Apollo 11 Anniversary
Earth Imitates Moon
July 21, 2014
On this 45th anniversary of men landing on the moon, mankind continues
to take steps to make the Earth look more like the Moon through
Around the world, rainforests are logged for wood and paper. The
(usually) thin soil is then used for mono-crops like soy or
palm oil. Or the land is stripped for mining gold or copper.
Deforestation is responsible for up to 20% of global greenhouse gas
Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, and
Brazil are protecting
150 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. That's
almost the size of Texas. Let's see... 2,124,000 square miles
(Amazon rainforest) divided by 234,375
square miles (this protected area) equals only 11%. That's
something, but that's not much. WWF
has been accused of corporate greenwashing -- providing
sustainability certifications in exchange for donations from Monsanto
long been criticized
for deforestation of the Amazon for soy farming. Last April,
a letter to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
promising a zero-deforestation commitment. Environmental
groups are wary.
people to contact Herackles
Capital) alias Sithe Global Sustainable Oils
Cameroon (SG-SOC), to try to get them to stop
their plans to bulldoze
282 acres of African rainforest in Cameroon for palm oil.
Herackles Farms may sell
off their three year land deal that endangers
• Nature Conservancy -- Osa Peninsula rainforest protection in Costa Rica at $50 an acre & 140 million acres in Brazil
• Rainforest Alliance -- international food product labeling (Balance bar, Dove dark chocolate, Lipton tea, Naked juices ...)
• Forest Stewardship Council
-- international forest certification and labeling system
that was established to offer a single, easily recognizable label for
wood and forest products (Greenpeace FSC
More information: Ecologist - Don't Be Fooled By Zero Deforestation Promises
Greenpeace - Solutions To Deforestation
Huffington Post - Deforestation: The Over-Looked Climate Driver and What You Can Do About It
Music Association: Pink Floyd -
Dark Side of the Moon
Como Zoo Escapees
July 17, 2014
Three western lowland gorillas
escaped their enclosure a week ago at the Como Zoo in St.
Virgil (450 pounds),
Jabir (420 pounds),
and Sampson (390
pounds) pushed through an unlatched door into the hallway behind the
gorilla and orangutan exhibits last Thursday before the Como Zoo
opened. The escaped animals (code 99) alert was announced at
9:50am. Zoo staff found Virgil and Jabir in the hallway and coaxed them
back into their exhibit after only 20 minutes. Sampson found the
enrichment closet and was playing with the boomer balls and throwing
things around. It took a while longer to coax him back into the Gorilla
Forest exhibit. He had been out for 50 minutes.
No tranquilizers were used. The public was never endangered. The
gorillas were never harmed. If anything, the gorillas had some fun.
Compare that to the 8 year old male endangered Mexican gray wolf that
escaped Minnesota Zoo
in Apple Valley three years ago. The wolf
trotted by people on a bridge who snapped this
picture before the wolf was shot by zookeepers. Not shot as
or shot as in tranquilized, shot as in killed.
During six years (2006-2012) of the Minnesota Zoo dolphin exhibit, they
managed to kill
six dolphins. Oops.
The Minnesota Zoo could learn some things about keeping animals alive
from the Como Zoo.
Instead they seemed to have taken their lessons from China's Chendu
Zoo, which tested their emergency preparedness in 2011 by
a guy in a Tigger costume.
Music Association: Scorpions -
Movie Association: Dawn of the Planet of the
Friday, July 11th)
coverage of zoo escapes
When Drones Crash
July 14, 2014
More than 400 drones have crashed over the past 12 years. The Washington
studied the 194 upscale $2 million+ drone crashes and concluded that
most were Air Force MQ-1 Predator drones crashing in Afghanistan (67
crashes), United States (47 crashes), and Iraq (41crashes).
Crashes are on the rise :)
and plenty occur in the United States, as if the United States is
attacking the United States.
Last November, a BQM-74
drone crashed into the USS Chancellorsville at port in San
Diego, injuring two sailors. Also in November, a MQ-9
Reaper drone crashed into Lake Ontario. In October 2013, a MQ-1
Predator ($4.5 million) drone crashed in New Mexico. It was
the 9th drone crash there. Are we at war with New Mexico?!?
Pilots remotely control the drone while watching video-feed on TV. When
a MQ-1 Predator crashed in Nevada in May 2013, the pilot was saying,
thing’s kind of
climbing like a pig. Climb, you pig... Boy, this is going to
tight... Okay, interesting. We are falling out of the sky.”
When a MQ-9 Reaper crashed in Nevada in December 2012, the pilot was
in the soup here... Dude, uh, we’re not sure what the
aircraft is doing... Yeah, we crashed.”
