Friday ReadsPosted: October 26, 2012
I’m getting tired of the crowd that doesn’t appear to be able to distinguish between a plate of scrambled eggs and one of fried chicken. o going to start out with a few interesting reads to get us started and leave the troglodyte christian cousins of the Taliban that are running as republicans this year alone for awhile. Well, at least until the end of this thread.
First up is a really cool fossil find in Canada. It’s a dinosaur with feathers and it’s never been found in the Americas.
Scientists in Canada have unearthed the first fossils of a feathered dinosaur ever found in the Americas, the journal Science reported on Thursday.
The 75 million year old fossil specimens, uncovered in the badlands of Alberta, Canada, include remains of a juvenile and two adult ostrich-like creatures known as ornithomimids.
Until now feathered dinosaurs have been found mostly in China and in Germany.
“This is a really exciting discovery, as it represents the first feathered dinosaur specimens found in the Western Hemisphere,” said Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and lead author of the study.
“These specimens are also the first to reveal that ornithomimids were covered in feathers, like several other groups of theropod dinosaurs,” Zelenitsky said.
She said the find “suggests that all ornithomimid dinosaurs would have had feathers.”
Evidently early Romans loved to draw Orchids. Orchids have been shown to be a favorite subject until oppressive religious views took over in the Dark Ages. I guess it’s not only Georgia O’Keefe that recognized the orchid as both beautiful and highly erotic. (And yes, that’s an O’Keefe painting over there.)
Turns out the early Romans were wild about orchids. A careful study of ancient artifacts in Italy has pushed back the earliest documented appearance of the showy and highly symbolic flowers in Western art from Renaissance to Roman times. In fact, the researchers say, the orchid’s popularity in public art appeared to wilt with the arrival of Christianity, perhaps because of its associations with sexuality.
The fanciful shapes and bright colors of orchids have long made them popular with flower fanciers, and today they support a multibillion-dollar global trade. The flowers also have a symbolic value that spans many cultures due to their resemblance to both male and female sexual organs; the flower’s scientific name—Orchis—derives from a Greek word for testicles. But while the biology and ecology of orchids has gotten plenty of attention from researchers, there are few studies of its “phytoiconography,” or how the flower has been used symbolically in art.
A few years ago, botanist Giulia Caneva of the University of Rome (Roma Tre) set out to change that. Working with several graduate students, she began assembling a database of Italian artifacts, including paintings, textiles, and stone carvings of subjects including vegetation. Then, the team began the painstaking process of trying to identify the real plants the artists had copied.
One surprise was that depictions of Italian orchids—there are about 100 species in all—showed up much earlier than expected. Although scholars had spotted the flowers in paintings from the 1400s, Caneva’s team discovered that stone carvers were reproducing orchids as early as 46 B.C.E., when Julius Caesar erected the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome. And at least three orchids appear among dozens of other plants on the Ara Pacis, a massive stone altar erected by the emperor Augustus in 9 B.C.E., Caneva and colleagues reported last week in the Journal of Cultural Heritage. Artists probably chose the flowers to help emphasize the altar’s theme of civic rebirth, fertility, and prosperity following a long period of conflict, Caneva says.
But orchids and other plants begin to fade from public art as Christianity began to gain influence in the 3rd and 4th centuries, she notes. “My idea is that they are eliminating pagan symbols, and [those] that are related to sexuality,” she says. With the arrival of the Renaissance, however, orchids blossom anew in art, “but this time mostly as a symbol of beauty and elegance.”
Ethan Kaplan of the University of Maryland (via an email sent to Mark Thoma) shows through an empirical study that taxing the wealthy does not slow down economic growth.
