Waiting for Dark Knight Rises

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J was tired so we put her to bed while we are waiting in line. I've been excited about this movie for ages! Saw the first movie this afternoon in preparation.

Quantum Mitt

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When you confront him, he collapses into whichever state he thinks you want to hear.

Getting the Facts on the Latest Tree Ring Analysis

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‘Surprise: Fox News Fails Paleoclimatology’

For all the scientific illiterates who think the Nature paper contradicts climate change.

Yes, Please Move to Canada

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Just make sure you leave before the midterm elections.

Studying for comps

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via cl.ly

It goes something like this.

Commentary on the Republican Economy

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So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.

For some reason, however, neither the press nor Mr. Obama’s political team has done a very good job of exposing the con.

What do I mean by saying that this is already a Republican economy? Look first at total government spending — federal, state and local. Adjusted for population growth and inflation, such spending has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War.

How is that possible? Isn’t Mr. Obama a big spender? Actually, no; there was a brief burst of spending in late 2009 and early 2010 as the stimulus kicked in, but that boost is long behind us. Since then it has been all downhill. Cash-strapped state and local governments have laid off teachers, firefighters and police officers; meanwhile, unemployment benefits have been trailing off even though unemployment remains extremely high.

Over all, the picture for America in 2012 bears a stunning resemblance to the great mistake of 1937, when F.D.R. prematurely slashed spending, sending the U.S. economy — which had actually been recovering fairly fast until that point — into the second leg of the Great Depression. In F.D.R.’s case, however, this was an unforced error, since he had a solidly Democratic Congress. In President Obama’s case, much though not all of the responsibility for the policy wrong turn lies with a completely obstructionist Republican majority in the House.

That same obstructionist House majority effectively blackmailed the president into continuing all the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, so that federal taxes as a share of G.D.P. are near historic lows — much lower, in particular, than at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

As I said, for all practical purposes this is already a Republican economy.

As an aside, I think it’s worth pointing out that although the economy’s performance has been disappointing, to say the least, none of the disasters Republicans predicted have come to pass. Remember all those assertions that budget deficits would lead to soaring interest rates? Well, U.S. borrowing costs have just hit a record low. And remember those dire warnings about inflation and the “debasement” of the dollar? Well, inflation remains low, and the dollar has been stronger than it was in the Bush years.

Put it this way: Republicans have been warning that we were about to turn into Greece because President Obama was doing too much to boost the economy; Keynesian economists like myself warned that we were, on the contrary, at risk of turning into Japan because he was doing too little. And Japanification it is, except with a level of misery the Japanese never had to endure.

So why don’t voters know any of this?

Part of the answer is that far too much economic reporting is still of the he-said, she-said variety, with dueling quotes from hired guns on either side. But it’s also true that the Obama team has consistently failed to highlight Republican obstruction, perhaps out of a fear of seeming weak. Instead, the president’s advisers keep turning to happy talk, seizing on a few months’ good economic news as proof that their policies are working — and then ending up looking foolish when the numbers turn down again. Remarkably, they’ve made this mistake three times in a row: in 2010, 2011 and now once again.

At this point, however, Mr. Obama and his political team don’t seem to have much choice. They can point with pride to some big economic achievements, above all the successful rescue of the auto industry, which is responsible for a large part of whatever job growth we are managing to get. But they’re not going to be able to sell a narrative of overall economic success. Their best bet, surely, is to do a Harry Truman, to run against the “do-nothing” Republican Congress that has, in reality, blocked proposals — for tax cuts as well as more spending — that would have made 2012 a much better year than it’s turning out to be.

For that, in the end, is the best argument against Republicans’ claims that they can fix the economy. The fact is that we have already seen the Republican economic future — and it doesn’t work.

Key quote: “The fact is that we have already seen the Republican economic future — and it doesn’t work.”

The Breakfast Club

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It's going to be a good day.

The worst micro tube ever designed

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Impossible to close or open with one hand. Unwritable cap. Fully smooth unwritable exterior. Too tall.

With SpaceX, Republicans Suddenly Against the Free Market

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Did you miss it? The decades-long storied history of spaceflight in the United States added a dramatic and revolutionary new chapter this week. Just a few hours before the time of this writing, the robotic arms aboard the International Space Station hauled in the Dragon Capsule manufactured by the private company SpaceX. As the Washington Post writes, this represents a revolutionary step in the history of space exploration, not just of the United States, but the world:
“The moment marked a pivot point in U.S. space ambitions, away from total NASA control and toward creative private enterprise. While NASA furnished seed money and technical advice, SpaceX engineers designed, built, launched and drove the white gumdrop-shaped Dragon capsule until the final moments.”
SpaceX hopes to eventually ferry more than just cargo to the space station: ever since NASA terminated the shuttle program, our space program now contracts with Russia to ferry our astronauts, to the pricey tune of $63 million per seat.
The company was founded by an entrepreneur by the name of Elon Musk, and his story is one that Galt-goers everywhere should love. Musk made a massive fortune by founding Paypal, which was eventually purchased by eBay. After making a his billions as a technology entrepreneur, however, Musk decided that instead of sitting back and enjoying a lifetime of leisure, he was going to try to revolutionize the world instead. Musk founded two companies to do just that, and set out to run them simultaneously. Anyone who has seen the film Revenge of the Electric Car is familiar with Musk’s stewardship of Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car company which, as the film tells it, survived a painful growing process only because of his dedication. If the chants of “We love Elon!” reported by the Washington Post are any indication, it’s more than likely that SpaceX added a new chapter to the history of spaceflight owing in no small part to his thirst for success.
By any measure, Musk should be someone whom the right wing in all its objectivist glory should idolize: a self-made billionaire setting out to prove that one man with drive can use the private sector as a world-changing force. It would also, then, be expected that Republicans in Congress would be thrilled to support the change in our country’s aeronautical exploration strategy that SpaceX represents: instead of NASA, a government agency, maintaining ultimate control over all aspects of the operation, we are now at a point where entirely private companies are competing with each other to produce the innovations that will result in the next phase of space exploration. But as Space News reports, that has not been the case.
A surprising cast of enemies, often powerful Republican legislators, have queued up to oppose the commercial crew contracts. Increasingly, opponents argue against even modest government investment in the commercial transport of astronauts to the international space station. They succeeded in cutting more than half of President Barack Obama’s budget request for this year, resulting in at least one year’s additional delay to the program. Now they argue that commercial crew is so tardy that, even assuming no further delays, the currently approved life of the international space station will expire only three years after the first commercial flight. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has gone so far as to suggest raiding the commercial crew budget and removing competition from the program in order to restore Mars science funding.
The reason? As Space News explains, Congressional Republicans—and Democrats as well—love traditional corporate welfare even if it comes at the expense of fostering innovation, as long as that welfare happens to be coming home to their particular states and districts. These Republican efforts to eliminate novel programs are not only hurting the transformation that seems to be the next stage of the space exploration industry; they are also hurting American jobs by making it more likely that rocketry contracts will go to foreign companies, and that we will continue to have to pay Russia for the privilege of having our astronauts hitch a ride with them.
Republicans should have considered the success of SpaceX and its entrepreneurial founder Elon Musk to be an ideological coup: a strong testament to the spirit of entrepreneurship and private-sector competition. Instead, many are seeking to undermine it at every opportunity.
Outside of a gravy train for their big business contributors, what do Republicans stand for exactly? Hard to know.
via dailykos.com

Good editorial article. At this point I think we can just summarize the Republican platform by saying, “If it’s progress, the GOP is against it.”

The Zaubrey Wedding Registry

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Good grief, that's a lot of items. And then you see the prices!

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