Todd Akin, whose stupid comments about rape have practically destroyed his campaign, is receiving death threats to himself, his family, and his staff.

Modern political civility: Todd Akin, whose stupid comments about rape have practically destroyed his Senate campaign in Missouri, is receiving death threats against himself, his family, and his staff.

I don’t know if the threats are coming from either the left or the right. The left kind of wants Akin to stay in the race so that Claire McCaskill has a better shot at winning. Yet, the left has also been quite willing in recent years to express and even commit violence against their opponents. For these kinds of death threats to come from the left would not be unusual or surprising. The right meanwhile is furious at Akin, mostly because of the absolute stupidity and ignorance exhibited by his comments. It is likely that the comments will cost them an easy Senate win, which in turn might cost them control of the Senate. Yet, threats of violence from the right are rare.

Thus, it is hard to say what politics might be instigating these threats.

It really doesn’t matter. The threats are horrible, and are far worse than anything Todd Akin said. I hope the police find and arrest every single person who sent a threat.

Romney’s energy policy proposal announced today would redirect science funding towards basic research.

Mitt Romney’s energy policy proposal, announced today, would redirect science funding towards basic research, according to this mostly positive analysis from the generally liberal journal Science.

Personally I’d like to get the federal government out of all this. Let the private market decide where the money should be spent for research. Moreover, we still have that federal debt to pay off. Where will Romney get the money?

New ice core data from Antarctica suggests in the past 10,000 years temperatures have often been higher than today, and that the rise in temperatures during the past 100 years is also not unprecedented.

The uncertainty of science: New ice core data from Antarctica suggests that in the past 10,000 years temperatures have often been higher than today, and that the rise in temperatures during the past 100 years is also not unprecedented.

These results are actually not news. Climate scientists have known for decades that today’s climate is not unique, and that the Earth has gone through similar temperature fluctuations in the past. The results simply reconfirm this fact, and make any global warming claims to the contrary less believable.

More than 2,200 hospitals face penalties under Obamacare for how they decide to treat patients.

Finding out what’s in it: More than 2,200 hospitals face penalties under Obamacare for how they decide to treat patients.

Starting in October, Medicare will reduce reimbursements to hospitals with high 30-day readmission rates — which refers to patients who return within a month — by as much as 1 percent. The maximum penalty increases to 2 percent the following year and 3 percent in 2014. Doctors are concerned the penalty is unfair, since sometimes they have to accept patients more than once in a brief period of time but could be penalized for doing so — even for accepting seniors who are sick.

The penalties are bureaucratic and statistical in nature, and have no relationship to the actual treatment of patients. Thus, they illustrate in one bold sweep the idiocy of Obamacare and why it must be repealed.

In a paper published today in Science, astronomers show that Type 1a supernovae, the kind used to measure the expansion rate of the universe, can be caused in more than one way, something not previously expected.

The uncertainty of science: In a paper published today in Science, astronomers show that Type 1a supernovae, the kind used to measure the expansion rate of the universe, can be caused in more than one way, something not previously expected.

Andy Howell, second author on the study, said: “It is a total surprise to find that thermonuclear supernovae, which all seem so similar, come from different kinds of stars. It is like discovering that some humans evolved from ape-like ancestors, and others came from giraffes. How could they look so similar if they had such different origins?” Howell is the leader of the supernova group at LCOGT, and is an adjunct faculty member in physics at UCSB.

Recently, some studies have found that Type Ia supernovae are not perfect standard candles –– their brightness depends on the type of galaxy in which they were discovered. The reason is a mystery, but the finding that some Type Ia supernovae come from different progenitors would seem to suggest that the supernova’s ultimate brightness may be affected by whether or not it comes from a nova or a white dwarf merger.

“We don’t think this calls the presence of dark energy into question,” said Dilday. “But it does show that if we want to make progress understanding it, we need to understand supernovae better.”

A Virginia veteran who was arrested because of writings on Facebook has been ordered released by a judge.

A Virginia veteran who was arrested because of his writings on Facebook has been ordered released by a judge.

CBS 6 News’ Catie Beck said the judge dismissed the case Thursday against Brandon Raub. The judge said the original petition for Raub’s detention contained no facts. In other words, there was no information on why Raub was being held — and the judge deemed this violated his civil liberties. As a result, the judge ruled law enforcement has no grounds to hold Raub.

If I was this Marine, I sue everyone I could find for false arrest and a violation of his First Amendment rights.

A Connecticut gay man has pleaded guilty to sending hundreds of threatening letters, including death threats, to the director of a conservative organization opposed to same-sex marriage.

Leftwing civility: A Connecticut gay man has pleaded guilty to sending hundreds of threatening letters, including death threats, to the director of a conservative organization opposed to same-sex marriage.

Some quotes from his letters:
» Read more

Sunspots and climate

Scientists have found new evidence that the solar sunspot cycle has influenced the Earth’s climate in the recent past.

