Sunday, February 28, 2021

"The Trump Storm Is Over -- Act Like It"

I found this comment on a NY Times op-ed last week. I don't remember which article and it doesn't matter; the comment stands on its own, and strikes me as very wise and intelligent. Trump is already fading and emasculated; Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, may have done more to save American democracy than anyone since FDR beat Hitler. Republicans don't seem to stand for anything right now, just against things, and what they are against isn't very smart -- pandemic relief (supported by about 70% of Americans), facemasks and democracy itself. Their face is now dominated by dolts like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Greene clearly didn't come to Congress to serve the public, apparently lacks all empathy, and is predictable and boorish beside. Ron Johnson bought his way into office and apparently isn't smart enough to understand how embarrassing his ridiculous conspiracy theories look to anyone who can think. This is the Republican party, bereft, lost without Trump, the worst president in US history, and can't even keep the lights on in Texas while people, including children, die. What a callus clown show, while Biden has quietly and very competently taken charge and is making a real difference in life in America (more later), moving forward, as the NY Times commenter suggests, as fast as possible.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Why Didn't My Niece's Teacher Show the Rover Video?

I'm including this video of the Perseverance rover descending and landing on Mars, which probably you've seen, just because it's so cool.

I was emailing my 13-year old niece, and she said her mom mentioned a rover had landed on Mars, but the picture I sent was the first she'd seen. Then yesterday I sent this video, which she really liked. She's in remote learning, very diligent about it, and a master on her Chromebook. I'm a little disappointed that her teachers didn't take a little time to discuss the rover landing, show a picture, and then this video. Or had mentioned it before now and prepped them. When I was a kid in ancient times they wheeled a TV into our classroom on a high stand and we watched the Apollo launches and landings if they were during school hours, and it was exciting. I watched them at home, too, and will forever remember staying up late to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the Moon. I don't know if it influenced me going into science -- I was already pretty "deep" into space stuff when I was 5 years old and made a study area in the corner of our living room with books and NASA posters and little spaceship models -- it was a phase -- but seeing Apollo missions in school didn't hurt. And it was cool and fun. 'Course we didn't "study for the test" back then -- what in the US has come to mean teachers only preparing students to do well on achievement tests and prep exams and college entrance tests, and nothing else. So I don't understand why her teachers wouldn't have taken a few minutes to discuss this rover landing. What 7th grader isn't going to be wowed by this video? Hopefully they'll get to it.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Texas: Where Caveman Ethics Rule

The mayor of Colorado City, Texas wrote a Facebook post saying it wasn't his responsibility to take care of anyone suffering in the cold and dark without power or water.

This clown actually wrote, "The strong will survive and the weak will perish.... Sink or swim, it's your choice."

In his typo-ridden post made Tuesday morning, Tim Boyd wrote, “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish.” He also said he was “sick and tired” of people looking for handouts and that the current situation is “sadly a product of a socialist government....”

Boyd deleted his post but stood by the sentiments in a follow-up message. He also wrote that his original message was posted as a private citizen, not the mayor of Colorado City, saying he “had already turned in my resignation and had not signed up to run for mayor again."

"I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout,” Boyd's follow-up post said.

What a plum stupid man, as they might say in Texas.

When will people in places like this realize that they have to vote for and pay for competent government and reliable infrastructure?

Here's a news video, so you can get a look at this imbecile.

Ted Cruz Left His Poodle Alone

Ted Cruz went to Cancun and left his dog alone in a dark, cold millions of other Texans. A state led by Republican couldn't even keep the lights on, despite decades of warnings that their go-it-alone electricity grid, not connected to the national grid, was in danger from extreme weather events. No one cared -- after all, the elite could always jet off to the tropics despite the pitiful privation of the poor plebes and the poodles. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

US Trends in Vaccinated

I've been keeping track of the US vaccination numbers for awhile, via the CDC's site. Now that we have a competent president, things are finally starting to pick up, with over 2 million doses per day administered over the last four days, and over 1 M/day since the end of January. The numbers getting either one or two doses are accelerating too. Not fast enough -- it never will be -- but isn't it great to know we don't have a toxic, seditious clown in charge -- just a quiet, decent, hard-working man who has the right priorities and is getting things done.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

James Speth Said...

