Saturday, August 25, 2007

ABC News, And Its Inexcusable Judgment

This right wing lobbying campaign to oust al-Maliki, with ABC News cheerleading all the way, is terrible. They keep saying they want democracy for Iraq, but everything they do screams the opposite.
Terrible Fires In The Peloponnese

Zaharo, in particular.

Friday, August 24, 2007

We Come To Honor Dean, Not Bury Him

As former Hurricane Dean falls apart, it gets harder and harder to tell where its influence is.

Big thunderstorms are occurring near Nogales, AZ, and farther south right now. Those are influenced by Dean's moisture.

Dean will be in charge of AZ weather on the weekend, albeit in a hard-to-discern way, through the influence of moisture.

The center of circulation is heading NNW, up the west coast of Baja, oddly enough, with the 700 mb circulation finally surrendering on Monday off the coast of Monterey, CA. Nevertheless, AZ is downwind of the moisture plume at all times this weekend, so thunderstorms should be pretty active there.
Slight Degradation

Every year, I write up an annual summary of how California stands regarding the standard measures of air pollution. In general, since about 1980, there has been continued improvement in most air quality measures. Reverses have usually been brief, and haven't always occurred for all pollutants.

There have also been unusual patterns that have revealed themselves over the last 25 years. Air quality has improved dramatically in coastal areas (such as San Diego), but the improvements have been much less dramatic in the interior valleys (like the San Joaquin Valley).

Nevertheless, 2006 was slightly worse than 2005 across most of the range of air pollutants. It may be that population and vehicle-travel growth have finally caught up to the technical improvements that have allowed all of us to breathe fresher air.

I remember, about 1988, in Phoenix, seeing a technical talk by an air pollution expert (can't remember his name anymore) who predicted this very thing would happen, roughly in 2003. With all the seers and prophets and visionaries running around in the world, all trying to predict the future, this guy was the only one I ever met who essentially got the future right.

Or maybe history still has some more tricks to play. After all, this year's pleasant August temperatures will translate into better air quality. And maybe, in regards to air quality improvement, we are all just taking (wait for the pun....) a breather. Only time will tell!

Quoting brief snippets just from the ozone part of the summary:
In the South Coast Air Basin, the peak hourly ozone level in 2006 was 0.175 ppm (recorded at Glendora), down from 0.182 ppm in 2005 (recorded at Crestline). Overall, the 2006 South Coast Air Basin smog season was the fourth-best on record with regard to the federal one-hour standard, and the second-best on record with regard to the state one-hour standard, for ozone.

Peak hourly ozone levels remained down from previous maxima in the San Francisco Bay Area. The peak ozone level in the Bay Area (at Livermore) reached 0.127 ppm, above last year’s 0.120 ppm, but well below 2002’s recent maximum of 0.160 ppm, the highest level recorded in the Bay Area since 1987.

In the Sacramento Valley Air Basin, 2004 was the best year on record regarding violations of the federal one-hour ozone standard, with just one violation. There were three violations in 2005, and seven violations in 2006 (with a maximum of 0.143 ppm at Elk Grove).

The peak hourly ozone concentration in the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin dropped from 0.155 ppm in 2004 to 0.134 ppm in 2005, the biggest year-to-year drop in that air basin in 24 years. In 2006, the maximum peak hourly ozone concentration increased again to 0.141 ppm (at Edison). Nevertheless, 2006 was the San Joaquin Valley’s second-best ozone season with regards to the state one-hour ozone standard.
Rare Jet Spotted In Oklahoma

Yesterday, on Space
GIGANTIC JETS: Think of them as sprites on steroids: Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the top of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere 50+ miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.

You've never seen one? "Gigantic Jets are very rare," explains atmospheric scientist and Jet-expert Oscar van der Velde of the Université Paul Sabatier's Laboratoire d’Aérologie in Toulouse, France. "The first one was discovered in 2001 by Dr. Victor Pasko in Puerto Rico. Since then fewer than 30 jets have been recorded--mostly over open ocean and on only two occasions over land."

That's why researchers are excited by the events of Aug. 20th. On that night, amateur astronomer Richard Smedley of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was hunting for meteors using a low light video camera when he caught two Gigantic Jets instead (view the 4.5 MB video).

