Why I think Kamala Harris is a plus mark for the Biden candidacy

I haven’t been reluctant to say that Biden is one of my least favorite candidates, and that my support is lukewarm. Harris wasn’t my top choice in the primaries, either, but I think she’s better than Biden, so I can’t help but see this choice as better.

But what really matters is her policy positions. She has a record! We can actually look up what Harris has supported. All I have to say is that she has a 100% rating from NARAL and an “F” from the NRA to make the case for her. She also wants legislation to combat climate change, co-sponsored Medicare for all, is pro-union, opposed Trump’s tax cut for the rich, and thinks we ought to support the US Postal Service.

This is not to say she’s perfect, but I can hope that she’ll advance some progressive causes. I have more confidence in that than I have in passive empty suit Biden.

Of course, either one is better than evil fucking clown Trump.

(Link) How the Trump Administration is trying to link political opposition to foreign terrorist groups (Non-fiction)

Abe Drayton over at Oceanoxia posts about the Trump administration’s attempts to tie “Antifa” to international terrorist organizations.

There are various legal frameworks in place that prevent domestic terrorist groups like the KKK from being treated as terrorists, at least in the ways we have come to expect. While protecting the Klan is not good, the same laws that protect them also protect left-wing groups from being targeted by the Department of Homeland Security. Rather than risk someone going after right-wing extremists in the United States, the Republican administration is, instead, trying to tie their left-wing opposition to foreign actors, to get around the law, and allow them to treat anyone labeled “antifa” in the U.S., in the words of a DHS source, “Like Al Qaeda”. 

I doubt that we’ll see drone strikes in the US, but I do more crackdowns like this if Trump successfully gets another term in office.

I can live with Kamala Harris as VP

I was out spidering this afternoon when Biden announced his vice presidential candidate: Kamala Harris. Not that it matters, but here’s what I think.

I have one negative: she was a prosecutor, so she was an enabler of the carceral state. That’s the opposite of what we need, but maybe she’s learned from recent events? We can hope? Maybe someday I’ll learn that my hopes are always shattered?

I have lots of positives, though. She’s relatively young, but old enough to be experienced; she’ll represent multiple minorities, as a woman, black, and Indian; she’s smart and has teeth. I would love to watch her rend Pence into a pulp in a VP debate, although I doubt that they’ll have one.

She’s not Joe Biden. In the run-up to the primaries, I had a much more favorable impression of Harris than of Biden, so seeing her on the slate is a net gain. I’m not enthused about Biden, but he could have screwed up this choice far more catastrophically.

The scientific history of the North American continent

The PBS science program Nova has an excellent three-part series that was first broadcast in 2015 on the history of the continent. They use nice special effects to bring vividly to life the very slow processes of geology and biology. Each episode lasts about 50 minutes.

The first one deals with the geologic history.

The second deals with the evolution of life.

The third deals with humans. I had thought that there were just two theories for how humans arrived on this continent. Either they came from the east and crossed the Bering Strait land bridge that was exposed during the last Ice Age when ocean levels receded. Or they came from the west by ships that hugged the North Atlantic coastlines. [Correction: I had misremembered. I recalled something about people coming to the Americas earlier from the west but that ‘earlier’ only meant before Columbus and not that they were the first inhabitants.] But this program says that the earliest human remains have been found on islands in the Pacific just off the west coast of the continent, indicating that they must have come from the east by boats. This was new to me and I need to look into it.

Whenever I see these programs, I am always impressed by the grandeur of the story being told and the dogged work of so many scientists who have been able to piece together the narrative of things that occurred long before there were any humans to observe them.

And that feeling is always followed by a sense of sadness that those who believe in a 6,000 year old Earth are missing out on that sense of wonder. Oh sure, maybe the belief that “God made everything” fills them with a different sense of wonder but that seems so shallow to me.

College football season likely to be canceled

Today comes welcome news that the Big Ten conference made up of 14 of the biggest powerhouses in college football (it started out with just 10 but retained the name after expanding its roster) has canceled the upcoming fall season due to the pandemic. Another smaller conference had announced its cancellation a couple of days ago.

The Big Ten has voted to cancel the 2020 college football season in a historic move that stems from concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, multiple people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to the Free Press.

The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the decision. A formal announcement is expected to Tuesday, the sources said.

The presidents voted, 12-2, Sunday to end the fall sports in the conference. Michigan and Michigan State — which both has physicians as presidents — voted to end the season, sources said. Only Nebraska and Iowa voted to play, Dan Patrick said on his radio show Monday.

The move comes two days after the Mid-American Conference became the first in the FBS to cancel ts season, and sources told the Free Press the Big Ten is trying to coordinate its announcement with other Power Five conferences.

