We are the 99%

July 31, 2014

And We're Back To The Selective Evidence AGAINST The Reality

An embarrassingly typical "argument" against the Climate Science can be found in today's Tribune-Review:
Speaking of climate clucking, Western Pennsylvania broke records this week for summer cold. “What was that, honey? Why, yes, of course, I'll throw another log on the fire, baby — all that global warming is making it cold outside.” [Bolding in Original.]
As if the weather in one local area over a short time span is an indication of a global trend.

It isn't.

But I wonder if the Trib's editorial board would be issuing the exact same denial if they lived in Phoenix:
The official temperature in Phoenix hit 115 degrees at 1:32 p.m. on Thursday. That breaks the record of 114 degrees set in 2006. The high reached 116 degrees shortly after 2:15 p.m.

The overnight low on Thursday was 93 degrees. That also set a record.
Or Los Angeles:
Triple-digit heat scorched inland areas of Southern California on Wednesday as forecasters predicted that above-normal temperatures would continue into the weekend.

In the desert, Thermal hit 119 degrees, breaking a daily record of 118 degrees that was set in 2006. Palm Springs reached 116 degrees, tying a daily record that also was set in 2006, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 4 p.m. in Los Angeles County, Northridge, Saugus and Van Nuys each had hit 100 degrees. Acton and Lancaster topped out at 102, according to the weather service.
Or on Planet Earth:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that June was the globe’s warmest in 134 years of records following its report that May was also the hottest on record. These reports are feeding anticipation that 2014 could become the warmest year on record.
But, according to the scientifically illiterate editorial board of the Tribune-Review, none of that has any meaning because Allegheny County has been colder than usual for a few weeks.

So embarrassing wrong that it undermines the whole paper as a "news" source, doesn't it?

July 30, 2014

More Science Denial By The GOP

This happened yesterday in the United States Senate:
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) blocked Senate Democrats on Monday from passing a resolution that would have acknowledged the reality of climate change.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked unanimous consent to pass S.Res. 524, which is a measure that expresses the sense of the Senate that climate change is occurring and poses a risk to the United States. But Inhofe objected.
Where else but amongst American Conservatives (yes, I know - not ALL of them, but enough for the rest of them to be ashamed) can a resolution acknowledging reality be so easily blocked?

Luckily, there was someone in the Senate (a New Englander, thankyouverymuch) who responded to the ignorance with some science.  From thinkprogress:
[Rhode Island Senator Sheldon] Whitehouse began by addressing one of Inhofe’s most oft-used arguments against the existence of climate change — that the earth’s atmospheric temperature has not risen in the last 15 years.

That “little rhetorical device” Inhofe is using fails to consider two things, Whitehouse said. One, is that more than 90 percent of the heat generated from increased carbon emissions gets absorbed into the ocean, not into the atmosphere. Two, is that any changes in ocean temperature will eventually have “a pronounced effect” on atmospheric temperature. Indeed, recent studies show that global temperatures are set to rise rapidly in the face of our increasingly warm and acidic oceans.

“To say that we have no warming is just not factual,” he said.
You can watch Senator Inhofe get some science by Senator Whitehouse:

Here's the 2014 National Climate Assessment if you want to read it.

July 29, 2014

The Tribune-Review And (The Felon) Dinesh D'Souza

Back on May 20 of this year, this happened:
Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.
Politico goes on:
The single felony count D’Souza admitted guilt on carries a maximum prison sentence of two years, but the plea agreement D’Souza’s lawyers reached with the government says sentencing guidelines applicable to the case call for a sentence of 10 to 16 months.
And that makes him a felon.

That was two months ago.  A few days ago Media Matters published this. When I read the title of the piece, "Dinesh D'Souza's Political Friends Rally To His Defense", it got me to wondering how his case was covered by my own (local) favorite conservative news source, The Tribune-Review.

And you'll never ever guess what I found (and didn't find) there.

When you enter "Dinesh D'Souza" into the Trib's search engine, you'll find (at this writing) three articles published after he admitted to that felony that mention him and none mention his guilty plea.

But hey, maybe the Trib's website just publishes Trib content.  Maybe the news of D'Souza's guilty plea made it onto the physical pages of the paper (via, say, Reuters or the AP) while not making it onto the Trib's online version.

Maybe - but then how do you explain this?
Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative commentator and best-selling author, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the Senate.
It's on the Trib's website AND it's from Reuters.

So they post online the news of D'Souza's indictment but not his guilty plea?

Gee, for a news source, they're certainly selective about how they cover (at least one) conservative pundit.

July 27, 2014

Walking With Dinosaurs - And Its Implications

I saw this on the TV a day or so ago:
There’s a fascination with what life was like when dinosaurs, not humans, ruled the land.

