Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet My Posse

We are very amused.

We here at Murrmurrs, Inc. are not employing the "royal we," rumored to have begun when King Henry II deigned to speak on behalf of God and himself. We here at Murrmurrs, Inc. have no idea what's on God's mind at any given moment.

We use the "bacterial we."

The thousand or so species of bacteria that are sharing my skin envelope have elected me to speak on their behalf. We all get along pretty well most of the time. It's kind of a party in here. I, for one, am tickled to learn more about them (or "us," as I am beginning to prefer). It's only been recently that scientists have attempted to determine how many kinds of bacteria we are harboring, by examining samples from 250 very healthy individuals. Bacteria thrive in our cavities and crevices, and scientists selected fifteen specific areas to swab for organisms: behind the ear, in the elbow-fold, the throat, various parts of the digestive tract, and so on. Female volunteers provided an additional three swabbing points in a moist personal cavity which we will ask you, in the interest of delicacy, to imagine. Okay? It comes back into play later.

The Bacterial Whee!
They found that not only are humans hosting upwards of a thousand species of bacteria on and in their person, but that each human has a unique set--a bacterial signature, if you will. It is more accurate to think of oneself less as an individual than as an assemblage of life-forms all living together, like a coral, or a college dorm. The microbiome, as the assemblage is called, is different for everyone. And the so-called dangerous bacteria are also present in all of us. If we don't get sick, it's because of peer pressure from the other bacteria. This is one reason that antibacterial soaps and antibiotics may cause more harm than good. It's like bombing the bejeezus out of a country. You take out all the bad guys and (oopers!) the orphanages and schools and your odd village and the occasional wedding party, and after years and years, in spite of all the trouble you've gone to in order to deliver freedom, everyone is still pissy.

Studies show that the average adult carries 2-5 pounds of bacteria, and could benefit from a slimming outfit. The vast majority of the microbes live in the gut, and they are partying down. They do nothing but eat and reproduce and amuse themselves by shooting the loop-de-loop intestinal tract and out. The standard turd, in fact, is nearly one-half bacteria by weight, which is one of two good reasons to avoid eating it, neither of which makes sense to a Labrador retriever.

The unique bacterial signatures we carry may be responsible for the state of our health and immune systems, and explain why some people are prone to colitis (say) and others are not. My particular set has rendered me impervious to digestive upset and the flu, but totally slacks off in the throatular region. Nevertheless, I would say that the entire crew is doing a bang-up job, and I've already started up some new crevices for them, chiefly in the back fat folds, should they wish to expand operations.

We start to accumulate the characters in our individual microbiomes at birth, when we pick up our starter set in the final act of sliding out of our mothers (see above). This is one drawback of being born by Caesarian section, and suggests that, from the point of view of its immune system, the newborn in these cases might want to gain immediate exposure to its mother in an area she may not be interested in sharing at the time. I'd ask first, anyway.

This field of study is quite new and suggests many avenues for further research. "We're still scratching the surface," says Stanford epidemiologist Dr. Julie Parsonnet. I think she may be thinking of fungi.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plays Well With Others

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who learned how to play piano, and people who are still mad at their mothers for not making them play piano when they were young, when they were mad at their mothers for trying to make them play the piano. Actually, there are more than two kinds of people in the world, if you include people who don't like cheese, but for the purposes of this essay we can set that kind aside. No one understands them anyway.

It never occurs to the people who are mad at their mothers that there is nothing stopping them from taking up the piano now, because they've got a lot invested in being mad at their mothers, and that line of reasoning would interfere with their worldview. They've decided you either can play, or you can't. And that works out really well for those of us who can. There aren't as many of us, and unless we hang out with musicians, it's likely that most of our friends can't play piano, and it's possible to start feeling sort of special about the whole thing. "Oh yes," we say modestly, when pressed, "I play," and your friends will pipe up and tell people you're really good, and here's the cool part: they don't even have to have ever heard you play. In my case, they almost certainly haven't. Like most people, I whack away at my instrument in private. But your friends go right ahead and hang a star next to your name and polish it up. After a while, you start to think it belongs there.

