Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Look Around You Tonight Folks........


And realize how lucky you are.

If you are interested in donating or helping out, Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit is rounding up links to various relief agencies here.

Michelle at a small victory has decided to dedicate a post to positive uplifting stories and pictures from the hurricane and its aftermath. This a most welcome alternative to what we will be pounded with in the days to come as the death tolls are tallied up.

The NOLA website has the most extensive listings of current situations as well as the newslog which continues to have the most up-to-the-minute reports.

The whole scene is quite devastating. I watched a video showing parts of Biloxi, MS that look like they got carpet-bombed.

I have little doubt that New Orleans and the surrounding areas will eventually recover and rebuild, for that is the natural spirit of mankind in these situations. Already many corporations and business groups are donating supplies and equipment, which again shows the depth of the compassion this country has. It may take years to fully recover, but we Americans are a resilient bunch and I am sure that one day the Jazz Fest in New Orleans will again host the biggest Jazz bash on the planet.

Update:Attention Germany's environmental minister Jürgen Trittin and Robert F Kennedy Jr.- (who both stated U.S. president George Bush and his environmental policies are responsible for hurricane Katrina) PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP.

In case you hear more people whine that Global Warming caused the Hurricanes, kindly show them the statistics that show that they are complete idiots.

Stats From Here-

Thanks to EUROTA for supplying the chart.

People suck sometimes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Best Bumper Sticker EVER........PERIOD.......

Thanks to Bigwig at Silflay Hraka

Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) And A Proper Fisking.........


Scott Burgess over at the Daily Ablution points towards the L'Ombre de l'Olivier, "The Shadow of the Olive Tree", a blog listed as "being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Cote' d'Azur". In the latest post from "The Shadow of the Olive Tree", this englishmen properly fisks the latest example of Bush derangement Syndrome (BDS) which was written in the English newspaper the Gaurdian.

Before I give you a taste of the fisking, I thought I'd offer my thoughts about BDS, and the horrible effects thereof. I am constantly in the presence of severe cases of BDS, due to the nature of the places I hangout and the age groups which frequent these areas. It is no secret that Bush is not particularly popular among the 21-35 age bracket. It's considered quite uncool to be the one guy who will stick up for Bush at the bar, but I have no particularly republican affiliations. I find myself having to defend the actions of this administration repeatedly due to the intellectual laziness of those who blindly criticize Bush. For instance, the canard that "Bush lied to send us to Iraq" either willfully ignores or involuntarily misleads one to believe that it was Bush who actually approved the military actions in Iraq when BY LAW it is required of Congress for this to happen. Don't even get me started about the fact that Bush didn't actually lie about anything anyways, I have grown so sick of forcing people to ACTUALLY FARKING READ WHAT HANS BLIX WROTE IN 2002 about Iraq that I simply can't be bothered anymore. I don't particularly care if I'm cool or not, but I refuse to sit there and just listen to people belch out deranged falsehoods about our president simply because they believe he's some bible humping zealot.

Jeff over Protein Wisdom has a post today about how defeatist the left has become in our prosecution of the war against Islamic extremists that it appears as though even if Iraq turned in to a perfect vision from Jefferson himself overnight it would still be an abysmal failure of Vietnam-like proportions. This is also a prime example of the intellectual vacuum appearing during the onset of BDS.

We return to Francis at The Shadow of the Olive Tree, and his fisking of an article by Mark Kurlansky in today's Gaurdian....
Do NOT Pay This Author a Salary

Bush Derangement Syndrome is a sad thing to observe, especially when it bumps up against the reality. BDS sufferers believe, amongst other things, that President Bush is practically illiterate with a reading level of a first grade student and no interest in anything beyond those typically red-state redneck hobbies of shooting or NASCAR. Take for example Mark Kurlansky, the author of a book about the history of salt who cannot believe that Shrub McChimpy might actually read his book and writes an entire column of bile in the Grauniad on the subject. The column is so stupid I think it is worth fisking from start to finish:

Hope you like my book, Mr Bush
What does it mean that George W Bush, a man who has demonstrated little ability for reflection, who is known to read no newspapers and whose headlong charge into disaster after cataclysm has shown a complete ignorance of history, who wants to throw out centuries of scientific learning and replace it with mythical mumbo-jumbo that he mistakenly calls religion, who preaches Christianity but seems to have never read the teachings of the great anti-war activist, Jesus Christ, is now spending his vacation reading my book, Salt: A World History?

