Sunday Morning Open Thread: The Groundhog Is A Lie

Me, I prefer to trust the old proverb:

If Candlemas is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year;

If Candlemas has snow and rain, old winter shall not come again.

It was *delightfully* bright & sunny here north of Boston yesterday… but of course we all knew we’d pay for it later.

[Candlemas is the ‘cross-quarter day’ halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In the Christian tradition, February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation, and parishioners would bring their household’s candles to be blessed to ensure good fortune. But the cross-quarter day ceremonies all involve fire — candles in February, bonfires for May Day, hearth fires (for bread-baking) on August 1st, and lanterns for Halloween.]

The groundhog’s got a lousy track record anyway, according to actual meteorologists:

In the past decade, Phil has predicted a longer winter seven times and an early spring three times. He was only right about 40% of the time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says the groundhog shows “no predictive skill.”…

So, what do the experts say the next month or so will actually feel like?

Well, the past week spread record cold across the United States. More than 200 million Americans experienced temperatures below freezing. The polar vortex killed at least 23 people and left others with lasting frostbite injuries.

Next comes the thermal whiplash as the bone-chilling cold is expected to melt away through early next week.

As for the rest of winter, temperatures over the next six weeks look about average — if not below average in most of the country, Jones said, nodding in the direction of a bit more winter.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: COLD

I half-way suspect some of the media enthusiasm for Kamala Harris this week is that reporters would *much* rather be in Oakland than Des Moines. I spent 15 years in the comparatively clement part of Michigan, and frankly, even the winter of 1978 made me seriously reconsider my life choices. Thoughts & prayers to all you Jackals in the Midwest!

In happier news:

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Actions Have Consequences

Positive reinforcement, as the behaviorists say. Trump performed his task (ended his pointless shutdown) on command; as a reward, he gets to stand in front of ALL THE CAMERAS and tell everyone how great & powerful he is. Win-win!

The State of the Union is the biggest annual event for political Washington, and the logistics needed to put it together are formidable. Security for the address is extraordinary, as the president, vice president, Cabinet members, Congress, Supreme Court, military leaders and diplomatic corps gather inside the Capitol.

The event is declared a “National Special Security Event,” meaning extensive resources and thousands of personnel from the federal government — including some military troops — are brought in to help guard the area.

For the media — especially the TV networks — the address requires a huge investment in equipment and resources as well. Hundreds of reporters attend the session, with Statuary Hall turned into an “interview room” for dozens of TV cameras.

Will Trump use the occasion to attack his perceived enemies? No doubt — but remember, right now, that includes all the Wingnut Welfare Wurlitzer mouthpieces (Ann Coulter, Breitbart, the Federalist) calling him bad names becauses he ‘caved’ on The WAAAHLL. Nancy, as he calls her, has given him a public show of ‘respect’ with her letter; his favorite Fox News analysts are caught between disbelief and derision. Lord Smallgloves has a short memory and a shorter capacity for gratitude; Steve Miller may write speeches that get lauded by all the Reicht people, but Miller’s not the guy being yelled at by Sean Hannity.

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Tragically negative reinforcement:


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A Climate Change Disaster That Might Actually Hit Denialists Where They (And Most Of Us) Live

The tiny handed shitgibbon infesting the White House seems to “think” that folks can’t tell the difference between weather and climate:*

“Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

Don’t know about you but I can hear the “hurr, hurr, hurr” quite clearly.

Meanwhile, in the reality-based cosmos, new and increasingly horrific dimensions of the climate crisis are making themselves apparent with every passing week:

Applying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria to all (124) wild coffee species, we undertook a gap analysis for germplasm collections and protected areas and devised a crop wild relative (CWR) priority system. We found that at least 60% of all coffee species are threatened with extinction, 45% are not held in any germplasm collection, and 28% are not known to occur in any protected area. Existing conservation measures, including those for key coffee CWRs, are inadequate. We propose that wild coffee species are extinction sensitive, especially in an era of accelerated climatic change.

Domesticated coffee cultivation in a context of changing climate, drought, changes in pest patterns etc. requires the kind of genetic variety and range of traits that the ~125 wild coffee species offer.  Those wild plants are subject to the same pressures that have created what many see as the sixth Great Extinction in the history of life on earth: loss of habitat, over exploitation, and, now, human-driven climate change.  As the abstract above notes, much of the genetic heritage of wild coffee is simply unknown: unpreserved, unstudied, and under dire threat.

Which means that while Trump smears faeces on the wall (on the faces of his supporters?) the one thing that makes facing a morning with his tweets in it seem even remotely possible is being put at risk by his and his party’s willed ignorance, stupidity, and greed.

Happy Sunday, all….

(Open Thread)

*He might not be wrong for much of his base, but more and more, it appears, this particular squib doesn’t have much impact beyond the I’ll-enjoy-the-drought-to-pwn-the-libs crowd.

Image: J.W.M. Turner, Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouthc. 1842.



Open Thread: How Cold *Is* It?…

Objectively, here north of Boston at least, not really so bad for mid-January. But it’s been so AGW-induced not-cold so far this winter that the dogs aren’t lingering when they go out in the back yard… and when I carry the 17-year-old down the steps, neither do I.

Mostly it’s the dreaded wind chill:

Meanwhile, in Tallahasee: