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This Day In History

Recovering from Thanksgiving overeating festival — so posting is late and will be short today.

Today is “National Pins and Needles Day” — it was originally a publicity gag for a Broadway show — “Pins and Needles” back in 1937. Today it is more generic as a day of excitement and anticipation. Something’s coming…, coming soon…, what will it be?

On this day in 43 BC Octavian, Lepidus, and Antony form the Second Triumvirate in Rome. This is traditionally considered to mark the end of the Roman Republic. The three men had been strong supporters of Julius Caesar and after his death two years earlier they had joined forces to hunt down and kill his assassins. To cement their alliance and to prevent future conflict they agreed to share the rule of Rome after the assassins were dead. Brutus and Cassius were killed in two battles at Phillipi in 42 BC, other republicans were hunted down and murdered, and for ten years thereafter the triumvirs ruled Rome as absolute dictators, dividing the empire among themselves. The whole thing eventually fell apart because Octavian and Anthony were bitter enemies, each determined to eliminate the other. In the end Octavian won the power struggle and emerged as the supreme power in Rome. HBO’s series “Rome” presented a highly fictionalized and entertaining account of these events as seen by some men in the ranks.

And on this day in 511 Clovis, King of the Franks, died. He was the first leader to unite all of the Frankish tribes under his rule and under his command the Franks conquered most of Gaul. He also introduced Christianity in his realm. His achievements shaped the course of Western European history for centuries to come.

And on this day in 1966 the Washington Redskins defeated the New York Giants. The score? 72-41. Wow!

Entering the building:

Charles A. Beard [1874], the greatest of America’s “Progressive” historians.

Jimi Hendrix [1942] rock guitarist.

Leaving the building:

Baby Face Nelson [1934], taken down by the FBI.

Eugene O’Neill [1953], “Ah Wilderness!”

November 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm Comments (0)

RIP Al Alberts

Longtime Philadelphia media fixture Al Alberts died Friday at his home in Florida. He hosted a local childrens talent show for 32 years, and retired in 2000.

November 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm Comments (0)

A new name for health care reform

I’ve been listening to some of the debate regarding the health care bills going through Congress (all that I can stomache anyway)  The most recent debate has been on how they’ll pay for the bill should it become law.  There’s been ideas floated about that would include a 1% income tax on anyone earning over $30,000 a year, another idea that supposedly would shift the tax burden to the upper income levels, etc.

Then it dawned on me, the reason why this health care debate hasn’t been completed so far is that it really doesn’t have a snazzy name.  Remember when Bush was in office the education reform measure went by “No Child Left Behind.”  We’ve had a “War on Terror.”  Well, if the Adminstration wants to get this thing done soon, before everyone bolts on it, they need to come up with a catchy name.

And to get the ball started, I’ll do my part and offer my own suggestion.  This suggestion kind of sums up all the debate I’ve heard so far.  Let me know what you think:

No Dollar Left Behind.

November 27, 2009 at 1:00 pm Comments (0)

Matthews & Hoeffel: Spinning the Ethics Defeat

On the topic of the Montgomery County ethics ordinance preventing certain officials from running for political office.

The Intelligencer:

Hoeffel, the driving force behind the enactment of the legislation, repeatedly has maintained that no one department was the target of the legislation. However, in support of the legislation, Hoeffel has cited what he has claimed was inappropriate political activity in the district attorney’s office, particularly when Castor served as district attorney.

Following Nicholas’ ruling, Hoeffel said, “We need more ethics and less politics in the Montgomery County courthouse. This ethics policy was a good faith attempt to achieve that.”

He noted that the ban on political activity still remains for employees directly under the commissioners’ supervision. These employees range from the administration’s own employees such as the chief and deputy operating officers and members of the county solicitor’s office to members and certain employees in the assessment appeals board to the purchasing director.

“So we got court approval for most of our employees subject to the resolution,” said Hoeffel. “It’s a good day, not a bad day.”

No, Mr Hoeffel. You didn’t get approval for the other offices. I imagine they will be suing you too. That’s not even a sincere attempt at spin. That’s just outright deceit.

Better yet is Chairman Matthews explanation.

Matthews said that one of the major reasons he worked to include the district attorney’s office in the ethics legislation was to get back at Castor, his former running mate, because of Castor’s attempt to use the same legislation to go after his friends in county government. This would include long time Matthews ally, county Solicitor Barry M. Miller who worked on various Matthews political campaigns.

