Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Lets begin with some really big news. NASA announced yesterday that it has found an “Earth-like” planet, IOW, it could be habitable by Earth-like creatures. Perhaps some of our species can escape to it after the U.S.–or Iran or Israel or India, or Pakistan or China blows this one up. From Scientific American:

NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope has discovered its first planet in the habitable zone of another star. By “habitable,” astronomers mean that a planet could harbor temperatures conducive to liquid water—and maybe life.

The new planet, Kepler 22b, orbits somewhat closer to its host star than Earth does to the sun. “The star is some 600 light years away.” NASA’s Bill Borucki, who leads the Kepler mission, in a December 5th teleconference.

That star is a bit cooler than the sun. So if the greenhouse warming were similar on this planet, and it had a surface, its surface temperature would be something like 72 Fahrenheit—a very pleasant temperature here on Earth.

Kepler 22b is more than twice as large as Earth. One big caveat is that it may not be rocky, like Earth is. It could instead be a gas planet like Neptune. If that were the case, prospects for life there would be rather dim.

Pretty cool, huh? From Cnet:

Along with the confirmed extra-solar planet, one of 28 discovered so far by Kepler, researchers today also announced the discovery of 1,094 new exoplanet candidates, pushing the spacecraft’s total so far to 2,326, including 10 candidate Earth-size worlds orbiting in the habitable zones of their parent stars.

Additional observations are required to tell if a candidate is, in fact, an actual world. But astronomers say a planet known as Kepler-22b, orbiting a star some 600 light years from Earth, is the real thing.

Artist's rendering of newly discovered planet

According to the BBC:

Kepler 22-b was one of 54 candidates reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes.

More of these “Earth 2.0” candidates are likely to be confirmed in the near future, though a redefinition of the habitable zone’s boundaries has brought that number down to 48.

Via The Guardian: About a month ago, graphic artist and screenwriter Frank Miller posted an attack on OWS on his blog. Miller is the author of Sin City. Here’s an excerpt:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.

I know nothing about Frank Miller or his cartoon creations, but reading between the lines, I’m getting the feeling there’s a whole lot of projection going on in that rant. As you can well imagine Miller’s fans weren’t all that pleased by it either.

Now a much more famous and beloved graphic novelist, Alan Moore, has responded to Miller’s ugly tirade.

Well, Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was unreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time. Since I don’t have anything to do with the comics industry, I don’t have anything to do with the people in it. I heard about the latest outpourings regarding the Occupy movement. It’s about what I’d expect from him. It’s always seemed to me that the majority of the comics field, if you had to place them politically, you’d have to say centre-right. That would be as far towards the liberal end of the spectrum as they would go. I’ve never been in any way, I don’t even know if I’m centre-left. I’ve been outspoken about that since the beginning of my career. So yes I think it would be fair to say that me and Frank Miller have diametrically opposing views upon all sorts of things, but certainly upon the Occupy movement.

As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.

Alrighty-then. You can read the whole interview with Moore at the link.

The head of the FAA, Jerome “Randy” Babbitt has been placed “on leave” after being arrested and charged for driving drunk. How unseemly.

The Transportation Department, which oversees the FAA, said it didn’t learn about the incident until Monday, two days later. Deputy Administrator Miguel Huerta will serve as acting administrator while officials consider Babbitt’s “employment status,” the Transportation Department said.

More from HuffPo:

Babbitt, 65, was charged with driving while intoxicated after a patrol officer spotted him driving on the wrong side of the street and pulled him over about 10:30 p.m. EST Saturday in Fairfax City, Va., police in the Washington, D.C., suburb said.

Babbitt, who lives in nearby Reston, Va., was the only occupant in the vehicle, the statement said. Police said he cooperated and was released on his own recognizance.

Babbitt apparently delayed telling administration officials about the arrest. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama and Transportation Department officials learned of the arrest Monday afternoon, about an hour before a 1:30 p.m. EST statement was released saying Babbitt had been placed on leave at his request.

Separately, Fairfax City police issued a statement on the arrest to the media at about noon Monday. They refused to disclose the results of Babbitt’s blood alcohol test. The legal limit is .08.

At least he wasn’t piloting an airplane…

I really kind of hope that the Republicans nominate Newt Gingrich. He’ll be the gift that keeps on giving for bloggers like me–and for comedians too. In the New York Times, Trip Gabriel discusses Gingrich’s “big thoughts.”

