Saturday, September 30, 2006
ATTACK S ON ACADEMIA:
In an article at Blue Oregon it is shown how this distortion is starting early.
At an informal meeting of the World Affairs Council’s Young Professionals it was discussed how “a civil society cannot exist unless critical thought is promoted, from kindergarten through the university level:
Yet we find the Neo-cons running a website called Students For Academic Freedom which promotes itself as a “clearing house and communications center for a national coalition of student organizations whose goal is to end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge.”
Don’t be fooled! This is just another Bushism for a site that instead of promoting discussion of academic freedom, serves as a spring board for promoting neo-con agendas such as those of the Christian right and tying Federal funding to those agendas. It also serves as a place for conservative students to inform on “controversial professors” who among other things criticize the US policies in Iraq.
The Blue Oregon report tells us that hostilities against the intellectuals are nothing new for regimes which hunger for power.
“Take, for example, the Khmer Rouge, who, emulating Stalin's model, murdered thousands of doctors, lawyers, philosophers, writers and university professors a mere 30 years ago. As for Stalin, the “intelligensia class” was among the first groups targeted in his Great Purges of the 1930s and 40s.”
BUSH DISCOUNTS GLOBAL WARMING
In 2002 the Environmental Protection Agency released a report which was surprising in its agreement with what many scientists and weather experts had long been saying - that human activity was adding to Global Warming.
In this coverage from CBS News we find that when asked about this, the first report of his administration to link global warming and human sources, Bush replied dismissivley: “"I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," adding that he still opposes the Kyoto treaty.”
National Environmental Trust president, Philip Clapp, hailed the report: “(The report) undercuts everything the president has said about global warming since he took office”
During his campaign for election in 2004 Salon reports that Bush is “...certainly not going to bring up global warming, which he's done so little about. "Bush is not mentioning it because it goes against the major interest of his supporters," says Ross Gelbspan, author of a new book on global warming called “Boiling Point” which calls for buying out coal miners to speed the transition from CO2-intensive coal to electricity made from renewable sources. "Bush has given the reins of our climate and energy policies to the coal and oil industries completely."
Oil and gas companies have contributed more than $2 million to Bush's reelection effort, making him the largest recipient of the industry's campaign dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics ; and the coal industry has given his reelection effort more than $200,000, making the president that industry's biggest beneficiary too.”
“"His response to everything is we still need more study," says Robert F. Kennedy Jr. "You're never going to get a scientist to say there is an absolute certainty that this consequence is going to happen. You're standing on a railroad track and a train is coming. A scientist is not going to say that there is a complete 100 percent certainty that that train is going to hit you, but it's still a good idea to get off the track."”
BUSH IS OUR SAVIOR FROM GLOBAL WARMING:
In a July 2006 interview with People Magazine Bush had this to say:
“I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it's caused by mankind or whether it's caused naturally, but it's a worthy debate. It's a debate, actually, that I'm in the process of solving by advancing new technologies, burning coal cleanly in electric plants, or promoting hydrogen-powered automobiles, or advancing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.”
But Matt Stoller at MyDD has another opinion of Bush’s statements:
“...Bush is certainly doubt-mongering. But that's not all, because he's also casting himself as the hero of the story. You see, he's also personally solving the problem of global warming by advancing new technologies like hydrogen cars.”
The “New Technology” argument is just another in the :rhetorical set of tricks that the global warming deniers and apologists use to prevent the American people from activating the political system”
Matt concludes with an interpretation of Bush’s statement:
“There's no problem, really, and it's not our fault if there is a problem, and don't worry, the non-problem is being taken care of by magic ponies.”
THE FINAL PROOF
Since we began monitoring the extent of the North Polar sea ice by sattelite in 1979 the average decline in the maximum winter ice pack was 1.5% per decade. For both of the last two years the decline was 6% each year.
The summer time sea ice quantity continues its retreat at a steady 10% per decade.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center research scientist Joey Comiso used sattelite data from 1978-2006 in his research which included data from aircraft instruments and all were checked against ground based meteorological instruments.
In an article at the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Website Comiso states:
"This amount of Arctic sea ice reduction the past two consecutive winters has not taken place before during the 27 years satellite data has been available,"
"In the past, sea ice reduction in winter was significantly lower per decade compared to summer sea ice retreat. What's remarkable is that we've witnessed sea ice reduction at six percent per year over just the last two winters, most likely a result of warming due to greenhouse gases."
