Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav/Hanna Update

The forecasts are shifting Hanna to the east again, so the forecast isn’t quite as grim as it was last night. Instead of mowing Florida from stern to stem, NOGAPS forecasts Hanna will merely wipe out the coast from Cocoa Beach, FL, to Wilmington, NC, hitting Jacksonville and Charleston particularly hard, as well as the entire state of SC, by Thursday/Friday. GFS keeps Hanna out to sea longer, finally bringing the storm onshore at Myrtle Beach, SC. Both models bring the storm into the Washington, D.C. area after landfall.

It is conceivable that Hanna might miss an Eastern Coast landfall altogether if the high pressure system over the East Coast can manage to keep it offshore (but I’m not betting on it).

Both models bring Gustav into Louisiana by Monday/Tuesday, with some differences on exactly where they hit the state hardest. It will be hard on the state for sure.
"I Lay My Armor Down" - Andrea St. Clair - Monday Nights, New Voices



Some of what Andrea was up to on her recent trip to NYC.
The Forecasts Are Turning Grim

Boy, the latest forecasts are grim. Both GFS & NOGAPS push Gustav right into southern Louisiana Monday & Tuesday.

GFS pushes Hanna right up the eastern coast of Florida, Georgia & the Carolinas. NOGAPS pushes Hanna across Florida from Ft. Lauderdale to Tallahassee, hitting virtually every metropolitan area in the state, including Tampa. These different forecasts are similar enough that they can scarcely be distinguished in the models, and so either outcome is possible.

So many people in Florida might be affected by Hanna that it might be hard for everyone to escape, or get out of the way. The places that people might escape to (Mississippi, Alabama) might already have suffered damage from Gustav. An early escape might be advisable, if feasible, or start laying in supplies now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wake That Base Up!

The evangelicals like Palin. So, McCain decided to follow the Rove approach after all and focus on the base....

The appeal of Obama has been notably strong in the Northern Plains, the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska, and is key to winning those states. Obama requires these places in order to break the solid Republican South, and to win.

No one on the Internet I've seen so far today seems to have mentioned that Palin, originally from Sandpoint, ID (far from that den of sin, Boise), and Governor of Alaska, is an excellent choice to blunt Obama's appeal in these northwestern locales.

I still think it's a disastrous choice all the way around, a genuine fiasco, worse than Quayle 1988 and even worse than Eagleton 1972, but there are reasons for the choice:
Evangelicals, who are practically giddy at Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, have spent the day heaping praise on Gov. Sarah Palin.

David Brody, news analyst and blogger for the Christian Broadcast Network, points out that "while Palin may not be known much nationally, conservative evangelical leaders know all about her and think the world of her. They like her. She has been involved and active with many Christian organizations. They like what she stands for and [is] a woman to boot? Are you kidding me? John McCain just changed this race dramatically. Now we will see whether the evangelical base comes storming to his side. The bet here is that it is very likely."

Reaction from the leaders of the religious right, who had been lukewarm to McCain's nomination, poured in all day.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said on Brody's blog:

"Sarah Palin clearly addresses the issues so many conservatives are concerned about. It balances out the ticket. She's also really a checkmate for the Democratic Party because folks who were looking to make history for Barack Obama can make history by voting for John McCain in seeing the first woman elected to the vice-presidency. It was a very strategic move by John McCain."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had urged McCain to pick Palin. In a press release today he said:

"Gov. Palin is a vice-presidential selection which shows that John McCain at the age of 72 today is still able to think outside the box. Gov. Palin will delight the Republican base. She is pro-life. It appears that Sen. [Barack] Obama played it safe in picking Sen. Biden and Sen. McCain made the bold and unconventional choice in picking Governor Palin."

...Janice Shaw Crouse of the conservative Christian group Concerned Women for America said in a press release:

"It is particularly significant that there is a conservative woman nominated for the nation's second highest office. For years the feminist movement has acknowledged for leadership only those women who embrace a radical agenda. How refreshing that now we have a woman who reflects the values of mainstream American women. Sarah Palin is pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family. She is a woman who is balancing the personal and professional in admirable ways. She is an outstanding woman who will be an excellent role model for the nation's young people. Sarah Palin is chief among equals with American professional women; she brings the kind of balance that characterizes the high-achieving women of today. She will bring to the forefront of our cultural conversations an intelligent, realistic, well-grounded woman's perspective. Take that feminists -- here is a woman of accomplishment who brings a fresh face to traditional values and models the type of woman most girls want to become."
Happy Birthday!

John McCain.

(23 years older than the State of Alaska).
The Nice Thing about A VP Pick....

... It's really, really hard to walk back.

One blogger notes:
The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, has pulled a fast one on his Democratic opponents, who spent much of the last 19 months arguing over whether they'd be the party to have a female on their 2008 presidential ticket.
Yes, McCain pulled a fast one on the Democrats, similar to the way Dick Cheney pulled a fast one when he shot his friend in the face. Yup, the Democrats were taken completely by surprise!

She's apparently a creationist too. Lovely!
Can't Be Too Careful
Obama's Speech

I didn't see but five minutes of it, and I heard twenty-five minutes on the radio. Sounded like it was going well, particularly the attacks on McCain.

