Friday, August 31, 2012

Old man yelling at chair accidentally reveals a deeper truth

Yes, Mitt Romney accepted the GOP nomination last night and gave a speech that included mocking of efforts to fight climate change, saber-rattling at Russia and Iran, and lots of false claims, but that wasn't the big story of the night. This was.

RNC 2012: Mystery speaker Eastwood stages a mock conversation with President Obama.
That was so strange, that Rachel Maddow called it the weirdest thing she's ever seen at a political convention.

"That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life, and it will be the weirdest thing I've ever seen if I live to be 100," she said.
Weird as it was, it revealed a deeper truth. Eastwood made the perfect metaphor for what Republicans have been doing all along--attacking an imaginary Obama who doesn't exist. I bet Eastwood had no idea how revealing that stunt would be, but about conservatives, not Obama. They can't help projecting.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Way of the (Political) K00K

After watching two days of the Republican National Convention, and noting how Willard the Rat's campaign shows no respect for the facts, I've decided to post a blast from the past, a diary entry that I originally posted on Daily Kos back in January 2011, two months before I started this blog. All that's changed is that I've been online for twenty-two and a half years now, but very little has changed in the past year and a half. If anything, it's changed for the worse.

And now, The Way of the (Political) K00K.

I've been online for 21 years this month, so I've seen all kinds of things online. One of the most persistent phenomena of the internet, whether the pre-web days of bulletin board systems (BBS's) and Usenet, the Web 1.0 days of discussion forums, or today's Web 2.0 environment of blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, are eccentric users who "post uniquely strange, preferably incomprehensible articles, or...manifest a persistent, extreme, and somewhat bizarre obsession." In short, the net.kooks. These people have "a special fascination derived from his/her/its utter ineffability. Their behavior is irrational, if not downright weird, but they are seldom merely boring."

Lately, it seems that the people who would have spent their days behind a keyboard have ventured out into the real world and become politicians. Join me over the fold, where I present a version of the net classic "The Way of The K00K" to help readers understand these people who have ventured off the internet and the fringe to become elected politicians.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Climate news from archeology and history for July and August 2012

I know that there are two major news stories breaking, the Republican National Convention and Hurricane Issac, which become intertwined last week when Republicans cancelled the first day of their convention because of the passing storm, but I'm not up to examining either in any detail right now. Instead, I present the climate news from archeology and history that first appeared in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Opening of London Olympics edition), Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition), Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Curiosity's first destination edition), and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Neil Armstrong R.I.P. edition) on Daily Kos this past month.

Follow over the jump from stories from the beginning of civilization to projections of the effects of future climate change and sea level rise on archeological sites to read the past month's articles on climate in history, both ancient and modern.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Science crime scenes 7: Crimes ancient, modern, and weird

In the previous installment of this series, I noted:
I'm going to skip the usual archeology stories about atrocities from the past and modern day smuggling, looting, and vandalism. That's not because I don't have any; I have quite a lot of them from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Curiosity's first destination edition) on Daily Kos that I'll post in another edition.
It's time to post those stories, along with a couple more from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Neil Armstrong R.I.P. edition).

This week's theme involves investigations of ancient sites that today would be considered crime scenes, although they might not have been considered as such back then, followed by the typical crimes against science in the form of smuggling, looting, and vandalism, along with efforts at prevention and restitution. Follow over the jump to read these sordid tales.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Examiner.com article on Coffee Party history



This month the Coffee Party's Michigan Facebook page passed 2000 "likes."
Photo credit: Coffee Party USA, logo used with permission.

A timeline of the first year of Coffee Party USA
A week ago this Monday, Join the Coffee Party Movement Michigan marked two and one-half years on Facebook since the page's creation. Earlier this month, the page passed 2,000 likes.

To mark both milestones, here is a timeline of the first year of Coffee Party USA, which now has 422,740 fans on Facebook. This timeline is an expanded version of the timeline of the first six months of the Coffee Party's. It was written originally by the Detroit Coffee Party Examiner to celebrate the first year of the Coffee Party and was first published in volume 1, issue 2 of the Coffee Party Newsletter on January 28, 2011.
Here's the video accompanying this article.

Coffee Party USA Co-Founder and President of the Board Eric Byler describes the first weeks of the Coffee Party and explains the movement's plans for its first meetups on March 13, 2010.
One of my new year's resolutions was to resume writing for Examiner.com. With this article, I have now written for all three of my assigned areas, Detroit Science News Examiner, Washtenaw County Elections Examiner, and Detroit Coffee Party Examiner, so that's one resolution fulfilled.

As for what I'll be writing next, I'm thinking of a series about Coffee Party USA's Blog Talk Radio shows for a series. I'll begin with an introductory article about the current crop of shows. Then I'll continue with the profiles of the hosts and their shows. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong and other space and astronomy news

As you can tell from the title of my diary at Daily Kos, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Neil Armstrong R.I.P. edition), the top story today is that of Neil Armstrong's passing. This marks both the loss of a great American, but also another sign of the acting out of the great science fiction tragedy of losing the capability of manned space flight. Since the Apollo program, no human has ventured beyond low Earth orbit. That's 40 years.

Mind you, I'm sure the Chinese will land on the Moon by the end of this decade, so humanity won't have lost the ability, but the U.S. is not racing to get back there before they do. Here's to hoping that the U.S. doesn't repeat the 21st Century version of the Chinese mistake of sending treasure ships to Africa, then abandoning their exploring and the open ocean technology that made it possible. It took the Chinese 500 years to recover from that misjudgment.

But enough of what this event means to me. Time to celebrate the life of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. The tribute begins with the featured story from the Washington Post accompanied by a video from CNN.

Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon, dies at 82
By Paul Duggan, Updated: Saturday, August 25, 4:00 PM
Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who marked an epochal achievement in exploration with “one small step” from the Apollo 11 lunar module on July 20, 1969, becoming the first person to walk on the moon, died Aug. 25 in the Cincinnati area. He was 82.

His family announced the death in a statement and attributed it to “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.”

A taciturn engineer and test pilot who was never at ease with his fame, Mr. Armstrong was among the most heroized Americans of the 1960s Cold War space race. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he is noted for saying as he stepped on the moon.
Armstrong, first man on the moon, dies

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has died, his family said Saturday. He was 82.
The video CNN posted immediately before the above on their YouTube Channel was Four legendary astronauts are awarded the Congressional G....

Astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin are presented the Congressional Gold Medal.
Although CNN posted this video today, this ceremony took place on November 16, 2011, according to the Associated Press via the Miami Herald.

Space.com on YouTube also joined in with Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' That Changed The World | Video.

When Apollo 11 touched down on the Lunar surface the whole world stopped. Relive the moment when humanity took its giant leap forward.
Finally, at least three diarists on Daily Kos chimed in, beginning with Breaking: Neil Armstrong Has Passed Away (Updated X4) by Diogenes2008, followed by Neil Armstrong, August 5 1930-August 25 2012 by caul, and finally If We Could Land a Man on the Moon... by jpmassar. Those were just the ones that posted before Midnight. I haven't checked for more recent ones.

