Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Even though American photographer James Balog specializes in nature photography, for a long time, he didn't believe in climate change.
In fact, for nearly 20 years, he taunted scientists about global warming.
"I didn't think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn't seem probable, it didn't seem possible," Balog says.
It wasn't until 2005 that Balog realized something was amiss while taking a close-up look at how climate changes affect nature.
During a National Geographic-commissioned photo expedition to the Arctic, he saw the enormous damage firsthand.
Exactly 10 years later, Balogs' film "Chasing Ice" premiered, and he decided to document the melting of glaciers with an army of cameras.
And it was in this context that Balog caught one of the most spectacular scenes ever filmed.
In less than an hour and 15 minutes, Balog and his team and saw a piece of glacier the size of the Lower Manhattan fall into the ocean.
Houston ... We have a problem.
As an aside, this is the weather forecast for Redding CT. See any anomalies here?
IN JANUARY 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decade long escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.
This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”
Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry, and damaging those behaviors might be.
It's all about the money. - Robert E.
Read Ike's address to see why Greenwald's warning rings true.
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Any questions? Forgot to add Congress to the MIC but they are but minions to the real owners of the country.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Friday, February 17, 2017
Entangled alliances, as brilliantly articulated by George Washington, is detrimental to America as no foreign nation should ever have undue influence in how America conducts foreign policy. Pat Buchanan's take on this crucial issue is correct without question as are other writers like Glenn Greenwald, Robert Perry, Chris Hedges and Ralph Nader. Entangled alliances conducted with people with NO EXPERTISE is something else all together as seen with Trump and Netanyahu getting together without SOS Tillison and/or other State Department officials, individuals that have a vested interest in insuring that US policy be consistent, no matter what country the US is dealing with.
Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience - had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State.
Rex Tillerson was absent Wednesday but did join Kushner and Netanyahu for dinner the night before. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was on the official schedule to take his place but was then shut out of the White House meeting.
In an emailed statement to CBS News, a State Department official explained that the decision to modify the meeting was made at the White House to “allow for a more personal discussion.” That presumably is a reference to the long-standing friendship between Trump, Kushner, and Netanyahu.
That particular incident was disheartening to many State Department officials who hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO - will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.
Disheartening does not begin to describe the gross ineptness of an administration that screws the pooch in ways that truly boggle the mind.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Security is one thing, stupid security and stepping on the 4th Amendment is quite another, something an unfortunate JPL/NASA engineer had to endure when coming back to the states after participating in a solar race in Chile. Note that Sidd Bikkannavar was born in the US and is obviously a vetted citizen to the max who happens to work on the James Webb Telescope, a rather important project for America without question.
Everything started to go wrong just after 5 a.m., when Sidd Bikkannavar scanned his passport, placed his hand on a fingerprint reader, and watched as the automated customs kiosk spat out a receipt with a black X drawn across it.
It was January 31. Bikkannavar had just arrived at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport after a nine-hour flight from Santiago, Chile, where he’d competed in a two-week race from the southern tip of the country to its capital in a solar-powered car. In a few hours, he would board a connecting flight back home to California, where he’s worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for over a decade. Bikkannavar, a 35-year-old engineer who was born in Pasadena, designs technology for space telescopes like the enormous James Webb telescope that’s set to be launched into orbit in 2018.
But before boarding his next plane, Bikkannavar would have to clear customs and immigration. Usually, it’s a breeze: He’s a part of the Customs and Border Protection Global Entry program, whose members are waved through the line after just scanning their passport and fingerprints. But the receipt with the X meant things wouldn’t go so smoothly this time.
He presented it to an agent and was promptly led to a holding room. The customs checkpoint had only been open for business for 10 or 20 minutes, so the room was mostly empty. But several occupied cots were arranged in the room, suggesting that some people had spent the night. A table was arranged with peanut butter biscuits, crackers, and instant noodle cups.
After about 40 minutes, Bikkannavar was called up. He was led to a small door labeled “Interview Room,” and seated across from a border agent, who said he needed to search Bikkannavar’s things.
