Post RNC-Mid DNC Desktop Clearing Link Dump

Let’s get this stuff out of here…another backlog of articles that were interesting but didn’t find the time…

First up, we start in conservative media fantasy-land.

THR: Does the media tie mistakes made by Democrats to President Obama as readily as they tie Republican mistakes to Romney?

Wallace: Yes, the mainstream media is terribly unfair to Obama, and they have to stop their bias in favor of Romney.

[Note: the funny part…Wallace was joking…and doesn’t consider the network that got the highest ratings for the RNC to be part of the mainstream media.]

Next up we see what is driving ratings for Fox News.

From : Fear of a Black President

Obama is not simply America’s first black president—he is the first president who could credibly teach a black-studies class. He is fully versed in the works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X. Obama’s two autobiographies are deeply concerned with race, and in front of black audiences he is apt to cite important but obscure political figures such as George Henry White, who served from 1897 to 1901 and was the last African American congressman to be elected from the South until 1970. But with just a few notable exceptions, the president had, for the first three years of his presidency, strenuously avoided talk of race.

Next we move onto folks in black-face being using as political props…

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down.

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

We need to develop a “canary in the convention” that falls over dead when the b.s. gets too deep.

Speaking of b.s. at the convention, here’s the Rolling Stone piece that looks a bit deeper into how Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital made its start, and how it was saved in the early years by a taxpayer bailout.

And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz25c4gDbu1

In the background, quietly crying, you’ll find our environment.

Yesterday was August 28th 2012. Remember that date. It marks the day when the world went raving mad.

Three things of note happened. The first is that a record Arctic ice melt had just been announced by the scientists studying the region. The 2012 figure has not only beaten the previous record, established in 2007. It has beaten it three weeks before the sea ice is likely to reach its minimum extent. It reveals that global climate breakdown is proceeding more rapidly than most climate scientists expected. But you could be forgiven for missing it, as it scarcely made the news at all.

It also appears that Paul Ryan is quickly creating lots of jobs in various fact-checking departments…

•Accused President Obama‘s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.

•Accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle.

•Claimed the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending. Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers.

•Faulted Obama for failing to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open. It closed less than a month before Obama took office.

•Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S. Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.

And there’s more….

The next statement Ryan made was that in 1980 “330,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy. Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses field for bankruptcy.”

This is not true. According to American Bankruptcy Institute, under Carter 331,264 businesses and non-businesses filed for bankruptcy. That number includes not just businesses, but personal bankruptcies as well. In 1980, there were 43,694 business bankruptcies and 287, 570 non-business bankruptcies.

Ryan also got it wrong with regard to the number of business bankruptcies last year. In 2011, there were 1, 410, 653 total bankruptcies. Of that number 47,806 were business bankruptcies and 1,362,847 were non-business bankruptcies.

and just to keep it in perspective, Paul Ryan is being sold as the gold standard in Republican honesty and integrity when it comes to numbers.  Really.

Here’s a bit of the “liberal” media conspiracy…in that we have an actual liberal calling out the media for keeping certain things from the eyes of the public.

When Mitt Romney walked down the aisle toward the stage Thursday night, among the people whose hands he shook was the conservative billionaire and major political donor David Koch. But it was a moment missed by the tens of millions of viewers at home. While Democracy Now! was there on the floor and captured the handshake on video, the networks cut away just before the handshake to show footage of two enthusiastic young women supporters and then an overhead shot of the convention center.

You can even see Mitt’s face light up when he sees the Koch.

Heading back to that Rolling Stone story about how firms like Bain avoid paying taxes on their income…the NY State Attorney General (the one after the whore-monger) is now looking into the practice of treating wealthy and connected people’s labor as if it were capital (and thus getting a 20% tax break, from 35% down to 15%).

The New York attorney general is investigating whether some of the nation’s biggest private equity firms have abused a tax strategy in order to slice hundreds of millions of dollars from their tax bills, according to executives with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

The attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has in recent weeks subpoenaed more than a dozen firms seeking documents that would reveal whether they converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments, which are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.

According to financial statements, Bain partners saved more than $200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes.

[full story]

Thus goes the “secret to his success”.

And finally we see a Business Insider story that hits the nail on the head.

Lots of things are wrong with the economy, but the main problem can be summed up with two simple facts:

  • Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are at an all-time high
  • Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low

The following charts clearly illustrate that problem.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-ford-salary-increase-2012-8#ixzz25cGRYdou

I repeat…

  • Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are at an all-time high
  • Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low

This is the natural results of 30+ years of supply-side economics.

History of Supply Side Experiment

Here we see the real world effect of “supply side” economics.

And there you have it.  Links dumped.