A real good way to get over yourself, in a situation like this, is to actually start hanging out with musicians. In Portland, at least, and probably everywhere, talented people are thick as cream cheese, and I finally got to meet a whole schmear of them by joining an informal performance group. Pianists predominate, but singers and string players and poets show up too. I got into it the same way everyone else did: I was shanghaied by Bill Lewis. Bill is a frighteningly enthusiastic man with no sense of personal boundaries, and thanks to that he has badgered a sizeable bunch of individuals, one by one, into showing up to perform something. You can tell him "no," but Bill isn't familiar with the concept, and if you show any sign of weakness, he will take the spatula of insistence, scrape you off the frying pan of trepidation, and flip you right into his group. And that is how, several years ago, I ended up quivering at a piano in public like a bunny in a coyote cafe. If bunnies could sweat.*

Anxiety. It's bad stuff. Right away you realize you've left your talent in your other pants, and within a few measures you have decided that the keys on this piano aren't the same distance apart as the keys on your piano. By page two you're pretty sure that some of the keys are actually missing altogether and before long you're swatting at the keyboard like it's a drum set and feeling really sorry for your audience, because they are kind people.

I kept showing up anyway, and after a number of years, I had conquered my nerves enough that I didn't leave anything on the bench that needed to be wiped up afterwards. And in that time I nurtured a throbbing admiration for chamber musicians, who are, by definition, people who can play well with others. If you're the piany player in a string quartet, one of the things you have learned to do is keep playing, no matter what.

You do not get to oops you do not get to sorry you do not get to shit start over. No, this train is already on the move, and you have to fling your thigh up onto that boxcar and hang on until you can haul the rest of your ass up. You are there to collaborate on something wonderful and your whining option is off the table. It's a good way to approach life, too: act as if it isn't all about you, step out of your own way and keep going.

"You know, it's just a matter of practice and technique. You could learn to play chamber music too," my friend Carole says.

I don't think so. There are two kinds of people in the world: people who can play chamber music, and people who can't.

*I apologize for the density of metaphors. It kept getting away from me. If you wanted a tighter piece, you should have hired a professional.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Todd Akin
By now most of us have heard about the interview with Congressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri) in which he was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape. He said "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Now he is being castigated for his remarks, which is deeply unfair. Settle down, people! In this country we are free to express our beliefs, and we should not discriminate against people just because they live a different reality-style. That is simply factsist.

Bryan Fischer
Besides, Mr. Akin has plenty of company. State Rep. Stephen Freind (R-Penn) is on record as saying that the odds of a rape victim getting pregnant are one in "millions and millions and millions." As he elucidates, the "traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to secrete a certain secretion" that kills sperm. It's a secret secreted secretion, you see. Brian Fischer of the American Family Association agrees. "When you have a real, genuine rape...there's a very delicate and complex mix of hormones that take place that are released in a woman's body and if that gets interfered with it may make it impossible for conceive a child."

I admit that this last statement gets me pretty fired up. Where is the subject-verb agreement? But the position itself is really very empowering for women. Previously, raped women were seen as victims, and now, according to all these gentlemen, they are anything but. They are magical sperm deflectors in control of their own destinies, able to decide on a cellular level whose sperm lives and whose dies, which is still legal in most states. We are strong. We are wily. We are Vulvarine! I for one am thrilled that our womanly power is being acknowledged in public circles at last. In particular, I like the description of my complex mix of hormones as "very delicate." I've been known to disparage my own hormones as cranky manufacturers of mayhem, at best. Now I realize they are just misunderstood.

A legitimate rape, or a real or genuine or "forcible" rape, is the kind that is bad, as opposed to the kind that you didn't really want but after it happened it turned out it was just what you needed all along. Unfortunately sometimes things go wrong. As Rep. Akin says, "let's assume that [the "way to shut that whole thing down"] didn't work or something." It's possible a woman could in fact conceive a child from a rape, even if she did not have an orgasm. It's a one in a millions and millions and millions chance, to be sure, and most of the pregnancies that did occur have been shown to result from contact with public toilet seats, but it could happen. Fortunately, Mike Huckabee is here to remind us that in that unlikely event, sometimes a truly extraordinary person is created, such as Ethel Waters. Scientifically speaking, the process by which this occurs is that the really good-person sperms are the ones most likely to try to put some distance between themselves and the legitimate-rapist guy. And in such a circumstance, it is only natural and proper that a woman's own powerful maternal instinct take over and she offer up her womb for the better part of a year to see that blastocyst to completion. In case it's Ethel Waters.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

There I Go Again

Here's something I never used to do: feel a sneeze coming on, brace myself, cross my legs, let fly, and say "oh shit." I used to just sneeze.

