Occasional News and comments on the situation in Post-Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi dentist living in TX
Syrian kitty ate my hamster
Zeyad, I trust that you have a license for that. Unlicensed, gratuitous use of sarcasm carries stiff penalties on the interwebz ;)
ROFL!Awww he's sweet. The cat too. ;)
He (the FSA fighter) died on Thursday :-(
I'm so sorry to hear that. He looked like a very decent person.So many people killed that didn't have to be. :(
#Texas chili and beans, a blessing to mankind. I feel like going back in time to congratulate the dude who invented it (sure it was a guy).Women out here would take exception to that remark. ;) But I do agree about chili being a blessing. Not sure why I always attract butterflies. I almost swallowed 1 a few days ago, and right now another just landed on my leg and stuck there.Probably some scent you are wearing, Zeyad. Cologne? Lotion? Anyway, they like you. :)I stand guilty of many different thought crimesYou and everyone else on earth.
Okaaaay, so what happened to that last post of Abbas'? I know I didn't imagine it. But it seems to be missing.
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Some interesting news from Iraq:"An Iraqi court has rejected a request to send a Hezbollah commander to the United States for trial, a decision that likely ends the Obama administration’s push to prosecute the Lebanese militant held in Iraq for the 2007 killings of five American soldiers.The U.S. believes Ali Mussa Daqduq is a top threat to Americans in the Middle East, and had asked Baghdad to extradite him even before two Iraqi courts found him not guilty of masterminding the 2007 raid on an American military base in the holy Shiite city of Karbala."http://www.nation.lk/edition/international/item/8962-iraq-blocks-us-extradition-for-hezbollah-commander.html
And this as well:"The United States expressed concern on Wednesday over Iraqi threats to force an Iranian dissident group out of a camp in Iraq, but it also urged members of the group to relocate voluntarily to a large former U.S. military base in Baghdad.The United Nations also voiced concerns and urged both the Iraqi government and the Iranian dissidents to avoid violence.Iraqi authorities have been locked in a protracted dispute with the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK) over plans to move 3,000 MEK members from Camp Ashraf, where they have lived for years, to a former U.S. base near Baghdad's airport - a step toward their ultimate expulsion from Iraq.The Iranian group, which calls for the overthrow of Iran's clerical leaders and was supported by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, is no longer welcome in Iraq under the Shiite-led government that came to power after Saddam's downfall in 2003."http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFBRE8701RG20120802
Hi guys please help me out and check this out We are working on a social media project called Social Summer for Regent Street, London W1 http://247.regentstreetonline.com.Integrating Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud, we aim to capture the essence of summer worldwide and are asking key people in different countries to trigger the campaign.If you are able to do this, we’d be delighted to place a link of your website next to the National flag you represent on the main microsite “Bloggers of the World Unite” which we hope in return may introduce your blog to a wider audience as the project grows. http://247.regentstreetonline.com/blogsWe would like you to add the link to the social summer website to your blog (http://247.regentstreetonline.com) with a little title or explanation about what social summer is. If possible could you add this close to the top of the page or a side panel so it doesn’t disappear. We would also like you to add a social summer logo next to his which I can send to you if you would be kind enough to help us.We are also using the following four key hashtags throughout Social Summer and really hope you will engage with us by using them when you can.#socialsummer#socialfashion#socialfood#sociallifestyleWe will introduce some more social summer hashtags over the next few weeks and would be delighted for you to engage with us on the following Regent Street social networking pages when you have time.1. Regent Street Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RegentStreetOfficial 2. Regent Street Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/search/regent%20street%20online 3. Regent Street Pinterest (In Progress) 4. Regent Street Instagram Searchable as socialsummer12 5. Regent Street Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/regentstreetonline/ 6. Regent Street YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/regentstreettv 7. Regent Street Vimeo https://vimeo.com/user12677770 8. Regent Street SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/regentstreetonline Should you have time to engage with me personally, these are my accounts.1. Joseph Hutchings Facebook http://www.facebook.com/joe.hutchings.184 2. Joseph Hutchings Twitter https://twitter.com/JoeHutchingsFFC 3. Joseph Hutchings Pinterest http://pinterest.com/joehutchings/ 4. Joseph Hutchings Flickr http://www.flickr.com/people/83636692@N06/ 5. Joseph Hutchings YouTube https://plus.google.com/101306756403336512412/posts 6. Joseph Hutchings Vimeo https://vimeo.com/user12571283 7. Joseph Hutchings SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/joe-john-hutchingsHope to hear from youJoseph Hutchings
Now, there's a spamportunity if I ever saw one :/
His name's Hussam Armnazi, he died in Aleppo. His cousin wrote this: "Hussam Armnazi, my cousin, my brother in law, my brother, my friend, my blood, my hero.Hussam was the first person to be arrested in Aleppo for the crime of buying a spray can and daring to spray anti-Assad slogans on the city’s walls. He didn’t agree to remain silent when children in Daraa were being killed. He spent a whole month in Assad’s torture chambers being whipped, lashed, kicked, punched & burnt.When he was eventually released he returned to Germany to continue his studies. I visited him there for a few days. We went skiing together, it was his first time and he was so excited yet all he would talk about was Syria and the revolution. When I left him, we hugged and he promised that next time we meet, it will be in Aleppo, to celebrate.A couple of months ago he decided to quit his studies, quit his career, quit everything and go to the Syrian / Turkish border to help the country he loved. He joined the FSA and with his medical skills he was able to help those injured.Fate had it that Hussam would return to Aleppo with the FSA and in the holy month of Ramadan his blood would soak the soil of the city he loved so much.Hussam I will not mourn your martyrdom. I will celebrate it together with every moment of your life."
A brave man. May his sacrifice not be in vain.
