Archive for December, 2009

Either We Want Clean, “Green” Renewable Energy or We Don’t
December 30, 2009

Damaging to the Desert? If not the desert, then where?

Offshore Eyesore? Looks Pretty Cool to Me

There has been a lot of effort to change the way America gets it’s energy.  At first, there was a push for ethynol but the costs to produce the corn proved to be greater than the energy it produced.  So, greater attention was given to other renewable sources such as wind and solar.   A few years ago, a proposal came about to erect a windfarm off of the Massachusetts coast.  But there is opposition from prominent residents who, among other things, complain the offshore farm would spoil the view.  One of the strongest opponents is none other than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. who says he’s an environmentalist but wrote in an op-ed that his opposition has many facets, including that the project is only feasible due to government subsidies.  I wonder if that means that he’s opposed to all projects that are feasible due to government subsidy? 

Is the entire Mojave Desert Too Pristine for A Solar Farm? It's probably all pristine's a desert and no one lives there!

Now, a United States Senator is throwing up a blockade against a huge solar power farm in the desert.  Senator, Diane Feinstein of California has introduced legislation that would create a 1.7 million acre national park in the desert.  That would prohibit plans to construct several solar projects including the worlds largest solar farm.   The growth in the renewable sector in California was spurred by targets of the Golden State to derive one-third of its electricity from renewable sources.   So, we have a US Senator from California making it more difficult for her own state to meet its own objectives.  But, this is not the first time something like this has come up.  In mid 2008, the Federal Government stood in the way of a similar solar farm in Arizona to protect the desert.

President Obama has made quite a few public pronouncements that his energy policy is centered on developing alternative energy.   But, the San Francisco Chronicle says that there has been “more talk than progress” concerning the nation’s energy policy.  Here’s the deal…either we want alternative energy or not.  I do not believe that there is a way to create energy without some required sacrifice.  Everything has a consequence.  It seems like that this issue is like so many others.  Every election, people seem to say “thorw the bums out” then go and vote for their representative…their guy is okay but the rest..well throw’em out.  People in many states want to have use of their automobiles but when it comes to drilling for oil offshore…not of their beaches.  Solar power? Great idea..but not in my desert.   Winds blow consistently in many area and if we can harness it, it would be a good clean source of energy…as long as its not in my back yard or off my coast.  The duplicity is amazing and maddening.

The Old Man wouldn't have Blogged on Christmas Week Either

Weather Bottom Line:  I haven’t been reporting much on the weather…or anything else much.  See, Snow White and I took a little break for Christmas and I didn’t feel like blogging.  Last year, we went out of town for Christmas (first visit home for Christmas in a dozen years…an upside to unemployment) but I took along the computer and proceeded to post every day.  Not a good thing to do and so I thought that blogging over Christmas was not good no matter if you were at home or not.  Anyway, I’ve been seeing rain the forecast and also temperatures in the upper 30’s or low 40’s showing up in the various forecasts and I couldn’t figure out why. 

If you noticed on Tuesday night, we had a  huge ring around the moon.  There is a folk saying of “if the ring is near, the rain if far and if the ring is far, the rain is near.”  It is generally true.  See, the cloud deck following the passage of a cold front is such that the refraction from moonlight will create a small ring.  Since the passage of a cold front typically is an end of the rain, then it works. Conversely, the high cirrus clouds associated with the approach of a warm front prior to a storm system result in a large ring.  Almost every single time I’ve noticed a big ring, rain has followed within 24 hours.   This should hold true this time.  We had our warm front, we are in the mid 40’s on Wednesday.  Then we have a cold front.  While I had thought we had a reasonable chance for a little snow with wrap around cold and moisture, the GFS only advertises a dusting on New Year’s Day and the NAM has nothing.  So, there may be some insignificant snow on Thursday but the real story will be the cold.  We will not be above freezing at any hour of any day for the foreseeable future…I think that will hold for at least the first 7 days of 2010.

The Perfect New Year’s Eve Date and the Perfect Lie from the Media
December 29, 2009

Carrie Nation Allegedly Broke Up a Mark Twain Get-Together

This Date In History: On this date in 1900, a six foot tall, 175 pound, hatchet wielding woman attacked a saloon in Wichita, Kansas. Carry Nation had been married to a doctor who loved the bottle as much as he loved her…or maybe more. She tried to get him to quit drinking but failed. They separated and shortly thereafter he died. She then married a Texas minister and the couple moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas in 1889. Nation was convinced that alcohol was the root of all social evil so she took to the streets preaching a temperance message designed to close all of the saloons; first in Medicine Lodge and then in the rest of the state. Now, Kansas was emerging from its wild days of Wyatt Earp and Dodge City cow punchers and Nation soon found that her words alone weren’t enough to get anyone’s attention so she took more aggressive action. She began using her trusty hatchet to try and destroy all of the saloons she could find. On this date in 1900, she managed to shatter a large mirror behind the bar in Wichita and throw rocks at a picture of Cleopatra bathing.

Who Could Deny This Woman?

The funny thing is that the sale of alcohol was illegal and she thought it was law abiding citizens duty to enforce the law that public officials turned a blind eye toward. So she gleefully hacked away at whiskey casks, bottles of booze and haranguing customers about their evil ways. It appears her favorite thing to do was destroy expensive ornamentation in drinking establishments. Local law enforcement often didn’t agree with her vigilante ways and she many times found herself in jail. Nevertheless, she enjoyed a certain degree of success as she was able to pressure Kansas law enforcement officials into upholding the law a little more.

