Saturday, November 30, 2013

Let Me Out Of Here

All my life, I've wondered who I am and what makes me the way I am. Whether I am created from God, or out of God, or the supreme consciousness, if you prefer, or if all I see and hear and feel is simply the result of random mutations and billions of years of evolution. I mean, basically, that's the question most of us struggle with -- those of us who care to contemplate such things. And so our beliefs generally fall on one side or the other and we like to think, as well, that we act accordingly. That is, if one depends on faith for one's existence, it lessens the belief in the material world around us because we regard the seen world as only a portion of what exists.

Now, I am certain there are degrees of faith and likewise, people have certain degrees of belief in the material world. What does that mean? Well, it means sometimes we're selfish and sometimes we're not. It means sometimes we believe there are connections to the universe that cannot be seen or measured. Conversely, materialists generally do not believe in such connections -- a materialist puts his faith in what he can see and touch. A padded bank account and insurance policies, a fine car and a durable home with investments and income and a vision for the future that incorporates protection against... what? The inevitable. Death and decay. Because if one believes only in the material world, then death and decay is the final result. Sorry, but there's no way around it, if that's what you believe.

There is a perpetual struggle in the world between these beliefs with the materialists often pointing guns to the heads of the spiritualists whenever the argument reaches peak conditions. (Edit: In all fairness, sometimes it's the other way around.) I kind of feel like that's what is happening in the world today. Those we have put into positions of authority (by election or silent acknowledgment or acceptance of outright power grabs) are overstepping the bounds we have set for a civil society so that materialists and spiritualists can live side by side. You see some incident every day now that indicates an earthly, material war is raging. It's a war for earthly truth, as well.

There are those in control who would have us believe in the material vision of the universe. They coerce by force, both martial force and psychological. You can see it in the way the authorities blatantly lie and murder and use the rules to their own advantage. Indeed, society's rules are kept by these same authorities, so it has become the simplest matter for our social bosses to manipulate them or even create new ones while disregarding those rules that were set up to protect all equally. And I'm not talking about civil rights. The laws of civil rights were set up to further divide people, to lessen freedom rather than to expand it.

I know it's shocking, but the police and military and your elected officials are no longer your friends. Perhaps they never were. After all, what sort of man or woman seeks out positions of power over others?

If these obvious realizations irritate you, if they cause you concern, and perhaps the rising claustrophobia of paranoia, maybe it's time to explore your options. Do you want to be a bad guy or a good guy? Do you want to sleep well at night? Are you looking for connections to the world that are greater than your love of football and fast cars and pretty women? Maybe you'd like to be assured that the inevitable end we discussed above is not the inevitable end? Maybe, you've already come to the point where you've realized that this world, this reality we accept as real, is not real at all.

Whoa, you may be saying. What is this guy selling? Well, I'm not selling anything, pal, besides a few science fiction novels (oh, and while you're at it, surf over to Amazon and buy a couple or three because I'm attached to this world enough that I still like to eat!) and the desire to show you -- for free -- that your dissatisfied life doesn't have to be.

Turn away from your selfish nature. Do it today. Stop believing the lies you are fed. Stop giving respect where there is no respect due. Reach out to others. Let them know how you feel even at the risk of exposing yourself as a feeling, thinking, empathetic human person. It's the only way we're ever going to change ourselves. Guns won't do it. Laws won't do it, either. It can only be accomplished from inside you. Good luck and I hope to see you someday soon, relaxed, smiling, and reaching for my hand. And not with a pair of handcuffs. Ha!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Morse Code Text To MP3

This Morse code generator turns any text into an audible Morse code MP3 file that you can save onto your computer. Why would you want to do that? For fun, silly. Go here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Today In The US

It's about the freedom to give and share.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is only celebrated in the United States and Canada. The Canucks celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Got to be different, I guess. The holiday feast started as a harvest festival among British colonists in the New World of sixteenth century North America, but it has changed in modern times. It is now viewed as a day of national gratitude, a day to give thanks for whatever one has.

The act of giving thanks silently assumes that there is something out there to give thanks to, some deity, some force of nature. In the age of religious denial, it must rankle the atheists that such a holiday has deep religious underpinnings.

It's about family and community, too.
Unlike the early celebrants of Thanksgiving, we are no longer hunters and trappers and farmers eking out a living in a wilderness. Our food comes from grocery stores and we have jobs where we exchange our freedom for money so that we may purchase the foodstuffs for the holiday feast. Yes, we live in a different world now, but we still feel moved to express our gratitude for the things we have.

