Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fukushima Much Worse Than Previously Thought

In other words - of course they were lying:
The Fukushima nuclear disaster released twice as much of a radioactive substance into the atmosphere as Japanese authorities estimated, reaching 40 percent of the total from Chernobyl, a preliminary report says.
The estimate of much higher levels of radioactive cesium-137 comes from a worldwide network of sensors. Study author Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research says the Japanese government estimate came only from data in Japan, and that would have missed emissions blown out to sea. 
The study did not consider health implications of the radiation. Cesium-137 is dangerous because it can last for decades in the environment, releasing cancer-causing radiation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

High School Teacher Faces Fines For Registering Students to Vote

Things that make me want to bite a moving train Number Googelty-million:
The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School's student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote. 
Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida's new and controversial election law. 
Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours. The law also reduces the time for early voting from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new address at the polls to use a provisional ballot.

Northern Lights Visible in Southern U.S.

Of course this happens after I move to the Southern Hemisphere:
A baffling solar storm pulled colorful northern lights unusually far south, surprising space weather experts. 
TV stations in Georgia and Kentucky reported people calling about the sky show Monday night. And NASA posted a photo from Huntsville, Ala. Southerners normally don't get to see the vibrant red and green aurora borealis.

They even saw them in Texas! I saw a green curtain effect aurora in Alaska when I worked there in the 1980s - but in the Lower 48? Never. Lucky.

MSNBC has a few shots that people sent in. One, from Wisconsin:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Electric Bonsai Band

Good gads, I was just persuing Twitter when Will Wheaton - yes, the kid in Star Trek: The Next Generation, who is a funny and sharp dude - made a comment about becoming his father. That blasted me back to seeing The Electric Bonsai Band - not electric, not a bad - in, where? Portland, Oregon? so many years ago, maybe even the 80s. My god he was good. Fast, smart, scary smart, and just as funny as hell.

I am so happy to have found him (Andrew Ratshin) on Napster. Please go, listen. "I am My Dad" is so good - although it is much better live.

Ratshin also played in Uncle Bonsai.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Drug War, Explained

The Los Angeles Times today:
As a student of history and a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department, I can attest that the damage that came from the prohibition of alcohol pales in comparison to the harm wrought by drug prohibition. In the last 40 years drug money has fueled the growth of violent street gangs in Los Angeles, from two (Bloods and Crips) with a membership of less than 50 people before the drug war to 20,000 gangs with a membership of about 1 million across the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice. These gangs serve as the distributors, collection agents and enforcers for the Mexican cartels that the Justice Department says occupy more than 1,000 U.S. cities.
Sabet, a former advisor to the White House drug policy advisor, ignores these prohibition-created harms, making no mention of the nearly 50,000 people killed in Mexico over the last five years as cartels have battled it out to control drug routes, territories and enforce collections. When one cartel leader is arrested or killed, it makes no impact on the drug trade and only serves to create more violence, as lower-level traffickers fight for the newly open top spot. 
U.S. law enforcement officials report that as much as 70% of cartel profits come from marijuana alone. There's no question that ending today's prohibition on drugs -- starting with marijuana -- would do more to hurt the cartels than any level of law enforcement skill or dedication ever can. 
Much more at Glenn Greenwald's place.

This subject is another of the vital sources of cynicism in the U.S. today. We are so far from being able to even talk with some sense about this issue, much less act on it, that it's hard to not come to thee conclusion that common sense is actually a wrong force in this world, that's how fucked up it is.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

1 in 3 American Vets Sees Iraq, Afghan Wars as Wastes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.