Thursday, Oct 27th

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Casual Snapshots of Life on Two Planets

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Just when you think you've got the hang of things, the solar system or universe will show you something you've never seen before.

Case in point:  What are those little black things on Mars -- where do they come from each spring, and where do they go when winter approaches?

Now, I know I've been running a fever -- it's early-voting-and-flu season here -- and been having trouble with gravity thanks to inner-ear plumbing, but black, spidery things on Mars?

Apparently so, and they've been showing up for their meager sunbathing rites for about a decade that we know about, at least.


Obama and your Grandma

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More of that big government interference with your doctor and hospital is now taking effect. Medicare will start levying fine on hospitals that have excessive re-admissions within 30 days for certain complications from treatment (or lack of, or shoddy care). It will be based on statistical analysis of patient records, and to begin with it will only apply to heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.


This will be expanded to other ailments that hospitals are notorious for cutting corners on. The numbers will be available online so that you can see what sort of death trap your local care facility really is.



Mister Magoo goes to Washington

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Even Chris Wallace of Fox News has taken to challenging Paul Ryan for specifics on Romney's policies. Ryan had a lot of specifics in his budget that the Republican House passed two years in a row. Romney has disavowed everything in the budget he had previously called "marvelous". Ryan claims to have details but it would "take too long to explain", so you'll just have to take his word for it.


The constant refrain from the right is that there is a clear choice between Obama and Romney, something that Ryan says in every other sentence. A complete lack of detail is not how you characterize the word "clear", it would be more like "fuzzy", "indistinct" and "misleading".



Just Because It's Satire, Doesn't Make It False

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Satirical website The Onion has completely owned an Iran news agency.

The Iran news outlet published as true a story from The Onion saying rural white Americans would rather vote for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than Barack Obama.

Just because it's satire doesn't mean it isn't true.

You probably remember the steady stream of various hangings of effigies around the nation since Obama took office, many of them done on or near Christian churches.

It's probably still fresh in your mind, too, all the boos and catcalls the Obamas receive wherever they go, even if it's to do charity work somewhere.


He can fix the Navy too

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I thought it was an Onion story that Mitt Romney thinks airplanes should have roll down windows in the passenger cabin. Screen doors in the submarine, moon landings were faked and that sort of thing, but it's true. His remarks were prompted by the dancing horse lady's scary experience on a campaign flight last week when the cabin filled with smoke briefly.


Here's Mitt, "When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound."



Ding Ding Ding

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The corporate media has been trying really hard to minimize the revelation that rice has dangerous levels of arsenic contamination. They sort of talk around it as if it were natural, and of course the 'organic' brown rice is far worse than the good polished 'white' rice.


In case you were wondering why all of a sudden the rice has arsenic in it even though arsenic poisoning has been known for hundreds of years, the problem is corporate agri-business. They've been shifting huge amounts of irrigated cotton land into rice production. Never mind that a hundred plus years of using arsenic as a pesticide on the cotton has contaminated the soil beyond redemption.



Lemmings in Free Fall

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Two billion more people will be added to the planet in the next 38 years.  Food prices will edge up sharply as larders empty.  The next wars will be fought over clean drinking water -- even as we now foul clean supplies and threaten aquifers with fracking and pipelines.

We're suffocating ourselves with CO2 from our ravenous use of energy too dirty to burn anymore.  As tundras warm and thaw, methane is released, too -- many factors more dangerous than killing CO2.

Yes, and sea ice will calve, collapse, and melt.  Oceans will rise.  The lost reflectivity of snow and ice spirals up our heat, too.  Rising CO2 poisons the seas, whose creatures provide half the air we breathe.  Droughts march and wildly imperil anything green -- food stocks, plants and forests trying to trade us poison for fresh air.


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