Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Let’s get right to the news. I’m going to start with a couple of items that should particularly interest Dakinikat. First, Charlie Pierce wrote a post yesterday about Bobby Jindal’s campaign for VP.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be your vice-president. (He may also want to be your president, too, but being your vice-president first is an easy way to do that.) His first audition for the second slot was to become the prime surrogate for the relentless juggernaut that was the Rick Perry campaign.

(This was a juggernaut only in the sense that people watched Perry speak in the debates and asked each other, “Is he hitting the jug or not?” Thank you. I’ll be back for the late show.)

Once he rode that baby straight into the ground, Jindal decided to campaign for the job on his own, all the while hoping that nobody in the country remembers his memorable “reply” to the president’s State of the Union address back in 2009, during which Jindal looked like a 12-year old wearing his grandfather’s suit, the one in which Jindal scoffed at federal spending on “volcano monitoring” a little more than a year before a big hunk of Iceland blew up and nearly destroyed the airline industry in Europe.

Pierce is reacting to Jindal’s op-ed at the WSJ: Obama’s Politicized Energy Policy

With rising energy costs making it more expensive to drive our cars, heat our homes, and fuel our sputtering economy, many Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for a failure to adopt a comprehensive energy policy. I believe that critique lets the president off too easily. His administration does have a national energy policy—it’s just a subservient by-product of his radical environmental policy.

This administration willfully ignores rational choices that would lower energy prices and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources.

Bla, bla, bla…”rational” advice from a guy who believes in exorcism.

We all lost an hour of our lives a couple of days ago when the government made us “spring forward” into daylight savings time (DST). I love it, because it means it stays light a little longer at the end of the day here in New England, but Dak hates what it does to her down in New Orleans. Of course up here in the north, I don’t have the problem of darkness in the early morning.

The Christian Science Monitor had an interesting article on DST yesterday. CSM reports on a psychological study that found that workers are sleepy the next day after the time change (duh!) and are more likely to waste time on the internet at work. “Global productivity losses from a spike in employee cyberloafing are potentially staggering,” the researchers conclude.

CSM says that the origins of DST go way back. It was “originally proposed by a 19th century butterfly collector who wanted more time at the end of the workday to scour fields for insects,” and was first implemented “during World War I (peacetime standardization came in 1966).”

The most recent real adjustment in the US came in 2007, when the change was moved up to the second Sunday in March from the first Sunday in April to lengthen “summertime” and gauge potential energy savings. Polls showed farmers, perennial DST opponents, grumbled, and sports retailers (who benefit from the extra hour of daylight for play time after work) rejoiced.

If you’re worried about lost sleep, you might want to read this article at Alternet: The 8-Hour Sleep Myth: How I Learned That Everything I Knew About Sleep Was Wrong. Apparently it’s not really natural for humans to sleep through the night. The author read about this in a BBC article. Here’s the gist from the Alternet piece:

Turns out that psychiatrist Thomas Wehr ran an experiment back in the ‘90s in which people were thrust into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. When their sleep regulated, a strange pattern emerged. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before drifting off again into a second four-hour sleep.

Historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech would not have been surprised by this pattern. In 2001, he published a groundbreaking paper based on 16 years of research, which revealed something quite amazing: humans did not evolve to sleep through the night in one solid chunk. Until very recently, they slept in two stages. Shazam.

In his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, Ekrich presents over 500 references to these two distinct sleep periods, known as the “first sleep” and the “second sleep,” culled from diaries, court records, medical manuals, anthropological studies, and literature, including The Odyssey. Like an astrolabe pointing to some forgotten star, these accounts referenced a first sleep that began two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

This waking period, known in some cultures as the “watch,” was filled with everything from bringing in the animals to prayer. Some folks visited neighbors. Others smoked a pipe or analyzed their dreams. Often they lounged in bed to read, chat with bedfellows, or have much more refreshing sex than we modern humans have at bedtime. A 16th-century doctor’s manual prescribed sex after the first sleep as the most enjoyable variety.

That makes me feel a lot better, since I’ve rarely ever been able to sleep through the night, and in my later years, I have a terrible time falling asleep in the first place.

In political news, President Obama’s approval rating has suddenly tanked, supposedly because of gas prices.

Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election.

Which is kind of scary because of the horrifying Republican presidential candidates. It’s still early, so I’m not panicking just yet. Speaking of the clown car crew, there are four primaries today–in Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa. I’m not sure if we’ll have a live blog, because the last one was a bit of dud. If you’d like to have one, please say so in the comments to this post. We’ll definitely post the results tonight though.

As of last night, Romney was in the running in both Alabama and Mississippi, where the polls show Romney Gingrich, and Santorum all running neck and neck. The worst news is that Romney is now leading Obama by 5 points nationally.

The next item drew a {heavy sigh} from me. A new PPP poll found that a whole lot of voters in Alabama and Mississippi think President Obama is a Muslim. {{Heavy sigh….}}

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Some folks in these two deep South state don’t care for interracial marriages like the one that produced Barack Obama.

67% of Alabama Republicans saying they believe interracial marriage should be legal, though 21% said it still should be against the law. In Mississippi, 54% said it should be allowed, while 29% said it should remain illegal.

The preferred Republican candidate of those opposed to interracial marriage? Newt Gingrich. In Mississippi, Gingrich led Romney among that group 40% to 27%, and held a 38%-27% advantage in Alabama.

I am soooooo glad I don’t live in Alabama or Mississippi! Alexandra Petri of the WaPo calls it “the time traveler vote.” She says that voters must have just arrived from the 1920s.

I don’t know why it didn’t strike me sooner. So many of the issues at stake this year are Issues I Thought We Resolved Several Decades Ago. This is 2012, with lots of economic distress and voter unrest to go around. Why are we suddenly prioritizing Taking Back Control Of Women’s Bodies For The State?

