Thursday, August 30, 2012

While I was out...

Several things transpired during my absence.  Here are just a few them that I would like to discuss.

The Arctic has lost more ice this year than any other on record.
This comes to us from a study by NASA, stating that the ice melt is unprecedented in the 30 plus years that such data has been recorded.  And we're not even at the typical peak of the melt, which is in September.  It's not just the amount of ice loss, either.  It's the density of the ice that is likewise in decline.  But humanity has nothing to do with this, right?

So then "What's up with the weather?"  That is the question posed on the cover of September's National Geographic.  The feature article looks at incidents of "extreme weather" from the past three years, including the horrendous tornado outbreaks of Spring 2011, the flooding of 2010, and this year's early summer, record high temperatures, and severe drought.  While not officially endorsing a human cause to Global Warming, the article does cite experts and indisputable data that all agree our world is getting hotter and wetter.  That means more "extreme storms."
" "We know the warming of the Earth's surface is putting more moisture in the atmosphere.  We know.  We've measured it.  The satellites see it," says [Jay] Gulledge [of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions].  So the chances for extreme weather are going nowhere but up."
One chilling note from Frank Nutter of the Reinsurance Association of America: "The past is not prologue to the type of weather we're about to see."
Go ahead and argue the cause all you want, but Global Warming is a fact.  It's happening.  I tend to believe that to think that the human expulsion of pollutants into the atmosphere has nothing to do with it best...naive.

As if on cue, hurricane/tropical storm/whatever it is these days Isaac looked for a time like it would be headed straight for the GOP convention in Tampa.  I suppose that its change in course will be chalked up to the hand of God sparing the Republicans.  It was a narrow miss, though, as wind and torrential rain did delay the opening of the convention by essentially one day, but not even coming close to tonight's festivities wherein I believe Romney and Ryan share their first spotlight dance together.  Ann Romney did, however, toss out something Palin-esque about keeping the people affected by Isaac in our thoughts and prayers.  Then it was back to chest thumping and Obama bashing as scheduled.
While I certainly do not wish death or injury on anyone, even those I may disagree with, it might not have been so bad for the GOP contingent to experience a hurricane.  Whether or not they would see the connection between new superstorms (which Isaac really isn't) and human alteration of the atmosphere is an entirely different can of tuna.

This is something that sounds straight out of a cyberpunk story.  With the US military seeing unparalleled reports of depression and suicide within its troops, the Pentagon is investigating an intriguing piece of biotech.  A nasal spray would inject a fast-acting hormone into the body that can alleviate symptoms of depression and suicidal urges.  Normally I'd call this sort of thing "wishful thinking" but in this case I really am wishing for it.  Not only for me and millions of others who suffer from depression, but also for the health and safety of our troops.  I like that it's fast-acting.  As I said, not just for personal immediate need but in combat, you can't exactly sit around and wait for the Zoloft to kick in.

Of course there is no way that I'd neglect to mention Curiosity.  After it's "however many minutes of terror," NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars.  It's been sending back absolutely stunning photography such as this piece:

The NASA probe is already coming up with new findings.  It has also transmitted the first human voice from another planet, that of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  Would have liked it to have been Bono, but no one asked me.

In other NASA news, astronauts are on a mission undersea.  That's right.  Undersea.  Aquarius Reef Base is a location where astronauts train to live and work in the hostile, near-weightless environment of space by surviving under water. This article in The Atlantic talks about how the training is supposedly to simulate the wicked crucible of life on an asteroid, thereby perhaps preparing astronauts to somehow save us from an asteroid strike.  I prefer loftier visions, such as human colonies beneath the seas of Europa.

Last but not least, we sadly lost a great pioneer.  Neil Armstrong recently died at age 82.  There is not much that I could say that has not been said already about this "first man on the Moon," so I will not try to.  He was one of a kind, a humble man with the kind of spirit we don't see much of these days. As for his legacy, this letter to the editor from The Chicago Tribune says it all.  

As a continued tribute, take a look at the photo below.  It's from a collection of photos that Armstrong took while on the Moon, photos that were then rarely seen again save for archival purposes.

Also, I'm hoping that Neil Armstrong had a sense of humor, because this classic from The Onion bears a repost.

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