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environment & naturepolitics & government

Why is Barack Obama trying to destroy the environment?

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The Obama administration claims to be concerned about the environment. One need only look at its commitment to green energy subsidies to understand how totally serious they are about taking care of the world in which we all live.

This commitment to the environment is one of the president’s most defining qualities. That’s why I was shocked to learn that the president is seeking to prop up an industry that is directly responsible for devastating environmental impact.

President Obama on Monday unveiled a plan to save the U.S. Postal Service and its employees from insolvency — a plan that includes the possible end of Saturday mail service.

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politics & government

The Fantastic Frontrunners

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politics & government

Let the field be weak, let it be crazy, let it be unelectable

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It’s every place I visit when I surf the net.  It’s the topic of conversations through the day.  People are not happy with Obama, but they don’t see anyone around the country whom they feel should be elected over him.  The current field of GOP candidates are boring, weak, useless, pandering idiots, just like all of the other popularity contest winners in DC, and yet people still, after years of experience to the contrary, expect one of these talking heads to have “all of the answers”.

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animalsrecipes & food

Barbecued snake and other delights

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A couple of my pals live in Vietnam. I want to visit them sometime soon, and one of the things I wish to see is the slaughter of live cobras at local restaurants. It happens, apparently. The Web site Matador Nights has the skinny:

“Munching on cobra parts is likely an adaptation of the Chinese medical belief that ingesting an animal will endow the eater with its positive attributes. This is why tiger penises are so expensive nowadays…

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If only the stooges revolt…or weren’t stooges to begin with!

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As a counter to the GOP’s inquisition of climate scientists, let us remember that in the last year or so, UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller re-examined all the temperature data from the NOAA, East Anglia Hadley Climate Research Unit, and the Goddard Institute of Space Science sources. Even though Muller started out as a skeptic of the temperature data, and he was funded by the Koch brothers and other oil company sources, he carefully checked and re-checked the research himself. When the GOP leaders called him to testify before the House Science and Technology Committee last spring, they were expecting him to discredit the temperature data showed real change. Instead, Muller shocked his GOP sponsors by demonstrating his scientific integrity and telling truth to power: the temperature increase was real, and the scientists who had demonstrated climate was changing were right.9

This is the essence of the scientific method at its best. There may be biases in our perceptions, and we may want to find data that fits our preconceptions about the world, but if science is done properly, we get a real answer, often one we did not expect. That’s the true test of when science is giving us a reality check: when it tells us something we do not want to hear, but is inescapable if one follows the scientific method and analyzes the data honestly.

Thomas Henry Huxley said it best over 150 years ago: “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.”–Donald Prothero, Professor of Geology, Occidental College and Cal-Tech

This month’s edition of E-Skeptic has a great article by Dr. Prothero about the interseces of faith, politics and science, and based on his discussion I’m kind of convinced that we have a fascinating problem — when the three collide, bet against whichever has the greatest value and truth. In the article, Denialist Demagogues and the Threat to Science, Prothero makes the point repeatedly, that there are whores amongst us who will sell out as well as dupes and those unwilling to accept science and the scientific method.  Rick Perry has famously commented that four semesters of biochemistry made a pilot out of him; thing is, even that  “misunderestimates” his level of ignorance. It’s not that the man is stupid — he is willfully ignorant.

This seems to be par for the course for the right this cycle, and probably should be on the minds of most of us. When confronted by facts, theories, hyposthesis, evidence that they do not disagree, they proclaim along with the choirs of angels and saints that it’s a mystery and the Lord will provide. Since I know more than a few conservative atheists, that seems a bit disingenuous, so they proclaim a conspiracy which then, on examination, turns out to be a combination of right wing PR combined with whoreish behavior by a few and eye on the prize hypocrisy by others combined with a degree of malign, self-serving calculation. [Read more →]

language & grammartrusted media & news

A Fieldguide to Avian-Americans

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The dove is a symbol of peace but symbolism is a tricky business. Perhaps due to its reputed monogamy and habit of living among humans without  much friction the dove has been such since biblical times at least. Likewise the corruption of symbols, the dove included, has always been a staple of human interaction whether in a friendly confusion as happened with our Martian friends or with malign and murderous cunning. The dove, like the olive branch, is a somewhat arbitrary vehicle for sentiment and as all good people are learning, sentiment has immovable limitations.