Bikkannavar asked why he was singled out for questioning, but the agent wouldn’t tell him. There can't have been any suspicion about his identity, Bikkannavar thought: Not only was he a member of Global Entry—a program that requires applicants to submit to an extensive background check and fingerprinting—but his work at NASA requires him to be vetted regularly by the federal government. He was, he thought, a particularly known entity.
“I’m always super cooperative about this stuff. This isn’t a story about me being super offended and being inconvenienced,” Bikkannavar told me. “I get it. I was with them up to this point.”
But the agent never touched Bikkannavar’s bag—instead, he asked for his smartphone. Bikkannavar handed it over, assuming the agent might just want to inspect it to make sure it wasn’t something more dangerous in disguise. The agent turned it over in his hand and asked for the passcode.
“This is a huge, huge violation of my work policy. This is a matter of great concern.” Bikkannavar was taken aback. The phone was Jet Propulsion Lab property, he explained, pointing out the barcode stuck to the back. It was his duty to protect its sensitive contents, and he couldn’t give out the passcode.
The border agent wouldn’t relent. He needed to access the device, he said, and had the authority to do so. He’d handed Bikkannavar a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” when they first sat down, and Bikkannavar gave it a quick scan. The document claimed that CBP had the right to search “all persons, baggage, and merchandise arriving in, or departing from, the United States.” On the backside, in fine print at the bottom, there was a section with the heading, “Consequences of Failure to Provide Information.” The section said that giving up the information is “mandatory” and not cooperating could lead to the “detention and/or seizure” of the electronic device in question.
RIP to a once great nation.
Where Bikkannavar works
Monday, February 13, 2017
BRT posted a blurb titled Endangered Data showing how the Trump Administration is systematically putting the public's information into a memory hole in order to create complete operational opacity of the government, something rather disquieting to say the least but there is hope as people are fighting back, not only in preserving EPA content but also with NASA's invaluable earth science data, research paid for by us, not the repugs and not by the cabinet trolls this awful administration has foisted on us when Trump took over as president.
Like similar groups across the country—in more than 20 cities—they believe that the Trump administration might want to disappear this data down a memory hole. So these hackers, scientists, and students are collecting it to save outside government servers.
But now they’re going even further. Groups like DataRefuge and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which organized the Berkeley hackathon to collect data from NASA’s earth sciences programs and the Department of Energy, are doing more than archiving. Diehard coders are building robust systems to monitor ongoing changes to government websites. And they’re keeping track of what’s already been removed—because yes, the pruning has already begun.
Saving our data is key because, as per 1984 ...
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
BRT has long championed sustainables, particularly solar as price points for said tech are dropping like a stone but the problem of storing the energy produced was a hassle, until now.
Researchers have discovered a way to make the promising flow battery much more practical. Flow batteries store energy in liquid-filled tanks. Prior to this most recent discovery, flow batteries, after a number of charge-discharge cycles, would suffer from rapid storage capacity degradation.
In order to overcome the degradation hurdle, the researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) modified the structure of molecules in the solution to make them water soluble. This allowed for the electrolytes to be dissolved in neutral water, creating a battery that only loses one percent of its storage capacity every 1000 cycles. According to the official press release, the battery is able to run for ten years with only a minimum amount of upkeep.
Unlike other battery liquids, the solution in this new flow battery is both non-toxic as well as non-corrosive. Spilling it on skin or on the floor causes no injury or property damage.
The question now is, can Trump and his oil buddies actually realize the end is near for coal, oil and NG. From this perspective, it's rather obvious don't you think?
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
A renewed era of space exploration is underway. Compared to the Space Race of the 20th century, which was characterized by two superpowers locked in a game of “getting there first”, the new era is defined predominantly by cooperation and open participation. One way in which this is evident is the role played by “citizen scientists” and amateur astronomers in exploration missions.
Consider the recently-released short film titled “A Journey to Jupiter” by Peter Rosen – a photographer and digital artist in Stockholm, Sweden. Using over 1000 images taken by amateur planetary photographers from around the world, this film takes viewers on a virtual journey to the Jovian planet, showcasing its weather patterns and dynamic nature in a way that is truly inspiring.
And just think, Juno's ramping up big time. :)
See why this is so.