The good news is that naming an extraordinarily talented black woman Secretary of State sends a terrific message, both to people here at home (especially young African-Americans) and to people around the world (especially in nations that oppress women or that would prefer to think of America as racist). Condoleezza Rice is a quadrilingual, figure-skating, concert piano-playing star.

The bad news is that, unlike her two predecessors (who were, combined, a black woman), she is the wrong person for the job. Where Bill Clinton arguably needed a Secretary of State who could help him go to war in Serbia (namely, Madeleine ‘What’s the point of having this superb military . . . if we can’t use it?’ Albright) . . . and George Bush certainly needed a Secretary of State to slow his rush to war in Iraq (namely, Colin ‘you break it, you own it’ Powell) . . . what Bush gets in Rice is not a counterbalance but rather, in effect, a co-conspirator. Or so one fears. So State may be purged of dissenting voices, as the CIA will be; the House and the Senate are already under tight rightwing control; the Judiciary tilts ever more rightward, as does the press. What ever happened to checks and balances?


You may recall that I erroneously billed this group ( as Kerry converts, when in fact they were pro-Kerry all along, just having a little fun. ‘Other stunts they’ve pulled,’ I just now learn from one of your pre-election e-mails I’m catching up on, ‘include stealing Barbie and GI Joe dolls off store shelves and swapping the voice boxes, so Barbie wants to go to war and GI Joe wants to go shopping and do his nails.’ I’m beginning to get the picture.


Dan Kinsella: ‘It would appear that the global warming increase in the last 100 years that you referred to a few days ago is actually due to bad math. Click here. That doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t happening, just that the study that everyone refers to as ‘proof’ is wrong. More refereed studies would have to be run to see if the temperature has actually changed much in the last 100 years.’

☞ The temperature may not have changed much in the last 100 years. What I couldn’t tell from clicking that link is whether the two premises I’ve been operating on are wrong. The first is a spectacular rise in CO2 levels in the past century or so – after 400,000 years of moderate, regular cycles. (This data derived from glacial ice samples. The deeper you drill, the older the ice and the air trapped within. Or so I’m told.) The second, is the way, over those 400,000 years, temperature seemed consistently to follow the CO2 cycle. Did the bad math undermine either of those premises? If so, I need to post a correction here.

But I’d also ask: Do we really need to be 100% sure before we do something? What if there were only a 20% chance of catastrophe . . . would that not be worth beginning to take action to avert? And doesn’t common sense suggest that the modern-day activities of 6 billion people likely would have an effect on the environment? I’m not saying that if we all stamped our feet at the exact same moment the planet would shatter, although if we all gathered in one corner, like a pimple on a baseball, I feel sure we’d wobble its rotation. But why wouldn’t burning 70 million barrels of oil a day into the atmosphere (and however many tons of coal) eventually have some impact?


It’s just so hard to catch up! But . . . the Ten Commandments of E-mails (thanks to your refinements) . . . the Calico Cat Denouement . . . some more of your thoughts about the election . . . an (insincere) apology for talking so much about the election . . . responses to your responses to my responses about the election . . . my acorn squash recipe* . . . and coming soon, I hope: ‘Bin Thinking About the Dollar.’

*Oh, okay, here it is: BUY one acorn squash, STAB it once with a knife so it doesn’t explode, MICROWAVE for 8 minutes unless it’s very small (6 minutes) or your microwave is pretty lame (10 minutes). Voila! CUT in half, SALT and BUTTER (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Lite), DIG IN – and yes, it’s fine to eat the seeds and all the rest, though I eschew the skin.

My God the things you learn from this column you never got from Rukeyser.

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