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By Brendan Loy

The Transit of Venus is just hours away (it starts at 4:05 PM MDT and goes until sunset, which is around 8pm), and while I didn’t take that flight to Tucson, I have decided to drive three hours west, into the Rocky Mountains, to find a better viewing location. Actually, I’ve already found it: a field near St. Vincent’s Church in Carbondale, Colorado, where the Three Rivers Astronomy Club will be setting up shop with numerous telescopes.

Why the long drive? Because of the cloud cover situation and the forecast thereof:

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That’s a computer model projection of the cloud cover at 6:00 PM tonight. The plus sign on the left is Carbondale; the one on the right is Denver. It appears that Denver — and all points north, east and south — will continue to have a veil of high clouds, probably with some low/medium clouds mixed in, throughout the transit. But by going west, I can get behind the cloud line, to crystal clear skies. So I’m going west.

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By Brendan Loy


Above: Video of the Transit of Venus taken by my dad in Connecticut in 2004.

Long-time readers might vaguely recall that, eight years ago, I considered flying from Phoenix (where I was living at the time) to Chicago, for just a single day, to view the Transit of Venus. I ultimately decided against it — instead shipping my video camera, equipped with a makeshift solar filter, to my parents in Connecticut, and vicariously liveblogging an event I couldn’t see — because, as I wrote on the day of the transit, “There will be a re-run in eight years.”

That “re-run” is tomorrow, as you can see in my countdown timer at right. (I’ve literally been counting the days until tomorrow for the last 6 1/2 years.) And it’s visible from Denver — along with most of the rest of the world — weather-permitting.

Transit of Venus 2012

That last word, “weather-permitting,” is key, though. Right now the forecast says “partly sunny,” revised from an earlier prediction of “mostly cloudy.” (I’ve never been clear on the difference between those two vague phrases; it sounds like a glass half-empty/half-full sort of thing.) I’ll be watching the weather obsessively tonight and perhaps into early morning tomorrow. If it looks iffy, I might end up boarding a plane after all — from Denver to Tucson, where it will be 98 degrees and sunny. I’ve got a refundable (well, re-credit-able) Southwest ticket for a flight leaving at 9:35 AM tomorrow, if I need it.

Hopefully I won’t need that ticket, and I can cancel it and use the credit for something else later in the summer. Most likely, I’ll end up staying in the Greater Denver Area, prepared to chase the sunlight for multiple hours tomorrow afternoon — to Laramie, to Pueblo, to Limon, whatever — if Denver looks like it’s clouding over. But, one way or another, come Hell or high water, I’m not missing this transit — because this time, there’s no re-run in our lifetimes. The next transit will be in 2117.

Anyway… as with an eclipse, or anytime really, DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Safe viewing tips here. And you can find a worldwide map of transit viewing events here.

1 Comment  |  Categories: Transit of Venus 2012

By Brendan Loy

Unless your name is Mitt Romney, this is terrifying.

The head of the World Bank yesterday warned that financial markets face a rerun of the Great Panic of 2008.

On the bleakest day for the global economy this year, Robert Zoellick said crisis-torn Europe was heading for the ‘danger zone’.

Mr Zoellick, who stands down at the end of the month after five years in charge of the watchdog, said it was ‘far from clear that eurozone leaders have steeled themselves’ for the looming catastrophe amid fears of a Greek exit from the single currency and meltdown in Spain.

The flow of money into so-called ‘safe havens’ such as UK, German and US government debt turned into a stampede yesterday.

In Berlin the two-year government bond yield fell below zero for the first time, with the bizarre result that jittery international investors are now paying – rather than being paid – for lending to Germany.

There was a raft of dismal economic news from around the world, with manufacturing output falling in Britain and Europe, unemployment jumping in the eurozone and America, and fast-emerging economies such as Brazil and China showing signs of running out of steam. …

Mr Zoellick warned that the coming months could be as bad as the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

He said: ‘Events in Greece could trigger financial fright in Spain, Italy and across the eurozone. The summer of 2012 offers an eerie echo of 2008.