Aggravating the condition is the fact the fall freeze is occurring two weeks later each year.
The less ice and the longer the water is open the more solar heat is absorbed. Thus it becomes a self supporting loop and the melt continues.
BUT DO HUMANS REALLY ADD TO GLOBAL WARMING?
Global Warming is a natural phenomenon which occurs in a cycle of approximately 100,000 years.
This is actually a collection of various earth cycles known as the Milankovitch Cycles comprised of the eccentricity of the Earths orbit around the Sun, the tilt of the earths axis and the precession of the earths orbit.
Each of these have different time spans which when combined create the warming and cooling cycles the earth has experienced over history.
Of course the actual climate changes evoked by this cycle are complicated and would take much bandwidth here to explore.
From Ice cores, sea bed cores and other means we are able to get a glimpse at these cycles.
Ice Core Samples dating back as far as 800,000 years show a clear correlation between CO2 and CH4 (Methane) concentrations in the atmosphere and the average temperatures.
Therefore it can be said Global Warming is in fact a natural occurrence accompanied by elevations in greenhouse gasses. But which is cause and which is effect?
Putting that question aside and just observing the natural cycles of both these phenomenon reveals the problem.
There is no doubt that humans have contributed much to the carbon dioxide concentrations in the air over the last century and a half. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil have released billions of tons of carbon that had previously been locked up in the ground.
We know that this carbon in the atmosphere reflects radiant heat back to the earth causing some warming.
What is reveling is the accelerating rate of warming compared with the historical mapping from the ice core samples.
This warming over the last 1,000 years is represented by what has been known as the Hockey Stick Graph for its shape similar to a hockey stick.
It shows a very gradual decline of 0.2 degree centigrade over 900 years and then a sharp climb of 1.1 degrees centigrade over the last 100 years.
In correlation, the rate of increase in CO2 - typically about 30ppm per 1,000 years, has risen 30ppm in just the last 17 years to a record high of 380ppm, well above the 200-300 historical average.
THE SUN IS MUCH MORE ACTIVE RIGHT NOW, ISN’T THAT WHY IT’S HOTTER?
In an article in Scientific American we find that although there are in fact changes in the Sun’s activity they are self-canceling and the total solar output varies by no more than 0.1% over its 11 year cycle:
“A reasonable question is whether natural changes such as solar activity could have caused or contributed to the upturned blade of that [hockey] stick, perhaps because the sun's luminosity varies widely over centuries or more. "The question is, were there times in the past when it was equally warm, and the answer is no," says Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research”
“The sun's luminosity swings up and down by less than 0.1 percent in accord with an 11-year cycle of sunspots and faculae, bright areas of heightened output. This cycle accounts for most of the sun's variability. Recent simulations reinforce the idea that convection inside the sun rapidly smoothes out internal hot spots before their concentrated heat can escape like an upwelling of magma, the researchers note. This inertia allows surface changes to have a discernible effect and explains why no additional sources of variation have been identified so far, they say”
BUSH ADMINISTRATION BLOCKS SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION ON WARMING/HURRICANE LINK SHORTLY AFTER KATRINA
This article at Think Progress highlights a letter from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) ranking member on the Government Reform Committee to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In this letter he complains about copies of emails he received showing that a post-Katrena CNBC interview with NOAA scientist Tom Knutson had been scrubbed because he held the belief that Global Warming could yield a small increase in hurrican strength.
IF GLOBAL WARMING ADDS TO HURRICANES, WHY IS SUCH A CALM YEAR THIS YEAR
CNN brings us news of a new El Nino cycle which has formed in the Pacific. These El Nino cycles have a moderating affect on Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
“September 13, 2006 El Nino, an extreme warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean that wreaks havoc with world weather conditions, has formed and will last into 2007, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday”
“So far, there have only been seven tropical storms and two hurricanes halfway through the hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends November 30.
“Scientists said El Nino disrupts storm formation because it allows wind shear to rip apart thunderstorms in the center of the hurricanes, reducing power and intensity as a result.”
OTHER TYPES OF SCIENCE TARGETED AS WELL
the Washington Post reports that even studies and programs to protect the salmon in the American west are under attack.
The Washington office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has instructed its scientists to route their communications with the media through their headquarters.
Only three people are now authorized to speak to the media regarding salmon. All three persons are political appointees.
These instructions were enacted the day after a federal judge ruled that during drought years water delivery to farmers must be limited to protect the salmon. At the same time a report by federal scientists with NOAA and the Interior Department calling for the removal or reconstruction of dams to allow salmon to pass through to spawn.
Both of these developments flew in the face of Bush policy.
SIXTY TWO LEADING SCIENTISTS LODGE COMPLAINT
Sixty two of this country’s leading scientist lodge a complaint in early 2004 AGAINST THE Bush administration for its misrepresentation and suppression of scientific knowledge for political purposes.
"Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front," the statement said. "Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies."
They go on to state:
“Now it's one thing to ignore research when making policy. What the Bush Administration has done goes beyond this -- they have repeatedly and systematically censored or tried to manipulate federally-funded, widely-accepted scientific information from the public”.
“"What we are seeing here, and we have not seen it before, is an administration that distorts the process by which it gets advice and censors the advice it gets from its own scientists," Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the LA Times.”
"Science, to quote President Bush's father, the former president, relies on freedom of inquiry and objectivity,” said Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford, who joined the scientists in calling for action. “But this administration has obstructed that freedom and distorted that objectivity in ways that were unheard of in any previous administration."
CLIMATE RESEARCHERS HAVE MANY COMPLAINTS
Climate scientists are concerned about the American public not getting the complete and acurate information on global warming. It is hard for these scientists to speak out to the public or the media.
“Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a US Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well”
“These scientists - working nationwide in research centers in such places as Princeton, NJ, and Boulder, Colorado - say they are required to clear all media requests with administration officials, something they did not have to do until the summer of 2004. Before then, point climate researchers ...were relatively free to discuss their findings without strict agency oversight.”
“Thomas Delworth, one of Stouffer's colleagues, said the policy means Americans have only "a partial sense" of what government scientists have learned about climate change."
"American taxpayers are paying the bill, and they have a right to know what we're doing," he said.”
JAMES HANSEN A LEADER IN THE PROTEST AGAINST THE CENSORSHIP
63 year old Physicist Dr. James Hansen joined the space agency in 1967 and now works at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.
He has had conflicts in the past with various politicians including George Bush Sr. And even Al Gore.
In 2001 he was invited twice to brief Vice President Cheney and other administration personel on global warming.
Dr. Hansen is without a doubt one of the world’s leading researchers on global warming.. The head of NASA’s top institute studying climate change.
In a report by CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley first reported last spring, this imminent scientist says that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say.
Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.
"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.
"I find a willingness to listen only to those portions of scientific results that fit predetermined inflexible positions. This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster."
NASA has been keeping a close watch over Hansen and Pelly’s interview was only allowed with a NASA representative in the room taping the conversation.
"I object to the fact that I’m not able to freely communicate via the media," says Hansen.
"National Public Radio wanted to interview me and they were told they would need to interview someone at NASA headquarters and the comment was made that they didn’t want Jim Hansen going on the most liberal media in America. So I don’t think that kind of decision should be made on that kind of basis. I think we should be able to communicate the science."
Hansen has not only clashed with Bush, but also the Clinton administration which wanted him to spin the research to make it look worse than it really is. Being a man of integrity he refused to do so.
"Should we be simply doing our science and reporting it rigorously, or to what degree the administration in power has the right to assume that you should be a spokesman for the administration?" asks Hansen. "I've tried to be a straight scientist doing the science and reporting it as best I can."
According to a report in the Wshington Post, while speaking at the New School University, Hansen claimed:
"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States,"
“New School President Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, said he invited Hansen to speak because he was "very concerned" about what he called the administration's efforts to steer the debate over global warming: "It's not only inappropriate; it stifles the very debate we're trying to have today, and that we need to have on this issue."”
THE OIL INDUSTRY CONNECTION
Also in the report by CBS News we meet Rick Piltz who co-writes the reports for the federal Climate Change Science Program.
Plitz has this to say about the process:
"The strategy of people with a political agenda to avoid this issue is to say there is so much to study way upstream here that we can’t even being to discuss impacts and response strategies,
There’s too much uncertainty. It's not the climate scientists that are saying that, its lawyers and politicians."
Piltz worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Each year, he helped write a report to Congress called "Our Changing Planet."
Piltz says he is responsible for editing the report and sending a review draft to the White House.
Asked what happens then, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."
As it turns out, the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality is a man by the name of Phil Cooney.
Piltz says: "He's a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House,".