Nevertheless, one point irritated me, and that was when Obama suggested he would bring about energy independence from the Middle East in a fairly short time frame - ten years?

W., from China, said that point reminded him of Communist rhetoric - unrealistic targets (remember those five year plans?) But our supposedly non-Communist types - the drilling enthusiasts - routinely greatly exaggerate how much oil we have in ANWR and offshore. You don't have to be Communist to be unrealistic.

Politicians of all stripes have just no concept - NO CONCEPT - about how deep we are in the hole. We are very, very far from energy independence, and no one in charge - NO ONE - seems to grasp the gravity of the situation. Applause lines like this are just the cheapest panders.

But, hey, it got applause. And from an actor's perspective, what more can you ask?
Phoenix Gets Slapped Around By Bad Weather

Rain storms and down bursts and winds, oh my!
Sarah Palin, VP Pick

Woke up this morning to the news that John McCain is choosing Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska (for a little more than year) as his Vice-Presidential pick.

This morning, as we do every Friday morning, our air pollution control company, discussed, among other things, getting the EPA folks in Washington and the Alaska air pollution folks reading from the same page. The EPA folks want to impose a PM2.5 non-attainment area for Fairbanks that includes a big chunk of the borough. That area, however, is much larger than Fairbanks - indeed, larger than some states - and from the Alaskan perspective, faintly absurd. Our attitude is that the boundary location should be driven by data collection that will occur this winter, and thus shouldn't be fixed quite yet, but the EPA folks have their own bureaucratic clocks that need to start now, and they don't want to wait. And the discussions continue....

Little discussions like this preoccupy the time of Alaskan public officials and, together with the distance from Washington, lead to an obstreperous attitude of libertarian independence among all Alaska officeholders, Democrats too, but especially Republicans. I'm sure McCain admires this attitude. The collision of money with this culture also leads to a vulnerability to corruption (witness the troubles of Ted Stevens and Don Young). Palin hasn't been in office long enough to be tainted yet, and so her libertarian warrior purity is still unsullied.

McCain seems to be placing his bets on:
  • Drill now for energy independence (and open ANWR);
  • Disdain for Washington bureaucratic culture;
  • Youth and energy, including an outdoor sportsman-orientation (and guns);
  • Anti-abortion;
  • Disaffected women - Hillaryites and others;
  • No Cheney-like wizard in the VP slot (like Condi might have been able to do) pulling his strings from stage right;
  • plus, despite his age, McCain will be able to serve out his entire term, discounting the need for experience and gravitas in the second slot.
I doubt the rest of the country is on the same page, however. What makes the Republican VP pick interesting is that there are so many irreconcilable cross-conflicts going on that no one person can satisfy them all, and that someone's ox will get gored. McCain is trying to vault over the evangelicals and the big business types and go with something purer - a libertarian purity. But is this the time for a 'Hail Mary' pass?

We'll see.
Hanna's Threat

Forecasting Hanna’s path is difficult – a high pressure system over the eastern U.S. that develops this weekend complicates the situation. First, Hanna heads for Florida, approaching the Bahamas, then it bobbles south and does the loop-da-loop, then it goes - where exactly?

NOGAPS suggests that Hanna veers south, following the tracks indicated on the Weather Underground site you mention. Then, instead of trying to slip around Florida, like a spirograph loop, it retraces its movement back more-or-less to where it was a few days earlier, and continues moving towards Florida’s eastern coast, arriving somewhere around Daytona Beach about Sat. Sept. 6th.

That’s a reasonable solution. Right now, the entire eastern coast of Florida is vulnerable to Hanna. That loop-da-loop movement depends on how rapidly the eastern U.S. high pressure system develops, and how rapidly it fades. Interestingly, Hurricane Gustav helps weaken the high pressure system and opens the door for Hanna to approach Florida.

Meanwhile, the models are pushing Gustav farther west. GFS now suggests a Louisiana landfall, but NOGAPS suggests Port Arthur, Texas is the landfall site. It’s going to be a mess wherever Gustav goes.
A New Zealand Cartoon

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interesting Charge

Vladimir Putin analyzes the Georgian crisis:
SOCHI, Russia (CNN) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia to benefit one of its presidential election candidates.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin has accused the U.S. of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Matthew Chance in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

Putin said his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate -- Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush -- although he presented no evidence to back it up.

"U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict," Putin said. "They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader."
Man Dam

Yes, if you are a typical Australian man - let's call him Jean Claude Man Dam - times are tough in the interior! But times aren't that favorable either for the women on the coast:
There's a "man drought" on the Australian coast, and a "man dam" in the country’s remote bush. Though the nation was flush with men some 30 years ago, due to immigration policies that favored males, today's Australian women have it harder than their baby boomer sisters did 30 years ago.

Demographer Bernard Salt's book "Man Drought," which was released this week, reveals that love is really where you look for it in Australia, and that it pays to go the distance.

...Salt said the main reason for the man shortage, especially in Australia's coastal cities, was the abundance of women who move from the interior seeking better jobs and lifestyles.

