I Can’t Believe #5…
What is WRONG with #7?!
There are perhaps a half dozen self improvement books of the 20th century that tower above the rest in their popularity. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale are among the most well known and best sold of the bunch.
In 1952 Peale’s book took bookstores by storm and has been a strong seller ever since. While remaining very popular the book has also drawn its share of criticism. Peale was a Christian minister and he uses a healthy dose of Christian religious faith and appeal to the power of God in this book. Yet while his frequent referrals to God and faith in God may put off non-believers or at least non-Christians, his emphasis on faith in oneself and one’s fellow man as well as his emphasis on thinking one’s way to success put off his fellow clergy and Christian friends who felt he diluted the Word of God too much and mixed too much humanism to suit a Christian audience.
Over time Peale’s combination of humanistic and religious themes may be the book’s strongest asset. More people may have found the book inspirational because of this duality than are put off by it.
However for many the jumping back and forth between a thought based success model similar to Napoleon Hill’s approach and a more religious emphasis on acknowledging the power and need for God’s and especially Christ’s intervention almost like an Alcohols Anonymous meeting is off putting. One almost wants to ask Peale to make up his mind. Yet Peale never found any contradiction in any of this. He did not see man’s faith in himself as inconsistent in any way with man’s faith in God.
On the strong side this book is full of anecdotes and discussion that inspires one to see how a positive mental attitude can lead one to success and equally how a negative approach is sure to lead to failure in one or more forms. Peale’s book also addresses the whole person. Long before it was fashionable to speak about life balance Peale stresses the importance of a person finding happiness and success in all aspects of their life, not just in their business or work.
On the weaker side the book is one of the last written in an earlier style of writing with pages filled with long paragraphs of text absent the outline style of success literature we are accustomed to now days. There are few sub headings or bullets in this book. The writing style is clear but dense. You have to read it carefully and with full attention to draw out the complete meaning. This is not a book for a lazy afternoon perusal. This is a book to be studied and is best read in manageable bites with ample time to digest and reflect upon what one has written.
Regardless of your religious persuasions, or lack of them, this is a classic and is infectious in its effort to move you toward a positive outlook. Anyone serious about a success literature library needs to own it and read it. Anyone feeling negative, lost or down would likely benefit from it.
The Power of Positive Thinking
©1980 Renewed by Norman Vincent Peale
First Published in 1952. Prentice-Hall Inc.
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA Romantic Supernatural
Read: January 2008 and Oct 2010
Since I'm such a vampire fan, having seen or read vast untold volumes of the stuff, I thought I should put my formal two-cents in on the strange source material that spawned the Twilight phenomenon.
First the book. I read it before the movie came out. There was a lot of buzz about it already, and I was excited about it. Generally, things that are really popular have a kernel of quality about them, and I love vampires and teen heroines. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV series of all time – I will blog about it one of these days. So I started reading Twilight in the Vegas airport while waiting for a flight. Despite the clunky prose (more on that later) I was actually pretty engaged in a low key way during the first half. Then Edward revealed to Bella that he was a vampire (not that I did not know) and the whole thing went to shit. I had to force myself through most of the rest, and the ending left me baffled. "Wait, where'd the fight go? What about the climax?"
Back to the writing: It's really clunky. I will not go into too much detail, this other blogger did. But let me say Meyer is the anti Cormac McCarthy (I'm in the middle of The Road right now). He eschews punctuation, she loves it. Every long incorrect sentence is peppered with a random assortment of commas and em-dashes. She adores the em-dash, using it in approximately 50% of sentences, and usually not for its proper purpose of offsetting a parenthetical. Maybe she felt she had too many commas (she does), and needed to replace some of them with em-dashes for the hell of it. Oh, and she loves certain words or word combinations, like "cold fingers" and uses them several times a page in places. And she clearly chooses random synonyms from the thesaurus without being aware of the connotations of said words. For example: "His expression shifted immediately to chagrin." Can the word be used that way? I do not think so. But none of this really matters when reading the book, you adjust and just role with it. I guess if you're 14 and have not read a lot you do not notice to begin with.
