18 August 2017

Florence missed us, fortunately

Gizmodo has an article by Ryan F. Mandelbaum about the eclipse:

Oh, Florence, we really needed you this month. There’s a petulant species of brainy apes here that just can’t seem to get along and probably deserves to be completely wiped out in a fiery collision. But there you go, flying right on by.
At three miles wide, Asteroid Florence is a biggie. In fact, it’s the largest asteroid to pass by at such a close distance since NASA began tracking near-Earth asteroids, Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a press release.
The rock (named after Florence Nightingale by the way) will zoom by Earth on 1 September 2017, getting as close as four million miles to our pathetic, deserving rock. As a comparison, the Moon is around two hundred thousand miles away, and Mars is forty million miles away at its closest. The International Space Station orbits at 250 miles.
Australian scientists first discovered Florence in 1981. This encounter is the closest since 1890, and it won’t come closer until 2500. Maybe Apophis will have destroyed us by then. Fingers crossed!
NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies keeps track of the asteroids and comets that come close to our planet. Scientists study these rocks to help understand the origin and composition of the Solar System. Also, cataloging the NEOs is important to make sure we can predict if and when the big one will come and send us the way of the dinosaurs. Although, I must say, I’m a big fan of surprises.
Anyway, if you have a telescope, you might be able to wave at Florence as she passes by in late August and early September. “Its visible magnitude of nine is really bright,” RĂ¼diger Jehn, co-manager of the Near Earth Object segment of the European Space Agency’s space situational awareness program told Gizmodo in an email. “Every amateur astronomer will be able to see it.” The asteroid will pass through constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus, according to the NASA press release.
Ah well.

Correction: Obviously the ISS orbits at 250, not 2.5 million miles above the Earth. The author regrets the error.
Rico says space is conducive to error...

Making the Civil War finally over

Time has an article by Alex McDaniel, editorial director at Oxford Newsmedia in Oxford, Mississippi, about the statue kerfluffle...

The aftermath of Charlottesville has sparked a national debate about Confederate monuments and their place in society, an argument often hinged upon the question of whether removing them equates to "changing" or "erasing" history. Even President Trump chimed in this week with a red-herring argument regarding whether monuments of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson should be removed along with Confederate statues.
Concern about erasing history by eliminating Confederate monuments is ironic, considering most of them tell a false version of the history they were built to preserve. Monuments reflecting historical events aren’t the problem. Confederate monuments, most of them erected decades after the war, don’t tell the real story.
Most of the South's Confederate monuments were erected at the start of the twentieth century, a time when false Lost Cause ideology had taken root as a way to rationalize the Southern fight and defeat. Oxford's monuments were erected more than forty years after the War, and it's no accident they were placed in the city's most symbolically powerful spots (at the center of campus and the center of town). Monuments were designed, constructed, and dedicated with the purpose of eternally memorializing the Confederacy as a nation of heroism anchored to a noble fight for states’ rights, a country that wasn’t "defeated" by the Union it sought to sever, but merely outmanned and overwhelmed.
Confederate statues don’t tell the story of the Civil War, but rather how people wanted the war to be remembered. It didn't matter that the glossy narrative of the Confederacy’s fight for liberty stood in stark contrast to the words of its leaders who, decades earlier, clung to the preservation of slavery and economic prosperity as the primary cause of secession. Monuments served not only to freeze that sentiment but to establish Southern white supremacy as a distinct cultural force destined to rise again.
A century later, that story persists in many ways, creating yet another false narrative that preserving Confederate monuments is crucial to understanding its history. More often than not, those monuments contradict what we know to be true about the War and the Confederacy. This isn't to say there isn't value to them in studying the postbellum South. But there's no convincing argument against finding more suitable places for Confederate monuments to serve that purpose and no reason why a false account of history should remain mounted in reverence at a public park or outside a courthouse or at the entrance of campus at a public university. Even Mississippi law, which prohibits the removal of any war-related monument, statue, or landmark on public property, has an exception for moving them to another approved location.
The debate isn't over, and we're part of it, whether we want to be or not. Reassessing the placement of Confederate monuments has nothing to do with changing history and everything to do with making sure we're on the right side of it.
Rico says this is far from over...

Another council quits

Time has an Associated Press article about more people bailing on Trump:
Another presidential advisory committee appears to be breaking up.
Actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close, and virtually the entire membership of the President's Committee On the Arts and Humanities have announced their resignation. In a letter dated Friday, sixteen of seventeen committee members cited the "false equivalence" of President Donald Trump's comments about last weekend's Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump had blamed "many sides" for the demonstrations that left an anti-racism activist dead. Earlier this week, two business advisory councils were also disbanded as members left in protest.
The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982. Others signing the resignation letter included author Jhumpa Lahiri; and Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Edward M. Kennedy. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Rico says that nobody wants to serve in Trump's administration...