11 Year Old Married to 40 Year Old ManWatch the video.
Today's entry re: American politicsThe Drudge Report is floating the possibility that Romney's veep selection will be David Petraeus, he of Iraq ‘surge’ fame. Whenever Romney seriously wants to change the headlines Drudge floats another long-shot, out-of-the-blue, veep possibility. Last time it was Condoleza Rice.
Back today after a nice holiday in Spain - just had to get some sun this summer.Lynnette, that video was awful. I've seen a few of the pictures before but not heard the story behind them.Bruno, I'd agree that there's much to be opposed to regarding some mormon marriage practices but you've got to see the difference. 1. The US law is against polygamy and under age marriages. 2. The people in their surroundings react against it as seen in that video. 3. There's a huge difference between a 15 yo and an 8 yo child bride (not saying the former is OK but the latter is way worse). It's not the same as Lynnettes video by a long shot.My own opinion is that child-marriages are dispickable whenever and where ever they occurr. But in places where they are institutionalised and de facto condoned by society or even the state then obviously the risk of them happening is much more severe. I also think muslim scholars should pass fatwas against such practices, if they truly oppose them. Because sadly they are in fact condoned by Muhammeds marriage to Aisha. And since he was supposedly the "perfect man" and prophet many muslims in backwards countries will justify such actions with his example. So more educated muslims with authority should be clear on this and speak up - or they are just as dispickable.
"I'd agree that there's much to be opposed to regarding some mormon marriage practices…"In fairness to Mormons, I'm pretty sure God gave ‘em a revelation just about the time they wanted to have Utah considered for statehood, and let ‘em know that the most objectionable marriage practices were no longer good religion after all There are some rogue, off-shoot hold-out congregations, but the main church has pretty much gone Anglo/Saxon mainstream on marriage issues.
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Marcus,Lynnette, that video was awful. I've seen a few of the pictures before but not heard the story behind them.Yes. Sometimes words, as eloquent as they can be, don't bring home how awful something is. What struck me is the parents' complicity in this practice. It is one's parents that a child looks to for protection and guidance, and this is a failure of both.
Marcus again,Back today after a nice holiday in Spain - just had to get some sun this summer.Hmmm...I've had plenty of sun this summer. I'd like a few gloomy days.
@marcusNot claiming they are equivalent, merely aspects of a similar issue.
"Hmmm...I've had plenty of sun this summer. I'd like a few gloomy days."Come to Northern Europe. We've had the wettest June ever and one of the coldest wettest Julys. And August ain't lookin' too hot either. We expect summer rain in Ireland but this is ridiculous. Apparently the travel agents are loving all the last minute sun holiday bookings. I see Bruno's been having unprecedented snow. Is anywhere normal?
Hmmm... I see the five day forecast for SATX gives sunshine and temps in the low hundreds. I guess that's normal. Ouch! I'd much rather Oirish rain now that I think of it.
Is anywhere normal?Pete, this is the new normal. People just don't realize it yet. *sigh*
Zeyad,Okay, so you're in lurking mode for some reason. If it's because of the last post you did, you didn't know at the time about what happened to him. And that post did more to show the human side of the FSA than anything that included guns would have. Which, considering some of the things that have been happening, is something people should be reminded of.
PeteS,Just thought of something and wanted to catch you before you disappear. Are you going to be able to view solar flares with the observatory you're building?
Pete: "We've had the wettest June ever and one of the coldest wettest Julys. And August ain't lookin' too hot either. We expect summer rain in Ireland but this is ridiculous."And we're inheriting your second hand weather this summer. Something about the jetstream bending north more and earlier than usual. We've been spared the worst rainfall where I live but just a bit further to the north it's been crazy with massive downpours. We had one unusually warm and sunny week in May and about 10 days of summer at the end of July. That's been it. Today I could feel it in the air that there will be no more summer, feels like autumn already.I'm going to need to schedule in a vacation in to some place warm and nice this winter. No way I'm ready to go through a whole swedish winter after this crappy summer. Maybe Florida now that the Dollar is affordable, of the Canary Islands since the Euro is at its lowest since year 2000.
Lee, regarding US politics I came across this today:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y-u0UnKZ_UI thought his speach was a really great one. I'm not tuned in enough to really identify any weak spots in his argumentation because Medicare, Medicade, Social Security, etc. are things I know of only in a vague way.What could you tell me about this guy. What traction does his ideas have in the political system but also among the public? (asking here because I'm interested not to get into an argument)Ya'll other yanks, feel free to pitch in if you have something to add.
What traction does his ideas have in the political system but also among the public?He was voicing concerns on various issues that we need to deal with: the income gap between people, crumbling infrastructure, skyrocketing health care costs, increasing Social Security & Medicare costs, jobs, etc. All very important. He did a good job of laying blame all over the political spectrum, but gave the American people themselves a pass, exept the Wall Street types perhaps. Spending beyond our means, trying to make a quick buck, and lately, it seems, kicking the can down the road for others to deal with have become American traits. Not a very pretty picture in my book. We need to stand up and realize that this is a problem of all of our making and deal.You see people's reactions to these problems in the rise of the Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movements. But they are not really as mainstream as they would like to appear. Both Bush and Obama, to varying degrees of success, have looked at solutions to some of these issues. Privatizing Social Security(Bush, didn't happen) and the Affordable Health Care program(Obama, enacted) are examples.I don't think you will see us going Socialist, Marcus, anytime soon. What you might see is a lurching effort at reform that may or may not be enough. I think both Republicans and Democrats want to see some punishment, criminal not just civil, of those people in the financial industry who were complicit in the crash. And the links I posted a few posts back about the prosecution of those involved in manipulating LIBOR might be a start.
