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The polymathic neurologist, whose books, research, and clinical insights have helped countless people understand the deep and abiding mysteries of the human mind, announced the sad news in today's New York Times:

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.
I have followed his career for decades, returning over and over to the compassionate and curious voice of a scientist with endless reserves of love and kindness who wrote so eloquently about his experiences in such books as "Awakenings," "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat," and "An Anthropologist On Mars."
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Once there was a moment poised in the middle of the middle of the middle, just like any other moment.

Freeman Dyson:

The destiny of our species is shaped by the imperatives of survival on six distinct time scales.  To survive means to compete successfully on all six time scales.  But the unit of survival is different at each of the six time scales.  On a time scale of years, the unit is the individual.  On a time scale of decades, the unit is the family.  On a time scale of centuries, the unit is the tribe or nation.  On a time scale of millennia, the unit is the culture.  On a time scale of tens of millennia, the unit is the species.  On a time scale of eons, the unit is the whole web of life on our planet.  Every human being is the product of adaptation to the demands of all six time scales.  That is why conflicting loyalties are deep in our nature.  In order to survive, we have needed to be loyal to ourselves, to our families, to our tribes, to our cultures, to our species, to our planet.  If our psychological impulses are complicated, it is because they were shaped by complicated and conflicting demands.
Dyson: From Eros To Gaia, (New York: Pantheon, 1992) p. 341

I found that paragraph in Stewart Brand's book, "The Clock of the Long Now.".

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Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 04:33 PM PDT

Me Atheist Too!

by WarrenS

Well, step away from the computer for a little while and next thing you know there's a whole slangin' match goin' on — all on the subject of atheism.

So I thought it would be a good idea to pitch in my .02 worth.  This diary was part of a series that ran about four or five years ago, on different aspects of non-belief.  As someone who was raised by skeptical scientists, I was able to contribute from the perspective of a lifelong atheist (we're still rare, but becoming less so).

Growing Up Atheist.
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Marchons! 48 Hour People's Climate March Recruitment Storm:

Thursday through Friday, August 21-22
As a stay-at-home homeschooling dad with a daughter, a puppy, and a full schedule of music students, I don' t get out to social and political demonstrations much anymore.

But it turns out that I'm going to be in New York on September 21, and furthermore, the how and the why of my presence there are tightly a way that's interesting and revealing.

So follow me below the fold and we'll talk about it — and hear some music along the way.

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I can't stop crying.

Very sad news:


  It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa,  passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh Haden, Tanya Haden, Rachel Haden and Petra Haden were all by his side.
The legendary bassist was 76, and for the last few years had been suffering from the effects of post-polio syndrome. Haden, who performed in Confederation Park in 2008 with his Quartet West band, had been considerably weakened since 2011 – almost unable to swallow, and definitely unable to perform.


Two years ago I wrote a long appreciation of Haden, his music, and his powerfully progressive politics.  I've put it below the fold.

Goodbye, Charlie.  The world is a better place because you were in it.

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The Climate Message Video Festival is now underway!

Step right up and hear some of the most beautiful music you've ever encountered — and a clarion call for the urgency of action against global warming!

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Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 01:00 PM PDT

So The NRSC Just Called...

by WarrenS

...and the guy on the other end wants to know if I think we should replace Harry Reid. I say, "depends on who you're replacing him with." He says, "yes, McConnell's not my favorite either."

I draw him into conversation, and bring the subject around to reality, suggesting that the Republicans need to pay more attention to reality than to ideology. He murmurs agreement.

I give the "97 out of 100 doctors say you need therapy for that tumor" argument, and he agrees that yes, he'd start getting therapy...and I say, "so why are Republicans so set against the scientific evidence for human-caused climate change?"

He says, "sir, there are some conservatives who accept that evidence, and not all conservatives think that way, and..." his voice kind of trails off.

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It is widely known that George F. Will is one of America's premiere douchecanoes.  Every week brings a fresh atrocity from the fetid pen of the bowtied one; whether it's climate denialism, contemptuous dismissal of basic Enlightenment ideals, or this week's turd sandwich, a blithe assertion that sexual assault victims are somehow a new privileged class:

Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating.  They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.
Charlie Pierce is of course on top of it, letting himself go in a nicely calibrated and fully righteous rant, The Bowtied Monster:
To paraphrase what the late Molly Ivins once said to Camille Paglia on a similar topic -- I've got some Texas football frat boys I'd like George to meet. I don't even want to get into why Will chose that breaking-academia-to-the-saddle metaphor, although he does look like the middle-school librarian whose tastes run to the sting of the whip. However, I would like to compliment him on his use of the word "progressivism" as a catch-all for anyone he doesn't like. He has set up a lovely little corner of Glennbeckistan for himself. This guy was once reckoned to be an American intellect. Now, he's writing like a sociopath, except about baseball, on which he writes like a foof. Not much soulcraft to trolling rape victims, George. Not much at all.
But I'd like to try a different approach.  Follow me below the short and curlies...
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A Climate Message From Stuart Chapman, of Bolinas, California

A Few Words Of Introduction

Hello, I'm Warren Senders, known in these parts as WarrenS.  Thank you for visiting my diary.  I hope you'll find it useful.