Piltz claims Cooney edited climate reports in his own hand. In one report, a line that said earth is undergoing rapid change becomes “may be undergoing change.”
“Uncertainty” becomes “significant remaining uncertainty.” One line that says energy production contributes to warming was just crossed out.
"He was obviously passing it through a political screen," says Piltz. "He would put in the word potential or may or weaken or delete text that had to do with the likely consequence of climate change, pump up uncertainty language throughout."
THE COAL INDUSTRY LINK
In another report at Tide Pool it is revealed that;
“The federal government filed charges against energy companies because they had violated a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires plants to install pollution control mechanisms on old coal fired power plants whenever a plant is upgraded or expanded. The Bush Administration -- heavily funded by those energy companies -- changed the law to help those companies beat the federal charges. If the Post report is true, officials within the Bush Administration also mislead Congress prior to the passage of the new rules.
“So this summer the Bush Administration changed that part of the law by expanding the definition of "routine maintenance" which was exempt from the requirements. Under the Bush definition, "routine maintenance" now covers expansions and upgrades costing millions of dollars -- even if the upgrades result in increased pollution they are now exempt for Clean Air Act requirements.
Moreover, because this change was made by altering the definition of a key term in the law, it undermined federal enforcement cases pending against Bush Administration friends and funders. Judges will now be forced to consider the cases before them based on the new definition of the term, assuming it is the "correct" definition.”
AND SO IT GOES
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The first images show rugged walls with layers of exposed rock and a floor blanketed with dunes.
Planned as a 90 day mission Opportunity has now been exploring Mars since January 2004. So far it has covered nearly six miles of terrain, making many stops along the way to examine various rocks and outcroppings.
More on this news at NASA Press Release 9/27/06
Total coverage of all the Mars missions and links to photo galleries at:
NASA's Mars Exploration.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
PRESERVE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE AND HAVE IT COUNTED!
DEMAND A PAPER BALLOT!
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) have introduced the Confidence in Vote Act of 2006 calling for the availability of paper ballots in the mid-term elections and asking the Fedral Government to finance these ballots.
Originaly proposed as the LET AMERICA VOTE ACT by Brad Friedman of Brad Blog the bill is receiving support from Velvet Revolution and other Election Reform entities such as VotersUnite.org and has garnered coverage in the New York Times.
Be sure to check out the details at Brad Blog.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Called into question was the reports conclusion that Iran had enriched uranium at its pilot centrifuge plant to weapons-grade level in April. This is in direct conflict with IAEA's own findings.
Also questioned was the report that Iran had "mass quantities of uranium gas await enrichment, which would ultimately be used for the construction of some 40 nuclear bombs."
Furthermore the report suggested that the IAEA had fired an inspector because he would not follow an allege IAEA policy preventing him from telling the truth about Iran.
The IAEA has called this suggestion "outrageous and dishonest" and a case of deja vu relating to pre-Iraq false assessments.
Yellow Cake anyone?
Must be time to out another secret agent!
The full story can be found at The Raw Story.
Photo links repaired, additional links and photo added 11/26/07
Launched August 12, 2005, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has finally been positioned to begin its task. The orbiter, weighing 2,273 pounds plus a propellant payload of 2,533 pounds, fired it’s thrusters for 27 minutes last March 10th to slow it enough to be captured by Mars’ gravity and swing it into orbit.
This original 35 hour elliptical orbit took the craft as far away as 28,000 miles from the surface to distances as close as 61 miles, where it dipped into the Martian atmosphere in a maneuver called aerobraking. The drag on the space-craft during these encounters eroded this orbit during 426 revolutions until the high point was reduced to 302 miles and an orbit time of 2.4 hours.
This aerobraking maneuver allowed a reduction of about 1,300 lbs. Of propellant over what would have been required if the orbit placement was done with thrusters only.
Six intermediate sized thrusters were fired Monday Sept. 11th for 12.5 minutes to place it in its working orbit of 155 miles near the South pole and 196 miles above the North pole.
The craft was placed into orbit atop a 188 foot tall Atlas V-4012 stage launch vehicle. This version does not use solid fuel booster engines.
The Atlas first stage, weighing 627,000 lbs. at launch uses a Russian built engine powered by liquid oxygen and a rocket fuel similar to kerosene..
This stage operates for about four minutes providing 900,000 pounds of thrust accelerating the spacecraft to about 10,000 miles per hour and an altitude of about 71 miles.
After firing, the first stage separates and falls back into the Atlantic Ocean.