Myself I kinda liked the general idea of investing in the infrastructure in the US instead of giving the very richest tax breaks so as to become even richer. Seems to me that in a low economy coupled with high unemployment that one of the best things to do would be massive investments in infrastructure. Roads, bridges, but also maybe fiberoptic networks and other high tech stuff. The caveat being: they should be sound investments and not "bridges to nowhere". It'd bring about a boost to the general economy and provide massive numbers of jobs. Of course it'd be costly too, and I guess there lies the problem. As far as the money spent on wars. I think that's akin to a moot point now that those wars have already been undertaken. Sure, you could have saved a lot by not going into Iraq and that's an important debate, but not one that has any meaning to the economy today - because you can't take it back. Possibly an argument for "financing" any future wars beffore they were undertaken could be made though.
Lynnette: "I don't think you will see us going Socialist, Marcus, anytime soon."I truly hope you don't. And I hope neither do we. I wouldn't wish Socialism on any nation.We've had something called Social Democracy for long swaths of the post war era. It's not the same as classic Socialism though - not by a long shot. But also Social Democracy it seems will tend to bloat the public sector at the expence of private enterprise when given a long and free reign. We've voted social democracy down in two consecutive terms now. But obviously the ship of the state cannot be turned around quickly so I'd agree we're still basically a social democratic country. But there's a wide, wide margin between left and right even in the scope of social democracy.But I didn't ask the question I asked to compare ideologies or compare countries. I am just genuinely interested in US affairs (since it impacts us all).
"Myself I kinda liked the general idea of investing in the infrastructure in the US instead of giving the very richest tax breaks so as to become even richer"You know how our fathers and grandfathers built the Interstate Highway system? Of all things, they passed a law saying exactly what they were goinng to do, and then they did it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_SystemWhat does this generation do? Over a trillion dollars in bailouts and stimulus funds flushed down the toilet or shovelled to Obama's political supporters. Graft, corruption, fraud, and plain old incompetence. And even if they could manage to figure out what infrastructure projects are worth funding, the cost would be astronomical because of Davis Bacon wage dictates and endless environmental or bureaucratic red tape.
I can't speak for other areas of the country, of course, but around where I live there have been numerous infrastructure projects going on. My town has been refurbishing streets, curbing and parking lots. In fact it seems that whereever I go I run into road construction. Of course, that is partly because the season for these types of projects is so short here. But I do know that the bids received for our projects have been lower than originally estimated, which has helped the city's budget. And that is directly because of the slowdown in the economy.As for taxing the rich, I have always been supportive of doing away with the wage cap on Social Security taxes, similar to what they have done with Medicare. That would go a long way to helping with that future shortfall.The Fed has been keeping interest rates low to encourage loan generation for businesses and individuals. The sticking point has been the banks fear of lending. Hopefully that is gradually easing. At least I am seeing more people having an easier time of selling their homes. Buyers aren't just jumping on the foreclosures.Another positive is our rate of savings has increased. For a while there it seemd to be negative. And people are paying down debt, which means they are not buying as heavily. Given that about 70% of our economy is consumer spending that means it's a slow recovery. But maybe that will bode well for the future.
lol!Whoa, I just read Bridget's comment. Graft, corruption, fraud, and plain old incompetence.Yeah, you'll find that too. I just read about a civil lawsuit that Target has initiated against some of the companies that were doing paving work in their parking lots. Sometimes suing is the only recourse.
^ only by trolls.
[Marcus]: "I'm going to need to schedule in a vacation in to some place warm and nice this winter. No way I'm ready to go through a whole swedish winter after this crappy summer. Maybe Florida now that the Dollar is affordable, of the Canary Islands since the Euro is at its lowest since year 2000."You're not joking! The SEK has been hammering EUR and USD for the last couple of years. Can't be good for your exports. Enjoy the holidays while you can. Meanwhile, I have the opposite problem. EUR weakness is going to make US holidays pretty expensive. Particularly annoying since my little retirement pot was in USD ten months ago, and has lost about 8% against the USD since conversion to EUR.
[Lynnette]: "Are you going to be able to view solar flares with the observatory you're building?"I honestly have no idea! I have no experience of sun watching. It's not a special interest of mine, although I'd like to be able to do it if possible. I know a couple of different techniques involve either dimming the sun with a filter, or blocking off its body to see its atmosphere. The latter would allow flares and prominences to be seen, but would probably be too dangerous for an amateur like myself. The risk of eye injury is high. The other technique uses a filter material like SolarTex over the front end of the scope. I don't know if this provides enough contrast to see flares, because I've just realised that I don't know the brightness differences between flares and prominences and coronal discharges compared to the body of the sun. Any particular reason for asking?
[Lynnette]: "Pete, this is the new normal. People just don't realize it yet. *sigh*"This article talking about the "new normal" made me think of your comment.
PeteS,Particularly annoying since my little retirement pot was in USD ten months ago, and has lost about 8% against the USD since conversion to EUR.Why did you convert at this time? It would seem bad timing if Europe was going into another recession. [Lynnette]: "Are you going to be able to view solar flares with the observatory you're building?"PeteS]: "Any particular reason for asking?"Because of my interest in global climate change. Unusual solar activity was part of a scenario, perhaps farfetched, that could lead to an abrupt shift in climate for Earth.I know viewing solar eclipses can be rather risky if not done properly, as you described. But I am sure you will take whatever precautions with whatever you are viewing.Do you have a timeline for construction?
PeteS,Yes, I have heard of the Ogallala Aquifer. And it was in the context of what that article was describing. It is a serious concern. Not just for us, but for the world. We are a large exporter of food. At some point in time we might have to consider more serious water conservation measures, not just in the south/southwest, but other states as well. Here we are drier than normal, although not as bad as elsewhere. But if there were a lack of groundwater, than we would be in trouble. I know they have done studies in my area about water supplies and how much they would be depleted with increased population.We have a sprinkling ban in effect here for odd/even days and between certain times. Grass takes a lot of water, and isn't as worthwhile as a vegetable garden in the scheme of things, but it is hard not to try to keep it somewhat neat looking.