Before I move on the the rest of the space and astronomy news, a moment of silence, please.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Science crime scenes 6: Accidental and intentional responses to GOP war on science

As I wrote yesterday, after skipping last week, it's time to post another installment of a continuing series. Today, it's science crime scenes.

I'm going to skip the usual archeology stories about atrocities from the past and modern day smuggling, looting, and vandalism. That's not because I don't have any; I have quite a lot of them from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Curiosity's first destination edition) on Daily Kos that I'll post in another edition. Instead, I'm going to focus on stories about crimes against science, the planet, and society from other disciplines, including psychology, sociology, and technology, along with a dose of policy, all but one of which come from the public research universities of Arizona, where there will be a primary election this coming Tuesday, according to Politics1.com. It turns out that all of these stories either directly or indirectly comment on the GOP's science policies or the party's top candidates.

I begin with a story from Science Magazine that is about a potential crime against science itself, a law from the state of Todd Akin and one that bears the stamp of the religious wing of the Republican Party.

Missouri 'Right to Pray' Law Could Limit Teaching Evolution
Last week, Missouri voters gave themselves the right to pray without state interference. But some science educators are worried that the seemingly innocuous referendum on the 7 August ballot, which passed overwhelmingly, could also undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Amendment 2 "is a lawyer's dream" because of its vagueness, says Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which tracks efforts by groups that oppose evolution. While the amendment begins by declaring that all residents "have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences," it also lists several situations in which that right must be protected. Rosenau is worried about one particular clause: "that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs."

Those words give students the legal right to skip assignments related to evolution if the subject matter conflicts with their beliefs, Rosenau says. And that exemption could extend throughout their scholastic career, he adds, since evolution is not just taught in one lesson but remains a recurrent theme throughout science education. The amendment also leaves a hole in their coursework, he says, as it provides no guidance on any substitute lessons.
Hat/tip to CharlesInCharge on Daily Kos, who included the above excerpt in You've Got to Show Me: The (New) Epistemological Crisis and commented about the law's greater significance.
We face a new epistemological crisis in this country. The crisis has been brewing for well over 50 years but, I would argue, since the advent of the internet has reached epidemic proportions. In an age where every URL is created equal and where precedence goes not to knowledge which is tested in the cauldron of the scientific method but rather by which spurious link comes up first in a Google search, how are we to evaluate statements and data to see whether they accurately represent truth or reality?

Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, argued that the history of science could be explained by anomalies in a prevailing paradigm reaching the point where a 'crisis' occurs, such that the existing paradigm must be overthrown and replaced by a new paradigm. Think Einstein replacing Newton or Darwin replacing the Biblical account of Creation. The point is that internal contradictions within an older established order reach such a fever pitch that the older order no longer suffices. That crisis now besets the very mechanisms by which our culture arbitrates what it calls knowledge. The epistemological crisis is now upon us and it is hard to forsee the new paradigm that will replace the ancien regime.
Scientific revolutions are almost always advancements in our understanding of the universe. I have my doubts that what is happening qualifies as one.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the past week's stories, all of which bear on a weakness of the Republican presidential ticket.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Curiosity's first driving destination and other space and astronomy news

After skipping last week, it's time to post another installment of the previous week's space and astronomy news. Of course, the top story is Curiosity.

NASA Televison on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Where Will Curiosity Go First?

Curiosity is safe on Mars and ready to roll. In this video from Science@NASA, project scientist John Grotzinger discusses where the rover might go first.
JPL answered that question later the same day.

NASA Curiosity Team Pinpoints Site for First Drive
August 17, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- The scientists and engineers of NASA's Curiosity rover mission have selected the first driving destination for their one-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory. The target area, named Glenelg, is a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain. The choice was described by Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology during a media teleconference on Aug. 17.

"With such a great landing spot in Gale Crater, we literally had every degree of the compass to choose from for our first drive," Grotzinger said. "We had a bunch of strong contenders. It is the kind of dilemma planetary scientists dream of, but you can only go one place for the first drilling for a rock sample on Mars. That first drilling will be a huge moment in the history of Mars exploration."

The trek to Glenelg will send the rover 1,300 feet (400 meters) east-southeast of its landing site. One of the three types of terrain intersecting at Glenelg is layered bedrock, which is attractive as the first drilling target.
More space and astronomy stories from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Curiosity's first destination edition) on Daily Kos over the jump.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Economix blog forgets energy prices plus gas roller coaster update


Over at the N.Y. Times, David Leonhardt asked his readers "Why has median household income endured its worst 12-year stretch since the Great Depression?" He then listed 14 possible reasons and asked his readers to rate them as very important, modestly important, or marginally or not important. Follow over the jump for his choices and my reaction.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dream Cruise attracts visitors: Saturday at the 2012 Dream Cruise, Part 2

Here's that "post reviewing WXYZ's reporting about how the Dream Cruise fuels tourism" I promised in part 1. First, Kim Russell of WXYZ describes how the Dream Cruise attracts a million visitors from all over the U.S. and the developed world each year and interviews a couple of the more dedicated ones in Dream Cruise visitors.


Check out all the automotive attraction they list. I used to live near one of them--Michigan International Speedway AKA M.I.S. I was so close that I could not only hear the cars race, I could tell which kind were going around the track. Stock cars rumble; Indy cars whine.

Russell demonstrates the international nature of the event by interviewing a couple of Canadians.


Not all visitors come from far away; some are from right next door. Just to show love of cars isn't just a guy thing, Russell talks to a couple from Madison Heights whose love of cars brought them closer together.


How sweet!

The next post about Dream Cruise, if not the next post period, will be Saturday evening's coverage by WXYZ. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tom Tomorrow on Ryan and Rand plus bonus anagram

I know I promised "a post reviewing WXYZ's reporting about how the Dream Cruise fuels tourism," but I that will take some time to watch video I don't have right now. Instead, I have some more about Paul Ryan and his relationship to Ayn Rand.

First, Tom Tomorrow at Daily Kos posted this last night.


Full-sized version here.

That prompted a couple of commenters to post some macros to point out how the members of the ticket accidentally highlight the relationship between Ryan and Rand.


That's a much more impressive version than the one I first saw on Facebook courtesty of Nebris, who got it from Failbook.


In case you doubt the veracity of this anagram, another commenter from Daily Kos prepared this demonstration.


Sweet.

Finally, a diary at Daily Kos describes how Ryan has had to run away from Rand.

A Love Rejected: The Strange and Tragic Story of Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand

Too bad for Ryan that the Atlas Society has preserved Ryan's remarks about how important Rand was to him and reposted them. With friends like that, Eddie Munster hardly needs enemies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Cruise in Shoes: Saturday at the 2012 Dream Cruise, Part 1

WXYZ's coverage of the Dream Cruise was so extensive that I'm going to break down my blogging of it into parts.

