Climate change and zombie evolution

It’s no secret to fans of biology and of excellent video games that zombies are real. There are a few different versions of zombie infection that have different effects depending on the zombifying organism and its host. In this case, we’re talking about zombie ants and the Cordyceps fungi that prey on them.

The image is a silhouette of a

For those who need a refresher, Cordyceps spreads through spores, which attach to the species they specialize in, and grow into its body. Mycelium – the root-like structures that make up most of a mushroom’s body – grows into the host and feeds on it, growing to replace the host tissue with more fungus. As this happens, the host is compelled to change its behavior. It is forced to seek out a good location to die. This means gaining elevation, and clamping onto a twig or a leaf. The ant then dies, and the Cordyceps puts out a “fruit body” like the various toadstools we eat. Spores are released, and drift around until they land on a new host and the cycle can begin again.

So where do climate and evolution come in? [Read more…]

Past is Prologue: Keystone brutality was allowed under Obama, but is encouraged under Trump

The Keystone pipeline has not gone away; nor has the mortal danger to all of us it represents. The constant shitstorm from the Republican Party has made it difficult to keep focus on any one issue, and the media has been largely complicit in creating that problem and in making it worse. Keystone is Old News, and the most immediate danger it presents is to poor people. American Tradition dictates that “their” problems be ignored if there’s more potential for profit elsewhere.

The announcement of Kennedy’s retirement, combined with the theft of a Supreme Court nomination, and the rest of the Republican campaign to take over the the Judicial Branch, means that we can expect any and all challenges to the fossil fuel industry to be crushed by the courts. Case in point, South Dakota’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal against a regulator’s approval of the pipeline.

This fight will not go away because for a lot of people, it’s literally a fight for survival. To crush any efforts toward actual justice, the biggest fossil fuel companies have budgets surpassing those of many nations, and they can afford to buy as many mercenaries as they think they need. The Oil Must Flow, and countless millions have been and will be killed to support that fanatical ideology.

Under Obama, mercenaries and police waged war on behalf of Enbridge. They set dogs on peaceful protestors, beat people, shot them with rubber bullets, sprayed them with water in sub-freezing temperatures, used tear gas and pepper spray, and even explosives that nearly blew off an arm of one of the protesters. And under Obama, they got away with it.

How long is it until ICE decides they have jurisdiction over Native Americans? Reservations are technically sovereign territory after all (not that we’ve ever respected that), so there are borders around them that just HAVE to be patrolled by trigger-happy white supremacists!

It might not be this year or next, but we’re going to see an increase in clashes between the interests of the super-rich, and the interests of humanity. Both major parties have a record of siding with money and power against people, but today’s Republicans won’t just “regretfully” allow companies to do what they want – they’re going to actively cheer on escalating brutality, and the more cruelty and sadism they show, the more the Republican base will love them.

I’ll try to keep my readers up to date on this, but you should also follow Dallas Goldtooth on Twitter, and keep an eye on the Indigenous Environmental Network.


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Fox News and Cubavision: Characteristics of state propaganda networks

According to Media Matters, Fox “news” has given Trump 15 million dollars in free advertising since April 28th.

On July 5, President Donald Trump went to Montana for another “Make America Great Again Rally.” Fox News not only teased the rally throughout the day, but aired the president’s speech — during which Trump lashed out at critics, took a swipe at the #MeToo movement, and gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a pass — in its entirety.

Fox aired the rally for an hour and 14 minutes, bringing the network’s total airtime given to Trump rallies to 7 hours and 47 minutes since April 28. According to iQ media, a media monitoring service, the advertising value of Trump’s Montana rally was $1,902,542.65. Since April 28, Fox News has gifted Trump $15,174,430.00 in free advertising by airing his rallies.

It should be pretty obvious why this is a problem, but in case it’s not let me put it this way – While the Dems and independents have to pay for ad time on news networks, and have their coverage split with many, many other people and issues, Trump and those in his favor get that kind of coverage and advertising for free, given by the immensely wealthy people who run Fox.

[Read more…]

Pruitt Resigned! Now what?

EDIT: Pruitt is being replaced by his deputy, Andrew Wheeler. More on him soon.

Living in the Trump era has made me more than a little paranoid. I think it’s a good thing that Pruitt is out, but I do not trust that he left for the obvious reasons. I would very much like to be wrong, but I doubt this will mean an end to Pruitt’s agenda, or to deliberate waste of resources. Twenty years ago, I think we could expect that Pruitt’s resignation would be followed by his incarceration, and some level of contrition from his defenders. Ten years ago, I would expect Pruitt to be replaced by somebody who is much more boring, and will push ahead the exact same agenda with less flambouyant corruption.

Now? Now I’m not so sure. For all I know, the “new normal” is escalation, and the next person will be Charles or David Koch, or Joe Barton.

This could be a victory, but I think it’s far too soon for celebration.


