Space, time, and microwave ovens

Previously on MetaFilter, we discussed a strange new form of propulsion that NASA was investigating. There are variants to the EM Drive, but the basic principle is the same: put lots of microwaves into the right shaped chamber, and thrust appears. Electricity to motion in free space? Much skepticism. But nearly a year and much more testing later – the story is getting weirder.

Patrick Murphy announces endorsements by almost half of Democratic state lawmakers

Congressman Patrick Murphy has been racking up major Democratic endorsements at a rapid clip since he launched his bid for the U.S. Senate back in late March. On Thursday he continued that trend, announcing via news release that he has secured the support of 25 sitting Florida state legislators. “From South Florida to Tampa, from Orlando to the Panhandle, people are joining this campaign to get Washington working for Florida,” said Murphy in a written statement.  He continued: “I am overwhelmed to have the support of so many state lawmakers, who are leaders in their communities. While they battle obstruction and extremism inTallahassee, I, too, will continue that fight in Washington.” The all-Democratic roster of backers includes former Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, House Minority Leader Designate Janet Cruz, fellow Palm Beach pol Senator Joe Abruzzo and Dean of the Senate, former President Gwen Margolis, and a slew of sitting representatives. Sen. Jeff Clemens is notably included in the newly minted list of Murphy backers, on the same day the Lake Worth lawmakers announced that he will not seek Murphy’s soon to be vacant 18th Congressional District seat. The full slate of recent legislative endorsers, a listed in Murphy campaign news release, is below. State Senator Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington State Senator Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth State Senator Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville State Senator Gwen Margolis, D-Miami Beach State Senator Jeremy Ring, D-Margate State Senator Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale State Representative Bruce Antone, D-Orlando State Representative Lori Berman, D-Lantana State Representative Janet Cruz, D-Tampa State Representative Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg State Representative Katie Edwards, D-Plantation State Representative Joe Gellar, D-Aventura State Representative Kristin Jacobs, D-Pompano Beach State Representative Evan Jenne, D-Hollywood State Representative Shevrin D. Jones, D-West Park State Representative Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth State Representative Larry Lee, Jr., D-Port St. Lucie State Representative Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs State Representative Ed Narain, D-Tampa State Representative Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach State Representative Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach State Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami State Representative Irving Slosberg, D-Boca Raton State Representative Dwayne L. Taylor, D-Daytona Beach State Representative Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee

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Five minutes with Ron Book: sausage making, dead bills and special session

Lobbyist Ron Book sat, head in hand, in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday morning. He just observed the Senate grind through an agenda of bills sent over from the House before it unexpectedly adjourned the day before, only three days away from the scheduled end of session. Book has been around the Capitol for a while. His over 40 year career started working for the House, then in the cabinet of former Gov. Bob Graham as legislative counsel and, for a time, as acting chief of staff. This year is his 42nd session, he says. Book watched the Senate conclude its business to make sure that bills had been T-pd, died. But his thoughts appear to be elsewhere, how does he explain a dysfunctional Legislature to his clients and why their bills died when the House made an unprecedented move when the House informed the Senate in a voice mail message it was done, leaving town and effectively blowing up the session. Florida Politics spent five minutes with Book on Wednesday morning. Q: That’s the longest face I’ve seen in the Capitol this morning, what are you thinking? Book: I’m sort of aggravated at the situation. You come here to get your work done in 60 days. You have clients you are trying to get things accomplished for and when you got to go home and explain to them due to some intra-party stuff that things did not get accomplished; it is hard to try to make people who don’t do this understand. You can make light of it by talking about sausage making and how unattractive that process is and liking it to passing laws but in reality people try to encourage their government to do things and in this case it broke down. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to them (gesturing to the Senate). To go home early at the end of the day and you’re still trying to get stuff done. We’re here because we have a couple of things we think are going to get sent down stairs today that are on the message list. We want to make sure that the things they said they were going to T-pd are really going to stay on the T-pd list and not taken up. You got to be here. People who are not filling these halls aren’t really; I’m not sure doing what they should be doing to make sure their clients’ interests are protected. Q: Why is it important to keep an eye on the T-pd list? Book: Minds can change and while yesterday they said they were going to T-pd certain things they could decide to take up a House bill that may be sitting in messages and didn’t intend to pick up yesterday and send it downstairs. They took some stuff off the special order calendar. I’ve been around here long enough to know sometimes they create pocket calendars and they add some things that weren’t necessarily on the agenda. So, you want to be present and you want to make sure that you are paying attention to what’s going on. Q: You want to make sure the dead bills, those that have been T-pd, are not resurrected? Book: Everything that is either T-pd or in messages that doesn’t get taken up and sent to the governor today dies when they sine die. It will all be dead, done, finished. Then the only way to get something done is to have it added to the call of the special session. I’ve been here a long time. Special sessions are generally very limited calls for a lot of different reasons. I would expect this one to be limited to budget and tax related things. And, conforming and implementing bills that are intended to be directly related to the budget. I think there are a lot of wishful thinkers who think they can apply pressure on the presiding officers and or the governor to add things to the call but I’m not sure there is anything that’s substantive that the chambers feel is that large of a priority that they would add outside of the budget and tax-related issues. Q: The budget touches almost everything. Does that open any parliamentary procedures to save some bills that died yesterday and mend the House – Senate relationship? Book: I would expect them to go home for some period of time to allow some cooling off to occur in hopes of finding ways to put their differences aside and come up with an agenda that they will work on to accomplish a passage of somewhere between $77 billion and $80 billion budget and issues that will ultimately contained in that budget. You can’t do a continuing budget resolution. This isn’t Washington D.C. and we don’t want to look like Washington, D.C. Could they go in and adopt the 2013 – 2014 budget as the 2015 – 2016 budget. Well, there’s nothing legally or constitutionally to stop them but unless you solve the LIP issue, unless you figure out how you are going to fund that gap in health care delivery I don’t know how you are going to do that. I’m not sure they want to come back in after setting a goal of having the largest per-pupil funding in the history of our state they want to come in and do a continuation and we’re back to where we were last year. I could be wrong, but I guess we’ll see.

