The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 1, 2014: Time Check

With a week to go until the unnecessary onset of Daylight Savings Time (we’ll talk about that next Saturday), it may have crossed your mind to wonder just how your smart phone knows what time it is. After all, it probably came out of the package knowing the time and date, and you didn’t do that. (I don’t know how they look when you get them, because I don’t own a smart phone, or anything like it, and likely never will.) Dr. Demetrios Matsakis, Chief Scientist for United States Naval Observatory’s Time Services, explains how in this fascinating video.

None of this would be possible, of course, if not for Science, the vigorously-tested, well-documented study of how things work, and how they can theoretically be made to work better. Without a strong foundation in Science, Humanity cannot face the problems our planet, and our species, will endure. The overall average temperature of the planet is slowly rising. Most of the ten hottest years on record have been within the last ten years. This is undeniable. It is also undeniable that human activity (specifically, but not limited to, the excessive burning of fossil fuels) is a contributing factor to this very real warming trend. Those of you out there who’ve been paying attention understand the ripple effect a warming atmosphere has on the climate, and how it changes the weather to certain parts of the globe. It’s a problem all of Humanity must face, not just Americans. But the United States must be a leader in confronting these facts. The climate is changing, and denying that this is so is not being a part of the solution, it’s being an asshole.

So it doesn’t help that the Republicans have make a mockery of Science by appointing to the Science Committees in both Houses people who do not believe in Science. One of them, Dr. Paul Broun, an alleged doctor, and a potential future Senator, once called Evolution (among other things), “…lies straight from the pit of Hell.” Senator James Inhofe thankfully doesn’t sit on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, but he does sit on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, from which he published his own argument that while the climate is indeed changing, as it often has, he says

Today, even saying there is scientific disagreement over global warming is itself controversial. But anyone who pays even cursory attention to the issue understands that scientists vigorously disagree over whether human activities are responsible for global warming, or whether those activities will precipitate apocalyptic natural
disasters.

In all fairness, it should be noted that he receives a lot of campaign financing from the oil and gas industry, just in case you thought his opinion was arrived at intellectually. He’s also one of those folks who think that humans couldn’t possibly be destroying the planet because God promised us after the Great Flood that he wouldn’t destroy the planet again. He doesn’t seem to understand that humans can destroy the planet without the help of any gods.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you want.

The Watering Hole: Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Will We See The Next Frankenstorm Coming?

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a possibility of a storm even worse than the Perfect Storm of 1991 hitting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast next week. Dubbed a “Frankenstorm”, it could be the result of a huge hurricane striking the coast at the same time a cold front moves in from across the country. And while weather prediction is still not a perfect science, our satellites have made it possible to see and track massive storms like Hurricane Sandy. But there’s a very real danger that we could have to spend a year or more without this satellite coverage.

The fleet of weather satellites in service is at or past their life expectancy already. Unfortunately, due to mismanagement and bad planning, the launch of the next set of replacements satellites may not happen until 2017. We could be facing a one-year-or-longer gap in the kind of critical satellite coverage needed to save lives. If another huge hurricane forms and threatens to meet another massive cold front, we may not see it coming. And it’s no comfort to think that the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology could still be controlled by ignorant, Science-hating Republicans. The truly sad part is that distrust in Science is not limited to the less-educated conservatives. Even conservatives with college degrees don’t trust Science.

Every four years they say that this election is the most important one of your life, and that’s become more and more valid in recent years. The Republican Party, in its never-ending quest to deny Reality, actually appoints people to the House Science Committee who have no business opening their pie holes on the subject of Science, let alone making law on it. People like Rep Todd Akin, famous for giving us the current term “legitimate rape” (and who is still being given money by right-wing groups) and for publicly denying that Evolution is real, and Rep Paul Broun, a physician(!), who called Evolution, Embryology and the Big Bang Theory “lies straight from the pit of hell.” And they’re not the only ones. These are not people who see the value in Science, so why are they allowed to make legislation regarding it?

If our nation’s great experiment in Democracy is going to work, if we truly want to be a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, we have to vote out people who do nothing to make that happen. These Republicans are a joke, and they should be on the unemployment line not getting the benefits they always vote to cut. I urge everyone to vote and to vote for your own best interests for a change. And your best interests are served by showing the GOP the door.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the upcoming storm, the ignorant Republicans, or any other topic you wish.

[Cross posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain]

The Watering Hole – Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Republican Denial of Reality

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA) is member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. At a recent banquet in Georgia, Rep. Broun had this to say: [WARNING: The following transcript and video may precipitate an episode of irritable bowel syndrome.]

From Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) remarks at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia:

BROUN: God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Rep W. Todd Akin (R-MO), a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), is another member of this committee. Rep. Akin rose to national attention when he brought the phrase “legitimate rape” into the political conversation. One could call it a public service since it helped bring attention to the well-documented Republican War on Women. [In Arizona, Gov Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that could declare a women pregnant before she even had intercourse.]

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) refuses to believe that man-made Global Warming is happening. He prefers to think that solar flares are contributing more to the problem than Man.

This is just a sampling of the way Republicans approach their Constitutional responsibilities to govern. They choose people to write legislation on topics they deny need regulating, in order to to solve critical life-threatening problems they deny exist. They refuse to accept the facts as proven by scientists and prefer to write scientific legislation based on their Biblical beliefs. These people are, by definition, unqualified to sit on any committee with the word “Science” in its name. Until the Republican Party begins choosing qualified people to sit on committees overseeing various areas of our lives, they should have no voice on any legislation writing body. They can vote against the bills when they come to a floor vote, but they should be the authors of none of them.

This is our Daily Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this or any other topic you’d like to bring up. It’s okay. We’re open-minded people here. 🙂

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]