Gloom and doom scenarios - *We've entered a new phase...* Generally, I prepare these things in spurts, as much as a few weeks in advance. But events are moving so fast that I must us...
17 hours ago
|Starting map of Southbridge|
|Northern part of Southbridge|
|Southern Southbridge and surrounding roads|
|Current kill count (my hotel room is in the background)|
Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today. The finding is direct proof of the theory of inflation, the idea that the universe expanded extremely quickly in the first fraction of a nanosecond after it was born. What’s more, the signal is coming through much more strongly than expected, ruling out a large class of inflation models and potentially pointing the way toward new theories of physics, experts say.
“This is huge,” says Marc Kamionkowski, professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the discovery but who predicted back in 1997 how these gravitational wave imprints could be found. “It’s not every day that you wake up and find out something completely new about the early universe. To me this is as Nobel Prize–worthy as it gets.” ...
Such a groundbreaking finding requires confirmation from other experiments to be truly believed, physicists say. Nevertheless, the result has won praise from many leaders in the field.
Much of the extreme weather that wreaked havoc in Asia, Europe and the Pacific region last year can be blamed on human-induced climate change, the U.N. weather agency says.
The World Meteorological Organization's annual assessment Monday said 2013 was the sixth-warmest year on record. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century.
A rise in sea levels is leading to increasing damage from storm surges and coastal flooding, as demonstrated by Typhoon Haiyan, the agency's Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. The typhoon in November killed at least 6,100 people and caused $13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam.
Australia, meanwhile, had its hottest year on record.
"Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change," Jarraud said.
He also cited other costly weather disasters such as $22 billion damage from central European flooding in June, $10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a $10 billion drought in much of China.
Only a few places - including the central U.S. - were cooler than normal last year, but 2013 had no El Nino, the warming of the central Pacific that happens once every few years and changes rain and temperature patterns around the world.
Jarraud spoke as top climate scientists and representatives from about 100 governments with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met in Japan to complete their latest report on global warming's impact on hunger, disease, drought, flooding, refugees and war.
Speaking in Geneva, Jarraud drew special attention to studies and climate modeling examining Australia's recent heat waves, saying the high temperatures there would have been virtually impossible without the emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
"It is not possible to reproduce these heat waves in the models if you don't take into account human influence," he said.
|The north end of Southbridge|
|Temporary lodging in a fine home with a fireplace and garden pool|
|'Blobs' swarming a wrecked vehicle|
People say lots of crazy stuff. Particularly right-wingers struggling to find analogies that might explain why their present day indignities, would-be oppressions or efforts to be understood place them in the descent of history's inconic victims - enslaved Africans in the Americas, gassed Jews in the Holocaust, to name only the most frequent examples.
I got to thinking about this more after I heard right wing star Dr. Ben Carson claim that 'political correctness' and its paramilitary enforcement arm, "the PC police", have made America "very much like Nazi Germany", so much in fact that we're living in a "Gestapo Age".
... in the case of Dr. Carson's remark, I couldn't let it go as just more Tea Party-esque hyperbolic nonsense. It struck me more as a mix of dishonesty and myopia bordering on genuine evil - simultaneously dishonoring millions of dead and persecuted (not only Jews but gays, gypsies, slavs) while also pumping up the powerful with fantasies of oppression and threat that can lead them to do genuinely awful things.
It's likely worth noting that Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism has played a not insubstantial role normalizing on the right a cluster of ideas and interpretations that range from just historically ignorant to morally reprehensible. And that no doubt plays a role here.
As a general historical matter, when mainly powerless people have grand ideas about their oppression, conspiracies against them, etc., it's not that big a deal since they have little ability to act. Things are very different when people who are actually very powerful are gripped with the fantasy of their own powerlessness and oppression. [my emphasis]
Then today comes this. A Republican congressional candidate in Arizona has been forced to apologize for comparing social welfare and social insurance programs to slavery.
"Back in the day of slavery, slaves were kept in slavery by denying them education and opportunity while providing them with their basic needs …" wrote Jim Smith in a now deleted post.
"It is my sincere belief that over entitlements are a means of em- slaving [sic] the people by robbing opportunity while taking care of basic needs," he added.
Again, this is simply more of the Crazy we see on an on-going basis. But let's not walk too quickly past the idea that slavery was a sort of localized social welfare state in which "basic needs" where met but at the cost of denied opportunity for education and "opportunity."
I don't think there's any need to belabor the point that slavery was considerably more intense and dehumanizing than anything remotely like what Smith decides. Smith would appear to be a complete imbecile. But you cannot divorce this nonsense from the public discussion or race or social welfare in the country. That's frankly why we go to some lengths to publicize this stuff. Frankly, it's not that far removed from when a prominent Congressman talks about "inner city" poverty and cites a 'scholar' most known for arguing that African-American mental deficiencies account for poverty, lack of educational attainment, higher rates of incarceration and more.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) previewed his upcoming legislative proposals for reforming America’s poverty programs during an appearance on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America Wednesday, hinting that he would focus on creating work requirements for men “in our inner cities” and dealing with the “real culture problem” in these communities. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” he said.
Ryan also cited Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who believes African-Americans are, as a population, less intelligent than whites due to genetic differences and that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”
Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn’t matter. He said what he said because that’s the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time. And why do they say such things? Because American conservatism is still, after all these years, largely driven by claims that liberals are taking away your hard-earned money and giving it to Those People.
