The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 8th: There’s Someplace Like Home?


Kepler-22-b - "Goldilocks" Planet? (Artist's rendering provided by NASA)

Nasa’s Kepler telescope, whose specific mission is to explore strange new worlds – er, uh, to seek out possible Earth-like planets, has already discovered more than 1000 new exoplanets (outside of our solar system.) One planet, which made news earlier this year, was dubbed “Tatooine”, as it revolves around twin suns. The Planet Habitability Laboratory has an online catalogue of such discoveries, and a current update now lists Kepler-22-b, featured as part of the First Kepler Scientific Conference.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the popular astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, had met the team of NASA scientists at Ames Research Center earlier this week. In an interview with The Weather Channel, Dr. Tyson stated that Kepler-22-b “is the first Earth-like planet in a Goldilocks zone around a sun-like star. This one hits a check in every box.” Exciting news, indeed. Unfortunately, Kepler-22-b is 600 light-years from Earth, and as Dr. Tyson says, “The fastest spacecraft we have ever launched would take 50,000 years to get to Kepler-22b.”  When asked in The Weather Channel interview, “Given the population explosion and impact on the environment, would inhabiting another planet give humankind a chance to start over?“, Dr. Tyson responded:

“After we mess up this planet go move to another one? If you had the power to move to another planet then you’ve got the power to fix your own planet. I’m much more in favor of thinking of other planets as a place to expand to, not a place to escape to because we’ve trashed Earth…don’t think of it as an escape hatch.”

Damn! I was really hoping that the science of cryogenics might advance enough within my lifetime that I could be frozen, then sent to Kepler-22-b and thawed in order to request political asylum from any ‘overlords’ there may be on this possible new home.

229 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 8th: There’s Someplace Like Home?

  1. Kepler 22-b is approximately 2.4 times the size of Earth. Hence any life would be significantly larger in size, to deal with the increased gravity. They too could be running out of resources, and might look upon an arriving ship full of colonists as just a delivery of frozen entrees.

  2. There is the possibility that the life forms on other planets may find humans tasty and that would certainly spoil any planet relocation plans by earthlings.

    I find the search for planets similar to our own fascinating. Finding places with the possibility of life throws a spammer into the Christian story of creation.

    • It’s all well and fine to imagine humans as being noble, intelligent and worthy, but the realities of other worlds could be quite different. Or disturbingly similar… 😉

  3. Good morning! I’ve been missing for a while (sick, crippled, busy) and have just read a lot of the stuff I missed. I’m sure glad Raven survived his very scary adventure. One comment, from Hooda, caught my interest:
    “This is the sad mantra. “I’m against all that scary socialist stuff until it is my ass on the line and I realize suddenly I am not part of the 1% and never will be.””
    This is how I see most of the ignorant righties. They’ve faced no real challenges in life, never had to really feel how vulnerable their safe little world is to things beyond their control, so they believe they’ve made superior choices to those who struggle. Feeling this way about them keeps me from wanting to strangle them.

  4. Always reach for your Douglas Adams at a time like this:

    I think we should take a leaf out of the Golgafrinchan’s book and prepare three great ships to journey the 50,000 years to Kepler 22b. Because you know ‘climate change’ (wink wink) is going to destroy our home and the human race:

    Ship 1: The 1% – minus Warren Buffet and George Soros (because if Bill O’Reilly hates him, he must be worth having on our team). They can have whichever 1/2 of the SCOTUS they want.
    Any remaining Gaddafis, Saudi Princes, and other dictator-bastards, their enablers and wannabes. And Ben Stein, because he’s an asshat. And Tony F***ing Blair. We’ll call this one the ‘St Ronald Raygun of Supplysiders’.

    Ship 2: The tea baggers, cultists and Christo-Falangists can go on the next one – all of them. Brown jump suits all round. No health care on board though, or K-12, or rural electrification, highways …. you know the drill – everything is pay-as-you-go, the oxygen and water too. We’ll call it the ‘Ayn Rand’.

    Ship 3: The rest of us will be on the last ship ‘to leave’ – snigger.

    We will of course stay, fix our planet, resolve our differences as we do so and usher in a New Age of Reason, presided over by the beautiful philosopher queen of our age: Elizabeth Warren (smooches babe, I know you’ve been writing, I’m still hot for you OK?).