It's NOT about the turkey, stupid.
The basis for our prosperity is our freedom, which is not granted by any government or ruling body of men. It is agreed by common law that our freedom is granted by a gracious Creator. Thanksgiving is a holiday intended to give thanks for all we have and to recognize the freedom that allows us to become more than we are.

And so, among everything for which we should be grateful, liberty is perhaps the most important. It allows us to embrace a meaningful lifestyle unimaginable even a few decades past. Our lives would be pallid and impoverished without freedom; our nation and indeed the world, would not be the same without it. This Thanksgiving Day, let us strive for more, rather than less freedom, and let the holiday serve as a warning to the forces of tyranny that the human spirit cannot be compelled to live under slavery imposed by governments or men.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Are The Chances?

Ever faced a similar situation? Lloyd handled it like a champ.

First Of May

These Times Are A'Changing

Times have changed. You often hear the phrase when people are trying to convince you that culture is changing, that attitudes are changing, and that in order to get along, you need to change too. Sometimes, there is something to the admonition. But how, exactly, do things change?

Sixteenth century fashion.
As an example, consider the sixteenth century, or, for those of you who like numbers -- the 1500s. To be precise, from the year 1500 to the year 1599. So, that's four hundred and fourteen years ago. Just a blink on the cosmic timeline, but quite a distance for human development.

Back in those days, heated water was a luxury. Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to ripen, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide body odor. Hence, the custom of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Think I'm kidding?

A bath consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all, the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose your car keys. Ever hear the old saying, Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water? Now, you know from where it came. Seriously.

Houses had thatched roofs of thick straw with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would fall off the roof. You're ahead of me on this one, right? It’s raining cats and dogs.

Canopy bed from 1820.
So, there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. As you can imagine, this was a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up a nice clean bed. As a result, four corner beds with big posts and a sheet hung over the top brought some protection. Canopy beds came into existence.

Floors were made of packed earth. Only the rich had something other than dirt. The poor were called "dirt poor". The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter, so they spread straw (thresh) to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more straw until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Even today we call it a thresh hold.

Naturally, food was cooked in the kitchen inside a big kettle hung over a fire. They ate mostly vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, always leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. That's where the rhyme comes from: "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food and this, of course, caused death by lead poisoning. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for hundreds of years, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust”. Hmm.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Sometimes someone would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. That's the original reason for holding a "wake".

England is old and small, so when the local folks started running out of places to bury people, they would dig up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house in order to reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 were found to have scratch marks on the inside. They realized they had been burying people alive. To fix this gruesome situation, they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer".

Times have changed, eh? But, as you can see from the use of language, we always build from the past. Why? Well, it's apparent. That's all we have to build on. Aren't you glad you live today rather than the sixteenth century?

Sleeping through winter is hibernation; sleeping through summer is estivation; sleeping on a cloud is... restful.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hanging By A Thread

As a viable political entity concerned for the welfare of its citizens, the US is hanging by a thread. I know, you've heard these warnings over and again the past few years and many of you attribute it all as the rantings of the side who lost the last two presidential elections, the side that is against the socialist vision of society. Those of you who are happy with the current administration and its management of our freedom and liberty are living in a bubble much like the American economy which is doing little for the American worker and a great deal for the wealthy American investor.

Americans, real, patriotic Americans, not your illegal immigrants or those with their heads stuffed into the ground, are in trouble. That trouble now comes from every direction imaginable. Patriots are under attack from their own government -- but that's a misstatement because it's not their own government anymore. Most politicians in the US have been bought and sold and it's been a long time coming.

Listen to this:

Andrew Huszar
A banker named Andrew Huszar that helped manage the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program during 2009 and 2010 is publicly apologizing for what he has done. He says that quantitative easing has accomplished next to nothing for the average person on the street. Instead, he says it has been "the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time." And of course the cold, hard economic numbers support what Huszar is saying.

I know many of you don't like to let facts get in the way, but, just for fun, read on.

The percentage of working age Americans with a job has not improved at all during the quantitative easing era, and median household income has actually steadily declined during that time frame. Meanwhile, U.S. stock prices have doubled overall, and the stock prices of the big Wall Street banks have tripled. So who benefits from quantitative easing? It doesn't take a genius to figure it out, and now Andrew Huszar is blowing the whistle on the whole thing.

