Daily Archives: March 8, 2011

Acorn Killers Target NPR

The video comes from Project Veritas, and is another in political activist James O’Keefe’s undercover exposes (he most prominently took on ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). In the video, Schiller and NPR institutional giving director Betsy Liley are at lunch in Washington with two Project Veritas “investigative reporters” identified as Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar, who posed as “Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik.” They were allegedly interested in having their organization donate $5 million to NPR. O’Keefe’s organization says the recording was made on Feb. 22.

Huge steaming piles of commentary on this here.

Happy International Women’s Day

From the IWD web site:

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

I remember in the 1980s passing through Nairobi on or about IWD during the Year of the Woman (a UN thing) and seeing slogans on all the busses noting that “A crime against a woman is a crime.

Kenya has lots of misogyny and many women there are treated very badly. On the other hand, there are piles of women in elected and unelected major positions of power, as there are in many African countries. There is a real effort at some levels to support Gender Equity.

At a recent meeting of the Minnesota Atheists, PZ Myers pointed out the dismal state of women as speakers (or writers/bloggers) in the Skeptics community. Stephanie Zvan has written about this as well, as have some others, in recent days. At that meeting, Mike Haubrich suggested that organizations like Mn Atheists should consider doing what the Minnesota DFL does: Have a full-on gender-equity policy. When delegates are elected, half are women. Period. It is not hard, there are lots of women involved (at least there are these days) so there are plenty of nominees. As any man who knows his history can explain to you, Gender Equity policies such as this work.

My point: Kenya and Zaire were way beyond the US in having women in power as far back as the mid 1980s. There are fewer women in Congress today than at various times in the past in the US. So WTF?

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting faster.

These masses of ice are now contributing more new meltwater to the world’s seas than all other melting ice combined.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.

The nearly 20-year study reveals that in 2006, a year in which comparable results for mass loss in mountain glaciers and ice caps are available from a separate study conducted using other methods, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost a combined mass of 475 gigatonnes a year on average. That’s enough to raise global sea level by an average of 1.3 millimeters (.05 inches) a year. (A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds.)

The pace at which the polar ice sheets are losing mass was found to be accelerating rapidly. Each year over the course of the study, the two ice sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the year before. In comparison, the 2006 study of mountain glaciers and ice caps estimated their loss at 402 gigatonnes a year on average, with a year-over-year acceleration rate three times smaller than that of the ice sheets.


Total ice sheet mass balance between 1992 and 2009, as measured for Greenland (top), Antarctica (middle) and the cumulative sum of both ice sheets (bottom), in gigatonnes per year, as measured by the two different methods used by the researchers: the mass budget method (solid black circles) and time-variable gravity measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) satellites (solid red triangles). Image credit: NASA/JPL-UC Irvine-Utrecht University-National Center for Atmospheric Research

This will result in a greater increase in sea level of the medium to long term than previously estimated. Unless you live in Kiribati, in which case you’ll be fine.

Lots more details here.

“God’s Lady Problem”

Jen McCreight writes the blog Blag Hag and became famous last year for attempting unsuccessfully to prove that if a large number of women wore low cut shirts there would be a major earthquake. (It turns out that there was a 7-point-something earthquake on “Boob Quake” day, which requires that the experiment be repeated.)

(It is interesting to note that most people seem to have not noticed that earthquake for some reason. And they call themselves Skeptics!)

Anyway, Jen will be a guest on Atheist Talk Radio this coming Sunday, March 13th.

I predict that if an atheist talks about how god does not cause disasters, on the 13th day of the month, there will be an earthquake of 7.0 or greater magnitude somewhere on the earth later that same day.

Details of the radio show here.