    And then I woke up and Newt ‘Pus-Bubo’ Gingrich was on my TV….

      • Well I missed out the bit where Elizabeth saw me at her inauguration as World President and called to me and we fell into other’s arms and as I looked into her blue eyes, shining with intelligence, her lips turned to mine and I knew I would have to….

        Didn’t think that added to the vision, well it did for me…

    • Well, I dreamed I saw the silver
      Space ships flying
      In the yellow haze of the sun,
      There were bankers crying
      And dollars flying
      All around the chosen ones.

      Love ya, Neil!

    • And we insure them that the GPS guidance systems installed would be state of the art. And the latest galactic Rand McNally map book.

      • Put him in the second one – I think he will be eaten by the teabaggers when there Randian Utopia runs out of food.

  5. Y’all may have already seen this, if not it’s one of the weirder “war on christmas” battles. Loudoun county is a strange place. It has been reported locally that the young man responsible for the display is a christian whose point was that commercialism killed the message of Christmas. This has not stopped the fundies from declaring the display an attack on the christian religion.

    • Did you catch Thom Hartmann ripping that fundy a new asshole because his ‘American Families Whatever’ was endorsing companies who used ‘Merry Christmas’ and not ‘Happy Holidays’

      The fundy went off on his: “Well in the parable of the talents, the one who invests the money and makes a killing in the market is rewarded” Hartmann was like: “That’s what you get from that parable, that greed is good – is that how shallow you are?” And the dude was all “Ha ha ha, I’m so glad you care, Thom”.

      Hartmann finished with like: “And there you have it – he’s happy to be a blasphemer for the AFA this Christmas”

      • A couple years ago Eric Cantor was widely criticized for not sending out Christmas cards to his supporters. The fundies seemed unaware that Eric is jewish.

  6. Anyone who missed the first segment of last night’s Rachel Maddow Show should take a few minutes and watch it, particularly the part where Batshit suggests that Hezbollah and Cuba are joining hands and forces, and that one thing we don’t need is Hezbollah missile and weapons sites a mere ninety miles from our shores. Then Rachel quotes Jonathon Swift’s satirical proposal that the best use for poor children is for the rich to eat them.


  7. Something for the Turtle:

    Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren has jumped to a healthy lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race, according to the new University of Massachusetts-Lowell/Boston Herald poll.

    The numbers: Warren 49%, Brown 42%. In the previous survey from late September, Brown had a narrow lead of 41%-38%. The new survey was conducted from December 1-6, and has a ±5.3% margin of error.

  8. From TPM:

    At Wednesday’s Republican Jewish Coalition forum, the GOP candidates practically lined up to bash President Obama’s foreign policy, insinuating with various levels of subtlety that it amounted to appeasement.

    A reporter asked President Obama for his reaction to that at this morning’s press conference, and Obama had some fighting words:

    “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top Al-Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement… or whoever’s left out there.”

    Suck it, you GOP wankers.

  9. Senate blocks nominee to lead financial protection agency

    The Senate blocked confirmation on Thursday of Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general picked by President Obama to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

    Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they needed in a procedural vote to move forward with the nomination of Cordray. Senate Republicans had spoken against the nomination, reflecting their concerns about the creation of the bureau, which was established in last year’s Wall Street reform bill.

    Fifty-three senators voted for Cordray, while 45 — all Republicans — voted against ending debate on his nomination. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) voted for Cordray, and Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) voted present.

    RELATED: Cordray blocked, now what?

    “We have nominated somebody, Richard Cordray … who everybody says is highly qualified.” Obama said in a brief press conference in the White House briefing room. “This morning, Senate Republicans blocked his nomination, refusing to let the Senate even go forward with an up-or-down vote on Mr. Cordray. This makes absolutely no sense.”

    The president hinted that he would not rule out a recess appoint for Cordray to fill the vacancy at the bureau.

      • Problem is, Repubs are holding pro-forma sessions while on va-ca. Something they learned from the Democrats that had to do that when Bush was in power to prevent him recess appointing odious cronies into office.

