The Day The Icecap Died, Part 2"Treat It Like A War"
"You're hearing that slogan a lot these days — 'treat it like a war.' That is to say, instead of asking if carbon reduction and capture can be made more profitable than business-as-usual, treat them as something important that we need to do, for our own sake and the sake of future generations, whether it's profitable or not. Nobody ever did a cost-benefit analysis of Gettysburg or D-Day. When FDR said 'Hey, Ford, Chrysler, GM, let's start building tanks and planes,' you never heard anybody blather about 'distorting the market' or 'the government picking winners and losers.'
"At the same time, what we know is that, even in war and even in the military, that sort of thinking can lead to some very bad decisions. A general says 'I don't care how many lives it costs, I want that hill' and you get the Battle of Fredericksburg. People in procurement say 'Hang the expense, we want this' and before you know it you're spending hundreds of dollars on a scre
The Day The Icecap Died, Part 1September 11, 2021
Everyone knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but most people had expected it later in the decade, or perhaps early in the 2030s. It wasn’t until June and its record temperatures that everyone realized it was probably going to happen this year. Nobody saw the precise moment it happened.
Most people were thinking about something else — after all, this was the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. So it was a fairly minor story that when the next satellite overflew the poles, the last traces of sea ice floating in the Nares Strait and the Lincoln Sea were gone. From the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea, from the coast of Siberia to the labyrinth of channels between the Canadian islands, the Arctic Ocean was finally ice-free.
It stayed that way for three weeks.
September ’21-March ‘22
As in every year, with the passing of the autumnal equinox polar twilight and polar night descended over the Arctic Ocean in expa
Meat GhostsI’m a vegetarian. Mostly. I’ll eat fish, dairy products and shellfish, and occasionally a hamburger or hot dog or some Spam… okay, the truth is I suck at being a vegetarian.
Here’s the thing. All my life — you’re going to think I’m insane, but this is the truth — I’ve been haunted by the ghosts of the animals I eat. They follow me around everywhere, this silent herd of cattle and pigs and chickens and turkeys. They walk through walls and other people, and nobody else knows they’re there.
It started when I was a child. One of my earliest memories is of pointing out a pig squatting in the living room and hearing my mom say “There’s no pig, sweetie.” That pig is still there. I’ve long since gotten to where I can recognize them as individuals, and they’re all still there. I haven’t had steak or bacon or fried chicken in years, but none of them ever leave.
It’s like some kind of animal righ
Vignette: Carrie's Dark Side (560 words)Even as a little girl, Carrie had always been ambitious — either to be President of the United States or a billionaire. At the very least she’d wanted to exceed her father, in status if not in mass. In fact, it was her father she credited for this. He’d been an important man in his own right, and his social circle included many rich and powerful people. Through him, she’d learned that those the world called great were not fundamentally different from herself, and there was no reason she couldn’t join them, or surpass them if she had it in her. The road was hard, but it was open and it went to the highest places.
But her ambition came at a cost. While the rest of her lived and loved and cried and regretted, there was always that one part of her brain that was just sitting back and quietly judging the things and people around her, determining if they were to her advantage of not. It had grown stronger as her ambitions had condensed from dreams into plans and
The Pathfinder RitualsThese are rituals of summoning and communication. The usual precautionary statements (about following all instructions to the letter, being clear in your own mind about what you want and what you are prepared to pay for it, and above all not being fool enough to actually do any of this) are in full effect.
I’m going to start by talking about the basic ritual, even though I suspect that isn’t what you came for. When you know how to do the basic ritual, you’ll understand how to perform the advanced ritual.
For the basic ritual, you’ll need four things:
• A mirror, the bigger the better.
• A clock. If it’s an analog clock, it should have a second hand. If it’s a digital clock, it should display seconds as well as hours and minutes.
• A comfortable chair. (Yes, it needs to be comfortable. Use a recliner if you have one.)
• One single source of light. It can be a candle, or a light bulb — I favor an LED bulb myself. Whatever
Vignette: President Pratt Tries to ChillA President of the United States — at least a good one — didn’t get a lot of leisure time, particularly when the nation was in crisis. Henry Pratt had been working on one thing or another from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., with only a couple of breaks for meals.
Pratt made the most of the few hours he did have. At 9:45 p.m. he was in bed with an e-reader in his left hand and Claire curled against his right arm. On the nightstand was a wineglass holding the last of a smoky ’94 Oregon Pinot Noir, aged to a deep russet and mellowed to a velvety smoothness, that they’d shared over dinner.
An old Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan jam session, likewise mellowed to a velvety smoothness, was playing on his earpiece. (Someone had once told Pratt that the Duke of Wellington had wanted to be a violinist before going into the army and making history. Pratt himself had once dreamed of being a blues guitarist and singer, but he had never been better than mediocre as a player and t
You Think You Hate Holiday Travel? (1120 words)by Paul Briggs
One of the many bad things about my parents splitting up as soon as I was off to college was that I had to choose who to spend the holidays with. I decided to spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Christmas with Dad. Thing is, Dad was going to be down in Florida that Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncles Jake and Hank.
Not a problem at all. I had a wonderful five-day road trip all planned out. It was going to give me a chance to see places I'd never been — New Orleans, San Antonio — with time to visit the sports bars and see if any of the guys knew who I was yet, and if any of them were cute and feeling brave.
And then I got the word. Uncle Jake and his family were in southern California, and they were going to be flying to Florida for Christmas, and they'd bought an extra ticket just for me.
He shouldn't have. Really. He shouldn't have.
I could have taken the train, or even the bus… but of course, it had to be airplanes. The owner of the secon
Vignette: Nat'l Governors Association Smackdown!As Carrie left the meeting, she broke into a brisk jog. Two men were having a screaming argument in the middle of the hotel lobby. It sounded bad enough that somebody was going to have to step in and referee it. In this case, “somebody” meant her.
She stepped into the lobby and got a look at the arguers. One of them was Governor Gilbert Swank of Arizona — Carrie recognized him because he looked a lot like her father, huge, fat and red-faced. But her father had mostly been the jolly kind of fat man, and Swank looked the opposite of jolly right now.
The other was the governor of Colorado, a skinny guy who was bald right on top of his head. His name was either LaTour or LaCour. Both of them were screaming over each other to the point where Carrie had a hard time telling what they were arguing about, except that water was involved. A much smaller man was holding Swank’s right arm and trying to talk him down.
As Carrie approached the scene of the kerfuffle, she caugh
Vignette: Isabel's Awkward ThanksgivingRodrick Freitag’s house had made it through Gordon undamaged. It was too far north for the wind and too high up for the storm surge. Which made it the perfect place for the Bradshaws and both sets of their grandparents to spend Thanksgiving. Except for the fact that it was a small house, and not really built to accommodate ten extra people. Even getting the various cars and vans in the driveway was a complicated sliding-tiles game.
So of course, out of all possible ways to prepare the turkeys Rod and Chelsey had chosen the one most likely to set the crowded little house on fire. They were deep-frying them.
In the interests of life and property, Isabel was overseeing the process. First, when the two 15-pound turkeys were taken out of the beer brine she measured the remaining brine and used a little Archimedean logic to estimate their volume, so she knew exactly how much oil would go in the fryer. Then she spent a full hour drying them, inside and out, at one point using a hair dry