Sunday Roast: Glacial Lake Missoula

Photo by Zooey

I took this photo on my recent trip to Glacier National Park, having taken a detour down to the National Bison Range.  Over 13,000 years ago, this lush farmland was the site of a huge glacial lake; today we refer to it as Lake Missoula.

The lake was the result of an ice dam on the Clark Fork caused by the southern encroachment of a finger of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet into the Idaho Panhandle (at the present day location of Clark Fork, Idaho at the east end of Lake Pend Oreille). The height of the ice dam typically approached 610 metres (2,000 ft), flooding the valleys of western Montana approximately 320 kilometres (200 mi) eastward. It was the largest ice-dammed lake known to have occurred.

Approximately forty times over a 2000 year periodthe glacial ice dam ruptured, and the contents of Lake Missoula went screaming across the Idaho Panhandle, Eastern Washington (creating the Scablands), and the Columbia River Gorge.  You can see that the flood even reached my little corner of the world on the Snake River.

The cumulative effect of the floods was to excavate 210 cubic kilometres (50 cu mi) of loess, sediment and basalt from the channeled scablands of eastern Washington and to transport it downstream. These floods are noteworthy for producing canyons and other large geologic features through cataclysms rather than through more typical gradual processes.

If you drive across Eastern Washington, you’ll see that even today it looks like a virtual wasteland.  Being in the rain shadow of the Cascades has something to do with it, but the main culprit was flood after flood after flood scouring off the land.  It’s really quite fascinating to imagine the raw and determined power of WATER.

This is our daily open thread — Hey, you learned something new today!

75 thoughts on “Sunday Roast: Glacial Lake Missoula

    • According to this very simplistic tool, I’m about a quarter of an inch away from being completely “Very Liberal”. I’m WAY to the left of “Liberal Democrat.” I prefer Political Compass because it also measures your political beliefs on the Authoritarian/Libertarian scale. Rating the four views on a 0-10 scale, I tend to score around 8-8.5 on the Liberal/Libertarian scales.

      • In the recent flap of Mitt wanting to “defund” PBS I thought it had a bit of a sting to it because, I can’t envision any hardcore right wingers ever watching PBS much less taking a political leaning quiz.

        • You know, that went by rather quickly. Mr. Etch-a-Sketch will defund any program that he doesn’t want to borrow money from China to pay for. Kiss off everything except the military….

  1. In 2008, Focus on the Family penned (pdf in link) a “Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America.” Fred Clarke scores their predictions:

    “Focus on the Family made 34 specific, detailed predictions about what would happen in “Obama’s America.” They came up 0-for-34. Well, let’s be generous — we’ll give them half credit for prediction No. 10. That one correctly foresaw the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — but then also incorrectly predicted a host of disastrous consequences of that repeal. Obama did repeal DADT, but Christians have not been expelled from the military and the Pentagon isn’t paying “special bonuses” to LGBT recruits.”

    Some of their other predictions:

    “The Boy Scouts and private Christian schools were not forced to disband by the Supreme Court; adoption agencies remain in business; religious broadcasters still broadcast; churches are not being compelled to host gay weddings or to hire lesbian clergy; Christian tribal gatherings are still permitted “at the pole” in public high schools; the Pledge of Allegiance and private gun ownership have not been outlawed.”

    The whole purpose of this letter was to scare evangelicals out of voting for Obama at any cost. And today, they’re doing the same thing today, right Ralph Reed?

    But this is getting old. Leaders on the Right do this every election year. Every election is “the most important election of all time,” and every election year they warn that our freedoms as Americans are on the line. Every election year they predict catastrophe if they lose the election.

  2. I came across this quote on the Twitter:

    Albert Einstein On God And Religion

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this.

    “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

    “As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

  3. The NYT may be pay-walled for you so I’ll print Maureen Dowd’s entire column from today’s paper. Actually, it’s not Dowd writing, it’s Aaron Sorkin:

    Two Presidents, Smoking and Scheming

    AFTER the debate, I was talking to Aaron Sorkin, who was a little down. Or, as he put it, “nonverbal, shouting incoherently at a squirrel, angrier than when the Jets lost to the 49ers last Sunday without ever really being on the field.”