"I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time."

It's disgusting but he was also quoted as saying,

"Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets."

Additionally, "This is fantastic for every rich person," he said Thursday, a day after the Fed's stunning decision to delay tightening its monetary policy. "This is the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever."

Albert initates Miley.
U.S. stocks have risen 108% while Barack Obama has been in the White House. And who owns stocks? The wealthy do. In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.

Our entire system is corrupt and needs to be purged; not to clean out the so-called racists and hate-mongers (that is dis-ingenuity of the highest order), but to expose and arrest those who would limit personal freedom and line their own pockets by extending political favors to both foreign and domestic partners. Get a clue, America. Rise up. Refuse to cooperate.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination

John F. Kennedy
Today is the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), the 35th President of the United States. was shot at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, while sitting in the back of an open limousine as part of a motorcade. Kennedy was with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife Nellie. A ten-month investigation from November 1963 to September 1964 by the Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial. Now, if you have any sense at all and have sifted through the evidence for yourself, especially the famous Zapruder film, you can easily conclude that the official story is bogus. While I am not about to list all the false leads here, it simply amazes me that anyone could accept the notion that Kennedy was not killed by a conspiracy.

Ruby shoots Oswald in Dallas PD basement.
These days, when I run across someone who claims Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, I understand that person either has another agenda he'd like to see advanced, or simply doesn't have enough sense to accept the truth. Most Americans watch too much television. That fact in itself explains why so many people believe the fantasies and outright falsehoods spread by the establishment.

Anyway, although the Warren Commission's conclusions were initially supported by a majority of the American public, polls conducted between 1966 and 2003 found that as many as 80 percent of Americans suspect that there was a plot or cover-up. No shiite, Sherlock. A 1998 CBS News poll showed that 76% of Americans believed the President had been killed as the result of a conspiracy. A 2013 AP poll showed, that although the percentage had fallen, more than 59% of those polled still believed that more than one person was involved in the President's murder. A Gallup Poll in mid-November 2013 showed 61% believed in a conspiracy and 30% thought Oswald did it alone.

In contrast to the conclusions of the Warren Commission, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The HSCA found the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. While agreeing with the Commission that Oswald fired all the shots which caused the wounds to Kennedy and Connally, the HSCA stated that there were at least four shots fired (only three of which could be linked to Oswald) and that there was "...a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President."

Unfortunately, the public doesn't hear much about the HCSA's conclusion.

Click to enlarge. Check out the guy standing in the doorway of the Schoolbook Depository next to the guy shielding his eyes. It looks like Oswald, doesn't it?
The HSCA did not identify any other person or group involved in the assassination besides Oswald, but they did specifically say the CIA, the Soviet Union, organized crime, and several other groups were not involved, although they could not rule out the involvement of individual members of those groups. Kennedy's assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios.

When one accepts the real conclusion about the Kennedy assassination -- that is, the president was killed by organized forces apparently connected to the US government -- then the ensuing revelation changes one's entire perspective of government and "citizen management". It changes one's perspective of how things work out in the world. It's no wonder the powers that be want to keep citizens uninformed. The truth is out there about a great many things, but it is seldom revealed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.

-- Aldous Huxley

Simply Irresistable

Robert Allen Palmer (19 January 1949 – 26 September 2003), was an English singer-songwriter and musician known for his distinctive voice and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae and blues. He found success both in his solo career and with Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the UK and the US.

His iconic music videos directed by Terence Donovan for the hits "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible" featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick, which resembled the women in the art of Patrick Nagel, an artist popular in the 1980s. Palmer's involvement in the music industry commenced in the 1960s, covered five decades and included a spell with Vinegar Joe.

Palmer received a number of awards throughout his career, including two Grammy Awards for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, an MTV Video Music Award, and was twice nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male.

Robert Palmer was married in 1974 to Shelly Putman; they had three children together - Anthony, Anna and Martin; they divorced in 1978. In 1979 Robert Palmer married Susan Eileen Thatcher; they had two children together - James and Jane; they divorced in 1999. In 1993 Palmer permanently relocated from the Bahamas to a converted mill-house in Lugano, Switzerland, after he found that the islands had become overrun with drugs and guns, and no longer were safe. He became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland in 1993 and lived there until his death.

