Archive for January 19th, 2012

The Great White Hope

Saturday’s New York Times contained a brave column by Lee Siegel, which identified the appeal of Mitt Romney to the de-evolved racists without whom the Republican Party would not exist: Romney is the whitest motherfucker to run for president in living memory.

There has yet to be any discussion over the one quality that has subtly fueled his candidacy thus far and could well put him over the top in the fall: his race. The simple, impolitely stated fact is that Mitt Romney is the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory.

Of course, I’m not talking about a strict count of melanin density. I’m referring to the countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways he telegraphs to a certain type of voter that he is the cultural alternative to America’s first black president. It is a whiteness grounded in a retro vision of the country, one of white picket fences and stay-at-home moms and fathers unashamed of working hard for corporate America.

There is no stronger bastion of pre-civil-rights-America whiteness than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yes, since 1978 the church has allowed blacks to become priests. But Mormonism is still imagined by its adherents as a religion founded by whites, for whites, rooted in a millenarian vision of an America destined to fulfill a white God’s plans for earth.

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The Wizard Of Paul

When my colleague and I determined that the 2012 GOoPer presidential candidates are pseudo-humans bred and/or assembled by extraterrestrials who derive great amusement from mucking with the American electoral process, we were able to precisely identify just what had been done with nearly all of them.

Rick Perry is a farm animal, the result of a failed Dr. Moreau-like experiment involving crossing a man with a steer. Michele Bachmann contains many genes more properly found in geese. Mitt Romney is a rag doll sewn by inebriates. Rick Santorum is a grub in a skin-suit, while Newt Gingrich is a bedbug in a skin-suit. Jon Hunstman has been afflicted with the visage of a raccoon. Herman Cain was extruded from a pizza topping. Etc.

The only candidate who somewhat puzzled us is Ron Paul. As I wrote then: “My colleague and I are not yet sure what precisely was done with Ron Paul, but it is evident that he has been accessorized with an inordinate number of human organs, some of which move and melt and slide down his face while he is on television.”

Today, all has become clear, in re Mr. Paul. And that is that he is from Oz, via Kansas.

This became evident when a Ron Paul hot-air balloon commenced today to menace Greenville, South Carolina.

It’s deflated now, but a Ron Paul hot air balloon along the side of Interstate 85 caused traffic to slow down Thursday morning.

The balloon could be seen from a South Carolina Department Of Transportation camera.

DOT officials say the balloon had Ron Paul’s name on it.

People looking at the balloon slowed down around Pelham Road in Greenville County causing a four-mile backup at one point.

SC Department of Public Safety spokesman Sid Gaulden told News 4 that the South Carolina Highway Patrol asked the operator of the hot air balloon, Remus Toppeta of Greer, to take it down because it was causing a hazard.

Gaudlin said SCHP gave Toppeta a written warning for improper lane use because the balloon was set up in the middle of the frontage road.

It is good, that this is now cleared up.

Dr. Possum: Old, Blue, And Casting Away

(This was supposed to appear Monday morning. Yet here it is Thursday evening. I have no explanation for this, other than that I have been unable to post to this blog for the past three days, as I have been trapped on a New York City subway car by a menacing marsupial. I am sure this is only a coincidence. As our own gentle Dr. Possum would never be capable of such an act. Just sayin’.)

The time has arrived once again for science talk. New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today’s information world. Over the fold are selections from the past week from a few of the many excellent science news sites around the world. Today’s tidbits include a dinosaur is named three decades after discovery, the dark side of the moon revealed, when galaxy clusters collide, a tiny frog is the world’s very smallest vertebrate, rare ultra-blue stars found in neighboring galaxy’s hub, planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception, and in ancient Pompeii trash and tombs went hand in hand. Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot near the fireside. There is always plenty of room for everyone. Another session of Dr. Possum’s science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.

After waiting for three decades Fruitachampsa gets its name at last.

This animal was not like the alligators, caimans, gharials, and crocodiles we know today. (In technical terms, all those living lineages are crocodylians—a remaining portion of the larger and more varied group called Crocodyliformes to which Fruitachampsa also belonged.) Informally referred to as the “Fruita Form” in publications for years, this roughly three-foot-long archosaur had slender legs, a short skull, and rows of flat teeth with wrinkled, horizontal cusps socketed behind a small set of pointed teeth at the front of the jaws. As Jurassic expert John Foster dubbed the animal in his book Jurassic West, Fruitachampsa was “the house cat of the Morrison Formation.”

Yet the long wait for the description of the Fruita croc carried an advantage. Around the time of the animal’s discovery, there was nothing quite like Fruitachampsa. How the animal related to other crocodyliforms was unclear. Since 1975, however, additional discoveries of previously-unknown crocs have put Fruitachampsa in context. These discoveries have not been made elsewhere in the fossil-rich deserts of the American west. The closest relatives of Fruitachampsa—called shartegosuchids—have been found in the Mesozoic sediments of Mongolia, China, and Siberia.

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When I Worked

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