Spectacular tale from the AP: Again and again, John and his team asked themselves who else might be living in that compound. They came up with five or six alternatives; bin Laden was always the best explanation. This went on for months. By about[...]
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This recap contains spoilers through the second episode of the current season of HBO’s True Blood.
If I have one major objection to HBO’s True Blood, it’s the way the show handles Southernness in general, and Sookie Stackhouse as a representative Southerner in particular. That hasn’t always been a problem for the show. Usually, it’s more of a matter of degrees in how Alan Ball shades the microcosm Charlaine Harris created to explore how humans would react if vampires revealed themselves. He’s made everything a bit darker, a bit more freighted. I realize this is a problem unique to me, and to other folks who read Harris’s books long before the show even went to adaptation. But I think it’s worth thinking about, given that HBO’s other current smash, Game of Thrones, is also an adaptation, and a much more faithful one. The alterations to Ball’s texts are major from a plot and characterization standpoint. And while I think that keeping Lafayette alive, while requiring plot adjustments down the seasons, hasn’t irrevocably changed the character of the series, some of the other things Ball has altered have really change the spirit of the show, and not always for the better.
I think the way that bothers me most right now is in how the show depicts Hotshot, the community on the edge of Bon Temps populated by werepanthers. In Ball’s interpretation, that unusual ability and that isolation translate into a kind of inbred stupidity, rather than a profound strangeness. True Blood‘s per-episode budget runs about $3 million, about two-thirds the price of an episode of Game of Thrones, and the show has to spend a lot more of that budget on the effects that are in almost every scene. It might have cost too much to try to make the folks in Hotshot look truly other all of the time, but it would have been pretty cheap to do some physical coaching to get them to walk differently, rather than have them say things like declaring that a refrigerator is their air conditioning. Treating poor Southern people like pathetic, dumb hicks is the laziest trick in the book, and cheaper than dressing folks up as Southern belles.
Similarly, there was one bit of tossed-off dialogue that got me thinking along the same lines. When Sookie goes to ask Pam for help with Eric, who has bought his house, and after coercing Sookie has set about wooing her (“The house does not come with me inside it,” Sookie declares to him. “Then I seriously overpaid,” Eric purrs back.), Pam shuts her down. “Did I miss something? Are we girls now?” Pam asks Sookie. “Did we join a book club and read some queer chick lit memoirs, and now we’re bonded by estrogen, or sisterhood, or some other feminist drivel?” “I don’t do book clubs,” Sookie snaps back. Because the seasons are fairly short, we don’t see Sookie in repose much, and so I guess Ball’s cut out an essential bit of characterization that Harris slots in those moments when Sookie’s relaxing: she reads a lot, to make up for her lack of formal education (and she’s also a Buffy fan, in a nice little joke). Cutting that out, and having Sookie deny being a book club kind of gal here all feels to me to be part and parcel with flattening the character a bit in ways that have been a bit unfortunate.
The one place I think the show’s depiction of stereotypical Southernness is really working this season is in Jessica and Hoyt’s relationship. Tonight, when Pam holds Jessica back from fighting to protect Hoyt, she’s doing it to protect Jessica from anti-vampire zealots, but she ends up protecting Hoyt’s right to defend his girlfriend at well. And Hoyt’s reaction to Jessica offering her some of her blood to help him heal is an effective way of demonstrating someone who is trying to live beyond their preconceptions and bumping up against the limits of their ability to do that. “That shit is my blood,” Jessica tells him, then turns around and insists on caring for him properly. “I’m going to the drugstore. If you won’t take my blood, you need to at least take some Advil.” But she plays into a very human script, going to Fangtasia and finding a man who will let her drink his blood, a pale substitute for the man who won’t take hers even in a gesture of tenderness. These sweet, limited people, partnered too young and in a dangerous time, are headed for bad trouble?on vampire terms, and on human ones.