He died in Paris at the Hôtel Warwick Champs-Elysées, rue de Berri, from a heart attack on 26 September 2003 at the age of 54. He had been in the French capital after recording a television appearance for Yorkshire TV in the UK. He was on holiday with his close friend Jack Bruce and conducting publicity appearances for his most recent release Drive prior to his death. Among those who paid tribute were Duran Duran, stating; "He was a very dear friend and a great artist. This is a tragic loss to the British music industry."

He was survived by his parents, Leslie and Anna Palmer; his brother, Mark Palmer; and his children, James, Jane, Anthony, Anna and Martin. Palmer's companion at the time of his death was Geraldine Edwards.

In October 2004, newspapers reported on the struggle for Palmer's estate (worth an estimated £30 million) among Mary Ambrose and Palmer's five children. Ambrose, Palmer's former girlfriend, claimed Palmer had changed his will to favour her. According to commentators at, the courts denied Ms. Ambrose's claim as without merit; she was awarded the equivalent of $16,000 in compensation, with the remainder of the estate divided amongst Palmer's five children and UNICEF, to which Palmer donated a large charitable contribution.

On her All The Best compilation album, Palmer's Swiss neighbour, Tina Turner, added a live version of "Addicted to Love" in tribute to him.

"She's so fine, there's no telling where the money went."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tie A Bowline

Remember "The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree and goes back down the hole"? Still works.

Have a taste... a little goes a long way.

The Zapruder Film

In 1999, the U.S. government paid the Zapruder family $16 million for the film of JFK's assassination.


View the Zapruder film frame by frame here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Comet ISON Is Here

C/2012 S1, also known as Comet ISON or Comet Nevski–Novichonok, is a sungrazing comet discovered on 21 September 2012 by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok.

The comet will come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 28 November 2013 at a distance of 0.0124 AU (1,860,000 km; 1,150,000 mi) from the center point of the Sun. Accounting for the solar radius of 695,500 km (432,200 mi), C/2012 S1 will pass approximately 1,165,000 km (724,000 mi) above the Sun's surface. Its trajectory appears hyperbolic, which suggests that it is a dynamically new comet coming freshly from the Oort cloud. On its closest approach, C/2012 S1 passed about 0.07248 AU (10,843,000 km; 6,737,000 mi) from Mars on 1 October 2013, and it will pass about 0.4292 AU (64,210,000 km; 39,900,000 mi) from Earth on 26 December 2013.

Oort Cloud
Earth will pass near the orbit of C/2012 S1 on 14–15 January 2014, well after C/2012 S1 has passed, at which time micron-sized dust particles blown by the Sun's radiation may cause a meteor shower or noctilucent clouds. However, both events are unlikely. Because Earth only passes near C/2012 S1's orbit, not actually through the tail, the chances that a meteor shower will occur are slim.

C/2012 S1 is expected to be brightest around the time it is closest to the Sun; however, it may be less than 1° from the Sun at its closest, making it difficult to see against the Sun's glare. In December, C/2012 S1 will be growing dimmer, but, assuming that it remains intact, it will be visible from both hemispheres of Earth, possibly with a long tail. C/2012 S1 will be well placed for observers in the northern hemisphere during mid to late December 2013. After perihelion, it will move north on the celestial sphere, passing within two degrees of Polaris on 8 January. Assuming it survives perihelion passage, ISON may be visible to the naked eye until early January 2014.

The comet's formal designation is C/2012 S1. The "C" indicates that it is non-periodic, followed by the year of discovery. The "S" represents the half-month of discovery — in the case of C/2012 S1, the second half of September — and the number "1" shows that this was the first comet found in that half month.[39] The addition of "(ISON)" after its name merely identifies the organization where its discovery was made, the Russia-based International Scientific Optical Network. If the same organization had discovered a similar, but unrelated comet one day later, that one would have been named "C/2012 S2 (ISON)". Nevertheless, media sources have taken to referring to C/2012 S1 by its location of discovery, and consequently, this name will likely persist in use even though it may cause confusion with later discoveries made by the ISON organization.

Click to enlarge.
The names of famous short-period comets usually identify the astronomers who discovered them or clearly identified them as a periodic comet, such as Halley's Comet or Comet Swift–Tuttle. If that convention had been followed, "Comet ISON" would be referred to instead as Comet Nevski–Novichonok or C/2012 S1 (Nevski–Novichonok).