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And my imagination will feed my hungry heart

You Must Remember This (previously) is a weekly podcast by Karina Longworth, documenting the secrets and forgotten histories of 20th century Hollywood. The podcast recently wrapped up “Star Wars,” its first themed arc on the subject of movie stars and their lives and careers during times of war…

Star Wars Episode I: Bette Davis and the Hollywood Canteen

Star Wars Episode II: Carole Lombard and Clark Gable

Star Wars Episode III: Hedy Lamarr

Star Wars Episode IV: Gene Tierney (Or, The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Chapter 5)

Star Wars Episode V: Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles

Star Wars Episode VI: Marlene Dietrich at War

Star Wars Episode VII: Lena Horne

Star Wars Episode VIII: How Norma Jeane Became Marilyn Monroe

Star Wars Episode IX: John Huston and Olivia De Havilland

Star Wars Episode X: Errol Flynn

Star Wars Episode XI: Charlie Chaplin

Star Wars Episode XII: Bob Hope vs. Bing Crosby

Star Wars Episode XIII: Walt Disney

Star Wars Episode XIV: Frank Sinatra Through 1945

Star Wars Episode XV: Why John Wayne Didn’t Sign Up

Star Wars Episode XVI: Van Johnson

to our love, send a coffin of wood

From eagles and robots to wrenches and cruise ships, the artisans of Ghana’s Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop ensure decedents will be ushered to the afterlife in meticulously detailed coffins designed to fit the dearly departed’s lifestyle, in accordance with Ga-Adangme traditions.

Located in Teshie, a suburb near Ghana’s capital city of Accra, Kane Kwei’s craft workers have been designing, building, and exhibiting fantasy coffins (abebuu adekai, literally “receptacles of proverbs“) for over 60 years.

The studio is currently owned and run by (Seth) Kane Kwei’s grandson, Eric Adjetey Anang, who has continued his family’s longstanding practice of taking on apprentices a few times a year. Other artists whose careers were inspired or kickstarted by the work of Kane Kwei include Paa Joe, Daniel Mensah, Eric Kpakpo, and Ataa Oko.

More work by Ghanaian abebuu adekai artists:

Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop on Facebook

☆ The Globe and Mail: Ghana’s colourful coffins – a gallery

☆ BuzzFeed: 29 Amazing Custom Coffins from Ghana

☆ GhanaCoffin.com: The coffins, for who, for what? and photo gallery (en Français)

☆ Jack Bell Gallery: The Work of Paa Joe

☆ coffins-from-ghana.de: Coffin exhibition (auf Deutsch)

☆ YouTube: The Master of Coffins, a 2013 documentary on Eric Adjetey Anang

☆ YouTube: KANE KWEI WORKS – Going out in Style

☆ Vimeo: Ataa Oko and the Spirits (en Français, English subtitles)

☆ Atlas Obscura: Buried in a Lion – The Fabulous Tradition of Ghana Figurative Coffins

The buried treasures of the Ga: Coffin art in Ghana, a book by anthropologist Regula Tschumi

Justices uphold limits on judges’ appeals for campaign cash

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states may limit candidates for elected state and local judgeships from making a personal appeal for campaign contributions. The justices’ 5-4 ruling means in 30 states that elect state and local judges, restrictions on judicial candidates and their campaign solicitations can remain in place. In all, 39 states hold elections for judges and some allow personal appeals. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion that laws barring judicial candidates from personally asking for campaign cash do not run afoul of First Amendment free speech rights. “Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot,” Roberts said. “A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor – and without having personally asked anyone for money.” The court’s four liberal justices joined Roberts. The ruling took note of concerns that lawyers in particular might have a hard time refusing to contribute when a judge personally asks for campaign cash. The case of Lanell Williams-Yulee of Tampa, Florida, arose after Williams-Yulee signed a mass-mailing asking for money for her campaign for a local judgeship, and also posted the letter on her website. The appeal didn’t yield a penny, but Williams-Yulee received a public reprimand for violating a Florida Bar rule that bans candidates for elected judgeships from personally soliciting donations. In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the Florida rule a “wildly disproportionate restriction upon speech” that should be struck down under the First Amendment. Scalia said the electoral setting “calls for all the more vigilance” in protecting free speech rights. The justices had previously struck down limits on what judicial candidates can say during campaigns. In 2002, the court struck down rules that were aimed at fostering impartiality among judges and barred candidates for elected judgeships from speaking out on controversial issues. But in 2009, the court held in a case from West Virginia that elected judges could be forced to step aside from ruling on cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias. Lower courts have been split on the issue in the Florida case. The justices themselves have no personal experience with seeking elected office. Like all federal judges, they are appointed to lifetime terms after confirmation by the Senate. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the last member of the court with electoral experience, having been elected to the state Senate and a county court in Arizona. The case is Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 13-1499. Republished with permission of the Associated Press. 

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