Saturday, October 06, 2007

Starry Saturday

2007 October 6
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

X-ray Stars of Orion
Credit: E.Feigelson & K.Getman (PSU) et al., CXO, NASA

Explanation: The stars of Orion shine brightly in visible light in planet Earth's night sky. The constellation harbors the closest large stellar nursery, the Great Nebula of Orion, a mere 1,500 light-years away. In fact, the apparently bright clump of stars near the center of this false color Chandra x-ray telescope picture are the massive stars of the Trapezium - the young star cluster which powers much of the nebula's visible-light glow. The stars shown in blue and orange are young sun-like stars; prodigious sources of x-rays thought to be produced in hot stellar coronae and surface flares in a young star's strong magnetic field. Our middle-aged Sun itself was probably thousands of times brighter in x-rays when, like the Trapezium stars, it was only a few million years old. The x-ray image spans about 2.5 light-years across the central region of the Orion Nebula.

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Otherwise benign night sky brought to life.

Infinity from the microscopic to the cosmic giving us a perspective as to where humanity is on this enormous scale from big to small.

Mere specs of dust, and just as easily swept away.



DEN said...

Boy, what a party!

Internet hangovers are a pain.


David B. Benson said...

Ok. On Dr. James Hansen's website, the first .pdf file in the section entitled Files of Interest is named The Threat to the Planet: Dark & Bright Sides of Global Warming, here:

Dr. James E. Hansen

I certainly encourage going through the 48 slides. I'll be happy to answer questions about any of these.

micki said...

The Making of a Climate Movement

It is past time to unite the array of groups focusing on climate change into a coherent national movement....

micki said...

It is my understanding that at the Nobel Conference, Dr. Hansen advocated for a sort of "Carbon Czar" -- a position that would be apolitical. The Carbon Czar would work on behalf of the country, the world and SCIENCE, rather than for special interests.

I hope it's possible to change our way of thinking in this country -- among other changes, we must alter a mindset so that utilities are restructured to be more efficient and use cleaner technologies, rather than focus on the amount of elecricity they sell. Change the rules about how they make money. Not-for-profit energy companies? Hmmmmm....not likely.

Dr. B -- what about that Mt. Graham Red Squirrel. Do you want to save him? :-)

micki said...

Well, now that I think of it, I think I have heard of not-for-profit energy companies. And they are not a panacea.

Scratch above.

David B. Benson said...

Oh, I'll even save squirrels.

Coyote food!

micki said...

So, a married Republican elected official walks into a public restroom...

No joke. There's another one.

Minor leagues though -- a Repug councilman from Louisiana who was running for state senate.

The Times-Picayune found out and the married "I didn't do that" Joey DiFatta had chest pains and dropped out of the race.

micki said...

That must be a HUGE walk-in closet!

micki said...

'NYT' Reporter Reveals How He Got 'Blackwater' Scoop

By Joe Strupp, E&P

Published: October 06, 2007 1:15 PM ET

NEW YORK This week’s detailed account by The New York Times of the controversial Blackwater security shooting in Baghdad was not the result of some in-depth investigative effort using leaked documents or high-ranking anonymous sources.

It was, in reality, good old fashioned police reporting, say its authors.

James Glanz, who penned the acclaimed report in last Wednesday’s paper along with Alissa J. Rubin, said the duo did nothing more than their fellow reporters in midtown Manhattan might have done with a city shooting – reach officials, find witnesses, and keep asking questions.

“It was a regular old cop story,” Glanz, an eight year Times veteran told E&P via cell phone. “If you forget about official sources and look at it like a shooting at 34th and Broadway, you have the story.”

And quite a story they got. The detailed piece revealed a string of previously unreported details, using 12 witnesses and numerous officials, about the controversial Sept. 16 incident that has drawn new interest in the private security firms used in Baghdad.

Among the reporter’s findings:

* “A deadly cascade of events began when a single bullet apparently fired by a Blackwater guard killed an Iraqi man whose weight probably remained on the accelerator and propelled the car forward as the passenger, the man’s mother, clutched him and screamed.”

* “The car continued to roll toward the convoy, which responded with an intense barrage of gunfire in several directions, striking Iraqis who were desperately trying to flee.”

* “Minutes after that shooting stopped, a Blackwater convoy — possibly the same one — moved north from the square and opened fire on another line of traffic a few hundred yards away, in a previously unreported separate shooting, investigators and several witnesses say.”

“It was a matter of finding official and quasi-official sources, talking to witnesses and getting the story,” said Glanz, who is on his seventh Iraq assignment since 2004. “It was one of the more normal stories we have done.”

