We’re bouncing into Graceland

We’re bouncing into Graceland February 24, 2019

• “The East Coast Is Going to Get Arkansas-ified” Robinson Meyer tells us in The Atlantic, discussing academic research that produced a tool that:

… tries to find the climate-change twin city for hundreds of places across the United States: the city whose modern-day weather gives the best clue to what conditions will feel like in 2080. It finds that the effects of global warming will be like relocating American cities more than 500 miles away from their current location, on average, mostly to the south and toward the country’s interior.

For instance, the Philadelphia of the 2080s will resemble the historical climate of Memphis. By the time kids today near retirement age, Philadelphia’s average summer will be about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is now. Winters in Philly will be nearly 10 degrees more temperate. Memphis’s scorching, sticky weather provides the best guide to how those climatic changes will feel day after day.

… “Everything gets warmer,” says Matthew Fitzpatrick, an author of the paper and a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Well, not everything. The town where I got married, for example — Sea Isle, N.J. — and thousands of other coastal cities will likely be significantly cooler in 2080 on account of their being under water.

This is why I’m intrigued by this plan to “turn Atlantic City into a climate research hub.” It’s a good idea — but if they’re going to do that, they’d better hurry.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

• It’s encouraging to see “Making America Hospitable for Religious Outsiders,” a positive review of Eboo Patel’s Out of Many Faiths posted at Christianity Today. I have some quibbles — such as with Matthew Kaemingk’s confusing confusion over the meaning of “the common good,” a phrase and concept that really shouldn’t bewilder a student of Christian ethics — but overall it’s good to the magazine allowing for a more mature understanding of “religious liberty” than the rights-for-me-but-not-for-thee nonsense that their audience often seems to prefer.

Kaemingk’s bottom line is this: “If he is a citizen, he deserves a seat at the table — end of story.” One and a half cheers for that. It’s almost brave to write such a thing for Christianity Today’s audience, even though at the same time it’s a bare-minimum recognition of what both the Golden Rule and the First Amendment require. Really it’s just a restatement of what “citizen” means.

But, still, it’s so much better than what Christianity Today — a publication proud of its belief that gay and lesbian couples are “destructive to society” — can ever seem to imagine saying about LGBT citizens.

• When I said Philip Jenkins is one of my favorite Patheos bloggers, it was because of stuff like this: “The Forgotten Temple.” There was a what now? Where?

I hope somebody takes this as a writing prompt for a next-generation Indiana Jones adventure flick or a reboot of something like Irving Wallace’s The Word. (Wallace was a pulp-y, top-selling airport novelist for my parents’ generation. The Word was a conspiracy thriller about the race to find or to bury a possible first-century “lost gospel” — think Da Vinci Code without all the Illuminati stuff.)

• This is a fascinating read: “Let Me Tell You About My Friend Maria Butina — Who Might Be A Russian Spy.”

“After riding Space Mountain, Maria turned to me and said solemnly, ‘That was the most fun I’ve ever had.'”

• “How Facebook and YouTube help spread anti-vaxxer propaganda.”

Basically, Facebook wants to keep people seated on their tour bus instead of wandering the Web on their own. And YouTube just wants people to keep watching videos. This is how they both sell ads, which is the main thing that they both do. And they’ve found that leading people down conspiracy theory rabbit holes keeps them engaged longer than just giving them easy access to true answers based on reality.

Thus we have measles making a big comeback.

And also racism and anti-Semitism. Because this is the trajectory of every conspiracy theory — regardless of how harmless the crack-pottery may seem or how far removed it may be from such things. Whether it’s anti-vaxx nonsense, or 9/11 “truthers,” or Moon-landing hoaxers, or flat-earth contempt for truth, or Southern border “invasions,” or “ancient astronaut” gobbledygook — adherents of all such theories eventually, inexorably will start babbling also about “the Jews.” And that is a Very Bad thing.

See also: “The Making of an Alt-Right Internet Troll.”

• The Philly-turning-into-Memphis connection above accounts for the song lyric in the title of this post.

There were, of course, many other splendid options. Could’ve gone with: “Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?” or “Lord I can’t believe what I see” or “When you haven’t got a prayer” or “Until Hell freezes over, maybe you can wait that long” or anything by Al Green or … well, you get the idea. Memphis provides so many options. But for reasons I cannot explain some part of me wanted to see this one:


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