Thursday Reads: Happy Animals, Dickish Theocrats, Jurassic Fleas, and ET’s

Good Morning!!

I thought I’d start out with something upbeat. How about some photos of happy animals? Buzzfeed has 26 of them. Here are some of my favorities:

How can you not smile at those? Check out the rest at Buzzfeed, and don’t miss the joyful anteater!

Now let’s get to the news. I thought Michigan was a winner-take-all state, but I guess not. The Santorum campaign claims the result was really a tie, because Willard and Rick the Dick will each get 15 delegates from Michigan.

While there has been no final determination of who won how many delegates in Michigan on Tuesday, current results suggest both candidates won seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts, each of which award two delegates to the winner. In addition, Santorum adviser John Brabender said the state’s two at-large delegates are likely to be split between Romney and Santorum because the vote was so close.

So I guess it’s winner-take-all by district? I don’t understand the GOP delegate system at all.

“It’s highly likely this is is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.

“If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”

Romney won the popular vote in the state by about 3 percentage points, according to the latest tally.

The final delegate totals haven’t been determined yet, according to the WaPo article.

According to numbers whiz Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics, Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing

We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.

Trende lays out the Super Tuesday math state by state. Check it out at the above link. Can you believe Super Tuesday is less than a week away? I can’t decide if I should vote on the Dem or Repub ballot. I guess I’ll decide at the last minute. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren has any real competition, but I’ll need to find out for sure.

Ed Kilgore had an interesting post yesterday at Political Animal. Rick Santorum lost the Catholic vote to Romney in Michigan 44-37. I guess Rick has the Bishops but not the rank and file Catholics who like to plan their families. Kilgore:

Immediately there was speculation that Rick’s visceral dissing of JFK’s church-state relations speech might have contributed significantly to this result, or had perhaps cost him Michigan altogether.

That was my initial reaction, too, until I started wondering: why did we all assume Santorum had an advantage among Catholics in the first place? …. as I and others have amply documented, the idea that Catholics are more conservative than Americans generally, even on “social issues,” is pretty much a myth. But you had to figure that the kind of Catholics who choose to vote in Republican primaries are pretty significantly correlated with “traditionalists” like Rick, right?

That’s actually not so clear at all. The last contest with exit polling by the networks was Florida. There Santorum won 13% of the overall vote, but just 10% of Catholics; Mitt Romney ran a bit better among Catholics than he did overall. Now maybe you could say Florida’s heavily Latino Catholic vote is atypical. What about South Carolina? There Santorum won 17% of the overall vote, but just 15% of Catholics. Again, Romney performed a bit better among Catholics than among voters generally.

It doesn’t really surprise me. I wonder why Kilgore didn’t break down the gender numbers? I’ll bet Catholic women didn’t care for Santorum’s act.

The New Civil Rights Movement blog has more interesting details on which population groups voted for Rick the Dick and which ones preferred Willard.

Speaking of dickish theocrats, Darrell Issa may have topped Rick the Dick Tuesday at the latest War on Women hearing in the House. From the estimable Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches:

One of the strangest moments at yesterday’s very strange hearing on whether a regulation duly promulgated under a law passed by Congress was “executive overreach” and an infringement of religious freedom was when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Not Catholic) asked to have the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae entered into the Congressional Record.

His point, obviously, upon questioning the now-ubiquitous Bishop William Lori of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was to show the authoritative (or rather, authoritarian) roots of the Catholic opposition to “artificialqui” contraception.

There it is now, part of the Congressional Record! A document few Catholics follow, and which provoked dissent from (believe it or not) American bishops when Pope Paul VI issued it in 1968.

I’m really starting to tire of bishops testifying before Congressional hearings and now we have quotes from Papal Encyclicals in the Congressional Record?! WTF?

Via Think Progress, disgusting misogynist pig Rush Limbaugh opened his bit yap yesterday and

called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student whom House Republicans wouldn’t let testify at a contraception hearing last week, a “slut” and a “prostitute” today, because, Limbaugh argued, she’s having “so much sex” she needs other people to pay for it:

LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.

You can hear the clip at Media Matters if you are so inclined. I decided not to listen.

Also at Think Progress, check out Alyssa Rosenberg’s Pop Culture Guide to the War on Women.

In science news, an article in Nature reveals that Dinosaurs had giant fleas–about an inch long!

Female (left) and male fleas from the Jurrassic Period

Primitive fleas were built to sup on dinosaur blood in the Jurassic period, more than 150 million years ago. The potential host–parasite relationship has been uncovered thanks to a set of beautifully preserved fossils found in China.

Today, the varied group of parasitic insects known as fleas frequently infests mammals, birds and thankfully we have products like Comforits amazon to remedy those woes. But little is known about their origins. The flea fossil record consists mainly of modern-looking species from the past 65 million years, and the identity of possible fleas from the Cretaceous period (145 million to 65 million years ago) has been debated by experts. But Michael Engel, a palaeoentomologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and his colleagues have now extended the history of the parasites by at least 60 million years. Their work is published online today in Nature1.

Engel and his co-authors studied nine flea specimens from two sites: the 165-million-year-old Jurassic deposits in Daohugou and the 125-million-year-old Cretaceous strata at Huangbanjigou, both in China. The insects were not quite like fleas as we now know them. Whereas modern fleas range from 1 to 10 millimetres in length, the Jurassic and Cretaceous species were between 8 and 21 millimetres. “These were hefty insects as far as fleas are concerned,” says Engel.

If you’re more interested in futuristic science, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is going “live on the web.”

Announced at a technology conference in Los Angeles, the site Setilive.org will stream radio frequencies that are transmitted from the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.

Participants in the project, being run by Jillian Tarter of the Seti Institute’s Center for Seti Research, will be asked to search for signs of unusual activity in the hope the human brain can find things automated systems might miss.

“There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there,” Tartar told BBC News.

I think just about anyone can volunteer to help sort out unusual frequencies from radio and TV signals.

Finally, Davy Jones of the artificially created ’60s group The Monkees died yesterday of a heart attack at 66. From TMZ:

An official from the medical examiner’s office for Martin County, Florida confirmed with TMZ they received a call from Martin Memorial Hospital informing them that Jones had passed away.

We’re told Davy suffered the heart attack at a ranch near his Florida home, where he was visiting his horses. Davy began experiencing distress while he was sitting in his car, and that’s where a ranch hand found him.

The ranch hand told Sheriff’s detectives … the singer began to complain that he was not feeling well and was having trouble breathing. Paramedics were called and Jones was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Here’s one of the group’s classic bubblegum hits. RIP Davy Jones.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?