Absolutely cool interactive 3-D model of ISON's trajectory here.


The Hyperloop is a new, superfast way to travel. It doesn't exist yet, so don't look to buy a ticket to LA just yet. The proposed design of a Hyperloop capsule is an air compressor on the front, a passenger compartment in the middle, a battery compartment at the back and air bearing skis at the bottom.

The theoretical mode of high-speed transportation is envisioned by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. The system is an alternative to boats, aircraft, automobiles, and trains. Musk would like to develop a prototype which would bean elevated, reduced-pressure tube containing pressurized capsules driven by linear electric motors.

Elon Musk
The alpha-level design, released in August of 2013 calls for a capsule that would ride on a cushion of air forced through multiple openings on the capsule's bottom.

The Hyperloop would enable travel from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area in 35 minutes at an average speed of just under 598 mph (962 km/h), and a top speed of 760 mph (1,220 km/h). The suggested route runs from the northern San Fernando Valley to the Hayward/Castro Valley area, paralleling the Interstate 5 corridor for most of its length. The "Alpha" proposal estimates a US$6 billion budget for a passenger-only version of the system, while a version allowing for transportation of both passengers and cars would cost US$7.5 billion.

Musk has described the Hyperloop as a cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table" while noting that it has no need for rails. He believes it could work either below or above ground.

Ther high-level alpha design is posted to the Tesla and SpaceX blogs. Musk invites feedback on the design to see if people can find ways to improve it; so, it will be an open source design, with anyone free to use and modify. I vote for in-transit movies and cocktails.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Below is an excellent geeky video explaining what radiation is as well as the different types. If you don't know what it is and have wondered, here's your chance to find out in just three minutes!

Radioactive performed below by The Firm (1986).
Paul Rodgers - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar
Jimmy Page - lead & rhythm guitars, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Tony Franklin - fretless bass, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals
Chris Slade - drums, percussion, backing vocals

Okay, that was fun, but now, a bit on the very real threat of radiation from the Fukushima power plant in Japan.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, initiated by a tsunami generated by the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March in 2011. The damage caused by the tsunami produced equipment failures, specifically, coolant pump failure resulting in nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials. It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl (Russia) disaster of 1986 and the second disaster (along with Chernobyl) to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

Google view of Fukushima facility.
The plant comprised six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric (GE) and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). At the time of the earthquake, reactor 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance. Immediately after the earthquake, following government regulations, the remaining reactors 1–3 shut down their sustained fission reactions automatically, inserting control rods in what is termed the SCRAM event, following this, emergency generators came online to power electronics and coolant systems, which operated right up until the tsunami. The tsunami arrived some 50 minutes after the initial earthquake. The 13 meter tall tsunami overwhelmed the plant's seawall, which was only 10 m high, with the moment of the tsunami striking being caught on camera. The tsunami water quickly flooded the low-lying rooms in which the emergency generators were housed. With the flooded diesel generators failing soon afterwards, cutting power to the critical pumps that must continuously circulate coolant water through a Generation II reactor to keep the fuel rods from melting down following the SCRAM event, the rods remained hot enough to melt themselves down as no adequate cold sink was available. After the secondary emergency pumps (run by back-up electrical batteries) ran out, one day after the tsunami, March 12, the water pumps stopped and the reactors began to overheat due to the high decay heat produced in the first few days after the SCRAM (diminishing amounts of this decay heat continue to be released for years, but with time it is not enough to cause fuel rod melting).

Damage to reactor building from explosive release of gases.
As workers struggled to supply power to the reactors coolant systems and restore power to their control rooms, a number of hydrogen-air chemical explosions occurred, the first in Unit 1, on March 12 and the last in Unit 4, on March 15. It is estimated that the hot zirconium fuel cladding-water reaction in reactors 1-3 produced 800 to 1000 kilograms of hydrogen gas each, which was vented out of the reactor pressure vessel, and mixed with the ambient air, eventually reaching explosive concentration limits in units 1 and 3, and due to piping connections between units 3 and 4, or alternatively from the same reaction occurring in the spent fuel pool in unit 4 itself, unit 4 also filled with hydrogen, with the hydrogen-air explosions occurring at the top of each unit, that is in their upper secondary containment building.

There have been no fatalities linked to short term overexposure to radiation reported due to the Fukushima accident, while approximately 18,500 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami. Future cancer deaths from accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be elevated for certain types of cancers such as leukemia, solid cancers, thyroid cancer and breast cancer.