By the time national prohibition came about in 1920, Carry Nation had been dead for 9 years and largely forgotten. But Temperance Movement folks point to her actions as a hatchet wielding woman for helping to move the nation toward its “noble experiment” that failed miserably, unless your name was Al Capone.

Rub a Dub Dub, Big Bill Taft's Bath Could Hold Four Men In a Tub

White House Bathtub Leaves a Dirty Ring  According to H.L. Mencken,   the first bathtub was installed in the White House in 1851 by President Millard Fillmore.  Mencken wrote in the New York Evening Mail that the first bathtub in the United States was an “elegant mohogany contraption” installed in the home of a Cincinnati businessman in 1842.  He said after that point, that the practice of bathing became popular with the wealthy.  He said when word reached the masses a public outcry against the “epicurean and obnoxious toy from England” was “desinged to corrupt the democratic simplicity of the republic.”  Mencken added that it was Fillmore was responsible for the public’s acceptance for the habit  of regular bathing.  On this day in 1917, Mencken was basking in the glow created by his article just the day before.

He was probably still chuckling the day after his work was published because it was an elaborate hoax.  December 1917 was a time of great sadness around the world due to World War I.  He decided that a spoor on bathtub history would be a good way to raise the spirits fo his readers.  Mencken’s joy turned to  shock when he learned that his words were taken as Gospel.  In 1926, he was so uneasy with the fact that his fiction was considered to be real history that he wrote a public confession of his hoax.  But, no one listened and the result of his little tale have continued to this day with some sources claiming that Fillmore did indeed install the first bathtub in the White House.  The real truth is that copper bathtubs and a shower were installed in the Executive Mansion on the first floor in 1833 or 1834.  A permanent bathtub was put in the second floor of the White House in 1853.    Mencken would have been better off publishing a true story about the White House bathtub.  President William Howard Taft was 6’2″ and weighed a rotund 300 pounds.  He had once become stuck in the normal presidential tub.  So, he installed a tub that was 41 inches across and 7 feet long.   It is said that it could hold four regular size men.  The truth was stranger than fiction and this little story may be a good example of how if a lie is told enough times by enough people, then the lie becomes the truth.  It also may be a good example of how we should not necessarily believe everything that we read.

Tiger Woods Could Benefit From A Wife Like Alexander Hamilton’s
December 22, 2009

There May Be a Good Reason Alexander Hamilton Got in So Many Duels

There May Be a Good Reason Alexander Hamilton Got in So Many Duels

A Philandering Father?

Hamilton: A Philandering Father?

On This Date in History: If  Tiger Woods could have had the skill of Alexander Hamilton, he might not be in the situation that he finds himself in now.  But, not only would he need the skills of one of our founding fathers, he also need someone like Hamilton’s accomodating wife.

  Alexander Hamilton’s face is on the $10 dollar bill. He was a confidant of General Washington and served as the first Secretary of the Treasury. He had a strong political disagreement with Thomas Jefferson as Jefferson favored a weak central government and Hamilton wanted a strong central government in relation to the power of the states. But, Hamilton had a way of rubbing people the wrong way beyond politics. He was known to duel to end disputes and was eventually gunned down in a duel by Aaron Burr, who was the sitting Vice-President at the time. What caused Hamilton to get in so many scrapes and raise the ire of so many people? This little tale may shed some light and make one ponder how he got to have his face on our money.

Hamilton apparently had flowing red hair and deep blue eyes and ladies found him quite aluring. He was married with children but his reputation as a ladies man persisted. In 1791, a woman came to his door asking for money, claiming that her husband had left she and her child destitute. Maria Reynolds did not receive money during that visit. Instead, Hamilton went to her boardinghouse room with $30 and then proceeded to take advantage of the situation. That was the beginning of a long affair. Eventually, she even visited him at his home when his family was away. All was fine until Mr. Reynolds showed up again.

Enquiring Minds Wanted To Know About Hamilton

Enquiring Minds Wanted To Know About Hamilton

Reynolds demanded financial satisfaction for his wife’s favors.   On this date in 1791,  Alexander Hamilton paid Reynolds $1000 to keep quiet. This did not end the affair though as Reynolds even encouraged Hamiton to continue as he wrote, “I find when ever you have been with her she is Chearful and kind. but when you have not in some time she is Quite the Reverse.” (note the grammatical errors) All was still fine until Reynolds got arrested for his involvement in a scam involving phony veterans claims. In an effort to gain his freedom, he hinted that the Secretary of the Treasury had been involved. Three Congressmen, including James Monroe, confronted Hamilton who produced 20 blackmail notes as a way of showing his innocence, claiming that he had but one mistaken dalliance. Hamilton must have had some pretty good bull because they bought it and the matter was dropped…until a drunken publisher who was not fond of Hamilton, James Callender, printed a widely circulated pamphlet detailing the sordid affair.

Curiously, Hamilton did not have a duel with Callender but instead published all of the blackmail letters. That did nothing but elevate suspicions that extend to this day. While the letters did have some grammatical and spelling errors, the vocabulary used was of a very educated indivicual which Mr. Reynolds was not. Speculation is that Hamilton may have forged the letters in an attempt to cover up his own corruption. Nevertheless, I suppose that all went away with the gunshot from Aaron Burr. All was forgotten and Hamilton ended up on the $10 bill. It is quite interesting what scandals are remembered by history and which are forgotten.  One who seemed to forget was Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.  