"They were much brighter than a typical meteor--more like a fireball," says Smedley. To appreciate the size of these things, consider the following: "They came from a thunderstorm more than 100 miles away in Missouri: map." This means the Jets were about 48 miles tall measured upward from the top of the thundercloud.
The Adventures Of Amy Winehouse

Way, way too much drama!
Cross-Cultural Pollination

The modern age often comes in for just criticism, but one of its unalloyed glories is how the mixing of cultural influences often leads to wondrous works of art.

Ballroom dancer Prue O'Donovan (left) is modeling her 'Tempo Rouge' stage extravaganza Bollywood outfit. Ballroom dancing sports a heavy Latin influence, and Bollywood is a reworking of Broadway and Hollywood musical theater influences in the crucible of the many cultures of India. Put it all together, and the effect can be spectacular.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wow! Noosa Is Getting Hammered!

One of the stations just south of Noosa (Coops Corner TM) is reporting 714 mm of rain in the 24-hr period ending at 9 a.m. Aug. 24th. That's 28.11 inches! Nearby Rainbow Beach is reporting 713 mm.

The most rain that has ever fallen in Sacramento in one day is 7.24 inches, and that was in 1880. Indeed, Sacramento has only had nine recorded seasons when there was this much rain in the entire year.

And all that flooding is happening in a very narrow coastal strip. After wrecking that pretty place, almost all that excess water will just run back in the sea. And will it help the drought there? Hardly at all!
Regarding Dean

Deborah in Phoenix asks:
Do you think he'll come our way????
I reply:
It's been clear for several days now that a lot of the moisture would come your way, by Sunday. The models have been equivocal about whether the storm would reorganize, however, and, if so, whether it would head into the Gulf of California, or venture west into the open Pacific, west of the southern tip of Baja. It would be cool if it reorganizes - only the most-powerful of powerful storms can punch their way across the Mexican Highlands. It would be even cooler if it reorganized and followed Nora's path into Yuma, but that's like hitting a hummingbird at fifty paces with a rubber band.

We'll see!
Bizarro Weather Near Brisbane

632 mm at Mt. Bilewilum? Wow! Nearly 25"! That coastal strip near Noosa is being swept out to sea!

But, of course, the dam catchment areas see much less....
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood warnings for the upper Maroochy, Mary and Noosa Rivers after record falls in the region.

The Bureau of Meterology reported 632mm at Mt Bilewilam near Double Island Point, while Noosa had almost 400mm - including 80mm in just one hour.

Tewantin recorded 263mm, and 236mm fell at Double Island Point.

There were also good falls in the Stanley River catchment leading to Somserset dam, although Wivenhoe received just 29mm.
Expansion At The Woodland Opera House

Left: (Sacramento Bee caption) - Jeff Kean is packing up his office of 12 years at the Woodland Opera House to make way for the expansion of the Main Street facility. (Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas)

(Marc Valdez caption) - Jeff Kean says: "I'm really going to miss this office."

Left: (Sacramento Bee caption) - Jeff Kean, executive director of the Woodland Opera House, surveys the stage earlier this week. Kean is giving up his office for the expansion, which will include a new performing arts center for young people in the courtyard next to the opera house. The seating and stage will not be affected by the work. (Sacramento Bee/José Luis Villegas)

(Marc Valdez caption) - "Wait...right here would be the perfect place for an office!"

Left: (Sacramento Bee caption) - An artist's rendering of the Woodland Opera House expansion project, including a small theater for youth productions, a dance studio and box office. (McCandless & Associates Architects)

(Marc Valdez caption) Hardly any room for shrubbery, but that means more seats!

A nice article in today's Bee regarding the expansion plans at the Woodland Opera House! It's remarkable, actually, how much cooperation has been required between the City of Woodland and the State of California to bring the project to this stage:
Surrounded by mementos and photographs, Jeff Kean is ready to pack up his office of 12 years at the Woodland Opera House to make way for a larger ladies' restroom.

It's a small price to pay to expand the historic landmark after nearly two decades of waiting, said Kean, opera house executive director.

The Woodland Opera House is set to undergo an estimated $2.2 million expansion, which includes a new performing arts center for young people.

A courtyard next to the opera house in Woodland's downtown will provide a small theater for youth productions, a dance studio and classroom, offices, improved restroom facilities and a box office accessible from the street.

The project will be funded by a half-cent sales tax extension approved in June 2006 by Woodland voters.

