Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Night Blog Dump

Entry #350 ... I'm a bit short on images for this entry.

The Smithsonian Castle / Enid Haupt Garden, Washington, D.C., 5:52PM, June 16, 2010. My walk home from walk -- about 2 miles -- actually takes me from near L'Enfant Plaza and across the National Mall.

It was incredibly humid and warm just ahead of a rain-less frontal passage.

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OK, I've been eager to write a vitriolic and bitchy blog entry all day -- even as I sat in torporific agony beneath the fluorescent lights in the office area of my new job -- BUT! I am NOT complaining about that because I'm glad to have that job, and my actual worry is that it is not going to be renewed by mid-October.

The Smithsonian Castle, 5:52PM, June 16, 2010.

The Smithsonian Institution's flag design looks vaguely like the BP logo.

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And this point, I can't tell what my boss is thinking. And she is so busy and has such a strong personality -- and I'm so petrified -- that it is hard for me to say anything. I probably speak to her 1 to 2 minutes in all on an average day.

I started to become productive in the last hour as I finally figured out an opening angle on the preliminary draft for what will at some point become a DOE consumer fact sheet on small wind electric systems, one of a half dozen or more whose content I am to produce. Hint: I borrowed the famous "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" line from Bob Dylan's eponymous 1963 song (which I've never actually really liked).

For the on one air sealing techniques in the home, I used the "Mind the Gap" announcement from the London underground system.

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Anyway, on to the complaining before wrapping up on a more positive note.

First, the D.C. weather ...

After suffering through miserable heat and humidity this disgusting June 2010, we had a shitty cold frontal passage that gave us NO rain, and once again the precip. values forecasted by the NWS were severely overdone.

We have been getting scant rainfall for the last few months, and because National Airport (DCA) sucks so badly as a weather observation station, esp. when for snowy winters such as the record-breaking one this past winter, it is extra below normal.

Here is the precipitation total update through 5PM today, and this will be good for the end-of-day tally as well since there is no precipitation forthcoming today -- or the next week at least (and the daily departures are already included):

DCA
Month: 0.83"
Normal: 1.79"
Dept. -0.96"
Year-to-date: 12.56"
Normal: 17.82"
Dept. -5.26"
Last year-to-date: 21.33"
YTD versus LYTD: -8.77"

BWI
Month: 1.04"
Normal: 1.96"
Dept. -0.92"
Year-to-date: 18.65"
Normal: 19.27"
Dept. -0.62"
Last year-to-date: 22.60"

IAD
Month: 0.53"
Normal: 2.38"
Dept. -1.85"
Year-to-date: 17.24"
Normal: 19.19"
Dept. -1.95"
Last year-to-date: 25.52"

Here is the shitty climograph for DCA for 2010 through June 16, 2010. Screw you, D.C.

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Naturally, the LWX weather crew are titillated over this situation, as is the Weird, Giant Headed Creature on WJLA channel 7, Doug Hill. Of note, WRC channel 4 TV weather institution Bob Ryan is on channel 7 these days, which is sad. There was a contract dispute or something last year or earlier this year.

And the bulk of the population is also thrilled to have it sunny and dry and the warmer (but not more humid) the better.

My mornings are ruined by that blaring ball of blinding light in the eastern sky that mocks me and proves this existence is sort of stupid and pointless.

Look, the Sun annoys me, at least when it shines endlessly down on Washington, D.C, OK?

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St. Dominic Church near L'Enfant Plaza in the otherwise forgotten section of Southwest, Washington, D.C., 1:08PM, June 17, 2010

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My day was also soured by the fact the fucking Dow Jones Industrial Average had to end up slightly -- once again ensuring the world is safe another bitch day for criminal corporate oligarchy -- I'm thinking of the entire complex from military-industrial to financial-and-banking to Big Pharma to Big Oil, and American - style war-and-money-crazed imperialism in general.

Oh, and speaking of Big Oil, we had that pathetic Tony Hayward (Tory - BP) on Capitol Hill "don't know-ing" and "I can't answer that-ing" through agonizing hours before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today.

