Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, September 10, 2007 Via @GoComics

Richard Thompson, the creator of Cul de Sac, has died. It was one of my favorite comics until he was forced to quit because of Parkinson’s disease. He was also the favorite of people like Bill Watterson

Thompson “has this huge range of cartooning skills … ,” Watterson says. “Richard draws all sorts of complex stuff — architecture, traffic jams, playground sets — that I would never touch. And how does he accomplish this? Well, I like to imagine him ignoring his family, living on caffeine and sugar, with his feet in a bucket of ice, working 20 hours a day.

“Otherwise, it’s not really fair.”

Pat Oliphant,

“You would never suspect it by looking at him, but behind the quiet, mild-mannered Richard Thompson exterior lurks the real Richard Thompson,” Oliphant says now. “I know he would hate to be termed a genius, but that is exactly what he is.”

and Garry Trudeau

“Of all the new comics I’ve read, only two registered as winners immediately — literally within a strip or two,” Trudeau says. “The first was ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Nineteen years later, it was ‘Cul de Sac.’ A distinctive, fully evolved style married to consistently funny, character-driven wit — we don’t see this often.”

Go read, they start here:

Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, September 10, 2007 Via @GoComics

And then there was life

This (via here) is pretty impressive:

The nature of the earliest ancestor of all living things has long been uncertain because the three great domains of life seemed to have no common point of origin.
Their starting point was the known protein-coding genes of bacteria and archaea. Some six million such genes have accumulated over the last 20 years in DNA databanks as scientists with the new decoding machines have deposited gene sequences from thousands of microbes.
Genes that do the same thing in a human and a mouse are generally related by common descent from an ancestral gene in the first mammal. So by comparing their sequence of DNA letters, genes can be arranged in evolutionary family trees, a property that enabled Dr. Martin and his colleagues to assign the six million genes to a much smaller number of gene families. Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.
Genes are adapted to an organism’s environment. So Dr. Martin hoped that by pinpointing the genes likely to have been present in Luca, he would also get a glimpse of where and how Luca lived. “I was flabbergasted at the result, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
The 355 genes pointed quite precisely to an organism that lived in the conditions found in deep sea vents, the gassy, metal-laden, intensely hot plumes caused by seawater interacting with magma erupting through the ocean floor.
This doesn’t show that life originated there but it does show it was there 4 billion years ago. It also shows how far the theory of evolution has come. Scientists can now follow life back through common genes to see how life has evolved in different ways.

Racism strikes back

So, here’s Steve King:

“This whole business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes interjected.

“Than—than western civilization itself that’s rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of western civilization.”

Gee, Steve, language almost definitely started in Africa, writing is thought to have originated in Sumer (that’s in the Middle East), and agriculture also is thought to have first originated in the Middle East. Those are the bases for all civilization and none originated in Europe, which is why civilization itself is thought to have first originated in the Middle East.

This is about as racist a comment as it gets.

Math and the American Heritage Education Foundation

Like everyone else, I get a lot of spam in my email boxes. Sometimes they can be fun. Case in point:

Dear Teachers and Citizens,
A unique Social Studies/U.S. History reference text book is now available!
The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) announces a new resource/text that reveals the connection between America’s historical founding ideas and the Bible..
The Miracle of America: The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief
By Angela E. Kamrath, American Heritage Education Foundation
This would be the group that wrote a history book for Houston strongly based on a work by W. Cleon Skousen, a far right crazy in the mold of the John Birch Society (for example, he believed Eisenhower was a Communist dupe).
It seems their mailing list is about as accurate as their history: they send an email about a high school history book to a college math teacher. Hey, maybe I’ll use it for a probability course?

Juno in orbit about Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft is now in orbit about Jupiter. It was launched in 2011 and went into orbit yesterday. Here is the last picture Juno took before it went into orbit when it was 3.3 million miles away (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS):

PIA20706_hires

Juno will orbit Jupiter for 20 months and then be sent down to the planet in February 2018.

Supreme court says no to Texas abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court has struck down abortion restrictions in Texas:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that have been widely duplicated in other states, a resounding win for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important consideration of the controversial issue in 25 years.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 3 decision, which said Texas’s arguments that the clinic restrictions were to protect women’s health were cover for making it more difficult to obtain an abortion.

The challenged Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and said that clinics must meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, and officials say they protect patients. But the court’s majority sided with abortion providers and medical associations who said the rules are unnecessary and so expensive or hard to satisfy that they force clinics to close.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

The Post has an article that looks at that last statement:

A key study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated that the risk of a woman dying after childbirth was 10 times greater than after an abortion. The study estimated that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died in childbirth for every 11,000 babies born. That compares with one in 167,000 women who died of abortion complications. Doctors who perform abortions say the most common complications are not bladder issues or problems with reproductive organs — as some abortion opponents like to emphasize — but mild infection that can be easily treated.

