • David S.

    You said “But even if it was pretty unlikely, it wouldn’t follow that we shouldn’t do anything about it.” I was saying that if it were pretty unlikely, we couldn’t afford to do anything about it; the costs would outweigh the risks.

  • Amaryllis

    I don’t know anything about your rental properties, and if you haven’t raised your rates in five years you’re probably an exception to the general trend.

    And “too high” is of course a subjective judgment.


    The National Housing Conference reports that

    moderate-income households spend an average of 59 percent of their income on housing and transportation …

    The report finds that housing and transportation costs have increased 44 percent over this period while household incomes have risen only 25 percent. As a result, Americans are now substantially less able to
    afford their costs of place, undermining their ability to meet other critical household expenses, such as food, clothing, health insurance and child care. …

    Increased demand for rental housing combined with insufficient new production has raised rents.

    It should be noted that they studied both rental and mortgaged property, include utilities as a housing cost as well as actual rent or mortgage payments, and combine it all with transportation expenses as an overall “cost of place.” It’s all risen faster than incomes for most people.

    Anecdotally speaking, my daughter was looking for an apartment recently. She was earning more than minimum wage (although not that much more) and even with a roommate, she could find absolutely nothing she could afford anywhere in the area. Because where moderate-income households struggle, poor people are increasingly completely out of luck.

    Which is one reason why she’s not here any more– and I don’t live in one of the four highest-cost regions discussed in the report.

  • Morilore

    It’s not labeled x and abscissa is a pretty word shut up. :P

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Or just get a bot to do it. Disqus doesn’t have captcha AFAIK, and as long as you don’t bombard the same pages with your message in rapid sequence, most things won’t catch it…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I suspect it’d be closer to 280 million Americans, but yeah. Energy is life.

    And of course, we can’t use nuclear power, because it might make someone sick a thousand years from now!

  • J_Enigma32

    We are pumping quite a bit of CO2 into our already dense atmosphere. Now, if you don’t think this is a bad thing, I ask you a simple question:

    The majority of Venus’ atmosphere is what particular molecule?

    And a follow up question:

    What’s the real estate like on the surface of the planet?

  • arcseconds

    Ah, but that’s not what you said!

    What you’re saying now is that if it’s unlikely, we shouldn’t do anything about it.

    Earlier you said it’s not a good argument to say if it’s unlikely, we shouldn’t do anything about it. So you were saying your own position is a poor argument.

    OK, so you didn’t mean that after all, but you were actually right. It is a poor argument to say that if it’s unlikely, we shouldn’t do anything about it. You’re right to point out that the costs might outweigh the risks, but they also might not. It depends on how unlikely it is, how bad an outcome there is if the risk is realised, and what the costs are.

    Remember that if the risk is realised, it’s pretty damn catastrophic. If there’s only a one in a trillion chance of it happening, then you’re right, we probably shouldn’t pay much attention to that risk (although it’d probably be a good idea to look at making the same changes for other reasons, although perhaps not with as great a sense of urgency. For one thing, fossil fuels are a finite resource).

    If it was a 49% chance, however, it would be extremely foolhardy not to mitigate the risk.

    Hence my remark about insurance.

  • That’s really not a good way to argue the point. Because it’s also the majority of Mars’s atmosphere. It doesn’t necessarily follow that increasing CO2 on earth by the amount that we are would have anything like the result of turning us into venus.

    (Also,during the periods in earth’s past where CO2 was very low, the planet basically got covered with a mile of ice.)

  • J_Enigma32

    It’s true that it’s also the majority of Mars’ atmosphere, but that’s why I prefaced it with “our already dense atmosphere”. Mars’ atmosphere is really thin; it’s not just composition but density, too, and the Earth has a very dense atmosphere, like Venus does. I can’t speak about whether or not we’re on the fast track to reproducing Venus, but I’m making a point about what seems like his blithe dismissal of CO2 being a danger at all.

  • Sue White

    I certainly haven’t done any studies, but I notice that houses similar to my old house (which is now a rental) in the same neighborhood are selling for a lot more than what I bought mine for 20 years ago. Almost twice as much. Now, have average incomes gone up that much in 20 years? Has *anyone’s*? Judging from that graph above, apparently not. I like capitalism and all, but I think we’re doing it wrong.

  • One thing to note is that the word “rent” also has an economic usage which includes the term “rent-seeking” i.e. purposely taking advantage of and entrenching a market asymmetry to price what you have to sell above what it would sell for in a competitive market.

    To that extent the limited supply of land can lend itself to rent-seeking in the rental market (ha, see what I did there).

  • Sure, but by playing the Venus card, you run the risk of undermining your own point, because you’re using an argument based on such extremes that it’s easy to dismiss by saying “Well of course if we put that much CO2 in the air it would be bad, but we’re only talking about a fraction of that amount.” I mean, you can make similar arguments about the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide.

  • smrnda

    I’m not talking about a sudden stop, just actually looking into implementing other fuel sources. European countries seem to be willing to look, while the US is pretty much refusing to do so.

    Ending legalized discrimination did not affect anyone ‘negatively’ in any meaningful way – though that was probably a bad choice as it’s not the same type of policy choice.

    On ‘life and death’ in the USA, we survived a great deal of fuel rationing (along with other resources) during WWII.

    Or I could look at WWII. The demands of WWII led to some pretty big advancements – rockets went from glorified fireworks to something you could aim at a city in a short time, and the groundwork for computer science and modern cryptography were laid during that time, and on top of that, the atomic bomb was developed. These all came at a pretty high cost, but it was because people faced an urgent crisis.

    The cost of going to the moon was immense, but winning the pissing contest with the USSR was considered worth it. It might not have obviously ‘negatively impact’ anyone but that was a decent chunk of $$$ that didn’t go to paving streets or or SS checks. We don’t seem to be attacking other problems with the same level of effort.

    If the issue is that third world countries cant wait for better solutions, that’s no argument against developing them in firt world nations.

  • mattmcirvin

    Earth is actually quite far from runaway greenhouse, where the oceans boil away and the planet becomes a Venusian pressure cooker (or, at least, this is the impression I get from climatologists). There was one prominent person (Hansen?) who was claiming a while back that if we burn absolutely all of Earth’s carbon reserves, it *would* tip the Earth into runaway greenhouse, but just about everyone else in the field seemed to think he was wrong.

    However, there are many, many local, regional and global catastrophes you can get to long before runaway greenhouse.

    The popular talk about this tends to conflate a number of different things. There’s the 2 degrees C threshold that the IPCC and others settled on years ago as a rough indication of “bad things happen beyond this point.” There’s the phenomenon of positive feedback, which does operate in the climate system all the time, and there are various specific, not necessarily well-understood “tipping points” for different climate impacts: ice sheets melting, various species dying off, etc.

    A lot of this tends to get smushed together into a scary and fatalistic notion that we may be past some tipping point beyond which it’s just too late, the Earth is going to turn into Venus or something, and we’re all gonna die so we might as well do nothing. But, in fact, as far as I can tell, in the near future we’re always going to be in the realm where we can and should do something. Beyond 2 degrees C warming the benefit from doing something just gets more obvious.