Kean said designs should be ready for City Council and state review within the next two months. If everything goes well, construction would start by spring of 2008, he said.

"This will hopefully go a little faster than last time," Kean said of the building's seven-year restoration during the 1980s.

...There also were questions about using city sales tax dollars to pay for opera house additions, City Councilman Art Pimentel said.

"I am very much opposed to the fact that we are going to spend city tax dollars on state property," Pimentel said, adding that extension of the half-cent sales tax measure passed after much compromise.

Measure E, which secured 64 percent of the vote, also includes funding over the next 12 years for roads, a community and senior center, parks, a swimming pool, library and City Hall expansion.

Projects are estimated to cost $67.2 million, with an allocation of $3 million to the opera house, according to a city report.

Pimentel said he is uneasy about handing the money over to the Woodland Opera House trustees and not having city oversight on how it will be spent.

A report from the Woodland Opera House shows that $1.5 million will be spent on constructing the performing arts center and $700,000 on buying fixtures and furnishings. When asked about the remaining funds, Kean said money will be used to pay interest on a bank loan that will be secured to jump-start construction.

The new performing arts youth center is expected to draw more patrons from throughout the Sacramento region to downtown Woodland by boosting opera house events from 31 to 48 weekends a year. The youth theater will provide a more intimate setting, seating 100 people. Youth programs are expected to double, providing more classes and youth performances.

On a recent afternoon, Kean sat at a cluttered desk, answering phone calls from people wanting tickets to the next big show -- Disney's "High School Musical."

"The reality is, the opera house belongs to Woodland," Kean said. "We will be able to serve a lot more kids, and no one is against that."
Midwest Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms, among this summer's most powerful to date, lambasted sections of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa overnight late Tuesday. Reports of mammoth 6-8" diameter hailstones near Dante, S.D., which if verified would rival the all-time record 7" diameter hail which punched holes in roofs in Aurora, Neb. on June 22, 2003, underscored the remarkable intensity of Tuesday's storm outbreak. With cloud tops which mushroomed to 72,000 ft., reports of 80 m.p.h. gusts near Rolfe and 4.50" of rain at Meridan--both in northwest Iowa--came as no surprise.

The eastbound storms threatened to push the record August rain tallies at LaCrosse, Wisc. (11.95") and Madison (10.49") to all-time monthly totals. Ironically, while these cities have never tallied bigger monthly totals, Duluth, Minn.--only several hundred miles to the north--has recorded only 0.24" this month, its driest August ever.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Space Elevator

There was an article in today's Wall Street Journal regarding 'space elevators.' I find it hard to believe that such a device could be flawlessly built, but it would be fun to try (from Wikipedia):
A space elevator is a proposed megastructure designed to transport material from a celestial body's surface into space, first conceived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Many different types of space elevators have been suggested. They all share the goal of replacing rocket propulsion with the traversal of a fixed structure via a mechanism not unlike an elevator in order to move material into or beyond orbit.

...The most common proposal is a tether, usually in the form of a cable or ribbon, spanning from the surface to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit. As the planet rotates, the inertia at the end of the tether counteracts gravity, and also keeps the cable taut. Vehicles can then climb the tether and get in orbit without the use of rocket propulsion. Such a structure could theoretically permit delivery of cargo and people to orbit with transportation costs a fraction of those of more traditional methods of launching a payload into orbit.
Aussie Riddle

I haven't been able to figure out that windy, spitting weather around Brisbane the last several days. I mean, the weather system moved on some time ago, but that whorl keeps spinning and spinning and spinning and knocking down trees and kicking up waves and breaking stuff. Shouldn't blame everything on 'conservation of potential vorticity', but is there any other explanation?
Cell Phones Open A New Window....

...onto conversations you were never meant to hear, and could have lived perfectly-well without ever hearing:
And so I told him, 'who you calling a f*** a** n******?' Then I was, like, all up in his face, and I shouted 'who you calling a f*** a** n******?'

CF - Kim Hyun Joo

TV Commercial: Living Audrey's dream, it seems!

Styrofoam Head

Aha! I've been trying for days to get this to work! Working with Asian Web Sites can be a pain, especially with this dingbat computer I have!

First I went through, but it sure seemed slow, and the video would get stuck at 1:49 of the 7:10 long video. Then I went directly to the video, on a Chinese Web Site, but it would also get stuck at the same place. Then, finally, through (thank you today's Wall Street Journal for the tip), the entire video now seems to work.

