Daily Archives: January 3, 2012

Early Iowa Results: Santorum Romney Wins by 18 8 (updated)

Gingrich and Perry both have two digits but are being doubled by the front runers. Michele Bachmann is hanging on to second to last place with 6%.

Apropos my earlier post on this, here’s what this means: Predicting the outcome of the Republican Primary process from this race, we can say with reasonable confidence that the GOP will be fielding a white male or may or may not be a Mormon, a Libertarian or a Dark Horse Conservative.

The polls going into this stage of the primary race showed Romney a tiny bit ahead of Paul with Santorum, Gingrich and Perry (in that order) trailing in late December, with very little change in that configuration just two days ago. Assuming the pattern being reported by major news networks (Romney, Paul and Santorum in a close race at the top) this means that Santorum has moved significantly forward, or was somehow being underrepresented in earlier polling. It is probably safest to assume the former.

UPDATE: At just after midnight Iowa time, with 99% of the results in, Rick Santorum has 25% of the votes is the winner of the Iowa Caucuses by 18 votes over second place Mitt Romnmey. Ron Paul is a close third with 21% of the votes. Gingrich has 13%, Rick Perry 10%, Michele Bachmann 5% and John Huntsman a trace.

It is starting to look like Perry will be withdrawing, and I assume that a fair percentage of his votes will go to Bachmann, so she may rise, in effect, from mid single digits to upper-mid single digits before the week is out, but of course, that only refers to Iowans, and hardly any of them live in New Hampshire, the next stop on this train’s journey. Long journey. Like Michele Bachmann says:

I have been awarded a Great Honor

i-5988cdb3e8aa1ed766217871996e1fdd-kickass2011_B.jpgAlong with some other deserving people including …

Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, Jen McCreight, Amanda Marcotte, Stephanie Zvan, Greg Laden, and PZ Myers

It’s hardly a secret that last year was a challenging one for me in terms of a large number of people in our community shitting on me on a daily basis. Amanda, Stephanie, Greg, and PZ were with me at SkepchickCon last year when Richard Dawkins told me that sexism in this community didn’t matter because FGM. I’ll be honest: that was kind of a low point for me, and a big part of me just wanted to pack up and never interact with the atheist community again.

But seeing the reaction of Amanda, PZ, Greg, and Stephanie helped me put it into perspective and realize that I wasn’t alone in this fight, and that meant the world to me. In the weeks that followed, Greta, Ophelia, and Jen joined in to publicly denounce both Dawkins and others who were trying to bully me into silence.

Their support has extended far beyond the Dawkins disaster. When I recently…

Go read all about it here and leave a nice supporting and encouraging comment, or I’ll kick your ass!!!

"Hey Lerb, why big cat have long teeth?"

The history of human thought is an epic adventure of exploration and discovery. Since the beginning of time, humans have been curious about order and chaos in nature and our place in the world. By understanding the natural world around us, we understand ourselves better. But how we attempt to answer these fundamental questions has evolved over time. This evolving history, looks something like this:

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The Meaning and Significance of Tonight’s Iowa Caucuses.

Did you know that a “Caucus” is a Native American Thing? It is. And the Iowa Caucuses start tonight in about an hour as I write this. It might look a little different than the original Native American thing.

No candidate that has finished in fourth place or lower in the Iowa Caucuses has ever become president, however, by my count, one of those individuals (a fourth placer) won the Republican nomination. Obama, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Carter and Mondale were first placers; Dukakis came in third as did Clinton in one of his years, Carter came in second after “nobody” one year, and McGovern came in third after “Uncommitted” and Musky in the year that Nixon’s plumbers fixed the election. So, for the Democrats, coming in first or even second matters as you either win the presidency, win but have the election stolen, or come very close. For the Republicans, going back to 76, Ford came in first and lost, Reagan came in second and won (then came in first as unopposed sitting president). George Bush Senior was unopposed the first time he won, but then became a one termer, so the 92 caucus is meaningless for the Republicans. Dole came in first in 96 and sucked as a candidate, and then George W. Bush did a first place as a new candidate and a first place unopposed. Last election, for the first time in Repulbican history and the only time in the history of the caucuses, a forth placer won the nomination (John McCain) and he was trounced by Obama.