Money quote: “Eurozone leaders need to be ready. There will not be time for meetings of finance ministers to discuss the outlook and debate the politics of incrementalism. In panicked markets, investors flee to safe assets, sparking other flames.”

Anyone out there think Eurozone leaders are ready, or have any reasonable prospect of becoming ready? Or that our policymakers are, for that matter?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

#PANIC!

By Brendan Loy

The “Occupy Denver” folks — in coordination with the SEIU, seemingly — protested outside Wells Fargo in downtown Denver this morning, about a block from my office. Naturally, I couldn’t resist checking out the scene.

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Note the tie-wearing 1 Percenters on the right, greedily sipping their Starbucks coffee, which no doubt contains ground-up $100 bills as a garnish. ;)

After the jump, my Storify story with more photos and my live-tweeting of the festivities.

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By Brendan Loy

With the news of Germany standing fast against “Eurobonds,” and the Eurozone crisis worsening as a result of the impasse, I posted this silly tweet last night:

Fear! Fire! Eurobonds! Awake! #PANIC

Political Math said he found this very funny, to which I replied with a faux-quote from Angela Merkel: “Let the little people blow.” This caused a brainstorm, as I suddenly realized there’s waaaay more material there. Lord of the Rings quotes are perfect for this situation! (And every situation, really. But particularly this one.) I immediately couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before. Anyway, the flood gates opened:

“Understand, François, I would use these eurobonds out of a desire to do good. But through me, they would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”

“One Bond to rule them all; One Bond to find them; One Bond to bring them all; and in the darkness bind them.”

“Give Greece the weapon of the bankers. Let us use it against them!”
“Greece cannot wield the Eurobond! None of us can.”

Merkel to Hollande: “I will not lead the Eurobond within a hundred leagues of your city.”

“I am the Servant of the Anti-Inflationary Fire, Wielder of the Flame of Weimar. Dark Eurobonds will not avail you, Flame of Udûn!”

European Council: “If you ask it of me, I will give you the right to issue the One Bond.”
Merkel: “You offer it to me freely? I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this. In the place of a Council you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair! … I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Merkel.”

“Greece is demanding Eurobonds from the south, Spain from the west. And France, you say, has betrayed us. Our list of allies grows thin.”

I eventually broadened the joke to quotes more generally about the Euro situation, not necessarily Eurobond-related:

“I know what you saw, for it is also in my mind. It is what will come to pass if you should fail. The Eurozone is breaking. It has already begun.”

“We Germans cannot hold back this storm. We must weather such things as we have always done.”
“But you’re part of this world! Aren’t you?! You must help! Please!”

“The Euro cannot be destroyed by any craft that we here possess. It was made in the fires of Frankfurt. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into the heart of the European Central Bank, and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came!”

And lastly, my personal favorite:

[Greece throws a few hundred billion euro down a hole.]
Germany: “Fool of a Greek! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!”

UPDATE: Brandon Minich chimes in with more good ones:

(Conversation in the 1990s)
“The European currencies are strong, my Lord. Their roots go deep.”
“Rip them all down!”

Hollande: “What is this new devilry?”
Merkel: “A Bank Run. A demon of the ancient world. This foe is beyond any of you. Run!”

Merkel: “My currency is spent. My chancellorship has ended. Greece has deserted us. ABANDON YOUR DEPOSITS! FLEE, FLEE FOR YOUR CURRENCIES!”

“The Euro is burning…already burning.”
“It’s not dead! It’s not dead!”
“Farewell, Hollande. Go now and die in what way seems best to you.”

Heh! #nerds

UPDATE: More:

“A great bank run, you say?”
“All Barcelona is emptied.”
“How many?”
“Ten thousand strong at least.”
“Ten thousand?!”
“It is a bank run bred for a single purpose: to destroy the Eurozone. The banks will be insolvent by nightfall.”

“I will not risk open #PANIC.”
“Open #PANIC is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.”

“A red sun rises. Red ink has been spilled this night.”