Here's the first of the clips from Saturday.


In addition to the history lesson, we get to hear about the "Cruise in Shoes" a new 5K run that's a fund-raiser for the Dream Cruise. At least people are doing something good for their health to balance out sitting around and breathing exhaust fumes. Sweet.

Also note that the organizer notes that the event has become, if anything, even bigger over the past few years and highlights the love of the 1950s that fuels the cruise, something I pointed out over at Kunstler's blog this morning.
I've mostly been following the Dream Cruise, a celebration of car culture that has, if anything, gotten bigger after Peak Conventional Oil. You may hanker after the late 1800s. These people want the 1950s and 1960s back, and they miss it dearly.
The 1950s theme continues in the next clip, as the other organizer of the "Cruise in Shoes" is dressed up in 1950s pink.


That's it for right now. I'll return tonight with a post reviewing WXYZ's reporting about how the Dream Cruise fuels tourism.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Friday at the 2012 Dream Cruise

I had a very busy day yesterday, which kept me from posting an update on the Dream Cruise after succumbing to the urge to write about how I got to be a precinct delegate. To make up for that, here are WXYZ's video reports on Friday at the Dream Cruise.

Mary Conway outdoes herself in effervesing over the colorful classic cars on display in Countdown to the cruise.


One of the things Conway's interviewee highlighted in this interview is the democratic nature of the Dream Cruise. The event is like the Rose Parade, except that any ordinary person with an extraordinary love of cars and a cool car to match can participate. As for Conway herself, I'll join the presenters in the studio in saying that I'll miss her.

More over the jump.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On August 7th, I voted for myself


So did 181 other people. That's a big improvement over two years ago, when I was the only person who voted for me. The amazing thing was that I still won. How did that happen?

To answer that question, I have to tell you what office I ran for--precinct delegate. Ever since I became a Democrat in 2004, I noticed that there never was anyone running for precinct delegate any of the places where I lived, so I wrote myself in. Nothing ever happened, because I didn't know to do the critical step of submitting a notarized statement of identity, which would have allowed my write-in vote to count. That is, until two years ago, when I walked into the polling place, again saw that there was no one running for precinct delegate, and remarked to the poll worker that it was too bad I didn't know there was no one on the ballot, because then I could have filed a notarized statement. Her response was "I'm a notary public, at least for today, and I have a form right here." Of course, I filled it out. I then wrote my name in and waited. Two weeks later, I got the letter from the County Clerk saying that I was a precinct delegate. A week later, I went to the county convention. The next year, I went to the state convention. All of that just because I was in the right place in the right time with a big mouth and seized the opportunity.*

This year, I decided to do it the right way. I filed well in advance so that my name was on the ballot. I voted for myself, and expected only a handful of votes. Instead, I got 182. I came in second to a City Commission member who lives in my precinct, but since the precinct has three delegates, I won the office again. Sweet!

Of course, that means I have obligations, one of which is to go to the County (actually Congressional District) Convention. Fortunately, the meeting location is close enough for me to walk to, which I will. Hey, I like doing things sustainably, including my politics.

In case you're wondering what a precinct delegate does, here is the description of the position's duties, which I included in an Examiner.com article on County Conventions two years ago
The role of a precinct delegate is one of the most important yet least understood of any elected office. It is the active precinct delegate who wins elections for their party.

Precinct delegates are elected directly by the voters of each local voting precinct to serve as a “bridge” between voters and the party organization itself. As a precinct delegate, the delegate represents their party in their neighborhood and represent their neighborhood at party meetings.

As a Precinct Delegate, one will:
  • Help members of their party get registered to vote.
  • Take information on issues and candidates to the voters in their precinct.
  • Identify and recruit new party members.
  • Help turn out the their party's vote in their neighborhood on Election Day.
  • Keep their party's leaders informed about the issues that concern voters.
Time to get to work!

*In a lot of ways, this is the story of my life. So far, it's worked out OK for me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Time for a Paul Ryan label


In The future of the Olympics, I made the following prediction.
As for more speculation about the future, I think it's time I gave Paul Ryan his own label and a post introducing it.
Time to follow through.

To mark Willard Mitt Romney selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate, I'm sharing all the posts I've written about Ryan so far.

Fat Cat goes Galt

'Atlas Shrugged' gets the reviews and box office it deserves (Part I of a series)

Weekly roundup and sustainability news from national commercial sources for the week ending June 11, 2011

Weekly roundup and sustainability news from national commercial sources for the week ending June 11, 2011

Now S&P thinks it's a Satan Sandwich

A Day in Exquisite Insults of Objectivists

More Krugman on Paul Ryan

I was one of "about a dozen" yesterday

I'm sure I'll have more Paul (Krugman) vs. Paul (Ryan) posts. Until then, here's a macro of Paul Krugman calling Ryan's budget plan a fraud.

Thursday at the 2012 Dream Cruise

Mary Conway reports again from Royal Oak on the early cruisers, including one who drove up from Texas.


Conway continues to show her love of cars with this dispatch about Corvette owners.


Good for GM Chairman Ackerman, who will be donating the proceeds of the Corvette he's auctioning off to Habitat for Humanity to help build houses in Detroit, which gives this story an unexpected sustainability angle.

Finally, Conway describes how the Woodward Dream Cruise has become a draw for tourists from all over North America.


Sweet!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday at the 2012 Dream Cruise

Time for another video report.

First, Mary Conway reports on a New Zealand couple who are making a second trip to the Dream Cruise to buy a classic car, parade it down Woodward, then drive to California and ship it home.


Next, a story of a more recent car, a 1988 Mustang, restored in time to cruise Woodward.


WXYZ doesn't get to have all the fun. Here, Marco Andretti takes a lap up and down Woodward in a Volt with a writer from the Detroit News as a passenger.

Indy Car race car driver Marco Andretti cruises in the Chevy Volt with Detroit News auto critic Doug Guthrie.
That was fun and sustainable, too. Sweet!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lessons in the psychology of sustainability from MSU

In Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition) on Daily Kos, I included this pair of stories from Michigan State University describing what it takes to make people think green. The first comes from MSU's environmental studies in China and shows that pollution will make people more interested in their environment, regardless of income level.

Pollution can make citizens – both rich and poor – go green
July 30, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Nothing inspires environmentalism quite like a smog-filled sky or a contaminated river, according to a new Michigan State University study that also indicates environmentalism isn’t just for the prosperous.

People living in China’s cities who say they’ve been exposed to environmental harm are more likely to be green – re-using their plastic grocery bags or recycling. Moreover, the study, published July 30 in the international journal AMBIO, indicates that the poor would sacrifice economic gain to protect their environment.

“The human and natural worlds are tightly coupled and we cannot protect the environment without empirical studies on how rich and poor people are understanding and reacting to the natural world around them.” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, a co-author of the AMBIO paper and director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at MSU.

