You are browsing the archive for 2014 November 27.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Explaining Black Holes Is Just As Awesome as it Sounds

November 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Sarah Gray, Salon

Sorry “Interstellar,” Tyson explains that you don't want to be anywhere near a black hole.


Neil deGrasse Tyson broke down the physics of two mysterious aspects of our universe: wormholes and black holes. In this recent video for Business Insider, Tyson explains why you wouldn’t want to venture into a black hole — you’d want to avoid them “at all costs!” Watch below:

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Key to Our Long, Happy Marriage? Separate Houses

November 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Edward Morris, Salon

Norma and I have lived voluntarily apart for 33 years. That is what enabled us to stay close


My wife Norma and I never imagined we would spend the last 33 years of our 55-year marriage living apart voluntarily. But there it is, and here we are: she occupying her own spacious home in a forest 30 miles outside of Nashville, me making do quite nicely in a rented, cluttered, one-bedroom apartment near the heart of the city. We each live alone, which is exactly the way we prefer it. Ours isn’t an arrangement most married couples would want. But for us, it’s been a liberating experience. And it’s kept our marriage fresh.

 

It wasn’t choice but economics that first separated us. In 1981, we and our three grade school- to college-age children were living in the university town of Bowling Green, Ohio. Norma was a textbook writer and editor, and I was out of work. Then Billboard magazine, the music trade journal, hired me as an editor in its Nashville bureau. Because I had never managed to hold a job longer than three years, Norma wisely decided to stay put until our two younger kids finished high school. As they did, they also gravitated to Nashville. Finally, in 1991, Norma moved down to join us. She did not, however, invite me to move back in with her. And I knew why.

During those 10 years of living apart, we both had discovered that we really liked being in charge of our own surroundings, schedules, finances and circles of friends. Together, we had constantly bickered with each other, usually over those small matters that loom large when you’re making just enough money to get by. We were never loud, abusive or spiteful, but we were sufficiently inventive to leave a trail of bruised feelings. Under the same roof, we had to accommodate each other’s eccentricities and tastes. Now we didn’t.

And we still don’t. I’m a vegetarian, Norma a carnivore. I’m a night owl, Norma an early-to-bedder. Norma likes television as a faint background noise; I want to be able to hear it …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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5 Absurd, Deeply Racist Things Rudy Giuliani Said This Week

November 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Giuliani will not stop spouting off offensively about Ferguson.


Former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani has been having the time of his life this week feeling relevant and commenting on the tumultuous events in Ferguson, Missouri. The fact that he has no actual knowledge of the details of the case has in no way cowed the former prosecutor and right-wing lout from speaking out about what it is that he thinks black people really need. Put succinctly, on Sunday, he said they need white people to control them. Particularly, white police officers. The day before the devastating news that white police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for shooting unarmed teen Michael Brown to death last August, Giuliani explained that black people need white cops so that black people won't kill each other. Then, a day after the official news that there would be no indictment, Giuliani said he'd prosecute witnesses whose stories contradict Wilson's account, the details of which make no sense. (The only way they make any sense is if you believe that Michael Brown was an insane, suicidal, 18-year-old heading to college, who dared an armed angry cop to shoot him. And then, just barely.)

Giuliani's week of fanning the racist flames started on Meet the Press where he was asked to discuss Ferguson and the systemic problem of disproportionately white police forces policing black communities. Ferguson is hardly the only example of a place where the police seem more like an occupying force than an entity that serves the community. Just this week, white Cleveland police officers gunned down a 12-year-old African-American child with a toy gun within seconds of arriving on the scene. Fresh video of the incident seems to show that there was no attempt to talk or disarm the child of his toy. But Giuliani did not want to talk about this, nor Eric Garner, the African-American father from Staten Island who died as a result of being placed in a chokehold, or any of the other incidents in a depressing litany of police overreaction and deadly brutality against black …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Taxing Away Sweet Drinks: Plenty of Baptists, But No Bootleggers

November 27, 2014 in Economics

By Adam Smith, Bruce Yandle

Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle

Amidst all the revelry and regret concerning the Republican election-day sweep, it was easy to miss another groundbreaking victory. Voters in the city of Berkeley, California, gave roaring support for a one-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks, the first ever in the United States.

As many as 30 previous attempts by U.S. cities and states to tax away sugar in soda have failed, including ballot efforts in San Francisco, Richmond, and El Monte, California, this year alone. What seems like a perfect opportunity for bootleggers and Baptists to perform their political magic just hasn’t been working very well.

Soda tax moralizers are easy to find, but where are our sweetened-beverage bootleggers?”

Why “bootleggers and Baptists”? Recall that both historically supported laws that shut down liquor stores on Sunday, but for entirely different reasons. Taking the moral high ground, the Baptists fervently hoped to see a decline in alcohol consumption. Just as fervently, the bootleggers longed to eliminate competition at least for one day a week. Together, they formed a powerful duo.