Probably Not Following Elizabeth Hamilton's Lead

On this date in 1780, the Hamilton’s were newlyweds, having married just 8 days before.  But, Alex’s eye for the ladies was not blinded.   Nevertheless, Elizabeth not only seemed to look the other way, she publically defended her husband against charges of philandering.  She also demanded for years that James Monroe apologize for his charges of Hamilton’s malfeasance in the Reynolds affair.  Somehow, I don’t think that Tiger’s wife is taking the same route as Elizabeth Hamilton and that may not be too bad.  See, Elizabeth outlived her gunned-down husband by 50  years.

Christmas Morning...That's Rain According to the NAM

Weather Bottom Line:  Get your Christmas shopping done today when we see some sunshine and moderating temperatures.  That’s because it all goes down from here.  Rain chances increase as a storm system comes around the bend out of the southwest and ejects northeast.  It will pass us to the west and we stay in the warm sector….which means rain.  It’s a deep low that will probably bring blizzard conditions to the plains.  Our rain chances go up with the temperatures on Wednesday and Christmas Eve looks to be especially wet and dreary.  Christmas morning we’ll see wet streets, not white lawns.  Now,this guy looks to become occluded and sluggish so we may see some snow for Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the GFS advertises a lot of wrap around moisture broadly spread through the Ohio Valley.  Most likely it would be extremely light and largely insignificant except that it indicates that we return to colder than average temperatures after the brief, milder and wetter holiday from the chilly conditions we’ve seen.

2012: Doomsday Just 3 Years Away; Winter Begins Today, 1/2 Nation Under Snow
December 21, 2009

El Triunfo de la muerte(1562)-Man has envisioned the Apocalypse (and been wrong) for centuries

Click Image to See how Fitz Destroys the World!

Is the End of the World 3 years from today in 2012?  The big hit movie that is out called 2012 claims that the end of the world will be upon us exactly 3 years from today.  There have been many end of the world movies over the years.  I like the Koko the Clown animated short that shows Koko unsuccessfully keeping the world from destruction from the actions of Fitz the Dog…click the photo to the right for the film…it’s great.  No, in 2012,  there will be huge floods, a big planet crashing into the earth and the sun will burn us to a crisp among other things.  This is all based on the Mayan calendar that ends on December 21, 2012. There’s even at least one website dedicated to helping you survive 2012.  But, according to the National Geographic, it’s all nonsense.  They point out that the Mayans had a long calendar that lasted 1,872,000 days or over 5125 years.  But, according to the experts, the Mayan calendar does not mark the end of all time, but instead marks the time when the calendar simply rolls over to another enormous cycle. 

I Like Koko's Version of the End Better

Now, the movie has sparked fear around the globe with reports of people threatening suicide to avoid the trauma of the impending doom.  Some women are said to have decided that they would kill their children and then commit suicide to spare the family from the fate of an apocalyptic world.  So much anxiety has been brought forth that NASA dedicated an entire webpage to try and aleviate fears.  However, back in 2006, NASA reported predictions that the current cycle of solar activity will peak soon.  A lead scientist predicted that it would be in…2012.  But others think its 2010 or 2011.  It is supposed to be the biggest burst of solar activity in 50 years.  Many people think that climate change is connected to solar activity, so this should add to the debate. 

Who knows what will happen 3 years from now…we don’t even know what’s going to  happen this year except that one thing is for certain…

December 21, 2009 is the start of Winter, or the Winter Solstice. It starts at 17:47 UTC or 17:47 Z.  That is 12:47 pm EST.  That is when the earth is positioned such that the sun shines directly over 23.5 degree south latitude, which is the Tropic of Capricorn.  Actually, I think its 23 degrees and 27 minutes south latitude.   The day is the longest in the Southern Hemisphere and the shortest of the Northern Hemisphere.  So, why is it the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere?  It’s because the earth’s atmosphere has lots of water vapor.  What has that got to do with anything?  Well, the heat capacitance of water is rather high so it takes a while for it to warm up and cool down.  Think of a pot of water. When you add heat to the stove, the water doesn’t boil immediately, it takes awhile to heat up.  When you remove the heat, it doesn’t cool right away but takes awhile to return to room temperature.  Same with the earth.  When the radition of the sun is decreased, it takes awhile for that part of the earth to cool down.  From this point forth, the Northern Hemisphere will start receiving a more concentrated dose of solar radiation, but it will take a few months for the atmosphere to react.  Hence, spring does not come until around March 21 when the sun’s radiation is generally perpendicular to the equator.  NASA explains fully the seasons.

Heat Index Chart

The same principal holds for weather conditions with regard to geography or local atmospheric conditions.  In the desert, it is not uncommon for there to be a 40 degree difference in day and night temperatures.  But, along the coastal regions, there can be as little as a 5 degree difference between daily highs and lows.  That is because in the desert, it is dry and along the coast there is an abundance of humidity levels, or moisture content in the air.  That is why it is pretty tough for temperatures along the coast to hit 95 degrees or higher.  It does happen but there has to be perfect conditions.  People who talk about a place like New Orleans claims it gets to 95 degrees with 95% humidity.  That is simply not pragmatically possible.  But, what is quite frequent in New Orleans is a temperature of say 88 degrees with 60% humidity.  The chart on the left indicates that would create a heat index of 95 degrees.   Oh, it does happen from time to time in the middle east, particularly in the Persian Gulf.  I think Ethiopia has the record highest dewpoint at 94 degrees.  To make my point, if it were 115 degrees and the dewpoint was 94, the relative humidity would be about 54%. 

