Sunday, July 19, 2015

Last Call For The White Walkers

There seems to be more than a little smart money on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker emerging victorious from the rubble and claiming the 2016 GOP nomination.  Here's a not so gentle reminder of what a White Walker presidency would turn into.

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker had a steep learning curve on foreign policy after some early off-key statements. Now an eager student of global affairs, is staking out positions that play well to conservatives but lack a lot of nuance.

This was clear from a weekend bus tour the Wisconsin governor took across Iowa and earlier stops in South Carolina as part of the campaign swing he took in the week after becoming the 15th candidate to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

He saw no need for diplomatic niceties in response to the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama negotiated with Tehran: He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.

“This is not a country we should be doing business with,” he said in Davenport, Iowa, reminding the crowd of Iran’s holding of 52 American hostages in 1979. “This is one of the leading state sponsors of terrorism.”

Walker would also be more confrontational with both Russia over its aggression against Ukraine and against China, for the territorial pressures Beijing is putting on U.S. allies in the South China Sea.

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.

Steel in the face of our enemies, meaning Iran, China and Russia.  Going to take a lot of cuts to schools, health care and roads to pay for all those troops going overseas under a Walker administration, you know.  I hope you weren't attached to Social Security or having your kids not go to war.

But hey, we'll sure be scary out there.  It's not like our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan had massive blowback, right?

By the way, Scott Walker has a number of things that he doesn't think he should have an opinion on, because that's too hard.

In a weekend interview with Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker about whether the Boy Scouts should allow gay troop leaders, CNN's Dana Bash asked Walker, "Do you think being gay is a choice?"

"I don't have an opinion on every single issue out there. To me, that's, I don't know," Walker answered. "I don't know the answer to that question."

Going to war with our "enemies" is easy.  Gay scoutmasters? Too hard for a President to have to worry about.

Scott Walker.

Great Scott, Marty!

It's good to know that one of my favorite movie franchises will be back after 30 years.

Where we’re going, we don’t need home entertainment systems.

Buckle up and get your flux capacitor firing, because the Back to the Future trilogy is headed back to the big screen on Oct. 21 for a one-night event. (Go here for more details.) Universal made the announcement in London on Friday, where the trilogy’s cast — including stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson — reunited for a 30th anniversary celebration of the franchise’s first film. The Robert Zemeckis-directed flick was the highest-grossing film of 1985.

The date of the re-release marks the exact date that Marty McFly, Fox’s time-hopping teenager, landed in Back to the Future Part II, a film that saw him zip ahead in time to rescue his future family. The world isn’t exactly like the film predictedJaws 19 won’t be playingand the theater won’t be called a Holomax — but any world in which Marty and Co. are back in theaters is a good one.

Hopefully this will be playing in the Cincy area and I can go catch this.  The series still stands up today as one of the more beloved sci-fi popcorn romps, and it'll be good to see it once again.

Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox reunited (Instagram)

If I can't make it, well there's always the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray collection.

For those who can’t make it out to the theaters on Oct. 21— or just want to spend life stuck in a perpetual (and delightful) time loop — the franchise is being released in a brand new box set that comes in a collectible, light-up Flux Capacitor packaging. The package is stocked with extras, including bonus features, documentaries, a vinyl soundtrack, a 64-page book, and the entire Back to the Future: The Animated Series.

Count me in on that regardless.

Sunday Long Read: Rocking And Rolling In Eugene

This week's Sunday Long Read is an unsubtle reminder that California's infamous San Andreas fault (and bad movies starring The Rock) is not where seismologists and geologists expect America's next disastrous earthquake: it's the fault zone north of there covering the Pacific Northwest from coastal far northern California up to Vancouver Island, known as the Cascadia subduction zone.

Take your hands and hold them palms down, middle fingertips touching. Your right hand represents the North American tectonic plate, which bears on its back, among other things, our entire continent, from One World Trade Center to the Space Needle, in Seattle. Your left hand represents an oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca, ninety thousand square miles in size. The place where they meet is the Cascadia subduction zone. Now slide your left hand under your right one. That is what the Juan de Fuca plate is doing: slipping steadily beneath North America. When you try it, your right hand will slide up your left arm, as if you were pushing up your sleeve. That is what North America is not doing. It is stuck, wedged tight against the surface of the other plate. 
Without moving your hands, curl your right knuckles up, so that they point toward the ceiling. Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely. There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring. If, on that occasion, only the southern part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way—your first two fingers, say—the magnitude of the resulting quake will be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6.That’s the big one. If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one
Flick your right fingers outward, forcefully, so that your hand flattens back down again. When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” 
In the Pacific Northwest, everything west of Interstate 5 covers some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. “This is one time that I’m hoping all the science is wrong, and it won’t happen for another thousand years,” Murphy says.

And all that isn't even the terrifying part.  The truly scary part is that the Pacific Northwest is nowhere near prepared enough to handle a 9.0+ quake, particularly Oregon.  Do read the whole thing, it's worse than any disaster movie you've seen.
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