Ideas erupt from the mind of Newt Gingrich — bold, unconventional and sometimes troubling and distracting.

On Monday, Mr. Gingrich sought to do damage control on the latest of his Big Thoughts to land him in hot water — helping children bootstrap their way out of poverty by paying them to mop and clean their schools, and rolling back child labor laws that he has called “truly stupid.”

Mr. Gingrich defended the idea, which critics have labeled Dickensian, as a way to introduce children in housing projects with few examples of working adults to the idea of earning a paycheck.

“This is how people rise in America — they learn to work,” he said at a news conference in Manhattan.

Mr. Gingrich’s tendency to speak bluntly, provocatively and sometime impulsively may be part of his emerging appeal at a time when conservatives seem intent on sending a no-business-as-usual message to Washington. It helps with his attempts to foster an image as a candidate eager to bring about change. But the fallout from his statements often traps him in lengthy digressions from his main messages, and it highlights one of the central questions about him as a candidate and potential president: is he sufficiently disciplined?

The funniest example in the article is Gingrich implying that Donald Trump grew grew up poor and had to work hard as a child. On the contrary, Trump inherited big bucks from his father, “a wealthy landlord.”

“New York’s finest” AKA the NYPD has a Facebook page, and in September they used it to display crude and disgusting comments about participants in New York’s West Indian America Day Parade, referring to them as “animals” and “savages” and suggesting, “Drop a bomb on them and wipe them all out.”

The subject was officers’ loathing of being assigned to the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, an annual multiday event that unfolds over the Labor Day weekend and has been marred by episodes of violence, including deaths of paradegoers. Those who posted comments appeared to follow Facebook’s policy requiring the use of real names, and some identified themselves as officers.

On Monday, Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for public information, said he learned of the Facebook group from a reporter’s call and would refer the issue to the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. The comments, in the online group that grew over a few days to some 1,200 members, were at times so offensive in referring to West Indian and African-American neighborhoods that some participants warned others to beware how their words might be taken in a public setting open to Internal Affairs “rats.”

But some of the people who posted comments seemed emboldened by Facebook’s freewheeling atmosphere. “Let them kill each other,” wrote one of the Facebook members who posted comments under a name that matched that of a police officer.

“Filth,” wrote a commenter who identified himself as Nick Virgilio, another participant whose name matched that of a police officer. “It’s not racist if it’s true,” yet another wrote.

Lovely. The NYPD is one of the nation’s most corrupt, violent, and out-of-control police organizations. And judging by this story and their behavior toward OWS, they don’t mind being up front about it.

Awhile back I wrote about Mitt Romney destroying all of his and his staff’s e-mails from his four years as governor of Massachusetts. In addition, Romney and his aides purchased and took with them the hard drives from their state computers. Apparently there was something they desperately wanted to hide. Now Reuters has learned that the cover-up cost the state almost $100,000.

Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret, Reuters has learned.

The move during the final weeks of Romney’s administration was legal but unusual for a departing governor, Massachusetts officials say.

The effort to purge the records was made a few months before Romney launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He is again competing for the party’s nomination, this time to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012….

When Romney left the governorship of Massachusetts, 11 of his aides bought the hard drives of their state-issued computers to keep for themselves. Also before he left office, the governor’s staff had emails and other electronic communications by Romney’s administration wiped from state servers, state officials say.

Those actions erased much of the internal documentation of Romney’s four-year tenure as governor, which ended in January 2007. Precisely what information was erased is unclear.

Republican and Democratic opponents of Romney say the scrubbing of emails – and a claim by Romney that paper records of his governorship are not subject to public disclosure – hinder efforts to assess his performance as a politician and elected official.

I’m not sure where Reuters got the idea this was “legal.” Massachusetts has a law that public officials must save all public records and turn them over to the state.

The Democrats have been talking about caving compromising with Republicans on the extension of the payroll tax holiday. Naturally, GOP congresspeople smelled blood and immediately went in for the kill. Arizona Senator John Kyl announced that there will be no extension of this middle-class tax cut unless the Bush tax cuts for the rich are made permanent.

The top Republican vote counter in the Senate says extending the expiring payroll tax holiday is a terrible idea and he’ll only do it if Democrats agree to major concessions — in particular, simultaneously extending all the Bush tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire just over a year from now.