So if there is a pattern, it is this: Continue reading The Meaning and Significance of Tonight’s Iowa Caucuses.

Obamacare is working

ObamaCare Is Winning the Fight on Fraud and Abuse

Thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA/ObamaCare) and to an unprecedented effort by the Obama Administration, more progress has been made in the past three years to combat health care fraud and abuse than ever before. There was a 68.9 percent increase in criminal health care fraud prosecutions from 2010 to 2011, and 2010 was already the highest ever. See the chart below, released last month by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Read the rest here

I had assumed the Vatican was good for Italy

… in terms of tourism dollars, payouts, subcontracting, etc. etc. Indeed, most of the people I know in Italy who are not archaeologists are somehow involved in restoring old stuff, and I think a good amount of Vatican money goes into that. But it appears that my assumption was wrong.

Six billion euros. That’s how much the Catholic Church costs Italy every year, according to the first detailed investigation of the impact of state support and tax privileges received by the Church. The findings by Italy’s Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR), a member organization of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, were published the day after Italy’s new government announced a budget filled with new taxes and drastic spending cuts.

“Six billion euros per year are a lot,” said Raffaele Carcano, secretary of UAAR.

I’ll say! Check out the whole story here. Tax The Churches!

All Candidates Should Acknowledge Climate Change

Obviously! But they mostly don’t. Check this out:

New Hampshire scientists call on “all candidates” to “acknowledge” cliamte change

In 2008, one of the little acknowledged political subtexts was how significantly global warming played in the Republican primary process. Both independently and as part of organizational efforts, individuals asked questions at events (and on street corners) and many events has signs about voters’ concerns over the need for climate change action. John McCain stood alone in discussing climate change forthrightly. In terms of impact, John McCain might just have won in New Hampshire (setting him on the path for the nomination) due to statements like these:

Click here to read the post.

Retrospective: What we talked about in April, 2011

In April, we continued to look at the disaster in Japan, focusing entirely on the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Miller and I were criticized for not focusing on something other than Fukushima. It became apparent that TEPCO had ignored warnings that Fukushima was poorly cited with respect to tsunamis, and despite the assertion that the nuclear material at the site was ‘contained’ the amount of radioactive material in the nearby ocean was rising. Much of the debate of whether or not Fukushima was a problem (this debate would sputter out by the end of the month or early May) shifted to whether or not nuclear accidents were normal and expected, and attempts by nuclear power advocates to paint nuclear power as a victim of unreasonable demands started to become more common.

Here are a few of the key Fukushima related posts with the most comments:

I mentioned in my previous retrospective that I interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson in March. It was actually early April! Sorry. Details here.

I reviewed, controversially, the controversial film about the controversial Timothy Treadwell, produced and directed by the controversial Werner Herzog. We’re still trying to work out what happened: Why Was the Grizzly Man Eaten by a Bear? (Film review and commentary)

In April, I wrote an extensive set of posts on how to make good use of your time at the gym. But it wasn’t just exercise advice; There were stories too (Africa. Some time in the early 1990s.; Lenora; Funny haha, funny strange).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Aardvarchaeology blogger and renowned skeptic Martin Rundkvist and Swedish journalist Yusie Chou. Click through to the podcast.

I might have complained about Wikipedia.

Tornado season started. It was to prove to be a bad one.

I started complaining about Unity and Gnome 3.0. A lot of people told me to shut up. So I did. But I would like to note that Linus Torvalds and I have the same exact opinion, arrived at separately. So there.

In April, I started a new project which continues to this day. I write a blog post once a month for the esteemed birding blog, 10,000 Birds. My first one was: Bird Song and Parallel Evolution: learning from our feathered friends.

In this month, Michele Bachmann made her first mistake as a politician seeking the presidency: She admitted that Obama’s Birth Certificate is real and legal. But we still have hopes that she will be the republican Nominee!

Lew died.

We had some discussion about Gun Control and Firearms Owership, and Gun Safety, and I threw some data up on the blog. Here are the most relevant posts:

We discussed getting your toddler to sleep.

April is the month that we started moving forward with the National Geographic Society – ScienceBlogs partnership.