    Aaron was mollified when he learned that President Obama, realizing things were dire, privately sought the counsel of a former Democratic president known for throwing down in debates. I asked Aaron if he knew how the conversation between the two presidents had gone and, as it happened, he did. This is his account.

    The lights from the presidential motorcade illuminate a New Hampshire farmhouse at night in the sprawling New England landscape. JED BARTLET steps out onto his porch as the motorcade slows to a stop.

    BARTLET (calling out) Don’t even get out of the car!

    BARACK OBAMA (opening the door of his limo) Five minutes, that’s all I want.

    BARTLET Were you sleepy?

    OBAMA Jed —

    BARTLET Was that the problem? Had you just taken allergy medication? General anesthesia?

    OBAMA I had an off night.

    BARTLET What makes you say that? The fact that the Cheesecake Factory is preparing an ad campaign boasting that it served Romney his pre-debate meal? Law school graduates all over America are preparing to take the bar exam by going to the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory!

    OBAMA (following Bartlet inside) I can understand why you’re upset, Jed.

    BARTLET Did your staff let you know the debate was gonna be on television?

    OBAMA (looking in the other room) Is that Jeff Daniels?

    BARTLET That’s Will McAvoy, he just looks like Jeff Daniels.

    OBAMA Why’s he got Jim Lehrer in a hammerlock?

    BARTLET That’s called an Apache Persuasion Hold. McAvoy thinks it’s the responsibility of the moderator to expose — what are they called? — lies.

    WILL (shouting) Did Obama remove the work requirement from Welfare-to-Work?!

    LEHRER No!

    WILL And you didn’t want to ask Romney about that because? It would’ve been impolite?!

    BARTLET Let’s go in another room, Mr. President. You want a cigarette?

    OBAMA I stopped smoking.

    BARTLET Start again. (Leading the way into his study) I’m a father of daughters, you’re a father of daughters. It looked to me like right before you went on stage, Sasha told you she likes a boy in her class who has a tattoo.

    OBAMA That’s not what hap —

    BARTLET Here’s what you do. You invite the boy over for dinner, you have a couple of fellas from your detail brush their suit coats back just enough so the lad can see the .44 Magnums — problem solved. You have what every father of a daughter dreams of — an army and a good dog.

    OBAMA The girls are fine, that wasn’t the problem. In the debate prep we —

    BARTLET Whoa … there was prep?

    OBAMA (shouting) Enough! (taking a cigarette and lighting it) I appreciate that the view’s pretty good from the cheap seats. Gore chalked up my debate performance to the altitude. He debated at sea level — what was his excuse?

    BARTLET They told you to make sure you didn’t seem condescending, right? They told you, “First, do no harm,” and in your case that means don’t appear condescending, and you bought it. ’Cause for the American right, condescension is the worst crime you can commit.

    OBAMA What’s your suggestion?

    BARTLET Appear condescending. Now it comes naturally to me —

    OBAMA I know.

    BARTLET It’s a gift, but I’m likable and you’re likable enough. Thirty straight months of job growth — blown off. G.M. showing record profits — unmentioned. “Governor, would you still let Detroit go bankrupt as you urged us to do four years ago?” — unasked. (shouting) I’m talkin’ to you, too, Lehrer!

    WILL (in the other room) I got him, sir!

    BARTLET All right! (back to OBAMA) And that was quite a display of hard-nosed, fiscal conservatism when he slashed one one-hundredth of 1 percent from the federal budget by canceling “Sesame Street” and “Downton Abbey.” I think we’re halfway home. Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words: “Governor, you’re lying.” Let’s replay some of Wednesday night’s more jaw-dropping visits to the Land Where Facts Go to Die. “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale you’re talking about.”

    OBAMA The Tax Policy Center analysis of your proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax and other reductions, says it would be a $5 trillion tax cut.