Latest rant from The Clarion Project

The Clarion Project, with, yet again, a unbloggable article by Meira Svirsky, the editor of ClarionProject.org:

Rico says at least they're consistently loony...

Bye-bye Bannon

Yahoo has an article about the departure of Steven Bannon (photo) by Hunter Walker, White House correspondent for Yahoo News:

Controversial White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s final day working in the West Wing is on Friday. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement to the press pool describing the move as a mutual decision between Bannon and White House chief of staff John Kelly earlier in the day. “White House chief of staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed that today would be Bannon’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said.
The official word from the White House came after a slew of reports about Bannon’s departure. According to a New York Times report published shortly before Sanders’ statement, President Trump “told senior aides that he had decided to remove” Bannon. ABC News and other outlets reported that Bannon had already resigned.
Both the White House and Bannon failed to immediately respond to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News.
Prior to the Times report, the conservative journalist Matt Drudge, who enjoys a close relationship with the White House, declared on Twitter that Bannon’s time in the West Wing was coming to an end.
Trump’s White House had been infamously volatile, with a series of high profile departures. Bannon had regularly been involved in infighting with other top aides, and rumors of his potential dismissal swirled at multiple points. Kelly became White House chief of staff late last month after the departure of his predecessor, Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chair, who had a tense relationship with Bannon. Though this shift saw Bannon lose one of his rivals, Kelly, a former Marine general, was tasked with instilling order in the chaotic West Wing and cracking down on leaks. Kelly reportedly immediately zeroed in on Bannon as a source of turmoil and leaks about internal disputes, leading to fresh speculation about the chief strategist’s standing.
The reports of a Bannon exit intensified after an he gave an extensive interview to the liberal American Prospect that was published on Wednesday. In it, Bannon described some of his disagreements with other top officials, including his desire to push out State Department staffers and his frustration with Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn.
Bannon also appeared to undermine the president’s position on North Korea when he indicated a military option was not on the table with North Korea, due to the immense casualties that would occur. His comments about North Korea were quickly contradicted by Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that, while military action would be “horrific”, it was still a potential option. White House National Security Council officials were alarmed by Bannon’s comments, believing they undermined the American negotiating position after Trump repeatedly indicated the military option was on the table.
Bannon was a key figure in Trump’s shocking upset victory in last year’s presidential election. Prior to joining Trump’s campaign, he ran the conservative news site Breitbart News, which he once proclaimed was the “platform for the alt-right.” At Breitbart, Bannon found a base for his philosophy of economic nationalism and staunch opposition to immigration and political correctness. His ideology led many to see him as a key architect of Trump’s victory, but it also drew criticism from liberals who saw him as a dangerous zealot.
Rico says he can't feel sorry for this asshole (sorry, zealot)...

An eclipse conspiracy? Who knew?

James Hamblin has an article in The Atlantic about the 2017 eclipse:

The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.
On 21 August 2017, the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, obscuring the light of the latter. NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights”. The astronomers there claim to have calculated, down to the minute, exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.
This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself. Meanwhile the scientists tell us we can’t look at it without special glasses because “looking directly at the sun is unsafe.”
That is, of course, unless we wear glasses that are on a list issued by these very same scientists. Meanwhile, corporations like Amazon are profiting from the sale of these eclipse glasses. Is anyone asking how many of these astronomers also, conveniently, belong to Amazon Prime?
Let’s follow the money a little further. Hotels along the “path of totality”, a region drawn up by Obama-era NASA scientists, have been sold out for months. Some of those hotels are owned and operated by large multinational corporations. Where else do these hotels have locations? You guessed it: Washington, DC.
In fact the entire politico-scientifico-corporate power structure is aligned behind the eclipse. This includes the mainstream media. How many news stories have you read about how the eclipse won’t happen?
Meanwhile the newspaper owner Jeff Bezos is out there buying all of Seattle, Washington with the revenue from these “eclipse glasses”.
You’d think there would be a balanced look at even considering the idea that the eclipse is not going to happen. It’s like no one is even thinking to question this. Where are their voices? Why does Google give so few results that say the eclipse is fake? I would start by looking at Mark Zuckerberg and Charles Schumer.
I am not saying the eclipse is not going to happen. I’m just saying there are two sides to every story.
Rico says he's not sure where people come up with this shit but, on 21 August, Hamblin will be sorry he mentioned it... (And Rico found NASA's data here.)

