A cyber-penny for your thoughts.
Something about this New Yorker cartoon seems strangely apt….
A cyber-penny for your thoughts.
Something about this New Yorker cartoon seems strangely apt….
Notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is facing increasing fire over his office’s failure to adequately investigate hundreds of sex crimes, including dozens of alleged child molestations. Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has previously gone easy on the sheriff, joined the critics. While he stopped short of calling for Apraio’s resignation, in an interview with 3TV news in Phoenix, McCain said he was “outraged” and “astonished that there hasn’t been more outcry about the failure of these investigations.” Watch it:
This week, in separate moves, local Latino and black leaders called on Arpaio to resign. A Change.org petition for his resignation had received more than 19,000 signatures as of this publishing (sign it here), just two weeks after it was created.
McCain put out a statement earlier this month taking a much more circumspect stance, saying he was merely “concerned” with the report on the sex crimes, so today’s comments suggest the political winds may be turning against Arpaio.
The sheriff, who has made a dubious name for himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” for his hardline stance on undocumented immigrants, is also facing significant heat over a Department of Justice investigation, the results of which were released earlier this month, alleging that his department has systematically violated civil rights laws.
Nonetheless, presidential hopeful Rick Perry held a campaign event with Arpaio this week in Iowa. Perry has dodged most questions on the Department of Justice investigation or the sex crimes allegations, but a spokesperson told TPM, “Governor Perry knows Sheriff Arpaio as a dedicated law enforcement professional fighting to keep his neighbors safe in the wake of federal failures to secure the border and deal with border crime,” he added.
Santorum ‘Proud’ Of His Earmarks, Including Vote For The ‘Bridge To Nowhere’ | Earmarks has become despised by many voters, but at a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday, Rick Santorum defended his use of them during his 12 years in Congress. The former Pennsylvania senator said he was “proud” of his earmarks, explaining, “Go and look at the Constitution. Who has the responsibility to spend money? Clearly, in the Constitution it is the Congress.” While agreeing that the practice has been “abused,” Santorum even defended his vote for the so-called “bridge to nowhere” — a proposed bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to an island with 50 residents and the town’s airport. “You had a city that was separated from its airport,” Santorum explained.
The Atlantic Wire suggests that moviegoers are sick of Hollywood’s efforts to soak them by revisiting the same old concepts:
The numbers are in, and they show what studio execs likely feared and movie-goers likely suspected all along: Not a lot of people went to the movies this year. Box-office tracker Hollywood.com says that “an estimated 1.275 billion tickets sold” in 2011, a 4.8 percent decrease from 2010 making for “the smallest movie audience since 1995,” reports the AP. A hodgepodge of reasons for the sour showing were cited in the AP and ABC News reports. Among them: Too many sequels, too many kids movies, too many distracting gadgets, the bad economy, high ticket prices, and, something being called an “‘Avatar’ hangover” from 2010.
I’m not entirely convinced. Seven of the top-grossing movies in 2011 are sequels, and one, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is simultaneously a reboot of and a prequel to a popular franchise. The two that fall into neither category, Thor and Captain America, are part of Marvel’s grand Avengers product, and so while they were both handsome movies, are not exactly proof of Americans seeking out fresh concepts. You have to go all the way down to the 12th movie on the list, Bridesmaids, to find a feature that is wholly new, not based on a book, or unlinked to an existing project or franchise. Rio, Super 8, Rango, and Horrible Bosses are the only other movies in the top 20. Clearly, Hollywood’s having some real trouble selling original stories to American audiences, or for whatever, reason, finding original stories that it feels comfortable trying to sell.
The presence of Rio and Rango on that list also suggests that family movies aren’t completely the kiss of death—it’s that other movies weren’t catching hold with the teen and adult audiences in a way that would have pushed those family films further down the list. It makes sense that terrible kids’ movies like Mars Needs Moms would flop, and it’s always nice to see the market recognize stupidity when it sees it as happened there. But it’s really too bad to see a terrific family film like Hugo struggling to make back its production costs: the movie took $155 million to make, and thus far has hauled in just north of $45 million, and I wonder if a lot of that is because people are so sick of paying extra for 3D movies that aren’t particularly worth it that they’re turning away from a movie where 3D is used to brilliant, lovely effect.
It would be nice to believe that the two-year box office slump we’re seeing has an easily diagnosable cause, that studios could just sit up and say “Huh, audiences aren’t loving 3D. Let’s ditch the glasses and everyone will come back.” But there seems like a failure to connect on a more fundamental level. I don’t know that the formula for something like Fast Five is easy to distill and make use of in original features, though I will always take more movies with multiracial casts in which Dwanye Johnson acts somewhat hyperreal. And I don’t know what the best way to get audiences in theaters for some great movies that just went so wholly overlooked, like A Better Life. What Hollywood—and those of us in the seats need isn’t necessarily more blockbusters. It’s more deeply compelling mid-budget, mid-gross flicks.
by Andrew Freedman, Alyson Kenward and Mike Lemonick, cross-posted from Climate Central
Texas, Alabama and Missouri topped the list of states hardest hit by the unrelenting assault of extreme weather in 2011.
Severe weather across much of the nation has raised the question of whether global warming has already begun to influence shorter-term weather patterns, and the specter of even more extreme years to come as global temperatures continue to rise.
According to climate studies, the short answer is yes: the new climate environment created by global warming is more conducive to some extreme events, particularly heat waves and heavy precipitation events: these are now more likely to occur and be more intense when they do take place. Climate models have more difficulty predicting how climate change may be influencing other types of extremes, such as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but a warming climate provides more fuel to these events in the form of increased water vapor and heat in the atmosphere.
