Future heat waves:

More severe, more frequent and longer lasting: “Heat waves in Chicago, Paris, and elsewhere in North America and Europe will become more intense, more frequent and longer lasting in the 21st century, according to a new modeling study by two scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. In the United States, heat waves will become most severe in the West and South. The findings appear in the August 13 issue of the journal Science.” (EurekAlert!)

Susanna Clarke’s Magic Book

“The novel is being compared with abandon in the press to the ”Harry Potter” books, but it is not for children, unless they are children who really, really love footnotes. It is nearly 800 pages long, but in some ways that number feels arbitrary, as if the novel consisted of just those pages Clarke chose to show, and that she might have easily chosen another 800 from those she kept in reserve. She has lived in the world of the novel for more than a decade after all, carefully charting the false history of English magic and documenting it with citations from a fastidiously false bibliography. What did not make it into the main story is alluded to in copious notes that make up sort of a second novel at the bottom of its pages (when they do not take over the pages altogether).” (New York Times Magazine)

Last Resort

Surely the Illinois GOP could’ve done better than Alan Keyes.: “Mark Twain once described Chicago as a place where people were constantly ‘contriving and achieving new impossibilities.’ When members of the Republican State Central Committee met at the Union League Club in The Loop last week and picked Keyes, they may have done it again.” (American Prospect)

I heard Keyes interviewed on an NPR talk show this afternoon. He had the temerity to call Barack Obama’s stand on abortion “the slaveowners’ position” and to accuse Obama of lying about favoring civil unions over gay marriage. Keyes, one of the most polemical politicians I have ever heard speak, boasted that while others’ political positions are made via assertion, his are made via argument, and then went on to make unargued assertions on every point in his conservative platform. It may have been the fault of the cowed interviewer (who could not stand up to the withering blasts of pompous articulacy from his guest) that he did not justify, explain or argue anything, but I think Keyes is so caught up in the idea of his own brilliance that he is incapable of seeing his absurdity. Let us hope the Illinois voters can tell the difference. (The first poll after he got into the race showed him trailing Obama 67-28%).

Oh, yes, Keyes was asked to justify his carpetbagging entry into the Illinois race from Maryland in light of his oft-quoted condemnation of Hilary Clinton’s run for a Senate seat in New York. In what had to be the most entertaining moment of this galling interview, he actually invoked states’ rights and the protection of sovereignty in explaining the difference — Illinois wanted him, whereas Clinton was not New York’s choice. Uhhh, Alan, it looks like it is going to be precisely the other way around…

Six Inches Under

An interesting critique of Alan Ball and Six Feet Under from critic Dale Peck who, among other things, finds it too painful to watch the characters’ stupid choices:

“The most common criticism of the show is that such high jinks are a little too reminiscent of soap-opera plotting. The critics are right, of course, but before one acknowledges that, one should also acknowledge the fact that the characters on Six Feet Under are what pollsters call “self-selecting”; in this case, a peer group of incredibly destructive people who create most of the drama in their lives. Mr. Ball’s characters choose among potential acquaintances and mates the same way doomed heroines choose between the ax and the flashlight in horror movies: They pick up the flashlight every time, so they can shine it in the face of death as it swoops down on them. This is an expression of the form, but it’s also an expression of Thanatos, by which I mean that, yes, it’s big and Greek and a little silly, but you don’t get to have one without the other. In fact, the heroine doesn’t really choose the flashlight over the ax—vision over protection, knowledge over life. Rather, death chooses her, as it eventually chooses all of us. This is the core of Six Feet Under, clumsily driven home by the high-concept funeral-home setup, yet delicately, empathically reinforced by the continued suffering of its characters. If the show is often mawkish—especially in the more outré kill scenes, which seem culled from horror movies—it also often achieves a Weltschmerz you won’t find anywhere else on TV. By which I mean that I got mad at American Beauty because it is, ultimately, a stupid story; but I get mad at the characters on Six Feet Under because they make stupid choices. And even though I know it’ll never happen, I still hope they make the right choice at some point.” (New York Observer)

But his real pain is reserved for the depiction of homosexuality and the controversial third episode of this season in which David is the victim of a heinous crime. Peck both finds the violence gratuitous and opines that Six Feet Under consistently treats gay desire as acting-out and something to be punished for. All I can say, as a viewer who finds the character development on this show to be some of the most sophisticated ever on television, is that this is an incredible demonstration of Peck’s selective attention in order to spin a yarn.

We Know What You Did This Summer

New York Lockdown: “If you’re a delegate attending the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden later this month, Jamie Moran knows where you’re staying. He knows where you’re eating and what Broadway musical you plan on seeing. For the past nine months, Moran has been living off savings earned as an office manager at a nonprofit and working full-time to disrupt the RNC.

His small anarchist collective, RNCNotWelcome.org, runs a snitch line and an e-mail account where disgruntled employees of New York hotels, the Garden and the Republican Party itself can pass on information about conventioneers.

So far, the collective has received dozens of phone calls and hundreds of e-mails with inside dirt on GOP activities. Recently, a woman with a polished, middle-aged sounding voice left a message saying, ‘For some God-unknown reason I’m on the Republican mailing list, and they sent me what they call a list of their inner-circle events.’ The events hadn’t been publicized elsewhere, she said, and she wanted to fax the list to Moran.

Moran feeds information like this to a cadre of activists desperate to unleash four years’ worth of anger at the Bush administration. By dogging the delegates wherever they go, RNC Not Welcome hopes to make the Republicans’ lives hell for as long as they’re in New York.” (Interactivist Info Exchange)

Adopt a swing state neighborhood

“Just because you don’t live in one of the ‘swing’ states doesn’t mean you have to sit this election out. We’re looking for 10,000 people to adopt a key battleground state voting district, or ‘precinct’. These volunteers will partner with local residents in that precinct to contact a few hundred voters, educate them on the issues and the candidates, and turn them out to vote. The Goal: 40 or more additional votes for Kerry per precinct, enough to tip the balance in this close a race. Using new online tools plus coordinated road trips and phone calling, we will help you focus your energy where it matters the most…

Precinct Partners will help volunteers on the ground by helping to contact a few hundred voters by phone and by mail, visiting the area in person where possible, and other activities. We’ll provide you with tools to make it easy, talking points, and help every step of the way. And as special partners in this project, we’ll give you the inside scoop on MoveOn’s activities as we enter this final push before the most important election in our lifetimes.

We estimate this work will take a few hours a week until October, and a little more after that. But the 40 or so voters that you help to turn out could be the ones that swing the 2004 election. ” (MoveOn PAC)