Now, one should not confuse the solstice with the perihelion.  The earth rotates about the sun, not in a circle, but instead in an eliptical orbit.  The earth tilts on it’s axis at about 23.5 degrees and when it is near its closest, or the perihelion, it is tilted away from the sun.  It’s seems counterintuitive for residents in the Northern Hemisphere, which is most of humanity, but the earth is closest to the sun not long after the winter solstice.  The earth’s perihelion is around January 3 of each year, which one in Chicago would call the dead of winter.   The aphelion is when the earth is about 152 million kilometers from the sun, or about 7 million kilometers more than it is at the perihelion.  You have a different reason to celebrate the 4th of July now that you know that July 4 is the earth’s aphelion.  I’ve always reasoned that nature shows its wisdom in this process.   See, when the earth is at its closest, the landmass of the southern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun…the region of the earth that has far less landmass than the northern hemisphere.  Perhaps we would suffer extreme global warming if the majority of landmass were closest to the sun when the tilt was toward the sun.  True perfection, this planet of ours.

Click on Image for 2 week animation of snow depth

Weather Dunce

Weather Bottom Line:  To begin Winter, the lower 48 of the United States has about a 52% snow cover.  Louisville got a bit of a dusting late Sunday night.  I typically do what weather guys do which is follow the Jackson Browne methodology and  “forget about the losses and exaggerate the wins.  But, I will break with tradition and tell you that I was a dunce.  I did not see this little snow event.  My guess is that it’s not because it wasn’t there and was a “surprise” as newscasters like to say when a forecast doesn’t come about.  No, I believe that it was probably right there in the data and I simply missed it.  I was a dunce.  But, I am confident of victory regarding Christmas.  It will not be a White Christmas.  The big storm coming out of the southwest will pass to our west.  We will have rain with steadily rising temperatures as we go through the week.  As I had mentioned the other day, there was a weird push of cold air with the low remaining somewhat stationary to our northwest, which I believe is an indication that the low is going into it’s dying stage and we have an occlusion developing.  But, I don’t think that will result in any significant snow and if anything does come about, it would be in the form of a dusting for Friday.  But, after warming above seasonal levels by midweek, we go back below seasonal temperatures for next weekend.

More UFO Sightings Over Moscow-Pyramid “Imperial Cruiser” Over Kremlin-Pravda Cover Up!
December 20, 2009

"Imperial Cruiser" UFO or hoax? Click for video report from NY Post

Click for Great Merry Christmas Video From Near Banner Elk, NC

Before we get to the UFO story…how about the snow?  As I anticipated, we got very little in Louisville as the ground was too warm as were the temperatures most of the time and the city did indeed end up wasting tax payer money by putting down the brine solution on the roadways only to see it all get washed away by rain.  But, Snow White and I spent much of last week in North Carolina with a few days at Apple Hill Farm.  It’s a wonderful place and you should go and visit.  Llamas, Alpacas, horses, donkeys and a whole host of dogs including Knox, Magic, Chi Chi and Botox.  Apple Hill Farm near Banner Elk, NC got about 20 inches of snow.  Check out this wonderful Christmas video created during the first part of the snow storm with Knox, Magic, Chi Chi and the other animals bringing you some Christmas cheer.  The proprietor has a blog that tells of daily life at Apple Hill Farm, NC.

Failed Russian Missile?

What’s going on in Moscow?  As of Sunday evening, about half of the continental United States was under snow cover.  Europe also was getting lots of snow but in Moscow, it seems that they have been under a UFO cover.  If you recall, as President Obama was in Stockholm, Sweden getting his Nobel Peace Prize, a very odd event in the sky took place over Norway.  There was a strange cloud and blue object over the region.  People were perplexed.  The Russian government announced that it was simply a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that went awry.  It was not lost on many the irony of the Russians test firing a weapon of war at the very time that people were gathering to talk about peace.  But, many people did not buy the story.

Night view of UFO

Now, it comes to light that recently that a large pyramid looking object parked itself over Kremlin City in Moscow for several hours.  Pravda reported that it was seen on December 18. But, apparently the pyramid event actually took place 9 days before and there are charges that Pravda deliberately changed the dates as a bit of subterfuge, which only expands that mystery of the original “missile test” and the pyramid story.  This video report was supposedly posted on December 11.    The Daily Mail has three different video shots of the object and says that a former British Ministry of Defence analyst calls it “extraordinary” and that a spokesman from Jane’s News says they have no idea what it is.  The Pravda report came in the last week.  But, eyebrows have been raised because the event that was seen by thousands of  people and captured by at least two video cameras really happened on the eve of  the Nobel Peace prize ceremony, or around the same time as the errant missile test. Here is a night time amateur video.  Now, UFO enthusiasts claim that the two events were not coincidental nor man made.

UFO or clouds? Moscow Oct 7 2009

 Apparently there was also a “wormhole” vortex siting over China at the same time as the other two events.   They suppose that beings from other worlds are trying to send us a message.  Some say that the image which hovered over the Kremlin looked like Darth Vader’s attack imperial cruisers.  However, there are those who make the point that the mile wide pyramid story is a hoax.  They point out that, if the object was seen by so many people, then how come there are only a handful of video views.  Others say that there is a rational explanation such as a reflection or some other optic phenomena or even a weather balloon.  There have been a rash of UFO reports in Moscow of late, one such event took place on October 7 when an odd circular cloud formation was seen over Moscow.  

