Sunday Reads: Billion Pixels of Red Dust and a Cast Iron Petticoat

1921Good Morning

And here we are, another Sunday morning…well, yesterday was the first time in weeks that I found myself suffering from a migraine.  As I write this post, I still feel the after effects; that groggy disoriented unattached feeling that comes with a sense of exhaustion and overwhelming emotional blah…with all that being said, the links this morning will be quick and to the point. I just can’t muster up the energy to do anything more than that.

I am going to start with this kick ass photo from NASA. It is a billion, let me say that again….a biiiiiilllllion pixel photo of the planet Mars, and it is interactive! Seriously, take a look, there is a rock that is called “Toilet Seat Rock” and when you zoom in you can see little Marvin the Martian dude from Looney Tunes sitting there making his very own an “Earth shattering kaboom”….Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover

Original Caption Released with Image:
FireShot Screen Capture #479 - 'Mars Exploration Program_ Interactive_ Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover' - mars_nasa_gov_multimedia_interactives_billionpixel_index_cfm_image=PIA16919&view=pano
This image is a scaled-down version of a full-circle view which combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. The Full-Res TIFF and Full-Res JPEG provided in the top right legend are smaller resolution versions of the 1.3 billion pixel version for easier browser viewing and downloading. Viewers can explore the full-circle image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/.The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at PIA16918. The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.
Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Image Addition Date:
2013-06-19

That is the description of the image shown above, to get a better view of the picture you can click on the link and check it out yourself. It is freaking cool! And I bet you will spend some time getting lost in the red dust on the Martian surface.

You may have seen the next few links during the past few days, but I will put them here in link dump fashion just in case.

Goodwill pays workers with disabilities as little as 22 cents an hour – Salon.com

In 2011, the multibillion-dollar nonprofit Goodwill Industries paid Pennsylvania workers with disabilities wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department records obtained by NBC News. In 2010, an Applebee’s in a tony New York suburb hired hearing- and visually impaired employees through a placement program with the Helen Keller National Center and paid them between $3.97 per hour and $5.96, well below the state minimum wage of $7.25.

And it’s perfectly legal due to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law, as NBC reports:

Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed in 1938, allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor. The certificates give employers the right to pay disabled workers according to their abilities, with no bottom limit to the wage…

The non-profit certificate holders can also place employees in outside, for-profit workplaces including restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and even Internal Revenue Service centers.

While employers like Goodwill defend the practice as providing jobs to people who need and want them, disability and labor rights advocates have called the loophole exploitative, saying it traps workers in a “two-tiered” system that says “Americans who have disabilities aren’t as valuable as other people,” as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told NBC. “That’s wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value,” he added.

When we lived in Tampa, my brother worked for Marriott at Tampa International Airport, they paid minimum wage and with the exception of the last manager who did not want to work with the Downs students at Denny’s school, the experience was very good for both Marriott and my brother. But…this crap about below minimum wage…that is ridiculous. There is a bill proposed which could repeal Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act…but it is facing opposition. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

This next link from Digby:

This really is Big Brother: the leak nobody’s noticed

by digby

This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we’ve heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse…

She links to this article: Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

I know that this was linked to in the comments yesterday, but I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Creepy is what Boston Boomer thought about it. Yup…it sure is.

Well, in the finance news: SEC Wants Banks To Admit Wrongdoing – Business Insider

For decades, the SEC has let companies and individuals settle charges without actually admitting guilt, letting bigwigs more or less off the hook with only tacit — but not legal — acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

No longer. The Commission will begin to push for more accountability on a “case-by-case” basis, the Wall Street Journal reports:

From the Journal:

The new policy, which came out of a review [SEC Chairman] Ms. White began when she joined the agency in the spring, will be applied in “cases where…it’s very important to have that public acknowledgment [of wrongdoing] and accountability,” she told reporters at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C.

Decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, Ms. White said. But she added the agency intends to target cases of egregious intentional conduct or widespread harm to investors.

Most cases still will be allowed to settle using the standard “neither admit nor deny” formula, Ms. White said.

Washington legislators like Elizabeth Warren have recently urged the SEC to take big banks to task for wrongdoing, the Journal reports.

I can’t even think straight to make sense of anything dealing with finance, numbers, math, numbers, but I will say that I sure liked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature when it was all loopy-loops. Treasury chief’s loopy signature evolves into something almost legible – U.S. News

The official signature of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on a $5 bill, top, and Lew’s signature on a 2011 memo.