Panagiotis Pikrammenos: “Go back to the abyss! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your fellow lefties!”
Alexis Tsipras: “Do you not know death when you see it? This is my hour!”

“Arise, Voters of Syriza! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises! DEATH!! DEATH!!!”

France to Netherlands re: opposition to eurobonds: “How long has it been since Germany bought you? What was the promised price?”

“Angela… they cannot win this fight. They are all going to die!”
“Then I shall die as one of them!”

“Is there any hope, Angela, for Spain and Italy?”
“There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.”

“I’m… naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil… between me… and the € of fire! I can see it… with my waking eyes!”

“Sons of Germany, of France, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the Euro fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of currency. But it is not this day! An hour of woes and shattered banks, when the unity of Europe comes crashing down! BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY! This day we bail out Greece! Again!”

Merkel: “Forgive me. I mistook you for Sarkozy.”
Hollande: “I am Sarkozy. Or rather, Sarkozy as he should have been.”

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Thanks for the link, Glenn! ‘Tis my first Instalanche in a while.

To encourage discussion, I’ve temporarily disabled mandatory comment registration. Chat away!

(Regular readers, if you’re presently logged out, you can still log in here.)

UPDATE: More…

“You did not seriously think that a small Mediterranean economy could contend with the will of the Bond Markets? There are none who can.”

“Smoke rises from the Acropolis of Doom. The hour grows late, and Hollande the Red rides to Berlin, seeking my counsel. For that is why you have come, is it not? My old friend.”

UPDATE: Uh-oh. We have crossover:

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of bondholders suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

UPDATE: Back to LOTR, with still more jokes, some from comments

“One does not simply walk out of the Eurozone. Its iron gates are guarded by more than central bankers. There are technocrats there who do not sleep. And the great € is ever watchful. Not with ten thousand drachma could you do this. It is folly.”

“The Greeks delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of the Bundesbank.”

“The Euro stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while Germany is true.”

“I think you should leave the Euro behind, Greece. Is that so hard?”
“Well, no. … And yes. Now it comes to it, I don’t feel like parting with it. It’s mine, I found it. It came to me!”
“There’s no need to get angry.”
“Well, if I’m angry, it’s your fault! It’s mine… my own… my precious…”
“Precious? It’s been called that before, but not by you.”
“What business is it of yours what I do with my own currency?”
“I think you’ve had the Euro quite long enough.”

“We swears we will enact austerity measures! We swears to serve the master of the Euro. We will swear on… on… the Euro!”

Or, if we make the drachma, instead of the Euro, the “precious”…

“We wants the drachma back. We needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little Eurocrats. Wicked, tricksy, false!”

UPDATE: More!

“Strangers from distant lands, friends of old, you have been summoned to answer the threat of debt. Europe stands upon the brink of destruction. You will unite or you will fall. Each nation is bound to this fate, this one doom. Bring forth the Euro.”

“I owe nothing.”
“Indeed. I can avoid paying my debts for a while if I wish, but to make them disappear entirely, that is a rare gift.”

“They were nations once. Great nations. Then Germany the deceiver gave them Euros of power. Blinded by their greed, they took them without question — one by one, falling into darkness. They are the Euro-gûl. Nation-wraiths, neither living nor dead.”

“I’ve put this off far too long … I regret to announce that this is the end! I am going now. Goodbye!” [slips drachma on finger, vanishes]

By Brendan Loy

As if you need any further evidence that conference realignment has gotten way out of hand, Andy Glockner, Mike Greiner and NU Hoops Fan made a brilliant observation on Twitter just now: if a presidential candidate were to win every state with a current or incoming member of the Big East Conference, they would get 291 electoral votes — enough to capture the presidency, based on one league alone.

Big East electoral map

Heh. Andy suggests we rename the Big East the #ElectoralConference.

P.S. And then there’s this.

