Daily Archives: December 20, 2010

If you want to know why having Republican majorities in either part of Congress or in the Presidency is so scary:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
A new Gallup poll, released Dec. 17, reveals that 40 percent of Americans still believe that humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years. This number is slightly down from a previous high of 47 percent in 1993 and 1999.
Another 38 percent of respondents believe that humans have evolved from more basic organisms but with God playing a role in the process.
A mere 16 percent of respondents subscribed to the belief of “secular evolution”: that humans have evolved with no divine guidance. However, this number has nearly doubled from nine percent of respondents in a poll from 1982
The poll also revealed that beliefs in creationism and evolution are strongly related to levels of education attained. When results are narrowed to those with college degrees, only 37 percent of respondents maintain beliefs in creationism.
With regards to political affiliation, a majority of Republicans (52 percent) subscribe to creationist beliefs.
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Oh well, joys of the Christmas Season. We’re a good three centuries away from the world waking up (I don’t even want to get into Islam or Judaism).

And what would Zappadan be without Chunga’s Revenge?

Here’s a 1980 version (10 years after the original) recorded at Salt Lake City:

And don’t forget… tomorrow is the last day of Zappadan and it would have been Frank’s 70th birthday.

Tonight is a Night of Astronomical Wonder…

Three Hundred and Seventy Two years ago was the last time that the Winter Solstice (which makes tomorrow the shortest day of the year) and a total eclipse of the Moon happened at the same time. I don’t know what you were doing then, but I wasn’t around.

I’m planning on jumping out of bed around 2:30 AM, putting my snuggies on, and going outside to see the major event (and note, there may be some leftovers from the Geminids meteor shower that peaked a couple of days ago, to catch our attention.) What a great sky gazing night!

Here’s what you need to know in order to see everything. From NASA:

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the “bite” to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years:

“Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21. Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21.”

Here’s the “best view” map from NASA… looks like the USA has got it this time:… Click Here: OH2010-Fig04

According to the Weather Bureau, we should be mostly clear tonite in our area (with temperatures down to 20° –  Brrrr) so we should have a clear view of it.

Is Fox News blocking support for 9/11 First Responders?

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Fox News Runs Interference For GOP Obstructionism On 9-11 First Responders Bill

For his sake, I hope Fox News anchor Dave Briggs still has a job in 2011.

The reason I’m not sure Briggs is long for the Fox News world is because during his report this weekend about the fate of the 9-11 first responders bill, which Republicans recently blocked in a naked bout of obstructionism, Briggs committed an unspeakable sin: He told the truth.

Specifically, Briggs actually pointed out that filibustering Republicans purposefully stood in the way of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, designed to aid and compensate first responders who have suffered from respiratory disease following their heroic efforts on the morning of the Sept. 11.
Here was Briggs on Sunday morning:

How maddening has it been watching this — watching the, in particular, the Senate Republicans recently holding up a vote that would give health coverage to thousands of your peers?

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Now it looks like the 2 New York Senators are going to try to put this bill through again, somewhat cut down. Will the Republicans hold it up again with a filibuster? Remember that the House already approved this with a 100 vote plurality. Blocking it has been merely a political gambit.

We’ll have to see if it gets through before Christmas. It SHOULD if there are any morals left in Congress.

From Al Franken: The Most Important Free Speech Issue of our Time

This was in the HuffPo today… I reproduce it in full here:

This Tuesday is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.

As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.

This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.

The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don’t do that at all. They’re worse than nothing.

That’s why Tuesday is such an important day. The FCC will be meeting to discuss those regulations, and we must make sure that its members understand that allowing corporations to control the Internet is simply unacceptable.

Although Chairman Genachowski’s draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.

For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.

Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason. For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).

It gets worse. The FCC has never before explicitly allowed discrimination on the Internet — but the draft Order takes a step backwards, merely stating that so-called “paid prioritization” (the creation of a “fast lane” for big corporations who can afford to pay for it) is cause for concern.

It sure is — but that’s exactly why the FCC should ban it. Instead, the draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination.

What’s more, even the protections that are established in the draft Order would be weak because it defines “broadband Internet access service” too narrowly, making it easy for powerful corporations to get around the rules.

Here’s what’s most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama — who nominated him — have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.

But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we’ve been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.

No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate — and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules.

After all, just look at Comcast — this Internet monolith has reportedly imposed a new, recurring fee on Level 3 Communications, the company slated to be the primary online delivery provider for Netflix. That’s the same Netflix that represents Comcast’s biggest competition in video services.

Imagine if Comcast customers couldn’t watch Netflix, but were limited only to Comcast’s Video On Demand service. Imagine if a cable news network could get its website to load faster on your computer than your favorite local political blog. Imagine if big corporations with their own agenda could decide who wins or loses online. The Internet as we know it would cease to exist.

That’s why net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. And that’s why, this Tuesday, when the FCC meets to discuss this badly flawed proposal, I’ll be watching. If they approve it as is, I’ll be outraged. And you should be, too.

What do you think?