The top finance official in the federal government was given the humiliating nickname Loopty Lew. Worse still, the treasury chief is one of two people whose signatures grace United States currency. President Barack Obama joked that he might devalue the dollar.

This next item is something that worries me, hopefully it does not give us a preview of what we are going to see here.  Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New Copyright Law | TechCrunch

Google News in Germany will soon change. Starting August 1, it will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant’s news-aggregation service. Google News remains an opt-out service in the other 60 countries and languages it currently operates in, but since Germany passed a new copyright law earlier this year that takes effect on August 1, the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news.

Publishers will have to go into Google’s News tools page to agree to be indexed by Google News. Publishers who don’t do this will simply be removed from the index come August 1.

Many of Germany’s publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today’s announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change. On its German blog, Google argues that Google News currently gets 6 billion visits per month and that, if anything, it’s providing a free service for publishers that brings them more traffic.

One of the main issues with the “Leistungsschutzrecht” (how’s that for a good German word?) — the ancillary copyright law that the German government passed after large protests earlier this year — is that it’s not clear when a “snippet” becomes a snippet. The law doesn’t feature a clear definition of how long a snippet actually is (140 characters? 160? 250?).

Google always argued that the new law was neither necessary nor useful and that it wouldn’t pay for links and snippets. A number of major German publishers have already said that they will opt-in to being featured in Google News, but there is a good chance that quite a few will decide that they don’t need the traffic.

It then makes you wonder what will eventually happen here in the US, with more and more newspapers going to paywall subscription services…and what that means for bloggers and news-aggregate or RSS services.

Deep in the heart of Texas via Policy Mic: Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women’s Rights Can’t Wait

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas’ redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas.

The bill includes many provisions to limit women’s access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means.

This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women’s access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a “Culture of Life” in Texas. Such provisions have been said to “reshape the landscape” in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to.

And the latest on the Paula Deen mess:

[VIDEO] Paula Deen Apologizes but Food Network does not renew her contract.

They are lining up to stuff their mouths and support Deen In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen From Critics – NYTimes.com

This video explains the situation down in Brazil, give it a look see if you have some time.

The next few links revolve around one photo I saw yesterday on Reuters. Photos of the week | Reuters.com

FireShot Screen Capture #476 - 'Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

The caption reads:

A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, June 17, 2013.
REUTERS/Stringer

When I saw this image, it immediately made me think of an image from an old movie…from 1939. I will show you the image shortly. The film was called The Rains Came, according to TCM:

The Rains Came (1939) A lavish and expensive prestige picture, budgeted at $2.5 million, and based on a critically acclaimed novel, The Rains Came (1939) stars Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor in the mythical city of Ranchipur, India. He begins an affair with a married British noblewoman (Myrna Loy) until a massive flood, earthquake and plague disrupt everyone’s lives. To complement its huge star Tyrone Power, Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Myrna Loy and director Clarence Brown from MGM, and George Brent from Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is a splendid roster of supporting players including Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Travers, Jane Darwell, H.B. Warner and Nigel Bruce (cast against type).

It’s Power’s show all the way, however, as he is costumed stunningly in outfits ranging from turbans and satins to military uniforms and hospital whites. Power’s most significant co-star here is probably the special effects, which won the first-ever Oscar® in that category. The picture was also nominated for five further Academy Awards: Art Direction, Black-and-White Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, and Musical Score.

You can see the first scene in the film here at this link, in it you will see the statue that mimics the image in the Reuters photograph above.

Rainscame1

“The Cast Iron Petticoat”

Rains Came, The (1939) — (Movie Clip) Cast Iron Petticoat

From the opening scene, Brit artist Ransome (George Brent) and local doctor Major Safti (Tyrone Power) discuss the former’s inertia and the state of contemporary India, a missionary mother and daughter (Marjorie Rambeau, Brenda Joyce) visiting, in The Rains Came, 1939, co-starring Myrna Loy.

FireShot Screen Capture #472 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

This statue of Queen Victoria later becomes one of the iconic images in a film that was loaded with advance special effects and cinematography…from the TCM link above:

Cinematographer Arthur Miller had plenty of fascinating recollections about The Rains Came, too. He was asked to replace Bert Glennon early in production because Glennon was not lighting the sets the way Brown wanted. For a grand dinner-party scene, for instance, Brown wanted the furniture and dcor to shine, “and Glennon had made it shadowy and soft.” Miller got the brilliant, shiny look Brown was after by spraying the tables and other furniture with oil, and having the silverware polished over and over until everything glistened. “When the old Maharajah died and the veil over the bed blew a little in the wind, I made the whole scene glow as vividly as possible, to suggest a spiritual, transcendent quality.”