And for a short time, you can get a better idea of what that was like, when the arena is transported 10 million years back in time.
And then:
In “Walking with Dinosaurs’” live show, 20 dinosaurs interact with each other on the arena floor in a theatrical production that cost $20 million to create.

“We take you through the three periods dinosaurs ruled the Earth in their massiveness, the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous period,” said Walking with Dinosaurs spokesperson Terey Summers, “And it’s hosted by a character that is a paleontologist, Huxley.”
We need to fill in a few blanks.  From the "Walking With Dinosaurs" website:
IN 1999 the Walking with Dinosaurs TV series changed the way we saw dinosaurs forever. This revolutionary show took viewers right into the dinosaurs' world, showing them as if they were alive and filmed in the wild. It covered an amazing 155 million years of prehistory with the most cutting-edge technology ever seen on television.

Since then, the series has been seen by over 700 million people around the world. The Live Show was created in 2007 and has sold over 7m tickets in over 200 cities worldwide.
So that would be this BBC series from 1999:
Note: When the series was broadcast in the US, it was narrated by Avery Brooks.

The Triassic (252 to 201 million years ago), Jurassic (201 to 145 million years ago) and Cretaceous (145 to 60 million years ago) periods make up, as far as I know, the Mesozoic Era in Earth history.  The Mesozoic is the middle of the three eras of the Phanerozoic Eon; The Paleozoic (541 to 252 million years ago), The Mesozoic (252 to 60 million years ago) and The Cenozoic (60 million to the present).

Note to Kristine Sorensen: If "Walking With Dinosaurs" is a recreation, of sorts, of the Mesozoic, then you're off by between 242 and 50 million years when you used "10 million" years as a time frame.  You might wanna check something like that the next time you report a scientific fact.

But let's get back to the science.  The Phanerozoic is one of four eons;
  • Hadean (4.5 billion to 4 billion years ago)
  • Archaen (4 to 2.5 billion years ago)
  • Proterozoic (2.5 billion to 541 million years ago)
  • Phanerozoic (541 million years ago to the present time)
According to science, the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago and, again according to science, human beings have been present on the Earth for only about 200,000 thousand of those years.

And how do we know the ages of things?  From the data accumulated via radiometric dating.  And that in itself is based on the science of radioactive decay discovered in the very late 19th century.  The general notion is that:
A chemical element consists of atoms with a specific number of protons in their nuclei but different atomic weights owing to variations in the number of neutrons. Atoms of the same element with differing atomic weights are called isotopes. Radioactive decay is a spontaneous process in which an isotope (the parent) loses particles from its nucleus to form an isotope of a new element (the daughter). The rate of decay is conveniently expressed in terms of an isotope's half-life, or the time it takes for one-half of a particular radioactive isotope in a sample to decay.
So if you know the ratio of the parent stuff and the daughter stuff you can work out the mathematics to determine how long it took one to turn into the other.

Of course back then our friends in the evolution science denier crowd had a problem with all the science found in the BBC series.  But then again they have a problem with all that non-biblical sciency stuff.

And that's a problem for all of us.  Consider how wrong Americans are on evolution.  From a recent Gallop Poll, when asked this question:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings -- 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process, 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?
42% of those polled said 3) that God created human beings within the last 10,000 years ago, that we did not in any way evolve - despite all the science to the contrary.

In 2010 the National Center for Science Education issued a report that has some similarly frightening numbers.  For example, when asked whether this statement was true or fales:
Dinosaurs lived at the same time as people.
40% said it was true - despite all the science to the contrary.  I'll put it this way, if all those dinosaurs died out about 60 million years ago and human beings came into being only about 200 thousand years ago, then the time between now and the former is 300 times longer than all the time humans were on Earth.

300 times.  That's the same ratio as one foot is to an entire NFL football field (endzones not included, of course.)

And yet, 4 out of 10 Americans believe otherwise.  That's bad.  Very very bad.

Why is all this the case?  Perhaps this question gives us a clue.  According to the NCSE, when asked whether this statement is true:
The Bible describes the creation of life exactly as it occurred in six days.
Half said yes, it was.

I've written this before but I have to say it again: If we are a nation or a culture in decline, this has to be one of the reasons for it - our stubborn faith-based rejection of reason and science.

July 24, 2014

Now THAT'S A Switch!

This weekend, in its "Whispers" column, the Tribune-Review reported some embarrassing divorce news about a prominent Pittsburgher - Attorney Edgar Snyder.

For the record, I've never met Attorney Snyder (though his commercials are on TV often enough that I feel as though I do!) and I have no interest in the outcome of whatever divorce proceedings may or may not be taking place.  I just wish the two of them well whatever happens.

On the other hand, he's a public figure and so it's at the very least borderline as to whether news of his private life is newsworthy.

The Trib has decided that it is.

And that's the switch for the Scaife camp, isn't it?  A HUGE switch.