So if Texas makes more women continue their pregnancy more women will die. Even if they just delay the abortion more women will die.

Let’s throw in some data (scroll down to tables 7 or 8):

Among the 38 areas that reported gestational age at the time of abortion for 2012 (Table 7), two-thirds (65.8%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.4% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation.

and according to here:

The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.

A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk—less than 0.05%—of major complications that might need hospital care.

The Supreme Court easily figured out that these laws were not about the safety of women and all about restricting abortion.

Not a terrorist

Via here, we get this:

Federal prosecutors say a Tooele County man placed a pipe bomb against the door of a BLM cabin and pushed the button on a remote detonator multiple times, with no result.

His mistake? He’d unwittingly assigned an undercover FBI agent to build the bomb.

William Keebler, 57, of Stockton, was arrested early Wednesday morning in Nephi and appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court, charged by federal prosecutors with attempting to blow up federal property at an Arizona Strip BLM facility that he had allegedly scouted with Robert LaVoy Finicum.

Charging documents say Keebler is the commander of a citizen militia group headquartered in Stockton. He was present at the April 2014 standoff with federal land administrators near the Bunkerville, Nev., ranch of Cliven Bundy, and he was an associate of Finicum, who was killed in late January by Oregon state police after he tried to avoid their roadblock in eastern Oregon amid an occupation of a federal wildlife refuge. The Tribune wrote about Keebler in December 2011, when he worked as an outfitter guiding coyote sport hunters.

Undercover FBI employees became members of Keebler’s “Patriots Defense Force,” charging documents say, and trained for an “anti-government action” where, Keebler told members, they would be “going on the offensive.”

Keebler’s group scouted the BLM office in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City as a potential target, but found it unsuitable due to the commercial and homeless activity, charging documents state.

Prosecutors allege that Keebler told the group it would target BLM facilities in “the middle of nowhere,” damaging vehicles and buildings. He asked a militia member — who happened to be an undercover FBI employee — to build an explosive device.

and this links to the Federal complaint. He didn’t want to hurt anyone … this time, but felt he might have to in the future and had the FBI agent build two pipe bombs with the second one to be used against law enforcement if needed.

So, this guy was at one armed insurrection against the US government, worked with a man who was at another armed insurrection against the US government, and was now preparing to go on the offensive against the US government. But somehow this isn’t front page news at any of the major news outlets. The Washington Post has a small article … with no comments. The Boston Globe has no articles. The NY Times has a slightly longer article, but it was just taken off the wire. the LA Times has nothing. CNN has nothing. Gee, I wonder if he’s white and Christian (Mormon)? That was a rhetorical question.

As an aside, the end of the Salt Lake Tribune article has this:

In 2001, the BLM worked with Bundy descendants to rebuild the town’s iconic white schoolhouse after it had been destroyed by arsonists.

See, we can all get along–at least the Bundy’s can get along with the BLM if the BLM is doing exactly what they want. Here’s a story:

Clay Bundy, Orvel Bundy’s son and a builder in St. George, has been among the dozens of volunteers who have been helping employees from the Bureau of Land Management to restore the school since October. The BLM owns the land the school sits on.

“Someone totally wiped away our history with one match,” said Clay Bundy.

“It’s been phenomenal participation,” he said. “We got most of the outside done on two Saturdays. We had 50, 60 people and their kids, and it was just like an old-fashioned barn raising. When you do something yourself, with your own hands, there’s a pride there.”

The schoolhouse’s walls, roof, windows and insulation have all been finished. An electrician set up a generator, which will provide electricity for the first time, and a new concrete base will anchor the building.

Clay Bundy estimates the volunteers will finish the inside of the schoolhouse by the end of spring.

BLM spokeswoman Bette Arial, who has called the schoolhouse an “oasis” where people visiting the strip can stop, reminisce and learn the region’s history, said the community will continue to keep the schoolhouse doors open to the public.

For his part, Orvel Bundy is glad to see the school being restored.

“It’s a symbol that there were people here once,” he said. “If the schoolhouse was gone, people might think that there never was a community in Mount Trumbull.”

Oh my god, one of the original pieces of Bundyville is owned by the BLM. We need to protest this. What does Clay have to say about his cousins?

Even some in the extended Bundy family have mixed feelings. Clay Bundy, a cousin of Cliven Bundy, still grazes cattle on the harsh northern Arizona land that once held the settlement commonly called Bundyville. (Officially it was Mount Trumbull.) He said he supported his cousin’s yearslong fight over grazing, and wanted to see Western states take control of the federal land in their borders. But he said Ammon Bundy should end the occupation.

“In my idea, he should pack his bags and come home,” Clay Bundy said.

See Clay is a moderate. Shouldn’t he be protesting about the BLM owning Bundyville though?

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