Lichen Frittata

Got to love Silvio Berlusconi

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 8, 2009
Telling it like it is.

Telling it like it is.

From today’s NYT:

“Europe wants avant-garde legislation but China is putting up resistance, which I sampled yesterday during my one-on-one with the Chinese president,” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, the host of the summit meeting, said Tuesday evening.

Can we find the word that would have the same positive association for climate legislation in American as “avant-garde” does in Italy? Then we’d have a strong bill in the Senate in no time.

Seriously though, it’s somewhat ironic that the G8 couldn’t make it to 80% reductions by 2050, considering that’s the benchmark that passed the House at the end of June–the American House, seemingly one of the least progressive domestic bodies on this issue in the world. If China’s really the sticking point, then they’re doing quite a bit of damage; worries over China’s unwillingness to meet the U.S. halfway on carbon reductions factored prominently into Republican complaints during the joining of battle yesterday in EPW. Green is great–only as far as it expands your manufacturing base.

Geeks can speak sports, too

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 6, 2009
Steven Chu, ice-cold.

Steven Chu, ice-cold.

Last week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu–a man with indisputable geek credentials–pulled off a very smooth and apt comparison for how climate policy ought to work:

Steven Chu:So this is an opportunity for the United States to say that’s where the puck is going to be — to quote Wayne Gretzky — 10 or 20 years from now this is where it’s going to be, so why don’t we meet in this new industrial revolution, meaning that we’re going to get energy, abundant energy, the clean energy. So we have the ability to lead. […]

President Obama: And I just want to point out my Secretary of Energy used a very cool Wayne Gretzky metaphor. (Laughter.)

Q. There still will be ice in the future is what you’re saying? (Laughter.)

Secretary Chu: You know, here’s this skinny kid who is arguably the greatest hockey player in the world. And they say how — and he says, I position myself on the ice. Well, how do you do it? I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been. And so for decades we’ve been trying to figure out how to — you know, this is where we wanted it — do we want it back to 1950? Well, it isn’t going to be back to 1950. And so this bill begins to say to America this is where it’s going to be and so why don’t we take the industrial lead on this.

It’s nice to see the noble sports metaphor rescued from the painful prose of Sarah Palin, and in the service of something that doesn’t lend itself to popular parlance. Although from someone who taught himself to pole vault and learned tennis from a book, I should have expected nothing less.

A very warlike holiday

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 5, 2009

fireworks2I definitely sympathize with Troy Patterson’s general sentiment about the value of fireworks, or lack thereof. But in the nature of our distaste, we differ pretty radically.

I spent my fireworks watching session in Meridian Hill Park–or Malcolm X Park, depending on how much black power you’re feeling at the moment–on a blanket, surrounded by hundreds of co-celebrants. The crowd was probably equal parts white yuppie and brown townie, with policement pleading with people not to set up their firecrackers in the park itself but otherwise looking the other way. The show itself was undewhelming, far away and soundless. But we were all together watching something, and it was great.

The thing about DC, though, is that the official fireworks are just the warmup. After people go home, Columbia Heights turns into a warzone, with bombs exploding on literally every block, the sidewalks littered with shells. The air is hazy, with the glow of streetlamps muted in smoke. It even smells like a battlefield. I stepped on those little exploding snap things, which are weirdly reminscent of land mines, and jumped out of my skin at cracks and booms in random driveways. The scene, mixed with alcohol and cars–I witnessed at least one accident on the way home–left me shivering. Even after I arrived home, the blasting went on late into the night over the rooftops, as if I were in Baghdad or Belgrade.

Aside from my personal skittishness, I don’t have a huge problem with backyard pyrotechnics. I just wish we had a more peaceful way of celebrating our nation’s birth than turning a neighborhood into a representation of those places you hope your nation never becomes. Watching a beautiful display in the distant sky, together with people you never met, seems appropriate.

Smithsonian Festival: Weirder Than Usual

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 4, 2009
Could be Columbia Heights/Georgetown/Anacostia.

Could be Columbia Heights/Georgetown/Anacostia.

The Smithsonian’s annual tricultural shindig on the Mall is always kind of a strange experience for those raised in a hypersensitive environment like Columbia, where no issue of representation goes un-problematized. It always has this amusement-park quality, taking the highlights of a given region of the world and translating them into fun-for-the-whole family activities—cooking demonstrations, arts workshops, concerts—with any unsavory elements simply overlooked.

This year’s, however, had an additional twist. They picked two cultures with strong representation in D.C.: “Las Americas”, somehow taking in all of central and South America; and something called “Giving Voice,” centered around African American culture. Those two areas of the Mall, predictably, were heavily attended by Hispanic and black people respectively.  To heighten the effect even further, the culture in the middle might be the whitest  thing they could have found: Wales. (more…)

I should mention

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 4, 2009

Since it’s that time of the summer when everyone gets bored enough to restart their aborted blog projects, here goes nothing.

The sound of one jaw dropping

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 4, 2009
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Quittin' time.

That would be mine, in response to Sarah Palin’s announcement that she would be resigning as governor to “affect positive change, outside government, on another scale.”