James Speth is a Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School and served as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2009. He co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and founded the World Resources Institute. Wikipedia has a good biography, and here is another.

The Video Played at Trump's Trial Today

Here's the video House impeachment managers played to the Senate today in Trump's impeachment trial. It's really quite something; I think I watched parts with my mouth hanging open. It should be included in digital US history books for time immemorial. Via WaPo.


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Trump's Freedom of Speech Defense is Desperate

From today's Washington Post:
The assertion that Trump acted swiftly and out of genuine horror as his supporters ransacked the Capitol is largely a side note to his lawyers’ defense. In their 78-page brief, they focused on two legal arguments: that the Constitution does not allow for the conviction of an impeached former officeholder and that Trump’s speech to the crowd on Jan. 6 was political rhetoric protected by the First Amendment.
I really don't understand this last argument. Yes, US citizens have freedom of speech. I'm free to go to my local police station and say, freely, that I just killed John Doe at 123 Main Street, but a lawyer won't be able to use the First Amendment's freedom of speech clause in my defense in the courtroom.

Speech has consequences. If it didn't there'd be no point in having it or using it. This seems like a very desperate defense if you ask me.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Elected, Not Looking to Legislate

“I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation.”
-- 25-year-old freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.)

via WaPo. 

Cawthorn gave a fiery speech on Jan 5th, and is not sorry for urging the crowd to fight attempt a coup. Because...well, you figure it out:

“I don’t regret it, actually,” Cawthorn said in a clip of an interview with Ozy Media founder Carlos Watson for his YouTube program, “The Carlos Watson Show.” “Obviously, I think what happened on Jan. 6 was despicable. I thought it was conducted by weak-minded men and women who are unable to check their worst impulses and had very little self-control.”
So he urged everyone to fight, then complained they were weak-minded for following him. A true Republican leader.

Marjorie Taylor Greene's Depravity

Here's a great example of Marjorie Taylor Greene's lunacy and depravity, from a column today in the NY Times by Michelle Goldberg:

This is so utterly bizarre and ridiculous that a rational person wants to simply dismiss it, but then Greene becomes a Congresswoman who is obsessed with Trumpism and wants to institute his ideology of fascism. She has to be minimized to epsilon, the arbitrarily small number of calculus, and soon.

Remember, Qanon has been classified by the FBI as a domestic terror threat.

And how's this for a POS recantation:

She takes no responsibility at all -- like Trump, it's (always) someone else's fault.

How Melting Sea Ice and Shelves Raise Sea Level

We all learned that floating ice, when it melts, does not raise the level of water in, say, a glass, because the the density of the water from the melted ice is equal to the density of the water it's floating in.

But it's a different situation for floating sea ice and sea shelves, because, although they arise from frozen sea water, almost all the salt has been rejected during the freezing process. I heard this long ago and forgot about it, but it is noted in a corrigendum to the paper in The Cryosphere which I discussed here. (A corrigendum is a change to an article, not necessarily, as many people often assume, a correction.) It says

The amount of ocean rise from melted sea ice is 2.6% of the original amount of displaced sea water. 

Here's a brief popular explanation. Here's a PDF of the 2004 paper by Peter Noerdlinger and Kay Brower (for which the journal is asking $52!)(that's not 52 factorial, but it might as well be). Noerdlinger seems to be the one that brought this to everyone's attention a few years earlier, from what I gather. Here's the necessary excerpts from their paper:

There's another very small effect too, which I wrote about in 2014 for Yale Climate Connections, but had also forgotten until I did a Google search on the above. When the floating ice (or ice shelf) melts, that area of the ocean surface, which once strongly reflected sunlight (since ice is white) is now opened up to the sunlight's heat, warming the ocean water, causing it to thermally expand. This is a tiny effect, of course, and not possible to calculate generally since it depends on location. But you can tuck this in your back pocket for when you have your next argument on this topic and want to be a smart aleck.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent Coming Back

