Keep Scott Pruitt Moist: The Dramatic Reading — Whatever

I’ve been a fan of Alexandra Petri for a while now — she’s possibly the funniest person in newspapers today — but I think she went above and beyond with “Keep Scott Pruitt Moist,” a column that went up mere hours before the man resigned his position as head of the EPA, and which I…

via Keep Scott Pruitt Moist: The Dramatic Reading — Whatever


The Stupefying Mediocrity of Barack Obama

As a Marxist, I’m not very interested in the psychology of the powerful. I don’t think it matters much, and it tends to be pretty uniform and predictable anyway: self-overestimation, self-justification, moral rationalizations for every horrendous decision made, brutal callousness to human suffering beneath (at best) a veneer of concern, energies directed to machinations for increased power, cowardly accommodation to the path of least political resistance, a collective insularity of the golden-boy culture gilded with sycophants, etc.

Source: The Stupefying Mediocrity of Barack Obama

Scientists To Grow ‘Mini-Brains’ Using Neanderthal DNA

Scientists will grow small amounts of tissue, known as brain organoids, from human stem cells that have been edited to contain “Neanderthalized” versions of several genes. “The lentil-sized organoids, which are incapable of thoughts or feelings, replicate some of the basic structures of an adult brain,” reports The Guardian. “They could demonstrate for the first time if there were meaningful differences between human and Neanderthal brain biology.” From the report: The latest work focuses on differences in three genes known to be crucial for brain development.

Source: Scientists To Grow ‘Mini-Brains’ Using Neanderthal DNA

This $6 Sample Box Is the Perfect Introduction to Soylent, and Includes a $6 Credit

Soylent Sample Box | $6 | Amazon | Includes $6 credit towards future Soylent purchase If you’re curious to give Soylent a try, but don’t want to commit, this Amazon Sample Box is for you . Pay $6 up front for three bottles (a cacao, a vanilla, and a Coffiest), and you’ll get a $6 credit to spend on a future Soylent purchase from Amazon.

Source: This $6 Sample Box Is the Perfect Introduction to Soylent, and Includes a $6 Credit

High-resolution climate models present alarming new projections for US

Approaching the second half of the century, the United States is likely to experience increases in the number of days with extreme heat, the frequency and duration of heat waves, and the length of the growing season. In response, it is anticipated that societal, agricultural and ecological needs will increase the demand on already-strained natural resources like water and energy.

Source: High-resolution climate models present alarming new projections for US

Ophelia is the strongest storm to hit Ireland in at least 50 years.

With winds approaching 100 mph , storm surge has breached coastal defenses , pushing the Atlantic Ocean inland. The Irish Defense Force is on standby to assist with rescue and recovery. Hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity , a situation the Irish power network is calling “unprecedented territory.” Officials say it will take weeks to repair the damage.

Source: Ophelia is the strongest storm to hit Ireland in at least 50 years.

Hundreds of Species Hitched a Ride Across the Pacific Aboard 2011 Tsunami Debris

When a magnitude 9 earthquake shook the western Pacific Ocean floor and sent a tsunami crashing into Japan in 2011, millions of pieces of debris — from docks and fishing boats to plastic pollution — were swept out to sea. Now, a new study finds that nearly 300 species hitchhiked aboard that debris across the Pacific and were scattered along the west coast of North America.

Source: Hundreds of Species Hitched a Ride Across the Pacific Aboard 2011 Tsunami Debris

CRISPR’s latest achievement? Taking the gluten out of wheat

Avoiding gluten may be about to get a whole lot easier — and it’s all thanks to CRISPR gene editing . That’s because a team of researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in Cordoba, Spain have used the technology to eliminate the majority of the gliadins (the gluten proteins which cause most of the gluten intolerance issues for people with celiac disease ) in wheat. “Gluten proteins, and specifically gliadins, are major [factors] responsible of triggering celiac disease in genetically predisposed individuals,” Dr.

Source: CRISPR’s latest achievement? Taking the gluten out of wheat

John Ashbery (1927–2017)

Ashbery’s style was marked above all by a calm, discursive voice, going along at a walking pace, often seeming to have been caught in midstream, maybe half-heard from outside through the curtains. That voice could occasionally sound explicitly poetic or expressionistically fractured, but more often—and more consistently as time went by—it sounded conversational, demotic, mild, even-toned, deep-dish American.