US Drought Drives up Food Prices Worldwide
Interesting. There's every reason to fear that water shortages and fuel shortages will lead to severe global food shortages in the coming decades.And severe food shortages will probably take resource-nationalism to a whole new level. You don't export food until you've fed yourself well enough. Well, you don't do it volontarily at least.
lol!Sometimes, I swear, I click on this blog by habit.
Lynnette,"Why did you convert at this time? It would seem bad timing if Europe was going into another recession."Oh believe me, it wasn't my choice. The conversion was automatically triggered by a certain transaction over which I had no control."Because of my interest in global climate change. Unusual solar activity was part of a scenario, perhaps farfetched, that could lead to an abrupt shift in climate for Earth."Ok, gotcha. I've read a bit about enhanced solar activity and climate change, and I have to say I'm not convinced that there's any correlation. The majority scientific opinion seems to be that there is not. Nevertheless, solar observations are interesting in their own right. But I doubt I will be able to do anything that you can't find on the web any day of the week. Solar flares are a bit difficult to observe -- a quick check confirms my suspicion that they are not easy to spot against the brightness of the photosphere (the sun's atmosphere). You can do it with a hydrogen alpha filter which enhances certain emissions characteristic of flares. Observations in X-rays have to be above the atmosphere, so are limited to space-based observatories. For casual interest, flares are magnetic phenomena associated with sunspots, so a plain old sunspot count would probably be a reasonable measure of activity. You can get that at spaceweather.com. Also worth looking at http://www.bbso.njit.edu/ -- that's Big Bear observatory near LA, which I wish had been on my itinerary when I visited some Californian observatories some years back. It's a cute looking place -- up until five years ago two of its three telescopes were smaller than mine! But they've made a real virtue out of being totally dedicated to solar observations and are doing very serious science there."Do you have a timeline for construction?"Once I have all the parts the construction is only a matter of a day or two. But a supplier in the UK has been really screwing me around for nearly six months. Nearly there -- I am waiting for just one more crucial part which allows the telescope to be bolted onto a vibration free metal pier. Hopefully will have it in a couple of weeks. Then I just need the rain to stop."At some point in time we might have to consider more serious water conservation measures, not just in the south/southwest, but other states as well."Last time I was in Las Vegas, I read that the city council was paying people for every square foot of grass they turned back into desert. Also, Lake Meade behind the Hoover Dam is quite an alarming sight with its "bathtub ring" of calcite deposit marking where the water level has fallen 100 feet in the last decade (with a slight rebound last year)."Sometimes, I swear, I click on this blog by habit."Yup. ;-)
Bah. It told me I didn't match the pass phrase. Then it posted twice.
الله يرحمه Economic and Social Contributions of Small Business and how to become a small business owner
Chinese slowdown is in full swing:Hard landing for China as factory prices fall and deflation looms“Severe deflation pressures are rippling across the country,” said Alistair Thornton and Xianfeng Ren from IHS Global Insight. “Deflation, not inflation, is the greatest short-term threat to the Chinese economy.”“The hard landing has happened,” said Charles Dumas from Lombard Street Research. “We don’t believe official data. We think GDP slowed to a 1pc rate in the second quarter.”A blizzard of weak data has caught policy-makers off guard, though shares rallied in Shanghai on hopes for monetary loosening from China’s central bank after consumer price inflation (CPI) fell to 1.8pc.
PeteS,Thanks for those websites. I'll have to check them out.I am not knowledgable enough to even begin to have an opinon on whether or not solar disturbances of any kind would have a serious impact on climate. And it seems, as you mentioned, even those who are aren't sure. Anyway, just an interesting part of the puzzle of our interconnected universe. Is there something you are really interested in studying with the observatory you are building? Or is it just a general interest? While cosmology was not something I studied in school, it is something I have a passing interest in. And you start to question after a while whether there is more to our existance than the superficiality you see around you. Probably why I have an interest in history too.Last time I was in Las Vegas, I read that the city council was paying people for every square foot of grass they turned back into desert.Probably a wise move. That's part of the problem in areas that were normally arid, too many people trying to manufacture that green carpet of grass. Something they can ill afford to do because of the lack of water.Even here I would love to turn the yard into something other than grass. But at this time I don't have a say in the matter. There are people here who are constructing rain gardens to catch the water before it runs off. As I think your article mentioned rain that runs off doesn't do much good to replenish the aquifers. That's why we love a nice soaking all day rain, not those hard downpours that we have been getting. Right now we are so so for water. A little dry, maybe, but not like farther south. The corn is just starting to be picked around where I live and it's looking really good. Tastes good too! lol! On the roadside stands they were charging $4 for a dozen, which is a good deal. But if the crop holds they will probably get a really good price, considering the problems elsewhere.“Deflation, not inflation, is the greatest short-term threat to the Chinese economy.”That could be said for others as well. While everybody loves to point out China's large population, it is the large consumer population that drives the economic bus, and if they aren't spending then it's not moving.Although I gotta say, when I stopped to get some lunch the other day at "fastfood alley" the parking spots were all full. Whereas right after the crash it was like a ghost town. So people have some discretionary income to spend and aren't shy about spending it. Construction is also picking up. Oh, not like it was, but definately better than a year ago. So, I guess we'll see if what happens in Europe, or with our election, puts the brakes on.
Zeyad,Are you there? If you don't want to speak to us, okay, but a life sign, considering everything that has been happening, would be a nice thing. Otherwise your absence will give rise to all sorts of speculation.And, no, I don't mean just a little Tweet here and there.
