Wednesday Reads: Damn you Firefox!

Good Morning, my Firefox automatically updated last night and it was a mess. Error messages with every load of a webpage and I could not get the thing to stop updating itself when I would uninstall and try to reinstall the earlier version. So….consequently this post will be brief, and small. I will post something more substantial later on this afternoon.

NWLuna mentioned this first item last night in the comment section. Church of England votes against allowing women bishops

The Church of England has been plunged into its gravest crisis in decades after legislation that would have allowed female clergy to become bishops, and swept away centuries of entrenched sexism, was rejected by just six votes.

In dramatic scenes at Church House in Westminster, a long-awaited measure that was the result of 12 tortuous years of debate and more than three decades of campaigning was defeated by lay members, prompting one bishop to warn that the established church risked becoming “a national embarrassment”.

The legislation had needed a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod to pass, but, despite comfortably managing that in both the houses of bishops and clergy, it was dealt a fatal blow in the laity, where lay members voted 132 votes in favour and 74 against. If just six members of the laity had voted for instead of against, the measure would have been passed.

Six votes? That is all? WTF?

Well, the sun had a big eruption the other day, Sun produced coronal mass ejection, or CME.

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) captured the image of today’s CME at 8:54 a.m. EST (13:54 UTC), about two hours after it left the sun.

NASA says the CME left the sun at speeds of 450 miles per second, which, it says, is a slow-to-average speed for this type of solar phenomenon. When a CME erupts from the sun, a geomagnetic storm occurs, producing beautiful auroras, or northern lights, for those at northerly latitudes.

NASA says that, in the past, CMEs with the slow-to-average speed of the November 20 event haven’t typically caused substantial geomagnetic storms. NASA explained:

They have caused auroras near the poles but are unlikely to cause disruptions to electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.

Bottom line: The sun produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME, today (November 20, 2012). See a photo of the CME leaving the sun in this post.

Perhaps it is the beginning of the end? There is one place that will be safe when the shit hits the fan!

Bugarach: the French village destined to survive the Mayan apocalypse

Bugarach … the place to spend Christmas this year?

Bugarach … AKA ‘the doomsday destination’. Photograph: Reuters

Up in the foothills of the Pyrenees, in a tiny village nestled amid breathtaking landscapes and eagles in flight, a man in a woolly hat pushes a wheelbarrow up a narrow street whistling to himself as the smell of woodsmoke drifts out of chimneys. The only sight slightly out of place are 20 zombies, staggering wild-eyed and bleeding, down the mountain path. But, unlike most of the bizarre things said about this place, the zombies at least make sense. “We’re making a pastiche film about the apocalypse for our university leaving do,” says Joel, 23, a pharmacy student from Montpellier dressed in a torn grey suit with two black eyes and a dribble of blood from his mouth. His student friend, a dwarf in a cow suit, adds: “Bugarach was the perfect setting. Everyone knows this village as the world centre of armageddon, we couldn’t resist.”

Bugarach, with its two narrow streets, 176 residents, little agriculture, scores of wild orchids and virtually no pollution, was barely heard of a few years ago. Now, it’s arguably the most famous village in France, known variously as “the village at the end of the world“, the “chosen village”, or as CNN put it, “the doomsday destination”.

According to a prophecy/internet rumour, which no one has ever quite got to the bottom of, an ancient Mayan calendar has predicted the end of the world will happen on the night of 21 December 2012, and only one place on earth will be saved: the sleepy village of Bugarach. The mayor, Jean-Pierre Delord, a farmer in his 60s, first spotted the apocalyptic forecast online two years ago after being alerted by a villager. He mentioned it at a council meeting, suggesting special security measures, perhaps army logistics, to handle an influx of visitors in December 2012. Someone at the meeting told the local press and before long world news agencies and Japanese TV crews were pacing the cobbles asking baffled villagers their views on armageddon.

A dwarf in a cow suit? Hmmm, sounds like a perfect place for me.

And what seems ironic, this next article is about the last typewriter being made in the UK…considering the problems I am having with Firefox, I think a old manual typewriter may be just the ticket.  UK’s ‘last typewriter’ produced

A typewriter, which its makers say is the last to be built in the UK, has been produced at a north Wales factory.

Manufacturer Brother, which says it has made 5.9 million typewriters since its factory in Wrexham opened in 1985, has donated the last machine to London’s Science Museum.

The museum said the piece represented the end of a technology which had been “important to so many lives”.

Edward Bryan, a worker at the factory since 1989, made the last typewriter.

“If people ever ask me, I can always say now, as a strange question, that I’ve made the last typewriter in the UK,” he told BBC Breakfast’s Colin Paterson.