I’d be really curious to hear how Alan Ball’s own experiences with the tropes of Southern culture, particularly as a gay man, are affecting his approach to this show. Ball grew up in Atlanta, went to the University of Georgia and Florida State, and started his career in Sarasota, Florida. He’s lived in the region, and he’s got a fancier critical pedigree than Charlaine Harris. But this is one case where the source material often feels more sophisticated than the adaptation.
Recapping yesterday's action:
Congress took the day off yesterday, to warn the British. Ring, ring! Blam!
Looking ahead to today:
The House won't be back until tomorrow.
The Senate is back in town, and wouldn't you know it? There's a cloture vote scheduled. Amazing! Today, it's cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.J. Res. 20, an attempted compromise resolution authorizing the Libya intervention.
That's all that's scheduled for today. They can't really schedule much more without knowing whether they'll get 60 votes to end debate on the question of whether or not to begin debate on that Libya resolution. But assuming they do, they might have to spend up to 30 more hours debating the vote they just took about whether or not to end debate on beginning debate, depending on how many Senators want to make that much trouble. Recall that Rand Paul (R-KY) is running around saying he wants to filibuster... something... possibly everything... until some sort of thing happens having to do with the budget and/or the debt ceiling. So does that mean he'll filibuster the motion to proceed to consideration of a Libya resolution because it's not debate on whatever the hell it is he says he wants to see debated? I don't know. And it's quite possible that nobody knows. Maybe not even Rand Paul himself.
So what's in that Libya resolution, exactly? Well, I'll put the CRS summary below the fold. It's pretty detailed. For the above-the-fold summary, suffice to say that this is meant to be a something-for-almost-everyone compromise. It authorizes but time limits U.S. military involvement, prohibits the use of federal funds for committing ground troops, establishes the authorization given is that required under the War Powers Resolution, and declares that yes, the Libyan intervention does constitute "hostilities." There's much more, of course, and as they say, the devil is in the details. Search that devil out in the CRS summary below, or better yet, in the text of the resolution itself.
Today's full floor schedule, and the week's complete committee schedule, appear below the fold.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but let us know what you?re checking out too.
- Friday evening we got big news about the Department of Justice slamming the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of Karen Golinski, resisting the appeal from the House of Representatives. Chris Geidner and Lisa Keen have excellent breakdowns of the brief worth reading this morning.
- Introducing the Senators’ “It Gets Better” video on Friday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) called DOMA “on the wrong side of history. The New York Times also condemned the 1996 law in an editorial over the weekend.
- Over the weekend, Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed into law the civil unions bill for Rhode Island. Marriage equality advocates had called for its veto because of the unprecedented exemptions that allow religious organizations to completely ignore the unions.
- Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) recently came out in support of the transgender equality bill in his home state.
- The New York City Council has restored over $7 million dollars in funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. It’s estimated that as many as 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT.
- New Hampshire’s legislative session ended, but a possible repeal of marriage equality is still on the table for next year.
- The Church of England has announced it will review its policy on same-sex relationships and might consider letting gay clergy be ordained as bishops.
- Pat Buchanan is still as anti-gay as ever, as Carlos Maza points out.
The debate may be fiery, but it?s also phony. AAP
The Conversation wraps up its climate series with a statement from leading Australian acientists: The debate is over. Let?s get on with it.
Over the past two weeks The Conversation has highlighted the consensus of experts that climate change caused by humans is both real and poses a serious risk for the future.
We have also revealed the deep flaws in the conduct of so-called climate ?sceptics? who largely operate outside the scientific context.
But to what extent is the ?science settled?? Is there any possibility that the experts are wrong and the deniers are right?
If you ask a scientist whether something is ?settled? beyond any doubt, they will almost always reply ?no?.
Nothing is 100% certain in science.
So how certain is climate science? Is there a 50% chance that the experts are wrong and that the climate within our lifetimes will be just fine? Or is there a 10% chance that the experts are wrong? Or 1%, or only 0.0001%?
The answer to these questions is vital because if the experts are right, then we must act to avert a major risk.
Suppose that you lose your grip on your phone. Experience tells us that the phone will fall to the ground.
You drop a phone, it falls down.