Miller had photographed Myrna Loy once before, on The Truth About Youth (1930), and he knew some of her tics. He described one exchange which says much about how stars of the time tried to control the technical aspects of their on-screen appearance: “She asked me before we did the test to have a matchbox light with a red gelatin on it shine in her eyes with fifteen candle power. I thought, ‘What the hell was the use of that when I already had hundreds of watts shining on her anyway?’ And I asked her what she wanted it for. And she said, ‘It makes my eyes dark.’ Crazy, of course, but I jiggled it around for her and whether she had the light and the gelatin on it or not didn’t make any difference! It was all hokum; stars get that way. Luckily, she accepted my point that the light she wanted had no sense, and from then on we got along O.K.

“But oddly enough, I did use the red gelatin once. It’s when she takes a drink in the hospital and you know she’s become infected with a disease and her face fills with shadows. I just wanted a special kind of look in her face, as though death is coming over her and she doesn’t know it. And the gelatin was wonderful for that.”

Miller continued: “I became obsessed with rain on that picture; I was always amazed when I left the studio that it wasn’t raining. I hate movie rain that falls straight down, and I know that rain never does; it always falls at an angle. I made the prop department adjust the spouts accordingly. I even shot the raindrops so they seemed much larger. You never saw such water in your life! Brent and the others took a hell of a beating on the picture. There was one scene when Nigel Bruce and his manservant were on the landing of their house and the water rushed in and ‘drowned’ them in one shot, without a cut. And in fact the actors actually took the full force of that, and even had bits of the set flying on to them! They risked their lives, even though the material was balsawood; if it had hit them the wrong way it would have killed them instantly…

“One trouble with the way they handle rain today…is that they don’t backlight it. You have to backlight rain or you don’t see it; it’s just a blur. And all the way in my picture the rain shines; it was the theme of the film.”

Beautiful, that is what the film is.

There is another post, from the blogMatte Shot that looks at how the film makers actually shot some of the sequences in this movie: Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: December 2010 Fred Sersen burns Chicago and floods Ranchipur – the effects shots from IN OLD CHICAGO and THE RAINS CAME  I will give you a quote from the section that deals with The Rains Came:

An invisible matte shot that features early on in the proceedings.  Truly a testament to the skills of the matte painter.

And here is that same matte being painted by Hector Serbaroli.  I’d like to compliment the effects cameraman for this shot too as the composite is flawless and at no time would one suspect a trick is being played on us the viewer. *Photo from the collection of Joseph Serbaroli

You need to go to the blog Matte Shot and read that post to fully understand the work behind these “old school” special effects, which I think looks way better than some of the CG shit coming out today.

Anyway, I want to show you the two photos side by side, so you can see why I thought of that specific shot from this old 1939 movie…

Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

FireShot Screen Capture #473 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

Anyway, here are the rest of the links….after the jump and yes, I am sticking with the movies for a little longer.

Photos: Ava Gardner in Her Seductive Film Noir Starlet Days | Vanity Fair

In Vanity Fair’s July issue, an excerpt from Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations delves into the oft-troubled life of the film noir starlet who became one of the most alluring, seductive women in Hollywood. Her real-life leading men included Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra—all three of whom she married and divorced. Suffice to say, the late actress’s personal life had its own share of dramatic moments. Herewith, a compendium of snapshots featuring one of cinema’s quintessential glamazons, on-screen and off.

Ava Gardner catches some air, courtside, during a 1940s photo shoot.

MovieMorlocks.com – Why a duck?

jpg00017

It’s not hard to fall in love with Duck Soup, the most gloriously anarchic of the most anarchic comedy troupe.  Whether this is your first Marx Brothers experience or not, chances are once you’ve fallen in love, you’ll want more—and the most sensible way of slaking that thirst is to go looking for more Marx Brothers films, right?  And as you obsessively track down and consume the rest of the Marx catalog, you’ll find as everyone before you has that Duck Soup represents a pinnacle of that anything-goes aesthetic, and that as you move out to the farthest periphery of the edge their films are less unbounded.