But the highlight of the day was Rep. Joe Barton (R - Little Big Oil Shithead) abjectly "apologizing" to the hapless Hayward for the "shakedown" of his beloved evil BP Empire by the Obama White House as a result of the mutually agreed to $20 billion escrow account the criminal company is setting up to pay all "legitimate" damage claims (in addition to the clean up costs) as a result of the ongoing BP oil rupture ecological and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Barton called it a "slush fund."

Barton is from the Great State of Texas, which I sooooo wish would just secede already along with about 10 to 15 other states in the South and interior so that the remainder of the country could be a conservative Canada, as opposed to a religio-crazed whack-job empire.

And his particular oil slick district south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex is as GOP safe as they come -- meaning its filled with mega-churches, strip malls, corporate headquarters, SUVs, guns, and religious nuts -- trust me, I know, I lived not far from there once many years ago, and it's only gotten worse.

Barton had to abjectly backtrack and apologize after his own GOP House leadership under John Boehner (R - Boner) turned on him and threatened to take away his ranking committee membership status.


What is sad, annoying, and vexing about this is that Barton was merely reflecting GOP talking points that came out yesterday and that were spewed by the Pigboy (R - Pilonidal Cyst, Vietnam) and the rest of the Rightwing Hate Radio/Cable and the Republican Study Committee (which consists of 114 House Republicans) put out yesterday but that was taken down (but preserved here).

The words "shakedown" and "slush fund" were lifted directly from the GOP Talking Points. And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R - Batshit Crazy) said much the same thing yesterday.

What happened, though, is that their mentally-ill hate-speech suddenly was hit with a bright and very public spotlight in the House committee today. And as Rachel Maddow pointed out tonight, the GOP basically revealed its "alternate vision": apologies to BP, more catastrophes, and nothing else.

I was actually thinking about this earlier and it seems to me that the GOP insanity -- yesterday with the help of pussy "centrist" Democrats blocking an unemployment bill extension in the Senate and today unveiling some weird "guns for everyone on public lands" bill in the House*.

*The bill, HR 5523, is sponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R - Crazy) from Montana and co-sponsored by the usual GOP farrago of nuts. If you read his office's press release, you'll see that "Washington, D.C." is actually misspelled.

I suppose that isn't so much a "mistake" as showing his "anti-establishment fervor" -- at least on Planet Tea Bagger.

But I want to make another point: the GOP crazies of today aren't some "alien" or "evil" presence in the American Body Politic. They are rather the yin-and-yang horse's ass end of their contemporary Democratic counterparts, in particular, the milquetoast, corporate Bush butt-kissing "blue dog" idiots and Washington Post editorial board and op-ed pundit types.

And this brings me back also to that New York Times online opinionator column by J.M. Bernstein the other day entitled The Very Angry Tea Party. The reason for all this American libertarian and tea party insanity is precisely because so many institutions have failed so spectacularly that it stripes away the comforting American myth that we're all rugged individualists.

As I wrote in that entry, it's why tea-baggers and the hard right of the GOP (to the extent these are distinct political entities) are so crazy, irrational, and paranoid nihilists -- they were whacked in the head by reality and discovered that their libertarian - individual myth of America in the 21st Century is just that, a bunch of bullshit with no bearing in actual world, and they aren't Ayn Rand / ruggedly individualistic free agents, and never were or will be, and so they've lost their mind like a jilted lover who can't get over the rejection.

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Two other quick items:

The good people of Louisiana even in this tragedy apparently can't get oil or Bobby Jindal, at least according to this stupid poll.

As for the Talking Points Memo blog, I stopped reading it on a daily basis because I'm sick of its polling data: it keeps giving big, huge weight to the Rasmussen poll that shows Obama at at -13 to -15 in his approval/disapproval -- about 17 points different than even the CNN and Gallup polls.

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OK, that's enough political commentary. And I think I'm going to wrap up this entry.

However, let me try to end on a slightly more uplifting note ...

The retrograde motion of Mars in during the 2009 - 2010 period -- caused as Earth "caught up" and "passed" Mars. The bright blue star in the far lower left is, yes, REGULUS! This was the June 13, 2010 APOD.

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OK, that's all for now. I wanted to post another happy thought or image but it is late (12:41AM Friday) and I need to go to bed now.

--Regulus

4 comments:

krzysztof said...