He said he had previously “tried and succeeded to make one with my eyes closed”.

I typed up my final history paper on an electric typewriter, all 160 pages of it! I no longer have that typewriter but it was nice to not worry about losing documents because of a computer problem. Seriously, if anyone has suggestions or knows of an old manual portable typewriter for sale, in working condition, please….let me know!

It is almost 4 am here in Banjoland, that is all I can muster up this morning. See y’all later today, I promise a big post this afternoon.


Wednesday Reads: Heat Waves and Solar Flares

Good morning.

Here are a few stories to get you started this morning.

Russia Sends Warships on Maneuvers Near Syria – NYTimes.com

Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines.

The announcement appeared intended to punctuate Russia’s effort to position itself as an increasingly decisive broker in resolving the antigovernment uprising in Syria, Russia’s last ally in the Middle East and home to Tartus, its only foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union. The announcement also came a day after Russia said it was halting new shipments of weapons to the Syrian military until the conflict settled down.

Confused about the Libor Scandal? Well, you don’t have to be anymore…

Behind the Libor Scandal – Graphic – NYTimes.com

Complete with little men holding briefcases…

Click the link up top to see the full graphic. What is with that dude and the monocle?

This is good news: U.S. Episcopal Church approves blessing of gay unions

The U.S. Episcopal Church on Tuesday approved a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions, including gay marriages in states where they are legal, becoming the largest U.S. religious denomination to approve such a ritual.

Delegates to its triennial convention voted 171-50 to approve the liturgy, titled “the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant.” Episcopal bishops had voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of the text.

Now the next few links are on Climate Change. Yesterday, I spied on Drudge, an interesting example of manipulation. I even took a screenshot of the thing and planned on using it for this post. I can’t find that file, the little bugger is lost somewhere in my computer. Fortunately Drudge has an archive of its pages…and I found it!

There were two links together, you know how Drudge will put the multiple links to different sources on the same topic together, usually separated with a line above and below. If you don’t follow my description, check out the page here.

Well, there were two stories on “one” topic, the one story was about the sun and its extraordinary solar flares this year…that the sun is extremely active, as science has said, it is on the end of the active cycle which should quiet down after 2013. Anyway, it was a headline about strongest solar flares have been reported this year. And directly above that was a headline about the summer heat wave, the suggestion was big solar flares = hot weather…

Here is a screen shot of the page.

And here is the part I wanted to bring to your attention.

I don’t know maybe I am taking it too far but I swear, that is what it looked like to me.

Anyway, the rest of the links are on the recent heat wave, and how scientists are connecting it to global warming.

Back-to-back La Niñas cooled globe and influenced extreme weather in 2011

La Niña.
The lead character of the 2011 climate story was a double dip La Niña, which chilled the Pacific at the start and end of the year. Many of the 2011 seasonal climate patterns around the world were consistent with common side effects of La Niña. More information.

Worldwide, 2011 was the coolest year on record since 2008, yet temperatures remained above the 30 year average, according to the 2011 State of the Climate report released online today by NOAA. The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society (AMS), was compiled by 378 scientists from 48 countries around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice and sky.

“2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme events, both in the United States and around the world,” said Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D. “Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment. This annual report provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come.”

Scientists attribute extreme weather to man-made climate change | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Climate change researchers have been able to attribute recent examples of extreme weather to the effects of human activity on the planet’s climate systems for the first time, marking a major step forward in climate research.

The findings make it much more likely that we will soon – within the next few years – be able to discern whether the extremely wet and cold summer and spring so far experienced in the UK this year are attributable to human causes rather than luck, according to the researchers.

Last year’s record warm November in the UK – the second hottest since records began in 1659 – was at least 60 times more likely to happen because of climate change than owing to natural variations in the earth’s weather systems, according to the peer-reviewed studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and the Met Office in the UK. The devastating heatwave that blighted farmers in Texas in the US last year, destroying crop yields in another record “extreme weather event”, was about 20 times more likely to have happened owing to climate change than to natural variation.

Texas drought, British heat linked to climate change | Reuters

Climate change increased the odds for the kind of extreme weather that prevailed in 2011, a year that saw severe drought in Texas, unusual heat in England and was one of the 15 warmest years on record, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Overall, 2011 was a year of extreme events – from historic droughts in East Africa, northern Mexico and the southern United States to an above-average cyclone season in the North Atlantic and the end of Australia’s wettest two-year period ever, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom’s Met Office said.

In the 22nd annual “State of the Climate” report, experts also found the Arctic was warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, on average, with Arctic sea ice shrinking to its second-smallest recorded size.