“Single men are concentrated in rural and remote communities, whereas single women prefer the city and lifestyle towns,” Salt explained. “A generation ago, women were more likely to remain in rural communities.” This widespread movement of women away from rural areas into major cities has caused a major shift and a “gender imbalance.”

A Queensland outback mayor made international headlines this month when he called for female “ugly ducklings” to move to the remote mine town of Mt. Isa if they were desperate to meet a man.

According to the statistics bureau, the proportion of singles among Australia's 21 million population is rising from 20 percent to 25 percent in only a decade.

...Salt pinpoints northern Queensland state's mining communities as the best places for women to find love, while men in the vast outback need time in the big cities for Cupid to play his part.

But age also plays a role. Salt says men suffer a “Sheila shortage” in their 20s, whereas women endure a “man drought” from 34 onwards. “Sheila” is colloquial for woman.

At the age of 25, women have the best odds of finding a partner as there are 23 percent more single men than women. But the odds shorten after 30, and by 34 there are more single women than unattached men.

By age 40, single women outnumber single men by 9 percent and that divide lifts to 17 percent by age 50. At 80, it's a dramatic 66 percent, Salt said.

Salt's solution: move to a place like Nar Nar Goon town in Victoria state, where its population of 600 has 12 single men in their 30s and one single woman.

“It's a man dam there. A reservoir of men,” he said. “You find this right across Australia, little reservoirs of untapped men.”
Thinking Of The Antipodes Again

But Andrew moved!:
I thought of you when I heard on the news the other day here in NEW ZEALAND (yes, you read that correctly) that Kylie will be in NZ soon for the first time ever. I ... live on the amazingly beautiful south island of NZ, near Christchurch. You are of course welcome to visit anytime, and I move into my own home on Oct 13 so anytime after that is fine. I adore NZ - this was always my dream - and I am waiting for summer to arrive as it has been a rather wet winter so a shock coming from tropical Queensland!
Wow, New Zealand! Andrew chooses the best places to live!

Apparently the NZ show is on Dec. 8th, and tickets go on sale shortly. I will endeavour to make that show.

I will have to read up on the history (starting with the Capt. Cook book I have) and start making plans.

... (Wow, I was thinking Aborigines, and now I'll have to think Maoris...)

From Kylie.com:
Kylie's X2008 is an enormous A$20m (NZ$24m) production that has already traveled to 21 countries across Europe. More than half a million people have seen the show and been wowed by Kylie's performance, her first class production and her dazzling Jean Paul Gaultier wardrobe.

Australian pre-sale tickets are available from Thursday 4 September and for New Zealand from Friday 5 September. Visit frontiertouring.com for details.

Australian tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday 8 September at 9am local time.

New Zealand tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday 9 September at 9am local time.

Monday 8 December
AUCKLAND - Vector Arena
Ticketmaster 09 970 9700 or www.ticketmaster.co.nz

Sunday 14 December
SYDNEY - Acer Arena
Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au

Friday 19 December
MELBOURNE - Rod Laver Arena
Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au
The Models Require Direction

A confused picture today, with the models reverting to previous forecasts. The models require direction that they aren’t getting from the real world.

The NOGAPS model suggests Gustav will head straight for New Orleans by Monday evening. And the new storm, Hanna, will bobble around and move towards South Carolina (instead of Coral Springs, FL) by the following weekend.

The GFS model suggests Gustav will crash into the Mobile/Pensacola area, then bounce west along the Gulf coast all the way to Texas. Hanna, meanwhile, would never approach the coast.

And there is strong set of storms in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche that bears watching as well. I wonder what the National Hurricane Center is doing in that regard?

So, really, it’s still too early to say what will happen – all these scenarios are still plausible.
The Mad Flosser Of Curtis Park

Once in ballet class, I described to one of the dancers one of my multi-tasking, time-saving tricks: when I walk Sparky late at night, I often also floss my teeth.

Because one must master time, rather than let time be the master.

She laughed and said, "Oh, then you must be 'The Mad Flosser Of Curtis Park!'" She laughs about it still.

Last night, I was walking Sparky near Crepeville, and flossing my teeth, when I thought I noticed a strange visual image in the shadows: kind of an amorphous whiteness. I like trying to puzzle out visual images - I've just started assembling a 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Times Square that will require months to complete. So, I stared and stared into the shadows, and flossed away, trying to puzzle out the image.

Suddenly the image resolved. Five feet in front of me was a young Hispanic man, age about 19, sitting on his door stoop. While I stared and stared at him, and picked out debris from the gingiva surrounding my first lower right molar, he was examining my every move.

"So, you didn't lose your dog tonight," he quietly said. Oh, now I recognized this fellow! Last week he helped me find Sparky. (The willful canine sometimes crosses the street unbidden in the darkness and drives his master mad). So we talked about the difficulty of finding patches of amorphous blackness like Sparky in the nighttime shadows.

Nice, polite fellow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Sunset People"/ "Sunset Boulevard"



Nice idea!

Extended version of Donna Summer's 1979 disco smash hit "Sunset People", with video clips featuring Gloria Swanson in 1950's "Sunset Boulevard".
Tropical Update

Forecasts are beginning to diverge! GFS still picks Mobile, AL, as the landfall location for Gustav, on Monday, but NOGAPS thinks landfall will be somewhere in the Corpus Christi/Houston area, on Wednesday. Worse, NOGAPS suggests a Texas landfall on Wednesday and a Thursday landfall in SE Florida (Coral Springs) by the hurricane AFTER Gustav.