Right before takeoff at Jalalabad air base
in eastern Afghanistan in July 2012, the MQ-1
Predator camera operator tells the pilot, “Stop
saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying.
good. Like going to the dentist or a doctor... ‘Oops?’
What the f--- you mean ‘Oops?’ ”
Moments later after crashing the MQ-1
Predator, the pilot
said, “Whoa... I
don’t know what the hell just happened.”
Music Association: Peter
Schilling - Major Tom (Coming Home)
You Are Archduke Franz Ferdinand
June 28, 2014
For today and today only, you are Archduke Franz Ferdinand Karl Ludwig
Franz Ferdinand for short.
You married Sophie for love. You once confused Austria with Australia
and in the melee killed many kangaroos, thinking they were Serbian
Today, you are acting like you are going on a car ride in a
convertible, part of a motorcade touring Sarajevo. Your special
security officers are accidentally left behind.
The first two bombers see you and Sophie smiling and can't throw their
bombs. You're doing great so far.
The third bomber is Čabrinović. He's sort of behind you when he throws
his time bomb. The bomb hits the folded roof of your car and bounces
off. Another point for you. The bomb rolls under the car behind your
car and explodes, wounding about 18 people. Čabrinović takes an old
cyanide pill, but it only induces vomitting. Čabrinović then leaps into
the nearby Miljacka River to drown himself, but due to the drought, the
river is only five inches deep. The Sarajevo crowd pulls him out and
Three other bombers fail to act.
You are doing well. But after the Sarajevo city hall, instead of taking
the new route to the hospital to visit those injured in the bomb blast,
your driver takes the old route. Another car tells your driver to
change his route and he stops the car... in front of one of the
And you had been doing so well.
From here it only gets complicated,
starting the first World War one hundred years ago today.
Cars - Drive & Sheryl Crow -
Every Day Is A Winding Road
Famous Last Words: “Sopherl! Sopherl! Sterbe nicht!
Bleibe am Leben für unsere Kinder!”
Sophie dear! Don't die!
Stay alive for our children!)
June 27, 2014
The weather forecast calls for rain again.
Three weeks into June, it was already the wetest June on record for
Now, more rain.
Harriet Island in St. Paul, which is neither an island nor a Harriet,
looks more like Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. It's flooded. The Taste of
Minnesota was scheduled to be there July 3-6th. Instead of making
everything taste soggy (or fishy), Taste is being moved to
ground, 40 miles away (the Carver County Fairgrounds in Waconia, MN).
Yesterday, the Mississippi River crested at 20.13 feet in St. Paul,
closing Shepard Road. (Other road closures.)
In Stillwater, the water is not still. The St. Croix River is expected
to crest today at 87.7 feet. The Stillwater lift bridge is closed.
Flooding has shut down three rides at Valleyfair, flooded farm fields,
caused a mudslide near the University of Minnesota medical center, and
closed bridges and roads. A dam held in Blue Mound State
Laverne, Minnesota, but the water carved its way around the dam and
emptied most of Blue Mounds Lake.
Gov. Dayton has declared a state of emergency for 34 counties.
Some roads are also closed for President
Obama's visit to Lake Harriet.
Music Associations: Beatles -
Rain & U2 - Rain
The movie The Good, the
Bad, & the Ugly
was a mistake in translation. That
was not the title. The original Italian title was Il buono, il cattivo, il brutto
(The Good, the Ugly, the Bad). Lee Van Cleef was Ugly.
So after Eli Wallach played the role of Tuco Benedicto
Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (the Bad, also known as the Rat
and saw the movie, he was surprised that (in the English translation)
suddenly he was Ugly.
condemned is found guilty of the crimes of murder, armed robbery of
citizens, state banks, and post offices, the theft of sacred objects,
arson in a state prison, perjury, bigamy, deserting his wife and
children, inciting prostitution, kidnapping, extortion, receiving
stolen goods, selling stolen goods, passing counterfeit money, and
contrary to the laws of this state...
He was Bad.
He was also the bad guy in The
. But as a commentator on the DVD release
of The Magnificent Seven
he was a very good guy
setting the highest standard for any DVD commentator. He explained the
production situation of the movie, commented on the rivalries between
the actors and their hat sizes, and told wonderful stories within the
story... enriching an already outstanding movie.
Eli Wallach died on June 24th (yesterday) at the age of 98 in New York
Music Associations: Elmer
Bernstein - The Magnificent Seven & Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or
Movie Quotation: “When
you have to shoot, shoot! Don't talk.” - Tuco
Captain America 2
June 24, 2014
Months ago, I saw Captain
America 2 in a theater. I've been meaning to review it.
