Blast From The Past: A Conversation About Global Warming

Disclaimer: Internet arguments are not fun for anyone to read. But, because I’m narcissistic enough to have my own blog, I’m going to post sections that I think are interesting and probably edit them so I appear more clever. This is easily the most self-indulgent, masturbatory post on this blog. 

In 2007, Josh from my high school posted this as a facebook note:

If you want to believe in global warming then go for it. Just let those of us who choose not to believe it live our lives. You can’t force us to believe it nor can you say that we are stupid for not believing it because scientists haven’t even truly figured it out.

I wish I had gotten into the argument at that time, even though I am very much not an environmentalist (seriously, I use a ridiculous amount of plastic water bottles each week). I didn’t get involved until Josh posted this comment in late 2010:

For one, scientists have asked these people who have studied and found that global warming is the most accurate description to weather trends what experiments they did to find this out so they could see if they could reproduce it and these people would not give them any info. Furthermore there was a leak that scientists hand selected 3 specific trees and used their rings as support for the theory of global warming. This is not the scientific process, you do not make the facts fit the theory, you make the theory fit the facts. Besides that, they make incorrect alterations in their scientific model. They change the effect, i.e. global climate change, but with the new effect they have no new cause. They still say that CO2 is the cause, but from a chemistry stand point that does not make any sense. Furthermore I am still right, the fact that the theory of Global Warming is constantly changing shows that we do not know enough about it. Tell me, how often has the theory of gravity been altered? 

And you’re right, people observe a phenomenon and make a hypothesis. Other scientists have observed that CO2 actually increases as a result of warmer temperature. As far as best explanation, Global warming is not one of them. One that works a lot better and actually fits the observed phenomenon is that the sun has cycles it goes through that changes how much heat it is radiating. This is consistent with observed trends. 50 years ago, scientists were saying that there would be a global freeze, and scientists now are saying global warming. That is a complete 180 of the original prediction, but attributing this change to cycles in the suns radiant heat fits this observation. You can say you don’t let misinformed people go unchallenged, but you yourself are misinformed.

Theres just so much in there, that I had to jump in:

There are a few problems with your response, Josh. But grammar and punctuation aside, lets just discuss CO2 and its role in our atmosphere. Any basic environmental textbook can explain how CO2, along with greenhouse gasses, is a big reason our planet isn’t perpetually frozen. We can back that up by observations of other planets, like Venus and Mars, and with experiments that show how these gases keep energy in our atmosphere. It is very clear to scientists that there is a strong correlation between the presence of greenhouse gases and the temperature of a planet. In the past years, our CO2 emission has significantly increased, and scientists have linked that with the climate change we’re going through.

But lets not try to argue that now, the better argument is your problems with science. If the scientific community bands together and explains a theory, its a goddam justified theory. To snuff PhD’s and top scientists on science topics using talking points given to you by some clearly biased pundit isn’t right. If you want to argue this global climate change, take an environmental class and educate yourself. Between you and a guy who has dedicated his whole life to learning about climate, I’m going to have to trust his expertise more.

And one more thing, please don’t assume that just because one scientist was’t honest with his results, the whole community is dishonest. Its easy to say how these scientists are corrupt and full of crap, but they are the reason you don’t have any friends who have died of polio.

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The Cooking Corner (with Val)

If you’re anything like co-blog-author Val, you’ll want to cook the simplest possible meals because of your busy schedule — or more accurately, because of your lack of skill in the kitchen and a few previous Incidents. That’s okay! With a few simple and inexpensive ingredients, you can still maintain a balanced and nourishing diet. Here are a few guidelines for navigating through the preparation and enjoyment of even the most basic meals:

1. Just because your meals are basic doesn’t mean they can’t be good!
Plain pasta again?  Try adding a sauce, the following of which I would recommend: garlic & tomato, Alfredo sauce, five-cheese Alfredo, or  makeshift pesto since the real thing was kind of pricey. If you can’t find any of these, borrow some of that butter your roommate has and presumably never uses. She didn’t notice last time. Pasta and butter can work, if you’re willing to go that basic. Maybe you’re hoping to add some protein to the mix, since you’ve been almost religiously forgoing protein since becoming a vegetarian. Try some fish fillets! Tip: Keep in mind that the fish will probably take more time to cook than the pasta, so eat your meal at two different times.

2. Spice it up!
Literally. Five days in a row of pasta will make you hate pasta! Instead, try other shapes of pastas because they are cheap. Have you had macaroni and cheese lately? Well it’s time! Unlike the plain pasta you’ve been having for days, you don’t need to come up with some excuse for a supplementary portion of your meal. Tip: The cheese is enough.

3. Craving other foods? Treat yourself!
Probably. After all, the fish fillets have started to smell kind of sickening. Plus, you didn’t know there were so many fillets in the package, so you’ve been exhausting every opportunity to eat fish. Tip: Read the label. Anyway, just because you’ve adopted two foods as the only staples of your diet doesn’t mean you can’t indulge every once in a while. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself after telling yourself you deserve it! Ice cream? Go for it. Make sure it’s cheap though, and maybe Walgreen’s brand. Do you really think you can afford Coldstone?

