clarity is cold comfort

It’s just incredible to me that the temperature has fallen to near freezing tonight, and possibly will drop below that. Don’t get me wrong, even though I’m from the mildness of coastal California (the Bay Area, mainly), I’ve spent the last three winters on the east coast (not the Canadian one). Those winters, at their coldest, were much colder than just about any time I’ve been here except a brief clear cold period in early December – a clear cold that I welcomed, in fact. Though I must admit I was happy to drive through it and out of it and on down to California for the winter break.

No, what’s incredible to me is that I’m leaving for the summer, and when I do, the weather will have been more or less the same, on aggregate, from mid-October to late April. And by the same, I mean cold and overcast, cold and drizzly, cold and rainy, cold-but-not-as-cold and rainy, or even colder and clear. And this is the warm part of this country.

set in stone

The Olympics have made spring break come early this year and last twice as long, and I decided to take the opportunity to leave town and visit my family. (I might look into the Olympic non-ticket events around town after I get back this weekend.) That means I’ve been watching the Olympics on tv, which is not something I’ve done since 1998. I usually ignore the winter games completely.

One sport I’ve enjoyed making fun of, in an uninformed non-serious non-specific way is curling, but now that I’ve gotten a chance to see full matches for the first time, I can say that I haven’t sat through a whole match. But I have watched the ends of each end for a few of them and I do like the sport. It looks like a fun puzzle game; I bet there’s a flash version.

I can’t say I understand the rules, though, and it looks like I better read up on them soon, before the source of the stones disappears from the earth.

so that’s what happened to the mime from French in Action

I recommend watching this before you know what it’s about.

(I can’t remember where I saw this video, but it was a while ago. This made me think of it again.)

the global war on polymer

I thought banning paper bags was still just a California thing. Los Angeles has just decided to do it and, not surprisingly, some parts of the Bay Area have already done it.* But they’re not alone:

In June, China banned shops from giving out free plastic bags throughout the country, and banned the production, sale and use of any plastic bags less than one-thousandth of an inch thick. Bhutan banned the bags on the grounds that they interfered with national happiness. Ireland has imposed a hefty 34 cent fee for each bag used. Both Uganda and Zanzibar have banned them, as have 30 villages in Alaska. Scores of countries have imposed or are considering similar measures.

*This reminds me of when I was a kid and Berkeley banned styrofoam containers. That might have seemed like an odd decision at first, but in retrospect it turns out to have been a good one. Of course styrofoam is still around (not in Berkeley), but in a less environmentally damaging way.

What I noticed most about the ban at the time – I was quite young – was that fast-food hamburgers, previously kind of soggy in condensation catching containers, now had to be wrapped in paper or put in thin cardboard boxes. They tasted better that way.


July 18th, in the Washington Post (via):

If the movement to confront climate change is perceived as partisan, anti-capitalist and hostile to human life, it is likely to fail, causing suffering for many, including the ice bears. And so the question arises: Will the environment survive the environmentalists?

July 18th, in the New York Sun (via):

Today, we need sophisticated policies that weigh costs and benefits, not more warnings. Ironically, the very success of environmental alarmism has convinced many of us that the environment is too important to be left to the environmentalists.