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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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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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Ace of Spades

I was a bit of a sad sight at school dances when I was at boarding school. For one thing, I was tiny (not that I'm exactly statuesque now), and what might be called a late developer, which could be difficult when living in a world of raging hormones. So I was a little bit of an outsider, unlikely to be dancing with the hottest girl - or, for that matter, any girl.

So there I'd be, me and a smattering of other freaks, and we'd stand off to the side of the hall while all the dancing and furtive making out was taking place, except for maybe twice during the evening when the DJ would put on some metal. Then we'd shuffle toward the center of the floor, stand in a circle, headbang until the track ended, and then return to our places off to the side. I can't remember what music it would be that they played - probably Status Quo or some such - but I like to picture it being Motorhead. They didn't come any louder than Motorhead, and they didn't come anything like Lemmy, with his Jack Daniels voice shouted into a downward-tilted mic. Alas, Motorhead is no more, after Lemmy died the other day, taking another piece of my youth with it. Rest in Noise.






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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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Anticipating a Car That Smells Like a Tiny Wee Corpse

Hey kids, ain't country living the BEST? So I'm setting out this morning on my 4ish hour drive to Turning Stone, and turn on the heater just to take off the morning chill. Rattle, rattle, rattle, burning smell. Hmmmmm. Pull in to Thad's to ask him what he thinks is up. "I think you've got a mouse nest in there," he says. "I have to take care of that all the time. It'll probably take me an hour or so to open it up, dig out the nest and put the blower back." I'm kind of on a schedule - because of course, I'm leaving an hour later than I had hoped to because of course I HAD to have one more drink before bedtime last night.

So we figure, what the heck, I'll just bring it by on Monday when I get back. Ah well, I think, as I set off; it's going to be a little bit of a chilly trip, but at least winter hasn't really arrived yet. But I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. I'm a good 90 minutes into my drive when I suddenly realize that Mickey (or Minnie) was probably in the nest when I turned on the heater, including when Thad and I turned it up to full blast to check it out. In which case, we probably chopped him (or her) up real good. In which case, I'm going to have a cold and stinky journey home. And I am going to have to tip the hotel valet sooooo much money. Stoopid nature.  Read More 
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Einstein, Eddington, and Me

There has, and quite rightly, been a fair bit written about Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which he published 100 years ago yesterday. The man whose observations confirmed the theory was Arthur Stanley Eddington, who spent many of his formative years in my hometown of Weston-super-Mare; many times, as a wee young thing, I would walk past his house on Walliscote Rd, where, I assume, a commemorative plaque remains. (A plaque commemorating Eddington having lived there, rather than my having periodically walked past it.) In fact, it was here that, as I walked home from school one day, a large tile slid off the roof and crashed into the sidewalk just in front of me. This rather shook me up; what if I had left school a second earlier? I was, I recall, quite upset that none of the adults I later told quite grasped the near-calamitous nature of what had happened. Forty years later, I find it ironically amusing that gravity, at the house of the man who confirmed general relativity, nearly snuffed me out (or, more likely, nearly cut my head and gave me a headache). Tl;dr: the general theory of relativity is all about ME, dammit. Read More 
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Live from the Tundra

Thanks to my friends at Polar Bears International, I've been back in Churchill and on Tundra Buggy One, studying polar bears, shooting videos and writing blogs. Here are some webcasts I hosted with PBI's Steven Amstrup and the excellent Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech.





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My New Friend

Tundra Buggy One, near Churchill, Manitoba, November 2, 2015.
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