Friday, April 16, 2004

Has Bush lost his brain? 

I couldn't help reacting much like the Daily Mirror to the question and answer session (link via Kevin Drum - who's got a screen shot of the print version).

Saturday, April 10, 2004

On DDT, Malaria and the legacy of Silent Spring 

In normal life, when not blogging, I study the environment. The goal is to be a small part of forming a kind of "user's manual" for the planet so informed decisions can be made about our future. Which is all by way of saying that my profession is caring and thinking about environmental issues. For me, and others of my ilk, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring is critically important. The foundation of the american environmental movement, such as it is, Carson's book was the first to lay out the damage that man could inflict on his surroundings. Looming large in this chronicle of damage is the pesticide DDT and its effect on such things as the ability of birds to bring their offspring to term.

In today's NY Times Magazine Tina Rosenberg makes the interesting case that Carson may have been too sucessfull: that because DDT is so reviled in the US its use in small (relatively environmentall benign) quantites in developing countries is strongly discouraged. The practicaly consequence of not using DDT is simple: more people die from malaria, a lot more (the difference varies from country to country but single digit numbers of deaths when DDT is employed vs. hundreds of thousands when it is not are not uncommon). Here, I want to argue, is one case in which american environmentalists have lost their way. Chemistry shouldn't be demonized, it should be critically evaluated and, when we can without causing profound harm for our future, used to help make lives better. To just standby when deaths happen that could be easily prevented - shame on us.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Maybe American Progressives should move to Brussels... 

In the latest issue of the Washington Monthly Nicholas Kulish has advanced the interesting hypothesis that while the Bush administration doesn't actually listen to its own economists and the majority of its consistutents in constructing economic/trade policy it does listen to the EU. The reason behind this is that, put simply, the EU is just too large and too important to ignore. A consequence of this realization is that more and more large american corporate law firms are setting up shop in Brussels to lobby for their clients' interests. What Kulish doesn't consider in the piece, but which seems an interesting possibility is that progressive american political organizations may also set up shop to do much the same thing.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

SportsCenter: The Decline and Fall 

If, like me, you spent significant chunks of the 1990s watching Sports Center (if you really understood the need of the Michael J. Fox character on the first season of Spin City to watch all the rebroadcasts of the Big Show in one evening because each time "he was in a different place") and have since drifted away from TV, only catching the occasional Sports Center while traveling, you've undoubtedly been a bit dissapointed. You know what I'm talking about. A sort of growing sense that maybe ESPN had passed you by: perhaps you were no longer as hip/funny/cool as you once were.

For all of us out there Matt Feeney has written just what we needed in Slate: a longish piece arguing that it isn't us who've gotten less cool, it's Sports Center. He argues that what was the epitome of both ironic distance and knowing fandom in the Olberman/Patrick years has become a sort of ghoulash of cliches and hip hop slang in 2004.

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