A chance to see the aurora borealis?

I wish I could be more specific, but the media is sucking on this one. The sun recently had a big solar flare. When those hit Earth’s magnetic field, they tend to look awesome. The further North or South you are, provided the flare is at the correct angle, the cooler it is. Maybe you can see one tonight. Maybe.

I’ve found articles that say the U.S. would have been seeing it a few days ago and Northern Europe is going to get a show. Others say it was last night or tonight. Still others take pains to note all the mayhem and destruction that could happen because FEAR FEAR FEAR! The best I can figure, go outside tonight and look up. It can’t hurt. Maybe you’ll see some pretty colors.

Also, as a note of interest, solar flares often get cited by global warming denialists as one reason for some of Earth’s more recent temperature fluctuation. This perplexes me. The Sun has 11 year cycles where it goes from kicking some ass to just being a cute little puppy. To put it scientifically. The past decade has seen it be unusually quiet. As a result, we might expect temperatures to be, um, well, this is crazy, so brace yourself…lower. But we don’t see that. We just keep breaking records. Besides that, the biggest convey of change in Earth’s temperature is water. We have these things called oceans, you see, and because water has a high specific heat capacity, it takes some time to warm it up or cool it down. Solar flares wouldn’t have a significant impact. The denialists need to find a new way to abuse science, methinks.

Anyway. Go outside tonight. Look up. It might be prettier than usual.

Texas, abortions, and bad arguments

Since I’m on an abortion kick lately, I’ve got to mention what Texas is doing.

The Texas Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would require women seeking an abortion to first get an ultrasound.

Women could choose not to view the sonogram image or listen to the heartbeat, but they would be required to listen to an explanation of the images, except in cases of rape or incest or if there are fetal abnormalities.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who had put the legislation on a fast track by declaring it an emergency priority, commended the bill’s advancement.

“Considering the magnitude of the decision to have an abortion, it is crucial that Texans understand what is truly at stake,” Perry said in a statement.

Because women are making the decision with a light-heart, amirite? Come on. Dumb.

But I think there is a more interesting point to be made here. Perry and the others who are against abortion believe that conception is the beginning of life, right? Okay, so why are they always so willing to allow for exceptions in cases of rape and incest (and, in this case, abnormalities)? If it’s a life, it’s a life, it’s a life, it’s a life. I don’t see where the justification lies in saying something is human and thus protected…but only if it gets here in a good way. It’s a bad argument.

Abortion bill tabled

That bill that was worded as to legalize the murder of abortion doctors has come up against too much protest and has thus been tabled.

By a vote of 61 to 4, the legislators agreed to “table” the bill, known as HB 1171. The proposed law would have expanded the definition of justifiable homicide to include killing by a family member “in the lawful defense of … his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person.”

By tabling the bill, the legislators merely agreed to set aside for future consideration. But it is a parliamentary procedure that typically ends discussion of the proposal for the current legislative session.

The bill was introduced in late January by Phil Jensen, a Republican legislator from Rapid City, and is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Jensen was one of the lawmakers to vote to table the proposal but three of the bill’s other supporters opposed the action.

In the interest of continuing the discussion from my original post on the matter, I include this:

Many states have laws that permit individuals to protect others with deadly force. But Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based pro-choice group that has been tracking state abortion laws since the early 1970s, said the proposed law was the first of its kind that could be construed to provide legal protection for committing murder in order to prevent conduct likely to result in the death of an embryo or fetus.

In summary: the bill would have put the defense of a fetus on the same level as the defense of one’s father or child.