Our New Disasters

Our tab behavior is further on the spectrum than the word extreme.

I woke up at Chimney Pond yesterday, 2900 feet up Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain. After a thick morning fog burned off, the cliffs below Pamola Peak and the knife edge still looked like someone had turned down the saturation knob on reality. Andy, the ranger on duty, said the haze was wildfire smoke from out west.

If he was right, the smoke probably came from the Dixie Fire, now the second largest wildfire in California’s history, according to Livia Albeck-Ripka and Melina Delkic in the New York Times, “surpassed only by the August Complex Fire, which started in August 2020 and burned more than one million acres, officials said.” Just one year ago.

“The 91-year-old Mount Harkness fire lookout, a bulwark of Lassen National Park, has been destroyed by the Dixie Fire,” reported SFGate’s Katie Dowd, joining “oops, we set the ocean on fire” in a strong 2021 class of inductees to the Climate Disaster Ironies Hall of Fame. "‘Our fuels are insanely receptive,‘ said park spokesperson Kevin Sweeney. ‘Our fire behavior is further on the spectrum than the word extreme.’" Lexicographers, please, we urgently need new words to describe the intensity of our new disasters.

And our new disasters are the subject of the sixth U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which says there is no question climate change is happening, and no question that people are causing it by burning fossil fuels. According to the Washington Post, “the only real uncertainty that remains… is whether the world can muster the will to stave off a darker future than the one it already has carved in stone.”

America is currently split between people who believe that when faced with a big collective problem we should come together to solve it for the good of humanity, and people who believe that no we shouldn’t. So we await a final decision on how many degrees of global heating will be allowed by the only person in the world powerful enough to decide: the Senate Parliamentarian. Meanwhile, maybe we should all just grow moss. It won’t make any difference but hey, at least you’ll have some moss.

I was offline from early Friday until late Sunday, so if you missed the Jia Tolentino poem discourse, so did I and let’s leave it at that? Cat Person Kristen Roupenian wrote an essay about authorial fandom in literature, and also her (and my) high school literary magazine Resonance,1 which seems like it has to be a response to the whole thing but doesn’t mention it and also doesn’t really make any sense, as an essay.

Hyper-fast fashion behemoth Shein, which Intern Linda previously wrote about, is failing modern slavery reporting rules, according to Reuters. Taylor got the word “shitposting” into the New York Times. Maybe just let Jennifer Senior’s extraordinary profile of one person who died on 9/11 and what has become of his family and fiancée since be the only piece of 20th anniversary 9/11 content you read? What is the deal with Asanka Brendon Ratnayake’s dark-glazed photo illustrations in this creepy story about The Button Man” of Australia’s Wonnangatta Valley? I feel like my eyeballs are broken. Matt Levine has a big roundup of U.S. crypto regulation news today.

Finally: Lincoln Michel wrote a list of good advice for writers, which overlaps about 85% with “good advice for anyone.”

Today’s Song: Mogwai, “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?”

~Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and blogosphere have occurred.~

Just looking at Twitter like why do people keep following me, dang.

1

I don’t like to brag* but I won First Place for short stories in that 1993-94 issue.


* Technically, this is a lie.