The first time you pee a little when you sneeze, it's startling. What happened there? you say. You go into the bathroom to find out, and sure enough, what you thought had happened actually happened. When you've gone a good fifty years without accidentally peeing, you sort of take things for granted. Then it happens again. After about a year of this you have to conclude that a new reality is in place. It may not be one you had in mind. You might have thought "some day I will retire, and I will be able to maintain a lovely garden and learn to cook and maybe write a little," but leaking urine for no reason? Never made the bucket list.

It's not a lot of pee. It's just a dot, really, but it's concerning. You got your pee volume on the y-axis, and your age on the x-axis, this is not a graph you really want to plot.

In my case, the culprit was a new subdivision of fibroid tumors in my abdomen. You don't schedule those, either, but there you go. There's usually nothing particularly dire about fibroids, but I'm against them. If anything is just going to start growing for no reason, I don't see why it can't give me more height or longer fingers. Anyway, a posse of them is sitting on my bladder, according to my doctor, who assures me they are a threat to nothing but my underwear.

The doctor tells you to start doing Kegel exercises, as though you had just fallen off the turnip truck and hadn't read a single women's magazine ever when you just spent a couple hours in the waiting room of a gynecology office. Kegels are easy. You just squeeze the muscle you have used all your life to stop yourself from peeing. Those of us with a major beer habit know it intimately. You squeeze and release it, and then you repeat. A hundred times a day--says my doctor--in sets of ten. You can do it all day long. You can do it without anyone knowing! Ha ha! What a thrill it is to look right at someone and think "you believe I am listening to you, but really I am strengthening my pelvic floor." If you don't have a life.

I object on principle. Since I've been potty-trained, I never had to do exercises to keep from wetting myself, and I don't think I should have to start now. Of course, I never used to have to tell my skin to firm up, either. My skin used to hug me like it was in love, and now it just slouches around like the cat's pajamas. Even the skin on my elbow just yawns and says "if you need me, I'll be somewhere around here," without getting real specific about it. I didn't tell my skin it was off duty. It just decided "to hell with it" on its own. And frankly, I don't think I have the moral standing to order my skin around. I just lug it around, I'm not the boss.

So that's what all the internal skin is doing too. It's been holding up all these years, and then it retires, and says to itself, what do I care if somebody's underwear gets a little soiled? I don't care. I'm off duty. That's someone else's problem. Oh, and send down some beer.

All right, fine. Now I'm supposed to exercise muscles nobody will ever see. It's one thing to climb mountains and get quadriceps so mighty you need to floss above your kneecaps. That's sort of gratifying, plus you aren't doing it just for drill. You're seeing mountains. It's an entirely different matter to go through a bunch of exercises for the distant reward of maybe not soiling yourself in public. Not that that isn't fervently to be desired--but it does not have immediacy, reward-wise. Kegels advocates tell you that you can do it while you're parked at a stop light. Waiting in line at a grocery store. Anywhere. And they're right.

My problem is that after I do about ten Kegels, my entire face starts squinting. I don't know what relationship my face has with my bladder gasket, but all of a sudden I'm gaping like an insect, mouth slotted down at the corners, eyes bugged out, ears laid back. It's an awkward look, socially. It worries people. Our bodies probably came with a manual like everything else, but most of us don't bother consulting it until we start getting the error messages, and I'm no different. So I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty confident you're not supposed to be able to blink your whole face with your crotch.

But at least I know how to do them. It's right there in the women's magazines. I also know the most flattering swimsuit style for my body type. But no one wants to let me in the pool.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thirty Inches. Or So They Say.

In the last week no fewer than five friends have sent me the same article about the penis snake that someone found in the Amazon. I'd like to think they sent it to me because I am a curious soul, although my mother might have had an entirely different take on it. From the photographs it appears that the penis snake in question is thirty inches long, in a relaxed state.

It is appropriate to send a photograph like that to me because I am a certified member of the Love Generation. We in the Love Generation liked to express ourselves with anything we had that could jiggle or flop out, and as a result have probably seen more than our share of genitals. In the early seventies I engaged with enough penises to come to a few conclusions, among them that in fact size does matter, at least at the extremes. I still wonder about the well-being of a fellow I was briefly acquainted with who had to hunt around in his pants for his, and who occupied crevices with all the subtlety of a dime in the sofa cushions.

Photo by Linda Freedman
We called ourselves the Love Generation in order to set ourselves apart from our parents who, having suffered through the Great Depression and fought a great war, settled down to the soulless work of maintaining a home and nurturing children and sending them to college and otherwise demonstrating no aptitude for love at all, at least as we celebrated it, lying around with our attractively taut skin in a pile of tits and daisies and penises and doing as little work as possible. We were all about love, right up until we could get T-bonds at 18%.

