Orrin Hatch fames the conspiracy flames: Background checks are themselves tyranny! The right has gone too far with this one, esp. as NRA once supported background checks. If Orrin is so worried about the government having databases on everyone where does he stand on TSA, Homeland Security, and the Patriot Act (IIRC, he loves the Patriot Act and unlimited spying). But of course those infringements of personal liberty only are aimed at terrorists whereas any laws about guns are destroying the freedoms of innocent civilian gunnuts and gun show booth operators.
The right-wing bubble expands: Not content to have an entire cable channel that is nothing but tea bagger and Repug propaganda, now that bastion of squishy commie thinking known as Facebook has to go. We all know Facebook is just trying to send subliminal programming to get through their tinfoil hats. So the tea baggers want their own social network, free from anyone they don’t like so they can live so deep in the bubble they never have to ever hear any other thought. Even churches don’t accomplish that level of brainwashing and isolation.
Oh no! Horrors! Beer is disappearing in Germany: Let it not be true, the world’s bastion of beer drinking is going on the wagon, no beer at breakfast. Germans are thinking about getting healthy, what’s next, a ban on wurst and Oktoberfest pretzels! And Germans are now looking down on beer drinking as low class as they’ve now adopted the effete French love of wine, a true horror. While beer is thriving in the U.S. it is declining in Germany, amazing. Decades ago on a wonderful two week biking trip through Germany the beer, from the tiny local breweries in Bavaria, was one of the most fun parts of the trip. I guess today it’s ride around the U.S. looking for brewpubs instead.
Fascinating story on Saturn storm: A giant storm has been tracked on Saturn for some time. The storm spread out rather than dying down (it seemed to originate from a single point). The rotation of Saturn wrapped the storm all the way around the planet until the storm suffocated itself when the head of the storm was actually ingesting the tail of the storm. No indication in this article what the mechanics of such a storm could be, but this makes storm chasing in tornado alley pale in comparison.
China is paralyzed by the pollution: Often it seems that China is able to move quickly and solve problems that gridlock the U.S. But that’s been on the easy stuff where few lose out in any change. The pollution nut is harder to crack and more resembles the process in the U.S. First is all the finger pointing – many blame cars, drivers blame industry, no consensus in site. Second is the uneven impact of any mitigation policies, so the “losers” complain bitterly, they want the problem solved, but not at any cost to themselves. Cleaner gasoline, nope, would require higher prices. Less pollution per car, nope, would stifle the car ownership. All the same arguments one would get here. The simple fact is that something has to give and there aren’t any easy answers to this one. So the ruling board of directors (and all of China is just a giant corporation with technocrats running everything from the top) is not going to find any easy way out of this one. Maybe China will just have to grow up.
Interesting article on sympatric speciation: One of the favorite misdirections of the creationists is to claim that scientists have never seen evolution actually happening (gosh, I never saw the fall of Rome either, I guess that didn’t happen). This ignores the time it takes, esp. for new species (closely related) to emerge from common ancestors (if that takes a long time imagine how long it takes for highly unrelated species to form). This article deals with one of the mechanisms of speciation, a more controversial one than allopatric speciation which is more widely observed. Some change occurs in a population where members of the population, though nearby, choose not to interbreed. Inevitably that will create a new species if there is no crossing the line. But is there any evidence of this. This articles indicates some who believe they have evidence, but the skeptics demand more (something real scientists do) and it appear there may be ways to obtain more (short of waiting for thousands of years). If nothing else this is a good article (undoubtedly, again, the real article would be even more interesting if it weren’t hidden behind paywalls) to explain these phenomenon.
Beautiful video of bird flocking: This is fascinating enough to watch but it makes me wonder if it would be possible to more completely analyze something like this. I suspect very high resolution and high speed (way more than 60 frames/second) cameras, from multiple vantage points (to get the 3D view right) would be required, but I’d assume, given good enough data capture it should be possible to track every bird and then attempt to determine the behavior. In the field of “ALife” (self-emergent systems) bird flocking has been simulated, demonstrating that simple rules per “bird” creates complex behavior (just as this real-world video shows) but I’ve never seen any simulation that even comes close to the complexity or even beauty of this actual flocking. It would be interesting to know whether it is really the same as the simulating flocking behavior or if it’s just coincidence/artifact that the simulation produces anything vaguely like the real-world.
An insidious idea: So this explains it. All the huge competitive fight over getting more images into social media is just a scam to desensitize users to being blasted with visuals so the ad sellers can use more exaggerated visuals. Oh great, just what everyone needs, to be yelled at more by ads.
I want one: A lot of people have low opinion of Jack in the Box but I sure miss them, esp. the sourdough burger. Now this new introduction, timed for the Super Bowl, looks terrific. Too bad any kind of fast food is off my list now.
Amazing, one religious type on the left: HuffPo has more balance than FauxNews in that they do present religious types, it’s just surprising to hear one on the left, esp. one who denounces let’s-have-another-war McCain. It is a theology of war, no real reason for it, just perpetual war with whatever enemy seems convenient. McCain clearly harbors grudges so his gung-ho-for-war is his grudge against treatment after Vietnam (he has to believe it was just cause given the punishment he took, but his sacrifice doesn’t make it so) and his continuing grudge against all things Obama. I heard some TV talking head make the good point that McCain was never a “maverick”, he just had a grudge against Dumbya for the shoddy trick he played on McCain in South Carolina. Gosh, this whole man’s life has been one grudge after another, talk about a miserable old man.
The view in 2008 toward new research in obesity: Given all the blather one hears on the Internet and in diet books you’d think this is all completely understood, but here’s what a science article says, “The physiologic basis of weight regulation remains unclear”