By Brendan Loy

You may recall that it was a particularly ridiculous Drudge homepage that led to the creation of the “PANIC!!!!!!” graphic that subsequently became my oft-praised Twitter avatar. Well, Drudge has struck again:

ohnodrudge

That’s Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, who made headlines over the weekend by criticizing President Obama’s anti-Bain Capital ads. ABC says the Obama camp is in damage control mode, which led Drudge to proclaim — referring to the president by the first letter of his last name, then stretching it out for effect — “OOOOOOO NOOOOOO.”

Teehee. Oh, Drudge, you ridiculous, sensationalist partisan shill, you. I doooooon’t knoooooow hoooooow to quit yoooooou.

Anyway, yet again, I couldn’t resist coming up with some alternate versions:

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No Comments  |  Categories: Funny Stuff, The Media

By Brendan Loy

Wow! The solar eclipse over Denver was awesome!

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Above, a photo that Becky took of me holding 10-month-old Loyabelle in one arm and, in the other, raised above my head, a 13-year-old piece of welder’s glass that made it possible to show the Sun in otherwise normally-exposed pictures. It worked amazingly well. (See also here, here, here and here.)

Below, a shot of the eclipse as seen through a pair of eclipse glasses, followed by a close-up of the eclipse taken by my camcorder (with its makeshift solar filter system, constructed with masking tape and one-half of a pair of those glasses).

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These photos were all taken from the west lawn of the Denver Museum of the Nature and Science, which was packed. It was a great place to watch the action, with lots of stuff for the girls to do (like rolling down the hill, chasing bubbles and wandering through the rose gardens), and we even ran into some friends there. But we very nearly didn’t end up there at all!

With the clock ticking toward the eclipse, and the sky looking increasingly overcast, I decided to abandon our museum plan in favor of a long drive south toward Colorado Springs and Pueblo, where the skies looked clearer on the high-resolution visible satellite with ~2 hours to go. So we got on I-225 South and started heading in that direction — but then, with a clearer view of Denver’s western horizon, we could see that there were sunlit skies beyond the clouds, moving toward us, and I made a snap decision that we should go back to the original plan and go to the museum after all. A good thing, too: it looks like the Springs and Pueblo ended up cloudy, while Denver got a great view! We had a cloudy interlude early in the eclipse, but viewing conditions were awesome for the best part of the show, around maximum eclipse.

More photos:

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UPDATE: New blog logo!

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P.S. After the jump, my Storify page on the eclipse, saving my tweets & retweets for posterity.

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By Brendan Loy

I wrote last night that the only solar eclipse I’ve ever seen was on May 10, 1994, when I caught a brief, unsafe, naked-eye glimpse of the partially eclipsed sun, perhaps 40% or 50% covered, looking out a bus window in Virginia during a school trip. But I belatedly realized that’s not right: I also saw, from the road in the desert of southeastern California, ~20% of the sun eclipsed on December 14, 2001, using a makeshift pinhole to project it from the window of Becky’s Camry onto a notepad as we drove from L.A. to Phoenix:

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Hopefully we’ll get a somewhat more dramatic view this evening. Cross your fingers. After crystal-clear blue skies this morning, it’s now partly cloudy.

UPDATE: I found my welder’s glass! Since buying it way back in 1999 ahead of the sunrise eclipse that I couldn’t see due to clouds, I’ve been hauling it around the country for 13 years — and now that I finally need it, last night I couldn’t find it. But I just located it, in a box in the basement:

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By Brendan Loy

Tomorrow, America will experience its first annular eclipse since May 10, 1994. Weather permitting, I’ll get to see it as an 85% partial eclipse in Denver — the second solar eclipse I’ve ever witnessed, and the first since (again) May 10, 1994. It will also be the first solar eclipse I’m witnessed safely, with proper eye protection.

On May 10, 1994, I saw the partial phase of that day’s annular eclipse from inside a bus near Historic Jamestowne, VA, catching a glimpse for a split-second with my naked eye — which you should not do, as it’s dangerous. Thankfully, my eyes were not damaged. They could have been!