    BARTLET In other words …

    OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.

    BARTLET “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.”

    OBAMA The American Enterprise Institute found my budget actually would reduce the share of taxes that each taxpayer pays to service the debt by $1,289.89 for taxpayers earning in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

    BARTLET Which is another way of saying …

    OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.

    BARTLET “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.”

    OBAMA The $716 billion I’ve cut is from the providers, not the beneficiaries. I think that’s a better idea than cutting the exact same $716 billion and replacing it with a gift certificate, which is what’s contained in the plan that’s named for your running mate.

    BARTLET “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.”

    OBAMA Not unless you’ve come up with a new plan since this afternoon.

    BARTLET “You doubled the deficit.”

    OBAMA When I took office in 2009, the deficit was 1.4 trillion. According to the C.B.O., the deficit for 2012 will be 1.1 trillion. Either you have the mathematics aptitude of a Shetland pony or, much more likely, you’re lying.

    BARTLET “All of the increase in natural gas has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.”

    OBAMA Maybe your difficulty is with the words “half” and “double.” Oil production on federal land is higher, not lower. And the oil and gas industry are currently sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill on government land that they’ve not yet begun developing.

    BARTLET “I think about half the green firms you’ve invested in have gone out of business.”

    OBAMA Yeah, your problem’s definitely with the word “half.” As of this moment there have been 26 recipients of loan guarantees — 23 of which are very much in business. What was Bain’s bankruptcy record again?

    BARTLET And finally?

    OBAMA Governor, if your ideas are the right ideas for our country, if you have a plan and it’s the best plan for our future, if your vision is the best vision for all of us and not 53 percent of us, why aren’t you able to make that case in the same ZIP code as the truth?

    BARTLET And?

    OBAMA Tell John Sununu anytime he wants to teach me how to be more American he knows my address for the next four years. He used to have an office there before he was fired.

    BARTLET You picked a bad night to have a bad night, that’s all. You’ve got two more chances to change the scoreboard, and Joe unplugged should be pretty good television too. Make Romney your cabana boy in New York.

    OBAMA Got it.

    BARTLET (taking the cigarette out of OBAMA’s hand and stubbing it out) These things’ll kill you. Pull McAvoy off Lehrer on your way out.

  4. Does God exist? Thus far, proof of God’s existence, through philosophy, boil down to existence by definition. God is perfect, it would be an imperfection to not exist, therefore God exists.

    Belief in God is non-rational, not irrational. Rationally, we know there are things in this Universe that we cannot perceive. We cannot explain the way charmed quarks behave, for example. We know what they do, but not how they do it – what is their connection?

    And, for me, it comes down to that. What is the connection we have with all that is? Is God the medium through which we connect? Is that as good a term as any other? Perhaps so.

    • I would argue that God does not really exist in the sense that he is often portrayed, as some kind of humanoid who created everything else that exists, including, apparently, the other Gods the Bible acknowledges exist. The more one redefines “God” to be some kind of abstract concept, the less God resembles what everyone thinks of as “God.”

      So, no, God does not exist. At least not in reality, only in people’s imaginations. But that may just be me.

      • Our ancient ancestors’ understanding of how the world works could only be explained in terms of their own experiences while trying to survive. Living with animals with physical abilities beyond their own, man survived because of human’s higher intelligence. Intelligence increased with the evolutionary growth of the brain and humans began seeking explanations for worldly events. Initially, with no scientific sense, human imagination was limited and people thought up all sorts of explanations for physical events like wind or lightning. Those explanations have evolved as human knowledge has increased and science entered the picture. Eventually, science will win out, but not without a fierce marketing effort from corporate religion seeking to retain it’s hand in our wallets.

        • And I can understand that, but why did we go from Polytheism to Monotheism? That seems to have been a step backwards. To me, considering how schizophrenic a single god would have to be to be the cause of everything that goes on, it makes much more sense to me that the various things going on in the world around us could be explained by a multitude of gods rather than just one. I would think it much more likely that people thought everything was the work on one god, then decided it made more sense that several gods were behind natural events, sometimes at cross purposes with each other.