"At some point in time we might have to consider more serious water conservation measures, not just in the south/southwest, but other states as well"Which would be a dandy theme for a planned, focused, intelligently executed, well-engineered, thoughtful infrastructure program.I will bet you dollars to donuts that our erstwhile community organizer, while belatedly but by no means nearly shamefacedly enough, admitting that there is no such thing as a shovel ready project, has not put together any sort of planning for infrastructure spending. The sort of program that will spell out a need that has widespread support, the completion of which will pay dividends many generations into the future, with specific plans, routes, projects, and funding mechanisms.All that is soooooo old school. Sort of like putting financial fraudsters in jail. Old farts believed in stuff like that. Now we have hope and change. Not that I expect much different from Mitt. My generation will get the leaders we deserve. We don't deserve much. In some ways I hope the lightweight from Chicago wins...it'll bring the day of reckoning on that much the sooner. Here's hoping our children and grandchildren will do better than we did.
"Which would be a dandy theme for a planned, focused, intelligently executed, well-engineered, thoughtful infrastructure program. "I will bet you dollars to donuts that our erstwhile community organizer…has not put together any sort of planning for infrastructure spending. The sort of program that will spell out a need that has wide- spread support…"I got to the ‘widespread support’ part, and had to wonder if you were giving odds on the chances of getting any such thing past a Republican filibuster?Thought I'd stop and ask.
Sounds depressingly accurate, Bridget.Don't know if this will cheer you up -- probably not -- but there was an article in an Irish newspaper today about a namesake of yours: Bridget Hitler! She had a son with the lovely Oirish name of Paddy Hitler. I thought it was a joke, but apparently not. The surviving Oirish Hitlers live on Long Island, NY.:-)
"Which would be a dandy theme for a planned, focused, intelligently executed, well-engineered, thoughtful infrastructure program. "I will bet you dollars to donuts that our erstwhile community organizer…has not put together any sort of planning for infrastructure spending. The sort of program that will spell out a need that has wide- spread support…"I got to the ‘widespread support’ part, and had to wonder if you were giving odds on the chances of getting any such thing past a Republican filibuster?
Lynnette,I feel about cheeky calling it an "observatory". It's got the classic dome arrangement alright, but it'll be a big plastic prefab housing a 28 cm telescope.Yes, I have particular interests. Lots of them. (I suppose that makes them less particular). Firstly, the sky is a beautiful place! So there is an aesthetic motivation. Astrophotography might be part of that. Secondly, I am intrigued, after some study last year, to find that fairly basic equipment (combined with astrophysical theory) can be used to measure distances, ages, temperatures, sizes, relative motions, and other properties of stars. I want to see if I can do that sort of astrometry. Third, I would like to push the boundaries of what can be done with amateur equipment "just because". Advances in camera and software technology have been changing the nature of backyard astronomy for years -- I'm drawing inspiration from people like the guy in New Zealand who photographed a protoplanetary disk last year (plain English article here, grubby technical details from the horses mouth here). That's stuff that couldn't be done with the worlds biggest telescopes thirty years ago.And that's only barely scratching the surface. The sky is the limit, as they say.
about = a bit:-/
Btw, Lynnette, I would love to study history too, but life's too short to do everything."On the roadside stands they were charging $4 for a dozen, which is a good deal."My first reaction was "for a dozen what?". Then I remembered the ole' language barrier. Corn is maize there, right? Whereas here it is a generic term for cereal crops, usually a lot less chunky than American corn cobs, and certainly not worth $4 a dozen. :-)The summer crop here is a disaster. There is not a huge amount of arable farming, but there is a lot of dairy, and one of the more important crops is plain old grass, which is cut for winter silage. About 80% of annual silage would normally have been cut by the end of June. This year it was 10%. So, winter feed will be very expensive this year, and farmers' margins will be tight or negative. In the current recession, agriculture is one of our few booming industries, so this is bad news.On a selfish note, the damp weather is not very good for my backyard astronomy industry either. I might need to holiday in one of those sky villages in Arizona if things don't improve.
Lynnette,While our crops are too soggy to cut, everywhere south and west of you looks pretty scorched!
LOL! The US Congress is less popular than paying taxes, communism, BP during the GoM oil spill, Nixon during Watergate, and is about as popular as Hugo Chavez. (See chart here). I got that link from an article that says you should vote for Romney because he doesn't mean what he says. Me, I'm beginning to warm to Romney after he announced Paul Ryan as "the next president of the United States". He's shaping up to be as gaff-tastic as Bush the Younger.
Bridget: "Which would be a dandy theme for a planned, focused, intelligently executed, well-engineered, thoughtful infrastructure program."Lee: "I got to the ‘widespread support’ part, and had to wonder if you were giving odds on the chances of getting any such thing past a Republican filibuster?"To an outsider like me it seems that the partisan politics is seriously hampering possible great plans or changes to get the US ecomomy going. I still have higher hopes for the US ecomomy in the near future than for much of the rest of the world. Like Pete's been suggesting I believe a hard landing in China cannot be that far away. The level of growth they've been enjoying usually leads to huge moneies ending up mis-allocated and then there's a crash. I've no idea when it comes but I think it might come soon. Europe is a mess, and I don't see much that can turn it around. Rather I'd expect that we'll soon see "Greece on steroids" with Spain and Italy crashing. There are, simplisticly speaking, two political ways forward: 1. Break up the Euro in some way to give countries the possibility to run their own fiscal polices and deflate their currencies if it's needed. Let the markets sort it out. 2. Move ahead with the EU project and make nations surrender their national economic policies to Brussels, creating something of a European United States. Both seem unlikely and fraught with difficulties and likely to lead to severe protests. Both have die hard supporters and opponents.My prediction is that none of the above will pass but we'll have to go through a processs of "internal deflation" in problem nations. Since they cannot deflate their currencies they'll be forced to devalue their labour above all. Cuts in pensions, cuts in salaries, privatisations of publicly owned property and coorporations, etc. Politically it will lead to the extreme wings on both the left and the right gaining votes and populists of every sort getting influence. Could get nasty this.The US seems quite solid by comparasion and the Dollar I believe will hold up just fine. But, and it's a big but, the political situation in the US does not look sound. All the required resources for a recovery are seemingly (even if the deficif is huge) there but a political compromise and cooperation for the good of the country seems almost impossible.