The combination of moral and economic interests in pursuing political goals is potent stuff. When this winning coalition goes into cahoots, the politicians smile. One group offers moral cover for actions that put cash in the hip pockets of another politically-important interest group. So how has this played out in attempts to get taxes imposed on sweet drinks?

The “Baptist” part of the story is clear cut. Long-time support for such excise taxes comes from the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the NAACP. These and other organizations see sweet drinks as a major detriment to American health and well-being that feeds our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates.

And, of course, there was the prominent attempt by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to impose sugary drink strictures. Though he failed to limit consumption in New York City when mayor, he nonetheless passed along $600,000 of his personal wealth to support Berkeley’s sugary-drink tax proposal. 

But where are the bootleggers? If we probe a wee bit deeper, we may discover why there is no bootlegger/Baptist success story for taxing away sugary drink consumption. Bootleggers are generally associated with producing substitutes for the highly-taxed or regulated item. For example, U.S. producers of natural gas love it when the Environmental Protection Agency places heavy restrictions on coal-burning power plants.

But in this case, the producers …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Some Perspective on What We Have to Be Thankful For

November 27, 2014 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

Of the original 102 Pilgrims who arrived in North America aboard the Mayflower in the fall of 1620, only about half survived to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, in November 1621. The rest perished through starvation and lack of shelter. The survivors gave thanks to God for a plentiful harvest. And good local harvests were vital, for in a world without global commodity markets or effective transport and communications, food shortages often meant starvation.

Today, most Americans are concerned with eating too much rather than too little. That fact is all the more remarkable considering that between 1600 and 2013 the population of what would later become the United States rose 21,000%, while the proportion of Americans employed in agriculture decreased at least 98%.

Contemporary Americans live longer, healthier, richer and safer lives than at any other period in history. In fact, an ordinary person today lives better than most kings of yesteryear.

To appreciate the astonishing improvements in the standards of living of ordinary people, consider the life of the 17th century’s grandest figure, Louis XIV. The Sun King ruled France and Navarre between 1643 and 1715. During his life, Louis became synonymous with wealth and power. His Versailles palace had 2,000 windows, 700 rooms, 1,250 chimneys and 67 staircases and cost, at a minimum, $3.2 billion in today’s dollars.

Yet here was a man who almost died of smallpox when he was 9 years old and lost nearly all of his legitimate heirs — his son, a grandson and a great-grandson — along with his younger brother, another grandson and a great-grandson, to smallpox. Eventually, he was succeeded by his second great-grandson, who became Louis XV and died (you guessed it) of smallpox.

In America, smallpox is usually associated with the decimation of Native Americans, but Europeans were not immune to the disease. As late as the 18th century, for example, smallpox killed about 400,000 Europeans annually. The overall mortality rate was 20% to 60%. Among infants, it was more than 80% and was one of the reasons for the low overall life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. The disease was eradicated in 1980. Today, we don’t think of smallpox any more than we think of the bubonic plague, which, in five short years, killed almost one-third of all Europeans in the 14th century.

One outcome of that epidemic was to make the Europeans suspicious of bathing. According to some medical experts …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Anonymous Dumps KKK Leader’s Personal Info Online in Ongoing Ferguson Dispute

November 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

The group also reportedly dumped Officer Darren Wilson’s personal information online.


The online hacker collective Anonymous dumped a trove of personal informationonline belonging to alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The “hacktivist” group claims to have taken control this week of the @KuKluxKlanUSATwitter account in an ongoing dispute between the two groups over Wilson’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen and the resulting protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The group also threatened in a new video to shut down government websites in Missouri to protest the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A tweet posted Tuesday evening to that account included links to two Pastebin documents that contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, social media account information, credit card and banking information, and other detailed personal data for Frank Ancona, grand wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and his alleged associates.“We find it disturbing that you, the grand jury, have chose this path as everyone will not choose to stand calm and let you choose to let him walk free,” the group said in a video posted online Tuesday. “As you’ve seen all the riots and businesses, police cars, etc., being burned down while Anonymous shall target any Missouri government or bank sites now, so you better increase your security because we’re here and we’re not going to stand by and watch you let this man walk free.”

“We’ll just leave this here,” the post said, along with links to two documents.

Ancona’s group distributed leaflets warning they would use “lethal force” against protesters after the grand jury decision, and Anonymous warned Klan members and police they would retaliate if protesters’ rights were violated.

Anonymous claimed to have hacked Ancona’s social media and PayPal accounts and disconnected his phone and electricity services.

The pastor of a church where Michael Brown’s father was baptized over the weekend said he believes white supremacists, not protesters, burned down Flood Christian Church overnight Monday.

“I’m very vocal in regards to the Michael Brown case,” <a target=_blank …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Books, Heartbreak, and Alcohol Drama (The Boredom—Week 1, Part 1)

November 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster