Saturday, December 15, 2012

Via R.I.P Victoria Soto / FB:

Via Mad as HELL Liberals! / FB:

Via The Pragmatic Progressive / FB:

This is my son Daniel. He is 9.

I just sat down with him and listened to him describe the lockdown procedures at his school.

He told me how he hides in his cubby, and locks it.
He told me that he has practiced this many times.

My nine year old practices gun control for us by trying to control his ability to not get shot.

Instead of making reasonable gun safety laws that hold adult gun owners responsible for themselves, their guns and their bullets, we hold my son responsible for his safety at school.


The adults run around with guns and bullets and kevlar while the children hide in cubbies.

I am sorry. But your right to carry a weapon ends at my son's right to live his life in freedom, with liberty, and in pursuit of happiness. These are inalienable rights granted by his creator.

My son belongs at the head of his class, reading, writing and practicing arithmetic, not crouching in a cubby waiting for some person to use their second amendment. ~ Sarah
This is my son Daniel. He is 9.

I just sat down with him and listened to him describe the lockdown procedures at his school.

He told me how he hides in his cubby, and locks it.
He told me that he has practiced this many times.

My nine year old practices gun control for us by trying to control his ability to not get shot.

Instead of making reasonable gun safety laws that hold adult gun owners responsible for themselves, their guns and their bullets, we hold my son responsible for his safety at school.


The adults run around with guns and bullets and kevlar while the children hide in cubbies.

I am sorry.  But your right to carry a weapon ends at my son's right to live his life in freedom, with liberty, and in pursuit of happiness.  These are inalienable rights granted by his creator.

My son belongs at the head of his class, reading, writing and practicing arithmetic, not crouching in a cubby waiting for some person to use their second amendment. ~ Sarah

Via JMG: Take The Blue Pill, Neo

Some physicists are trying to determine if we are actually living in the Matrix.
In 2003, University of Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom published a paper, "The Simulation Argument," which argued that, "we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation." Now, a team at Cornell University says it has come up with a viable method for testing whether we're all just a series of numbers in some ancient civilization's computer game. Researchers at the University of Washington agree with the testing method, saying it can be done. A similar proposal was put forth by German physicists in November. 
So how, precisely, can we test whether we exist? Put simply, researchers are building their own simulated models, using a technique called lattice quantum chromodynamics. And while those models are currently able to produce models only slightly larger than the nucleus of an atom, University of Washington physics professor Martin Savage says the same principles used in creating those simulations can be applied on a larger scale. "This is the first testable signature of such an idea," Savage said. "If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge."

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Petition Of The Day

The text reads:
The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths. Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution's intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve. The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.
Sign the petition.

Reposted from Joe

Friday, December 14, 2012

JMG Quote Of The Day - Ezra Klein

"If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

"Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t 'too soon.' It’s much too late." - Ezra Klein, writing for the Washington Post.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Obituary Of The Day


Reposted from Joe

Via FB:

Via jMG: Google's Most-Searched Of 2012

Google's top ten most-searched items for 2012.

1. Whitney Houston
2. Gangnam Style
3. Hurricane Sandy
4. iPad 3
5. Diablo 3
6. Kate Middleton
7. Olympics 2012
8. Amanda Todd
9. Michael Clarke Duncan
10. BBB12

The last one is Big Brother Brazil.

Reposted from Joe

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Via JMG: Today Is World Human Rights Day

The White House press office sends us this statement from United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice:
Today, we pledge to live up to Eleanor Roosevelt’s inspirational example, for in far too many places human freedoms are still denied. As long as a family anywhere is tormented by a state-sanctioned killer; a peaceful agitator is hounded by a violent brigade; an artist is locked away for expressing what she thinks; an LGBT individual is harassed because of whom he or she loves; a community is beleaguered because of how it worships; a person with a disability is marginalized by those who ignore plain injustice; or a girl is threatened for having the audacity to pick up a book; all of our rights have been violated.
The United States is relentless in pursuit of a world that protects these rights. We fight for them at the United Nations, where we have made important strides, because we know that American leadership in the world can bring action against oppressors and hope to the oppressed. Our job is not done and the path ahead is fraught. But may we work together every day for the cause of human rights, so that our efforts can forge a world that respects our differences, protects our dignity, gives our children opportunities to pursue their dreams, and ensures that freedoms we have pledged to protect are universally enjoyed.
Bolding is mine.

