Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 6, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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?