There’s an easily diagnosed and marked difference between Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera.

Duck Soup is an unruly thing, and the Marxes’ trademark anarchy extends to the structure and style of the film itself: in one celebrated scene, Groucho and Harpo perform an extended silent comedy vaudeville routine (the fabled mirror gag), which is immediately followed by a trial scene.  But Groucho changes sides during the trial, hiring the accused traitor as his Minister of War, only to have the whole scene devolve into a musical number (All God’s Chillun Got Guns).  Which is bizarre enough, were it not for the fact that the depiction of the onset of war involves such non-sequiters as Harpo getting into bed with a horse, and stock footage of monkeys rampaging.  When Groucho gets his head stuck in a vase (how?), and the response is not to break the vase and free him but to draw his face onto the vase and leave it there, that’s almost the most sensible thing that happens in the movie.

jpg00021

By (sharp) contrast, A Night at the Opera includes the Marx Brothers as wacky characters in an otherwise sensible and decidedly generic plot.  The other non-Marx characters have clearly defined motivations that inform their actions (as opposed to being cyphers whose sole purpose is to set up jokes).  The Marxes do crazy things, but even those crazy things are clearly motivated and tied to the ongoing plot.

According to every history of the Marx Brothers I’ve ever read, this transition is universally understood as a consequence of their moving from the poorly managed wilderness of Paramount to the button-down corporate world of MGM.  Not only was MGM infinitely more professional, but their producer at MGM, Irving Thalberg, was a no-nonsense mogul who consciously molded the Marx style to fit the conventional, traditionalist approach of the more august studio.

jpg00020

OK.  All of that is true.  But…

There’s something missing.  The wild anarchy of Duck Soup may be the most unhinged the Marxes ever got on film, but when you compare it to some of the other anarchic comedies of the era its actually fairly tame.

Oh yeah, go check out a bit of film history and read more about the other funky comedies of the thirties.

if charlie parker was a gunslinger,there’d be a whole lot of dead copycats: When Legends Gather #791

Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer
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London 02 Calling: The Clash to be recognised with Silver Clef Award – News – Music – The Independent

The Clash were punk pioneers but embraced reggae, blues and funk on their increasingly ambitious albums. The band’s Joe Strummer died in December, 2002, but Jones and bass player Paul Simonon have gone on to perform together again, touring with Gorillaz.

Jones added: “Nordoff Robbins do great work and it feels special to be recognised at the O2 Silver Clef Awards.”

Nordoff Robbins chairman David Munns said: “The Clash’s music has just as much influence today as it did when they first came onto the music scene in 1976. It is no wonder London Calling has been described as one of the most influential rock albums of all time.

“Having been enormously influential in the UK music scene for over 35 years, I can think of no band more deserving of this award than The Clash.”

Why Do So Many People Like Looking at Images of Women Committing Suicide? – Emily Matchar – The Atlantic

matchar_suicide2_lines.jpg

A 16th-century drawing of Cleopatra on her deathbed; a 19th-century painting of Hamlet‘s Ophelia; a 1947 photograph of Evelyn McHale, who leapt to her death from the Empire State Building; a 2009 Lanvin advertisement

This week, the shock-mongers at Vice are in trouble over a fashion spread depicting famous female writers who have committed suicide, in the act of committing suicide. There’s Sylvia Plath kneeling before the oven, historian Iris Chang with a gun in her mouth, Charlotte Perkins Gilman clutching a chloroform-soaked rag to her face. All wearing kicky retro blouses and drapey, romantic gowns, of course.

The spread created so much controversy—”ghoulish,” wrote the New York Observer; “shameful,” said Jezebel; “a new low,” said Salon—that Vice took the pictures off the website, posting a standard semi-apology (“[we] apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended”).

But Vice is hardly the first to aestheticize the suicides of famous women, to make death by one’s own hand look glamorous, even sexy. From Lucretia piercing her bare breast with a dagger, to Cleopatra clutching the asp to her milky bosom, to Ophelia floating weightlessly in a flower-filled stream, female suicide has long been a titillating subject for artists.

Even un-famous suicides have inspired art and fashion. There’s L’Inconnue de la Seine, the unknown teenage suicide fished from the river with an impossibly peaceful look on her lovely face. Her death mask, taken by a smitten morgue worker, has been inspiration for dozens of works of literature and music, as well as the basis for the Resusci Anne CPR doll, the “most kissed face” of all time. There’s Evelyn McHale, who jumped off the Empire State Building in 1947, leaving a strangely serene-looking corpse lying on top of a crushed limo. The Life magazine photo of her Sleeping Beauty-like corpse became an Andy Warhol print.