Oh what a great commentary!!! You are in a top form! Even as I read it I inadvertently started humming "and I'm proud to be an American".

Two other points
1) I'm sorry that the Sun annoys you but you surely must realize that you are in minority on this one:-) Besides it has another 5,000,000,000 years to live so you may want to try and get used to it:-)
2) How do you know about "mind the gap"? Is it something that everyone knows but me? I hadn't heard it until I moved to London. I love it now!

Regulus said...

Well, what I should have said is that the Sun when it is shining like that on summer mornings when I'm on my way to an office cubicle really bothers me.

The Sun's actual final death will be much longer than that is by "death" we mean when it ceases even to be a white dwarf -- more on the order of 10^54 years (not sure what "large number" that is, and I'm sure the U.S. and the old-style British system differ by a huge amount in what that is).

Actually, a quick Google look up tells me its a "septendecillion".

That's when it ceases to have any power output, when proton (baryon) decay (which is still theoretical, I believe, since the Universe isn't really old enough to have observed that yet) has removed enough mass that the object is no longer a "degenerate" one (i.e. electrons are no longer squashed into the nucleus), and it is basically a lump of pitch black hydrogen ice in a star-less Universe (all the other stars having long since gone out, too).

Of course, the Sun could have a catastrophic end long before this happens -- it could be gobbled up by a black hole.

I'm getting all his info from a remarkable paper I once found called "The Future Evolution of White Dwarf Stars Through
Baryon Decay and Time Varying Gravitational Constant" by Jacob A. Ketchum and Fred C. Adams, linked here.

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As I texted you last night, I think Mr. Sirius's blog has some sort of virus or Trojan on it. See my blog to him.

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Last night, Gloria, Gary, and I ended up at Cobalt -- and I basically rescued her from what I perceived to be two straight guys masquerading as gay guys just being friendly to her. When I came by, they left instantly.

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So June 22nd is your big day?? You should have clarity going forward. Yes? Or will this just cause more paralysis and uncertainty on your part?

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OK, sorry to go on for so long. I hope you're doing well. I'm going to a concert in Kensington, Md., with LP today -- something about English music.

krzysztof said...

This is odd. I didn't receive a text from you!

Anyway, fascinating stuff about the Sun. I know very very little about this. Heliophysicist reside on floor 6M and I'm on the 7th and it's just too far to go and ask:-) Joke.
In any case I thought that at some point it will run out of hydrogen for fusion and it will be all helium and heavier elements and that will hapen much sooner than in septendecillion years. I will definitely read the paper you linked.

June 22nd. I may not have a final answer on that day as certain slight complications arose but I should know sometime next week anyway. Whichever way it goes it will decrease uncertainty.

It's nice you were protective of Gloria. Men can be beasts!
(Don't look at me!:-))

Regulus said...

So the June 22nd thing may go badly and you will be told you DON'T qualify for a U.S. visa?? Is that the complication? I didn't realize that was a possibility.

Re. the Sun, yes, it will cease its fusion process in about 5 billion years after it goes through its bloated red giant phase and much of its material is ejected off on massive solar winds. What will remain is an intensely hot compact or degenerate matter phased object that just cools slowly throughout eternity.

Eventually, it cools enough to become a lump of degenerate hydrogen ice.

The issue is whether this means the Sun (and any star) will "evaporate" slowly through proton decay so that eventually it loses enough mass that it ceases to be degenerate and actually expands back out -- since degenerate matter has the odd property of being smaller the more massive it is.

The authors estimate that a white dwarf would expand from an Earth-sized object to a Neptune-sized object before -- over unfathomable stretches of time -- evaporating slowly back down, and "ceasing" to be a star when its power output falls under some negligible amount (I can't recall the number the use).

Now this presupposes that the Sun (or any star) isn't gobbled up by a black hole or meets some other catastrophic end. And we're talking about stars that end their lives as white dwarfs, not as neutron stars or black holes.

In theory, eventually, the object will shrink down to, well, nothing. So in theory, at some unimaginably distant "day" in a what cosmetologists, I mean, cosmologists call Deep Time, what was once the Sun would just be an ice-cubed size piece of nearly absolute zero hydrogen ice.