Monday Morning Open Thread: Fireball

Meteor entering the Earths Atmosphere over Italy in the Dolomites


From the Astronomy Picture of the Day website (Image Credit & Copyright: Ollie Taylor)… because we all miss Alain’s wonderful morning posts.

Apart from Thanksgiving prep/travel, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?


Also entertaining, though on a far less elevated plane — from the Washington Post, “‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe”:

Six months into a special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, White House aides and others in President Trump’s close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril, according to numerous people familiar with the debate…

The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.

One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.”

“Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.” …

The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving, but adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter…

But the reassurances from Cobb and others — which seem at least partially aimed at keeping the president calm and focused on governing — are viewed by others as naive.

“The president says, ‘This is all just an annoyance. I did nothing,’ ” said one person close to the administration. “He is somewhat arrogant about it. But this investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up. You have to anticipate this roll-up will reach everyone in this administration.”…

In fact, legal experts and private defense lawyers monitoring the case believe that Mueller’s investigation — which officially began in May and resulted in its first charges against three former campaign aides last month — is still in its early stages.

They expect that the prosecutors have considerable investigative work still to do, and they predict more campaign officials, among others, will face charges. They expect the probe to extend deep into 2018 and possibly longer…

Floriduh Man to Ohio Man: Hold My Beer!

In a clear attempt to maintain Florida’s well earned status as the home of turning the crazy up to 11, a Florida Democratic Party Official has turned to his Ohio Man counterpart and said hold me beer!

From The Tampa Bay Times:

Stephen Bittel’s rocky tenure as Florida Democratic Party chairman ended in disgrace Friday after he resigned following accusations from women that he leered at them, made suggestive comments and created an unprofessional work environment.

Bittel said he is working with party leaders to set a date to elect his successor.
Elected in January after a contentious internal campaign, Bittel lasted less than a year on the job.  His departure marks the latest case of sexual impropriety shaking the state Capitol.

Bittel’s position became untenable after all four major Democratic candidates for Florida governor urged his ouster following a Politico Florida report late Thursday in which six women anonymously complained about Bittel’s behavior. They said he was “creepy” and “demeaning.” Bittel apologized, but it was not enough.

Bittel appears to have gone all out in his attempt to earn his Floriduh Man! card and keep Florida much, much stranger than Ohio.

Floriduh Man: offensive and educational!

Open thread!

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Forty-two years ago tonight the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with all hands on Lake Superior. Most of us know the tragic story from the Gordon Lightfoot song about the wreck. In 2001 a documentary about the Fitzgerald debuted. One of the things that always stayed with me from the documentary, as both a testament to the men serving aboard her and as a potential counterfactual, is that Captain McSorley, the master of the Fitzgerald, slowed his vessel to buddy with the smaller, slower Arthur Anderson. This was done to increase the chances they’d both make port even though the Edmund Fitzgerald had the ability to make better speed to reach safe anchorage had she gone it alone. This part of the history is recounted in the documentary below beginning at the 15:3o mark (should be set to play from that point). Captain Cooper, the master of the Anderson, and his crew showed as much valor when they went back out to search for the Fitzgerald after they’d made it safely to port.

And, of course, the obligatory:

Trump polling thoughts

I’m not a pollster. But I am a political junkie who thinks that there is useful information in polling.

NBC released their standard issues and approval poll over the weekend.

Thirty eight percent of Americans say they approve of Trump’s job performance — down five points since September — while 58 percent disapprove.

The issues polling looks like this:

One of the things that stuck out to as I was debating whether or not I wanted to begin the process of becoming hung-over the day after the election was the following:

Only 38 percent said Trump is qualified to serve as president, while 52 percent said Clinton is qualified. And yet Trump won. Americans elected a candidate they don’t believe is qualified!

These are different polls and different methods but they point in the same direction. The people who think that Trump was qualified to be President last November are all that he has left. The people who thought he was not qualified to be President and still voted for him are special snowflakes whose fee-fees are enabling a rolling constitutional crisis in the quest for upper-income tax cuts that won’t actually trickle down to them have dropped their support. It was weak and fracturable support.

The base remnant are the people that think Trump is a plausible President and just what we need.

However, even that support can be fractured.  A little less than three-quarters of his general approval people think he is doing a good job for Puerto Rico.  These are the ultras, the hardest of hardcore who are wrapped in a bubble so tight that they may need to call Green Balloons and get out of their wetsuit.  The people who think he is doing a good job in Puerto Rico belong in the Crazification Factor.  