Since Gustav is currently a bit farther south than where the forecasts initialize it, I suspect it really will go to Texas. So that means, for Tampa, the next weather problem is likely to be the storm AFTER Gustav…..
Ack! Must Hurry With GOP VP Thoughts!

Drudge says McCain has decided who his VP pick is, and will inform the lucky fellow tomorrow. The timing is good - it upstages Obama's Thursday night speech.

But that means I have to hurry with my thoughts on the subject!

The Republican party seems divided in a triad these days: national security folks, evangelicals, and big business types. It seems reasonable that since McCain is a national security type, the VP choice will be either an evangelical or a big business type. But which one?

Since McCain teamed up so well with Mike Huckabee to deny Mitt Romney the nomination in the primaries, I thought that Huckabee was the natural choice. Talking with H.S., he's made me reconsider: Huckabee did not drop out when it became evident that he wouldn't win, whereas Romney was smarter and did drop out. Huckabee got full of himself and likely annoyed McCain to no end. Thus, Romney preserved his chances, while Huckabee blew his.

Hmmm..... Food for thought.....

Bobby Jindal? Maybe too young.

Joe Lieberman? Very unlikely, since it would anger party regulars.

Rudy Giuliani? Too much like McCain for McCain to tolerate.

Business types like Carly Fiorina? I can't quite picture that....

Tim Pawlenty? Maybe! Maybe! But who can say for sure?

Hmmm.....

Huckabee brings votes - Romney doesn't. I still think it will be Huckabee.
Marc So Confused!

Jerry writes:
I thought that the Republicans were meeting in Minneapolis.
(Hence, the Twins are being forced to play on the road for two weeks
straight.)
I reply:
Maybe they are. I'm likely confused. I saw a comment somewhere where the coincidence of the Republican convention and a hurricane approaching the Gulf Coast was taken as a threat. I took the coincidence to mean a literal threat, so I thought that meant the Republicans are going to meet in New Orleans, but maybe the commenter meant a PR threat instead.

The traditional Chinese view that the leadership must first have the Mandate of Heaven may get a workout here. A slashing hurricane isn't anything but a bad omen.
Second Banana
Metal On Metal

Ow! I heard that fender bender at 19th and K just a few minutes ago.
Gustav Update

The only wrinkle today so far is that NOGAPS and GFS both seem to show the storm coming ashore around Mobile, AL, on Tuesday, but rather than moving quickly inland, the storm hesitates at the coast and then moves west towards the Mississippi River Delta. The storm weakened yesterday, but that’s no guarantee regarding strength next week, of course.
Peeved Catholics And The Democratic Convention

Gabe writes:
I thought you might like to see [this], because he is a Democrat like you (and he seems to really like Obama).
And what does this fellow write about?:
...[Y]ou might find a mention of Sen. Bob Casey’s address to the assembled Democrats, a speech that for many of us was even more overdue than Clinton’s.

Sen. Casey was aware of the historical import of the moment and he began his speech with these words: "I am honored to stand before you tonight as Gov. Casey’s son…"

In 1992, the Senator’s father was the Governor of Pennsylvania, the fifth largest state in the Union. He was a lifelong pro-life Democrat, one of the few who did not flip their position after Roe v. Wade. (Curiously, one of the other pro-life Democrats who did not abandon her defense of pre-natal life was Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso, the first woman elected governor of a state in her own right.) Gov. Casey wanted to address the convention on the issue of abortion. He was barred from the podium.

Some of the 1992 campaign officials have tried to re-write the history of that first class snub. Last night on CNN, former Clinton aide Paul Begala denied that abortion was the reason Gov. Casey was barred from speaking. He noted that Casey had not endorsed the ticket and "wanted to speak about abortion for thirty minutes" and "no one" wanted that. Well, Mr. Begala, many of us pro-life Democrats did want that. (Would twenty minutes have been okay?) We certainly did not want to see the most noted spokesman of our cause denied even the right to speak. Nor did we want to belong to a party that applied such a litmus test. The governor of a state you need to win can talk about whatever he or she wants when they address a national convention.

For many pro-life Democrats, the appearance of Gov. Casey’s son at the podium last night was the important unity speech. The pro-choice litmus test had been set aside. No one deleted Sen. Casey’s reference to abortion in his speech, nor his acknowledgement of an "honest disagreement" with this year’s nominee, Barack Obama, on that issue.
This fellow misconstrues the history a bit. Many people objected to having Gov. Casey speak, because of his abortion views, but they would not have prevailed if Casey had proceeded to endorse the Clinton/Gore ticket anyway. It is a rare occasion when any political party will allow someone to speak who ostentatiously does not endorse the ticket (some people, like 2004’s Dem. Zell Miller appearing at the Republican convention, likely weren’t even asked to formally support the Republican ticket). Casey refused to buckle, and he was punished for it – an unfortunate but not unexpected turn of events. If Gov. Casey’s son had ostentatiously refused to endorse Obama/Biden, it is likely he too would have been refused the opportunity to speak to this year’s convention.