The clear opposite of the Dove, in politics as in fact, is the Hawk. While the Doves are an ancient political race the Hawk, or War Hawk was only conceived around 1812. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: Partitions by Amit Majmudar

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Sometimes, a book makes lovely reading, even when the subject matter is very sad. Partitions by Amit Majmudar is one of those books. I was not at all surprised to read that the author is an award-winning poet; there is a certain poetry to the language in this story that gives it away. (He is also a diagnostic nuclear radiologist, but I haven’t quite worked that into the mental picture I get when I’m reading.)

In 1947, the border between Pakistan and India was closed. It was not a peaceful closing. Muslims and Hindus caught on the wrong side of the border found themselves in great danger; by some estimates, up to a million people died. Partitions deals with the stories of several people trying to get to the right side of the new border. [Read more →]


When your body no longer wants to be beaten: aging UFC-style

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Mixed martial arts is a relatively young field, which is fun because it’s exciting to see a sport scramble to assemble a rich history. (History is essential to sports, for without it you can’t proclaim anyone the greatest ever and not just the best right now or scream at your children about how fundamentally sound everybody was in your day.) That said, it’s a challenge to show off a rich tradition when discussing a weight class created three weeks ago. This has not proven to be an impediment to the UFC (that’s Ultimate Fighting Championship, for those yet to enter the Octagon), which has mastered the art of the instant icon. One of its greatest triumphs: Randy “Captain America” Couture, who spent much of his professional life as an UFC Hall of Famer and a five-time champion and was always announced as a living legend…yet retired with a career record of 19-11. [Read more →]

moneypolitics & government

Waste and whimsy

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Whether it was the blizzards of months ago or the hurricanes of weeks ago, we all know the drill. Head down to the supermarket and wipe them out of milk, eggs, bread and batteries. The FEMA types and Glenn Beck are in agreement. You should have three days of supplies for any emerging emergency and apparently the victuals of choice in a crisis is French toast made by flashlight (but you better have a gas stove). Three days of food. Three days of water. Some choose Evian. Some choose Wal-Wetter. In either case the retailer is pleased as water is always and everywhere the highest margin product on the shelves. Water amazingly carries an even higher added value than ice, the prime bill-payer of yesterday. We take water out of the faucet, add a bit of electricity and a couple hours of patience and voila! That will be $3.50, please. Sure, you could run your ice trays overtime before your cocktail party or killing spree, you’re running the freezer anyhow, but that smacks of effort. Not cool. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzoeducation

Sand and sense: On being an artistic diversion

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Have any of my currently unknown artistic brethren and sistren out there noticed what nifty little curiosities we seem, to our  acquaintances? I mean, if we won big fat awards or sold something for hard cash, we would be seriously interesting — legitimate, even. But until then, we are breathing diversions; we are, at best, refreshing company, because if we are, indeed, forced to cut the grass to make ends meet, we still refuse to stray far from playing in the backyard sandbox.  And, oh, the little castles we can make! Such delights! Such fun! [Read more →]

animalsgetting older

Elegy for a fat-assed cat

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There is a dog room and a cat room. The dog room contains stalls and cages built into the walls along with large, wheeled fourplexes for the young and the small. Also in the dog room is an endless peal of barking, howling and scratching. The cat room is more like the section in the old Woolworth’s where they sold the goldfish and parakeets. Basically there are aquaria but with grillwork instead of glass and within the grillwork are tiny mewling bits of fluff, at this time all nameless. Little cards describe them briefly with a guess at their breed and a good estimate of their age which is given in weeks or months. In a dog cage in the cat room there was one enormous middle-aged creature who had already enjoyed a breadth of life far beyond what his cave-cat ancestors could have expected. His name was Arthur. [Read more →]

ends & odd

Tuesday fun link

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It’s safe for work (I guess).