The paper, “How Perceived Exposure to Environmental Harm Influences Environmental Behavior in Urban China,” flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that the poor cannot afford to protect the environment.
This study shows there's hope for Detroit and other Rust Belt cities.

The second asks about the emotional aspect of living next to large predators and how people have to feel about them in order to protect them.

Human relationship with wildlife one key to conservation
July 31, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — To protect a dangerous and endangered animal – be it a tiger in Nepal or a wolf in Michigan – you really do have to ask people “how do you FEEL about your predatory neighbor?”

Effective conservation calls for figuring out what protected species need – like habitat and food sources. It also requires an understanding of what it takes for their human neighbors to tolerate them. A Michigan State University doctoral student studying tigers in Nepal found that those feelings can provide critical information on how best to protect species.

“People have complex psychological relationships with wildlife,” said Neil Carter, researcher in MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. “Picking apart these complex relationships is the best way to get a really good idea of what’s affecting their tolerance of the animal.”
I think someone needs to work with the ranchers in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to find how how they really feel about wolves, and what could make them feel any differently about them.

Thanks for the sweet research. This Wolverine says "Sparty on!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dream Cruise Week of 2012 kicks off

As I observed yesterday:
Of course, holding the Green Cruise means the Dream Cruise is coming up. I couldn't resist last year's celebration of "Happy Motoring--for now--from Detroit!" I don't think I can resist this year, either. Expect me to cover it a lot this coming week.
WXYZ is making it easy for me. Just like last year, the station is taking full advantage of its sponsorship of the Woodward Dream Cruise, posting lots of clips to its YouTube channel.

The coverage begins with Mary Conway, "The Queen of Cars,"* gushing over the refurbished classic cars on display before the Dream Cruise Kick-Off Breakfast.


Next, Conway goes inside to cover the Dream Cruise Committee Kick-Off Breakfast itself. Note that she's highlighting Chevrolet, another sponsor.


Here's an extended version of the above. Here, the on-air staff makes it clear that WXYZ is hosting the event, both the breakfast and the display of cars--simultaneous self-promotion and cross-promotion.


Finally, here is the first report from Woodward and 13 Mile showing the first car enthusiasts out on the street.


*That title comes from this video announcing her leaving the station.


"The Queen of Cars" is the perfect title to give someone who so obviously loves automobiles. Farewell and Godspeed!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Green Cruise 2012

I made a promise in my entry about the Green Cruise in Ferndale.
My goal now is to own a bike and get back in shape so that I can ride in the Green Cruise next year. Failing that, I can always walk. I love to walk, especially in a walkable neighborhood like West 9 Mile in Ferndale. Doing so as part of an event promoting a good cause would be a bonus.
I still haven't bought a bike, which means I'll put that on my list of resolutions for next year. I also didn't walk in the Green Cruise, as other more pressing matters came up that day. That's also on my list for next year. So is buying a membership to the Detroit Zoo and visiting the DIA, which is now free to residents of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties. But enough of my sustainability wish list.

Even though I didn't participate, I can still watch the highlights of the parade, thanks to the City of Ferndale, which posted this video to their YouTube channel.

The Great, Friendly, Fashionable & Proud city of Ferndale Mich 48220 Supports our Future. The Sierra Club organizes the Green Cruise every Year The week Prior the Gas Guzzling of the Dream Cruise. The Largest Glorification in the world of the unefficent Energy use of the Automobile.
As a bonus feature, here is the City of Ferndale's video of last year's cruise.

Be a Solution to Stop Pollution .. celebrating the many forms of human-powered transit that help keep you and the planet healthy.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Downtown Ferndale Michigan
I'm sorry I missed that one, too.  It looked really sweet.

Of course, holding the Green Cruise means the Dream Cruise is coming up. I couldn't resist last year's celebration of "Happy Motoring--for now--from Detroit!" I don't think I can resist this year, either. Expect me to cover it a lot this coming week.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The future of the Olympics

I closed my previous post with:
I'm going to compose an entry speculating on the future of the Olympics. Hey, what do you expect for a blog with a science fiction slant?
Here are the stories on this topic I originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Opening of London Olympics edition) on Daily Kos. Welcome to the best speculation British science has to offer.

First, Nature magazine predicts Olympics: Genetically enhanced Olympics are coming.
Future Olympic Games may allow handicaps and gene therapy for people born without genes linked to athleticism, predict Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans.
July 19, 2012
Olympians can run faster, leap higher and lift more than 'normal' humans. Of course, such elite athletes earn their titles with an astonishing amount of hard work and support. But many also have some unearned advantages: the right genes.

There is growing evidence that world-class athletes carry a minimum set of particular 'performance-enhancing' genes. For instance, almost every male Olympic sprinter and power athlete ever tested carries the 577R allele, a variant of the gene ACTN3. About half of Eurasians and 85% of Africans carry at least one copy of this 'power gene'. The billion or so other people who lack the 577R allele might wish to reconsider their Olympic aspirations.

More and more genes are now being linked to athletic prowess, and future Olympic officials will have to wrestle with the implications. Are the games in fact a showcase for hardworking 'mutants'? And if Olympic rule-makers admit that the genetic landscape is uneven, should they then test every athlete and hold separate competitions for the genetically ungifted?
Not to be outdone, New Scientist has a slideshow of possibilities in Olympic extremes: The winning formulas for London 2012.
ONE-HUNDREDTH of a second. That could be the difference between an athlete representing their country in this year's Olympic Games in London and one staying at home. Even finer margins can separate medal-winners from also-rans.

The Olympics is the ultimate goal for many sportspeople, and they will go to great lengths to get there. Ever since the modern games began in 1896, any research that might give athletes a boost - no matter how small - is leapt on by coaches. Behind the scenes, every athlete relies on a legion of psychologists, physiologists, engineers, biologists and nutritionists. Their work is a closely guarded secret: nobody will know whether it has been successful until long after the medals have been awarded. But it is possible to make educated guesses about the latest crazes...
Finally, in the spirit of speculating about the Olympics, here is Next Media Animation's funny forecast for tonight's closing ceremony.

The closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games are here already! That was fast. Besides the "A Symphony of British Music" theme, there is little else known about the ceremony.
As for more speculation about the future, I think it's time I gave Paul Ryan his own label and a post introducing it.

Americans not getting enough exercise while watching Olympics


With the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics tonight in London, I decided it was time to present the Olympics-related stories I had been sitting on for the past three weeks. Here are the stories about Americans' lack of exercise and the negative health outcomes of their inactivity that I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Two space anniversaries edition), Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Opening of London Olympics edition), and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition) on Daily Kos.

First, how the Olympics showcase the role of exercise in human evolution, and how the lack of exercise is causing more problems than people realize.

