Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Good news: Obama to pledge a 17% cut in emissions ahead of the Copenhagen talks. It’s certainly a start. On the other hand, China is dragging its feet on a firm target. Of the big problems hanging over the U.S. specifically—climate change, health care, and the deficits—I think climate change may be the most significant. So hopefully that gets figured out.

The blog “The Edge of the American West” has a really superb series on California’s recent history and how it got to its current state of crisis. Here’s a good excerpt:
”Republicans never liked taxes, but they saw them as an unfortunate necessity. By the 1970s, conservatives increasingly sounded like the leader of California’s tax rebellion, Howard Jarvis, who condemned all taxes as “felony grand theft.”

Still, for many years, leading Republicans could contain their most conservative brethren and hammer out deals in the old-fashioned way. As late as 1991, a Republican governor (Pete Wilson) championed a tax increase and budget cuts to close a deficit. In 1994 he won re-election.”

It’s an unfortunate mirror of national politics: Reagan and Bush I were both willing to raise taxes, and did; this gave Clinton room to raise taxes, and he did; now taxes are something of a third rail as the American political public has grown too immature: it wants cupcakes but doesn’t want to do the exercise necessary to keep the weight off.

This New York Times blog post on its house style and slang is incredibly persnickety, and a confirmation of everyone’s worst stereotypes of a grammarian/usage freak. You do wish there were more usage people who were prepared to be more than fussy antiquarians, but, well…there you have it. (I mean, complaining about “sussed out?” Jeez, how uptight.)

Twitter before twitter: “And telegrams, prefiguring Twitter, offered celebrities the chance to display low-word-count wit: “Upon arriving in Venice, Robert Benchley wrote to his editor at The New Yorker: STREETS FULL OF WATER PLEASE ADVISE.””

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