Why people read Dan Brown - and yes, it is doom-y.

Excellent op-ed in the NYT, and I think it does explain a couple of mystifying and doom-trending aspects of American life- the absolute abandonment of any kind of moral standards, and the dreadful popularity of such a bad writer. Italics are mine.

"Brown is explicit about this mission. He isn’t a serious novelist, but he’s a deadly serious writer: His thrilling plots, he’s said, are there to make the books’ didacticism go down easy, so that readers don’t realize till the end “how much they are learning along the way.” He’s working in the same genre as Harlan Coben and James Patterson, but his real competitors are ideologues like Ayn Rand, and spiritual gurus like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. He’s writing thrillers, but he’s selling a theology.

...The polls that show more Americans abandoning organized religion don’t suggest a dramatic uptick in atheism: They reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married."


Crazy Raspberry ants on the march. Flamethrowers, anyone?

"A destructive menace is heading west on Interstate 10 toward San Antonio.
It's the crazy Raspberry ant that was first spotted in Houston in 2002. No one knows where it came from or how to control it, but it reproduces faster than any insect experts have ever seen.
"This is an alien species," says Sam Houston State University Entomologist Dr. Jerry Cook. "This is in higher densities than any other insects I've ever seen. They number in the billions and cover everything around them."
"Where you'll have 200,000 ants in a big fire ant mound, you'll have billions of crazy ants in one area, in that one group. They form a carpet of ants over acres that is several inches thick."
"It's a potential ecological disaster, displacing everything in front of it, other insects. Some people think getting rid of insects is good but it's not good for the environment. Insects play a vital role. When you destroy insects, you destroy the food for birds and other animals that depend on these insect populations. It could affect our food supply, reducing the crop yield by 30 to 40 percent." "

Department of Homeland Security still out of its mind, wants to mess with hurricanes.

"More than 25 years later, despite the dubious results of past research and other concerns raised by critics, the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to establish a hurricane modification program of its own, but NOAA appears unwilling to provide the critical support the DHS program requires.
...The goals of the workshop were to understand and evaluate new approaches for modifying hurricanes, which DHS regards as a threat to national security following the death and destruction wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and to decide how best to move forward.
Despite NOAA's hosting of the workshop, NOAA has rebuffed subsequent efforts by DHS to involve NOAA in its hurricane modification research, according to high-level sources within NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
...So far, the lack of interest from NOAA, the government agency responsible for issuing official forecasts of hurricanes through its National Hurricane Center, has not stopped DHS from developing a plan for hurricane modification research and testing. William Laska, program manager for DHS's Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), which is spearheading the department's hurricane modification efforts, outlined a suggested road ahead at an April American Meteorological Society meeting on weather modification.
The plan envisions three research tasks beginning toward the end of 2010 and ending in early 2016: Evaluation of storm modification approaches via computer model simulations, development of concepts for potential field experiments, and full-scale testing of one or two of the most viable concepts. Total cost to carry out the plan was estimated at $64.1 million."

Hello, hurricane season of 2009.

Invest 90, lurking off the coast of Florida today, two weeks before the season 'officially' opens.


Aha! Swine flu freaking man-made evil blah blah!

"May 13 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by an Australian researcher that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.
...“One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today."

Rapid icemelt practically destroys small Alaskan town.

"Temperatures in some parts of Alaska soared into the 70s this week, causing a rapid "melt-out" of ice and snow along the Yukon River and unprecedented flooding that nearly wiped out the small community of Eagle.

...Borg says the Yukon rose 30 feet over its normal level when 4- to 7-foot-thick ice pans surged downstream, choking the river and bulldozing islands and shorelines. The devastation stretches for miles up and down the river, where trees have been sheared off and muddy banks scooped away like chocolate ice cream."

jfc dude

too depressed to update. read the freaking news yourself.

You say tomato, I say tomahto... Let's call the whole thing off.

A "nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington" has renamed our problems.

"Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” Don’t confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund.”

...Environmental issues consistently rate near the bottom of public worry, according to many public opinion polls. A Pew Research Center poll released in January found global warming last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. “We know why it’s lowest,” said Mr. Perkowitz, a marketer of outdoor clothing and home furnishings before he started ecoAmerica, whose activities are financed by corporations, foundations and individuals. “When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say ‘global warming,’ a certain group of Americans think that’s a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.”

The answer, Mr. Perkowitz said in his presentation at the briefing, is to reframe the issue using different language. "