Olympics: Run for your life
Humans evolved to run. This helps to explain our athletic capacity and our susceptibility to modern diseases, argue Timothy Noakes and Michael Spedding.
July 19, 2012
The forthcoming Olympics in London will celebrate the performance capacity of humans and our remarkable ability to prepare our bodies and minds for specific tasks. But, at the same time as we are pushing our bodies to new limits in athleticism, we are experiencing unprecedented levels of relatively modern diseases such as obesity, diabetes and psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
...
Over millions of years, humans evolved from tree-dwelling apes to become Homo sapiens, capable of elite athleticism. Simply put, we evolved to run. While early hominins were undergoing intense skeletal and metabolic changes, major changes also occurred in their brains. We propose that these changes have rendered us dependent on mental and physical exercise to maintain brain health. Exercise doesn't just help muscles — it activates our brains, particularly through one pathway that helps to increase the number of neuronal connections.

Most humans today do not live in an environment where they must exercise regularly to chase down meat. For many, exercise is no longer an integral part of daily life, leading to a host of modern ailments.

In short, we think that exercise is not just important for general health — it is essential to the molecular memory of who we are. Without it, we are at risk of being obese and diabetic, and of developing diseases linked to brain function, such as psychiatric disorders, dementia and even violent behaviour.
That lack of exercise is contributing to mental health problems is a new one to me, but I shouldn't be surprised. I've known for decades that I think better when I'm walking than when I'm standing still. To a healthy mind in a healthy body!

Given the above information, the following pair of stories should be disturbing.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Get off the couch!
July 16, 2012
The average American may expend as little energy as a person who sleeps 24 hours a day by the year 2020, following a worldwide trend of decreasing activity.

That's one prediction from UNC-Chapel Hill researchers whose study found a global decline in activity levels. They foresee a continuing decrease in activity worldwide. When viewed in the context of physical activity levels throughout human evolution, the global decline in the past few decades is particularly abrupt.

Faculty members Barry Popkin and Shu Wen Ng conducted the study. They used extensive data from the 1960s onward to determine how people around the world spend their time and how they move in their daily lives. The resulting publication, “Time use and physical activity: a shift away from movement across the globe,” will be published in the August issue of Obesity Reviews.
University of Washington: Americans gaining more weight than they say
By William Heisel
August 3, 2012
Despite the increasing awareness of the problem of obesity in the United States, most Americans don’t know whether they are gaining or losing weight, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, also known at IHME, at the University of Washington.

Obesity increased in the U.S. between 2008 and 2009, but in response to the questions about year-to-year changes in weight that were included in the most widespread public health survey in the country, on average, people said that they lost weight. Men did a worse job estimating their own weight changes than women. And older adults were less attuned to their weight changes than young adults. The findings are being published in the article “In denial: misperceptions of weight change among adults in the United States” in the August edition of Preventive Medicine.

“If people aren’t in touch with their weight and changes in their weight over time, they might not be motivated to lose weight,” said lead author Catherine Wetmore. “Misreporting of weight gains and losses also has policy implications. If we had relied on the reported data about weight change between 2008 and 2009, we would have undercounted approximately 4.4 million obese adults in the US.”
So, not only are we not exercising, but we're not even aware of how much weight we're gaining. Lovely. Denial may be a normal psychological defense mechanism, but too much of it can unhealthy, especially if what people are in denial about is something dangerous to their health. That's not sweet.

I should go for a walk now, but instead, I'm going to compose an entry speculating on the future of the Olympics. Hey, what do you expect for a blog with a science fiction slant?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Student sustainability video festival 5: previous years' winners

My students in biodiversity and environmental science are giving their presentations for this semester, which means that I'm collecting the titles of the videos they're showing to repost here. However, they won't be finished until this coming Thursday night, so the installments grouping the videos by theme won't start until the week after that. I should do as I promised and post the videos about the ozone later and climate change from last semester. I might still get around to it, but not today. Instead, I'll post some of the video winners from previous years, all of which have made it into my lectures.

I begin with the video already featured in Video gift from a student, which I've already added to my lectures on human population. All three of my classes have watched it this semester.

7 Billion, National Geographic Magazine


To coincide with the arrival of the world's 7 billionth person on October 31, 2011, National Geographic magazine's 2011 year-long series on world population is available on the App Store as a free app for iPad starting 10/27/11. The interactive app explores the challenges—and potential solutions—for coping with a growing human population in a world of limited resources with informative videos, interactive maps, in-depth articles, and stunning photography.
...
Editor's update: in 2050, 70% of the population will be living in "urban areas," not "megacities" as stated in an earlier version of this video. In addition, the total number of countries in the world is now 195, with recognition of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, 2011.
Next, one that I use to illustrate how a solid waste and consumption problem becomes a water pollution problem.

Captain Charles Moore on the seas of plastic

Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he's drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.
Now, the first video any of my students showed, which was in the very first student presentation done in my classes since the advent of YouTube: Blue Man Group on Global Warming.



Sweet.

Blue Man Group also includes this video in their live shows. Here is a clip showing that segment in context.



Yeah, it's better with audience reaction.

Friday, August 10, 2012

FBI declares ICP and Juggalos a gang; ICP sues

Here's a story about the intersection of crime and pop music I originally posted it to unfunny_fandom on JournalFen that definitely fits this blog's point of view, "a science fiction slant and a Detroit perspective." The premise is definitely science-fictional and Insane Clown Posse hail from Detroit.

I present to you some unfunny about a fandom that does unfunny things in a funny way--Juggalos. It seems that the fans of Insane Clown Posse have become decidedly unfunny to law enforcement and the FBI has made some Foolish Ballistic Insinuations as a consequence.

Last fall, the FBI included Juggalos in their National Gang Assessment for 2011 (PDF). On pages 22 and 23, the FBI lists them under "non-traditional gangs," calling them a "loosely-organized hybrid gang." Some of the criminal activities carried out by ICP fans appear in this section, along with a photo of a Juggalo with a gun that the FBI took from the ATF (trigger warning for descriptions of violence).


At first, the inclusion of Juggalos in the FBI's list was mocked by Spencer Ackerman at Wired, who observed "[t]he FBI has recently had difficulty distinguishing ordinary American Muslims from terrorists; now it appears it has a similar problem distinguishing teenage fads from criminal conspiracies." As recently as Thursday, the Village Voice posted that people thought the FBI report was an example of "another example of a federal agency looking foolish for its cultural ineptitude." That was until the U.S. Marshal Service issued a press release listing the fugitives added to New Mexico's Most Wanted.
Mark Anthony Carslon A.K.A. Mark Carlton is wanted on two felony warrants for failing to comply with the terms of probation both on underlying armed robbery cases. Carlson is a member of the Insane Clown Posse “Juggalo” gang. The “Juggalos” were recently classified as a gang by the Albuquerque Police Department Gang unit and it is believed that Carlson is still actively committing armed robberies in the Albuquerque Metro area.
Bolding from The Village Voice, who also reproduced Carlson's wanted poster, which listed his criminal affiliation as "Insane Clown Posse 'Juggalo'." Poster over the jump.

