Crisis-addled Washington careens toward the next waste of time

Even as lawmakers raced to iron out an 11th hour deal to avert breaching the debt ceiling and reopen the U.S. government, momentarily allaying worries about global economic calamity, there is another unhappy reality to contend with: The next crisis is — as always — only a few months away.

None of the plans being considered resolves the issues at hand for long. A continuing resolution would fund the government through Jan. 15, a mere three months away, and raise the nation’s borrowing authority only until February, at which point another debt ceiling battle would loom. This time, negotiators would also be charged with drawing up a detailed budget plan for the next decade by Dec. 13.

Such appears to be the new normal for governance in the United States — one self-imposed crisis following on the heels of another, with enormous consequences for the American people…

Some analysts say the dysfunctional government is just a symptom of the gaping chasm that exists between the two major parties on questions as large as the appropriate role and scope of government…

The apocalyptic deadlines in quick succession — for raising the debt ceiling, for funding government, for avoiding deep across-the-board cuts — are designed to break the impasse and soften the stances of Democrats and Republicans alike. But that tactic has proved ineffectual…

Others point to the rise of lawmakers within the GOP whose philosophy tends toward no-government rather than limited government — a minority for whom it is not beyond the pale to affix policy demands onto decisions to greenlight typically mundane functions of government. Making matters worse, these lawmakers are outside the control of mainstream party leaders…

Questions resolved – BTW – around the time of the War of 1812. Just to point out the incompetence of the Tea Party Republicans. For the average right-wing grunt doesn’t even know that much about history – much less the economics of governance that decided the same questions back then.

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South Dakota ranchers crushed by storms – ain’t any aid coming – courtesy of the right wingers they elected

dead cows

The cattle lay in heaps of tangled hooves, collapsed against fences and submerged in creeks. Some had curled up behind hay bales, hiding from 70 mile-per-hour winds that scattered herds for miles, struck by hypothermia weeks before they were scheduled to go to market.

In one of the worst blizzards to hit western South Dakota, ferocious winds and snow as deep as five feet killed tens of thousands of livestock and damaged the area’s economy. More than a week later, many of the cows remain unburied…

Delayed by more inclement weather and ground too soggy for tractors, Gary Cammack, like many ranchers in this farming community just east of the Black Hills, hopes to begin the gruesome work of cleaning up the carcasses this week. But while state and county agencies have helped clear roadsides and have provided burial pits, the federal government shutdown has only complicated the crisis…

Ranchers looking for guidance on how to document their losses with the federal Farm Service Agency, whose workers have been furloughed, are, as some here say, “plumb out of luck.” And the stalling of a farm bill in Congress has left many families skeptical about whether disaster relief will ever come.

State officials estimate a death toll of as many as 20,000 cows. An official number may not be known for weeks as producers continue to search for livestock. But the loss has become about more than the economic devastation, which could linger for years and put some producers out of business. South Dakotans are fiercely self-reliant, but they now feel invisible as they ask federal officials to lend a hand.

The historic term is “hoist by your own petard”. You helped build the problem. Now you can whine about the absence of a solution. How many of these ranchers voted for Republicans, Tea Party Republicans?

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Cave art hand prints suggests most ancient artists were women

Plaster handprints from kindergarten, handprint turkeys, handprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood — are all part of modern life, but ancient people also left their handprints on rocks and cave walls. Now, a Penn State anthropologist can determine the sex of some of the people who left their prints, and the majority of them were women.

The assumption has been that hand prints, whether stencils — paint blown around the hand — or actual paint-dipped prints, were produced by men because other images on cave walls were often hunting scenes. The smaller handprints were assumed to be adolescent boys.

Dean Snow, emeritus professor of anthropology, came across the work of John Manning, a British biologist who about 10 years ago tried to use the relationships of various hand measurements to determine not only sex, but such things as sexual preference or susceptibility to heart disease. Snow wondered if he could apply this method to the handprints left in cave sites in France and Spain.

“Manning probably went way beyond what the data could infer, but the basic observation that men and women have differing finger ratios was interesting,” said Snow. “I thought here was a neat little one off science problem that can be solved by applications of archaeological science…”

Snow found he needed a two-step process for the modern hands to successfully differentiate men from women. He first measured the overall size of the hand using five different measurements. This separated the adult male hands from the rest. Snow found that step one was 79 percent successful in determining sex, but adolescent males were classified as female.

Step two compares the ratios of the index finger to the ring finger and the index finger to the pinky to distinguish between adolescent males and females. For the known hands, the success rate, though statistically significant, was only 60 percent. There is too much overlap between males and females in modern populations.

“I thought the fact that we had so much overlap in the modern world would make it impossible to determine the sex of the ancient handprints,” said Snow. “But, old hands all fall at or beyond the extremes of the modern populations. Sexual dimorphism was greater then than it is now.”

Sexual dimorphism implies that males and females differ. Not only were male hands larger, Snow found that development of the fingers, how long they are relative each other, also differs significantly…

Snow also looked at modern American Indian hands and found that the rules and algorithms developed for Europeans did not work. He notes that different populations require separate analysis.

Times change. Our work changes. Our hands change. And look how long it took for someone to notice the difference between hands – men and women.