So, take your pick…look at the links as there are lots of videos for you to view yourself.  One way or another, there is something odd going on in Russia by the government, hoaxers or extra-terrestials!  I want to know if the pyramid was at night, how come there are daylight videos and photos?  And how come it wasn’t reported by more people or shot by professional photographers?

GFS is not Enthused About Snow on Christmas

Weather Bottom Line:  As expected, our best chance for snow did not happen until late Saturday with the passage of a cold front and even then there wasn’t much.  The ground was too warm. I did see some folks at church with  a little snow on their cars but for me, it was all absent though it was on my car around midnight.  There will be another system ejecting through the southern stream around Christmas Eve.  At this point, it looks like the main low will be coming up out of the SW US and into the plains just to our west.  So, we get rain.  Some of the models do an odd thing and have the low get hung up in Western Illinois with a push of cold air through the Ohio Valley.  Perhaps this is an occlusion taking place but its still weird to look at on a map.  Anyway, there is some evidence to suggest  the low is indeed occluding by Friday and we get wrap around snow as the low eases northeast.  Don’t think it will be much snow but perhaps some.  Otherwise, it will be chilly but the prospects of a white Christmas are rather remote.  One thing that should be interesting is that all of that snow in the Mid Atlantic states should still be on the ground when it begins to rain on top of it around Christmas which may make for an interesting melting/rain flooding event.

“We Don’t Know” is better than “Global Warming” “Global Cooling” or “They are Wrong”
December 18, 2009

This Was Truth in 1975...Is it Today?

“Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.”

With the meeting going on in Copenhagen, one might think that the headline above was from current media.  But, it’s not.  It’s actually a quote from an article in Newsweek from April 28, 1975.  The topic was climate change but at that time, the concern was global cooling.  The concern then was from aerosols being emitted by humans, as this article partly explains.  In 1974, articles began appearing, like this one in the New York Times, that say that climate change could threaten global food production.  Another New York Times article from May 21, 1975 says that the scientific community was concerned about climate change.  It says that many thought that the earth was getting colder and we were heading toward another ice age.  But, in an interesting side note, it also mentioned that some scientists felt like man made pollution would hold  off another ice age.  It then goes on to say that just about everyone agrees that global cooling was inevitable and even cited cooling northern hemispheric temperatures since 1950 that had shortened Britain’s growing season. 

“There seem little doubt that the present period of unusual warmth will eventually give way to a time of colder climate, but there is no consensus with regard to either the magnitude or rapidity of the transition.” 

Again, some might think that is a quote from a recent global warming study that would seem to fit some folk’s world view.  But, it’s not.  This quote if from a January 19, 1975 article in the New York Times.  The Times is quoting a National Academy of Sciences report.  Now, people may jump on the parts of the article that state that says there is the potential for an abrupt end to the warmth of the interglacial period.  But, instead, I would focus attention on another quote from the article which says: “A far greater understanding of these changes is required than we now possess.”  While the article talks about the prospects of possible increasing global temperatures due to man’s activities, it also says that northern hemisphere temperatures rose steadily from the 1880’s to the 1940’s but then fell consistently from the 1940’s to the mid 1970’s.  Huh?  We’ve been led to believe that temperatures have been steadily increasing all through the 20th century. 

The Copenhagen talks have come and gone and nothing much happened.  We are in the middle of a global recession and all of the remedies proposed seem to have one thing in common: Money.  There is the cost of taxes designed to discourage fossil fuel use and encourage the development of “green” technology.  There is some sort of “cap and trade” effort which doesn’t seem to stop carbon emissions but instead shifts money around in a shell game.  And then there was the proposal that rich nations give hundreds of billions of dollars to poor countries.  Some say these proposals are nothing more than a transfer or wealth and no one can tell me who gets the tax money and what it is to be used for.  Also, what assurances are there that the poorer countries that get the money from the rich ones will actually use the funding for what it was intended?  Ask yourself if you believe a third world government that is given hundreds of billions of dollars will do what they are supposed to do with all that money. 

All of this is, of course, framed in the current “climategate” scandal in which thousands of emails from a leading climate institute came to light in which the scientists involved appear to be acknowledging cooking the books to make data fit their hypothesis.  Now, apparently Russian scientists confirm that UK scientists manipulated climate data to fit their opinions.    Some people say that all of this new evidence proves that the whole Global Warming scare is all wrong.  But, that is not necessarily true.  Peter Gwynne, who authored the famous Global Cooling article in the April 28 1975 Newsweek issue says that his story was not wrong in the journalistic sense.  He reported accuratetly what was being reported.  What the difference is that scientists in the 1970’s were looking at the situation with an open mind.  They suspected that man’s activities were altering the climate but were unsure of just how it was happening.  They let the facts lead them to reach conclusions.  NASA explains that they use the term Climate Change instead of Global Warming because the latter term is suggestive of a terminal conclusion instead of merely an alteration of the climate. 

Have global temperatures risen? Yes.  Has the Arctic Ice Cap receded? Yes over 20 years but over the past two years, there has been modest ice growth at the North Pole, but most news articles use verbiage to try and obfuscate that fact.  That is the word…obfuscation instead it should be transparency.  The world should take the view of the scientists in the 1970’s that more understanding was required.  The truth is, we just don’t know for sure what is going on.  We have no idea if the proposals at the Copenhagen Summit would change the environment one bit.  We have no idea what the truth is regarding anthropogenic global warming because so many politicians, political world bodies, people who have a monetary stake in the process and countries who stand to gain politically have gotten involved.  Everyone should step aside.  Former Vice-Presidents should leave their private jets in the hanger and let the grown ups do their work.  The UN should look at the question of whether or not, if anthropogenic global warming is a certainty, if there is anything that can or should be done.  Thomas Friedman raised the question in one of his books if they money used to try and re-alter the earth’s climate could not be better used to fight disease, hunger and poverty. 

