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Current Topic: Current Events

RE: 3-mile-wide asteroid to buzz planet Earth tonight
Topic: Current Events 10:21 pm EST, Dec 20, 2012

w1ld wrote:
The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which is about 3 miles wide, will zoom within 4.3 million miles of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning, Dec. 12.

Slooh will webcast Toutatis views from a scope in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa beginning at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Dec. 11. Another show will follow at 10 p.m. EST tonight (0300 GMT Wednesday), with footage from an instrument in Arizona. You can watch them at Slooh's website:

I like how this website is currently counting down till the "EOW" solar/pole reversal on dec 21st!

RE: 3-mile-wide asteroid to buzz planet Earth tonight

ScienceCasts: An Alignment of Planets
Topic: Current Events 8:03 am EST, Feb 26, 2012

This was really cool last night - Mars is also relatively close to the earth - a very red jewel almost opposite the Venus/Jupiter conversion in the early evening.

ScienceCasts: An Alignment of Planets

RE: SOPA: Put your money where your mouth is
Topic: Current Events 10:09 am EST, Dec 20, 2011

noteworthy wrote:
Can the signatories to the letter be said to "support the bill" that is presently under consideration?

The above language differs from an earlier letter of May 25 to the Senate, in which a somewhat different group of organizations more explicitly endorsed a specific bill.

Thanks for posting the links to the letters. I think its important for people to understand the breadth of groups that support creating a centralized internet censorship infrastructure in the United States.

Perhaps a personal Boycott wouldn't work, but there are more visible actions that can be taken.

RE: SOPA: Put your money where your mouth is

How to See a Supernova This Weekend From Your Backyard
Topic: Current Events 7:10 am EDT, Sep  2, 2011

Starting this weekend, the closest supernova found in at least 25 years will be visible from your backyard with just binoculars or a small telescope. The exploding white dwarf star is currently brightening in the Pinwheel Galaxy, nestled, from our perspective, within the Big Dipper.

How to See a Supernova This Weekend From Your Backyard

Amazing Spectacle: Total Lunar Eclipse Monday Night
Topic: Current Events 11:55 am EST, Dec 20, 2010

The eclipse will actually begin when the moon enters the faint outer portion, or penumbra, of the Earth's shadow a little over an hour before it begins moving into the umbra. The penumbra, however, is all but invisible to the eye until the moon becomes deeply immersed in it. Sharp-eyed viewers may get their first glimpse of the penumbra as a faint smudge on the left part of the moon's disk at or around 6:15 UT (on Dec. 21) which corresponds to 1:15 a.m. Eastern Time or 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time (on Dec. 20).
The most noticeable part of this eclipse will come when the moon begins to enter the Earth's dark inner shadow (called the umbra). A small scallop of darkness will begin to appear on the moon's left edge at 6:33 UT (on Dec. 21) corresponding to 1:33 a.m. EST or 10:33 p.m. PST (on Dec. 20).

The moon is expected to take 3 hours and 28 minutes to pass completely through the umbra.
The total phase of the eclipse will last 72 minutes beginning at 7:41 UT (on Dec. 21), corresponding to 2:41 a.m. EST or 11:41 p.m. PST (on Dec. 20).

At the moment of mid-totality (8:17 UT/3:17 a.m. EST/12:17 a.m. PST), the moon will stand directly overhead from a point in the North Pacific Ocean about 800 miles (1,300 km) west of La Paz, Mexico.
The moon will pass entirely out of the Earth's umbra at 10:01 UT/5:01 a.m. EST/2:01 a.m. PST and the last evidence of the penumbra should vanish about 15 or 20 minutes later.

