Sunday, August 5, 2012

Last Call

Another "We're in the worst case scenario for climate change right now" story, and given how awful this summer has been (here in the Cincy area we were setting 90+ degree record highs in March) I tend to agree with NASA's James Hansen about the shift from "preventing climate change catastrophes" to "we must act immediately to limit the damage".  We won't, of course.  We'll do nothing.  And millions will die as a result.

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.

My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.

We're in the ghost story, as they say.   Get used to 105+ degree summer days here in the Midwest, folks.  Get used to 50% of the counties in America being under disaster-level drought conditions nearly every year.  Expect food prices to skyrocket as farmers lose their crops year after year. 2012 is just the beginning.  It's far worse than anyone thought as we're well into the first stages of global warming.

Some 24 years after global warming was predicted, the effects are now here.  We wasted a generation doing nothing as our corporate masters screamed at us to obey the Almighty Profit and we rolled over.  Now we will all pay, and some of us will pay dearly.  And we still refuse to do anything to limit the damage.

Our children and grandchildren will never forgive us, of course.  Nor do we deserve their forgiveness.

Loughner To Plead Guilty In Arizona Giffords Shooting

The LA Times is reporting that Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of shooting Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords in the head in January 2011, will plead guilty on Tuesday to an unknown number of charges.

At the hearing Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Tucson, psychiatric experts who have examined Loughner, 23, are scheduled to testify that they have concluded that despite wide swings in his mental capacity, at this time he comprehends what happened and acknowledges the gravity of the charges, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was still unfolding.

The terms of the plea arrangement remained unclear Saturday on whether Loughner would admit guilt to all or some of the charges in return for a lengthy prison sentence rather than risk a potential death penalty verdict at trial.

State prosecutors in Tucson initially said they would pursue charges against Loughner as well, but the federal government went first. They now would probably review their options and decide whether it would be wise to go forward.

Many of the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, attack and their families are likely to attend the hearing in downtown Tucson, not far from the site of the attack during Giffords’ Congress On Your Corner event. Survivors would be invited to testify about the assault and their injuries at a separate hearing yet to be scheduled, in which Loughner would be formally sentenced.

Loughner’s agreement to plead guilty, if finalized in court Tuesday, would probably end more than a year and a half of psychiatric evaluations and testing, including some periods in which he was medicated at a federal prison hospital. It also would close out complex legal disagreements between prosecutors and defense attorneys over his mental capacity.

Frankly, considering my views on the death penalty (I'm absolutely against it) the notion that this asshole ends up in a federal prison for the next 60 plus years for killing multiple people including a 9-year-old girl is perfectly alright with me.  Anything less than life without the possibility of parole is too lenient.  This guy needs to rot for the rest of his life for what he did.  He was completely aware and it looks like the proper medical officials have made it clear just what choices Loughner has:  life in prison or a very short stay behind bars followed by a longer one in the ground.

I'm of the general mindset that life behind bars in cases like this is far more of a punishment than death.  Killing Loughner means nothing to him.  Having him grow old enough to become increasingly filled with horror and remorse for his actions?  I'm good with that instructive device.

We'll see what he pleads out to on Tuesday.

Weird Science

According to the university's website announcing the grant award, many anecdotal reports of the afterlife abound, but there has been "no comprehensive and rigorous, scientific study of global reports about near-death and other experiences, or of how belief in immortality influences human behavior." The research will look at a range of phenomena, including heaven, hell, purgatory, and karma.  The grant is the largest ever awarded to a humanities professor at UC Riverside, and one of the largest given to an individual at the university.
Fischer said in a statement, "We will be very careful in documenting near-death experiences and other phenomena, trying to figure out if these offer plausible glimpses of an afterlife or are biologically induced illusions," Fischer said. 
Some will find it strange, but I think it makes perfect sense.  We have little data on death.  For something we all will face, it's a topic most scientists avoid. There is little opportunity to measure and get hard data.  Or is there?  It's worth exploring, which is the purpose of this project.  We have the ability to reach places that until recently were impossible.

Death is an event that we need to understand on a biological, psychological and intellectual level. Gathering facts and bringing it together will be a daunting task.

How Hot Is It, You Stupid People? Hot Enough To Kill Kids.

It's August.  In one of the hottest years we've seen in a generation.  Mid-day.

It's hot enough to kill children, and why can't people figure this out?  This is as simple as not giving them poison, or refusing to let them play with guns.  Do not leave kids in cars in the sun.  They will die.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas authorities are investigating the deaths of two children who apparently were left in hot vehicles.
Springdale police Lt. Kevin Lewis told the Northwest Arkansas Times a two-year-old boy died after his great-grandparents left him inside a car in a Walmart parking lot.  Lewis says the child didn't have a pulse when paramedics arrived.
The child was pronounced dead at Northwest Medical Center.
They said they thought it was less than an hour, but security footage says it was closer to two hours.  While they strolled in air-conditioned bliss, their great-grandchild died a death not fit for a criminal.

It's gotten so bad I look as I walk into Wal-Mart, the store, just about anywhere.  I look for motion, and have decided I wouldn't hesitate for a second to break a window.  If possible, with the forehead of the jackass who leaves kids or pets locked in brutal conditions while they ponder plaid vs. stripes.

 While writing this, I wondered for the first time how many kids live but hurt because of morons like this.  Say it ain't so.  

Cap'n Ed Gets It 100% Right On Ohio Early Voting

In the "credit where credit is die" department, Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air looks into the nonsense repeated on FOX this week that the Obama administration is suing the state of Ohio to "restrict military early voting".  First, the baloney as the Romney camp is seizing on the latest fake outrage:

Mitt Romney on Saturday said the Obama campaign's lawsuit in Ohio to limit military voters to the same early voting dates as non-military voters was an "outrage."

"President Obama's lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state's early voting period is an outrage," he said in a statement posted to Facebook Saturday afternoon. "The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I'm entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I'll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them."

The horror, right?  Why does Obama hate voting?  Why does he hate the military?  OUTRAAAAAAAAAAAA -- wait, it's all horse hockey? Cap'n Ed actually looks at what the brief says.

Like I said, the likely remedy proposed would be to remove the Friday deadline for everyone — and that’s exactly what the plaintiffs are proposing.  Gabriel Malor forwarded me a link to the brief, and the relevant language within it:
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request of this Court the following equitable relief:…
B. A preliminary and permanent order prohibiting the Defendants, their respective agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them, from implementing or enforcing lines 863 and 864 of Sec. 3509.03 (I) in HB 224, and/or the SB 295 enactment of Ohio Revised Code § 3509.03 with the HB 224 amendments, thereby restoring in-person early voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters;
So no, they aren’t trying to block military members from getting to the polls, but arguing that since the polls will be open anyway, everyone else should have access to them as well.  A couple of commenters think this will be a “logistical nightmare,” but the logistics aren’t really that scaleable.  Having the polls open for a few would be the same as having them open for many.  There may need to be  few more election judges, but those positions are voluntary anyway.

So in reality, the Obama administration is suing to restore early voting for all Ohio voters, not just military voters.   They want to expand early voting after Ohio Republicans ended early voting for all non-military voters in the state.  FOX News is...surprise!...Lying to you!  They openly believe you're stupid enough to believe them.

That's the truth.  And this is why I openly call FOX News and Mitt Romney outright liars.  They lie, period.
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