the polite yeti


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Let's start at the very beginning /Do you have questions into the nature of the universe? Pose them here./ I can't.


White House will host LGBT conferences

Officials have announced that the White House will host a series of LGBT conferences throughout 2012 to bring light to important issues in the LGBT community and “hear directly” from the administration on these topics.

The first conference will be held in Philadelphia in February and will focus on health. Future conferences will include “housing and homelessness, safe schools and communities as well as HIV/AIDS prevention.” Noticeably absent is the discussion on workplace equality, since LGBT people lack federal protection from discrimination at work.

This is a smart way to keep LGBT voters content throughout the year without upsetting Republicans too heavily. Obviously and unfortunately Obama can’t focus too much on LGBT issues at this point in his campaign for fear of losing the moderates (again, I wish it weren’t so), but an open discussion is more of an informational tool than anything. Excited to see what comes of this. 

Ten dollars this is moderate L and G only (Bs cease to exist when we get a partner—we magically turn straight or gay, and Ts scare the good, gender conforming Democratic base [ie, the moderate right]), and lip service only. Oh, and straight people get HIV at higher rates than queers, so maybe that should be a focus? No? Stereotypes it is.

Posted 2 years ago With 140 notes


DEEP BREATH. In. Out. Be calm.

You might have heard some news about something called a “neutrino” that might have moved faster than the speed of light. This news is out of CERN, in Europe, and like Ron Burgundy, it’s kind of a big deal.

Remember Einstein’s E=mc² equation? Well, that wouldn’t exactly be ruined, but relativity would need to be seriously adjusted. As Phil Plait put it, it would turn so much of physics upside-down that it’s like saying “… that gravity pushes, not pulls.” So what did they observe?

A neutrino is a particular subatomic particle, like an uncharged electron. They travel, well, very fast, and can go through matter. Photons are light, and they travel at (wait for it) the speed of light. According to what we know up to now, neutrinos should travel fast, but according to the laws of physics not as fast as light. That’s where the CERN experiment comes in.

The scientists at CERN set up a detector at a very exact distance away from a source of photons and neutrinos. When I say exact I mean exact. Like so precise that they could be within a meter or so of error at a distance of 730 km apart. They know how fast light travels, and it should have taken about 2.43 milliseconds for the light to reach the detector in Italy from CERN. According to the scientists, the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds before the light.

The Swiss are impeccable time-keepers.

They report that their error is within 10 nanoseconds, so it’s a significant result. But there are a couple of problems. Not problems that for sure disprove it, but certainly give reason for caution.

  1. It’s very hard to know exactly when neutrinos are created in whatever source you are shooting them from. So the “start” point is a little fuzzy.
  2. As noted at Bad Astronomy, a supernova called 1987a throws some more cold water on this. See, that supernova was 160,000 light years away. So if neutrinos traveled faster than light by the same ratio as above, we would have seen the 1987a neutrinos about four years before the light. And that didn’t happen.
  3. Neutrinos are pesky little things, and very hard to control and measure, being as they flow right through planets and the like.

The scientists had a webcast from CERN today, and they are being very careful to say that this needs to be checked and über-checked, and then repeated again after that. They also claim no theoretical re-writes of history. The problem is that the press is not being nearly so cautious.

So take a deep breath, relax, let their fellow scientists and the skeptics have at it for a while, and don’t be sad if this turns out to not be as big a deal as thought. Of course, it might be true, but when it comes to extraordinary claims, you have to provide extraordinary proof.




As Irene bears down on the East Coast, Fox calls for the abolition of the National Weather Service

Whoa, this shit is perfect:

The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis. There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.

This right here is the key to the conservative thought process. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to the government, if they want to survive then they should turn over part of their earnings to private industries like cable companies! Poor people who can’t afford cable tv or internet deserve to die from natural disasters, that is all this whole fucking article is saying.

The National Weather Service (same as many other government entities) does not exist to serve people who can afford to find out about natural disasters from The Weather Channel and the 24 news machine, it exists to serve those who cannot.



How do they think the Weather Channel and all those apps and websites get their data? Really? What the fuck.

Posted 2 years ago With 222 notes



Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not



An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy…

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country…

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis. Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet.

Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

Read Whole

This is amazing, all respect going out to the Icelandic defending their sovereignty and their common interests, their social security nets and their very way of living, against unscrupulous international bodies repairing corporate damage at the expense of the public pocket.

As mentioned in the article, this was almost completely unreported, at least here in the UK where I’d not heard a whisper of such changes in Iceland - it completely ‘vanished’ off the media radar somewhat a few months ago.

This isn’t the only incident of gross under-reporting by global media outlets, on the tidal wave of popular protests sweeping the world - notably with the recent almost non-mention of protests in Spain not too long ago. It’s like they don’t want to give people any bright ideas.


This is an eternal reblog for me. I consider myself somewhat well-read when it comes to international politics, though not nearly as much as I was when I was still doing IR full time (I outright avoided IR stuff for a while after I quit grad school, because it was too emotionally involved, which is how I missed the start of Iceland’s revolution). Despite being better informed than most in the US, I still had no fucking clue this was going on. None. At all. The places I have traditionally gone for my non-US media were as silent as the US sources. No one wants to talk about this, because it fundamentally disrupts the whole way the system is structured.

I remain a constructivist, but usually a pessimistic one. I know that the US is going to probably keep pushing its funny blend of realism and neo-liberalism that is cringe-wrothy for years to come. Iceland and some of the populist revolts that have happened this year are starting to warm my little constructivist heart.

Posted 2 years ago With 3,215 notes