Tyrone: 27%.

John: … you said that immmediately, and with some authority.

Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?

Tyrone: Hadn’t thought about it. Let’s split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification — either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: … a bit low, actually.

So one more year until we can get some meaningful checks and balances in to contain and segregate the alternate reality that dominates our current reality.

Knowable Magazine

Just started publishing, a new resource.


Annual Reviews is a publisher that you probably never heard of, but which is important to many areas of science. They publish yearly volumes, all of which are titled Annual Reviews of _______.

The blank includes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Animal Biosciences
  • Anthropology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Food Science and Technology
  • Medicine
  • Physical Chemistry (YAY!)
  • Statistics and Its Application

And many others. Each volume includes articles about developments during the year. They are very technical, not the kind of thing you read for recreation.

Having all those resources is a good basis for a general science magazine, which seems to be the point of Knowable. The articles I checked out were long and fairly dense, the kind of thing I used to like in Scientific American before it decided to become more like Popular Science.

Check it out.


Late Evening Open Thread: Florida Plane! Wait, What????

So this happened in St. Petersberg today:

News Channel 8 has the details:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A small plane crashed on a road and hit multiple cars in St. Petersburg Wednesday afternoon.
St. Pete police and fire departments are on scene at 18th Avenue South and 16th Street South.

Two people were on the plane.

Four people overall were taken to area hospitals and one person was treated at the scene.

According to the FAA website, the plane is a 1978 model Cessna 402b, owned by Noble Charter Service out of Opa Locka airport.

Stay frosty and look up on occasion!

Open thread!

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Rare Sincerity

Not an elegant solution, stripping the individual tweets like this, but I hope y’all will overcome your aesthetic instincts to read the whole thing anyways:

2/ I watched the segment @chrislhayes did tonight RE whether Trump called or sent letters to the families of the 4 soldiers KIA in Niger
3/ it kinda unexpectedly wrecked me. I heard about it earlier, & like w much that he does, my response was sarcastic humor. But watching…
4/…it overwhelmed me, & I ended up in tears. It was one of those moments where it was devastating to think about the defective human…
5/…now with power to make some of the most consequential decisions w the most catastrophic effects in human history. Specifically…
6/…it reminded me of my role in bringing a dog from Iraq to the United States. In 2006 I managed a Congressional campaign vs a Repub…
7….incumbent who–like nearly every one of them-voted for the Iraq War. As late as early 2006 there were still a lot of Dems afraid of…
9/…opposing the Iraq War & making the campaign centered on it. Like many Dems unafraid of opposing the war, he won. He asked me to be…
10/…his chief of staff. And in 2007 I took on the job of setting up his operation & positioning him for reelection.

14/…BUT, he was not elected to represent only people opposed to or not involved in the war. He was elected to represent all +700,000 people in his district…

19/ Fast forward a few months. We get word the family had tried to get help from one of the state’s 2 Repub…
20/…senators but we’re getting ignored. They reached out to us. The last photo of their son was him holding a puppy. The next day…
21/…he was killed. They wanted to know if we could he them bring them the puppy. From Iraq. To the US. From the start, I made it clear..
22/…I would likely fire anyone on our staff who should do any of the following: A. Guarantee we could get the dog B. Request anything…
23/…that could get anyone else wounded or killed C. Mention anything about what we were doing to anyone in the press. This was…
24/…something the family wanted. We were doing it for them, & because their son had made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation. Remember
25/…the man we worked for was elected for opposing the war in which their son was killed. I assumed they voted for the Repub incumbent…
26/…but _it didn’t matter. We had a duty to act in the interests of everyone in the district. And we took that duty seriously. So, for…

27/…the next several months, in addition to all out normal work, & helping a guardswoman who’d gone AWOL to attend a custody hearing…
28/… for her son, & a soldier who wanted to donate a kidney to his mom, we worked to find a street dog in Iraq, get it quarantined…
29/…in Iraq, transported through three countries, & delivered to a family in the US, & keep it secret from the press. The help we got…
30/…still makes me choke up; the soldier’ squad, the commander of the 82nd Airborne, DHL, customs officials in three countries…
31…and especially the 20-somethings on our staff who took on this task as professional, as public servsnts, as patriots, and as…
32…this connects to today–as serious people doing serious work. When I saw the tape of Trump today, I wanted to punch the screen…


Apart from resolving to NEVER STOP RESISTING, what’s on the agenda for the day?