I got about a foot of snow dumped on me by the latest storm, when the prediction the day before had been for about 3-5 inches. Boy were the predictions wrong for this one! Last night the Boston Globe weather blogger tried to explain “Why was there so much more snow than predicted?”
Now that the big storm is over, I am looking at why this was such a poor forecast. The basic reason was a bit more cold air than expected, more moisture and it lasted longer. No one expected so much snow to fall from 4 AM this morning until mid-afternoon. Storms usually need to be at roughly 40 degrees latitude and 70 degrees west longitude to give us a major snow event. Meteorologists around here call this the benchmark. If a storm passes near the benchmark, and it’s cold enough, we are often in for a good snowstorm. This storm passed hundreds of miles further east than that typical spot for a major snowstorm. One of the reasons I was confident in not seeing this size snowstorm, was the predicted distance of the storm from our area. That prediction by the models turned out to be pretty good. Temperatures were also forecast to be about 4 degrees milder. As it turn out, it’s sort of a good thing it ended up being colder because heavy wet snow of these amounts would have been catastrophic to the power situation.
I see . . . well, not really. Anyway, the stuff is melting already which is a good thing, because I wasn’t able to shovel my driveway out completely yesterday. We’re supposed to get temperatures in the 40s and 50s for the next few days, so I guess that will rescue me. Now what’s in the news today?
I see that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is really full of himself after his “talking filibuster” the other day.
He’s got an op-ed in the Washington Post bragging, “My filibuster was just the beginning.”
If I had planned to speak for 13 hours when I took the Senate floor Wednesday, I would’ve worn more comfortable shoes. I started my filibuster with the words, “I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak” — and I meant it.
I wanted to sound an alarm bell from coast to coast. I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. As Americans, we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that no person shall be held without due process, and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted, is a founding American principle and a basic right.
I certainly agree that the president shouldn’t have the power to kill Americans without due process, but I’d be more impressed with Paul if he supported other constitutional rights like equal treatment under the law for minorities, women and LGBT people. I can’t take anyone seriously as a defender of the Constitution if he opposes civil rights and the right of a woman to control her own body.
According to Grace Wyler at Business Insider, Libertarians Believe Their Moment Has Finally Arrived. On the other hand, Chris Cillizza explains why Why the Rand Paul filibuster might not be such good news for the GOP.
Sequestration cuts, anyone?
While the Village media types focus on either fawning over or condemning Rand Paul’s performance, local journalists around the country are reporting on the damage being done by sequestration cuts.
The debate over sequestration this past week has come down to two questions: Was the administration exaggerating the impact of the spending cuts, and did they really need to shut down White House tours because of them?
It’s been the predominant theme at the White House briefings, a constant subject of discussion on cable news and a topic of fascination on Capitol Hill. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) even took up the cause at a press briefing this week, saying: “I think it’s silly that they have insisted on locking down the White House, which the American people actually own.”
Beneath that debate, however, is a different type of conversation about the impact of the $85 billion in cuts. While the national media has focused on those two questions, local coverage has been more directed at the tangible impact the budget restraints will have. The Huffington Post reviewed dozens of local television news broadcasts, using the service TVeyes.com, to survey coverage of sequestration outside of the Beltway.
Check out the many examples of real pain for localities at the link. And besides, according to Buzzfeed, Nobody Liked The White House Tours That Much Anyway. They’re only rated 3.5 on Yelp. Read the negative reviews at the link.
Interesting book review at The Daily Beast
They were the employees of the gigantic uranium-enrichment plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn.—those who lived and toiled in this purpose-built secret city in the Appalachian Mountains, many of them young women, had only been told that their efforts would help bring home American soldiers. Then, when atomic power was deployed against an enemy nation for the first (and so far, last) time, Oak Ridge residents realized what they had been working toward, and why their every move had been monitored, their every utterance policed, and their every question stonewalled.
In The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II, Denise Kiernan recreates, with cinematic vividness and clarity, the surreal Orwell-meets-Margaret Atwood environment of Oak Ridge as experienced by the women who were there. They were secretaries, technicians, a nurse, a statistician, a leak pipe inspector, a chemist, and a janitor. “Site X” began construction in late 1942, and was also known as the Clinton Engineering Works (CEW) and the Reservation. Staff members were recruited from all over the U.S., but particularly from nearby Southern states, and were offered higher than average wages, on-site housing and cafeterias, and free buses.