Reposted from Joe


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Via Go Left / FB:

Chips Tips

Via Climate Progress: How To Have The Language Intelligence Of Abraham Lincoln: ‘The Greatest Thing By far Is To Be A Master Of Metaphor’

How Lincoln framed his picture-perfect Gettysburg Address Using An Extended metaphor:

The terrific Spielburg movie on our 16th President provides a stunning contrast to the failure of Obama to be a rhetorically inspiring leader on climate. In my first post, I looked at how Lincoln had mastered the figures of speech, especially irony, with the help of the works of Shakespeare. This post looks at his mastery of metaphor and extended metaphor — two crucial inspirational figures that Obama virtually never uses.

This is material that comes from my recent book on rhetoric and politics — “Language Intelligence: Lessons On Persuasion From Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, And Lady Gaga,” which is available at [Kindle is here].

Metaphors are the Rolls Royce of figures. Or, to put it more aptly, metaphors are the Toyota Prius of figures because a metaphor is a hybrid, connecting two dissimilar things to achieve a unique turn of phrase.

Metaphor, like verbal irony discussed in the first post, is a trope, because it alters or enhances a word’s literal meaning. The headline quote is from Aristotle, who writes in Poetics, “To be a master of metaphor is a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.”

A 2005 study on “Presidential Leadership and Charisma: The Effects of Metaphor” examined the use of metaphors in the first-term inaugural addresses of three dozen presidents who had been independently rated for charisma. The remarkable conclusion:

Charismatic presidents used nearly twice as many metaphors (adjusted for speech length) than non-charismatic presidents.

Additionally, when students were asked to read a random group of inaugural addresses and highlight the passages they viewed as most inspiring, “even those presidents who did not appear to be charismatic were still perceived to be more inspiring when they used metaphors.”

Given their power, metaphors have naturally become a weapon wielded by all great political speechmakers. Lincoln, a devout student of the two great rhetoric texts, the Bible and Shakespeare, understood that power more than any other president.

In 1848, when he was a Whig in Congress, he responded to the claim that his party had “taken shelter under General Taylor’s military coat-tail,” referring to Zachary Taylor, the Whig Party Presidential nominee. He turned the metaphor against his opponents, saying they themselves had run under the coat-tail of General Jackson for five elections. Then, instructing them in rhetoric, Lincoln added “military coat-tails, or tails of any sort, are not figures of speech such as I would be the first to introduce into discussions here.”

Lincoln launched a metaphor of his own, wishing the “gentlemen on the other side to understand that the use of degrading figures is a game at which they may not find themselves able to take all the winnings.” At this point, some in the opposition cried, “We give it up!” But Lincoln was just warming up. His reply was a rhetorical cruise missile:

Aye, you give it up, and well you may; but for a very different reason from that which you would have us understand. The point–the power to hurt–of all figures consists in the truthfulness of their application; and, understanding this, you may well give it up. They are weapons which hit you, but miss us.
The opposition was hoist with their own metaphorical petard.

Lincoln offered his most poignant metaphor in a June 1858 speech to the Illinois Republican state convention after they had chosen him as their candidate to run against Democrat Stephen Douglas in the U.S. senate race: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” He then amplified the metaphor by listing divisions, one after the another:

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

We learn from Lincoln’s partner in law, William Herndon, that Lincoln wanted to use “some universally known figure [of speech] expressed in simple language … that may strike home to the minds of men in order to raise them up to the peril of the times.”

The power of the metaphor of the Union as a house is not merely its visual simplicity, but in the link to the gospels. Lincoln is quoting Jesus, implying that God is on the side of those who think like he does, that slavery must die and soon. Lincoln lost the Senate race, and some thought that he had lost because of this speech, because his message was too strong. But if the metaphor cost him the Senate, Lincoln’s brilliant extension of the metaphor in the speech would cost Douglas the presidency….

