Plastic Is Killing All Life On The Planet

Stories like this break your heart. A whale dying because its stomach was filled with plastic that we dumped into their living space.

For a long, long time, we’ve taken plastic for granted. It’s ordinariness was even the point of a classic line of movie dialogue: “I have one word for you… you listening? Plastics.”


“Plastics…”. Who knew that son of a bitch was actually a Bond Villain?

The Problem With “Doing Nothing”…

Got a problem? Doing nothing will not solve it. That’s a stone cold fact. That’s not to say you can’t get lucky — and time resolves what your inaction didn’t. But that wasn’t you solving your problem, that was you hiding from it until a solution presented itself. Not the same thing.

One of the roadblocks Big Business regularly threw up early in the Climate Change conversation was the cost of cutting down our carbon output. Big Business was going to have to see its profits go down so it could help maintain the planet’s long-term health. That would be the long term health of Big Business’s marketplace.

Saving the planet for all the living creatures in it (it’s not just humans who get profoundly impacted by the mess we’ve made of the planet) won’t be cheap. But if you consider the alternative — from a cost-benefit analysis — doing nothing, it turns out, is a thousand times more expensive. Doing nothing about the climate already has resulted in appreciable sea rise.

Seen photos of Venice? Seen the mess Hurricane Dorian made of the Bahamas? Right now, those are the cost of doing nothing. Doing nothing isn’t “free”. Cleaning up and rebuilding is expensive as hell — if you can clean up (ask Puerto Rico what that’s like). Resources used for rebuilding can’t be used for other things. Same goes for the money. There’s a bigger hidden cost staring at us all. What if places like Venice simply can’t “be” anymore — because they’re under water? Imagine that THAT costs.

Doing nothing on the climate will produce tens of millions of refugees fleeing the coasts for safer refuge inland. The costs will be incalculable. Where are those people going to live? How are they going to feed themselves? More to the point, who is going to feed and shelter them — and where is that money going to come from (while we’re also paying for the cost of the destruction itself?)

Doing nothing in the face of climate change is a terrible idea.

Doing nothing in the face of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing to America is equally terrible (and not unconnected). Yet that’s what plenty of people — politicians and pundits — still want us to do: nothing. They want us to wait for the next election — so the American People can have their say.

Lovely thought but fatally naive. The American People did not get their say LAST presidential election. 2016 was stolen from the American People — certainly from the majority. HRC won the popular vote by upwards of 3 million votes (lots more, I bet, if all the suppressed votes were counted). If we take Russia out of the equation — they’ve never even heard of Donald Trump — he doesn’t enter the race and he certainly doesn’t make it through the primaries.

Without Russia, Trump wouldn ‘t be POTUS. I have to wonder now (with retrospect and a year of meaningful oversight now under our belts) what Mitch McConnell knew about Russia’s efforts on Trump’s behalf when, at the September 2016 Gang Of Eight meeting at the White House, Moscow Mitch McConnell told President Obama that he’d accuse Obama of politicizing the intelligence if Obama told the American People the TRUTH — that Russia was actively engaged in trying to make Trump president. Was THAT why Mitch insisted again and again that “the American people” deserved to name Scalia’s SCOTUS replacement? Because Mitch knew the American People would have limited say in that election’s outcome?

Russia is engaged in a cyber war with us. It doesn’t matter if we accept it or even know it. It’s happening. We’re exactly like the residents of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 — in the minutes BEFORE the Japanese attacked. They have no idea a state of war exists — it absolutely does; they’re about to be attacked ffs! But war does exist — and it is coming for them whether they like it or not, whether they KNOW it or not.

Donald Trump isn’t just a corrupt POTUS, he’s a traitor. He’s been the most devastating active measure in the whole history of espionage. He and everyone around him are betraying us each and every day. How can we possibly let that stand for another moment — never mind till the next election which the republicans fully expect to steal just as they did election 2016.?

The cost of doing nothing is we lose our Republic.

Sorry. Not acceptable.

We are compelled not just to do “something” but to do EVERYTHING in our power to stop what the republicans are doing. We may survive the republicans decimating the greatest experiment in human self-government ever, but we won’t like what the republicans replace it with.

Doing nothing, ironically, will absolutely positively cost us everything.

Dear American Press: Please Get This – Truth Will Always Outweigh Bullshit

It seems so damned elemental it shouldn’t need explaining: Truth and lies are entirely different things. Being made of reality and real stuff, the Truth always has heft. The Truth can be unbearably heavy at times.

Bullshit on the other hand — while it looks like it weighs a ton — weighs nothing. That’s what it’s made of: nothing or one of nothing’s derivatives.