So many seemingly diverging topics of dicussion: weather, crops, American politics, China, the economic situation in Europe, the resource of water, the stars. It kind of leads me back to a comment that Marcus made, which I didn't really respond to at the time.There's every reason to fear that water shortages and fuel shortages will lead to severe global food shortages in the coming decades.The problem with this statement, Marcus, is that part about "coming decades". This is a near and present danger.Drought likely to drive up pricesOn Thursday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said global food prices had jumped 6 percent in July, with the price of corn up 23 percent. It said that countries that rely on imports of corn and soybeans-including China and Mexico-would be the areas worst hit by the price increases.The U.S. and international reports have raised concerns about falling food supplies in developing countries."The United States is the world's largest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat, and likely price spikes will ripple through markets globally, with devastating consequences for those already struggling to get enough food to eat," said Eric Munoz, a senior policy analyst with Oxfam, an international aid organization.This drought comes at a time when countries are struggling with poor economies and divisive politics. A perfect storm of bad news.
Bridget,[Lynnette] At some point in time we might have to consider more serious water conservation measures, not just in the south/southwest, but other states as well[Bridget] Which would be a dandy theme for a planned, focused, intelligently executed, well-engineered, thoughtful infrastructure program.You won't see it coming out of Washington any time soon, no matter who is elected in November. No, this is something each state will have to handle on its own.
PeteS,Btw, Lynnette, I would love to study history too, but life's too short to do everything.You're lucky you have the chance to at least follow one of your interests. I feel about cheeky calling it an "observatory". It's got the classic dome arrangement alright, but it'll be a big plastic prefab housing a 28 cm telescope.lol!Well, it's a bigger telescope than I have! The night sky can be very beautiful. I always enjoyed the Planetarium in my Astronomy class. I am envious. :)[Lynnette] "On the roadside stands they were charging $4 for a dozen, which is a good deal."[PeteS] "My first reaction was "for a dozen what?". Then I remembered the ole' language barrier. Corn is maize there, right?" I was referring to sweetcorn on the cob. It would be a dozen ears of corn. It's always best eaten the day it's picked. :)...winter feed will be very expensive this year,... Yes, we will have that problem too. So this is a ripple effect through the whole food chain. Meat prices will rise as well.For Americans in general it will simply mean higher food prices, for those who are already struggling it will mean something far more serious.In the current recession, agriculture is one of our few booming industries, so this is bad news.It't not going to help our bottom line either.
Lee,This is a serious commitment from Romney to the hard right-winger economic ideology.Last I heard Obama was ahead of Romney in the polls. I don't think this will help him turn that around.
Marcus,To an outsider like me it seems that the partisan politics is seriously hampering possible great plans or changes to get the US ecomomy going.That's how it appears to an insider like me as well. And it's also why you see how unpopular Congress is. The American public in general isn't happy with the arguing either.I still have higher hopes for the US ecomomy in the near future than for much of the rest of the world.You're not the only one. Like Pete's been suggesting I believe a hard landing in China cannot be that far away.That, coupled with rising food prices, doesn't bode well for them. They have a lot of people to try to keep happy.Europe is a mess, and I don't see much that can turn it around.I know Geitner has been over there trying to prod people to act aggresively to deal with this, but it doesn't sound like anyone is listening.
"I don't think this will help him turn that around."Romney appears to think differently. (I think he's gonna try to stay vague even with Ryan on his ticket; I don't think that's gonna work out for him. I think he's found his McCain picks Sarah Palin moment and, for some reason, just could not let it pass.) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯Post Script:Ryan is much smarter and more generally presentable than Palin; the comparison is to the ‘energize the base’ element of it.
[Lynnette]: "I know Geitner has been over there trying to prod people to act aggresively to deal with this, but it doesn't sound like anyone is listening."Oh, people are listening alright. Geithner has exactly one interest in Europe -- to prevent contagion from the European banking system to the American one. Part of his valiant effort involved raping the Irish public, by vetoing an IMF suggestion that perhaps the entirety of Irish banks' debts should not be socialised to the taxpayer. Thanks Tim, I'm sure there'll be a big Oirish welcome for you should you ever set foot on the soil of the country you screwed.However, Timmy's problems are not the Irish, but the Germans. Funny enough, they don't want to pay for the sins of reckless bankers either, and if the Germans don't want to do it, it ain't gonna happen. I presume Timmy realises that, while the EU flag is certainly star spangled, it's not some emblem under which Germans, Greeks, and Portuguese coalesce into an undifferentiated union of fraternal affection and mutual debt sharing.Unfortunately, us Oirish can't really help. €63 billion is all we've been able to raise for the banks so far with another €30 billion promised, and even though we've decided to let our elderly die on trolleys in hospital waiting rooms so that we can pay one euro in every five that the state raises in taxes for debt servicing, I fear it won't be enough. At least with the elderly out of the way we'll need less for pensions, seeing as we spent all of the National Pension Reserve Fund on the banks too. I think we still have a few state assets we can flog to the Chinese, if they have any money left.
Lynnette:Me: "There's every reason to fear that water shortages and fuel shortages will lead to severe global food shortages in the coming decades."Lynnette: "The problem with this statement, Marcus, is that part about "coming decades". This is a near and present danger."I know it's bad already. But I'm talking about the possibility of a prolonged period where there are bad crop outputs in the US as well as in other major food producing regions. We've touched on water scarcity mainly in the US but it's actually worse elsewhere. Then there's always the much debated peak oil/gas scanario. Regardless of which scenario we choosse to believe it WILL happen someday. It's inevitable since we're dealing with a finite resource and our current system requires increased energy production.Also, we're adding 80 million new mouths to feed every year and although it's not fashionable to talk about over-population I believe we will find that some day there just isn't enough to go around. In the rich world it will lead to changes where we'll pay a larger part of our salaries to buy food, and possibly that we'll replace for instance some of the meat production with corn production to try to maximise the output of available calories. We cann hope it'll also lead to less waste which could be one very important factor in adressing a crisis.But in poor countries there might be mass starvation, uprisings, conflict, huge streams of millions of refugees on a scale not seen before.We already have especially China and KSA leasing land for many decades ahead in Africa for the purpose of food production, and I doubt that food is intended for Africans. Expect more of that and expect there to be a reaction in response to it also.What I'm saying is that if it's bad today then add another few billion people and then subtract say 10% of available calories two decades from now. That's what I meant with a "severe" crisis.
