A Really Big Problem

Polar BearsAs regular readers of this blog know, my background is in climate change science. And recently, I have become very angry about continued global warming denial, because now it sounds so much like evolution denial. I think I may have a way to talk to conservatives about it.

I just heard Fred Thompson talking about Newt Gingrich and he said something like, “I’m a father and a grandfather and therefore…” I suspect that he would have gone on to talk about the economy. It doesn’t matter what Fred Thompson says—ever. But it got me thinking: most conservatives are old and therefore have children and grandchildren. And as ridiculous as their opinions are, they do care about these young people.

Given this, I have a question. Let’s suppose there is only a one percent chance that global warming is actually happening. If it does happen, it is going to have a profound effect[1] on future generations, and certainly for the next five generations, it is going to be worse for the next than it was for the last. If this has only a 1% chance of happening, isn’t it a good idea to be truly conservative and try to stop it from happening, rather than continuing on as we have for the sake of the fossil fuel industry?[2]

[1] People (myself included) have argued that there will be positive changes of global warming. In particular, it is likely that the biodiversity of the earth will increase. There are several reasons for this. First, more CO2 is good for plants. Second, within reason, higher temperatures are good for plants. And third, the temperatures at the equator will change little and the poles lots. But what this all means is that there will probably be more biodiversity in bacteria, plants, and insects. The situation for mammals, for example, looks very bad. And regardless, the rapidness of the heating could cause the whole life-cycle of the planet to go haywire, causing biodiversity to go way down for millions of years. The fact is that we just don’t know.

[2] The case is always made that fighting global warming would hurt the economy. In a booming economy, that is certainly true. But in a depressed economy like we now have and will continue to have? It is not true. Now is the perfect time to get all forms of pollution under control. All more oil drilling does is make more billions of dollars for oil companies. Have you ever wondered why the oil companies are so keen to drill up in Alaska, even though the total amount of oil they will get is a fraction of a percent of what America needs each year? It is because even though the oil means nothing to our country, it means billions of dollars for the oil companies. Don’t be fooled.

RICO Laws and Regulation

Last Thursday on The Daily Show, Jason Jones did a very funny segment about the over-regulation of the Mob via the RICO laws:

I really like this and I think it gets at the heart of what is wrong with the economy: it is largely controlled by thieves. But as usual with The Daily Show, I’m not really sure that they get it. Too often, such segments are only about making the interviewees look stupid. And there was a lot of that in here, although in general, Jason Jones tends to play the fool in his segments. And no one came off looking particularly bad except (maybe) Lou Ferantte, who is just trying to sell his book Mob Rules: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman.

But I still think the middle right of the middle right of the middle right philosophy[1] that dominates at The Daily Show probably sees this feature as an attack on getting rid of all regulation. It is still a highly corporate-friendly philosophy that believes (without knowing it) that regulation must be kept as low as possible so those in power can have as much as they can get away with without having their heads end up on a bunch of pikes.

[1] Most people in the US think that institutions like MSNBC and The Daily Show are liberal because they frequently go after the Republicans. This misses the grand scope of political debate and the profound change that has taken place in America over the last 40 years. President Nixon’s policies were slightly to the right of current “Socialist” Barry Sanders. What used to be center-right in America is now what conservatives call “Socialist!” or “Communist!” or “Nazi!” (Because, as Glenn Beck will tell you, the Nazis were socialists because “Nazi” is just short for “National Socialism.” Of course, for the ignorant Atlas Shrugged quoter, this is true because socialism—collectivism—is any form of government that requires any form of taxation—or much else—from the governed.)

I’m Not So Bad

XXXNow I don’t feel so bad about The Revolution Will Be Televised. In that article I had a vision (Fantasy?) about a time when the people would rise up in this country and exact vengeance for what has become a very unjust country. And in particular, I pointed out that many more or less good people would end up being hurt. This was sort of my gentle take on Ward Churchill’s Some People Push Back.

Yesterday, Brad DeLong tweeted the following:

@adamkotsko Full employment, so people don’t riot in the streets and then put the heads of the members of the State Council on pikes

That was my point.

She So Crazy

I know it’s hard to tell because of my well-rounded interests, but I’m so far from being in the Hip Hop Loop, I’m not even sure exactly what qualifies as hip hop. The only reason Nicki Minaj blipped on my radar was because of her appearance on Ellen D’s show. And the only reason I saw that was because another little blip from Britain caught Ellen’s eye. Meet Sophia Grace.

Here’s where Nicki Minaj comes in…

Nicki is, as far as I know, a YouTube Cinderella. Good for her. Sophia, as far as I can tell, is an adorable (from a distance) little spaz. Good luck to her parents. My question is, why does any parent allow a precocious child to listen to, much less emulate, a young woman who sings songs like the explicit, “Stupid Hoe“?

Full Sentences Inside Parenthetical Enclosures

Parenthetical EnclosuresBecause I am a freak, I suffer some considerable anxiety about the proper way of dealing with complete sentences inside of parenthetical enclosures. Most of this is purely aesthetic. For example, I hate constructs such as “XX XX (XX XX.).” I just hate the period-parenthesis-period. Or anything similar: “XX XX (XX XX!).”. So I will never put a complete sentence inside an inner-sentence parenthetical enclosures at the very end of a sentence. But before I go any further, we should look at what The Book says.

According to The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition:

A parenthetical enclosure of more than one sentence should not be included within another sentence. If a final period is needed at the end of such an enclosure, rewording may be necessary to keep the enclosure independent of the surrounding text…

I don’t think I have ever included more than one sentence inside a parenthetical enclosure in a sentence. Certainly, doing so outside a sentence is done all the time. In fact, one or more paragraphs are sometimes put inside a parenthetical enclosure, although it seems to me that such things should be put into footnotes. What’s more, I feel no compunction about putting rather complex sentences (including: colons and semicolons) inside inner-sentence parenthetical enclosures. But care must be taken.

It is a matter of opinion, but any writer must ask if a parenthetical statement is so long that it causes the sentence on one side of it to lose contact with that on the other. If that’s the case, the whole construction must be reevaluated. There are always alternatives. Often, I find that things I initially put inside parenthetical enclosures really want to be independent sentences. This is especially true when what’s inside is very long. Consider putting it in its own paragraph—without parentheses. Often what at first seems parenthetical is not.

The quotation from The Book seems to indicate that these inner-sentence parenthetical enclosures should never end with a period. However, there is no admonition against any other full stops and there is no guidance whatsoever about capitalization. This is where my biggest concerns lie. These are the rules I’ve developed for complete sentences inside of inner-sentence parenthetical enclosures:

  • If it is at the end of a sentence, put it outside the sentence. If this makes the meaning confused, rewrite the paragraph and find something that does work.
  • Otherwise, capitalize the first letter in the sentence.

What I often see are parenthetical enclosures that end with question marks or exclamation points that do not capitalize the first word of the sentence. This is certainly what The Book seems to dictate. But—because I’m a freak—it drives me crazy. And I think it is confusing, because these are full stops. But I don’t know of anyone else formatting inner-sentence parenthetical enclosures in my way. But they should. Anything else is inconsistent and just odd.