Oh…one final note…it appears that some of the rich, if eaten, might actually sustain us for a while.  Just a thought…

Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here’s the world’s wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.

“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain,” she said in a magazine piece. “Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”

Yeah, let them eat cake.

Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it. Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia’s wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.

 

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Yo, I heard you like hot summers and droughts, so I added hot summers, melting sea ice, droughts and wildfires to your hot summers and droughts

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low—Extreme Weather to Come? 

Arctic sea ice is thawing at a historic rate, scientists say. In fact, a recent analysis of satellite data “utterly obliterates” the previous record, set in 2007.

The chief culprit? Global warming. The potential upshot? Longer and more intense extreme-weather events such as heat waves, cold spells, and droughts.

On Monday, researchers at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said the rate of Arctic sea ice decline is now the highest that has ever been observed. In August, the sea ice disappeared at an average rate of about 39 square miles (a hundred square kilometers)—or about twice as normal, NSIDC scientists say.

Moreover, the area of Arctic sea ice around the North Pole had shrunk to 1.58 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers)—the smallest measurement since 1979, when satellite observations began.

It’s a sick situation when science predicts something will happen, gets it wrong….but gets slammed because they were too conservative in their predictions.

Double irony…”conservatives” actually reject the entire notion this happening at all.

Semen triggers Ovulation in Mammalian Females

Semen has direct effect on female brain | TG Daily

A newly-discovered protein in the semen of all mammals -including humans – prompts females to ovulate through a direct effect on the brain.

Surprisingly, it’s the same molecule that regulates the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells – nerve growth factor (NGF) which is found primarily in nerve cells throughout the body.

The scientists, though, say that large amounts of the protein are produced by the accessory sex glands that contribute seminal fluid to semen.

“To our surprise, it turns out they are the same molecule,” says Gregg Adams of the University of Saskatchewan. “Even more surprising is that the effects of NGF in the female were not recognized earlier, since it’s so abundant in seminal plasma.”

NGF in the semen acts as a hormonal signal, working through the hypothalamus of the female brain and the pituitary gland. This triggers the release of other hormones that signal the ovaries to release an egg or eggs.

Same group that landed a Buick on another planet has something to say about our own

Research links extreme summer heat events to global warming
http://m.phys.org/news/2012-08-links-extreme-summer-events-global.html

To distinguish the trend from natural variability, Hansen and colleagues turned to statistics. In this study, the GISS team including Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy did not focus on the causes of temperature change. Instead the researchers analyzed surface temperature data to establish the growing frequency of extreme heat events in the past 30 years, a period in which the temperature data show an overall warming trend.

NASA climatologists have long collected data on global temperature anomalies, which describe how much warming or cooling regions of the world have experienced when compared with the 1951 to 1980 base period. In this study, the researchers employ a bell curve to illustrate how those anomalies are changing.

A bell curve is a tool frequently used by statisticians and society. School teachers who grade “on the curve” use a bell curve to designate the mean score as a C, the top of the bell. The curve falls off equally to both sides, showing that fewer students receive B and D grades and even fewer receive A and F grades.

Hansen and colleagues found that a bell curve was a good fit to summertime temperature anomalies for the base period of relatively stable climate from 1951 to 1980. Mean temperature is centered at the top of the bell curve. Decreasing in frequency to the left of center are “cold,” “very cold” and “extremely cold” events. Decreasing in frequency to the right of center are “hot,” “very hot” and “extremely hot” events.

Plotting bell curves for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the team noticed the entire curve shifted to the right, meaning that more hot events are the new normal. The curve also flattened and widened, indicating a wider range of variability. Specifically, an average of 75 percent of land area across Earth experienced summers in the “hot” category during the past decade, compared to only 33 percent during the 1951 to 1980 base period. Widening of the curve also led to the designation of the new category of outlier events labeled “extremely hot,” which were almost nonexistent in the base period.

Please take a moment and watch the second animated bell curve in action.  You can *see* the trend.   If you walk outside in the same place but different times (and could do it in a statistical manner similar to the way the NYTimes did this analysis of 100M results over the history of the Olympics), you could feel it.

Playing Any PC game on your Phone? Coming Sooner than you think…

The application is called Kainy and was brought to our attention in a comment on the Minecraft: Pocket Edition update article we wrote yesterday. This application is a 2 part program, one part being the actual application for your Android device (the client), and the other being for your PC which streams your games to you as it runs them (the server). Essentially this is your own OnLive network for your own PC games to play on your Android devices.

via Meet Kainy, the application that lets you play PC games on your Android device anywhere.

This is pretty dang awesome.  Letting your phone act as a simple terminal means mostly what it wants is bandwidth, which wifi and/or 4g can bring in spades.