          And Monotheism didn’t begin with Christianity, nor did it begin with the Hope of Salvation and Eternal Life. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the God of Abraham didn’t promise eternal life in Heaven upon our deaths. I believe Jewish people do not believe in Heaven, at least not in the same sense as Christians do. For them, “Heaven on Earth” was just a time when everybody would get along with each other.

          • I always thought Heaven was an invention of populit religions… “Yeah life really sucks doesn’t it, but if you join my cult, there’s this place you go to when you die and its cool its called Valhalla/Heaven/you get 72 virgins (did anyone ask the virgins if this was OK and qualifies as ‘heaven’ for them? Thought not)/ A planet to rule by yourself”

            Its just part of the mind control…

          • The move from Polytheism to Monotheism is very much like the corporate consolidation we see today. Control over the product being sold so customers feel comfortable consuming the product wherever they are, whether its Mass in Mississippi or Manitoba or a Heineken in Hanoi or Hartford. However, selling tokens of Patron Saints in the Catholic Church that may develop into revenue streams in niche markets provides their customers with approved idols and is not unlike corporate brands introducing associated products that enhance their customers’ experience. Things like the St. Christopher medal or statue in a car or the Harley-Davidson brand leathers to ride one’s Hog.

    • Whatever the thing is that we call our soul, the thing that is endowed with eternal life, existence beyond our physical life here on earth… what ever that thing is, God is the sum of all the individual souls. That is what makes us all the same, despite our physical differences. IMHO 🙂

    • Thanks Wayne. We are having guests for dinner tonight and we have to clean the house. I relayed this little joke to my wife and she says “Oh, you want to clean the house now?” I’d rather go for a walk so do you have any walking jokes?

    • In the post, there’s a link to a description of Annette Funicello’s MS and her current condition. Two weeks from tomorrow she’ll turn seventy, as will I.

      In re Romney, he’s the essence of greed, personified, and one of the most totally disgusting assholes alive today. He’s lucky that he and I will never be alone in the same room together. I’d bloody his freakin’ nose.

  5. The wailing and gnashing of teeth just continues. The Reichwhiners are outraged, outraged I say, because of the good job numbers and other economic news. As always, when reality doesn’t fit their narrative, they deny reality rather than change their narrative.

    If they turned the crazy knob up to 11 the moment President Obama was elected; where is it at now? About 115 or so?

  6. I think I just saw the biggest racing wreck ever. Last lap, Tony Stewart leading, Michael Waltrip behind him, Casey Mears pushes Waltrip into Stewart, turning him sideways in front of about thirty cars, four wide, and they all wadded up into the biggest mess I’ve seen!

    • Last lap,..

      Was there a leader that wasn’t in that ‘mess’?

      Do hope there were no serious injuries (other than to ego)!

      • Matt Kenseth was leading the outside line of cars and passed clear of the wreck to win. Jeff Gordon was second, as he was right behind Kenseth.

        • My mistake. The 29 Kevin Harvick was behind Kenseth. He wrecked too. I don’t even see where Gordon (24) came through.
          Several cars had the Susan G. Komen pink paint today. Doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to.
          As far as I know, all drivers were OK.

            • That’s right Wayne. They were on the last lap of a ‘green-white-checker’ finish, due to a one car spin with five laps to go. If they take the white flag under green, the race ends with the next flag, whether yellow or checkered. Kenseth was the leader as the caution flew for the wreck. A car must maintain at least the official caution speed to prevent others from passing it for position under caution. The rest of the cars were scored based on their order after having passed the last electronic scoring loop prior to the caution.being declared. It actually took some time for Nascar to determine the official finishing order of the cars that never made it to the finish line on the last lap.

              The France family owns both restrictor plate tracks, Daytona and Talladega, and could have ended this nonsense a few years ago when those tracks were resufaced, by lowering the banking so the unrestricted speeds would have been reduced, ending the need for restrictor plates.