It is hard to imagine how many more innuendoes can be stuffed into a single rhetorical question so suffice it to say that none of these innuendoes is backed up by any evidence. One wonders what is required to demonstrate "ability for reflection" - checking into a Buddhist meditation centre perhaps? A non-biased observer might consider that President Bush's christianity could be taken as evidence of reflective ability - what exactly is prayer and bible study if not reflection? But no, that is just mythical mumbo-jumbo and doesn't count, and anyway Mark Kurlansky, who from his description of Christianity would seem to be an atheist, is able as a result of his religious expertise to identify that President Bush is in fact a misguided believer, perhaps even a heretic, in that he is perverting the teachings of Jesus Christ. And "disaster after cataclysm" seems a little strong given the robust US economy, the reduction in government deficit etc. etc. Perhaps by ignorance of history Mark means ignoring of what passes for "Historical facts" in the politically correct ivory towers of academia these days as opposed to, say, history as written by Winston Churchill.
Read the rest of the fisking, for it is good......

Monday, August 22, 2005

Attention Ladies and Gentlemen......

........Public Service Announcement....

We now return you to your regular Bush-bashing-everything-is-the-US's-fault Newsprograms....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In Honor of Poppy and Those Who Served...........


Today is the 60th anniversary of V-J Day, which was the official last day of WWII. More specifically it is the day that the Japanese Emperor decided to end the War by accepting the Allies' terms, a decision announced on 14 August. Here is an excellent online library of images from that day.

V-J Day always seems to get less attention than D-Day (the allied invasion of Normandy), for reasons unbeknownst to me. D-Day of course was crucial in turning the tide in Europe and defeating Hitlers military juggernaut. However, it certainly does not mark the end of Hitler nor the surrender of German forces. I suppose the sheer audacity of the Normandy assault contains a more gripping story line, thus getting more attention in the history books. Having Steven Spielberg produce an oscar caliber movie doesn't hurt either I imagine.

My grandfather -Poppy- served in the Pacific theater, and I want to thank him and all of the others who served today for defending our country. Your memory lives on in the brave men and women who serve today in our US Armed Forces.

Thanks again Poppy......

Monday, August 15, 2005

NEO Updates: Japan Pitches In, Spaceguard 75% Complete, Apophis Makes the News......


We have a nice little bundle of NEO news lately, I'll give the brief synposis...

Hayabusa's Contributions Toward Understanding the Earth's Neighborhood

Don Yeomans
August 11, 2005

Beginning in early September 2005, the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft will rendezvous with near-Earth asteroid (25143) Itokawa. Itokawa, a 600 meter sized, potato-shaped asteroid, is named after Hideo Itokawa, a Japanese rocket pioneer. Although the primary objectives of the Hayabusa mission are to test new technologies, the mission will also provide a wealth of scientific returns. For the three month period from September through November 2005, the science instruments on board the Hayabusa spacecraft will undertake an intensive study of near-Earth asteroid Itokawa. After closely observing the asteroid for several weeks, a few pellets will be fired from the spacecraft at close range into the asteroid's surface and about a gram of the pellet's impact ejecta will be collected into a sample capsule. This capsule will then be brought back to Earth and parachuted into the Australia outback in June 2007 so that some of the asteroid's surface minerals can be studied in Earth-based laboratories. This will be the first asteroid sample return mission.

It is comforting to see a country like Japan take a leading role in helping to improve our understanding of NEO's. If anything, there needs to be world wide cooperation on this issue, and the more countries get involved the better.

Yeoman continues-

Hayabusa's observations will address each of three major issues concerning asteroids:

1.) their role as the building blocks of the solar system, 2.) their potential for impacting Earth and 3.) their future use as raw materials for building space structures.

1.)The scientific interest in asteroids is due largely to their status as the remnant debris from the inner solar system formation process that occurred some 4.6 billion years ago. Since the chemical compositions of asteroids have remained relatively unchanged since their formation, knowledge of their elemental makeup would provide an understanding of the chemical mix from which the inner planets, including Earth, formed.

2.)From time to time, near-Earth asteroids collide with Earth. Should one of them be found upon an Earth threatening trajectory, scientists would need to understand its composition and structure before a successful strategy could be undertaken to deflect the object away from Earth.

