Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
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20210902jamesgustavspeth

This was known in the Carter administration. There were a flurry of reports done by the Council of Environmental Quality, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. That pattern has persisted in every administration. Every administration has been presented with compelling evidence from its own agencies, its own agencies' contractors, other outside sources - every administration has been presented with compelling warnings about what is coming, what is causing it, and what to do about it. And largely ignored.

James Gustav Speth on five decades of US government knowledge of climate change and promotion of the fossil fuel industry, a legal challenge to power from children growing up in the shadow of catastrophe, and his book They Knew: The US Federal Government's Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis from MIT Press.

 


Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the USA. It’s nationwide! It’s been celebrated by Black people since 1866, a year after the event that instigated it happened, when, on June 19, 1865, Union Army general Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas to announce and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation of three years earlier. Texas was the last Confederate state to still maintain slavery.

So, Juneteenth doesn’t just celebrate the official end of legal chattel slavery of human beings in the United States, it also celebrates when the Union Army came and forced Texas to stop enslaving Black people. It doesn’t just celebrate that the government announced there was to be an official legal change in the status of Black human beings: it commemorates the sad truth that some people are so attached to their domination over other people’s bodies, labor, and choices that they have to be forced at gunpoint to even pretend to acknowledge their personhood.

And this is the first year it’s gone national! Official! Legit!

What does one do on Juneteenth? Celebrate Black culture in all its multifaceted magnificence, that’s what! Sing, dance, buy shea butter products and green yellow and black T-shirts, eat soul food and drink strawberry soda. Educate yourself about Black history. Pay attention to Black political and artistic voices. Watch “Small Axe,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and reruns of “Treme” and “Watchmen.”

I was very excited to celebrate Juneteenth this year. Finally, a national holiday I could get behind. But maybe it was because President Simple Joe Malarkey only declared it a couple days before the holiday, so it was too short notice, or maybe I just didn’t plan the day right. I don’t want to call out anyone by name, but I was very disappointed. I didn’t get invited to a single cookout. There’s one I probably could’ve invited myself to, and there was the two-day street bash in Leimert Park, but, you know, a fellow likes to be asked.

It is true that Juneteenth has been celebrated for a hundred fifty-five years, and never once in all that time have I been invited to a bash, cookout, sock hop, soiree, or to-do. So why should I expect to be invited to one now, just because some old white dude signed a piece of paper?

I don’t remember Black... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

What makes great masses of people believe the same stupid, or magical, or xenophobic, or elitist narrative? What made Emperor Constantine decriminalize Christianity and eventually elevate it to the state religion of the Roman Empire? And what made people go along with that? What made people agree on currency? What makes people agree on crypto-currency? What makes so many people agree on the greatness of certain art? Or certain food?

Well, certain food is objectively delicious, but still...

At the root of this question might be, “how do people come to believe strongly, vehemently, even violently, opinions having no other value than the value the believers assign to them?”

Then again, what other value do opinions have? Well, a medically trained doctor’s opinion of why, say, you aren’t capable of speaking above a whisper, might have more value to you than that of someone who’s just tossing out guesses, because of the training and expertise of the one, compared with the lack of them of the other.

But you might not like the doctor’s opinion, because it has implications that require you to have polyps removed from your vocal chords, whereas the know-nothing opinion might only require you to eat chicken soup or suck on a slippery elm lozenge.

So, still, although you have your reasons, no specific property of the opinions other than your own judgment would make you choose one or the other. The medical one may be correct, or better reflect your physical condition, but you could still ignore it indefinitely if you were attached to the other opinion for some cowardly or superstitious reason.

I recently learned a little about the Saint Francis dam disaster, a fiasco made possible by the water wars of the late 1920s and 1930s, which Robert Towne and Roman Polanski used as a McGuffin to build their Chinatown on. The details would be better told as one of Renaldo’s Rotten Histories than by me. He may have already done so, I don’t know because there’s no way to search for just the Rotten Histories – I’m not trying to create more work for the archivists, I’m just saying: I’ll just be giving you the broad, choppy strokes.

Bureau of Water Works manager and chief engineer, William Mulholland, who would go on to have a drive through the Hollywood Hills named after him, wanted to be a big hero... read more