Extended metaphor is, for me, the most important rhetorical device. This figure is at the heart of some of Lincoln’s greatest speeches and Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Persistent metaphors pump life blood into the Bible, into Jesus’ parables and Psalms, such as the Twenty-third, with its famous extended shepherd metaphor:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Politicians who understand extended metaphors have a long political life; those who do not, don’t have much of a pulse.

The Elizabethan era book The Garden of Eloquence by Henry Peacham explains the potency of this figure: It “serves most aptly to ingrain the lively images of things, and to present them under deep shadows to the contemplation of the mind, wherein wit and judgement take pleasure, and the remembrance receives a longer lasting impression.”

Using an extended metaphor himself, Peacham explains that while a simple metaphor “may be compared to a star in respect of beauty, brightness and direction,” an extended metaphor may be “fully likened to a figure compounded of many stars … which we may call a constellation.” No wonder this figure is so widely used. Who wouldn’t want to have their words achieve the impact and longevity of heavenly images like the Big Dipper or Orion?

In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln gives us a subtle but powerful example. The speech is only 270 words long–almost precisely the same length as the “To be or not to be speech.” Lincoln makes it unforgettable using an extended metaphor of birth, death, and resurrection to increase the coherence and impact of his brief remarks.

Lincoln delivers a variety of references to birth from the very beginning, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He says the civil war is testing whether “any nation so conceived … can long endure.” Lincoln then moves on to images and words of death, as befits the horrific battlefield in front of him, with phrases such as “a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives” and “the brave men, living and dead” and “these honored dead” and “these dead.” He finally returns to the original metaphor of birth, but with a twist: We must resolve that “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Birth, death, rebirth and immortality (“shall not perish”)–in a place that we will make sacred (“hallow” and “consecrate” and the key repeated word, “dedicate”)–is a stunning extended metaphor that turns into an biblical allusion of hope for transcendence even during the worst suffering, with the Battle of Gettysburg becoming a symbolic national crucifixion. No wonder Winston Churchill termed Lincoln’s speech, “the ultimate expression of the majesty of Shakespeare’s language.”

Extended metaphors are often far more overt, as in Lincoln’s “house divided” speech at the start of his Illinois Senate race against Stephen Douglas. Lincoln describes how the combined effect of Supreme Court decisions and policies by Douglas and others was to extend slavery into new territories in spite of local opposition. Lincoln said “we can not absolutely know” that Douglas and the others were working together to achieve this effect, “But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places, and by different workmen … and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly matte the frame of a house” then it is “impossible not to believe” that everyone “worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.”

Stephen Douglas resented Lincoln’s implication in the “House Divided” speech that he was part of a conspiracy to extend slavery, a charge and a metaphor Lincoln never tired of repeating everywhere. In his famous debates with Lincoln, Douglas responded with a harsh figure of his own–sarcasm:
He [Lincoln] studied that out-prepared that one sentence with the greatest care, committed it to memory, and put it in his first Springfield speech, and now he carries that speech around and reads that sentence to show how pretty it is. His vanity is wounded because I will not go into that beautiful figure of his about the building of a house. All I have to say is, that I am not green enough to let him make a charge which he acknowledges he does not know to be true, and then take up my time in answering it, when I know it to be false and nobody else knows it to be true.
But Lincoln had thought through the implications of his figure of speech. He would not give it up, as Lincoln scholar Roy Basler has explained: “Under the implications of Lincoln’s figure, constantly pressed, Douglas was constrained to make a statement of opinion that, although it immediately clear his way in the senatorial contest, eventually cost him the presidency.”
I suspect that the reason he liked the figure is the same reason that many modern candidates do: It is a masterful means of framing a political debate, exactly as he crafted the framed-timbers-of-the-house extended metaphor to frame Douglas for the crime of extending slavery. Politicians with language intelligence, like Lincoln, repeat and extend their metaphors.

Via Climate Progress: 150,000 Years Of Sea Level History Suggests High Rates Of Future Sea Level Rise


by Rob Painting, via Skeptical Science

The last few million years of Earth’s climate has been dominated by the ice age cycles. These consisted of long cool periods (glacials) where giant icesheets have grown on the continental land masses at, and near, the poles. With the water evaporated off the oceans being locked up as ice on land, this ice sheet build-up substantially lowered global sea level. During the shorter, warmer, intervals (interglacials) the ice sheets have disintegrated, and with their glacial meltwater draining back into the oceans, sea level has risen. From the coldest part of the last ice age (roughly 20,000 years ago) to present, global sea level has risen an astounding 120 metres.

