Posts Tagged ‘ climate change ’

Kármán vs Mendoza

I first ran into the “Mendoza Line” when a co-worker commented on a customer’s inability to perform the simplest of acts.  Although the origin of the term varies, since my co-worker was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I choose to associate it with Mario Mendoza of the 1979 Seattle Mariners (see also  It is probably a paradox since Mario was able to remain on the roster for his defensive capabilities, though his hitting (offense) was extremely poor.  Nevertheless, the internet (that fount of all knowledge – sorry Encyclopedia Britannica) regards the Mendoza Line as an absolute minimum measure of performance.

As commercial “space” travel has become a reality, defining what is space and not Earth has given the work of Hungarian Theodore von Kármán a new life (he died in 1963).  However, if one gets above this line, is one an “astronaut/cosmonaut”?  As truly amazing as this feat is (for a variety of reasons), what’s the difference between technical competence/contribution and sightseeing?  Does it matter?

Purdue University, self-proclaimed “cradle of astronauts” (Neil Armstrong, et al.), has decided that to be an astronaut you have to be there doing something besides paying for bragging rights (compare Audrey Powers to William Shatner).  In any event, rising above the Kármán Line seems to be a maximum measure of performance (unless setting a record in the International Space Station means something – if so then maybe we need a new label: the “Scott Kelly Line” of 340 days in space?).

As we enter this second year of “COVID Purgatory” (for some, “hell”; but for no one, “heaven”), we continue our downward spiral below Mr Mendoza:  seemingly racing to the bottom.

Recent polls, and an essay in the Wall Street Journal (see “Is Climate Change in Your Problem Top 10?,” Andy Kessler, WSJ, 2022 January 9) reveal what appears to be a statistically significant abyss between the two predominant political camps and the “Top 10 Problems” this country is struggling with.  It is not so much whose list is right and whose is wrong but that the two lists are so incredibly different.  Take away all the political posturing and what emerges is that one school is of the opinion that “immigration” is Number One, and the other school votes for “COVID-19”.

I guess they agree on one thing: climate change is not something of concern.  Not the cause.  Not the effect.  Not the remedy.  Maybe it’s like being wholly interested in whether or not it will rain today, and not the fact that it’s been raining “forever” (or that reservoirs are drying up – globally)?

As my daughter put it just before Christmas, the weather is “wonky.”  Indiana was experiencing weather (warm, into the 50s, and sunny) that could make those of us in the PacNW wish we ever had any days like that (we have been under a “Flood Watch/Advisory” for about three weeks now – yes, I had to go out and buy a sump pump (you don’t want details).  The point is, while politics may be local, the weather everywhere is just plain “wonky.”  And it is climate that makes the weather.

Back in the 90s I was living in Stavanger, Norway.  A friend, who had grown up in Oslo could remember when fishing boats got caught in the ice and it was possible to skate out to them and provide food, fuel.  In just one lifetime, we have all seen – if we chose to – a very “wonky” climate.  Trouble is, our so-called “leaders” choose not to (“panem et circenses” indeed).  Rather than setting ourselves to the task of adapting, we have chosen to wring our hands (gnashing of teeth and rending of garments optional).

Just because the dinosaurs lived for millions of years does not mean that any person breathing now will see 2100.  Maybe Pogo was right? 

[sorry about the typo: “who’s” vs “whose”]


Bake a cake

Years ago (in another time, another galaxy), I had a wife who would bake a “German Chocolate Cake” for me, for my birthday. As it turned out, her father’s favorite was the same; but since neither of us knew that at the time, I don’t think that is why he let me marry her. In any event, a “German’s Sweet Chocolate” based cake is not a matter of opening a box, adding some water and throwing it in the oven for forty minutes. It’s not really a difficult cake to make, but it is involved and takes some effort time, and above all, a recipe (read: plan).

The ingredients are: 1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate; 1/2 cup water; 4 eggs, separated; 2 cups flour; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/4 tsp. salt; 1 cup butter, softened; 2 cups sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla; 1 cup buttermilk; Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting (personally, I think using frosting out of a can is not only cheating, but rather defeats the point of a made-from-scratch cake). Yeah, not a box cake; but one that requires forethought and planning (I know my kitchen doesn’t have even half that stuff sitting on the shelf right now); and some time and effort when it comes time to bake. Being a triple layer cake, the temperature of the frosting is important (think Goldilocks and her search for the perfect bowl of oatmeal).

But, this posting is not about baking or the culinary arts.

There I was: 1:30 in the morning, siting (well, actually reclining) on the sofa, with a glass of wine (need you ask?), a candle (another given), and chant squeaking thru my smart phone. Enjoying the quiet and the steady strum of falling rain (it’s early days in the rainy season here in Seattle; ask me about enjoying the rain six months from now). When I was able to get my brain around this whole “creationism versus Darwinism” thing (musta been a recent reference to “Inherit the Wind” on Edmund Stone’s “The Score” radio program about the famous – yes, very famous, if you don’t know the story, shame on you – “Monkey Trial” of 1925 in the State of Tennessee).

I’ve never doubted that GOD created it all, everything, every-little-thing. And, I’ve always loved science; I’m not from Missouri, but I do enjoy a good proof.

Perhaps out of ignorance I accepted both the possibility that GOD did create and that things evolve. Maybe out of ignorance, but I slept just fine. In the vernacular: “It’s works for me.”

But, consider the cake: the right ingredients (my favorite herb, basil, just doesn’t fit), the right amounts and mixing (dry with dry, wet with wet, then combine – but is it combine the wet with the dry, or the other way around?). Let the chemistry begin. Add some heat, if you please; but not too much and not too long. And presto! What went into the oven is definitely not what comes out of the oven.

And some would argue: Stasis! The cake, once out of the oven, doesn’t change…doesn’t evolve. But, for those in the know, we know that anything made with butter tastes better the next day (altho this particular cake seldom lasted that long, if there was anyone else around to help me eat it).

So, GOD created, not objects, but a system. An ecosystem. However inconvenient that might be to some people. The ingredients that came together continue to work together. We can muster all of the fancy tools of science to see that our world is not static; there are geologic as well as climate changes all around us to see every day. Did GOD create today’s “global warming” (the angst is definitely man-made)? Science has proven, as only science can, that the earth’s climate does shift from warm to cold – there is nothing to refute that. Yet, we are surprised. Is the globe getting warmer (or, is it colder; I forget) because GOD stuck his fingers in the pie (sorry, cake) and “made it so”? More likely, GOD created a system that is dynamic, not static. A geological world that is constantly changing (sometimes fast – we can see it; sometimes slow – we can imagine it). A meterological world (I wanted “climatic world” – but that just didn’t fit, altho the pun is almost irresistible) that is clearly “weird”, if nothing else.

And, within this system, this Divinely Created System, there are creatures (I guess, if you’re gonna have a Creator, you gotta have creatures) and objects. The system is Divine and so everything in the system is the result of GOD’s Plan (or, recipe, if you prefer). Do we human beings change? Do you read the news? In my lifetime I see behaviors that were unimaginable forty years ago. And I see activity that should have died out long ago.

I’ve never doubted GOD, or the existence of GOD. I have always loved learning; I have always loved science. For me, they have never been in conflict. In fact, if science (which comes, of course, from the Latin for “I know”) proves anything, it proves the existence of GOD.