The plot and content: Given what actually happens in the first book, it's pretty long: 118,000 words. Not much really does happen. We have a LOT of words devoted again and again to how pretty Edward is and how much Bella loves him. This is not really SHOWN too much, or justified, but she sure TELLS us about it a lot. But again, the first half was okay. However, once the reveal came in, it gets really silly. Basically they go play this ridiculous baseball game and the Black Eyed Peas (oops, I mean the evil vampires) walk onto the field, sniff Bella, and decide the most important thing in the world is to sink their fangs into her blood. There is no real attempt to sell anything in this plot, to provide any believable reasons, it just happens. You could not possibly have more one dimensional villains – although they do compliment the one dimensional heros nicely. Then my all time largest gripe, we close in on the unbelievable "final" confrontation of the book and Bella gets knocked unconscious (she is after all the narrator) and we miss the whole thing. It's told to us by Edward after we know it came out okay so as to minimize tension. I had the feeling that the author did not know how to write an action scene, so she just chicked out.
The vampires: Oh my. It's totally clear (particularly in later books) that Meyer does not do research. This includes even watching a few vampire films or sometimes reading Dracula. Her undead are not really vampires, or even undead, except for being immortal and having a taste for blood, and "cold fingers." They do not seem dead, or particularly evil. They sparkle in the sun, they obviously have like, oh my God, no real weaknesses. And they're all really pretty. We hear about that a lot. Let's not forget their smorgasbord of cool psychic powers like seeing the future, and reading minds. These make hack plot construction really convenient. I actually started my novel a year before even hearing of Twilight, but reading it certainly motivated me to make sure my vampire was really a bad-ass undead in a nasty evil way. He does not sparkle in the sunlight but he will leave your entrails hanging from a tree to make a point – and he certainly would not ever concern himself to learn current High School vernacular.
Publishing mystery: Twilight had a very aberrant publishing history. As a first time novelist it was picked up by Jodi Reamer of Writers House really quickly. This is a very prestigious agency and that's very rare. It was then sold quickly to a great publisher for a really huge advance. That Reamer showed interest in it is not what surprises me. There is a mysterious something about the first half of the book – it had potential. But what surprises me is that it was never edited – or if it was I've never heard of an editor that lax. The standard length for YA books is more like 50-70k, and there is a LOT of fluff in the book, not to mention the bad grammar and the flaccid ending that would be easy to fix. Having been through rounds and rounds of revision myself, the book was held to none of the standards my editors have exhibited. Of course it turned out to be a great decision for Jodi, but I still do not understand why it was never edited.
The movie: Catherine Hardwicke directed the first movie. She actually did a really good job with the source material, and I think the movie is actually better than the book. Not exactly great, but better. The casting was excellent, particularly Kristen Stewart who does have a soft charisma, and she's hot in a non obvious way. If you see her in some of her other films like Adventureland or Speak you realize that she's actually a very fine young actress in certain roles. Twilight does not provide a lot of room for subtle acting. I myself had usually known Hardwicke from when she did production design for Insomniac's Disruptor in the mid 90's (Insomniac was located next to my company Naughty Dog in those days). So I'd noticed when she started directing with Thirteen, which is a depressing but brilliant movie – specifically given what must have been a VERY low budget. Hardwicke bought the same kind of hand-held-documentary style to Twilight, and it worked well to offset the inherent cheese factor of the material. Not totally offset, but the result was somehow watchable. She did a nice job capturing Bella's POV. This is tricky because in a novel, particularly a first person one like Twilight, so much of the book is dominated by the voice. With a combination of diary style voice over (more-or-less quoted from the book) and a peeping-over-the-shoulder perspective (as also used in Thirteen) Hardwicke pulls it off. For some reason, they ditched her with regard to directing the sequels, and the those devolve into further cheesiness. Of course so do the later novels. Can I just say Volturi?
Conclusion: I'm kinda baffled. Twilight is not particularly good, or well done, but it does have a certain appeal. However, the overall magnitude of success has left me totally confused. Harry Potter is ludicrously popular, but at its core rest three stunningly good initial books. The first book is really well written, the central premise is very novel and sold with incredible style. Even the ridiculously melodramatic Vampire Diaries is more fun than Twilight. I'm just left scratching my head and taking the anti-vampire backlash is not too bad.
Released in 2012, Red Mist is the nineteenth novel in the Kay Scarpetta series by award winning author Patricia Cornwell.
Following on from the death and destruction Scarpetta returned home to in Port Mortuary, Red Mist once again delves into the potential devastation and destruction bio-terrorism can cause when it falls into the wrong hands.