[Marcus]: "Regardless of which scenario we choosse to believe it WILL happen someday."That's a bit of a red herring, though Marcus. The supply of seawater is limited too, and if we had nuclear fusion that resource would also run out some day. The question is whether it's something worth worrying about now, and therefore it makes a big difference whether peak oil/gas is coming next Tuesday week, or in two hundred years time. If the former, then we have no time to waste, if the latter then it is pointless devoting capital and resources to projects which have no hope of competing with fossil energy in the near term."Also, we're adding 80 million new mouths to feed every year and although it's not fashionable to talk about over-population I believe we will find that some day there just isn't enough to go around."Funny, I've found that it's much more fashionable to talk about over-population than the awkward fact that most malnutrution is caused by politics. Part of it is over-production in some parts of the world -- both the US and Europe massively overproduce and "food aid" has often been an excuse for dumping surpluses to the detriment of the agricultural sector in recipient countries. Even in Ireland -- where we have been massively subsidised for four decades to produce less than we could through the set-aside provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy -- we produce enough food for 35 million people, for a population of 4 million."What I'm saying is that if it's bad today then add another few billion people and then subtract say 10% of available calories two decades from now. That's what I meant with a "severe" crisis."That would be bad, for sure. However, my own gut feel is that we can increase food production extensively for some time to come. Those Chinese and middle eastern investments in Africa could be seen as "food imperialism" or they could be seen as ways to make ag sectors more productive than they would otherwise be, hopefully with positive financial spin-offs for the leasing countries, and increased technological know-how. The same is happening in Ukraine, by the way, and there are western European countries involved there too.(BBC article on the new US dust bowl and China/Ukraine issues).
[Marcus]: "Regardless of which scenario we choose to believe it [Peak oil/gas] WILL happen someday."Pete: "That's a bit of a red herring, though Marcus. The supply of seawater is limited too, and if we had nuclear fusion that resource would also run out some day. The question is whether it's something worth worrying about now, and therefore it makes a big difference whether peak oil/gas is coming next Tuesday week, or in two hundred years time."OK, but first of all I know you're aware that Peak Oil/Gas ≠ running out of oil and gas. The peak being 200 years in the future is a most optimistic possibility, if it can even be called a possibility. Tuesday next week though... could happen. ;)Pete: "Funny, I've found that it's much more fashionable to talk about over-population than the awkward fact that most malnutrution is caused by politics."I find it to be the other way around. I've watched several documentaries on the waste of food in the EU primarilly, on the way dumping of food in Africa takes local prducers out of business and on how food aid is a long term loser for receiving nations. Watched it all on out state run TV. Over-population, and more specifically trying to do anything about over-population is a way more unpopular issue. And it needn't necessarily be so, because education of girls and young women, which no-one could say is a bad thing (xcept some Talibans), is one really good approach to tackle over population. Contraception is also useful, know anyone who's prone to throw a tantrum over that?Pete: "Even in Ireland -- where we have been massively subsidised for four decades to produce less than we could through the set-aside provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy -- we produce enough food for 35 million people, for a population of 4 million."Keep it up then, because it may come in handy.
Lee: "Streaming to where?"The bulk to refugee camps in their near areas, as usual but on a larger scale. At least that'd be my best guess.
PeteS,Geithner has exactly one interest in Europe -- to prevent contagion from the European banking system to the American one.You're probably right. Considering the crash we, and the rest of the world, endured after our meltdown of 2007, can you blame him? As harsh as it may sound after everything you guys have to deal with in Ireland, would it really do the world much good to drag the US back down too? I still say going after the people responsible within the banking community, via civil and criminal lawsuits, for at least some redress, is necessary. However, Timmy's problems are not the Irish, but the Germans.Yeah. But, the thing is, it is Europe that will pay a price if whatever they do doesn't work. Ultimately the Geramns aren't going to like that either.
Marcus,We've touched on water scarcity mainly in the US but it's actually worse elsewhere.This is not something that will improve with time either. Those areas that are bad off today will be the most water-stressed in the future. At least according to the Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel. Those areas include the Mediteranean, southwestern North America, north and south Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and India, northern China, Australia, Chile, and eastern Brazil. In our case it is the Colorado River system that is most at risk. It supplies water and power to 27 million users in 7 states and Mexico. This includes the cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, and Phoenix, as well as 3 million acres of farmland. In the Middle East it is the Jordan River that is at risk.But in poor countries there might be mass starvation, uprisings, conflict, huge streams of millions of refugees on a scale not seen before.Under extreme conditions, very possibly, yes. This is a similar scenario to a report done by the Pentagon on the consequences of abrupt climate change due to a slowdown in the global thermohaline circulation. This type of slowdown is the result of a sudden infusion of freshwater into the North Atlantic, such as when the North American ice sheet melted. Or, in other words, if the Greenland Ice Sheet starts to melt we're screwed.Lee "Streaming to where?"According to that Pentagon report, Europe.
Lynnette: "According to that Pentagon report, Europe."Many will try for it but they will still be a minority. The bulk of refugees actually don't have the means to take a shot at getting into Europe, not today and most likely not in the future either. But sure, there will be increasing pressure on Europe as well, that seems likely.
