Irma Wasn’t Enough? Here Comes Maria.

As I write this, Hurricane Maria is riding across Dominica and other Caribbean islands, trying to destroy whatever Irma left standing. I cannot imagine what it must be like for the residents of those small islands. Maria has been gaining and losing intensity, in the sense that it’s going back and forth between Category 4 and Category 5. Neither of those is something you want to see coming at you.

Sometime Wednesday, Maria will hit Puerto Rico (the red blob in the center of the storm track). We are of course worried about our friends and the family property in Ponce. The current predicted storm track looks as though it will hit San Juan hardest, but will likely also hit the southern coast of Puerto Rico harder than Irma did. All we can do is wait and pray.

Here’s a stunning and sobering video composition of Irma, Katia, and Jose as seen from a new NOAA weather satellite, GOES-16.

Click to view the video on the NY Times website. Do it. It’s worth it. Be sure to scroll down the page, as there are several video perspectives. These amazing images are from a satellite that’s not yet even fully operational.

Do we really want to cut funding for this kind of science? (The current administration does.) Or are we ready to take seriously the problem of global climate change?

Hurricane Irma, Round Two

Irma Round One (Puerto Rico) left us with gratifying news for our family—friends and neighbors okay, and the house in good shape. We’re still awaiting a detailed report, but word is that the south side of the island didn’t get hit too badly. If there was any damage to the house, we haven’t heard about it yet and it’s unlikely to be serious. We’re keeping an eye on Jose, but it seems to be sheering away.

With that worry down, we turn our attention to Florida, where my brother will be first to feel the effects, near Miami, and then right up the length of the state, where we have family and friends in various locations. Chuck and Youngmee and the dogs are hunkered down in place, having decided that they’re probably as safe in their own house as anywhere on the road or in upstate Florida, given that the whole state is in the hurricane’s crosshairs. The late shift toward the west is good news for them, though not so good for folks on the Gulf Coast. Keeping all appendages crossed, and praying for everyone’s safety!

(Image from National Hurricane Center/NOAA)

Hurricane Irma Looms

One mean hurricane is barely past, and now another is bearing down, this one on the Caribbean Islands and South Florida. I was just in Miami celebrating my brother Chuck’s 70th birthday, and all was peaceful. Maybe not much longer.

But before that, the islands are squarely in the storm track, with Puerto Rico first to be hit. Some of you will have read my chronicles of our work on my mother-in-law’s house in Puerto Rico. I guess all that new work is about to be tested. We can’t be there to help batten things down, so here’s hoping our faithful steward can do what needs to be done. (Of course, that’s just property. There are a whole lot of people of limited means down there who are staring down the barrel of this thing with everything to lose.)

Crossed fingers, blessings, best wishes, and prayers for everyone in the line of fire for this one. As well as for those still reeling from the effects of Harvey.

Genuine Conservative Republicans, Please Read This

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What I mean by “read this” is not to read what I have to say, but to read in the Washington Post what Jeff Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, has to say—specifically, in a book called Conscience of a Conservative, that lays out exactly how conservative Republicans have abandoned all of their core conservative values in hitching their stars to the man currently living in the White House.

The Post writer says it much better than I can, and he’s basically summarizing what Flake says. Here’s one little snippet:

“I feel compelled to declare: This is not who we are,” the senator writes. “Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, ‘Someone should do something!’ without seeming to realize that that someone is us. … The question is: Will enough of us stand up and wrest it back before it is too late?…[read more]

I hope my conservative friends, if I still have any, will take a good look at this.


Senator Jeff Flake - Washington Post
Senator Jeff Flake – Washington Post

Amazon to Swallow Whole Foods Whole?

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In this era of daily, mind-boggling reports out of Washington, I sometimes feel as if my mind cannot boggle any further. And yet… taking over Whole Foods?? I thought I was dreaming when I heard it on the radio the other day. I do not like that Amazon is threatening to take over everything.

I have such mixed feelings about Amazon. As a customer, I find them easier and more pleasant to use than just about any other online merchant. As a writer, I am keenly aware that the ebook revolution they kickstarted with Kindle self-publishing is one big reason I have an active and growing readership, and am making more money from my books in backlist than I did when they were new. At the same time, I am keenly aware of their sometimes predatory practices in the publishing industry, and I worry about their growing power in the marketplace. As a viewer, I love some of their TV programming. As a citizen, I am both alarmed by their monopolistic tendencies, and pleased by some of the choices Jeff Bezos has made in spending his billions (keeping The Washington Post going strong, for example, and funding the development of private space-travel technology through Blue Origins). Also, I admire his willingness to take the long view on his investments, going for long-term growth and not just short-term profits. This is something the world needs more of, although not necessarily on such a gargantuan scale.

Amazon is truly a complex phenomenon, and my mind continues—against all odds—to boggle. I still sort of wish they weren’t buying Whole Foods, but here’s an interesting article on the reasons for his making the move.

Terry Bisson, in his SF novel Pirates of the Universe, depicted a future in which just about everything was owned and run by a corporation called Disney-Windows. Looks like he got the basics right; he just maybe picked the wrong company.

March for Science, Boston

The Boston branch of the March for Science drew a gratifyingly large and diverse crowd to Boston Common. I decided it was time to get out there and put my feet where my mouth is (not in my mouth; you know what I mean), and I’m glad I did. Here are some pictures to tell the story.




I don’t know who any of these people are, just that they cared enough to come out in support of science, clear thinking, and the welfare of our planet.

Happy Earth Day!

Love the Weather, Hate the Climate (Change)

I went out biking today with a glorious, record-breaking temperature of 72 degrees in Boston in February. I can’t deny it was wonderful, a great day for walking, biking, dogging. Here is a selfie of me out on the bike path, soaking up the wondrousness. At the same time, I had recurring visions of icepacks melting into the sea, polar bears on ice floes, and sea levels rising. And the thought: This can’t be right.

You listening, Pruitt?

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