A survey by the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun computed that of some 300,000 people who evacuated the area, approximately 1,600 deaths related to the evacuation conditions, such as living in temporary housing and hospital closures have occurred as of August 2013, a number comparable to the 1,599 deaths directly caused by the earthquake and tsunami in the Fukushima Prefecture in 2011. With the exact cause of the majority of these evacuation related deaths not being specified, as according to the municipalities, that would hinder the deceased relatives' application for condolence money compensation. In terms of the worldwide future cancer burden from accumulated radiation exposures caused by the accident, in the years and decades ahead, Stanford University professor and anti-nuclear advocate Mark Z. Jacobson predicts that there will be an eventual 130 fatalities and 180 additional cancer cases, with the majority of these cases occurring in populations in the most heavily contaminated areas of Fukushima. In 2013, the World Health Organization indicated that the residents of the area who were evacuated were exposed to so little radiation that radiation induced health impacts are likely to be below detectable levels. The negative health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster for populations living in the most contaminated areas include a moderately increased risk of thyroid cancer for girls, and a slightly increased risk of other cancers for infants. In particular, a 2013 WHO report predicts that for populations living in the most affected areas there is a 70% higher risk of developing thyroid cancer for girls exposed as infants, a 7% higher risk of leukemia in males exposed as infants, a 6% higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants and a 4% higher risk, overall, of developing solid cancers for females.

A screening program found that more than a third (36%) of children in Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal growths in their thyroid glands, however whether these growths can be attributed to exposure to nuclear radiation has not yet been proven. As of August 2013, there have been more than 40 children newly diagnosed with thyroid cancer and other cancers in Fukushima prefecture as a whole. The government says the recent cases are unlikely to be connected with the Fukushima releases as it generally takes several years after radiation exposure for thyroid cancer to develop and similar rates of cancer occurred before the accident. Data from the Chernobyl accident showed that there was a steady then sharp increase in thyroid cancer rates following the disaster in 1986, however whether this data can be directly compared to the Fukushima nuclear disaster is still yet to be determined.

Fukushima radiation spreads into Pacific Ocean.
On 5 July 2012, the Japanese National Diet appointed The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) submitted its inquiry report to the Japanese Diet. The Commission found the nuclear disaster was "manmade", that the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011. The report also found that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was incapable of withstanding the earthquake and tsunami. TEPCO, the regulatory bodies (NISA and NSC) and the government body promoting the nuclear power industry (METI), all failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements—such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release. Meanwhile, the government appointed Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company submitted its final report to the Japanese government on 23 July 2012. A separate study by Stanford researchers found that Japanese plants operated by the largest utility companies were particularly unprotected against potential tsunami.

TEPCO admitted for the first time on October 12, 2012 that it had failed to take stronger measures to prevent disasters for fear of inviting lawsuits or protests against its nuclear plants. There are no clear plans for decommissioning the plant, but there are estimates it will take at least thirty or forty years.

Click to enlarge.
On July 22, 2013, more than two years after the incident, it was revealed that the plant is leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, something long suspected by local fishermen and independent investigators. TEPCO had previously denied that this was happening and the current situation has prompted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to order the government to step in. On August 20, in a further incident, it was announced that 300 metric tons of heavily contaminated water had leaked from a storage tank, approximately the same amount of water as one eighth(1/8) of that found in an Olympic-size swimming pool. The 300 metric tons of water was radioactive enough to be hazardous to nearby staff, and the leak was assessed as Level 3 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. On August 26, the government took charge of emergency measures to prevent further radioactive water leaks, reflecting their lack of confidence in TEPCO.

The Night I Spoke With Elvis

Everybody's got their own squiggle. You know what I mean? Everybody's got their own way that's just a little different from everybody else. Watch people when they dance. They may be trying to do what somebody else is doing but they've got their own way of doing it. They've got their own rhythm to it. Right?

Hal "Elvis" Collins
People are like that. They're unique and they express themselves in unique ways. Plus, people are talented in all sorts of ways. I never fail to be amazed at the talent around me. Like guitar pickers, singers, dancers.

Tonight I ran into Elvis impersonator and aficionado Hal Collins at the Open Mic Night at The Rack, a local watering hole in Bowie. The event is hosted by Cody Robbins who always adeptly plays his local brand of country and, of course, the mic is open to all comers. Cody never knows who might show up to play or sing, or both, and so it makes for an interesting evening of musical chairs.

