Looking up with NASA

I told someone about the amazement of the stars over Mt. Shasta and found this photo. I figured I probably better look up something about the Milky Way to justify it. What I found was NASA’s current missions page.

It includes a surprising number of diverse “missions” – satellites, probes and expeditions – that I found to be very reassuring and in several cases, very timely and each delivering some very cool data!

I hope that we can please continue to find funding as a nation explore our universe … I’m sure that we can look at our priorities or maybe even some of us can afford a little more in taxes to pay for this.

Let me also say: “Well done NASA, you definitely know how to name a mission.”

The photo is Mt Shasta by NASA. It was posted by Viktor Reinhart, and he has a bunch more shots in his Mt. Shasta slideshow.


The Impulse to Supress

I don’t know who made the original. Found it with hundreds of others on the peppersprayingcop tumblr.

Gawker reports that UC-Davis Officer John Pike, the Pepper Spraying Cop is now a meme (see this one for sure)

Regardless of whether or not Davis – a campus police officer – is representative of anything other than a dude with authority, firepower and poor judgement, I think it’s really strange how polarizing the issue of police violence is.

For my own part, I can’t fathom the situation where a non-violent protester deserves violence in a free society. I am surprised by how many do feel that way.

Mainly for my own future viewing, here’s video of the situation.

Democracy or Dominionism?


Here’s a scary little article from The Daily Beast that looks at presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry’s ties to Dominionism:

Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult.

Read the article for much more and learn about this creepy philosophy that’s pretty much diametrically opposed to the principles our nation was founded upon through Wikipedia.

The photo was taken at the Torture Museum by Ben Sutherland. See more in his torture museum slideshow.

We are winning the race to the bottom

Sudane Famine

Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, directed the UN Millennium Project and was Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. In short, he is one leading international economic advisors in the world.

In Stop This Race to the Bottom on Corporate Tax he writes that we surely need to reduce deficits but in a fair, efficient, and sustainable manner, by levying higher taxation on those who are enjoying a boom in living standards and a share of the national income unprecedented in modern history:

With capital globally mobile, moreover, governments are now in a race to the bottom with regard to corporate taxation and loopholes for personal taxation of high incomes. Each government aims to attract mobile capital by cutting taxes relative to others. Governments like Ireland have created tax havens that drain revenues from the rest and act as conduits to tax-free Caribbean hideaways such as the Cayman Islands. The rich are doubly benefited: by the underlying market forces of globalization and by their governments’ policy response.

Another reason for the lavish attention to tax cuts at the top is of course the tawdry role of big money in political campaigns. No country tops the US in shamelessness. US national campaigns cost several billion dollars every two years, and fundraising is relentless. The main difference between the two parties is that Big Oil tends to finance the Republicans while Wall Street tends to finance the Democrats. Otherwise, both parties are in the hand of big-money interests that exacerbate the dangerous inequalities opened by globalization.

The end result is that both the US and UK are battling deficits of about 10 per cent of gross domestic product. The situation in the US is far graver. Total government (federal, state, and local) revenues as a share of GDP in the US are now 32 per cent, roughly 9 percentage points below the UK and 15-20 percentage points below countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which all have much lower budget deficits (or a surplus in the case of Norway) and highly effective public services.

Read the rest and really: can anyone tell me what the hell our elected officials are thinking as they dismantle our public services and hand billions and billions MORE of our children’s future income for massive personal and corporate tax cuts to those who already have so much more than they need?

Our priorities, it seems to me, are for shit.

The photo is Sudane Famine from cliff1066™. It was taken by Kevin Carter of The New York Times and won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. I don’t think it needs any explanation.

Cyberwar 1.0 beta

singularityCan you believe it?

People are voluntarily joining botnets!

I mean. Botnets? Intentional zombification of your computer? Are you sure that’s … you know … wise?

If Wikileaks broke the Espionage Act, so did the NYT!

Because they got the data too. Others who have broken the 90 year old Espionage Act include e.e. cummings.

Don’t worry – Congress is ready with the SHIELD act!

That’s the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act for those of you who were worried that there wasn’t an awesome acronym!

Houston. We have a little problem handling our approach to the Singularity, please advise.

The photo is by sf à gogo and you can see her work in the Flickriver.

Double Life

Gary Howe, publisher of the excellent blog My Wheels are Turning posted this video and writes…

A bit tangential to the purpose of MyWHaT this morning and by no means a cartoon. However, this short film by Gavin Kelly is intriguing.

It depicts 4 MMORPG players as they describe their online persona’s while the viewer watches them navigate their everyday routine, as their avatars.

The connection is the persona we present in the physical public space, as well as the commons of the internet. For example, what sort of creature are we expressing during a fit of road-rage? Or, who are we when we feel unencumbered by social norms when commenting on an online forum.

More simply, there’s the connection to the act of people-watching. The times when we allow ourselves to wonder what a passerby is thinking as they walk down a street or wait at a stop light.

There probably are warlocks among us, if not zombies.

Bill, a frequent contributor to MyWhAT, mused to me the other day that when he gets in a car he feels a tangible anger settle over him and becomes as impatient as the impatient drivers he shakes his head at when he’s riding. I know that when I get on my bike in town, I turn into a cross between a bike messenger and the Green Lantern, making a point to get in people’s faces (or windshields) who blast across crosswalks and generally ignore non-motorized traffic.

Heady stuff … must be the helmets.

Ask the Internet presents: Is this a problem?

On a road that I walk on – which is a private road by the way but I know people on it and along with many others, have walked on it all my life and so I guess feel entitled – the above “situation” has developed.

To me, it looks like a great place to die in a snowstorm or rainstorm, but about all I now about electricity is that it scares the crap out of me when in power line form.

Dear internets: am I right to be concerned about this situation or is it yet another intrusion of busy-bodies into the rights of property owners?

View Bigger, On Black

Rock always wins

An episode of Seinfeld proved that rock shatters scissors and flies through paper. In short, nothing beats rock. Rock is immovable and obdurate – it makes no compromise and brooks no discussion. Rock simply is.

I’m tempted to say that for 8 years we Americans have acted as if this wasn’t so.

I realize, however, that we’re talking about a number far greater than any one man or nation, a problem more complex than any single issue and a time that is quite a bit longer than any handful of turnings of the seasons.

The drugstore pony of “cheap” energy we have ridden for centuries is playing out. The equations of growth appear impossible to solve and armies of woe march across our world unchecked. Consequences unimaginable don’t seem quite so unimaginable any more.

We’re about to wrench the wheel of the world, to set ourselves on a new course.

The course correction can be to whatever degree we want.

I’m hoping it’s to the degree we need.