Source: John Ashbery (1927–2017)

Area Burned in Severe Northwest Territory Wildfires Doubles in Just One Day — robertscribbler

In just one day, an area of land covering 1,860 square miles of the Northwest Territory has burned. That’s a zone 50 percent larger than the entire state of Rhode Island going up in smoke over just one 24 hour period. And as you can see from the GOES satellite animation below, the volume of […]

via Area Burned in Severe Northwest Territory Wildfires Doubles in Just One Day — robertscribbler

Echoes of Fort McMurray — Massive Wildfire Forces the Emptying of Another Canadian City — robertscribbler

A little more than a year after a massive wildfire forced the full evacuation of Fort McMurray in Alberta, another set of extreme wildfires in British Columbia is again forcing major population centers to empty. In the region of Williams Lake and Cariboo City, 17,400 people have been forced to flee as a wildfire is […]

via Echoes of Fort McMurray — Massive Wildfire Forces the Emptying of Another Canadian City — robertscribbler

Profound Changes in Our Jet Streams — Paul Beckwith, Climate System Scientist

Profound Changes in our Jet Streams // Published on Jul 11, 2017 All of us alive today are either privileged or cursed to bear witness to profound changes in our planetary climate system. Join me here as I brainstorm on how our fractured, wavier, slower jet streams no longer just circumvent the planet as they […]

via Profound Changes in Our Jet Streams — Paul Beckwith, Climate System Scientist

Rick Perry Loses Cool on Warming

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Huh. I see the video above has gotten 125k views while I wasn’t looking.

Climate blogger Collin Maessen and I interviewed Richard Muller in 2014 at the American Geophysical Union. Muller, a one-time darling of denierville, got funding from, among others, the Koch Brothers, to apply his skeptical eye to climate science and review all the mainstream findings about global temperature and what drives it.
To his credit, Muller hired a crack team of scientists, including a recent Nobel prize physicist, and they set to work.
And, they confirmed what mainstream climate science has been saying for 60 years.

His work came up in a Senate hearing the other day.


After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a budget hearing Thursday.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) informed Perry that scientists have concluded that…

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U.S. Climate of Troubles: Record Heat Out West, Severe Floods in the East — robertscribbler

Yesterday a record heatwave affecting 40 million people cracked pavement, grounded flights, threatened power grids and risked serious injuries across the Southwestern U.S. Meanwhile, today, a heavily moisture laden tropical storm Cindy is threatening to dump 10 to 15 inches or more of rain on parts of the U.S. Southeast. A pair of opposite weather […]

via U.S. Climate of Troubles: Record Heat Out West, Severe Floods in the East — robertscribbler

An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language

A buried line in a new Facebook report about chatbots’ conversations with one another offers a remarkable glimpse at the future of language. In the report , researchers at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab describe using machine learning to train their “dialog agents” to negotiate. (And it turns out bots are actually quite good at dealmaking.) At one point, the researchers write, they had to tweak one of their models because otherwise the bot-to-bot conversation “led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating.” They had to use what’s called a fixed supervised model instead.

Source: An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language

A Tiny Tweak to Gut Bacteria Can Extend an Animal’s Life

Most of the worms in Meng Wang ’s lab die on schedule. They live their brief lives on Petri dishes, and after two to three weeks, they die of old age. But some individuals beat the odds, surviving for several days longer than usual.These wormy Methuselahs were all genetically identical, so it wasn’t their genes that explained their decelerated aging.

Source: A Tiny Tweak to Gut Bacteria Can Extend an Animal’s Life

That Cancer, Humankind!

On May 27, 2017, I spent some time with my copy of the late (1927-2015) Eli Sagan ’s At the Dawn of Tyranny: The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression, and the State (1985), and this morning (perhaps because of having done so) felt a need to spend some time with my copy of the late (1929-2007) David Maybury-Lewis ’s Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (1992)—and did so.

Source: That Cancer, Humankind!

Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target.

Wars are rarely announced in advance, but President Trump provided an abundance of warning about his intention to wage an assault on journalism. During the election campaign, he called journalists an “enemy of the people” and described media organizations he didn’t like as “fake news.” You can pretty much draw a direct line between his words and the actions we’ve seen lately — which include journalists physically prevented from asking questions of officials, arrested when trying to do so, and in a now-famous example from Montana, body-slammed to the ground by a Republican candidate who didn’t want to discuss his party’s position on healthcare.

Source: Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target.

Was Comey Fired Because the FBI’s Sights Were Turning Toward Trump’s Russian Mobster-Connected Business Ties?

Investigating campaign collusion with the Russians is not exactly the FBI’s expertise, but organized crime, money-laundering and racketeering are. What is President Donald Trump trying to hide? That’s the question on everyone’s mind since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

Source: Was Comey Fired Because the FBI’s Sights Were Turning Toward Trump’s Russian Mobster-Connected Business Ties?