Hal told me it was his first time at Cody's Open Mic. Dressed in an incredible, red sequined jumpsuit and matching cape, Hal first performed a number or two with Cody on back-up guitar. After a brief warm-up, Hal performed some of his favorite Elvis songs in a Kingly manner with a karaoke machine.

I learned Hal was a Bowie local, a 1976 graduate of Bowie High and had been singing along with Elvis since he was eight years old. Hal even did his Elvis thing at his church not long ago. I expect we'll be seeing more of Hal "Elvis" Collins and his red cape in the Montague County area.

The guy sitting next to me told me he thought rock and roll was making a comeback. Maybe he's right.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

1. Write.

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that it is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crossing The Line

Okay, so instead of running on about Veteran's Day and all the indignities I've suffered as a vet, I'm going to focus on a particular incident and give a little background on a Navy tradition. It's a tradition I participated in so I have personal experience.
I crossed the equator aboard the USS Oriskany.
When you sail across the Equator on a Navy ship, it's called "Crossing the Line." There's a ceremony that is performed and if you've never crossed the equator before, you're in for a harrowing experience. At least it used to be. I understand there are women on Navy warships these days, so the extent of hazing we went through in the "old Navy" has surely been watered down.

Anyway, the ceremony is an initiation rite that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. The tradition probably originated for multiple purposes. For one thing, to boost morale while also being a test (hazing rite) for seasoned sailors to ensure that their new shipmates were capable of handling long, rough times at sea.

Sailors who have crossed the Equator have earned the right to be called (Trusty/Honorable) Shellbacks, or as Sons of Neptune. The initiates are referred to as (Slimy) Pollywogs.

The ritual consists of previously indoctrinated crew members -- organized into a "Court of Neptune" -- indoctrinating Slimy Pollywogs into "the mysteries of the Deep." This includes enduring certain hardships such as wearing clothes inside out and being forced to crawl on hands and knees the length of the ship on non-skid coated decks while passing through double lines of men brandishing "soft bludgeons" which are applied liberally and with force upon the backs and flanks of the initiates. This is just the beginning, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After crossing the line, Pollywogs receive subpoenas to appear before King Neptune and his court, including his first assistant Davy Jones and her Highness Amphitrite and various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest ranking seamen. These guys officiate at the ceremony which is often preceded by a beauty contest of men dressing up as women with each department of the ship being required to introduce one contestant in swimsuit drag. Thank goodness I was not chosen for this humiliating role.

Some wogs are chosen to be interrogated by King Neptune and his entourage, and the use of "truth serum" (hot sauce + after shave) and whole uncooked eggs is applied, that is, forced into the initiate's mouth. The Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly embarrassing ordeals such as being swatted with short lengths of firehose, or being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with mushy fruit. A popular torture is to be locked in a water coffin of salt-water and bright green sea dye (fluorescent sodium salt). Initiates may be forced to crawl through chutes or large tubs of rotting garbage and then made to kiss the Royal Baby's belly which is coated with axle grease, hair clippings, and any number of other unimagineable ingredients.

Upon completion of the ceremony, a Pollywog receives a certificate declaring his new status. I had so much axle grease in my hair, I simply cut it all off the next day.

A rare status is the Golden Shellback. That's a person who has crossed the Equator at the 180th meridian (International Date Line). The rarest Shellback status is that of the Emerald Shellback (USA), or Royal Diamond Shellback (British Commonwealth), which is received after crossing the Equator at the prime meridian.

Shellback Certificate
Making Navy history, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), while under way to Rio de Janeiro, crossed the line on July 4th in 1966, and its crew became known as "Star Spangled Shellbacks."

Submariners often become "Top Secret Shellbacks" having crossed the equator at a classified degree of longitude.