              Hey, at least your mom’s guy, Gordon, finished second! I hope she was happy about that. It helped him in the points battle, because most of the other ‘Chase’ drivers were in the wreck.

            • Thanks, House. My mom went to a birthday party celebration for her SIL (who turns 80 soon) and she missed both the race and the Giants game. She came out to show me the standings and did not know about the last lap wreck. I played the above clip for her and she was happy that Jeff got through. She’s also happy that he moved up the Chase points, too. I admit I do not understand all those things as well as you and she do, I just know she’s happy when Jeff wins.

  7. So much for Romney’s claim of bipartisanship as Mass. Governor.

    Romney As Governor: 800 Vetoes And One Big Deal

    Romney clearly did not relish having to work with a Legislature that was 85 percent Democratic. He pushed hard during his first two years as governor to boost the number of Republicans on Beacon Hill. But that effort was a failure; Republicans ended up losing seats in the midterm elections.

    Romney gave up on party building. “From now on,” he told The Boston Globe, “it’s me-me-me.”

    Romney issued some 800 vetoes, and the Legislature overrode nearly all of them, sometimes unanimously.

    So they could have passed ‘Romneycare’ without him entirely? He was basically a placeholder!

  8. One of my favorite sites for checking the Electoral College predictions is Not only do they publish a map with the results of all polls factored in, they even have a special map that omits polling by Rasmussen, on account of Rasmussen’s undeniable Republican leaning and skewing.

    With the Rasmussen polls factored in, they have Obama with 319, Romney with 206, and 13 (VA) up for grabs. Without Rasmussen, they have Obama with 332, Romney with 191, and 15 (NC) up for grabs.

    Look, save yourselves some worrying come Election Night. The winner needs 270 electoral votes to win. Obama is a certain lock to win California (55), Oregon (7), Washington (12) and Hawaii (4). That’s 78 votes right there on the West Coast and beyond. So once you see him hit 192 once the polls close in the Midwest, you can go to bed confident that he’ll continue to be our president. (I know I will, except for the fact that Jane and I are taking the next day off so we can stay up and watch the House and Senate race results, too.)

    In the Northeast, he’s gonna win Maine (4), Vermont (3), Massachusetts (11), Rhode Island (4), Connecticut (7), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Pennsylvania (20), Delaware (3), Maryland (10), and DC (3). Throw in a very likely New Hampshire (4) and that’s another 112, bringing down the number he needs to 80.

    He’s going to win Illinois, so that’s another 20, and New Mexico (5), though that’s not Midwest, just a very strong Dem state, bringing the magic number down to 55. As of now, Minnesota (10) and Michigan (16) are likely Dem states and you;re down to 39 needed.

    The states listed as “barely Dem” are Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and Florida (29). North Carolina (15) has been going back and forth, and if you ignore Rasmussen (as we all should), Virginia (13) may be his, too. And he just has to get 39 among all of those to win.

    Romney can only count on 206 votes right now, and that’s if he holds onto Missouri (10) (despite Todd Akin) and North Carolina (15), which has been fluctuating. He’s behind in the other states i mentioned above.

    Winning Ohio alone won’t clinch it for Obama (so not likely to be a repeat of last election’s Great moment when Brit Hume broke the news to Karl Rove that Ohio went for Obama, and Karl’s evil mind started spinning trying to figure out how McCain could win), but Ohio-Florida does it, as does Ohio-Wisconsin-Colorado-Iowa, and even Wisconsin-Colorado-Iowa-North Carolina, plus a few more scenarios.

    Personally, I feel good about Obama;’s chances at winning re-election, but I am concerned about the Congress. A Republican-controlled Congress would be a disaster for the country, as nothing constructive would get done, the debt ceiling would be fought over many times, the Defense budget would continue to soar as Republicans would refuse to let it go down despite the wastefulness in much of the spending, and poor people may have to resort to eating their shoes to get by because they won’t raise the debt ceiling to borrow the money to spend on Defense.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now. [P.S. I’m going to post that above comment on my blog.]

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