Pliocene here we come

Graph showing atmospheric carbon dioxide by year

We are now at the same atmospheric carbon dioxide level as Earth was during the Pliocene three to five million years ago.

That’s it! We are headed toward the same conditions that prevailed during the Pliocene and there is no way to stop that. Temperatures are rising rapidly above 80° north and south which will result in continuing rise in sea level, which in turn will create ever more flooding along the coasts of the world.

Where are the people who live there to go? If you are a coastal dweller you can be certain that within a very few years you will be looking for somewhere inland to live. If you live inland, prepare to be inundated by climate refugees.

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Climate disruption is here. We were told 30 years ago this was coming and everyone pretty much ignored it. Up until about 10 years ago we could still have done something about this. But now it is too late.

Global warming is a topic that demonstrates the human capacity for denial of reality. The imbeciles who continue to deny that there is a problem are the ones who deserve to be global warming’s first victims. With any luck …

Climate Change Claims Its First Mammal Extinction

In a Scientific American report dated March 21, 2019, the Bramble Cay melomys, a tiny island rodent, has gone extinct according to the government of Australia. The species was a victim of sea-level rise.

small rodent eating plant
Bramble Cay melomys (also known as the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat, Melomys rubicola. Picture by Ian Bell, EHP, State of Queensland WikimediaI (CC by 3.0 AU)

Never to be seen again. Scientific American claims this is the first mammalian species wiped out by global warming.

These little guys lived on a small reef island at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, near Papua New Guinea.

They didn’t have much territory to begin with because the cay only measures about 1,100 feet by 500 feet and its highest elevation is three feet. Extreme weather events killed all the vegetation which was the melomys’s only source of food.

This is going to sound more and more familiar as mass extinction number six, now ongoing, continues.

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At least this rodent species gets a passing thought upon its official demise. We will not get any attention when we’re gone because there won’t be anyone left to notice. That is, other than all the remaining species who will likely rejoice greatly.


Earlier today several of our internet service provider’s (ISP) servers, ours among them, came under massive attack. There are many ways to attack servers, but the impetus behind the attacks is always corrupt hackers driven by greed and criminality. (If you want to know about such attacks, google “server attack.”)

This and other manifestations of lawlessness are becoming more and more rampant. We are seeing it at every level of society and in every sphere of activity.

Health insurance executives expend large sums to (successfully) buy off politicians to keep them from passing something lawful and sensible (in the U.S.) like universal healthcare. They suborn journalists and media types to play their role in keeping the subject off the minds and tables of the American public.

Decision makers in the food industry couldn’t give a fig about the harm they are doing by adding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), salt and fat to everything possible. We now have a population forty percent of which is obese. That’s in America. It may not be that bad in other parts of the world, but it will. If you doubt that, look at the ingredients section of the labels of food you buy. Expect to see high levels of HFCS and salt even in foods that don’t otherwise need them.

I wonder what goes on in New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, and the NZ government, was massively impressive in their response and handling of the recent murderous mosque shooting. (She lives in a two bedroom suburban house. Trump couldn’t get even his egregiously bloated ego into someplace as sensible as that.)

Speaking of Trump (aren’t we always?), he is the kind of person that represents our contemporary lawlessness. Conservatives like him are all for separation and individuality regardless of how much it costs or injures others. They hate liberals for being inclusive and trying to convince others that we are all in this together.

There may be conservatives who don’t like Trump or his type but they have not spoken up in a timely fashion, for for that matter, loudly enough to be heard. So it is too late. No matter how much they try to bullshit their way out of tacit or active support of the bloated tyrant in the White House, it is too late. Not buying it. (Lily G. just reminded me of that old expression last Friday. Thanks, Babe.)

Right-wing populism is supporting bad eggs all over the world. I won’t bother to name them; you know who they are. It is no accident that the rising lawlessness and callous indifference to the plight of others is correlated with the rise of the louts in political power. In fact it is more than correlated. It is causative.

I’ll continue this tomorrow . . .

April 12, 2021 update. Well, no, I did not get around to continuing this the next day, as I had planned. It was all just too big a topic for me too big a topic for me. I should not have started it.

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Now Trump is out of office and bloviating from his fat cat digs in Florida, trying to make trouble for everyone. He’s pretty much out of mind now except for a handful of media reporting on him because, well, they don’t know any better. That is, they don’t know any better way to get attention. They had such a field day for the four years Trump was in the White House they find it hard to give up those old habits.

The Republicans, though, are still with us. They need more than ever to have their collective ass kicked. And that goes for West Virginia’s senator, Joe Manchin, too. Why don’t the Democrats kick him out of the party? He is such slime!

You see how hard it is to stop commenting on this topic. These topics. Like eating peanuts, potato chips or, for that matter, just about anything: It’s hard to eat just one.

World’s ugliest chair from Waunakee Furniture ETC

Now sitting in our sunroom is what has to be a strong competitor for the title of World’s Ugliest Chair. (Please see pictures below.)

We recently decided to get a new rocking chair to accompany one we already had. We’ve had the old rocker for several years and been happy with it, so we decided to get the same brand (Flexsteel) and model (Las Cruces) with a different fabric.

Waunakee Furniture ETC handles Flexsteel so we decided to give them a try. They did not have this particular chair on the floor but they did show us a picture of it and it looked fine. So we ordered it ($1,032.30 with tax).

When the chair was delivered to us a couple of months later I could not believe my eyes. The fabric was what we ordered but the wooden parts looked atrocious.

Two Flexsteel chairs showing shoddy workmanship
Two Flexsteel chairs from Waunakee Furnature that were supposed to be the same model. The new one is on the left, old on the right.