When I was in Australia last year, I dropped in on the State Library of Queensland, which was hosting an opening for the Multimedia Art Asia Pacific (MAAP) art show "Out Of The Internet." The avant-garde of Brisbane was out in force, particularly the Asian wing.

Pressed for time (I was headed to see Opera Australia's "Pirates of Penzance" and time was short), I quickly scanned the various computer monitors featuring various works of art. There was something called Manhua Wonderlands:
Incarcerated in their own karaoke ward room, Karaoke Bedlam presents the work of a series of artists exploring karaoke and music video clip culture as it can be channelled through the lens of hallucination and surrealism, chaos and nihilism, subconscious and the unconscious, sanity and schizophrenia. From delusions of grandeur that surround the cult of the pop-idol celebrity, to booty RnB strip-tease role-playing, to fantastical visions of mermen singing sea shanties, Karaoke Bedlam invites audiences to enter the Karaoke Bedlam wards and become voyeurs into claustrophic worlds of audio-visual madness and karaoke induced psychoses.
Among the works of art featuring people, there seemed to be a theme of frustration and debility. Three films caught my attention:
  • a man explained about a proposal for an art work that was never funded;
  • a man attempted to eat a bowl of noodles with cutlery, and prepare tea, all the while wearing boxing gloves (Takayuki Hino, Japan, Boxing Man - here is a related Japanese review); and,
  • a woman placed a large block of styrofoam over her head and flailed away at the styrofoam with a knife. Apparently she starts by inscribing the word 'Question' on the styrofoam (Hyun-joo Kim - Korea, Styrofoam Head - here is a related Japanese review).
Anyway, via Truveo, here is the link to "Styrofoam Head".

Also, while at Videocollector's Web Site, check out the truly bizarre 30-minute musical "Cremaster 3 - The Order"! Is this the future of musical theater? It's like "A Chorus Line" gone all sci-fi on us....

According to the Cremaster Web Site:
At this point in the narrative the film pauses for a choric interlude, which rehearses the initiation rites of the Masonic fraternity through allegorical representations of the five-part Cremaster cycle, all in the guise of a game staged in the Guggenheim Museum. Called “The Order,” this competition features a fantastical incarnation of the Apprentice as its sole contestant, who must overcome obstacles on each level of the museum's spiraling rotunda.

In the ensuing scene, which returns to the top of the Chrysler Building, the Architect is murdered by the Apprentice, who is then killed by the tower. Both men have been punished for their hubris and the building will remain unfinished. The film ends with a coda that links it to Cremaster 4.
Yes, I have truly seen the future, and it is full of bizarre Asian stuff! (even though Cremaster is American, apparently, but nevermind.... Or maybe the future is joint Asian/American ....hmmmm.....?)

Also, note that Hyun-joo Kim is apparently not the same person as Kim Hyun-joo, the Korean actress, who has a fabulously-cute TV commercial (I should post that too, since it's the future as well, and the future has a place all picked out for young Korean actresses....)

Well, regarding Asian video art, as with Columbian Zumba last week, like they say in the movie "Eraserhead" regarding chicken:
Mr. X: We've got chicken tonight. Strangest damn things. They're man made. Little damn things. Smaller than my fist. But they're new.

Comes as no surprise. Heck, even my eyes glaze over regarding the details of other countries' politics.

Nevertheless, some foreigners do pay acute attention to our political system, since it impacts them quite acutely. I believe John once told the story of how he was in Ireland, round-about 1980, and a random stranger he met at a train station went on a disquisition about how the various American states voted in the Electoral College in the 1976 Ford/Carter election, and was even able to enumerate New Mexico's vote for Ford (notable, because it was the first time NM had not voted for the election winner since statehood in 1912). Freaked John out! I mean, how many people here know the details of even the most recent Irish election?
Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed.

Candidates in the US presidential primaries "may have their work cut out for them as they work to get people interested in the election," wrote the Harris Poll group, which surveyed 2,225 adults between July 6 and 13 for the poll.

...Global political knowledge was miniscule, with just three percent of women and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.

One reason for the knowledge gap is lack of interest, according to the poll.

