Archive for May 19th, 2009

The 88 objects in our solar system larger than 200 miles in diameter

| May 19, 2009 | 1 Reply
The 88 objects in our solar system larger than 200 miles in diameter

Did you know that there are 200 known objects in our solar system that are larger than 200 miles in diameter. You’ll find them all listed and pictured here

Share

Read More

George Lakoff frames eco-talk

| May 19, 2009 | Reply
George Lakoff frames eco-talk

Linguist George Lakoff, who I have often discussed at this website (see here and here), has spent a lot of time discussing the power of framing. In fact, the way we frame serve as tectonic plates of sorts underneath all the chatter. Exposing the frames can clear up misunderstandings. Being careful of how one frames one’s arguments can make for a much more effective message.

Turning to environmental issues, Lakoff suggests that we need to consciously note that certain types of frames will enhance the message. What are those frames? Here’s Lakoff’s list, from a long post at Huffpo:

First, the public’s very understanding of nature has to change. We are part of nature; nature is not separate from us. Nature nurtures us. The destructive exploitation of nature is evil. What is good is the use of nature that doesn’t use up nature.

Second, the economic and ecological meltdowns have the same cause: the unregulated free market and the idea that greed is good and that the natural world is a resource for short-term private enrichment. The result has been deadly, toxic assets and a toxic atmosphere.

Third, the global economy and ecology are both systems. Global causes are systemic, not local. Global risk is systemic, not local. The localization of causation and risk is what has brought about our twin disasters. We have to think in global, system terms and we don’t do so naturally. That is why a massive communications effort is needed.

Fourth, the Right’s economic arguments need to be countered. Is it too expensive to save the earth? How could it be? If the earth goes, business goes.

Fifth, we are the polar bears. Human existence is threatened, and the existence of most living beings on earth.

Sixth, we own the air jointly and we can’t transfer ownership. Polluting corporations are dumping pollution into our air. They need to gradually be made to stop, two-percent less a year for 40 years: that is what a “cap” on carbon dioxide pollution is about. And meanwhile the polluters should pay us dumping fees to offset the cost of fuel increases and pay for the development of better fuels.

Seventh, even the most successful emissions cap would only take us halfway. Business needs to do its part to take us the rest of the way. Large corporations need to face up to reality and join in the effort.

Finally, for those in the business world: Corporate interests are constantly putting forth arguments based on cost-benefit analysis. But the very mathematics of cost-benefit analysis is anti-ecological; the equations themselves are destructive of the earth . . . [I]n a fairly short time, any monetary benefits compared to costs will tend to zero. That says there are no long-term benefits to saving the earth!

Share

Read More

47 million year old primate fossil

| May 19, 2009 | 2 Replies
47 million year old primate fossil

Some scientists are touting a 47 million year old primate fossil as potentially being a direct descendant of humans, though they admit that there is a lot more work to do before making that conclusion with certitude. What is not in dispute is that this lemur-like fossil is extremely well preserved.

Share

Read More

A wedding observation

| May 19, 2009 | 12 Replies
A wedding observation

I attended a wedding over the weekend. My family is Italian and I’m sure it’s no surprise that we are overwhelmingly Catholic. However, because the ceremony wasn’t being held in a church but rather in the reception hall I had thought that I would be spared having to sit through another Catholic mass. I was wrong. *sigh*

As it turns out, it was a thankfully shortened version of the ceremony. I noticed that, even in abbreviated form, the priest managed to mention FIVE TIMES (we counted) that,”…God made us MALE and FEMALE so that we may join together in His love”. It would have been just another day in a big Italian Catholic family except this time, seated right up front were two good friends of the bride and groom who also happened to be a lesbian couple.

I’ve seen “the lesbian couple”, as they are called in the family, a few times at family gatherings that were large enough to encompass all of us. They have been together for many years, at least as long as many of the other couples in the room. Longer than some. I couldn’t help but cringe each time the phrase rolled around.

“Marriage was created by God for MALE and FEMALE…”, “We join in holy matrimony this MAN and WOMAN…”, etc.

With each repetition of the phrase it seemed that the priest was emphasizing it more and more and from our vantage point several rows back it almost seemed like he was glaring at the lesbian couple when he said it. (Probably my imagination.)

Share

Read More