I don’t mean to offend either, but I too thought those images the Atlantic used were fascinating.

Mapping the brain: 3D atlas aims to unlock the secrets of the mind | Science | The Guardian

Scientists have created the highest resolution 3D digital model yet made of a human brain, showing features as small as 20 micrometres across – thinner than a human hair and almost on the scale of individual cells.

At 50 times the resolution of any available anatomical atlas of the brain “BigBrain” will give scientists their closest look yet at the structures that underlie aspects of the organ, ranging from cognition and language to ageing and disease.

Until now the highest resolution MRI brain scans have only been able to resolve features down to about a millimetre.

Prehistoric rock art maps cosmological belief

University of Tennessee professor finds prehistoric rock art connected; maps cosmological belief

This art features a bird holding ceremonial maces and a ceremonial monolithic axe transforming into a human face. Credit: Jan Simek, Alan Cressler, Nicholas Herrmann and Sarah Sherwood/Antiquity Publications Ltd.

It is likely some of the most widespread and oldest art in the United States. Pieces of rock art dot the Appalachian Mountains, and research by University of Tennessee, Knoxville, anthropology professor Jan Simek finds each engraving or drawing is strategically placed to reveal a cosmological puzzle.

Recently, the discoveries of prehistoric have become more common. With these discoveries comes a single giant one—all these drawing and engravings map the prehistoric peoples’ cosmological world.

Possible record-setting Gulf of Mexico dead zone predicted | Earth | EarthSky

Spring floods across the Midwest are expected to contribute to a very large and potentially record-setting 2013 Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” according to a University of Michigan ecologist and colleagues who released their annual forecast today, along with one for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Gulf forecast, one of two announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calls for an oxygen-depleted, or hypoxic, region of between 7,286 and 8,561 square miles, which would place it among the 10 largest on record.

The low end of the forecast range is well above the long-term average and would be roughly equivalent to the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined. The upper end would exceed the largest ever reported (8,481 square miles in 2002) and would be comparable in size to New Jersey.

Alaska: Cloudless view from space shows forests, fires, and evidence of global warming.

What an amazing shot! The snow-covered mountains in the southeast really stand out, and you can see a forest fire raging farther to the west. I know we’re seeing a huge swath of land, so the scale is huge—the picture shows an area about 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) across—but it’s still striking not to see any real signs of human activity here.

Or are we? The reason the state is cloudless is because of a huge high-pressure system squatting over the state. This has also brought record high temperatures to much of the state. This reminds me of the same sort of system that’s been plaguing Greenland and which caused record ice melting last year.

A new study just came out possibly linking that Greenland system to global warming. It’s not a direct link; that is, it’s not that things are warmer now so we got more melting. What may be happening is that the changing climate is affecting the pattern of the jet stream, causing warmer high-pressure systems to sit and stay in one place in what’s called a blocking pattern.

In other words, weather patterns are changing because the climate is changing. The Arctic climate system in particular may be undergoing a rapid evolution due to changing conditions there; loss of sea ice (which exposes darker water, increasing the amount of heat absorbed from sunlight), the wobbling of the jet stream, and more subtle variations are playing havoc with the normal weather.

I tell you, go look at the picture….

Finally, damn this is one freaking long ass post!

Thousands rock the roll at Duct Tape Festival – NBC News.com

Duct tape festival crowd

Ken Blaze / for NBC News
A giant duct tape Mr. Potato Head watches over the crowd at the 10th annual Duct Tape Festival in Avon, OH. on Saturday, June 15, 2013.

Duct tape can fix anything, even a festival.

Avon, Ohio is host to the 10th annual Duct Tape Festival this weekend and tens of thousands are attending for the crafty duct tape floats, costumes, parades and sculptures. Like many things involving duct tape, the festival’s concept was a fix born of a crisis.

Wow. This should be one post you can bookmark and come back to during the day. Have fun this Sunday and I will catch ya later in the comments.


47 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Billion Pixels of Red Dust and a Cast Iron Petticoat”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Edward Snowden has flown from Hong Kong to Moscow with the help of Wikileaks.