(I endorse Obama/Biden, and my views regarding abortion are nothing if not malleable, but, sadly, I think it’s unlikely I will be permitted to speak to the convention).
Let's Get This Civil War Started!



Jack Davis, who is running for Congress in New York, succinctly describes the xenophobic attitude to illegal immigration to the United States. He feels that if this human tide is not curbed, the Mexican occupation of the U.S. will ultimately lead to a Civil War, pitting states like Hispanified California, owing its real allegiance to Mexico, against states like New York.

A few years ago, I tried to pin down precisely when my Mexican and Spanish ancestors crossed the border into American territory. Some were already living in New Mexico when Stephen Kearney's U.S. troops occupied Santa Fe. Records fall silent prior to 1840 on my grandfather's side, but I did locate one relative on my grandmother's side who crossed the border in 1852. He was listed as a Candymaker by trade. I have no idea if his immigration was legal or not (people were less particular then about the distinction), but he definitely came north, and settled in the hamlet of Los Lunas, NM.

Some people might say he came north to find a better life, sell candy, and to charm the kids of the Rio Grande Valley. But others know he came north to occupy American territory. Worse, he had plans to have his descendants six generations removed start a Civil War pitting California against New York. Doesn't matter that our Spanish language skills are now lamentable and that we actually know little about our homeland. Fact is, when I was just a little gamete, scarcely even a zygote, I swore eternal allegiance to Mexico. Nothing else matters.

So, all these years later, I sense our hour approaches. All my cousins are in place. Let's get this game on! Viva Mexico! Arriba!
"X" Going To Melbourne & Sydney

Lookin' good:
KYLIE Minogue will hold a week-long series of shows at Rod Laver Arena in December.

"The reason I hadn't confirmed dates in Australia is I really didn't know what I was getting into," Kylie told the Sunday Herald Sun.

"But now I know.

"I have a show that breathes and changes and is dependent on people's moods and environment.

"I can't wait to bring it home."
Chipped

Bad times in Mexico:
Middle-class families in Mexico are having tiny transmitters implanted under their skin so that satellites can track them if they are kidnapped.

Sales of the device have jumped by 13 per cent this year after kidnappings surged by almost 40 per cent in the country between 2004 and 2007.

The crystal-encased chip, which is the size and shape of a grain of rice, is injected into clients' bodies with a syringe.

A transmitter in the chip sends radio signals to a device, carried by the client, with a global positioning system in it, say makers Xega. A satellite can then pinpoint the kidnap victim's location.

Detractors say the chips, which cost £2,000 plus an annual fee of £1,100, give a false sense of security.

...One client, Cristina, 28, who did not want to give her last name, said: 'It's not like we are wealthy, but they'll kidnap you for a watch. Everyone is living in fear.'

...Most kidnappings in Mexico go unreported, many of them cases of 'express kidnapping' where the victim is grabbed and forced to withdraw money from automatic cash machines.

...Xega, based in the central Mexican city of Quererato, designed global positioning systems to track stolen vehicles until a company owner was kidnapped in broad daylight in 2001.

Frustrated by his powerlessness to call for help, the company adapted the technology to track stolen people.

...Katherine Albrecht, a U.S. consumer privacy activist, says the chip is a flashy, overpriced gadget that only identifies a person and cannot locate someone without another, bigger GPS device that kidnappers can easily find and destroy.

She said fear of kidnapping was driving well-off Mexicans to buy a technology that had yet to prove useful.

'They are a prime target because they've got money and they've got a worry and you can combine those two and offer them a false sense of security which is exactly what this is,' she said.

...Outside of Mexico, U.S. company VeriChip Corp uses similar radio-wave technology to identify patients in critical condition at hospitals or find elderly people who wander away from their homes.

Xega sees kidnapping as a growth industry and is planning to expand its services next year to Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
Shiloh Foundation Horse Rescue

And what's Bruce Warren doing these days? Looking in on people who save horses:
One rescued horse that would not be suitable for riding is the mare Trinity, who has the No. 69 tattooed on her rear. Trinity belonged to a pregnant mare urine ranch in Canada, and was forced to stay in a stall, where they collected urine from her. The urine is later sold and put into menopausal pills for women, Cheryl Rankin said.

“They’re pregnant for about a year and then they are bred again,” Cheryl Rankin said. “The babies are shipped out for auction. Then the mares are put on line again.”

Cheryl Rankin received an invitation from internationally recognized trainer Monty Roberts, the original “Horse Whisperer,” to bring Trinity to his facility at Solvang, Calif., just north of Santa Barbara. In the August 4-8 clinic, the closest Roberts could get to Trinity was putting a long artificial hand in a chute where Trinity was. Roberts, who has written three “New York Times,” best-selling books and trained thousands of abused horses, recommended that Rankin work with Trinity in a gated chute in order to get the horse accustomed to human touch.

“But he said the best thing for her would be to get her to a wild horse range, because she might not ever get better,” Cheryl Rankin said.

Since Roberts has worked with Trinity, the mare has shown some minor improvements.

“She comes closer and is a little more trusting,” Cheryl Rankin said.