3.)Some of the near-Earth asteroids that are potentially the most hazardous because they can closely approach the Earth are also the objects that could be most easily reached and exploited for raw materials. The minerals, metals and water ices on near-Earth asteroids and comets could be used to manufacture the space structures and rocket fuel that will be required to explore and colonize our solar system in the 21st century. We need to examine the chemical composition of some of these objects to understand which among them are richest in mineral wealth and other raw materials.

Domo Arigato Hayabusa Team! The Hayabusa site is here, and will soon be added to ye 'olde blogroll to your right.

Here is the latest on the Spacegaurd survey, which is supposed to be completed by 2008.


David Morrison

Next month, the number of known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) larger than 1 km diameter (or, more precisely, brighter than absolute magnitude 18) should pass the 800 mark. As of August 8 the NASA NEO Program Office website [http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov] listed 793. The total number of NEAs discovered as of that date is 3496.

If the population of NEAs larger than 1 km is 1100, 800 represents 73 percent completeness. It is interesting to note that 800 is already more than the total number of NEAs larger than 1 km predicted in some analyses carried out just a few years ago. For the metric of the Spaceguard Survey, which aims to find 90 percent of NEAs larger than 1 km, we are now more than 80% of the way to that goal.

The recent pattern of discovery also shows an expected drop in the discovery rate for the larger NEAs. As the survey becomes more complete, there are fewer large NEAs to be found and a larger fraction of those detected are rediscoveries of asteroids already catalogued. The total number of NEAs larger than 1 km found each year has declined since 2000, with annual totals through 2004 of 131, 91, 101, 69, and 57.

The good news is that they have made significant progress in terms of the survey, and as noted the total number of NEAs larger than 1 km found each year has declined since 2000, which means we have ruled out the majority of the asteroids in our solar system that would cause a global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilization as we know it. The bad news is that asteroids smaller than but not quite 1 km in size would still cause serious damage -not quite civilization ending- but large enough to kill millions of people in an instant. These asteroids are much more difficult to detect, but we would have a better chance of successfull mitigation. In other words, scrap the damn ISS and the Space Shuttle, and get to work on the B612 Project. Like now.

Also, the asteroid formerly known as 2004 mn4, Apophis, made the editorial page of the New York Times two weeks ago, and the Time Magazine online page last week. Both of these articles can be read at the following link here to the Nasa Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazard page.

Here is the crucial bit from the Time Magazine page. Discussing Apophis, both David Morrison and Rusty Schweikart comment on the urgency in regards to tracking our friendly killer rock-

Why the rush? The Apophis deflection, should it become necessary, must take place before the 2029 close approach. Earlier than that, just a simple nudge, accomplished, say, by firing a heavy object at the asteroid, could change its course enough to miss the crucial but small keyhole. Any time after that approach, should Apophis pass through the keyhole, we could be in trouble. NASA scientist David Morrison explains: "After 2029, the deflection would have to be vigorous enough to miss not just a tiny keyhole but the much larger target of the Earth itself. And such a deflection is far beyond present technology for an asteroid this large."

Given that deadline, some 24 years from now, there's seemingly plenty of time to take action. But Schweikart, who admits he is not expert in mission planning, speculates that a transponder mission, from initial planning to implantation might take, say, eight years. And he thinks that a following deflection attempt, if it proves necessary, could require as long as 15 years to implement. That's cutting it a little close, and, says Schweikart, all the more reason that NASA quickly calculate some realistic mission times. "It may turn out," he says, "that we have to begin planning those missions right now."

Better safe than sorry folks. Yes, I think it's fascinating that there may be frozen water on Mars. No, I don't think that should take priority over protecting the planet from a potentially catastrophic impact. Let's hope the $16 billion budget at NASA will start to be used in a more pro-active way.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Proper Way To Honor Our Brave Soldiers......