[Read more…]

Target Practice: So they can get used to shooting kids

The cops in Hiram, Georgia have announced a “water gun fight”, allegedly to “build public goodwill” and “let cops connect with the community”.

I wouldn’t call this “fun” or “public relations”.  I would call it desensitization training.  If they can get used shooting children, they can shoot anyone.  From their facebook page:

Hiram Police Department

With school starting back up and the negativity being prominent in the media lately, we thought it would be best to offer an opportunity for the children of our community to get to know us, and what better way than hosting our own Operation: Water Gun. Help us bridge the gap between law enforcement and Paulding County’s Youth.

Operation: Water Gun is an event where children of all ages are encouraged to show up and battle it out with our own officers – water gun style. We will be hosting this event on Saturday, August 15th, from 12pm-2pm.

We are accepting donations, whether it is water guns or monetary donations, at the Hiram Police Department during normal business hours.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Lt. J. Crosson at jcrosson@hiram-ga.gov, Danna Lewis at dannakay72@gmail.com, or call the Hiram Police Department.

Violent bullies will repeat that behaviour whenever the opportunity arises.  You can be sure at least one kid will get targeted repeatedly, shot mercilessly with water by 10-20 cops until the kid breaks down crying.  And when a non-participating parent tries to intervene, they’ll likely get hit with water too.


Canada has lost its last fully intact ice shelf

The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40 per cent of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers said on Thursday.

This news comes as the Arctic Ocean is poised to possibly make a new record low in sea ice extent. With the way time passes for humans, it can be hard to wrap our heads around the relentlessness of the way our planet is warming right now. We’ve just hit 75 years since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and while we’ve managed to avoid any further use of nuclear weaponry in that time, it may be that what we have done will end up being as devastating as global nuclear war. It was calculated some years ago that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, caused by human emissions, has brought us to a point at which out planet is absorbing and retaining an amount of energy equivalent to four times that created by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, every second. It’s spread out around the world, and it doesn’t come with radioactive fallout, but the heat is still here. 240 atomic bombs per minute. 14,400 every hour. 345,600 every day.

Earth is huge. It takes a lot of heat to make a difference, but that’s the thing about insulation – its effect is constant, and unrelenting. As long as there’s an imbalance, it will just keep trapping more heat than it allows to release. And it accumulates, second by second.

It doesn’t all stay in the atmosphere. Some gets absorbed by land masses, and gets moved around in the atmosphere as water evaporates and precipitates. A vast majority of it has been going into the oceans:

“If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper. “Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought.”

Ocean heating is critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world’s oceans. And, unlike surface temperatures, ocean temperatures are not affected by year-to-year variations caused by climate events like El Nino or volcanic eruptions.

And a chunk of it has been going into ice. Some of that has been sea ice, and probably counts as ocean warming, but some has been going into the massive ice deposits around the world. There, again, it’s a matter of accumulation. Glaciers, ice shelves, and ice sheets all exist in a degree of balance. They all lose mass every year, and they all gain mass back every year as the seasons change. The rise in temperature has shifted that balance. Because warmer air holds more water, there are some areas here glaciers are getting more snow than historically, because there’s more water in the air to snow down upon them, but on a global scale, they’re losing mass far faster than they’re regaining it each year.

This means a few things for us. The first is that this rend will accelerate as the temperature rises, and it will also make the temperature rise faster. As the ice recedes, more land and water are exposed, which can absorb more heat than ice, causing faster melting, causing faster warming, and so on.

This also means that melting land ice is going to become an increasingly big part of global sea level rise. A big chunk of what we’ve seen so far has been from thermal expansion of water as the oceans have warmed, and that will continue, but the faster land ice melts, the more of it will pour into the oceans.

It’s difficult to predict exactly how fast the seas will rise. The early damage is already occurring, with storm surges reaching farther inland and regular high tide flooding in cities that didn’t have that problem before. Action taken to slow the warming could slow sea level rise. Sudden collapses of ice shelves could speed it up. What’s not difficult to predict is that they will rise, and keep rising for the rest of our lives. There’s too much heat already in the system for anything else to happen, based on our current understanding of physics. As with so many of the other dangers of climate change, we know what’s coming, and we know a myriad of ways to prepare for it, so that we can ride out the storm, rather than being swamped by it.

Hey, did you know that in this capitalist hell-world I need something called “money” to get shelter and food? It’s true! It’s also true that because of the global pandemic, there are literally hundreds of people applying for every job to which I or my wife apply, and nobody seems particularly eager to hire immigrants here. If you want to help out, you can do so for as little as $1.00 USD per month (about three pennies per day) at patreon.com/oceanoxia

My patrons are a collection of wonderful people who want to support the work I’m doing, and are contributing a little bit of their earnings to help me keep providing free content here! You could join them in that endeavor, and earn my sincere gratitude, as well as some extra content every month.