    • Damn, I was about to post that. As I said to Wayne, ‘And these are the same motherfuckers who always said “The President should be allowed to choose his own Cabinet members”, and that the nominees “should be given a straight up-or-down vote.”’

  10. I just read that Tom Cruise is considering making another “Top Gun” movie as a sequel, perhaps?

    I suggest he could play an old senator from Arizona who crashed several jet planes while in the Navy and now yells “get off my lawn” in the Senate.

  11. Tweet of the Day:

    “Will someone one-up Romney and pledge to give their inaugural address FROM Israel?” — Chuck Todd, NBC.

  12. Hello everybody. I haven’t been missing just not commenting. You all are too smart and pretty much say it all and better before I can. Anyhoo, did anybody else receive requests from TP for donations. I’ve received two and the second said if I had any questions to contact Faiz. So I did and pointed out that I stopped commenting because of the FB link because FB has my personal info and that when they lost that link I’d donate again. Did anybody else get requests?

  13. I fucking hate bureaucracy!

    I need a statement of the unemployment benefits I received this year, and the stupid cow said I’d have to come into the office and she’d print it off for me. I told her I’m in Oregon now, and she started to say something like “sucks for you,” before I asked if she could email it to me — and suddenly I’m on hold for 10 minutes.

    • It’s ironic.
      The only way to communicate to bureaucrats is through registered mail.
      Had she received a registered letter, she would comply and zero human interaction would have been be required on her part which is probably her goal for the rest of her shallow career.
      Definitely not a “people” person and a textbook definition of bureaucrat

      Which takes me back to subject of the Post Office and how they perform a legal function that people love to overlook.

    • I’ve been going around and around with the good people at social security/ Medicare for weeks. All that they need is a printout from my pharmacy. i sent it in, then I got a notice that they were still waiting for it. They sent me a release of information form so that the pharmacy can send it to them direct, so i signed the form and gave it to the pharmacy and confirmed that they sent it out. Then i got another letter saying that the printout didn’t cover the most recent month, October at that point, but i checked with the pharmacy and they had included October. Then, about the middle of last month, I got a letter requesting that I send them my pharmacy records and the whole process started again. All I can figure is that they are going to someone who doesn’t really know what to do with the information so it ends up in a circular file. I’m waiting for the next notice at which point I will send it registered mail. I half expect it will be returned because no one is willing to take responsibility and sign for a registered letter. Sigh…

      • That is just maddening!

        Now I’m in touch with “legal.” All I need is a damn printout of the dates and amounts of unemployment I received this year. Apparently they can print it out and hand it to me in the office, but don’t seem able to email me the same damn document. They say, “You could be anyone.” I say, “Why would anyone want this information but ME?”

      • I’m still trying to get my mom’s last tax refund. I filed return with all proper paperwork. They corrected the return incorrectly and sent a big check (yes, you get a much bigger refund if they accidentally call your SS income capital gains). I straightened them out and returned check, which the IRS received. Then they needed all my executrix stuff (again) to process a new check even though they know they must have had it when they sent the first check. I sent it, now the matter is being “researched”. I wish I’d just cashed the mofo and sent my own check for the overage.

  14. Robert Parry’s ompelling takedown of the Newt:

    Is Gingrich Fit to Be President?


    . . . there is good reason for conservatives as well as all Americans to fear the prospect of a Gingrich presidency. One would have to go back to Richard Nixon to find an American president who had as strange a mix of personality flaws as Gingrich.

    Gingrich exceeds even Nixon in his megalomania, once explaining why he dodged military service in Vietnam (though a supporter of the war) by suggesting that he was too historically important to sacrifice himself as a mere soldier. “Part of the question I had to ask myself was what difference I would have made,” Gingrich told the Wall Street Journal in 1985. Instead, Gingrich saved himself so he could “save civilization.”

    Do conservative Republicans really want to put a person who bathes himself in such flattering light in charge of the most powerful nation on earth?

    Maureen Dowd wrote in a Dec. 4 column, “Out of Africa and Into Iowa,” that “Newt Gingrich’s mind is in love with itself. It has persuaded itself that it is brilliant when it is merely promiscuous. This is not a serious mind. Gingrich is not, to put it mildly, a systematic thinker.