Mom captioned this "Mary after a salamander"
At any rate, my reaction to the 30-inch penis snakes that were filling my inbox should have been entirely predictable to those who know me. "That," I said immediately, "is not a snake, but a caecilian." My familiarity with caecilians is, in fact, my most distinguishing feature. I have known about caecilians since I did a report on amphibians in the fifth grade. Then as now, I was into salamanders, but was encouraged to do wider research, and that is how I came to know that there are four kinds of amphibians: your frog, your toad, your salamander, and somebody else's caecilian. You don't run into caecilians all that much, and when you do, you're likely to mistake them for worms. They're blind, they're legless, they poke around in holes in the ground, and quite frankly they are not as attractive as the other members of the class. But they are more member-like.

The particular caecilian currently making the rounds on the internet is probably not new to science at all, but has risen to prominence because of its value in spacing out the cat videos. It has been named, of course. Something about finding a 30-inch penis makes people want to plant a flag.

In any case, this was not a recent discovery, but several months old. Whoever located the penis snake in the bottom of a drained lake evidently decided to sit on it for a while.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

That's My Oviposition, And I'm Sticking To It

Julie, paying attention. Photo by Sharon Hull.

Most people want friends who are loyal, honest, and kind. I do too. I also put a high premium on friends who suddenly blurt out "ooh! Are you a Clouded Sulphur? Are you ovipositing? Are you ovipositing on a honeysuckle, or are you just cold?"

This is the sort of conversational Tourette's you can be privy to when you're walking down a country lane with Julie Zickefoose. The Clouded Sulphur in question would be a small butterfly fully twenty feet away from us that I couldn't have seen with a telescope and GPS coordinates. It goes without saying that I couldn't have told you if it was in the business of planting eggs on a honeysuckle.

The most fun people in the world are the ones that haven't quit paying attention to things. Most of us, if we're lucky, were pretty good at that when we were kids. For one thing, we were a lot closer to the ground, and that helps. But we also hadn't gotten our brains all webbed over by concern over how others see us, or cluttered up with tchotchkes like the Kardashians, whoever they are.

I wasn't a pure child, nature-wise. I flat-out didn't like mosquitoes and gnats until Daddy explained that they were frog food, which made them nobler. And although I was never cruel in any other way, I liked to spit on ants. Or more precisely, around ants. We had a brick patio that was constantly being mined for sand by ants and I'd sit out on it and watch them work. Out of boredom I'd try to moat one of them with a ring of spit just to see if it could get out. The ant was never in any danger. Nobody in the Washington, D.C. area had any spit in the summertime. All of our water went into the production of sweat, which trickled continuously into our shoes rather than evaporating as it might have in a more sensible climate. We had to dab our postage stamps on our foreheads first to get them to stick to an envelope.

But I probably spent hours watching ants. I didn't necessarily draw any correct conclusions. I thought ants lived in little pyramids that they erected themselves. Every time we'd hose the patio off, they'd get busy and build themselves more pyramids. I was a fully grown person before it occurred to me that the pyramids were just the debris pile from excavating their real homes. But right or wrong, I was enriched by watching ants. It calibrated my mind to the proper speed of life. The older we get, the more time we spend in the future and the past, and neither one is good for us. We're better off getting our pace to match the rest of the world's. You don't necessarily need a spiritual advisor, but you should never pass up a conversation with a good naturalist like Julie. That's how you can find out about spittlebugs, and nothing gets you over yourself faster than that.

Most of us have seen those little globs of what we will call spit hanging in the crotches of our garden plants. The spittlebug produces these, but not (precisely) by spitting. The spittlebug is the larval form of a bouncy little item called the froghopper, and it chews on its host plant for sap. From there, according to Wikipedia, the "filtered liquid" is transformed into a glob of comfy bubbles. Let's review. What is the liquid being filtered through? The spittlebug. That means the bug is blowing it out its tiny little ass. Our future froghopper is comfortably ensconced in a protective nest of wet farts. We can't do that on our best day.

We can only try.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When God Gives You Big Buboes

I'm working on a lawsuit against the Catholic Church. It's going to be a class-action kind of thing, in case you want to get in on the ground floor. Most of us should be eligible, but special dispensation, as it were, could be in the works if you have ever personally had a bubo, which is a swelling, typically in the groin area, that you didn't engineer yourself.