    NPR this morning quoted Wikileaks as saying that Snowden had gone to a “democratic country.”

    Interesting. First he goes to one country that spies on its citizens, and now to another country that spies on its citizens–all with the supposed goal of revealing that the U.S. spies on its citizens.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Snowden’s ultimate destination could be either Cuba or Venezuela. Maybe his purpose was to tour the world on other people’s money?

      • RalphB says:

        Seems to be working out for him, so far anyway, Some hero!!

        • janicen says:

          I chatted with one of my friends, a liberal, who has done work for the NSA. I wondered what he thought about Snowden. He didn’t skip a beat, he said, “He’s a traitor. Nothing more.”

          I don’t agree with the notion that the gov’t is listening in to all conversations and their power is getting greater by the minute, but my friend says that they have thwarted a lot more terrorist plots and activities than we will ever know about. I guess that’s how they win though. We’ve gone from an open society to a closed society thanks to these psychopaths.

    • RalphB says:

      Stolen from Betty Cracker at Balloon-juice…

      MOSCOW – June 23, 2013 – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. His ultimate destination is thought to be Venezuela by way of Havana. However, during Snowden’s Moscow stopover, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stole his laptop.

      “He said he wanted to see my laptop, so I showed it to him in the airport lounge,” said Snowden. “Putin picked it up and said, ‘I could kill someone with this.’”

      “I reached out to take it back, but his secret service guys surrounded him, and he walked out of the airport with my fucking laptop!” Snowden continued. “Son of a bitch!”

      Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

      • bostonboomer says:

        LOL! Send that to Bob Kraft!

        • Ha that is funny. But seriously, the irony of it all is too much…

          Interesting. First he goes to one country that spies on its citizens, and now to another country that spies on its citizens–all with the supposed goal of revealing that the U.S. spies on its citizens.

    • Fannie says:

      It’s crazy, spies like Snowden.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I love this post! Sorry to post other stuff first. I have look at some of the links and will follow more ASAP.

    • Hey, I’m glad you did post that news first. Snowden…In the words of another Looney Tunes character….What a maroon.

      • Fannie says:

        JJ hope you are feeling better and thanks for all the links………..I heart is with Brazil, and it’s people…………they are no different than other countries like Spain and Turkey, etc.

        • I actually thought that Brazil was doing better economically than Spain and other European countries. But guess I was wrong.

          I am feeling better, it has been a while since I have had a migraine. The longest I have gone between headaches since I was a little kid.

      • janicen says:

        Thanks for that link about The Clash. I love them. I have them on my workout mix.

        • I’ve had that link to the picture of Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer saved for weeks. When I saw The Clash was getting a lifetime award in Britain, it gave me a chance to use it.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    What is the matter with Texas when they keep reelecting Rick Perry as governor.

    The “war on women”is real no matter how much those morons on Fox deny the truth but who, at the same time, are exempt from the restrictions if they came their way.

    The nation in on respect has “moved on”. We now employ drones to do our dirty work and the government has carte blanch to spy on the rest of us but leaving a woman to decide her fate just cannot get out of the gate in some states,

    The stupid people are in charge and this is to have a long lasting effect on this nation when one segment of the population is denied their right of determination.

    But the obscene irony is that when these women are forced to carry to term, the Texas Leg has decreed that all healthcare access, along with supporting programs that would feed and house these unwanted childen, have been diluted to the basics/

    And don’t get me started on the lack of educational opportunities that have been gutted in an effort to introduce “austerity measures”.

    When one speaks of ignorance all eyes will be on Texas, its idiot governor, and a state legislature who are unable to look beyond their own selfishness,

  4. RalphB says:

    NYT: America Can Take a Breather. And It Should.

    I find myself largely in agreement with this Rchard Haass editorial.

    • Babama says:

      I sure didn’t like this part,

      “And with only modest government funds we could foster public-private partnerships to rebuild this country’s often crumbling infrastructure, refashion immigration policy to give preference for visas and green cards to many more immigrants with advanced degrees and needed skills, and above all reduce long-term entitlement obligations, cutting the ratio of public debt to G.D.P.”

      Sounds a lot like accelerate the privatization our public infrastructure, import lower paid contract engineers, scientists, technicians while eliminating American’s jobs at the professional/technical level (just as I’ve watched happen at my dw’s r & d job for the past
      five years), and wait for it, cut social security and medicare/medicaid!