Science tells us that this is due to gravity, and no one doubts its inevitability.
However, while science has a good understanding of gravity, our knowledge is only partial. In fact, physicists know that at a very deep level our theory of gravity is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, so one or both will have to be modified.
We simply don?t know for sure how gravity works.
But we still don?t jump off bridges, and you would be pretty silly to drop your phone onto a concrete floor in the hope that gravity is wrong.
Our predictions of climate change aren?t as simple as the action of gravity on a dropped phone.
The Earth is a very complex system: there are natural effects like volcanoes, and variations in the sun; there are the vagaries of the weather; there are complicating factors such as clouds, and how ice responds; and then there are the human influences such as deforestation and CO? emissions.
But despite these complexities, some aspects of climate science are thoroughly settled.
We know that atmospheric CO? is increasing due to humans. We know that this CO?, while being just a small fraction of the atmosphere, has an important influence on temperature.
We can calculate the effect, and predict what is going to happen to the earth?s climate during our lifetimes, all based on fundamental physics that is as certain as gravity.
The consensus opinion of the world?s climate scientists is that climate change is occurring due to human CO? emissions. The changes are rapid and significant, and the implications for our civilisation may be dire. The chance of these statements being wrong is vanishingly small.
Some people will be understandably sceptical about that last statement. But when they read up on the science, and have their questions answered by climate scientists, they come around.
These people are true sceptics, and a degree of scepticism is healthy.
Other people will disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change, and will challenge the science on internet blogs and opinion pieces in the media, but no matter how many times they are shown to be wrong, they will never change their opinions.
These people are deniers.
The recent articles in The Conversation have put the deniers under the microscope. Some readers have asked us in the comments to address the scientific questions that the deniers bring up.
This has been done.
Not once. Not twice. Not ten times. Probably more like 100 or a 1000 times.
Denier arguments have been dealt with by scientists, again and again and again.
But like zombies, the deniers keep coming back with the same long-falsified and nonsensical arguments.
The deniers have seemingly endless enthusiasm to post on blogs, write letters to editors, write opinion pieces for newspapers, and even publish books. What they rarely do is write coherent scientific papers on their theories and submit them to scientific journals. The few published papers that have been sceptical about climate change have not withstood the test of time.
So if the evidence is this strong, why is there resistance to action on climate change in Australia?
At least two reasons can be cited.
First, as The Conversation has revealed, there are a handful of individuals and organisations who, by avoiding peer review, have engineered a phony public debate about the science, when in fact that debate is absent from the one arena where our scientific knowledge is formed.
These individuals and organisations have so far largely escaped accountability.
But their free ride has come to an end, as the next few weeks on The Conversation will continue to show. The second reason, alas, involves systemic failures by the media.
Systemic media failures arise from several presumptions about the way science works, which range from being utterly false to dangerously ill-informed to overtly malicious and mendacious.
Let?s begin with what is merely false. A tacit presumption of many in the media and the public is that climate science is a brittle house of cards that can be brought down by a single new finding or the discovery of a single error.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Climate science is a cumulative enterprise built upon hundreds of years of research. The heat-trapping properties of CO? were discovered in the middle of the 19th century, pre-dating even Sherlock Holmes and Queen Victoria.
The resulting robust knowledge will not be overturned by a single new finding.
A further false presumption of the media is that scientific opinions must somehow be balanced by an opposing view. While balance is an appropriate conversational frame for the political sphere, it is wholly inappropriate for scientific issues, where what matters is the balance of evidence, not opinion.
At first glance, one might be tempted to forgive the media?s inappropriate inclusion of unfounded contrarian opinions, given that its function is to stimulate broad debate in which, ideally, even exotic opinions are given a voice.
But the media by and large do not report the opinions of 9/11 ?truthers? who think that the attacks were an ?inside job? of the Bush administration. The media also do not report the opinion of people who believe Prince Phillip runs the world?s drug trade. The fact that equally outlandish pseudo-scientific nonsense about climate science can be sprouted on TV by a cat palmist is evidence not of an obsession with balance but of a striking and selective failure of editorial responsibility.