Red Mist opens with Scarpetta en route to the Georgia Prison for Women to visit with Kathleen Lawlor, a convicted murderer and biological mother of Dawn Kincaid, who not only attempted to murder Scarpetta in Port Mortuary but is also responsible for the deaths of a child, a college athlete, and Scarpetta’s former deputy chief ( and Kincaid’s biological father) – referred to by the media as the Mensa Murders.
From the opening page Scarpetta is nervous and uneasy about her journey to Georgia, sensing something is wrong. When Kathleen Lawlor slips Scarpetta a note to call Jaime Berger – former New York DA and Scarpetta’s niece’s former lover -she knows for certain that all is not what it seems and her reasons for being in the South have been manipulated.
Creating a compelling case based on the need for discretion for all involved, Berger presents Scarpetta with information and evidence to suggest that a convicted murderer on death row is innocent of the crimes she has been found guilty of committing. To say Scarpetta is angry at this point is a gross understatement, yet readers will feel for Scarpetta as the events of her evening with Berger play out.
Within twenty-four hours, Scarpetta, along with Marino, Benton, Lucy, and fellow medical examiner Dr Colin Dengate, find themselves caught up in a series of murders, including those of former inmates who appeared to die naturally within the walls of the Georgia Prison for Women. As death once again hits too close to home for Scarpetta and her team, the devastation that began in Port Mortuary comes to a climatic end for all.
In typical Cornwell fashion, Red Mist will keep you hooked from beginning to end as you become caught up in the world Scarpetta and her team find themselves in. From the heat of the Savannah sun to the tragedy of the various crime screens, Red Mist will keep you enthralled and eager to discover the truth with each turn of the page.
Cornwell has once again lived up to her reputation as one of the best crime writers of our time and her Kay Scarpetta series continues to receive acclaim with each and every novel she writes.
DAIRY MILK CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD CAKE ??????
Credit: Sweet Layers
This book, with the full title of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” is a must read for anyone trying to figure out how to benefit from the social networking phenomenon. There is only one major negative aspect of this book: It wasn’t written 3 years ago. Shame on you Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff! (joking of course!)
This book is perfect for anyone who doesn’t understand ‘social media’…and for those that think they do! It provides case-based examples of how organizations have used social media to engage their users. The examples provided in the book are quite good and describe how organizations have used social media to embrace their community.
Before you go out and buy the book on my recommendation, let me point out a couple of important points:
What this book will do is help you understand that there isn’t any one answer to the question of ‘how to embrace social media”. The book provides many examples of social media experiments…some successful and some failures.
The book provides a ton of information about demographics and age group differences and how age normally affects social media usage. Excellent information that everyone should review.
For me, the most interesting section of the book is the one in which the authors state very clearly that any social media project (or really any project for that matter) can be made more successful if the following four steps are followed:
This approach, which the authors abbreviated as POST, is no different than any proper strategic planning initiative…at least in my book. When any organization starts to look at new things like social media, they must first look at their people and their customers. Is this new strategy something that can be achieved easily? Is it viable?
The second step is to Set your Objectives for the project. What are you trying to achieve with this social media project (or any project)? The third step is to review your overall strategy as well as determine your ‘go to market’ strategy. The last step (which most organizations perform first), is to select the technology platform that you will use to carry out your strategy. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this process performed backwards with technology selected before any real thought was put into the strategy, objectives and people. Many of those projects failed miserably because of that.
The book is well reviewed…and is well deserving of those reviews. Its an excellent book for anyone interested in this topic. Highly recommended.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s long promised book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future is finally finished. It was published by WND Books, which has published other grand conspiracy books such as The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada. The book will certainly be a hit with some lobbyists, politicians and corporate leaders. It may also be popular among scientists as it reveals some interesting things about Sen. Inhofe and gives scientists an opportunity to examine his ideas and arguments.
Sen. Inhofe has served as the mayor of Tulsa and is the senior Senator from Oklahoma. He has been a strong advocate for many of his constituents and he has been a strong critic of the lack of openness of some congressional procedures. He was instrumental in getting federal Superfund money to clean up the Pitcher lead mines in northeastern Oklahoma. A large area of northeastern Oklahoma was affected and millions of dollars have been spent to try to mitigate the environmental damage. No one knew at the time that lead was toxic, and Pitcher is a perfect example of how what you don’t know can hurt you and be costly.