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Trumphotels.org – another example of Trump’s incompetence

You may be shocked to hear it, but Trump’s record of half-assing everything and cutting every corner possible means that neither he, nor anyone around him thought to buy www.Trumphotels.org. Fortunately, some kindly person bought it for him, and filled it with high-quality pictures of Trump’s latest endeavor in the hospitality industry. Coming soon to an ICE facility near you!


If you found this post useful or enjoyable, please share it, and please consider becoming a patron over at my Patreon page. Your donations make this blog possible, and even as little as one dollar per month adds up to make a difference. If you feel you can afford more than that, you can get access to all sorts of other content and perks! Your patronage allows me to put more of my time and energy into making this blog a useful resource. Thanks for reading!

 

“I am confused and afraid” – Police violence and police lies.

This is a message that bears repeating – the reason this stuff is in the news more is that it’s so easy to catch cops on video. It was happening before, and ignoring it for all those years has given us a police force that views it as acceptable practice to torture people for not following instructions perfectly, and to shoot people who are running away, and to deliberately try to inflict brain trauma on people by repeatedly punching them in the head even while they’re restrained. And more and more, this is happening to white people too.

First they brutalized the black community and I said nothing because I was not black…

I AM NOT WHAT YOU THINK!

I am confused and afraid
I wonder what path I will take
I hear that there’s only two ways out
I see mothers bury their sons
I want my mom to never feel that pain
I am confused and afraid

I pretend all is fine
I feel like I’m suffocating
I touch nothing so I believe all is fine
I worry that it isn’t, though
I cry no more
I am confused and afraid

I understand people believe I’m just a statistic
I say to them I’m different
I dream of life getting easier
I try my best to make my dream true
I hope that it does
I am confused and afraid

-Antwon Rose Jr. July 12, 2000-June 19, 2018

 

Are you legally prepared for the coming rollback of your rights?

Copied and pasted. Good advice:

As an attorney, I strongly urge all LGBTQI folks to get your legal affairs in order NOW. We’ve had a good few years of being able to legally marry, and in many states to be able to adopt children (often adopting our OWN children), be foster parents, inherit a lease from our deceased partners, and so many other hard-won equalities.

THERE ARE PEOPLE CHEERING NOW FOR OUR LIVES TO BE DESTROYED.

Please do your wills, adopt your kids if you haven’t already, create guardianship affidavits, GET PASSPORTS for everyone in your family, get your name/gender markers corrected, confirm that your life insurance policies, investments, houses, cars, bank accounts, even your leases have the correct people on them as owners or beneficiaries.

I’ve created a clause that I suggest should be added to your wills (and any other document dependent upon marriage). Please feel free to take it for your own use:

“The term “wife” or “husband” or “spouse” as used herein means *insert your spouse’s appropriate legal name here*, whose rights, responsibilities, or benefits under this will shall not be affected regardless of whether the legal validity of my marriage to the above-named person is ever nullified by Supreme Court decision or Constitutional Amendment.”

People in our lives who voted for Trump, but say you love us: go fuck yourself with a cactus

“…Wrapped in a flag, and carrying a cross.”

Just saw this from Michael Stone over at Patheos.

Dangerous Catholic extremist: Amy Coney Barrett, a leading candidate for a soon-to-be-vacant Supreme Court seat, claims the Bible precedes the Constitution.

Barrett, a dangerous religious extremist who believes her religious faith comes before the law, and claims that the Bible precedes the U.S. Constitution, was confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last year after a controversial and contentious Senate confirmation process. [Read more…]

Discerning intent from action: Scott Pruitt and the Republican vision of America’s future

Scott Pruitt seems to be a trial run of whether or not the GOP can get away with the kind of corrupt behavior that is now standard operating procedure in the Russian oligarchy. Since he got into office, his actions have confirmed his intentions- Pruitt is there to turn the EPA into a cash and favors spigot for the wealthy, using taxpayer resources to undo environmental protections, do favors, and enrich himself. My only regret, from this video, is that Pruitt and his dining partner were apparently left to finish their meal in peace after this excessively polite interruption (EDIT: my bad for not looking deeper – he left of his own accord as she returned to her seat.):

We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment. Someone who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children. So, I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.

Good for her! Seriously – these people are taking actions that will kill billions if they are not stopped. They deserve no peace. Unfortunately, disrupting their ability to enjoy public spaces is not going to be enough. [Read more…]

Sun Day: A good refresher on how the sun relates to the current global warming

In the spirit of having a basic understanding of climate science, I like to periodically re-visit good articles and videos on the subject. Peter Sinclair has been a pretty consistent source of well-crafted, well-explained videos. This one gives a solid overview of both the misinformation, and the actual info on how the sun has been interacting with our climate over the past few decades. I couldn’t find a transcript, but the auto-generated captions are actually on point for this one:

 


If you found this post useful or enjoyable, please share it, and please consider becoming a patron over at my Patreon page. Your donations make this blog possible, and even as little as one dollar per month adds up to make a difference. If you feel you can afford more than that, you can get access to all sorts of other content and perks! Your patronage allows me to put more of my time and energy into making this blog a useful resource. Thanks for reading!