Global Warming Hits the Arctic (But Skips the Antarctic?)

A New York Times article spent nine paragraphs on the damage to the Arctic from global warming. At the top of the article is a substantial photo showing shrinking ice around Canada’s Northwest Passage.
Then at the end of the article, there is a tenth paragraph, consisting of the following single sentence:

(p. A6) Sea ice around Antarctica has seen unusual winter expansions recently, and this week is near a record high.

Global warming is an important issue. So in judging the truth and severity of global warming, why is the shrinking of ice in the arctic, worth so much more attention than the expanding of ice in the antarctic?
(In fairness to the NYT, given the overwhelming politically correct pressure to be onboard the global warming bandwagon, especially among NYT readers, one might argue that what made the article notable was not that it lacked objective balance, but that the NYT had the courage to include the final sentence at all.)

For the full story, or at least the part of the full story that the NYT wants to report, see:
ANDREW C. REVKIN. “Scientists Report Severe Retreat of Arctic Ice.” The New York Times (Fri., September 21, 2007): A6.

Seniors Want Independence and to Live in Familiar Surroundings

StairsGeorgeAllen.jpg “Climbing stairs is a challenge for George Allen.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) WASHINGTON — On a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, George and Anne Allen, both 82, struggle to remain in their beloved three-story house and neighborhood, despite the frailty, danger and isolation of old age.
Mr. Allen has been hobbled since he fractured his spine in a fall down the stairs, and he expects to lose his driver’s license when it comes up for renewal. Mrs. Allen recently broke four ribs getting out of bed. Neither can climb a ladder to change a light bulb or crouch under the kitchen sink to fix a leak. Stores and public transportation are an uncomfortable hike.
So the Allens have banded together with their neighbors, who are equally determined to avoid being forced from their homes by dependence. Along with more than 100 communities nationwide — a dozen of them planned here in Washington and its suburbs — their group is part of a movement to make neighborhoods comfortable places to grow old, both for elderly men and women in need of help and for baby boomers anticipating the future.
“We are totally dependent on ourselves,” Mr. Allen said. “But I want to live in a mixed community, not just with the elderly. And as long as we can do it here, that’s what we want.”
Their group has registered as a nonprofit corporation, is setting membership dues, and is lining up providers of transportation, home repair, companionship, security and other services to meet their needs at home for as long as possible.
Urban planners and senior housing experts say this movement, organized by residents rather than government agencies or social service providers, could make “aging in place” safe and affordable for a majority of elderly people. Almost 9 in 10 Americans over the age of 60, according to AARP polls, share the Allens’ wish to live out their lives in familiar surroundings.
. . .
(p. A18) The first village in the Washington area is expected to be on Capitol Hill. When it opens for business on Oct. 1, annual memberships will be $750 for a couple and $500 for an individual.
Among those eager to join are Marie Spiro, 74, and Georgine Reed, 78, who share a rambling house that they insist they will only leave “feet first.” Between them, Ms. Spiro, an emeritus professor of art history and archaeology, and Ms. Reed, a retired designer of museum exhibits, have already endured three knee replacements and an array of other ailments.
Ms. Spiro describes huffing and puffing while grocery shopping; Ms. Reed is increasingly reluctant to visit friends across town. Both women, who are childless, would already welcome help with meals, transportation and paperwork. If they need home care, Capitol Hill Village will be able to organize that.
“I’ve never had to rely on other people, and I never wanted to,” Ms. Spiro said. “But I’d rather pay a fee than have to ask favors.”

For the full story, see:
JANE GROSS “A Grass-Roots Effort to Grow Old at Home The New York Times (Tues., August 14, 2007): A1 & A18.

(Note: ellipses added; caption for the George Allen photo is the online caption, not the different one in the print version of the article.)
SpiroMarie.jpg “Georgine Reed, 78, right, and Marie Spiro, 74, share a Capitol Hill home and are joining a group that will help them stay there. “I’d rather pay a fee,” Ms. Spiro said, “than have to ask favors.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Wal-Mart Designs Health Care Around the Needs of Consumers