Science crime scenes 5: Tourism, prevention, restitution, and recovery

Time to begin August's installments of this series, the last edition of which was Science Crime Scenes 4: Plagiarism, mysteries, and the usual looting and vandalism. This one is entirely archeology and consists of stories I originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition) on Daily Kos.

The lead stories this week don't actually fit the theme, but are efforts to either recover from crime (Egypt) or do well while doing good in the process of preventing crime (Turkey). Both of them also fit the idea of sustainable economic development, at least in terms of generating a vibrant economy while preserving culture. In other words, both are good news.

Washington Post: In Egypt, archaeologists reopen tombs to woo tourists
By Simon Denyer, Published: July 29
GIZA, Egypt — More than 4,500 years since the paint was first applied, the reds, yellows and blues still stand out on the walls of the tomb of Queen Meresankh III.

A hunter throws a net to catch water birds, craftsmen make papyrus mats while a stream of people carry baskets filled with offerings for the afterlife.

Decorating the walls all around are paintings, reliefs and statues of Meresankh, draped in a leopard-skin cloak, standing beside her mother in a boat, pulling papyrus stems through the water or being entertained by musicians and singers.

Egypt’s tourism industry has been battered since last year’s revolution, but here, beside the pyramids of Giza, officials are trying to attract the visitors back.
Good luck to Egypt. They need it.

NBC News: A hotel? An archaeology site? Or both?
By Geoff Tofield, NBC News
ANTAKYA, Turkey – When Necmi Asfuroglu decided to build a hotel in Antakya, a small city in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, it made good business sense. The city, like the country, is in the middle of a growth spurt. Trade has been expanding and tourism from Turkey and other countries is on the rise.

Asfuroglu, who built his family firm on steel and concrete production, as well as textiles, moved into construction. He secured building permits, got a franchise from Hilton Hotels, had plans drawn up, brought in his project manager, and thought he’d have a working hotel within 18 months.

Three years later, his has to be one of the most ambitious hotel projects in the world. While digging the foundation of the building, workers found … the past. Lots of it.
This is a real cool story, so please read it. Also, I hope his plan pans out; he deserves success for attempting it.

Follow over the jump to read another example of an attempt a preventing loss, along with stories of restitution, fakery, and body recovery, one of which takes a detour through Australia's film industry. Yeah, science can be cool.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Giant African Snails invading Latin America

gntlndsnails

BBC: African snail: Deadly invasion in South America
By William Kremer
August 2, 2012
An African snail appears to be on a campaign to conquer central and southern America. But how much mess can a mollusc make - and are they really deadly to humans?

At an average size of just a couple of inches long, the so-called giant African land snail (Achatina fulica) probably wouldn't qualify for a starring role in a 1950s horror film, but it is still wreaking havoc in several South American countries and the US state of Florida.

The threat lies in its ability to multiply at enormous speed. The snails reach maturity after a year and can then produce 200-300 eggs a month, leading to huge infestations within a short space of time. The snails, which are native to East Africa, appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of the world's top 100 invasive species.
Actually, the biggest threat this snail poses comes from the measures people use to get rid of it. The worst one involves importing predatory snails and flatworms to control its population. The snail predators usually find the native snails easier prey than the Giant African snails. On the Hawaiian Islands, the deliberately introduced Rosy Wolf Snail helped drive most of the native Hawaiian snails to extinction during the late 20th Century, while the Giant African Snail still roams the islands.

The worst part of all this is that it is an example of history repeating. The Indian Mongoose was introduced to Hawaii the 1880s to control rats. That didn't work out as planned, because the mongooses figured out that the native birds were easier pickings than the rats. Most of the native birds went extinct, although the mongooses had help from overhunting the birds for their feathers and habitat destruction. Obviously, people didn't learn the first time.

And, yes, this is a story I tell my students. In fact, I've already put it in my slideshow for my lecture on Monday.

Story originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition) on Daily Kos.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Examiner.com article on U.S. House primaries



John Dingell is once again the Democratic nominee for Michigan's 12th Congressional District.

Three of four contests decided for U.S. House in Washtenaw County
With 83% of the precincts reported in Washtenaw County as of 1:30 A.M., the Associated Press has called the winners of both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the Seventh Congressional District and the victor of the Democratic primary in the Twelfth Congressional District.

Incumbent Tim Walberg successfully fended off a primary challenge from Dan Davis to be the Republican nominee to be the Republican nominee for the Seventh Congressional District. Walberg will face Kurt Haskell, who defeated Ruben Marquez to become the Democratic nominee.

Democrat John Dingell, the longest serving current Representative in the House, survived a challenge from Daniel Marcin for his party's nomination for the Twelfth District seat. Dingell's opponent has not yet been determined, as the Associated Press has not yet called the winner of the Republican primary between Cynthia Kallgren and Karen Jacobsen, which Kallgren leads narrowly.
Details for all four primaries at the link in the headline.

As for what this means, both incumbents will very likely win. Haskell has a reputation as a flake (or worse) and Kallgren is too far right for the district. In the case of Dingell, that's sweet. In the case of Walberg, it's quite bitter. I used to live in his district and can't stand the man.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Driving update for August 2012 with bonus gas price rollercoaster

.Yesterday, my car's odometer turned over 213,000 miles, another 1000 since the previous update in May. Since that's 97 days, I drove less per day than I did during the previous three months, 10.3 miles/day compared to 11.4 miles/day then. Hey, I drove a mile less per day! Using 30.5 day months, that converts to 311.4 miles/month. I am still contributing to the nation's long-term decrease in miles driven, as shown by this graph from Calculated Risk, which I included in my lecture this week to my geology and environmental science classes to demonstrate the effect of higher gas prices on the economy.


I'm driving less because I have fewer meetings to go to during the summer that require a special driving trip. I'd probably have driven even fewer miles if it hadn't been so hot during late May and June. That really discouraged me from walking. July was also hot, but I can't use that for an excuse because last July was even hotter.

As for why the nation has been driving less, the price of gasoline is going back up. Calculated Risk posted yesterday that gasoline prices are down from the peak in early April, but up about 20 cents over the last five weeks. That's the national average. Here in Detroit, it's even worse, as WXYZ reported a few days ago.


No surprise, WOOD-TV was even more on top of the story,* posting that gas may hit $4/gal Thursday on Wednesday night.


What's happening is that Michigan is experiencing a spike caused by refinery and pipeline problems on top of the national rise in prices resulting from rising crude oil prices--and quite a spike it is, too. When I last wrote about local gas prices, the price at the corner station and all of its nearest competitors was $3.59. The next week, the corner station raised its price to $3.75, where it remained for a day while the rest of its competitors held their prices at $3.59. The corner station then dropped its price back to $3.59. A few days later, all of the stations were selling gas at $3.75. Then, last Thursday, as WOOD-TV forecast, all the stations around here raised their prices to $3.99. Wow, a 40 cent jump in two weeks! That's not sweet at all.