A smattering of white people on Saturday stood up to discrimination against their race that exists only in their minds.
The so-called "White Man March" was the brainchild of an organizer named Kyle Hunt, who wrote on his website that he expected "thousands" of people to take part in "coordinated pro-white activity."
By the looks of it, his vision may have been a bit lofty. The demonstrations appear to have mostly involved a few people here and there holding up signs decrying "diversity."
On their own, they came to the conclusion that my plate advocated oral sex on children, oral fucking sex on underage fucking children!! I was completely shocked and couldnt form a complete sentence afterwords.
The problem with the original ad was two-fold. First, Boonstra, a cancer patient, suggested she had lost her “wonderful doctor” when in fact she could keep that doctor in the new plan. Second, her premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571, and the savings were slightly more than the out-of-pocket costs permitted under the health care law. So it seemed highly suspicious that the costs were “unaffordable.” ...
On March 10, however, the Detroit News reported that Boonstra admitted that she had Premier Gold plan. That has an out-of-pocket cap of $5,100 a year.
In other words, her old plan cost $13,200 a year—before co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. The new plan is $11,952—including co-pays and out of pocket expenses. That’s a savings of more than $1,200 a year.
Boonstra’s response to this report was that it “can’t be true” because she was worried about high expenses early in the year and because she thought one of her prescription drugs was not covered. A spokesman for Blue Cross told the News that all of her prescriptions are covered and her co-pays on the drugs would help with meeting her out-of-pocket maximum.
In the meantime, her premium savings are building up every month.
Twitter user @Steenfox—real name Christine Fox—was still reeling Wednesday evening from an earlier online debate with a follower who insisted that women's revealing attire could be a contributing factor to sexual assault.
"I was trying to make him understand that it absolutely does not make a difference, and that the responsibility does not lie on women," she told The Root.
The response was overwhelming. Within two hours, Fox says, she had received several hundred replies, pouring in faster than she could retweet them. ...
@steenfox I was wearing a Grumpy Carebear Tshirt, with jean shorts...it was a male relative...(okay to RT)
@steenfox Assaulted twice. At age 15: jean capris, loose red baby tee, flip flops. At age 18: jeans, university t-shirt, sneakers. Can RT.
@steenfox I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, baggy jeans and a cap advertising the Beatles. You can RT
@steenfox I was wearing a brown Garanimals-type shirt w/green frogs on it, a brown fringe jacket, Wranglers and B. Brown loafers. 6. OKRT
@steenfox The first time? I was 8. I had on a sweater and jeans. The 2nd, work clothes: dress pants and a button up blouse
@steenfox 1st of multiple times by the same family member was at 7...wearing pajamas. 2nd time I was 12...sweatpants and tee...youth pastor
@steenfox 10 wearing pjs molested by a "family friend"....16 wearing jeans, black hoody, and nikes
@steenfox Terry bicolor short set. It was my favorite. I had matching jellies. There were two of them. The oldest was 12. I was 6. RT away.
@steenfox 8yrs old at after school tutoring sessions so in school uniform - below-the-knee short sleeved dress. You can RT
"I really hope that this opens people's minds that what you are wearing has absolutely nothing to do with whether you are assaulted," said Fox.
This serves to simultaneously destroy two myths about rape, first that it is rare and that you probably don't know anyone who has suffered assault -- too many of the tweets related clothing that they were wearing as children and that the perpetrators were relatives or family friends. The second is that what a victim is wearing matters at all. This is one of the hardest things for many who haven't been victimized to understand about rape: it isn't about sex; it's about power.___
Last week, a bill to make way for the display of Ten Commandments in public buildings, such as courthouses and schools, passed out of an Alabama Senate committee, sending it to the full Senate for a vote as early as next week.
If you want to know why nine out of the 10 poorest states are located in the hyper-religious South, look no further than this calculated right-wing political play, which is designed for one purpose: to ensure Southern and Sunbelt voters continue to vote against their own self-economic interests.
If passed by the state Senate and signed by the governor, the state would put a constitutional amendment on the next ballot to let Alabama voters decide the issue. The theocratic authors and the Republican Party sponsors of this bill are fully cognizant of the fact that the bill is unconstitutional, and thus it will, inevitably, be struck down by the courts.
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” It is the very basis of the separation of church and state. ...
While both [Trip] Pittman and [DuWayne] Bridges may sound like idiots, they’re actually shrewd political strategists, for the promise of tax cuts for the rich is hardly an effective platform for rallying the Republican Party base in a midterm election year. The promise of the Ten Commandments, however, is how you get a person without healthcare to vote for the party whose platform is based on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
According to the Pew Research Center, Alabama is the second most religious state in the nation with 74 percent of residents saying religion is very important in their lives. Number one is Mississippi. It is a pitiful irony that those states that are most religious are also states with the most individual suffering. More than 30 percent of the children in these two states suffer extreme poverty. In both states, the primary reason for abject poverty is that more than a third of children have parents who lack secure employment, decent wages, and healthcare. But thanks to Jesus, these poor saps vote for the party that rejects Medicaid expansion, opposes early education expansion, legislates larger cuts to education, and slashes food stamps to make room for oil and agriculture subsidies on top of tax cuts and loopholes for corporations and the wealthy.
|Southbridge - or the northern tip of it, at least|
|Southbridge evac shelter|
|Cabin in the woods, but this room isn't finished, and there's no water.|