4. Speaking of desserts…
You’re telling me! Try your hand at a basic brownie mix. Brownies can take a while in the oven, so just go for a run while they broil in the oven. They’ll be fine. After you come back from your run, engage in damage-control mode because the brownies actually weren’t fine for 35 minutes. Did you listen to your friend who told you that brownies do half their baking outside of the oven, on the cooling rack? Tip: This is not true. They do their baking inside the oven. Amend the situation by keeping the brownies in their original pan until your roommate brings to your attention that the pan is irreparable since the brownies are completely stuck to the surface.

5. Host your friend(s) for dinner!
You’ll probably want to try your hand at the whole kitchen thing after reading these tips. Why not a dinner soiree? Tip: That’s French. I’ve always enjoyed a dinner party, or even just cooking for one guest since your only other guest thinks Champaign is a far commute from Urbana. Whatever.  Your guest(s) doesn’t/don’t need to know that you only ever make pasta. However, make sure you have other ingredients and maybe spices (i.e., oregano, garlic) to avoid the embarrassment of having just plain pasta. Tip: That’s only acceptable when you’re alone.

6. Make dinner an occasion!
While you’re at it, make dinner special. Light a candle. Use the bar stools. Snag some wine from the same roommate who hasn’t noticed the frequency with which you borrow butter. What? Yellow Tail isn’t that expensive anyway. Also, her door was open. After struggling to uncork the bottle, pour yourself and your guest some wine (if there’s any left for your guest after topping yourself off!). Looks like a success. Take off your cooking hat and watch your newly-found skills unfold/unravel!


Deb’s Flag Car: A True Story of Conspiracy and Corruption

Over the weekend, I was driving from Illinois to Wisconsin. About 30 miles north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, I came across a sight that I’m still struggling to understand. It was a van, driving north alongside me. Here is a brief description:

1. The van had a large decal in the side rear window that read, “Deb’s Flag Car”.

2. Pictured in the decal was a turbine, as one would find in a wind farm.

3. A phone number was beneath the title, ostensibly to inquire about the flag service, with a (618) area code.

4. There were two notifications on the rear window; one warned of sudden lane changes, and the other explained that a fire extinguisher was, in fact, inside the van.

5. On top of the van was an emergency lighting system, as one would find on a police car or ambulance. Behind this was a series of 3 large black racks. These racks were all empty. There was a also an antenna about 5 feet long.

The plot thickened when we called the number and a woman answered who had no idea what “Deb’s Flag Car” was. When “Deb’s Flag Car” was googled, we found only results about how “Deb’s Flag Car” was a certified escort car of Kansas. 618 though, is a Southern Illinois area code. Things are not adding up. I’ve searched “flag” and “wind turbine” together, and the only connections that I can make is that wind turbines are used frequently in Flagstaff, Arizona, and that someone is currently working on a patent to design a flagpole mounted wind turbine.

I don’t want to waste time with crackpot conspiracy theories, so here’s a few likely possibilities for the truth behind “Deb’s Flag Car”:

1. A team of nomads, led by the eponymous “Deb” have been traversing the upper midwest, robbing and scavenging any turbines that they come across. Taking the mantra “hiding in plain sight” to dizzying new heights, Deborah “Deb” Reynolds insists that each heist should be undertaken with emergency lights on. Under the guise of a turbine repair team, the group quickly dismantles the turbine of its precious fiberglass composite  blades. Days later, a traveling salesman with a pronounced bushy mustache (actually Deb’s lover and cohort, the dreaded Stephen W. Knuckleday) will come to the wind farm and attempt to sell the honest windfarmer a new set of blades for a discount price. When the kind windfarmer realizes that without blades, he has no way to harvest the wind, he will relent and purchase this new set. What he will not know, however, is that these blades are made from simple paper-mache. By the time he realizes this, Deb and her team will be at a farm hundreds of miles away, pulling the same grift.

2. After socialist leader Eugene Debs was imprisoned for sedition in the early 1900s, it was decided that America was not truly ready for a socialist President who could rid us of the stench of capitalism. A secret society, American Socialist Leaders (ASL), quickly faked the death of Debs by switching bodies with the conveniently dead Bartolomeo Vanzetti (himself a socialist scapegoat). With Woodrow Wilson’s recent discovery of the Martian technology of cryostasis, Debs was put into hibernation until the United States was ready for his return to power. Soon after Socialist patsy Barack Obama was elected president, the ASL mysteriously decided to keep Debs under cryostasis. Unable to deal with the idea that his grandfather may never return, Debs grandson, Eugene Debs III vowed to break him out. Removing the iron lung from a hidden closet in the Lincoln Bedroom, Eugene snuck the cryochamber into a van through the secret mole tunnels of the White House. Unable to understand the Martian technology that put his grandfather into this situation, Eugene roams the midwest, searching for any signs of aliens, hoping to ask for help on bringing Debs back to life. His main problem is keeping this strange alien casket fully powered. Afraid that the ASL will instantly notice him if he plugs directly into the main power grid, Eugene has been stealing power from various wind turbines that he comes across in his travels. He also gains significant power from lightning striking the large antenna on his car. Eugene no longer cares of politics, he just wants to sit with his grandfather and talk about life as the midwest breeze rolls by.

3. “Deb’s Flag Car” is actually an escort car service which scouts the road ahead for any signs of disruption so a large truck can safely travel the road, probably transporting parts to wind turbines.

While the truth to “Deb’s Flag Car” may never be known, we can at least sit back and observe that there are grand mysteries of the universe to which humans simply cannot comprehend.