“I wanted him (Castor) to hurt, to feel the pain,” said Matthews. “He (Castor) was directing all his efforts at my friends so they could not be in politics, so I figured we could throw in the DA’s office and see if he likes that.”

Everyone together now….. awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…….

Commissioners Matthews and Hoeffel should really get on the same page on this ordinance. If only for the history books. Hoeffel says no one was targetted, except you know that Castor fella….. and Matthews says, no it was definitely Castor.

…. and so much for Hoeffel’s “win.”

Matthews said he will seek the repeal of the ethics legislation now that Nicholas has ruled that it does not apply to the personnel in the row offices, claiming it is not fair to other employees to have restrictions while row office employees have none.

November 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm Comments (0)

PSU’s Mann: Climate Enforcer

That’s a pretty nice climate you have there…. it’d be a shame is something happened to it.

This past September, [Penn State's Michael] Mann told a New York Times reporter in one of the leaked emails that: “Those such as [Stephen] McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted.” Mr. McIntyre is a retired Canadian businessman who fact-checks the findings of climate scientists and often publishes the mistakes he finds—including some in Mr. Mann’s work—on his Web site, Climateaudit.org. He holds the rare distinction of having forced Mr. Mann to publish a correction to one of his more-famous papers.

As anonymous reviewers of choice for certain journals, Mr. Mann & Co. had considerable power to enforce the consensus, but it was not absolute, as they discovered in 2003. Mr. Mann noted to several colleagues in an email from March 2003, when the journal “Climate Research” published a paper not to Mr. Mann’s liking, that “This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the ‘peer-reviewed literature’. Obviously, they found a solution to that—take over a journal!”

The scare quotes around “peer-reviewed literature,” by the way, are Mr. Mann’s. He went on in the email to suggest that the journal itself be blackballed: “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board.” In other words, keep dissent out of the respected journals. When that fails, re-define what constitutes a respected journal to exclude any that publish inconvenient views. It’s easy to manufacture a scientific consensus when you get to decide what counts as science.

Scientists ought to welcome criticism, as that is the basis for forming a more correct understanding of reality.

November 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm Comments (0)

Green Group: Pa Is Awful

Fifth worst in the country!

An environmental group claims new data indicates that Pennsylvania’s coal-fired power plants are among the “oldest and dirtiest” in the country, and are among the biggest contributors to global warming.

Coal is the dirtiest of all fuels, according to PennEnvironment’s Nathan Wilcox, and Pennsylvania ranks fifth nationwide for the most carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.

… wrote Nathan Wilcox on his computer, bathed in a mixture of florescent and incandescant lighting, in his comfortably warmed office…. which he works at because he drove there in his gasoline powered vehicle…. constructed from steel which came from open pit mines in third world countries.

He says coal plants dominate Pennsylvania’s electricity supply, yet they do not have to meet any global warming pollution standard:

“So advancing wind energy and solar power is great, but if you still have these oldest plants that are allowed to pollute at the same levels they have for decades, we’re not going to be able to get to the pollution reductions that scientists are calling for.”

The “scientists” that are fudging the data to provide excuses for do-gooding neo-fascists like you and the environmental movement to tell us how to better live our lives?

Those same scientists?

November 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm Comments (0)

Thanksgiving Traditions

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, your crazy uncle.

Swordplay.

A black western Pennsylvanian has been charged with attempted homicide for using an 18-inch sword to stab a drunk white man who yelled racial slurs at his own dog and the suspect.

Forty-four-year-old Vernon Bridges, of Ambridge, allegedly stabbed 48-year-old Ronald Book with an 18-inch blade concealed in a cane on Thanksgiving. Police say the blade went in Book’s abdomen and came out his back.

November 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm Comments (0)

Global Warming Fallout Continues

Drudge has several good links up regarding the recently leaked data from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit in the UK. “Climategate”, as it is predictably being called, is continuing to gain momentum and may well put the final nail in the coffin of global warming hysteria.

