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  • Today's comic by Mark Fiore is Thanks, Turkey!
  • Coming this Sunday:
    "We are thankful for you," by Scout Finch

    "A war on coal is good and necessary. No need for it to be a war on coal miners," by Meteor Blades

    "To boost the economy and the retail industry, raise retail wages," by Laura Clawson

    "An ideological realignment driven by demography," by Armando

    "State-by-state performance, 2008 vs. 2012" by David Jarman

    "Thanksgiving in Red Hook," by Scott Wooledge

    "John McCain is not very bright," by Denise Oliver-Velez

    "A brief reminder: the hypocrisy of Republican opposition to Susan Rice," by Dante Atkins

  • Senators push early 2013 approval of Keystone XL pipeline and, yes, a bunch of Democrats are among the pushers, led by Montana's Max Baucus. In fact, nine Democrats and nine Republicans want a greenlight from President Obama, who early this year rejected builder TransCanada's application to build the northern leg of the pipeline because of environmental concerns in Nebraska. State authorities there are reviewing a new route proposed by TransCanada and are expected to be done by year's end. The Senators sent a letter to the president last Friday in support of the pipeline. Last year, more than 1,200 pipeline protesters were arrested at the White House, including Kossack Bill McKibben. He is currently on a Do the Math tour to 20 cities drumming up support for an effort to get universities and other public institutions to eliminate stock in fossil-fuel companies from their portfolios.
  • Postal Service offers premium same-day delivery for holiday season: Following the lead of ebay, Amazon.com and Wal-Mart, the U.S. Postal Service has added a same-day delivery service for a flat fee of $10. The USPS projects a possible $500 million in annual revenue for 10 major cities if the experiment succeeds. Helpful only to fill a tiny porton of the budget hole left by the current $15.9 billion annual USPS loss reported last week.
  • Seventy percent of forests at risk from increase in droughts: Climate change is expected to raise the number and intensity of droughts worldwide. That will have a lot of impact on crops, energy production and even drinking-water supplies. Forests will also be harmed.
    After looking at 226 tree species at 81 locations around the world, two dozen experts from around the world have determined that fully 70 percent of trees are likely to suffer if conditions get drier—and it doesn’t matter whether those trees live in wet or dry habitats. [...]

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much anyone can do to prevent forest die-offs in a warming, drought-prone world. “Basically, this tells us that we should keep climate change in check as much as possible,” [said Bettina Engelbrecht of the University of Bayreuth].

  • UK cryptographers seek help to decipher code strapped to skeletal pigeon remains: The pigeon took flight with its message sometime in World War II, probably from France around D-Day, and wound up in a residential chimney in Surrey. The homeowner who found the message last month sent it to Britain's government code-breakers. But they are baffled.
  • First pet Bo reacts to Christmas Tree delivery.
  • Chinese plan to put up world's tallest building in just 90 days: When completed in the southeastern Chinese city of Changsha, the building, nicknamed "Sky City," will be 10 meters taller than the current world's tallest, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. But that building took nearly six years to complete. Sky City will be put together in modules, like Lego blocks, at the rate of two stories a day. The building will include a hospital, a school, 17 helipads, and apartments to house 30,000. The chairman of the company building Sky City has ambitions for something more than twice as tall, two kilometers.
  • Scholar studies history of beetles via "wormholes" in book woodcuts: The insects started as eggs laid in trees and, as larvae, tunneled their way to freedom. By the time they did so, they had created holes in woodcuts carved to make illustrations in books printed between the 15th and 19th centuries. By studying the size and shape of the holes, a Pennsylvania scientist determined that two species of beetle were involved, but in different places, one in Mediterranean Europe and one further north. Today, however, those two species have spread into each other's territory across Europe.
  • Here's an animated version of 2013 moon phases, set to chamber music.
  • Transportation systems will suffer from climate change: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which advices states on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges, recently changed the name of its Climate Change Steering Committee to the less controversial Sustainable Transportation, Energy Infrastructure and Climate Solutions Steering Committee. But that isn't going to make problems for transportation caused by climate change to go away. Storms like Sandy, heat waves that bend rails and buckle pavement, and flooding like that nearly sank the Omaha, Nebraska, airport are all factors in the change already under way that will get worse.
    "There is a whole series of standards that are going to have to be revisited in light of the change in climate that is coming at us," said John Horsley, the association's executive director. [...]

    States and cities are trying to come to terms with what the change means to them and how they can prepare for it. Transportation engineers build highways and bridges to last 50 or even 100 years. Now they are reconsidering how to do that, or even whether they can, with so much uncertainty.

  • Caught on video, this asshole was convicted of animal cruelty.
  • Black Friday is a bunch of meaningless hype:
    In fact, sales over Thanksgiving weekend tell us virtually nothing about retail sales for the full holiday season—let alone anything meaningful about the economy as a whole. Paul Dales of Capital Economics analyzed the relationship between retail sales during the week of Thanksgiving against the overall change in retail sales for November through January. [...]

    [S]trong sales results around Black Friday actually predict slightly weaker holiday sales overall. (Shhh. Don’t tell the people who lined up at Target last night that they aren’t actually bellweathers for the U.S. economy).

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