Sen. Inhofe has often stated Global warming is a hoax, but proving that may be difficult. Every major scientific organizations in the world has adopted a statement similar to that of the American Chemical Society: “Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles. There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.” A 2010 Stanford University poll of 1,372 climate scientists found that 97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in climate science agree that global warming is occurring and man activities are the main factor. The Greatest Hoax tries convincing us otherwise by quoting media sources, politicians, lobbyist, and the 2-3% of the scientists who claim to be skeptics, though some receive substantial rewards for being skeptical. Legitimate science is based upon evidence and reason, but many of the ideas put forward in this book are not.
Politics: Sen. Inhofe says: “I am not a scientist. I do understand politics. “He says he went into politics because a Tulsa city engineer would not approve his request to move a fire escape on his building. Mr. Inhofe told him that he was going to run for mayor and fire him when he won. And he did. It is possible that the engineer was following the building code adopted by the city’s elected officials, and that there may have been a good reason to leave the fire escape where it was, such as it being easily assessable in case of a fire. That incident, however, explains Senator Inhofe’s attitudes toward regulations, regulators, and scientists whose research show the need for regulations. It also explains the Senators approach to regulations. He sees them as an impediment to business but he does not see that most regulations are developed to protect the public. One of his favorite targets is the EPA, which was created by Pres. Nixon to protect the environment. Sen. Inhofe chose to work on the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works (EPW) committee so he could protect businesses from what he considers needless environmental regulations.
The Hoax: Sen. Inhofe was apparently convinced “global warming is a hoax” by one of the worse hoaxes in recent Congressional history. It started when Dr. Willie Soon managed to get a paper through the peer review process at Climate Reviews with the help of an editor sympathetic to his views. The paper reviewed the literature on climate science, and concluded that the global warming in the 20th century was not unusual and that natural forces, rather than man’s activities was the cause. An important piece of his evidence was the Medieval Warm Period, which he claimed was warmer than the latter 20th century. But there was something wrong with the paper. There were no accurate temperature records in Medieval Times, the Americas had not yet been discovered, and much of the Southern hemisphere was unknown. Dr. Soon’s paper contradicted the evidence from hundreds of other peer-reviewed papers. It caused quite a furor at Climate Reviews which ended with 3 members the editorial board resigning in protest and the newly hired chief editor stating the paper had serious errors and should never have been published. The EPA was unwilling to include the paper in its assessment of climate science, so Sen. Inhofe scheduled a meeting of the EPW committee to examine the paper.
Shortly before the meeting, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) issued a press release from 13 of the scientists whose work was used in Dr. Soon’s paper, saying the paper distorted their research. At the hearing, Michael Mann represented the scientific viewpoint, presenting evidence from multiple sources showing that the Medieval Warm period was not worldwide and resulted only in a small hump in the temperature record. Soon stood behind his work and testified that he had not received any funds that might have biased his objectivity. However, the paper lists the American Petroleum Institute as a major source of funding and documents received since from the Smithsonian Institution in response to FOIA requests, revealed that since 2001 Dr. Soon has received over $1 million in funding from oil and coal interests. Sen. Inhofe was upset by the turn of events and tried to get him fired – Michael Mann that is. At Sen. Inhofe’s insistence, the University of Pennsylvania, a Quaker University, has conducted 2 investigations into Dr. Mann’s research and found no misconduct. A 2010 Science article reviewed the investigations, declaring “Michael Mann is cleared, again. ” Dissatisfied with the ruling, Sen. Inhofe has tried to get the attorney general to charge Michael Mann with fraud. Sadly, for the first time in history, scientists are collecting a legal defense fund to defend scientists against political attacks. And even worse, the scientific opinion of the senior member of our Environmental and Public Works committee is apparently based on a paper that would not pass freshman English.
Endorsement: The Greatest Hoax was endorsed by Dr. R.M. Carter, a paleontologist from Australia, who was the star witness at Sen. Inhofe’s 2006 Senate hearing on Climate Change and the Media. No credible members of the media testified, and one might wonder why Sen. Inhofe would be interested in the media bias in Australia. Dr. Carter was likely there because he could be counted on to testify that historically the rise in global temperatures had always preceded rising carbon dioxide concentration; thus some natural cause must be releasing the carbon dioxide that is causing the temperature to rise. He was right about the role of carbon dioxide in increasing the Earth’s temperature, but he rather ignored the possibility that the CO2 concentration was rising because the burning of fossil fuels was releasing 30 billion tons of CO2 annually.