It appears that the big dip we saw in Antarctic sea ice extent starting in 2015 may have just been a temporarily nonlinearity, or something related to the monster 2015-16 El Nino, or god's fury, because the ice is coming back:

where the data is from the NSIDC. So curb your enthusiasm. Maybe we have to resort again -- now that the data is again against us, how's that for playing the odds again, ha ha -- looking at the prediction of increased Antarctic sea ice with increasing CO2 and global warming by Manabe et al in 1991:

"Transient Responses of a Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Model to Gradual Changes of Atmospheric CO2: Annual Mean Response," S Manabe et al, J Climate v4, Aug 1991 p785-818. (pg 795 in particular)

"The increased supply of fresh surface water from both land-bound ice melt and increased precipitation increases the halocline gradient, which reduces upwelling of warmer bottom waters, decreasing sea surface temperature, and thus leading to more sea ice."


In any case, the Antarctic sea ice looks to be coming back.

"Trumpism is American fascism"

Someone from the MSM finally said it clearly in an MSM outlet -- Michael Gerson in the Washington Post, in an opinion piece titled "Trumpism is American fascism." Here's some of it:

What type of citizen has Trump — and his supportive partisan media — produced? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) still holds her job in Congress because she is representative of ascendant MAGA radicalism. Those who reflect her overt racism, her unhinged conspiracy thinking and her endorsement of violence against public figures are now treated as a serious political constituency within the Republican Party. Trump has come down firmly on Greene’s side. One participant in the Jan. 6 attack sent a video to her children saying: “We broke into the Capitol. . . . We got inside, we did our part. We were looking for Nancy [Pelosi] to shoot her in the friggin’ brain, but we didn’t find her.” The detail that gets to me? She sent this to her children. She was living in a mental world where vile, shameful things are a parent’s boast. And she saw her actions as the expression of a public duty — an example of doing her part.

Call this civic barbarism. Instead of promoting the values of responsible citizenship, Trump and his media enablers are elevating and blessing the very worst among us. They are making many Americans less suited for self-government and more dangerous to their neighbors. And they are doing so for the reason some of the Founders most feared: To lead the mob against true democracy.

How can anyone view the trashing of our founding tradition as evidence of patriotism? Because some have adopted a very different political philosophy than the Founders held. This approach to government promises the recovery of a mythical past. It feeds a sense of White victimhood. It emphasizes emotion over reason. It denigrates experts and expertise. It slanders outsiders and blames them for social and economic ills. It warns of global plots by Jews and shadowy elites. It accepts the lies of a leader as a deeper form of political truth. It revels in anger and dehumanization. It praises law and order while reserving the right to disobey the law and overturn the political order through violence.

This is a reality that I have resisted naming. The 45th president and a significant portion of his supporters have embraced American fascism. And Trump’s buffoonery does not disprove the point. Though he probably cannot name the political theory he has embraced, his own recklessness, vanity and authoritarian instincts have led him down fascist grooves. He displays an intuitive affinity for leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hungary’s Viktor Orban. And Trump would have subverted the legitimate result of the 2020 presidential election if he could have, which would have broken a constitutional continuity that has endured over two centuries.

I don’t think Trump came particularly close to success. This time. But the influence of his treacherous ideology is still being spread by unprincipled people seeking influence and profit. American fascism needs to be aggressively marginalized....
And the vast majority of the Republican party, not just the extremists but nearly all of them, are going along with this movement. Why? Trump lost them the House, the Senate and the Presidency. Are they so terrified of the exhtremist base with guns that they think they have no choice? Ever since Trump came on the presidential scene in 2015 everyone has been saying this can't go any further, and now it's 2021 and everyone is still saying the same thing yet it's gone a lot further. It's probable that too much media attention is being given to Marjorie Taylor Greene right now because she's crazy, which is catnip to the media. (I do think she has some serious mental health problems -- anyone who goes around stating the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were faked obviously has something wrong psychologically, and needs help.) But convicted or not, Trump is still going to try to stir up trouble and many Republicans are apparently still going to kowtow to him.