*I find that WOOD-TV consistently has more intelligent reporting on the economy in general and gas prices in particular than WXYZ, although the latter gets better sound bites from the people it interviews. It evens out, which is why I subscribe to both of their YouTube channels.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Examiner.com article on Curiosity's landing

I realized that I had a story in More Curiosity than you can shake a stick at and other space and astronomy news that I could write for Examiner.com and post tonight before the landing. Here's what I whipped up in just over an hour and succeeded in getting an 8.0 out of 8.0 on Examiner.com's quality rating scale.

Artist's conception of the sky crane gently lowering the Curiosity rover onto the surface of Mars.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

U of M engineers playing important role in Curiosity's 'seven minutes of terror'
When Curiosity lands tonight on Mars, a handful of Michigan faculty and recent alumni will be more than casual spectators to the event. They have already tested what could happen as the Mars Science Laboratory's rover is lowered onto the Martian surface and will see if their predictions will be confirmed.

The landing process is complex enough. Curiosity, which is as long as an SUV and heavier than a Mini Cooper, will first ride to a mile above the surface suspended from a parachute, then jettison the parachute and ride the last mile down using retrorockets. For the last 60 feet, the rover will be lowered by cables from the landing craft to the surface while the rockets keep the landing craft hovering above.

Mark Pokora, who worked on a class project related to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) in 2009, had this to say about the procedure in a mulitimedia presentation. "Whenever I show someone NASA's video of the landing process, they're like, 'That's really cool, but also kind of insane.'"
Much more at the link, including the University of Michigan Engineering video on YouTube with their own take on NASA's "7 minutes of terror" video.

This video provides a quick overview of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, including the "7 minutes of terror" that NASA coined to describe the unprecedented landing plan designed for the mission.

Michigan Engineering faculty, staff and students have played a role in the NASA mission, which will set the Curiosity rover on a carefully selected site called Gale Crater.
Here's to a successful landing, which would be sweet!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Projection is the Right's favorite defense mechanism

According to my wife the psychologist, it's not a healthy one, either.

That may not be the half of it, though. Projection may be part of a complex of behaviors called DARVO--"Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." Here's what Jennifer Freyd at the University of Oregon, who coined the term, has to say about it.
DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.
As I wrote, projection isn't even the half of it. Tara Palmatier at Shrink4Men describes it as "a combination of projection, denial, lying, blame shifting and gaslighting. Sound familiar?

Speaking of projection, I used to give out a mock award on the USENET group dedicated to Art Bell's Coast to Coast called the Green Lantern Award for Projection. It might be worth reviving that award, along with Cleopatra Queen of Denial, Brain of Stone, and others. Of course, that award name isn't really fair to the Green Lantern, but after the latest movie...


Based on comments at Michigan Liberal and Daily Kos.

More Curiosity than you can shake a stick at and other space and astronomy news

To make up for last week's short, sweet, and late news, I'm posting a full-length edition as soon as I can. That's mostly because the big story of the week just past is the landing of Curiosity on Mars, which is happening in less than 24 hours. That makes for a short shelf life for most of the space and astronomy stories I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (PECASE, President's Birthday, and Curiosity edition) on Daily Kos tonight.

I'll begin with This Week @ NASA, which features the lead story prominently, along with introducing most of the other major U.S. space stories of the week.

NASA Television on YouTube: Curiosity's Landing on This Week @NASA

The much-anticipated landing of the Mars Science Laboratory with Curiosity, the Red Planet's next resident rover, is this Monday, at 1:31 a.m. Eastern. Having been configured by the MSL flight team for entry, descent and landing the spacecraft is on final approach for its targeted touchdown in Gale Crater. Coverage of Curiosity's landing begins Sunday at 11:30 p.m. Eastern on all three NASA TV channels, nasa.gov, AND, Xbox 360. Also, engineers at the Johnson Space Center have conducted test firings of the Project Morpheus Lander, the quickest trip ever to the International Space Station of an unpiloted Russian Progress resupply ship , Marking History at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility and more!
More videos over the jump.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Looking ahead to Curiosity, farewell Sally Ride, and other space and astronomy stories

I present a late report that is short and sweet because of the emphasis on the Olympics and British science in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Opening of London Olympics edition) last week. I'll let This Week @ NASA cover the week's top U.S. space stories.

Red Planet Rendezvous on This Week @NASA

The Curiosity rover continues to make its way to Mars and its scheduled landing in Gale Crater on Monday, Aug. 6. Also Mars Yard; New record set; New heat shield test and new mission previewed; Landsat 40 and remembering Sally Ride and more....
NASA has more on Mars in the next video.

ScienceCasts: Mars Landing Sky Show

On the same night Curiosity lands on Mars, a "Martian Triangle" will appear in sunset skies of Earth. The first-magnitude apparition on August 5th gives space fans something to do while they wait for news from the Red Planet.
DarkSyde on Daily Kos has more on Curiosity and a few other space stories in This week in science: The good earth.

Speaking of British space stories, here's one from the BBC.

Moon formation: Was it a 'hit and run' accident?
27 July 2012
Scientists have proposed a fresh idea in the long-running debate about how the Moon was formed.

What is certain is that some sort of impact from another body freed material from the young Earth and the resulting debris coalesced into today's Moon.

But the exact details of the impactor's size and speed have remained debatable.

In a report online to be published in Icarus, researchers suggest that the crash happened with a much larger, faster body than previously thought.
And that's it for last week. Time to start putting together this week's edition, first for Daily Kos and then for here.

Emergency Manager Referendum will appear on November's ballot

More election news from WXYZ.

The Michigan Supreme Court says a referendum on the state's emergency manager law will appear on the November ballot.
Sweet!  Also, good news, everyone, and it's not a suppository!

Examiner.com article on Planned Parenthood endorsements

The endorsements keep rolling in.

Andy LaBarre, here with wife Megan and their dogs, was endorsed by Planned Parenthood for County Commissioner.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan announces endorsements
In an email sent Friday morning, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan announced its endorsements for offices ranging from President down to County Commissioner. Eleven of the candidates will be on the primary ballot in Washtenaw County this coming Tuesday. A twelfth, President Barack Obama, will be on the ballot in November.

The candidates endorsed by the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood of Michigan include Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate, John Dingell for the 12th Congressional District, Gretchen Driskell, Jeff Irwin, David Rutledge, and Adam Zemke for Michigan House, Lawrence Kestenbaum for County Clerk, Jeffrey Gallatin for Sheriff, and Andy LaBarre, Yousef Rabhi, and Conan Smith for County Commissioner.

Gallatin is one of only three Republicans throughout Michigan endorsed by the pro-choice organization and the sole endorsed Republican running in Washtenaw County. All the other candidates who met with Planned Parenthood Advocates' approval are Democrats.
My one unanswered question is what did the incumbent Democratic Sheriff of Washtenaw County do to piss off Planned Parenthood?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yesterday's election news from WXYZ

While I'm working on an Examiner.com article on Planned Parenthood's endorsements, here's the first of two installments of videos from WXYZ about the election next Tuesday. First, Poll shows movement in senate and presidential races.