What is the impact of taxation on growth? In theory, a country without taxation will have difficulty providing basic public goods such as roads and research that are fundamental for economic growth. However, many politicians and some economists argue that once basic public goods are provided for, increases in taxation have a negative impact on growth. According to this argument, this is especially true for taxes on the very wealthy, who are likely to save their income and channel that savings into entrepreneurship or other investment. Much of the argument over tax policy in the United States is focused on whether the rich should be taxed at a higher or lower rate than they are today. The argument in favor of higher rates is that income inequality is at extremely high levels and the government should focus more on redistribution and also that the rising national debt is also potentially harmful to growth. The argument against higher rates is that raising taxes on wealthy would disincentivize the people most likely to create economic growth and thus jobs. In a climate where jobs are scarce, the argument goes, this is a particularly bad economic idea.
This debate, however, is largely based on ideology rather than evidence. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to figure out the impact of taxation on growth. Changes to the tax codes usually pass Congress when other things are happening to the economy. For example, the 1982 tax cuts, which dropped the top marginal tax rate from 69% to 50%, were passed towards the end of a large recession. Moreover, the impact of taxes on growth can change over time as the economy changes.
Nevertheless, looking at the raw correlation between top marginal tax rates and growth can be helpful for getting a rough sense of the likely impacts of higher taxation on growth.
The study has an interesting conclusion that completely denies the Laffer Curve, Supply Side Economics, Trickle down economics, or whatever form of snake oil that your usual Republican Flim Flam Politicians tries to sell.
While we cannot say that there is a robust significant positive relationship between tax rates and growth, it is still interesting that regardless of when we start the sample, higher top marginal tax rates are associated with higher not lower growth.
Yes. That says that high growth is associated with high taxes on the wealthiest. (Think the US after ww2, the second term of the Reagan years which was associated with increased taxes, and the Clinton years). The weakest growth was associated with all that tax cutting of Dubya Bush. This is a study based on regression analysis so this is an associative relationship and not necessarily causal. It does show however, that the existence of high marginal tax rates for the wealthy is not associated with suppressed growth and employment. It’s JUST THE OPPOSITE.
More and more studies are showing and studies from the past have shown that what really slows down economic growth is income inequality.
A recent story in The New York Times, back in its business section, had important news about inequality: “Income Inequality May Take Toll on Growth.” A couple of economists at the IMF reported research (here) showing that, across many countries, periods of greater income inequality tend to be followed by slow-downs in economic growth.
Dr. Fisher has this to say about the intuition behind these results.
The controversy appears in our current political debates. Governor Romney complains that raising or even keeping our current tax rates on the wealthy will strip the “job creators” of the funds they need to invest in new businesses and new hires. In other comments, he shows himself sympathetic to the idea that current or higher tax rates undermine Americans’ desire to work hard. This is totally in tune with the theory that sizable income and wealth gaps are needed for economic growth.
When President Obama defends the tax-the-rich policy, he does so largely on the grounds of fairness and of addressing the deficit. When, however, he argues that “we grow the economy from middle out,” he is, knowingly or not, alluding to an alternative theory about the sources of economic growth: that income for and spending by the working and middle classes drive growth. The 99% much better “incentivize” businesses and investors than tax cuts can, because well-off consumers buy the products businesses would sell, thereby creating a virtuous circle. (Even Henry Ford knew that.) Wealthy individuals with no prospective customers do not build business; they buy chalets and gold coins.
To the extent that facts matter in such a politicized debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that equality rather than inequality is a better policy for economic growth.
Shawn Lawrence Otto–writing for Scientific American–-shows how anti-science beliefs are jeopardizing our democracy.
Yet despite its history and today’s unprecedented riches from science, the U.S. has begun to slip off of its science foundation. Indeed, in this election cycle, some 236 years after Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, several major party contenders for political office took positions that can only be described as “antiscience”: against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more. A former Republican governor even warned that his own political party was in danger of becoming “the antiscience party.”
Such positions could typically be dismissed as nothing more than election-year posturing except that they reflect an anti-intellectual conformity that is gaining strength in the U.S. at precisely the moment that most of the important opportunities for economic growth, and serious threats to the well-being of the nation, require a better grasp of scientific issues. By turning public opinion away from the antiauthoritarian principles of the nation’s founders, the new science denialism is creating an existential crisis like few the country has faced before.
If you’d like to say how the presidential candidates stack up on answering important questions concerning science, check out this link.
Okay, I avoided politics for a bit but I just couldn’t ignore this one. Racist little anger troll John Sununu told the press that the only reason Colin Powell endorsed the President was because he is black. I can’t wait until we no longer have to hear this jerk. Piers Morgan–another jerk–got him to spill his racist bile on CNN which seems to have become a coddle cult these days for hateful and ignorant people.
SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for President Obama.
MORGAN: What reason would that be?
SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States — I applaud Colin for standing with him.
Sununu statement — “I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies”
Uh, right. To which, we ALL want to know: Which Romney son had to dangle John Sununu out of an open window for Sununu to reverse his statements on Colin Powell? (That was twitted by @DemocraticMachine.) So, now we know that women vote with their hormones and African Americans vote with their melanin. Wow, what will republican scientists discover next?
Well, if you were in Texas last night, you could have joined Josh Romney, Glenn Beck, and Dick Cheney for a night full of hate and fund raising for chicken mittens. There’s three good reasons for not voting for mittens if we didn’t have enough already.
In last week’s debate, a voter told Mitt Romney she’s afraid of going back to Bush-era policies and asked for some reassurances. The Republican insisted, “President Bush had a very different path for a very different time,” before noting several issues where his agenda is indistinguishable from George W. Bush.
The next day, the Romney campaign started featuring Condoleezza Rice on the trail. Today, it’s Dick Cheney’s turn.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is headlining a fundraiser for Mitt Romney today at Dallas Love Field.
The GOP presidential candidate’s son will also appear at tonight’s private event, to be held at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field.
Also scheduled to appear are national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and political pundit Glenn Beck.
Romney’s son Josh will be on hand for the event, and Paul Ryan will appear via video.
Maddow and others have reported how the Romney/Ryan campaign has virtually closeted Paul Ryan and has him fundraising in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. Do you really want the keys to your uterus and your daughters’ uteri to be placed in the hands of these people?
On Thursday morning, a top spokeswoman for the Mitt Romney campaign tweeted out news that they had raised almost $112 million in the first half of October, again showcasing the GOP ability to bring in big money to this year’s race for the White House.
But if Romney has a lot of money coming in, why is GOP running mate Paul Ryan spending so much time this week still raising money?
It might sound trite, but it is true, every minute you don’t spend shaking hands or talking to key voters is a minute you can never get back, especially in the final days of an election campaign like this one.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at part of Ryan’s schedule.
On Wednesday evening, Ryan raised money in an event in Atlanta, Georgia that closed down major roads during rush hour and produced some aggravated tones from commuters on social media.
On Thursday morning, Ryan raised money ($25,000/couple) in an event in Midland, Texas.
On Friday morning, Ryan is scheduled for two fund raising events in Greenville, South Carolina, one for $5,000 per couple, the second at $25,000 per couple.
On Friday afternoon, Ryan will hold a fund raising lunch in Huntsville, Alabama.
Last time I checked, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama aren’t exactly swing states.
In between these fund raising events, Ryan has been doing regular campaign stops, but you sure can’t do as many of those when you are going to places that aren’t key states, and don’t really border swing states.
I really don’t even know what to say about the continued story that Romney some how has momentum and that he is some how Moderate Mitt. Dick Cheney? Really? Glenn Beck? Really? How can Mittens walk away from these folks and Mourdock’s hateful comments about forcing women to give birth to babies of their rapists? Yup, the anger is still here and its palpable. I’ve spent the week listening to rape survivors who have been re-traumatized by the number of nasty old republicans who would actually force their own narrow religious views on the rest of the country and especially on women.
There are people in this country that shouldn’t even be given the keys to a car, let alone the keys to our country. Yes, you can follow this link and find more soothing Georgia O’Keefe images as you wipe the thought of any Republican in office. Or, you can get mad at them with Tina Fey in a humorous way.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?