I’m getting bits and pieces of the dreadful coordinated terror attacks in Paris while socializing at a meeting — I don’t have much to say, and the news sources I’ve checked all seem to reflect a state of chaos: at least 100 dead, at least 6 simultaneous attacks, France has closed their borders, and who knows where this is going to lead.

Talk among yourselves. I’m going to be checking the news at every break myself.

The Conservative Future is a paradise for parasites

Let’s hear some clueless raving about how conservatives are more pro-science than liberals.

Joshua Jacobs, the smug libertarian being interviewed, believes in using the unbridled force of the free market to bring America back to unrivaled prosperity. The interviewer, Nick Gillespie, thinks that sounds good. It took a real effort to control my gag reflex so I could listen further.

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OK, Canadians, you can stop crowing at me now. Message received.

Yeah, they’re all sending me messages bragging about the new Trudeau cabinet: gender parity, diverse, and representative of all of Canada. I am duly impressed.

Now can we get the American presidential candidates to pledge to do likewise with their appointees, once they’re in office? It would be the right thing to do.

I do worry a bit, though, about all the token men they’d have to sign up for positions, taking away slots from better qualified women.

I give up, Ben Carson, you have defeated me

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I can’t. I just can’t anymore. Ben Carson Knows Everything.

My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain, Carson said. Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.

There are Americans right now who hear that, and think, “Well, that’s a mighty sensible theory, I think I’ll elect that man to be President of this here United States!”, and I just don’t think I can bear the widespread stupidity any more.

I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend he doesn’t exist. But if I open them a year from January and discover that this flaming nincompoop has actually been elected, I’ll have to spontaneously combust.

Non-debaters arguing for a non-debate

I am a very reluctant debater. I definitely don’t think I’m the best debater around, and I also don’t think that debates are very good at resolving differences or even necessarily clarifying ideas. I’ve put together a set of my personal debate requirements that are just as much intended to discourage casually drafting me into debates as they are to making it as productive and informative a process as possible.

But I am lackadaisical and encouraging compared to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. Take a look at their demands.

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It’s good to be reminded of Ronald Reagan’s legacy now and then

The Pain wrote a testimonial to Ronald Reagan when he died in 2004. It still brings a tear to my eye, and I had to think of it again as I watched Reagan’s spawn, the current festering mass of Republican presidential wanna-bes. This is what he has given us.

Even at age twelve I could tell that Jimmy Carter was an honest man trying to address complicated issues and Ronald Reagan was a brilcreemed salesman telling people what they wanted to hear. I secretly wept on the stairs the night he was elected President, because I understood that the kind of shitheads I had to listen to in the cafeteria grew up to become voters, and won. I spent the eight years he was in office living in one of those science-fiction movies where everyone is taken over by aliens—I was appalled by how stupid and mean-spirited and repulsive the world was becoming while everyone else in America seemed to agree that things were finally exactly as they should be. The Washington Press corps was so enamored of his down-to-earth charm that they never checked his facts, but if you watched his face when it was at rest, when he wasn’t performing for anyone, you could see him for what he really was—a black-eyed, slit-mouthed, lizard-faced old son-of-a-bitch. He was a bad actor, an informer for McCarthy, and a hired front man for a gang of Texas oilmen, fundamentalist dingbats, and right-wing psychotics out of Dr. Strangelove. He put a genial face on chauvanism, callousness, and greed, and made people feel good about being bigots again. He likened Central American death squads to our founding fathers and called the Taliban “freedom fighters.” His legacy includes the dismantling of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the final dirty win of Management over Labor, the outsourcing of America’s manufacturing base, the embezzlement of almost all the country’s wealth by 1% of its citizens, the scapegoating of the poor and black, the War on Drugs, the eviction of schizophrenics into the streets, AIDS, acid rain, Iran-Contra, and, let’s not forget, the corpses of two hundred forty United States Marines. He moved the center of political discourse in this country to somewhere in between Richard Nixon and Augusto Pinochet. He believed in astrology and Armageddon and didn’t know the difference between history and movies; his stories were lies and his jokes were scripted. He was the triumph of image over truth, paving the way for even more vapid spokesmodels like George W. Bush. He was, as everyone agrees, exactly what he appeared to be—nothing. He made me ashamed to be an American. If there was any justice in this world his Presidential Library would contain nothing but boys’ adventure books and bad cowboy movies, and the only things named after him would be shopping malls and Potter’s Fields. Let the earth where he is buried be seeded with salt.

I guess I’m a little older than the author: I had the privilege of voting against Reagan, twice. Sad to say that almost every word of that bitter complaint still rings true for every Republican and the media.

Did they have to make it so pretty?

The NY Times has put together a lovely illustrated story about data collection on Greenland. The story is prettily terrifying, though. The ice is melting, and forming lakes of liquid water on the surface of the ice cap, which then drains away in fast-running rivers that cut deeper into the ice and then drain into holes that run even deeper into the glacier — it’s a dangerous place, and if you fall in, you’ll be swept away and instantly dumped into a pit. It also means the ice sheet is porous and riddled with rot already.

In addition to the personal terror for the researchers, this work is about a process that’s going to affect us all.

But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.

Is that scary enough for you yet? Hang on, there’s worse: our Republican congress.

But the research is under increasing fire by some Republican leaders in Congress, who deny or question the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to climate change.

Leading the Republican charge on Capitol Hill is Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House science committee, who has sought to cut $300 million from NASA’s budget for earth science and has started an inquiry into some 50 National Science Foundation grants. On Oct. 13, the committee subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking more than six years of internal deliberations, including “all documents and communications” related to the agency’s measurement of climate change.

I find the behavior of these Republican science-deniers unbelievable. There’s the obsessive derangement rivaling the Benghazi hearings, the appointment of unqualified know-nothings like Lamar Smith and Darrel Issa to play obstructionist games over scientific issues, and the abuse of legal strategies to harass scientists. Someday, we’re going to look back on this time as a period when the American government basically committed global crimes against humanity, as smiling rich fucks did everything they could to impose their ideological delusions on a dangerous reality.

But do read the NY Times article. The aerial views and maps of the ice sheet are gorgeous, and the field scientists are bravely carrying out important work, while the cowards and crooks of congress close their eyes and try to undermine that work.