History for the day: 1991: Gorbachev coup

History.com has this for 18 August:

On this day in 1991, then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (video) is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces.
Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the then-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1988, Gorbachev had pursued comprehensive reforms of the Soviet system. Combining perestroika (“restructuring”) of the economy, including a greater emphasis on free-market policies, and glasnost (“openness”) in diplomacy, he greatly improved Soviet relations with Western democracies, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, though, within the USSR, Gorbachev faced powerful critics, including conservative, hard-line politicians and military officials, who thought he was driving the then-Soviet Union toward its downfall and making it a second-rate power. On the other side were even more radical reformers, particularly Boris Yeltsin, president of the most powerful socialist republic, Russia, who complained that Gorbachev was just not working fast enough.
The August 1991 coup was carried out by the hard-line elements within Gorbachev’s own administration, as well as the heads of the then-Soviet army and the KGB, the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti, the secret police. Detained at his vacation villa in the Crimea, he was placed under house arrest and pressured to give his resignation, which he refused to do. Claiming Gorbachev was ill, the coup leaders, headed by former vice president Gennady Yanayev, declared a state of emergency and attempted to take control of the government.
Yeltsin and his backers from the Russian parliament then stepped in, calling on the Russian people to strike and protest the coup. When soldiers tried to arrest Yeltsin, they found the way to the parliamentary building blocked by armed and unarmed civilians.
Yeltsin himself climbed aboard a tank (video, above) , urging the troops not to turn against the people and condemning the coup as a “new reign of terror”. The soldiers backed off, some of them choosing to join the resistance. After thousands took the streets to demonstrate, the coup collapsed after only three days.
Gorbachev was released and flown to Moscow, but his regime had been dealt a deadly blow. Over the next few months, he dissolved the Communist Party, granted independence to the Baltic states, and proposed a looser, more economics-based federation among the remaining republics. In December of 1991, Gorbachev resigned. Yeltsin capitalized on his defeat of the coup, emerging from the rubble of the former Soviet Union as the most powerful figure in Moscow and the leader of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Rico says the whole house of cards folded up in 1991...

From the BBC:The man who inks the world's borders

The BBC has a video and an unobtainable article by Amelia Martyn-Hemphill about a maker of fine globes, London, England-based Bellerby and Co.:

Rico says he can't afford one, either...

Watch The Crown on IMDb

Check out this video on IMDb! - http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi1680324889

History for the day: 1991: Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev



Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev
On this day in 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces. Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics... read more »
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History for the day: stabbings in Finland

Yahoo has an article via Reuters about terrorism in an unlikely place:

Rico will say it again: do not fuck with the Finns. The Germans tried in World War Two, and got their asses handed to them in the Winter War. The one Finn (Mark Leinonen) that Rico knew in college was big and tough...

17 August 2017

History for the day: 1969: Woodstock concludes

History.com has this for 17 August 2017:

On 17 August 1969, the grooviest event in music history, the Woodstock Music Festival, drew to a close after three days of peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll in upstate New York.
Conceived as Three Days of Peace and Music, Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield, and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a six-hundred-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, some fifty miles from Woodstock, owned by Max Yasgur.
By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of two hundred thousand tickets and expected no more than two hundred thousand people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.
Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who performed in the early morning hours of 17 August 17, with Roger Daltrey belting out See Me, Feel Me, from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise.
The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of The Star Spangled Banner:
With not enough bathroom facilities and first-aid tents to accommodate such a huge crowd, many described the atmosphere at the festival as chaotic. There were surprisingly few episodes of violence, though one teenager was accidentally run over and killed by a tractor and another died from a drug overdose. A number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War, a sentiment that was enthusiastically shared by the vast majority of the audience. Later, the term Woodstock Nation would be used as a general term to describe the youth counterculture of the 1960s.
A 25th anniversary celebration of Woodstock took place in 1994 in Saugerties, New York. Known as Woodstock II, the concert featured Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as newer acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. Held over another rainy, muddy weekend, the event drew an estimated three hundred thousand people.
Rico says he was in California, thus didn't go. The movie was good, though.

History for the day: 1969: Woodstock Music Festival concludes UF

History.com has this for 17 August 2017:

Rico says he was in California, thus didn't go. The movie was good, though.

-----Original Message-----
From: "HISTORY | This Day In History" <tdih@emails.history.com>
Sent: Thursday, 17 August, 2017 06:01
To: "mseymour@proofmark.com" <mseymour@proofmark.com>
Subject: 1969: Woodstock Music Festival concludes

Woodstock Music Festival concludes
On this day in 1969, the grooviest event in music history–the Woodstock Music Festival–draws to a close after three days of peace, love and rock 'n' roll in upstate New York.

Conceived as "Three Days of Peace and Music," Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel... read more »
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