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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Mark Fiore: Voyage to the center of delusion

With the government shutdown continuing and no real negotiations happening, it seems that Captain Ted Cruz is still at the helm of the Republican Party. It’s helpful to remember that the Tea Party crew’s main demand is an end to Obamacare, a health care reform law that was passed years ago.

Putting it another way, the Republicans, currently led by the Tea Party, are willing to risk a US default in order to keep working class Americans from accessing affordable health care. This is their best chance to finally drown government in the bathtub, so why would they ever negotiate? They’re having the time of their lives.

And even though the latest Tea Party/Republican talking point is that a default won’t really be that bad and we have plenty of money to pay the interest on our debt, I don’t think I want to stake the world’s economy on Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. I think the Republican space ship may be a recurring character, let’s see how it holds up under the gravitational pull of economic calamity and increasing corporate pressure. Be sure to like, comment and tell yer friends! Oh, and you can find more links to the news behind the cartoon on my site.


Toles Toon: The Scalia Doctrine

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse

Shot over a period of three nights in April of this year, this timelapse from Sean Goebel shows the myriad arrays of telescopes and antennas at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The clear view at 14,000 feet is the premiere location for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. The lasers you see are called laser guide stars and they help astronomers correct the atmospheric distortion of light by creating an artificial “star” to use as a reference point.



Overpass Illusion and Other Murals by Dasic



A Close Look at the Toby Jug Nebula (Beautiful space pic)

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured a remarkably detailed image of the Toby Jug Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust surrounding a red giant star. This view shows the characteristic arcing structure of the nebula, which, true to its name, does indeed look a little like a jug with a handle.

Located about 1200 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Carina (The Ship’s Keel), the Toby Jug Nebula, more formally known as IC 2220, is an example of a reflection nebula. It is a cloud of gas and dust illuminated from within by a star called HD 65750. This star, a type known as a red giant, has five times the mass of our Sun but it is in a much more advanced stage of its life, despite its comparatively young age of around 50 million years .

The nebula was created by the star, which is losing part of its mass out into the surrounding space, forming a cloud of gas and dust as the material cools. The dust consists of elements such as carbon and simple, heat-resistant compounds such as titanium dioxide and calcium oxide (lime). In this case, detailed studies of the object in infrared light point to silicon dioxide (silica) being the most likely compound reflecting the star’s light.

IC 2220 is visible as the star’s light is reflected off the grains of dust. This celestial butterfly structure is almost symmetrical, and spans about one light-year. This phase of a star’s life is short-lived and such objects are thus rare.


“Alarming” mass die-off of starfish in areas along Canada’s Pacific coast — “They’ve disintegrated,

now there’s just goo left” — “Appeared to melt” — “Single arms clinging to rock faces, tube feet still moving” — Similar reports as far away as California

Canadian Press, Oct. 7, 2013: Vancouver Aquarium ‘alarmed’ at mass die-off of starfish on B.C. ocean floor aquarium staff don’t know just how far-reaching the “alarming” epidemic has been, and whether this and other sea star species will recover. “They’re gone. It’s amazing,” said Donna Gibbs, a research diver and taxonomist on the aquarium’s Howe Sound Research and Conservation group. “Whatever hit them, it was like wildfire and just wiped them out.” Aquarium staff don’t know the cause because they have had trouble gathering specimens for testing, as starfish that looked healthy in the ocean turned up as goo at the lab. “We’re just not sure yet if it’s all the same thing,” Gibbs said. “They’re dying so fast.” The collaboration came about after a graduate student collected starfish for a research project and then watched as they “appeared to melt” in her tank.

Global News, Oct. 3, 2013: starfish wasting or completely disintegrating ever since early September. “Now they are gone. They have disintegrated, and now there is just goo left,” says research diver and taxonomist Donna Gibbs. “So we are trying to see as much as we can really fast and get reports from divers in other areas to see how widespread this is.” “It is shocking to see them all dead. They are just gone. And, are they coming back? We want them back. B.C. is known for its sea stars. We have more species here than anywhere else in the world.”