After the hearing, Dr. Carter was challenged by climatologists to produce research showing the natural variability he claimed, but the paper he belatedly produced was soon refuted when significant errors were found in his reasoning. Though two of the four scientists who testified at the hearing were skeptics, all four agreed that the Earth had warmed about 1°C in the last century. Sen. Inhofe’s own hearing had clearly refuted his claim: “Global warming is a hoax.” That was of little concern to Sen. Inhofe, as the main purpose of the hearing was to intimidate members of the press – as if that were needed.
Science: There is little science in the book, though much of the book is dedicated to discrediting science and scientists by quoting friends of his from the Heartland Institute, media personalities, and other politicians. He even sets up Al Gore as a strawman for scientists. In the book’s introduction, he displays a rather tasteless picture of Al Gore naked, and considerable space is devoted to vilifying him. That is a shame as Al Gore has served as a respected Senator, Vice President, and as a Presidential candidate came within a few hundred votes of being elected. Al Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar. The movie also had its day in court and won. Interestingly, the same Dr. Carter, who endorsed the book, was the star witness for the plaintiff in Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education, a suit which sought to prevent the educational use of An Inconvenient Truth in England. The court apparently did not agree with Dr. Carter and ruled that, though the film had some errors, it was substantially founded upon scientific research and fact and could be shown. Sen. Inhofe claims to be a free market capitalist, but he seems to take great umbrage that Al Gore has profited from his investments in green energy, apparently without realizing that most of those profits have been dedicated to promoting conservative causes, such as protecting the Earth.
Though he may be a skilled politician, in the partisan sense, Sen. Inhofe is correct when he says “I am not a scientist.” He does not understand how scientific knowledge from many fields fits together to form a consistent view of nature. For instance, the book tells that after a large snowfall in Washington D.C., his grandchildren built an igloo and put up a sign: “Al Gore’s New Home“. Sen. Inhofe used the picture to denounce global warming alarmism, though he should know that a single weather event proves nothing. And, if he were a scientist, he might understand how the warming oceans increase the probability of a record snowfall in Washington D.C., making the igloo possible – and how carbon dioxide has made more probable the record heat waves in Texas and Oklahoma, making droughts and wildfires possible.
Sen. Inhofe shows he does not understand how science works when he brings up the “Coming Ice Age” story to discredit the scientific evidence. The argument goes, “How can you trust science, when in the 1970s the scientists were predicting the coming of a new Ice Age, but now scientists claim that the Earth is warming?” In the 70’s, scientists found that increased industrialization was causing not only an increase in particulates, which would cause global cooling, but also an increase in CO2, which would increase global warming. There was no consensus among scientists about which effect would predominate. A count of scientific papers in that decade showed that only 7 journal articles predicted that the global average temperature would continue to cool, while 44 papers indicated that the average temperature would rise. The research on global cooling was valuable as it showed a nuclear war was unwinnable as particulates from a nuclear exchange might create a nuclear winter, ending life on Earth as we know it.
Scientific controversies are usually settled by the evidence, but this one was settled by the intervention of man. Particulates are visible and have serious health consequences. By 1980, regulations were in place to limit particulate emissions and, as that happened, the temperature of the Earth began increasing again. The fossil fuel companies became alarmed, as it was becoming apparent that we should also limit carbon emissions to keep the Earth’s temperature at equilibrium, so they began a propaganda campaign to convince us that carbon dioxide was harmless. If you believe that, remember the lesson of Pitcher, Oklahoma. What you don’t know can hurt you and be very costly.
Cap and Trade: Sen. Inhofe claims that cap and trade is the “crown jewel” of a global conspiracy of scientists, Hollywood stars, and media personalities who want to take away your freedom and create a world government. However, cap and trade was devised by free-market conservatives for President Reagan, who used it successfully to stop the acid rain drifting into Canada from our Northeastern power plants. It was part the Clean Air Act signed into law by President Bush I and many prominent Republicans, including John McCain, have supported it. Cap and trade is considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. It is described by the EPA as “an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.”Does that sound like it “Threatens Your Future“, as the subtitle of the book claims? And, it cannot be making Al Gore rich – or be the cause of rising energy prices – as it has not yet been enacted for carbon emissions.
