Romney doesn’t want to talk about FEMA anymore — MSNBC

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to answer reporters’ questions on what he would do with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if elected president.

According to a pool report, Romney was asked “at least five times” as to whether or not he would eliminate FEMA, but he ignored them all. Romney was at an event in Ohio and continued to shake hands with the public while ignoring the reporters.

Romney said during the Republican primaries that he would like to dismantle FEMA as it exists and instead give all disaster relief responsibility back to the states, or “even better” the private sector.

via Romney doesn’t want to talk about FEMA anymore — MSNBC.

A Hard Day’s Night by numbers: The Beatles decoded

TWANG! It’s been a …”

There is perhaps no song as quintessentially Beatle-ish as A Hard Day’s Night – it just bubbles with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. And in my mind, there’s no other opening chord of a rock song that is as instantly recognisable as that one.

I grew up grudgingly playing the piano, practising only the half-hour before my lesson each week. But as soon as heard my first Beatles’ record, I dropped the piano to teach myself guitar eight hours a day during my high school summers.

Something about the early Beatles’ music struck a chord, so to speak, deep down inside of me, and it hasn’t left.

via A Hard Day’s Night by numbers: The Beatles decoded.

Schrödinger’s Qur’an – a 2012 thought experiment

Whenever I see angry mobs reacting to the destruction of religious books it makes me think of Schrödinger, iPads and how we should interpret fundamentalist religious teachings in the digital era.The brilliant Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger won the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics for his contributions to quantum theory.He is best known for his 1935 “thought experiment” in which a perhaps otherwise cute and loveable! pussycat is placed in a sealed and sound-proof box along with a radioactive isotope that has a 50% chance of decaying by the time the box is finally opened.If the isotope decays before the box is opened, it triggers a minor explosion that ultimately leads to the release of a deadly gas and the cat will be dead when the box is opened.

via Schrödinger’s Qur’an – a 2012 thought experiment.

Coal? It’s Over | The Global Mail

Back in August, when Australia’s Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the country’s resources boom was over, the government went straight into damage-control mode.He misspoke, they told us. What he meant was that the investment part of the cycle was slowing. Nothing to worry about, folks, we’ll be digging it up in bigger quantities than ever, and the rest of the world will keep on paying us the big bucks for the foreseeable future.Ten weeks later, the government releases its mid-financial year update on the budget, and we find there is a $4 billion shortfall in revenue for this year, and a $22 billion projected shortfall over the four-year budget forecast.Here’s the treasurer, Wayne Swan, explaining and spinning it, in part of his statement announcing the bad news:“Global growth has slowed in recent months, with the recession in the Euro area and the subdued recovery in the United States weighing on growth in our region,” he said.

via Coal? It’s Over | The Global Mail.

building blocks for America’s recovery – FT.com

The final full week of the US presidential campaign will see both candidates intensely debate the future of economic policy. But despite the rhetoric about its means, most experts agree on its ends. First, re-establishing economic growth at a rate that makes real reduction in unemployment possible; second, placing the nation’s finances on a stable footing by putting in place measures to ensure that the nation’s sovereign debt is declining relative to its wealth; and third, renewing the economy’s foundation in a way that can support steady growth in middle-class incomes over the next generation as well as work for all those who want it.

via building blocks for America’s recovery – FT.com.

Gardens: how to grow autumn colour | Life and style | The Observer

A sulky summer can be made good by the mood of a pretty autumn; heavy dew marking the tracks of animals that have been up and about before daylight, asters catching low sunlight and windfalls lying in excess and making the air under apple trees smell of cider. The best, when still weather combines with a sharp start and then sun, will see a ramping of colour that will cause you to look beyond the confines of your garden. Motorway embankments will flare with the red of hawthorn berry and the brief but ambered Prunus avium, while street and park trees will remind you that they are capable of more than just greening. For a wonderful interlude, things are capable of taking your breath away, like blossom might at the opposite end of the growing season.

via Gardens: how to grow autumn colour | Life and style | The Observer.

What’s in a corkscrew? – Telegraph

My first thought on seeing the enormous collection of corkscrews, arranged curatorially in glass cases at the Dinastía Vivanco winery museum in Rioja, was that this might have been a hobby that got a bit out of control, necessitating a domestic intervention. I imagined Señora Vivanco, tiring of the things littering up the house: “Darling, they’re so marvellous, why don’t you put them on display, so others can appreciate them too.”

A coincidental meeting a couple of weeks later, this time in Greece, showed me I had grossly underestimated the competitive intensity of the international corkscrew-collecting community.

via What’s in a corkscrew? – Telegraph.

Kooaaa! It’s a kookaburra! › Nature Features (ABC Science)

Springtime is no laughing matter for kookaburra chicks as they fight for survival in the family nest.

By Rachel Sullivan

King of the bush: laughing kookaburras are iconic Australians (Source: iStockphoto)

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Audio: Laughing kookaburra call

The kookaburra’s familiar laugh is taking on a softer, more intimate note as the spring breeding season gets into full swing. But their cheery call and rich family life also hide a darker side: in a grim battle for resources hatchlings fight to the death, watched over by their mother.

The largest members of the kingfisher family, kookaburras are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australia is home to two of the four species: the colourful northern blue-winged kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) which is found in the country’s north, as far south as Broome on the west coast and Brisbane on the east; and the iconic laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), which is found all along the east coast, from the Eyre Peninsula to Cape York.

via Kooaaa! It’s a kookaburra! › Nature Features (ABC Science).

Satellite finds ozone hole still shrinking › News in Science (ABC Science)

he seasonal hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic this year was the second smallest in two decades, but still covered an area three times the size of Australia, say US experts.

The average size of the Earth’s protective shield was 17.9 million square kilometres, according to satellite measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  and NASA .

“It happened to be a bit warmer this year high in the atmosphere above Antarctica, and that meant we didn’t see quite as much ozone depletion as we saw last year, when it was colder,” says Jim Butler of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory.

The Antarctic ozone hole, which forms in September and October, reached its largest size for the season – 21 million square kilometres – on 22 September.

via Satellite finds ozone hole still shrinking › News in Science (ABC Science).