F&O this Week: From Homeland to Holmes, and why Australia mourns

Franklin Expedition: “Heart and soul” of HMS Erebus revived

By F&O staff

Canada’s government has released images of the bell from HMS Erebus, the doomed ship from Britain’s legendary Franklin Expedition, found in Nunavut territory in September. Erebus was named after the Greek god of darkness, whose sire is Chaos. (You might have thought the name would give them pause.) 

Climate change: food shortages, mass extinctions, flooding.

By Deborah Jones

Climate change caused by humans will result in food shortages, mass extinctions and flooding, warns the world body of climate experts in its most comprehensive report yet, signed in Bonn on November 2, 2014. It says the science is now 95 per cent conclusive, that today’s climate change is unprecedented, and warns that the world must act, together and immediately, on adaptation and mitigation. It says some changes are already inevitable and the risk of not acting is extreme: “Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts, globally.”

U.S. Geological Survey Follow Shriveled and Cracked  When USGS mapped the glaciers in Icy Bay, Alaska in the 1950s, the glacier in this image was flat and hundreds of meters thick. Bedrock is emerging as Guyot retreats very rapidly. Taken in Jan 2010. Credit: Shad O'Neel, USGS.

Since first being mapped in the 1950s, massive glaciers in Icy Bay, Alaska have shrunk to visible bedrock. Credit: Shad O’Neel, USGS.

 

How does the IPCC know climate change is happening? 

By Mark Maslin

Climate change challenges the very way we organise our society. It needs to be seen within the context of the other great challenges of the 21st century: global poverty, population growth, environmental degradation, and global security. To meet these challenges we must change some of the basic rules of our society to allow us to adopt a much more global and long-term approach and in doing so develop a solution that can benefit everyone.

 

Gough Whitlam: an abiding interest in the public good.

By John Keane

 Australian former Prime Minister and statesman Gough Whitlam died in October, leaving behind millions of citizens saddened by scores of eloquent obituaries reminding us how, once upon a time, Australian politics produced world-class leaders courageously committed to the public good. People are moved to tears because they sense that genuine democratic leaders have the knack of mobilising persuasive power, let’s call it, the ability to motivate citizens to do things for themselves, to win public respect by reminding everybody leaders are always deeply dependent upon the people known as the led. True leaders lead because they manage to get people to look up to them, rather than dragging them by the nose. 

Gough Whitlam meeting Chairman Mao, Beijing, November 1973 Whitlam Institute

Gough Whitlam meeting Chairman Mao, Beijing, November 1973 Whitlam Institute

America’s midterm election: the view from Oxford. 

By Tom Packer

One should not exaggerate the impact of America’s midterm election on November 4 – as some did following the 2012 presidential poll. The United States system has many checks and balances. In particular, within the federal government, power is widely distributed between and within the legislature, executive and judiciary. Yet the effect of the congressional elections will be significant. The Republicans have gained control of the Senate from the Democrats, and this will mean a number of changes for US policy making.

Homeland, Carrie Mathison, and mental illness on TV.

By Meron Wondemaghen

 When Homeland first aired in 2011 starring an American CIA agent with bipolar disorder, Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes), it was commended for its realistic portrayals of people with mental illness. Courtney Reyers from America’s National Alliance on Mental Illness noted that Homeland was doing “one of the best jobs of portraying mental illness in modern television today with compassion, clarity and responsibility.” Season 4, which has just begun, is less promising. (Spoiler alerts)

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland. Showtime publicity photo

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland. Showtime publicity photo

News: Verbatim: A U.S. Court Sets Sherlock Holmes Free

By F&O

 America’s highest court freed the character of Sherlock Holmes from copyright restrictions sought by the estate of his late creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. Publicity photo by Hartswood Films via Vlickr, by Robert Viglasky

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. Publicity photo from Hartswood Films

A Playmate Who Loved Good Music: Shari Lewis (paywall)

Shari Lewis and her puppets Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse, from The Ford Show, 7 April 1960. Publicity photo

Shari Lewis and her puppets Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse, from The Ford Show, 7 April 1960. Publicity photo

By Brian Brennan

Before I met Shari Lewis, I was under the impression – probably like a lot of people – that she was just a popular children’s entertainer; a ventriloquist with a cute sock puppet named Lamb Chop. To my surprise, I discovered she was much more: a trained musician who played violin and conducted symphony orchestras, an actor-dancer who had done Broadway musicals on tour, and a published book author and newspaper columnist. If she had to settle for one career, she said, it would be as a writer. But she was doing it all.