Glanz added that the incident occurred just outside the so-called “Green Zone” safe haven, making it somewhat easier to roam the area for information. “It has an interesting twist to it, but it was mostly like a cop reporter,” he says, adding he still has one of the bullet casings on his desk. “A couple of times I called American investigative sources and they asked me questions. You can tell where you are from that.”

He stressed that it took time for the reporters to lock into some of the key sources, such as witnesses, noting the need to follow such a story for days, and even weeks. “We had been collecting string on it but really it cracked into that when they began pulling witnesses through,” he said about the Iraqi investigators. “It came together over o couple of days when Alissa worked the scene, person by person by person.”

He added that there are numerous local stories that could be uncovered if reporters were able to stick with them more. “There is a tendency here because of the exhaustive nature to get the day story and move on,” he explained. “You have to have a gut sense as to what you can make progress on.”

The reporters also credited the Iraqi officials with cooperating, often more than Americans. “We often criticize Iraqi officials,” he said. “Here is one case where they led the way and did everything they were supposed to.”

micki said...

Skimming stuff...not that we need to be reminded of what a dummy he is:

During a speech this week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Bush helpfully explained, "My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions."

David B. Benson said...

Micki --- I laughed out loud and that one.

Because it hurts to much to cry...

micki said...

HOLY SMACKERS! When you see the Moron-in-Chief actually "explain" it's scary as hell! This guy has dementia or brain damage, in addition to a low IQ

micki said...

Scary stuff, Dr. B! He's deranged.

micki said...

That's right, Dr. B -- you can't play video can you? Or can you?

Anyway, on the video GWB "exlains" further:

My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions. And it’s important for me to have an opportunity to speak to you and others who would be listening about the basis on which I have made decisions, to explain the philosophy behind some of the decisions I have made.

Quick! Get we re-write!

micki said...


micki said...

...and moving right along, he "explains" and elaborates even more:

”I delegate to good people. I always tell Condi Rice, ‘I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. And I want to remind you who the adviser is and who the president is.’

”I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, ‘Mr. President, here’s what’s on my mind.’ And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device (sic), I decide, you know, I say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ And it’s ‘Yes, sir, Mr. President.’ And then we get after it, implement policy.”

I figured, Dr. B, you'd appreciate this because you're a PhD-type!

micki said...

Forbes reports on bush's buffoonish antics in Lancaster


DEN said...

Yea well you try doing speeches and appearances drunk as a skunk and see how you sound.

I swear he is shitfaced or medicated.

Brings shame upon America.

micki said...

He's shitfaced, medicated, dumb and dangerous.

From -- the transcript from Lancaster, PA, where he made a complete fool of himself (but not to the invited audience) in front of the rational world. Dr. B, we need leadership on the global warming issue, eh?

Q -- so thank you very much. Thanks. I have two questions, if I could. One is, can you talk about the farm bill and how it's going to help local farmers in this area? And then would you also talk about global warming and how the U.S. is being a leader in a worldwide effort to combat global warming? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thanks, great question. First, on the farm bill. .....(NOTE FROM MICKI: I'm focusing on his global warming "answer") I also believe -- this is going to answer your global warming question, as well -- it's in the nation's interest to diversify away from hydrocarbons. Probably comes as a shock to you from a guy from Texas saying that. But it's -- dependence on oil creates national security issues. There's too many people who have got oil that may not like us.

Secondly, we import about 60 percent of our oil from overseas -- fortunately, most of it from -- a lot of it from Canada and Mexico. But it doesn't take much to disrupt an oil market, and therefore, we got an economic issue when it comes to dependency on oil. One terrorist attack on a major oil facility could cause the world price of oil to go up. There are new big consumers of hydrocarbons in the marketplace; China and India, as they're growing their economies, are creating additional demand relative to supply. And therefore, the price of gasoline goes up here in Lancaster County as these economies grow. And finally, dependency upon oil creates an environmental issue.

And so, therefore, one of the strategies that we're putting in place is -- and this happens to be beneficial for farmers -- is why don't we grow our way out of dependency on oil? Why don't we use, initially, corn as the feedstock for an ethanol industry that has gone from about a billion gallons a year, when I first became President, to over 6 billion gallons a year?

In other words -- and so what I'm beginning to tell you is -- what I am -- not beginning, what I am telling you is that we have a comprehensive strategy to deal with energy security and environmental quality at the same time. And the interesting dynamic that has taken place in the environmental debate is the two issues have now come -- come front and center at the same time. In other words, you can solve one, you can solve the other.