This is occasioned by a few recent news items, particularly the case of the man in Crook County, Oregon, who has spent the summer battling a nasty case of the bubonic plague. It always startles me when someone comes down with The Plague. The Plague always seems so plural. It seems like you shouldn't be able to have the plague without a lot of company, like, for instance, Europe. For one single guy to have The Plague sounds as odd to me as someone going down to the bakery to pick up a loaf of Kansas. Nevertheless, The Plague is what he got. You can tell by the buboes.

Whenever there has been a plague in the past, people tended to believe it was God punishing them for their sins. Back in the middle ages, a bunch of folks called the Flagellants smote themselves with sticks and whips and what-have-you to punish themselves for their sins before God could get around to it. It's weak. It's like the little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar who runs off to sit himself in the corner. He's trying to head off Mom, who's going to give him a lot worse.

An earlier epidemic of what might have been The Plague managed to peel off about a fifth of the population of the world, proving that if God had been trying to punish the sinners, he didn't get them all. But people persist in that correlation. They take this kind of thing very personally. A guy gets the plague, and next thing you know people are lining up trying to get God's finger on the thing. Either he's being punished by God, or it's God who's going to save him. Because God is merciful and really prefers his handiwork to perish later after decades of wasting and dementia.

And so this fellow in Crook County was treated with massive antibiotics and his heart was resuscitated and tubes were running in and out of him and in general he was being held back from the grave by the very finest in medical attention, but he never really turned it around until the priest came in and made the sign of the cross on his forehead, hands, and feet, and then lo! He started to improve. It's a miracle, his family says. He is still recovering, with his Certificate Of Baptism on his nightstand, in case St. Peter doesn't keep good records.

In other Oregon news items, we've recently had several sets of parents convicted of criminal neglect in the deaths of their children, who had easily treatable illnesses, but were prevented from seeing a doctor for religious reasons. So there's my lawsuit. If a priest can stop the plague in its tracks with a well-placed fingering, isn't it criminally negligent of him to fail to cure everyone else? The defense will claim the priest didn't cure anything--he just persuaded God to make intercession. But God made the plague in the first place. And I can't afford that lawsuit.

I'm not really buying it, anyway. God didn't make the plague to punish us. God is a lot bigger than that, or so they say. He is the god of us, cats, rats, and fleas. And also the bacterium Yersinia pestis. That's a lot of constituencies. It ain't always about us.

I wonder if the priests could cure narcissism?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maine: A Love Letter

Dear Maine,

Photo by Walter Henritze
As a frequent visitor from Oregon, I have a few observations about you. They are meant affectionately, of course. When you come from a state where everyone wears socks with their sandals and nobody owns an umbrella, you do not take potshots.

Maine is not a large state by western U.S. standards, but if you start at the bottom and work your way up on the coastline, you will have gone north and south enough times to develop your own polarity. The underlying granite is corrugated and pleated and it trails its fringe into the sea like a hippie mama. As a consequence, most people in Maine seem to live somewhere on the water, and with a substantial acreage, too. It's cheap. No one has much money and they get by selling each other antiques, plowing each other's driveways, repairing each other's plumbing, slapping on each other's additions and installing each other's generators. They've got a homemade sign up in their yards with their specialty and phone number, and the economy lumbers along at a perfectly adequate clip. By contrast, our economy in Oregon is based entirely on selling each other coffee drinks. We too are poor, but alert.

The magnificent granite also rears up inland, surfacing like whales. It's not unusual to see a whole pod of granite slabs cresting the soil right in the middle of the woods. And it's easy to see things in the woods. Out here we let our forests get quite unruly, but people in Maine like to tidy theirs. They keep a hacksaw handy-by, clip out any unsightly saplings and chip up the debris, leaving a neat duff floor and a view to the nearby water.

The houses have a big patch of these tidy woods in the rear, a vegetable garden out back, and a massive lawn bounding across the property and hooking up with the neighbors'. It is possible to ride a mower for several hundred miles most places, and right to the bottle redemption center everywhere. People come home from work and hop on their mowers, pushing the speed lever up to the max to outrun the black flies, and then they've just got time to boil up some lobsters and go to bed. That's only in the spring, of course. Later they're outrunning the mosquitoes. There's a day or two between black fly season and mosquito season, and folks get on their phones to tell each other just when that is. "They took off yesterday here in Winthrop," they'll say. "They should be clearing out of Waterville real soon." It's party time.