Then the second stage, a Centaur engine, takes over and burns for nine and one half minutes to place the craft into a parking orbit of about 115 miles. The craft then coasts for about 33 minutes as the Centaur positions it for its mission and rotates it to keep it from overheating.
Then over the Indian ocean it fires again for ten minutes to send the craft out of Earth orbit and on its way to Mars.
The next step is to unfold the 33 foot antenna for the Shallow Subsurface Radar, an Italian Space Agency built instrument developed by Northrup Grumman, a California space technology company. This is a ground penetrating radar which will be used to search for water and ice below the surface of the planet.
Another instrument, The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, is a high resolution telescopic camera working in both the visible and near-infrared spectrums. With a resolution of 1-2 feet it is capable of imaging items as small as 4 feet across from an altitude of 125 miles. The near-infrared camera will help analyze mineral content of the soil.
Other instruments include a Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer , used in the analysis of the soil, and the Mars Climate Sounder to research the atmosphere.
The orbiter will be sending data at the rate of 0.5 to 4 megabits per second for 10-11 hours each day during its 700 day mission. The total amount of data will be over 4 terrabytes - the equivalent of 6,500 compact disks, or as much as 20 times more data than all of the previous planetary missions combined.
The HiRISE camera has sent back this image of a portion of the Valles Marineris canyon.
This canyon would stretch from Los Angeles to New York city if it were on Earth.
Click on image to enlarge.
Here is the full extent of the Valles Marineris canyon.
Much more at NASA's Mars Reconaissance Orbiter
Additional images from the HIRISE Camera can be found HERE.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne has proposed that they test their new ray guns on demonstrators before they test them on the enemy!
Michael had this to say about it:
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, .... if I hit somebody .... and they claim that it injured them .... I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
Is he saying that it's ok to test it on our own citizens but not on a foriegn enemy because the press would give him grief if he injured a foreign enemy?
Then we have:
".... injured them in a way that was not intended ...."
So he intends to injure protestors?
But wait a minute - you think this is something out of Flash Gordon?
Well think again!
"A non-lethal -- but potentially harmful -- crowd control weapon that heats human skin is bound for Iraq, and possibly to a police department near you."
The Active Denial System, or ADS, a crowd control weapon built by Raytheon Corporation is scheduled for military deployment in Iraq in 2006. This weapon has already been tested on volunteers at New Mexico's Kirtland Air Force Base. Among the safety measures taken were to ban the wearing of glasses and contact lenses to prevent possible eye damage, as well as remove metallic objects such as keys to avoid burns.
The weapon emits a 95-gigahertz microwave beam, intended to heat the skin within 2-3 seconds causing pain but no physical damage. After 5 seconds the pain is unbearable. The natural pain response is counted on to make one move out of the beam.
New Scientist.com reports:
"During the experiments, people playing rioters put up their hands when hit and were given a 15-second cooling-down period before being targeted again. One person suffered a burn in a previous test when the beam was accidentally used on the wrong power setting"
Ok so they will use it on demonstrators. What are they going to do - announce "Hey everybody we're going to zap you so be sure to take off your rings and glasses, take out your contacts and those of you with congenital insensitivity to pain step aside"?
And now coming to a police station near you!
"Raytheon spokesperson Alan Fischer said the company is "working on a number of active denial projects, with various ranges. The hope is to some day miniaturize them to the size of a hand-held unit that could be carried in a purse or pocket."
Time to rush out and buy Raytheon stock folks!
"The potential for this technology is huge."
The Real Thing
UPDATE 9/21/06: Here is an article from Defense Update Online Magazine outlining a number of these "non-leathal" weapons soon to be deployed.
Sources: CNN Alternet.org New Scientist
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Morgan Wilkins, an intern has been ""hired by the Republican National Committee to win the hearts and minds of Michigan 20-somethings" at the University of Michigan."
Among his ideas are several exciting new games!
One of the games is "an event called Fun with Guns, in which young Republicans would use a BB gun or paintball gun to shoot cardboard cut-outs of Democratic leaders such as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)"
Another creative endeavor is "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day, in which a volunteer would play the part of an illegal immigrant and hide somewhere on campus while others try to find him."
Although that game seems to not be so original: "In April, Penn State University College Republicans dropped plans to hold a Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game after a student outcry "ensued," but other colleges such as the University of North Texas have held such events."
Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee Chairman, wrote Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman "calling on him to stop RNC-funded campaign activities that promote discrimination and endorse violence against political opponents."
Dean also wrote "Promoting Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day, which has been used by the Republican Party in other states including Pennsylvania and Texas, is not only offensive, it promotes discrimination for political gain, and an event titled "Fun with Guns" that encourages young Republicans to shoot cardboard cut-outs of Democratic leaders further promotes intolerance and violence."
Full story and full transcript of Dean's letter at The Raw Story.
Photo credit: About.com
Monday, September 11, 2006
I was getting ready for work that morning. Had a very important meeting to propose an energy saving cooling system for a new 540,000 square foot wine transportation warehouse.
The morning news was on the TV and they broke to a national feed about the first tower having been hit. The reporters were making many stupid comments about how the Air Traffic Controllers must be having a problem etc., speculating what kind of plane it was.
Then the second plane hit. I knew then that it was not some accident.
I stayed as long as I could and turned on the car radio to listen on my way to the meeting.
I caught a few minutes of TV in the break room when I arrived at the wine company's office.
The meeting was brief and everyone agreed to postpone it for a week.
Upon arriving at my office I found out the towers had collapsed and the pentagon had also been hit. Somewhere in there I heard there were 10 planes they were tracking and other such speculative errors.
On the way home I stopped and bought a small American flag and attached it to the radio antennae on my vehicle and flew it until it shredded away.
As it shredded my feelings went from ones of solidarity to feelings of how our country was being shredded as I watch our government's response by attacking a country, that Bush now admits, had nothing to do with 9/11.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
This weekend was our annual Family Camp with all the relatives, a tradition dating back nearly 20 years. In the past we have met in places as far flung as Truckee, Morrow Bay and Gualala, although lately we have settled down to one place in the foothills North East of Sacramento.
We would prefer the middle of the forest somewhere away from everything, but the rest all want hookups for their motorhomes etc.
It was a peaceful weekend for the most part sitting around chatting playing guitar. One bummer scene when one of the younger couples decided to air their dirty laundry after having too many beers, which kind of put a damper on things the rest of the day.
I enjoyed hiking at night under the light of the full moon and watching the deer graze amongst the campsites.
My brother-in-law made the mistake of telling me what a good job Bush was doing - he found out real quick that he had bitten off way more than he could chew. After explaining to him about PNAC, buildings collapsing, seized pentagon surveillance films from surrounding businesses, Bush's admittance a week or so ago about no WMDs in Iraq and no Sadam connection to 9/11 he waved the white flag and asked that we agree to disagree.
He will be receiving a long list of links for him to research!
Beyond that it was a pleasant relaxing time with no incidents like Memorial Day 2005 when our Home Away from Home nearly ended up at the bottom of a creek below a small cliff - but that's another story!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Now that Pluto has been declared no longer a planet, NASA's New Horizon is on course for an encounter with Pluto in 2015.
Launched in Jnauary of this year atop an Atlas Rocket it will swing past Jupiter next February where Jupiter's gravity will accelerate it for the cruise to Pluto.
The last instrument to be tested was the high resolution telescopic camera and it came through perfectly.
All the instruments have now been shown to work properly so the craft will check in once a week to report its status until it reaches Pluto.
It is hoped that it will yield much information about our distant ex-planet and possibly go on to explore the Kuiper Belt from which many of our comets originate.
CNN has more information, and you can watch the launch.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A shortage of farm workers due to tighter restrictions at the Mexican border is threatening the fall harvest.
"When farmer Kenyon Farley hears about the "crackdowns" on the U.S.-Mexico border, he worries about his apples.
Last fall, Farley couldn't find enough farmworkers to pick the "quality apples" off his trees - he needed up to 30; he only got 10. So he lost money. This fall, he's concerned seasonal workers from Mexico won't make it across the border to help with the harvest, resulting in harder times for already struggling farmers statewide. "
This Report from the Salt Lake Tribune exposes a side effect of the increased border surveillence which has received little consideration.
Another report from Raw Story and The Ledger tells of the loss of crops and the problems of trying to work under the Government's programs:
"The tightening of the border with Mexico, begun more than a decade ago but reinforced since May with the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops, has forced California growers to acknowledge that most of their workers are illegal Mexican migrants. The U.F.W. estimates that more than 90 percent of the states farm workers are illegal.