When I first heard someone mention it on the street, I thought was either a throwaway joke, or if it were true, out of shame for having desecrated the flag in her recent Runner’s World photo spread (really, she apparently technically did).

Her full speech turned out to be even more bizarre and perplexing than the choice itself, riddled with asides about Trig, the troops, and, er, basketball. But the weirdest thing about the entire thing was the logic at the center of her defense: that she is taking a moral stand by leaving government, since all that second-term governors do is gallivant around wasting money.

“They may travel around their state, travel to other states, take their international trade missions. So many politicians do that,” she said, disapprovingly. “And then I thought, that’s what wrong. Many just accept that lame duck status, they draw a paycheck, they kind of milk it. I’m not gonna put Alaskans through that. “ (more…)

A few words on Palin before (hopefully) the whole thing stops.

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 1, 2009
Can't we just sit back and laugh?

Can't we just sit back and laugh?

So, I started reading Todd Purdum’s blundgeoning of Sarah Palin in this month’s Vanity Fair, quickly got bored, and then just got frustrated. Not by her psychotic lies, which struck Andrew Sullivan and DoubleX. Not even by Purdum’s absurd prose, which at least adds comic relief.  Rather, simply the fact that this woman is still the subject of 10,000-word profiles—even in VF, whose trademark blend of sex and politics clings to her like a shroud—months after she ceased to have any real relevance to national politics.

Sure, there are the polls indicating that she has more 2012 support among Republicans than any of the other paltry offerings.  Still, I remain convinced that a good chunk of this can be attributed to a) continual headlines generated by the media’s fascination with her every move (down to her toenails!), and b) sympathy generated by liberal cackling, which she deftly turns to her advantage (see Palin v. Letterman).  The last time I felt this way was early in the Republican primaries, when Rudy Giuliani was the subject of lengthy, fretting stories in fancy magazines—not because he was a serious threat, but just because he was so darn wacky.  I see the potential benefit in chaining Palin to the GOP and sending it down to the bottom of the ocean with her.  In the mean time, though, the liberal derision is starting to seem misdirected, ugly, and yes, sexist—hey Andrew, what purpose did that unattractive picture of pregnant Palin in your post serve, anyway?

So progressives, lay off the governor.  Not because she isn’t a whack job.  Just because she’s not worth the effort.

hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on January 29, 2009

OK, so blogging is fun, but I’ve learned anything during this micro-experiment, it’s that anything worth putting on the internet takes a shit ton of time. As valuable as that may be, it’s time I don’t have right now. Perhaps I’ll revisit this cute little blog when I’m waiting tables after graduation–the best stuff probably comes from underemployed writers anyway.

Signs of the Times

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on January 22, 2009

picture-12Reading the print edition of today’s Times, I observed a couple things that had nothing to do with the actual articles. OK, something to do with them. Firstly, the A section was twice as thick as usual, mostly huge ads. This is likely not explained by advertisers regaining confidence in the Old Grey Lady because an Old Grey Man is bailing her out. Rather, having learned from the last time it printed a lot of Obama-related news, the Times knew it had a platinum sales pitch. They may still have run out of copies, but for my money I’d say they printed a few more than usual too (this time I actually managed to get one).

The other thought is the content of the ads themselves, especially in the special inauguration section. Many had some kind of hopeful, booster-ish message–really, who would press ahead with crass consumerism at such a moment? Starbucks actually ran an full-pager with stylized fists raised in the air, promising a free tall coffee to anyone who would come in and pledge five volunteer hours. Sweet. It’s been noted before that Obama may be the first president whom celebrities want to be around, rather than vice versa. Well, the same goes for corporations. Yes-We-Can cool is the zeitgeist. Coolhunt that.

Now back in the Big Apple: Sanity and Justice?

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on January 22, 2009
courtesy of New York Times.

courtesy of New York Times.

Whoa, whoa, hold the PHONE. Nick Confessore is reporting that Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn from contention for the Senate seat Gov. Paterson was planning to hand out before Saturday. It’s still a mystery whether or not he was planning to hand it to her–logic would suggest that she got wind he wasn’t, and wanted to get out on her own terms. But the article says the news “appeared to throw the Paterson administration into confusion”; had Paterson settled on someone else, they would have reacted with more equanimity.

If he had chosen her, we’re probably looking at two possible motivations behind Kennedy’s given rationale that she withdrew out of concern for the health of her uncle Ted. It could actually be true–but considering he’s the reason she’s there in the first place, and that in the event of his retirement would become even more the heir apparent to the Kennedy flame, irrational in the extreme. Or it could be false, in which case she got cold feet for some other reason–but what? Could the whole charade possibly just have been a hastily-conceived and ultimately hopeless ego trip?

I mean, my answer to that question is yes. Along with countless other folks around the internet, her sense of entitlement and utter inexpertise has driven me up the wall. This last play, of quitting the campaign because of a male relative, plays right into the poor-excuse-for-a-female-candidate impression I’ve had all along.

Maybe we’ll get someone who actually deserves the seat.