Link to story at WXYZ website: EXCLUSIVE POLL: Obama back in front, Hoekstra holds big lead on Durant.

Next, yesterday's news about local congressional races.

POLL: Cassis, Upton lead their districts

The race to replace former Livonia Congressman Thaddeus McCotter is lining up nicely for former State Senator Nancy Cassis. Meanwhile the attempt to unseat a popular West Michigan Congressman appears to be failing.
For the details at WXYZ's website, see EXCLUSIVE POLL: Nancy Cassis, Fred Upton lead in closely watched Congressional districts.

There's also an earlier video focusing on the freakshow that is the 11th District--at least the GOP half of it. The Democratic primary seems to be flying under the radar.



Race for McCotter's Seat

For a preview of the WXYZ's video's for today, see EXCLUSIVE POLL: Conyers and Peters take big leads in new districts. The 14th District primary is finally getting the attention it deserves, with only a week to go. Sweet.

Finally, there is a millage vote to support the Detroit Institute of Arts. That deserves a post of its own, but for now, watch this video.

The battle over the DIA millage is playing out between both sides of the issue.
It should come as no surprised, based on what I've written about local libraries, that I'm in favor of the millage.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nablopomo for August: Sweet

NaBloPoMo August 2012

What's this month's theme?
SWEET

That perfect bite of watermelon, that time when a reader left the perfect comment, a picture that a child drew for you: NaBloPoMo is celebrating the sweet things in life this month. In fact, NaBloPoMo is kicking off during a very sweet time of year: the annual BlogHer conference where 4500 people are coming together to meet up with friends and talk blogging. This is the perfect time to jump into daily blogging when the creative juices are running high.

Of course, we're going to have to talk about what qualities make a person be described as "sweet" as well as our favourite candies, the best dessert you ever had, and who is really made of sugar, spice and everything nice.
...
So start thinking about all of your favourite sweet things.
In case you were wondering why I concluded last night's post by observing that the idea of blogging about Ted Cruz's Agenda 21 paranoia for six years "is not sweet," wonder no longer. I was already following the theme.

It turns out that I'm not done with yesterday's entry.
Since Paul Krugman was the one who alerted me to Ted Cruz, I decided to return the favor by leaving this comment on his blog.
Speaking of paranoia striking shallow, do you remember Ted Cruz, who you wrote about in "First, they came for the golf courses"? He managed to survive the Texas senate primary at the end of May. He's in a runoff election for Kay Bailey Hutchinson's U.S. Senate seat in Texas today. Back in May, he lost by 10 percent. As of the most recent poll, he was ahead of his opponent David Dewhurst by 10 percent. The guy who thinks Agenda 21 is a U.N. conspiracy to take away "golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads" is likely to be the GOP nominee and therefore the favorite to win in November. He is, as I'm fond of saying one of the GOP's maniacs who are promising people that they can keep their cars, McMansions, and commutes this year. Care to use him to make a point about how crazy the Republican Party has become--again?
Krugman read the comment and published it. It's now up to him to follow through.
This morning, he did. Sweet!

Tee Party
First, they came for the golfers.
So the Republican nominee for Senate in Texas is a man who believes that there is a global plot, led by George Soros, to eliminate golf courses. Also, that states can nullify Acts of Congress.

Politics in the world’s greatest nation.
Never let it be said that Dr. Krugman does not respond to reader requests.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Agenda 21 paranoid Ted Cruz won his runoff


Yesterday, I noted that Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist Ted Cruz was leading in the latest polls in his runoff for the Republican nomination to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison and made the following promise.
Looks like I'm not done with blogging about politicians exploiting Agenda 21 paranoia, even after I said "Goodbye, Gingrich!"
I'll check back after the votes are tallied tonight.
I was right. Cruz won. USA Today reports.
Texas Republicans picked Tea Party-backed candidate Ted Cruz in Tuesday's Senate runoff election, knocking out long-time Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a race being watched nationally.
...
Cruz competed against a better funded and known establishment favorite based largely on his appeal to grass-roots conservatives and endorsements from national party leaders including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

"What we've found is, if you've got grass-roots energy, all you really need is enough money to get you on the radar," DeMint said.
That was 2 hours ago, when the AP called the race with less than half the precincts reporting. Since then, Cruz's margin has expanded with today's walk-up vote building on the lead he had in the early vote, as the Texas Secretary of State reported at 11:00 PM CDT (Texas local time) that Cruz was leading Dewhurst 56.20% to 43.79% with 86.36% of precincts counted.

As for what this means, I'll let the New York Times explain.
Mr. Cruz, 41, is the latest conservative rebel to bring down an established party leader, tapping into simmering anger and anti-incumbent frustration within the Republican ranks nationwide.

These dissident triumphs include, in this year’s primaries, the defeat of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana by Richard E. Mourdock and Deb Fischer’s win over a veteran Republican for the Senate nomination in Nebraska. They also echo Marco Rubio’s Senate victory in 2010 over a sitting Republican governor, Charlie Crist of Florida.

Mr. Cruz, who is Cuban-American, has drawn comparisons to Mr. Rubio, another 40-something Cuban-American who quickly became an icon of fiscal and religious conservatives around the country. Mr. Cruz’s rapid ascent has already shaken up the Texas Republican Party.

“Mr. Cruz’s success shows that the center of the state party has moved decisively to the right,” said James Henson, a political scientist at University of Texas. “The Republicans are in much more treacherous terrain, not because of threats from Democrats, but threats from within the party.”
Since Paul Krugman was the one who alerted me to Ted Cruz, I decided to return the favor by leaving this comment on his blog.
Speaking of paranoia striking shallow, do you remember Ted Cruz, who you wrote about in "First, they came for the golf courses"? He managed to survive the Texas senate primary at the end of May. He's in a runoff election for Kay Bailey Hutchinson's U.S. Senate seat in Texas today. Back in May, he lost by 10 percent. As of the most recent poll, he was ahead of his opponent David Dewhurst by 10 percent. The guy who thinks Agenda 21 is a U.N. conspiracy to take away "golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads" is likely to be the GOP nominee and therefore the favorite to win in November. He is, as I'm fond of saying one of the GOP's maniacs who are promising people that they can keep their cars, McMansions, and commutes this year. Care to use him to make a point about how crazy the Republican Party has become--again?
Krugman read the comment and published it. It's now up to him to follow through.

The good news is that I was proven right. I'll be blogging about Agenda 21 paranoia up through November. The bad news is that he's likely to win, as the N.Y. Times article concludes.
Mr. Cruz is expected to have a large advantage over his Democratic opponent. In the Democratic runoff, which was also held Tuesday, former State Representative Paul Sadler defeated Grady Yarbrough, a retired educator. Texas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.
I now know how liberal comedians feel about the possibility of a Romney victory.  It is not sweet.