Amazing Spectacle: Total Lunar Eclipse Monday Night

The Billion Dollar Gram | Information Is Beautiful
Topic: Current Events 8:01 am EDT, Sep 16, 2009
relative size graph of funny money stuff
o/~ i can see clearly now
    the rain has gone... o/~


The Billion Dollar Gram | Information Is Beautiful

naked capitalism: Object Lesson: Consumer Frugality in Japan
Topic: Current Events 11:14 pm EST, Feb 22, 2009

Americans understand frugality borne of real or near poverty but are less able to identify with middle class desperation. I do not know how well America would bear up if we had a long period of Japanese style austerity with the big differences we have between the bottom, middle, and top echelons.

naked capitalism: Object Lesson: Consumer Frugality in Japan

Bad news: we're back to 1931.
Topic: Current Events 9:48 am EST, Jan 26, 2009

Roosevelt took over a country where the economic machinery had completely broken down.

The New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade had closed.

Illinois and much of the South had stopped paying teachers. Schools closed for months.

An army of 25,000 famished war veterans squatting in view of Congress had been charged by troopers of the 3rd US cavalry with naked sabres – led by a Major George Patton.

Armed farmers threatening revolution had laid siege to a string of Prairie cities. A mob had stormed the Nebraska Capitol. Minnesota's governor was recruiting Communists only for the state militia.

Lawyers attempting to enforce foreclosures were shot.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers applied to go to the Soviet Union when Moscow advertised for 6,000 skilled workers.

We forget how close America came to open revolt.

Bad news: we're back to 1931.

Obama's Inaugural Address: The Full Text -- TIME
Topic: Current Events 9:18 pm EST, Jan 20, 2009

We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers.

I believe that is the first respectful public reference to atheism by an American President. Reply if you know of another example.

Although the Obama team has completely upgraded, Google still has the old version cached, which includes the only reference Google knows to this exchange with Bush 43 at an "Ask President Bush" event:

Q ... Mr. President, as a member of the local clergy of this city, I'm appalled at the different lengths of political correctness that has affected religious rights in Canada, Australia, France, and other European nations. Laws are being passed to limit offensive speech. If reelected, what will your administration do to the rights -- to help the rights of conservative Christians so that courts in America can't limit our free speech when it comes to offensive speech toward different groups?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, here's the thing. Freedom to speak is a valuable part of our country. And a President has got to protect that. People ought to be allowed to speak the way you want to speak. But there are limits. And it is very important for our society to work with those that push the limits without abridging anybody else's freedom to speak.

Let me talk about freedom of religion, as well, which is an incredibly important part of our society. My job as the President is to make sure -- this may get to your question, by the way, besides speech -- an incredibly important part about what you're asking is, can people worship freely, as well. Yes. That's the part of the job of the President, is to make sure that people can worship any way they want, any way they want. And they can choose any religion they want. Or they can choose no religion. You see, you're just as big a patriot -- as good a patriot as the next fellow if you choose not to worship. It's your choice to make. And the freedom of this country is that you can choose to do any way you want. And it's important that we keep that -- that freedom real and intact.

The move from atheism to patriotism seems to evoke this comment that Bush 41 made:

I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

There is some question as to whether or not Bush 41 actually said that, the Whitehouse never denied it, it has been widely quoted for years, and it certainly molded my impression of how the establishment in this country views atheism.

Obama's Inaugural Address: The Full Text -- TIME

Oakland Turns Violent Over Shooting -
Topic: Current Events 2:19 pm EST, Jan  8, 2009

Protesters angry over a deadly New Year’s Day shooting of a young black man by a transit police officer erupted into violence in downtown Oakland on Wednesday night while investigators struggled to determine what prompted the officer to fire his gun into the unarmed man’s back.

Riots begin in Oakland. More here. 105 arrests. I agree with this:

But UC Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School professor Franklin Zimring, a criminal justice expert, said "absolutely conclusive" videos of the shooting have convinced him there's no possible justification for Mehserle's actions.

"It's accident versus intention, but justification is off the table."

Whether Mehserle meant to draw his Taser but accidentally drew his firearm, or whether he meant to draw his sidearm but didn't mean to fire it, it looks like involuntary manslaughter, Zimring said.

In the absence of a statement from Mehserle, the proper thing to do is to charge the case based on the evidence at hand and then hear his side of the story later, Zimring said.

Anyone who was not a police officer would be in custody already.

Oakland Turns Violent Over Shooting -

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