Money for nothing, chicks for free

 

A proud, hard-working and humble people ruthlessly stripped of property, every last meager possession ripped from their calloused hands, their priceless dignity annihilated by a distant, unhinged tyrant. It’s the basis of ancient fairy tales and modern day action flicks the world over. From the Brothers Grimm to Star Wars to The Matrix, it’s a seductive narrative, tried and true, that appeals both to our shared European immigrant roots and our independent, uniquely American sensibilities. There may be dragons to fight or droughts to overcome, brave country knights or rugged cowboys chopped up and cut down. But there is always a hero, one who puts his own safety aside and risks all to stand up fearlessly against overwhelming odds.

Such was the case in an exotic, untamed land far to the west of power and wealth, an almost mythological place full of treasure and peril, with flashy, savage names. Countries within a country, the Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada territories. Lands once free, until jackbooted thugs wearing the insignia of collectivist war lords rode into town and stole the chosen people blind. The problem is, like most bedtime stories, it’s pure fairy dust. But there sure is some stealing going on … [Read more...]

Cliven Bundy goes full racist (Updated, it gets worse)

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Update: Bundy took the mic this afternoon and doubled down. Even Sean of Hannity is backing away now. Story here:

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher currently under fire for remarks he made about “the Negro,” explained himself on The Peter Schiff Show today, saying that he’s just “wondering” whether black people are better off being actual slaves or better off being slaves of the federal government.

You’ve probably seen the spectacle of Clive Bundy and his band of militia who chased off government officials attempting to collect the hundreds of thousands of dollars he owes in grazing fees last week. After the government left, the militia hung around and it turned into sort of a gubmint bashing party right down to the barbeque, with Teabagger pols lining up to swear their allegiance with Bundy and his newfound hatred of the government. Oddly, they did this all while waving US flags around. But now Bundy opened his mouth one too many times and the party is probably over: [Read more...]

Hypothetical illustration of the surface of Kepler 186f: Lycoris

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Kepler 186f, “Lycoris” by Karen Wehrstein. And she does this stuff at no charge, she depends solely on contribs. If anyone wants to drop a buck or two in her Paypal account at [email protected] that would be great.

 

We won’t know details of the surface of 186f for years, probably decades, at best. It could be a cool Venus, a warm Mars, or a water world with a thick, steamy atmosphere and no clear surface transition between vapor and liquid phases. It could have a highly reflective atmosphere or surface, locking it into a snowball state, colder than the North Pole and drier than the Atacama desert. It could be like nothing we have yet imagined. But we can have some fun guessing[Read more...]

Kepler hits the exo-planetary jackpot

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Ustream NASA press conference here (highly recommended). An artist friend may try to squeeze in a hypo illustration. But if someone wants to submit an image of what they think surface might look like, have at it. I’ll consider anything received by tomorrow at 5 PM Central for the science round up at Daily Kos linked to the web site of your choosing.
Hiding in plain sight in data already received from the now defunct Kepler observatory was the best candidate yet for the Holy Grail in planetary astronomy. It’s almost exactly the same size as Earth, maybe a touch larger, and it orbits in the cooler part of the system’s habitable zone: [Read more...]

Nothing says Freedom quite like using human shields

None dare call them terrorists. They’re just lovable red-blooded patriots who like to point guns at people to bring about political change — but they’re not terrorists! Just ask the patriots out in armed force to back up Cliven Bundy over the weekend:

TPM — The Blaze, the conservative news site affiliated with Glenn Beck, flagged the comments made Monday by Richard Mack, identified as a former Arizona sheriff who had joined more than 1,000 other protesters alongside Cliven Bundy, who has been feuding with BLM over his use of federal land to graze his cattle.
“We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front,” Mack said in a Fox News clip pulled by The Blaze. “If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

That sounds … familiar.

Wiki — After World War II, it was claimed by German SS general Gottlob Berger that there was a plan, proposed by the Luftwaffe and approved by Adolf Hitler, to set up special POW camps for captured airmen of the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces in large German cities, to act as human shields against their bombing raids.

One of the most famous uses of human shields occurred in Iraq in 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that precipitated the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Saddam Hussein’s government detained hundreds of citizens of Western countries who were in Iraq for use as human shields in an attempt to deter nations from participating in military operations against the country. A number of these hostages were filmed meeting Hussein, and kept with him to deter any targeted attacks, whilst others were held in or near military and industrial targets.

According to various accounts—including that of the American ambassador to the U.N., the Taliban used women and children from their own population as human shields against coalition forces in 2006, and 2007, and when the British attacked during August 2008 during the war in Afghanistan