On the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Jon Kyl argued that reducing the payroll tax doesn’t stimulate the economy — a claim most economists disagree with — and criticized the Democrats’ plan to offset the cost of the tax holiday with a small surtax on millionaires.

“We should therefore only do it under circumstances that in effect override these objections, one of which would be to extend all of the taxes that expire at the end of next year — at the end of 2012,” Kyl said. “That would be a good idea.”

In November 2009, Kyl felt differently. On CNBC he argued, “What you’re suggesting here is that you can do some things to stimulate job creation and certainly doing something like reducing the payroll tax, which has been written about recently, would accomplish that.”

That’s probably because he senses that President Obama is just about to surrender and give the Republicans everything they want, as usual.

Sigh… That’s all I have for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

27 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB, I absolutely loved the part about heading to that newly discovered planet…loved it!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just love new discoveries in space!

    • ralphb says:

      Count me in for the flight. 🙂

      • quixote says:

        Me too. But barring new physics (which is not impossible!) a flight is all we’ll get. It’s 600 light years away. Even at, say, one tenth light speed, that would be 6000 years. They better have something better than Hollywood schlock movies on board!

        Seriously, the part I’m really excited about is that now they have at least one target for careful study of the atmosphere. And once they can do that (it would probably take a couple of space telescopes linked by interferometry), they’ll be able to tell if there’s life on the planet.

      • bostonboomer says:


      • ralphb says:

        Heh. So it takes a few thousand years to get there, so what. Intergenerational ships would be the only way to go anywhere outside our solar system. Not going to happen any time soon so put your Ray Bradbury hat on and enjoy the thoughts.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    This was an eye opener…Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Testing 1, 2, 3…

    This really goes to the heart of the morally bankrupt education “reform” movement. Pushed more by corporate interests and right-wing foundations than the needs of the students, standardized tests set impossibly high standards that relatively few students — or teachers — can reach. That’s why Marion Brady, a teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author, forwarded this shockingly informative piece to the education page of the Washington Post:

    Go read it…wow…

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Which only goes to validate Newt: put this kids to work now! They’re just taking up space.

    • peggysue22 says:

      Wow is right. That’s certainly disturbing. Seems as if the powers-that-be have decided who will and will not pass the smell test for ‘college material’ and who will be left to mop the floors.

      Just when you think the world cannot get any crazier . . . it does.

    • northwestrain says:

      Standardize testing is a farce. I’m glad it is being exposed.

      In Japan children go to extra classes just so that they can pass the tests —

      Students in the US need to be trained how to take the tests — and most of the school year is taken up preparing for the tests. No real learning or exploring — or developing individual potential can happen in today’s schools.

      Anyone with a learning disability is SOL — Einstein and other geniuses would never pass today’s tests — many had a learning disability. Einstein was dyslexic according to the research I’ve read.

      The Right wing nuts want specific type of college students — creative, genius need not apply.

      By the way — I’m dyslexic and had no help getting into college — although I was in college prep track — no one told me where or when the ACT college admission test was — but I found out and took it. I got into college — with no help from the “counselor”.

      I’m the only one in my high school class who has a M.A. plus post grad credits. No thanks to the high school — or anyone at the colleges. I figured out what I needed to take — on my own — got the credits and found someone to sign off for my degrees.

      The teachers in my local school district still discriminant against dyslexics — one women claims she has never had a student with dyslexia or related “disability” in her class. Yet 15% or more of the students population are dyslexic etc.

      Not much has changed — which is why schools look more like jails than places of learning or places to nurture creativity.

      • dakinikat says:

        Have you read any thing by DIane Ravitch? She’s wonderful on this. She first supported the “reform” and charters and then found how badly the entire set up was now she is an advocate to get rid of it.


      • northwestrain says:

        Thanks for the link — I’ve heard her being interviewed. I just ordered or book on testing.

        • dakinikat says:

          She spoke down here. Our charter school experience is really failing and the governor is trying to push for more of it. The majority of our charter schools are still d and f schools. Some were caught cheating on test results. The only thing they were successful at were breaking up teacher unions and lowering teacher salaries.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That is shocking and bewildering.

  3. Fannie says:

    It makes me jump up and down and holler…………Here’s where the voters elected the “community organizer” to represent them in office. And he has NOT snapped back at Newt, or any republicans when it comes to the notion that kids in the projects need to be janitors, that if you don’t have a job you don’t eat……….really what a bunch of assholes………..Those kids need aspirations alright, but not as janitors but as representatives of and for our government. Place those poor kids in their jobs for few weeks, and pay them, let them see how the others live, and what they do as models for government. They will soon discover they don’t do sschitt but collect a paycheck……….