What is needed instead of the false symmetry implied by ?balance? is what the BBC calls impartiality ? fact-based reporting that evaluates the evidence and comes to a reality-based conclusion.
An example of a dangerously ill-informed opinion on how science works is the widely propagated myth that scientists somehow have a ?vested interest?, presumably financial, in climate change. This myth has been carefully crafted by deniers to create a chimerical symmetry between their own ties to political and economic interests and the alleged ?vested interests? of scientists.
In actual fact, climate scientists have as much vested interest in the existence of climate change as cancer researchers do in the existence of the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Cancer researchers are motivated by the fact that cervical cancer kills, and the scientists who developed the HPV vaccine did so to save lives, not to get their grants renewed.
Climate scientists are likewise motivated by the fact that climate change kills 140,000 people per year right at this very moment, according to the World Health Organization.
The scientists who have been alerting the public of this risk for nearly 20 years did so to save lives, not to get their grants renewed.
Climate scientists are being motivated by the realisation that humanity has got itself into serious trouble with climate change, and it will need the best scientific advice to navigate a solution.
As scientists, we ask not for special consideration by the media, but simply for the same editorial responsibility and quality control that is routinely applied to all other arenas of public discourse.
Selective failure of quality control and editorial responsibility when it comes to climate change presents a grave public disservice.
Finally, no truthful analysis of the Australian media landscape can avoid highlighting the maliciousness of some media organisations, primarily those owned by Newscorp, which are cartoonish in their brazen serial distortion of scientists and scientific findings.
Those organisations have largely escaped accountability to date, and we believe that it is a matter of urgency to expose their practice.
For example, it is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to misrepresent what experts are telling Newscorp reporters ? some of whom have been known to apologize to scientists in advance and off the record for their being tasked to return from public meetings, not with an actual news story but with scathing statements from the handful of deniers in the audience.
It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to invert the content of scientific papers.
It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to misrepresent what scientists say.
It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to prevent actual scientists from setting the record straight after the science has been misrepresented.
None of those sadly common actions are compatible with legitimate journalistic ethics, and they should have no place in a knowledge economy of the 21st century.
The very fact that society is wracked by a phony debate where there is none in the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the Australian media has tragically and thoroughly failed the Australian public.
Australian Professorial Fellow, Cognitive Science Laboratories at University of Western Australia
Professor of Astrophysics at University of New South Wales
Professor and ARC Federation Fellow at University of Melbourne
Professorial Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems at University of Melbourne
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering at University of St. Thomas
Michael J. I. Brown
ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University
Director, Melbourne Energy Institute at University of Melbourne
Director, Global Change Institute at University of Queensland
Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond, West Virginia 2004
Photographers worldwide are turning their lenses on green issues like climate change and sustainability. There are international competitions between photographers who best illustrate the tragedies and successes in the battle against climate change, and even a global effort to photograph and measure the retreat of glaciers and ice sheets. So dust off your cameras as we examine the big themes and big names of environmentalist photography.
New green photography features more than traditional nature photos. It focuses on the interaction between humans and the environment, the problems with how we use global resources, and documents the changes happening on our planet due to climate change.
Instead of breathtaking vistas or close-ups of endangered animals, think Chris Steele-Perkins?s wide-lens shot of an oil refinery with Mount Fuji in the background:
His photograph, ?Filling Station near Shiraito Falls,? has a similar effect: We ask ourselves how can this gas station be here, of all places? Green photography can make us realize in powerful ways just how troubled the relationship between humanity and the environment truly is:
Green photographers aim to unsettle us, to make us realize that something isn?t right, even in our everyday lives. The masters of the subtle juxtaposition of the human and the industrial include American photographer Mitch Epstein, who took the now-famous photo of a quiet family home in front of a coal power plant [top picture].
Nadav Kander, an Israeli-born photographer, is also a master of this trick: Look at his photograph of a group of bathers, and don?t miss the smokestack in the background. American photographer Daniel Shea?s photographs of southeast Ohio, which contain a heavily concentrated network of coal-fired power plants, are similarly affecting. They reveal plumes of smoke in every corner of an American community.