Similar special fraternities in the navy include:

1. The Order of the Blue Nose for sailors who have crossed the Arctic Circle.
2. The Order of the Red Nose for sailors who have crossed the Antarctic Circle.
3. The Imperial Order of the Golden Dragon for sailors and marines who have crossed the International Date Line.
4. The Sacred Order Of The Golden Dragon for sailors and marines who have crossed at the same time Lat. 00-000°, Long. 180.00°
Shellback Challenge Coin
5. The Order of the Ditch for sailors who have passed through the Panama Canal.
6. The Order of the Rock for sailors who have transited the Strait of Gibraltar.
7. The Safari to Suez for sailors who have passed through the Suez Canal.
8. The Golden Shellback for sailors who have crossed the point where the Equator crosses the International Date Line.
9. The Order of the Sand Squid for Sailors who have been attached to army units or stationed in the Middle East.
10. The Emerald Shellback or Royal Diamond Shellback for sailors who cross at 0 degrees off the coast of West Africa (where the Equator crosses the prime meridian)
11. The Realm of the Czars for sailors who crossed into the Black Sea.
12. The Order of Magellan for sailors who circumnavigated the Earth.
13. The Order of the Lakes for sailors who have sailed on all five Great Lakes.
14. The Order of the Spanish Main for sailors who have sailed in the Caribbean.
15. The Order of the Sparrow for sailors who have sailed on all seven seas. (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, Arctic, Antarctic Oceans.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Solitons -- Levitons

Interactions between electrons and atoms result in a material's properties. That is, things like how well it conducts electricity, whether ot not it is magnetic, how dense it is, and everything else by which we recognize a particular material. When voltage is applied, a number of particle-like quantum excitations occur. The applied charge "excites" certain particles. I get excited just thinking about it. In any case, these excitations come in groups and are the result of complex interactions in the material.

Are you with me so far?

A new experiment has managed to manipulate single particles within a group. This is accomplished by using an idea from earlier theoretical calculations. By manipulating the strength of the voltage sent through the material, J. Dubois and colleagues were able to produce a single quantum excitation. These excited particle-like objects are called "levitons" after physicist Leonid S. Levitov, who first predicted their existence in a set of papers with various collaborators. The discovery opens up a new area of experiments involving quantum excitation.

For instance, when you pluck a guitar string, both the string and the guitar body vibrate at different frequencies simultaneously, thus creating the fundamental tone and its overtones. The combination of frequencies is what makes a guitar distinct from another instrument. That idea is analogous to quantum excitations in most materials: if you apply an external voltage (pluck the string), it produces fluctuations that behave like particles (the vibrating string) but also affects the bulk of the material (the guitar body). The particular excitations depend on the material's properties and the temperature; lower temperatures reduce the possibility of random fluctuations dominating the excitations.

For most purposes, we don't care about the noise of random fluctuations. However, quantum excitations are particle-like, which is why they are often known as quasiparticles. They have mass and electric charge, which means they interact with each other and with the electrons that gave them birth.

In some circumstances, physicists would like to have a single quasiparticle that is not coupled strongly to the material, something that behaves more like a free particle. After all, free particles can be more easily controlled, and multiple free particles can be entangled with each other, which is the basis for quantum computing and networking.

A hyperbolic secant (sech) envelope soliton for water waves. The blue line is the carrier waves, while the red line is the envelope soliton.
Solitary quasiparticle excitations were predicted in a series of papers by Levitov and colleagues in publications that started in 1996. To create solitary quasiparticle excitations in practice requires a voltage pulse with a particular time dependence. The resultant quasiparticle — a leviton — behaves like a non-dispersive wave called a soliton. The most famous type of soliton is a tsunami. Other known solitons exist in optical communications and narrow water channels.

While levitons are not literally solitons, they share many characteristics, including independence from the underlying medium. They also have sharp peaks in their energy spectrum, which is one of their particle-like aspects. The excitations have specific widths, controlled by the duration of the original voltage pulse. They may also have a range of electric charges (both positive and negative), including fractions of the fundamental charge carried by electrons. (The study of quasiparticles carrying fractional charges was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998.)

The newly published paper describes the first experimental realization of levitons in a semiconductor. Besides actually producing them, the researchers needed to demonstrate that they had made something compatible with theory, which required scattering signals off the quasiparticles. (Yes, you can scatter "real" particles off quasiparticles. Quantum excitations are real.) The behavior of levitons is distinct from that of other excitations arising from electrons, so the results were unambiguous.

Unlike other quasiparticles, levitons don't require delicate nanofabrication techniques, just cold temperatures and more-or-less ordinary semiconductors. With single-quasiparticle states to work with, the potential for leviton entanglement and quantum logic experiments is huge.

Edit: This information was gleaned from several articles available on the internet and presents an exciting new area of exploration in physics with the promise of developing practical applications.