Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


Global Warming “Time Bomb”

As one who has had the pleasure of treading on the spongy tundra in fields of Denali National Park, among other places in Alaska, I was fascinated to read that a “vicious cycle” is at work. Global warming is melting the permafrost, soil which has been frozen for thousands of years, and releasing methane and carbon dioxide, adding to the greenhouse effect.

On our first visit to Alaska years ago, we saw for ourselves the consequences of the melting of permafrost, in a house that had fallen in in the middle.  Cause?  The furnace in the basement of the house.  We then observed that lumber yards were selling a type of foam to be placed on the ground on which concrete foundations were poured, to insulate the permafrost from the heat of the house cellar.


The “Free” U.S. Media

Can’t help but notice that U.S. media parrot the attitudes and words of the U.S. administration.  If the administration refers to President Kim Il Jong of North Korea as “crazy,” it is repeated as a fact endlessly.  When the administration lets it be known that it considers President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran a nut, the “free” U.S. media adopts the same attitude.  If Venezualen President Hugo Chavez is critical of the U.S., he must be wrong.  And, so on.

We speak of “government controlled media” in other countries, but, heavens to Betsey!, that is not true here! Doesn’t have to be, the media just adopt administration attitudes by osmosis!


The Debate of the Century

. . . is unlikely to take place.  President Ahmadinejad has challenged President Bush to a debate, but the White House is ducking, not taking the invitation seriously.  Then, the Iranian president suggests that the U.N. might be a proper setting for such a discussion.

It just won’t happen.  Why?  For, it would give the Iranian president a world-wide megaphone, but, more importantly, he could very well do a much better job than Mr. Bush.


Governor Wilfred Romney’s Tantrum

Our Massachusetts governor, who prefers to be known as “Mitt,” has refused to provide a safety detail for Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, when he speaks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Romney claims the former president is a terrorist, and, believe it or not, refused to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization.  How dare, he, also, be critical of Israel?

Kaveh Afrasiabi, in an op-ed in The Boston Globe on 7 September, straightened out our governor:

Calling for ``replacing hostility and confrontation with discourse and understanding," Khatami
unveiled this idea in his address to the General Assembly in September 1998. Following his
advice, the UN adopted the year 2001 as the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations and promoted
activities aimed ``to strengthen solidarity, respect, and tolerance" in the world. Far from a cliche
or a bygone agenda, both the UN and UNESCO have continued with their efforts in promoting the
idea of dialogue. In 2005, Annan appointed Khatami as a member of a high-calibered group of
notables called ``Alliance of Civilizations."

We Bay Staters all know that our governor does nothing these days without considering what effect it will have on his run for the U.S. presidency.


On a Lighter Note!

My friends and I delight in comparing the claims made on the labels of various wines.  You know the kind of thing: “A fruity finish, with a hint of Hemlock . . . .”

Well, as I was about to toss the bottle of Cragganmore single malt Scotch - never fear it was empty! - my eyes were attracted to the label, which, much to my surprise, competes with the best of wine labels: “Complex Cragganmore’s reputation as perhaps the leading Speyside malt was quickly made after the legendary John Smith founded his distillery here in 1869.  Mature and well balanced, with an astonishingly fragrant aroma, the slight fruitiness on the palate is overlaid with sweet, smoky notes.  Complexity married to such refinement is not easily found.”

And, the label on the front of the bottle is much the same in its claims.

I would just add that this 12 Year Old should not be left unattended, for, I have noticed that, if you are not careful, much of the bottle will be lost to evaporation! 

Either that, or our resident mouse, whom we see only on rare occasions, has been hitting the bottle! Really!



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Harvard Square Commentary, September 11, 2006