Photographers can use other tricks to raise awareness of environmental issues, however. Many have studied the tremendous amount of waste humans produce and the effects of that waste on the environment.
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has turned taking pictures of garbage dumps into an art form. See his pictures of tire piles and scrap metal fields as examples. American artist Chris Jordan?s composite images of waste are more interactive: Check out his illustration of 400,000 bottle caps, equal to how many plastic bottles are consumed in the United States every minute.
And then there are images illustrating the direct effects of climate change and reckless environmental policies. These pictures demonstrate the apparent dangers and tragedies of a global system harmful to the planet. Chris Jordan?s photographs of bird skeletons full of plastic on Midway Island are a striking example of the kinds of tragedies green photography can document and show to the world.
The Extreme Ice Survey has provided images, videos, and measurements of melting glaciers and ice sheets across the world. Its time-lapse videos and photographs have married art and science together to illustrate the urgent need to take steps to slow climate change. American photographer Camille Seaman?s photographs of melting icebergs and the Arctic Circle also dramatize the rapid warming at the poles.
If climate change, resource inefficiency, and wastefulness seem removed from our everyday lives, green photographers are there to remind us to stay green, because environmental problems are closer than we think.
If you?re a photographer, you can help by greening up your camera habits. Here are some quick tips:
Together and across the world, photographers are raising awareness about climate change and other environmental issues. To keep your finger on the pulse of green photography, take a look at two of the major photo institutions for photographers of the green movement: the Prix Pictet and the International League of Conservation Photographers. And if you want to find more ways to become a greener photographer, see the Greener Photography website.
– A CAP cross-post
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
? President Obama embraces the belt-tightening fallacy.
? Michelle Rhee pushes for the DREAM Act.
? New rape charge against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, this time inFrance.
? Gordon Wood on the declaration of independence.
? Arthur Goldhammer on the American justice system working well in the DSK case.
? Michele Bachmann and the frozen founders.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE?
Polls Reveal: Polls Revealing
Well, 2011 is hurtling down the tracks at a brisk pace, or so it seems to me. The second quarter---aka first half---is now behind us, and that means it's C&J number-crunching time. Every few months we post the results of some past C&J polls (no relation to PPP polls commissioned by Kos) to give you a snapshot of how the wheel in the Kossack headbone turns. The total number of votes each poll received is in parentheses:
- 70 percent of you won't miss going through the craziness of a presidential primary. But 15 percent will. (3,374)
- 90 percent rated the Republican (aka "Ryan") budget unveiled April 5th as "jaw-droppingly horrific." Four percent rated it "awesome." (4,179)
- 41 percent of Kossacks are over 55, and 58 percent are under 55. I figure the remaining unaccounted-for one percent is made up of time travelers from the future who technically haven't been born yet. (4,526)
- In states where billboards are allowed, 77 percent would vote to ban them. 15 percent would not. (5,339)
- 48 percent of you have a favorable opinion of your local government. 33 percent have a negative opinion of it. (3,549)
- 97 percent give Republicans a grade of 'F' for the way they've fulfilled (read: not fulfilled) their #1 pinky-swear promise to create "Jobs Jobs Jobs" for Americans when they were campaigning in 2010. (6,026)
- When push comes to shove, 78 percent think the Corporate/Wall Street wing of the GOP will have more influence on Congress's action on the debt ceiling than the teabaggers, who got 17 percent. (4,383)
- Among governors you'd most like to see out of office, Wisconsin's Scott Walker comes in first place with 34 percent, followed by Florida's Rick Scott (24%) and Texas' Rick Perry and Michigan's Rick Snyder tied at 9 percent. (5,996)
- 96 percent of you agree that poor and middle-class Republicans tend to benefit more from liberal policies than conservative policies. (4,643)
As always, we bow to your superior wisdom and ability to click a tiny circular button so early in the morning.
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Over the past 20 years, Americans have heard that “Washington is spending too much.”[...]
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