National Geographic, Sept. 9, 2013: “It really struck a chord in other divers who were seeing it on Facebook and social media, both locally and as far away as California, who had been seeing similar things,” Martin said. Martin wrote to invertebrate expert Christopher Mah, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. he said: “(The starfish) seem to waste away, ‘deflate’ a little, and then just … disintegrate. The arms just detach, and the central disc falls apart. It seems to happen rapidly, and not just dead animals undergoing decomposition, as I observed single arms clinging to the rock faces, tube feet still moving, with the skin split, gills flapping in the current. we did our second dive in an area closed to fishing, and in absolutely amazing numbers. The bottom from about 20 to 50 feet was absolutely littered with arms, oral discs, tube feet, gonads and gills … it was kind of creepy.” Yet what’s especially alarming to Martin, Mah, and other marine biologists is the fact that this die-off might not be restricted to P. helianthoides or the northern Pacific. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is worried enough that they’ve asked Martin to go back out and collect samples for them to test in the lab.



Stupid Criminals of the week

Two Suspected Burglars Killed When Blow Torch Ignites Fireworks In Safe
October 9, 2013 4:40 PM

HOPKINTON, NH (CBS) – Two men who allegedly broke into a Hopkinton, New Hampshire business on Tuesday morning were killed in a massive explosion, officials said.

The State Fire Marshal says that the men, identified as Lucas Bourke, 21, of Allenstown and Ethan Keeler, 21, of Epsom, were using an oxy-acetylene blow torch to try and cut into a large safe inside a workshop at New Yard Landscaping on Farrington Corner Road.

That safe contained a large amount of commercial-grade fireworks, which exploded.

The two men were killed in the blast.

Officials would only say that the men did not have permission to be on the property. However, Tom Komisarek, the owner of New Yard Landscaping, told WBZ-TV that the men had already loaded some items from the business into a nearby vehicle.


School Silences 14-Year-Old Autistic Student From Questioning Treatment

Christian Ranieri said he wanted to be heard after he felt he was treated unfairly in class as a result of his autism.

Posted by Amanda Lindner

The Northport-East Northport Board of Education cut off a 14-year-old boy from speaking during Monday’s meeting when the teen, who has a form of high-functioning autism, attempted to express what he felt was unfair treatment in his classroom due to his disability.

Christian Ranieri held back tears as he left the room after being shut down just a few sentences into his speech, in which he was asking the board to hear him out after he felt he was unfairly suspended for two days from school.

The school board president cited privacy laws in his reasoning for halting Ranieri's speech. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records.



The US has lost more than $250 million in tourist revenue because of the shutdown

By Rafat Ali, Skift

The US government shutdown is now well into its second week, and the national parks cross the country remain closed. With it, hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to the local communities that surround the depend on tourism for their sustenance.

The National Parks Conservation Association, the non-partisan, non-governmental advocacy organization that supports these national parks, has been tracking the losses and has come up with some numbers, which we’re outlining below:

401 national park units closed.
21,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed.
As many as 750,000 visitors will be turned away daily.
$450,000 in revenues lost by park service every day.
Local gateway communities could lose as much as $30 million per day the national parks are closed.
Due to budget cuts, the budget to operate our national parks, in today’s dollars, is already 13% less than it was three years ago, a loss of $315 million.
In the busy summer tourist season, national parks operated with approximately 1,900 less staff due to the more than $180 million cut in 2013.
US national parks attract nearly 300 million visitors and support more than $30 billion in private-sector spending, generating $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar invested, claims NCPA.
Nine out of 10 Americans visited a national park, one in five international visitors visits a park service unit during their stay in US.

The NCPA created this live ticker to show how much estimated dollars have been lost since the shutdown of national parks last Tuesday.


Tea Party’s shutdown lunacy: Avenging the surrender of the South


On Monday, Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told me that he could see himself voting to raise the debt ceiling at “the bewitching hour” if “the markets start getting real jittery”; while Tea Party Sen. Ron Johnson castigated the White House for “scare-mongering” rather than “trying to calm the markets” as the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline approaches.

While the question of market panic has highlighted the financial markets’ central role in American politics, the Tea Party’s role in pushing debt default brinkmanship has prompted new rounds of debate about the relationship between Big Business and the GOP.

To talk about both, I called up left-wing economic analyst Doug Henwood, the editor of Left Business Observer and the 1997 tome “Wall Street.” What follows is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.

There’s a hope or perception from some in the media or Congress that eventually a change in the stock market will force some resolution before a debt default. What do you make of that?

That is, of course, what most people have been presuming. I think the markets have been a little annoyed, but still reasonably confident that things will be solved without a default. I think that confidence may be shaken somewhat, at least the way the bond market is behaving today. You would normally think that that would do the trick, that we would have some kind of game of chicken. But as Vincent Reinhart pointed out, the original game of chicken ended with somebody going over the cliff and dying.


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