Costs: Sen. Inhofe main objection to environmental regulations is their tremendous cost; but an accurate analysis of costs and benefits are not in the book. He just claims that it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year, a cost that has great sticker shock, but is totally inaccurate. Dr. John Reilly, the MIT economist whose work was used to arrive at that number, has publicly criticized a Republican lobbyist for distorting his work to arrive at that inflated value. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the cap-and-trade program by 2020 would average about $175 annually per household, and that associated savings would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details other high economic costs of inadequate environmental legislation, such as reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields. Yet Congress has refused to act on the matter.
Also, Sen. Inhofe seems to have left some important items out of his balance sheet, such as the true cost of using fossil fuels. The true cost of a resource should include repairing damage caused by its use and disposing of the waste. We are in effect subsidizing the fossil fuel industry by allowing them to freely discharge their wastes into the environment. Some of the “true costs” of fossil fuel use, such as health and environmental costs can be estimated. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and one of the world’s top economists, has used the results from formal economic models to examine the potential cost of failure to limit our carbon emissions. He estimates that the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the cost of mitigation and damages could rise to 20% of GDP or more in the future – and we would run the additional risk of an environmental catastrophe.
Taking 5% of the US GDP for 2010, would give an environmental cost of $727 billion. As to health costs, the American Lung Association estimates that the EPA’s proposed guidelines for particulates could prevent 38,000 heart attacks and premature deaths, 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma, and 2.7 million days of missed work or school. They estimate the economic benefits of reduced exposure to particulates alone could reach as much as $281 billion annually. Those two add up to about $1.08 trillion. The calculations do not include all the environmental and health costs, but they do show about how much we are subsidizing the fossil fuel industries by ignoring the damage to people’s health and the environment.
Sen. Inhofe, in his Rachel Maddow interview, stated that the cost of cap and trade would be $30-$40 billion annually. That is about 1/30 of what the environmental and health costs might eventually be. Then, it is rather hard to put a value on those premature deaths or the added risk of environmental catastrophes. The number of billion-dollar weather disasters has increased fivefold over the last 30 years, and insurance giants such as Suisse Re now consider man-made global warming real, and a risk factor in setting insurance rates. Increased insurance rates will be an additional out of pocket cost, which could easily offset the $175 the CBO estimated that cap and trade would cost.
Scientists: To get around the strong consensus of scientists, the book claims there is a global conspiracy of liberal scientists bent on creating a world government, that climate science is a religion, that climate scientists are in it for the money, and that Climategate proves climate scientists are dishonest. None of those claims are supported by verifiable evidence. Most scientists are good citizens, conservative in their statements and actions. Most are religious, with stewardship and concern for their fellow man being part of their religion. The Presbyterian church, where Senator Inhofe claims membership, stated in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2008, its “serious concern that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems.”
The book calls climate scientists “alarmists” in a derogatory sense, but many are becoming alarmed. Research shows that the Earth’s climate is changing because of our emissions of CO2, yet Congress has not acted to solve the problem. Scientists were criticized for considering the problem catastrophic, but they realize our carbon emissions will have an affect for 100 years or more into the future and inaction will threaten our food and water supply,increase the risk of severe weather events, and a possibly lead to an environmental catastrophe. Remember what happened at Pitcher, Oklahoma because lead mining was considered harmless.
Sen. Inhofe often calls those who disagree with him “liberals”, but the meaning of liberal and conservative seem to be flexible. During the American Revolution, it was the liberals who wanted to create a democracy and conservatives who thought that King George had a divine right to rule. Sen. Inhofe uses “liberals” to describe environmentalists and others who want to preserve the earth – and uses “conservatives” for those who want to conserve power and profits.
He describes Rachel Maddow as one of his favorite liberals, but that may change. In his book he said “Rachel’s segment was one of the last major efforts to go after me just days before I landed in Copenhagen and declared vindication.” However in his recent interview on Rachel’s show, she showed the clip. Nowhere in the clip does it mention Copenhagen or climate change. Rather than apologize, he said he couldn’t remember everything he said in the 350 pages of fine print in the book, raising questions about how much of the book he actually wrote. Apparently liberal can also mean “pesky”.
