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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whodunit to the middle class?

Five Conspirators in the Eradication of the Middle Class

Their unspoken goal is a two-class nation, with a heavily armed security force to quell resistance from the more outspoken members of the lower class. 

It may be somewhat of an unwitting goal, since narcissistic wealth-takers, as they build their fortunes, tending to lose their ability to empathize with others.

Barack Obama 
said, "We are not as divided as we seem." But those are just feel-good words. 

A middle class still exists, but in weakened form, as many families from the once-dominant mainstream of society continue to move up or down, mostly down. 

The conspirators in the breakdown of the middle class have complementary roles that allow them to divide the country as they perpetuate the myth of prosperity for all. 

The law and order candidate

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

VIDEO: John Oliver reviews the Republican Convention

To see this video on YouTube:

Measuring what you get

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

"Smart grid" technologies significantly reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions resulting from power production and usage.

Taken together, smart grid and intelligent buildings mechanisms could reduce national carbon emissions by 12 percent by 2030, according to one estimate.

But, surprisingly, sometimes the opposite is true for an individual project. It all depends on a dizzying variety of factors, but a new tool developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory makes estimating those emissions impacts easy.

The free, web-based tool enables utilities and industry to evaluate not only the environmental impacts of adopting smart grid technologies, but can give organizations the operational data to sift through factors to justify the investment.

Why Americans waste so much food

Most people feel guilty about discarding food, but say it would be hard to stop
By: Martha Filipic, Ohio State University

Even though American consumers throw away about 80 billion pounds of food a year, only about half are aware that food waste is a problem. Even more, researchers have identified that most people perceive benefits to throwing food away, some of which have limited basis in fact.

A study published in PLOS ONE is just the second peer-reviewed large-scale consumer survey about food waste and is the first in the U.S. to identify patterns regarding how Americans form attitudes on food waste.

The results provide the data required to develop targeted efforts to reduce the amount of food that U.S. consumers toss into the garbage each year, said study co-author Brian Roe, the McCormick Professor of Agricultural Marketing and Policy at The Ohio State University.

Space Station overflights often come in twos. Another one tonight

Overflight at 9:30 PM. Forecast is "mostly clear"
By Will Collette

Last night's overflight was a wash-out to my surprise and delight since we actually received a little desperately needed rainfall.

Very different tonight where the flight will be twice as long - 6 minutes, the maximum - and the sky is forecast by the NWS to be mostly clear.

Almost ideal conditions.

The space station appears as if out of no where at 9:30 PM sharp in the southwest at 10 degrees over the horizon. It will rise to 51 degrees which nis somewhat low in the sky for these overflights. It will passs to the east-northeast where it will disappear at around 9:36.

It is about as bright as a passing jetliner as it makes a quick and silent arc up to its maximum elevation. Then when it loses the angle to catch the light from the sun, it suddenly vanishes in the east northeast at around 11 degrees above the horizon.

While this is not like watching a firework's display, it is impressive in its own right as we watch mankind's only current manned venture into space.

America’s Huge Racial Wealth Gap Is No Accident

For the first time, Democrats are acknowledging America's deep racial wealth gap — and the policies that created it.

Party platforms are dense and often morosely boring documents filled with wonkish policy proposals and partisan jeers at the other side.

At over 40 pages, this year’s Democratic Party platform lives up to its predecessors in length and ennui. However, it also includes a section not yet seen in platforms from either side: an acknowledgement of the racial wealth gap.

Wealth has been unfairly distributed since our nation’s founding, and that unfairness has always had a racial bent. It goes something like this: White families have more; black and Latino families have less. (Asian and Arab Americans have more complex economic histories.)

The gap is far larger than you might expect.

A 2014 study from Pew Research revealed that median white families have 13 times more wealth than median black families, and 10 times more than median Latino families. That gap has remained relatively consistent for decades.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The American Dream Moved to Canada

We're witnessing accelerating advantages for the affluent and compounding disadvantages for everyone else.

canadaDoes your family aspire to the American Dream of a decent paying job, a few weeks of paid vacation, a home of your own, and the hope of retiring before you die?

Maybe try Canada.

Our country has historically prided itself on being a socially mobile society, where your ability is more important than the race or class you’re born into. Indeed, during the three decades after World War II, social mobility increased — particularly for the white working class.

That mobility became part of our self-identity, especially when juxtaposed with the old “caste societies” of Europe and their static class systems. Today, however, that story has been turned on its head.

If you forgot to be born into a wealthy family, you’re better off today living in Northern Europe or Canada, where social safety nets and investments in early childhood education have paid big dividends for ordinary citizens. In fact, Canada now has three times the social mobility of the U.S.