Most California growers gave up years ago on recruiting workers through the seasonal guest-worker program currently in place. Known as H-2A, the program requires employers to prove they tried to find American workers and to apply well in advance for relatively small contingents of foreign workers for fixed time periods."
The Mexican Federal Electoral Tribunal has today declared Felipe Calderon the winner in the Mexican Presidential Election, brushing aside claims of fraud by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
"Felipe Calderon didn't win. Fraud won," opposition supporter Francisca Ojeda said, screaming to be heard over protesters throwing trash at the court and screaming "Fraud! Fraud!"
Lopez Obrador adviser Manuel Camacho told The Associated Press that the court's recommendation "does not take into account what is actually happening in the country."
"The court is going to be questioned seriously about its decision," he said, adding: "We have the responsibility to conduct ourselves peacefully."
Monday, September 04, 2006
The Bush administration has declared itself immune from whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water Act based on the old English legal maxim that "The King Can Do No Wrong.".
"Citing an "unpublished opinion of the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal Counsel," the Secretary of Labor's Administrative Review Board has ruled federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims under the Clean Water Act."
"The opinion and the ruling reverse nearly two decades of precedent. Approximately 170,000 federal employees working within environmental agencies are affected by the loss of whistleblower rights."
" "The Bush administration is engineering the stealth repeal of whistleblower protections," stated PEER General Counsel Richard Condit, who had won several of the earlier cases applying environmental whistleblower protections to federal specialists. "The use of an unpublished opinion to change official interpretations is a giant step backward to the days of the secret Star Chamber." "
Read the Full Story as brought to you by Yubanet.com
Broken photo link removed 11/27/07
The European moon probe "Smart-1" has yielded much more information than expected.
It has proven the abilities of the Ion Drive propulsion system which provides a gentle but constant acceleration which over time can reach high enough velocities to explore the outer planets.
The advantage of such a system is the fuel weight to payload weight ratio. The early moon missions required huge rockets to boost the space ship to a speed where it would "coast" to the moon. Much of this size was required just to lift their own fuel load.
With this system smaller launch vehicles are required to place the space ship in orbit from where the Ion Drive takes over.
Also the mission yielded lots of new information regarding the composition of the rocks which will be helpful in determining the orgin of the moon.
Currently some theorize it was knocked off of the earth by a collision of another body.
UPDATE 9/22/06: Images from the spacecraft are available for view at the European Space Agency website.
A hyper, fun to watch guy who always seemed to be full of excitement while bringing us knowledge and appreciation of wildlife.
Thanks, Steve, for bringing many hours of learning and entertainment to my children.
I am saddened that you are gone, you will be greatly missed!
Of course you won't hear about this in the Main Stream Media here in the U.S.
Today at Brad Blog guest blogger Michael Collins has posted an excellent analysis of the situation in an article titled "Looking South: Organized and Passionate Activism"
It is well worth a read.
Also, the Legislators in Mexico, have set an example for other politicians on how to stand up to the ruling party when needed.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It was early spring and the snow pack was melting fast. Several friends and I headed up the hill hoping to make it to
Grouse Ridge - Photo: Bluebear2
our favorite lake.
We were stopped by a six foot deep snow drift about a mile short of our destination.
Therefore we carried our gear several hundred yards down the hill and set up next to the creek.
That night we sat around a roaring fire enjoying the sound of the trickling water and the millions of stars poured across they sky.
The BBQ chicken never tasted so good and the brandy warmed our souls as the temperature dropped below freezing.
Totally Tom had brought fire crackers and started throwing them into the fire to everyone's surprise. Soon we tired of his horse-play and the embers that were landing on us. He finally stopped, but not before throwing the whole package in at once.
We got the last laugh when a little while later we smelled burning plastic and found that a golf ball sized ember had melted through his sleeping bag and lounge chair.
The next morning we were sitting around wondering if our friends Dan and Vicki were coming up to join us as they said they might. It was nearing noon and we had expected them early.
Suddenly there was a noise up the hill above us, then the sound of something approaching through the bush. Bursting out of the brush came a boom box radio doing end-os down the hill and through the camp site, stopping just short of the creek. This was followed by a gallon jug of cheap wine and shortly thereafter Vicki, who had slipped part way down the hill and slid to the bottom on the bed of pine needles.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Should it be serious?
Should it be silly?
These are the questions I will have to ponder in the next few hours , or do I just start somewhere and let it flow?
Until then I'll leave you with this:
Spring Flow - Lake Clementine Dam