The wood – some kind of lower grade oak (maybe) – has the appearance of scrap lumber. The stain is blotchy and irregular. It looks like it was done by a five-year-old having a temper tantrum.

Brand new Flexsteel chair with joint coming apart
New Flexsteel chair from Waunakee furniture. Note the (1) sloppy gluing, (2) crooked faux tenon, and (3) gap in joint.
chair parts
New chair (Flexsteel) from Waunakee Furniture ETC showing shoddy joinery (nothing really fits) and exceptionally poor finish work.

I immediately called the store to tell them the chair was unacceptable and ask what they were willing to do about it. Cassandra “Sandy” Taylor (one of several owners of Waunakee Furniture ETC) told me to take pictures and write what it was I was unhappy about. Send all that to her and she would forward it to the Flexsteel quality control department and blah blah blah . . .

In other words, Waunakee Furniture ETC did not consider themselves responsible for delivering an unsatisfactory piece of furniture. Not their fault.

While talking to Cassandra Taylor I kept thinking about the Cassandra in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon who reneged on a deal she had made with Apollo. I know how he felt. There is an implied contract between customer and business in any purchase. When a business says an unsatisfactory product is not their problem, I feel they have violated our contract.

American retailers used to feel responsible for what they sold. Not so much any more. Many conveniently (for them) consider themselves mere conduits between manufacturers and consumers. Once the goods are delivered they feel no further responsibility. That is scandalous at a time when bloated retailer profits in some cases are as high as sixty to eighty percent of the retail price. They simply take the money and run.

But forgive me; I digress.

The rigmarole Waunakee Furniture ETC’s Taylor prescribed for me, I was pretty sure, was going to be an exercise in futility. You know, get all exercised, jump through an endless succession of hoops, wait a long time, then nothing happens. The objective is to drag things out and wear the customer down until he finally gives up.

This attrition strategy was perfected decades ago and became known as the Kmart strategy. Their business philosophy was that it was more profitable to buy new customers (with advertising) than to go to the expense of making an irate customer happy. Kmart shuttered hundreds of stores last year.

So even though I resented the strategy and didn’t have much hope for anything meaningful coming of it, I didn’t have much choice. I started taking pictures and making notes as soon as I got off the phone.

I had been at it less than an hour when I got a call from Waunakee Furniture ETC’s delivery guy for that day, Eric Myhre (another owner), who was calling me “from the truck.” He acted like he didn’t know what the problem was, only that I had a complaint. He told me to explain the problem to him.

Now, why was he calling me I wondered, less than an hour after Taylor had spelled out at some length the convoluted procedure I was to follow? Taylor had obviously immediately called Myhre and I was sure she had told him all about my complaint. But he was playing dumb, a role I assumed not totally unfamiliar to him.

This was another strategy, the one where you get an unhappy customer to repeat their complaint as many times as possible. That’s because most complaints sound better when thought than when spoken out loud; they tend to feel weaker with each repetition.

I knew what he was doing but once again I figured I didn’t have much choice so I briefly stated the problem to Myhre. His response was that the chair had looked okay to him. Another strategy. It is supposed to shake your faith in your position if someone else cannot see what you are talking about. None are so blind as those who will not see. Or if seeing and acknowledging a problem will cost them money.

He was waxing strong with his strategy when I interrupted him. I’d had enough. I told him I wasn’t interested in listening to a bunch of brochure blather, that I just wanted to know what they were going to do about the abomination they had delivered to me.

He didn’t like that. Told me to “settle down” and “keep a level head.”

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This was yet another strategy. Get the customer irate then show who’s boss with a command like “settle down.” This is a form of condescension where the intent is to infantilize the customer.

I told him I’d had enough of their insulting strategies and who-struck-John evasions. I permit no one to order me to settle down, especially merchants who take all the profit and none of the responsibility for what they sell. Our conversation was at an end and I terminated the call.

That was a week ago. I have not heard from them since, nor do I expect to. Why would they want to waste any time getting back in touch with me? After all, they’ve already got my money and they clearly intend to keep it. [Update: It has now been over six months with no word from them so it is pretty obvious I will not hear from them again. Pathetic!]

My experience is not an isolated example. American manufacturers and businesses have for years engaged in a headlong rush to ever greater profit with cheaper and cheaper (but expensive) products. It has long been nearly impossible to buy the same thing twice if more than a half hour has transpired since the first purchase. Whatever it is will inevitably have been changed in some way – diminished in quality, of course – and sold at a higher price as “new and improved.”

So I guess I should not have been surprised by the degradation by Flexsteel of their Las Crucis rocker, that it would be nothing like the one we bought a few years ago. What else can one expect in the land of profit über alles?

As for Waunakee Furniture ETC? Caveat emptor!

Adios, Kemosabe

extinction-desolation image

The recent Camp Fire devastation and loss of life in California is just a small sample of what is in store for us on this planet because of human-made global warming.

Even if global warming could be limited to just two degrees Fahrenheit (2F), we would still be in for unimaginable misery which we are already seeing in climate-related threats to our health, safety, social upheaval, and economic wellbeing.

But let’s get real here. There will not be significant reductions in global temperature rise. Given this dismal probability, as the UN’s recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report spelled out, we are headed for a “totally different world.” So says Michael Oppenheimer, a premier climate scientist at Princeton University.

Faced with this near certain catastrophe, people – most people – are unable to bestir themselves away from the mundane and ultimately meaningless daily routines of their quotidian lives. Hence the problem of global warming is likely to be solved by the elimination of its cause: humanity.

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The human race is headed straight for the cliff of extinction. It will happen. The quasi-religious belief that profit trumps (!) all, that the planet will take care of itself, is clearly a form of insanity whose seed was planted with the industrial revolution of the 18th century.

Too bad the insanity will take all of us down with it.