      The paragraph before that one hinted at “school choice”. Dismantle the public education system?

      Seriously?

      I didn’t see one word about how now might be a good time, since we have this blessed “breathing room”, to expect the uber rich and corporations to step up and pay their fair share. Seeing as they’ve taken all most all the gains lately.

      Same familiar bs, wrapped in a shinier package.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Haass is head of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s practically the ultimate leader of the elite class.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Press release from Hong Kong government on Snowden’s departure.

    http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201306/23/P201306230476.htm

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Michael Hastings Sent Email About FBI Probe Hours Before Death

    Here’s the email, with the recipients’ names redacted.

    Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA
    Hey (redacted names) — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

    Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

    All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

    Michael

    • janicen says:

      That “big story” part is the most chilling to me.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Cannonfire has some ideas about what he was working on. But really, it doesn’t seem there’s any evidence it wasn’t just a horrible accident. Usually people get suicided with a shot to the head when they’re home alone or in a hotel room.

        • janicen says:

          I read his stuff. I was all set to dismiss it as interesting but unlikely until the reveal of the email. I’m reminded of the Marilyn Monroe story as well as the story of the death of Dorothy Kilgallen. bb, you might remember her either from the original shows or the reruns of What’s My Line?. She died under mysterious circumstances after telling friends that she was going to go public with some previously unknown details about the JFK assassination. My late brother was a journalist/comm professor who was very interested in the story. He got me interested in it. It just makes my tinfoil hat twitch when someone announces or tells friends that they are going public with some stuff about a powerful figure and then suddenly dies themselves under mysterious circumstances. Like Lee Child says in the Jack Reacher novels, there are no coincidences. Just saying.

  7. bostonboomer says:
      • bostonboomer says:

        Nobody has *won* as far as I can tell. This whole thing of labeling people is ridiculous. I’m certainly not a “National Security-crat.” I think it would be just fine if the CIA and the NSA were broken into 1,000 pieces.

        It’s pretty clear that Snowden’s goal wasn’t to make changes in the the intel system or to help other Americans, and because I suspected that now I have to be labeled as supporting something I’m not?

        This is exactly like what happened in 2008. The people who were fooled by Obama are the same ones getting fooled by Snowden and Greenwald. These are people who are so naive that they pin their hopes on some person and then lie to themselves about who that person is instead of looking at reality.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Snowden might just as well be running a CIA black op to discredit all criticism of the American surveillance state.

          • Maybe, but that was why one of the reasons I put the link to that no Mr. nice guy blog on this comment thread. You had put that tweet about if Snowden had guide to what Russia does to journalist, I thought that bit about picking Venezuela as a place to run to was a good connection.

            Now, why Venezuela? I wonder if Snowden actually read this 2012 Business Insider post, titled “If You Had to Disappear, Where Would You Go?,” written by Simon Black of the Web site Sovereign Man:

            Black wrote while Chavez was still alive, but if what he wrote was accurate at the time, I imagine some of it still is:

            … Venezuelans have a rich ethnic mix– African, European, indigenous, etc. Almost any westerner can pass as Venezuelan, so white or black, you don’t necessarily stick out.

            Further, Hugo Chavez’s brand of National Socialism has created a largely cash society in Venezuela. There are few financial records from which anyone could be tracked, unlike in developed countries up north where constantly using your MasterCard pinpoints your exact location to any government agency paying attention.

            Then there’s the bit about the extradition treaty….

            There is a US-Venezuela extradition treaty dating back to 1922. However it’s riddled with ambiguities and contains an extremely limited list of extraditable offenses (e.g. bigamy…seriously?) Even when the treaty does apply, Hugo Chavez rarely cooperates….

        • BB I’m not labeling you…please don’t think I am. I thought the part about Venezuela was interesting…but you sure are right about this:

          This is exactly like what happened in 2008. The people who were fooled by Obama are the same ones getting fooled by Snowden and Greenwald. These are people who are so naive that they pin their hopes on some person and then lie to themselves about who that person is instead of looking at reality.

  8. Okay, this little comment made me laugh. GOP Rep. Rogers Blasts Snowden: Just Go To North Korea, Iran To Round Out ‘Government Oppression Tour’ | Mediaite

    House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers excoriated NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for his trip to Moscow and potentially Cuba Sunday morning, telling Meet the Press host David Gregory that, “If he could go to North Korea and Iran, he could round out his government oppression tour.”