Category Archives: Politics

The Age of the Avastar

The word “avatar” is rooted in Hindu spiritualism. An avatar is the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu) on earth. Avatars are not limited to the human form. Examples of the most common avatars of Vishnu are Matsya, the fish-avatar, Kurma, the tortoise-avatar, Varaha, the boar-avatar, Narasimha, the half man-half lion avatar, and Vamana, the dwarf-avatar. Buddha is an avatar of Vishnu.

The computer industry hijacked the word avatar, much like it made off with mouse, cloud, backbone, hack, and native. Computer avatars began as electronic images that represented computer users. Such avatars are used in playing games, posting to blogs, and sending emails. A digital avatar is a surrogate or substitute for the human that is pecking at the keyboard and manipulating the mouse.

Adaptive Conservation

Bolivar Flats, Galveston County, Texas, by Ted Lee Eubanks

I read the news today. Oh, boy.

Greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 could be between 8 billion and 13 billion metric tons (14.33 billion tons) above what is needed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, a United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP) report shows.

Me, The Bahamas, and Bobby McGee

TLEsmall I’m blitzed…burned…blottoed. My day began at 4 am; I am rushing to hop a flight home from the Bahamas. For six days I have ignored the Washington farce, the bizarre burlesque being passed off as governance. Now I am being bombarded with this blather in the form of a television set blasting forth in the airport terminal. I am having a Rodney King moment.

Please, we can get along here? We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while.

Jeepers, Teapers!

Every reform movement has a lunatic fringeTheodore Roosevelt

TLEsmall President Obama proposes to double fuel economy standards by 2025. If he succeeds, American autos will average almost 60 miles to the gallon. The president’s proposal is the largest increase in mileage requirements since the government began regulating consumption of gasoline by cars in the 1970s. The auto industry backs him.

See how easy that is? Park the partisanship, and propose what is best for the country. I cannot conceive of a single argument against higher fuel efficiency in American cars. But let’s see what happens in Congress. I have no doubt that House Republicans will still bare the knives and eviscerate the new standard. For Tea Party Republicans, the Teapers, no good deed goes unpunished.

A Pox on Politics (I Ain’t No Stool Pigeon)

Ted Lee Eubanks (2) In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt challenges Romeo. Best friend Mercutio expects Romeo to defend himself. Romeo refuses (Juliet is Tybalt’s cousin), and Mercutio decides to vindicate Romeo for his “vile submission.” Tybalt slays Mercutio, and as he dies he damns both Moneagues and Calulets with the immortal curse “a plague on both your houses!” In time Shakespeare’s plague morphed to pox, and the latter phrase remains with us still.

Romeo refused to defend himself, and Mercutio died for Romeo’s failure. Mercutio covered Romeo’s back, yet Romeo still abandoned his best friend in the thick of it. There are lessons here. Be cautious of the politics of intrigue (be not Montague nor Capulet). Choose your friends wisely. Watch you own back. Don’t play with knives.

Mistakes of the Past become Sins of the Present

Pine Creek Gorge

I read George Santayana in college, and not since. My interests strayed from the squishy pop writing of the time (think Valley of the Dolls), and I much preferred the substance, the meat on the bone, of Edward Abbey, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson. I can’t recall much about Santayana (and I am not sure why he surfaced in the 1960s), except for his much-repeated, frequently mangled aphorism – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Conservation and the First Amendment

On January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court overturned campaign spending limits on corporations. In a razor-thin vote (5-4), the court ruling reinforced the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, stated the following:

When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.

More Show Me The Money

Yesterday the AP published an article titled “Gold rush on the Gulf: Researchers clamor for cash.” In this article the current contest for research dollars in the Gulf is explained, and the various parties vying for funding identified. However, I found the following quote to be of special interest, given what I have been writing about this past week:

The Gulf of Mexico has gotten relatively little federal research support in the past. In the 20 years before the oil spill, the Great Lakes received more than $1 billion, while the Chesapeake Bay got just shy of half a billion. Spending for the same time period on the much-larger Gulf of Mexico: $85 million.

BirdSpert Strategy for the Gulf – You Break, You Pay

Brown Pelican

Advocates should do more than bellyache and grouse. We should advance solutions, rather than oppose for power. Partisans pray (and work) for the other party’s failure. I strive for my cause’s success.

Where to begin in the Gulf? Assuming that we agree that the Gulf is the place to make a mark in conservation, let’s sketch a strategy that this president and administration might adopt as their own. If not them, let’s find one that will. There is no pride of ownership here; I am certain that all of my thoughts have been considered by others.