Sunday Reads: Spring Ahead already?

b55b3da77169bac66e68b8fa992cc7e3Good Morning

Did you set your clocks ahead?

Oh, this time change always gets me. In fact, my head is killing me…so this is going to be a strictly link dump post.

Set clocks ahead for daylight saving time

Spring must be around the corner. It’s time to set the clocks forward for daylight saving time.

At 2 a.m. local time Sunday, daylight saving time arrives with the promise of many months ahead with an extra hour of evening light.

You lose an hour of sleep, but make sure to turn the clock ahead — spring forward — before heading to bed Saturday night to avoid the panic of a late rise.

It’s also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

Isn’t this whole clock thing happening earlier than usual?

Moving on, Harriet Tubman park to be on Maryland land she worked as a slave | Reuters

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s struggle to help roughly 70 slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad was remembered on Saturday at the groundbreaking of a Maryland state park in her honor.

An escaped slave herself, Tubman toiled in bondage on the land that will soon be the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park on the eastern shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

Construction of the park on open marshland and forests in Dorchester County marks the 100-year anniversary of the abolitionist leader’s death.

It also coincides with the opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile drive with more than 30 historical stops related to Tubman’s early life and the Underground Railroad. Highlights include the Mason-Dixon Line, a one-room school, a historic village store with artifacts from the 1800s and, eventually, the new Harriet Tubman park itself.

“I think the byway is awesome, because we’re connecting the dots again. We’re telling the complete story,” said Patricia Ross-Hawkins, 51, a distant relative of Tubman who spoke to the crowd of more than 200 people at Saturday’s celebration. The morning’s events included singing by a local Baptist church choir, a theatrical speech by a Harriet Tubman re-enactor and remarks from Govenor Martin O’Malley.

“It’s been a long time coming but it’s here,” she said.

This next link is something I found earlier in the week.  Did the Man who Tried to buy our Presidential Election Get rich by Bribing Communist China? (Engelberg) | Informed Comment

Stephen Engelberg writes at ProPublica

Last week’s admission by Sheldon Adelson’s casino company that it had “likely” violated provisions of the federal law barring U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials raises some intriguing questions. Chief among them: Which transactions by Las Vegas Sands and its far-flung subsidiaries are at issue?

Adelson, one of the world’s richest men, came to public prominence during the 2012 campaign, when he and his wife Miriam donated at least $98 million to various candidates and groups. Included was $30 million for the Restore Our Future super PAC that supported Mitt Romney and $20 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC that backed Newt Gingrich. Late in the campaign, Adelson asserted that federal investigators had targeted his company because of his political activity.

I don’t know about you all, but I sure miss seeing Hillary’s name in the news.

Hillary Clinton Ate Hot Chili Peppers To Keep Her Going

Exactly how did the most traveled Secretary of State in history, Hillary Rodham Clinton, keep up with her strenuous schedule? According to biographer Kim Ghattas, it was hot chili peppers.

In an interview posted on Thursday, Ghattas discussed her upcoming book, “The Secretary,” with Politico, citing how Clinton “eats those hot chilis that make you sweat.”

“It wakes you up,” Ghattas said. “It flushes your system, maybe from whatever viruses are there.”

Clinton has been a hot pepper popper for years, starting back in 1992. She often talked up her heat habit in her 2008 presidential campaign.

Comets and asteroids have been in the news a lot lately…

Comet Pan-STARRS: Bright comet will be visible starting around March 8.

Comet Pan-STARRS, photographed by Phil Hart

Comet Pan-STARRS on Mar. 3, 2013, from Victoria, Australia. This shot, by Phil Hart, is one of the best pictures I’ve seen of it.
Image credit: Phil Hart

Northern Hemisphereans, alert! The kinda-sorta-maybe bright comet Pan-STARRS will soon be visible low in the west after sunset. The best dates to look will be Mar. 12 and 13, when the very thin crescent Moon will guide you. You’ll need binoculars to pick it out of the twilight sky, but comets this bright are rare, and you should give it a shot.

Icy Ball

Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) was discovered in June 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (hence the odd name). At discovery it was incredibly faint, just 19th magnitude—the faintest star you can see with your eye is still 150,000 times brighter than the comet was at the time!

Animation showing the discovery images of the comet.

Animation showing the discovery
images of the comet taken by the
Pan-STARRS observatory.
Click to encomanate.
Image credit: Henry Hsieh, PS1SC

The comet is non-periodic, a fancy way of saying this is the first time it’s dropped into the inner solar system. There is a reservoir of trillions of such iceballs far, far past Neptune, called the Oort cloud (named after Jan Oort, the Dutch astronomer who was one of the first to predict its existence). Pan-STARRS has been falling from this distant region for a long, long time, perhaps millions of years, and is now approaching the Sun on its incredibly outstretched orbit.

It reaches perihelion (the closest point in its orbit to the Sun) on Mar. 10, and then begins the long climb back out again. It has brightened considerably over the past couple of years as it’s neared both the Sun and Earth, and by Mar. 12 should be at least as bright as 2nd magnitude, about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. It could get even brighter.

In other space news:  Slight Chance Comet Could Hit Mars in 2014, NASA Says | Space.com

Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will come within about 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) of Mars in October 2014, according to the latest estimate from the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

The trajectory of 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is still not known well enough to rule out a dramatic comet collision with Mars, though that could change.

“At present, Mars lies within the range of possible paths for the comet and the possibility of an impact cannot be excluded,” JPL officials wrote in an update today (March 5). “However, since the impact probability is currently less than one in 600, future observations are expected to provide data that will completely rule out a Mars impact.”

And I will end this post with a little history lesson…

From Islam to Christianity: the Case of Sicily

Introduction: The history of high medieval Sicily bears all the hallmarks of a regional crossroads which, between the 9th and 11th centuries, exchanged hands between three major civilizations. The island’s political upheavals, military confrontations, social change and cultural transformations read like an index page to central Mediterranean history. The fall of Muslim Palermo to the Norman conquerors in 1072 was a landmark in the high medieval wave of Latin Christian expansion across the Mediterranean world. The defeat of the island’s Muslim rulers was completed within twenty years of the fall of the capital city, but the last Muslims of Sicily left the island one hundred and eighty years later, towards the end of Frederick II’s reign. Beyond the formal political chronology, three, more or less equal, yet distinct epochs, mark the transition from Muslim to Latin Christian Sicily: 1072 to 1130, during which period the Norman conquest of the island, launched in 1060, became first a feasible reality, then a political fact consolidated with the establishment of the Regno; 1130 to 1190, when the relationship between the island’s Christian rulers and inhabitants and the subject Muslim populations was gradually entrenched in terms of feudal bondage; and 1190 to 1250, which was marked by Muslim armed resistance, the setting up of a rebel polity under the last Muslim leader of Sicily, and Frederick II’s ‘extermination’ of Islam.

You can click here to read this article from Cliohres.