Global Cooling? Yeah…everyone just chill out and allow for a transparent, academic process to move forth that leads to a rational, precise conclusion.  The politicians can remain spectators.  The thing that gets overlooked in the January 1975 New York Times article is the subheadline:  “Scientists Warn Predictions Must Be Made Precise to Avoid Catastrophe.”   That holds true today and those at Copenhagen should paste that sub-headline to their foreheads.   So, those who act like facists and call anyone who even raises a question a “global warming denier” and attacks them with closed ears and no answers, pipe down.  For those who run around saying that global warming is a “hoax” recognize that while some methodology may be corrupt, the conclusion may in fact have veracity and the fears well founded.  At the same time, everyone should realize that developing alternative forms of energy is a good thing.  Any time you can create energy in a cleaner, more efficient manner it is nothing but positive provided it can be economically feasible.  If the United States had renewable, home grown energy independence, that would not only potentially be a long term economic benefit, but must certainly an addition to national security. 

NAM Snow Total through 7 AM Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  As for the big snow storm…its not going to be a big snow storm for Louisville.  First off, the ground is not cold enough.  The models are still in great disagreement regarding rain or snow though it will in all liklihood start as rain before turning to snow on Saturday.  The GFS keeps on claiming over 2 inches but much of that falls when the layers just above the surface are above freezing.  The NAM continues to have more rain than snow.  It’s really tough.  Remember, the difference between one and two inches of snow would be .10″ of  liquid .20″ of liquid.  That’s not much wiggle room.  Guess here is that we have rain that washes away the brine solution put on the roads (thus wasting taxpayer money again) and that we get about an inch or so on grassy areas. 

This whole pattern is typical of an El Nino year with a low coming out of the Gulf of Mexico and moving up into the Lower 48.  This can be a good pattern for Ohio Vally Snow if a low moves northeast out of SE Texas.  In this case though, it’s a low moving through the base of the trof along the Central Gulf Coast and moving up through Georgia and then exploding off the East Coast as it moves north.  The Appalacian mountains may get as much as two feet of snow.   I know that Apple Hill Farm the llamas and Alpacas are prepared, and Knox will love it…but Chi Chi will no doubt cower in fear.  As the low deepens while moving up the coast the cold front that moves through here on Saturday will catch up and there will be plenty of cold air in the Northeast Corridor to allow for the moisture tossed ashore by the low to create quite a snow storm. 

Now, its tough for moisture to come all the way from the Atlantic, across the mountains and to the Ohio Valley in much amounts.  But, there is expected to be about a half a foot in eastern Kentucky.  The next system that comes out of the Gulf for Christmas Eve has more promise, but its also possible that we get rain and maybe freezing rain.  Could be a mess…could be a White Christmas or could be just wet.  We’ll see. Needless to say, it will not be getting warm anytime soon.

Was 2nd Grader Sent to Psychiatrist and then Home For Drawing Stick Figure of Jesus?
December 16, 2009

A school in Massachusetts reportedly sent an 8 year old home for making a drawing of Jesus on a cross.  The father says that his son has some learning disabilities but has never been violent.  He said that his son’s teacher asked the class to draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  So, the boy drew the picture which depicted a stick figure on a cross and he used x’s to depict the eyes.  Dad says that his son was suspended and required to take a psychiatric exam.

Now, the school is putting up a defense.  Taunton School District officials say that the 8 year old was not suspended and the situation was handled appropriately.  The school says that the reports are “totally inaccurate.”    They say there was no assignment that the kids make a drawing of Christmas or any other religious holiday. 

No Christmas Drawings Or You'll Go See the Shrink!

Totally inaccurate?  Apparently a school official “cleared” the child for a return to the class after it was determined he did not pose a threat to himself or anyone else.  So, that means that the child was indeed at least removed from the class and he was required to be examined in some way.  This in itself suggests that there was some accuracy to the reports and there is some sort of subterfuge within the school district’s explaination.  This would cause one to be suspicious of the other aspects of the response.  For instance, while they seem to be extremely worried that the world may think that a teacher would ask for a drawing depicting something associated with Christmas, they don’t say what the assignment was for.  I mean, they don’t say that this child just drew the picture on his own.  So, we have a situation in which the school seems to have some sort of criminalization of an 8 year old’s expression and an attempt to try to distance themselves from any suggestion that kids were asked to draw anything that was associated with Christmas.  To be fair, this same school district did have a situation a year ago when a child drew a stick figure drawing of the student shooting his teacher and a classmate.

Nevertheleless, the father is a part time custodian at the school and says that his hours have been cut.  Why do I think that no teachers will be wishing anyone a Merry Christmas any time soon.

Weather Bottom Line:  The GFS is advertising about 2 inches of snow over the weekend.  But, there is hardly a consensus among the models.  We will probably get some on Saturday with the lead shortwave coming down but I’m skeptical about the amounts or the duration given that it would seem that scenario is based on a big low forming off the Carolina coast.  That may or may not happen and the timing have to be right if it did. Then one must assume that it will be able to transport moisture all the way across the mountains to the Ohio Valley.  Possible, yes.  Probable? It will be tough.  Either way, it will be cold.