Testing report coming soon…

Climate Scientist stoops to using Denier tactics (i.e. lies) to expose Heartland Institute conspiracy against Climate Science

“At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate programme strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it,” Gleick wrote.

“Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues.”

It is sad he did this.  It’s worse that such a conspiracy exists.  It’s much, much worse that so many people have fallen for it, and scientists have to deal with so much crap for presenting data and research that challenges powerful industries.


m.guardian.co.uk
http://m.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/21/peter-gleick-admits-leaked-heartland-institute-documents?cat=environment&type=article

The Latest Bit of Evidence To Be Dismissed by 40% of the American populace….

….

Scientists from the Beijing Genomics Institute last month discovered another striking instance of human genetic change. Among Tibetans, they found, a set of genes evolved to cope with low oxygen levels as recently as 3,000 years ago. This, if confirmed, would be the most recent known instance of human evolution.

[full story]

The difficulty of identifying these shifts is also covered in the article (and the reason this is dismissed by so many…it’s hard).

One of the signatures of natural selection is that it disturbs the undergrowth of mutations that are always accumulating along the genome. As a favored version of a gene becomes more common in a population, genomes will look increasingly alike in and around the gene. Because variation is brushed away, the favored gene’s rise in popularity is called a sweep. Geneticists have developed several statistical methods for detecting sweeps, and hence of natural selection in action.

About 21 genome-wide scans for natural selection had been completed by last year, providing evidence that 4,243 genes — 23 percent of the human total — were under natural selection. This is a surprisingly high proportion, since the scans often miss various genes that are known for other reasons to be under selection. Also, the scans can see only recent episodes of selection — probably just those that occurred within the last 5,000 to 25,000 years or so. The reason is that after a favored version of a gene has swept through the population, mutations start building up in its DNA, eroding the uniformity that is evidence of a sweep.

So as soon as an “upgrade” is available in the gene pool, it changes the color of the pool, so to speak, and immediately new dyes start seeping in, searching for that next true hue. 

The theory also makes predictions that have also been observed, such as….

The fewest signals of selection were seen among people who live in the humid tropics, the ecoregion where the ancestral human population evolved. “One could argue that we are adapted to that and that most signals are seen when people adapt to new environments,” Dr. Di Rienzo said in an interview.

 To continue the pool analogy, those born in the the deep blue of the tropics and stayed, were good with that color.  But you start getting to more extreme environment (cold, altitude) that same color doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

The second page is a basic discussion on skin color and how there is enough adaptability in the human genome for light skin to have evolved in at least two ways.

The difficulty in comprehending the theory (much less applying it) also lies in the complexity of the systems themselves.

Most variation in the human genome is neutral, meaning that it arose not by natural selection but by processes like harmless mutations and the random shuffling of the genome between generations. The amount of this genetic diversity is highest in African populations. Diversity decreases steadily the further a population has migrated from the African homeland, since each group that moved onward carried away only some of the diversity of its parent population. This steady decline in diversity shows no discontinuity between one population and the next, and has offered no clear explanation as to why one population should differ much from another. But selected genes show a different pattern: Evidence from the new genome-wide tests for selection show that most selective pressures are focused on specific populations.

However, within that complexity, one can expose new insights (again, in keeping with the theory).

One aspect of this pattern is that there seem to be more genes under recent selection in East Asians and Europeans than in Africans, possibly because the people who left Africa were then forced to adapt to different environments. “It’s a reasonable inference that non-Africans were becoming exposed to a wide variety of novel climates,” says Dr. Stoneking of the Max Planck Institute.

The final bit is about the “soft sweet” which continues to occur regardless of outside pressure.  

But the new evidence that humans have adapted rapidly and extensively suggests that natural selection must have other options for changing a trait besides waiting for the right mutation to show up. In an article in Current Biology in February, Dr. Pritchard suggested that a lot of natural selection may take place through what he called soft sweeps.

Soft sweeps work on traits affected by many genes, like height. Suppose there are a hundred genes that affect height (about 50 are known already, and many more remain to be found). Each gene exists in a version that enhances height and a version that does not. The average person might inherit the height-enhancing version of 50 of these genes, say, and be of average height as a result.

The article uses a primitive example of this, but I could just link here…and then draw the pictures….taller = more money, more money = more health/breeding partners, = taller species.  Although this last  (the money/height connection) has only been going on for 20-30 generations and only a couple generations for all people of all genomic heritage (in my country).  It will be interesting to see how these studies move forward in the future, as genome databases grow and more cross-testing is available.

It would be quite a thing to get a six-month gene therapy treatment before that next stint on Everest/in the Arctic.  Or at least it would be if that kind of stuff isn’t outlawed by people who don’t believe in evolution [search : Gene Manufacturing]

.

