Brain surgery

Two months ago, Harry Brighouse posted his marvelous Teaching’s not exactly brain surgery, is it? on the Crooked Timber blog. It’s a good thing Brighouse did so right then, because he was playing off of the exalted status we accord brain surgeons, which as we know one American brain surgeon has in the weeks since single-handedly left in tatters. And though we know that, it’s always worth seeing the Guardian’s Marina Hyde pile on in her inimitable style.

We’re not denialists, but please no gloom and doom

I was talking earlier today with a colleague who runs a masters degree on Climate Change Management. Their enrollments have fallen. She attributes this to a “change in the discourse on climate change”, which has rendered the very term a downer, to be avoided (she and her colleagues had thought the degree’s name was pretty upbeat, because “management” suggested… hey, it’s a problem, but we can manage it: not enough, it seems). She contrasted the public attention to the Copenhagen meetings a few years ago, to the relative silence on Paris today. And this of course comes in the midst of an increasingly clear picture of the disaster we’re walking into. If your attention has been elsewhere of late, consider these tidbits:

Kevin Anderson tells us that all the IPCC scenarios that offer at least a 50% chance of staying below 2 degrees depend either on negative emissions technologies that don’t exist yet, or on emissions peaking by 2010 (hint: that didn’t happen). It’s a short and readable piece in Nature Geoscience. Continue reading

I’ll go help too, vicariously

The joys of teaching at Birkbeck occasionally include emails from students like this

Hi Fred,
I’ve just accepted a 12 month contract to work in Sierra Leone as operations manager for [redacted]. Their focus is to improve the resilience of the Sierra Leone health service post ebola. Started induction in their London office today, will fly out to Sierra Leone 1st July.
I’m still planning to complete my dissertation for first week in September, though would be grateful if we could skype for meetings!
Best wishes
Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

Hansen: even 2 degrees sinks coastal cities

Politicians in Paris will try, if that’s not too kind a word, to find an agreement that will hold down temperature increases to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels [+2C].

Still too much, says James Hansen, of NASA (retired) and Columbia University, who has been warning us about this since 1981 or so:

• The last time Earth was +2C, 120,000 years ago, sea levels were 6-8 meters higher than today. 2 degrees would lock that in, the only question being how fast we would get there.
Hansen88Temps Continue reading

Ordinary surveillance, inequality, and fear

Our friends Giorgio and Gemma, visiting here from Rome, had this impression from a recent trip to New York: workers in New York are scared. Security staff enforced seemingly trivial rules – don’t step across this line – in a way that they couldn’t explain otherwise.

Workers watch you so nervously when they themselves are watched closely and their jobs are insecure. Continue reading

Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped for riding a bike without a helmet

Frederick Guy:

From The Age (Melbourne) via Systemic Failure.

Originally posted on Systemic Failure:

The idiotic Australian helmet law strikes again:

Melbourne police officers succeeded where scores of action movie villains have failed when they stopped Hollywood tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger in his tracks on Monday.

The intervention began after photographs began circulating on social media of the American actor, bodybuilder and politician riding one of Melbourne’s blue share bikes. The Terminator and Predator star was wearing bike-matching blue shorts, but not a bicycle helmet.

“I saw a group of cyclists riding ahead of me and we just went up to do a routine intercept,” Senior Constable Gillson told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“Then we noticed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the crowd. “We spoke to him briefly and had a little chat with him about the reason why I pulled him over.”

The constable said he often chose to educate tourists from countries without helmet laws rather than fine them.

Someone needs educating, and it isn’t…

View original 2 more words