But if you consider the Time Traveling Vote, it all makes sense.

I am not sure how big the vote is. But if the recent actions of many state legislatures are to be taken into account, it is surely substantial.

To visitors from the past, these issues are still pressing and vital. They don’t care about jobs! Once the election’s over, they’re headed back to 1926, where the economy is still roaring and everyone is flapping and doing the Charleston.

It certainly makes more sense than the assumption that they’ve simply been ignoring all the headlines, most of the textbooks, the entire women’s rights movement and the scientific consensus for decades.

Some love letters between the young Richard Nixon and his future wife Pat will be displayed at the Nixon Library. They are said to show Nixon’s “sensitive side.” A sample:

“Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. In fact I should always want you to live just as you wanted – because if you didn’t then you would change and wouldn’t be you,” Nixon wrote in one of the letters, part of a rotating display at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

“Let’s go for a long ride Sundays; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours,” he continued.

Whatever happened to that guy?

Finally, have you heard that Arlen Specter has a memoir coming out? Naturally, it’s full of complaints. Harry Reid stabbed him in the back after promising to give Specter seniority as a Democrat if he switched parties. Obama and Biden didn’t help him in his primary campaign against Joe Sestak. The most interesting revelation in the article in The Hill is that Bob Dole told Specter he (Dole) would have switched parties too.

“Dole told me I had done the right thing, that I had done a terrific job as a senator, been involved in a lot of projects, been very active, and hadn’t gotten credit for a lot of the stuff I had done,” he wrote.

“I said, ‘Bob, I think that it’s very meaningful when you say that I did the right thing, in the party change.’

“He said, ‘Well,’ and then paused and thought for a few seconds. Then he said, ‘I probably would have done the same thing.’ ”

Never mind all that. I want to read about Specter’s role in the Warren Commission and how he dreamed up the “single bullet theory.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Spring Ahead and other news: Open Thread

Image from Molecular Evolution ancient DNA, viruses, and phylogenetics

Good Afternoon everyone. Some new updates for you, so think of this as an Open Thread with some quick links to recent items of interest. Tonight is one night I always dread, which is the night we move the clocks forward an hour. So here is a few links to remind y’all.

Daylight Saving Time: Spring ahead, stay on track – USATODAY.com

5 ways the time change may impact your health – TODAY Health – TODAYshow.com

Guess I am in that depression group which sees more adverse affects to loosing an hour during Daylight Savings Time. As if I need an article to point out the ways “springing ahead” will affect my health, just the thought of even more fighting with my kids to wake up in the morning on Monday is enough to make me want to run for a padded cell.

Here are some updates on the nuclear plant problems in Japan:

Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant faces new reactor problem | Reuters

The emergency cooling system is no longer functioning at the No.3 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, requiring the facility to urgently secure a means to supply water to the reactor, an official of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference.

On Saturday, an explosion blew off the roof and upper walls of the building housing the facility’s No. 1 reactor, stirring alarm over a possible major radiation release, although the government later said the explosion had not affected the reactor’s core vessel and that only a small amount of radiation had been released.

Up to 160 may have radiation exposure in Japan nuclear accident | Reuters

The number of individuals exposed to radiation from the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan could reach as high as 160, an official of Japan’s nuclear safety agency said on Sunday.

Don’t forget Libya is still smoking:

Libya: Arab League calls for United Nations no-fly zone – Telegraph

The Arab League called on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Libya, increasing pressure on Europe and the US to embark on limited military action against the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

AFP: Thousands of Libyan women march for ‘no-fly zone’

Several thousand Libyan women marched through the streets of rebel-held Benghazi on Saturday, demanding a no-fly zone to stop Moamer Kadhafi from bombing rebel fighters.

“No-fly zone! No-fly zone!” chanted the crowd in English and in unison, waving Libyan flags and flashing victory signs as they marched along the seafront corniche in the country’s rebel-held second city.

Students, mothers, grandmothers, children and toddlers walked hand in hand, most of them wearing headscarves and some with flags painted on their cheeks and Libyan flags wrapped around their foreheads, bandana-style.

They held up framed photographs of male relatives killed since the uprising began in mid-February and banners scrawled with slogans such as: “Is oil more expensive than the blood of our sons?”

Obama ‘concerned’ that Gadhafi could win – The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency

In the presidential news conference, Obama said he is “absolutely” concerned about Gadhafi’s potential to win. He said, “I think that’s why it’s so important for us not to stop where we are, but to continue to find options that will add additional pressure, including sending a clear message to those around Gadhafi that the world is watching.”

One thing I find curious is that over in Libya, the press is being pushed around…there is no internet…and yet we don’t really hear much about that in our MSM. Well, this is something I doubt you will find being reported on our fine news establishments:

Al Jazeera staffer killed in Libya – Africa – Al Jazeera English

An Al Jazeera cameraman has been killed in what appears to have been an ambush near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to Benghazi from a nearby town after filing a report from an opposition protest when unknown fighters opened fire on a car he and his colleagues were travelling in.

Two people including Al Jaber were shot. Al Jaber was rushed to hospital, but did not survive.

[…]

Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of Al Jazeera, said the network “will not remain silent” and will pursue those behind the ambush through legal channels.

He said that the killing came after “an unprecedented campaign” against the network by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Wadah Khanfar said Al Jazeera will not remain silent in the wake of Al Jaber’s killing

“Al Jazeera condemns the cowardly crime, which comes as part of the Libyan regime’s malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff,” the network said in a statement.

“Al Jazeera reiterates the assault cannot dent its resolve to continue its mission, professionally enlightening the public of the unfolding events in Libya and elsewhere.

Look for more updates below in the comments section…this is an open thread.