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The Morning Grumpy – 8/10/12

10 Aug

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

As the world’s population soars, so does its consumption, and as a result we are stretching many of our natural resources to their limits.

Click here to view a larger version of the above photo, which describes the worst case scenario for how long our non-renewable natural resources will last.

1. Matt Yglesias breaks down the stakes for President Obama in the 2012 election.

Obama is still having trouble paying down the “unemployment debt” that we wracked up in 2009. But give him a second term and it’ll be done easily. Let Romney take over without that debt, and the sky’s all clear.Lose and Obama’s an even bigger failure than Jimmy Carter. Win and he’s the most successful Democrat since FDR.

All due to how the jobs math will play out over the next several years.

2.Uh oh.

No big deal, just an arctic cyclone.

Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

“It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard. “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”

So, is this a thing we should be worried about?  Yes, says James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

Can we be done with Congressional hacks pretending this isn’t an issue? Let’s get it together on climate change.

3. A PhD student rides Greyhound buses for two years to discover our social interaction patterns which result in us being alone together. As a former frequent rider of the El in Chicago, many of the social interactions she documents are very familiar.

Those of us who ride public transportation on a regular basis appreciate the sometimes-peculiar experience of being alone together. We all want as much privacy as the confines of a crowded subway car allow, which often means totally ignoring another human whose clothes are brushing up against your own. Maintaining order in a tight public space often requires us to pay others the respect of pretending they don’t exist.

In such spaces, people exhibit nonsocial transient behavior; they intricately design and carefully coordinate interaction rituals by avoiding people nearby and slipping into a personal space of the self. … 

For Greyhound patrons, the combination of passengers’ transient nature, fear of potential danger, physical exhaustion, and confinement in a small space without privacy cause people to actively disengage.

Really interesting stuff.

4. Mitt Romney did an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek. I wouldn’t say it went well.

BusinessWeek: “Let’s frame the issue around your tax returns in a slightly different way. If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?

Romney: I’m not a business. We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns. This happens to be exactly the same as with John McCain when he ran for office four years ago.

We can nitpick the realities of Romney’s statement, or we can take a look at what Matt Taibbi has to say about this whole tax return mess.

(W)hat they should be doing instead is hammering Romney on the missing returns, yes, but focusing even more on the returns he did release. We’ve known for seven months now, for instance, that Romney paid $3 million in federal taxes in 2010 on $21.7 million in taxable revenue, an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent. Which, as most people know, is less than half the rate most people pay on their income tax.

In Mitt’s case, the money you and I make to support ourselves is called income and is taxed up to 35 percent, but the money Mitt makes raiding companies with borrowed money and extracting draconian management fees from captive companies that have no choice but to pay them is called “Carried Interest,” and taxed at a top rate of 15%.
I suspect that the Obama campaign will be on this issue like a dog on a bone for the next 90 days.

5. Mitch Hedberg was a brilliant comedian who died too young of a drug overdose. I just stumbled upon a great video about Mitch, whose star burned brightly for a very short time.

In this moving portrait, Hedberg’s wife and fellow comedian, Lynn Shawcroft, shares personal stories about their creative process and life together. Shawcroft was married to Hedberg for six years until his death in 2005. She maintains his site with interviews, videos, and scanned pages from his notes. Modern Comedian is produced by Scott Moran.


Fact Of The Day: The Soviet Union and USA made a plan to do a joint manned mission to Mars during the cold war. The Soviets supported it, but the idea was rejected by Reagan.

Quote Of The Day: “Leadership in today’s world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table.” – Hubert Humphrey

Video Of The Day: “Gay Rights” – Jamie Kilstein

Song Of The Day: “Against the Law” – Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside

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