Heat-trapping greenhouse gas concentrations – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide among others – continued to rise last year, and the global average atmospheric concentration for carbon dioxide went over 390 parts per million for the first time, an increase of 2.1 ppm in 2010.

“Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment,” Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said in a statement. “This annual report provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come.”

Does climate change increase the odds of extreme weather events? – CSMonitor.com

Climate change increased the odds for the kind of extreme weather that prevailed in 2011, a year that saw severe drought in Texas, unusual heat in England and was one of the 15 warmest years on record, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Overall, 2011 was a year of extreme events – from historic droughts in East Africa, northern Mexico and the southern United States to an above-average cyclone season in the North Atlantic and the end of Australia‘s wettest two-year period ever, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom‘s Met Office said.

In the 22nd annual “State of the Climate” report, experts also found the Arctic was warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, on average, with Arctic sea ice shrinking to its second-smallest recorded size.

And what is on Fox News, as far as climate change is concerned? Well, check it out: Answer to speedy tree growth lies in air pollution, Auburn University study shows | Fox News

As the scientific community worries about greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming, a new Auburn University study suggests the Southeastern U.S. absorbs more carbon than it produces. And, at least in the short term, air pollution may actually be helping to speed the growth of young, carbon-absorbing forests in the region.

“Our study actually showed that Southeast carbon uptake is much faster than other regions,” said Hanqin Tian, a professor at Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, and lead author of the study published in the journal Ecosystems. “This area has trees that are very young and the growth is very fast. So, they uptake more carbon from the atmosphere.”

While earlier studies have examined the effect of individual factors on carbon storage and climate change, Tian developed a computer model that takes into account multiple natural and manmade variables – such as land use, climate and pollution – over the past century.

The model suggests that moderate amounts of air pollution, in the form of carbon and nitrogen, had a fertilization effect on young forests. Many of these new trees appeared on abandoned agricultural land during the mid-20th century.

“In the short term, it could increase the carbon uptake,” Tian said. “But that’s not guaranteed for long.”

That is the only climate related news on Fox’s homepage. It all just makes me mad, yeah…it is hot as hell but it must be because of them solar flares!

Just a note, I haven’t been able to comment much lately…but I have read everything and the posts have been outstanding. Dakinikat and Boston Boomer are really putting out some great stuff. Thank you! And thanks to all who are commenting, please keep it up!


Sunday Reads: Private Property, Balls and Chains & 10-year-old Fashion Models

Good Morning, another Sunday has come…I read somewhere this week that there was some massive solar flares, and I am not 100% sure, but my internet has been very wonky and I bet it is because of that.  Unfortunately, since the internet is down…I can’t go look for that article. Maybe by the time I finish writing today’s post it will be up again.

High Fashion vs. Dame Helen Mirren | Mother Jones

Sixty-six year old actress Helen Mirren was recently voted the female “body of the year” by Los Angeles gym patrons, beating out Jennifer Lopez and Pippa Middleton and other younger competitors. Mirren’s enviable physique has been the focus of many a photographer (and an SNL skit) and it is formidable. While it may not be realistic for the average sixty-something woman to have Mirren’s figure, I was thankful that at least the people who voted her the “body of the year” chose an actual mature woman as a sex symbol.
Take a look at her picture. It is amazing isn’t it? It is so refreshing to see young people pick her for body of the year.  I mean when you consider the 10-year-old fashion model Thylane Blondeau, who was featured in French Vogue this month, and in rather provocative images.  More on that in a bit…
As for Mirren, well, her figure is remarkable but at least within the realm of reality. It’s encouraging that even the body-conscious gym-goers of Los Angeles see a womanly figure as something to celebrate. New York fashion world, you could take a page from their book. Maybe sixty is the new size zero.

Thylane Loubry Blondeau, a 10-year-old model with a sultry stare beyond her years, had the fashion industry drooling after posing for French Vogue. But photos of the Parisian preteen, whose lanky body and gap-toothed pout bring to mind full-grown size-zero magazine cover girls, have reignited the debate over the sexualization of young girls.

Wearing makeup, high heels and haute couture, Blondeau looks a far cry from a typical 10-year-old. Even in childish smocks and cotton tees, her expressions are oddly adult — a product, perhaps, of living half her young life in the fashion world (she reportedly hit the runway for Jean-Paul Gauthier at age 5). And some say Blondeau’s grown-up beauty is giving other young girls unhealthy ideas about how they should look.