Why was I on a bus in Virginia, you ask? Well, it was day 2 of the annual Martin Kellogg Middle School seventh-grade class trip to Washington and Williamsburg. I was, uncharacteristically, not tuned in to astronomical events of the day; I don’t think I even knew about the eclipse, or else I had forgotten, until our bus’s lead chaperone, Mr. Spitzer, mentioned it. When he did so, and before he could utter the next sentence (reminding us NOT TO LOOK DIRECTLY AT IT), I instinctively turned my head to the left, looked out the window, glanced up, and saw it. Being an astronomy nerd with knowledge of such things, I knew better than this — but I couldn’t help myself. I immediately looked away, and then blurted out something like, “You’re right, I just saw it!”

This all happened in a split second, and gave Mr. Spitzer the perfect segue into his next sentence, telling everyone NOT TO DO WHAT LOY JUST DID. (In fairness to Mr. Spitzer, I think he actually may have said “now, I don’t want you to look at it, but…” before he even mentioned the eclipse — an admonition I promptly ignored — and then merely reiterated the point after I looked.)

Anyway, I discovered this evening that, down in the basement, in our box of photo albums, inside my Williamsburg Trip Scrapbook (a post-trip homework assignment in Mrs. Weber’s class), there is my account of that day! I had forgotten this even exists. We had to write a little something about each day of the trip, and include photos and whatnot; I went above and beyond, giving each day an extended, detailed write-up, and include a ton of photos, souvenirs, etc. I know you’re shocked. :) Anyway, here’s the relevant part of the May 10 write-up, followed by a relevant photo and, er, illustration.

(Before I go on, a key point of clarification: the “tape recorder” in question is an audio recorder only. You’ll understand why that’s important when you read my write-up.)

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By Brendan Loy

Annular Eclipse Sunset

Get your eclipse glasses, pinhole viewers, or Shade 14 welder’s glass out, and your “penumbras and emanations” jokes ready, because there’s a solar eclipse a-comin’ on Sunday evening!

The photo above (by Kevin Baird) shows roughly what the eclipse will look like along the central “line of annularity,” which stretches from parts of China and Japan, across the Pacific, to parts of California and Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, extreme southwestern Colorado, New Mexico, and northwest Texas:

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(Graphics via eclipse-maps.com.)

Here in Denver, the eclipse, at its 7:30 PM peak, will look more like this, with the sun 86% eclipsed. (Photo by Peter Rosen, via Universe Today.)

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If you don’t already have eclipse glasses, and you can’t find a local store that’s selling them at this late date, your best options, in order, are probably: 1) find a public eclipse-viewing event in your local area where they’ll be giving eclipse glasses away, or selling them for like $2 (here in Denver/Boulder, options include CU, DU, and the DMNS); 2) find a local store that sells welding supplies, and buy some “Shade 14″ welder’s glass (it must be 14, not 12 or a lower number); or 3) make a pinhole viewer, and project the Sun’s image instead of looking at it directly.

(Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER EYE PROTECTION!!!. At no point during an annular or partial solar eclipse is it ever safe to do this. You could go blind.)

If you do manage to secure eclipse glasses or welder’s glass, consider it an investment. A Transit of Venus–only the second one since 1882, and the last until 2117–is coming next month (June 5, to be exact), and of course the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse is something you should go ahead and put in your gCal, iCal or Outlook calendars right now. It’s absolutely not to be missed.

By Brendan Loy

Today could be an historic day for freedom and equality in Becky’s and my adopted home state of Colorado, as a bill establishing civil unions for gays & lesbians is on the verge of passing into law.

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Even as North Carolina goes down a reactionary road (fueled in large part by ignorance of the facts), the former “Hate State” of Colorado could become another beacon of hope for those of us who believe the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice.