Although all the details are not well understood, the driving force behind these glacial/interglacial cycles are slow variations in Earth’s orbit as it circles the sun, which slightly decreased/increased the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. For the current interglacial, the orbitally-driven warming eventually came to an end after the Holocene Climatic Optimum (HCO), and by 4-5000 years ago all the vulnerable land-based ice had disappeared. The volume of the global ocean was static until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, and by the 19th Century global sea level had begun to rise again. Despite undergoing short-term accelerations, and decelerations, globally-averaged sea level has undergone long-term acceleration up to the present day (Church & White [2006]Merrifield [2009]).

Figure 2 – Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

With some 60-70 metres worth of global sea level equivalent locked up in the vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and with global warming well underway, it raises the question of how much sea level rise we are likely to see this century (and beyond), and just how fast this might happen. Because the dynamics of ice sheet disintegration are only very crudely known, and ice sheet modelling is in its infancy, there is a large range of estimates of future sea level rise. Many now seem to converge on 1-2 metres of sea level rise by 2100 – much higher than current rates. But is this realistic? A recent paper, examining past ice sheet disintegrations, lends credence to these estimates.

Rapid Coupling Between Ice Volume and Polar Temperature

A peer-reviewed paper, Grant (2012), outlines how the authors created a well-dated, and near-continuous, record of sea level over the last 150,000 years, a period which spans the last interglacial (the Eemian), and the last glacial maximum. Of particular interest is the finding that, during all periods of major global ice volume loss, rates of sea level rise reached at least 1.2 metres per century. An arguably more important finding that the more finely resolved dating uncovered, was that major ice sheet reductions (as implied by sea level rise) followed polar warming much quicker than had previously been suspected.

The backbone of the sea level reconstruction are Foraminifera (forams), tiny shelled marine creatures which float in the water column (planktic), or live on the seafloor (benthic). Because they utilize minerals dissolved in the surrounding seawater to build their shells, forams incorporate elements into their shells which can provide information about the climate at the time in which they lived.

Examination of oxygen-18 isotope ratios in the shells of forams, retrieved from Red Sea sediment cores, has revealed that they serve as a useful proxy for relative (i.e local) sea level in the Red Sea (see Siddall [2003]Siddall [2004]). Although a near-continuous record of relative sea level for the Red Sea has been constructed (Rohling [2009]), accurate, and independent, dating for comparison with ice-core data has proven problematic. Grant (2012), however, came up with a clever way around this roadblock.

Constructing a Well-Resolved Chronological Record of Sea Level

Much like the Red Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is a basin with only one narrow natural opening (The Strait of Gibraltar) which connects it to the rest of the oceans. This “basin effect” was exploited to build a sea level history in the Red Sea, because the extremely slow exchange of seawater within the basin means long local seawater residence times. The raising or lowering of sea level therefore acts to either shorten, or prolong the residence time of local seawater,  and also diminish or enhance the powerful rate of evaporation in the basin. In other words, changes in the oxygen-18 isotopes ratios, found in Red Sea foram fossils, are extremely sensitive to sea level variations. So the isotopes are, in effect, recorders of local sea level.

Grant (2012) likewise created a sea level history for the eastern Mediterranean Sea, with one distinct improvement; they were able to independently date the sea level variations by taking advantage of oxygen-18 isotopes stored in cave mineral deposits (speleothems) on land downwind of the eastern Mediterranean surface waters. With oxygen-18 isotopes in fossilized forams, and in the cave deposits (Soreq Cave), linked via the hydrological cycle, Uranium-Thorium dating of the cave deposits therefore gave an accurate date for both, and consequently the timing of sea level variations.

Because of the more complicated weather patterns in the Mediterranean however, the Mediterranean sea level history cannot be used to determine sea level variations with sufficient precision (Rohling 1999). To do that, the authors transferred their new Mediterranean chronology to the Red Sea sea level history.  The basin isolation effect of both sea level records, gave sufficient oxygen  isotope signal similarity for accurate transfer. The validity of this newly-dated sea level reconstruction was confirmed by comparison to other dated sea level benchmarks.