She was walking down catwalks at 5?
Take a look at this editorial on the type of models the fashion designers prefer to use.  Vogue is not a magazine for children | Comment is free | The Observer

The most shocking thing about having a 10-year-old model clothes for Vogue is not that the guest editor, the fashion designer Tom Ford, thought that dressing a pre-pubescent in heels, a cleavage dress and lipstick was a good idea, it’s that the clothes look rubbish, too.

Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau has been featured in French Vogue, in a gold lamé Dynasty dress that makes her look 10 going on 45. Ten-year-olds look cute in anything. Except gold lamé, it turns out.

But then, Marc Jacobs uses a 13-year-old to model his dresses, and Miu Miu’s most recent campaign features a 14-year-old…

 Well, at least the Jacobs and Miu Mui’s models have gotten into their teens. The editorial goes on to say:

But then, it has long been said that fashion is a con-trick by largely gay male designers to make women look more like men: breastless, hipless, as skinny as a boy. And in this respect, pre-pubescence is merely the next logical step. These clothes aren’t meant to look good on you, they’re meant to look good on Justin Bieber. (And even he would struggle in that Marc Jacobs dress.)

Child models are absurd. The logic of anti-femininity taken to its ultimate extreme, an expression of the hatred fashion designers seem to possess towards the women they dress. Wear Tom Ford, or Marc Jacobs, or Miu Miu… but only if you really hate yourself that much.

Reminds me of a scene from the episode “Hospital” in Absolutely Fabulous…Patsy is having a face lift and Magda, the editor of the magazine Patsy works for, visits the hospital for a meeting with Patsy…that link will take you to the video, the scene starts around 8:15.  The lines are here below:
Patsy: Magda!
Magda: Hello, Pats! How are ya? Unlucky business with the M.P. Still the “Hello!” thing should sort that out. I better make this quick I’ve got a lingerie opening and a feminine wash launch to get to by six, and all this with my working champagne lunch with Anouska bloody Hempel floating about here. This month I want articles about how lovely spending money is. Expensive things, the better cosmetics are great. I want money, money, money. Spend, spend, spend. I don’t want to see any more photos of gormless skeletons with no brains, no make-up and no bloody tits.
Patsy: Promoting bored teenagers won’t sell a Chanel suit.
Magda: Naw, they’re too thin!
Patsy: Too young!
Magda: If the models get any younger, Pats, they’ll be chucking foetuses down the catwalk!
Yup, let’s get those fetuses that the PLUBs are so concerned about and dress them in Dior, it sure would make one hell of a fashion statement.
Hey, if the Neanderthals didn’t become extinct, just imagine one of them in a Chanel suit.  Modern Human Invasion Caused Neanderthals’ Extinction

Scientists have long debated what caused the Neanderthals to die off. A new study has suggested that a flood of prehistoric humans pouring into Europe inundated our ancient rivals and overwhelmed them with sheer force of numbers.

Neanderthals departed Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, and subsequently evolved in lands that now comprise France, Spain, Germany and Russia. They are believed to have died out (or absorbed into the modern human population) about 30,000 years ago.

A new study published in the journal Science found that humans outnumbered Neanderthals by about 10 to one in a region of Southwest France, and its authors believe that a massive influx of humans migrating from Europe overwhelmed Neanderthals in the competition for resources.

I guess Homo Sapien was the first to negatively impact an indigenous people. Just like the Incas, North American Indians and others…so many experienced near genocide when the Europeans came to the new world…or when the white settlers moved westward.
After studying archaeological evidence from both Neanderthal and Homo sapien sites in southwest France, which contains the largest concentration of Neanderthal and early modern human sites in Europe, researchers concluded that humans far outnumbered their Neanderthal counterparts. There was also evidence that humans had superior hunting techniques and better social ties with other communities of humans.
Professor Sir Paul Mellars, Professor Emeritus of Prehistory and Human Evolution, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge, one of the researchers says that, although his study points to the massive population of Homo Sapien having an effect on the Neaderthal extinction.
“The overwhelming genetic and paleontological evidence shows what happened was assimilation, not replacement.” His statement seems to be supported by a recent study finding that most humans are genetic descendants of Neanderthals, which suggests that humans and Neanderthals mated with one another,” said Joao Zilhao, a research professor at the University of Barcelona.
Interesting, isn’t it?
From the Minx Missing Link File:  This article came out last week, I wonder what effects this will have on Cuba as it   Prepares for Private Property – NYTimes.com

Once the purchase and sale of property is allowed in Cuba, places like Havana may become more class-conscious.

In Havana on Saturday, Cubans looked at notices for apartment exchanges. Cuba is about to legalize the sale of property.

