Encouraging signs on climate change

It has been frustrating to see how climate change denialists cling desperately to their alternative narratives to explain away the scientific data that has led to the consensus that the Earth is warming, that human activity is a major cause, and that we need to take action soon to halt and even reverse the trend if the planet is going to be in decent shape for future generations. But just as creationists are finding it increasingly difficult to discredit evolution despite having support from politicians in the US, there are encouraging signs that the climate science consensus is slowly winning over public support from across the political spectrum. Matthew Nesbitt goes further and argues that the battle for hearts and minds on this issue is in fact over.
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Ocasio-Cortez faces challenges from all sides

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes has become a lightning rod for criticism. The Republicans and right-wingers in general are freaking out about the rising appeal of he socialist polices she is advocating and have decide to throw everything including the kitchen sink at her with comically contradictory results. She is no shrinking violet and has responded accordingly.
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A puzzling Hubble discrepancy

The value of the Hubble constant plays a crucial role in cosmology in calculating the age of the universe. The most direct way to obtain it is to measure the distances to stars and galaxies and galaxy clusters and map them against their speeds. The Hubble-Lemaitre law of cosmic expansion predicts that the resulting data should lie on a straight line and from the slope of that line one gets the value of the constant. But while obtaining the speeds of each stellar object is relatively easy using the red shift of light, measuring distances is a very tedious and painstaking business in which one has to use a ‘ladder method’ involving different techniques, starting with finding the distances to the objects closest to you and using those results to find the distances to the next distance set, often using a different method, and so on. This technique is highly prone to systematic errors because any error at any stage gets magnified as you go to more distant elements. The people who do this kind of work have to pay extremely close attention to detail and I salute them for their diligence.
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The National Enquirer business model is blackmail

The failed attempt by the tabloid to blackmail Jeff Bezos has put a bright light on the way that they do business. It was a fairly open secret that they would threaten to report dirt on celebrities unless the celebrities gave them exclusive access for other stories but now the details of such stories are coming out, with former employees of the parent company AMI, including those who did the investigations for them, willing to speak out.
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The right wing dilemma about the rise in socialist ideas

It was interesting that Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech gave a warning about the rise in socialism in the US. It is clear that the Republicans are testing the water to see if fear of socialism bogey can be made into a successful election slogan. But they are treading warily because the actual ideas being painted as socialist, especially when it comes to health care, turn out to be quite popular.

Seth Meyers describes the right wing freak out, and his segment about nutter Phil Robertson’s statements about who provides his health care is hilarious.

Just because you dislike Trump does not mean you are not a jerk

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has written a book, the latest in the long line of people associated with Donald trump who are trying to cash in on the connection. Matt Taibbi hilariously rips into the book and says that it inadvertently reveals the extent to which Christie was willing to debase himself in order to get a good job in the Trump administration and how Trump used his desire to humiliate him and leave him empty handed.
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Avoiding plagiarism

Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson is being accused of plagiarism in her latest book, the latest in a string of high profile authors who have been accused of such things. It always baffles me when experienced writers are accused of plagiarism. If deliberate, you would think that they would be smart enough to realize that they would be caught, given their fame and the wide readership their works will have, and the fact that they have usually not quoted from obscure archival material but contemporary ones. My guess is that at least for some of these people, the plagiarism is inadvertent, when they have internalized someone’s words to the extent that they have forgotten where it came from and think it is their own.
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Jeff Bezos versus the National Enquirer

David Pecker, the publisher of the gossip tabloid the National Enquirer, is a friend of Donald Trump. The tabloid is notorious for its aggressive investigations into the lives of public figures and weaponizing that information, publishing it if it does not like them and withholding it in return for favors. Basically it practices a form of blackmail, using its journalistic cover to defend itself from accusations of sleaziness.
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Another case of misleading people by picking a starting point

Recall how climate change skeptics use the tactic of picking a year when the average global temperatures were unusually high as their starting point and then arguing that the relative flatness of temperatures for some years after that year ‘showed’ that global warming is a myth. Kevin Drum says that Donald Trump may be using that same tactic when it comes to his claims about the effectiveness of a wall in reducing crime, when he uses the border town of El Paso as an example. In his State of the Union speech, Trump said, “The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

Of course, as with almost everything Trump says, that is a lie.
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