BOOK REVIEW: Lynda V. Mapes’ ‘Witness Tree’ gives you new eyes to look at the world around you

If humanity doesn’t immediately reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other climate-warming air pollutants, global temperatures could rise by as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most pessimistic forecasts.

For some reason, this knowledge isn’t as frightening to us as the prospect of a Cold War-style apocalyptic thermonuclear exchange — in the same way that the inevitability of lung cancer from smoking tobacco isn’t as frightening as the idea that, hypothetically, electronic cigarettes might have a one in 100,000 chance of blowing off their vaper’s head. Our risk assessment faculties aren’t adapted to gradual but certain peril the way they ought to be. So here we are.

In that context comes Lynda V. Mapes’ book Witness Tree. The Seattle Times reporter spent a year studying a particular hundred-odd-year-old red oak in north-central Massachusetts while researching its surroundings, using it as a lens to view the effects of global warming and ecology in general.  Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: Lynda V. Mapes’ ‘Witness Tree’ gives you new eyes to look at the world around you

‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’

Walter Williams’ recent column on comparative slavery is intellectually dishonest in general, but his misquotation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass is either an especially egregious example of that, or he’s never bothered to even glance at it in context.

Williams accurately quotes from this sentence in a speech by Douglass examining whether the original U.S. Constitution was pro- or anti-slavery:

[The three-fifths compromise] is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.

But as Douglass continues, it becomes clear he in no way endorses such accounting and would have preferred enslaved people not be counted at all: Continue reading ‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’

Sometimes spiders make flies zip back up

HUMAN 0
Meanwhile the law in North Carolina…

Under North Carolina law, women can’t withdraw consent during sex

A case of alleged sexual assault in North Carolina has brought to light an antiquated law stipulating that a person cannot be charged with rape if consent was given at the beginning of the sexual encounter.

As The Fayetteville Observer reports, 19-year-old Aaliyah Palmer says she was at a party when a man pulled her into the bathroom. She consented to have sex with him, but asked him to stop when he became violent. He did not listen.

Compounding Palmer’s trauma is the fact that four soldiers who were at the party — one of whom is a captain — have been accused of making or possessing a video of the encounter. But despite video evidence documenting the incident, Palmer discovered that the alleged offender cannot be charged with rape. Under North Carolina law, women are not able withdraw consent once they agree to have sex.

HUMAN 1
Can I hear your opinion before I say something that gets me bashed on?

Continue reading Sometimes spiders make flies zip back up