It’s galling as hell to watch supposedly informed members of the news media (MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is on my TV screen as I tap this out) give bullshit weight it doesn’t deserve. Chris Matthews — having just listened to five minutes of solid truthful reporting — instantly presented the (easily) anticipated Trumpian defense: bullshit.

But, Chris reported the bullshit as if it “could” have weight. What if? He false equivalenced five minutes of actual reporting with fifteen seconds of nonsense. Ummmmm, clean up on aisles three through infinity!

What makes it worse is, if you took Chris off set and shot the shit with him, he’d be the first to tell you (I sure hope) what a guilty traitor Trump is! Backstage, when no one’s worried about pissing off the Boss, you know a lot more nitty makes it into the gritty. On air, you have to double and triple source everything to pass muster. Off air — you heard what you heard.

Trust me — everyone’s “smarter” backstage. They know everyone else’s “play”. They know everyone else has a play.

But, on his air, Chris consistently (as he did today) presented Truth and outright bullshit as having equal weight. Truth could be true but, hey — so could the bullshit. That must be why MSNBC is putting it on its air — because it’s true, right?

It IS that simple. Media works that quickly, that efficiently, that effectively. I’m grateful most media has stopped presenting climate scientists & climate deniers in a 50-50 shot as if both sides of THAT conversation weighed the same. Keep in mind — in the visual language, a screen divided exactly in half has two sides of equal value. That’s how visual vocabulary works.

When that happens, the news media creates a “trompe l’oeil” — a visual trick — that makes empty, valueless bullshit look like it’s a dead ringer for stone cold Truth. A more truthful visual representation of a climate scientist debating a climate science denier would be the scientist taking 99% of the TV screen (maybe even 100%) and the denier getting the rest. Their mic volume would reflect the same proportions.

In other words, we would never see or hear from climate deniers because their bullshit had been properly “weighted”.

Truth’s problem is it isn’t sexy. It just is. Usually, the only reason anyone ever talks about “The Truth” is because someone else is questioning it — or denying it.

Republicans Are The “Mission Accomplished” Party; That’s Great Until You Realize What Their “Mission” Is…

Who can forget W aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 2, 2003 – proudly proclaiming just what the banner behind him said: “Mission Accomplished”.

That image haunted W’s presidency.  It haunts him to this day because nothing had actually been accomplished.  The only thing they’d succeeded at, mission-wise, up to that point was successfully hanging that banner without anyone getting hurt.

Like everything else Republicans say, “Mission Accomplished” was marketing, no more honest or genuine than Mitch McConnell insisting Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing because “the American people needed to make the SCOTUS choice, not the president who they’d overwhelmingly returned to office”. That WAS what Moscow Mitch said with as straight a face as he could muster.

And yet – when it comes to “Mission Accomplished”, Republicans have actually succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  The America being torn apart right now is the America Republicans want.  We are living in their “Mission Accomplished” – or, to be accurate, “Mission NEARLY Accomplished”.  Republicans can see Permanent Minority Rule from their house now.  They ache to get there.

This is how close Republicans are now to accomplishing their mission –

  • PACK THE COURTS — Moscow Mitch denied Obama dozens of lifetime court appointments.  How strange that all those vacancies started filling the moment Trump became POTUS.
  • How strange that Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing while Brett Kavanaugh skated despite overwhelming evidence he was unworthy to hold the judgeship he already held.

  • PROHIBIT NON-WHITE IMMIGRATION – Children in cages, anyone?

  • DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT – We left the Paris Accords.  Ryan Zinke.  The end of clean water, clean air, National Parks.  Life as we know it.
  • MAKE THE RICH RICHER & THE POOR POORER – Tax cuts for the rich, bullshit & lies for everyone else.
  • INSTITUTIONALIZE RACISM – “Decent people on both sides”.
  • MAKE GERRYMANDERING PERMANENT – Twice as many Democrats as Republicans have to vote in order for their majority to actually feel like a majority.  The whole point of gerrymandering is to CIRCUMVENT the Will Of The People.  Welcome to Republicanism.  Can’t win on the law, can’t win on procedure, so pound the table into sawdust instead.
  • ENFORCE PERMANENT MINORITY RULE – Remind the class – how many more votes did Hilary Clinton get over Trump?  3 million plus, was it?  Remember – that doesn’t include all the uncounted, provisional, suppressed, flipped & tossed in the trash ballots.  Think any of those were Republican votes?
  • DESTROY OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL ALLIES – The knife-wound in the Kurds’ back is still fresh enough we can watch it bleed.
  • MAKE AMERICA A RUSSIAN SATELLITE STATE – How about that: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”!