It's been on my To Do list.
Captain America 2 do list
Maybe the subtitle “The
Winter Soldier” had something to do with not
reviewing the movie. Last winter made everyone a winter soldier.
I'm not an expert on Captain America or Marvel comics (Wikipedia
My understanding is that he always needed someone as a
He started with kid sidekick Bucky, then Falcon, then it was either
Hawkeye or Black Widow or they switched back and forth.
Tony Stark had the drinking problem, but everyone knew not to leave
Captain America alone. He always needed a buddy.
What's odd about Captain America is that I'm not completely certain if
he's a superhero or not.
Supposedly a shot of some miracle serum turned weakling Steve Rogers
into Captain America without any side effects. Everyone in that world
has been trying to duplicate the serum ever since. I'm
was a placebo.
Captain America is a comic book character whose only real flaw is that
he was frozen for decades since World War II.
Cap has a To Do list and is fuzzy on modern
events, but otherwise he's not really flawed. He doesn't have a problem
with being too hot or too cold. (That could be interesting.) He doesn't
visit antique shops. (That might
be interesting.) He doesn't look for exercise shortcuts. (That would
make sense.) He doesn't have a problem with being out of step with a
faster-paced world than the world of the 1940s.
Basically Cap is superman. If he were
Superman, the solution would be to take the hero out of him. DC Comics
writers regularly don't know what to do with Superman, so they make him
evil or a monster or send him away somewhere.
The plot of Captain
is ultimately Cap (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow
(Scarlett Johansson), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) against a HYDRA
infested S.H.I.E.L.D. and U.S. government out of control. The basis of
the government amuck was targeted
but it works as a post-Edward Snowden NSA-overreach movie as well.
HYDRA's plan is to trade freedom for the illusion of security.
What's odd is that Captain America is up to speed on government amuck.
He shouldn't be. Cap woke up in 2011 (movie version) not 1964 (comics
version). He doesn't know Vietnam or Watergate
or Iran-Contra or Iraq WMDs. He should be
caught in the middle, just like the rest of America.
The movie was good, just not good enough. Three shields out of five.
Music Association: Hall and
Oates - Out of Touch (Out of Time)
History Isn't Alien
D-Day Invasion of Normandy - 70 Years
June 6, 2014
Normandy was a killing field 70 years ago today. The pre-dawn
paratroopers were scattered. The aerial and naval
bombardments missed the German pillboxes. The
infantry were weighed down with heavy packs.
Despite the high Allied losses in the Normandy
assault (Operation Neptune), the beachhead was secured and an
artificial port (Port
Winston) was created.
The much more successful Operation
had the Allies attacking Trondheim, Norway (Fortitude North) and Pas de
Calais, France (Fortitude South) by July 1944. Fortitude was a
deception which threw off the Germans from the Normandy assault
(despite having problems of its own).
Music Association: La
German joke of
“If the plane in the sky is silver, it's American, if it's
it's British, if it's invisible, it's ours!”
History Isn't Alien
Tank Man - 25 Years Ago
June 5, 2014
On this day in 1989, the day after the government crackdown on protests
in Tiananmen Square, an ordinary man carrying groceries
procession of more than a dozen type-59 tanks.
Tank Man, one of the greatest humans of
all time, in Tiananmen Square, June 5, 1989 (photo by Stuart Franklin)
Music Associations: Daughtry -
Waiting For Superman & Staind - So Far Away
Clear The Air
Over LA in Search of Pollution
May 31, 2014
Science is a little bit of observation and a whole lot of dirty work.
Like many people, I noticed the rich blue skies when all the planes
were grounded after 9-11. During those three days, the U.S. airspace
was without contrails
and plane exhaust. Scientists discovered a 1°
C increase in global temperatures and a decrease in global
Recently, some west coast scientists drove a serpentine path across Los
Angeles, measuring particles of air pollution.
They crossed the paths of LA freeways, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Westmont,
and Florence neighborhoods. And they crossed under the flight paths of
The results were four times the particulate concentration at 10
kilometers east of the Los Angeles International airport (LAX) than
elsewhere in Los Angeles.
The very promising study was published this week in Environmental
Science & Technology (May 29,
2014) on newstands now. My
copy is tucked under the recent issue of PLoS One, a copy of the
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, the Applied Physics Letters, Mad
Magazine, and a dogeared copy of Health Nut journal.
- Planes pollute more than LA traffic.
Music Association: Kansas - Dust
in the Wind