For those of you who don’t know, I am an environmental engineer by trade, and my specialty is air pollution control. I have long been a skeptic of anthropogenic global warming, and it has nothing to do with my political views. The problem has been the scientific method which the global warming industry has been built upon. Science is supposed to be a transparent process where theses, methods, results, and conclusions can be tested, challenged, and revised in the pursuit of the truth. Climate science has been anything but that. Alternative theories to global warming have been dismissed, critics have been ostracized from the debate, and analytical methods have been shrouded in secrecy. Furthermore, the conclusions of climate researchers have been processed and disseminated through political channels like the UN rather than through scientific channels such as reputable peer-reviewed journals.

Perhaps most unsettling to me, though, is the mantra that “the science is settled” and that scientists have reached a “consensus” about global warming which dare not be questioned. That attitude moves climate research from the realm of science to the realm of faith. Add to that the insistence of politicians that we must do something NOW! NOW! NOW! or D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R will strike and all the alarm bells go off.

Hindsight is 20/20, so when the dust settles it will be tempting to say that we should have seen global warming for the hoax it was and, but for a little common sense, we would have. That’s not all there is, though. The sad fact is that people have lost the ability to think critically. They accept rather than question. I suspect that’s due in part to an educational system that doesn’t encourage critical thought, extreme informational overload, and general scientific illiteracy. Short of a complete retooling of our educational system, I don’t know how we can fix that. I do know, however, that if global warming dies the death it deserves, we will have dodged a bullet. In the meantime, we can use this scandal as learning opportunity. When the next manufactured crisis comes along we can ask the right questions and hold the right people accountable and end the insanity before it ever begins.

November 27, 2009 at 11:55 am Comment (1)

Things Supposedly Caused by Global Warming

A partial list:

Acne, agricultural land increase, Afghan poppies destroyed, poppies more potent, Africa devastated, Africa in conflict, African aid threatened, African summer frost, aggressive weeds, Air France crash, air pressure changes, airport malaria, Agulhas current, Al Qaeda and Taliban Being Helped, Alaska reshaped, moves, allergy season longer, alligators in the Thames, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), anaphylactic reactions to bee stings, ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, animals shrink, Antarctic grass flourishes, Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, Antarctic sea life at risk, anxiety treatment, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic ice free, Arctic ice melt faster, Arctic lakes disappear, Arctic tundra to burn, Arctic warming (not), Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, Baghdad snow, Bahrain under water, bananas grow, barbarisation, beer and bread prices to soar, beer better, beer shortage, beer worse, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billion homeless, billions face risk, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird loss accelerating, bird strikes, bird visitors drop, birds confused, birds decline (Wales), birds driven north, birds face longer migrations, birds return early, birds shrink, bittern boom ends, blackbirds stop singing, blackbirds threatened, Black Hawk down, blood contaminated, blue mussels return, bluetongue, brain eating amoebae, brains shrink, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain one big city, Britain Siberian, British monsoon, brothels struggle, brown Ireland, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, carbon crimes, camel deaths, cancer deaths in England, cannibalism, caterpillar biomass shift, cave paintings threatened, childhood insomnia, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase, coast beauty spots lost, cockroach migration, coffee threatened, coffee berry borer, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), cold wave (India), computer models, conferences, conflict, conflict with Russia, consumers foot the bill, coral bleaching, coral fish suffer, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , coral reefs twilight, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, crabgrass menace, cradle of civilisation threatened, creatures move uphill, crime increase, crocodile sex, crops devastated, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, curriculum change, cyclones (Australia), danger to kid’s health, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, deadly virus outbreaks, death rate increase (US), deaths to reach 6 million, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, depression, desert advance, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, dig sites threatened, disappearance of coastal cities, disasters, diseases move north, dog disease, Dolomites collapse, dozen deadly diseasesor not, drought, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early marriages, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth axis tilt, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, earthquakes, earthquakes redux, El Niño intensification, end of the world as we know it, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, English villages lost, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, eutrophication, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, pikas, polar bears, possums, walrus, toads, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, mountain species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches, salamanders, tropical insects) experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, fainting, famine, farmers benefit, farmers go under, farm output boost, fashion disaster, fever, figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fires fanned in Nepal, fish bigger, fish catches drop, fish downsize, fish catches rise, fish deaf, fish get lost, fish head north, fish shrinking, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flames stoked, flesh eating disease, flies on Everest, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, flood of migrants,

Read the whole thing here.

HT: Jonah

November 27, 2009 at 6:55 am Comments (0)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!

November 26, 2009 at 1:25 pm Comments (0)

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