This week a flat earth believer will, he thinks, take off in a self designed rocket to “shut the door on this ball earth” nonsense.

Those with the least ability are the most likely to overrate their skills to the greatest extent.

Sound like anyone you know?

Good explainer, in particular because it points out the other half of the equation – experts in a given field are likely to forget that others do not have the same level of understanding – big barrier, for instance, to effective climate science comms.


War on Science to a whole new level.
You think I’m kidding when I say the GOP wants a nation of serfs.

New Tax reform bill massively shunts money to top 1 percent.
Knocks out most important rungs for getting up the economic ladder.

Play that out for 30 years. You’re Guatemala with Nukes.


Doing a PhD is a classic exercise in delayed gratification. While classmates enter the workforce and start putting money into retirement plans, students who enrol in graduate school face many years of long hours, teaching requirements and weekends running experiments that can’t wait. Someday, perhaps, an advanced degree will land them a more lucrative and rewarding job.

Meanwhile, none of that work is well compensated. In the United States, according to the US Department of Education’s latest data, from 2011 to 2012, more than half of graduate students make less than US$20,000 a year. For reference, the federal poverty line for a single person without children is $12,060. Living in an expensive region such as Boston, Massachusetts, or the San Francisco Bay Area in California is especially tough. For example, graduate stipends at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are capped at $23,844 and are not adjusted for cost of living. To help out, universities often waive tuition fees, which can sometimes be more than a student’s income.

The last thing that graduate students need is a tax hike. But that is what many would face under a clause in the federal-tax-reform bill passed by the US House of Representatives last week. It will now need to be reconciled with the Senate’s tax-reform bill (which retains many existing student tax benefits), and signed by the president.

The 429-page tax plan — which President Trump reportedly tried to christen the “Cut, Cut, Cut Act” because it would ostensibly shrink taxes for many — would require students to report tuition-fee waivers as taxable income, moving the students into a higher tax bracket. Graduate students, who receive the lion’s share of tuition waivers, would be most affected. And 60% of the 145,000 students who get tuition reductions each year are working in science, engineering, technology and mathematics fields, the US Department of Education estimates.

The amount of money that the government would reap from these taxes would be minuscule, given the $20.5-trillion national debt. But it could weigh heavily on young scientists. Take a hypothetical PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, in receipt of a $23,844 NIH stipend. Under the current system, she would pay very little in taxes. The new law would add her $49,000 MIT tuition bill to her taxable income as though she were paid a $73,000 salary — an amount she never actually sees. This would add thousands of dollars to her tax burden.

This example is extreme — most graduate schools’ tuition fees are closer to $16,000 — but it is safe to say that many students could see their tax rate rise. Students who attend public universities outside their home states would be especially hard hit: out of state, tuition can cost double what it does in-state. The bill would also eliminate a tax benefit that allows people with low incomes to deduct student-loan interest from their taxable income.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The moment the last of Fred Vautour’s five children walked across the stage as a Boston College graduate was priceless.

Not only did Mr. Vautour have the rare distinction of handing each of his children their diplomas, but he was also able to pay for their nearly 18 years of schooling by collecting trash, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors while the campus slept.

“As much as I struggled, it was incredible to be able to do that for them,” said Mr. Vautour, 64, who has worked the graveyard shift as a custodian at Boston College for 17 years. “I took this job for benefits, but never imagined this would be one of them.”

It may not be one for long — or at least could be severely curtailed. The sprawling House tax bill, set for a vote on Thursday, would tax the value of college tuition benefits conferred on thousands of university employees like Mr. Vautour, one of several provisions that would hit colleges, universities and their students, hard. Read the rest of this entry »

“There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrabacher and Trump.”
Kevin McCarthy
House Majority Leader
June 15, 2016

Dana Rohrabacher, long known as one of Congress most consistent climate deniers, (see below) now under the microscope for Russia connections, and possible role in the worst incidence of treason in American history.

Long article, but worth reading, and maybe, bookmarking.

New York Times:

As revelations of Russia’s campaign to influence American politics consume Washington, Mr. Rohrabacher, 70, who had no known role in the Trump election campaign, has come under political and investigative scrutiny. The F.B.I. and the Senate Intelligence Committee are each seeking to interview him about an August meeting with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, Mr. Rohrabacher said. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is said to be interested in a meeting he had last year with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser.

At the same time, fellow Republicans — questioning his judgment and intentions — have moved to curtail his power as chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats. And back home in Southern California, where Democrats and Republicans alike smell blood, the 15-term congressman is facing his toughest re-election contest in decades, with well-funded candidates from both parties lining up to unseat him.

“I feel like I’m in good shape politically,” he said breezily during an interview last week, a day before he voted against his party’s tax bill. “My constituents couldn’t care less about this. They are not concerned about Russia. They are concerned about the taxes on their home. They are concerned about illegal immigrants coming into their neighborhood and raping people.”

