Methane levels

A quick take of the map shows that a good bit of surface methane (above) comes from Europe and Asia. Forgive me if my geography is wrong but is the red spot Baghdad? If so can we blame global warming on sunni insurgents? Looks like America, which produces a lot of beef, has much lower levels of methane. The bottom graph is stratospheric levels of methane. From Wikipedia.

The real cause for global warming?

This is just great. Apparently the culprit responsible for more greenhouse gases than any other source is not cars, factories, planes, even right-wing capitalists.

This is an interesting twist, in that it is apparently a man-made phenomenon. The replacing of forests with cattle farms and the wastes that it produces (methane has 20 times more warming power than carbon dioxide) could double this damage by 2050.

All this according to our good friends at the UN.

So we don’t need to search for alternative energy sources, but instead need to genetically engineer a cow with less flatulence. Call your Senators and get us back to the table at Kyoto.

Independent Online Edition > Environment

"Beyond Marriage"

An interesting article on a slightly different approach to “gay rights.” Some of you may know I’m an unabashed traditionalist, who believes there’s a reason that marriage has classically been between a man and a woman. You know…things like continuation of the species. I heard a right-wing-nut-job one time on the radio say there are only three purposes for marriage: the civilization of men, the protection of women, and the raising of children. And I agree with that assessment.

Current laws agree; as the article states, there are 1400 state and federal rights conferred upon married couple in the US.

Typically, the challenge with gay marriage activists is that they miss the whole point when they demand recognition of same sex marriages so they can have “equal rights.” My contention has always been that they are looking for “special rights.” Because if you live with your brother, or sister, or you’re like my Aunt who lives with her mother, with finances completely entwined, then you also typically don’t have the same rights as a married couple.

The best example from the article was two elderly sisters in the UK that said, “Hey, if we were two lesbians, we’d be protected under the law. It’s a violation of our right!”

So the point of the “Beyond Marriage” movement is to change the law to bypass marriage altogether.

…advocates extending rights and benefits to a number of family structures outside the nuclear mold–from two friends or siblings who are each other’s primary caregivers to a single adult caring for an elderly parent, to children who are being raised by their grandparents.

…[a] Salt Lake City “adult designee” plan was successful in part because it establishes economic dependence as the criterion for extending benefits rather than a marital or sexual relationship. The council’s goal, expressed by several council members, was simply to get benefits for more families, not to do away with marriage or even suggest its obsolescence.

I still don’t believe all legal recognitions and protections exclusive to marriage should be just decreed available to “adult designees”, and as Ira Ellman points out in the article, I’m not sure whether an “adult designee” should have the same financial obligations at the dissolution of a relationship that a divorcing married couple have.

However, I can’t help but think that “gay rights” activists should approach the law this way rather than trying to redefine an institution as traditional and with as much religious and emotional significance as marriage.

There’s also a part of me that wonders what effect these sort of changes in the law would have on frequency of marriage itself. The article that came out a few weeks ago about more than half of women deciding against marriage, was quite deceiving (women are waiting longer, more widowed baby boomers, young college students living at home were included in the numbers as well, etc…), but it does point to the fact that legal and financial advantages of marriage are probably not the major incentives for marriage, or at least perhaps they shouldn’t be. Maybe there WOULD be fewer marriages, and most likely decidedly fewer divorces.

Beyond Marriage: Love and the Law

The Big Not So Easy

The WSJ has a good summary of why it is so tough to deal with New Orleans. Guiliani fought crime without the luxury of rebuilding his city. Nagin’s faults are legion, but he is right when he says Manhatten still has a big hole in the ground five years after 9/11, and everyone expects New Orleans to be up and running.

If what Nagin says is true, that each time federal officials threaten to shut off housing subsidies for displaced New Orleans residents, a new wave of criminals turns up on the city’s streets. That is a sad proposition for the city. So, are all the citizens that do not have subsidized housing in other places and return to New Orleans criminals? If this is the case then just build a series of jails instead of projects, since the purpose is one and the same.

Piyush (Bobby) Jindal, please come help clean this mess up.

No Resolution to Biden’s Talk Show

This is what happens when you read a speech from a Senator about Iraq that actually makes a little sense. A few months later, he’s back to his old self, because he’s obsessed with his prospects for President.

This is why if I were to support a Senator for President, the most tempting prospect at this point would be Barack Obama. Assuming he is what he claims to be, and his attitude is genuine, I would simply pray that 4 years in the Senate isn’t enough to morph him into that odd creature that is a Senator.

One has to operate from the assumption that they’re not just born this way…there is something that happens in that chamber, something that hinders their ability to tenor their speech, except as it pertains to focus groups and interest orgs. An election year…or two years…almost precludes the possibility of actual conversations to occur, without the allure of the Oval Office hanging in the air.

And Biden is by no means the worst–even though he loves to hear himself speak, he (as I’ve pointed out is my favorite trait of his) at least speaks the English language, unlike Mr. Kerry whose Senatese has been so refined as to become unintelligible.

Perhaps it’s just a Senate thing (as perhaps your average Representative doesn’t have quite the same reputation), but it does illustrate why Senators make terrible Presidential candidates. In addition to all the deal-cutting necessary to garner voting records that anyone could pick apart, they have a serious problem expressing themselves without slipping into the blah, blah, blah…

However, executive types (Governors and Mayors) have mastered the art of making decisions instead of compromising, ducking, dodging, and hedging.

So those who want a Republican to win the White House in ’08, Romney and Giulliani are probably your best bet, and I suppose Bill Richardson is the best bet on the Democrat side. Because the Senators (even if they say just want to “chat”) are just simply going to blabber their way to 48 percent or so.

washingtonpost.com

Bush health care proposal

I was impressed with the Bush health care proposal mentioned in the SOTU address last night (although $15,000 may be too high for the amount of the deduction) . His plan would hopefully move health-care purchasing decisions from HR departments to the individual level. I believe it would result in a far greater selection of plans and better cost control. Elegantly simple.

Not very impressed with the remainder of his speech, though.

Rep. Jindal announces run for Louisiana Governor

To continue the Louisiana trend. It appears that Jindal is going to run for Governor again. Given all the trials and tribulations that Louisiana has gone through, “a new approach to governing” should be welcome.

And forgetting the whole Katrina thing just for a moment (give it a try) Jindal is an extremely smart guy, and should have won the last time he ran. My hunch is, he would bring a welcome change to the intellectual bankruptcy that has plagued Louisiana politics. And one result of Katrina is the lack of the same democratic block in Orleans Parish. It’s going to be a little tougher for Cleo Fields, Donna Brazille, et al., to get on a conference call at 4:00pm and step up the bus runs to bring this election to the Democratic side.

Geaux Jindal!

Rep. Jindal announces run for Louisiana Governor