I said “could.” Nothing is certain yet. The bill has already passed the Democratic-controlled Senate, then eked through two GOP-majority House committees late last week, each time thanks to a single Republican dissenter — Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland (a former aide to right-wing congresswoman and Federal Marriage Amendment co-sponsor Marilyn Musgrave) in the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Don Beezley, R-Bloomfield, in the Finance Committee — and it is expected to pass the Appropriations Committee this afternoon, thanks to the declared support of Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen. What happens after that is less clear:

GOP leadership will decide whether to call it up [to the House floor] and hear the measure. The bill must be debated today because the official vote has to be taken on another day as the debate, and Wednesday is the last day of the session. …

House leadership — Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, but particularly House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument — will decide when and if it will be heard. Both oppose civil unions. Only one GOP vote is needed to pass the measure. At least five Republicans are expected to vote with Democrats. If approved, the bill goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has said he will sign it.

So the question is whether McNulty and Stephens allow a floor debate [UPDATE: and initial voice vote] today. If they do, the bill will ultimately become law; if they don’t, it will die, unless Hickenlooper calls a special session, as the Denver Post has urged him to do if necessary. (He has called such talk “premature,” but hasn’t ruled it out.)

[UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Eli Stokols explains the procedural requirements:

If [the bill passes the Appropriations Committee], the measure would still need to be approved by the full House on an initial voice vote by Tuesday at midnight.

That’s because bill’s must pass second- and third-reading votes on separate days; so if the House doesn’t do an initial vote by Tuesday night, there wouldn’t be time to hold a final vote on Wednesday.

Knock on wood, but I don’t think McNulty and Stephens will prevent a vote. Perhaps they’ll try to extract some sort of concession in exchange for allowing it, but in the end, I think their vague threats to prevent a vote are mostly posturing. If the GOP had the stomach for this fight, they would have stalled the bill already. They could have done so by delaying the committee report out of Judiciary, or by refusing to schedule a Finance or Appropriations committee hearing, all of which were discussed and threatened and fretted over. But ultimately, the relevant GOP leaders have caved at all of those critical junctures over the last few days. And McNulty and Stephens haven’t even clearly stated an intent to stop the bill. I think the state GOP leadership has made a judgment that, with a majority of the House supporting the bill, and an even larger majority of the public supporting it, this isn’t a hill to die on.

Moreover, the worst thing they could do, politically, is to let the bill get to this point, get supporters’ hopes sky-high, and then kill it. The outrage then would be far worse than if they’d killed it earlier, like after the Judiciary vote. Now, public pressure might well force Hickenlooper’s hand into calling a special session, thus embarrassing the GOP leaders further, whereas that probably wouldn’t have been the case if they’d killed it last week. So they’ve missed their ideal window to kill this bill — which they surely realize as well. That leads me to believe they ultimately will not kill it.

But we’ll see. Supporters certainly aren’t resting easy yet. Above is a photo from a rally this morning on the State Capitol steps. More below. See these dangerous radicals, promoting the gay agenda? Don’t all you fellow heterosexuals feels like your marriages are threatened just looking at these pictures? EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

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To proclaim our support for civil unions, Becky went out and bought a rainbow flag this afternoon, and put it up on our front-porch flagpole. It’s 2′ x 3′, not as big as our American flag or our USC flag, because that’s the biggest one they had. But it still makes the point:

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Let’s do this, Colorado!!!

P.S. We had an interesting discussion on Facebook about this issue last week, including the whole civil unions vs. gay marriage / “perfect being the enemy of the good” problem. Mike Wiser was, as always, the voice of reason:

I think that’s a complicated point. On the one hand, progress is good, even if it’s only incremental. But there is part of me that worries that such an incremental progress might stall out well short of actual equality. Those of us who such measures will directly affect are a very small minority; our only progress from a legislative end will come from convincing the much larger majority. One of the most effective ways of convincing the larger majority has been the justified moral outrage of the abuses in the current system — hospital visitation rights, next of kin status for medical and parental responsibility purposes, etc. As these terrible things are removed, it becomes harder to motivate unaffected third parties to care about smaller but still daunting issues for some couples, like access to spousal social security payments or the ability to file taxes jointly or transfer property to a spouse without incurring substantial tax penalties and the like. So I simultaneously want the most awful things taken care of as soon as possible…and worry that taking care of just the most awful things first will mean that the more moderate problems may not be taken care of for years or even generations longer than they would be in an all or nothing approach. Someone is going to lose either way.

