Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Talking about Maine's Ranked Choice Voting odyssey on NHPR, May 17

For those of you in the Granite State, I'll be your guest in the morning on New Hampshire Public Radio's "The Exchange," talking about Maine's Ranked Choice Voting odyssey.

The program, which runs from 9-10 Eastern, also features Saint Anselm College's Erik Cleven and Connecticut Mirror Capitol bureau chief Mark Pazniokas.

I reported on the crazy twists and turns of Maine's RCV drive for Politico back at the end of March, and on how it the voting reform effort became a partisan flashpoint in the Maine Sunday Telegram early last month.

I'll post the audio of the conversation when it becomes available. [Update, 14:30 ET: the audio is now available at the same link.]

I was last a guest on "The Exchange" back in 2016 about American Character, the epic struggle over how to define freedom in America and how it might be resolved.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bad borders: what US secessionists' proposals miss

The sixth installment of my "Balkanized America" series is up over at Medium, looking at how contemporary US secessionists and state-splitters -- from Ted Draper's "Six Californias" and CAL3 plans to create an independent Cascadia or Texas -- set themselves up for failure by ignoring centuries-old regional fissures.

Those are, of course, the American Nations fissures.

Earlier installments in the series have run the gamut from debunking the assertion that the greatest divide in US politics is between urban and rural voters (hint: regional cultures have a far greater effect) to how the existence of these cultures shaped the run-up to the 1787 constitutional convention and even the reproductive clustering of North Americans (which surprised even me, as the paradigm argues for cultural effects, not genetic ones.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Speaking on American Nations and the gun debate, Gloucester, Mass., July 19

I'll be speaking about how the existence of the American Nations helps explain enormous geographic disparities in violence, capital punishment, and gun policies at a public event on Massachusetts' North Shore July 19.

It's the keynote of "Finding Common Ground," a four-hour symposium on gun violence and the application of the Second Amendment organized by the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation taking place from 2 to 6pm at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, and including presentations from Gloucester High School students, the commander of the area American Legion Post, and others. My talk starts at about 4. Donations welcome.

Details on the event can be found here.

I wrote on the disparities of the regional cultures in regards to these issues in this 2013 Tufts Magazine cover story.

My next public talk is July 3 at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, on the themes raised in American Character, which was a finalist for last year's Chautauqua Prize.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Maine's US Senators seek federal response to warming Gulf of Maine

Last week I reported on Canadian researchers having found record-warm water pouring into the primary deepwater entrance to the Gulf of Maine and Maine scientists confirming that they've seen similar, Gulf Stream-derived water filling some of the Gulf's deepwater basins -- all worrying signs that the region's stunning long-term warming trend is continuing.

Earlier this week, I had this update: US Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) have written the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asking for a beefed-up federal research and monitoring response to determine causes and effects. The rest of Maine's Congressional delegation -- Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME2) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME1) -- said they also strongly support the senator's actions.

Details herein.

For more on the warming of the Gulf, consider this comprehensive Press Herald series on the issue, plus this follow-up on how little the State of Maine has done to address it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Record-warm deepwater pouring into the Gulf of Maine, researchers find

In today's Portland Press Herald, I wrote about a Canadian research team's discovery that record-warm Gulf Stream water is pouring into the Gulf of Maine, probably because of a weakening of the normally dominant, very frigid Labrador Current flowing down from Greenland via Atlantic Canada. The water - at depths of more than 200 feet - was a balmy 57F earlier this month, 11 degrees above the norm for this time of year, and other scientists say such water has been filling deepwater basins inside the Gulf for months.

Exactly what will happen next is uncertain, but the fear is that when the water upwells to the surface -- usually during winter - it could contribute to another "ocean heat wave" like the one in 2012 the wrecked havoc with just about everything in the Gulf and set off a chain of events that had New Brunswick lobstermen detaining trucks filled with Maine lobster at the gates of Canadian processing plants.

[Update, 5/2/17: Prompted by this story, US Senators Angus King and Susan Collins have asked NOAA to take action.]

For more on the warming of the Gulf of Maine and the possible consequences, consider my 2015 Press Herald series "Mayday." I last wrote on the situation -- and Maine's lack of response -- in November.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Barbara Bush, 1925-2018, an obituary

Former First Lady Barbara Bush died last night at 92. I had the privilege of having written her obituary for her summertime local paper, the Portland Press Herald, which you will find in today's print edition.

The Bushes identified themselves with Texas for political reasons, but through their lives Walker's Point in Kennebunkport has been the only constant. They got engaged there, held weddings, family events, and high-level diplomatic events, and spent nearly every summer at the compound. It was their only home in the U.S. during the years they lived in Beijing and at the US Naval Observatory and White House. During World War II they also lived briefly in Lewiston-Auburn, while he was training at the naval air station there.

The Press Herald also has a photo gallery of her life up at the website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

US Surgeon General on American Nations and public health

I ran across this one accidentally on Twitter. Last week, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams gave the keynote address at the American Public Health Association's National Public Health Week Forum in Washington, DC.

Turns out Dr. Adams is an American Nations fan, and he spent several minutes talking about the importance of the paradigm in understanding regional differences in public health challenges and outcomes. "When you look at what's done, when you look at asset health care coverage, when you look at immigrant rights, at contraception and abortion, when you look at drug policy and reduction, two places, Paris, France and Berlin, Germany, that tried to blow each other off the face of the planet, are closer together than Dallas, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts," Adams said. "We truly are a country of different nations."

Here's a clip of his remarks culled from C-SPAN-2's coverage of the event.