"Well over half (57 percent) say they do not like learning about political issues in other countries," and 32 percent expressed a lack of interest for homespun politics, the Harris Poll group said.
Save The Hairy Dogs Of Summer

My name is Sparky, and I must humbly appeal for your help. Just look at me! This is my demented master's idea of a proper coiffure for summer. As you can see, the ragged short hair makes mock of my traditional, Germanic long-haired Pomeranian heritage. I'm embarrassed for myself, and as a result, I cannot walk the streets until late at night, when no one can see.

Please, let my master know this injustice must not continue. Despite his dark mutterings about cleanliness and comfort, his abuse of my heritage cannot be permitted.

Won't you please help?
Yeah, But Is It Popular?

Some stats regarding "High School Musical 2":
Told you this would be big. That peppy little monster, "High School Musical 2," exploded in the ratings last week and became the most-watched show on cable ever.

There you go, a major record and no steroids involved. The sequel to Disney Channel's über- popular "High School Musical" drew 17.2 million viewers and showed just what can happen when there's a beat you can dance to.

"HSM2," which is what you call it, by the way, was also the most-watched show on all television all summer, going all the way back to the final week of the TV season in May. And there's more.

It was the most-watched TV show in history by kids ages 6 to 11 -- an important demographic if you sell toys or breakfast cereal -- and it was the most-watched entertainment TV show in history for 'tweens, ages 9 to 14. The only TV event ever to draw more 'tweens was the 2004 Super Bowl.
Stepping On The Story Line

I'm not sure I like this emerging narrative that a homeless person might have set the UP trestle alight last March as revenge for harrassment for camping along the American River:
A source close to the probe, who does not wish to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, said Moran-Marques told other homeless people that he set the fire in retaliation for police and park ranger harassment of transients and frequent raids on transient camps, some of which are near the trestle.

Sacramento County spokeswoman Chris Andis said park rangers have cited Moran-Marques several times for camping in the American River Parkway, although it doesn't appear he has been cited this year. Andis said one of the citations was for camping on the south side of the American River near Northgate Boulevard, about a mile from the trestle, which is on the north side of the river.

The March 15 fire, which sent a plume of black smoke billowing thousands of feet into the air, interrupted freight and passenger rail service throughout the area. It consumed heavy-duty trestle timber and tracks west of the Capital City Freeway near Cal Expo.

Thursday's indictment charges Moran-Marques with lying when he was questioned on May 15 as to where he was "at or about the time of the commencement of a fire that occurred on March 15, 2007, in the Arden area of Sacramento."
I felt that the trestle fire was a genuine act of terrorism, calculated to make maximum impact during the evening rush hour commute along the Capitol City Freeway. Well, I suppose "retaliation for police and park ranger harassment of transients and frequent raids on transient camps" might be construed as political, but it also might be petty, or just demented.

Somehow, I hope it's not true....
Centennial Anniversary

Of the bra:
THE humble bra, which revolutionised the way women dressed, this year celebrates its 100th birthday.

Branded the "brassiere" by fashion bible Vogue in 1907, the invention has undergone many changes from the flat-chested flappers of the 1920s, to bra-burning ceremonies of the '60s and Madonna's cone shaped bustiers of the '80s.

...Do women know how to wear a bra correctly?

"You should be having your bra fitted every 12 months and have at least three bras to choose from," Ms Cimmino said.

"Always consider what bra is best when you are getting dressed as they can really make or break an outfit."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Frontier Of Porn

It was inevitable:
Second scene: A beautiful Filipino doctor pays a house call to Cheney, who asks: "What happened to Dr. Wu?"

"His son died in Iraq," she says.

"Well, at least he died for a good cause."

"Freedom?" she says.

"Oil," says Cheney. They commence to humping.
Frozen Smoke, And Its Uses

This article came out several days ago regarding the uses of aerogels, materials so lightweight, yet nevertheless with some flexibility and strength, that people call them 'frozen smoke'.

New materials are fun!:
A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man to fly to Mars.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

It is expected to rank alongside wonder products from previous generations such as Bakelite in the 1930s, carbon fibre in the 1980s and silicone in the 1990s. Mercouri Kanatzidis, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said: “It is an amazing material. It has the lowest density of any product known to man, yet at the same time it can do so much. I can see aerogel being used for everything from filtering polluted water to insulating against extreme temperatures and even for jewellery.”

Aerogel is nicknamed “frozen smoke” and is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was largely consigned to laboratories. It was not until a decade ago that Nasa started taking an interest in the substance and putting it to a more practical use.