If I had to choose, I think I’d go with the civil unions for now. Actual political change tends to happen over the course of generations; it’s less common that individuals change their minds, and more common that they are replaced by a new generation of voters who see things differently.* The generation of our grandparents, as a whole, is extremely unaccepting of homosexuality. Our parents’ generation is better; our generation is better still; the generation below us is even further along. I eagerly await the day when most people realize that the arguments against same sex marriage are virtually verbatim the same arguments previously used against interracial marriage. I think I’ll probably live to see that, but I may well be in my 60s by the time it happens. If I do find the right man, I think I’d rather risk some years of economic penalties than risk not being allowed at his bedside if he gets sick and his family isn’t OK with me. The economic penalties are more concrete and certain, but less terrible if they do happen. But the game of “pick the way in which you’d prefer to be legally screwed” is hardly a fun one.

* The main way individuals happen to change their views on this one over the course of their own lifetime is from having friends or family members members who come out of the closet. This is one of the major reasons I want as many of the adult gays as possible to come out of the closet. It would also be helpful if more of the truly bisexual people came out of the closet, though I can understand why many choose not to due to the ridiculous social stigma attached.

UPDATE: Mitt Romney is coming to Colorado tomorrow, and at least one event, he will be taking questions from local media (which he didn’t do ahead of his caucus defeat in February). Do you think he wants to answer a bunch of questions from local reporters about how the state GOP leadership torpedoed a bill the night before that has majority support in both houses of the state legislature, and 75% public support in this critical swing state?

Despite Mitt’s professed opposition to civil unions, I’m thinking Team Romney is silently rooting for McNulty and Stephens to let this bill come to a vote tonight. (Or maybe not so silently? Who knows?)

By Brendan Loy

In the wake of this weekend’s news that Utah State and San Jose State are probably leaving the WAC for the Mountain West, and Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech are probably leaving for Conference USA, I have obtained exclusive footage of the conversation last night at WAC headquarters in Greenwood Village, Colorado:

In all seriousness, it’s really unclear how the WAC can go forward now. For all my jokes about the mythical “eighth football member,” it appears the WAC is now down to just three football members: Idaho, New Mexico State and Texas State. There don’t seem to be enough viable FBS football options in the western half of the country to make it possible to build from that “base” of 3 back to a respectable size, so it now appears inevitable — barring some eleventh-hour moves that keeps the above-mentioned USU/SJSU/UTSA/LTU quartet from fleeing — that the WAC is well and truly dead, at long last, as a football conference. If so, it seems plausible that NSMU and TSU could end up in the Sun Belt, while Idaho may be the first realignment victim forced to drop FBS football because it couldn’t find a league. The FCS Big Sky, the Vandals’ former home, may also be their future home.

If those three schools depart, that would leave the once-proud WAC with four schools, none of whom are actually members yet as of today: Denver, Seattle, UT-Arlington, and Boise State in everything but football. Could that possibly be the base for a viable basketball/Olympic sports league? Add, say, Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield, and you’ve got…a really crappy conference, but one that’s still eligible for an auto bid to the NCAA Tournament, I think.

But as I see it, the WAC only stays together, even in that shell of a form, if the four remaining schools have absolutely no other viable options. Suppose the WCC rejects Denver and Seattle (again), the Big Sky rejects Boise’s Olympic sports (the Big West already has), UT-Arlington can’t find a home, the Big Sky and Sun Belt aren’t interested in non-football-playing WAC castaways, the Summit League closes its doors or is otherwise deemed a non-viable optios, etc. If those things all happen — and they very well might — the #ZombieWAC is probably going to stay alive, one way or another, no matter how awful it is. The alternative, that case, would be for Denver, Seattle, etc., to break away and form a new league… in which case they might as well just stay in the WAC.

But if the WCC takes DU and Seattle, and/or if Boise State finds a different home for its Olympic sports (or leaves the Big East and rejoins the Mountain West in all sports, in light of the death of AQ status)? BOOM. Game over.

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