Killing flu viruses with help from a frog

Frog mucus is loaded with molecules that kill bacteria and viruses, and researchers are beginning to investigate it as a potential source for new anti-microbial drugs. One of these “host defense peptides,” courtesy of a colorful tennis-ball-sized frog species (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) from southern India, can destroy many strains of human flu and protect mice against flu infection, researchers report April 18 in the journal Immunity.

Source: Killing flu viruses with help from a frog

Ghost Funeral in Liverpool

This is an unusually well written ghost account from Liverpool. It does not appear to come up in any of Tom Slemen’s work on Liverpool (though Beach waits to be contradicted!). This appeared in the Liverpool Post in 1891. Note that in Ireland (with which Liverpool has strong migrant links) this could almost be a […]

Source: Ghost Funeral in Liverpool

Welcome to the Kali Yuga?

“As the Kaliyuga progresses towards the final conflagration and the life expectancy of man decreases to fifty years, the Doctrine of Shakyamuni will be subject to degeneration, and these conditions will prevail, portending ruin: Householders fill the monasteries and there is fighting before the altar; the temples are used as slaughterhouses; the ascetics of the caves return to the cultivated valleys, and the yogins become traders; thieves own the wealth and cattle; monks become householders while priests and spiritual leaders turn to robbery, brigandage, and thievery. Disorder becomes chaos, turning to panic that rages like wildfire. Corrupt and selfish men become leaders, while abbots turned army officers lead their monks as soldiers, and nuns put their own bastards to death. Sons see their estates and inheritances stolen from them. Mean and vulgar demagogues become local leaders while young girls instruct the young in schools. The belch of the Bon magician resounds in the yogin’s hermitage, and the wealth of the sanctuaries is looted; the scriptures of the Tathagatas, the images of the Buddhas, the sacred icons, the scroll paintings, and the stupas will be desecrated, stolen, and bartered at the market price, their true worth forgotten. The temples will become dungcovered cowsheds and stables.

“When religious duties are forgotten, spirits of darkness that had been controlled by ritual power become unloosed and frenzied and govern the mind of whatever being they possess. Spirits of vindictive power possess the rulers; spirits of egoistic wickedness possess the Mantradharas or magicians; spirits of disease possess the Bon priests; enchanting spirits causing disease possess men; spirits of rebellion and malice possess the children; grasping, quarreling spirits possess the wives; wanton spirits possess the maidens; spirits of depravity possess the nuns; every man, woman, and child in the country becomes possessed by uncontrollable forces of darkness. The signs of these times are new and fantastic modes of dressing. Traditional styles are forgotten; the monks wear fancy robes, and the nuns dress up before a mirror. Every man must carry a sword to protect himself and guard his food from poison. Abbots and teachers poison their pupils’ minds and hearts; the executive and legislature disagree; men become lewd and licentious, unable to restrain themselves; women become unchaste; monks ignore their discipline and moral code; the Mantradharas break their covenant. As the frenzy of malicious, selfish, vindictive, and ruthless spirits grows, paranoid rumor increases, and ornament and clothing fashions change continually.

“Drunkards preach the path to salvation; the advice of sycophants is followed; fraudulent teachers give false initiations; guileful imposters claim psychic powers; loquacity and eloquence pass as wisdom. The arrogant elevate profanity; the proletariat rules the kingdom; kings become paupers; butchers and murderers become leaders of men; unscrupulous self-seekers rise to high position. The masters of the high Tantras stray like dogs in the streets, and their faithless, errant students roam like lions in the jungle. Embodiments of malice and selfishness become revered teachers, while the achievements of tantric adepts become reviled, the guidance of the secret guru execrated, the precepts of the Buddha ignored, and the advice of yogis and sages unsought. Robes become worn by fools and villains while monks wear foreign dress; even murderers wear the sacred robe. Men resort to malicious enchantment, learning mantra for selfish ends; monks prepare poisonous potions for blackmail, extortion, and profit. False doctrines are devised from the Buddha’s word, and the teachers’ interpretations become self-vindications. The valid teachings of Tantra are despised as nonsense. Many treacherous paths, previously uncharted, are followed; many iniquitous practices spread; behavior that was previously anathema is tolerated; ideals are established contrary to tradition; all good customs and habits are rejected, and many despicable innovations corrupt. The wealth of the monasteries is plundered and spent upon gluttony by those under vow. Following errant paths, men become trapped by their own mean actions; the avaricious and spurious protectors of the pure teaching no longer fulfill their functions.