Big Oil: Sen. Inhofe tells some good stories of the old days in the Oklahoma oilfields, but back then Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World and our domestic oil producers were a different breed from today’s multinational oil companies. They have little loyalty to the United States and little concern for our citizens or the environment. They have created some of the greatest man-made environmental disasters and resisted compensating their victims fairly. After the furor over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP’s CEO commented “I want my life back“, but he could not give back the 11 lives lost because of his decisions. Although he promised to compensate Americans damaged by the oil spill, BP appointed a lawyer to disperse the funds, who made many of the victims “take it or leave it” offers. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Mobil went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid paying the $5 billion in damages owed the native Alaskans. Koch oil was charged in Oklahoma of cheating Native Americans and the government out $5 billion in oil royalties. They settled the case out of court for a 10th of the $5 billion, with no admission of wrongdoing. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
Last year, the world’s 5 largest oil companies received $24 billion in tax break subsidies. Yet, they reported $171 billion in profits, while most US businesses and citizens struggled with financial losses, in part caused by the steep rise in fuel prices. Sen. Inhofe says his goal is “energy self-sufficiency” for the United States, yet last year the leading US export was fuels, so Big Oil companies are selling American oil abroad, creating a shortage in the United States that is driving up prices. Increasing their profits is their main goal, even though carbon emissions may cause a man-made environmental disaster much greater than oil spills. To defend their profits, these companies are now the major contributors to the science denial machine that Sen. Inhofe defends in his book.
Heartland Foundation: Sen. Inhofe was able to poke fun at himself when he said” Nature strikes back”, referring to a serious illness he contacted while swimming in a lake contaminated with toxic blue-green algae, whose growth was fueled by water pollution and the heat wave and Oklahoma. The illness caused him to miss the meeting of the Heartland Institute where he was to be a keynote speaker. His relation to the Heartland Institute is troubling. The Heartland Institute, once a major source of propaganda designed to prove there was no link between smoking, cancer, and lung disease, has now turned its considerable experience and resources into producing propaganda disputing the link between carbon emissions and global warming. Big Oil provides much of the funding for the Heartland Institute, and other similar “conservative” think tanks, who channel millions of dollars into the denial of science. The Heartland Institute is a gathering place for Big Oil’s lobbyists, loyal politicians, and paid skeptics. Many of those are the sources of information for Sen. Inhofe’s book. How accurate is that information likely to be?
Skeptics: Science values its skeptics as they make science strong by pointing out areas that need more investigation, and they sometimes making valuable contributions to science. When Richard Muller questioned NASA’s temperature records, he evaluated all 6 billion pieces of weather station data, and came to the conclusion that the temperature record was accurate. When O’Donnell doubted Steig’s work showing Antarctica was warming, he re-analyzed the data and found that indeed Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, was getting warmer.
Skeptics are expected to follow the methodologies and the ethics of science, to subject their work to review by their peers, and to divulge conflicts of interest. Many of those Sen. Inhofe praises as “climate skeptics” do not meet those criteria. They profit from being skeptical and, when research shows them wrong, they continue to repeat their skeptical arguments anyway. An example is Anthony Watts, who started the Surface Station Project to examine the data from weather stations, which he claimed had errors. The AGU took his skepticism seriously and did a thorough study on the weather stations, finding the data was reliable. They had offered Watts a chance to participate in the research, but he missed his chance to be a scientist when he refused. And though the question has been answered, Mr. Watts is still repeating the same criticisms – and collecting substantial donations to continue his Surface Station Project. There are many skeptics like Mr. Watts, who receives generous grants from think tanks, not for fundamental research, but to come up with ideas to cast doubt on the IPCC, climate research, and the work of legitimate scientists. Many of the paid skeptics appear in Sen. Inhofe’s book as his sources for information, quotes, and references.
Vindication: In this chapter of the book, Sen. Inhofe claims vindication, but it is hard to imagine sufficient vindication for displaying a picture of Al Gore naked. Sen. Inhofe does claim he is vindicated by the Climategate e-mails. Hackers broke into the computers of England’s Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU), and stole 10 years of e-mails exchanged between the scientists. Quotes from the stolen e-mails were taken out of context, distorted, and released to media sources with claims the CRU scientists engaged in illegal and unethical acts. As of today, eight independent formal investigations have been completed and none have found any scientific misconduct by the scientists involved. The incident was dubbed “Climategate”, but it was in no way like Watergate. In Wategate, the thieves were caught and punished and those who masterminded the plot were publicly disgraced. In Climategate, the thieves have been hailed by some skeptics as heroes – and the victims of the theft have been vilified. It seems strange that Scotland Yard is searching for the hackers, while Sen. Inhofe is gleefully helping spread the misinformation. So, rather than being like Watergate, the e-mail scandal was actually more like Stargate, fictional fantasy. The accusations of wrongdoing by some of the skeptical scientists, made before the matter could be investigated, were particularly egregious as scientist’s ethical codes say that:” Public comments on scientific matters should be made with care and precision, without unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or premature statements.”
