Connect the Dots

Climate change is hard to think about not only because it’s complex and politically contentious, not only because it’s cognitively almost impossible to keep in mind the intricate relationships that tie together an oil well in Venezuela, Siberian permafrost, Saudi F-15s bombing a Yemeni wedding, subsidence along the Jersey Shore, albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo, California cattle, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, leukemia, plastic, paper, the Sixth Extinction, Zika, and the basic decisions we make every day, are forced to make every day, in a world we didn’t choose but were thrown into. No, it’s not just because it’s mind-bendingly difficult to connect the dots. Climate change is hard to think about because it’s depressing and scary.1

This is from (of course) the New York Times, a month and a half ago.  It took me a while to find the 15 connections.  I had never heard of the Sixth Extinction, so I read Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.  Had to research the albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo.  So a challenge to you too.

You might also like to read the entire article, entitled When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas.  Great photo from the hurricane in 2008.

hurricane

The Worst Word in the English Language

…the website of Oxford Dictionaries called off its search for the worst word in the English language before I got a chance to have my say. When the survey was halted — the Oxford folks said that too many people were sending in offensive or insulting words — the word “moist” was in the lead…

I no longer think that the word I most dread in the English language is “maintenance.” That realization came to me not long ago, when I was in my car, by myself, at a red light. Ordinarily, I would have been thinking about the points and plugs of my car…

And here we come to the word in the English language that I now most dread: “Upgrade…”

Here’s how I imagine an upgrade to a computer operating system comes about. In the offices of a tech company in some West Coast loft building, Jason and Justin, two impossibly young-looking techies, are having a desultory conversation after finishing their 10th Ping-Pong game of the day. They’re killing time until the weekly foosball tournament starts.

“You know,” Jason says, “I think most of them are getting so they can find their calendars and their contacts pretty easily.” (“Them” is Jason’s word for grown-ups.)

“Remember how much fun it was to complicate the way to get to contacts on that smartphone we worked on?” Justin asks.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Jason replies. An expression of intense anticipation comes over their faces. They resemble the fraternity boys in “Animal House” just before someone yells “Food fight!” Suddenly, Jason and Justin shout in unison, “Upgrade!”2

I have to agree with Calvin Trillin.  (He’s an American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist.  One of his most famous quotes is, The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.)  Read the entire article – it’s quite humorous.  And see my blog on that subject, when I upgraded.3

Cuba

I have no comment on Castro’s death.  But I do recommend that you read Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana, by Isadora Tattlin.  One of our art group recommended it, and I read it before we went to Cuba in 2012.  You can read my blogs, starting with this one: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/cuba-day-1/

Work

Shall get a pile of essays on Wednesday. (That supplements my weight training.)  My last day of school is December 16th.  Have gotten to like most of these students.  Shall I miss teaching?  Yes and no.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/opinion/sunday/when-the-hurricane-hits-texas.html?_r=0
2
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/books/review/calvin-trillin-on-the-scariest-word.html?_r=0
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/computers/

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2 Responses to “Connect the Dots”

  1. Jim Says:

    There is no such thing as a worst word or a best word.

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