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The Road Ahead


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The good news is that, one week from now, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be elected President of the United States. The better news is that Donald Trump won't be. It is hard to imagine that there has been a more venal, vacuous and vile major party nominee since Reconstruction, although George Wallace surely at least runs him close. Not that Clinton is in any way an inspirational figure in the mold of Barack Obama; she comes across as calculating and cynical, a cookie-cutter emblem of all that is wrong as politics as usual (although there is, of course, much to be said for the country electing its first female head of state). Yet there is, and has been throughout this campaign, a false equivalency. The choice is not between two equally flawed candidates; it is between a flawed candidate and a feces-throwing chimp. There really is no choice to be made.

The bad news is that a combination of her continued self-inflicted wounds, the media's obsession with the easy reporting of those wounds, and its normalization of a Republican nominee who has so many failings that would be disqualifying of any other candidacy, means that the margin of victory will not be as large as it should be. At one point a week or so ago, I dared to dream that maybe Arizona and even Georgia or perhaps Texas might be in play; now I suspect Clinton will fall short of 300 electoral votes. That will embolden the Trump wing of the Republican Party, and unless the Democrats also take the Senate, means that the Clinton presidency will be four (and almost certainly only four) years of unrelenting obstruction. What happens on November 9 and thereafter may prove to be of even greater concern than what has passed over the last 18 months or so.  Read More 
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Antarctica, Good and Bad

There is nowhere like the Ross Sea region in Antarctica. The stunning vistas remain seared in my memory, almost 25 years after I first saw them and 15 years since I was there last. In the last couple of weeks, they have been the focus of good news and bad. The bad - the truly tragic - was the death in a snowmobile accident of Gordon Hamilton, one of the best climate science communicators, and one of the nicest people, I have met. I met and worked with him in Greenland in 2009, and his death has robbed the world of a truly positive force for good. This piece by Justin Gillis in the New York Times is a wonderful tribute.

Had Gordon lived just one week more, he would have been able to enjoy the good news that came out of Antarctica as, after many years of effort on the part of some dogged and determined campaigners, the Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living resources (CCAMLR) set aside a large part of the Ross Sea as a Marine Protected Area. The agreement was imperfect, as I spell out here , but it was a tremendous step forward in the protection of this most special place. Read More 

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From Russia With Love

On July 11, I made my debut on an HBO fight night broadcast, as I took on postfight interview responsibilities following Sergey Kovalev's light heavyweight title win over Isaac Chilemba in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The whole thing was something of a blur: after 24 hours of travel out there, and two days on site, I was on my way back to the United States. But it was a fun trip, and a tremendous opportunity, for which I'm very grateful. Read More 

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The Greatest

I find myself profoundly saddened by the death of Muhammad Ali at the age of 74. He truly was The Greatest. He was The Greatest not only for his peerless performances in the ring, or for his quick wit and good humor, or for the way in which he transformed showmanship in athletics, or for his later-life humanitarianism, or for the gracious and classy way he battled with Parkinson's Disease. He was The Greatest because, in an era of profound social upheaval, he did not shrink from the challenge of confrontation and principle, but embraced it. He not only touched the third rail, he grasped it tight and dared everyone to pry his hands from it.

I attempted to pay tribute to his life in this piece for Seeker.











If you want to understand why he was so great in the ring, watch what is widely regarded as his most complete performance, against Cleveland 'Big Cat' Williams in 1966.



And for just one example among many of his pop culture impact, here's Johnny Wakelin's musical tribute to arguably Ali's greatest night in the ring:



RIP Champ
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AfterBuzz

Many thanks to Jared Gilkerson for inviting me on AfterBuzzTV for an interview recently. Really enjoyed it. Be sure to check out their channel on YouTube.

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It's the Third of June

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We'll Miss Him When He's Gone

The sheer awfulness of the Donald Trump campaign has overshadowed the intellectual bankruptcy and craven dishonesty of the Republican Party at large over the last decade or so, and perhaps even more. I'd argue that the tone of the modern GOP was set by Newt Gingrich and his scorched Earth approach to politics as he ascended to - and rapidly descended from - the speakership of the House in the 1990s. But at least Gingrich understood the importance of ideas, even though, despite the fact he saw himself as an intellectual, he is far more Cliff Clavin than Thomas Paine.

At least since 2008, however, and arguably before then, ideas have been anathema to the national party. Their raison d'etre has been to oppose President Obama, even when he proposes policies that they had previously embraced; the party of Lincoln now views intellectualism as something to be spurned and mocked, the province of elites who must be overthrown. And yet, in an irony-free effort to excuse themselves from what they have wrought, the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have placed the blame on Obama for the nastiness and emptiness that now courses through their party's presidential campaign.  Read More 
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In the Flesh

Frightening times in my adopted country these days. This seems uncomfortably familiar.
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New Adventure

Initial planning stages only so far. Two years to go ...
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Discovery

For about five years or so - from early 2009, as I recall, until April 2014 - I blogged regularly for Discovery News. It was one of my favorite gigs, as it gave me a platform to write about pretty much anything I wanted, from climate change to whaling to the great hedgehog rescue . Then budget cuts hit, and I was writing for them no longer. Suddenly, in late October, I was asked if I could come back, at least for two months, and I enjoyed writing a preview and review of the Paris climate talks, a tie-in with an HBO expose of elephant poaching, a wide angle view of polar bears and climate change, and a slideshow of optimism on ocean issues.

And then the two months were up and I was told there would be no budget for me to return. And I was sad. But just one day later, that position changed, money was found, I was told I'd be hired through 2016, and I was happy. I'm genuinely thrilled to have this gig back, and am looking forward to writing some fun pieces next year.  Read More 
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