Surf’s Up: Video of Huge Waves in Hawaii For “The Eddie”; Spanish American War vs. Iraq War
December 11, 2009

Click Image for 6 minutes of amateur raw video of giant waves

Eddie Aikau was a famous surfer and life guard in Hawaii.  In his honor, they hold a surfing contest.  But, it’s only held under extreme wave conditions so, when organizers decided to have the contest in the last few days, it was the first time since 2004 and only the 8th time in the past 25 years that it was held.  The Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surf Contest has been held in honor of Aikau who died when his traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe capsized as he attempted to travel to Tahiti from Hawaii.  The contest is now referred to as “The Eddie” and it was held this week following conditions that produced waves of 40 to 50 feet. 

The competition drew 28 of the world’s greatest surfers and 9-time world champion Kelly Slater took and early lead but eventually was overtaken by first time competitor, Greg Long.   The 24-year-old Long took home $55,000 for his efforts.  Conditions were described as “unbelievably dangrous” but only one competitor, Australian Tom Carroll, was injured.  Here’s the AP video of the giant waves.  Pretty incredible.  Click image above for about 6 minutes of amateur video.

US soldiers in trench near Manilla


US troops crossing Rio Grande River in Philippines

On This Date In History:  When the Treaty of Paris on this date in 1898, was signed ending the Spanish-American War. As part of the spoils the US got Guam and Puerto Rico and Cuba became a US Protectorate. The Philippines were acquired for $20 million. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Filipino insurgents who had fought against Spanish rule suddenly turned their guns on the US troops. The US then became occupiers who promised to leave the country….and the US finally did some time after WWII but we had a Naval Base at Subic Bay until Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the 1990’s and hastened the Americans’ exit. But for years afterward, the insurgents fought the Americans. Thousands of Americans were killed…some estimates say 10 times as many soldiers died fighting the insurgents than died defeating the Spanish. While Teddy Roosevelt is remembered as a “Rough Rider” in Cuba during the conflict, history has forgotten the drubbing he took in the press for not bringing home the troops in what was seen as a Civil War halfway around the world. Sound familiar? But, he persisted and the Philippines became a independent democracy and US Allie. In my view, the conflict in Iraq had much more in common with the aftermath of the Spanish American War than much in the Vietnam War. Its just that in school we tend to not be taught much about the turn of the century while Vietnam gets much more attention and there are people still alive who remember Vietnam. But….again in my view….the Vietnam comparisons are generally too simplistic and tenuous while a study of the Philippines draws much more remarkable comparisons.

Weather Bottom Line:  Really nothing new in the forecast.  Warmer but not warm.  After a morning start in the teens, we move to the upper 30’s on Friday.  Clouds will increase on Saturday but we get to the low 40’s and then after that there is a chance for rain on Sunday and Monday and possibly into early Tuesday.  The jetstream lifts slightly north so we don’t get back below freezing until a frontal systems sneaks through and Tuesday night we fall to the mid 20’s.  Next couple of days after that we have colder than average highs in the mid to upper 30’s and lows in the 20’s.

Tea Party Leads to Wyoming Women Leading Women’s Suffrage Movement
December 10, 2009

Women in Wyoming Were Tough and Not Afraid to Bag a Bobcat or a Politician

Esther Hobart Morris 1814-1902

On This Date in History:  Esther Morris was a tall, robust women who had lived through some hard times.  Like many women in the West in the mid 19th century, she was developed a sense of heartiness that all who tamed the frontier had to have to survive.  Most of the people in the Wyoming Territory in 1869 were men.  In fact, the ratio was about 6 to 1 in favor of males.  Esther Hobart Morris came to Wyoming to join her husband and sons who had gone ahead of her and settled in South Pass City.  Morris not only brought along her toughness, she also packed in her ideas and prior to the election for the new territorial legislature, she had a little tea party.  The guests were H.G. Nickerson and William Blight who were running against each other for the same legislative post.  She was pretty smart because she was was covering her bases.  In her meeting with the  political opponents, she got both to promise that if they were elected, they would introduce a bill that granted the vote to women.  Bright won and, like a  true gentleman, kept his word.  Gentlemen in politics?  Yes, they once existed.

Suffrage Began From Western States, Starting with Wyoming

Now, members of the legislature might not have had such egalitarian ideas when the supported the bill.  See, the elected representatives were well aware that there were 6 times more men than women so they hoped that, but giving women the right to vote, that more ladies might be enticed into coming to the territory.  I’m not sure if Ms. Morris used that as a reason for support, but at least the men figured it out for themselves.  It’s the old adage, “sex sells” and it certainly worked in this case even if it was the men’s idea in the first place.  But, Democrats only half heartedly supported the measure.   They tended to support the measure only with the notion that the new Republican Governor, John Campbell, would veto it and thus hang himself and his party.  Campbell was a young territorial governor but he wasn’t stupid.  When the bill passed he gladly signed it into law on this date in 1869.  Two years later, the Democrats tried to take away women’s suffrage with a new bill that would repeal the 1869 statute and even tried to pay Campbell $2,000 for his support.  That would be equivalent to about $32,000 in 2008 dollars.  But, Campbell declined with great firmness.   Morris  did not specifically single out Republicans or even give herself credit.  Instead she said that the ability of women were “entirely indebted to men” in Wyoming for the acquisition of the right to vote.

