Cosmic dust abounds in the galaxy

crab_nebula-t2

We know the universe is full of dust. We see planets, proto-planets, rings and shells of gas and grains surround dying stars with beautiful arrays like the Crab Nebula above. It’s a thin fare. But astronomers believe there is plenty of it between stars in the Milky Way. The details of how it got from small collections of molecules to something big enough to be barely visible to the naked eye is a bit of a mystery: [Read more...]

We could be heading toward teeming refugee camps in North America

Honduras

It seems the usual suspects have mostly dropped their war drums and quieted their war chants about re-occupying Iraq. Also known as trying to injure the White House. Maybe a better, more genuine discussion would be what the US and the rest of the world is willing to do about improving the dire situation in Central America. As things stand now, thousands of mothers and children are being duped and intimidated into a death defying run for safety in the US. Here’s some of what is motivating them: [Read more...]

Religious right using Hobby Lobby to go after teh gay

Judge Alito’s assurance that the Hobby Lobby ruling applies only to closely held corporations and the issue of birth control may soon be put to the test. In fact, the good judge might be proctoring that very exam. In a move everyone with a political pulse saw coming a mile away, wingnuts are not going to let some offhand comment in a nasty SCOTUS decision stop them. First up may be equal rights for teh gay: [Read more...]

Legal pot sales commence in Washington state today

Let it be known that Tuesday, June 8, 2014, a trace of sanity prevailed: state law in Washington now allows the sale of cannabis beginning this morning. Washington joins Colorado as the second state to legalize pot for purely recreational use. You know marijuana has hit the mainstream when there’s an article in Time Mag titled Everything you need to know about buying weed

So, who is allowed to buy pot?

As with alcohol, only those 21 and older can purchase recreational weed. Out of state residents are allowed to purchase pot, but it must be consumed in Washington. Marijuana remains illegal in neighboring states. And plan on paying with cash. While some legal establishments may be able to take debit cards, none can accept credit cards because of federal banking regulations. …

Aren’t there supposed to be shortages?

Likely so. As in Colorado, people will be drawn out by the historic nature of the occasion, and 24 retail shops is a fraction of the more than 334 the state plans to eventually license. Owners of those few open establishments might decide to ration their product, setting lower-than-normal limits on how much each person can buy, or raise prices while supply is low and demand is high.

That thing about credit cards quietly hints at the gaping chasm between federal and state law on the subject. Banks that accept deposits and provide checking accounts for pot sellers and the entire supply chain risk everything from Revenge of the Treasury to being prosecuted under the RICO Act. But still, it’s good to know that with all the pseudo religious crap and political bullshit and rabid conspiracy claims making their all too dreary and predictable rounds, there are still pockets of progress being made in the elusive intersection between public policy and common sense.

In Hobby Lobby, the facts didn’t matter?

TTomorrow

Thankfully, I’m no longer subject to the whims of co-worker bullies as described in a post a couple of weeks ago. That means no more paychecks, at least until another likely job opens up later this month. If anyone can drop a few coins in my Paypal account at DarkSydOTheMoon at A.O.L. dot-com, that would hugely appreciated. Sorry to bother everyone, but it’s just a fact that we all need money to survive.

And speaking of facts, when did it become OK to start with the premise that facts don’t matter in a legal case? Because in the Hobby-Lobby ruling, the fact-impaired gave way to fact-dismissal by the highest court in the land before the case was even argued, and it was just accepted, with little or no debate. A brief recap via The Nation: [Read more...]

Separating wheat and chaff

Several interesting political discussions ensued with friends over the last few days. There were a few more around because two people some of us knew passed away. One in a plane wreck, the other from cancer. Some friends like to talk politics with a real live blogger, and some of them are informed enough and intellectually honest enough to be worth talking about it with. But not all.

There’s a somewhat simple, almost elegant algorithm for separating the novices and part-timers and hard-core partisan warriors from the more experienced and frank. The latter might lean or reside entirely on one side of the great left-right divide that has come to define modern US politics like North vs South did decades ago. But they’re able to exert some objectivism; there’s a lot of fancy ways we could say this, they live in a reality-based world, they resist cognitive dissonance. But what it boils down to is they know a fact when they see one, plus they value facts as building blocks in effective policy solutions.

It’s not infallible, but below is a fast-food approach to separate the more purely ideological from the more purely rational. [Read more...]

Fun times

Well, I may have made a mistake in taking this new job that’s been keeping me from blogging. It’s not the work, the work is the fun part. Getting inside servers and figuring out what might be going wrong is kinda cool. Like a math problem or a puzzle, one that you’re being paid to solve. No, it’s the people. Some of my coworkers are bullies. [Read more...]

The spice must flow

Watching Grumpy Grandpa McCain this morning making the rounds, trying to explain how we won the war in Iraq, but somehow failed in Iraq at the same time and now have to go back in and, what, re-win it? Well, it was interesting to watch him try and navigate through that tortured reasoning, even a little bit comical in a dark, cynical way, sort of a crazy neo-con blast from the bloody past. But here’s what sets civil war in Iraq apart from Syria or Libya: [Read more...]