Now, in terms of the environment, my -- I gave a speech the other day in front of the major economies of the world. And the reason I asked the major economies of the world to come to the table is because there is no solution for global warming unless all the major economies, or the growing economies of the world come to the table. You can't have a -- one of the reasons I was against Kyoto was not because I'm not -- don't support, you know, good quality environmental policy? I didn't think it made sense to have policy that didn't include all the major economies, like China.

And so why don't we try this approach -- why don't we make sure that China comes to the table on this issue? And step one is we'll sit around the table and agree on a common goal about what the reductions of greenhouse gases ought to be over the first half of the next century. Because if you can get somebody to sign on to a goal, you then get somebody to recognize there's a problem, and then obligate them to come up with a solution. So that's part of the strategy.

Here at home there are three aspects of our economy that affect greenhouse gases. First, automobiles. And I just described to you the policy that I think is good to address our reliance upon oil, which also affects that aspect of our economy that -- where there's a lot of emissions, and that's the automobiles. We can't rely upon corn forever for ethanol. There are a lot of hog growers and cattle growers around that get a little nervous when the price of corn is going up the way it is. And so your government is spending a fair amount of money, of your money, to research cellulosic ethanol. And that's a fancy word for using corn chips or switchgrass to be able to be the feedstock for new ethanol production.

And smart people tell me we're pretty close. So some day it's very conceivable that the farmers around here are going to be growing switchgrass. And then you become energy producers. Or you can imagine if we can use wood chips as a source to be able to produce ethanol; then all of a sudden you got a lot of the places that grow pine trees become a part of the energy mix. It's very conceivable that we can reduce our energy, our gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years. As a matter of fact, I've asked Congress to put that into law, not as a voluntary standard, but a mandatory standard.

Secondly, electricity -- and so -- you know, the real question on this environmental issue is, can we have policies in place that enable us to grow our economies and at the same time protect the environment? And technology will enable us to do that. That was the other message I talked about at this conference. You don't have to shut down your economy in order to protect the environment.

Technology will enable us, for example, to generate electricity from coal, but have zero emissions. That's where we're headed. So we're spending a couple of billion dollars of your money on clean coal technology. The dream is to have a coal-fired plant that produces zero emissions. And the smart people tell me, that's coming.

And by the way, on automobiles, just -- you got me stuck on something I'm interested in -- automobiles, you're going to be driving your car with a battery, and so the first 40 miles -- this is going to be helpful for urban dwellers -- the first 40 miles will be driven on a battery charge. I feel like it's coming pretty quick, and your deal doesn't have to look like a golf cart, you know, it's going to look like a car -- (laughter) -- or a pick-up truck, you can drive a pick-up truck. (Laughter.) Well, they drive them in Texas. (Laughter.) You get your first 40 miles -- I'm not quite through. And it's a long answer, I'm sorry. It's called filibustering. (Laughter.)

The other thing is, is that we got to promote nuclear power. I am convinced that the plant designs today are safe. I know we have got to do research on how to burn down the spent fuel in order to make people comfortable that we can deal with the waste in a smart way. If you're an environmentalist and concerned about greenhouse gases, you got to be for nuclear power. Nuclear power enables the developed world and the developing world to generate, get a -- get cheap electricity without one iota of greenhouse gases.

And so we're talking to countries like China and India about a help -- how to help them develop a civilian nuclear power industry. And so the question that's got to be on your mind, I'm certain it is -- how they going to get the fuel? Do you really want a lot of people enriching? Well, there's a Nuclear Suppliers Group that does produce fuel -- we're one of them. And so my vision is, if you want to have your nuclear power plant, fine. The Nuclear Suppliers Group will provide you the fuel and will collect the spent fuel. And hopefully, as this new technology comes, we'll reprocess the spent fuel in a way that reduces the amount of spent fuel and the toxicity of the fuel.

And finally, there's -- the third aspect of greenhouse gases here at home is how do you -- you've got to build your buildings better, and building codes matter when it comes to the construction of buildings. And so there's the three-part strategy. And then the question is who develops the strategy for each country? Well, my attitude is we can develop our own strategy. See, we'll set the goal, work with other nations to set the goal, and we'll develop a strategy. We'll develop a strategy that meets the needs of the American economy. We'll develop a strategy that the American people are comfortable with, all aiming to achieve the international goal.

And anyway, it's a great question. I appreciate you asking it.

Yes, little guy, you got one?

Q Do you have any further plans on preventing illegal immigration?

I did NOT make this up. These are actual words from the mouth of the POTUS.

This is not a parody. The Onion was not involved. Jon Stewart did not write this. Stephen Colbert was not mocking bush.