“The celestial order, disrupted, loosens plague, famine, and war to terrorize terrestrial life. The planets run wild, and the stars fall out of their constellations; great burning stars arise, bringing unprecedented disaster. No rain falls in season, but out of season the valleys are flooded. Famine, frost, and hail govern many unproductive years. The rapacious female demons and fierce tanma, unpropitiated and enraged, release diseases, horrible epidemics, and plagues that spread like wildfire, striking men and cattle. Earthquakes bring sudden floods while fire, storms, and tornadoes destroy temples, stupas, and cities in an instant. At this time the Great Stupa itself falls into ruin. During this pall of darkness the Wheel of Dharma at Vajrasana [Bodh Gaya} declines; the storm of war rages in Nepal for many years; India is stricken with famine; the Kathmandu Valley is afflicted with plague; earthquakes decimate the people of Upper Ngari in western Tibet; plague destroys the people of central Tibet; the Kyi Valley district of Lhasa subsides; the peaks of the high Himalayas in the borderland of Mon fall into the valleys. Three strong forts are built on the Five-Peaked Mountain; a retreat is built in the deep gorge of the Bear’s Lair of Mon; two suns rise in Kham to the east; the Chinese emperor dies suddenly; four armies descend on central Tibet from the borders; the Muslim Turks conquer Ngari; the Jang army enters Kham; the Turukha demon army conquers India; the Garlok army shatters the teachings; the Protectors’ Temple, Rasa Trulnang in Lhasa, is threatened; the famous temple of Samye is desecrated; the stupas of Bhutan tilt, and the Wheel of Dharma malfunctions.

“The great monasteries of the country become deserted and the belch of the Bon priest resounds in the quiet hermitages; the wise and simple leaders of the monasteries are poisoned and die off so that the lineal explanations and practices are fragmented or lost; the holders of the lineal traditions meet sudden death. Imposters and frauds confuse the people; the jackal’s howl haunts the land, and emanations of Mara roam throughout Tibet. The silken knot restraining demonic forces in divine bondage is untied, and the cord of faith keeping the human mind harmonious is severed. The golden yoke of the king’s law is broken, and the strength of communal unity is lost; the peoples’ traditions are rejected, and the sea of contentment dries up. Personal morality is forgotten, and the cloak of modesty is thrown away. Virtue is powerless and humiliated, dominated by coarse, immodest, and fearful rulers. Abbots, teachers, and professors become army officers while the ignorant guide religious aspirants, explain the doctrine, and give initiation. Aspirants speak with self-defensive abuse while butchers and maddened elephants lead men. The passes, valleys, and narrow paths are terrorized by shameless brigands. Fearful, lawless, and leaderless, the people fight amongst themselves, each man working selfishly. Tibet becomes corrupt and defiled. These are the conditions prevailing during the Kaliyuga. These are the portents of the destruction of the Great Stupa.”

– from Chapter 4 of The Legend Of The Great Stupa.


How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

Great article!

Violent metaphors

Update (1/3/18) I’ve been overwhelmed with requests for the shorter guide, and the email address below no longer works. So I’ve uploaded a copy of the guide for anyone to download and share here: How to read and understand a scientific article. Please feel free to use it however you wish (although I’d appreciate being credited as the author). I apologize to everyone who emailed me and didn’t get a response! If you would like to let me know who you are and what you’re using it for in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

Update (8/30/14): I’ve written a shorter version of this guide for teachers to hand out to their classes. If you’d like a PDF, shoot me an email: jenniferraff (at) utexas (dot) edu.

Last week’s post (The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google) sparked a very…

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June 2013: Second Hottest June on Record

Earth First! Newswire

By Bob Petz / Ecology

Last month was the second warmest June on record, according to global surface temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

This year’s global average of 14.67 °C for June falls just short of the 14.74 °C record set in June 1998 — a record aided by a strong, warming El Niño event.

In contrast, this year’s June temperature occurred during a mild La Niña, which tends to have a cooling effect.

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James Hansen and the Three Categories of the Runaway Greenhouse: Earth Uninhabitable for Humans at ~5,000 Gigatons Fossil Fuel Burned


( Image source: Arctic News)

Forget for a moment that we can still emit about 530 gigatons of CO2 and still keep human warming in the ‘safe range’ of less than 2 degrees (Celsius) temperature increases this century. Forget for a moment how important to the sustenance of human civilization and the prevention of ever-worsening conditions this strict limit on carbon emissions is. Now think for a moment what will happen if Republicans in Congress and fellow conservatives aligned with fossil fuel companies across the country and around the world get their way.