In 1999 the space agency fitted its Stardust space probe with a mitt packed full of aerogel to catch the dust from a comet’s tail. It returned with a rich collection of samples last year.

In 2002 Aspen Aerogel, a company created by Nasa, produced a stronger and more flexible version of the gel. It is now being used to develop an insulated lining in space suits for the first manned mission to Mars, scheduled for 2018.

Mark Krajewski, a senior scientist at the company, believes that an 18mm layer of aerogel will be sufficient to protect astronauts from temperatures as low as -130C. “It is the greatest insulator we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Aerogel is also being tested for future bombproof housing and armour for military vehicles. In the laboratory, a metal plate coated in 6mm of aerogel was left almost unscathed by a direct dynamite blast.

It also has green credentials. Aerogel is described by scientists as the “ultimate sponge”, with millions of tiny pores on its surface making it ideal for absorbing pollutants in water.

Kanatzidis has created a new version of aerogel designed to mop up lead and mercury from water. Other versions are designed to absorb oil spills.

...Earlier this year Bob Stoker, 66, from Nottingham, became the first Briton to have his property insulated with aerogel. “The heating has improved significantly. I turned the thermostat down five degrees. It’s been a remarkable transformation,” he said.

Mountain climbers are also converts. Last year Anne Parmenter, a British mountaineer, climbed Everest using boots that had aerogel insoles, as well as sleeping bags padded with the material. She said at the time: “The only problem I had was that my feet were too hot, which is a great problem to have as a mountaineer.”

However, it has failed to convince the fashion world. Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but had to withdraw them after complaints that they were too hot.

Although aerogel is classed as a solid, 99% of the substance is made up of gas, which gives it a cloudy appearance.

Scientists say that because it has so many millions of pores and ridges, if one cubic centimetre of aerogel were unravelled it would fill an area the size of a football field.

Its nano-sized pores can not only collect pollutants like a sponge but they also act as air pockets.
Next On The National Agenda

Of the conservative group Family Security Matters (funny how the original document seems to have gotten yanked, isn't it?):
However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.

When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.
Making My Brown Eyes Blue

This came out several days ago, and with my instantaneous brown-eyed reflexes, I instantaneously punched the monitor, but given my grave strategic-thinking deficit, it took me several days to get around to actually commenting about it:
PEOPLE with blue eyes are likely to achieve more in life than those with brown, say US scientists.

Scientists who conducted the tests said brown-eyed people performed better at reaction time, but those with lighter eyes appeared to be better strategic thinkers, the Daily Mail reported.

Brown-eyed people succeeded in activities such as football and hockey, but lighter-eyed participants proved to be more succesful in activities that required skills in time structuring and planning such as golf, cross-country running and studying for exams, the scientists said.

Louisville University professor Joanna Rowe, who conducted the tests, said the results suggested an unexplored link between eye colour and academic achievement.

"It is just observed, rather than explained," she said.
Hurricane Dean And The SW Monsoon

After having crossed the Yucatan Peninsula, Hurricane Dean's eye is just crossing back over water, this time over the Bay of Campeche, before hitting Mexico proper and dumping tons of rain on those steep mountain slopes.

Global interconnections are all. After having started off the west coast of Africa, the weather forecasts show that by Sunday, a lot of Dean's moisture will have worked its way up the western coast of Mexico, and will contribute to the thunderstorms of the desert monsoons of the American Southwest.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rainbow Bridge

I saw this sentiment posted on the wall at La Riviera Animal Medical Center, and here is a Web Site featuring the same sentiment, which is particularly appropriate today:
Just this side of Heaven, is a place called Rainbow Bridge...

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they miss someone very special to them; who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Just Sick

Not talking about myself....
Internet addiction should be grouped with extreme addictive disorders such as gambling, sex addiction and kleptomania, an Israeli psychiatrist said.

Dr. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine said 10 percent of Internet surfers are afflicted with "Internet addiction disorder," which can lead to anxiety and severe depression.

Internet addiction is classified by mental health professionals as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a mild to severe mental health condition that results in an urge to engage in ritualistic thoughts and behavior.

"Internet addiction is not manifesting itself as an ‘urge.’ It’s more than that. It’s a deep ‘craving.’ And if we don’t make the change in the way we classify Internet addiction, we won’t be able to treat it in the proper way," Dannon said Friday in a release.

