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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 39,336

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Rainbow and lightning

A stunning photo of a rainbow arcing over a lightning strike in Tucson, Arizona took the Internet by storm last week, garnering nearly 4,000 retweets on Twitter. And there’s a good reason the image went viral: Rainbow lightning is a spectacular— and spectacularly rare —phenomenon.

Lightning forms when negatively charged electrons in cloud water are attracted to positive charges on the ground. When this charge gradient becomes powerful enough to overcome the insulating properties of the air, it creates a flow of current, and voila, lightning. (Incidentally, the best place to photograph lightning strikes is the desert, where thunderclouds tend to form high up due to drier conditions near the ground).

Rainbows, on the other hand, are an optical trick that happens when raindrops scatter sunlight, separating it into its component wavelengths like a prism. As Live Science explains, the photographer behind this amazing photo had to be standing between the sun and the storm at the precise moment when the angle of the sun hit the raindrops to form a rainbow, and the charge gradient in the air sent sparks flying.



Nope, You Can't Learn About Climate Change in Georgia Schools

Georgia Tech paleoclimate scientist Kim Cobb made a disturbing discovery when she saw her 8 year-old daughter’s state-issued science textbook.

In the section on Earth science, there was no mention of climate change whatsoever — despite the fact that studies conducted by state scientists show the state is vulnerable to climate change (see image above). When she asked her daughter about it, she replied that kind of class was only for older kids. So Cobb dug a little deeper into state standards to find out more. She writes:

It spurred me to dig a little deeper into the K-12 Georgia Science Standards. As it turns out, the only mention of climate change comes in the optional high school Oceanography course standards:

“Explain relationships between climate change, the greenhouse effect, and the consequences of global warming on the ocean.”

Georgia’s approach is woefully out of step with the recommendations by the National Academy of Science, who published “A Framework for K-12 Science Education”, featuring the following climate change standards for Grade 5:

“If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways.”

So essentially, children growing up in Georgia do not learn about climate change at all unless they are given the opportunity to take an elective oceanography class in high school.



Toon: So called Pro lifers

Toon: Mirror Mirror on the Wall…..

Toon: Shocking

Sanders on billionaire class: ‘I welcome their hatred’

BOONE, Ia. – Sen. Bernie Sanders borrowed from Franklin Delano Roosevelt Saturday morning and echoed the 32nd president’s disdain for the mega-rich who seek personal gain over the common good.

After delivering an hour-long stump speech, Sanders opened the floor up to questions at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

“I want to know if you are the next coming of FDR. We will fight for you if you will fight the Republicans in Congress,” asked one man in the crowd of about 400 people. “I voted eight years ago for hope and change, and I’m still waiting.”

Sanders, an independent, is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. On Saturday, the second day of a three-day Iowa swing, pointed out how FDR called the wealthy protectors of the status quo “economic royalists.”

“He said, ‘They hate my guts. Never have they hated someone as much as they hate me. And I welcome their hatred,’” Sanders said.

“And let me echo that today: If the Koch Brothers and the billionaire class hate my guts, I welcome their hatred. Because I am going to stand with working families.”



Sunday's Doonesbury-Teaching Texas History

Sunday's Non Sequitur- Metaphor

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is worried net neutrality might help the terrorists

By Russell Brandom

In a remarkable feat, internet providers have apparently succeeded in making the net neutrality fight about terrorism. In a newly-published letter delivered to the Federal Communications Commission in May, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) raised concerns that the new net neutrality rules might be used to shield terrorists. In particular, Feinstein was concerned that Dzhokar Tsarnaev had studied bomb-making materials on the internet — specifically, online copies of AQAP's Inspire magazine — and that many broadband providers had complained to her that net neutrality rules would prevent them from honoring any orders to block that content.

It's quite a bind, and in the letter, Feinstein entreats FCC chair Tom Wheeler to assure providers that it isn't true. The senator acknowledges that there are laws against material support for terrorism, and Title II only applies to legal web traffic, but "nonetheless, there is apparently confusion among at least some broadband providers on whether they may take such actions in order to promote national security and law enforcement purposes."

This argument is nonsense for at least three different reasons. For one, there's no current effort to wipe Inspire off the internet entirely, nor is it clear what those grounds would be. If law enforcement agencies do want to take down a network of sites as a result of criminal activity, there's a clear process for them to do so. In fact, this happens all the time! Here's one example; here's another. This is not a real problem facing law enforcement agencies, and even if it were, it has nothing to do with Title II. The same Title II regulations have applied to landline telephones for years, and that hasn't stopped cops from singling out specific phone numbers for wiretaps or more drastic measures. Fast lane or no, you can still pull someone over if you've got the evidence to justify it.

In other words, this isn't about terrorism; it's about broadband providers doing whatever they can to throw a wrench in the FCC's net neutrality proposals. After countless ill-fated lawsuits, providers seem to have decided that making a counter-terrorism case is their best bet, and Senator Feinstein, never one to back down from a counter-terrorism fight, seems to have taken the bait. Of course, it's alarming to see the specter of recent terrorist killings being used to cynically further an unrelated domestic policy agenda, but hopefully this is just a one-off kind of thing.


Oliver Sacks: Sabbath

MY mother and her 17 brothers and sisters had an Orthodox upbringing — all photographs of their father show him wearing a yarmulke, and I was told that he woke up if it fell off during the night. My father, too, came from an Orthodox background. Both my parents were very conscious of the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”), and the Sabbath (Shabbos, as we called it in our Litvak way) was entirely different from the rest of the week. No work was allowed, no driving, no use of the telephone; it was forbidden to switch on a light or a stove. Being physicians, my parents made exceptions. They could not take the phone off the hook or completely avoid driving; they had to be available, if necessary, to see patients, or operate, or deliver babies.

We lived in a fairly Orthodox Jewish community in Cricklewood, in Northwest London — the butcher, the baker, the grocer, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, all closed their shops in good time for the Shabbos, and did not open their shutters till Sunday morning. All of them, and all our neighbors, we imagined, were celebrating Shabbos in much the same fashion as we did.

Around midday on Friday, my mother doffed her surgical identity and attire and devoted herself to making gefilte fish and other delicacies for Shabbos. Just before evening fell, she would light the ritual candles, cupping their flames with her hands, and murmuring a prayer. We would all put on clean, fresh Shabbos clothes, and gather for the first meal of the Sabbath, the evening meal. My father would lift his silver wine cup and chant the blessings and the Kiddush, and after the meal, he would lead us all in chanting the grace.

On Saturday mornings, my three brothers and I trailed our parents to Cricklewood Synagogue on Walm Lane, a huge shul built in the 1930s to accommodate part of the exodus of Jews from the East End to Cricklewood at that time. The shul was always full during my boyhood, and we all had our assigned seats, the men downstairs, the women — my mother, various aunts and cousins — upstairs; as a little boy, I sometimes waved to them during the service. Though I could not understand the Hebrew in the prayer book, I loved its sound and especially hearing the old medieval prayers sung, led by our wonderfully musical hazan.

much more (about life and love)

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