 

History still waits for the Fat Lady to sing (paywall)

By Jonathan Manthorpe

The world would be a different place if Francis Fukuyama had been right in the essay he wrote, shortly before the demolition of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago this weekend, arguing that the Soviet Union  collapse was indeed “the end of history.” “What we may be witnessing,” wrote the Stanford University political scientist, “is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” 

 

Recommended elsewhere:

Negativity Wins the Senate

By The New York Times Editorial Board

The most important promises that winning Republicans made were negative in nature. They will repeal health care reform. They will roll back new regulations on banks and Wall Street. They will stop the Obama administration’s plans to curb coal emissions and reform immigration and invest in education. … . By creating an environment where every initiative is opposed and nothing gets done, Republicans helped engineer the president’s image as weak and ineffectual.

…. Virtually all Democratic candidates distanced themselves from Mr. Obama and refused to make the case that there has been substantial progress on jobs and economic growth under this administration.

Winter is coming

Images by NASA

Whether they are made in Alberta (Clippers), Saskatchewan (Screamers), or Manitoba (Maulers), Canada periodically exports strong low-pressure weather systems to the United States in the winter. This week, the package of Arctic air, snow, and high winds was delivered a bit earlier than normal.

A potent weather system with origins in Manitoba moved south across the Great Lakes on Halloween and blew all the way to Florida, bringing snow and hard frost to regions that don’t see either in some winters. The storm system then moved back up the U.S East Coast and pounded New England with a Nor’easter.

Whether they are made in Alberta (Clippers), Saskatchewan (Screamers), or Manitoba (Maulers), Canada periodically exports strong low-pressure weather systems to the United States in the winter. This week, the package of Arctic air, snow, and high winds was delivered a bit earlier than normal. A potent weather system with origins in Manitoba moved south across the Great Lakes on Halloween and blew all the way to Florida, bringing snow and hard frost to regions that don't see either in some winters. The storm system then moved back up the U.S East Coast and pounded New England with a Nor'easter. The images above show the southern Appalachian Mountain range, along the border of Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, as fall color was turned to winter white. These natural-color images were acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite on November 2 and October 26, 2014. When this “Manitoba Mauler”—as some National Weather Service forecasters and media outlets called it—reached the U.S. Midwest on October 31, it brought wind gusts of 69 miles per hour to Gary, Indiana, and wave heights approaching 22 feet on southern Lake Michigan. The next day, snow fell in the mountains of the southeastern United States and even in their eastern foothills. Temperatures dropped to 41 degrees Fahrenheit in Daytona Beach, Florida. Six inches of snow fell in Asheville, North Carolina, where snow usually doesn't fall before Christmas. Higher in the mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, LeConte Lodge (elevation 6400 feet) reported 22 inches of snow and temperatures of 9 degrees Fahrenheit. In Columbia, South Carolina, measurable snow fell nine days earlier than ever recorded for that city. By November 2, the storm battered runners in the New York City Marathon with 40 mile per hour wind gusts, and 50 mph gusts were common up through New England, slowing air traffic. Heavy rain blew sideways in the wind throughout the Northeast, followed by snow at the tail end of the storm. In Maine, 18 locations reported at least a foot or more of snow, and Bangor and Caribou set records for earliest double-digit snow totals. More than 130,000 people lost power in Maine due to heavy, wet snow falling on trees and power lines. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84658&src=ve

 

 

The Creepy New Wave of the Internet

By Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books

… the Internet of Things is about the “dataization” of our bodies, ourselves, and our environment. As a post on the tech website Gigaom put it, “The Internet of Things isn’t about things. It’s about cheap data.

Striving for a Climate Change

To get beyond debates over science, Dan Kahan seeks their roots

By Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Last year, as the summer heat broke, a congregation of climate scientists and communicators gathered at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a granite edifice erected in the heart of Washington, to wail over their collective futility.

Year by year, the evidence for human-caused global warming has grown more robust. Greenhouse gases load the air and sea. Temperatures rise. Downpours strengthen. Ice melts. Yet the American public seems, from cursory glances at headlines and polls, more divided than ever on the basic existence of climate change, in spite of scientists’ many, many warnings. Their message, the attendees fretted, simply wasn’t getting through. 

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare

Meet the (Canadian) JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn’t take it anymore. 

“It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t sit by any longer.'”

Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She’s had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower … 

 Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing ….

 In today’s America, someone like Fleischmann – an honest person caught for a little while in the wrong place at the wrong time – has to be willing to live through an epic ordeal just to get to the point of being able to open her mouth and tell a truth or two. And when she finally gets there, she still has to risk everything to take that last step. “The assumption they make is that I won’t blow up my life to do it,” Fleischmann says. “But they’re wrong about that.”

 

 

This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope.