Here’s some news that is of value to absolutely no one. For the first time ever, this blog had over 100 hits. 114 hits yesterday, to be exact. So, yay?
The blood of kings flows through my veins! I’m pretty sure that this means I get to have a completely superfulous sex scene with Melisandre before she sacrifices me to her red god. (Game of Thrones reference.)
Don’t worry, you get to have sex with Melisandre too. It turns out that we’re all related to Charlemagne. If you can claim European heritage at least. If you go back a little farther than Charlemagne to 1000 BC, we’re all family! Not just Europeans. Everyone. The Native American hunting the Great Plains in 1000 BC? He’s family. The African migrating across the Serengeti in 1000 BC? She’s family. Every person that was alive in 1000 BC and managed to sprout a family tree that is still growing today is related to you. Every. Single. One. That is amazing!
And before you start worrying about how much incest you’re having, fear not, you share none of the same genes from those ancestors. You have no more in common (genetically) with those ancestors than you do that random stranger you saw on the train. In fact, you only have to go 14 generations back to have a statistical zero percent chance of sharing any genes at all with an ancestor. So much for leaving behind a lasting legacy.
I could never come up with a better closing paragraph than the one in the above linked article so I’ll just quote it here:
But while genetics doesn’t reflect much of our imagined genealogical uniqueness, it’s shown that we’re more closely tied to our species as a whole than we might have realized. We’re all part of this enormous human fabric, full of fascinating tendencies and bizarre biochemistry. And research is revealing more and more about humanity as a whole and our incredibly beautiful, incredibly unlikely perch in the universe. That’s a tradition to be proud of.
So, how many of you had burn victims in your bathtub today? Yeah, didn’t think so.
There was a fire in one of the units down the hall in my building. Kristin was home and heard screams from the hallway and smelled smoke. She looks out the peephole and sees two very burned men screaming “fire!” in Polish. Kristin knows this because, of course, she speaks a little Polish. Who doesn’t, right? She then very calmly proceeds to call the fire department and informs them that there is a fire in the building.
But there are still two highly excited Polish men with burns in the hallway! They must be taken care of! Kristin lets them in so they can run cool water over their burns while waiting for the EMTs to arrive. Because that’s what heroes do.
Kristin’s work is far from done, though! For what’s that out in the hall? Is that fire? It is! To the fire extinguisher! Kristin grabs the the fire extinguisher from the closet and proceeds to put out the fire that had escaped into the hall. Who wouldn’t, right?
The rest is all boring, run of the mill, everyday hero stuff. Letting the EMTs in to treat the burn victims, filing a report with the police, talking to jittery neighbors. I mean, who doesn’t do that on a daily basis?
Kristin leads such a boring life. I am in awe of her stay calm and carry on demeanor when in a crisis.
The aftermath of the hallway:
The aftermath of the bathroom:
Bonus Kristin quote: “There’s nothing like chunks of burned flesh to motivate you to clean the bathroom.”
Slate took data from NOAA and plotted every tornado that killed a person in the United States since 1950. My only complaint about it is they morbidly focus only on tornadoes that killed people. That, in itself, tells us nothing about tornadoes. Still, though, you get a good feel for where tornadoes usually hit and where they don’t.
Notice how many of the tornadoes travel northeast. There’s a reason for that. Some of the best tornado forming weather occurs when the jet stream buckles and sends a pool of cold air south over the plains. This allows warm, moist gulf air to build on the eastern side of the jet stream buckle. Warm air meets cold air and boom! Quick rising storm clouds form causing dangerous thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes. Those storms generally travel northeast because that’s where the jet stream is heading. The answer, my friend, actually is blowing in the wind in this case!
I think I have figured out my man-crush on Ta-Nehisi Coates. He reminds me of Amy Gardner from “The West Wing”. There is this scene where Josh is complaining to Amy that she’s supposed to be on their side and she responds: “First of all, I’m crazy about the President, Josh. I’ve been crazy about him for longer than you’ve known who he was. And I’ll keep poking him with a stick. That’s how I show my love.” That’s exactly what Coates is doing here where he’s talking about the Obamas and race:
I think the stature of the Obama family — the most visible black family in American history — is a great blow in the war against racism. I am filled with pride whenever I see them: there is simply no other way to say that. I think Barack Obama, specifically, is a remarkable human being — wise, self-aware, genuinely curious and patient. It takes a man of particular vision to know, as Obama did, that the country really was ready to send an African American to the White House.
But I also think that some day historians will pore over his many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. They will match his rhetoric of individual responsibility, with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks, and the timidity they showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America (again.)They wil weigh the rhetoric against an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have been run of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug-war which daily wrecks the lives of black men and their families. In all of this, those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk.
I think the president owes black people more than this. In the 2012 election, the black community voted at a higher rate than any other ethnic community in the country. Their vote went almost entirely to Barack Obama. They did this despite of an effort to keep them from voting, and they deserve more than a sermon. Perhaps they cannot practically receive targeted policy. But surely they have earned something more than targeted scorn.
Read the whole thing. It’s a wonderful poking of of the stick at someone Ta-Nehisi Coates loves.