He said the two groups at greatest risk from Internet addiction disorder are teenagers and people in their mid-50s suffering from the loneliness of an empty nest.
Tropical Storm Erin Dumbfounds Oklahomans

John writes in from Oklahoma City:
I was in Wisconsin for a dealer show over the weekend and, as a result, missed an amazing meteorological event. Saturday night the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, which caused minimal damage along the Texas coast, redeveloped over western Oklahoma. We have seen remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes--both Atlantic and Pacific--drift through here over the years, but this one was quite different. Normally the result of such an amorphous mass of clouds is extremely heavy rain, at times reaching 12 inches locally. This time the storm redeveloped into an actual hurricane complete with an eye in the middle of a classical spinning hurricane system. There were 60+ mph winds over most of the central and western part of the state and locally rainfall up to 14" in a few hours. Several towns now have massive flooding as a result. Anyway, you ought to take a look at a doppler radar loop of the system. It's really quite amazing.
That’s a remarkable system! Amazing – it even seemed to retain the eye structure too!

When rotating tropical systems like hurricanes move out of the tropics and get caught in the zonal flow of the mid-latitudes, they often retain some rotation, and can get captured by mid-latitude systems that also have some rotation.

There is also the phenomenon in dynamic meteorology called ‘conservation of potential vorticity’, whereby rotating air squeezes flat as it passes over high terrain (like the Southwestern Plateaus and the Rocky Mountains), thus losing rotation, then gains the rotation back again once the air passes over lower terrain. Thus, storm systems lose punch over high terrain (like the desert plateaus of the American Southwest) but then gain strength in the lee of the high terrain. Certain places are renowned for this phenomenon: the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas (lee of the Appalachians); central China (lee of Tibet); off the eastern coast of Victoria, Australia (lee of the Snowy Mountains); but the granddaddy of all the strengthening places on the Earth is the Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada, where Oklahoma sits, and where the differences in temperature, humidity, and elevation (compared to the Rockies) are often stark.

Looking at some of the forecast loops for the last several days, it looks like this indeed happened. The center of Erin passed into west Texas near the NM border, drifted north and then got caught by a rapidly-strengthening, rapidly-moving short-wavelength trough passing eastwards over Rockies. Instead of winding down from the loss of tropical moisture, the system wound up again. Amazing!

Meteorologists sometimes see weird interactions between the mid-latitudes and the tropics. In September, 1996, a strong low pressure system moved from the Canadian Plains over the Great Lakes, just when water temperatures in the Great Lakes were reaching their annual maximum. The rotating low pressure system promptly set up a double eye wall and looked, for all the world to see, like a hurricane. The freak system, dubbed “Hurricane Huron,” (check their photo!) dumbfounded meteorologists. Such a hybrid weather system had never even entered the realm of anyone’s imagination.

Nature loves playing tricks!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

RIP, Cloudy The Bunny

E. just called: apparently Cloudy flipped on her back when no one was around, and perished from the stress of the extended inverted position.

These sorts of things often happen to feeble animals: down in Tucson, Dr. Tom's pigeon died the same way, and it is similar to what happened to Sylvie The Cat, who tried to leap onto a chair when no one was at home, but managed only to snag one claw onto the seat, and died from the stress of dangling for hours.

Poor, sweet rabbit. At least her suffering is now over. I will miss Cloudy very much.....
Queensland Gets Some Wetness

Not as much rain as it had first promised, but still, not bad. Mt. Glorious was lucky and saw 67 mm just in one 24-hour period (ending at 9 a.m. Aug. 20), among the highest rainfalls of the storm!

The map on the left shows some of the erratic rainfalls in Queensland so far this month, from the swampy north to the desolate south. All arid areas tend to have erratic rainfall patterns - Queensland is no exception! It sure makes it hard to do stuff like agriculture, however....

The local press reports:
THE forecast was for rain and the wet stuff finally arrived yesterday and continued last night and into this morning, dropping up to 45mm into dam catchments.

For a change the western suburbs did the best out of the event, which eased as it moved eastwards after dumping up to 50 mm on places like Ipswich and Amberley.

The Gold Coast also fared well, scoring the highest rainfall in the state with 72 mm at Carrara, and 55 at Coolangatta.

Wivenhoe Dam did not miss out either, with 34 mm measured at its recording station and falls of up to 45 mm in other parts of the catchment.