Everybody in Maine knows how to take a lobster apart, and they eat the green stuff, too. No one is squeamish about dropping them in the boiling pot, either. I tend to cringe a little every time I see it, but I don't have to slice my pork chops off a live pig. They drop their lobsters right into the steam, and then every one of them will maintain that the lobster doesn't feel it. There's no logic in this. They say this for the same reason people insist dogs mustn't eat chocolate. More lobster for me; more chocolate for me.

But my favorite thing about Maine is the architecture. That's a big word to apply to the houses that lope over the landscape, and implies a degree of deliberate design that isn't actually in evidence. What really happens is someone back in the 1800s builds himself a house. He builds himself an outbuilding down the way. In the intervening years he accumulates children and odd building materials, and every time he gets a dab of money together he scabs on a new room. The new room gets put on wherever there's the least granite. After a hundred years or so, the house is lurching across the yard and threatening to stagger into the outbuilding. Winters are harsh. At some point, it just makes sense to hitch the house up to the outbuilding, poke in the last interior door and grab the hacksaw without even going inside. And bingo, there's your architecture.

There's nothing about this arrangement that makes sense, from the standpoint of artistic composition. It's not what you'd get if you sat down and designed a house that size. But somehow it speaks to me. It reminds me of my own interior landscape. I start with a modest idea, lose track, struggle for nouns, forget where I'm going, hook one random thought to the next, and before you know it, I've made an essay.
Photo by Walter Henritze

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Priests in a village in India have officiated over a wedding between two frogs, Punarvasu and Pushala, hoping that it would end the terrible drought and bring on monsoon rains. It was by all accounts an arranged affair, although no objection from the celebrants was reported. The frogs were decorated with flowers and anointed with oil of turmeric and generally done up to the nines. Other than the fact that no one could keep the cummerbund from slipping, most agreed that the nuptials went off splendidly. It is not known whether or not the effort was enough to budge the monsoon schedule.

But at least they're trying, which shows that India is way ahead of us. Not only do we not have a working roster of eligible amphibians, but we officially refuse to recognize that we're in deep shit, climate-wise. Those who suggest that we might be are being scorned as alarmists. Which is true, in the same sense that people are alarmists who yell "fire" in a crowded theater. That happens to be on fire.

Because right now, we're in the same position the dinosaurs were, when it dawned on them that they should never have gotten into the asteroid-manufacturing business. They never did? Then this is very different.

Senator James Inhofe, having studied the numbers ($509,250 in donations from the oil and gas industry), has concluded that global warming is a hoax. Sen. Louie Gohmert Jr. (R-Kingdom Of Oil) has examined similar data and determined that the best climatologists in the world have been pulling our legs just to get their names in the paper. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Coal Country) has helpfully pointed out that the earth has periodically gone through a number of such spasms of warming. Not while we were here, of course, but we're here now, by gum, and we'll adapt. Because we have Ingenuity! We can adapt technologically by using more air conditioning, which is like curing acid reflux with pizza. Or we can adapt physiologically: gills and snakeskin, coming right up. No worries!

Meanwhile, it is the position of the fossil-fuel extraction industries that global warming is a hoax. It is their practice to explore for oil in areas of the Arctic that weren't feasible before they melted all the ice.

At this point even the sweltering or flooded or blown-about man on the street seems to realize something's up, and would like something to be done about it, but, because he does not have the clarity provided by lobbyist cash, he would also like to keep gas under $3 a gallon. People tend to discount the most dire predictions, mainly because they haven't happened before. That's true. The end of everything is pretty much a one-time event.

I would like to see something done. And in this case I'm not being a big socialist liberal who wants the government to decide everything for us. No, I am just fine using the market system. But. I want polluters to pay for their pollution. I am required to take out the garbage, and local industries are required to contain or pay for their effluent. Someone soils a river, he's going to have to pay. It's the price of doing business, and it should be. I'm not exactly sure why we let the industries that dump CO2 into the atmosphere get off scot-free, just because their effluent is only dooming the entire human race. What if the producers of fossil fuel energy were required to pay a whopping carbon tax?

Why, Murr, they'd just pass that on to their customers.

True enough. But then consumers would have a real choice based on the real price of everything. We could decide whether we'd rather be able to drive to the beach on a whim or survive as a species.

Because things are about to get really ugly. If the planet does go up by eleven degrees, as some models predict, we'll have to rename it (Dearth. Or Holy Shit. Or Mars.) This is not survivable. Unless you're a cockroach. Which might explain the intransigence of Inhofe, McConnell, Gohmert and the rest. We can't even get those dickheads to marry off a couple of frogs.