Sirocko and his colleagues found that between 1780 and 1963, the Rhine froze in multiple places fourteen different times. The sheer size of the river means it takes extremely cold temperatures to freeze over making freezing episodes a good proxy for very cold winters in the region, Sirocko said.

Mapping the freezing episodes against the solar activity’s 11-year cycle — a cycle of the Sun’s varying magnetic strength and thus total radiation output — Sirocko and his colleagues determined that ten of the fourteen freezes occurred during years when the Sun had minimal sunspots. Using statistical methods, the scientists calculated that there is a 99 percent chance that extremely cold Central European winters and low solar activity are inherently linked.

Also this:
» Read more

Police are preparing for significant violence at next week’s Republican convention in Tampa, based on threats by a number of leftwing groups.

Leftwing civility: Police are preparing for significant violence at next week’s Republican convention in Tampa, based on threats by a number of leftwing groups.

In related news, the man who entered the conservative Family Research Center with a gun and shot a security guard after announcing “I don’t like your politics” has been indicted.

A 5-year-old Oklahoma kindergarten student was banned from wearing a University of Michigan t-shirt because it violated a state law banning any apparel that didn’t support the state’s college teams.

Saving the day for freedom: A 5-year-old Oklahoma kindergarten student was banned from wearing a University of Michigan t-shirt because it violated a city ordinance banning any apparel that didn’t support the state’s college teams.

Update: I have corrected the post, as I initially called this a state law, which it is not. Thank you Blair.

Are the glaciers in the Himalayas shrinking? A third paper published today falls between one study that said no and another that said yes.

The uncertainty of science: Are the glaciers in the Himalayas shrinking? A third paper published today falls between one study that said no and another that said yes.

The new estimate raises further questions about satellite and field measurements of alpine glaciers, and ”will set the cat among the pigeons,” says Graham Cogley, a remote-sensing expert at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. … Although the ICESat results show twice as much ice loss as the re-interpreted GRACE data, this figure is still three times lower than regional losses estimated on the basis of field studies.

Of thee I sigh: Baby boomers bust.

P.J. O’Rourke: “Of thee I sigh: Baby boomers bust.”

My sad generation of baby boomers can be blamed. We were born into an America where material needs were fulfilled to a degree unprecedented in history. We were a demographic benison, cherished and taught to be self-cherishing. We were cosseted by a lush economy and spoiled by a society grown permissive in its fatigue with the strictures of depression and war. The child being father to the man, and necessity being the mother of invention, we wound up as the orphans of effort and ingenuity. And pleased to be so. Sixty-six years of us would be enough to take the starch out of any nation.

The baby boom was skeptical about America’s inventive triumphalism. We took a lot of it for granted: light bulb, telephone, television, telegraph, phonograph, photographic film, skyscraper, airplane, air conditioning, movies. Many of our country’s creations seemed boring and square: cotton gin, combine harvester, cash register, electric stove, dishwasher, can opener, clothes hanger, paper bag, toilet paper roll, ear muffs, mass-produced automobiles. Some we regarded as sinister: revolver, repeating rifle, machine gun, atomic bomb, electric chair, assembly line. And, ouch, those Salk vaccine polio shots hurt.

The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik caused a blip in chauvinistic tech enthusiasm among those of us who were in grade school at the time. But then we learned that the math and science excellence being urged upon us meant more long division and multiplying fractions.

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs were cool, but not as cool as the sex, drugs, and rock and roll we’d discovered in the meantime. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969, many of us had already been out in space for years, visiting all sorts of galaxies—in our own heads. And in our own heads was where my generation spent most of its time.

Read the whole thing. O’Rourke, in his witty style, captures the failure of my baby boom generation perfectly.

The Congressional Budget Office yesterday projected this year’s deficit will be $1.1 trillion dollars, making it the fourth year in a row that the deficit has broken the trillion dollar ceiling

The day of reckoning looms: The Congressional Budget Office yesterday projected this year’s deficit to be $1.1 trillion dollars, making it the fourth year in a row that the deficit has broken the trillion dollar ceiling.

In the entire history of the U.S. the deficit never exceeded one trillion dollars, until Barack Obama became president. In fact, it never came close until Obama arrived.

NASA scientists in a battle with astronomers over who gets to name things on Vesta and Mars.

A rose by any other name: NASA scientists are in a battle with astronomers over who gets to name things on Vesta and Mars.

This is not a new problem. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has maintained its power over naming everything in space since the 1960s, even though the IAU has sometimes ignored the wishes of the actual discoverers and explorers and given names to things that no one likes. For example, even though the Apollo 8 astronauts wanted to give certain unnamed features on the Moon specific names, the IAU refused to accept their choices, even though those astronauts were the first human beings to reach another world and see these features up close.

Eventually, the spacefarers of the future are going to tell the IAU where to go. And that will begin to happen when those spacefarers simply refuse to use the names the IAU assigns.

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