Since nine o'clock yesterday, 24 mm has dampened dusty roads and gardens in Brisbane - the biggest single downpour since June 6, when a heavenly 52 mls fell.

Senior weather forecaster Brett Harrison said it is good rain for August - typically the driest month of the year in Queensland.

``Many of the falls are well above average for the month, and that's not bad - a month's worth in one day,'' he said.

Although this rain would clear this morning, Mr Harrison said further rain was expected to develop late tomorrow.

``That should continue Thursday and Friday, and into the weekend as well,'' he said.
Leos Party Hearty

Left: Ben, Noel & Noah Bruening contemplate cake.

Happy Birthday Steve Isaacson & Ben Bruening!

Steve was feted Saturday evening, following the YPT's performance of 'Beauty and the Beast'. Ben was toasted Sunday evening.

After 'Steel Magnolias' Saturday night, Lauren, MikeMac, and Mary Young drove from Folsom to Davis to participate in the festivities. Lauren was her usual funny self, but the many, detailed notes I took of what she said have been mysteriously soaked in caffeine-free creme soda, and thus rendered useless.
Ignoring Warnings

Jamaicans apparently distrust authority, even when authority is indubitably correct:
Urgent calls started coming in to the mainland from a small group of men and women marooned on the Pedro Cays, more than 50 miles to the South, and facing the brunt of the assault from the category four hurricane.

Opposition Leader Bruce Golding, who received one of the calls for help, told The Gleaner that he subsequently contacted the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and was told to convey to the group the army’s permission to break into its Coast Guard building on Middle Cay (one of three that make up the Pedro Cays chain) and take shelter there.

Sean Taylor, vice-chairman of the Jamaica Fishermen’s Cooperative, said that calls started coming in from as early as nine o’clock in the morning from the marooned group.

“They started calling relatives and friends saying things were getting more difficult than they expected” he said.

An obviously upset Taylor said that this need not have happened because all persons on the cays were put on notice by the JDF a week ago to leave the cays ahead of the onset of the hurricane.

“We are always adamant that whenever the warning is posted by the officials you must heed it and make the necessary preparations. The Coast Guard commander should forcefully remove them. They should see to it that they leave” he said.

Ironically, Mr. Taylor said, some of those who remained on the cays for this hurricane also ignored similar warning to leave during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and narrowly escaped death on that occasion.

...The same challenges were being encountered in several of the most vulnerable communities along the south coast, he said, with residents refusing to leave their homes and go to designated shelters.

Responding to the self-inflicted plight of the Pedro Cays group, Mr. Peart said “This is a regular thing. Who is going to send a helicopter at this time to take them home? When you see a category five hurricane approaching you must move! They are blasted mad!” the minister said, with characteristic frankness.

A technical glitch in Arkansas:
A law passed this year allows Arkansans of any age -- even infants -- to marry if their parents agree, and the governor may have to call a special session to fix the mistake, lawmakers said Friday.

The legislation was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry but also allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent, bill sponsor Rep. Will Bond said.

An extraneous "not" in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it. "It's clearly not the intent to allow 10-year-olds or 11-year-olds to get married," Bond said. "The legislation was screwed up."

The bill reads: "In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage."
Focus On Jamaica And The Hurricane

Left: List of top news stories of the day, from, for Saturday, August 18, 2007.

For all their faults, the mainstream media (MSM) tend to cover stories with spectacular visuals reasonably well. Major disasters, like hurricanes, fall among these stories. But the disasters aren't staged for the benefit of the MSM. They really are disasters.

At this instant, Jamaica is being shredded by Hurricane Dean, particularly the southern shore, which is embedded in the eyewall, which is where you never, ever want to get stuck.

Nevertheless, yesterday,, the Goldberg's conservative news site, seemed to think of Hurricane Dean as just being some elaborate stage prop, like a giant Macy's balloon, to distract from other, presumably more important news. "This will give the MSM something to do for the rest of the weekend," they sniffed.

I think it's all a bit insensitive. Advocates engaged in politics, liberal or conservative, sometimes get tunnel vision and lose all sense of perspective. Would they be quite so sanguine if, instead of Jamaica, it was Miami getting shredded? Hurricanes are a deadly serious business!

Yes, at this moment, Jamaica is suffering, and it is not just some Hollywood gimmick.