No surprise

A thorough follow-up at Vanity Fair:

The pattern is inescapable: she takes disagreements personally, and swiftly deals vengeance on enemies, real or perceived.

Staff and Republican stalwarts are still shaking their heads over McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin.

Palin’s lack of aptitude in her new starring role as VP candidate became obvious quickly.

The friction between McCain and Palin was so intense that it carried over into election night…

…one close adviser to McCain “was heard to refer to Palin as ‘little shop of horrors’ during the campaign.

As Palin has piled misstep on top of misstep…

…they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be.

When she chooses to reveal herself, what she reveals is not always the same thing as the truth.

For a split second she stops, pauses, turns her head and shoulders just so, and smiles. She holds the pose until she’s sure the man has his shot and then moves on.

Lost Undersea Forest

Seagrass fixes as much carbon dioxide as tropical forests.

The University of Western Australia found that since 1980, 29% of seagrass has disappeared and the overall rate of loss has accelerated from 0.9% a year, before 1940, to 7% a year, since 1990.

Nutrients in sewage and run-off from agriculture and industry are the major cause of seagrass death, says Kendrick.

These nutrients trigger the growth of algae, plants and animals that grow above or on seagrass, and stop it from getting the sunlight it needs. [story]

Not Going Gently

Essay at Slate:

“These war metaphors, which pervade the coverage of celebrity cancer cases, perpetuate the false notion that survival is directly related to how hard the patient tries to live.” – Barron H. Lerner, M.D., Ph.D., and professor of medicine and public health at Columbia University

Reagan was wrong

Henry Fairlie said Republicans sowed their present-day destruction from the start.

When he arrived in America, he expected to find conservatives with similar beliefs. Instead he found the Republicans.

He described his kind of conservative as one who stands alongside “the King and the People, against the barons and the capitalists”.

“The conservative can all too easily drift into a morally bankrupt and intellectually shallow defense of those who have it made and those who are on the make”, he wrote.
“Narrow minded, book banning, truth censoring, mean spirited; ungenerous, envious, intolerant, afraid; chicken, bullying; trivially moral, falsely patriotic; family cheapening, flag cheapening, God cheapening; the common man, shallow, small, sanctimonious.”

Republican ‘booboisie’.

Scrotum wars

Evidence on domestic violence by women suggesting that it happens at an equal rate to domestic violence by men. “In 100 domestic violence situations approximately 40 cases involve violence by women against men.” [metafilter thread]

Our wealth as mere crops

None of these fellows have been patriot:

It was as if banks like Goldman were wrapping ribbons around watermelons, tossing them out 50-story windows and opening the phones for bids. In this game you were a winner only if you took your money out before the melon hit the pavement.

public radio blog

World’s oldest instrument found

Stone flute, world's oldest instrumentThis five-hole flute was meticulously carved with stone tools 35,000 years ago – the oldest musical instrument.

The area reveals flint tools used to chip the instruments, traces of bone and ivory, along with minerals, charcoal, blood and animal fats for cave painting.

“We can now conclude that music played an important role…”

Goldman Sachs, Paulson’s TARP

Pretty amazing isn’t it?

To have the world at risk of complete collapse, meltdown, how the U.S. taxpayer must pour trillions of their own money to put out the fire immediately, only 8 months later to have one institution report their biggest profits ever?

Audio trickery

This is silly but likely disturbingly true:

We humans prefer to be addressed in our right ear and are more likely to perform a task when we receive the request in our right ear rather than our left.

A series of three studies.

Bummers shorten life

Adults aged 65 years or older with self-reported depression had a 5-year mortality of 30.2% versus 19.7% in those without self-reported depression.

“I felt depressed”, a simple measure of depression, predicts mortality among cognitively intact community-dwelling older adults.

Bush Years Worst Ever

The RNC, McCain, and the superstitious denialists crowing about mystic markets, promoting corporate welfare and lazy government, used the 2008 election season to urge privatization of social security and medicare. Operated by listed firms, they said their ‘free market’ is the answer.

The S&P 500 is down 39.22% from Dec. 31, 1999 through Monday’s close, the worst decade ever.

Iran’s Bullet Fee

“The details of his death remain unclear. He had been alone. Neighbors and relatives think that he got trapped in the crossfire. He wasn’t politically active and hadn’t taken part in the turmoil that has rocked Iran for over a week, they said.

“Upon learning of his son’s death, the elder Mr. Alipour was told the family had to pay an equivalent of $3,000 as a ‘bullet fee’ — a fee for the bullet used by security forces — before taking the body back [from the government].”

Volcano blast seen from space

Volcano blast seen from spaceAstronauts on the Space Station took this photo of the initial blast of a volcanic eruption northeast of Japan.

The huge plume of ash and steam billowing skyward created a shock wave in the atmosphere.

The smooth white cloud on top may be water condensation that resulted from rapid rising and cooling of the air mass above the ash column.

The Great Recession

A comprehensive summary of world and U.S. economies:

…the world is currently undergoing an economic shock every bit as big as the Great Depression shock of 1929-30.

Looking just at the US leads one to overlook how alarming the current situation is even in comparison with 1929-30.

The good news, of course, is that the policy response is very different. The question now is whether that policy response will work.

John Mauldin

Not a single top executive of a Wall Street securities firm responsible for causing the financial crisis has had the courage or the decency to step forward in front of the cameras and explain to the American people in his own words exactly how and why he allowed his firm to cause the crisis.

Time will unvote?


An analysis of official statistics from Iran’s Interior Ministry by Britain’s Chatham House think-tank suggested that in the conservative Mazandaran and Yazd provinces, turnout was more than 100 percent.

It said that in a third of all provinces, official results would have required Ahmadinejad to take all former conservative, centrist and all new voters, and up to 44 percent of reformist voters, “despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.”

Members Defecting

Florida’s St. Petersburg Times is stepping out with a detailed report on Scientology. After posting the first chapter, buzz is abounding.

Scientology: The Truth Rundown
High-ranking defectors provide an unprecedented inside look at Scientology…

Scientology: ‘We’ll take care of her’
New details about the case of Lisa McPherson, who died in the care of Scientologists, from the executive who directed the Church of Scientology’s handling of the case.

Scientology: No Escape From Reality
Four high-ranking defectors describe bizarre behavior and physical beatings inflicted by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

The reporters interviewed the four defectors multiple times, and met with church spokesmen and lawyers for 25 hours.

Swine Flu to strike half the population?

Government officials in Britain admitted last night that illness rates from the swine flu virus could reach 50 per cent.

Based on this figure, the workforce could be reduced by 15-20 per cent at the pandemic’s peak. In the unlikely event that every school closed, this could rise to 35 per cent.”

As part of ongoing planning, the NHS is being asked to ensure that antiviral collection points could, if needed, be put into action in a week.”

Deflation is a “significant risk” as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the economy – putting back economic recovery by two years, says the report.

A $2.5 trillion cut in global GDP is a possibility – with a flu outbreak in the autumn hitting the world economy just as it starts to recover from the credit crunch.

Don’t blame the messenger.

Cool cars

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says car air conditioners account for seven billion gallons of gasoline, about six percent of the nation’s total yearly fuel consumption. Refrigerant leaks are responsible for 50 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year.