In todays Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes about the tribute recently given to those Marines from the Third Battalion-25th Regiment -- "the 325th.". 19 of these soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice last week during a raid around the Euphrates river in Iraq. What was noticeably absent from the tribute is what is worth mentioning. Mr Henninger writes-

"The politics of the Iraq war wasn't much on view amid the memorial fence's American flags, flowers, football jerseys, photographs, poems and Marine memorabilia. But someone had decided to put down on the ground an article published just three weeks ago in the News-Herald, a nearby newspaper. "All I can ask," wrote Marine Cpl. Jacob Arnett, who is still on duty in Iraq, "is that the American people be given more than the bombings and daily death toll, because we are giving much more than that for Iraq. ""

Again and again I hear this mentioned by soldiers returning from Iraq. "Why is the press only reporting on when we get killed?" "Why won't they mention when we save Iraqi's from getting killed, or when we build new hospitals?" Aside from Arthur Chrenkoff, this is unfortunately the case. Every morning, even in the Wall Street Journal, the first page lists the number of people killed from the previous day. If none were killed, it lists the ways in which the "insurgents" are preparing for another attack on some innocent children. Insurgents indeed. They are bloodthirsy killers, but I suppose that would be too politically incorrect these days to call them that.

On top of this incredibly misguided trend from the fifth column, we have the latest liberal drooling over Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. I won't go in to too much detail here as Jeff over at Protein Wisdom has the hypocrisy covered well enough here and here. Mrs. Sheehan has a right to grieve as any mother should over the loss of her son. But the tragedy is that there are those who are using her grief for their own partisan gain, whether she is willing to let them or not.

To further illuminate my point, I bring up the news from last week about the death of the US Journalist Steven Vincent, who was working tirelessly to be the anti-press on the ground in Iraq, laying his life on the line and paying the ultimate price for it. In his passing one would hope his message gets through to the rest of the press corps-from an interview with Mr Vincent in Frontpage Magazine..


"The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists "the resistance." What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers -- the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour [an Iraqi woman who assisted him] -- they are the "resistance." They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language."

And as usual, I bring you a Cox and Forkum to further illustrate the point......

We must remember that the US Military has already technically "won the war" in Iraq. But we haven't "won the peace" yet. It took us years to rebuild Japan and Germany after they were defeated in WWII, and technically we're still there. And we it will only take longer for us to get Iraq back on its feet and bring our toops home if our own press and politicians continually give moral support to bloodthirsty killers by rationalizing their acts as "resistance".

The tribute in Ohio shows that there are Americans out there who do understand what we are fighting for, and uphold those who pay the ultimate sacrifice as the heroes they are.

If only we didn't have to go to Ohio to see it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

NEO and Deep Impact Updates...........


Howdy folks- yes I know I've been neglecting the blog. It's partly due to a busy summer and partly due to a little blogging burn out so to speak. I just haven't felt the urge to blog like I used to lately. I predict that will change in the future. I have to stay the hell away from women for a while though. Apparently I have USE ME written on my forehead, and I can't seem to wash it off.

In any case, these two stories definitely deserve whatever increased attention they can get..

Schweickart Proposes Study of Impact Risk from Apophis (MN4)

By: David Morrison

Rusty Schweickart and the B612 Foundation have asked NASA to further study the possibility that this asteroid might return to hit the Earth after its close approach in 2029.
Note: Asteroid 2004 NM4 has been named 99942 Apophis, where Apophis or Apep was an ancient Egyptian god of evil, destruction and darkness. Dave Tholen at University of Hawaii explains this name: "It is traditional to name Aten-class asteroids after Egyptian gods. While it is an Aten-class object now, MN4 will become an Apollo-class asteroid after the 2029 close approach, and Apollo-class asteroids have traditionally been named after Greek gods. So we selected the Greek name for an Egyptian god. Apophis is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Apep, the god of evil and destruction. Apep was usually thwarted in his destructive efforts, however. Apophis isn't going to get us, at least this time around".

Last December, asteroid Apophis (2004 MN4) briefly rose to Torino Scale 4, when orbital calculations suggested a greater than 1 in 50 chance of collision on April 13, 2029. Subsequent optical and radar observations showed that Apophis will not collide with Earth in 2029, but it will come very close (see "Asteroid MN4 and How to Protect the Earth" in the News Archive for April 25, 2005). Current interest (and concern) is directed at possible future impacts, if Apophis should pass through a "keyhole" in 2029 and find itself in a resonant orbit (such as one in which the asteroid makes exactly 6 orbits of the Sun in 7 years, returning to Earth's vicinity every 7 years.) A keyhole is a small region of space that leads an asteroid back to hit Earth on subsequent encounters.

Based on current knowledge of the orbit of Apophis, we cannot exclude the possibility of it passing though a keyhole and hitting the Earth on a subsequent pass. However, there will be opportunities to make improved optical and radar observations, which are likely to confirm that it will miss the keyholes. It would also be possible to place a transponder on the asteroid and use this to verify whether or not it will pass through a keyhole in 2029. The issue is whether the ground-based orbital improvements will come in time to make a mission decision, or whether we need to plan for a transponder mission in any case.

Why the hurry? It is because if we should need to deflect the asteroid (which is unlikely but possible), our technology requires that the deflection take place before the close flyby in 2029. Before 2029 we only need to it enough to miss the keyholes (which are less than 1 km across). But if a deflection were required after 2029, it would have to be enough to miss the much larger target of the Earth itself, which is far beyond present technology for as asteroids this large.

In a letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, Rusty wrote the following-

The augmentation we propose to our ground tracking capability is the launch and subsequent docking of a scientific mission, including a standard radio transponder, with 2004MN4. While the improvement in our knowledge of the asteroid's orbit would resolve the issue of a potential impact, the scientific knowledge gained of both the surface and interior characteristics of the asteroid would be invaluable for future operations in and of itself. The unique circumstance presented by this asteroid which might have to be deflected, whose size makes it probable that it has a "rubble pile" structure, and whose orbit will bring it within the range of distorting terrestrial tidal forces, makes this a very attractive learning opportunity.

Look folks, with a $16 billion budget, the ABSOLUTE LEAST thing NASA could be doing in terms of dealing with NEO's would be to tag Apophis with a radio transponder. Considering the money pit in the sky known as the International Space Station, not to mention the Chevy Vega of space programs in the Shuttle, NASA needs to spend money on things that are actually, you know, USEFUL. The Shuttle program is turning in to a death trap, the current one in space is already experiencing similar problems that caused the last Shuttle to break up upon re-entry. I am all for human exploration of space, but until we have a viable means of traveling that we know can safely return 100% of the time, the risk just isn't worth it. Maybe when the payoff was proving that we could land on the moon, thus beating out the Russians, the risk was worth it. But that time is passed. No one can compete with the US in terms of what we bring to the table in space exploration. Knowing this, we should be actively working towards attainable realistic goals that are beneficial in the long and short terms. For instance, spending $100 million out of a $16 billion dollar budget to tag Apophis is reasonable and will give us much useful information with which we can react accordingly.

There is no point on spending a single dime on anything else if Apophis is shown to be a definitive calculated threat.

And speaking of useful programs that are performing above and beyond the wildest expectations, I give you the latest update from the Deep Impact satellite.


As NASA's Deep Impact flyby spacecraft prepares to execute its sixth trajectory correction maneuver, program managers at agency headquarters in Washington are investigating future options.

Today's scheduled burn places the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly past Earth in late December 2007. The maneuver allows NASA to preserve options for future use of the spacecraft.

"This maneuver will keep the spacecraft in the vicinity of the inner planets, thereby making the task of tracking and communicating with it easier," said NASA's Director of Solar System Division, Science Mission Directorate, Andy Dantzler.

Dantzler announced today that all investigators interested in using the Deep Impact Flyby Spacecraft for further science investigations must submit proposals to the 2005 Discovery Program Announcement of Opportunity for a Mission of Opportunity.

"All proposals for use of the Deep Impact spacecraft will be evaluated for science merit and feasibility along with all submitted proposal for Missions of Opportunity," he said. "The spacecraft is being offered as is. Proposers must include mission management and spacecraft operations in the total proposed funding."

Further details will be posted by the end of July on the Discovery Program acquisition site: http://centauri.larc.nasa.gov/discovery

As we can clearly see, the programs that have comparatively used the least percentage of the NASA budget such as Deep Impact Mission and the Cassini Huygens Mission have returned much more than we could have hoped for in terms of useful data. The proposal that Rusty has put forth is reasonable and would be the best usage of our current NASA dollars at the given time.

Update: This post would not be complete without including this unbelievably cool picture from Saturn. It's freaking amazing-

Believe it or not, this extreme close-up of Saturn's swirling clouds was acquired from more than one million kilometers (621,370 miles) from the gas giant planet. The rings' image is severely bent by atmospheric refraction as they pass behind the planet.
The dark region in the rings is the 4,800-kilometer-wide (2,980 mile) Cassini Division.