Thirty-four years after the debut of the much-acclaimed science series hosted by Carl Sagan, Cosmos has returned. The successor series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, revisits some the original series conventions (notably, the "ship of our imagination") while updating some of the science, to what is accepted today (Pluto no longer a planet, boo!).
Have you seen the first episode? What did you think?
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Politics, Sun Mar 9.
Lots of important Republicans spoke at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), including Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and Paul Ryan. Did any of them do himself any good with his speech? Rand Paul inspired most enthusiasm with his plea to defend Constitutional rights, but Marco Rubio helped himself by looking like Republicans' potential foreign policy spokesman, and even Rick Perry sounded great to many in attendance, notwithstanding speaking in one of CPAC's worst time slots. Santorum's speech was worst-rated, sounding religious right themes that may not be what Republicans need in 2016.
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Politics, Thu Mar 6.
More Republicans supporting gay rights.
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Politics, Sun Mar 2.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov has declared his country "on the brink of disaster" as Russia troops occupied Crimea. He also says Russia has declared war on his country, as Russian troops mobilise for what may become full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine has mobilised its troops in response to Russia's similar mobilisation, and in expectation that other Ukrainian regions may be invaded. US President Obama called Russian President Putin for 90 minutes, but basically got nowhere, and most western countries figure they have no good options in handling Russian aggression in Ukraine.
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A Catholic schoolgirl from New Jersey is suing her father, an ex-cop who is now a town administrator, and her mother, a legal secretary, for school tuition and other forms of financial support (room and board, etc.). They make between 300-350K a year. Rachel Canning claims her parents kicked her out of their home and now she has no way of paying for college (and what is left of her Catholic school tuition for the senior year). Her parents claim she left on her own because she would not agree to follow their rules, such as respecting her mother, doing her chores, and breaking up with her boyfriend, who they claim is a bad influence on her. Her legal fees are being paid by her best friend's father, who is an attorney. Rachel has also claimed that her parents abused her, such as her mother calling her "porky" and that leading to an eating disorder, and her dad getting drunk and touching her inappropriately. Her parents vehemently deny the allegations of abuse.
Is this just a case of a spoiled brat or is Rachel entitled to receive financial support from her parents even though she is 18? Keep in mind, NJ law does not have automatic emancipation at age 18 like other states. Doesn't it seem weird that her best friend's father, an attorney, is footing Rachel's legal bills? He says because she needs money from her parents to get a good education and build a life, but does he have other motives?
Is the real story here that her father makes 300K a year as a town administrator?
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Its winter. Winter sucks, even in California. I just spent a weekend getting drenched on a mini vacation in San Diego of all places. So let's cook some winter food. Today's choice, which I would totally be making if my wife wasn't still in SoCal for a work conference, Flemish Carbonnade.
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Global warming seems to have downsides no one was even thinking about.
"A mysterious giant virus buried for 30,000 years in Siberian permafrost has been resurrected. The virus only infects single-celled organisms and doesn't closely resemble any known pathogens that harm humans. Even so, the new discovery raises the possibility that as the climate warms and exploration expands in long-untouched regions of Siberia, humans could release ancient or eradicated viruses. These could include Neanderthal viruses or even smallpox that have lain dormant in the ice for thousands of years."
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"[I]n China recently, ... a man jumped into a tiger cage at a Chengdu zoo and spent 20 minutes 'attempting unsuccessfully to persuade the big cats to consume him.' Tigers' preferred food is hoofed animals, says Wikipedia. I grew up thinking they ate breakfast cereal, but this was due to a campaign of disinformation by Kellogg's, a devious Western food company. But tigers do sometimes eat people, so why not this guy? I threw this question open to the gang at my local rice-box eatery. My friends aren't the sharpest tools in the box, but they made the point that it is impossible to actually act edible. 'You either look good to eat or you don't,' one said, citing the example of Barack Obama, who is boney and unappetizing, compared to the succulent Jennifer Lawrence, 'who no man can look at for more than five seconds without his mouth watering and hands reaching for the salt and pepper.'"
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In New York City:
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Lots of U.S. Republican conservatives would like to repeal America's 17th Amendment, which replaced selection of Senators by State Legislatures with direct election of Senators by state voters. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Utah Senator Mike Lee, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Georgia Senate candidate Paul Broun, and lots of other people have been advocating this idea recently, ostensibly to give states more power over federal policies.
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Barack Obama and his Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel plan to save some serious money in next year's budget -- and in budgets for years to come -- by cutting America's army from 530,000 troops to 440,000, fewer troops than America has had since America began preparing for involvement in World War II, and cutting one complete class of Air Force attack jets.
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Forget about GOP Establishment Versus Tea Partiers. Lots of big-shot Republicans think that social conservatives could kill their chances of taking control of America's Senate in November 2014. So they have taken to trying to stop any "new Todd Akin" from winning any Republican primaries this year. As was said of one popular (female) Republican who feared running against her potential hard-core social conservative opponent, "First Mitt Romney endorsed her. Then came Citizens United and the president of Americans for Prosperity, the group financed by the wealthy Koch brothers."
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Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper wants to divide California into six states, and California's Secretary of State says Draper has until 18 July to gather 807,000 signatures to get his plan on California's ballot.
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