It’s Time To Play “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”

The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Theme Song

Hi there, ladies ‘n germs — I’m your host Chuck Todd (excuse me while I roll my eyes thoughtfully as if I was physically capable of having thoughts) —

— And welcome to another installment of “Benefit Of The Doubt — the game show where we give the benefit of the doubt to folks who we probably shouldn’t ought to give it to. But, hey — that’s what I think journalism is cos otherwise, I’d have to do research and prep for interviews! Did I say “Welcome to Benefit Of The Doubt yet? I can’t remember — I get so easily distracted.

Tonight’s panel are, first, my co-worker over at NBC News, Chris Matthews —

Chris — say something to the folks!

CHRIS: I miss Bobby Kennedy.

[While Chuck rolls his eyes thoughtfully] CHUCK: Do you think… What I mean is… What if… Is it possible that Sirhan Sirhan was aiming at someone else that night in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

CHRIS: No. Sirhan was Palestinian. He said he hated Bobby’s position regarding Israel. It wasn’t really a question of— Now, wait a minute, Chuck — were you playing the game without saying?

CHUCK: Guilty! I bet if I hadn’t spent the whole time rolling my eyes thoughtfully, you’d have never caught me.

CHRIS: It’s true… Umm… could ya stop now, Chuck — it’s starting to weird me out.

CHUCK: I’ll try, but — now I’m just trying to see if my bangs are straight… I wish they hadn’t left those pruning shears on my makeup table… Our other panelist tonight is CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF: Hi, everyone. I just want everyone to know that the look on my face isn’t because I’m thinking about anything, I’m doing math — I’m figuring out how long much longer I can hold onto the fart now in the chamber. Not much longer to judge from my expression, right?

CHUCK: Thanks for the heads up, Wolf. I’ll just move my chair way over here. [As Chuck moves his chair] Our first guest tonight is Climate Change.

[Polite applause as Climate Change enters and takes the seat next to Chuck’s.]

CHUCK: Welcome, Climate Change! You’re really in demand right now. I feel like we were lucky to get you as a guest.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Well, I am trying to get around — what with the book coming out and–

CHUCK: What– wait– what? You have a book coming out? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Probably cos you can’t read.

[Chuck flashes angrily] CHUCK: What? I can read just fine. Don’t blame me cos I bore easily. Wait — are my bangs straight?

CHRIS: Please, Chuck, I’m begging ya — stop rolling your eyes! In two seconds I’m going to start hurling last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. And that disagreed with me then.

WOLF: I bet the gas was intense.

CHRIS: You know it was.

CHUCK: So, Climate Change — We know… what I mean is…

CHRIS: Chuck — stop rolling your eyes–

CHUCK: I’m trying, Chris, I swear it but it’s gone a little autonomic on me. I’m not that in control of it–

CHRIS: Well, I’m not that in control of what I’m about to puke up either.

WOLF: Please stop saying “puke”, it gives me gas.

[Meanwhile, Chuck has continued rolling his eyes]. CHUCK: Are my bangs…? Is it… Would you say…What if the climate deniers are on to something?

[Everyone stops to stare at Chuck]. CHUCK: What?

WOLF: Are you saying climate change isn’t real?

And… SCENE!

America’s Love Affair With “Stupid”, Part III: When Democrats Get Stupid, There’s Nothing Stupider…

Not a revelation: smart people are as capable of profound stupidity as the profoundly stupid.

The instant even an Einstein-level genius begins to view the world with limited or diminished perspective, it’s just a matter of time before they turn as deeply, utterly, right-down-to-his-tighty-whities stupid as Texas’ Louie Gohmert — the (certifiably) Stupidest Man In Congress. When discussing “stupid”, it’s important to define one’s terms.

As a “baseline” for stupid — “stupid” we can all agree is 1) genuinely stupid and 2) quantifiably stupid — Louie Gohmert is (in my humble opinion) The Gold Standard. So — when I say Democrats are capable of profound stupidity, I’m saying Democrats have it in them to be stupider than Louie Gohmert — stupider than the stupidest man in Congress.

But, I’m not here just to call people stupid (as much fun as it is). I’m here to explain WHY they’re stupid. I want to help after all. Louie Gohmert is stupid because stupid is baked in to his genetics. In the human gene pool, Louie and his kin are all “floaters” in the shallow end — turds someone squeezed out because they regularly shit where they eat and sleep. Unfortunately for us, it’s now too late to clear out the pool, empty it of floaters, and give it a good scrub before refilling.