Thommy Witt, an instructor who worked with Roberts, commented on Trinity’s experience at the Monty Roberts Learning Center in a telephone interview Monday.

“You weren’t able to catch it or touch it in a pen,” Witt said. “We had the horse in for special clinic where Monty works with the horses. We got her into a chute, which is basically a small hallway where you can get close to them. This horse was very frightened about people in general. Monty said it would be a very, very long process to get her being accepted to be touched by people.”

The Rankins started The Shiloh Foundation entirely from funds raised from the sale of their construction business several years ago. Any money gained from the sale of horses, goes directly to help provide for horses they already shelter.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shades Of Katrina?

Current NOGAPS forecast brings Gustav's landfall in the Mobile, AL area sometime on Monday (and isn’t the Republican National Convention opening not far away in New Orleans that day?) Shades of Katrina!
Demi Lovato - Get Back



Keeping an open mind today, I listened to two new tunes. First, I listened to Slipknot's "Psychosocial" (suggested by "Loveline"). Suffice to say, it's not me.

This tune (suggested by Radio Disney) is closer to me.
Scarecrows

Birds are smart!:
John Marzluff, of the University of Washington in Seattle, wanted to prove his gut feeling that the crows he studied could identify individual human faces. So he and his students brought out some props. They donned a series of Halloween masks—one was a caveman, which the scientists wore when they trapped the birds. They then let the birds see them in “neutral” masks, like one resembling Vice President Dick Cheney (though this is probably one of the few times Cheney has been referred to as “neutral”).

Sure enough, when the researchers later went for strolls around campus, the crows “scolded” someone wearing the caveman mask, and continued to do so two years into the study. The same scientists and volunteers wearing Dick Cheney masks or other “neutral” faces didn’t hear nearly as much abuse from the crows, though they probably earned a lot of confused looks from passers-by.
Google=Interesting: Luning Torture

Today Google suggested my Weblog in response to someone's search: "Luning Torture". Those terms looked interesting to me. Luning is a small town in rather bleak central Nevada, and to be unexpectedly idled there by a vehicle's mechanical breakdown might hyperbolically be called torture of a sort. So I Googled the terms as well, just to see what came up.

In response, Google found this really interesting account of a paragliding run from the Owens Valley all the way to the town of Luning - just an astonishing distance of 138 miles! That bumpy 7-hours-long ride would be torture of a sort, but what exquisite pain!:
Desperate and just kicking myself for getting low in what I'd started thinking of as the Bermuda Triangle, I circled in zero lift and used every Lookout Mountain light air trick I could think of, but slowly I sank farther below the peak and deeper into one of the canyons I'd sworn not to land in. The cloud street less than five miles to my west taunted me from 19,000 feet, while I dove and roller-coasted down into the canyon's still evening air. Not only did the cloud street torture me mentally, it was shading all but a few small patches of slope in my area. I alternately cursed myself for not only blowing a prime opportunity to break the US record, but now I was going to have to walk out of a rattlesnake infested hell canyon even if I could land safely in the monster boulders and thorny shrubbery. I couldn't imagine being here on a hang glider; landing and walking out was a barely survivable option on a paraglider. The north wind put all the sunny slopes in a mild lee, but I've flown lee a lot and knew it was my only chance to escape the Bermuda triangle.
The Loogie Option

The bicyclist was riding down J Street and the fellow in the pickup truck behind him got annoyed at the slow pace. Passing the bicyclist, the man gestured out his window and said some harsh things. The bicyclist responded with a big loogie that went every which way, including towards me.

Street conflict is like running with scissors - it's all fun and games until someone gets hit with a goober.
Today's Southern Arizona Weather Report

Deborah just says "Wow!"

Looks great! Hope it continues!

Yesterday and today, former Tropical Storm Julio moisture is moving across AZ. Yesterday the forecasters thought that the cloud cover and mid-level warmth might paradoxically suppress rainfall (and that might be true over some areas), but last night big storms blew up near Kingman, and maybe Phoenix is a bit on the edge today and so might benefit!
Bubble, Bubble, Toil And Trouble



OK, this is more interesting than McCain vs. Madonna:
Tensions are running high at MSNBC, at least surrounding veteran host Joe Scarborough who seems to be increasingly discontented at his network's decision to market itself as the cable net of choice for Bush haters. That hasn't sat well with the likes of the far left Keith Olbermann who has played a large role in getting MSNBC to pursue this strategy

The Democratic convention seems to have only exacerbated those tensions. Last night saw Olbermann caught on an open mic blurting out profane disgust at Scarborough, prompting the latter to verbally call him out while fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews sat back mortified at the intra-family dispute.

Things don't appear to have been smoothed over either as Scarborough was involved in another altercation this morning with liberal correspondent David Shuster on today's "Morning Joe." Scarborough ultimately accused Shuster and his MSNBC colleagues of being Democrats, their independent political registrations notwithstanding.
Gustav Could Go Just About Anywhere

Forecasts are all over the place for this bowling ball from hell. Currently NOGAPS suggests landfall in the Panama City/Apalachicola area (which, of course, would bring the storm quite close to Tampa) and then punching inland directly into Georgia. But, in truth, it could possibly go many different places, and so it bears watching.