LedlieAliciaWalMartHealth.jpg “Alicia Ledlie, senior director of health business development for Wal-Mart, said walk-in medical clinics would look like the mockup behind her, in a warehouse in Bentonville, Ark.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. C4) Moving to upgrade its walk-in medical clinic business, Wal-Mart is set to announce on Thursday plans for several hundred new clinics at its stores, using a standardized format and jointly branded with hospitals and medical groups.
. . .
Walk-in medical clinics are a growing industry, with numerous competitors that include big-box retailers, drugstores and even grocery chains around the country. Industry executives say 1,500 to 1,800 clinics will be open by the end of the year.
Propelled by the drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens, by far the biggest sponsors of the clinics to date, more than 700 clinics have opened in the last 15 months. But the business model is unproven so far.
Few, if any, clinics are profitable, according to industry analysts, and only a handful have broken even on daily operations. Most have been open a year or less, and executives say it takes up to three years for a clinic to become profitable enough to recover start-up costs.
Medical societies are inclined to be skeptical of the clinics. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes them, saying they add to fragmentation in the health care system.
Dr. Edward Zissman, a pediatrician in central Florida, said he had qualms about hospitals that hook up with the clinics. “Putting their name on a product that I don’t think has the highest quality,” he said, “is going to cost them dearly with physicians.”
The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association have set forth principles for clinics to observe, including sending patients’ medical record to their doctors and finding doctors for patients who do not already have them. Most states require varying degrees of physician supervision of the clinic nurses. Clinic operators say they are complying.
Many patients have said they like the convenience of the walk-in clinics’ weekend and evening hours, the short waiting times to see a nurse practitioner, and the posted price lists for a limited menu of care like tests and prescriptions for sore throats and ear infections and seasonal flu shots.
. . .
“The clinics are the latest big example of how you could think about consumers and what their needs are, rather than a health care system exclusively designed around the needs of providers,” said Margaret Laws, director of an innovations program at the California Health Care Foundation, an independent group that finances health policy research.

For the full story, see:
MILT FREUDENHEIM. “Wal-Mart Will Expand In-Store Medical Clinics.” The New York Times (Thurs., February 7, 2008): C4.
(Note: ellipses added.)

WalMartMedicalClinicDesign.jpg “The design of the Wal-Mart medical clinic is intended to look like a doctor’s office, complete with the usual medical hardware.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Hitler’s Critique of American Materialism

Here are some musings by Hitler, in which he compares Germany under Hitler’s National Socialism, with America. The musings are dated August 1, 1942, and are quoted in the article cited below:

(p. 3) I grant you that our standard of life is lower. But the German Reich has 270 opera houses – a standard of cultural existence of which they over there have no conception. They have clothes, food, cars and a badly constructed house – but with a refrigerator! This sort of thing does not impress us.

For the full story, see:

MARC D. CHARNEY. “Ideas & Trends; Well, at Least He Liked Our Cars.” The New York Times, Section 4 (Sun., April 3, 2005): 3.

“Isn’t This a Teeny-Weeny Bit of Socialism?”

(p. 12) FROM the very beginning of the nation’s modern social welfare system — even before Michael Moore began to explore the issue — there was a tension in it: What should the government be expected to provide? What should be left to the individual? How much government is too much?
The questions were asked even in 1935, not exactly a time to instill confidence in the resilient power of private markets. Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, Democrat of Oklahoma, put it bluntly when Frances Perkins, the secretary of labor, testified on Capitol Hill that year about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan for a new program called Social Security.
”Isn’t this socialism?” Senator Gore demanded. When Ms. Perkins denied it, he asked again: ”Isn’t this a teeny-weeny bit of socialism?” In recent days, on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail, a new version of that debate has been flaring, this time around an issue that the New Dealers decided (perhaps wisely) to put off for a later date: health care.

For the full commentary, see:
Robin Toner. “IDEAS & TRENDS; Less, Less, Less! More, More, Moore!” The New York Times, Week in Review section (Sun., August 5, 2007): 12.

Active Volcano in Antarctica: Another Cause for Melting Ice

VolcanoActiveAntarctic.jpg Source of graphic: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A8) Here is another factor that might be contributing to the thinning of some of the Antarctica’s glaciers: volcanoes.
In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh F. J. Corr and David G. Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.
For Antarctica, “This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet,” Dr. Vaughan said.
Heat from a volcano could still be melting ice and contributing to the thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island Glacier, which passes nearby, but Dr. Vaughan doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in West Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Dr. Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause.

For the full story, see:
KENNETH CHANG. “Scientists Find Active Volcano In Antarctica.” The New York Times (Mon., January 21, 2008): A8.