Bringing an Asteroid back to Earth

Here’s the sciency goodness…

Just in case you thought the re-entry of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft couldn’t get any better, NASA has just released an aerial video of the speeding sample return capsule followed by the break-up of the rest of the probe as the whole lot tumbled through the Earth’s atmosphere.

And, of course, the YouTube moment…

And just to be thorough…the sciency badness.  When your experiment has to deal with the Sun exploding in ways it never has before, right before trying to catch up to an asteroid and land on it (using ion engines no less), to get *any* results is a feat of super-human intelligence and ingenuity.  Oh, and if space-zombies start showing up in your neighborhood, this is a likely culprit.

In 2003, Hayabusa was launched from Uchinoura Launch Center, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan. Hayabusa means “peregrine falcon” in Japanese.

Using its ion engines, the space probe gave chase to Itokawa, an asteroid measuring 500 meters in length.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the first problem struck the probe; it was hit by one of those annoying solar flares. But this wasn’t an average solar flare, it was the biggest solar flare in recorded history! If you ever wanted a space mission to get off to a bad start, this would be it.

The probe sustained damage to its solar panels, which reduced the spacecraft’s power-producing efficiency. As Hayabusa’s means of getting around space was by using ion engines, the reduction in power delivered by the solar array meant the thrust of the engines suffered, causing a delay in Hayabusa reaching Itokawa.

Despite this early set-back, the probe reached Itokawa in 2005 and took some stunning imagery of the space rock. It was obvious from the photographs that the asteroid was formed of smaller chunks of rock held together by a mutual gravity (known as a “rubble pile”). These observations revealed that Itokawa has a surprisingly low density.

This is when things started to go even worse for the solar flare-battered probe. There was an attempt to get a closer look at the asteroid, but in doing so, the spacecraft overheated and switched into “safe mode” when accidentally making contact with the sun-baked side of Itokawa.

After regaining control, JAXA scientists made an attempt to grab samples of the asteroid to bring back to Earth. Unfortunately, that didn’t go smoothly either. The sampling device intended to kick pieces of asteroid from the surface into a collector didn’t work as it was supposed to. However, there is hope that some disturbed particles of asteroid dust made it on board during these maneuvers.

After a delayed limp back to Earth (the mission was supposed to return in 2007), Hayabusa is finally on its final straight, aimed right at the Australian outback.

Shortly before Sunday’s re-entry, the return capsule — hopefully containing the invaluable particles of asteroid dust — will separate from the main spacecraft, leaving the majority of the probe to burn up high in the atmosphere.

And that’s what we saw there, the spaceprobe burning up (and killing the zeno-bacteria zombie pod, hopefully) and the capsule heading down.  I’ve heard the chute deployed, and they should have the results in hand before too long.  Good stuff, chaps.  Err,…senseis?

UPDATE:  This post has a lot more info regarding some of the difficulties with the science.

Impact and size of Gulf oil spill still in question

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gIXWYBTpLtSayJtg41LKXpxSxVPAD9FO17L00

Oil has been spewing since the rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 people and sinking two days later. The government shortly afterward estimated the spill at 210,000 gallons — or 5,000 barrels — a day, a figure that has since been questioned by some scientists who fear it could be far more. BP executives have stood by the estimate while acknowledging there’s no way to know for sure.

After seeing the video in the leak, which seemed to shooting out hundreds of gallons a second (200 gallons a second = 12000 gallons an hour = 288000/day), I’m less than confident in BP’s revised estimate (which was revised on day three or four). If they were off, we have to multiply the total by days since the explosion and the new estimates.

Considering the 5,000 feet the oil has to rise, and the natural tides of the Gulf, there seems to be some serious “iceberg” potential in this catastrophe (i.e. We can’t see 90% of the problem).

Finally, when cosidering this news item and your feelings re: BP, weigh the environmental impact of this event vs the environmental impact of all those commercials where BP was patting themselves on the back for being so “green”.

Jokes About Miami Airport Worker’s Body Scan Lead To Beating, Arrest

Jokes about wee wee-wee lead to beating

Rolando Negrin, 44, was charged with aggravated battery after he used a police baton to beat Hugh Osorno on Tuesday. According to a police complaint, Negrin was upset following a training with whole body scanners with other co-workers.

“The x-ray revealed [he] has a small penis and co-workers made fun of him on a daily basis,” the complaint read.

This body-scanning crap needs to stop. The Khan story makes it clear it’s a total lie to say these things get deleted (not to mention that makes the process useless for investigating terrorism).

Please, folks, quit being so scared, I’m losing too many rights and freedoms when you keep panicing.

[more coverage here]