And those extreme events — searing heat waves, parching drought, deadly tornadoes, blizzards and floods — cost billions of dollars in damage, affected millions of lives and tragically, killed more than a thousand people across the U.S.
By some measures, 2011 was the most extreme year for the U.S. since reliable record-keeping began in the 19thcentury — and the costs have been enormous: according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 set a record for the most billion dollar disasters in a single year. There were 12, breaking the old record of nine set in 2009. The aggregate damage from these 12 events totals at least $52 billion, NOAA found.
While extreme weather knows no boundaries, and the impact of those events was felt coast to coast, Climate Central looked at the number of extreme events that affected each state to determine the 10 states that were clobbered the worst. According to Climate Central’s analysis, Texas tops that list of hardest hit, with a costly — and deadly — combination of intense drought, a punishing heat wave, the worst wildfires in state history, and plenty of tornadoes. Rounding out the top 10 was Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey.
Climate Central’s analysis factored the death toll in each state, damage costs, the disruption caused to daily life, and how unusual the events were compared with what transpires in an average year.
But for these 10 states, little of what transpired was average as extreme weather rewrote the record books in 2011.
Gingrich Would ‘Look At’ Sarah Palin For Vice President Or Cabinet Job | GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who takes every opportunity possible to assure voters that he is the most serious candidate in the race, said he would be open to appointing Sarah Palin to a high level job in his administration. As Right Wing Watch reports, during a Wednesday night tele-town hall hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, a caller asked the former Speaker if he would consider Palin as a running mate. Gingrich responded that Palin “is certainly one of the people you would look at” and told the caller that he is “a great admirer of hers.” He also floated the idea of appointing her Secretary of Energy because, he said, “I can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin.” “Tell her that she would certainly be on the list of one of the people we would consider,” he added.
The year 2011 brought the most billion-dollar climate disasters to the United States ever, piling history-making events on top of each other to catastrophic results. The litany of disaster included a scorching drought that rivaled the Dust Bowl summer of 1936, a tornado season twice as bad as the great 1974 tornado outbreak, and flooding worse than the the great 1927 flood on the Mississippi River. This year of disaster was the result of the unlimited burning of fossil fuels, which has trapped increasing amounts of heat in the atmosphere, disrupting our climate system.
In an interview with PBS News Hour, Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters described the effect of the hundreds of billions of tons of global warming pollution as being like “steroids for the atmosphere,” intensifying extreme weather to unprecedented results:
We look at heat waves, droughts, and flooding events. They all tend to get increased when you have this extra energy in the atmosphere. I call it being on steroids for the atmosphere. Normally, you have the everyday ups and downs of the weather, but if you pack a little bit of extra punch in there, it’s like a baseball hitter who’s on steroids. You expect to see a big home run total maybe from this slugger, but if you add a little bit of extra oomph to his swing by putting him on steroids, now we can have an unprecedented season, a 70 home run season. And that’s the way I look at this year. We had an unprecedented weather year that I don’t think would have happened unless we had had an extra bit of energy in the atmosphere due to climate change and global warming.
Watch the program:
Nationwide, more than 6,000 heat records were broken this year. On average, the U.S. has three or four events every year that are considered major natural disasters. But, this year, there were at least fourteen billion-dollar disasters. Damages are expected to exceed $53 billion.
The Debunking Handbook is a guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky.
This is part five of a five-part series originally published at Skeptical Science.
Assuming you successfully negotiate the various backfire effects, what is the most effective way to debunk a myth? The challenge is that once misinformation gets into a person’s mind, it’s very difficult to remove. This is the case even when people remember and accept a correction.
This was demonstrated in an experiment in which people read a fictitious account of a warehouse fire.1,2,3 Mention was made of paint and gas cans along with explosions. Later in the story, it was clarified that paint and cans were not present at the fire. Even when people remembered and accepted this correction, they still cited the paint or cans when asked questions about the fire. When asked, “Why do you think there was so much smoke?”, people routinely invoked the oil paint despite having just acknowledged it as not being present.
When people hear misinformation, they build a mental model, with the myth providing an explanation. When the myth is debunked, a gap is left in their mental model. To deal with this dilemma, people prefer an incorrect model over an incomplete model. In the absence of a better explanation, they opt for the wrong explanation.4
Appearing in New Hampshire as a surrogate for his father, Matt Romney suggested to a group of voters that Mitt Romney would not release his tax returns until Barack Obama released “his grades and his birth certificate.”
Concord Patch has the video. Here’s a transcript:
Q: Will Romney eventually open his tax returns, so we can see what’s going on like most candidates will do and have done?
TAGG ROMNEY: We have no idea.
MATT ROMNEY: He has not said that he will not do it. He has also not said that he will. It’s a matter of time until that issue comes up because I think everyone has to get a chance to do that. So I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not sure he knows the answer to that. But he will do everything that he needs to do. He’s certainly not afraid of anything. Hiding anything. I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate and sort of a long list of things then maybe he’d do it.
Of course, responding to a cacphony of conspiracy theorists, Barack Obama has already released his birth certificate. Craig Romney can view it here.
Mitt Romney would be the first major party candidate since Watergate to refuse to release his taxes. He recently told MSNBC that “I don’t intend to release the tax returns. I don’t.”
This post initially misidentified which Romney son was speaking. It has been corrected.
Report: Romney Ran As Pro-Choice In 1994 Because Poll Showed ‘It Would Be Impossible For A Pro-Life Candidate To Win’ | In a new book, Boston journalist Roland Scott reports that Mitt Romney ran on a pro-choice platform in 1994 after “polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s former pollster whom Romney had hired for the ’94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts.” Romney is now trying to assure conservative voters he is pro-life, and has previously said his switch before running for the presidency was a moral revelation.