HAVANA — José is an eager almost-entrepreneur with big plans for Cuban real estate. Right now he works illegally on trades, linking up families who want to swap homes and pay a little extra for an upgrade.

But when Cuba legalizes buying and selling by the end of the year — as the government promised again this week — José and many others expect a cascade of changes: higher prices, mass relocation, property taxes and a flood of money from Cubans in the United States and around the world.

“There’s going to be huge demand,” said José, 36, who declined to give his last name, stepping away from the crowd and keeping an eye out for eavesdroppers. “It’s been prohibited for so long.”

Private property is the nucleus of capitalism, of course, so the plan to legitimize it here in a country of slogans like “socialism or death” strikes many Cubans as jaw-dropping. Indeed, most people expect onerous regulations and already, the plan outlined by the state media would suppress the market by limiting Cubans to one home or apartment and requiring full-time residency.

Please read the rest of the article, it goes into detail about the concerns regarding disparity of wealth and other effects private property may bring to the island nation.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Just a couple of videos for you.  Yesterday I took my daughter and her friend down to Atlanta to do some back to school shopping. On the way we were listening to some music, so I thought it would be a good to share some songs as we end this Sunday Reads post.
This song came out in 1983, I was thirteen, the same age as my daughter and her friend. So it seemed surreal, watching them sing it.  It reminded me of the excitement and popularity of Michael Jackson…so much so that even little kids in kindergarten were enthralled.
When this song was popular, my cousin Marlene told us a story about her granddaughter.  Brittany was in kindergarten and came home very happy and excited. She had a new boyfriend at school.  She told Marlene, “Oh Nana, he is so cute and handsome…he looks just like Michael Jackson!”
One of the other songs we listened to, was on a Janis Joplin CD…
Oh, I love this song, it is so emotional and what a voice…
Well, what are you reading about this Sunday? Please share some links below…and hopefully my internet will not be running so freaking slow.
Oh, that reminds me, remember those solar flares I mentioned up top?
I was able to get back online just before the post went up and luckily could add these links:
Picture of a nearly circular prominence erupting from the sun Image courtesy SDO/NASA

The tempest is what’s known as a solar storm, a flurry of charged particles that erupts from the sun. Under the right conditions, solar storms can create extra electrical currents in Earth’s magnetosphere—the region around the planet controlled by our magnetic field.

The electrical power grid is particularly vulnerable to these extra currents, which can infiltrate high-voltage transmission lines, causing transformers to overheat and possibly burn out.

[…]

Earth is being constantly bombarded by charged particles from the sun, which emits material in all directions. This is known as the solar wind. But sometimes the sun ramps up magnetic activity on its surface, triggering huge flares of plasma.

(Related: “Solar Flare Sparks Biggest Eruption Ever Seen on Sun”)

Such “solar flares are like the whistle on a freight train,” said Joe Kunches, a space scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The big impacts come from coronal mass ejections (CMEs), cloud-like bundles of plasma that are sent racing off the sun’s upper atmosphere, or corona, during periods of intense surface activity.

This National Geographic has some good information and more details on sun storms and solar flares, please go read the whole thing if you can.

Friday’s explosion is second of three recent blasts on the sun’s surface directed toward the Earth. The experts said the current wave could go on until Saturday night at the latest.

“You can think of them as sort of tsunamis in space,” said SWPC Director Tom Bogdan. “The first one was fairly weak, and we’re now seeing the next one coming in.”

However, Bogdan said these effects will be more potent throughout the next few years, adding that Friday’s storm is a “two or three out of five” in terms of its potential impact. This kind of activity will increase in frequency, he said, peaking sometime around 2013.

The sun has a twelve year season, and according to Bogdan, scientist and power grid managers have been expecting these storms…and they are prepared.

The potential impact of such storms is historically severe, Bogdan said, citing telegraph stations that reportedly burned down in a record storm in 1859.

Moreover, Bogdan said the increasing frequency of solar storms could induce an aurora visible in the mainland United States if the current wave is strong enough. He said that during the record 1859 storm, an aurora was seen as far south as Havana, Cuba, and Brisbane, Australia.

Solar blasts of energy from the sun began reaching the Earth on Friday and could disrupt some communications, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Storms are brewing some 93 million miles away and three solar flares erupted on the sun starting Tuesday, touching earth’s magnetic field on Friday in the form of fast-moving “solar wind” and is blowing by the Earth, Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Wall Street Journal.

[…]

“If it’s a really big storm, it still could be active [Saturday] night, but this kind of disturbance level won’t be sustained for long,” Kunches told WSJ, adding that “It seems that the magnetic field is getting hit harder than we thought it would.”

Damn those solar flares! (Shakes Fist…)