Healthcare is weird. The focus is almost entirely on treatment and not at all on prevention. Billions of dollars would likely be saved if we switch that focus. And that leads us to the air conditioner story. The air conditioner story is a story that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber loves to tell. It’s pithy and gets to the heart of the U.S. healthcare problem. Here is the air conditioner story: There’s this 90 year old woman with a well managed congestive heart condition and she lives in an apartment with no air conditioner.
That’s it. That’s the story. The point being that high temperatures are not good for a 90 year old woman with a congestive heart condition. On a 100 degree day, healthcare will pay tens of thousands of dollars for the ambulance and the emergency room visit and any followups that are required when that woman has a heart event but it won’t pay $200 to get her a window air conditioning unit that would likely have prevented the event.
Pretty awesome story, huh? Watch Oregon. Great things are happening to change healthcare for the better.
Virginia only has three statewide elected offices; Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. I’ve already covered the Republican candidate for Governor, Ken Cuccinelli, and the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, E. W. Jackson, but I have neglected to cover the Republican candidate for Attorney General.
I present to you current state Senator Mark Obenshain. As Senator, he sponsored a law that would require women who have miscarriages to report the miscarriage to the police or be guilty of a class one misdemeanor which carries up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
Yeesh. Nothing like treating a woman who just lost her baby like a presumed criminal. And nothing like a party that decries governmental intrusion and yet somehow manages to nominate these three. Oh, that’s right, they only care about governmental intrusion that affects them.
(h/t Scott Lemieux)
The Virginia Republican party sure has a knack for trying to appeal to the least common denominator. First, they nominate Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli as their candidate for Governor. This kind of makes sense given the direction the Republican party has been going. Cuccinelli is a Tea Partier’s Tea Partier. He spouts a whole bunch of nonsense and, unlike most politicians, he seems to believe the nonsense he spouts. Maybe he’s just a good actor, though.
Now, Virginia Republicans have put chosen their Lieutenant Governor nominee to be on the ticket with Ken Cuccinelli and who is it? A man named E. W. Jackson. From the article, here are some of E. W. Jackson’s greatest hits:
He has said gays and lesbians are “very sick people, psychologically and emotionally” whose minds are perverted. He has also said homosexuality “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies”
He called alleged Democratic Party ties to Planned Parenthood “more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was” and thinks blacks who join the Democratic Party are voluntarily selling themselves into slavery.
He has equated Islam with anti-semitism, and criticized President Obama forhaving “Muslim sensibilities,”
He led an “Exodus Now!” movement encouraging African Americans to leave the Democratic party because opposition to same-sex marriage and government endorsement of religion means “Democrats are engaged in a concerted effort to do away with all symbols of our Judeo-Christian culture.”
He rallied against hate crimes legislation as a “virulent strain of Anti-Christian bigotry and hatred.”
I was a little worried that Ken Cuccinelli would actually have a chance at winning in Virginia. With the addition of E. W. Jackson to the ticket, I have to wonder if the Virginia Republican party doesn’t secretly hate Ken Cuccinelli and is actively trying to sabotage his candidacy. Or maybe they’re acting out some sort of Machiavellian play nominating a crazy person and a bat-shit-crazy person to make the crazy person not look so bad. This would give Republicans a chance to pat themselves on the back by voting for Cuccinelli for Governor and the Democrat for Lieutenant Governor. ”Look at how bipartisan I am!” I guess time will tell.
“No one expects you to take a vow of poverty. But I will say it betrays a poverty of ambition if all you think about is what goods you can buy instead of what good you can do,” – Barack Obama
NASA does a lot of work with a little money. They send rovers to Mars, they launch satellites into space, they observer distant stars and galaxies and they look at the moon. We often forget about them moon perhaps because of its ubiquitousness in the sky. That is until NASA informs us that they have recorded the largest explosion ever recorded on the moon. If you happened to be looking at the moon at the time of impact, you would have been able to see it with the naked eye. No telescope required. 40 kilograms at 90,000 kilometers per hour. KER-SPLAT!
Even a casual observer will notice that the moon gets hit a lot. It’s surface is more cratered than a teenager’s face with acne. With no atmosphere, the moon takes the full force of any impact from rogue meteoroids. Any colonization that we do on the moon would almost certainly be required to be underground as a result.
Earth, on the other hand, has a nice atmosphere of various gases that not only allows us to breath and live, but also protects us from the potentially deadly flying rocks that are strewn across our solar floating in mathematically precise orbits around the Sun just like Earth. Any of those rocks that try hitting the Earth are met by billions of molecules joyously bouncing off of each other but mostly spread impossibly far apart. The plunging rock changes this dynamic. It pushes those molecules closer and closer together where they start bouncing off of each other more and more frequently. All of this bouncing around causes pressure and temperature to rise quickly. The higher pressure and temperature start picking away at the death spiraling rock until it breaks apart into fine dust and tiny pebbles that fall harmlessly to Earth. Well, most of the time.
So, thank you atmosphere! Your praises cannot be sung enough. Ballads should be written and stories told of all of your invisible, silent, never ending works.