Nostalgic look back at the 2016 Republican National Convention

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 1309: Spiral Galaxy and Friends 

A gorgeous spiral galaxy some 100 million light-years distant, NGC 1309 lies on the banks of the constellation of the River (Eridanus).

NGC 1309 spans about 30,000 light-years, making it about one third the size of our larger Milky Way galaxy.

Bluish clusters of young stars and dust lanes are seen to trace out NGC 1309's spiral arms as they wind around an older yellowish star population at its core.

Not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy, observations of NGC 1309's recent supernova and Cepheid variable stars contribute to the calibration of the expansion of the Universe.

Still, after you get over this beautiful galaxy's grand design, check out the array of more distant background galaxies also recorded in this sharp, reprocessed, Hubble Space Telescope view.

Why hummingbirds are different

Hummingbird vision wired to avoid high-speed collisions

summer pretty bird hummingbird hummerHummingbirds are among nature's most agile fliers. They can travel faster than 50 kilometres per hour and stop on a dime to navigate through dense vegetation.

Now researchers have discovered that the tiny birds process visual information differently from other animals, perhaps to handle the demands of their extreme aerial acrobatics.

"Birds fly faster than insects and it's more dangerous if they collide with things," said Roslyn Dakin, a postdoctoral fellow in the UBC's department of zoology who led the study. 

"We wanted to know how they avoid collisions and we found that hummingbirds use their environment differently than insects to steer a precise course."

Note: Watch a video of the experiments here:

Kitty of the week

Meet Mango!
Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Meow! My name is Mango, and I have to say, I'm a busy cat.

First, I've got to check out what's happening out the window.

Next, I'll see if any closets or cupboards need looking into.

And then there are my naps-can't be late for those.

I can fit a little socializing into my schedule.

I don't mind other feline friends, but I would do best as the only pet in the home.

I am a little chatty, so I hope you don’t mind the occasional conversation.

Shall we plan on breakfast and dinner? I hope you like kibbles.

VIDEO: International Space Station will make a 3-minute pass over Charlestown tonight

You might be able to see it at 10:23 PM
By Will Collette

See this directly on YouTube at

The International Space Station is back to making night time passes over Charlestown with a 3-minute pass that starts exactly at 10:23 PM. Three minues minutes is the average length of an ISS pass.

If we're lucky, you won't see it since there is a 60% chance of thunderstorms and desperately needed rain in the National Weather Service forecast (click here) for tonight at NASA's show time. The ISS makes lots of passes over Charlestown, but rain is something we need a lot more right now.

Normally, I skip posting ISS overflights if the weather looks bad, but we've had a number of nights where we were supposed to get rain but didn't. Maybe by posting this piece, it will have some Karmic effect on the rain.

If it doesn't storm, you should be able to see the International Space Station will make a three-minute pass over us tonight starting at 10:23 PM about 10 degrees above the horizon in the west southwest.

It will peak at 74 degrees over the horizon (about 3/4's up the sky) and run for three minutes toward the west where it will seem to vanish at around 10:26.

He Loves Us... Unless We Don’t Love Him

On watching Donald Trump's acceptance speech

election2016  donald trump rnc republican national convention rnc 2016I watched the Republican convention's final  night.

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka was light-hearted, loves her father, and gave a good introduction to a man whom few know well.

Watching Trump give his speech was an out of body experience.

I suddenly felt fearful. I felt fearful for myself, my community, my family, my country. 

Only he has the strength to save and protect us. 

Only he knows how to fix everything that is broken. 

Only he can bring back the happiness and prosperity that was once there for everyone. 

Remember the Good Old Days? Only he has the tenacity and courage to restore the American dream. 

Everyone else is too weak, too politically correct, too timid. 

He can do it. He said so.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A few thoughts on Cleveland

By Peter Dykstra, Environmental Health News

Image result for donald trump & climate changeI was very surprised to see so little climate denial and EPA- and regulation-bashing from the Republican National Convention podium this past week.

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and The Donald Jr. got a few licks in, but not much else. In his acceptance speech, Trump Sr. repeated a campaign promise to bring jobs back to coal miners.

Note that Bob Murray, the hyper-zealous coal baron, says he advised Trump to stop saying that.

It seems Republicans moved off of the usual items, including hot anti-environment rhetoric, to focus on opportunistic things like the police shootings, Benghazi, fear, emails, Benghazi, fear, and Benghazi.

I wonder if the EPA and Al Gore just aren't scary enough to feature.

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