Forecasts also suggest storms east of Florida could grow into separate tropical storms as well, so, by next week, Florida may be bracketed by bad weather.
North And South

Here's a weird science story. I'm not sure I believe a magnetic field interpretation - sunlight could play a factor too:
Most cattle that were grazing or resting tended to align their bodies in a north-south direction, a team of German and Czech researchers reports in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And the finding held true regardless of what continent the cattle were on, according to the study led by Hynek Burda and Sabine Begall of the faculty of biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

"The magnetic field of the Earth has to be considered as a factor," the scientists said.

...The study sent Tina Hinchley, who with her husband Duane operates a dairy farm in Cambridge, Wis., to take a new look at an aerial photo taken of their farm a few years ago.

"The cows that were in the pasture were all over the place ... about two-thirds were north-south," Hinchley said.

Two-thirds is close to what the researchers found in their look at 8,510 cattle in 308 pastures. In the study, 60 percent to 70 percent of cattle were oriented north-south, which Begall termed a "highly significant deviation from random distribution."

Hinchley stressed that one factor that must be considered is cow comfort.

"They don't like to get hot. Their body temperature is 102, and they are wearing black leather jackets, literally! If turning north-south would keep them cooler, they would stand that way."

The research team noted that in very windy conditions cattle tend to face the wind, and have been known to seek out the sun on cold days. But they said they were able to discount weather effects in the study by analyzing clues such as the position of the sun based on shadows.

..."At one point last year the question came up whether large animals could also sense the Earth's magnetic field or not. But of course, it is difficult, or maybe impossible, to do these studies in the lab," she said. "So, the idea arose to look for other large mammals like cattle, and Hynek Burda was fascinated when he recognized that cattle could be found on Google Earth satellite images."

With satellite images they could tell the north-south orientation of the animals, but not whether an individual cow was facing north or south. You have to get closer to tell which end is which.
Nocturnal Landmarks

"Hey, have a cigarette?" The armless black man gingerly crossed the street and approached Sparky and myself at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday. "No, no cigarette," I replied. He then asked, "can you tell me where the light rail is?"

Turned out, he was simply lost, tired, and confused. He asked about the carwash and the liquor store and the Safeway. He said the liquor store was near a Shell station. When I replied that there was a liquor store nearby, but that it was near a Chevron station, he said "Shell, Chevron, it's all the mothafuckin' same." He had arms after all, he had just kept them under his shirt for awhile, for some inscrutable reason, and he slowly brought them out. After I launched into a tedious disquisition about why E-W thoroughfares are Avenues and N-S thoroughfares are Streets, I could tell he was becoming deeply frustrated.

So, I pointed him back to Broadway, the direction from which he had approached, and he shuffled off, muttering obscenities....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cutting The Hedge With Mr. O., The Homeless Vet

"Hey! Hey!"

Standing at the top of the ladder, and having just turned off the hedge trimmer, I thought I heard something, so I removed my ear protection. It was Mr. O., the Homeless Vet, sitting on an inverted bucket under the oak tree, next to his recycles cart! So, I asked him how his court date went. "They postponed it again! It's all about money anyway. They want me to pay up, but I told them 'Stand Down' pays my bills." (Presumably 'Stand Down' is some kind of Vietnam-vintage veterans service organization, but why they would pay anybody's bills is beyond me).

So, as I continued whacking at the hedge, he offered neighborhood gossip and emphasized just how hot the afternoon was (apparently he schedules regular stops behind my house every weekend because he likes the cool shade there). He even helped rake up hedge cuttings, in exchange for a Diet Sprite (sans the usual ethanol).

After offering lots of meandering commentary, he headed off to McDonalds (also on his daily neighborhood rounds), before bedding down under the freeway (his usual spot).
Madonna Takes The Bait

John McCain needed some celebrity to offer a fight, in order to get that supportive Silent Majority backlash he's been yearning for. Madonna decided to help him out, but it's all so predictable - after all, she did virtually the same thing with G.W. Bush in her 2006 "Confessions" Tour - I'm guessing it has little real effect.:
McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds angrily condemned the segment of Madonna's concert in Cardiff on Saturday that appeared to draw a comparison between McCain, Hitler and Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe.

"The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time," Bounds said in a statement reported by Fox News.

"It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attack off limits."

Madonna's apparent swipe at McCain came during a performance of the song "Get Stupid", when the Republican contender's image was flashed up alongside images of destruction and global warming as well as Hitler and Mugabe.

Towards the end of the song, pictures of Beatles star John Lennon, former US vice-president Al Gore, Indian Mahatma Gandhi and McCain's Democrat rival Barack Obama appeared.
Gustav Strengthening Fast!

It may also be changing its sights from Florida to the New Orleans/ Biloxi area. But it’s still early yet.
Fellow POW Not Keen On McCain

Too hotheaded:
People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 1/2 years later, so he was a POW for 5 1/2 years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

John's treatment as a POW:

1) Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. ....

