John Mattingly: The War on Fire

By John Mattingly

Wildfires are not inspired by ISIS, but the war on fire and the war on terror share a few futilities. Fighting fire is somewhat like squaring off against the sun.
Sun, water and earth combine to form carbohydrates and sometimes nitrogenized carbohydrates (proteins), all of which burn through either combustion or metabolism in relatively short time spans. Simple carbohydrates, like leaves and vegetable matter, burn relatively quickly and usually within a year. More complex carbohydrates, lignins, like trees, have a longer calendar for burning, but a visit to any forest shows that at all times some of the lignin is being burned, if not by fire then by microbes and bigger creatures. If the full family of carbohydrates did not burn, the litter would make it very difficult to move about on the land surfaces of Earth, and lightning ignitions would be enormously hazardous to mammals. As it is, humans are working industriously on a positive feedback loop of carbon emissions that increase heat and carbon dioxide, that in turn increase heat and carbon dioxide and more forest fires.

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American Lone Wolves: Unhappy, Unlucky Outcasts Seek Packs

By Martha Quillen

Ahhhh, America the beautiful, my country, sweet land of liberty, home of the brave, to thee I sing – even though we Americans sure have a knack for revealing our dark side when things go wrong.

And once again we are splitting into furiously oppositional factions, with an enthusiastic Republican promising to lead us into a stunning victory over “radical Islam.” And the Democrats are pretty much avowing the same thing – except the Democrats are carefully calling ISIS supporters “radical jihadists.” And presidential candidates are taunting our current president. And U.S. citizens and governors are crassly dismissing the horrifying plight of fleeing refugees.

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