Figure 3a – Correlation of Soreq Cave (red line) and eastern Mediterranean (black line) oxygen-18 isotope signals. 3b – Eastern Mediterranean Sea oxygen-18 isotope record from another foram species (green line) and the highest probability sea level curve (blue line). The coloured dots and grey-shaded columns denote other paleodata used to validate and synchronize the reconstructions. From Grant (2012).

Sea Level Rise Closely Follows Polar Warming

With an accurately dated sea level reconstruction now available, the authors were able to compare these sea level variations in time with that of polar temperature, as ascertained by ice cores extracted from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Within the sea level reconstruction there are 6 periods where sea level rose rapidly, reaching rates of at least 1.2 metres per century – around 4 times the current rate of sea level rise (see Figure 1).

Considering that humans have been warming the climate for several centuries, a more significant finding was the short time lag between warming at the poles (as shown in the ice cores), and the response of sea level rise – which implies the disintegration of the ice sheets. In the case of Antarctica, large ice reductions occur within 400-700 years, and for Greenland, ice reductions occur very quickly – within 100 years.

Learning From (Sea Level) History

Despite glacial periods having much more vulnerable ice at lower elevation, and closer to the equator than interglacials, the orbitally-driven warming which eventually disintegrated the ice sheets was a leisurely affair. Ice sheet collapse came quickly due to the greater proportion of vulnerable ice. By comparison; today there is far less vulnerable ice, but the warming has been virtually instantaneous, in geological terms. In fact, in the last 300 million years, the Earth has not experienced (as far as we know) such a rapid rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (Hönisch [2012]).

The altered characteristics of the background climate state, from glacial to interglacial, makes a direct comparison for modern-day difficult. But current sea level rise estimates, and the rates of rise shown in the reconstruction, are in the same ballpark. With global warming having been underway for several centuries now, and with the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets undergoing accelerated ice mass loss due to polar warming, the past 150,000 years of sea level history suggests we should expect much higher rates of sea level rise in the future.

This piece was originally published at Skeptical Science and was reprinted with permission.

Via Being Liberal / FB:

Via The Platzner Post / FB:

Via Mad as HELL Liberals / FB:

Via Lester & Charlie: Heart and Troll!

This week, the world collectively skipped a beat over the news that George W. Bush’s former ventriloquist, Dick Cheney, will team up with his daughter and his cardiologist to throw a few words on a couple of pages, slap a cover on it and call it a best seller.

Yes, while some irrelevant politicians stay home and order from Boston Market, others take a page from the Six Million Dollar Man – they scientifically rebuild themselves and make themselves stronger than they were before. But instead of protecting America, Dick Cheney found a publisher.
In case you’re wondering, Cheney’s upcoming book is about his heart. Ironic, isn’t it? Just in time for Christmas, America’s homegrown Ebenezer Scrooge is going to start collecting and sharing his thoughts on the meaning of having a heart.

Cheney himself called this turn of events “nothing short of a miracle.” We thought he meant it’s a miracle that any publisher thinks anyone will pay money to read his tale, but further investigation revealed that it’s a miracle he’s alive after five heart attacks and a transplant. 

We always thought there’s a book to be written about Dick Cheney’s heart — or, more specifically, whether he has one. (Just look at how many literary masterpieces have been spawned by the myth of a Holy Grail.) But we hadn’t expected the book to come from Cheney himself, the guy who never apologized for shooting his hunting buddy in the face.

Which might explain why he’s writing it with his cardiologist and his daughter Liz, a lawyer, and not, say, his wife Lynne, the author of steamy lesbian erotica.

But of all the things about this story that caught our attention — like Cheney sharing a publisher with fellow horror writers like Stephen King — one thing really stood out: The book is currently untitled. 

Oh boy did that get our brains a-whirl. With so many good titles taken — “Heart of Darkness” for one — what will Dick, Liz and Dr. Pulse call their future bestseller? Let’s help them out! Tell us your ideas. How would YOU title Dick Cheney’s book about his heart?

Click to Enter the Poll!

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