More importantly, they were offered the chance to join the 400,000 or so American women performing non-combatant roles in the armed services, as well as those keeping vital industries afloat and helping the men on the front lines. But whereas a female Air Force pilot or munitions factory worker understood precisely her contributions to the war effort, the women at Oak Ridge were kept in the dark about the actual purpose of their workplace, a mystery heightened by the apparent lack of anything ever leaving the site. Provided with “just enough detail to do their job well, and not an infinitesimal scrap more,” workers at all levels were forbidden from taking the slightest interest in anyone else’s duties. “Stick to your knitting,” in the words of Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, head of the Project.
That sounds like a fascinating book!
ABC News reports on a scary new virus–the coronaviris.
Health officials are warning of a new virus that has sickened at least 14 people worldwide, killing eight of them.
There are no known American cases of the coronavirus, known as hCoV-EMC, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging doctors with patients who have an unexplained respiratory illness after traveling to the Arabian peninsula or neighboring countries to report the cases to the CDC.
Doctors should also report patients with known diseases who don’t respond to appropriate treatment, the agency said its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Close contacts of a symptomatic patient should also be evaluated.
The novel virus, which is associated with severe respiratory illness with renal failure, was first recognized last September and caused alarm because it is genetically and clinically similar to the SARS virus, which caused hundreds of deaths worldwide.
Read more at the CDC website.
A new archaeological theory about Stonehenge
Centuries before the first massive sarsen stone was hauled into place at Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument may have begun life as a giant burial ground, according to a theory disclosed on Saturday.
More than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, of 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, have been excavated and studied for the first time by a team led by archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who has been working at the site and on nearby monuments for decades. He now believes the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form.
The first bluestones, the smaller standing stones, were brought from Wales and placed as grave markers around 3,000BC, and it remained a giant circular graveyard for at least 200 years, with sporadic burials after that, he claims.
It had been thought that almost all the Stonehenge burials, many originally excavated almost a century ago, but discarded as unimportant, were of adult men. However, new techniques have revealed for the first time that they include almost equal numbers of men and women, and children including a newborn baby.
I’ll end with this “chart of the day” from Business Insider:
I hope that’s enough to get you started on the day. Please share your recommended reads in the comments. I look forward to clicking on your links!
Have a great weekend!!
It saddens me that the world doesn’t stop when an iconic advocate for the hungry, the poor, the least of these dies. Not the way it stops for a celebrity. There’s no wall-to-wall media coverage of the international/intergalactic outpouring for days on end. Just some obligatory press. So I had to put this post up even though I’m in the middle of a migraine and studying for the last of my midterms…I’m going to let President and Secretary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders do most of the talking. Oh, And Senator McGovern himself (see pic to the right).
Emphasis below in bold is mine. The statements belong to Sanders and the Clintons, respectively.
via Bernie Sanders’ senate website, Statement on the Passing of George McGovern:
October 21, 2012
BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 21 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today issued the following statement on the death of former Sen. George McGovern:
“George McGovern was a champion for progressive values in America. As a bomber pilot in WW II, he saw the horrors of war and became a strong advocate for world peace. As a U.S. senator, he grasped the tragedy of world hunger and fought to develop nutrition and agricultural programs to prevent starvation. At home, he advocated health care for all, defended working families and the poor and was in the vanguard of the movement for civil rights for women and minorities.
“He will be remembered as a man of conviction and clarity and character.”
Via Greta Van Susteren, Statement by President and Secretary Clinton on the Passing of George McGovern:
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend George McGovern. The world has lost a tireless advocate for human rights and dignity.
We first met George while campaigning for him in 1972. Our friendship endured for 40 years. As a war hero, distinguished professor, Congressman, Senator and Ambassador, George always worked to advance the common good and help others realize their potential. Of all his passions, he was most committed to feeding the hungry, at home and around the world. The programs he created helped feed millions of people, including food stamps in the 1960s and the international school feeding program in the 90’s, both of which he co-sponsored with Senator Bob Dole.
In 2000, Bill had the honor of awarding him the Medal of Freedom. From his earliest days in Mitchell to his final days in Sioux Falls, he never stopped standing up and speaking out for the causes he believed in. We must continue to draw inspiration from his example and build the world he fought for. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Everybody at Skydancing knows, I’m more drawn to our foremothers than our forefathers… but McGovern was one of the good ones.
I am reminded of this quote I saw recently from MLK (see pic to the right):
McGovern, like MLK, was one of our modern political forefathers who learned to walk the Earth as a brother amongst sisters and brothers.
RIP, George McGovern.
