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Rocking around the Christmas tree

Brenda Lee:

Primitive girl

M. Ward:

Young man in America

Anaïs Mitchell:

The disinformation campaign

Well see, someone gave them information about the Iran nuclear program, but they don’t want to be quoted because well, and the AP says, okay, buddy, good enough for me!

Claiming to have obtained proof that “Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon,” Jahn admitted that the diagram “was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon,” on the “condition that they and their country not be named.” You’d almost think someone wanted to trump up reasons for another war.

Devoid of any official markings or even a date, the crude diagram is supposedly one of several used as evidence for a controversial November 2011 IAEA report that raised multiple questions, but fell short of direct accusations, about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program. The diagram, as well as the bulk of the other intelligence referenced in that report, were not obtained directly by the IAEA itself but admittedly received via other agency “member states.”

According to AP, the graph displays “a bell curve — with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy both in kilotons — the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons.” As Nima Shirazi of Columbia University’s Gulf/2000 Project points out however, “[it] shows nothing more than a probability density function, that is, an abstract visual aid depicting the theoretical behavior of a random variable to take on any given value.” Such normal distribution curves can be plotted with nearly any data set and are not specific to nuclear physics at all.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists—the premier non-technical trade journal of nuclear policy discussion—concurs, adding that “even if authentic, it would not qualify as proofof a nuclear weapons program. Besides the issue of authenticity, the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level.” It details the error, remarking upon the graph’s two curves:

[O]ne that plots the energy versus time, and another that plots the power output versus time, presumably from a fission device. But these two curves do not correspond: If the energy curve is correct, then the peak power should be much lower — around 300 million (3×108) kt per second, instead of the currently stated 17 trillion (1.7 x1013) kt per second. As is, the diagram features a nearly million-fold error.

The Bulletin goes on to conclude, “This diagram does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax.”

Is never, silly!

Flash mob

This is a good one!

Sore losers

Not that there aren’t some really good arguments for getting rid of the electoral college, but Dominic Pileggi’s been in Pennsylvania politics a long time, and he didn’t express similar concerns after George W. Bush was reelected. I assume he wants to change the rules because it makes it easier for Republicans to gain the system. Which is the point, I guess:

A Pennsylvania lawmaker’s plan to divvy up electoral votes based on a presidential candidate’s public support may be just the first of many state legislative moves to alter the way the nation chooses a leader.

State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, wants to replace the winner-take-all system, which gave President Barack Obama Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, with one that divides them to reflect the proportion of public support for each candidate. His method would have given 12 votes to Obama and eight to Republican Mitt Romney this year.

“Anyone who voted for Governor Romney, and many Pennsylvanians did, does not have any reflection of that vote in the electoral college vote,” Pileggi said. “This is a proposal that is not party specific or partisan in any way, but just an attempt to have the popular vote reflected in the electoral college vote.”

Pileggi’s proposal, which he asked senators in a memo to cosponsor, may be the first of a spate presented to lawmakers nationwide. Daniel P. Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University in Columbus and associate director of its Election Law @ Moritz center said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Republicans and Democrats seeking ways to “game the system” ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

If all states had used Pileggi’s method, the final outcome Nov. 6 wouldn’t have changed, though it would’ve narrowed Obama’s margin of victory, according a preliminary legislative analysis of the proposal. The president would’ve won 281 electoral votes to Romney’s 256. Obama won, 332 to 206.

Next year, at least 36 states will have one-party control of legislatures and governor’s offices, including Pennsylvania, according to MultiStates Associates Inc., a lobbying firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

“It’s never too early for partisan gamesmanship among partisan politicians,” Tokaji said.

Help, help, the peasants are revolting

How shocking it must be to find out that customers don’t support their imperial ways.

Do you hear what I hear

First Draft’s Atheae has a very, very good idea, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I stole it:

So I’m in my kitchen on Sunday making what feels like the thousandth batch of Christmas cookies I’ve made so far this year, and turning up the local Christmas music station to try to stave off the holiday blues, yelling along DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR and generally annoying the hell out of the longest-suffering husband on the planet, and this sticks in my throat:

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere

Because it’s not enough to pray for peace, where prayer means mouthing words in pews. It’s not enough to wish for the best for this world. It’s not enough to take ten minutes every year for goodwill to all. You live it every day, as best you can. It’s cold out right now, and dark, and TV’s telling us to buy everything and decorate everything and also to be more thoughtful about what really matters, and it’s enough to drive you batty.

So what I do, in these situations, is find something to fix. We’ve sent care packages overseas and collected coats and brought one another some holiday cheer in the past. And because the TV news has forgotten let’s remember large parts of this country recently got flattened and they need help, so let’s help: 

My Students: We have finally started school again Hurricane Sandy destroyed our community in Far Rockaway. Most of our students and many of our teachers lost everything. I want to do anything I can to try to improve their lives right now, even if it’s more opportunities and resources in their classrooms.

Music is a skill and a passion that a child can take pride in for the rest of his or her life. It is time for our students to experience the power and joy that music can have in their lives.

Our school is a Title I elementary school with a culturally diverse student community. Our little scholars have not had music in their lives for over two years, and we are struggling to provide them everything they deserve. They are creative and bright students who crave music and the varieties of activities it can bring with it.

My Project: My students need a printer, ink cartridges, and paper for basic supplies in our classroom. The printer will be used to print student work, worksheets, and pictures to display in the room. We have shows coming up and the printer can be used to make programs and print accessories. The ink will be used to maintain the printer throughout the school year. Lastly, the paper will be used to print on.

Let’s give this classroom what they need so they can start off 2013 just a little less needy. Let’s adopt PS197 Ocean School, and help clean up what the hurricane destroyed, and make peace and joy happen.


So Roger Ailes, Republican kingmaker, sent an emissary to Gen. Petraeus to talk him into running for president — and Bob Woodward has the audio file of the conversation. Ailes insists it was all in good fun! Ha, ha!

I wonder if that broke any laws.

UPDATE: Juan Cole makes some pertinent points.

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