    “His mind is a jumble, an amateurish mess lacking impulse control. He plays air guitar with ideas, producing air ideas. He ejaculates concepts, notions and theories that are as inconsistent as his behavior.”

  15. Slavery: Alive and Well in the US, Sponsored by ALEC
    Through cleverly worded ALEC sponsored bills, namely the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program and the Prison Industries Act, state, federal and private prisons can use prisoners to labor in many different jobs to bring in more money to support the prison and, in the case of private prisons, to increase the corporation’s bottom line.

    • I have mixed feelings on this one. An old friend of mine spent a couple years in prison and he used his time to learn the trade of masonry. He still ran into problems getting hired but finally found a boss willing to take a chance on him. Now he’s in business for himself and does, mostly, custom rock work using native stone. He does really beautiful work and employs, depending on work load, up to a dozen other people and seeks out ex cons to give them the chance he got.

      I think that there’s a place for using prisoners as labor but it should be voluntary, should teach a marketable skill, and they should be paid enough that they can have a few luxuries, pay any outstanding restitution, and maybe even have a little nest egg when they are released. Based on a very small sample, it seems like most inmates welcome a chance to do something productive rather than sitting in a concrete room and wallowing in anger. Turning prisons into sweat shops, on the other hand, is reprehensible.


  16. Juan Cole rips Gingrick:

    “Bolton is an irascible attorney who is horrible to his subordinates, makes Rod Blagojevich look like a paragon of truthfulness, played a role in inserting the notorious, forged “yellowcake uranium from Niger” assertion in George W. Bush’s pre-Iraq War State of the Union address, wants to bomb Iran so badly he sometimes just sits in an F-18 and imagines himself over Isfahan; and, worst of all, he has offered moral support to a terrorist organization, which the Supreme Court rather frowns on.”

  17. In the category, Well, Duh, yeah, we have this entry from MSNBC

    A controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas appears to be the cause of groundwater pollution in a central Wyoming town, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday
    In which one resident says:
    “We are grateful to the EPA for listening to our concerns and acting on them,” said John Fenton, chair of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens
    “This investigation proves the importance of having a federal agency that can protect people and the environment,” added Fenton, whose home is across from one drill site. .

    • Immunity to the drillers and oil field services people (so they don’t even have to disclose the crap they dump into the pipes that seem to be leaking in the water to what is left of the EPA.

      Brought to you by the oil and gas lobby backed by none other than one Dick Cheney, former congressman of ….. wait for it….. Wyoming.

      Your energy and environment correspondent, TtT, reported on the preliminary findings a few weeks ago – listing the host of nasty sh*t that the drillers were dumping in the hole. (buggered if I can find it now – anyone?).

      Jim Inhofe (R-Assclown) noted that the science was ‘political science’, ignoring the presence of manmade chemicals in the aquifer…..

      Oh what the heck:

      “Paging Senator Inhofe! Cock punch for Senator Inhofe, I have a cock punch here for Senator Inhofe!”

      • One of my former jobs was to monitor and report on a set of chemical ‘deep well injection’ systems. Waste which could not be dealt with on site was injected into salt domes from which oil had once been removed.

        The EPA and TNRCC were very interested in the data monitoring the wells. We would be under risk of citation if we did not report the min-by-min data every minute of the year for the instruments on surface and down hole. The well itself was a dual pipe annulus – the gunk went down the midadle, a clean water under pressure filled the outere annulus and the whole thing was encased in concrete down to the salt dome.

        The key measurement was that the differential pressure between the annulus and the centre pipe was positive – meaning that if there was a break in well integrity, the clean water would flush into the centre pipe rather than the nasty shit in the centre pipe escape into the annulus and possibly then to the outside.

        We had analyzers on the cleaning water to detect ppm of the nasty shit every 30 mins or so – had to report that too, along with flow rates, integrated volumes of fluid and so on.

        Any alarms and outages on the kit were also mine to log with the EPA/TNRCC.

        I don’t think these cowboys in Wyomnig are doing what we did 15 years ago…. let’s leave it at that.

    • Just goes to show you the Liz is a flop-er , first she is against the banking industry and then she’s fer em. This ad is on the forefront of reporting things that are yet to happen.