From Dietch at the City Paper in 2007:
Thanks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, you no longer have to wonder why Pittsburgh Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife worked so hard to have his ongoing divorce proceedings sealed.

Earnings of $3.9 million per month; annual loses at his downtown paper totaling $20 million to $30 million a year; an alleged affair; and a whopping, record-setting temporary alimony payment of $725,000 per month.

Despite his best efforts, some of the most sensitive documents filed in the case of pre-nupless, billionaire Scaife's divorce are now a matter of public record. But Scaife is fighting to have those documents hidden again -- with a legal petition that is itself sealed.

On Sept. 16, the Tribune-Review's rival, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, published a story by reporter Dennis Roddy revealing some of the allegations contained in legal filings. The papers alleged that Scaife was underwriting his wife's living expenses, and the Tribune-Review's business losses, to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

On Friday Sept. 21, Roddy and the paper were served with summons to appear at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in front of Judge Alan Hertzberg: Scaife was demanding that the paper return published documents to the court.
Ah...so the details of a divorce of a prominent Pittsburgh were to be sealed and hidden away from the public.

So I have to I wonder why the Scaife's Trib decided to out Snyder's divorce but his lawyers fought to keep his own embarrassing secrets hidden.

I guess I have an answer - and now you do, too.

July 23, 2014

CIS In The News

Yesterday, my good friends on the Tribune-Review braintrust published this on their op-ed page:
Blaming the surge in unaccompanied Central American minors illegally entering the United States on a 2008 anti-trafficking law that gave such children additional protections, the Obama White House and Democrats misapply that law, ignore sex trafficking's distinction from human smuggling and deflect attention from administration failures.

A new Center for Immigration Studies (cis.org) report points out...
And so on. Pretty standard stuff from our friends at the Trib.

That would be the same CIS that we've written about before.

But that's not the point of this blog post.  No no, this is the point of this blog post:
A senior policy analyst from an immigration-restrictionist think tank wants to see President Barack Obama not just impeached, but publicly executed, he told a sympathetic audience last week. During a talk at a Tea Party organization in Sebring, Florida, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analyst Stephen Steinlight said that Obama’s supposed executive overreach couldn’t be reined in by a lawsuit and that “being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him,” Imagine 2050 first reported. He then joked that Obama’s head should be on a skewer.
Do you know what sort of execution Steinlight is calling for?  Here's a description from Britannica.  It's:
...part of the grisly penalty anciently ordained in England (1283) for the crime of treason. Until 1867, when it was abolished, the full punishment for a traitor could include several steps. First he was drawn, that is, tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows. A so-called hurdle, or sledge, is sometimes mentioned in this context. Although such a device may have been a means of mercy, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (2nd ed., 1898; reissued 1996) states that it was more likely a way to deliver a live body to the hangman. The remainder of the punishment might include hanging (usually not to the death), usually live disemboweling, burning of the entrails, beheading, and quartering. This last step was sometimes accomplished by tying each of the four limbs to a different horse and spurring them in different directions.
Then there's the head on a skewer part - that's what Steinlight wants to see happen.

Did you know that it's a felony to threaten the life of the president of the United States?

When will the Secret Service be visiting the offices of the Center for Immigration Studies to investigate this threat on the life of the President of the United States of America?

July 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It, McCullough Trial Delayed. AGAIN

From the Trib:
Five years since a grand jury accused attorney Charles McCullough of taking money from an elderly woman's estate, the former Allegheny County councilman has yet to stand trial.

The case has been delayed at least eight times since September 2009, for various reasons, and appeals tacked on two more years of delays.

At a status conference on Wednesday, Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen stepped down from the case because scheduling conflicts would go beyond his November retirement, causing another delay.

The case goes to the court's administrative judge for reassignment, and it could be a month before a trial date is set.
And from the P-G:
It has been delayed at least nine times.

“This case has been around a long time,” Judge Machen said. “And I've entertained every one of your requests for continuance. I’m sending the case back for reassignment.

“Best of luck to all of you.”

The delays have been for various reasons, including both defendants’ switching counsel repeatedly.
Let's review the timeline here.  On Feburary 19, 2009, I blogged that Chuck McCullough had been arrested.

Some of the things that happened since Chuck McCullough was arrested and today:
  • Jerry Sandusky arrested (November 5, 2011)
  • Jerry Sandusky's trial began (June 11, 2011)
  • Jerry Sandusky was found guilty (June 22,2012)
  • H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was introduced in the House of Representatives (September 17, 2009)
  • H.R. 3590 was signed into law (March 23, 2010)
  • Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by Jared Lee Loughner (January 8, 2011)
  • Jared Lee Loughner pled guilty (August 7, 2012)
The list is endless.  If all these extremely complicated events could occur between February 19, 2009 and today, why can't we get Chuck McCullough in a court room to stand trial?

I'm just asking.