A temporary change in topic for anyone interested in Minnesota history:In the footsteps of Little Crow. Watch the video too.
Lynnette, I know you're fond of reading books and if "catastrophy scenarios" and suggested responses to them is something that interests you I have a couple of recommendations:Rising powers, Shrinking planet - Michael T Klare.Confronting Collapse - Michael C Ruppert.Both may be somewhat alarmist (at least I hope so) but they are both good reads.
‘If’ ??Yeah, yeah, I know, but I didn't want to point it out to blatantly. People may already think we're too depressing.
Thanks, Marcus. I'll check them out. Believe it or not, I do actually read lighter, fluffier things too. :) I just mix it up a little, otherwise I'd get too bored or depressed.
Lynnette, I read something recently about the North Atlantic thermohaline current having slightly accelerated. So no slowdown worries yet afaik :-)Also, no disrespect to Marcus, but I have read a few snippets from Michael T Klare and they are indeed alarmist.
Yeah, but if you've read snippets then those are probably of the more alarmist stuff he's written. The book I mentioned is a very interesting one. Sure, it's speculative but the reasoning on the whole is logical.
Fair point. However, logical reasoning alone rarely seems to produce accurate predictions of the future. On a bit of a tangent, I read this interesting article recently about why we get it so wrong so often. I don't agree with all of it, but interesting nonetheless.
For those interested, here is the second installment on the Little Crow series:Born to Lead
Marcus & PeteS,I usually don't take one person's thoughts on a subject for the only truth. I look for multiple sources. Some of the books I have read can be pretty alarming as well. And in reality if some of those things come to pass it isn't going to matter a whole heck of a lot what we do or don't do.
That was an interesting article Pete. I found myself agreeing with a lot of it until the author defined the root cause of the "problem" and started suggesting a remedy. People like that, if ever put in positions of real power, can be truly dangerous. "It's not working the way I think it should so let's tear it all down and start over".But as you said, some interesting thoughts.
Yeah, likewise, Marcus ... I thought he took a bizarre twist part way through and came out with some wacky ideas. But I agreed with him about the level of bureaucracy that seems to pervade modern life because of recent personal experience. Starting to work for a big company for the first time in a long time was a major part of my decision to jack it all in ... I couldn't fathom the amount of pure bureaucratic overhead involved. I also think he missed a trick in explaining why technical progress stalled some time after mid-century -- there hasn't been a lot of fundamental new science since the Relativity and Quantum Physics revolutions of the early 20th c.
The third installment of the Little Crow series:When men are hungry
Starting to work for a big company for the first time in a long time was a major part of my decision to jack it all in ... I couldn't fathom the amount of pure bureaucratic overhead involved.Completely understand, Pete. I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way. That's why you see so many people starting their own businesses. Well, that and being unemployed.
Night shift. Boredom level is over 9000.Hmmm...what happened to reading and studying?
Fourth installment of the Little Crow series:Terror spreads across the prairie
Thanks for the Little Crow stuff, Lynnette. I was wondering about the climate events mentioned in part 3. There doesn't seem to have been any special volcanic events around the time, although I note that the increasing farming population of the upper midwest was partly attributed to New England farmers who moved west after "the summer that never was" of 1816, caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora.1862 seems to have been a strange year. In California, the winter of 61/62 brought a hundred inches of rain to parts of the state in a two month period. The state capital was moved from Sacramento to San Francisco and the new governor had to take a row boat to his inauguration. (Could have been an extra strong El Nino event? -- I've twice been stranded in Californian winter floods during those ;-)Minnesota had an extremely cold winter followed by spring floods, with an unnaturally warm early May, and a promising harvest which was wiped out by floods in August - leading to the events described in the Little Crow story.Further east, the civil war in Virginia was affected by unnatural heat in late June (battle of Gaine's Mill) but also by summer flooding making navigation difficult. In September it was so wet at the battle of Chantilly that cannons couldn't be fired and the following winter started cold but turned into a mudbath that bogged down the Confederate retreat from Fredericksburg.
PeteS,There are so many misconceptions about US history floating around the internet, that when I saw that series I thought I would share it. Zeyad was kind enough to share his history with us, I thought I would return the favor. Of course, now that he has disappeared I don't know if he is even reading it. But I will continue until the end.When you hear about the events that have taken place you don't always get a good feel for the context of the period. We are able to joke about Minnesota's harsh winters now only because of modern conveniences. Back then, for those who lived off the land, the changing weather was a harsh taskmaster. The Native Americans and those who came from other lands often found it very difficult.I haven't read it yet, but here is an account of the blizzard of 1888 that swept across the Midwest.For the Dakota there seemed to be a perfect storm of bad circumstances. Between the influx of settlers, the corrupt traders, the weather, and the American Civil War they were given little chance to adapt to the changes being forced upon them.
P.S.While we may think of the 1800's as being long ago, in terms of climate change they might as well be just yesterday.
Fifth insallment of the Little Crow series:In Little Crow's wake, horrors for the Dakota
Sixth, and final, installment of the Little Crow series:Little Crow's LegacyEpilogue: Reaching back to touch the pastDayton repudiates Ramsey's call for exterminaton
"While we may think of the 1800's as being long ago, in terms of climate change they might as well be just yesterday."I do think that there is an often overlooked significance to the 1800's in terms of climate change because that period of time marked the end of the Little Ice Age. I just returned from a visit to the Canadian Rockies, where there is much concern about the retreat of the glaciers. One of the glaciers is called the Crowsfoot Glacier, which no longer resembles a crows foot because the third toe has disappeared. Most of what you read says that it disappeared in the 20th century, which is true. But it was gone by the 1920's according to pictures I saw in a book someone on my tour had. (an old book, I can't help thinking it was published before it became politically incorrect to admit that we warmed up considerably after the end of the Little Ice Age and before the increase in carbon emissions)
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