...I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60's and 70's. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John's age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.
Dealing With The Brutalist Church

Has anyone suggested force?:
In Washington, D.C., about two blocks from the White House, there's a Christian Science church that looks more like a concrete fortress than a house of worship. The Third Church of Christ, Scientist — or the Third Church — is a hulking mass of raw concrete. There's one window, no steeple, and its bells are suspended from a slab of concrete that juts out from the side.

...LaVerne Hill, who works nearby, says she's loathed the place for years.

"It's awful," she says. "It looks like they just dumped a bunch of concrete down here and shaped it into a box."

Which is, in fact, what the architects did. The building was designed by Araldo Cossutta, who worked with I.M. Pei. It is a classic example of Brutalism, which was popular in the 1950s and 1960s but fell out of favor in the 1970s.

...Darrow Kirkpatrick, a longtime church member, says the building sends precisely the wrong message.

"We think it says, 'Stay away.' Something goes on in here that they don't want to get outside, which is exactly wrong for all Christianity. We don't think the architecture conveys taking the Word to the people."

...The congregation wants to tear down the building and build another, smaller church. But it can't.

In 1991 — unknown to the church's members — a group of preservationists applied to have the Third Church designated a historic landmark. From that moment, the congregation couldn't touch the building. Last year, the city made it an official landmark, and now the Third Church is suing to have the status removed.

Kirkpatrick says the restrictions infringe on their freedom of religion.

"Nothing expresses a church's religious exercise more than its architecture. And this architecture does not express our theology and our exercise. Brutalism is not our religious expression," he says.

..."Buildings go through these vicissitudes of time," says Ott. "The city is about preserving a historical construct, and we have to be cautious. It may be considered ugly today. Will we consider it as ugly in 50 years? We do not know."
Introducing Tropical Storm Gustav

Tropical Storm Fay menaced Tampa on nearly all sides, but managed only to graze the area: the best possible outcome for the city from a rather bad situation.

So, Round Two. Tropical Storm Gustav, currently in the eastern Caribbean, is forecast to approach the Miami area on Sunday evening. It’s still way too early to make exact forecasts, however – the current westward movement of the storm is liable to bust this Sunday forecast way early.

And in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Julio has entered the Gulf of California and is inching its way to Arizona! Beware disintegrating tropical storms - they can bring lots of rain!

What do the friendly folks at the University of Arizona think?:
A major heavy rain event is shaping up for much of Arizona as tropical storm Julio is making it's way northward across central Baja and back into the Gulf of California. Satellite imagery indicates that cloud tops have warmed over the last few hours and the storm seems to be moving more northward than NNW. The upper outflow looks quite impressive. I'm no tropical expert so I'll leave it at that. As expected moisture has increased and much of Arizona is very wet. The low deserts are all in the low to mid 40mm range with Yuma at 47mm and even wetter to the southeast with Puerto Penasco and Hermosillo in the mid 50's. Significant clouds and showers are present over the state this morning which will act to reduce heating, but how much? 500 mb map has a broad high positioned somewhere around the 4 corners with a hint of a mid level trough southwest of El Paso with good mid level NE-E steering flow. 250 shows a trough along the SoCal coast with a SW 30 kt jet over southern AZ. Morning soundings from both Tucson and Phoenix are wet and potentially unstable with MLCAPE's above 1K J/Kg and have cooled in the mid layers as Phoenix has -7C at 500 mb. The major issue with tropical systems is as they spin down, they leave behind a mid level warm layer and combined with a very wet atmosphere, it stays cloudy, cool, and too stable to convect in the deserts. If the circulation can keep going over the northern gulf, as expected though, a big event is likely over the state especially with a upper trough to our west. SE AZ though, can get caught in the low level easterly downslope flow which will cause the atmosphere to further stabilize.
Beware School Bus

Left: Sign on the gravel road leading to the eastern entrance of Carnarvon Gorge National Park, Queensland, Australia.


Over at the LA Times last month, I posted this photo I took in Australia in 2006. To me, it's a fun illustration of the slightly-different ways that Australians and Americans use the English language.

Australians interpret "beware" in what must be it's original understanding - something like "be aware of". So, simply, "Be aware of the school bus".

Americans, however, find the meaning somewhat ambiguous, with several possible meanings to the warning.

One of the commenters on this photo at the LA Times notes:
That was placed by that monster from jeepers creepers
What could he be talking about? So, I checked. And you know, he's right!:

Jeepers Creepers 2 trailer

B-Day


Left: Sweeeneeey!
A Season Of Interesting Insects

Tonight at DMTC, under the insect-attracting lights, I noticed a praying mantis on the prowl on the front sidewalk. Looked like a good hunting spot.

Left: Friday night at Davis' Mace Blvd. AM/PM, I saw this unusually large moth (2 inches from wingtip to wingtip). Looking at this Web Site, and noticing the similarities to the photo there, I'm guessing it's a Tobacco Sphinx:
The Tobacco Sphinx is the adult of the Tomato Hornworm. The larval food plants include cultivated solanaceous herbs like tomato as well as native plants like Datura.
Since tomatoes are grown in the general area of Davis, it would make sense if this is a Tobacco Sphinx.
Rihanna Breakin' Dishes Live In Montreal



And this version, in Sofia, Bulgaria is interesting too, because they do the same routine, but heavily clothed, because it was SO cold that night....