Saying vs. Doing and Gingrich vs. Obama
Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
So, as I predicted, Romney is now 1-2. And he's gone from overwhelming favorite to a probable underdog. Mitt is collapsing across the nation. It's easy to predict that Gingrich will now win Florida. What happens after that nobody can predict with any degree of confidence.
All the studies show that Gingrich is surging because he's quite the debater. He is, in fact, quite the orator. His victory speech last night was impressively effective in contrasting his vision of the strong, classical, EXCEPTIONAL America of our founders with the European envy of the Alinskyism of our president. His words, to be sure, seem angry, but his critics have to admit they're also erudite and meaty. The scary thing to me was that Newt seemed very much in control of both of his words and emotions.
The most impressive and, to me, depressing thing about the CNN focus group of undecideds last night was how readily so many bought into the scenario of Gingrich debating Obama into submission.
It's possible that Newt's popularity will go through several more rises and falls. But negative campaigning against him might be like chemo: It's likely won't be as effective in taking out the cancer the second time around.
The first round was the very effective (and truthful) commercials of Romney's Super Pacs. The second round has to come from Romney himself. He won't be playing to his strengths, and there's no way he's going to out-demagogue Newt.
Newt may have effectively insulated himself from personal criticism of any kind. The first question of the CNN debate, of course, was John King asking him about his "open marriage." His answer was all fake indignation about the despicable liberal media making it impossible for decent men like himself to run for president. To me, that whole exchange had a pro wrestling feel about it—that is, nothing at all authentic. Both CNN and Gingrich were served well by the softball, underhand pitch that Newt hit out of the park. It was a ratings winner. Notice Newt praising and otherwise sucking up to King right after the debate, and CNN repeatedly taking pride in the significance of the exchange for the Newt surge.
In hearing about the open-marriage proposal from the second Mrs. Gingrich (Marianne), what struck me most is her reporting that Newt told her it doesn't matter what I DO, because nobody can say what I SAY. That meant, in context, that the women in his life should consider his unfaithful and self-serving deeds as subordinate to the greatness (his own word was actually grandiosity) of his words. The women, in other words, shouldn't care that they're nothing more than instruments for his transformational speechifying. Those libertarians who find that Newt's progressive embrace of open marriage is his one redeeming quality should remember that he thought it obvious that the openness for a man of his greatness is all in one direction. Feminists for Newt should be an oxymoron.
It seems that we can't criticize what Newt has done in his life in general (his poor performance as Speaker or shilling/lying for big bucks for Freddie Mac). His words are that inspirational and powerful.
But to be fair, President Obama's campaign in 2008 was all words, no deeds. He had no record at all of relevant accomplishment, but his speeches soared. So many were so inspired that they thought it obvious he had what it takes to turn his words into transformational accomplishments.
Now Obama has to defend his deeds, which have outraged conservatives and disappointed liberals. An incumbent who has to defend his record is always at a disadvantage in a highly rhetorical (or demagogic) contest.
That's a lot less true if the general perception is that the incumbent's record is good, because people are highly satisfied with their level of their prosperity and that the country is moving in right direction. That was the case with Reagan in 1984 and Clinton in 1996.
Still, we also have to remember that neither Reagan nor Clinton were opposed by men distinguished by rhetorical gifts. Quite the opposite: Remember the solid but boring Senators Mondale and Dole.
No Democrat is claiming that Obama will sail to a landslide reelection that will affirm his transformational agenda. They'll be no repeat of FDR's big victory in 1936 or LBJ's in 1964. Those conservatives who are paranoid that the country has become all progressive again are out of touch. The Republicans are going to retain the House and pick up the Senate even if nominee Newt is a disaster.
The Democrats hope, instead, that the president will squeak by because the Republican will seem more loathsome and incompetent than President Obama. The middle-ground and pretty truthful perception is that the president is a decent man who speaks well (and, it turns out, sings well) but is in over his head. His deeds haven't matched his words or even his character.
The Republican who beats him would have to be distinguished by superior competence and ideology—and probably equal decency. It would help a lot, a lot of Republicans are right to thnk, if the candidate were the president's rhetorical match.
So far I've suggested that Gingrich might in some ways be well suited to take the president out. But the Democrats are still rooting for him. Here's why: Everybody in the country knows who he is, and his negatives are very high. Even Republicans in Congress really don't like him. Is it really possible that Newt's soaring rhetoric could overcome this enduring perception?
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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