Thursday, May 10, 2012

"All Summer In a Day" -OR- Pop Goes Which World?


Behold! An artist's conception of the planet Venus fully terraformed into an Earth-like world, or rather a watery jungle hothouse planet. Oh, this couldn't happen for so many reasons.

Even if it could, the ponderous rotation of the planet -- in which its day is longer than its year -- would create some sort of massive, quasi-stationary, hemisphere-spanning storm on the sunlight side of the planet centered beneath the sub-solar point that inched along as the planet rotated. Or there would be some kind of "ribbon world" weather effect.

As for the planet itself, it also rotates "backwards" -- possibly as a result of it being flipped upside down by some ancient cataclysm*, or maybe just because its crushing atmosphere torqued it and has slowly sent it into reverse.  

*The idea, dear Children, is that there were a set of cataclysms in the early Solar System that was caused by the presence of additional rocky planets in that epoch in what was a gravitationally unstable arrangement ...

... including the suspected proto-Earth / Theia oblique collision that fortuitously created the Moon as a giant "double planet" to Earth, enabling life.

And PERHAPS something that caused Venus to undergo a runaway greenhouse effect resulting in what is now pole-to-pole about 860F surface temperatures ...

... boiling off any early water (the H2 escaping into space) and turning an H2O ocean into a crushing 93-bar surface pressure CO2 atmosphere with a "shell" of sulfuric acid clouds about 50km in altitude that is in super-rotation with respect to the planet.

And the snail's pace rotation -- a Venusian day (243 Earth days) is longer than a Venusian year (224.7 Earth days) -- is probably due in some way to the crushing mass of that atmosphere torquing the planet and spinning down its rotation. (The "backwards" rotation may also be due to this rather than the planet being flipping upside down. No one really knows.)

You should all should remember Ray Bradbury's classic short story All Summer in a Day.

For ease of summary, here is the Wikipedia summary and link to downloadable Word document of the story (it's 4 pages).


Above: more terraformed Venus -- an artist's conception.

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Weeknight TV Viewing

I started this entry on Monday night but it got delayed.

I simply noted on Monday night that I was home in my wee, lamp-lit efficiency -- window a/c humming -- watching the Monday night marathon of The Golden Girls on We TV, though flipping over to TV Land to watch Everybody Loves Raymond and looking forward to The King of Queens reruns later.


It dawned on me today that Doug and Carrie Heffernan are sort of like Ralph and Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners, at least a little. Apparently, I'm so not the first one to have that idea.


"BANG! ZOOM!"

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Rainy Interlude

As for Wednesday night, it's actually a rainy one and that's good. We've had about 1/4 to 1/3 inch of rain. (Yes, I didn't post this entry until about 1240AM Thursday).

The familiar view from my 5th floor apartment looking onto the intersection of 16th and U Streets NW and New Hampshire Avenue NW this showery evening, 6:31PM, May 9, 2012.

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Northeastern U.S. radar mosaic, 2158UTC (5:58PM EDT), May 9, 2012.

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Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in base mode reflectivity, 8:03PM EDT, May 9, 2012.

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My plan was to post excerpts of the haunting and powerful epistle left behind by Ernest Callenbach, author most famous for his classic 1975 utopian-futurist novel Ecotopia (1975). This piece was published on May 6th on the TomDispatch site and then picked up on May 7th by Salon.com here.


Callenbach died last month on April 16th at age 83.

But the  epistle he wrote to be released posthumously is so profound that I simply could not figure out a way to excerpt it. The whole composition is meant to be a hopeful one, but in a sort of secularized Christian existentialist sort of way. However, his condemnation of present-day America needs to be communicated.

Excerpt:

"The looter elite systematically exports jobs, skills, knowledge, technology, retaining at home chiefly financial manipulation expertise: highly profitable, but not of actual productive value. Through 'productivity gains' and speedups, it extracts maximum profit from domestic employees; then, firing the surplus, it claims surprise that the great mass of people lack purchasing power to buy up what the economy can still produce (or import)...


"The U.S., which has a long history of violent plutocratic rule unknown to the textbook-fed, will stand out as the best-armed Third World country, its population ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, ill-cared for in health, and increasingly poverty-stricken: even Social Security may be whittled down, impoverishing tens of millions of the elderly.

"As empires decline, their leaders become increasingly incompetent -- petulant, ignorant, gifted only with PR skills of posturing and spinning, and prone to the appointment of loyal idiots to important government positions. Comedy thrives; indeed writers are hardly needed to invent outrageous events..."

Can you imagine such a piece appearing in the degenerate WaHoPo or being discussed among the Beltway pundit elite crowd?? The editorial board and its stable of neocon whores would be annihilated in a sort of moral matter-antimatter collision.

BTW, I make so secret that I would love to see The WaHoPo to go bankrupt (see previous entry). I still anticipate that event (or at least something where the paper ceases publication as a print edition daily) within 15 to 20 years (about as long as the 17th Street Gay Mafia will remain in its position).

And then there is that whole morally twisted libertarian philosophy that underpins so much of American thinking and -- combined with religious fundamentalism -- allows the corporate oligarchical overclass to enslave the populace with little trouble.

But I want to keep this an upbeat entry.

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A series of artist conception images of the terraforming of Mars (which, in totally abstract theory, would be the easiest of the other planets).


Still, though, this raises the question of exactly how many loopy, righwing, Koch Brothers-like billionaires control the whole show in America. 400?? BTW, that new book by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein entitled It's Even Worse than it Looks seems to capture exactly the sentiment that some of us have been arguing for a while.

I'm quite surprised Ornstein would write such a book -- he's been part of the courtier-overclass ensconced over at the rightwing, pimped-out American Enterprise Institute for decades.


Mars (bottom image) -- Fully Fictionally Terraformed.

Don't forget to read Paul Krugman on his daily blog. And his most recent twice-a-week New York Times op-ed columns are here and here.

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But this, Dear Children, is the world, the Ecotopia, that we have.

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And speaking of worlds ...


... here is the delightful 1987 song and accompanying video "Pop Goes the World" by the New Wave band Men Without Hats.


I'm not sure what that giant, somewhat creepy / freaky, illuminated, Chinese-looking snowman drummer creature in a top hat is supposed to be or represent, but I like it a lot.

My favorite part of the song:


"One two three and four is five,
Everybody here is a friend of mine.
Whatever happened to the Duke of Earl?
Pop Goes the World!


"Six seven eight and nine is ten,
Send Al Gunn to see the Doctor (Ben).
Say, what planet are we on? The third!
Pop goes the world!


"And everytime I wonder where the world went wrong,
End up lying on my face going ringy dingy ding dong.



"And everytime I wonder if the world is right,
End up in some disco dancin' all night and day.

"Johnny played guitar, Jenny played bass,
Name of the band is The Human Race.
Everybody tell me have you heard? Pop goes the world!"


... Pop goes the world!"

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And with that, I shall sign off for now. My next update may not be until Monday night.

--Regulus

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