moneypolitics & government

The Great Co-signer

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We’re getting some funny reactions to the eclipse of Solyndra. One tactical dismissal is the old threatened filibuster; you want to talk about the money wasted on Solyndra? What about all the money wasted on coal, gas and oil? Hmmm? And it is a good question. The presumption is that while there may be ups and downs in the New Frontier of alt energy, we KNOW “fossil fuels” are obsolete or at least bad, so…. And all talk is smothered under a threat of a days long energy policy seminar for which you feel yourself ill-equipped. Underlying this threat is the certainty that nobody…. that would be NO body is going to simply say, okay, stop it all. Of course they are correct. If ethanol, which starves the world but enriches Iowa while costing the nation billions can yet hold together a coalition of granolas and agri-business, the Solyndroids have solid grounds for their conviction. Log-rolling is a most popular sport in political fields even if it is not yet in the Olympics. So the total Solyndra loss is not much at half a bil and is only 3.4% of the outstanding solar loan portfolio. Alright, we can wait on that point until losses are at 30% as it won’t be long. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: New York Giants players hilariously fake injuries

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Honesty and sports do not necessarily go together. The stakes involved in the major sports certainly lend themselves to participants trying to get an edge any way they can. That is not to say that everyone cheats, of course, but there is no doubt that finding an advantage is often the key to winning. Sometimes, this does involve various kinds of subterfuge and even cheating. One of the reasons I have never been a big fan of soccer is the way that players fake injuries in attempts to get penalties called on their opponents. I have long assumed that this happens in other sports as well, but it seems particularly obvious in soccer. This week, this phenomenon became a hot topic of conversation in the NFL, as the New York Giants seemed to take a page out of the sport’s namesake, with not one but two players faking injury at the exact same time. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingeducation

Top ten least useful college majors

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10. Fart History

9. Print Journalism

8. Forensic Reflexology

7. Fax Machine Repair

6. Congressional Ethics

5. Ufology

4. Competitive Dwarf Tossing

3. Farrah Fawcett-Majors

2. American Economics

1. Grifting

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

drugs & alcoholsports

Chester Marcol’s cocaine blues

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Former Green Bay Packers kicker Chester Marcol’s new autobiography looks to be a real humdinger.

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moneypolitics & government

Why the shit don’t work

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Some pertinent facts seem to have been subsumed behind the New York Times pay wall, one wall I shall never breach, but my memory has not yet been degraded by the internets as badly as our ability to catch birds in flight has been dulled by the poultry industry. SkyNet Jr (Google) will not disgorge a story from 2004 about a team of mathematicians, two I recall, either at MIT or BU who eagerly participated in the race to develop statistical models that could predict elections. This is vital work as the one innovation that could solve all our problems; taking the citizen OUT of the electoral process, hangs on its perfection. These fellows had some pretty serious success as their program, held in utter secret, could reliably predict the two-party vote within two percent. At the time the question was, Will the fine, enlightened war hero, John Kerry, replace the drooling hand-puppet from Enroniburton? [Read more →]


The All My Children generation

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Is Erica Kane dead? It seems her show is, at least on network television. Yesterday was the last episode of All My Children on ABC, and it ended with a gunshot headed in Erica’s direction, followed by a fade to black. Much like its soap opera protagonists, All My Children will be resurrected from the dead, but online. Now two questions remain: who will be in the new version, and who will watch it? [Read more →]

on the lawreligion & philosophy

Sure Enough to Kill Troy Davis

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So, Troy Davis is dead.

Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Troy Davis lifted his head and declared one last time that he did not kill police officer Mark MacPhail. Just a few feet away behind a glass window, MacPhail’s son and brother watched in silence.

And, despite his claim that he is innocent of a crime for which there is said to be no physical evidence, it seems the witnesses were enough to make it stick. The victim’s mother says:

[Davis has] been telling himself [he’s innocent] for 22 years. You know how it is, he can talk himself into anything (same source as above).

As anyone who reads my stuff with any regularity knows, I’m not a current events guy, except when current events raise larger philosophical questions about life. I can’t stay away from this one. [Read more →]

politics & government

Gary Johnson’s other dogs

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