Category Archives: Bill Moyers

Hot Air

Scientists: Come Out Of The Closet!

Hey, kids, I realize we live in the most informed, brilliant, and sensitive burgh this side of Berkeley, California, but still some of us might come up against a simian thinker who, say, doesn’t believe all this socialist, bike-riding propaganda about climate change.


What Do All Those Scientists Know?

You know, it’s all a plot to destroy America and so on.

So you might have a need to destroy his ignorance and put him in his proper place (A zoo cage? A mental institution?) should you run into him bleating his views in a bar or at your coffeehouse headquarters.

Many of us emerge from such a tête-à-tête ruing our inability to deliver just the right bon mot that would send him scurrying out of the place, humiliated to the point of wondering whether he should just end it all. (Imagine, too, using pretentious Gallicisms to finish him off — pure bliss, no?)

Anyway, Bill Moyers this morning offers us a good guide to winning these “arguments” via Penn State U. climatologist Michael Mann. He runs PSU’s Earth System Science Center. He thinks climatologists and other scientists ought to get out into the arena more and fight the good fight for knowledge and investigation.

Which I agree with. These days, we have what I’d call science’s designated hitters: Bill Nye and Neil de Grasse Tyson. Their Q-ratings nearly approach those of fictional brains such as Frank-n-Furter, Dr. Strangelove, and Professor X.

Movie Scientists


Don’t get me wrong, I dig NdGT and Nye the most. Still, to the gen. pub., they’re pretty much the alpha and omega of smart guys. OTOH, we get all sorts of un-scientists spewing their mouth refuse about things scientific. People like Sen. James Inhofe, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and Rush Limbaugh — and there are dozens more where they come from. Corporate news purveyors find these chuckleheads by the score whenever there’s a climate debate or an evolution debate or even a flat-Earth debate.

Guys like Michael Mann toil in anonymity in their labs and classrooms, discovering things, learning things, and being, well, all scientific while the populace of this holy land learns about the physical world from Steve Doocy and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

So, go, go. go, M. Mann et al. As for you, loyal Pencillista, read his piece on climate change and go into your next argument on that topic armed with the best info.

The Old Pro

My complete interview with Charlotte Zietlow is now up on The Ryder website. It’s a long one but it’s a good one. Take some time and read it — and feel better about politicians for a brief moment, armed with the knowledge that that vocation’s roster has included decent souls like CZ.


Charlotte Zietlow

If you’re pressed for time, catch my eight-minute mini-interview with the Dem doyenne that ran on WFHB’s Daily Local News a couple of weeks ago.

End of commercial.

All The News That’s Old

Now we learn that 40 percent of the Indiana University student pop. is from out of state. This thanks to the Daily Beast‘s ranking of the decade’s “hottest” schools (via the Herald Times).

IU, acc’d’g to the D. Beast‘s rankers, is the third most thermal institution of higher education in Murrica, after USC and Vanderbilt.

Good journalist that I am, I googled “hottest schools decade IU daily beast,” just to verify the story and, perhaps, to provide a link to the Beast’s piece (which the H-T hadn’t).

Lo and behold, I found that the DB‘s list of hot colleges was done in 2009. It ran December 13 that year, which makes sense, considering it was an “of the decade list.” Such things aren’t done in the middle of a ten-annum.


Didja Hear The News?!

So thanks, Herald Times, for the five-year-old news. If I’d paid the $8.95 the paper wants every month for an online subscription, I’d be steaming about now. Luckily, I’ve figured out a way to get it free, which is what it’s worth.

Hot & Heavy Air

We Are Nothing

You have to look at this. If you don’t, you’re not my friend.

Detail from Huang

From Far Smaller Than The Atom…

Go ahead, click on any of the images in this entry. Then start the show. It’s an interactive graphic illustrating the vast chasm between the smallest things imaginable and the greatest. That is, from the eensyiest known distance (the Planck Length: one ten decillionth of a meter long) to the largest thing humans have identified (the Universe itself: 93 billion light years wide, according to the latest estimates).

Cary Huang drew this thing up with help from his computer geek brother, Michael. It’s called the Scale of the Universe 2 and it’ll put all your worries, all your prejudices, all your fears, all your annoyances, everything, really, in their proper perspective.

Detail from Huang

… To The Eiffel Tower…

Take your time. Drag the scale button all the way to the left to start. Then, really push yourself to visualize each step up in size as you move it to the right. Fire those neurons, chill’uns. You know the old saying, We are stardust? If only we could be as significant as a mote of dust.

The religions have one thing right. We have to accept that there is something much greater than we are. Me? I just don’t buy the existence of an omnipotent guy who occasionally — very, very, very occasionally — pays attention to creatures on a tiny planet begging him for a moment of his time.

Detail from Huang

… To Far Greater Than The Planets

Cary and Michael Huang were 14 when they drew this thing up, for pity’s sake! Their brilliant piece may bore you. Fair enough. But if it does, I submit you may have an inflated image of yourself and your place in this existence.

There. I’m done. And, no, I’m not high as I write this.

We Are Something

Who’s the boss? Bill Moyers the other day ran an exclusive essay by Mike Lofgren about something called The Deep State.

That’s Lofgren’s moniker for the entrenched, monolithic group of people who run this holy land and, no, we really don’t vote for them. Oh sure, we can vote this one or that one out of office, just to kid ourselves that we still possess what we love to refer to as The Power of the People. But it doesn’t matter who sits in what chair or which party controls the White House or Congress. The Deep State, to mangle the The Dude‘s noted aphorism, abides.


On The Job Since Forever

The private security and surveillance industry, along with the countless militarized police forces across the nation, the intelligence agencies, and the traditional military-industrial-complex work hand in hand with Wall Street financiers, Ivy League theorists, and certain quarters of corporate media to operate a shadow government that none of us can really grasp because it is so widespread and, well, normal. The people who populate this unholy alliance don’t even know they’ve joined a club. No one gives orders. It has no charter. It simply is. And it doesn’t even need to hide; not that it would want to. It is as banal as a company picnic.

The wheels of this neo-cabal are not really spun by Barack Obama or George W. Bush or whoever will be touted as the next big thing in 2016. No, it’s the hundreds or, perhaps, a few thousand career federal employees who keep it running. They are mid- and upper-level managers, wonks, and administrators, folks who keep their posts even as Oval Office administrations change and change again. And their zeitgeist extends throughout the country, affecting even the smallest counties and towns.

Militarized Police Force

Parking Ticket Patrol

In a way, the elimination of patronage and the implementation of the civil service system turned much of managerial Washington into a hive of drone bees, the members of which are concerned first through forty-fifth with keeping their jobs.

And if spying on citizens’ phone calls and emails, arming all sides in every conflict around the world, patting down every grannie who tries to board a plane, and making sure the petro-oligarchy remains firmly in place keeps these folks in their jobs, well then, that’s that.

Those who participate in The Deep State buy into it unconsciously. They’ve learned what not to question, what not to criticize, and what to cheerlead early on, and then they toe the line so they won’t be fired or passed over for that plum promotion. That’s what virtually everybody does in this world. And federal government workers are just like everyone else.

The Deep State will collapse of its own weight, just as the post-Stalinist Soviet Union did. I don’t know how it’s going to happen or when, but it will.

It’ll be an ordeal but a welcome one.

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