Searching for Curb Parking Causes 30% of Central Business District Congestion

(p. A19) MOST people view traffic with a mixture of rage and resignation: rage because congestion wastes valuable time, resignation because, well, what can anyone do about it? People have places to go, after all; congestion seems inevitable.
But a surprising amount of traffic isn’t caused by people who are on their way somewhere. Rather, it is caused by those who have already arrived. Streets are clogged, in part, by drivers searching for a place to park.
Several studies have found that cruising for curb parking generates about 30 percent of the traffic in central business districts. In a recent survey conducted by Bruce Schaller in the SoHo district in Manhattan, 28 percent of drivers interviewed while they were stopped at traffic lights said they were searching for curb parking. A similar study conducted by Transportation Alternatives in the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn found that 45 percent of drivers were cruising.
. . .
If cities want to reduce congestion, clean the air, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve neighborhoods — and do it all quickly — they should charge the right price for curb parking, and spend the resulting revenue to improve local public services.

For the full commentary, see:
Donald Shoup. “Gone Parkin’.” The New York Times (Thurs., March 29, 2007): A19.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

The Inefficiency of Zoning Laws

CasinoVegasTrailerZoning.jpg “It may not look like much, but the opening of this casino, for one day only, let its owner keep a crucial zoning designation.” Source of the caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A11) For eight hours on Tuesday, Station Casinos opened a nondescript 40-by-10-foot trailer on a vacant 26-acre plot about six miles east of the Strip with just 16 slot machines. The sole purpose was to comply with a state law that requires public gambling to occur on a property for at least one shift every two years in order for the landowner to retain the valuable zoning designation needed to conduct wagering.
. . .
As of midday, nobody but reporters had turned out for the event, which had been publicized by only a few bloggers on the Internet. The biggest payout on the bank of video poker and blackjack machines was $2.50.
. . .
The opening of the nameless temporary casino, which the local newspaper dubbed Trailer Station, was rich in red tape, including seven permits, approvals from the City Council and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and a certificate of occupancy.
As required by the city code, the trailer, brought onto the land just for the day, came complete with a portable toilet outside and, to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, a wheelchair-accessible entrance. A casino floor manager sat at one end of the narrow room ready to pay out winnings should there be any, a security guard patrolled outside, and two city zoning officers visited for 20 minutes to inspect and fill out paperwork.

For the full story, see:
STEVE FRIESS. “If This Happens in Vegas, It Can Sure Stay in Vegas.” The New York Times (Weds., January 9, 2008): A11.
(Note: ellipses added.)
CasinoVegasSlotsZoning.jpg “A floor manager watched over 16 slot machines Tuesday, but there was hardly a rush on them.” Source of the caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Lack of Legal Status for Poor Keeps Them “In Constant Fear”

The passage below is quoted from a WSJ summary of an article in the July 16, 2007 issue of Time:

(p. B5) Writing in Time magazine, Ms. Albright, former U.S. secretary of state, and Mr. de Soto, a Peruvian-born economist who heads the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, say that about half of the world’s population work in shadow economies. They generally lack birth certificates, legal addresses or, crucially, deeds to their shacks and market stalls. “Without legal documents, they live in constant fear of being evicted by local officials or landlords,” write Ms. Albright and Mr. de Soto, who co-chair the U.N. Commission on Legal Empowerment of the poor. As a result, the poor are unable to invest or even plan for the future.

For the full summary, see:
“The Informed Reader; Poverty; Lack of Strong Legal Identity Helps Keep Down World’s Poor.” Wall Street Journal (Fri., July 6, 2007): B5.

Oil Output Optimism


Source of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A4) Output from the world’s existing oil fields is declining at a rate of about 4.5% annually, a new study concludes, depriving the world of the same amount of oil that No. 4 producer Iran supplies in a year.
Yet the study’s authors, Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, argue that their assessment supports a generally rosy view of the industry’s future, given that new projects in the works will make up for the decline.
Set for release today, the study, based on data from 811 fields around the world, takes aim at a growing school of thought that the world’s oil production may soon hit its peak just as demand is surging in Asia and the Middle East.
“This study supports a view that there is no impending short-term peak in global oil production,” the paper concludes. CERA, led by oil historian Daniel Yergin, is a prominent adviser to oil companies.
. . .
Mr. Yergin said that the huge number of projects under way in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, West Africa, the Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Mexico will more than make up for natural declines from fields now in production.
“This is a daily, hourly and minute-by-minute challenge for the world’s oil industry,” he said. “But for every Iran you are losing, you are gaining almost two Irans in return.”

For the full story, see:
NEIL KING JR. “Slower Oil-Field Decline Is Seen.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., January 17, 2008): A4.
(Note: ellipsis added; the online title is: “New Fields May Offset Oil Drop.”)