Get The Book About Esther Morris

Historically speaking then, let’s take a look at the score card.  Democrats in Wyoming opposed women’s right to vote.  Democrats in the South went to war in defense of slavery (if you think it was “states rights” then it was states rights to have slavery).  Democrats in the South opposed the Civil Rights Bill in 1964.  Republicans in the early 20th century supported big business but were thwarted by one of their own,  Republican President Theodore Roosevelt.   Now Republicans are portrayed as wanting to keep Americans from having health care.  Things certainly change.  But, the legacy of Esther Morris will never change and the role she played in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.  Click on the image to the right to find out how you can order the book, When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming and the Right to Vote.

Wind Chills in the Teens Thursday Afternoon

Weather Bottom Line:  We had some flurry activity overnight. I know because I went outside and looked for our adopted cat, Paint Brush.  He doesn’t seem to care about the weather because he’s always on the prowl for the ladies.  I had the heat too high last night and was hot but it was plenty cold outside.  As it is typical, there was a decoupling of the winds and the temperatures for most of the area was in the low 20’s.  I think the official low was 22 but many places in Southern Indiana were in the teens.  Everyone will just about be in the teens by early Friday morning and then high pressure moves to the east bringing a return flow.  But, remember, the temperatures to the southwest are pretty chilly so we only get to the mid to uppoer 30’s by Friday afternoon.  We move to the lower 40’s on Saturday but clouds will be increasing with the approach of another system coming through the flow from the southwest.  Ahead of the little shortwave, the warm air will not exactly surge, but at least be building ahead so when the precipitation falls on Sunday, it will be rain with highs in the low to mid 40’s.  And, while we stay chilly, we won’t be cold enough for snow through midweek though we could see a chance for rain carrying into Monday.

Burning Bodies To Create Electricity? New Twists on Burying the Dead
December 9, 2009

Beware of the Man Eating Goonch!

Everyone is looking for more efficient ways to create energy.  Some or turning to wind energy, others to solar power and then there are efforts to harness the tidal movements of the ocean to create usable energy.  A new proposal has come about in England that is rather ingenius, if not disturbing for some.  See, crematorians need a lot of energy.  So, someone came up with the bright idea to capture the heat used to burn human bodies and use it to generate electricity.  Not sure how that would fit into Cap and Trade. 

Man Stood at His Own Wake for 3 Days; Why not stand for eternity?

In Australia, not everyone is eager to be cremated but instead prefer to find eternal peace.  But  laying everyone rest takes up a lot of space.  Even though has a huge plot of land in Western Australia that is basically unhibatable, there is a shortage of space for cemeteries.  An Australian company has come up with a great idea.  Why not bury people standing upright?  Not exactly the restful position envisioned by most people, but the entrepreneur is taking an additional approach.  Not only does it save space, but it also will help save the planet.  He says that by simply drilling a 9 and a half foot deep, 30 inch wide hole and sticking gramps in the hole in a biodegradable bag, then the entire process is Green because it produces less carbon dioxide.  How? No casket.  One guy already took it one step farther.  He asked that he be left standing at his own wake.  He died and stood for three days to greet all of his visitors.

Freeze Dry Dead Guy Garden

Perhaps that is not high tech enough for you.  I mean, we are in the 21st century.  And a Swedish company agrees.  Instead of cremation or burial (vertically or horizontally) they have a better idea.  How about freeze dried?  Using liquid Nitrogen, dead bodies are frozen and then broken into bits so small it creates a powder…sorta like a fine slushy.   But, they use a vacuum process to remove all moisture and then a filter to remove any excess know…in case gramps had a pace maker or fillings.  And, there you go…ashes to ashes dust to dust.  The company suggests that you can put gramps’ powder on the grave to take advantage of all of the nutrients.  Hey,  why not package it and sell it as fertilizer?  I guess that grave that have plants growing the biggest and brightest is the ultimate proof that the person really was full of manure.

Goonch Has Teeth Like a Shark

But like all new things, alternative burials can create unintended consequences.  It seems that in the region near the India-Nepal border, for many years there have been ritual burials in which a body is burned to some degree and then the burned bodies or remains are tossed into the Great Kali River.  It seems that the river has a type of catfish called a “goonch” that regularly dines on the human remains.  Legend has it that there is a large creature that prefers humans that are alive and a researcher has determined that the legend is real and that the predator is a giant “goonch” catfish that has gotten fat over the years from being fed the dead.  The conclusion is that through encouragement, the local customs have created a giant man eating fish.   He is suggesting that locals start using the more “ecofriendly” method of burial at sea.

Louisville Peak Wind Gusts Wednesday Morning to 9AM

Weather Bottom Line:  Today is going to be pretty lousy.  Oh, the rain is out of the picture for the morning; but the wind and falling temperatures will be the issue.  Overnight we had wind gusts to 46 mph in Louisville and the temperature climbed to 58 degrees at 4AM.  By 9AM we had lost 10 degrees from that high and the main push of cold air will be pushing in by afternoon.  Don’t be surprised to see below freezing temperatures by your drive home from work.  Winds will generally be 20-40 mph with perhaps higher gusts but I doubt if anyone will hit the ballyhooed 60 mph.  The waves on the river should be pretty good by late morning with a westerly component to the wind. As the wind shifts more northwesterly by late day, the waves should back off somewhat.  Maybe some wrap around flurries late Wednesday since the cold air will be trying to squeeze out whatever moisture that it can.  Still think we won’t get out of the 20’s on Thursday.  There is another system that comes out of the west for the weekend that seems to me may begin as snow but warm air should surge northward and then it would turn to rain.