Butterflies are free to fly about in the radiation

Hat tip to reader Lyn for this story:

In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life around it, scientists say they’ve found mutant butterflies.

Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature. Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.

The study began two months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated swaths of northeastern Japan in March 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster. The Fukushima Daiichi plant spewed radiation and displaced tens of thousands of residents from the surrounding area in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

Janna Ryan

So Paul Ryan married a lobbyist:

Ryan and her then-boyfriend’s work appear to have overlapped. In February 2000 while Janna Ryan still was working on behalf of UPS, Paul Ryan made one of only two corporate-funded trips he took that year, from Milwaukee to Atlanta, where UPS is headquartered. The trip was paid for by UPS, which also flew the congressman back to Washington, according to his financial disclosure reports.

The Romney campaign declined to comment on the UPS trip, nor did the campaign comment on her lobbying clients.

Warming up

I don’t think anything I have much to add that wouldn’t be gilding this particular lily:

A reactor at the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn., has shut down because of something that its 1960s designers never anticipated: the water in Long Island Sound was too warm to cool it.

Under the reactor’s safety rules, the cooling water can be no higher than 75 degrees. On Sunday afternoon, the water’s temperature soared to 76.7 degrees, prompting the operator, Dominion Power, to order the shutdown of the 880-megawatt reactor.

“Temperatures this summer are the warmest we’ve had since operations began here at Millstone,’’ said a spokesman for Dominion, Ken Holt. The plant’s first reactor, now retired, began operation in 1970.

The plant’s third reactor was still running on Monday, but engineers were watching temperature trends carefully out of concern that it, too, might have to shut down.

[…] The water from the sound is piped into the plant to absorb heat from pumps and other pieces of equipment. As the sound’s temperature inched upward this summer, Dominion Power received permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to measure it at three locations instead of one and to calculate the average in the hope that it would be lower. That did not help on Sunday.

And higher water temperatures could lie ahead. The sound’s temperature usually does not peak until late August.

Eventually, engineers could change the Millford reactor’s intake pipe so it draws water from further below the surface, where temperatures are lower, Mr. Holt said. They could also sharpen their pencils and try to determine whether the plant can operate safely with cooling water above 75 degrees, but neither is a short-term project.

Cloud cover and the mixing of some cooler rainfall might also bring down temperatures, Mr. Holt suggested.


HuffPost Hill:

Here is the latest in our ongoing series PASTED: The Emails of the Jobless. “I was let go from a position as a Compliance Paralegal in March of 2009,” writes a 55-year-old Pennsylvania woman who asked for anonymity to protect her job prospects. She said she’d previously earned a $55,000 salary. Now she’s earning half as much at a part-time gig as a legal assistant. “I have applied to hundreds of jobs, I have had my resume professionally created, I have networked, I have attended workshops….My spirit is broken. I have very good support from my family, but this ordeal has shaken me to my core. I have been unable to perform well on interviews. I am so nervous that I freeze up and cannot talk. This will not get me a job. But I can’t get past it. And I never used to have this problem. I used to be able to ace an interview. Now I can’t even talk!”

Honey, I know exactly what you mean. It’s awful. I can’t believe what this has done to my confidence.

Language intelligence

I was thinking about this yesterday as I took a long drive to someone’s house while listening to Randy Newman’s “Rednecks” album. I thought to myself what perfectly evocative, persuasive use of language. “More liberals should listen to this,” I said.

Because one of the things that drives me insane about progressive strategists is how poorly they use language. Man, do these people love to take a perfectly clear sentence and neuter the shit out of it! Perfectly nice people, but some of them have been educated into irrelevance – because real life is not a graduate seminar. So I hope this book is very, very popular and that they all read it:

I don’t normally do this. But right now, I am going to come out and gushingly endorse a book: Climate blogger Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga.

Everybody who cares about why science doesn’t get through to the public should read it.

Basically, it is a powerful treatise on the neglected art of rhetoric, the technique mastered by Shakespeare, Lincoln, and the writers of the King James Bible. As an English major, I particularly delighted in Romm’s discussion of figures of speech and how they make orators persuasive by allowing them to activate people’s emotions. Indeed, as Romm writes, modern neuroscience now confirms what the poets always knew about getting to people’s heads through their hearts (that’s a metaphor, by the way–one of the chief techniques that Romm discusses).

If you ever want to understand why scientists fare so poorly getting their message across–and why liberals lose policy debates and, often, presidential campaigns–this is also the book for you. In essence: too much higher education, too much wonk sophistication, destroys the common language simplicity of good rhetoric and makes you less persuasive.

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