Nor is Mr. Rohrabacher, a self-proclaimed veteran of international intrigue, all that perturbed by the interest of federal and congressional investigators. He said he would talk to them when scheduling allows.

Read the rest of this entry »

This gives me hope.

More below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Holiday

November 22, 2017

We’ve got work to do when we get back.

We are in a new heroic age of science denial.

Look no further for the next NASA appointment by the Trump Administration.

This is what 20 years of Fox News, talk radio, and science denial has given us.
I’m fine with this guy doing what he wants.  Flat earthers are generally only harming themselves.

But with climate denial, problem is, we’re all strapped in right next to the idiots. This guy is holding up a mirror for them.


61-year-old DIY enthusiast and stuntman “Mad” Mike Hughes is planning his first manned launch of a homemade, $20,000 steam-powered rocket with “RESEARCH FLAT EARTH” written on the side on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, Hughes says he expects his new rocket to hurl him through the skies above the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy at up to 500 miles per hour for roughly one mile, attaining a peak altitude of 1,800 feet before it deploys two parachutes.

Hughes is a proponent of the Flat Earth theory; the Research Flat Earth group is his main sponsor. Hughes does not “believe in science,” which he told the AP has “no difference” from science fiction.

“I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust,” he added. “But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”


“If you’re not scared to death, you’re an idiot,” Hughes, who once reassured Ars Technica that he has a high I.Q., told the AP. “It’s scary as hell, but none of us are getting out of this world alive.”

Adding to the already somewhat troubling nature of the launch, the event will simultaneously serve as the launch of Hughes’ California gubernatorial campaign (because sure, whatever). Though the AP said the event would be live-streamed on Hughes’ YouTube channel, his website says it will be “Available on Internet PPV.

As Ars Technica noted, Hughes has done a lot of this kind of thing, winning a Guinness World Record in 2002 for jumping “102 feet in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limo.” He also survived a manned steam rocket flight in 2014, traveling 1,374 feet and earning himself three days of recovery from extreme g-forces and a rough descent, the AP wrote.

Washington Post:

Assuming the 500-mph, mile-long flight through the Mojave Desert does not kill him, Mike Hughes told the Associated Press, his journey into the atmosflat will mark the first phase of his ambitious flat-Earth space program.

Hughes’s ultimate goal is a subsequent launch that puts him miles above the Earth, where the 61-year-old limousine driver hopes to photograph proof of the disc we all live on.

“It’ll shut the door on this ball earth,” Hughes said in a fundraising interview with a flat-Earth group for Saturday’s flight. Theories discussed during the interview included NASA being controlled by round-Earth Freemasons and Elon Musk making fake rockets from blimps.

Hughes promised the flat-Earth community that he would expose the conspiracy with his steam-powered rocket, which will launch from a heavily modified mobile home — though he acknowledged that he still had much to learn about rocket science.



The Internet.
It ain’t broke, so it’s time someone fixed that.

They hope to squeeze this poison pork through while you’re having Turkey.
John Oliver’s worthwhile explainer is above.


Jettisoning net-neutrality rules would make it easier for companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to give their own streaming video services priority over others, such as Amazon Prime or Netflix. It could also make it easier for companies to impede voice and messaging tools like Skype and WhatsApp.

Of course well-established services from deep-pocketed companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft will likely remain widely available. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don’t have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. In other words, protecting net neutrality isn’t about saving Netflix, but about saving the next Netflix.

Previous FCCs have largely agreed. The agency first moved to protect net neutrality in a 2005 policy statementdeclaring that internet users had a right to access the content and services of their choosing. Under that policy, the FCC in 2008 ordered Comcast to stop slowing BitTorrent connections; the cable giant challenged the ruling, arguing that the agency had overstepped its authority, and won. The Obama-era FCC passed a more robust set of rules in 2010, but those were struck down in 2014 following a lawsuit filed by Verizon.

Under then Chair Tom Wheeler, the FCC then decided that the best way to ensure its authority to enforce net-neutrality rules was to reclassify broadband internet providers as common carriers.

Despite broad support for net neutrality among both Democratic and Republican voters, Republican politicians rallied against Wheeler’s net-neutrality rules before they even passed. US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet,” and Donald Trump warned, nonsensically that it would “target conservative media.” The FCC ultimately passed the rules along a party-line vote.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a full repeal of net neutrality rules that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet, putting more power in the hands of those companies to dictate people’s online experiences.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.

A rollback of net neutrality regulations would represent a significant victory for broadband and telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast and would amount to a strike against consumers. When the rules were passed in 2015, they underlined the importance of high-speed internet to the lives of Americans and the need to more strongly regulate the communications service like a utility, as essential as electricity and the telephone.

But under a repeal, companies like AT&T and Comcast may be able to charge people higher fees to access certain websites and online services. The companies may also be able to prioritize their own services while disadvantaging websites run by rivals.

Consumer groups and Democrats denounced the proposed changes.

Read the rest of this entry »