Louie epitomizes conservative stupidity. It has zero intellectual curiosity. Everything a Louie-Conservative knows (or needs to know, it says) comes from the bible. Never mind that had that works’ authors (the bible is a compendium of multiple texts written by multiple people then edited and assembled into the form we know now by other multiple people) operated from a very limited knowledge base. They thought everything in the cosmos revolved around the earth (they were wrong). They thought magic caused and cured disease (they were wrong). They thought the whole world and everything in it was right there where they lived — that no other “continents” existed filled with millions of humans with vastly different experiences from theirs (they were wrong about that, too). Louie-Conservatives holds up this religious text as the basis for all history, science and cosmology.

So — a Louie-Conservative will take the genetic stupidity he starts with and add heaps of experiential stupidity. Rather than open his eyes or, better yet, his mind, a Louie-Conservative will dig in his heels, insisting that these ancient texts, like their authors were “divinely inspired”. They were transmitting the literal “words o’ god”. That’s what every author things, stupid

Conservative stupid is because it will do everything in its power to live in the past — and living in the past (say it with me) IS STUPID.

Democrats get stupid in the exact opposite way. In a sense, Democrats get stupid because we so very much want to live in the future. While conservatives long to live in a past where their tribe dominates (everyone in power needs to look and sound just like them), Progressives (Democrats) want to live in a future where no tribe dominates. That’s a terrific ideal but might not be as doable as Progressives think. Certainly not now the way homo sapiens are “configured”.

Democrats want to think the best of people. Because they want the pool to be as diverse as possible, they allow a tremendous amount of variability in terms of who can join the pool. Progress can’t happen any other way. There are inherent risks because people aren’t uniformly good. Some of us are greedy. Some of us are really greedy.

Greed is a whole other kind of stupid. Everyone is capable of greed.

The moment greed-stupidity enters, all bets are off. Greed-stupidity trumps everything and all other stupidity becomes instantly irrelevant. Greed stupidity is the most willful. It will sacrifice everything at the altar of Greed right down to its own future — like Abraham sacrificing his beloved Isaac just because the voice in his head told him to. The Nature of Democrat-Stupid is we’re terrible at recognizing Greed-Stupid.

Democrats get stupid when they give the benefit of the doubt to Greed-Stupid because they can’t adjudge Greed-Stupid’s true motives. Then Democrats get nuts when Greed-Stupid changes the rules — or flat out ignores them — because all Greed-Stupid cares about is holding onto power (and money) — so they can maintain their Conservative-Stupid hold over everyone — the majority of people.

In bending over backwards to be fair, Democrats initiate the process of their own destruction. Stupid, right? The problem? It’s as baked in as a Conservative’s stupidity.

As the French would say, Voila la probleme.

Is there a cure for stupid? It’s a fair question. I’m afraid the answer’s unsatisfying: no. Homo sapiens are incredibly clever. Industrious. We’re great problem-solvers — maybe the best among sentient beings on earth (though we have no way of really knowing — lots of other sentient beings are good at solving problems). But we’re self-destructive in myriad ways — starting with our knack for over-production. There are far, far too many of us on the planet. We’ve destroyed 90% of all the other creatures we’ve encountered. Destroyed them or made their habitat unlivable, take your pick. They disappeared regardless.

We’re facing a massive, genuinely existential crisis caused by our own greed and short-sightedness. But, in part because there are so many of us and because we’re so diverse, it’s impossible for us to collectively help ourselves quickly if at all. And even if we could collectively help ourselves, because variation is baked in — and because so much of that variation is motivated by greed — we’re doomed from the start.

It’s a fact — homo sapiens will be no more durable on this planet than the dinosaurs. We’re just as doomed to distinction. The one big difference? Dinosaurs had no hand in their own destruction. The cosmos did that courtesy of a massive meteor strike.

In our case — we have only ourselves to blame.

Boy, is that stupid.

Lessons In How Media Works — FOR THE MEDIA

I sure hope someone at CNN or MSNBC reads this. I know I can help them. I’ve got real world bona fides in my pocket, too. Having run TV shows, written and produced feature films, written scripts for computer games, advertising, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, I know a thing or two about VISUAL storytelling. I know how the medium works.

That doesn’t mean you have to listen to me, CNN & MSNBC, it just means you wouldn’t be stupid to at least hear me out.

The “Biggie” — the mistake you make repeatedly as if you were absolute amateurs — understanding how FRAMING works. You don’t. That applies equally to visuals & storytelling. Framing eludes you.

