Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Meandering in Search of Blog Meat: Mystery Airships, Global Warming, and Liberals vs. Conservatives

Last night, I watched a History Channel program about "Texas' Roswell," the town of Aurora. That got me thinking about something I'd heard about, decades ago, from one of my military flight instructors, the "mystery airship" happenings of the late 1800's.

I found the mystery airship stuff interesting, so I thought I'd write a blog entry about it. (A tidbit: eyewitnesses claimed to have spoken to crewmembers of the airships, who told the eyewitnesses on the ground that they were from the Lost Tribes of Israel.) But then, I happened upon a piece dealing with the supposed supposed UFO crash in Aurora by Kevin Randle. Scanning the rest of Kevin's blog, I came upon a recent entry titled, "Global Warming on Mars?"

Now, usually I leave politics and religion alone, whether in writing or a personal conversation. (On the rare occasion I do get on a soapbox, it usually concerns the War on Drugs.) Too many folks take those subjects personally to allow fertile ground for real discussion nowadays. Still, global warming is something many of us think about, and few folks dispute that it's happening. The dispute lies with the cause.

Randle's blog prompted me to Google for a scientist he mentioned in his piece, one Habibullo Abdussamatov (try that one after about three beers), head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia. In a National Geographic article, Abdussamatov maintains that global warming is due not so much to greenhouse gases spewed by humans as by an increase in solar activity. As evidence, he points to data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions, which revealed that the ice caps near Mars' south pole had been been shrinking for three summers in a row. The sun has caused global warming on Earth and Mars, he asserts. He also predicts that we'll see global cooling in the next fifteen to twenty years as a result of declining "solar irradiance."

Many other scientists feel that Abdussamatov is full of poo-poo. That's hardly surprising. We're in an age where the liberals vs. conservatives stage is less a matter of ideological battle than the verbal and written equivalent of tribal warfare. Even the scientific community gets sucked into the trap of focusing on who is right rather than what is right.

I found myself thinking about Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey. They were at opposite ends of the political spectrum, and were known for verbally savaging each other on the Senate floor. They were also close friends, close enough that they often poked good-natured fun at each other. Goldwater once said of Humphrey, "Hubert Humphrey talks so fast that listening to him is like trying to read Playboy while your wife turns the pages." After their heated political debates, they would often retire to chambers, pour a couple of glasses of whiskey, and hammer out an agreement they could both live with. Just imagine.

In the U.S., we live in a time of polarized views and rigid "thinking," folks. Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh ain't helping.

It's all so discouraging. I was going to write a following post about the mystery airships, but right now, I want a beer.

(Oh yeah: I ripped-off Lou Schuler for the "blog meat" term.)

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