  18. Listening to the radio i have heard more about the shooting at Virginia Tech. Some Reichwing talker, I didn’t catch the name, apparently made the claim that more people carrying guns would have prevented it. I guess that no one told him the first victim was an armed police officer. If the Reichwhiners ever notice I fully expect that they will just shove the story down the memory hole because it doesn’t advance their mad agenda of vigilante justice.

    • Facts just get in the way…an armed officer doesn’t fit the “arm all citizens for defense” mantra thus it was either glossed over or never mentioned.

  19. i really hate Bill0. Now he says that Jon Stewart is going to Hell for mocking FAUX”News” and the insane “war on Christmas”. funny. to the best of my knowledge Mr. Stewart has never been accused of a sex crime and been forced to pay millions of dollars to make the charges go away. i would think that such a thing would be more likely to cause one to wind up in Hell than mocking the morons. And that doesn’t even include declaring a fatwa on George Tiller or devoting his life to inflaming the bigotry of stupid people. I don’t believe in Hell but I’m damned sure that a vile worm like Bill0 will not be granted an eternity of bliss when he finally stops fouling the earth with his presence.

    • Someone should tell Bill that this isn’t his decision to make and that the Big Guy Upstairs (aka ceiling cat) doesn’t approve of people putting words in his, er, mouth.

      Plus, comments like this point out what a ridiculous twit Bill is.

  20. I can imagine Billo being sentenced to spend eternity in a small room with screens top, bottom and all 4 sides, showing all of his TV broadcasts in no consecutive order, endlessly.
    With the volume at 11.

  21. Well, my old girl is on the slow decline to doggy heaven. Her kidneys are not operating at peak performance, and it will only get worse. I’m given the signs to watch for, in terms of suffering.

    On the upside, her coat is shiny and her heart is good. 🙂 I just need to find her a corpse to chew on, so her breath will smell fresher.

  22. Do you suppose BillyOdorous will put NZ on the list for his “War on Christmas”?

    nzhpoll 7900–7950 votes

    Does Christmas have any religious significance for you?

    Yes (41%)

    No (59%)

  23. Just to make sure that everyone gets the word. Bill0 battered a person with an umbrella and then lied, Lied, LIED to “the folks” and claimed that he was assaulted by a screaming person and shielded himself and an invisible “assistant” with said umbrella. Don’t believe a word of it! There was no one walking with Bill0. The guy didn’t “run up on him” or “scream” and he hit the guy hard enough to break the umbrella. Links to Bill0’s version of events and the actual video that proves that Bill0 is lying to his audience about committing a fuckin’ crime are posted above.

    Now? I have to go drink for a while to calm me down.

    • What can you shield yourself from with an umbrella? A butterfly maybe. He’s not even a good liar. He’s the one who should be arrested for battery…..

  24. I’m better now. The stupid little trolls are dutifully leaping to Bill0’s defense with claims that the video was “edited”. Their outrage is as sweet as Beckyboy’s tears.

      • The funny part is that, looking around the web, it appears that most sources friendly to Bill0 have either disabled comments or pulled the story. My guess is that more than a few people have pointed to the video that proves, beyond any smidgen of doubt, that bill0 lied his ass off. Normally I’m willing to give the devil his due and admit that Bill0 usually uses enough weasel words to make a claim that he isn’t lying but he really stepped in it this time. For tonight, at least, he reclaims the title of “most brazen liar on FAUX”News” from inSeannity. I shudder to think what the Hamster will do to get the trophy back.

        • You’d think BillyOdorous would know a thing or two about cameras and how they work…recording situation for replay later.
          The deliberate push with the umbrella was unmistakable.

          He’s a damn prima donna.

        • She’ll be pregnant again in just over a month or two…
          crazy is as crazy does.
          I recall reading “they don’t use birth control – leaving it all in gawd’s hands”

          • Margaret Sangar was 19 when her mother died of exhaustion after giving birth to 11 children. That’s why Sangar fought so hard for contraception. This Duggar woman, while I respect her right to choose how many children that she will have, what would happen to the children she leaves behind if she continues on the path that she is on?

            What is more alarming, is the behavior that she is modeling for her daughters.

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