In the past month, Republicans in the House of Representatives have pushed to increase US coal burning, approve the Tar Sands Keyston XL Pipeline, remove energy efficiency standards, and to slash US government (ARPA -E) R&D funding for new renewable energy technology by 80 percent. Fully 55% of all Republicans in the…

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On December 2, 1942, a small group of physicists under the direction of Enrico Fermi gathered on an old squash court beneath Alonzo Stagg Stadium on the Campus of the University of Chicago to make and witness history. Uranium pellets and graphite blocks had been stacked around cadmium-coated rods as part of an experiment crucial to the Manhattan Project–the program tasked with building an atom bomb for the allied forces in WWII. The experiment was successful, and for 28 minutes, the scientists and dignitaries present observed the world’s first manmade, self-sustaining nuclear fission reaction. They called it an atomic pile–Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1), to be exact–but what Fermi and his team had actually done was build the world’s first nuclear reactor.

The Manhattan Project’s goal was a bomb, but soon after the end of the war, scientists, politicians, the military and private industry looked for ways to harness the power…

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“…a bell like that can’t be unrung…” priceless.

This Just In

A court hearing in Philadelphia took an unforeseen turn when a witness, testifying about the consequences of losing his left eye in an alleged assault, began crying and his prosthetic eyeball popped out of its socket and into his hand, unsettling the jury and resulting in a mistrial, according to attorneys involved.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything like that happen. It was unusual; it was shocking,” said Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson, who is prosecuting Mathew Brunelli, 23, charged with aggravated assault, for allegedly stabbing John Huttick in the eye during a bar fight in August 2011.

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Hey, hey, we’re the monks…

Buddhist Art News

Korean Hearlad
Park Sui, Intern reporter

“Udumbara Band” surprises many with its unique title as the first Korean Buddhist music band.

Seven monks with musical talent passed an audition held last July and became members of Udumbara Band. They have been practicing for their debut since August 2012.

Udumbara is a plant that flowers, according to Buddhist legend, once every 3,000 years. The band was named after this plant to celebrate the first Buddhist music band to be formed in Korean Buddhism’s long history.

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Last week, a much discussed new paper in the journal Nature seemed to suggest to some that we needn’t worry too much about the melting of Greenland, the mile-thick mass of ice at the top of the globe. The research found that the Greenland ice sheet seems to have survived a previous warm period in Earth’s history — the Eemian period, some 126,000 years ago — without vanishing (although it did melt considerably).

But Ohio State glaciologist Jason Box isn’t buying it.

At Monday’s Climate Desk Live briefing in Washington, D.C., Box, who has visited Greenland 23 times to track its changing climate, explained that we’ve already pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide 40 percent beyond Eemian levels. What’s more, levels of atmospheric methane are a dramatic 240 percent higher — both with no signs of stopping. “There is no analogue for that in the ice record,” said Box.

And that’s not…

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The Extinction Protocol

December 24, 2012GEOLOGYIt has long been known that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate. Now, researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), together with colleagues from Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) have found evidence that the reverse process also occurs: Climate affects volcanic activity. Their study is now online in the international journal Geology. In 1991, it was a disaster for the villages nearby the erupting Philippine volcano Pinatubo. But the effects were felt even as far away as Europe. The volcano threw up many tons of ash and other particles into the atmosphere causing less sunlight than usual to reach the Earth’s surface. For the first few years after the eruption, global temperatures dropped by half a degree. In general, volcanic eruptions can have a strong short-term impact on climate. Conversely, the idea that climate may also…

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Jon Rappoport's Blog

The mind-control qualities of Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Scott Pelley

by Jon Rappoport

December 20, 2012

In the wake of the Sandy Hook murders, I’ve been describing how the television coverage is a form of mind control.

Of course, it’s wall-to-wall mind control every day, no matter what stories the networks are focused on.

The best of the best mind control is applied by the three major network anchors: Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, and Diane Sawyer.

They don’t do it as well as Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Edward R Murrow once worked their magic, but they’re fairly good practitioners of the art. Brian Williams is the current champion.

Here are the qualities you need to rise to the top of the charts.

You believe and don’t believe in what you’re doing at the same time.

You know it’s all an act, but yet you have firm…

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Quantum Consciousness

Quantum Consciousness.


Only read this twice, so far.  If these microtubules have their own agenda that we can probably never understand, then, our idea of consciousness’ relation to this energy will always be a mystery.  At least we can start working on putting our “selves” into digital format for storage and eventual re-animation. I think we are stepping beyond PKD territory.