My last political statement for 4 years:
Republican ideology appeals to the top 1%
Mitt Romney received 48% of the popular vote
Barack Obama received 50% of the popular vote
1% of Americans (understandably) voted to protect their own interest
47% of Americans are economically suppressing themselves
50% of Americans have a clue about what’s best for the country
And finally, 2% of Americans don’t take voting seriously
Dear young conservative,
I hope you are reading this. My ideal reader for this piece is an actual person under thirty years old who self-identifies as conservative. I would like it very much if this letter found readers beyond my typical (and beloved) echo chamber of liberal comedians and comedy fans. If you’re reading this and you’re not a young conservative, I’ll bet you’re friends with one on Facebook and I would love it if you could pass this along to them.
First off: I in no way mean for this to be patronizing. I’m not mocking you, young conservative. I know what it is to be a young conservative. I was one.
When I was in high school, in the early part of the first George W. Bush presidency, it seemed kind of cool and punk to me to identify as conservative. I didn’t agree with their social policies, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, what if all my liberal high-school-kid friends were wrong? It was a ton of fun to think of myself as the sole voice of reason among a bunch of wrong-headed young people who hadn’t read the same blogs I had, and hadn’t been introduced to Ayn Rand by their girlfriend last summer the way I had.
Looking back on all that, on the times I argued with my History teacher in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things, I am deeply ashamed. And this shame comes not from the fact that I now have different political beliefs, different political beliefs shared, in some form, by almost all of my colleagues and friends. I almost always relish having a minority opinion. It’s a stubborn, age-resistant part of my personality. I am still the guy who loves hating the thing everyone else likes, or liking the thing everyone else hates. I didn’t like the movie DRIVE very much. I know. Come at me. So I’d be the first person to want to have a political belief counter to the ones treasured by all my friends. I argue most frequently with people I’m actually in total agreement with. I’m just that asshole. So it’s not that I felt the need to join the herd and now that I have, I’m ashamed to have ever felt differently than I do now.
I am ashamed because I accepted into my heart and head a system of thought I now believe to be, to borrow a term from my old friend Ayn Rand, anti-life: that government should only exist to make it easy for businesses to do business, the idea that it is our civic duty to have no civic duty. I no longer believe that the way to make things better for everyone is to let people with money do whatever they want, whenever they want. I feel I’ve earned the crap out of this belief, given that I used to believe precisely the opposite, and I’ve taken a long journey to the side I stand on now.
And I urge you, before you dismiss me as a long-haired Hollywood goofball liberal, to read on, and to listen to me in every bit the earnest that I am writing to you. Please don’t pull the dismissive ripcord in your mind, the one labeled “You’re just saying that because you’re biased, etc…” that all of us use every day to reject the idea that someone who disagrees with us may have a point. This ripcord is cynicism, plain and simple, and it mars political discourse and if we continue to pull it every time someone starts to say something that doesn’t jibe with what we already think, life on this planet will soon be quite literally impossible.
“Yesterday, sky watchers around the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, witnessed something amazing: A complex network of luminous arcs and rings surrounded the afternoon sun. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” says eyewitness Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Solar physicist David Hathaway snapped this picture of the display.
The apparition is almost certainly connected to hurricane Sandy. The core of the storm swept well north of Alabama, but Sandy’s outer bands did pass over the area, leaving behind a thin haze of ice crystals in cirrus clouds. Sunlight shining through the crystals produced an unusually rich variety of ice halos.
‘By my count, there are two sun dogs, a 22o halo, a parahelic circle, an upper tangent arc, and a parry arc,’ says Chris Brightwell, who also photographed the display. ‘It was amazing.’ “[Image credit and copyright: David Hathaway/NASA/MSFC via Spaceweather]
Twin Cats Always Mirror Each Other in Sleep
Scientists are baffled by twin cats, Merry and Pippin, who reportedly always sleep in an exact mirror image of one another.
“Even if we place them in disparate starting positions or in separate rooms, they somehow always wind up sleeping exactly like the other,” said leading cat biologist and feline sleep expert Dr. Tobias Winslow. ”I’ve never seen anything like it.”
A polysomnogram revealed nothing out of the ordinary about the cats’ brain functions, eye movements, muscle activity, breathing or heart rhythms. ”We had expected to find that Merry and Pip were synched up on an internal level,” explained Winslow, “but it is literally just in the way they position their bodies for slumber.”
More tests will be done later this month during a scheduled comprehensive sleep study.
Pictures From T-86: Cassini’s Latest Flyby of Titan
“On September 26-27 Cassini executed its latest flyby of Titan, T-86, coming within 594 miles (956 km) of the cloud-covered moon in order to measure the effects of the Sun’s energy on its dense atmosphere and determine its variations at different altitudes.
The [first] image above was captured as Cassini approached Titan from its night side, traveling about 13,000 mph (5.9 km/s). It’s a color-composite made from three separate raw images acquired in red, green and blue visible light filters. Titan’s upper-level hydrocarbon haze is easily visible as a blue-green “shell” above its orange-colored clouds.The haze is the result of UV light from the Sun breaking down nitrogen and methane in Titan’s atmosphere, forming hydrocarbons that rise up and collect at altitudes of 300-400 kilometers. The sea-green coloration is a denser photochemical layer that extends upwards from about 200 km altitude.”
This Is the Most Detailed Image of the Universe Ever Captured
NASA has just published the most detailed view of the Universe ever taken. It’s called the Extreme Deep Field—or XDF for short. It took ten years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs to make it and it shows some the oldest galaxies ever observed by humans, going 13.2 billion years back in time.
It’s a mindblowing, extremely humbling view. Not only for what it shows, but for what it doesn’t show. While this image contains about 5,500 galaxies, it only displays a tiny part of the sky, a ridiculously small slice of the Universe. As you can see in the image below (make sure to expand it to see it complete), the photo only focus on a small area of the constellation Fornax.
This illustration compares the angular size of the XDF field to the angular size of the full moon. A finger held at arm’s length would appear to be about twice the width of the moon in this image.
This graphic shows (click to expand) the foreground (galaxies less than 5 billion light years away from us), background (between 5 and 9 billion years ago) and very far background galaxies (more than 9 billion years), which are “one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.
Click Here to download the full image (13mb TIFF image)
“It’s not every day that a space shuttle lands at LAX. Although this was a first for the major Los Angeles airport hub, it was a last for the space shuttle Endeavour, as it completed its tour of California skies and landed, albeit atop a 747, for the last time. During its last flight the iconic shuttle and its chase planes were photographed near several of California’s own icons including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood Sign, and the skyline of Los Angeles. Previously, in May, the space shuttle Enterprise was captured passing behind several of New York City’s icons on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. Pictured above, the piggybacking shuttle was snapped on approach last week toLAX as it crossed above and beyond a major Los Angeles street. Now retired, the space shuttles are all museum pieces, with the above shuttle scheduled to be towed along the streets of LA to the California Science Center.”