    Let’s prepare those low in come kids to set their standards higher than janitor.

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    So that little girl, who was killed and sexually assaulted, look what Department of families did to the mother:

    Family mourns death of 7-year-old Georgia girl – CNN.com

    Earlier Monday, as volunteers and police handed out fliers with information and a picture of the missing child, her mother spent the morning in court trying to regain custody of her other children, who were taken by the Department of Family and Children’s Services for alleged lack of supervision.

    The girl’s parents are not suspects, Keenan said.

    The mother worked nights…the little girl was in the care of the babysitter…I don’t know but it makes me sick.

    • Branjor says:

      Wow, that’s lousy. No doubt she’s working nights because she has to. Don’t try to help her, just take her kids away.

      Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Montreal massacre.

    • northwestrain says:

      Talk about kicking someone when they are down. Made me sick when I read another report.

    • Fannie says:

      Ditto that………………..time to write a letter to the judge……………which court is she in?

  5. peggysue22 says:

    I have yet to understand the hard drive erase by Mitt’s staff, BB. What in God’s name could be on the drives that Romney would have them wiped clean? Unless he was openly doing the Corporations’ business while serving as Governor. Or had ‘moment’s of honest reflection’ while in office. This lack of transparency absolutely corrodes public trust.

    Btw, I’m working on the new computer. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to fly it. This is like transferring from a junker to a jet plane :0). I am now a Mac user. Wheeeeee.

  6. ralphb says:

    ‘Obamacare’ to the rescue

    A woman who felt President Obama had let the middle class down has changed her mind.

    Add stories like this one to the one about insurance companies having to spend 85% of their premium income on actual care and it may not be so bad after all.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I really hope that the Forbes’ report is correct on the 85% requirement disclosed. If it is true? Why wasn’t the public told, why all the ‘we have to pass it to see what’s in it?”

      The lack of transparency is killing public trust and ripping the country apart. 70% of the electorate wanted healthcare reform in 2008. It was a winning issue. What the Obamacrats did with the reform act was ridiculous and self-defeating.

      We shall see. Proof is in the pudding, as they say.

      • ralphb says:

        I think it’s because the HHS implemented in the correct way, instead of the way everyone assumed it would be done. Insurers wanted their costs of sale and all the overhead to be included in the 85% but HHS ruled that it was excluded so executive bonuses are not health care. Woohoo!

  7. ralphb says:

    Gotta love Charlie Pierce. What a gem.

    The Truth About Pundit Crap: Could Jon Meacham Be the Most Insufferable Human in Washington?

    I have long proposed that every single major elite political pundit be frog-marched away from the buffet tables inside the Beltway and deep into the Blue Ridge Mountains, there to be confined to a re-education facility where they will clear trails, and reclaim swampland, and repair dams, and make life lovely for the furry little woodland creatures until every damn one of these hacks has learned not to look at the incredible universe of grifters and charlatans that is our current political elite and in them see the giants of the past. Comes now Parson Meacham, and I suspect he’s going to be working out in the woods until the squirrels up and bury him some winter.

    I mean where in the name of god do I go with this kind of fanzine bullshit? (And you had to know Mike Allen would be wrapped up in there, too. With the advent of that promised e-book, we may be close to the event horizon of Washington suck-up-itude.) Meacham’s work here is what Walter Lippmann would’ve produced if he’d worked for Tiger Beat.

    • ralphb says:

      Great comment …

      “Jeebus Fracking Christmas. There is nothing remotely “presidential” about Newtie. His public rantings aside, he’s about five-foot-six, weighs nearly three bills, and facially resembles a toad with mange. He doesn’t look dogcatcher-ish, let alone presidential.”

      • peggysue22 says:

        Hahaha! Tell us what you really think, ralph. I’m astonished that anyone would see Eye of the Newt as even remotely presidential. He has moral, family values problems, he has past and present ethics problems [he who is not a lobbyist, merely a historian] and he has a nasty personality matched only by an over bloated ego.

        What’s to like, admire or suck up to? A toad is a toad is a toad. The only thing he’s missing is an orange jump suit. Bu I guess that would make him more attractive to the crazed Tea Party types–a patriot who’s been martyred by the injustice system.