Winning: Sen. Inhofe claims he is winning, but he can’t be talking about the scientific debate. All the world’s major scientific organizations think he is losing, as do 97 – 98% of the climate scientists, and 83% of American voters. A 2011 Stanford poll found that 83% of Americans say that global warming is happening with 88% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans saying it is the result of human action. Attacking scientists may prove to be contrary to the Republican party’s best interest. While polls find scientist’s trustworthiness is highly rated , with 84% having a favorable view of scientists, Congress’ approval has now dropped to around 9%. This may be indicative of the public’s dissatisfaction with the partisanship and gridlock in Congress, occurring for reasons well on display in this book.
Although some members of Congress and some of the public may listen to Sen. Inhofe, nature doesn’t. No matter how much he claims “hoax”, research shows the climate is changing in response to man’s activities. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, the temperature of the Earth is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the probability of severe weather events is increasing, and weather-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly. It’s time we examine more closely who is actually winning by ignoring science.
(c) 2012 J.C. Moore
Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to burn books that are considered dangerous. One night when Montag meets his neighbor Clarisse McClellan, she wakes him up and forces him to think about his life, happiness, ideals and why the society he lives in looks the way it does. He starts to realize what an empty life he has been living and begins to question why books are considered dangerous and burned. Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty, notices his guilt and comes to visit him one day when Montag has called in sick. He explains why they burn books, how they bring all kinds of unwanted emotions, feelings and rebellion. Beatty claims that it is better if society conforms to collective thought, because it will be much less dangerous.
One day at work the fire crew is sent out to a house where a woman refuses to give up her books. When they burn down the house with all the books, the woman is still inside. Montag feels responsible for this and the event changes his life completely. He seeks the help of an old English teacher named Faber who he had once met. While Clarisse had helped him see how the world works, Faber is responsible for his full awakening. Faber teaches him what books really mean, the importance of literature and offers to guide him to take action towards his new ideas. Montag decides that he will never burn a book again. After a while his boss begins to suspect that he is hiding and collecting books and one day he is called out to burn down his own home. Montag refuses to follow the orders and tries to escape. The story continues with Montag on the run as a fugitive while the chase is broadcast live on television.
Fahrenheit 451 is an amazing book about the pitfalls of a society without individuality or reason, where people have lost their ability to think for themselves. Maybe what is most remarkable is that we may not even realize that society has become that way, or that we have become part of it, as is the case for the protagonist of this novel, Guy Montag. This book has been compared to George Orwell’s 1984 and there are a lot of similarities. Both novels describe a society where individuals have little control of their own lives and thoughts. But I think that Fahrenheit 451 feels less dark and has a slightly more optimistic view, which makes it a more enjoyable read.
Innovative Concepts for the Ages
Labyrinth of Immortality by Embrosewyn Tazkuvel, is Book 1 in the Secret Earth Series. This is a well-written and well-told tale. Taken as it is from the New Testament figures of Lazarus, Miriam, Jesus, as well as a host of first century well-known names, I was interested to hear how Tazkuvel might change things up and why. Let’s just say, those who take the Bible literally will be less than pleased. In many respects, the storylines are not altered, but surprising liberties also abound.
The focus is, of course, on Lazarus, and we are treated to his first person narrative from the events leading to his death, his famous resurrection, Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and what happens afterward. It is what happens after Jesus’ resurrection that the themes of the book start to take shape. Lazarus’ sister, Miriam is also an essential character. In this tale, Miriam, wields more power than any woman of her period and place could, disciple (and wife) of Jesus or no.
I did find myself wondering if the same story could be told without the starting point of established Biblical characters. When they go through portals to other worlds and meet strange beings, I think I would have preferred to have a wholly new set of characters that were not charged with religious traditions. In a way, it kept bringing me out of the story because my brain had to do gymnastics comparing the new twists with the traditional storyline. Those who view the New Testament as nonfiction, moving into a fantasy world with a different plotline, may have difficulty going along on the ride. Such readers are undoubtedly not the book’s intended audience. But because these Biblical characters have been ingrained for many people from childhood, like me, I think they might struggle with staying within the bounds of the story. I do not fault the author for taking on the challenge and creatively working from this Biblical starting point with innovative concepts — the story is entertaining and well told regardless.
Book Review by Carla M. Paton