The Republicans continue to tear each other apart as the 2012 elections get closer. Karl Rove considers Herman Cain “not up to the job”. Bachmann’s former NH staff have released a letter that puts the candidate in a bad light.
“Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team,” they wrote.
The former New Hampshire staffers said they maintained a sense of loyalty to Bachmann as a candidate and were willing to continue helping her despite lingering uncertainty about payment of wages.
“Sadly, they were deceived, constantly left out of the loop regarding key decisions, and relegated to second-class citizens within a campaign in which they were the original members,” the group said.
The ex-staffers laid out a timeline very different from the one put forth by the Bachmann campaign, claiming that the New Hampshire campaign manager, Jeff Chidester, resigned in an email 10 days ago. When nobody reached out to the other staffers to address their concerns, they called it quits.
Meanwhile, Cain and Gingrich are going rogue by trying to have their own debate in Texas with Tea Party activists.
Presidential rivals Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will participate in a “Lincoln-Douglas” influenced debate hosted by Tea Party activists in Texas next month, National Review is reporting.
The debate will focus on fiscal issues and the economy, and will be moderated by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
“We initially wanted a forum with all of the candidates,” Bill O’Sullivan, treasurer for the Texas Tea Party Patriots, told National Review. “But when we heard Gingrich say he wanted a more serious debate, like the Lincoln–Douglas debates, we wanted to do that, especially since watching the recent superficial debates has been frustrating.”
Rick Perry has introduced his tax plan which is a flat tax plan of 20%. As expected, it will give a huge tax break to the wealthy and to corporations. It also would eliminate inheritance and capital gains taxes. Perry seems to think that middle class tax payers will be able to appreciate those things too! What a moron! Here’s some of the plan’s major points.
- “The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.”
- Elimination of the estate tax
- Cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.
- Temporarily lower corporate tax rate to 5.25 percent to encourage repatriation.
- Transition to “territorial” tax system that only taxes in-country income.
- Eliminates the tax on Social Security benefits
- Eliminates the capital gains tax
I wanted to share the first of this Bloomberg series on bias and blindness by one of the father’s of behavioral finance Daniel Kahneman. He explains some of the frames folks use that some times leads them to make bad decisions in the face of risk. Optimism evidently leads to excessive risk taking.
The evidence suggests that an optimistic bias plays a role — sometimes the dominant role — whenever people or institutions voluntarily take on significant risks. More often than not, risk-takers underestimate the odds they face and, because they misread the risks, optimistic entrepreneurs often believe they are prudent, even when they are not. Their confidence sustains a positive mood that helps them obtain resources from others, raise the morale of their employees and enhance their prospects of prevailing. When action is needed, optimism, even of the mildly delusional variety, may be a good thing.
An optimistic temperament encourages persistence in the face of obstacles. But this persistence can be costly. A series of studies by Thomas Astebro shed light on what happens when optimists get bad news. (His data came from Canada’s Inventor’s Assistance Program — which provides inventors with objective assessments of the commercial prospects of their ideas. The forecasts of failure in this program are remarkably accurate.)
In Astebro’s studies, discouraging news led about half of the inventors to quit after receiving a grade that unequivocally predicted failure. However, 47 percent of them continued development efforts even after being told that their project was hopeless, and on average these individuals doubled their initial losses before giving up.
Many House Democrats don’t think the Obama plan to help homeowner’s with underwater mortgages goes far enough.
“It’s far too little, it’s just baby steps,” Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), a longtime critic of the administration’s housing policies, said in a phone interview. “They’re still not getting it.”
Cardoza, who announced last week he’ll retire at the end of 2012, noted that the housing collapse was a leading cause of the recession but among the last to be addressed.
“We need to excise the cancer that caused the illness before the patient can recover,” he said.
Rep. Lois Capps, another California Democrat critical of the administration’s foreclosure-prevention efforts, echoed that concern Monday, saying “much more is needed” to stabilize the struggling housing market.
“Today’s announcement is an encouraging step forward, but it is only one of a number of steps needed to fully address the growing foreclosure crisis,” Capps said in an email.
Here’s some common sense from Bernie Sanders speaking on the Ed Show and a few comments on the President’s program. Senator Sanders also thinks the plan does not go far enough
So, that should get us started today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Dylan Ratigan goes nuts over government corruption
David Goodfriend (on Dylan Ratigan Show) explains why cutting taxes doesn’t create jobs
Bernie Sanders schools Obot Al Sharpton on the debt deal, plus Keith Ellison
Heard any good rants lately?