Let’s start with visuals. A TV screen is like a canvas filled with information and visual vocabulary. Take THIS screen for instance…

This was Bill Nye debating climate science denier Marc Morano. I’m sure you know who Bill Nye is. Morano (to quote Wikipedia) is “a former Republican political aid who founded and runs the website ClimateDepot.com. ClimateDepot is a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow  (CFACT), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that denies the scientific consensus on climate change. Morano’s in the “deny all the science” business, got it?

When CNN puts these two people on-screen together, they present them in a simple 50-50. Each man gets half the frame. Now, here’s the part where you need to pay CAREFUL ATTENTION, CNN & MSNBC — in the visual vocabulary, a 50-50 frame says that both arguments have equal weight. One is as true or likely as the other. All of Bill Nye’s science has the exact same weight — in terms of its rightness or wrongness — as Marc Morano’s science-less, data-less, fact-less, EVERYTHING-LESS bullshit. It doesn’t matter what Morano says, in fact. The more ludicrous his pronouncements the better, in fact, from HIS corrupt point of view because the point of the exercise isn’t to “INFORM” anyone, it’s to dis-inform EVERYONE!

Get it? The more nonsense Morano spews, the more he diminishes all the facts on the other side of that 50-50 screen. The shot itself diminishes the value of the Truth within it? How’s that for twisted?

While that particularly framing happens less frequently now — because climate denial gets less air time — when it does get air time? It still gets to claim equal validity. Of course, CNN & MSNBC could “frame” climate denial first before putting it on their air — that, too, is a possibility. They could point out that one of the two arguments being presented is real while the other is complete horse shit — let the buyer beware! — but they won’t. The other way they could frame the discussion correctly would be to re-imagine the screen presentation of the two sides relative to their truthfullness.

Instead of a 50-50, the screen would be 99.9% Bill Nye and <1% Mark Morano. Like this —

See how that would more accurately represent — in visual language — the relative weight of each person’s argument? See how it feels like a giant talking to an ant? Or an adult speaking to a stupid child?

Let’s move on to my other “framing” bugaboo (I know those CNN & MSNBC eyeballs have a low tolerance for boredom and sitting still. How else do you let “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” stand?) This one begins with that unfortunate disease spreading like an STD through America’s Journalism Schools: “Both Sides Do It” and its brother-disease “False Equivalence Reporting”. The symptom is a reporter repeatedly giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who absolutely doesn’t deserve any such benefit (example — Trump. Why would any reporter give anything that spews from Donald Trump’s anus-shaped mouth a shot at being true when every bit of data says even “hello” & “good-bye” coming from Trump are most likely lies)?

So — if we accept the premise that Donald Trump is a liar — then any time you (CNN or MSNBC) begin your reporting with something Trump says — but without telling your audience Trump is a known liar who’s probably lying right now — your context-free steno-pooling of Trump’s lies have just given those lies the look, feel & legitimacy of Truth. But, it’s not.

When CNN & MSNBC report — as they did today — that Trump gave a good, solid D-Day Memorial speech, they make it sound like Donald Trump is a normal president. But that’s NOT the correct context, is it? In fact, Donald Trump’s presidency has been anything but normal — and, in fact — everything in Trump’s pretty speech (written FOR him by other people) is contradicted by virtually everything Trump’s ever done as president or said over the course of his entire life. Throw in the fact that he’s a goddamned TRAITOR and it gets truly absurd.

Sorry, CNN & MSNBC, but pretty words spoken by a TRAITOR are still just pretty words. SPOKEN BY A TRAITOR. See how that’s actually the headline?

One last criticism while/if I have CNN/MSNBC eyeballs: storytelling works by adding information and then using that new information as the BASIS for ongoing storytelling. Think of it as moving a football down the field toward a touchdown. Adding information to a story is like running a play. All added yardage moves us closer to our goal.

And yet… the stunning majority of on-air “talent” at CNN & MSNBC are utterly incapable of performing this simple party trick. They keep returning to a kind of mental “Square One” where they’ve never learned ANYTHING beyond the information they started with: Donald Trump is “president” which means everything is normal.

Too bad that was never the case. Never mind… those same merchants of mediocrity then take that flawed starting point and — here’s the nutty part — continue to deny knowing anything beyond it regardless of all the actual information raining down on them. They ask questions steeped in ignorance (the worst — tossing out the info as if it required a Rosetta Stone to decipher to their talking head group with a generic “What do YOU make of it?” as if the mere thought of thinking about it themselves was horrifying).

You are allowed, CNN & MSNBC, to use information as you receive it. Refusal to accept and contextualize new information is not the same thing as “being fair as a journalist”. It’s sticking your fool head in the sand.

Quit flattering yourselves.

Now you know what Lesson Two will be all about…