Saturday, March 4, 2017

Demographic Change, It's A Comin'

At least in Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland's snap election has left the rival extremes of politics virtually neck and neck for the first time — and facing a bruising battle to put their Catholic-Protestant government back together again in an increasingly polarized landscape.
The big winner from Saturday's final results to fill the Northern Ireland Assembly is the Irish nationalist party that triggered the vote, Sinn Fein.
Already the major voice for the Catholic side, Sinn Fein reduced its previous 10-seat gap with its erstwhile Protestant colleagues in government to a single seat in a 90-member chamber. Sinn Fein came within 1,168 votes province-wide of becoming the most popular party for the first time in a corner of the United Kingdom that its leaders long sought to make ungovernable through Irish Republican Army carnage....
In another first, the leading British Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, won't have enough votes to block legislation on its own, a power long employed to block gay rights legislation backed by all other parties. Never before has the Protestant side's status as the in-built majority in Northern Ireland felt so precarious.
The outcome from Thursday's election, forced by a surprise Sinn Fein withdrawal that collapsed the previous unity government, caught other parties off guard. The Democratic Unionists finished with 28 seats, Sinn Fein 27. The political affiliations of smaller parties meant the new assembly will have 40 unionists committed to keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom versus 39 nationalists seeking to merge the once Protestant-dominated north into the Republic of Ireland.
I am curious if Brexit was a large motivating factor in more people supporting Sinn Fein in this election than in previous elections.  The Unionist side is getting very old, and I would guess that some young Protestants see more of a future with Ireland and the EU than with Britain.  Previous elections showed a much slower rate of change in relative strength between Unionists and Nationalists.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

NASA Photo of the Day


A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana
Image Credit & Copyright: Sean R. Heavey
Explanation: Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in 2010 July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.

Pre-Mardi Gras Links

Unbelievably, Lent is almost here and winter is pretty much over.  Here are some stories that caught my attention:

The Next Babe Ruth - Sportsnet

In a Champion's Corner, a Real Coach Who Inspired One on 'The Wire' - New York Times

 A Taste For Pork Helped A Deadly Virus Jump To Humans - Goats and Soda

A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field - New York Times

Farming Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese-Americans Remember WWII Incarceration - The Salt

Red state rural America is acting on climate change – without calling it climate change - The Conversation

Wary of Modern Society, Some Christians Choose a Life Apart - Wall Street Journal

The Secret Art History on Your Money - New York Times

What Happens When Two Bankers and an Engineer Get a Billion Dollars - Bloomberg

The enormous scale of the erosion problem at the Oroville dam site - AGU.  Awesome photos from 2 weeks ago.

Meet ISRO’s PSLV: The rockstar of Indian rockets - Quartz

The 20th century saw a 23-fold increase in natural resources used for building - The Conversation.  I think this is the definition of unsustainable.

End of a golden age - Aeon.  The product of the unsustainable development (in the West) described above.

Scott Pruitt's Back-To-Basics Agenda for the EPA - Wall Street Journal and Environmental Chief Promises Swift Rollback of Obama-Era Rules - Bloomberg. 
“People across the country look at the EPA much like they look at the IRS -- and I hope to be able to change that,” Pruitt said.
I doubt that he meant that both agencies are endlessly attacked and undermined by Republicans, to the point that they are woefully unable make sure existing laws are followed, but that is the case.

The fallacy of Trump's "send in the Feds" fix for Chicago - Vox

The Two Kinds of Trump Voters - Politico

Outside coastal cities an ‘other America’ has different values and challenges - The Guardian

"I Feel Forgotten": A Decade of Struggle in Rural Ohio - The New Yorker

What happened when factory jobs moved from Warren, Ohio, to Juarez, Mexico - LA Times

Under A New System, Clinton Could Have Won The Popular Vote By 5 Points And Still Lost - FiveThirtyEight.  Gerrymandering (or stealing elections) on steroids.  I'd originally meant to write a post about this, but never got around to it.