Over the four years I sustained the Climate Letter Project, I wrote daily letters to the editor on virtually every aspect of climate change, and had them published in newspapers and magazines all over the world.

So when it came time to pitch in for the "Support California SB1132" blogathon, it was a relatively simple matter to pull up some of the letters I'd written in opposition to fracking and the use of natural gas in our energy economy.  SB1132, of course, places a moratorium on fracking in CA.  We're for it.

What We Are Asking You To Do

Please Help Pass a Moratorium on Fracking in California!

KuangSi2Key votes will be held next week on California SB 1132, which imposes a moratorium on fracking.  If the bill fails, the legislative process toward moratorium must restart next January.

Please join us for a blogathon May 19-23 in a campaign to tell lawmakers to support this bill. This is a coordinated effort with a coalition of more than a dozen NGOs, including Earth Works, Sierra Club, and Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment.

And please call key lawmakers, ASAP.
Tell them YES on SB 1132!

Sen. Kevin De Leon: (916) 651-4022
Sen. Ricardo Lara: (916) 651-4033
Sen. Ed Hernandez: (916) 651-4024
Sen. Cathleen Galgiani: (916) 651-4005
Sen. Ben Hueso: (916) 651-4040
Sen. Lou Correa: (916) 651-4034
Sen. Carol Liu: (916) 651-4025
Sen. Richard Roth: (916) 651-4031
Sen. Norma Torres: (916) 651-4032

How To Use This Diary

While writing fourteen hundred and sixty-one letters, I built a repertoire of stock phrases which can be combined and recombined to make varied combinations of letters on particular themes.  I've brought a few of these together to make a handy letter-generating tool which will produce a huge variety of different texts....facilitating the production of multiple non-identical letters.  Using this tool, someone who wants to send a letter but doesn't know what to say can produce an effectively unique text — and someone with more time and motivation can produce twenty; all different, all conveying the same basic point.

Below the copulating croissants of hive-mind progressivism, you'll find two "Letter Generators" — each a sequence of statements, grouped in threes.  Select one statement from the first group, one from the second group, one from the third, and so on, all the way down.  Within 1 minute you'll have a perfectly usable letter to your congresscritter or newspaper.  Practice reading them aloud and they'll be useful for radio call-ins, too.

The Climate Message Videos are there because nobody should have to do this kind of work without music.  As of May 19, over 120 musicians in a huge variety of idioms have submitted these little video messages from many different countries; they can all be found online at The Climate Message.  This diary exclusively showcases the voices of Californians.  I hope you enjoy them.

A Climate Message from Diana Rowan, of San Francisco, California:

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Deepti Navaratna / Dean Stevens / Gabrielle Agachiko

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It's easy to make a public comment against the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Here are two "mad-libs" to help with the composition process.  Each block contains three lines, any of which will connect correctly with its neighbors.  This provides an enormous number of possible combinations.

Select one line from each block, copy and paste...and click "submit."  Then do it again.  And again.

But before we begin, a Climate Message:<
Ready?  Here we go:
a - (The Keystone XL pipeline)
b - (The extraction of Tar Sands oil)
c - (This project)
a - (is catastrophic on multiple levels of scale.)
b - (isn't just a disaster in the making, but many disasters —€” some immediate, some long-term.)
c - (is a "perfect storm" of climatic and environmental impacts.)
a - (The destruction of millions of acres of boreal forest)
b - (Cutting down countless trees)
c - (Destroying huge amounts of Canadian forest land)
a - (in order to exploit Canada’s tar sands)
b - (for the most venal of motives)
c - (to feed our civilization's addiction to fossil fuels)
a - (is already an environmental blunder of huge proportions.)
b - (is an inexcusable crime against nature.)
c - (is an example of the most thoughtless greed imaginable.)
a - (Transporting the filthy Tar Sands oil across the US)
b - (A pipeline carrying toxic dilbit all the way across North America)
c - (A pipeline running from the Tar Sands to Texas)
a - (holds the potential for hundreds of local and regional disasters.)
b - (is going to damage and destroy both ecosystems and communities all over the country.)
c - (will inevitably leak, causing enormous damage to lives and property.)
a - (In the longer term, burning all that oil will push the greenhouse effect into overdrive,)
b - (And as far as our descendants are concerned, when that carbon enters the atmosphere, it's going to stay there for millennia,)
c - (And if we burn that oil, the CO2 emissions will trigger runaway climate change,)
a - (a situation from which recovery may be impossible.)
b - (making a stable planetary environment a thing of the past.)
c - (leaving an inhospitable Earth on which countless humans will be unable to survive.)
a - (If President Obama allows the pipeline project to proceed,)
b - (Should the Keystone XL receive presidential approval,)
c - (If the Obama administration ignores these warnings,)
a - (we will know that his commitment to the fight against global warming is)
b - (it'll be clear that those noble words about the climate emergency are)
c - (there will be no doubt that the fine speeches about the urgency of climate change are)
a - (inadequate to the magnitude of the crisis.)
b - (only cosmetic, not actual.)
c - (mere window dressing to an energy policy dominated by the short-term profiteering of the fossil-fuel industry.)
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